Tag Archives: Christianity

Advent Through the Centuries – the fifth century

Monday, December 5
The fifth century of the Church

Scripture:

Isaiah 35:1-10

Let the desert and the dry lands be glad, let the wasteland rejoice and bloom; like the asphodel, let it burst into flower, let it rejoice and sing for joy. The glory of Lebanon is bestowed on it, the splendour of Carmel and Sharon; then they will see the glory of Yahweh, the splendour of our God.

Strengthen all weary hands, steady all trembling knees and say to the faint-hearted, ‘Be strong! Do not be afraid. Here is your God, vengeance is coming, divine retribution; he is coming to save you.’ Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, the ears of the deaf unsealed, then the lame will leap like a deer and the tongue of the dumb sing for joy; for water will gush in the desert and streams in the wastelands, the parched ground will become a marsh and the thirsty land springs of water; the lairs where the jackals used to live will become plots of reed and papyrus. And through it will run a road for them and a highway which will be called the Sacred Way; the unclean will not be allowed to use it; He will be the one to use this road, the fool will not stray along it.

No lion will be there, no ferocious beast set foot on it, nothing of the sort be found; it will be used by the redeemed. For those whom Yahweh has ransomed will return, they will come to Zion shouting for joy, their heads crowned with joy unending; rejoicing and gladness will escort them and sorrow and sighing will take flight. 

Reading: 
Augustine, reflection on Psalm 109, c.400-430. Full text here.

He promised us eternal salvation and an unending life of blessedness with the angels, and an imperishable inheritance, the joy of seeing his face, a dwelling-place with him in heaven, and the fear of death removed from us through the resurrection. This is, if you like, his ultimate promise. We look forward to it, and when we reach it, we will want nothing more. But as to how this final end is to be reached, he has also told us in promises and prophecies.

He has promised to men that they will be like God; to mortals he has promised immortality; to sinners, righteousness; to the lowly, glory.

Indeed, brethren, because what God promised seemed incredible to men – that from mortality, decay, weakness, lowliness, dust and ashes they should become equals of the angels of God – he did not only sign a contract with them to convince them. He sent, not just any prince, not just any angel or archangel, but his only Son. The road by which he was to lead us to the end he had promised us – through his Son he would show us that road.

Even so, it was not enough for God to send his Son to point out the way – he made his Son the way itself, so that we can go on our journey guided by him as he walks along his own way.

So the only Son of God was to come to men, to take on humanity, and thus to die, to ascend to heaven and sit at the right hand of the father, and so to fulfil what he had promised among the nations. After that promise to the nations had been fulfilled, he would fulfil his other promise, to come, to demand the return of what he had given, to separate the vessels of anger from the vessels of mercy, to give the wicked what he had threatened and the righteous what he had promised.

All this had to be prophesied and foretold. It had to have its coming announced. It could not come suddenly and unexpectedly, causing terror and alarm: people had to be awaiting it with faith.

Apse from the Santa Pundenziana in Rome, fifth century.
Apse from the Santa Pundenziana in Rome, fifth century.

Prayer:
Attributed to St. Patrick, c. 450-490

Christ be beside me,
Christ be before me,
Christ be behind me,
King of my heart.

Christ be within me,

Christ be below me,

Christ be above me,

never to part.

Christ on my right hand,

Christ on my left hand,

Christ all around me,

shield in the strife.

Christ in my sleeping,

Christ in my sitting,

Christ in my rising,

light of my life.

Christ be in all hearts thinking about me;

Christ be on all tongues telling of me;

Christ be the vision in eyes that see me;

in ears that hear me, Christ ever be.

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Advent Through the Centuries – the seventh century

Saturday, December 7
The seventh century of the Church

Scripture:
Isaiah 60:19-22

The sun shall be no more
your light by day,
nor for brightness shall the moon
give you light;
but the Lord will be your everlasting light,
and your God will be your glory.
Your sun shall no more go down,
nor your moon withdraw itself;
for the Lord will be your everlasting light,
and your days of mourning shall be ended.
Your people shall all be righteous;
they shall possess the land forever,
the branch of my planting, the work of my hands,
that I might be glorified.
The least one shall become a clan,
and the smallest one a mighty nation;
I am the Lord;
in its time I will hasten it.

Reading:
The Jesus Sutras, c.
635AD.
Today is a bit of a different reading. It comes to us from China, where there was a growing Christian population in the 7th century. This Christianity was influenced by Nestorianism (which taught that Jesus had two ‘persons’ contained in his body – one divine and one human), and various Chinese beliefs, including Daoism and Buddhism. Christianity was brought to China by a persian monk named Aluoben, and a monastery still stands in China on the site of the monastery that they built. It’s fascinating to think of what Christianity would look like today if it had taken root in the East rather than the West. More can be read about the Jesus Sutras here. without further ado, a reading (and Chinese representation of Jesus) from the Jesus Sutras:

Then He spoke to the assembled crowd and said:
This Sutra is profound and unimaginable.
All the gods and gurus agree on this, and acknowledge
This Way that is the essences of connection and return.
To move you need light to see by — this teaching provides it
Just as the sun slants out, so you can see what is in front of you,
This Sutra offers understanding, and by its light
You can know the Way of Peace and Happiness in your heart.


If anyone wants to share these teachings with friends or family
Of course they can. Honor them, sing and pray together —
And this will bless you and your family into the next generation.
Every generation is united in this communion —
From goodness in past lives, people come to this religion
And through the faith they have they find Happiness.
It’s like the spring rain that refreshes everything —
If you have roots, you will flourish in its coming.

Prayer:

Attributed to St. Fursey of Ireland, c.584-650

The arms of God be around my shoulders,
The touch of the Holy Spirit upon my head,
The sign of Christ’s cross upon my forehead,
The sound of the Holy Spirit in my ears,
The fragrance of the Holy Spirit in my nostrils,
The vision of heaven’s company in my eyes,
The conversation of heaven’s company on my lips,
The work of God’s Church in my hands,
The service of God and the neighbour in my feet,
A home for God in my heart,
And to God, the Father of all, my entire being.
Amen.