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.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

First Sunday in Advent

As I thought of Advent I, I was struck by a Morning Prayer lesson from Isaiah.  Indeed, although there are a few lessons from other prophets, most of the Old Testament lessons during Advent are from Isaiah. An important Advent theme occurs in today's selection: divine judgment.
In Isaiah 28:14-16, we read these words-
Wherefore hear the word of the Lord, ye scornful men, that rule this people which is in Jerusalem. Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves: Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.

Advent is a time to remember that divine righteousness means that there is divine judgment against sin. The leaders of Judah during the sixth century B.C. were corrupt. They  were in league with death and hell. So they were about to experience divine wrath as a consequence. Isaiah still hoped that some people would turn from evil, and he also hoped for future redemption. Nevertheless, the corruption was real and deep, and there would be difficult times before things got better. Isaiah's words apply to some degree throughout human history, but there is a special application in our day and age. Traditional Christian beliefs and values have declined in many places, even among supposedly Christian leaders. For convenience, profit, popularity and other reasons, many people have made agreements with death and hell. So before we rush headlong into holiday celebrations, we need to pause, contemplate divine righteousness, and turn from sin.

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 (  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.