SUOMEN EKUMEENINEN NEUVOSTO

EKUMENISKA RÅDET I FINLAND

FINNISH ECUMENICAL COUNCIL

Who is Coming From Bozrah, His Garments Stained Red? Ascension, ecclesial traditions, and the grammar of faith

Esitelmä on pidetty Suomen ekumeenisen neuvoston Opillisten kysymysten jaoston ja Joensuun yliopiston teologisen tiedekunnan seminaarissa Ekumenia kirkoissa ja teologiassa Joensuussa 12.5.2005. Aarhusin yliopiston ekumeniikan professori emerita Anna Marie Aagaard käsitteli esitelmässään ortodoksisen ja läntisen liturgisen kielen yhteyksiä. Professori Aagaard promovoitiin seuraavana päivänä teologian kunniatohtoriksi Helsingin yliopistossa. Hän on toiminut pitkään kansainvälisessä ekumeenisessa liikkeessä muun muassa yhtenä Kirkkojen maailmanneuvoston presidenteistä. 

 

The order of worship for the feast of Ascension will be the main substance of this lecture. I am aiming at identifying the grammar of faith that is embodied in the  liturgical ordo with the readings, prayers, and hymns specific to the Ascension as it is celebrated in the Danish Lutheran Church and in the Eastern Orthodox Church with a Greek tradition. Before analyzing the texts, I want, however, to be up front on the presuppositions with which I work. I believe the actual worship, and the Christian practice it aims at fostering, to reveal what Christians claim to believe about the triune God. My claim reaches beyond the obvious observation that worship displays the beliefs of the people who actually worship together (whether they as individuals keep the faith or not). With classical Christian tradition I assume that worship is the core practice that altogether makes it possible to speak truly of God. What Christians say about the triune God receives content and credibility from what Christians do in worship and discipleship. As the Scottish theologian Thomas F. Torrance puts it:

 

… knowledge of the truth of God or the truth of the Gospel is not given in an abstract or detached form but in a concrete embodied form in the church, where it is to be grasped within the normative patters of the faith imparted to it through the teaching of the apostles, and is therefore only to be grasped in unity and continuity with the faith, worship, and godly life of all who are incorporated into Christ as members of his Body.[i]

 
Believing in the communion of saints

The tradition’s insistence on the communal setting of Christian knowledge of God mirrors the structure of the Apostles’ Creed. The third article is ordered in a peculiar way:

I believe in the Holy Spirit, 

the holy Catholic Church, 

the communion of saints, 

the forgiveness of sins, 

the resurrection of the body, 

and the life everlasting.

 

Although the first and the second article of the Creed continue the confession of one God, Father and Son, by referring to God’s deeds in creation and salvation, the third article inserts a reference to the holy, catholic church between the confession of faith in God the Spirit and the mention of the Spirit’s gifts: communio, forgiveness, resurrection, and life everlasting. Even the most ancient versions of the Creed displays this order, and the Creed thus mentions the company of faith or the context of faith before it includes a reference to the gifts which the Spirit gives to the faithful in the church.[ii]

 

Christians believe in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in the communion of saints, i.e. Christian faith is linked to a peculiar practice – to the words and deeds which keep up right praise of the mystery of God and right conduct in the world. Far from being an inventory of beliefs somehow pertaining to the Christian religion, the Creed lends words to the believers’ own ”yes; amen”. Yes, we live our lives in relation to this God; yes, we participate in this story. In short: the Creed functions as a summary of the ”long word” – a summary of the gospel story that creates and sustains the company named church. It is in the church that we learn to privilege the language of the Bible and the Creeds in order to talk truthfully about the God of Jesus Christ, to live rightly with each other, and thus to inhabit the story we tell. This is what we believe. This is the story in which we live, and love, and hate, and stumble, and die, and hope. And when we end the Creed with an ”amen”, we say, ”Yes, here we stand” - in spite of little faith in our hearts and in our churches. Yes, here we stand in the company whose relation to the triune God implies communio, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life eternal.

 

What Christians say about God is neither something esoteric, nor something private. Theology receives content from a God-story proclaimed, sung, and prayed in public worship. Theological thought is thus secondary to the fact that we praise God, pray, wash sins away and eat our way into likeness with Christ, because praise, prayer, and sacramental acts hold the gifts of the Spirit. If the Holy Spirit is acting in the worship of the church, something new emerges – although slowly and with difficulty. Human beings learn to serve God with their lives. Communio sanctorum is being created. And in that case theology has something, and something very concrete, to talk about.

 

These few remarks must serve as an indication of my hermeneutics; as my way of explicating lex orandi, lex credendi. And now to the ordo of the Ascension in the Danish Lutheran Church.

 

Ascension
a) The Danish Lutheran Church 

The gospel readings prescribed for the Ascension service are taken from St. Luke and St. Mark (Mark 16,14-20 for the uneven years; Luke 24,46-53 for the even years). In both cases the text appears at the very end of the gospel narrative. St. Luke’s version goes like this,

 

And he said to them, ”Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high”. Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up to Heaven. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God (NRSV).

 

The lectionary for both year 1 and year 2 combines the gospel readings with Acts 1,1-11 which records that the resurrected Christ showed himself to the disciples in the course of 40 days, spoke to them, ate with them, and promised them the baptism of the Spirit ”not many days from now”. The reading from Acts explicitly links participation in the Holy Spirit with the obligation to proclaim the gospel:

 

You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1,8).

 

Together with the readings from the OT this combination of NT texts suggests that the sermon on the feast of Ascension should highlight the disciples’ obligation to proclaim the gospel to all nations – from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. The OT readings are taken from The Psalms: 

The Lord said to my lord, 

”Sit at my right hand…” (Ps 110,1. Year 1) 

Praise the Lord! 

Praise, O servants servants of the Lord; 

Praise the name of the Lord. 

Blessed be the name of the Lord 

From this time on and for evermore. 

From the rising of the sun to its setting 

The name of the Lord is to be praised (Ps 113, 1-3. Year 2)

 

The introductory prayer (collect) of the Ascension liturgy combines all the readings and explicates (all too explicitly!?) the grammar of faith that governs the ordo of the feast of Ascension: 

Lord Jesus Christ! 

You who no longer are poor and miserable on earth 

But sits at the right hand of your Father 

And is Lord over all and everything; 

We beseech you: 

Send your Holy Spirit upon us 

And give to us faithful servants of your word.

Preserve your word 

And make your gospel reach all nations…

 

It does not take much theological imagination to gauge that the Ascension worship mirrors a Reformation church’s understanding of the Christian faith and its reception of the common liturgical tradition. And conversely: the worship with its readings and prayers builds up a church of word and sacrament by interpreting the Ascension as an absence that makes possible the presence of the resurrected Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit wherever and whenever Christ’s death and resurrection is preached.

 

Like most comtemporary Europeans in the North and the West, my compatriots are thoroughly formed by the history of modernity, and many Danes find it difficult to relate to the narratives of Christ’s ascending from the Mount of Olives and being seated on God’s throne in the heavenly palace. The gospels tell about something seen, and exactly because of the visual power of the stories it becomes easy to stay at the surface and understand the accounts of the Ascension as exquisite, but quixotic tales about something rather odd. The feast of the Ascension is, consequently, not exactly the celebration that engages Danish Christians the most.    The ordo of the Lutheran worship service tries to counter all such tendencies to turn the gospel into a tale that will only alienate the congregation. By lifting up the proclamation of the Christ gospel as the feast day’s inherent grammar of faith the worship service makes an absence into a presence - the absence of the crucified and dead Christ becomes the resurrection presence of the proclaimed Christ with forgiveness and new life as His Spirit’s gifts to those who will hear the gospel and believe.

 

The Anglican theologian Daniel W. Hardy explicates this grammar of the feast by pointing to the change from the ”never again” of the Crucifixion to the ”always again” that the disciples found after Christ’s ascension. Christ is always with them, again and again and again, in their witnessing to him. Instead of finding themselves alien in their world, the disciples went back into the centre of things – to Jerusalem and the Temple. The disciples have something specific to do, because they believe the Ascension to mean the power of the resurrected Christ to fill everything with God’s grace (cf. Eph 4,10: He who descended is none other than he who ascended far above heavens, so that he might fill the universe). Hardy continues,

 

”Then he took them out as far as the outskirts of Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. Now as he blessed them, he withdrew from them and was carried up to heaven”. The blessing which he conferred on them was not simply a gift of his good wishes. That would certainly not have compensated them for leaving them bereft again. His blessing actually transferred something to them from God, something which is of the very essence of what God is. Above all, he is life; and the blessing which Jesus gave, gave his followers the very life of God. So the Ascension marks what the Resurrection does not, the giving of life by God to his people.[iii]

 

The Ascension with its witness to Christ enthroned proclaims Christ’s resurrection power to make human beings participate in the life of God, and: You must witness to it all. You must begin in Jerusalem and walk to the ends of the earth. The commission filled the first disciples with joy, when they heard it (Luke 24,52), and in gratitude for partaking in the very same gift, today’s Danish congregations worship God in hymns praising the ascended Christ, God and man, who makes us his witnessing body on earth.[iv]

 

Whether the Ascencion’s grammar of faith credibly impacts the self-understanding of the Danish Lutheran Church is another matter. At this point I am only interested in underscoring that lex orandi, lex credendi is a circular two-way communication. The ordo of the public worship shows what a congregation holds to be the Christian story – whom we worship and what we ought to do as believers. It shows the lex orandi. The Ascension worship with its specific ordo simultaneously reveals that the theology central to the Reformation tradition (lex credendi) has impacted the actual proclamation of the gospel. The specific parts of the worship ordained for the Ascension are held together and become a coherent whole which, rightly or wrongly, is supposed to be relevant to the contemporay Danes by means of a grammar of faith that priviledges viva vox evangelii.

 

b) The Eastern Orthodox Church 

It we turn to the Orthodox worship on the feast of Ascension we enter a somewhat different universe, although the circular movement between faith – creedal confession – church – and worship is equally strongly affirmed. Lex orandi is lex credendi. The difference to the Danish Lutheran Church emerges, when we ask for the Feastday’s grammar of faith. The Danish Lutheran Church focusses on celebrating the power of the enthroned Christ in the living word of the gospel and on the great commission to preach to all nations and thus to hand on God’s gift of a new and everlasting life.

 

The Orthodox worship bears this testimony on the feast of Ascension: The resurrected Christ is the crucified Christ. No Ascension triumph can dismantle the suffering, the death, the sacrifice, the broken human life, and all that was never fulfilled, because brutality and evil got the upper hand.

 

The core texts of the Orthodox Ascension liturgies are taken from Acts 1,1-12; Luke 24,36-53 and Mark 16,9-20. The readings are somewhat longer than the matching readings in the Danish Lutheran Church, but the ecclesial traditions use, in principle, the very same NT readings. The Orthodox Church situates, however, these texts in a liturgical ordo that reaches beyond the eucharistic liturgy. Beginning with the Great Vesper on the previous evening, the feast of the Ascension encompasses also the remaining hours, especially the Matins. Placed within this whole structure the biblical texts are primarily interpreted as faith’s witness to the crucified and resurrected Christ as the redeemer of humankind. The hymns repeat again and again that the angels were pertubed when they saw the heavens open and Christ, the lover of humankind, take his seat on God’s throne as God and man.

 

… having lived on earth as a man, you were taken up in glory today from the Mount of Olives. And having raised our fallen nature by your compassion, you seated it together with the Father. Wherefore, the heavenly orders of the Bodiless were amazed at the wonder and stood in awe and astonishment (Great Vesper, Sticheron)

 

You have renewed in yourself Adam’s nature, which had gone down into the lower parts of the earth, and you raised it up above every principality and authority today. For since you loved it, you seated it together with yourself; since you took compassion on it, you united it to yourself; you suffered with it; and enduring the Passion… you glorified it… (The angels said), He is not only man, but God and man; that which is manifest is twofold… (And the angels cried), Ye men of Galilee, He who has gone from you, Jesus, man and God, shall come again as God-man to judge the living and the dead…(Great Vesper; For the Entreaty)

 

Having come down from Heaven unto the things of earth, O Christ, as God…you resurrected Adam’s form which lay prostrate in the nether holds of Hades’ vault; in your Ascension to the heights you led it up unto the Heavens and you seated it on the throne of your Father, since you…are merciful (Matins, Sessessional hymn)[v]

 

These hymns make plain the Ascension’s grammar of faith: that the Easter Christ does not discard his being human. As God and man is Christ resurrected, and it follows: ”In your Ascension you exalted us and glorified us together with yourself” (Mattins; Troparion). The ascended Christ is, consequently, named the ”Life-giving Christ ”. Immense joy and jubilation fill the Ascension celebrations, and the ancient theological topos about men and women with resurrection being as ranking above the angels lies close to the surface. But the Orthodox ordo for Ascension receives its bite and peculiarity by its answer to the question: Who is the one whom the Christian believers worship? Who is He who 

- took them out as far as Bethania, 

- blessed them with uplifted hands, 

- parted from them 

- and was carried up to heaven? (Luke 24,50-51)

 

Who is he, God and man, who is seated at the right hand of the Father? According to the grammar of faith in the Orthodox churches, it is the crucified human being, the suffering man with the bloodstained garments, who is lifted up in the God-man’s ascension.

 

The Great Vesper’s long reading from the OT introduces this understanding of the ascended humanity united to Christ’s divinity. The reading is from the prophet Isaiah (62,10 - 63,1-3 and 7-9). It deals with the arrival of the eschatological salvation and the final restoration of God’s Israel. The promise of salvation,

 

They shall be called ”The Holy People, the Redeemed of the Lord”; and you shall be called ”Sought out, a City Not Forsaken”,

 

immediately turns into the ancient watchman-question ”Who is He?” 

- ”Who is this that comes from Edom 

- From Bozra in garments stained crimson? 

- Who is this so splendidly robed, 

- Marching in his great might?” 

- ”It is I, announcing vindication, 

mighty to save”. 

”Why are your robes red 

and your garments like theirs who 

tread the wine press?” 

”I have trodden the wine press alone…” (Is 63,1-3a)[vi]

 

Interpreted by the liturgical ordo for the Ascension, the Isaiah text tells about the Crucified as the ascended Saviour with all of God’s divine might:

 

Seeing you being taken up from the Mount of Olives, O Christ, the Powers cried one to another: Who is this? And it was said to them: This is He that is strong and mighty. This is He that is mighty in war. This is truly the King of Glory. And why are His garments red? Because he comes from Bozrah, which is the flesh (Great Vesper. Sticheron)

 

Why is His garments red Who is united to the flesh?

 

Thus asked the holy angels on seeing Christ carrying the wounds of His passion (Matins, Ode 6)[vii]

 

The ascended Christ with the wounds of his passion is the One who sends the Holy Spirit with the gifts of communio, forgiveness, resurrection, and life eternal in order to make believers grow into the likeness of Christ:

 

Like a baptism remitting your sins, receive you radiant children of the Church[viii], the fire-breathing dew of the Spirit… (Matins, Katavasia)

 

The Passion of My God 

The Orthodox tradition is aware that the liturgical use makes the Bible a christological text. Liturgy establishes a context of faith that claims: these are the words and deeds of the One who lives and reigns as God. Not acts and utterances pertaining to a deceased and buried person, but to the resurrected and ascended Christ who is enthroned as Lord and God, present and acting in the power of God, the Spirit.  In themselves testimonies to always already interpreted events and the speech of God, the biblical texts are used in current worship as testimonies to the living Christ – to the living Christ who died, was resurrected, carried up to heaven, and will come in glory to judge the living and the dead. Historical readings are respected. Christ is not read ”backwards” or ” into” the Isaiah prophesy on the hero from Bozrah, but the prophesy on the hero from Bozrah is situated within the liturgical worship of the resurrected and ascended Christ. The Isaiah prophesy thus becomes an interpretation of the NT’s proclamation, and it is the God-story of Christ with garments stained red by the wounds of his passion which Christians inhabit and make the framework for their worship on the day of Ascension.

 

It is only fair to ask if such attempts to explicate the grammar of faith embodied in the services of the ecclesial traditions merely aim at adding up possible, but obviously not incompatible, theological emphases. Without belittling the efforts of ecumenical rapprochements - far from - , I wish to turn to some contemporary reasons for paying serious attention to the Orthodox insistence on the significance of the enthronement of the suffering God. Not a contemporary, but a 19th century Anglican reflection on holiness may help to identify these reasons. George Body (Durham; 1840-1911) writes,

 

… the distinctive worship of the Christian Church is the worship of the Incarnate God, the Man CHRIST JESUS, Who in our nature is seated at God’s right Hand, and in that nature is to be by us adored. The Ascension Day marked a distinct crisis in the worship of God both in Heaven and on earth. Until that mysterious morning when JESUS in His assumed Humanity passed within the Veil and took his place within the Holy of Holies, the ”Agnus Dei”, the great hymn of Christendom, had never rung through the courts of Heaven; but when the throning angels watched the Ascent of the Sacred Humanity of JESUS… a new song burst from their lips, a new worship was begun, the worship of JESUS CHRIST: ”Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing” (Rev 5,12). And as the Ascension of JESUS formed a crisis in the worship of Heaven, so it was also on earth. ”They worshipped Him” … as long as He was on the earth the worship of Him was not the principal features of their (the disciples) life. (After the Ascension) the adoration of the Lamb, - the worship of JESUS crucified, risen, ascended and enthroned,-  the distinctive worship of the Christian Church-, began to be.[ix]

 

Like the ordo of the Orthodox Ascension services the Anglican theologian makes the theological point that the triune God is not known behind or beyond the suffering and reviled, the wounded, and the dying human being. This God suffering in his humanity is the God who as Holy Spirit enters the communio of forgiveness, resurrection and eternal life with real, not imagined, human beings – with the suffering and reviled, the wounded and the dying human beings.

 

Already the very early church made the bifocal Christian worship – the wounded God; the wounded human being – the subject of theological reflection. The Orthodox interpretation of Christ’s Ascension with garments stained red is not a novum. Already Ignatius of Antioch (died c. 110) articulated the grammar of faith which is presupposed by contemporary worship, when it continues the praise of ”the Lamb” – the crucified Christ. Heading for his martyrdom in Rome Ignatius pleads with his fellow Christians, ”Allow me to be an imitator of the passion of my God” (Ign. Rom 6),[x] and he repeats time and again that in this way a human being becomes a truly human being. Humanity in the likeness of the God of Jesus Christ, the Lamb, is not to be sought beyond history, beyond the body and the wounds, and the often far too brutal death: ”I seek Him who died for us. I will Him who is resurrected for us… Let me receive the pure light. When I have entered it, I shall become a human being” (ibid.). The Pauline testimony to becoming human in the likeness of the suffering Christ has shaped the Ignatian theology, but Ignatius’ emphasis on Christ on the Cross as the human being gives his theology a specific tonality. The crucified Christ is the utmost horizon or pattern of God’s relation to the created world, and hence the utmost horizon of also men’s and women’s relation to the world. ”(Ignatius understands) the sufferings as indications of being bound to reality, to God’s created world… Christ’s suffering reveals a unity with the world which was no pretense”.[xi] In his reflections on the letters of St. Ignatius, Rowan Williams, the present archbishop of Canterbury, writes, ”Fleshly life is not a burden to be borne, nor a prison to be escaped from, but a task to be performed in grace”[xii] - a fleshly, mortal life that receives meaning from being bound in grace and mercy to this world. God has bound himself to this world – that is, oddly enough, the grammar of Ascension faith in Christ’s entry into Heaven.

 

Grace disturbs nature

In a short story entitled ”A Temple of the Holy Ghost” the American writer Flannery O’Connor makes her fiction talk about God’s reigning in the manner of the slain Lamb.[xiii] O’Connor tells about two giggling girls visiting a younger cousin (merely named ”the child”) and her mother. The girls study in a Catholic boarding school, and here they learn silly things like saying ”Stop sir! I am a Temple of the Holy Ghost”, if a young man should begin to behave in an ungentlemanly manner with them in the back of an automobile”. The girls find it hilarious and name each other ”Temple One” and ”Temple Two”. Having observed the girls for a couple of hours ”the child” decided that they were practically morons. She characterizes herself as neither a thief, nor a murderer, but a born liar and deliberately mean to almost everybody. She knows that she would never become a saint, but maybe a martyr, if they killed her fast enough. The problem with entertaining the visiting girls is solved by inviting two boys. They are members of an evangelical holiness church. The young ones engage in a singing contest. The girls sing Thomas of Aquinas’ great hymn on Christ’s eucharistic presence ”Tantum ergo sacramentum”. The boys find it ”Jew singing”  and entertain with ”I’ve found a friend in Jesus”. Having attended a local market in the evening the girls and boys return to tell ”the child” about a ”freak” – ”a man and woman both” – ”who pulled up its dress and showed us”. ”The freak had a country voice … God made me me thisaway…This is the way He wanted me to be and I ain’t disputing His way… I’m showing you because I got to make the best of it”. ”The child” has not reached puberty. She is sexually inexperienced and don’t know what the others are talking about. Before she sleeps, the events of the day conflate in her half dreaming thoughts about a revival meeting with people responding to ”God created me thisaway” with loud amens and repeating their amen as an answer to the freak’s ”Raise yourself up. A temple of the Holy Ghost! You are God’s temple, don’t you know? Don’t you know? God’s Spirit has a dwelling in you, don’t you know?” 

 

On the following day the girls are driven back to school, and ”the child” looks at ”the ivory sun which was framed in the middle of the blue afternoon”. A worship service is going on at the school, when they arrive, but it takes time for ”the child” to stop her ugly thoughts and begin to realize that she was in the presence of God. ”When the priest raised the monstrance with the Host shining ivory-colored in the center of it, she was thinking of the tent at the fair that had the freak in it”. On leaving the church a nun happens to mash the side of the child’s face into the crucifix hitched onto her belt, and on the way home the driver tells that some preachers got the market shut down. From the car ”the child” looks out. ”The sun was a huge red ball like an elevated Host drenched in blood and when it sank out of sight, it left a line in the sky like a red clay road hanging over the trees”.

 

Thus into Ascension’s Christian ”I am with you in your marginalisation, and it lifts the presence of the cruficied Christ out of the trite ”Yes, we are the temples of the Holy Spirit exactly as we are”. Grace perfects nature by disturbing it, not by polishing it, and when O’Connor sets out to tell her readers about something ”other” and disturbing, she is aware of grace’s ways.[xiv] O’Connor believes that reality is disturbed and changed by Ascension and Pentecost. The God of resurrection becomes bound to the world; the raw, grotesque and brutal world. The mean child; the silly girls and the tormented human being become the body of the divine presence. Not because God loves silliness and meanness, or because God created us ”thisaway”, but because the resurrected and ascended God of Jesus Christ can only be present in garments stained red. The ascended Christ is, thank God, still poor and miserable on earth. The sinking sun lends its color to the host.

 

The NT’s Ascension narratives have no Christian significance in themselves. The Christian faith does not equal Biblical fundamentalism. Placed within a specific ordo of worship these stories become, however, a part of the fundamental grammar of faith: The triune God is known and worshipped in Jesus Christ, the crucified and resurrected, who is with you and makes you the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Your own ”thisaway’ness” becomes dirturbed by grace and so do the certainties that make you the center of control. The feast of Ascension hides God from all current historical and socio-anthropological curiosity, but there’s nothing absurd or esoteric or antiquated in continuing the Ascension’s praise of God’s relation not to the perfect, but to the odd, the cruel, the bleeding and suffering world.

 

[i] Thomas T. Torrance, The Trinitarian Faith: The Evangelical Theology of the Ancient Actholic Church, T&T Clark, Edinburgh 1988,3, quoted from Knowing the Triune God. The Work of the Spirit in the Practices of the Church (James J. Buckley &David  S. Yeago, eds.), Eerdsmans Publishing, Grand Rapids 2001,9. This latter book has sharpened my awareness of the hermeneutical importance of  ”the context of faith”

 

[ii] On the Apostles’ Creed, see Nicolas Lash, Believing Three Ways in One God. A Reading of the Apostles’ Creed,  SCM Press 1992

 

[iii] Daniel W. Hardy, God’s Ways With the World. Thinking and Practicing Christian Faith, T&T Clark, Edinburgh 1996,376-380

 

[iv] NFS Grundtvig, DS (The Danish Hymn Book) no 257

 

[v] Greek text in Pentecostarion, Roma 1883. As the better translation I have used Mercenier’s French translation in La Priére des Églises De Rite Byzantin, II, Les F^te II, Chevetogne s.a. In order to avoid a translation with no liturgical footing in an actual Orthodox liturgy I generally stick to the English translation in The Pentecostarion, Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Brookline, Mass. 1990. I have, however, changed some archaic words and verbal forms

 

[vi] The translation used in the English version of the Pentecostarion: And He shall call them a holy people, redeemed of the Lord; and thou shalt be called a city sought out, and not forsaken. Who is this that is come from Edom, with red garments from Bosor, so fair in his apperel? He crieth with mighty strength: I speak of righteousness and saving judgment. Wherefore are Thy garments red, and Thy raimens as if fresh from a trodden winepress? I am full of trodden grape, I have trodden the winepress utterly alone…

 

[vii] The French translation: ”…se disaient les saints anges, en voyant le Christ porter les divins stigmates de sa présieuse passion”.

 

[viii] English translation: ”ye children of the church, whose likeness is like unto light”

 

[ix] Quoted from Love’s Redeeming Work. The Anglican Quest for Holiness (compiled by Geoffrey Rowell, Kenneth Stevenson and Rowan Williams), Oxford University Press 2003 (paper), 497

 

[x] Die Apostolischen Väter (Karl Bihlmeyer hrg.), Mohr/Paul Siebeck, Tübingen 1956

 

[xi] Niels Thomsen, ”Ignatius’ breve”, in De apostolske Fædre (red. Niels Jørgen Cappelørn m.fl.), Det danske Bibelselskab, København 1985,115-116

 

[xii] Rowan Williams, The Wound of Knowledge, Darton, Longman and Todd, 2nd revised ed. 2002,21

 

[xiii] I quote from Flannery O’Connor, The Complete Stories, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, N.Y. 1983 (19th printing). Having moved this often slighted story (too openly Christian to many critics) into reflections on the Ascension, I have found it used in differing theological contexts by James J. Buckley, ”The Wounded Body”, in Knowing the Triune God…(note i),226-227 and by F.C.Bauerschmidt, ”Shouting In The Land Of The Hard Of Hearing: On Being A Hillbilly Thomist”, Modern Theology 20:1, 2004,176-178. I have borrowed the phrase ”grace disturbs nature” from Bauerschmidt.

 

[xiv] Flannery O’Connor, Mystery and Manners, Faber and Faber 1972 (original 1961), 154-158; The Habit of Being. Letters of Flannery O’Connor (selected and edited by Sally Firtzgerald), Vintage Books, N.Y. 1980, 124


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