Recently, I was with my wife in her 2nd grade classroom assisting her with some projects. My wife overheard one young student whisper to her friend while pointing at me… “I know who that is” she said. “Who” replied her desk-mate. “That’s Santa Clause” she responded. “No, that Mr. Maenees, teacher’s husband” her friend responded… and then together they said… “That makes teacher… Mrs. Santa Clause.”
Around this time of year, many may speak of Santa Claus or St. Nick, but they don’t know much about the original Saint Nicholas who is the basis for our today’s St. Nick.
Nicholas was a bishop in the 3rd century in the Roman Empire. His parents were wealthy Christians who raised him in the faith, and after their deaths, he distributed their wealth to the poor. One poor family in particular had three daughters, and they had no money for their dowries, money given so that they could marry. Without money, the daughters would be left unmarried and, in their poverty, forced into something like prostitution just to survive. Nicholas provided the family with three bags of coins so the daughters could marry and avoid lives of sin. This story was the basis for today’s Santa Claus being a gift giver.
Nicholas wasn’t giving gifts just to be nice or to cheer people up. For Nicholas gift giving was about sharing the love of God with others and helping to bring about God’s will in their lives. Nicholas’ faith is what led to his gift giving among other things. Nicholas eventually became the bishop of Myra, and shortly thereafter Christianity faced the toughest persecution it had ever seen. Nicholas, as the head of the church in Myra, was beaten and thrown in a jail. Nicholas was only released when Christianity was made legal throughout the Roman Empire.
Now that Christians could meet publicly, they needed to meet to decide on issues of belief. This first happened with the Council of Nicaea which was called to decide on whether or not Jesus Christ is God. Tradition says that as Arius, the one opposing Jesus’ divinity, was standing and explaining his position, Nicholas walked over and slapped him. Nicholas’ zeal to defend the divinity of Jesus sounds less like Santa Claus and more like Jesus in his zeal driving the money changers out of the Temple.
So yes, Saint Nicholas like Santa Claus was a gift giver, but his giving was based on his deep faith, a faith that was the grounding of his whole life. Nicholas was willing to suffer for his faith and defend it strenuously because it was the most important thing in his life. This season as we give gifts, we should do it like Saint Nicholas rather than Santa Claus. We shouldn’t do it out of a desire to make people feel better or to feel better ourselves, but to share God’s love and to do God’s will. We should be giving in faith. Bishop Eric Menees
Congratulations to Fr. Carl Johnson who retired October 31st from St. Mark’s, Loomis! Fr. Carl is enjoying retirement and taking the time to be with family near and far. Congratulations to Fr. Chris Fanucchi who took the helm on November 1st as Rector of Saint Mark’s, Loomis. Please welcome Fr. Chris, his wife Wendy and their two boys Giovani & Dante.
Congratulation to Dcn. Stephen and Lydia Braun as they expect their fourth child later this spring.
The Clergy of the diocese were blessed at their annual Advent Retreat held at St. Anthony’s Retreat Center in Three Rivers with a discussion of transitions. Canon Mark Eldridge and Canon Geoff Chapman of the American Anglican Council presented over a two-and-a-half-day period on managing Change and Transitions.
They used, as one of their resources, William Bridges’ book, Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes. Bridges describes a cycle of Change – the external event – the Neutral Zone where we make the transitions which is generally an emotional response to the change – and New Beginnings - when the transition becomes complete. The bishop was struck with the phrase that Canon Chapman used… “Unmanaged Transition Makes Change Unmanageable.” How true!
Calling all Anglicans into Action for Life!
Today's culture increasingly celebrates and embraces death. But, as we know from the Bible, God values life, and His Word commands us to protect it.
To help you fulfill Scripture's mandate to protect God's gift of Life, we invite you to attend Symposium 2020, for inspiration in mobilizing life-affirming ministry in your church! The Symposium will feature guest speaker Stephanie Gray and equip you to live out your calling as an advocate for life.
Then, on Saturday, you will join with thousands of people coming together to bear witness to the sanctity of life at the LA Walk for Life!
REFLECTIONS FROM THE FORMER ARCHDEACON
BY THE VEN. DONALD A. SEEKS
One of my favorites among clergy is Dr. Lloyd John Ogilvie, who had been senior pastor of Hollywood Presbyterian and later was Chaplain for the U.S. Senate. Besides the obvious blessing of being born a Scotsman, he has a powerful voice which would make any actor somewhat jealous. Dr. Ogilvie has authored 15 books, been a general editor for a set of Bible commentaries, and has established the Ogilvie Institute for Preaching. One of those books is entitled, God’s Will in Your Life, published in the early 1980’s by Harvest House of Eugene, Oregon. In this book, Dr. Ogilvie examines the meaning and plumbs the depths of the key Old and New Testament passages which relate specifically to the will of God.
In a chapter entitled “Surrender to Win,” Ogilvie writes, “The testimony of Christians through the ages is that there is a magic moment in their problems when they surrender them to the Lord. Their vision is brightened, their perception of possibilities is enlarged, and their insight and strength is released.”
The key to this surrender is, of course, the human will, which another author calls a “picket line” which “the Lord will not cross.” Giving our will over to Jesus Christ in full surrender is what Christian spiritual maturation is all about.
Dr. Ogilvie reminds his readers that in the Sermon on the Mount, “the Magna Carta of the Kingdom of God,” our Lord Jesus gave us that prayer which we call the Lord’s Prayer, but which more properly should be called the Disciple’s Prayer. Jesus shows us that prayer for God’s Kingdom and His will are “inseparably linked.” To ask God for His Kingdom to come in our lives is to seek the full control of His sovereignty over our lives, in our minds, our emotions, our relationships, our Christian community.
Dr. Ogilvie testifies that in his own life (and I have had the same experience in mine), when one does surrender and is open to the will of God, there comes a joy which is indescribable. This is just one of the incredible paradoxes of the Christian life; the more we surrender our will to God, the freer and more potent our lives become. So in the act of surrender, it is a win-win.
The good Scot also quotes Dr. Henrietta Means, who directed Christian education, who put “surrender” in another way; “I cannot give up my will; I must exercise it. I must will to obey. When God gives a command or a vision of truth, it is never a question of what he will do, but of what we will to do. To be successful in God’s work is to fall in line and do it His way.” What a challenge to all of us as we begin a new year!
Catechesis as Monasticism: Cultivating Single-Minded Devotion in a Fragmented Age
Featuring Dr. Gerald Sittser and Rev. Dr. Greg Peters
I'm pleased to announce that registration is now open for the 2020 Catechesis Colloquium. On February 7-8, 2020, we'll gather in San Francisco to learn from two leading theologians about how the monastic tradition can help shape our approaches to catechesis.
If, as Greg Peters argues, baptism makes all believers monks—what he calls "the monkhood of all believers"—then how might we re-think the theological and spiritual formation of all Christians?
Likewise, in his soon-to-be released book, Resilient Faith: How the Early Christian "Third Way" Changed the World, Gerald ("Jerry") Sittser helps Christians today, living in a post-Christendom age, learn from the early church's practices of for-mation. Neither accommodating to Roman religion nor isolating themselves from it, the early Christian "third way" helped Christians remain faithful to Jesus Christ while dramatically reshaping their culture. The development of the cat-echumenate, you might guess, played a big role—and it can again today.
We have so much to learn from the monastic tradition about faithful Christian living, but especially when it comes to catechesis.
We'll have four presentations from our speakers, plus responses from three "catechists in the field"—Fr. Ryan and Elizabeth Jones of Eucharist Church, and Fr. Lee Nelson of Christ Church Waco—plus plenty of time for questions and conversation.
All the details about format and pricing can be found at the event page below. Or just go ahead and register.
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