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.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Ordering of Priests

God willing, a friend will be ordained to the Anglican priesthood on Saturday, 15 November 2014. Of course, he has been and  will be in my prayers. While reflecting on his ordination this morning, I decided to re-read The Form and Manner of Ordering Priests as published with the 1928 American BCP. The entire service is full of good theology and beautiful words. One could spend a lot of time meditating on the text, but I decided to concentrate on a couple of selections from the Bishop's charge to the Ordinand(s) (1928 BCP, pp. 539-541). These selections stress the responsibilities of the priest and the divine grace needed to fulfill the priestly calling.

First, there is the following paragraph on the responsibilities of the priestly office:
"Ye have heard, Brethren, ... of what dignity, and of how great importance this Office is, whereunto ye are called. And now again we exhort you, in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye have in remembrance, into how high a Dignity, and to how weighty an Office and Charge ye are called: that is to say, to be Messengers, Watchmen, and Stewards of the Lord; to teach, and to premonish, to feed and provide for the Lord's family; to seek for Christ's sheep that are dispersed abroad, and for his children who are in the midst of this naughty world, that they may be saved through Christ for ever."

In addition to Ordinands, all clergy and laity need to take these words to heart. Every priest has the serious responsibility to care for souls, souls that are tempted in a fallen world and need the salvation offered by Christ in Word and Sacrament. All to often, the world leads us to consider ordained ministry as simply another profession, but we need to remember that it is a far higher spiritual responsibility.

Secondly, all human beings, including priests, are both weak and sinful, and no one can fulfill the responsibilities of the priesthood without divine grace and assistance.
"Forasmuch then as your Office is both of so great excellency, and of so great difficulty, ye see with how great care and study ye ought to apply yourselves...Howbeit, ye cannot have a mind and will thereto of yourselves; for that will and ability is given of God alone: therefore ye ought, and have need, to pray earnestly for his Holy Spirit. And seeing that ye cannot by any other means compass the doing of so weighty a work, pertaining to the salvation of man, but with doctrine and exhortation taken out of the Holy Scriptures, and with a life agreeable to the same; consider how studious ye ought to be in reading and learning the Scriptures....
and that ye will continually pray to God the Father, by the mediation of our only Saviour Jesus Christ, for the heavenly assistance of the Holy Ghost..."


Priests, like all Christians, need to be firmly rooted in Scripture and prayer. Without such a foundation, they are not open to the grace they need to fulfill their vocation. Furthermore, it is a great help to each priest when his superiors, colleagues, and parishioners are likewise rooted in Scripture and prayer. So let us pray for God's grace for ordinands, all clergy, and the whole people of God that they may fulfill their callings .


Saturday, November 01, 2014

All Saints Day

For a general comment on this day, see the post for 2010 (http://bcpanglican.blogspot.com/2010/10/all-saints-day-1-november.html).  This morning, I was particularly impressed by the liturgical epistle- Revelation 7: 2ff:
AND I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel. After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and peoples, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four living creatures, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. 
The underlined words point us to key aspect of All Saints Day. On this day we commemorate and give thanks for those known and unknown Christians across times, places, ethnic backgrounds, languages, and so forth who have remained faithful to Christ and continue to sing His praises. May we be among that fellowship, now and forever.

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!