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But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

 

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Revelation 4:1-11
Trinity Sunday
May 22, 2016
St. Paul’s Anglican Church

“Holy, Holy, Holy”
Today we celebrate the Blessed Trinity -- Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!  The original Feast (or celebration) of Trinity reaches back in time to the first thousand years of Christianity – a period of Church History known as the “Undivided Church.”  There were five primary centers of Christianity – equal and supportive of one another (“brothers” as it were): Jerusalem, Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople, and Rome.
The ascription of praise recorded in this morning’s Epistle Lesson -- Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty – is not without reason.  Holy to the Father.  Holy to the Son.  Holy to the Spirit – Three in One!  Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God Almighty.
This tells us the Trinity is one and many at the very same time.  This tells us the Trinity is unity and diversity at the very same time.  Mankind struggles with the revelation of God as many and God as one at same time.  So God has left several witnesses for us to ponder.
Water, for example, is one substance, yet it can be found in three forms – solid (ice), liquid, or gas (steam).  Space is one expanse, yet it is made up of three dimensions:  x-y-z.  Time is one entity, yet it can be found once again in three dimensions: past… present… future. 
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God Almighty.
An important lesson comes to us this morning from the Feast of Trinity.  What is this lesson?  It is this… The Blessed Trinity is the Foundation of all Social Order.  That which was once common knowledge among God’s people has almost been lost and forgotten by His busy and frenetic and distracted Family. The Blessed Trinity is the Foundation of all Social Order.
This is certainly true in marriage.  Two distinct individuals – a man and a woman – indissolubly joined together through marriage into what Jesus called “one flesh.”  And [He] said, For this cause shall a man leave [his] father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh (St. Matthew 19:5).  Two yet one!  Diversity, yet unity!
Now some emphasize unity in marriage to the exclusion of the distinctives marking husband and wife.  Others focus on their distinctives to the exclusion of their unity as “one flesh.”  The Blessed Trinity is the Foundation of all Social Order, beginning with marriage.  For both are to be in equal balance.
Across the years, Barbara and I have counseled many couples in our Church work and Christian schooling.  We have discovered when in conversation with them, they tell us everything we need to know about where they are through their use of pronouns!  Some use the singular pronouns I, me, my, mine, he, she, him, her, his, hers almost exclusively!  But the plural pronouns we, us, our, ours are nonexistent!  There is no balance in their marriage!   The Blessed Trinity is the Foundation of all Social Order, yet somehow they never learned this!  And their own social order is vulnerable to collapse.
The same is true at the national level.  Israel of old was both unity and diversity – there were twelve, independent and “sovereign” tribes.  Yet together they formed one nation, Israel.  They were, by God’s design, at one and the same time both one and many – unity and diversity!  The Blessed Trinity is the Foundation of all Social Order!
The Founding Fathers of America – almost all Christians to a man – understood this fact and set our great nation on the most stable of all foundations – the paradigm of the Blessed Trinity!  You have heard of the Latin phrase: e pluribus unum – out of many, one!  Many individual “sovereign” states held together through a weak federal headship possessing very specific (limiting) “enumerated powers.”  Unity and diversity held in careful check and balance.
Those who seek centralized power today ruin this careful balance and unwittingly threaten our social order.  In the same way those who follow the period of the Judges -- when every man did that which was right in his own eyes -- ruin the careful balance and unwittingly threaten our social order.  One leads to totalitarianism and the other leads to chaos!  The Blessed Trinity is the Foundation of all Social Order!  There must be balance between unity and diversity.
The same is true of Christ’s Church!  His Body on earth is one.  Yet it is made up of many members with many different gifts and many unique abilities.  Yet we are all to preserve the unity of His one, holy, catholic (universal), Apostolic Church.  It is an elegant design! 
It has been famously observed that the Blessed Trinity has left a mysterious and ubiquitous (meaning  everywhere) witness all around us – to teach us... to remind us... to comfort us... to guide us... to show us His fingerprints!  To lead us in His way.
Consider, for example the world of science... The human eye is Tri-Chromatic (meaning literally “three color”) – because the retina of man (as God’s Image Bearer) contains three types of color receptor cells (or cones).
Man also reflects the Trinity is his tri-partite makeup – body... soul... and spirit!
Science also tells us the most stable of all shapes is the “triangle” ( the smallest number of sides a simple polygon can have)!  The three-legged stool is the most sure-footed and balanced of all designs!  And those beautiful and mesmerizing geodesic domes are built entirely of three-sided equilateral polygons... triangles.
In math, we could talk for hours concerning the distinctives of the number three.  For example, the Pythagoreans (followers of Pythagoras) called the number three (3) the “noblest of all digits! – and apparently coined the word triad.  This was picked up later by those remarkable Druids who taught their extraordinary insights almost exclusively through triads!  Countless triads!  If you have never read any of them you have missed a lot.  This should go on your “bucket list.”
Why did the Pythagoreans call the number three the noblest of all digits?  They had a long list of reasons, but I will only mention a few... Three is the first odd prime number!  It is also the only number to equal the sum of all terms below it.  It is the only number whose sum with those below it equals the product of those below it with itself.  The number three is also the closest integer to π (which relates the diameter of a circle to its circumference) and to e (that famous constant of the devout Christian mathematician of yesteryear, Leonhard Euler... which is the theoretical base of the natural logarithm.  Every real number also falls into one of only three categories! – positive... negative... or zero!  It soon becomes apparent that the number three is at the center of the number world just as the Trinity is at the center of His created world! 
 
Is this all just a coincidence?  Or can we see God’s fingerprints in all of this!
Jesus’ Office was threefold – Prophet... Priest... King!  The Magi brought Him three gifts representing these three offices!  His earthly ministry spanned roughly three years!  In the Garden, He prayed three times for His bitter cup to be taken from Him!  He was tempted three times of the devil.  He was raised from the dead on the Third Day! 
The Blessed Trinity is represented by the number three – and in a sense He has sanctified (and set it apart) for special use!  The Blessed Trinity is indeed, the Foundation of all Social Order!  We are wise, indeed, if we remember He is Threefold while still a profound Unity! 
This holy day we celebrate Him – three in one!  And we seek to emulate Him in all of our relationships in life.  He is always Unity and He is always diversity!
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God Almighty.  World without end, Amen.

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Acts 2:1-11
Pentecost
May 15, 2016
St. Paul’s Anglican Church

“The Wonderful Works of God”
The Day of Pentecost is about many things!
It is most obviously about tongues.  But the word “tongues” is too mysterious a word for the average hearer.  If we substitute the more common equivalent word “language” -- a lot of this mystery evaporates.  The Day of Pentecost was thus about understandable languages and about understandable dialects.  Fifteen of them are mentioned in the Epistle lesson read together this morning!  All the way from Pontus in the north to Egypt in the south.  From Rome in the west to Arabia in the east!  All these people heard and understood God’s message in their own native languages – miraculously -- on the day of Pentecost.
But the Day of Pentecost is also about fire.  We are told – once again in Old English – that “cloven tongues like as of fire” appeared and sat on each of the disciples!  But what are “cloven tongues of fire?” we ask.  The word cloven comes from the verb “cleave” and means to cut in pieces.  In its more developed sense it means to divide, to distribute.  The picture before us is of fiery root – a stem progressively split and divided downward into many individual strands -- descending in their midst to each individual present.  Was the fire real?  No.  The text says cloven tongues like as of fire.  This was the visual sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit!
The Day of Pentecost is about wind.  The house in which the disciples were sitting that day was suddenly filled with what seemed to be a strong gale of wind from heaven.  This was the audible sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit.  When the Prophet Ezekiel, by divine command, prophesied to the wind and called it to blow upon the dead bodies in the valley of his vision, it was the Breath of Almighty God that breathed upon them and filled them with new life.  In the same manner, the Spirit of God came upon the disciples and filled them with His life and strength and power!
The Day of Pentecost is all about the Holy Spirit.  And concerning the Holy Spirit we know all too little and understand even less.  The wind bloweth where it will, Jesus told Nicodemus, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but knowest not whence it cometh and whither it goeth: so is everyone that is born of the Spirit.
We invariably fail to comprehend just how great and irresistible is the power of the Holy Spirit!  Most have lost sight of the fact He is mentioned in the second verse of the Bible, and was very active at the Creation: And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness [was] upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
The word translated moved does not mean to go from point A to point B.  It can also be translated “trembled” or “vibrated.”  When the Spirit of God “moved” upon the face of the waters, it is understood by many very learned scholars (including Dr. Henry Morris, who authored his book The Genesis Record when it was not popular to believe is a literal Creation) that electromagnetic energy began to pulse (vibrate) throughout the universe.  Gravitational forces -- and then other forces -- were thereby set in motion.  The universe became “alive” as it were.  The Spirit, we must remember, gives life!  He gives order.  He gives coherence.  He gives truth.  He gives understanding.  He gives strength.  He gave it to the disciples of old.  And He still gives the same to you and me today!  For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (II Timothy 1:7).
But this sacred day, let us remember something easily forgotten... something regrettably forgotten!  Something buried inside of the verses that make up our text this morning is the climax… the high water mark… the “punch line,” if you will!
The Holy Spirit comes in undeniable fashion!  He is likened to fire and wind!  The disciples are changed and gifted to speak miraculously and eloquently in languages not their own!  But what did they tell the visitors from around the world who had come to Jerusalem?  What was the message intended by the Spirit through all of these miraculous events?  
The wonderful works of God!  We do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God! 
One of mankind’s deepest and abiding needs of every generation… of every land… of every people… of every economic stratum… of every walk and work in this world… is to have a worthy “reference point” in life – a reference point that is greater than man… greater than the changes of life… greater than the passing fads and follies of Adam’s sons and Eve’s daughters! 
Reference points are of great value.  They always have been.  They always will be.
Knowing the direction of magnetic north by means of a small compass in one’s hand can spell the difference between life and death to a lost hiker in an unforgiving wilderness.
The ability to sight Polaris (the North Star) – one of the most popular navigational reference points – was in the nineteenth century of inestimable worth to sea captains in whose hands were the lives of their crews… 
Even Monarch butterflies apparently navigate by means of reference points!  The flight of millions of monarch butterflies making their annual migration from the eastern United States to their winter residences in Mexico’s Sierra Madre Mountain Range remained a hidden mystery from time immemorial.  Scientists now believe the monarch is able to make its annual passage over thousands of miles because it can reference polarized ultraviolet light given off the sun.  With this information it is now believed they construct a three-dimensional map permitting them to navigate safely and reliably to and from their destination.  
This Day of Pentecost, we all remember the sound of the rushing mighty wind… We all visualize the “fiery root” (as it were) descending upon Christ’s disciples… And we all certainly recall the manifestation of the Spirit through the speaking of different languages and dialects.
But how slow we are to remember the end product of all these miraculous manifestations – the proclamation of mankind’s eternal reference point: the wonderful works of God through Christ by the Holy Spirit… in our lives, in our relationships, in our church, in our land, in Christ’s Kingdom, in history past, present, and future!
Without this sacred orientation in life, the sons of Adam and the daughters of Eve are not unlike the regrettable pilot flying without instruments in a fogbank who loses his spatial orientation and perishes as his plane spirals into the side of a mountain.
Without the divine beacon of God’s wonderful works to guide us on the sea of life, we are not at all unlike the many able captains of yesteryear who in blinding spray and lurching waves still inadvertently piloted their ships into unseen rocks which viciously tore vulnerable hulls sending their crews to their icy graves.
God furnished supernatural gifts on the Day of Pentecost to communicate to mankind the wise eternal reference point we so desperately need – the wonderful works of God!
…we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. 

This is the Word of the Lord. A-men.Isaiah 61:1-3

Christmas II 

January 3, 2016

St. Paul’s Anglican Church


“Beauty for Ashes”


The majestic words read together this morning -- spoken by the Prophet Isaiah 700-years before the Birth of our Lord -- are truly worthy of our daily contemplation.  The prophet saw Jesus’ ministry from afar and indicated in stunning language for all who had hope to believe… faith to see… and an imagination to envision… a miraculous reversal in the expected course of events powerful enough to change “fate”… overpower unbelief… and swallow apathy!


Beauty for ashes… we are told.  Life for death!  Good for evil!  Growth for destruction.  Grace for perdition!  Wonder for ignorance.  Service for self-regard!


On the night of December 9, 1914 (over 100-years ago now), Edison Industries was totally destroyed by the ravages of fire.  The light of the dancing flames could be seen reflected on the somber and weathered face of the famous inventor, Thomas Alva Edison, who at the age of 67, stood watching his life’s work go up in smoke.  The loss exceeded two-million dollars in damages, a considerable sum even today… to say nothing of its value a century ago!  And included in the devastation was the vast majority of the great designer’s brilliant work!  Edison Industries was insured… but for only $238, because the building had been constructed of “fireproof” concrete.  


The next morning, after fire fighters had finally brought the blaze under control, Edison quietly examined the charred remains of his dreams and solemnly sorted through the strewn ashes where once stood lofty hopes and high expectations.  He stood in grave silence for some time lost in deep contemplation.  Then he finally broke the stillness with his now famous words, “There is great value in disaster.  All our mistakes are burned up.  Thank God we can start anew.”  Only someone with vision can say such an audacious thing…  And guess what?  Three weeks after the fire, Edison Industries produced the first phonograph –which would revolutionize the world of his day!


Every setback is but the stage for a new success – if we can only see it!  I’m not engaging in what has been termed the “power of positive thinking.”  Every easy highway that the Almighty in His Providence closes to you and me, opens up to our vision of faith a new and inviting challenge – beckoning us forward into previously hidden pathways lined with bright opportunities for growth and development and service… in ways deemed impossible by others.


The difficulties and trials we face, contrary to our natural inclination, develop in us rare and worthy graces for this life, as well as for the life that is to come – selfless humility, personal character, unending patience, enduring strength, resilient faith, heartfelt compassion, love for neighbors, and hope for each and every new day!  And we soon recognize the familiar footprints we are to follow on the sacred, upward path.  They are none other than those of the Lord Himself Who has gone before us… And it is He Who brings His people what Isaiah promised – beauty for ashes…   


We must remember the Hand which penned this phrase (beauty for ashes) was not really the eighth century B.C. prophet Isaiah!  Who was it then?  The One Who really authored it is none other than the Almighty and Everlasting God we serve – He Who has no name (because He is too great to be summarized by the letters of a small alphabet), Who has no beginning, Who has no imperfections, and Who has no end!


And we must not lose sight of the fact that He has no limitations!  If He wants to give beauty for ashes to those who do not deserve it… so be it… more power to Him!  If He wants to give beauty for ashes to those who have faith the size of a mustard seed… so be it… more power to those who believe in Him that He can and will do it!  Let us not limit the products of faith in our lives this coming year, 2016!  In many of our Lord’s earthly miracles recorded by the Evangelists, we do well to remember that Jesus intoned special words upon many of the recipients of His great power and goodness and miracles… saying, “Your faith hath made you whole!”  


Dear St. Augustine, the 4th century brilliant mind who was so infected with heresies in his youth… and was famously converted against all odds by the Almighty through the preaching of the Bishop of Milan, St. Ambrose ( a giant of the Faith)… once said, “Faith believes what we do not yet see.  The reward of such faith is to see what we have believed.”   What do we see for the coming year?  In what do we believe?


Those who can believe in the beauty God graciously exchanges for the ashes of our poor decisions… the ashes of our miserable mistakes in life – bring the promised miracle within reach!


Since the first time I heard about it in one of those illustrious Moody Bible Science Videos, my understanding of this phrase – beauty for ashes – has never been the same!


There are plants in this world which the Almighty has designed – as strange as it seems – to survive by fire!  What a radical thought!  A good example is the Jack Pine found in the northern portion of central and eastern US and Canada!


The Jack Pine cones are thick and hard -- glued shut tight with their own strong resins.  The technical term is “serotinous” – meaning “late blooming”… “late opening.”  Serotinous cones can hang on a Jack Pine tree for years without opening to release a single seed.  But when a fire sweeps through a forest of Jack Pines, the heat from the fire melts the resin, allowing the cooled cone afterward to open up and release the seeds.  The new seeds in their new home of nutrient-rich ash soil are thus enabled to germinate and sprout – and new, beautiful, young, green supple shoots reach for the sun!  Beauty for ashes


Many people for many reasons have said they hope 2016 will be a better year than 2015.  Christians should stop and think – based upon our text this morning – that perhaps the “disasters” of the past year (whatever they might have been) are but a fresh stage for newer… grander… more beautiful… more godly developments in our lives!


Moses went to Egypt to deliver God’s people from their bondage!  But his efforts soon went up in smoke!  “Your people are idle… let them make their quotient of bricks without straw,” the pharaoh demanded.  But out of these ashes came their deliverance by ten plagues and the parting of the Red Sea – which we still read and delight in today.  Beauty for ashes.


David was anointed by Samuel to replace Saul as Israel’s next king.  He miraculously defeated Goliath of Gath and instantly became his nation’s hero.  But jealous Saul chased him into exile outside Israel’s borders – a barren wilderness which germinated in him seeds of faith and dependence upon God… an indomitable spirit and a stubborn conviction that God would somehow see him through!  And he became the greatest of Israel’s line of kings!  Beauty for ashes.


Our Lord’s breathtaking and fabulous miracle-rich ministry also went up in flames, as it were, at the end – with betrayals… perjured witnesses against him… kangaroo courts… injustices of all sorts… brutality… and finally, ignominious death.  


But sacrifices are always supposed to go up in smoke!  Sacrifices in the Old Testament -- by God’s Own decree -- always went up in smoke!  And no less the greatest Sacrifice of all time… which they foreshadowed!  But look at all the beautiful graces… and lush growth… and goodness which has come into the world through the ashes of His sacrifice!  Beauty for ashes.


The crux botonée – “budded cross” – says it all.  The life of God in Jesus Christ is irrepressible. You cannot snuff it out!  The greatest instrument of death merely brought forth the greatest source of life for mankind.  Beauty for ashes…  Life for death!  Good for evil!  Growth for destruction.  Wonder for ignorance. Forgiveness for condemnation!


There is great value in disaster, as Edison observed!  All our mistakes are burned up.  Thank God we can start anew.


Let us keep the promise of beauty for ashes close by in 2016! 


World without end.  Amen.

St. John 21:19-25

Feast of St. John, Apostle & Evangelist

December 27, 2015

St. Paul’s Anglican Church


“Follow Me”


You may have seen the same bumper sticker that caused me to chuckle a while back.  Two times I looked to make sure I was reading it correctly.  And each time it spoke the very same words: Don’t Follow me.  I am also lost.  There is something very refreshing about such a bumper sticker!  And over the following months, it soon became very clear as to what it was.  Infallible man – surely a modern myth – who is always so confident that he “knows it all” (and trumpets it abroad) was able to tell the truth about himself so that we could all laugh at ourselves!  And it is a cathartic laugh, for deep down, we know it to be ever so true – even to the point of man’s “self-sufficiency” being his bane and downfall!  It is always refreshing, however, to see the truth again – even from such an unlikely quarter as a bumper sticker.  Don’t Follow me.  I am also lost.  


But this revealing truth is not embraced by everyone – for it does not flatter 21st century sophisticated man!  A majority of this world’s problems all come back home to roost on “man” – collective or individual!  The proverbs-writer understood this well and put it as plainly as he possibly could, humanly-speaking:  There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death (Proverbs 16:25).  Man needs help!  Left to his own delusions, he will certainly self-destruct.  


We are all aware of regrettable incidents in life – based upon faith in the supposed “knowledge” and “expertise” and “abilities” of man – that have, alas, led to the ruin of many.  Even to the point of hikers, equipped with maps and compasses and overflowing supplies, nevertheless somehow becoming lost and meeting their dreadful end outwitted by the unforgiving harshness of the great outdoors.  


Even the ill-fated instrument flight of the “Lady-Be-Good” in April of 1943 during WWII – caused not by equipment failure… but by navigational error – ending in the tragic loss of the entire nine-man crew in the heat of the Libyan Desert warns us not to take confidence in man too seriously!  Sound theology is sometimes even found on bumper stickers!  Don’t Follow me.  I am also lost.  


Mankind is made up of two categories of people.  Those who in pride believe they can find their own way through the maze and challenges of life and eternity based upon their own resources.  And those who have received grace and humility to chart their course in this life and that to come by reference points external to man that are immovable and will never change. 


Certainly, in one of the great statements of the Bible, before us this morning, comprised of only two short words, we find mankind’s salvation.  It was Jesus Christ Who spoke them: Follow Me.  Not “follow others.”  Not follow opinion polls.  Not follow the repeated errors of history.  Not follow the richest… the most popular… the most powerful!  But Follow Me.  


There is no denying these are exclusive words.  He is the only Name under Heaven by which we must be saved.  Nor are they “easy” words.  For Jesus set the terms of discipleship: …he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me (St. Matthew 10:38).  


These words – Follow Me – were spoken throughout His earthly ministry… and also, as we read together this morning, at end of His earthly ministry!  In the final analysis, these words are the crucial watershed in the history of mankind.  For they separate those who follow the Son of God and are saved, from those who follow only themselves and end up lost.


These words have always separated the sons of Adam and the daughters of Eve into “sheep” and “goats.”  These words have silently partitioned families and clans… quietly divided Churches… segregated denominations.  They are, indeed, in the final analysis… the revealing litmus test that distinguishes between Christ’s One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church and those who are on the outside looking in. 


Today is the Feast – or Festival Day – of St. John!  It is a day that makes many nervous because they feel it distracts from following the Lord Jesus Christ – Whom we are to follow.  But we must remember that Christ’s Church is built upon the foundation of the Prophets and the Apostles – Jesus Christ Himself functioning as the Chief Corner Stone.  The Apostles show us what it means to follow the Son of God.


The Apostles were faithful witnesses.  Without them, what would we know of Jesus Christ?  We would have an incomplete record in the Bible.  Without the Apostles, there would be no Church.  For it was they who criss-crossed this globe taking His message through all barriers to mankind.  Without their labors, we would not be gathered together here in this fine House of Worship this morning!


Today, we honor and remember the life of dear St. John – human author of the Gospel account bearing his name… and of the three General Epistles bearing his name… as well as the final book of the Canon – Revelation.


One of the sons of Zebedee and his wife (Salome), he was a fisherman by trade -- a partner in Galilee with his brother, James, along with Simon Peter and his brother, Andrew, in their fishing venture!  Originally, he was a disciple of John the Baptist along with his good friend, Andrew.  He quit his work in the fishing industry in order to become a disciple of our Lord.  He was one of the most intimate of the Twelve – present at the raising of Jairus’ daughter and also at the Transfiguration.  He and James were termed boanerges (“sons of thunder”) when they sought (like Elijah, of old) to call down fire from Heaven on a Samaritan village whose inhabitants had refused them hospitality.


He is often thought to have been a priest – because of his easy access to the High Priest’s courtyard (when, as you recall, St. Peter was denied access).  At the Last Supper, he occupied the privileged place at the table next to our Lord.  He stood at the foot of the Cross.  And at Jesus’ Word, he accepted responsibility for the welfare of His mother, Mary.  He, with St. Peter, was one of the first visitors to witness the empty tomb.  And in one of the great milestones of his own journey of faith, upon viewing the grave clothes in the tomb, he confessed that “he saw and believed.”


He was with St. Peter at the gate of the Temple when a lame man was healed.  He was also with St. Peter on the mission to Samaria in order to certify new converts and impart the Spirit to them through the laying on of hands.  He, along with St. Peter and St. James (the Lord’s brother) are termed “pillars” in the Jerusalem Church.


St. John lived many years after the commencement of the Christian era.  Shortly before the Fall of Jerusalem – upon our Lord’s counsel – he departed Jerusalem, eventually residing in Ephesus of Asia Minor with Apostolic oversight over the Churches there. 


While in Ephesus, St. John was exiled to the Isle of Patmos – a penal colony located off the coast of Turkey.  There, confined in a small cave, the vision of the Book of Revelation was received and put into writing.  The setting has been variously known across the ages – Cave of the Apocalypse, the Holy Cave, the Grotto.  Most who visit there testify they felt its holiness… and were drawn into meditation, prayer, worship, and quiet contemplation.


Eventually, St. John was released from his banishment and returned to his humble abode in Ephesus.  When he was so old that he could no longer walk, he was carried into worship services by his disciples – among whom were numbered his students, Polycarp and Ignatius – who became Apostolic Fathers.  On certain occasions he was accustomed to say no more than this: Little children, love one another!  When asked, “Master, why do you say this?” his reply was always the same: It is the Lord’s command.  And if this alone be done, it is enough!


How interesting that just as his brother, James, was the first of the Twelve to die, so dear St. John was the last of the Twelve to die – tired and worn out, his allotted strength expended – in Ephesus at the threshold of the second century, A.D. 


His testimony to us on this day set aside to celebrate his life’s work and honor him as an Apostle, is to follow Jesus Christ and to love one another.  Not to follow one another.  Not to follow