Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Berekhat, Israel 233,000 to 800,000 BC

Mal’ta, Siberia 20,000 to 40,000 BC

Mal’ta, Siberia 20,000 to 40,000 BC

Mal’ta, Siberia 20,000 to 40,000 BC

Vogelhard, Germany 33,000 BC

Vogelhard, Germany 33,000 BC

Vogelhard, Germany 33,000 BC

Vogelhard, Germany 33,000 BC

Brassempouy, France 25,000 BC

Kostenky, Russia about 22,000 BC

Kostenky, Russia about 22,000 BC

Cosquer Cave, France 27,000 BC

Cosquer Cave, France 25,000 BC

Cosquer Cave, 17,000 BC bas relief sculpture, Magdalenian culture

Lascaux, France 17,000 BC cave paintings, Magdalenian culture


Catal Huyuk, Turkey 6800 to 10,000 BC

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

WORLD WAR ONE EXAMINATION --- Western Civilization in the Twentieth Century

Father Foster

NAME:___________________________ Due Thursday, October 7th.

Please write an essay on three of the questions below. Each essay should be as long as necessary to answer the question thoroughly. You may use your class notes but NO OTHER SOURCE! Do not under any circumstances consult the Internet during the exam or talk to your fellow students or parents about its content. Be sure to cite specific dates and locations when it will help your essay.


1. Describe the factors that increased international tensions in the years before World War I. How did the alliance system come into existence and who was aligned with whom? Describe the particular trigger that started the war. How did the war develop in 1914? Why precisely did it stalemate in the West?

2. What was Germany’s plan to fight the war called? Describe it. Why did it not work the way they expected. How did fighting on the Western Front develop in unexpected ways (e.g., was it a “war of movement” or something else)? What was the outcome of fighting on the Eastern (or “Russian”) Front? Give a reasonably thorough sketch of the course of the war until its conclusion in the Armistice. Include relevant dates and places.


3. How did technological developments change the war on land, air, and sea? Discuss airpower and sea power, as well as land weapons that shaped the battlefield.

4. How did America come to be involved in the war? What specific events brought the US into the fight and how did American troops impact the fighting of the war?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Archbishop Duncan & Bishop Iker of the ACNA

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Provisional Constitution of the Anglican Church of North America

Provisional Constitution
View/Download as PDF
In the Name of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.
We are Anglicans in North America united by our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and the trustworthiness of the Holy Scriptures and presently members of the Common Cause Partnership.
We know ourselves to be members of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.
We are grieved by the current state of brokenness within the Anglican Communion prompted by those who have embraced erroneous teaching and who have rejected a repeated call to repentance.
We are grateful for the encouragement of Primates of the worldwide Anglican Communion who gathered at Jerusalem in June 2008 and called on us to establish a new Province in North America.
We believe that this Constitution is faithful to that call and consistent with the Historic Faith and Order of the Church and we invite the prayers of all faithful Anglicans as we seek to be obedient disciples of Jesus Christ our One Lord and Savior.
As the Anglican Church in North America (the Province), being a part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ, we believe and confess Jesus Christ to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no one comes to the Father but by Him. Therefore, we identify the following eight elements as characteristic of the Anglican Way, and essential for membership:
We confess the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments to be the inspired Word of God, containing all things necessary for salvation, and to be the final authority and unchangeable standard for Christian faith and life.
We confess Baptism and the Supper of the Lord to be Sacraments ordained by Christ Himself in the Gospel, and thus to be ministered with unfailing use of His words of institution and of the elements ordained by Him.
We confess the godly historic Episcopate as an inherent part of the apostolic faith and practice, and therefore as integral to the fullness and unity of the Body of Christ.
We confess as proved by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture the historic faith of the undivided church as declared in the three Catholic Creeds: the Apostles', the Nicene, and the Athanasian.
Concerning the seven Councils of the undivided Church, we affirm the teaching of the first four Councils and the Christological clarifications of the fifth, sixth and seventh Councils, in so far as they are agreeable to the Holy Scriptures.
We receive The Book of Common Prayer as set forth by the Church of England in 1662, together with the Ordinal attached to the same, as a standard for Anglican doctrine and discipline, and, with the Books which preceded it, as the standard for the Anglican tradition of worship.
We receive the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion of 1562, taken in their literal and grammatical sense, as expressing the Anglican response to certain doctrinal issues controverted at that time, and as expressing fundamental principles of authentic Anglican belief.
We affirm the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) Statement and Jerusalem Declaration issued 29 June 2008.
In all these things, the Anglican Church in North America is determined by the help of God to hold and maintain, as the Anglican Way has received them, the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ and to transmit the same, unimpaired, to our posterity.
We seek to be and remain in full communion with all Anglican Churches, Dioceses and Provinces that hold and maintain the Historic Faith, Doctrine, Sacraments and Discipline of the one Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
The founding entities of the Anglican Church in North America are the members of the Common Cause Partnership namely:
The American Anglican Council
The Anglican Coalition in Canada
The Anglican Communion Network
The Anglican Mission in the Americas
The Anglican Network in Canada
The Convocation of Anglicans in North America
Forward in Faith – North America
The Missionary Convocation of Kenya
The Missionary Convocation of the Southern Cone
The Missionary Convocation of Uganda
The Reformed Episcopal Church
New dioceses, clusters or networks (whether regional or affinity-based) may be added to the Province by invitation of the Provincial Council, pursuant to the process outlined by canon.
Member dioceses (or groups of dioceses organized into distinct jurisdictions) are free to withdraw from the Province by action of their own governing bodies at any time.
The mission of the Province is so to present Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit that people everywhere will come to know Him as Lord and serve Him as King in the fellowship of the Church. The chief agents of this mission to extend the Kingdom of God are the people of God.
The work of the Province is to equip each member of the Province so that they may reconcile the world to Christ, plant new congregations, and make disciples of all nations; baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son and, and teaching them to obey everything commanded by Jesus Christ.
The Province will seek to represent orthodox North American Anglicans in the councils of the Anglican Communion.
The fundamental agency of mission in the Province is the local congregation.
Congregations and clergy are related together in a diocese, cluster, or network (whether regional or affinity-based), united by a bishop.
Each diocese, cluster or network (whether regional or affinity-based) shall be represented in the Provincial Assembly.
Dioceses, clusters or networks (whether regional or affinity-based) may band together for common mission, or as distinct jurisdictions at the sub-Provincial level.
Each bishop in active episcopal ministry shall be included in a Provincial College of Bishops as provided by canon.
There shall be a Provincial Council elected by the Provincial Assembly.
This Constitution recognizes the right of each diocese, cluster or network (whether regional or affinity-based) to establish and maintain its own governance, constitution and canons not inconsistent with the provisions of
The Provincial Council, subject to ratification by the Provincial Assembly, has power to make canons ordering our common life in respect to the following matters:
Safeguarding the Faith and Order of the Province
Supporting the mission of the Province
Common Worship
Standards for ordination
Clergy support and discipline
Ecumenical and international relations
Norms for Holy Matrimony
Providing for the proper administration of the Province
The chief work of the Provincial Assembly shall be strengthening the mission of the Province.
The Provincial Assembly shall ratify Constitutional amendments and Canons adopted by the Provincial Council. The process of ratification is set forth by canon.
The Provincial Assembly shall elect the Provincial Council.
The Provincial Assembly shall be composed of representatives of all the dioceses, clusters and networks (whether regional or affinity-based) in balance and in number from the laity, bishops and other clergy as from time-to-time determined by canon.
The Provincial Assembly may meet as often as annually, but shall meet as an Electing Assembly at least quintennially. Meetings shall be called as provided for by canon.
The Provincial Council is the governing body for the Anglican Church in North America and shall have the authority to establish the program and budget of the Province.
The Provincial Council shall be composed of an equal number of bishops, clergy and lay persons, chosen by the Provincial Assembly from among its members. Initially, the Provincial Council shall be composed of the members of the Common Cause Leadership Council, as constituted under the Common Cause Articles.
Provincial Council members hold office for five years. The term of office ends at the close of the Provincial Assembly meeting which elects the successor.
A retiring member of the Provincial Council is eligible for re-election for one additional term, but not for a third.
The Provincial Council may appoint up to six persons as full members.
The Provincial Council may appoint a deputy chair, a secretary, a treasurer and such other office bearers as it deems necessary.
The Provincial Council will meet at least once in each calendar year. A minimum of fifteen days notice must be given for each meeting.
Special meetings of the Provincial Council may be called by the Chair or by the request of one-third of the Provincial Council's membership.
The Chair with the assistance of the other office bearers will be responsible for the agenda of each Provincial Council meeting. Any member has a right to have items of business placed on the agenda for consideration.
The Provincial Council shall have an Executive Committee, whose membership and duties may be established by canon. Initially the Executive Committee shall be composed of the members of the Common Cause Executive Committee, as constituted under the Common Cause Articles.
The member dioceses, clusters or networks (whether regional or affinity-based) and those dioceses banded together as jurisdictions shall each maintain all authority they do not yield to the Province by their own consent. The powers not delegated to the Province by this constitution nor prohibited by this Constitution to these dioceses or jurisdictions, are reserved to these dioceses or jurisdictions respectively.
The Province shall make no canon abridging the authority of any member dioceses, clusters or networks (whether regional or affinity-based) and those dioceses banded together as jurisdictions with respect to its practice regarding the ordination of women to the diaconate or presbyterate.
The Archbishop will be known as the Archbishop and Primate of the Anglican Church in North America. The Archbishop will be elected by the College of Bishops.
The person elected as Archbishop will hold office for a term of five years concluding at the end of the meeting of the College of Bishops which elects the next Archbishop. An Archbishop who has served one term of office may be elected for a second term of office but not a third. Initially, the Moderator of the Common Cause Partnership shall serve as Archbishop and Primate of the Province.
The Archbishop convenes the meetings of the Provincial Assembly, Provincial Council and College of Bishops and represents the Province in the Councils of the Church.
The chief work of the College of Bishops shall be the propagation and defense of the Faith and Order of the Church, and in service as the visible sign and expression of the Unity of the Church.
Each bishop in active episcopal ministry shall be included in the College of Bishops as provided by canon.
The College of Bishops shall elect the Archbishop from among its members.
The College of Bishops will meet with such frequency as best serves its chief work, and at the call of the Archbishop or of the episcopal members of the Provincial Council.
The College of Bishops shall have authority in the election of bishops of the Province which may be: a) consent to an election from a diocese, cluster or network (whether regional or affinity-based), or b) the actual choice and consent from among two or more nominees put forward by a diocese, cluster or network (whether regional or affinity-based), in the manner set forward by canon.
There shall be an ecclesiastical court of final decision to be known as the Provincial Tribunal consisting of seven members, both lay and clergy, who shall be appointed by the Provincial Council on such terms and conditions as determined by canon. The jurisdiction of the Provincial Tribunal shall be to determine matters in dispute arising from the Constitution and Canons of the Province and such other matters as may be authorized by canon.
All church property, both real and personal, owned by each member congregation now and in the future is and shall be solely and exclusively owned by each member congregation and shall not be subject to any trust interest or any other claim of ownership arising out of the canon law of this Province. Where property is held in a different manner by any diocese or grouping, such ownership shall be preserved.
Each member diocese, cluster or network (whether regional or affinity-based) or any group of dioceses organized into a distinct jurisdiction agree to share the cost of operating the Province as provided by canon.
As may be provided by canon, a member diocese, cluster or network (whether regional or affinity-based) or any group of dioceses organized into a distinct jurisdiction may be removed from membership in the Province, after due warning from the Executive Committee, if agreed to by two-thirds of the members present and voting and at least a majority in two of the three orders of bishops, clergy and laity within the Provincial Council.
This Constitution has been adopted by the Leadership Council of the Common Cause Partnership serving as initial Provincial Council. It shall be submitted to the Provincial Assembly for ratification at a meeting to be called by the Provincial Council not later than 31 August 2009.
This Constitution may be amended by the Provincial Assembly by two-thirds of the members present and voting at any regular or special meeting called for that purpose. Any changes or amendments to the Constitution shall not become effective in less than ninety days following that meeting.
We certify that the text of the Provisional Constitution set out above is the text of the Provisional Constitution of the Anglican Church in North America adopted by resolution of the Common Cause Leadership Council functioning as Provincial Council on the third day of December in the Year of our Lord 2008.
The Right Reverend Robert DuncanModerator of the Common Cause Partnership
The Venerable Charlie MastersSecretary of the Common Cause Partnership

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Live Coverage of DioFW Convention on Friday Night and Saturday Morning

Saturday, July 19, 2008

July 20th

“the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God”, from the letter of St. Paul to the Romans. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Like all obese people, I have been on lots of diets. I have tried a lot of different kinds of diets. And I have talked with lots of people who are on diets. As a result of those experiences I have come to many valuable conclusions. Among these is this great truth: Chicken-fried steak is sinful!
I am glad to hear that some of your chuckled, because I hoped my conclusion would sound funny. But, actually, it is literally true. Chicken-fried steak arises from from the fact human beings—you and I—are sinners. It is a direct result of original sin. I’m not kidding. Let me explain.
Have you ever read the creation story in Genesis carefully? If so, you will remember that when God makes our First Parents at the end of chapter one, the Lord tells them, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food." So it is clear in Genesis that the world was intended by God to be vegetarian. That is because death and killing had not yet entered into the world. It took human sin to introduce those atrocities into Creation. According to Genesis, our disobedience, our longing to “be like God” and usurp His place as Creator and Lord are the reason animals now die to feed us and each other. So chicken-fried steak, delicious as it is, only exists because we are sinners.
I rather doubt St. Paul had a steak dinner in mind when he composed our lesson from Romans 8 today. But when the Apostle says there, “the creation was subjected to futility” and that it is in “bondage to decay,” he is talking about the results of the Fall. When our Adam and Eve succumbed to the trickery of the Enemy and disobeyed the Lord in their quest to become gods in their own right they not only got themselves turned out of Paradise and cut off from the Tree of Life, they condemned their descendents to the same fate. But they also sent a tremor through the whole created order. I don’t have an explanation for exactly how this happened. It is one of those impenetrable mysteries of the Faith. Somehow the rebellion of the human race against the will of the Creator affected the entire cosmos. When we fell, we pulled everything else down with us! As a result, sin and death entered the world God had declared “very good.” It became a world of tooth and claw, of poison ivy and ragweed.
“The whole creation,” St. Paul tells us, “has been groaning in travail together until now.” This does not mean, of course, that everything about the world you and I inhabit is terrible. There is still much that reflects the primordial goodness of creation. Good and wholesome things—beauty, truth, love--still exist, even in this fallen age. But there is no unmixed good in the world after Eden. “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold” in a world in bondage to decay. That ancient serpent, the Devil, lurks behind every corner and haunts our every step, delighting in creation’s degradation by sin. Nothing lasts. Noting is as it was meant to be. Whenever the plants come up and bear their grain, then the weeds appear also.
But it will not stay this way forever. There will be an end to the heavy veil of sin that has separated the Creator from the children that He made to walk and talk with Him in Paradise, and we shall see Him face to face. But that is not all! One day the bonds of decay that fetter the very cosmos will be smashed to pieces. And all things in heaven and on earth longs to see that day. “For the creation waits with eager longing,” the Apostle tells us, “for the revealing of the sons of God.” Just as the whole universe was somehow mysteriously tainted by human sin at the dawn of our race, in the same way our redemption will result in freedom for a fallen world. “The creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God.”
Our Lord Jesus speaks of that magnificent day in the Gospel lesson this morning, the long-awaited day when “righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” But before the final triumph of freedom at the consummation of all things many challenges remain. The Enemy will not go down without a fight. In the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares our Lord Jesus warns us that the Devil is still making use of the present darkness. While it is true that the Kingdom of God has come among us with the Incarnation of the Father’s only-begotten Son, the full number of the sons and daughters of the Kingdom has not yet been reached.
In today’s parable the Son of Man sows the field of this world. A bountiful crop springs up after Christ casts seed upon the earth. That seed, of course, may be seen as His own precious Blood. An earth in bondage to sin and death—a world estranged from the Good, the True, and the Beautiful by our transgressions—hungrily drinks up the life-blood of Life Himself as it drips from the cross. And those upon whom the Blood of the Lamb graciously falls--those who hear the Word of salvation, repent of their sins, and turn to Christ in faith—take our Lord’s Life—the seeds of eternity--into their hearts, souls, and bodies. The children of the Kingdom flourish--refreshed by the sacramental waters of Baptism and fed with spiritual food from Christ’s Holy Table.
The Enemy, of course, cannot abide this. For millennia Satan reveled in the thought that he had won a lasting victory. But now with the cross and empty tomb of Jesus the devil’s masterpiece—the decadence of all things and the enslavement of humanity--is in serious jeopardy. He will do whatever it takes to thwart the Redeemer’s work. The Enemy comes by stealth in the night, a liar and a thief determined to take back what Christ has won at Calvary. And sadly, he finds some are still receptive to his own perverse seed. There are some who refuse to accept the wholesome wheat of the Bread of Life and turn instead to the dark stanger in the shadows. As a result this world is not yet totally free--purchased by the saving Death and life-giving Resurrection of Jesus Christ thought it is. There are noxious weeds that still endure even as God’s Kingdom dawns.
In a mind-boggling display of His great mercy, God has held back His righteous anger for a time. He has not yet uprooted the weeds in the field, lest harm also come to the wheat. But the day is most assuredly coming when God’s sovereign will again reigns unchallenged on earth as it is in Heaven. All things and all people will be judged by what they have done, for what we do in this life makes us who we are—children of the Kingdom or children of the evil one. Then the holy angels will come and “gather out of Christ’s kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and throw them into the furnace of fire.” When our Lord Jesus Christ “is all-in-all” nothing that is anti-Christ can possibly endure, for the Lord our God is indeed a consuming fire. Perfect righteousness will consume all that is unrighteous. Perfect love will swallow up all that is not love. There will be nothing left behind to corrupt God’s creation when the One “in whom all things hold together” makes Death a footstool before His throne of Glory and absolute Truth-made-flesh crushes the head of that ancient serpent, the Father of Lies. And they shall neither hurt nor destroy on all God’s holy mountain. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Press Release of Remain Faithful


Remain Faithful, an organization of over 575 orthodox laity Episcopalians and Anglicans from over 60 Dioceses with collective membership in the Episcopal Church of over 23,000 years is pleased to present its statement on the recent Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) held in Jerusalem. “We join in prayer and thanksgiving with our brothers and sisters in the Anglican Communion who recently gathered in Jerusalem for GAFCON and thank them for tireless efforts and witness to the world on behalf of all orthodox Anglicans around the world.” Chad Bates, Chair of Remain Faithful stated. “We are most pleased to present the following resolution approved by our Board of Directors of Remain Faithful.”

Be it resolved:

Remain Faithful, endorses in its entirety the Final Statement and The Jerusalem Declaration issued on Sunday, June 29, 2008, by those attending the Global Anglican Future Conference [GAFCON]. Remain Faithful supports the formation of a new Anglican Province in North America to be recognized by those Anglican primates subscribing to the Jerusalem Declaration. Remain Faithful is committed to serving as an active voice for orthodox laity in the development of organizational and governing procedures necessary for the establishment of the new Province in North America.

Issued this 2nd day of July, 2008.
Cora S. Werley, Secretary

For more information on Remain Faithful, including the organization position paper, or to join online, please visit the Remain Faithful website at http://www.remainfaithful.org/.

Sermon for Good Shepherd Granbury July 6 2008

The crowds were tired. It had been a long day, extraordinary even for one of the major imperial game days. The spectacle had begun in the Circus Maximus, ancient Rome’s horseracing track. In the morning there were the usual beast fights, where professional hunters dispatched ferocious lions and bears for the amusement of the crowd. The afternoon had featured gladiators, both in single combat to the death and in larger groups reenacting famous battles from the Roman past. During the lunch hour in between it was customary to stage the public execution of condemned criminals. And today the body count of Roman “justice” had been enormous.
This was Rome in 64 A.D., and the day’s events had been orchestrated by the Emperor Nero. But Nero had a public relations problem. Large sections of the city had recently burned, and the public had come to believe—perhaps correctly—that the emperor had ordered the setting of the fatal blaze himself in order to clear the ground for his grand, new royal palace—the Golden House. The ancient historian Tacitus tells us that in order to deflect this suspicion the emperor had selected a scapegoat to take the blame for the burning of Rome. Or rather, Nero had selected an entire community of scapegoats—the fledging Christian Church of the capital.Hundreds of Christians had been rounded up in a sweep of the city during the preceding weeks, and now they were being executed for arson. At today’s noontime public executions large numbers of these Christians, sheepskins draped over their shoulders, had been marched into the middle of the Circus Maximus. The Roman mob howled its approval as wild lions were loosed upon the convicts—a fitting punishment for the flock of Christos, a dead Jewish rebel against the empire whom the Christians knew as “the Good Shepherd.” But even though hundreds of the members of the Jesus cult had died in the arena that day, a sizeable number had been held in reserve for an even more impressive display of Roman vengeance that night.
Around dusk these surviving Christians were driven from their prison and each victim was forced to take up a wooden beam, very much like the one their Lord and Master had carried to Golgotha thirty years earlier. They carried their burdens through the streets of the city into the imperial gardens, where Nero awaited them along with the still blood-thirsty mob. They were then nailed to their crosses and raised up alongside the road that ran through the emperor’s gardens. In an ironic twist highlighting their alleged arson, the emperor ordered these crucified Christians to be set on fire while they were still alive. The light of those burning crosses illuminated Nero’s path as he drove a chariot through his pleasure garden that night. We will never know the number of these steadfast martyrs, but their courage still shines as beacon in our own times.
God alone knows what was in the hearts and minds of those early Christians as their captors lead them to crucifixion in 64 A.D., but it is likely that certain words of our Lord Jesus were uppermost in their minds: “whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” You and I must spiritualize these words in order to apply them in our lives. But the first generations of Christians lived them—literally taking up their own crosses and dying for Christ. But as they lost one life to the jaws of lions, the iron and wood of Roman crosses, and the searing pain of sacrificial fire, they found a new life of far greater value than the one ripped from them by Nero’s henchmen—eternal life with their Savior.
But surely the words of Jesus we have heard today were also very much on the martyrs’ minds: "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Even as those first Roman Christians shouldered the heavy beams of their crosses they knew deep in their hearts that Christ’s yoke was in truth easy and light and that under His yoke God’s people find rest for their souls. That is no doubt why early tradition records that many of these Roman martyrs went to their deaths singing and weeping for joy, enraptured in the peace that passes all understanding.
Yet how is this possible? The words we have heard this morning from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans give us a clue. No doubt the martyrs of Rome knew this letter well. It had actually been written to their community, after all, just a few years earlier. Here St. Paul tells us that, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. … To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” Notice the distinction the Apostle draws between “the mind set on the flesh” and “the mind set on the Spirit,” which he parallels in this passage to “the law at work in his members” and “the law of God” in which his mind delights. We all know the tension between these two, don’t we? The good that I want to do I don’t do, and that which I don’t want to do I actually do! St. Paul tells us that fallen man is “captive to the law of sin that dwells in [our bodily] members.” Left to our own devices we are slaves in our innermost being to sin and death. We are trapped. “O wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” Paul cries as he reflects on our plight. But the Apostle simply cannot hold back in announcing our Liberator. “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
This is why the martyrs of Rome marched to their deaths singing. This is why we have no stories from the ancient Church about jailbreaks of Christians who had been arrested by the imperial government. They may have been bound in Roman chains, but they had already been set free! The love of God which had burst into the world through the cross and empty tomb of Jesus Christ had freed them from “this body of death.” What could man do to them? Our brothers and sisters went to the lions and to their crosses with gentle and humble hearts, at peace in their souls now that Christ’s obedience had ended the war between the desires of the flesh and law of God’s Spirit. They had taken our Lord’s light yoke of service in God’s Kingdom upon their own shoulders and they carried His love out into a world that despised them. They were free men and free women now, empowered now by the Holy Spirit to do their Father’s will. They were free through God’s gracious gift of faith and they wanted their killers and those who cheered their deaths to be set free as well.
If you and I share the faith of these martyrs in our Lord Jesus Christ, my friends, we will also share their peace and their witness. “For those who are in Christ Jesus …the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set [us] free from the law of sin and of death.” That is as true of us as it was of them. But if we have been set free, we too should do everything in our power to see that freedom triumph everywhere around us. The entire created order pines with eager longing to know that freedom. Certainly every human being on earth needs to know it. You and I must tell our neighbors what God has done for them in Jesus Christ. We should show those around us by the quality of our lives what it means to be gentle and humble of heart, so that our world may see the peace that floods the souls of yokefellows in Christ Jesus and long to share in that blessedness. Our forebearers in faith lived out that call. May God give us the grace, as he did to the early Christians of Rome, to take our Savior’s yoke upon ourselves and carry it out into a world that desperately needs the peace that passes all understanding.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.