More to rejoice

Here are more of my favorite lyrics from the Akathist to the Theotokos.

“Rejoice, Thou through whom the curse will cease! Rejoice, recall of fallen Adam: Rejoice, redemption of the tears of Eve!”

“While the angels were chanting, the shepherds heard of Christ’s coming in the flesh, and having run to the Shepherd, they beheld Him as a blameless Lamb that had been pastured in Mary’s womb, and singing to Her, they cried: Rejoice, Mother of the Lamb and the Shepherd: Rejoice, fold of rational sheep”

St. Thomas Becket

On this Feast of Thomas Becket we are challenged to be fearless in proclaiming our understanding of truth. May we have the courage to be faithful to our deepest held convictions–regardless of the cost.

Father,
you confirm the true faith
with the crown of martyrdom.
May the prayers of St Thomas Becket
give us the courage to proclaim our faith
by the witness of our lives.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Rejoice

There is another lovely Orthodox Hymn–which seems most appropriate at this time of year– “The Akathist to the Theotokos.” I especially love the language of the Fourth Ekos: “While the angels were chanting, the shepherds heard of Christ’s coming in the flesh, and having run to the Shepherd, they beheld Him as a blameless Lamb that had been pastured in Mary’s womb, and singing to Her, they cried: Rejoice, Mother of the Lamb and the Shepherd: Rejoice, fold of rational sheep! Rejoice, torment of invisible enemies: Rejoice, opening of the gates of Paradise! Rejoice, for the things of heaven rejoice with the earth: Rejoice, for the things of earth join chorus with the heavens! Rejoice, never-silent mouth of the Apostles: Rejoice, invincible courage of the passion-bearers! Rejoice, firm support of faith: Rejoice, radiant token of Grace! Rejoice, Thou through whom hades was stripped bare: Rejoice, Thou through whom we are clothed with glory! Rejoice, O Bride Unwedded!”

“Through the prayers of the Mother of God.”

When I was in seminary in Baltimore, my Spiritual Director was bi-ritual—Melkite. Through his guidance I encountered the Divine Liturgy of our Holy Father among the Saints, John Chrysostom, Patriarch of Constantinople. Quite early in the liturgy there is a beautiful prayer: “Through the prayers of the Mother of God, O Savior, Save us. Here is a lovely version of that prayer.

“The Lord is with me, I will not fear.”

Many years ago, I encountered Messianic Judaism in NYC. I used to attend a Messianic Synagogue each Sabbath. It did so much to help me understand that first church in Jerusalem–and helped me to rediscover the often hidden Jewish-Christian reality of the New Testament. The thing which I treasure most from those days is the music I discovered–and still love! Here is one of my favorite songs by Sar Shalom–in Hebrew and English, Adonai Li Lo Ira, “The Lord is with me, I shall not fear” from Psalm 118:6.