What we’re doing on this blog on Mondays is looking back and forth at the Daily Office readings (or lessons) so we can better process together what the Scriptures are saying, and list the recommended Propers for the Communion or Antecommunion service for each day of the week.
Last week: Judith 11-16, Ecclus. (Sirach) 1, Acts 17-20:16, Isaiah 30-36, Luke 3-6:19
This week: Ecclus. (Sirach) 2-11, Acts 21-23, Isaiah 37-43, Luke 6:20-9:17
Special lesson for Morning Prayer on Saint Andrew’s Day: John 1:35-42
This weekend in Morning Prayer we began the book of Ecclesiasticus, the full title of which is The Wisdom of Jesus son of Sirach, often called Sirach for short. This is a book of wisdom literature, like the book of Proverbs, but unlike that book is largely written (or compiled) by one man (whose name is in the title) and translated into Greek by his grandson. This book even has a Preface (chapter zero, basically) which gives us a note about its translation, and that you always lose something in the process. That in itself is a fascinating insight into the manner of self-awareness of ancient writers. Anyway, if you’re not familiar with Sirach, check out my brief introduction to this book from last year.
Meanwhile, in Isaiah, we’re just getting into a brief historical interlude in the middle of the book, where we hear the story of some of King Hezekiah’s interactions with Isaiah. If you have a keen memory you may recall some of this material from 2 Kings.
After that, starting with Isaiah chapter 40, we get to the second half of the book. Some scholars think that this section of the book was written by Isaiah’s prophetic successors or disciples because it takes on a different tone and focus. Although it may be an unnecessary stretch to assume a change in authorship, it is absolutely true that the style of the book changes. Chapters 40-66 no longer deal so much with specific oracles and prophecies against specific nations and peoples, but take on a much broader scope. Jerusalem, Babylon, and other important cities are still mentioned along the way, but the emphasis is not so much on what’s going to happen to them specifically so much as what’s going to happen to the whole world. Almost every chapter from here to the end has at least a couple famous verses that the casual Bible-reader will recognize.
- 40 = “Comfort, comfort my people…” and “They will soar on wings like eagles…”
- 42 = “Behold, my servant, whom I uphold… I have put my Spirit upon him…”
- 43 = “Remember not the former things… Behold, I am doing a new thing…”
- 49 = “Can a woman forget her nursing child… yet I will not forget you.”
- 51 = “Awake, awake, put on strength…”
- 52 = “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news…”
- 53 = “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief…”
- 54 = “In righteousness you shall be established”
- 55 = “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near…”
- 56 = “my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples”
- 57 = “thus says the one who is high and lifted up… I dwell in the high and holy place… to revive the spirit of the lowly…”
- 58 = “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness…”
- 59 = “My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart…”
- 60 = “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you”
- 61 = “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me… to bring good news to the poor…”
- 62 = “You shall no more be termed Forsaken… but you shall be called My Delight Is In Her…”
- 64 = “But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter”
- 65 = “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.”
Almost every one of these chapters find a home in the lectionary in Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Ash Wednesday, or near Easter…. most of the major feasts of the Christian year. This is because, as we will see, reading through, a great deal of Isaiah’s writings point very clearly to Jesus, the New Covenant in his blood, and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
This is the week of Proper 29 (or Last Sunday before Advent in the traditional calendar), so keep in mind that the historic Prayer Book default is that a mid-week Eucharist will repeat the Collect & Lessons (the propers) for yesterday. Otherwise, we recommend…
- Monday 11/25 = St. Catherine of Alexandria (martyr) or Votive*
- Tuesday 11/26 = Votive
- Wednesday 11/27 = Votive
- Thursday 11/28 = Thanksgiving Day
- Friday 11/29 = Votive
- Saturday 11/30 = SAINT ANDREW
* A Votive is a “Various Occasion” (page 733 in the BCP 2019). The traditional appointments are Holy Trinity on Sunday, Holy Spirit on Monday, Holy Angels on Tuesday, of the Incarnation on Wednesdays, of the Holy Eucharist on Thursdays, the Holy Cross on Fridays, and of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturdays.