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Archive for February 27th, 2014

Intro:  This coming Sunday ( 2 March, 2,014)  is Transfiguration in our Church year and the Gospel reading is always one of the Transfiguration narratives.  This year it is St. Matthew 17: 1-9.  This makes sense because this coming Wednesday is Ash Wednesday.  The Transfiguration narrative is between two of the Lord’s passion prophecies in chapters 16 and later in chapter 17. On the mount of Transfiguration, the Lord shows forth, an epiphany,that He  is, “…God from God, light from light, very God from very God, begotten, not made, being one Substance with the Father by whom all things were made”(The Nicene Creed) and it is another revelation of the One God in three Persons, the blessed Holy Trinity.  St. Ephrem the Syrian’s sermon below is a witness to both the revelation and the epiphany on the “high mountain apart”.  This style of preaching is really “that old time religion”! This is just a smaller quote from a longer sermon!  Ephrem was a deacon who died on 18 June, anno Domini 373.  Pray for his first homeland of Syria, one of the first countries in which the Christian faith took root.  One of Ephrem’s prayers is a familiar one during Lent in the Orthodox Church and should be with Lutherans as well.

O Lord and Master of my life!

Take from me the spirit of sloth,
faint-heartedness, lust of power, and idle talk.

But give rather the spirit of chastity,
humility, patience, and love to Thy servant.

Yea, Lord and King! Grant me to see my own errors
and not to judge my brother,
for Thou art blessed unto ages of ages. Amen.

From St. Ephraem the Syrian’s Transfiguration Sermon:

His glory reveals His divine nature, which is from the Father; and His body reveals His human nature, which is from Mary. Both natures have united, and, without change and without commingling, have been joined together in one hypostasis or person. The Same is the Only-begotten of the Father Who is the Only-begotten of Mary. And he who separates them is himself separated from His Kingdom; and he who commingles His natures into one will have no part in His life. He that denies that Mary gave birth to God shall not see the glory of His divinity; and whosoever denies that He was clothed in flesh Who was free from the stain of every sin shall be shut out from salvation, and from the life which is given by His Body.

The events of His life, and His own divine powers, teach those who can learn that He is true God, and His sufferings openly proclaim Him true man. And if this does not convince those who are weak and foolish of mind, they shall suffer punishment on the day of His dread judgement. For if He were not flesh, for what reason did Mary bring Him forth? And if He was not God, who then did Gabriel call Lord?

If He was not flesh, who then lay in the manger? If He was not God, to whom did the angels coming on earth give glory?

If He was not man, who was wrapped in swaddling clothes? If He was not God, whom then did the Shepherds adore?

If He was not man, whom did Joseph circumcize? And if He was not God, in whose honour did a new star appear in the heavens?

If He was not man, whom did Mary nourish at the breast? And if

He were not God, to whom did the Magi offer gifts?

If He was not man, whom did Simeon take in His arms? And if He was not God, to whom did Simeon say: Dismiss me in peace?

If He was not man, whom did Joseph take and fly with him into Egypt? And if He was not God, in whom was the prophecy fulfilled: Out of Egypt have I called my son? (Mt.ii. 15; Os. xi. 1).

If He was not man, whom did John baptize? And if He was not God, of whom did the Father from ,heaven say: This is my beloved Son, linwhom Iamwellpleased? (Mt-iii-17)-

If He was not man, who fasted and hungered in the desert? And if He was not God, to whom did the descending angels minister?

If He was not man, who was in”vited to the wedding feast at Cana of Galilee? And if He was not God, who changed the water into wine?

If He was not man, in whose hands were the loaves of bread placed? And if He were not God, who fed and filled from five barley loaves and two fishes the multitude in the desert, five thousand men, not counting the women and children?

If He was not a man, who slept in the boat? And if He were not God, who was it rebuked the winds and the sea?

If He was not man, who was it ate with Simon the Pharisee? And if He were not God, who forgave the woman her sins?

If He was not a man, who sat by the well weary from the journey? And if He was not God, who gave the Samaritan woman the water of life; and who rebuked her, she that had already five husbands?

If He was not of our flesh, who so wore the garments of a man? And if He were not God, who then was it that wrought signs and wonders?

If He was not a man, who spat upon the earth, and made mud from the clay? And if He were not God, who caused eyes to see because of the clay? (Jn. ix).

If He was not man, who wept at the tomb of Lazarus? And if He were not God, who by his command alone called forth the four days dead?

If He was not a man, who was it sat upon an ass’s colt? And if He were not God, before whom did the crowd march to give Him glory?

If He was not a man, whom did the Jews make prisoner? And if He were not God, who commanded the earth, and it threw them flat to the ground?

If He was not a man, who was beaten with blows? And if He were not God, who healed the ear which Peter had cut off, and who restored it to its place?

If He was not a man, whose face was spat upon? And if He were not God, who breathed the Holy Spirit upon the faces of the Apostles (J11, XX. 22).

If He was not a man, who was it stood before Pilate at the judgement seat? And if He were not God, who caused the wife of Pilate to suffer many things in a dream?

If He was not a man, upon whose garments did the soldiers cast lots, dividing them amongst them? And if He were not God, for what reason did the sun grow dark above the Cross?

If He was not a man, who was it hung upon a cross? And if He were not God, who moved the earth from its foundations?

If He was not a man, whose hands were pierced by the nails? And if He were not God, how was the veil of the temple rent in two, and the rocks split asunder, and the graves opened?

If He was not a man, who cried out: My God, My God, why hast Thou abandoned me? And if He were not God, who then hath said: Father forgive them, for they know not what they do?

If He was not man, who hung with thieves upon a cross? And if He were not God, for what cause did He say: This day thou shalt be with me in paradise?

If He was not man, to whom did they offer gall and vinegar? And if He were not God, at whose voice did they shake and tremble? (Ps. lxxvi. 19).

If He was not a man, whose side was opened by a lance, and there came out blood and water? (Jn. xix. 34) And if He were not God, who hath broken the gates of hell, and burst the iron bars? (Ps. cvi. 0). And by whose command did the dead that slept in their graves come forth?

If He was not a man, whom did the Apostles behold in the Upper Room? And if He was not God, in what manner did He enter, the doors being closed?

If He was not a man, in whose hand did Thomas feel the wounds of the nails and the lance? And if He was not God, to whom did Thomas cry out saying: My Lord and My God?

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