frgavin on March 6th, 2012

LITURGICAL THEME FOR THE DAY: These Christians were taken captive when Amorion in Phrygia fell to the Muslims in 838, during the reign of Emperor Theophilus. Many of them were officers, and because of their status and reputation, their captors, rather than kill them, attempted to convert them to Islam. The forty-two were kept in a miserable dungeon in Syria, where they were alternately promised the highest honors and privileges if they would convert and threatened with the most horrible consequences if they refused. This continued for seven full years, but none would deny his faith in Christ. Finally, unable to shake their faith, their captors beheaded them all in 845.
 
MEDITATION OF THE DAY: The first lesson today is taken from the lectionary for the Greek Orthodox Church mindful of the martyrs commemorated on this day. In this lesson Isaiah 5 ( which is written around the 8th century BC), God declared His judgment upon Israel for its failure to live before Him. He was Israel’s owner, the Master of the vineyard. He had every right to expect that is people live according to His laws, according to His will. Their refusal to do so was met with His promise of judgment. This judgment came in history when God sent the Assyrians into the land to conquer and vanquish His people. God used the Assyrians to bring about repentance in this story.
However, when one reads in the text that blood is spilled by the righteous and that Syria is the context for the martyrs commemorated as well as those who will be instruments of the Lord God of Israel, how can one not ponder the plight of Christians today in modern day Syria. Christian advocacy groups have been warning for months about the hardships faced by Christians in Syria as the 10 month-old conflict between the government of President Bashar Assad and its opponents has worsened. Christians are reported to comprise almost 10 percent of the population. The Christian traditions include Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Melkite Greek Catholics, Syrian Catholics, Chaldeans, Maronites, Baptists and Anglicans.
Like the martyrs of Phrygia and the faithful remnant in the days of Isaiah, the people of God are called to side with those who are faithful. At the very least our voice should join with theirs as they pray Psalm 61
Hear my cry, O God; Attend to my prayer.
 From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
ANCIENT WISDOM/PRESENT GRACE: “Blessed is the person who has consented to become the close friend of faith and of prayer: he lives in single-mindedness and makes prayer and faith stops by with him. Prayer that rises up in someone’s heart serves to open up for us the door of heaven: that person stands in converse with the Divinity and gives pleasure to the Son of God. Prayer makes peace with the Lord’s anger and with the vehemence of His wrath. In this way too, tears that well up in the eyes can open the door of compassion” – – St. Ephrem the Syrian, 4th Century
PRAYER OF THE DAY: Lord, watch over your Church, and guide it with your unfailing love. Protect us from what could harm us and lead us to what will save us. Help us always, for without you we are bound to fail. Amen
Lenten Discipline: The Barnabas Fund is one of the very few Christian aid agencies helping Christians in Syria at this tumultuous time. They are working directly with Christian partners in the country to get urgent supplies to needy families. Consider today helping with monies that would be used at lunch or dinner for a meal but were not used because of fasting in solidarity with the Syrian Christians. Go to http://www.barnabasaid.org/US/Our-work/Our-current-projects/BF-Project-Countries/#/Syria.html?modhome=1

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