Note to readers: Liturgical entries on this blog are based on the traditional calendar of the Books of Common Prayer and the traditional one-year Eucharistic lectionary. If you follow a newer calendar or three-year lectionary, there are variations in names for some Sundays and in the readings.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Updates

I have not returned to blogging, but have done some updating. I have tried to check internet addresses and add links to some of the sites that I read at least monthly.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Septuagesima

This Sunday begins the old custom of a pre-Lenten season. From the sixth century until the 1960's, calendars in the Western Church called the third Sunday before Lent "Septuagesima," the Latin for "seventy."  The names of this Sunday and the following two seem to be based on a rough approximation of the number of days before Easter.

One New Testament lesson for Morning Prayer is St. Matthew 5:1-16. This selection contains the Beatitudes which can inspire extensive meditations. This time, I will focus on St. Matthew 5:13:  Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

Christ's followers are called upon to have the character of salt in the world. Salt is a flavor, a nutrient and a preservative. It is to be hoped that Christians can be all three in the world. We know better than to expect the whole world to be salt, but Christ's followers should add to the quality of earthly life for those around us. And if we are not thinking and acting in ways that add something, we have lost our purpose, become useless and are ready to be discarded. May we look at ourselves and allow God's grace to make us saltier.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Fifth Sunday after Epiphany

One of the New Testament lessons for Morning Prayer is St. Luke 12:35-48: Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not. Then Peter said unto him, Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even to all? And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath. But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

Like many of the readings for the latter half of the Epiphany season, this one contains practical spiritual advice about the Christian mission while waiting for the Lord. We are reminded of Christ's expectations. We are not to be passive or lazy in our waiting. We are to be vigilant, carry on with our work and be prepared. We have been given great grace and our Lord expects much of us.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Presentation of Christ (Epiphany 4)

This Sunday has several different names. It is the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany, but this year, Epiphany 4 falls on 2 February; so it is also the Feast commemorating the Presentation of Christ in the Temple on the fortieth day after His Birth. Another name is the Purification of Saint Mary the Virgin- which in the Middle Ages also became known as Candlemas because of the custom of blessing ecclesiastical candles on this date.

As in recent posts, my emphasis is on the New Testament Lesson for Morning Prayer. The selection is Galatians 4:1-7: Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

This passage reminds us that even Christ grew up under the Law, and His Presentation at the Temple is one example of His perfect fulfillment of the whole Law to redeem those under the Law. As Gentile believers, many modern Christians may not realize that we are subject to the Law. But we are still under the Law, subject to God's natural and moral Law. Of course, we do not fulfill these divine requirements; we sin and fall short repeatedly. So our only hope is to be adopted as God's sons and daughters through the gracious work of Christ and the Holy Spirit. In other words, we are not redeemed through the Law; we are redeemed through living faith in the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Third Sunday after Epiphany

The New Testament lesson for Morning Prayer continues the theme of Christ's manifestations to the world. In St. John 4:1-14, we have the beginning of the story of the Samaritan woman at the well. Of course, the Samaritans were people with a general belief in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but over the years they had mixed ethnically, culturally and religiously with pagan neighbors. So loyal Jews viewed them with suspicion. This encounter is even more unusual. Here the Samaritan is an woman, and contact with women outside the immediate family was usually avoided by rabbis. Furthermore, as this woman speaks about her life, we learn that she was not a paragon of virtue.

The key to our selection is in St. John 4:11-14:  The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

In these words, our Lord manifests His identity. He has come to a  bring a new message which surpasses the divine revelation to the patriarchs such as Jacob. Jesus presents Himself as the living water who can satisfy humanities deepest longs forever. This is a message for all, even people of lowly status, questionable theology and dubious morals. No matter what our problems, may we welcome Christ as our living water!

Conversion of St. Paul

Saturday, 25 January, is the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. The event commemorated is important even from a secular historical point of view because Paul's conversion led to the spread of the Christian message to the Gentile world. For all Gentile Christians and for all thinking Christians, the work of the Apostle Paul is of basic importance. There is much that can be said about Paul's work and writings, but I would focus briefly on the New Testament lesson for Morning Prayer. In II Corinthians 12:1-9, Paul writes about some of his own experiences and mentions his "thorn in the flesh" (12: 7). And in II Cor. 12: 9, the Apostle cites the Lord's response to his prayers:  "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness."

This response can be seen as a motto for Paul's mission. It all depends upon the grace of God which overcomes all of Paul's human weakness. Indeed, this is the very message of the cross- God's grace is sufficient to express divine power through worldly weakness. The same can be said about the life and mission of every faithful Christian. We are all weak in many ways, but God's grace is sufficient to transform our weaknesses into opportunities to express divine power.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Second Sunday after Epiphany

One of the New Testament lessons for Morning Prayer on the Second Sunday after Epiphany is from I Corinthians 12:12-31. The first three verses of this selection apply the common Epiphany theme of baptism to the Christian community, the Body of Christ. I Cor. 12:12-14 says, "For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many." 

Our Baptisms have made us members of Christ's one Body, given us the Holy Spirit, and called us to take our places and work for the well-being of the whole body. In other words, we have been called, given a mission and given divine grace to work for Christ's purposes in this world. Whether we are considered great or minor parts of the Body of Christ, we are all called to serve the great Christian mission of redemption.