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Monday, December 29, 2014

THE REVEREND RICARDO FROHMADER: “No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart who has made him known”.


HOMILY FOR THE FIRST SUNDAY AFTER CHRISTMAS
Isaiah 61:10-62:3; Psalm 147: 13-21; Galatians 3:23-25; 4:4-7 John 1: 1-18
We gathered on Wednesday last to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Now, a few days after celebrating his blessed birth, our readings are grappling with the meaning of the event. Who exactly is Jesus and what change has his birth wrought in our relationship with God?
The Old Testament readings from Isaiah and the Psalm this morning exult in the vindication and restoration of Jerusalem at the hand of the Lord. Jerusalem, Jacob and Israel are greatly favored. There is a special relationship between Israel and God: “I will not rest until her vindication shines out like the dawn, and her salvation like a burning torch.” As Christians we see the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophesies of restoration for Israel in the birth of Jesus. But who, really, is Jesus?
Today’s readings take a break from the nativity and infancy narratives of Matthew and Luke to focus on who Jesus is. The Gospel reading from John tells us that Jesus is God himself, the Word, come to earth in human form
Our Gospel reading tells us that Jesus is the Word made flesh that lived among us. What is the Word?  The term might best be described as the creative manifestation of God, present since the beginning. God himself is beyond human comprehension-he is unknowable. “No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart who has made him known”. The Word is the creative force of God which manifests itself in creation and in the relationship of God with mankind. It is the Word that reveals itself to mankind. “All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being”. This creative force has now come into the world. He is Jesus, the true light which enlightens everyone. “He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him”. Jesus the Word incarnate comes into a world the Word created yet that world is now so far distant from God that it does not know him or recognize him. Darkness has taken hold of the world. Jesus is the light that shines in that darkness, and “the darkness did not overcome it”. Yet that same darkness keeps Jesus from being universally acknowledged as Lord. “He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him”. The darkness will ultimately ensure his rejection by many, and see to it that he is killed.
This prologue to the Gospel according to John seeks to present the theological dimension of Jesus’ birth and ministry. It is a very different account from the other accounts of Jesus’ life. In the Gospels according to Mark, Matthew and Luke, the active part of Jesus’ ministry occurs after his baptism by John in the river Jordan. We call these the synoptic Gospels, because they are accounts, or summaries, of the life of Jesus. The Gospels according to Mark and to John begin at the outset of Jesus’ earthly ministry, and include no infancy narratives or other background materials. The Gospel according to John skirts the question as to whether John baptized Jesus or not. John is baptizing and Jesus is among the people by the Jordan. What is he doing there? Perhaps he is there so that John can bear witness to him as the Son of God. John sees the Spirit descend on Jesus and remain on him, and by this knows that this is the Son of God. In the three other Gospels it is at his baptism that the spirit descends on Jesus and a voice from heaven proclaims him the beloved Son in whom the Father is well pleased.
Jesus’ active ministry begins either after his baptism by John as described in the Synoptic Gospels, or after he has begun to gather disciples around him who also baptize people as in the Gospel of John. He is around thirty years of age.  Where was he during the thirty years before beginning his ministry? Was he in Nazareth growing up in a family? As a young man, was he in Nazareth working as a carpenter, or was he in the desert and wilderness areas of Judea where radical groups of Jews like the Essenes gathered in ascetic communities to study? We know that he read Hebrew (he read from Isaiah in the synagogue in Nazareth). Many of his followers refer to him as rabbi, or teacher. In his various disputations with the religious intelligentsia of his time, he shows himself to be well versed in the intricacies of Jewish Law. I am going to vote for his having spent years in study, for his having prepared, perhaps unknowingly, for the mission revealed to him at his baptism, and in the wilderness, by immersing himself in the Torah and the commentaries known as the Talmud. Does his initial human unawareness of his divine nature detract from his divinity, from his identity as the Word Incarnate? I think not.
Jesus was ultimately rejected by the authorities of Judea. “But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man but of God”. The Letter of Saint Paul to the Galatians likewise tells us that “when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. Jesus, the Word made flesh, comes to free us from our disciplinarian, the law. Now that Christ has come, says Paul in his Letter to the Galatians we are justified by faith, and no longer subject to the law. “The law was indeed given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” says the Gospel reading.

Jesus, the Word incarnate, came to restore us to a closer relationship with God. He made it possible for us to become children of God. He freed us from the slavery of the law, and from the slavery of sin. “So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child, then also an heir, through God” says Saint Paul to the Galatians. He made us children of God. “From his fullness we have all received grace upon grace”. Praise God. 
Amen.
Ricardo+
PLANNING TRAVEL TO GUATEMALA? 

St. Alban Mission chapel, Casa Convento Concepcion
Saint Alban Episcopal Mission, Antigua, Guatemala


You are invited to join us for English services every Sunday at Noon.

Casa Convento Concepcion, Antigua Guatemala, All are welcome.

See welcome letter at the sidebar.


St. Alban English Mission, Antigua, Guatemala is an outreach project of The St. James English parish, Episcopal Diocese of Guatemala, IARCA


The Most Reverend Armando Guerra Soria,  Rector of St. Alban Mission, Bishop of Guatemala and Primate of Central America

The Rev. Ricardo Frohmader
Associate Minister
Saint Alban Episcopal Mission
Antigua Guatemala

2366 0599; 3344 9146

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Padre Mickey: Feast of John, Apostle and Evangelist


This is my sermon on St. John
John, son of Zebedee and Salome and younger brother of James, grew up along the shores of the sea of Galilee. Both John and James were followers of John the Baptizer, and John and Andrew were present when John the Baptizer saw Jesus and said, “Behold the Lamb of God!” John was probably one of the earliest disciples of Jesus. Jesus called John and James “Boanerges” which means “Sons of Thunder” and they, along with Peter, where in the Inner Circle of the disciples. These three were blessed with the experience of seeing Jesus transfigured and talking with Moses and Elijah. When the women returned to tell the disciples of the empty tomb, both Peter and John ran to check out their story and John reached the empty tomb first. It was John who recognized the Resurrected Jesus sitting on the beach when they were fishing. According to the gospel attributed to John, Jesus gave the care of his mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, to John as they stood at the foot of the cross. It was either James and John or their mother who asked Jesus if they could sit at his right and left when he entered his kingdom. We have no idea if they sit on either side of Jesus, but we do know that they shared the same cup as Jesus, the cup of persecution. James died the death of a martyr, but although John died in Ephesus at a very advanced age, he did suffer persecution. Tertullian and Jerome claim that during the persecution of Domatian, John was dipped in a cauldron of boiling oil outside the Latin Gate of the city of Rome. He was unharmed and was exiled to the island of Patmos to work in the mines. It was there that he received the vision which he wrote down and is named the Apocalypse of John the Divine, or the Book of Revelation.

John was the most prolific writer of the Twelve who followed Jesus; only the Apostle Paul left us more writings. John has a gospel attributed to him, the vision of the Apocalypse is attributed to him, and three letters to the Church in Ephesus are attributed to him. According to bishop Eusebius of Cesarea, the fourth century historian, John wrote his gospel because the other three gospels did not deal with the deeds of Jesus at the beginning of his ministry. Eusebius said that John’s gospel was accepted by the Church from the earliest days, as well as the first epistle attributed to him, but that the other two epistles are not accepted by everyone. There was still disagreement as to whether the Apocalypse should be accepted as scripture in the fourth century; Eusebius writes: “In regard to the Apocalypse, the opinions of most men are still divided.” As I mentioned earlier, John moved to Ephesus upon his release from Patmos, and he became a very important part of the Church in Asia. St. Jerome writes that towards the end of John’s life in Ephesus, he was so weak that he could no longer preach or even stand. His young disciples would carry him into the church and, with great difficulty, the Apostle would say: "My dear children, love one another." Some of those in the congregation once asked him why he always said the same thing, why he repeated the same words, and the Apostle answered, "Because it is the precept of the Lord, and if you comply with it, you do enough " He finally died in peace in Ephesus, at about ninety-four years of age. As far as we know, John is the only one of the Apostles who died of old age rather than receiving the crown of martyrdom.

I want to finish by relating a story about the Apostle which Eusebius credits to Clement of Alexandria. This story gives us great insight into the nature of John: "Listen to a tale, which is not a mere tale, but a narrative concerning John the apostle, which has been handed down and treasured up in memory. For when, after the tyrant's death, he returned from the isle of Patmos to Ephesus, he went away upon their invitation to the neighboring territories of the Gentiles, to appoint bishops in some places, in other places to set in order whole churches, elsewhere to choose to the ministry some one of those that were pointed out by the Spirit. When he had come to one of the cities not far away, and had consoled the brethren in other matters, he finally turned to the bishop that had been appointed, and seeing a youth of powerful physique, of pleasing appearance, and of ardent temperament, he said, 'This one I commit to thee in all earnestness in the presence of the Church and with Christ as witness.' And when the bishop had accepted the Charge and had promised all, he repeated the same injunction with an appeal to the same witnesses, and then departed for Ephesus. But the presbyter, taking home the youth committed to him, reared, kept, cherished, and finally baptized him. After this he relaxed his stricter care and watchfulness, with the idea that in putting upon him the seal of the Lord he had given him a perfect protection. But some youths of his own age, idle and dissolute, and accustomed to evil practices, corrupted him when he was thus prematurely freed from restraint. At first they enticed him by costly entertainments; then, when they went forth at night for robbery, they took him with them, and finally they demanded that he should unite with them in some greater crime. He gradually became accustomed to such practices, and on account of the positiveness of his character, leaving the right path, and taking the bit in his teeth like a hard-mouthed and powerful horse, he rushed the more violently down into the depths. And finally despairing of salvation in God, he no longer meditated what was insignificant, but having committed some great crime, since he was now lost once for all, he expected to suffer a like fate with the rest. Taking them, therefore, and forming a band of robbers, he became a bold bandit-chief, the most violent, most bloody, most cruel of them all. Time passed, and some necessity having arisen, they sent for John. But he, when he had set in order the other matters on account of which he had come, said, 'Come, O bishop, restore us the deposit which both I and Christ committed to thee, the church, over which thou presidest, being witness. But the bishop was at first confounded, thinking that he was falsely charged in regard to money which he had not received, and he could neither believe the accusation respecting what he had not, nor could he disbelieve John. But when he said, 'I demand the young man and the soul of the brother,' the old man, groaning deeply and at the same time bursting into tears, said, 'He is dead.' 'How and what kind of death?' 'He is dead to God,' he said; 'for he turned wicked and abandoned, and at last a robber. And now, instead of the church, he haunts the mountain with a band like himself.' But the Apostle rent his clothes, and beating his head with great lamentation, he said, 'A fine guard I left for a brother's soul! But let a horse be brought me, and let some one show me the way.' He rode away from the church just as he was, and coming to the place, he was taken prisoner by the robbers' outpost. He, however, neither fled nor made entreaty, but cried out, 'For this did I come; lead me to your captain.' The latter, meanwhile, was waiting, armed as he was. But when he recognized John approaching, he turned in shame to flee. But John, forgetting his age, pursued him with all his might, crying out, 'Why, my son, dost thou flee from me, thine own father, unarmed, aged? Pity me, my son; fear not; thou hast still hope of life. I will give account to Christ for thee. If need be, I will willingly endure thy death as the Lord suffered death for us. For thee will I give up my life. Stand, believe; Christ hath sent me.' And he, when he heard, first stopped and looked down; then he threw away his arms, and then trembled and wept bitterly. And when the old man approached, he embraced him, making confession with lamentations as he! was able, baptizing himself a second time with tears, and concealing only his right hand, But John, pledging himself, and assuring him on oath that he would find forgiveness with the Saviour, besought him, fell upon his knees, kissed his right hand itself as if now purified by repentance, and led him back to the church. And making intercession for him with copious prayers, and struggling together with him in continual fastings, and subduing his mind by various utterances, he did not depart, as they say, until he had restored him to the church, furnishing a great example of true repentance and a great proof of regeneration, a trophy of a visible resurrection."
there is more:

Thanks to Padre Mickey's Dance Party, sidebar

Fiesta de San Juan, Evangelista


San Juan, Apóstol

Oración Matutina Diaria

Ya no son extranjeros ni advenedizos, sino conciudadanos de los santos, y miembros de la familia de Dios. Efesios 2:19

Invitatorio y Salterio

Señor, abre nuestros labios.
Y nuestra boca proclamará tu alabanza.

Gloria al Padre, y al Hijo y al Espíritu Santo: como era en el principio, ahora y siempre, por los siglos de los siglos. Amén. ¡Aleluya!

Venite Salmo 95:1-7
Vengan, cantemos alegremente al Señor; *
aclamemos con júbilo a la Roca que nos salva.
Lleguemos ante su presencia con alabanza, *
vitoreándole con cánticos;
Porque el Señor es Dios grande, *
y Rey grande sobre todos los dioses.
En su mano están las profundidades de la tierra, *
y las alturas de los montes son suyas.
Suyo el mar, pues él lo hizo, *
y sus manos formaron la tierra seca.
Vengan, adoremos y postrémonos; *
arrodillémonos delante del Señor nuestro Hacedor;
Porque él es nuestro Dios;
nosotros el pueblo de su dehesa, y ovejas de su mano. *
¡Ojalá escuchen hoy su voz!

¡Aleluya! El Señor es glorioso en sus santos: vengan y adorémosle. ¡Aleluya!

Salmo 97
El Señor es Rey; regocíjese la tierra; *
alégrense la multitud de las islas.
Nubes y oscuridad alrededor de él; *
rectitud y justicia el cimiento de tu trono.
Fuego va delante de él, *
y abrasa a sus enemigos alrededor.
Sus relámpagos alumbran el mundo; *
viéndolo, la tierra se estremece.
Los montes se derriten como cera a la vista del Señor, *
a la vista del Soberano de toda la tierra.
Los cielos anuncian su justicia, *
y todos los pueblos contemplan su gloria.
Avergüéncense todos los que adoran imágenes de talla, *
los que se glorían en dioses falsos; póstrense ante él, dioses todos.
Sión oye, y se alegra, y las ciudades de Judá se gozan, *
a causa de tus juicios, oh Señor;
Porque tú eres el Señor, altísimo sobre toda la tierra; *
eres muy excelso sobre todos los dioses.
El Señor ama a los que aborrecen el mal; *
él preserva la vida de sus santos, y de mano de los malvados los libra.
Brota la luz para el justo, *
y alegría para los rectos de corazón.
Alégrense, justos, en el Señor, *
dando gracias a su santo Nombre.

Salmo 98
Canten al Señor cántico nuevo, *
porque ha hecho maravillas.
Con su diestra, y con su santo brazo, *
ha alcanzado la victoria.
El Señor ha dado a conocer su victoria; *
a la vista de las naciones ha descubierto su justicia.
Se acuerda de su misericordia y su fidelidad
para con la casa de Israel; *
los confines de la tierra
han visto la victoria de nuestro Dios.
Aclamen con júbilo al Señor, pueblos todos; *
levanten la voz, gócense y canten.
Canten al Señor con el arpa, *
con el arpa y la voz de cántico.
Con trompetas y al son de clarines, *
aclamen con júbilo ante el Rey, el Señor.
Ruja el mar y cuanto contiene, *
el mundo y los que en él habitan.
Den palmadas los ríos, aclamen los montes al Señor, *
cuando llegue para juzgar la tierra.
Juzgará al mundo con justicia, *
y a los pueblos con equidad.

Gloria al Padre, y al Hijo y al Espíritu Santo: *
como era en el principio, ahora y siempre,
por los siglos de los siglos. Amén.

Proverbios 8:22-30
El Señor me creó al principio de su obra,
antes de que él comenzara a crearlo todo.
Me formó en el principio del tiempo,
antes de que creara la tierra.
Me engendró antes de que existieran los grandes mares,
antes de que brotaran los ríos y los manantiales.
Antes de afirmar los cerros y los montes,
el Señor ya me había engendrado;
aún no había creado él la tierra y sus campos,
ni el polvo de que el mundo está formado.
Cuando él afirmó la bóveda del cielo
sobre las aguas del gran mar, allí estaba yo.
Cuando afirmó las nubes en el cielo
y reforzó las fuentes del mar profundo,
cuando ordenó a las aguas del mar
no salirse de sus límites,
cuando puso las bases de la tierra,
allí estaba yo, fielmente, a su lado.
Yo era su constante fuente de alegría,
y jugueteaba en su presencia a todas horas.

there is more/mas: 
http://locoracion.blogspot.com/2014/12/fiesta-de-san-juan-evangelista.html

Thanks to The Daily Office
Thanks to Padre Mickey
PLANNING TRAVEL TO GUATEMALA? 

St. Alban Mission chapel, Casa Convento Concepcion
Saint Alban Episcopal Mission, Antigua, Guatemala


You are invited to join us for English services every Sunday at Noon.

Casa Convento Concepcion, Antigua Guatemala, All are welcome.

See welcome letter at the sidebar.


St. Alban English Mission, Antigua, Guatemala is an outreach project of The St. James English parish, Episcopal Diocese of Guatemala, IARCA


The Most Reverend Armando Guerra Soria,  Rector of St. Alban Mission, Bishop of Guatemala and Primate of Central America

The Rev. Ricardo Frohmader
Associate Minister
Saint Alban Episcopal Mission
Antigua Guatemala

2366 0599; 3344 9146

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve, Guatemala, Central America: ¨God has now sent us a way to become reconciled to Him, to become his children by adoption, to escape sin and death and to enjoy life everlasting.¨ The Rev. Ricardo Frohmader


Guatemala City, December 24, 2014
HOMILY FOR CHRISTMAS EVE, 2014
Isaiah 9:2-7; Psalm 96; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-14
There was but one candle left to light on the Advent wreath this evening, the Christ Candle, where hope, peace, joy and faith are all met in the Incarnate Savior.  We have spoken of Advent as focused on our longing for the coming of Jesus into this world and into our lives. We need Jesus to bring us hope where there is despair, to bring us peace where there is war and violence, to bring us joy, knowing that he is the revelation to us of God’s love for us, and to strengthen our faith, which is the foundation for our beliefs. Now Jesus has come, not in power, might and majesty, but as a helpless baby born roughly, without the help of doctors or midwives, wrapped in strips of cloth, and laid in a trough, where animals are usually fed.
Two thousand and more years ago, God sent his only Son to take his flesh and his human form from his mother, a teenage girl. So it was that God came to be born in human form, in a stable in Bethlehem. This is the mystery of the Incarnation, a mystery which we can comprehend fully only through faith. Saint Paul tells us that in “the fullness of time” the Lord God sent his only son to be born and live among us.
What can we say about “the fullness of time”? When Jesus was born, the Roman Empire was near the peak of its power. It had united most of the known world. It stretched from Britain to Armenia, down to the Persian Gulf, across to the Red Sea and down the coast of Africa almost to the Sudan. It ruled both shores of the Nile, and it controlled all of North Africa across to the Atlantic Ocean shores of modern day Morocco. The Danube and the Rhine were its northern borders. The Empire was highly organized. Networks of roads facilitated government and commerce overland, and maritime routes and shipping were well developed. The Roman bureaucracy stretched from Rome to all the possessions of the Empire, however far-flung.
When Jesus was born the imperial system of one person rule was becoming established. Jesus was born during the reign of Augustus Caesar, and died during the reign of Tiberius. This system of government would spawn monster emperors, demented persons such as Caligula and Nero. A good case can be made that the number 666 used in the Apocalypse of Saint John, or Revelations, refers to the emperor Nero, whom many thought would return again as the Beast.
The Roman system was in many ways built on the concept of bread and circuses. The price of grain was kept low in the cities, and much money was spent on gladiatorial games sponsored by the government, which were of unusual cruelty. We know of Christians being sewn into animal skins and thrown into the arena to be torn apart by fierce dogs. People were indeed fed to the lions. We know that people were smeared with pitch, and used as lights in the gardens of Rome. Gladiatorial combat was often to the death. If the unity and efficiency of the system of government put together by Rome guaranteed that new ideas and new knowledge would travel rapidly to every corner of the empire, the barbaric cruelty, the wanton disrespect for human life signaled the need for a faith that valued human beings more fully. The followers of Jesus would provide that alternative of faith. It was in the fullness of this time that Jesus was born.
Jesus, God in the flesh came to us poor, weak, accessible. This baby lying in a manger in a stable in Bethlehem shows no signs of mightiness, no awesomeness, but rather inspires our love which is born of his defenselessness. God comes to us in human form. He is Emmanuel, God with us, but not what you would expect of a deity. He will grow as one of us, be poor and hungry, know suffering, and die a barbaric death. After his resurrection we will better understand the immensity of the Incarnation of God and grasp its enormous significance in God’s plan of salvation. But that is later in the story.
Tonight we are in Bethlehem, with Joseph and Mary. A child has been born. We will come to realize how significant this birth is. We have been given a precious gift. God’s salvation has come not only to the people of Israel, but to all mankind, to the entire Roman Empire, and beyond. Without abrogating his relationship with the Children of Israel, God has determined that it is now time to reveal Himself to the nations of the world. More significantly, God has now sent us a way to become reconciled to Him, to become his children by adoption, to escape sin and death and to enjoy life everlasting.
So what does this Bethlehem event mean for you and for me? What is the gift that the birth of the child brings?  This is the gift: God is giving us a second chance. We need not live in sin and disobedience. There is a way out, there is a second chance. We can escape sin and suffering and death and be united to God through the Incarnation of his son.

As this Christ child is born in Bethlehem, I invite you also to welcome Him into your hearts. Let Jesus Christ be born in you tonight. May we always be ready to feel and find him in ourselves. May we also be able to see him and find him in others around us, men and women, especially in those Jesus loved during his ministry on Earth: the sick, the poor, the humble and the oppressed And as we return this evening to our homes, let us each in our heart say: thank you Lord for this second chance and thank you Lord for letting me welcome the Lord Jesus into my heart. Thank you Lord. 
Amen
Ricardo+

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

THE REVEREND RICARDO FROHMADER: ¨In the Episcopal Church the penitential purple of Advent is gradually shading into the blue which is the color of the Virgin. Indeed the Mother of God is blessed above all women.¨


December 21, 2014
A HOMILY FOR THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT
2 Samuel 7:1-1-1,16; The Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55; Romans 16:25-27; Luke 1:26-38
In Jesus Christ we have the revelation that God is love. God loves us. Because we believe this, we come to experience that love, to see it in our lives and in the lives of others. God is love-that is a revelation of faith. You will not be able to prove this in a laboratory, or weigh, measure or quantify God’s love, but with faith you and I can feel it and see it at work in our lives and in the lives of others.
The tradition of Advent wreaths originated among Lutherans in Germany in the 19thcentury, and spread to other Christian denominations from there. The traditional Advent wreath is ever green and fresh, made as it is with evergreen boughs. If in our tropics that lasting fresh greenness is not possible, well, the Lord will have to overlook and forgive our use of plastic fronds and fake ivy.
We have lit today the candle of Faith, the last of the four Advent candles. The Advent wreath and its candles invite us to embark on a spiritual journey amid all the hurly burly of the commercial part of the Christmas season. Let us summarize our journey together this Advent Season. We began Advent with the candle of hope, moving then to the candle of peace. Last Sunday we lit the candle of joy. Now the candle of faith burns alongside the other three, and there is but one candle left to light, the Christ Candle, where hope, peace, joy and faith are all met in the Incarnate Savior. Advent is about the longing and need we have for the presence of Jesus in this world and in our lives-it is a journey of faith begun in hope, in search of peace and joy which ends with the revelation of God’s love for us made manifest in the Incarnation of his only begotten Son, born of the Virgin Mary.
What is faith? Do you have faith? Are you and I people of faith? Can you define faith? How does faith work in your lives? Let’s turn to the Bible for a definition of faith. This is from Chapter 11 of the Epistle to the Hebrews: “1- Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the men of old received divine approval. 3 By faith we understand that the world was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made out of things which do not appear”. Several centuries later, the great theologian Saint Augustine of Hippo wrote “Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe”. Saint Paul also speaks to us of faith in his letter to the Corinthians. In this letter he links faith along with hope and love as the three main virtues, with love as the greatest of the three. Nonetheless they are linked one to the other, go hand in hand, and cannot be readily separated one from the other. So hope leads to faith, and faith marches together with hope and love.
The candle of hope we lit the first Sunday in Advent invites us to pray for a better world, for the coming of God’s reign; for that time when there is no longer any pain, or suffering, nor crying, where God shall wipe every tear and Death will be no more. The hope for peace leads us to the second candle where we pray for the coming of the Messiah. Emmanuel, God with us, will bring us that peace with and among our fellow men and women which we are unable to attain through our own efforts.
Last week we lit the pink candle, the candle of Joy. In a world full of sorrow and depression we pray for joy. We ask for the joy that is in Jesus, that we may feel the joyous meaning of that birth in Bethlehem, and in experiencing that joy, find peace and renewed hope. And today our Advent journey brings us to the candle of faith.
In the Bible, faith is intimately related to the promises that God makes to men and women. God promises Abraham that he will give him a land for his own and descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky. Abraham does not ask for pictures of the promised property. His wife is barren. He has no direct heir. Nonetheless he believes, and by faith leaves the house of his father and sets out for the unknown land that God has promised him. He fathers two sons and each becomes a founder of great nations, Ishmael of the Arabs, and Isaac of the Jews. After the death of Sarah his wife, Abraham will sire other children by subsequent wives. God’s promises, believed by faith, become reality.
Faith is central to the scripture readings we heard today. We heard the promise God makes to King David through Nathan the prophet “Your house and your kingdom will be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever”. The Jewish kingdom of David disappeared as a political entity, but in the Annunciation made to Mary by the angel Gabriel, the promise is made that the child she will conceive “will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end”.
Mary is a teenager, perhaps as young as fourteen, certainly no older than eighteen. This visitation must have been a terrifying encounter for her, yet her response is one of faith: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word”. In this she joins with Abraham, Moses and the prophets in accepting by faith the message brought by the messenger of God. And in her song of praise to God which we recited today she recognizes that she is the instrument through which “He has come to the help of his servant Israel, for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever.” This is why we join with her cousin Elizabeth in saying of Mary: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb”.
Casa Convento Concepcion, Antigua, Guatemala, (home of St. Alban Mission, Episcopal diocese of Guatemala)

If Advent is about our longing for Jesus, Mary is God’s instrument, chosen to be the mother of God incarnate, the only begotten Son Jesus. So Advent is Mary’s season also. In the Episcopal Church the penitential purple of Advent is gradually shading into the blue which is the color of the Virgin. Indeed the Mother of God is blessed above all women.

AMEN
Ricardo+

A CHRISTMAS MESSAGE from ARMANDO GUERRA SORIA, Archbishop and Primate of the Anglican Province of the Central America Region

The Most Reverend Armando Guerra Soria, Primate IARCA

MENSAJE DE NAVIDAD DEL OBISPO PRIMADO (EN FUNCIONES) A LA PROVINCIA ANGLICANA DE LA REGIÓN CENTRAL DE AMÉRICA

«Y aquel Verbo fue hecho carne, y habitó entre nosotros (y vimos su gloria, gloria como la del unigénito del Padre) lleno de gracia y de verdad» San Juan 1:14
Navidad: tiempo de reflexión y de esperanza
El misterio de la Encarnación ha cautivado en todas las épocas las mentes más privilegiadas, tanto por su simplicidad como por su complejidad. Simplicidad por cuanto r
equiere un acto de fe que sólo demanda creer que Dios en su infinito amor envió a su Hijo Unigénito para salvarnos de la muerte y del pecado asumiendo para ello nuestra naturaleza humana. Y, complejidad por cuanto nuestra facultad de razonamiento no puede penetrar completamente en los secretos de la naturaleza y voluntad de Dios. Dejemos lo segundo a los Teólogos y Filósofos y nosotros, los que no hemos necesitado más que creer, gocémonos en el hecho histórico del nacimiento de JESUS el HIJO de DIOS quien con su advenimiento nos llenó de vida y esperanza de un mundo nuevo en el que hay paz, justicia y vida de calidad abundante.
Inspirados en el pensamiento anterior, invito a los Obispos, Clérigos y Laicos de nuestra Provincia y a nuestros amigos en general, a que renovemos nuestros esfuerzos en construir un mundo mejor del cual erradiquemos la discriminación, la violencia y la pobreza. Y en los que respecta a nuestra Provincia oremos para que en el próximo Sínodo Extraordinario nos guíe en la elección del líder espiritual que los tiempos presentes requieren.

Su Gracia Rvdma. Armando Román Guerra Soria,