24 April 2011

2011 Paschal Messages from America and Russia

CHRIST IS RISEN! INDEED HE IS RISEN!

To the Very Reverend and Reverend Clergy, Monastics, and Faithful
of The Orthodox Church in America

Dearly Beloved in the Lord: Christ is Risen!

“This is the day that the Lord has made.” Today, our Lord is risen from the dead, releasing each of us from our sins and, ultimately, death itself. It marks the beginning of a new life filled with the radiance of Christ’s resurrection. “Let us rejoice and be glad in it!”

This newness of life has the power to transform us. The efforts and struggles we faced on our journey through Great Lent have prepared us for Christ’s victory over death. Our prayers, fasting, and almsgiving were not ends unto themselves; rather, they were the tools that allowed us to empty ourselves of our passions and receive Christ into our hearts. As the Apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians, "it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me" [Galatians 2:20].

As our Paschal Lamb, Jesus Christ sacrificed Himself so that each of us may live a new life filled with joy, faith, and love. By His resurrection from the dead -- and our resurrection in Him -- we have become partakers of His divine nature. He has become our daily bread, nourishing us and giving us the strength to live as Christians in today’s world. Let us cast off the shackles of our former lives, and be clothed in the robe of light, illumined by the light of Christ’s resurrection. Let us open our minds and hearts to the light that beams forth from the empty tomb.

Our Lord has given us an example of love so beautiful, so wonderful, and so powerful that it must be the foundation of everything we do in our lives. The love of God has destroyed the power of death and overcome the devil. What a magnificent blessing! The love of God the Father, revealed in Christ’s obedience unto death, has wiped the slate clean, and we are given a new beginning. What an amazing treasure! The sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross has conquered death. We are set free. What a divine gift!

The Paschal joy that we feel today cannot and must not end with the dismissal of today’s Liturgy or our agape meal -- and certainly not with the return to our "daily routines." When we allow Christ's joy and love to permeate every facet of our lives, the light of Christ’s resurrection will continue in our hearts long after our Paschal candles have been extinguished.

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Let us give glory to the One Who rose from the dead! And let us, as members of the Body of Christ, partake in His love, and share it with everyone around us!

Christ is risen! Indeed, He is risen!

With love in the risen Christ,

+ JONAH
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada
Beloved in the Lord archpastors, all-honourable presbyters and deacons, God-loving monks and nuns, dear brothers and sisters!

From my heart filled with gratitude towards God, I proclaim to all of you the great and saving news:

CHRIST IS RISEN!

With each year the Church testifies through this Paschal exclamation to the event of universal significance which happened almost two thousand years ago. It was then that early in the morning the myrrh-bearing women came to the burial site of their Teacher and saw that the tomb was empty. The divine power of Christ had triumphed over the law of death. He had risen, testifying to all of humanity that death was not the end of life, that death was overcome by the power of God.

Christ’s resurrection, in being a unique event in world history, became by God’s intention the beginning too of our own personal resurrection. It was precisely for this that the Saviour came into the world, suffered, was crucified and rose from the tomb in order that each person had the chance to go through the experience of resurrection from the dead, and not in the figurative but direct meaning of this world. St. Paul speaks clearly of this: ‘God… will also raise us up by his own power’ (1 Cor 6: 14).

That is why the feast of Pascha is the feast of the victory of life over death, for through the resurrection of Christ the Saviour resurrection from the dead has been granted to us all. And whatever difficult circumstances we may endure in our earthly life, whatever tribulations may be our lot, whatever fears people may try to instill in us – for they possess no spiritual power to foresee the future – our perception of the world ought to be calm and joyous, for Christ has risen.

The feast of Pascha in Holy Russia has always been great and radiant. And now in recent decades it has again returned to many homes and families. It is now also celebrated in those places where previously there had been no Paschal greeting: in hospitals, prisons, in the army and navy, and even in space. May God grant that beyond the external transformations taking part now in the countries of the Russian world there may be accomplished the genuine rebirth of human souls, that the joy of Christ’s resurrection may fill the hearts of each one of us, that the light of divine love may warm not only our families and friends but also people deprived of the chance of being in church, the elderly, sick and lonely.

Through Christ’s resurrection the believer acquires the chance of communicating with the power of grace sent down from above so that he may live in truth and according to God’s commandments: to be good and merciful, honest and a well-wisher in his relations with people, to be capable of sharing with them both joy and grief.

This Christian attitude towards our neighbours includes both concern for one’s country, for one’s people, and for one’s family and home. In preaching the priority of eternal spiritual values, the Church calls upon her children to adopt a tactful attitude towards the temporal yet real values of the world created by God: towards the environment and towards our rich cultural inheritance which has been made over centuries by our predecessors. To be guardians of the spiritual treasures and traditions of Orthodoxy means to transform oneself and one’s inner world actively, as well as to maintain the beauty and harmony of the world which surrounds us and to build them up in those places where they have been destroyed by the ill will of people. This is the vocation and responsibility of the Christian.

The Lord does not demand of us endeavours that our beyond our strength. He appeals to the soul of each individual and again and again calls upon us: ‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light’ (Mt 11: 28-30). In order to feel and understand how good and light is the burden that the Lord lays upon us, we must learn how to do good to our neighbours and those far from us. In this learning process it is only the first steps that are difficult: to stop in time and not to answer rudeness with rudeness, evil with evil, falsehood with falsehood, condemnation with condemnation. And then at least to feel gratification as a result of a correct and honest act which is beneficial to the other person, whether in the family, at work, in the parish or simply when speaking to other people and acquaintances. This sense of gratification can then turn into a joyful and optimistic spiritual condition if good deeds carried out not for the sake of gain but from a pure heart become a part of our lives. It is only then that we will feel the changes for the better in our public life when we become aware of the presence of the indestructible link between the good we have done and the well-being of society.

The evangelical motivation of our acts both in our private and professional and public sphere is capable of changing radically both ourselves and the world we live in.

‘May God arise and his enemies be scattered!’ – we exclaim on that light-bearing night. May God arise in our hearts and may the falsehood, enmity, evil, discord and all divisions in our life be scattered!

From the bottom of my heart I congratulate all of you, my dear ones, on the feast of Holy Pascha. May the aid and blessing of the Lord who has truly risen accompany each of us in our further labours for the glory of the Church, the well-being of the country in which we live, and for the good of our neighbours and those far from us. Amen.

+KIRILL
Patriarch of Moscow 
and all Russia


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23 April 2011

Isaiah 53: Foretelling the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ

Who hath believed our report? (Rom. 10.16) and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? (Joh. 12.38)
For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: (Mt. 8.17) yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. (1 Pet. 2.24)
All we like sheep have gone astray; (1 Pet. 2.25) we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, (Rev. 5.6) and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: (Acts 8.32, 33) for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. (1 Pet. 2.22)
Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors: (Mk. 15.28 · Lk. 22.37) and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.



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Psalm 21/22: Foretelling the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Mt. 27.46 · Mk. 15.34)
Why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?
O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not;
and in the night season, and am not silent.
But thou art holy,
O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.
Our fathers trusted in thee:
they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.
They cried unto thee, and were delivered:
they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.
But I am a worm, and no man;
a reproach of men, and despised of the people.
All they that see me laugh me to scorn:
they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, (Mt. 27.39 · Mk. 15.29 · Lk. 23.35) saying,
He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him:
let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him. (Mt. 27.43)
But thou art he that took me out of the womb:
thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother's breasts.
I was cast upon thee from the womb:
thou art my God from my mother's belly.
Be not far from me; for trouble is near;
for there is none to help.
Many bulls have compassed me:
strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round.
They gaped upon me with their mouths,
as a ravening and a roaring lion.
I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint:
my heart is like wax;
it is melted in the midst of my bowels.
My strength is dried up like a potsherd;
and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws;
and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.
For dogs have compassed me:
the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me:
they pierced my hands and my feet.
I may tell all my bones:
they look and stare upon me.
They part my garments among them,
and cast lots upon my vesture. (Mt. 27.35 · Mk. 15.24 · Lk. 23.34 · Joh. 19.24)
But be not thou far from me, O LORD:
O my strength, haste thee to help me.
Deliver my soul from the sword;
my darling from the power of the dog.
Save me from the lion's mouth:
for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.
I will declare thy name unto my brethren:
in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee. (Heb. 2.12)
Ye that fear the LORD, praise him;
all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him;
and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel.
For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted;
neither hath he hid his face from him;
but when he cried unto him, he heard.
My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation:
I will pay my vows before them that fear him.
The meek shall eat and be satisfied:
they shall praise the LORD that seek him:
your heart shall live for ever.
All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD:
and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.
For the kingdom is the LORD's:
and he is the governor among the nations.
All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship:
all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him:
and none can keep alive his own soul.
A seed shall serve him;
it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.
They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness
unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.



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22 April 2011

Holy Week is a Busy Week!

My schedule this week:

Holy Wednesday:

  • Holy Unction Service 6:00 PM (at Saint John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church)
  • Bridegroom Matins 7:00 PM (at Saint John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church)

Holy Thursday:

  • Holy Supper Vesperal Liturgy 9:30 AM (at Saint John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church)
  • Washing of the Feet Service 11:00 AM (at Saint John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church)
  • 12 Passion Gospels Matins 7:00PM (at Saint Barbara Orthodox Church)

Holy and Great Friday:

  • Royal Hours 10:00 AM (at Saint John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church)
  • Burial Vespers 2:00 PM (at Saint Barbara Orthodox Church)
  • Apokathelosis 3:00 PM (at Saint John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church)
  • Confessions 4:00 PM (at Saint John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church)
  • Lamentations Matins 7:00 PM (at Saint Barbara Orthodox Church)

Holy Saturday:

  • Pre-Resurrection Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil 9:00AM (at Saint Barbara Orthodox Church)
  • Paschal Vespers 11:30 PM (at Saint Barbara Orthodox Church)

Holy and Great Pascha:

  • Paschal matins and Divine Liturgy 12:00 AM (at Saint Barbara Orthodox Church)
  • Agape Resurrection Vespers 12:00 PM (at Saint Barbara Orthodox Church)




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21 April 2011

Holy Thursday Foot Washing

The Church observes foot washing do so on the basis of the authoritative example and command of Jesus as found in the Gospel of John 13:1-15:
And before the feast of the passover, Jesus knowing that His hour hath come, that He may remove out of this world unto the Father, having loved His own who are in the world -- to the end He loved them. And supper being come, the devil already having put it into the heart of Judas of Simon, Iscariot, that he may deliver Him up, Jesus, knowing that all things the Father hath given to Him -- into His hands -- and that from God He came forth, and unto God He goeth, doth rise from the supper, and doth lay down his garments, and having taken a towel, he girded himself; afterward he putteth water into the basin, and began to wash the feet of his disciples, and to wipe with the towel with which he was being girded. He cometh, therefore, unto Simon Peter, and that one saith to him, `Sir, thou -- dost Thou wash my feet?' Jesus answered and said to him, `That which I do thou hast not known now, but thou shalt know after these things;' Peter saith to him, `Thou mayest not wash my feet -- to the age.' Jesus answered him, `If I may not wash thee, thou hast no part with me.' Simon Peter saith to him, `Sir, not my feet only, but also the hands and the head.' Jesus saith to him, `He who hath been bathed hath no need, save to wash his feet, for he is clean altogether; and ye are clean, but not all;' for He knew him who is delivering him up; because of this He said, `Ye are not all clean.' When, therefore, He washed their feet, and took His garments, having reclined at meat again, He said to them, `Do ye know what I have done to you? Ye call me, "The Teacher" and "The Lord", and ye say well, for I am; if then I did wash your feet -- the Lord and the Teacher -- ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given thee an example, that ye should do as I have done to ye. Verily, verily, I say unto ye, the servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.
Jesus demonstrates the custom of the time when he comments on the' lack of hospitality in one Pharisees' home by not providing water to wash his feet:
Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair - Luke 7:44
The Bible records washing of the saint's feet being practiced by the early Orthodox Church in I Timothy 5:10 in reference to piety, submission and humility.

The Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches practice the ritual of the Washing of Feet on Holy and Great Thursday (Maundy Thursday) according to their ancient rites. The service may be performed either by a bishop, washing the feet of twelve priests; or by an Hegumen (Abbot) washing the feet of twelve members of the brotherhood of his monastery. The ceremony takes place at the end of the Divine Liturgy.

After Holy Communion, and before the dismissal, the brethren all go in procession to the place where the Washing of Feet is to take place (it may be in the center of the nave, in the narthex, or a location outside). After a psalm and some troparia (hymns) an ektenia (litany) is recited, and the bishop or abbot reads a prayer. Then the deacon reads the account in the Gospel of John, while the clergy perform the roles of Christ and his apostles as each action is chanted by the deacon. The deacon stops when the dialogue between Jesus and Peter begins. The senior-ranking clergyman among those whose feet are being washed speaks the words of Peter, and the bishop or abbot speaks the words of Jesus. Then the bishop or abbot himself concludes the reading of the Gospel, after which he says another prayer and sprinkles all of those present with the water that was used for the foot washing. The procession then returns to the church and the final dismissal is given as normal.

Foot washing rites are also observed in the Oriental Orthodox churches on Maundy Thursday.
In the Coptic Orthodox Church the service is performed by the parish priest, not just by a bishop or hegumen. He blesses the water for the foot washing with the cross, just as he would for blessing holy water and he washes the feet of the entire congregation.

In the Indian Orthodox or Malankara Orthodox Church, this service is performed only by a bishop. This is done most ceremoniously as the Bishop does this in the midst of the reading of the Scripture (Evangelion). There will be some 12 selected persons, both priests and the lay people, and the Bishop will wash and kiss the feet of those 12 persons. After this the eldest of the priest washes the Bishop's feet. It is not merely a dramatization of the past event. Further it is a prayer where the whole congregation prays to wash and cleanse them of their sins.

Many Baptists observe the literal washing of feet as a third ordinance. The communion and foot washing service is practiced regularly by members of the Separate Baptists in Christ, General Association of Baptists, Free Will Baptists, Primitive Baptists, Union Baptists, Old Regular Baptist, Christian Baptist Church of God, Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee), Brethren in Christ,. Feet washing is also practiced as a third ordinance by many United Baptists, General Baptists, and Independent Baptists.


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20 April 2011

Holy Wednesday Unction: Annointing the Physically & Spiritually Sick

Tonight in Orthodox Christian Churches around the world, the Mystery of Unction is given by the presbyters (priests) and bishops to the Faithful Christians of their flock. Are we not all spiritually not 100%? I think so.

Some may wonder what is the scriptural reference to this Tradition. Although Tradition created the Bible and not the Bible creating Tradition, here it is:

"Is any among you sick? Let him call for the presbyters of the Church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven"
(James 5:14-15).

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11 April 2011

HOW-TO: Traditional Orthodox Pascha (Easter) Basket

Click image to enlarge and enhance reaibility.

10 April 2011

Transformers

In my youth, I was quite a Transformers fan. My first Transformer was Ironhide, so just like my first Masters of the Universe toy, Mer-Man, he will always be a favorite. I would go on to collect many more Transformers. I bought most of the mini-bots, and although Bumblebee was most people's favorite, I preferred Cliffjumper and Cosmos. I did actually like Goldbug, when Bumblebee was upgraded, however. Sunstreaker, Inferno, Wreck-Gar, Slag, Bluestreak, Kup, the Insecticons, all the Predacons that combined to form Predaking and the biggest Transformer of them all (before Unicron), Omega Supreme! I remember seeing the original animated Transformers Movie as a kid and almost crying when Ironhide died in it! A

As I grew older I sold my Transformers, only ever buying my daughter a Transformers: Robots in Disguise Scourge, the evil clone of Optimus Prime and a Black Arachnia from Transformers: Beast Wars figure. I was never a huge fan of Optimus, always liking Ultra Magnus better, for some reason. I did not like the live action movie forms for the characters, I think the original forms would have been better.

Anyway, at work we have been trying to decide on my team's name, other that the appointed names of "The Sales Farm Team" and "Team Stanosheck", as we wanted to have visual representations of ourselves like the other sales teams (i.e. Trent's Titans, Hurt's Heroes, etc.), so we are going with the "Stanfarmers" blending my last name with "Farm" and using great pictures of the newest Animated Transformers (in Cybertronian forms) to represent ourselves. Per my team's choices, I will not be Ironhide, but Omega Supreme the Big Boss!

03 April 2011

Weight loss finally beginning!

I was planning a lenten weight loss, but that did not work. But that did not work. So I have restarted this week, with the help of a personal trainer. My goal is to lose 40 pounds by August 1, my physical trainer says I will go past that and possible reach my ultimate goal of 60 pounds. Here is my weight so far this week:

245# Monday March 28th
244# Tuesday March 29th
243# Wednesday March 30th
242# Thursday March 31st
241# Friday April 1st
240# Saturday April 2nd

Obviously I do not expect to continue losing at this rate, but it sure would be nice. My personal trainer has me on both a diet and exercise regiment, and I am glad to be guided by someone who can help me do it!

02 April 2011

True Origins the Miao/Hmong Ethnic Minority and the Other Peoples of China

After the Flood Noah's his descendants migrated to the plains of Shinar. On this plain, today known as Iraq, (Summer c. 3500 BC to 2000 BC) became the first civilization on earth. The religio/political upheaval which followed "Tower of Babel" induced people to migrate to other parts of the world.

There is increasing evidence of the connection between Biblical Genesis (Ch. 1-11) and the origin of Chinese Civilization. In Genesis 10 we have the Table of Nations, that is, the descendants of Noah's three sons Shem, Ham and Japhet. Ham is regarded as the father of the Mongoloid and Negroid races because he generated Canaan whose two sons Heth (Hittites/Cathey) and Sin (Sinite/China) who are presumed to be the progenitors of the Mongoloid stock.

"The name Sin appears frequently in the Chinese language, and the city of Xian, a provincial capital in western China, was known as Sianfu in the nineteenth century, meaning "Father Sin." Some scholars have suggested that the Sin referred to here may have been Fu Xi, the legendary first king of China, who began his reign in 2852 B.C. Later, when the first Chinese kingdom broke up in the first millennium B.C., a state named Qin (also spelled Tsin or Ch'in), arose near Xian; the Qin rulers reunited the land in the third century B.C., and the whole land became known as China, named after Qin. Thus the name "Sin" came to us in a roundabout fashion, altered over the ages to become "China." The ancient name also appeared in its original form in the 1960s and 70s when news reports told about the "Sino-Soviet" border dispute." (A Biblical Interpretation of World History)

Most likely the Chinese Civilization began in the area of the former Chinese capital Shensi or Siang-fu (Father Sin) also called Hang'an and today called Xi'an meaning city of "Everlasting Peace". This is the place where the Silk Road began and served as the first capital of the unified empire. "One ancient Chinese classic called the "Hihking" tells the story of Fuhi, whom the Chinese consider to be the father of their civilization. This history records that Fuhi, his wife, three sons, and three daughters escaped the great flood. He and his family were the only people left alive on earth. After the great flood they repopulated the world. An ancient temple in China has a wall painting that shows Fuhi's boat in the raging waters. Dolphins are swimming around the boat and a dove with an olive branch in its beak is flying toward it."

There are also cultural similarities between the Chinese and Chaldeans which suggest their origin. Like the Chaldeans, the Chinese had astronomical knowledge and belief in astrology, used same of methods of measurement, the cycle of sixty and decimal system. They believed in interrelation and correspondence of five elements, the five colors, the harmony of numbers and a multitude of other customs that the Chaldeans had. All of this cannot be mere coincidence."

Another indication of the origin of the Chinese was their monotheism. They believed in Shang-Di, the Supreme Heavenly Ruler of whom they never made an image.

At the Border Sacrifice, a single calf, male or female, was sacrificed. "Why a calf? Because of its guileless simplicity,' says Kâu Hsü of our eleventh century; earlier than Kû Hsî, who adopted his explanation. The calf, whether male or female, has not yet felt the appetency of sex, and is unconscious of any 'dissipation.' This is a refinement on the Hebrew idea of the victim lamb, 'without blemish.'"  The oldest Chinese historical source tells us that in the year 2230 BC at the "Border Sacrifice", the Emperor Shun sacrifice to Shang-Di offering the following prayer:
"Of old in the beginning, there was the great chaos, without form and dark. The five elements [planets] had not begun to revolve, nor the sun and moon to shine. You, O Spiritual Sovereign, first divided the grosser parts from the purer. You made heaven. You made earth. You made man. All things with their reproducing power got their being".
"Thou hast vouchsafed, O Di, to hear us for, Thou regardest us as a Father. I, Thy child, dull and unenlightened, am unable so show forth the dutiful feelings".
"Thy sovereign goodness is infinite. As a potter, Thou hast made all living thing. Thy sovereign goodness is infinite. Great and small are sheltered [by Thee]. As engraven on the heart of Thy poor servant is the sense of Thy goodness, so that my feelings cannot be fully displayed. With great kindness Thou dost bear us, and not withstanding our shortcomings, dost grant us life and prosperity."

Hieromonk Damascene reflecting on the above prayer states: "In general, reading the text of the Border Sacrifice reminds us strongly of the prayers of the Ancient Hebrews as found in the Old Testament: the same reverent awe before God, the same self abasement, humility and gratitude before his greatness. ... It seems that the most ancient Chinese religion and the ancient Hebrew religion are drawn from the same source." From the above it is most likely that the Chinese brought with them the religion of Noah as they migrated from the plains of Shinar.

The Miao people claim to have descended from Japhet, one of the sons of Noah, whose descendants migrated to India and Europe. In this case some found their way into China prior to the ethnic Chinese which today constitute 92% of the population. In any event, all people of the earth presumably migrated from Sumeria due to some religio/historical event "Tower of Babel" of which the book of Genesis speaks. They had no written language till 1957, so oral history and tradition was passed on by song and dance. We find in their tradition the story of Creation, Man's Revolt, the Flood, Babel and Biblical genealogy. The "Fall" is not mentioned in this account. Here is how it begins:
On the day God created the heavens and earth.
On that day He opened the gateway of light.
In the earth then He made heaps of earth and of stone.
In the sky He made bodies, the sun and the moon.
In the earth He created the hawk and the kite.
In the water created the lobster and fish.
In the wilderness made He the tiger and bear,
Made verdure to cover the mountains,
Made forest extend with the ranges,
Made the light green cane,
Made the rank bamboo.
On earth He created a man from the dirt.
Of the man thus created, a woman He formed ....
These [mankind] did not God's will nor return His affection.
But fought with each other defying the Godhead. ....
Here is the beginning of the one of the Miao's People Creation Songs.
Song of Creation of heaven and earth.
Sung by Yang Zhi.
When the sky began,
The sky above, who made it?
The sky above, the Glorious King Shi-tru, the Man Dlang-hnu, he made it.
When the earth began,
Earth's people, who made them?
Earth's people, the Glorious King Chi-TRW, the Man Clang-Hun, he made them.
The Glorious King Shi-tru, the man Dlang-hnu
Made the sky above extremely smooth, even as the bottom of a great round basket;
Made the sky above extremely smooth where Sun-mai and Moon-youth might play together. .... 
You can see from the above that the Creation by God as a fact is the same as in the Bible but is elaborated differently. This indicates that the source of the Creation story was not the Bible but a more ancient traditional source. Further, at Miao funerals and weddings they recite the names of their ancestors clear back to Adam whom they name Dirt. Originally the Miao worshipped One God but under the influence of the Han Chinese, they now worship different gods. There are about seven million Miao's but only 300,000 are now Christians.

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01 April 2011

ABC: Archaeology, the Bible and Chinese History of it's Post-Flood Origins

During the past century many theories of a western origin for Chinese civilization have been proposed. One of the best documented attempts was based on the similarity of neolithic pottery in eastern Europe and China. It was discarded because archaeologists believed that any such large scale migration should leave abundant evidences in the intervening lands and that evidence was not available. On Biblical presuppositions, of course, we might expect no intervening link because the migration to distant lands occurred rapidly after the Tower of Babel episode. An examination of Chinese tradition, and the legends of the equally ancient Far Eastern Miao tribes, suggests that China was colonised after a flood like that described in the Bible.

THE FLOOD
The flood was as important in the ancient mythologies of the peoples of China, as it is to Scripture. Many primitive peoples described it as a catastrophe of Biblical dimensions. The Miao Legend states that a single human couple escaped the deluge in a wooden drum, and then gave birth to the first members of post flood humanity.1 The Shu King, China's first "history", states:
destructive in their overflow are the waters of the inundation. In their vast extent they embrace the hills and overtop the great heights, threatening the heavens with their floods.2
WORLD PRE-FLOOD GENEALOGIES
Yu, the Chinese "Noah", overcame the flood waters, but he and his immediate predecessors are of a lineage well known to world mythology. The Bible, the ancient Sumerians and the Chinese all cite a chronology of ten rulers whose last member was the hero of a Great Flood epoch. Similar legends are known from Greece and India. Some modern scholars have recognised the unity of these genealogies and suggested they may have originated in ancient Sumeria. In our Biblical framework, the great flood was an actual event and each of these traditions indigenous to the lands where they are found. Such a currency of like traditions is to be expected on the basis of Scripture, and on that basis Miao are quite correct in ascribing the whole of post flood humanity to a single family.

A BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION OF CHINESE ARCHAEOLOGY
A Biblical interpretation of China's village culture must necessarily cut 3,000 years off the current reconstruction of that nation's Neolithic era. The vast bulk of early cultures, the Yang Shao and Lung Shan among them, would be incorporated as components of Hsia dynasty times (2205 B.C. to 1766 B.C.). The earliest villages would not have been more than a few hundred years earlier.


SIMILARITIES OF SUMERIAN AND CHINESE CULTURE
Genesis 11:2 states that after the flood mankind found a plain in the land of Sinar (Sumeria) and settled there. There are evidences in China's culture that indicate a Sumerian origin. The term "black-headed people" for their own race, and an emphasis on astronomy and mathematics in early times are common to both cultures.

Furthermore, the identity of a great body of astronomical lores and astrological superstitions, the use of methods of measurement, the cycle of sixty and decimal system, the belief in interrelation and correspondence of five elements, of five colors and the harmony of numbers, together with a multitude of other customs on the part of both the Chinese and Chaldeans cannot be explained as merely co-incidences.3

JAPHETIC ORIGINS OF THE CHINESE
From Sumeria, mankind spread out across the earth and it seems quite probable that the ancestors of the Chinese accompanied the Japhetic migration into Europe. The Caucasian and Mongolian races have long been recognized as close genetic relatives.4 When Sir William Dawson broke the early Chinese language into its monosyllable roots, in the late nineteenth century, he found them traceable to all stocks of European speech.5 Then, too, the painted urns of one of China's earliest neolithic cultures (the Yang Shao) have no other correspondents in China, but are strikingly like "similar painted wares" from Turkestan, the Caucasus, the Ukraine and the Balkans.

MIAO TRADITIONS OF BEGINNINGS AND THE MIGRATION
Hugo Bernatzek found traditions of another homeland and an ancient migration from among the Miao tribes who now live in Thailand. The first two human beings, a brother and sister, supposedly appeared after "the earth was flooded by the ocean".7 The Miao also talk of a "golden age" before weeds grew in the field and of how ripe grain flew through the air into men's houses.

This age came to an end when one lazy woman disobeyed her husband and didn't sweep the house clean to receive the ripe grain. There are stories, too, of an original homeland many years journey to the north where the days and nights are six months long and it is very cold.8

A missionary named F.M.l. Savina had earlier collected the stories of the Miao who lived in southern China. These people also spoke of the "golden age", indicating that it had ended when a woman picked some forbidden strawberries. They told of how a brother and sister had escaped the flood waters in a wooden drum and how all post flood humanity was descended from them. Then there came a time when mankind grew numerous and tried to reach heaven with a ladder. The "Lord of Heaven" struck these few dead with lightning. Before this time all people had spoken one language: now they were given many languages and, not being able to understand one another, separated. The Miao went to a land where the days and nights were six months long. They eventually migrated into Honan province, in China, and were in possession of that land when the Hia or "Chinese" arrived.9


BlBLlCAL ASPECTS OF MIAO AND CHINESE LEGENDS
Both Miao and Chinese traditions assume several Biblical sounding aspects. Miao legends mention an original "golden age" lost to mankind through disobedience, a great flood and the subsequent dispersal of the human family throughout the world. Chinese tradition possesses no fall Story, and no migration epic, but lists a number of pre-flood characters who are very similar to those found in the Bible.

THE FIRST TEN CHINESE EMPERORS
Stories of the first ten emperors of China follow a chronology much like that of the first ten generations of Genesis. Like Adam, the first emperor was specially created, ruled "over the earth" (Genesis 1 :28) and wore the skins of animals. Shen-nung, the second emperor, was like Adam's son Cain in that he was the first farmer, who invented the plow and instigated the first markets. During another emperor's reign cattle were first herded, pitch pipes were invented and the first instruments of bronze and iron fashioned: Genesis 4:19-22 attributes these innovations to the sons of Lamech. The seventh man of each list was a bigamist. Noah and Yu, the tenth members of their lists, were flood heroes who developed a limp during the course of their labours and who were associated with the discovery of wine.10 The comparisons between Chinese and Biblical chronology are so many that many mythologists have admitted that they must have been inspired by the same source. These modern scholars suggest that both traditions evolved from Sumerian legends, but there are far more resemblances between Chinese and Biblical tradition than exist between the myths of Sumeria and China

SUPPOSEDLY OLDER CHINESE TRADITIONS
Numerous pre-Imperial personalities would appear to refute the thesis that the Imperial/Biblical generations are historical, but these myths in many ways actually strengthen the Scriptural link. Many of the stories can be dismissed as late inventions. Others, of an obvious antiquity, often demonstrate claims contemporary to the Imperial line and Scripture. For instance, Suei Jen taught men how to make fires and set up markets: innovations also claimed by pre-flood emperors and, at least in regard to markets, Cain. The flood waters followed and when they had covered seven-tenths of the earth Kung Kung took advantage of mankind's Compressed situation to make himself king.

Alternate versions relate that Kung Kung was an inept official who failed to halt the rising flood waters and that he was the father of Yu (Noah, in the present thesis). The similarities between these mythical fragments and the Imperial chronologies are such that they may have descended from alternate traditions of the same era.11

MIAO AND CHINESE MIGRATIONS INTO CHINA
The Miao claim to have migrated into China prior to the Chinese and there are many evidences that support such a claim. Ch'ih Yu, the third emperor, was the chieftan of the Li tribes who are part of the Miao race. Some, admittedly late, traditions state that Huang Ti led the Chinese out of the northwest and into China at this time. Huang Ti 's overthrow of Ch'ih Yu, which must be regarded as a Miao/Chinese struggle, is the first war of Chinese history. Whatever historical basis these legends may have, however, they appear to be chronologically misplaced. The entire sequence of preflood Imperial history appears to be like that of the Bible, and Huang Ti is in the middle of this sequence. Furthermore, both Miao and Biblical chronologies cite these events as occurring after the flood. A far more logical candidate for leading the post flood migration to China is Yu, who established the Hsia dynasty (2205 B.C. 1766 B.C.) after the flood.12

YU LED THE "CHINESE" INTO CHINA
Within the legends of Yu are hints of two personalities: a flood hero and a migration leader. During the course of his labours, Yu paced the length of the earth. He then established the Hsia dynasty and cast nine caldrons which became symbolic of his dynasty. The origin of the metal for these caldrons which represent the nine provinces of China is problematic: one authority insists this material came from the nine regions (of the empire)", another states that the metal was "brought from far off countries by the nine shepherds".13 The second interpretation supports a colonization hypothesis, especially when we consider the strong sheepherding traditions of Sumeria and the Balkan regions of eastern Europe. Further hints as to Yu's migration are gained through his father, Kung Kung. One Chinese tradition asserts that when flood waters covered seven-tenths of the earth Kung Kung took advantage of this fact to extend his rule over all of them. Miao tradition states that mankind grew numerous after the flood, but then dispersed after the "confusion of the tongues". Scripture mentions that mankind settled in the land of Shinar (Sumeria) after the flood and that a certain Nimrod established his kingdom there: then came the confusion of tongues and dispersal. Yu's claim to be the son of Kung Kung (Nimrod, in this thesis) may or may not be true, but he probably took the idea of "empire" with him to China. Numerous archaeological remains and retained customs testify to the Sumerian and Japhetic origins of Chinese civilization.

DISTORTION OF CHINESE TRADITION
In time, egocentric ideas of Chinese superiority and of the emperor as the "Son of Heaven" came to distort the traditional chronologies of beginnings. The flood was remembered, but China is the only culture which claims to have conquered its flood and the conqueror was, of course, an emperor. That this "emperor" led the Chinese into their future homeland is most probable. His recasting as "Noah" seems quite natural in a culture which came to disregard anything not Chinese. Omitting the foreign episodes, there was nothing before Yu except the flood.


VALUE OF CHINESE TRADITION
Despite these distortions, Chinese tradition remains one of the most essential evidences in any attempt to build a creationist framework of world history. The Chinese were one of the earliest literate civilizations and, with the Greeks and Hebrews, perhaps the first historically minded people. Most of eastern Asia derived cultural roots from China.

VALUE OF CREATIONIST RECONSTRUCTION TO MIAO AND CHINESE TRADITION
Within a creationist framework of history, both Chinese and Miao traditions derive a historicity which was formerly denied them. The Miao Stories of the flood, of a confusion of tongues and a subsequent migration to China appear as historical events. Many of the first Chinese emperors appear to have been historical characters, which makes it quite possible that the others are as well. Eight people survived the flood, with six different family backgrounds behind them. Any number of details, which are not in the Biblical record but nevertheless true, could have passed into folklore. The framework for any such reconstruction, however, lies in Genesis, chapters 1 to 11. It is within the idea of a post-flood colonization like that described in the Bible that the traditions of China's most ancient peoples the Miao and "Chinese" are reconciled.

FOOTNOTES
1 Hugo Bernatzek; Akha and Miao (1970), p.302 citing F.M.I. Savina Histoire de Miao (Société des Missions étrangères de Paris. Hong Kong, (7930), p. 245.
2 James Legge (trans) "The Canon of Yao" (Shoo Kingi).
3 Kiang Kang Hsi.' Chinese Civilization (Chung Hwa Book Co., Shanghai 1935), p.5.
4 Franz Boas; The Mind of Primitive Man (Free Press paperback, 1965), p. 110.
5 Arthur Custance; Time and Eternity (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Mich, 1977), pp. 184-185.
6 Stuart Piggot (ed); The Dawn of Civilization (1968), p.268.
7 Bernatzek, p.301.
8 Ibid, p.305.
9 Savina, pp. 180 & 254 as cited in Bernatzek, pp. 302-306.
10 Bernhard Karlgren "Legends and Cults in Ancient China" (Bulletin of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, #18,1946) and other sources cited by Joseph Campbell; The Masks of God: Oriental Mythology (Viking/Compass, N.Y., 1974), pp.382-391.
Kiang Kung Ilsi, pp. 8-15.
James MacGowan; The Imperial History of China (Curzion Press London: N.Y.: Harper & Row; N.Y.: Barnes & Noble, 1973), pp. 4-20.
Josephus; Antiquities of the Jews 1.2.1.
11 Campbell, pp. 381-382; Kiang Kung Hsi p.8; MacGowan, pp. 2 & 3.
12 The Shan Hai Ching cited Kiang Kung Hsi p4; Kiang Kung Hsi pp. 4 & 8; MacGowan, pp. 6-8; Campbell, p.383 & 391,392.
13 K.C. Wu; The Chinese Heritage (Crown Publishers, N.Y., 1982), p.112; and also Anthony Christie; Chinese Mythology (Hamlynn, London, N.Y., Sydney, Toronto, 1968), pp. 89, 90.

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