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, 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.