Our usual Monday fare is going to look a little different today. Instead of looking at the lessons of the whole weeks (past and present) we’re just going to narrow in on the feast of the Epiphany. But first, the quick run-down…
Last week: Wisdom 9-11 Genesis 1-4, Revelation 21-22, John 1-3:21, Song of Songs 6-8, Jeremiah 1-3, Luke 23-24, Galatians 1-4
This week: Genesis 5-11, John 3:22-6:21, Jeremiah 4-10, Galatians 5-6, 1 Thess. 1-4:12
Special reading for the Epiphany on Monday morning: Matthew 2:1-12
Special reading for the Epiphany on Monday evening: John 2:1-12
As I noted last week the Epistles of St. Paul in evening prayer are being read in their estimated chronological order, so after Galatians we’re moving to 1 Thessalonians.
The Epiphany Lessons
The major highlight this week is today – January 6th, the feast of the Epiphany. It’s one of the seven Principle Feasts listed in the 2019 Prayer Book on page 688, putting it essentially on par with Christmas and Easter (and four other holy days). As a result, both Morning and Evening Prayer get a special reading, out of the daily sequential sequence, to mark this day.
In the morning is the obvious choice: Matthew 2:1-12, in which we read of the magi and their journey and the gifts for the young Jesus. This is the “primary” celebration for the Epiphany. It’s also doubling with today’s gospel lesson at the Communion, which previous daily lectionaries never really did before, but ours does due to the sad reality that very few churches hold communion services on weekday feasts anymore.
The other special reading, in Evening Prayer, is John 2:1-12, which is perhaps less obvious: the Wedding at Cana. If you go back to the original prayer book daily lectionary you will see three major gospels featured: The adoration of the magi (at the Communion), the baptism of Jesus (in Morning Prayer), and the Wedding at Cana (in Evening Prayer). Those are three big “epiphanies” that start off the season. Each of these gospel stories, in their various ways, proclaim the divinity of Jesus – his reception of gifts, the testimony from God the Father, and finally the power at Jesus’ own command. The wedding at Cana would go on to be the gospel lesson for the Communion in one of the early Sundays of the Epiphany season, and in the 20th century the baptism of Jesus began to take over the first Sunday of Epiphanytide also. But in the modern lectionary that we have in the 2019 Prayer Book, the wedding at Cana in John 2 is no longer a mainstay gospel. It’s read on the second Sunday in Year C, but not not Years A & B. Therefore our lectionary makes a point of retaining this story on Epiphany Day itself to make sure it’s still part of our annual observance of Epiphanytide.