Monday, January 31, 2011


I didn't know that in the first decades of American Protestantism, ministers were addressed as "Father." By the 18th century it was used primarily for older clergy, but continued into the 19th century.

"Fathers and Brethren," Church History, v. 37, no. 3, September 1968

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Early Eucharistic prayer from The Didache

According to John McGuckin in The Story of Christian Spirituality, p. 64, the bishop of the local community in the first and early second century, lead the prayer on Sunday to honor the resurrection, with scripture reading and psalms. He received offerings of bread and wine from the people, some of which was set aside for the poor. This prayer below was a sample of what could be said, although they had freedom in prayer. By the 3rd century Hippolytus included in his Apostolic Constitutions, a more formal liturgy.

"We give you thanks, Our Father, for the holy vine of David your servant, which you have made known to us through your servant [child] Jesus. To you be the glory unto the ages. We give you thanks, Our Father, for the life and knowledge which you have made known to us through your servant [child] Jesus. To you be the glory unto the ages. Just as this broken bread was scattered upon the mountains and then was gathered together into one, so many your church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into your kingdom. For yours is the glory and the power, through Jesus Christ, unto the ages."

[When finished]

“We thank you, holy Father, for your name which you enshrined in our hearts. We thank you for the knowledge and faith and immortality which you revealed to us through your servant Jesus. To you be glory for ever. Almighty ruler, you created all things for the sake of your name; you gave men food and drink to enjoy so that they might give you thanks. Now you have favored us through Jesus your servant with spiritual food and drink as well as with eternal life. Above all we thank you because you are mighty. To you be glory for ever.

“Remember, Lord, your Church and deliver her from all evil. Perfect her in your love; and, once she has been sanctified, gather her together from the four winds into the kingdom which you have prepared for her. For power and glory are yours for ever."

“May grace come and this world pass away! Hosanna to the God of David. If anyone is holy, let him come. If anyone is not, let him repent. Maranatha. Amen”.

Bibliography on the Didache.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The prayer at the memorial in Tucson was very odd

From another post:

"Regarding the Indian prayer:
It was jarring. Rep. Giffords is a Conservative Jew not a Native American, the Judge a Roman Catholic. I would venture that none of the dead or wounded were Native American.

Where was the Rabbi, Priest or Minister. Has the God of Jews and Christians become politically unaccceptable?"

Rhetorical question, isn't it? Yes, it has become unacceptable to pray in public, but only for Christians and Jews. A later correction said Giffords is a Reformed Jew, not Conservative. I have no information one way or the other.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

From the Letter to Diognetus

Today in reading "The Story of Christian Spirituality" I came across a small quote from The Epistle to Dignetus, then looked it up in my McGill's "Masterpieces of Christian Literature." It is indeed a masterpiece, with a message for today, yet little is known about it, but the only copy was destroyed in 1870. The recepient wants to know everything about this new religion (appears to have been written early in the 2nd century when Christians were still an underground, persecuted group), so the author tells Diognetus that in order to understand Christianity he needs to put aside false reports and prepare to hear a new story.

"For the Christians are distinguished from other men neither by country, nor language, nor the customs which they observe. For they neither inhabit cities of their own, nor employ a peculiar form of speech, nor lead a life which is marked out by any singularity. The course of conduct which they follow has not been devised by any speculation or deliberation of inquisitive men; nor do they, like some, proclaim themselves the advocates of any merely human doctrines. But, inhabiting Greek as well as barbarian cities, according as the lot of each of them has determined, and following the customs of the natives in respect to clothing, food, and the rest of their ordinary conduct, they display to us their wonderful and confessedly striking method of life. They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers. They marry, as do all [others]; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring. They have a common table, but not a common bed. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men, and are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death, and restored to life. They are poor, yet make many rich; they are in lack of all things, and yet abound in all; they are dishonoured, and yet in their very dishonour are glorified. They are evil spoken of, and yet are justified; they are reviled, and bless; they are insulted, and repay the insult with honour; they do good, yet are punished as evil-doers. When punished, they rejoice as if quickened into life; they are assailed by the Jews as foreigners, and are persecuted by the Greeks; yet those who hate them are unable to assign any reason for their hatred.

To sum up all in one word--what the soul is in the body, that are Christians in the world. The soul is dispersed through all the members of the body, and Christians are scattered through all the cities of the world. The soul dwells in the body, yet is not of the body; and Christians dwell in the world, yet are not of the world."

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

You are not the one who is lost

In any spiritual conversation about Jesus in which you feel inadequate or unprepared, Pastor Eric Waters said last Sunday, "Remember you are not the one who is lost, . . .you've been found!" He was preparing the congreation for a 10 week series on evangelism. "We know the way home, that Jesus is the only way to the Father." The decks are cleared for action--the calendar is clear. The church is out of debt; we've settled the synod decision. Now is the time. . .

Saturday, January 01, 2011

The Shepherd of Hermas--the 12 Mandates

Continuing to read in "The Story of Christian Spirituality," I dipped in The Shepherd of Hermas, which came close to being included in the New Testament. It consists of revelations, rules and parables--always a favorite for Christians of all eras. The book was written in Rome by a former slave who had no particular office in the early church. Hermas receives 5 visions while walking and then recorded his experiences; 12 mandates; and 10 parables. I have a translation in my Goodspeed "The Apostalic Fathers, an American Translation" (Harper, 1950), which I haven't found on the internet, but this one by Crombie from the mid 1800s sounds pretty good--doesn't seem to have the thees, thous and -eth (s) endings for verbs.

1) believe that God is one, that He has made all things and contains all things and is Himself alone uncontained.

2) simplicity keeps one from evil-speaking and encourages one to live according to God

3) love truth and by doing so one receives a spirit free from lies; abstain from lying and one lives with God

4) purity; healing for the one who sins; the baptized need to live sinless lives; no second repentence

5) long-suffering and prudent; power over all evil deeds; the Devil dwells in ill-temper. Keeping this command gives strength to keep the others

6) believe only the righteous and not the unrighteous angels

7) fear of the Lord is the means for keeping His commandments; do not fear the Devil

8) temperance and self-control--list of things to avoid: "theft, lying, robbery, false witness, covetousness, lust, deceit, vainglory, ostentation, and everything like them"; things one doesn't need to avoid: "faith, fear of the Lord, love, harmony, upright speech, truthfulness, endurance"--these bring blessings, and these will follow, waiting on widows, looking after orphas and needy people, delivering the slaves of God from distress, being hospitable, nonresistance to anyone, being quiet, being more needy than all men, revering the aged, practicing uprightness, observing brotherhood, putting up with insolence, being patient, not holding a grudge, encourageing the weary in heart, not casting out those who have stumbled from the faith, but converting and encouraging them, not oppressing debtors and those in need."

9) purity of heart--doubt is the worst and causes double-mindedness

10) grief is the sister of double-mindedness and corrupts man more than other evils; to combat grief, put on joyfulness, which always is acceptable to God; the joyful man does good deeds, has good thoughts and despises grief

11) don't listen to false prophets who are impudent and shameless and lead a life of luxury--if he accepts money, he's false; true prophet is meek, gentle and lowly minded

12) put away every evil desire--carnal desires are the worst; whoever believes these commandments can be kept will be able to keep them, and without keeping them there is no salvation.

Help with summary from Masterpieces of Christian Literature in Summary Form, edited by Frank Magill (Harper & Row, 1963)

Other patristic literature