Thursday, February 27, 2003

The Archbishop of Canterbury's Enthronement Sermon


Canterbury Cathedral

Thursday 27 February 2003

[Checked against delivery]

It's sometimes been said that if someone came up to you in the street and whispered, 'They've found out! Run!', nine out of ten of us would. We nearly all have secrets that we don't want exposed - even if they are quite trivial in the cold light of day - and that phrase tell us a lot, the cold light: we don't want to be under the kind of detached scrutiny that threatens and diminishes us, sitting under a bare light bulb being interrogated. So when it looks as though our secrets are about to be revealed, we easily panic and run.

More seriously, there are secrets too that are terrible for us and others to face because they have to do with pain we can't cope with, abuse, enforced silence, secrets that others make us keep. To feel that the truth is to be revealed before we have the resource to live with it is humiliating and frightening. Again we might properly shrink from this. But secrets are also fascinating. If someone came up to you in the street and whispered, 'Go to such and such an address and you will be told the secret of your real identity', most of us would feel at least a flicker of temptation to go and find out. We never knew there was such a secret, a life we have never known - but what if there were?

The gospel reading we've just heard [Matthew 11:25-30]is about knowing and telling secrets, discovering a truth not everyone sees. In one way, nothing is hidden: Jesus has just been talking about what happens to the local towns that have seen his miracles and heard his words and yet haven't changed. It's as though the people in these towns haven't realised there is any mystery about who Jesus is; they look at what he does and they listen to what he says, yet they treat it as something they can think about at arms' length, an interesting phenomenon that has nothing really to do with how they live and die. And Jesus rounds on them and says, 'I don't want your idle curiosity, I don't want your patronage. There is a secret that you haven't a clue about - and the ones who know that secret are the ones who don't try to protect themselves by staying at a safe distance.' And he might equally round on us, in what used to be called 'Christendom' in the West, and say, 'You have seen everything, the truth has been displayed, and yet you too react with boredom or polite curiosity. It's all a bit too familiar,' he says. 'Perhaps it's time for you to listen to some strangers.'

'You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent', says the Lord, from those who make the kind of sense we can cope with. We must turn to the children; the exhausted; the ravaged and burdened and oppressed - they know the secret. Unless we know that we need life, we'll be baffled; but we hate admitting our lack, our poverty. It's the really hungry who can smell fresh bread a mile away. For those who know their need, God is immediate - not an idea, not a theory, but life, food, air for the stifled spirit and the beaten, despised, exploited body.

But what is this food, this life? Here's the deeper secret. To Jesus is given the freedom to give God's own life and love; and that life and love is bound up with knowing God the source of all as one who in giving life to his children holds nothing back, whose life is poured into the willing heart of Jesus so that Jesus can give it to the world. 'All things have been handed over to me by my Father'. So wherever Jesus is, God is active, pouring out his gift, inviting our response. And this means we can't know fully who God is and what God gives unless we are willing to stand in the same place as Jesus, in the full flood of the divine life poured out in mercy and renewal. It's only in the water that you can begin to swim.

We learn painfully quickly that we cannot hold our own there by our own strength; it is Jesus's gift in life and death and resurrection that makes it possible for us to stand with him, breathing his breath, his Spirit. Without the gift of the Spirit, we couldn't survive the presence of that absolute Truth, that unfading light which is God. And if we're not seeking to stand where Jesus is, all our talk about God remains on the level of theory; nothing has changed. On the Day of Judgement, says Jesus, looking back at the towns where he has ministered, the people who are in trouble are those who have seen everything and grasped nothing; who know everything about bread except that you're meant to eat it.

The one great purpose of the Church's existence is to share that bread of life; to hold open in its words and actions a place where we can be with Jesus and to be channels for his free, unanxious, utterly demanding, grown-up love. The Church exists to pass on the promise of Jesus - 'You can live in the presence of God without fear; you can receive from his fullness and set others free from fear and guilt'. And, as with all secrets, people will react with a mixture of that fascination and alarm we began with. Here is the secret of our true identity - we are made to be God's children and to find our most profound freedom in surrender to him. We only become completely human when we allow God to remake us. Like the conservationist in the art gallery, God works patiently to remove the grime, the oil and dust of ages, and to let us appear -as we say - in our true colours. Wonderful, yes; but it means also that God will lay bare all the ways we hide from him and each other, all the sad and compromised and cowardly things we do to stop ourselves being human. 'They've found out! Run!' But, says Jesus, gently and insistently, we must stay. In the unsurpassable words that George Herbert puts into Our Lord's mouth, 'You must sit down, says Love, and taste my meat'. Truth looks terrifying; but taste and see. You will find that Truth is indeed the bread of life.

But it's still pretty frightening. Once we recognise God's great secret, that we are all meant to be God's sons and daughters, we can't avoid the call to see one another differently. No-one can be written off; no group, no nation, no minority can just be a scapegoat to resolve our fears and uncertainties. We cannot assume that any human face we see has no divine secret to disclose: those who are culturally or religiously strange to us; those who so often don't count in the world's terms (the old, the unborn, the disabled). And this is what unsettles our loyalties, conservative or liberal, right wing or left, national and international. We have to learn to be human alongside all sorts of others, the ones whose company we don't greatly like, the ones we didn't choose, because Jesus is drawing us together into his place, into his company.

So an authentic church has a difficult job. On the one hand, it must be constantly learning from the Bible and its shared life of prayer how to live with Jesus and his Father; its life makes no sense unless we believe that the secret Jesus reveals to those hungry for life is the very bedrock of truth. The Church can't believe and say whatever it likes, for the very sound reason that it is a community of people who have been changed because and only because of Jesus Christ. I am a Christian because of the change made to me by Jesus Christ, because of the gift of the Holy Spirit, which gives me the right to call God 'Abba, Father'; what other reason is there?

But then there is a further dimension. Living in Jesus's company, I have to live in a community that is more than just the gathering of those who happen to agree with me, because I need also to be surprised and challenged by the Jesus each of you will have experienced . As long as we can still identify the same Jesus in each other's life, we have something to share and to learn. Does there come a point where we can't recognise the same Jesus, the same secret? The Anglican Church is often accused of having no way of answering this. But I don't believe it; we read the same Bible and practise the same sacraments and say the same creeds. But I do believe that we have the very best of reasons for hesitating to identify such a point too quickly or easily - because we believe in a Jesus who is truly Lord and God, not the prisoner of my current thoughts or experiences.

But it is this that gives us the freedom and the obligation to challenge what our various cultures may say about humanity. If all we have to offer is a Jesus who makes sense to me and people like me, we have no saving truth to give. But the truth is that we are given the joy of speaking about one who is the secret of all hearts, the hidden centre of everything - and so one who comes to us always, yes, as a stranger, 'as one unknown', in Albert Schweitzer's words, but also as the one that each person can recognise as 'more intimate to me than I myself'. This is why the Christian will engage with passion in the world of our society and politics - out of a real hunger and thirst to see God's image, the destiny of human beings to become God's sons and daughters come to light - and it must be said also, out of a real grief and fear of what the human future will be if this does not come to light. The Church has to warn and to lament as well as to comfort.

So when Christians grieve or protest about war, about debt and poverty, about prejudice, about the humiliations of unemployment or the vacuous cruelty of sexual greed and unfaithfulness, about the abuse of children or the neglect of the helpless elderly, it is because of the fear we rightly feel when insult and violence blot out the divine image in our human relations, the reflection to one another of the promise of Jesus in one another. And anything that begins to make us casual about this is one more contribution to obscuring the original image of God in us, another layer of dust and grime over the bright face of Jesus Christ.

What we need to learn is the generosity that comes from true and proper confidence in the secret shared with us. We need to be confident that we are
created: that we exist because God has freely called us into life so that God's joy may be shared. In this confidence, we know that our human task is to answer that call in every moment, shaping our lives as a response to God's voice. We need to be confident that we are redeemed: that God has acted once and for all in Jesus Christ to halt us in our slide towards self-destruction and has opened to us the possibility of life that is animated by nothing less than God's life. In this confidence, we know that our human task is to be thankful, to respond to God with noisy praise and silent adoration. And we need to be confident that we are being
transfigured: touched by God's Holy Spirit, we have been decisively changed and endowed with something of God's liberty. In this confidence, we know that we are not prisoners of the world, we can make a difference by God's grace, and can share in the work of uncovering afresh the hidden face, the life-giving secret.

Can we, then, as a Church - in this diocese, in Britain, in the worldwide Communion - discover such confidence? Yes; but only if our foundation is that sense of being told our secret, our real identity, by Jesus; only if we come to him as the one who alone can satisfy the hunger of human hearts. 'You must sit down, says Love, and taste my meat. So I did sit and eat'.

Today is a time to reflect with you all about the character of the ministry that I'm taking on; but as I try to do this, I find it's not possible to think how I can minister the living bread of Christ unless I first seek to become clearer about what I long to see in the Church in which I shall be ministering. After all, it is God in the midst of God's people who will enable me to minister - not any programme or manifesto, not any avalanche of projections. So the most significant question I can ask myself in your presence about the work ahead is 'What do I pray for in the Church of the future?'

Confidence; courage; an imagination set on fire by the vision of God the Holy Trinity; thankfulness. The Church of the future, I believe, will do both its prophetic and its pastoral work effectively only if it is concerned first with gratitude and joy; orthodoxy flows from this, not the other way around, and we don't solve our deepest problems just by better discipline but by better discipleship, a fuller entry into the intimate joy of Jesus's life. When we have become more honest about our hunger and our loss, we shall have a fuller awareness of what that joy is; and as that joy matures, we shall have a fuller sense of the depth of our need. And so it goes on, the spiral of discovery, moving deeper into the radiant mystery of Christ.

About twelve years ago, I was visiting an Orthodox monastery, and was taken to see one of the smaller and older chapels. It was a place intensely full of the memory and reality of prayer. The monk showing me around pulled the curtain from in front of the sanctuary, and there inside was a plain altar and one simple picture of Jesus, darkened and rather undistinguished. But for some reason at that moment it was as if the veil of the temple was torn in two: I saw as I had never seen the simple fact of Jesus at the heart of all our words and worship, behind the curtain of our anxieties and our theories, our struggles and our suspicion. Simply there; nothing anyone can do about it, there he is as he has promised to be till the world's end. And nothing of value happens in the Church that does not start from seeing him simply there in our midst, suffering and transforming our human disaster.

And he says to us, 'If you don't know why this matters, look for someone who does - the child, the poor, the forgotten. Learn from them, and you will learn from me. You will find a life's work; and you will find rest for your souls; you will come home; you will sit and eat.'


For details about the 27th February broadcast, webcast and video of the Enthronement of the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Rowan D Williams, visit these web sites:

Lancelot Andrewes Press

Dear Friends,

Below is a web link to a site of interest. "Lancelot Andrewes Press" is a small operation of an Antiochian Orthodox Church Western-Rite parish that is seeking to produce and reprint devotional items in the classical Anglican tradition. So far there are two items available: a reprint of Neale and Littledale's classic and massive 4-volume patristic commentary on the Psalms, and a newly complied "St. Dunstan's Psalter" of traditional Psalter chant melodies, the first such item to be produced in several decades.

I would say that the modern Church has lost the art of praying the Psalms christologically. This commentary will certainly help to showhow it can be done

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Archbishop of Canterbury's New York visit goes online

ACNS 3325 | USA | 26 FEBRUARY 2003

[Trinity Institute]
Anglicans across the world who have internet access will be able to see or hear online presentations by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Rowan Williams, during a visit to New York on 28 and 29 April this year.

The Archbishop is participating in the annual conference of Trinity Institute, the continuing education program of the Parish of Trinity Church, Wall Street, New York.

His sermon at the opening Eucharist of the conference on 28 April, and an address on 29 April, will be among conference presentations webcast live by Trinity Television, the parish's television ministry.

The conference topic is "Shaping Holy Lives: Benedictine Spirituality in the Contemporary World."

The Revd Dr Frederic Burnham, director of Trinity Institute, said the archbishop was invited because he "has always had a rich spiritual life of his own, and has explored significant spiritual issues," in his writing.

He pointed specifically to Williams' Love's Redeeming Work. "His argument is that for major Anglican figures, their impetus was to figure out the shape of a holy life. Interest in what constitutes a holy life is at the heart of the theology of the Anglican tradition."

The webcast will include both audio and video "streams". The audio facility will cater to those in the Communion who can receive only sound on their internet connections. Listeners and viewers will be able to e-mail questions for the Archbishop, on the conference topic, both ahead of and during the webcast.

Archbishop Williams' last visit to Trinity was for the television taping of a forum on spirituality on 11 September 2001. The attack on the World Trade Center took place while he and other guests were gathering for the event. During the hours that followed, Archbishop Williams comforted the group at Trinity - leading prayers as debris descended on the streets - and then evacuated lower Manhattan as the towers collapsed.


Archbishop's Sermon: Monday April 28, 2003 - UTC/GMT: 4 pm Conference Address: Tuesday April 29, 2003 - UTC/GMT: 3.15 pm

For webcast times in your timezone, check:


Via one of the following:
any Provincial or national church site carrying a direct link


Questions to conference speakers to:


Full details of the conference, which includes American and British experts on Benedictine spirituality and practice Joan Chittister, Kathleen Norris and Laurence Freeman - available at:


Sessions will be archived and available for later listening or viewing.

This presskit also available at


For details about the 27th February broadcast, webcast and video of the Enthronement of the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Rowan D Williams, visit these web sites:

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Video of the Enthronement Service of the Archbishop of Canterbury

ACNS 3323 | ACNS | 25 FEBRUARY 2003

The Anglican Communion Office is producing an exclusive video of the Enthronement Service of the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Rowan Williams.

To register your order, please complete the online pre-order form at

You will be contacted shortly after the enthronement regarding payment details.

Prices: GB£17.95 / US$25.00. Prices are inclusive of postage and packaging.

Enthronement Update


On 27 February 2003, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Rowan Williams, will be enthroned in the historic Mother Church of the Anglican Communion, Canterbury Cathedral. The Primates of the Anglican Communion will be led in procession by the Secretary General of the Anglican Consultative Council, the Revd Canon John L. Peterson. During the service the Rt Revd John L Patterson, Chairman of the Anglican Consultative Council, will lead the prayers from the Compass Rose Symbol in the Nave. The blessing of the new Archbishop at the Enthronement Ceremony will be given by the Most Revd Robin Eames, Archbishop of Armagh, longest standing Primate of the Communion.

Attending the service will be the Diocesan Bishops from the Church of England and Wales as well as Church of England Officials, Civil Leaders, the UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and the Prince of Wales, His Royal Highness Prince Charles. The Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, Cormac Murphy O'Connor, will read a lesson from the Revelation of John the Divine and the Gospel text to be read by the Archbishop comes from Matthew 11. Musicians include the choir of St Woolo's Cathedral, Newport, Wales. The renowned men and boys choir of Canterbury Cathedral will sing various motets and anthems during the two hour service including: Exultate Deo by Francis Poulenc; Beati Quorum Via by Sir Charles Stanford; Plebs Angelica by Michael Tippett; and Tu es Petrus by Palestrina. An African and an Urdu hymn will also be sung.

February 27 is the Feast day of George Herbert, priest and poet, who died in 1633. As part of the service, the Collect for the Feast will be prayed and three texts of George Herbert will be sung including Come my Way by John Sanders. There will also be a special setting by James MacMillan, commissioned for this service, with the words, "If thou chance to find a new house to thy mind, and build without thy cost, be good to the poor, as God gives thee store, and then, my labour is not lost. Alleluia." One of Archbishop William's own poems, I saw him standing, will be part of the pennillion for welsh harp and soprano soloist.

During the ceremony there are actually two enthronements, one by the Archdeacon of Canterbury, the Venerable Patrick Evans, who will seat the Archbishop in the Diocesan throne and then the Very Revd Robert Willis, Dean of Canterbury, will enthrone Archbishop Williams in the Chair of St Augustine. The Church's great hymn of praise, Te Deum Laudamus, will be sung to a setting in E major by English composer, Benjamin Britten, and there will be a communal act of commitment following a text from the Methodist Covenant Service to be led by Archbishop Rowan. The Archbishop will take his oath whilst holding the Canterbury Gospels. These Gospels are thought to have been written in Italy in the fifth or sixth century. They are traditionally believed to have been presented by Pope Gregory the Great to St Augustine for his mission to England. On the dissolution of St Augustine's Monastery, the book was rescued by Dean Wootton who gave it to Archbishop Parker. It was later bequeathed to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, where it has remained ever since.

The Dean of the Province, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres, will also bless the new Archbishop as will the Bishop of Dover, the Rt Revd Steven Venner, who oversees the vast amount of the Episcopal Ministry in the Diocese of Canterbury. The congregation at the Enthronement Service includes personal guests of Archbishop Rowan and Mrs Jane Williams and some members of the Cathedral Congregation as well as Ecumenical and Inter-Faith guests. The diocesan clergy will also be present. Hundreds of enquiries were made by people from around the communion about attending the service; the Cathedral's capacity at its maximum is 2500 persons.

On Sunday 2 March, Archbishop Rowan will preach in Canterbury at the 11am Cathedral Eucharist and again at 3pm at a special Diocesan Eucharist and Celebration of his new ministry. No tickets needed.

The Order of Service for the Enthronement is available online on the Anglican Communion web site at, suitable for downloading in programme form. Congregations are encouraged to use hymns and prayers from the service in their own worship services. Some congregations are gathering during the evening of the Enthronement to join in prayer for the ministry of the new Archbishop and will use parts of the service. The text of the Archbishop's sermon will also be available on the Anglican Communion web site shortly following the conclusion of the service. The service is expected to last two hours. It will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 4 from 2:50pm and from 2:30pm on BCC2 Television.

A video of the Service will be available for purchase soon after March 1. People interested in obtaining a copy should click on this link,, and fill in the pre order form.


For details about the 27th February broadcast, webcast and video of the Enthronement of the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Rowan D Williams, visit these web sites:

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon

Saturday, February 22, 2003

Meditation on Canticle of the Three Young Men, in Book of Daniel

God Does Not Abandon Us to Death or Loneliness, Pope Says
VATICAN CITY, FEB. 19, 2003 ( Here is a translation of John Paul II's address at today's general audience, during which he reflected on Chapter 3 of the Book of Daniel, the canticle of the three young Israelites.

* * *

1. "Then these three [young men] with one voice sang, glorifying and blessing God" (Daniel 3:51). This phrase introduces the famous Canticle that we just heard in its fundamental passage. It is found in the Book of Daniel, in the part that has come down to us only in Greek, intoned by courageous witnesses of the faith, who did not want to bow in adoration of the statue of the king and preferred to face a tragic death, martyrdom in the fiery furnace.

They are three Jewish youths, placed by the sacred author in the historical context of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, the great Babylonian sovereign who destroyed the holy city of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. and deported the Israelites "by the waters of Babylon" (see Psalm 136). Despite the extreme danger, when the flames were already licking their bodies, they found the strength "to praise, glorify and bless God," certain that the Lord of the cosmos and history would not abandon them to death and nothingness.

2. The biblical author, who wrote a few centuries later, evokes this heroic event to stimulate his contemporaries to hold high the standard of faith during the persecutions of the Syro-Hellenistic kings of the second century B.C. Precisely at this point the courageous reaction of the Maccabees took place, combatants for the freedom of the faith and of Jewish traditions.

The canticle, called traditionally "of the three young men," is similar to a flame that lights up the darkness of the time of oppression and persecution, a time that has often been repeated in the history of Israel and of Christianity itself. And we know that the persecutor does not always assume the violent and macabre countenance of the oppressor, but often is pleased to isolate the righteous with mockery and irony, asking him with sarcasm: "Where is your God?" (Psalm 41[42]:4,11).

3. All creatures are involved in the blessing that the three young men raise to the Omnipotent Lord from the crucible of their trial. They weave a sort of multicolored tapestry where the stars shine, the seasons flow, the animals move, angels appear and, above all, the "servants of the Lord" sing, the "holy" and "the humble in heart" (see Daniel 3:85,87).

The passage that was just proclaimed precedes this magnificent evocation of all the creatures. It constitutes the first part of the canticle, which evokes the glorious presence of the Lord, transcendent and yet close. Yes, because God is in heaven, where he "looks into the depths" (see 3:55), but also "in the temple of your holy glory" of Zion (see 3:53). He is seated on the "throne" of his eternal and infinite "kingdom" (see 3:54), but also [the] "throne upon the cherubim" (see 3:55), in the ark of the covenant placed in the Holy of Holies in the temple of Jerusalem.

4. He is a God who is above us, capable of saving us with his power; but also a God close to his People, in whose midst he willed to dwell in his "glorious holy temple," thus manifesting his love. A love that he will reveal fully in making his Son Jesus Christ, "full of grace and truth," "dwell among us" (John 1:14). He will reveal the fullness of his love in sending his Son among us to share in every way, save sin, our condition marked by trials, oppressions, loneliness and death.

The praise of the three young men to the God Savior continues in various ways in the Church. For example, St. Clement of Rome, at the end of his Letter to the Corinthians," inserts a long prayer of praise and trust, woven throughout of biblical reminiscences and perhaps reechoing the early Roman liturgy. It is a prayer of gratitude to the Lord, who, despite the apparent triumph of evil, guides history to a good end.

5. Here is a passage:

"You enlightened the eyes of our heart (see Ephesians 1:18)
so that we would know you the only One (see John 17:3),
Highest in the highest heavens,
the Holy One who are among the saints,
who lay low the haughtiness of the ruthless (see Isaiah 13:11), who frustrates the plans of the peoples (see Psalm 32:10), who sets on high those who are lowly and those who mourn are lifted to safety (see Job 5:11). You who enrich and impoverish who kill and give life (see Deuteronomy 32:39), the only benefactor of spirits and God of all flesh who fathom the deeps (see Daniel 3:55), who look upon human works, who rescue those who are in danger and save those in despair (see Judith 9:11), creator and custodian of every spirit, who multiply the peoples on earth, and who choose, among all, those who love you through Jesus Christ, your most beloved Son, through whom you have educated, sanctified, and honored us" (Clement of Rome, "Lettera ai Corinzi" [Letter to the Corinthians], 59, 3:I "Padri Apostolici" [The Apostolic Fathers], Rome, 1976, pp. 88-89).

[Translation by ZENIT]

[At the end of the Audience, the Holy Father gave the following summary in English:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Canticle found in the third chapter of the Book of Daniel is a magnificent hymn in praise of God's transcendent glory. Sung by the three young men condemned to the fiery furnace for their fidelity to the God of Israel, the Canticle evokes the holiness and power of the Creator, who dwells among his people in his holy temple in Jerusalem. This prophetic celebration of God's closeness to his People prefigures the coming of the Son of God, who in the fullness of time "took flesh and dwelt among us." In her Liturgy the Church in every age takes up this song of gratitude for God's merciful love, which guides all history to its appointed end.

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today's Audience, especially those from England, Japan, and the United States. Upon you and your families I cordially invoke God's blessings of joy and peace. ZE03021901

Thursday, February 20, 2003

New from the PBS


May I bring to your notice two important items available from the Prayer Book Society of the USA.

First, the (I really believe) very important book by Lou Tarsitano and Peter Toon entitled NEITHER ARCHAIC NOR OBSOLETE THE LANGUAGE OF COMMON PRAYER AND PUBLIC WORSHIP. This book clearly shows the origins and development of the classic language of prayer and worship - in Bible, Prayer Book and Hymnody. It also explains the nature and logic of this idiom and dialect of prayer and devotion. Then it shows how and why it was abandoned in the 1960s & 1970s and that what has replaced it is as yet unstable and constantly changing because it is a secular language adapted for religious use.

This book represents Toon & Tarsitano at their best in a calm and reasonable style seeking to show that there is still a major case to be made for the traditional language of prayer worship and bible translation. You will enjoy this book!

Please send $10.00 to the Prayer Book Society, Box 35220, Philadelphia, Pa. 19128-0220 for a copy ( call 1 800 PBS 1928 if you want to buy several at a special price).

Also, two special CD's are available from the same address for $10.00 each.

First, a series of addresses on Prayer Book themes given by Peter Toon in Christ Church, Biddulph Moor. 80 mins of clear exposition of major themes of worship and prayer.
Secondly, a pdf version of the major Commentary on the BCP of the 19th Century -- THE ANNOTATED PRAYER BOOK by Canon Blunt. This is a massive book and we have put it into pdf to be readby Adobe. It is a gem and a tremendous source of information on the classic BCP 1662 (and thus 1789 American).

Both are boxed and attractively presented.

[coming very soon a double CD of the first SIX of the Edwardian Homilies from the First Book of Homilies 1547 read by Peter Toon, some 160 mins of 16th century exposition of faith, good works and charity -- $15.00 for the 2

Again may I urge you to get a copy of the book, which I truly believe you will find an inspiration and challenge.
(People in other places than the USA & Canada who wish the book or CD's contact me directly please by e mail)

Thanks for your support.

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon

Sixth Homily


The sixth Homily I have recorded is available for dowloading or hearing at the church website below under Homilies. It is on CHARITY and its relation to Faith and Law. Classic 16th century exposition from the center of the English Reformation.

Please listen to it and be enriched by classic reformed catholic teaching.

The CD containing the first six of the Edwardian Homilies will be available from the Prayer Book Society very soon for $15.00. PBS Box 35220, Philadelphia Pa 19128-0220 (1 800 PBS 1928)

(People in England or Europe or Australia contact me please)

I am grateful to Barbara Rabett for making these recordings of 6 homilies possible.

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon

Statement from the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster


EMBARGO: 12:01am 20 February 2003

Joint Statement from Archbishop and Cardinal

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams and the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor have, following a recent private meeting, issued the following statement about the crisis involving

"War is always a deeply disturbing prospect; one that can never be contemplated without a sense of failure and regret that other means have not prevailed, and deep disquiet about all that may come in its train.

"We are very conscious of the huge burden of responsibility carried by those who must make the ultimate decision in these matters. They are daily in our thoughts and prayers, as are all those who would find themselves caught up directly or indirectly in a war.

"The events of recent days show that doubts still persist about the moral legitimacy as well as the unpredictable humanitarian consequences of a war with Iraq.

"We recognise that the moral alternative to military action cannot be inaction, passivity, appeasement or indifference. It is vital therefore that all sides in this crisis engage through the United Nations fully and urgently in a process, including continued weapons inspections, that could and should render the trauma and tragedy of war unnecessary.

"We strongly urge the government of Iraq to demonstrate forthwith its unequivocal compliance with UN resolutions on weapons of mass destruction.

"The season of Lent is now approaching, a time when all Christian traditions encourage us to examine ourselves honestly, to acknowledge our shortcomings and to seek reconciliation with God. We must hope and pray that, with God's guidance, an outcome that brings peace with justice to Iraq and the Middle East may yet be found."


For details about the 27th February broadcast, webcast and video of the Enthronement of the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Rowan D Williams, visit these web sites:

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Sunday, February 16, 2003

Three Pieces by (or about) Major Thinkers in the Catholic World


(three pieces by or about three major thinkers today in the Catholic world)

God Is Not Indifferent to Sin, Says Cardinal Ratzinger
Directs a "Lectio Divina" on the Book of Jonah

ROME, FEB. 13, 2003 ( It is not possible to remove God's judgment and punishment from the Christian faith, because to do so would mean that God is indifferent to evil, says Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

According to the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, "God combats evil and for this reason, as judge, he must also punish to do justice."

Cardinal Ratzinger clarified this point when directing a "lectio divina" (sacred reading) in the Church of Santa Maria in Transpontina on the Via della Conciliazione, near the Vatican. The newspaper Avvenire published extensive passages of the cardinal's meditation Tuesday.

The reflection was focused on the biblical Book of Jonah, the prophet who refused to preach in Nineveh, as God had requested. When Jonah set sail for Tarshish, he was thrown into the sea and swallowed by a great fish. Three days later, he was delivered alive on dry land.

According to Cardinal Ratzinger, one of the great errors of believers today is to "feel at ease with sin."

As a result, the heart "becomes blind, ceases to seek God, does not desire grace, and does not feel any repentance." Malice follows, which explains the outrages of Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot and their cohorts, the cardinal said.

It must not be forgotten that "Christ did not come because everything is good and is under the reign of grace, but because the call to goodness and repentance is totally necessary," the cardinal stressed.

In order to be credible in proclaiming God, "Christians must be the first in the path of penance," which is a sign of conversion, Cardinal Ratzinger continued.

He added: "Conversion never ends," since it entails a constant struggle against one's sins: sloth, self-complacency, the quest for power, conformism, aggressiveness and arrogance.

Michael Novak Defends U.S. Position on Iraq
American Theologian Describes the War as Defensive, Not Preventive

ROME, FEB. 11, 2003 ( U.S. theologian Michael Novak insists that a military intervention in Iraq can be justified by the principles of legitimate defense, rather than the concept of preventive war.

Novak, of the American Enterprise Institute, spoke here during a two-hour symposium Monday organized by Jim Nicholson, U.S. ambassador to the Vatican.

Over the last few days, Novak has attended meetings in the Vatican and in Italy to try to justify the U.S. government's position regarding Iraq. He met in private with Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, Vatican secretary for relations with states, and with representatives of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

Speaking on "The Doctrine of the Just War and Iraq," Novak said that "a possible U.S. attack against Iraq has nothing to do with a preventive war."

"The United States is afraid that the arms of mass destruction, chemical and bacteriological -- mustard gas, sarin, botulin, anthrax -- that Saddam Hussein has at his disposal and that he has yet to demonstrate that he has destroyed, can be used by fundamentalist terrorists," Novak said.

"We have seen what is was possible to do with a spoonful of anthrax. Saddam has at his disposal 5,000 liters of anthrax and we know they can be used by terrorist cells around the world," Novak told his 150 listeners.

"We cannot allow other massacres, such as the one of Sept. 11, to take place. This is why we ask Saddam to destroy his arsenals -- a commitment to disarmament that Saddam assumed in 1991 and that he has still not respected," said Novak, who fielded questions from the audience.

In regard to armed intervention, Novak referred to the doctrine of just war, explaining that this war would be a "defensive intervention against a sure threat," represented by a regime that "is worse than that of the Taliban" and "more cruel than that of Milosevic."

"In moral terms, we were attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, and it is our government's job to protect its citizens," he said. "For this reason, we will do everything possible to defend ourselves."

Novak referred to No. 2309 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which specifies the conditions necessary for legitimate defense. He explained that they must be framed in the different context of the "asymmetrical war" carried out by terrorists.

The damage for nations is lasting, grave and certain, and that is why "it is morally obligatory for states to defend themselves from this threat," he said.

In response to criticisms from the Catholic world of the U.S. plan to attack, Novak said: "It is not true, as Civiltà Cattolica has written, that we are trying to make war to control Iraq's oil."

According to an endnote in the text of Novak's talk, "only" 6% of the oil used in the United States comes from Iraq. "Europe, China and Russia are much more interested than we are in that region's oil," he said.

Asked about John Paul II efforts to avoid the conflict, Novak said: "It is right that the Holy Father should move to impede the war. I thank him for it."

Novak also applauded a recent statement of Cardinal Camillo Ruini, president of the Italian bishops' conference, who said that Saddam should opt for voluntary exile.

"In any case, we will be the first to accept Saddam's effective disarmament, and we would be very happy not to fight a war that seeks to deactivate such a serious threat to the security and freedom of peoples," Novak concluded.

Novak's address may be read at

February 13, 2003, 11:10 a.m.
The Pious & the War
Iraq and justice.

By James V. Schall, S. J.

ith the exceptions of Archbishops O'Brien and Hannon, both military chaplains, and the generally positive statement of Archbishop Pell in Sydney, we have apparently a worldwide clerical chorus against war. The common theme is, "I don't have enough evidence," a theme echoed by French and German politicians, among others. A sub-theme is that things might get out of hand. Islam might "arise." Or, all preemptive strikes are bad. The main problem is the wicked Americans and their pride. Danger is subjective. Iraq does not really exist as a threat. Terrorists are, at best, a minor danger.

In January, the Italian Jesuit journal La Civiltà Cattolica published a screed against the hapless Americans. The Anglican Bishop of Oxford does not have enough evidence. The Vatican is against war. Several patriarchs are against war. The American bishops are against war. Every cleric who is anyone is against war. Solemn, apocalyptic words of warning come forth daily, as though orchestrated. Principles of morality are invoked as if they could only be used by one side. Suddenly, it seems to the pessimist, it is not just the Muslim world that is run by clerics. One hardly knows what to make of it all.

In our darker moments, we can imagine a discouraged American president, surrounded by clerical doubters, finally caving in at a Prayer Breakfast. "All right, Reverend Fathers and dear Pastors, since you know more about defending the rights of peoples and our country than I do, since you have more information than I do about what is going on in Iraq and the world, since your methods are more effective, I hereby turn the safety of the nation over to your competent hands." Of course, it would not take a moment's reflection to realize that we could not be safe in the hands of the no-war-at-this-time party, however well intentioned it may be. Their advice is just that - advice, not policy, let alone a basis for action.

Not only would such an alternative be unconstitutional and imprudent, it would be against the stated principles of most Christian social thought - that matters of war and peace are in the hands of chosen leaders who have a right and duty both to spell out their reasons and to act on them. The idea that no action can take place till the last cleric or moralist is convinced of a problem is a formula for disaster. But all human action takes place in some obscurity. And of course, this is not merely a "clerical" issue. Many a politician, journalist, and academic in various countries agree with it. And this is the rub. It is not just a "moral" statement. It is a moral statement enmeshed in political realities that have to be attended to. The opposite of these particular well-intentioned "moral" admonitions is not necessarily an "immoral" alternative.

There is a well thought out, clear, empirically based case that not to do anything in the present moment would be immoral. This case was made by President Bush in the State of the Union address and Secretary Powell in his speech to the U.N. It is impossible to read these statements without seeing that they are written and spoken with high moral purpose and their authors fully cognizant of the facts at issue. No side has a monopoly on the ethics of the matter: It is certainly not the exclusive preserve of the clergy. The American leaders do not conceive of themselves as operating in a moral vacuum. The "I-am-still-not-convinced" position has the advantage of not actually having to do anything to protect anyone from danger.

But the responsible politician has no such luxury. The president has spelled out the number of times since 9/11 that further attacks have been prevented. We live in a period of illusion if we think that further attacks have not come forth because bin Laden, wherever he is, or his friends, have changed their minds or their methods. Targets in Europe and the United States have been selected. Our efforts to defend ourselves have worked. The conclusion is not that no danger is near, but that danger has been thwarted and must continue so to be.

We are calmly but clearly told of biological and nuclear materials, of delivery systems, and of human bombers. The danger is not from mass armies crossing over the seas. It is about cowardly, vindictive, ideological movements whose personnel have managed to recruit mostly from within the Muslim world people to carry out their spite. There are many hiding places in our midst, many weapons, many volunteers. Our political ideology holds that everyone is equal and that all systems are equally different; we understand only with difficulty that we have enemies; we are reluctant.

What is remarkable to the clergy about the president, I suspect - what confuses those who have no real responsibility to protect anyone - is that he can act on principle. The clerical world is a world of inaction in that Aristotelian sense that "thought of itself causes no action."

Putting the best possible light on the clerical voices, we might say that they have been helpful in making sure that the actors in war and peace make every effort to know the situation, the law, the principles, and the proper means. On the other hand, there seems to be a strange lack of reality coming from a quarter that has often spent the past decades warning us to see the actual problems. In part, we have absolutized "war" to the extent that it has become an abstraction of evil instead of an element in the analysis of justice.

The "humanitarian" war advocates of recent years have often made every effort to suggest that it is our "obligation" to intervene in extreme cases, any place in the world. We have been blamed mostly for inaction. Now, these same voices demand inaction. Perhaps it is true, as Franklin Roosevelt said, that we all hate war. But the question remains: Is there something worse than war, something worse than not preventing what needs to be prevented? If it takes a war to prevent this something worse, and we do prevent it, it will always seem, to the anti-war faction, that no real problem existed, because they could not see the evidence for it.

Those who do see the evidence are in charge. There is a certain comfort in that.

- James V. Schall, S.J. is a professor of government at Georgetown University and a Jesuit priest.

Friday, February 14, 2003

Powerful Reformation Homily


One of the most powerful English Protestant statements that good works flow from true, lively faith in Christ Jesus, that good works means obeying God's commandments (not the commandments and inventions of man) and that much late medieval religion obscured the relation of true faith and true obedience is in " A Sermon of Good Works annexed unto Faith" which is the fifth of the Homilies of 1547, re-issued with others in the reign of Elizabeth and referred to in The Thirty-Nine Articles.

I have recorded it and Barbara Rabett has placed it on the church website -- -- to be heard by those who have speakers with their computer. There are now five of these unique Homilies to be heard there.

It is in Three Parts -- 8 mins, 13 mins and 12 mins. Please pay a visit and hear it. It really gives you a sense of the importance of justification by faith and of faith working by love in good works of the period of the mid-16th century.

Happy listening.

Thank you.

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon

Archbishop of Canterbury speaks to the UK press

ACNS 3306 | ENGLAND | 14 FEBRUARY 2003

by Matthew Davies

The Editor of the Daily Telegraph, Mr Charles Moore, recently conducted an extensive interview with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Rowan Williams, just two weeks before the official Enthronement Service takes place at Canterbury Cathedral. This is the first daily newspaper interview that the Archbishop has given. The Sunday Times ran an interview by Christopher Morgan on 2 February.

Reflecting upon his childhood with fond memories, the Archbishop described to Mr Moore that one of his first impressions of the Anglican tradition was how the whole Christian enterprise hung together in an imaginative and intellectual way. Originally a member of the Presbyterian Church of Wales, he recalls how the 'discovery of liturgical life...was tremendously engaging.'

Archbishop Rowan described the Anglican liturgy as a grand narrative. "It is a story of what the world is like, and within that how different aspects of how we see God knit together," he said. "I'm very interested in what can be done, what I can do, in promoting good, imaginative and solid liturgy."

One of the difficulties of contemporary religion has been the interpretation of the scriptures, something that the Archbishop has been accused of abusing by his detractors. In analogical terms Archbishop Rowan says that 'Shakespeare's Macbeth tells us only some limited things about 11th century Scotland, quite a bit about 16th century England and an awful lot about human nature. And that is what it is meant to do. And I suspect that quite a lot of narratives in the Old Testament are actually meant to work at that level.'

Regarding the looming war with Iraq the Archbishop congratulated Tony Blair for his commitment to a moral vision of international affairs and a very strong belief that it is possible to intervene successfully. His two greatest anxieties are "the needs and the problems of Christians [and other minorities] in the region, and...the precedents set by pre-emptive military action."

Furthermore, he indicated his respect for George Bush, speaking of the US President's determination to avoid a repeat of the devastating events that took place on September 11. He did, however, share his concern about any one country taking on the role of 'global policeman.'

Another concern that the Archbishop voiced in the interview was the conclusions that are drawn about Muslims and he spoke about the eagerness of most people in Muslim communities to distance themselves from the terrorist rhetoric. "[Islam] is a religion whose primary focus and interest is about unity, the unity of God and the unity of the faithful community under God," he said. "It is one community under God. That is what has given Islam its moral power and passion through the centuries. Whereas Christianity has, I think, been more inclined to ironies and paradoxes, which has made the Muslims very impatient with us."

Ever since the announcement was made last year about the appointment of Rowan Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury, the interest of the secular press has been centred on the issue of sexuality. Some Evangelical Christians contend that Dr William's teachings are not in line with the teachings of the Bible. Responding to Charles Moore, Archbishop Williams said, "On homosexuality in general, my worry is that while we talk about particular bits of sexual ethics, we as Christians are in danger of losing the big cultural argument about sexuality; that it is a gift of God to be exercised in a way that shows God's faithfulness and commitment.

"My slight unease about the way in which debates have been set up recently is...that we are not looking at what the real heart of Christian teaching is in sexual ethics."

Other issues discussed in the interview included fox hunting, same-sex blessings and the role that Prince Charles will inherit as 'Defender of the Faith.'

For the full text of the interview please visit:

72 per cent Christian!


Here is a statement from my bishop on the latest statistics in England.

Census Data on religious affiliation

72 per cent of the population of England and Wales claim to be Christian, according to figures published today by the Office of National Statistics.

Full details, including local authority breakdowns, are available from the Office for National Statistics website.

For a national overview, click here:

For local authority breakdowns, click here:

The Bishop of Lichfield has issued a press release recognising the challenge posed by the results, and this is attached below.

Best wishes,
Gavin Drake.

For immediate release: 13th February 2003

Census provides welcome challenge for church and society

The latest Census statistics, revealed today, provide a challenge for both church and society, according to the Bishop of Lichfield. The results show that some 37.3 million people in England and Wales state their religion as Christian - 72 per cent of the population.

The Bishop of Lichfield, the Rt Revd Keith Sutton, welcomed the figures, saying: "These figures prove as a lie claims by the National Secular Society and others that England is no longer a Christian country. Clergy in my diocese baptise some 23 per cent of all babies before they are one year old. The Christian faith is still relevant
to many, many people.

"But welcome as they are, the statistics are a wake-up call to all of us in Christian leadership. While the Christian faith remains relevant to the vast majority of society, the church is clearly no longer seen as important.

"There is a two-fold challenge. For the churches, it is a challenge to find ways of being relevant to the communities we seek to serve, that people will find a warm welcome in our churches and find ways of working out their faith. And for society - the majority of that 72 per cent who don't come to church - there is a challenge to act out their faith.

"Christianity is a living faith, which needs to be nurtured and grown. I would invite all those who call themselves Christian but are not part of a worshiping Christian community, to have courage to put their faith in action. A first step could be to go to take up the welcome from their local church and meet some of the congregation
and the minister.

"Christian churches across the diocese - of all denominations - provide many opportunities for people to learn more about the Christian faith. I hope that the release of these statistics may be the spur needed to encourage many to take those first steps towards developing their faith into a real and personal relationship with the living God."

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon

Saturday, February 08, 2003

Genuine, lively Christian Faith


The fourth of the written Sermons in the First Book of Homilies (1547), to be read in church at Holy Communion, is entitled "A Short Declaration of the true, lively and Christian Faith." It is a most powerful description of true, living faith in contrast to a dead, false faith. It is true faith that works by love and is expressed in good works.

I have recorded this Sermon. It is in Three Parts of about 10 mins each, and is the fourth such 16th century Homily at my church website - the first four in the Book.

I invite you to go along via your computer and its speakers to hear it. My voice is merely the means of bringing this powerful Reformation proclamation into your home.

I thank Barbara Rabett for doing the work necessary to place these Homilies on line.

It is our hope to place all the Homilies (12) of The First Book of Homilies on several CD's and make them available via the Prayer Book Society of the USA.

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon

C of E, Synod & Gender neutral language


When the General Synod meets in London at the end of this month of February one of the motions that will be voted on (and passed) is the following. It seems to be a case that the law of modern prayer creates the language of synod business. "Common Worship" is the Name of latest multi-variety provision of services of the C of E and is still being created in books, booklets, CD's and at web site.

Soon there will be attempts to require the rewriting of the classic BCP & the KJV in gender neutral language!

804 'That this Synod, noting that gender neutral language was one of the guiding principles in devising Common Worship, request

(a) that legislation be introduced to amend

(i) the Synodical Government Measure 1969;

(ii) the Pastoral Measure 1983

(iii) the Diocesan Boards of Education Measure 1991; and

(iv) any other legislation specifying title of offices which may be held by lay people or by either male or female clergy, so that gender specific titles embedded in the legislation (most particularly that of Chairman) are removed in favour of gender neutral language (such as Chair); and

(b) Bishops' Councils to ensure that the titles of officers in the Boards and Committees of the Dioceses whose title is not governed by legislation and which is gender specific, be revised to gender neutral form at the earliest opportunity.'

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon

Thursday, February 06, 2003

Church of Uganda commissions a $10 million project


This is good news for the Ugandan church and notice the positive reference to the A of C! --P.T.

ACNS 3292 | UGANDA | 6 FEBRUARY 2003

Church of Uganda commissions a $10 million project

The Church of Uganda has commissioned a US$10 million project expected to guarantee the welfare of Christians and clergy of the Church. Until now, Church workers in Uganda have had to retire without any pension or retirement benefits. The President of the Republic of Uganda, H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, who was also the Chief Guest at a gathering (that brought together civic, political and religious personalities) contributed US$170,000 towards the project.

During his talk at the ground-breaking ceremonies, the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, the Most Revd Dr Livingstone Mpalanyi-Nkoyoyo, called for Unity of all God's people as they work on various projects such as the new Church House.

Drawing from the sad history of the murder of his predecessor, Archbishop Janani Luwum, who laid the foundation stone of the Church House in 1977 to mark 100 years of Christianity in Uganda, Archbishop Nkoyoyo said, "Janani was a remarkable servant of God. His humility grew as he recognised and responded to the darkness through which his people were travelling in those days."

Archbishop Janani devised the Church House project as a way for Christians, who proclaim the unchanging gospel of love and unity, to respond to the world. "This was meant to serve as a symbol of our unity," said Archbishop Nkoyoyo, "As we face what Archbishop Carey has wisely called, the 'nitty-gritty changes and chances' of this fleeting world."

Archbishop Nkoyoyo also resonated Archbishop Rowan Williams' words in the essay on 'Different Christs.' "In the Church," Archbishop Williams has said, "There is a strong temptation to draw lines in the sand and regard those who disagree with us as beyond the pale."

"But this is not the Christ who calls us," Archbishop Nkoyoyo said. "The Christ who calls us instructs us to love our enemies, and, as Archbishop Williams says, ' love even what may seem the pale shadow of his face in other people's minds, because compared with the light of his glory all our thoughts are shadows.'"


The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany

O Lord, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle: Colossians 3: 12-17 The Gospel: St Matthew 13:24-30

The petition made to God the Father, the heavenly Lord, in the name of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, is from his Church and for his Church and each member therein. Each congregation prays for herself and the whole Church militant here on earth.

The Church is described as God's household, that is a family of children, born from above by the Holy Ghost, but yet not mature as obedient and faithful children. The children can so easily stray from the home and become prodigal sons and daughters adopting the religion of another household; and so petition is made that they will be kept at home continually in true religion - true worship, doctrine, piety, devotion and discipline. And this petition is made in order that the whole church membership may know the mighty protection of God the Father from all evil, sin and devilish machination, as they are enabled to trust in him and to live in Christian hope of the full redemption of the Church and of each member thereof.

This petition is the last the Church will make during the season of Epiphany, for next week begins the cycle of Sundays which are a preparation for the season of Lent, Septuagesima, Sexagesima and Quinquagesima.

A final thought. This Collect, though fully meaningful in its own terms in its present English form - as we have seen, is not an exact translation of the original Latin from the Gregorian Sacramentary and the Sarum Missal. The original Latin can be rendered: "Lord, we beseech thee to keep thy household continually with thy fatherly goodness, that she who doth lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be walled round by thy protection; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen." Here the petition is from the Church for the same Church, which is presented as a household of God's adopted children, a family which needs always his fatherly care and protection. She, the household, needs always to be surrounded, walled in, by the protection of the heavenly Father.

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon

Sunday, February 02, 2003

Candlemas, or Hypapante, or The Presentation of Christ in the Temple, or The Purification of St. Mary the Virgin


Today is both the Lord's Day and also February 2nd. Let us rejoice.

For, Candlemas, or Hypapante, or The Presentation of Christ in the Temple, or The Purification of St. Mary the Virgin, or all of these, is here!

Today is 40 days from the NATIVITY of Jesus, son of Mary, adopted son of Joseph, and the only-begotten Son of the Father almighty.

Today the Church commemorates the going to the Temple in Jerusalem by Mary and Joseph, taking with them the 40 day-old Jesus, in order to fulfil the ritual and ceremonial requirements of the Law of Moses, concerning the birth of a first son (see the Gospel, Luke 2:22-40) and present him unto the LORD.

Importantly, Jesus, though the Incarnate Son of God, was born under the Law and thus began the fulfilment of the Law in his life and ministry (see Leviticus 12 & Exodus 13 for the presentation).

In the Church of God the 40th day after Christmas is first of all a Festival of our Lord Jesus Christ - thus it is called HYPAPANTE (the Meeting [in the Temple]). The Meeting of the five (Joseph, Mary, Simeon, Anna and JESUS) was the first gathering of the remnant of Israel which now became in and through Jesus the people of the new covenant. The Messiah had come to his Temple (see the Epistle for the day, Malachi 3:15) to be greeted & embraced by his faithful ones.

Although, it did eventually become a Marian Festival in the West and was known in the Middle Ages as "The Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary", its popular title of CANDLEMAS pointed not to Mary but to her Son. The procession of lighted candles proclaimed the words of Simeon concerning Jesus, " a Light to bring light to the Gentiles", and thus also recalled the words of Jesus himself, "I am the Light of the world."

So on this day we proclaim several inter-related facts and truths - the proclamation of Jesus as the Light of the world; the proclamation of Jesus as the Messiah of Israel, who fulfils the Law of Moses; the creation of His new people, the new Israel, by his saving work of obedience to the Father; and the crucial role and exemplary nature of Mary, Theotokos, his Blessed Mother.

The full title in the Book of Common Prayer points to all these truths - The Presentation of Christ in the Temple, commonly called [in the West] the Purification of St Mary, the Virgin.

In the words of the Collect, even as the Lord Jesus Christ was presented in the Temple as a human baby, so "may we be presented unto thee [the Father] with pure and clean hearts" by the same Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon

Second Homily: "Of the Misery of all Mankind" Available for Listening on the Web


The Second Homily in "The First Book of Homilies" (1547) of the Church of England on "Of the Misery of all Mankind" and probably from the pen of Archbishop Cranmer (as writer or editor) can now be heard! It is in two parts of about 11-12 minutes each.

Go please to: and click on to
Homilettes/Homilies an turn on your speaker!

The doctrine of sin in this sermon goes well with the theological content of the services in the classic BCP, but not with the Rite II services in the 1979 American prayer book and the new material in the Common Worship (2000) of the C of E. Confession of sin with repentance used to be seen as a necessary part of the praise of God the Holy One; now it seems to be something that we get over quickly or pass by without notice in order to get on with the work of "celebration" (a word that has changed meaning in liturgical talk during the last century, moving from God-directed activity towards the Transcendent yet Immanent One to something more like human centered interest in God!).

At the same site you can also hear the lst and the 3rd Homilies from the same Book, one on Scripture and one on Justification.

Thank you for listening.

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon