The Daily Offices

The Daily Offices from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, (Canada 1962), including daily Bible readings and occasional sermons from the Cathedral of the Annunication of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Ottawa

Monday, January 23, 2006


Jesus says, I say unto you, that many shall come from the east and from the west and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.

Our Lord’s words echo the promise God made to Abraham, And in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. Gen12:3. That promise, of course referred to the Saviour and his being born of Abraham’s line. It was a promise which opened up salvation for all humankind.

How appropriate, then, is the verse from Matthew for the week in which we pray for Christian unity, a week which we began with a votive Mass for unity last Wednesday.

Let me say right now that I recognize that this is a big, complex, thorny topic and it is not possible in the time I have available to deal with it in depth. In fact, in my experience, the very mention of Christian unity usually raises hackles and brings barriers crashing down, as those in the discussion beat a rapid retreat into one entrenched position or another. The subject itself has become the cause of further and expanding disunity.

And Jesus Christ is saddened, while the devil dances with whatever approximates in his world to delight.

So far, I have found only one way to stop, even if only temporarily, discussions on unity from becoming rancid examples of disunity. That is to point out that we would be much better off if we focused on our common ground and left aside our differences.

We will then realise that our common ground is centred on Jesus Christ and Him crucified. No ground could be more solid for the Christian and no ground is more important. In fact, one of the reasons the Christian body has drifted in so many different directions, becoming essentially dismembered in the process is because its leaders and pastors have failed to preach Christ crucified with dedication, determination and faith.

We cannot preach Jesus Christ without the Cross; we cannot preach the Cross without Jesus Christ and we cannot preach Redemption without both Jesus Christ and the Cross.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed with special intensity to His Father. As St. Luke tells us, And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly: and His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. Luke 22:44.

One of the things He prayed for, St. John tells us, was unity. He prayed first for His Apostles and then for all who heard the word through them. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word: that they all may be one. John 17:20

These words of our Lord are compelling enough, but what He prayed next turns unity from His powerful desire into an absolute obligation. As thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us. That the world may believe that thou hast sent me. John 17:21.

There is the core of the matter. Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour wants us to be united with God, which is, when all is said and done, what Redemption is all about. God have mercy on any who profess Christianity but who willfully oppose the unity our Lord and God demands.

St. Paul, who preached the unity message often, wrote to the Ephesians, There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in you all. Eph.4:4-6.

The word, ‘one’ appears seven times in those three short verses and if unity mattered so much to St. Paul, it had better matter to us.

The Apostle’s words tell us that it is incontrovertibly true that when we are united in God, we must by definition be united in each other. What else can, through all and in you all, possibly mean. That is reason enough to fire us up to want, with all our beings, to be united to every other Christian who lives and breathes and worships around us.

Jesus gives us all the reason we need to burn with such desire, That they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. Those are very dangerous words. They put the opponents of unity in the position of working against the earthly mission of Jesus Christ. How many souls have been lost because they see Christians disputing with one another, even despising each other’s beliefs.

The naked hatred that I encounter for the Roman Catholic Church among so many Protestants does not serve Jesus Christ, it serves satan. The same applies to the imperious dismissal of Protestants by many Roman Catholics. When we adopt such intransigence and proclaim such positions we stand condemned by our own actions as opponents of the will of God.

Inside every human being, put there by God Himself is a desire to be united with God, whether that is recognised or not. And there is nothing so fragile or vulnerable as the soul which is searching for unity with God. How can such souls possibly be attracted by the spectacle of one Christian spitting venom at another. The world does that, and the soul searching for God is seeking another world.

Before I first went to the Sudan, Bishop Robert told me that under no circumstances was I to attempt to convert the people I found there to our Anglican Catholic branch of Christianity. At the time I did not fully understand what he meant, but I most certainly do now. The Body of Christ is not enlarged, nor served, by a Christian who says to another, Hey, come and join us. We do it better.

Before Vatican II, Pope John wrote an encyclical, Pacem in Terris, in which he, with great wisdom, opened the way back to unity. In one place he wrote:

Every human being has the right to honour God according to the dictates of an upright conscience and therefore the right to worship God privately and publicly.

Later he continued:

We must never confuse error and the person who errs, not even when there is question of error or inadequate knowledge of truth in the moral or religious field. The person who errs is always and above all a human being, and he retains in every case his dignity as a human person.

That is the spirit which emanates from the Cross and leads today back to the Cross and to Jesus Christ crucified. We must always be on our guard against error, but we can not, ever, ignore the dignity of another human being. Because in every human being is that spark of the Divine, the human soul, the point at which we are all, in reality, united with God.

Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, sets the example. He despises no one. St. Matthew, from whose record we read today, was a tax collector, despised by every Jew in the city. But not by Jesus, who called him to be an Apostle.

The woman at Jacob’s well was a Samaritan, despised by every Jew. But not by Jesus Christ, who asked her to draw him water and then drew her kinsfolk into the sphere of his saving grace.

Saul was a persecuter and a murderer of Christians, feared by every member of the fledgling Church. But Jesus turned him into a dedicated Apostle and sent him to convert the Gentiles, teaching and preaching the need for unity, the beauty of unity and the holiness of unity in the body of Christ. And the Church which Saul had persecuted prospered mightily under the Spirit led guidance of St. Paul.

It is arguable that we, who are all Gentiles, are here today because of what the Spirit led St. Paul to preach so effectively. And we are here today to seek what our Lord exhorted us to accomplish, unity with God.

Darwell Stone began his 1914 book, The Holy Communion, with the words, Union with God is the highest ideal of human thought and the highest aim of human life.

Union with God is sealed each time we join our small sacrifice, properly prepared and offered, with the perpetual, perfect, sacrifice of Jesus Christ in the Eucharistic Feast which He instituted. It is the means, both tangible and mysterious, whereby our unity with God and with each other is renewed. It is both the outward and inward expression of the faith which Jesus so warmly approved in the centurion who sought his help.

If we truly approach this gift of the saving, uniting body and blood of Jesus Christ with that faith, we can leave this Holy Communion today armed and able to join the work for which Jesus prayed to His Father, As thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us. That the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

Peter Jardine+
Epiphany 3, 2006

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


Mary and Joseph, St. Luke tells us, lost Jesus. For three whole days they searched. And it came to pass, that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. And when they saw Him, they were amazed: and His mother said unto Him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? Behold thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.

The words of a distraught mother who thought she might never again see her beloved child, her anguish probably bringing back to the forefront of her mind the importance of her charge.

Now I am one of those simple people who tries not to read things into Scripture that are not there. I am way too ignorant to take such a risk. But this passage, especially in the context of the season of Epiphany is so wonderfully revealing that I felt the need to speak about it.

Jesus is at the tender age of twelve and the Gospel narratives tell us virtually nothing about His first twelve years, since the great event of His Nativity. We recall, almost above all else that in His birth He came among us in great humility, not so much because He was born in a stable among animals and in the presence of no one but His mother and step father. Rather the humility was signified because of the fact that God took upon Himself the mantle of human flesh.

Now, at the age of 12, we find a young boy who still exhibits that humility, but who also and most dramatically, exudes a particular confidence.

And He said unto them, How is it that ye sought me. Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?

That is a truly remarkable declaration. The twelve year old Jesus knew with complete certainty who He was and why He was on this earth, which is why this incident is recorded for us by St. Luke. It reminds us of Our Lord’s divinity. It reveals to us the extent to which the boy Jesus must have spent His time in prayer with His Father. And it shows us that Jesus was constantly, patiently, diligently preparing for His ministry and His final Redemptive acts.

But St. Luke tells us so much more. His writing is a great call for submission to the will of God the Father. Jesus declares with an astounding lack of doubt that He knows who His real Father is and that God the Father’s Business is His business. I don’t know about you, but I would be busting to get on with that business.

Jesus does not do that, or if He does, He suppresses His urges. What Our Lord does is submit Himself to the authority of His parents, showing again that perfect humility which so characterizes His Incarnation.

V.51 says, And He went down with them and was subject unto them. Jesus was obedient to Joseph and Mary. Most important, however, is that Jesus was obedient to the will of the Father. It was the Father’s will that Jesus should spend the next 18 years, as He had spent the previous 12, in quiet obscurity.

It was not the Father’s plan to follow Redemption’s dawn with Redemption’s final act. Why, is far too deep a question for me and is perhaps even a mystery which cannot be truly resolved in this life.

Our Blessed Lord was content to wait.

So must the faithful Christian accept the yoke of patience; be obedient to God’s command to, Be still and know that I am God, Ps.46:10. Sanctification is a slow process, at least for most of us. We cannot ever rush God; we have no pressure to bring to bear on Him. Our Lord waited for 30 years for His Father in Heaven to send Him on His three short years of mission.

Whatever mission or tasks are in God’s plan for us, will be revealed in God’s time. Our prayers will be answered in God’s time. All we can do is pray, as Jesus prayed, be patient as He was patient, prepare, as He prepared, so that someone may perhaps say of us, as St. Luke says of Jesus, He increased in wisdom, and stature, and in favour with God and man.

Peter Jardine+
Epiphany I, 2006

Monday, January 02, 2006


Everyone loves to celebrate the birth of a baby. It is a most human thing to do, and it is why we are here tonight. The arrival of a baby brings change to the family into which it is born. That is true of the baby whose birth we celebrate tonight, but this baby rang changes which went far beyond the family into which he was born.

For one thing, this baby makes very unusual demands on us, asking us to believe certain things about him, things which have far reaching consequences for each and every one of us.

He is God, this baby; God the Son. And right there huge numbers of people are presented with a difficulty which they find hard to overcome. It has been like that since his birth, over 2,000 years ago. On the face of it, the problem these people have and have had is understandable.

Why would God, Holy and Almighty, spend nine months swimming around in the dark waters of a human womb?

“Well, you see,” the Christian might answer, somewhat diffidently, “He came to save us.”

Really? See question 1, above, Why would God spend nine months swimming around in a human womb?

After all, is this not the same, all powerful God who created us?

Was it not He who hit the Eqyptians with one plague after another until finally Pharoah let the Hebrews leave Egypt?

Was it not He who parted the waters of the Red Sea so that Moses could lead the Israelites across? Did He not then engulf the hosts of Pharoah in those same waters, saving Israel out of the hand of the Egyptians?

Is not the Old Testament replete with examples of the great power exercised by this God? He didn’t need the womb of Mary to come among us, did He? He could have arrived like King Kong, all might, muscle and black eyed fury, slapping recalcitrant sinners back into line. Of course, He would have been robed in shining white and with a couple of heavy duty wings beating on His back.

Yes, He could have done that, but this is not a God who forces his creatures to do anything. He is a God who shows us the way and asks us to follow; who disciplines with firmness and love those who genuinely err; who offers hope and promises a future of joy beyond our imagination to those who hear and obey and punishment beyond our imagination to those who hear and willfully disobey.

So, yes, this baby, this Jesus, whose birth we celebrate today, asks that we believe certain things about Him. St. John, in masterful writing, encapsulates some of those things.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. In that one, short, dramatic sentence St. John places Jesus in the Godhead and in the timelessness of eternity.

At the same time, St. John has placed anyone who encounters these words on a frightening spot, rather like a trapdoor with unspeakable horrors beneath it. Remember the collect for Advent II, which begins, Almighty God, who hast caused all Holy Scripture to be written for our learning. Learn and believe the opening words of the Gospel and you get to step off the trapdoor to get on with your search for sanctification.

But deny them and you are making of God a liar, not St. John, but God, who caused the scripture to be written. At which point the trapdoor will fall and drop you into a very dangerous place. Dangerous because in denial of God, you will live in sin and because you have discounted His warnings, you will probably enjoy that sin and be very happy wallowing in it. Ray Comfort, the Kiwi evangelist, says categorically that sin is enjoyable. If it wasn’t we wouldn’t do it. But enjoyable or not, it is always dangerous because it has to be answered for on the day of judgement.

And we can be sure that on that day, God will ask why we did not believe in Jesus Christ and why, in so denying Him, we made of God a liar. I don’t know about you, but I have enough to answer for without having to deal with the question, Why did you make of your Almighty God a liar?

The Word was God. And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. Here, St. John directs us to consider not so much the outward fact of the Nativity, that he has left to other writers, St. Matthew and St. Luke. St. John directs us to consider its eternal meaning. Here is the beginning of the hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Here is the reason for that nine month sojourn in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

What better way could there be for God to send the message that you, mortal man, are part of me, the Eternal God? The relationship between God and man is proclaimed to be more intimate than most of us ever realise, which is sad because it would be so much easier to hope if we could feel the closeness of God.

I am going to digress just a little here to illustrate the meaning of hope in God with a story from my recent trip to South Sudan. It is the story of a seven year old boy, Simon and it will bring tears to the eyes of some of you. That’s OK, I will probably join you.

Simon lived near Rumbek, deep in the south. One day Government troops on horseback raided his village. Simon was made to watch as his parents were killed. Simon was then grabbed and dragged by the retreating troops through a river, almost drowning him. He was taken to the north, where he was made a slave house boy. His job was to tend sheep, a task so new to him that he lost some of the animals. His master put a noose around his neck, tied him to a camel and slapped the camel. The boy was dragged to the point of death. The master then sold Simon to another owner, who was displeased with him and sold him again. This master also gave Simon jobs the seven year old could not do and one day he took the boy into the bush. He hanged him by his neck from a tree and walked off.

Before Simon died, a man came upon him and cut him down. Miraculously, this man was from the same, oh so distant village as the little boy and he took him to safety in the town of Agok.

Tom Zurowski, the American pastor who related the story to me, asked Simon how he felt about it all. With a huge smile on his face the little boy answered, “I believe God must have a wonderful plan for my life.”

That is the hope we find in the birth of Jesus Christ.

The Word was made flesh. The Son of God, who was in the beginning with God, by the will of the Father and the action of the Holy Spirit, by His own voluntary act of infinite love, became flesh. St. John chose his words with great care, saying not that the Word became man, but the Word became flesh.

That word, flesh, expresses so profoundly the fullness of our nature which Jesus took upon Himself. It incorporates all our vulnerability to pain, to weariness, to sorrow and to death. And it helps us to see the driving force of Divine Love behind the Incarnation.

In thus absorbing our nature, in becoming fully human, Jesus Christ makes the unequivocal statement that in the sight of God all men are equal. At the same time, He renewed creation and gives us, through His life, the hope of life eternal. He enobled the whole human race and gave us reason to hope in this life.

Then, to that statement, The Word was made flesh, John adds, and dwelt among us. Words are not wasted in this Gospel, and the significance of these is immense. In them, St. John encapsulates the life of Christ between his birth and his death.

The Son of God dwelt among us, growing and maturing just like you and I do. He ate, He slept, He played, He laughed, He cried, He stubbed His toe and banged His head, got stung by bees, and yelled at by strangers.

He sucked at His mother’s breast and was weaned. He soiled His baby clothes and was toilet trained. He went through puberty; His treble voice dropping an octave or two.

Through it all, He was tempted, just as we are. And just as His Incarnation consecrates our nature, His perfect, sinless life consecrates our life.

St. John continues, And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory (the glory as of the only begotten of the Father).

It is not enough to acknowledge this baby; not enough to celebrate the birth, nor even to believe. The devil believes in Jesus Christ. We have to fall on our knees and worship. We have to adore this baby, praise His Kingship, give thanks for His consecrating life and open our very souls to the life giving blessing of His precious death. And we have to give back to Him every cell in our body, every thought, every breath we take and ask Him to consecrate them to His service.

The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.

With the addition of these words, full of grace and truth, we may consider the Christmas message to be complete.

God came among us, renewing His creation. He dwelt among us, sanctifying every part of this earthly life with His life. His abundant Grace offers us His sustaining power in our weakness. We are never alone. God is always attentive to our cries for help. His light will always shine through the darkness to guide us. He gives us His truth to protect us from erring against the Holy laws of light. His truth is in His perfect example of human living and in the teachings of His ministry. And His grace and His Truth are made whole by His death upon the Cross

And the Word was made flesh. I said at the beginning of this sermon that this baby Jesus requires us to believe certain things about Him. Towards the end of the Gospel, St. John tells us why. Chapter 20 v.31, This was written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name.

May this precious baby, Redemption’s dawn, draw each of us to our knees before Him, in adoration, in worship, in humble acknowledgement of His glorious majesty; and in unclouded belief in His Redeeming Grace.

Peter Jardine+
Christmass Mass, 2005