Second Sunday in Lent and Episode 39 in Bible Study

Mother Nature dumped another eight or so inches of snow on Mechanicsville last night and this morning, but it’s already fading away as temperatures rise.  Unable to go out, I worked all morning on revising and finishing Episode 39 in the New Testament: John-RohanMaster-15thC Gospels & Epistles series for the AIC’s You Tube channel.  Watch Episode 39.   There is also an MP3 version with audio only.  Listen to Episode 39

Still focused on the Gospel of St. John, the topics are Feeding the 5,000 and Walking on Water, with discussion of what makes John’s account of both events different.  Also included is the first part of a discussion of the unique Themes, Details and Events found only in the Gospel of St. John, beginning with Part 1 of a discussion of the theme of Light vs. Darkness.

For the series, I purchased The Rohan Master book of hours from which I am in the processing of extracting illustrations related to St. John, one of which is shown here.  The Rohan Master depicts St. John at his desk writing his Gospel with an Eagle (the traditional symbol of St. John) and a banner bearing his name at his feet.  Far above, God the Father observes from the upper right.  The Rohan Hours volume is considered one of the finest illuminated Hours collections in existence, but I still can’t quite come to grips with the Western practice of depicting God the Father, which was forbidden before the rise of power at Rome in the 12th and 13th centuries.

I have also posted a Podcast Homily for Second Sunday in Lent.  Scripture topics include St. Matthew’s Caananite Woman-Hours-Duc de Berry-15thCaccount of the driving out of a demon from the daughter of a Canaanite woman (described by St. Luke as Syro-Phoenecian), St. Paul’s first epistle to the Thessalonians, Chapter 4, verses 1-8, which is a lecture on controlling passions, both of the mind and body, and I include a back reference to 1 Kings 8 on the issue of whether God hears the prayers of those not of the Israelite tradition or blood.   Listen to the Podcast Homily.

For this Blog post I have included two illustrations of this event.   The first is from another Hours collection from Paris around the time of the Rohan book, but this one is by the Limbourg brothers from the Tres Riches Heures of John duc du Berry, which is another tempera and gold leaf creation on vellum.  You can see a ripple in the paper at top center.

The second illustration is a Baroque style oil on canvas by the Flemish painter, Michael Canaanite Woman-Michael_Angelo_Immenraet-17thCAngelo Immenraet (1621-1683),   Some sources claim the painting is from the collection of oil paintings at Union Church, Idstein, Germany, but I have not been able to confirm that.   I was not able to find a public domain illustration from the Eastern Church tradition.  Somehow, for me, the Immenraet version reminds me of English horse paintings such as those by Stubbs.  They lack the spirituality of the Hours manuscripts and the Eastern icons, being focused on anatomical correctness instead.  For regular visitors to the blog site, I invite you to compare this one with the Duccio egg tempera and gold leaf on the Raising of Lazarus.

Also this week, I finished work on a DVD version of Paintings on Light, my book on the stained glass collection at St. Joseph’s Villa Chapel, Richmond, VA, and a 2-CD version of my Twelve Days of Christmas series.  I have not yet set a price for either.

Blessings to all of you.  And that you for your interest in the Internet ministry of the Anglican Internet Church.

First Sunday in Lent – Temptations of Christ

Today is Ash Wednesday and I took advantage of being snowed in to record the Podcast Homily for First Sunday in Lent.  Listen to the Podcast Homily

Temptation of Christ by Vasily Surikov, St. Petersburg, Russia, 1872.
Temptation of Christ by Vasily Surikov, St. Petersburg, Russia, 1872.

The Readings are another of St. Paul’s homilies on Christian Virtue (2 Corinthians 6:1-10), this one directed toward Apostles of his time and of ours and St. Matthew’s account of the Three Temptations of Christ (Matthew 4:1-11).  Of course, in the modern Church there are many reformist scholars who argue that no such events took place, that Matthew made them up to suit his narrative.  Those of us who recognize the philosophical duality on which Christian Spirituality is based (The Reality of Evil in the World | Christian Truth as the Only Antidote) have to problem accepting Matthew’s account.  It is only by accepting the duality that a Christian can be equipped to defend himself or herself against the “wiles and assaults of the devil” and the evil he cultivates in the world in the ongoing War on Christianity.  If you search the Web, you will find several of the art works shown below listed until the category of

For you Blog readers, I thought to provide three art works, each of which I used in the Bible Study episode on St. Luke’s version of the same events (Episode Sixteen), with more commentary about the work and the artist than was used there.    For the offering of bread to assuage Jesus’ hunger after his 40 days of fasting, I offer the dark, foreboding interpretation by Russian artist Vasily Surikov, which now hangs in a gallery at St. Petersburg, Russia.  Surikov, considered the greatest 19th century Russian painter of historical scenes, attended the Imperial Academy of Arts at St. Petersburg from 1869 to 1871.   He died at Moscow in 1916.

Russian Orthodox Icon, part of a panel of scenes depicting the Temptation.  Painted circa 1652.
Russian Orthodox Icon, part of a panel of scenes depicting the Temptation. Painted circa 1652.

For St. Matthew’s version is this Scriptural quotation in NKJV text:  “And the Devil said to Him: ‘If you are the Son of God, command that these stones to become bread.’  But He answered him and said, ‘It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.””  The quotation is from Deuteronomy 8:3.

For Christians, we understand that the “daily bread” for which we petition in the Lord’s Prayer means those things which are essential for our survival, including access to the word of God (both literally, as Scripture, and spiritually, as St. John wrote, through faith in the Word of God, Jesus Christ.

The second Temptation finds Jesus taken by Satan to the roof of the Temple.  Satan offers a parody of Psalm 91:11, 12, the source of both Jewish and Christian belief in the Guardian Angel.  If, he says, Jesus will just throw Himself off the roof, He will be protected by angels:  “He shall give His angels charge over you…In their hands they will bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.”    Jesus replied, again citing a verse from Deuteronomy (6:16):  It is written, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.”   Those who believe in the Guardian Angel understand that while we believe in his power to protect, we cannot and must not ever place ourselves in danger, effectively taunting God, through the Guardian Angel, to protect us from our own folly.

The Temptation on the Mountain, egg tempera and gold leaf on panel, Duccio Buoninsegna, 1308-1311.
The Temptation on the Mountain, egg tempera and gold leaf on panel, Duccio Buoninsegna, 1308-1311.

The third Temptation shows us clearly the strategy that has been followed by Satan (from the Hebrew ha-satan, meaning the Adversary or the Enemy).    In this second Temptation Jesus, on a mountain with a view of Jerusalem, symbolic of the whole world, is offered all He sees if He will but worship Satan instead of God the Father.  Jesus’ defiant answer, based on Deuteronomy 6:13, offers instruction in the doctrine that Satan/The Devil is a created being, made by God and subservient to His will and word:   “Away with you Satan!  For it is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.”

The illlustration is a very fine Eastern/Byzantine style painting done in egg tempera with gold leaf on a wooden panel.  Duccio is known as one of the finest painters of the Siena school.  He was trained by masters at Constantinople, the seat of the Byzantine Empire.  Duccio was among the last artists in the Western Church tradition to paint such scenes in the Eastern/Byzantine style.  The figure of Jesus wears the same red garment with blue robe that was used in Duccio’s painting of the Raising of Lazarus.  The craggy, grey mountains and the splayed feet of the figures are typical of the Byzantine style, prevalent before it was supplanted in the West by a more anatomically-correct representation of the human form.  The Eastern style still offers a sense of spirituality not present in the modern Western styles.

I hope that if you cannot attend an Ash Wednesday service, you take the opportunity to listen to the commentary on the Collect for Ash Wednesday found in the first minute of the Podcast Homily.  Here in Richmond, most Ash Wednesday services have been cancelled owing to the snowfall and the expectation of more to come this evening.

Thanks for your interest and your support for the Anglican Internet Church online ministry.

Episode 38 (NT-Gospels and Epistles) and Quinquagesima Sunday

Greetings.  For the week before Quinquagesima Sunday, I have released both a Podcast Homily for Quinguagesima Sunday and another episode in the AIC Bible Study series New Testament:  Gospels and Epistles.

Lancelot Andrews (1555-1626). Artist unknown. English school, circa 1660.

Quinquagesima Sunday is the third and final Sunday in the pre-Lenten season and it hardly seems possible that Ash Wednesday is next week!  The Podcast Homily is primarily focused on the Epistle and Gospel readings for the day, but I also mention the last verse of the reading for First Lesson for Morning Prayer, Deuteronomy 11:1 because it sheds light on St. Paul’s emphasis on Love as a primary virtue (Charity in the King James and Prayer Book readings, but Love (agape) in nearly all other translations.  The Gospel lesson includes Jesus’ prophecies of His own persecution, death and Resurrection as well as St. Luke’s account of the healing of the blind man (identified as Bartimaeus in St. Mark’s account).  I sought to add some context to Jesus’ reference to Prophets by including a lengthy reading from Isaiah and Psalm 22.   For admirers of the writings the great Anglican teacher and scholar, Lancelot Andrewes, I close with both the Collect for the Day and a long quotation from a Confession of Faith from the Private Writings of Lancelot Andrewes (using the late 19th Century translation now in the public domain),  I don’t think Anglicans today give enough credit to the contribution Andrewes made to our understanding of the teachings of the Eastern Church.   Listen to the Podcast Homily.

In Episode 38 of the Bible Study series the focus remains on the five unique “signs” in the Gospel of St. John.   I finish my discussion of the dialogue that follows the Healing of the Blind Man and close with a discussion of the last of the five, the

Raising of Lazarus by Duccio Buoinsegna of Sienna. Public Domain. Kimbell Art Museum, Ft. Worth, Texas.
Raising of Lazarus by Duccio Buoninsegna of Sienna. Public Domain. Kimbell Art Museum, Ft. Worth, Texas.

Raising of Lazarus.   I was lucky to find a 14th Century illustration of the event by Duccio Buoninsegna of Siena, Italy.  Duccio’s learned his art from a teaching in Constantinople and largely follows the Eastern style, depicting Lazurus arising from a cave and providing a background of stylized, craggy mountains, with the figures displayed with splayed feet.  Yet his choice of colors for the robes of Jesus are in a shade of red and blue that would become popular in the Western Church after the Renaissance.  His version is, I think, much more accurate than the far more familiar version by Peter Paul Rubens, which shows Lazarus rising from a grave in the ground (in the Western manner).

The Raising of Lazarus, while not the only example of the raising of one thought to be dead (ie, the son of the widow of Nain and the Daughter of Jairus) the event St. John reports is the only example of a revival of a person not only dead but actually buried for four days.  Take note that the man standing closest to the tomb appears to be holding his nose, indicating skepticism that there would be no stench of death.   Watch the video of Episode 38 via our You Tube channel.

I hope to complete the series on the Gospel of St. John during February and early March so that I can turn my attention to finishing the new series on the book of Revelation:  Revelation: an Idealist Interpretation, in which I discuss Revelation verse-by-verse.

Epiphany Four, Five and Six

The Anglican Internet Church is committed to producing Podcast Homilies for all the Sundays in the 1928 Book of Common Prayer.  This year, Easter is early and there will be no services for Epiphany 4, 5 & 6.  I think the readings for these three Sundays are too important to ignore and so have provided Podcast Homilies for all three.  Each offers traditional, theologically-sound and spiritual-minded explanations of the Epistle and Gospel readings anyway.   Visit the Podcast Homilies page

Healing-the-Leper2For the Fourth Sunday After Epiphany, the Epistle reading is Romans 13:1-7, which is a morality and responsibity homily by St. Paul, explaining the source of all governmental authority (God) and the responsibilities of both ruler and ruled to do good and shun evil.  The content of St. Paul’s homily influenced the Prayer for All in Civil Authority found in the Morning Prayer office in the 1928 B.C.P.   The Gospel reading for the day is St. Matthew’s account of the Healing of the Leper and the Healing of the Centurion’s servant.  I am very fond of the illustration of the healing of the leper that was included in Canon Farrar’s The Life of Christ, published in 1894.   In the homily I explore the Old Testament requirements for healing of lepers and why Jesus’ action upset the Pharisees and also quote from St. Cyril of Alexandria on the meaning of the text.   There are two closing prayers, one by St. Augustine of Hippo on the light coming into the world and the Collect for Epiphany 4.

Wheat-and-Tares-1900picFor the Fifth Sunday After Epiphany, the Epistle reading is another selection from the canon of St. Paul, Colossians 3:12-17, a lesson on Christian virtues and the value of forgiveness.  I discuss St. Paul’s influence on the creation of the list of Christian Virtues according to the Eastern Church and Western Church understanding, using the work of St. John Climacus (Ladder of Divine Ascent) and the Gregorian Sacramentary from the Roman Catholic tradition, explaining the primary virtues, cardinal sins, and contrary virtures.   The Gospel reading is Matthew 13:24-30, the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares.  Since the last three Sundays after Epiphany all focus on aspects of Jesus’ coming again to be our judge, the parable of the Wheat and the Tares offers a quite clear lesson on the fate of those who live by the law of God and those who live by the guidance of Satan.  The illustration is a circa 1900 photograph of harvesting in the Holy Land in which the workers are dealing with the wheat and tares.  Some will be gathered and burned.  Some will be taken into the master’s barn.

Copyright Can Stock Photo, Inc./tupungato
Copyright Can Stock Photo, Inc./tupungato

For the Sixth Sunday After Epiphany, the final Sunday of Epiphany season, the B.C.P. provides a lesson on love from the pens of St. John the Apostle, Evangelist and Theologian.  His epistle comforts the faithful in the knowledge that what they believe is the Truth and that all else is falsehood advocated by the forces of the Evil One, who does what he has done “from the beginning,”  (1 John 3:8a) that is, tempt and mislead the faithful into sin.  He assures them that those who live lives following the teachings of Christ will be judged “righteous” and those who live lives led by the Evil One are sinful:  “He who sins is of the devil”  (1 John 3:8a).   The Gospel readings is Matthew 24:23-31, Jesus prophecy of His own death and Resurrection and discussions of the signs of His Second Coming.  Traditional teaching is that one cannot know when this event will happen but must always be prepared for it, whether it is now, tomorrow or some other time.  The closing prayer is the Collect for the day, largely based on the work of Bishop John Cosin on the theme of reality of evil/the devil and the hope of all the faithful to be made like their Maker and allowed into His glorious kingdom.  The illustration is a Christ Pantokrator (roughly: Ruler of the Universe) from around the 11th Century in Milan.

Thanks and blessings to all who have supported the electronic ministry of The Anglican Internet Church.

Sexagesima Sunday

The AIC Podcast Homily series for all the Sundays in the 1928 Book of Common Prayer continues this week with the posting of the homily for Sexagesima Sunday, the second of three homilies for “Gesima” Season.  Scripture includes 2 Corinthians 11:10-31, which is St. Paul’s advice, and personal history, on enduring adversity for the sake of the Christian Faith, and Luke 8:4-15, the Parable of the Sower.  Listen to the Podcast Homily.

The Sower by James Tissot, part of the Life of Christ series placed in the public domain by the Brooklyn Museum.   The entire series includes over 500 illustrations, including sketches and sketchbooks.
The Sower by James Tissot, part of the Life of Christ series placed in the public domain by the Brooklyn Museum. The entire series includes over 500 illustrations, including sketches and sketchbooks.

The Parable of the Sower is quite similar to the parable of the Wheat and the Tares in St. Matthew’s Gospel.  For the Podcast Homily I have attempted to explain, in terms compatible with the practice of Christian Spirituality, each of the characters and situations, as Jesus Himself explained them to the Disciples.

I’ve included with this Blog posting a miniature of The Sower, one of the wonderful illustrations by French artist James Tissot that are now at the Brooklyn Museum.  The Brooklyn Museum has placed these works, over 500 of them, into the public domain.  Many of the pictures are not on display in 2015.  They are called the Life of Christ series and are accessible for viewing on the Museum’s web site.  The collection also includes several sets of sketches which Tissot prepared as work studies before completion of the final works.  Each is a watercolor, highlighted with charcoal, on grey wove paper.   Tissot’s collection was completed in the late 1880s.

This week I have also been working on Episode 38, the next installment of our on-going Bible Study series (New Testament: Gospels and Epistles) which is posted on the AIC’s You Tube channel.  Episode 38 is focused on the dialogue that followed the Healing of the Blind Man and also the final unique “sign” in St. John’s Gospel, the Raising of Lazarus.   Next week’s blog post will include a 14th Century egg tempera and gold leaf Byzantine-style depiction of the Raising of Lazarus, plus another version by Rembrandt in the Western style.

I want to thank the folks at Google/You Tube for giving us a new, shorter URL address for the Bible Study series.   If you haven’t already added your name to our Google + circle, you can do so at the site and get notification from Google (which owns You Tube) of each new posting.