Learning the Daily Office – part 1 of 12

So you’ve heard about the Daily Office, specifically the Anglican tradition of daily prayer and scripture reading, and you want to enter into this beautiful and formative tradition?  Great, grab a prayer book and go!  Except, maybe someone already said that and you don’t know where to start… or worse, you did try it and it was just too much?  The length of the Office was overwhelming and the contents too complicated to navigate when you’ve got no experience with liturgy.  We understand, we’ve all been at that place before!  Some just don’t remember it as well as others.

Diving into the full Prayer Book life of worship doesn’t work for everyone; sometimes you have to work your way up toward that discipline, adding one piece at a time as you grow comfortable with each feature and learn how to “do” them all.  This post series is basically a twelve-step program to help you advance in the life of disciplined prayer from zero to super-Anglican.  The pace is up to you – the goal of this sort of spiritual discipline is consistency, not “how much” you do.

Step One: Pray a Psalm followed by the Lord’s Prayer.

Every morning and evening do two things: pray one Psalm (or perhaps part of one, if it’s really long), and follow it up with the Lord’s Prayer.  If you’ve been a Christian for a while, you’ve probably memorized the latter, but if you haven’t, use it in the 2019 Prayer Book on page 21.  The Lord’s Prayer was taught by Jesus (hence the name the Lord’s prayer), and is a pretty straight-forward thing to pray.  There is much about it that can be studied deeply, analyzing its words and structure, just like any other biblical text, but it’s also just readily understandable and easy to pray as your own prayer.

What may be more challenging is praying the psalms.  While this is a basic spiritual practice going back thousands of years, it is a tragically lost art for many (if not most) Protestant Christians today.  People “know” that the psalms are song-prayers, but actually praying them is a foreign concept.  If we are to be faithful to the Scriptures, though, we must pray the psalms, rather than simply read or study them. They were written to be prayed, individually and corporately, so failure to do so is failure to receive the authoritative scriptures in their fullness.

So how does one learn to pray the psalms?

  1. Read the Psalm(s) out loud.
  2. Once you’re used to the content of the Psalm(s) in question, imagine you and Jesus are reading them together.
  3. Imagine you and Jesus are reading them together to God the Father.
  4. Imagine you and Jesus and the entire Church are reading them together to God the Father.

The key realizations that will click over time (not necessarily in this order) are:

  1. that sometimes the content of the psalm will give voice to the cry of your own heart and sometimes it will not
  2. that there are many “voices” in the Psalms, and if it isn’t yours personally it may be those of Jesus, or of the Church, or of the martyrs, etc.
  3. that the psalms are incredibly influential in the writing of many other prayers, collects, suffrages, litanies, and so forth.

Perhaps even your own extemporaneous prayers will start to use psalm-like language; but remember the goal is not memorization. If some of that happens along the way, that’s awesome. But the goal is to be familiar with the psalms so they can work through your heart as you read them, not just process their information like in a bible study.

As for which psalms to pray, it may be best to start out with following the “60 Day Psalter” provided in our Daily Office Lectionary on pages 738-763.  For sake of getting used to this practice, I’d recommend you invest in using the Prayer Book’s psalter, but we’ll revisit that subject later.

Summary

So if you’re learning the Daily Office from scratch, start by praying a Psalm (out loud!) every morning and evening, followed by the Lord’s Prayer.  Then, if you have other requests or thanksgivings to offer to God, add them in your own words.

It may take a while to get used to praying the psalms, so make sure you’re comfortable with this before moving on to Step Two.

Planning Prayers & Readings Review 1/13

On Monday, most weeks these days, we’re looking at the liturgical schedule to highlight the propers, prayers and scripture readings, that we’re holding in common according to the 2019 Prayer Book.

Communion Propers

Yesterday was the 1st Sunday of Epiphany, so the first traditional prayer book option for a weekday Eucharist is to repeat yesterday’s Collect and Lessons (dealing with the baptism of our Lord).  Another good option would be to use the traditional Collect and Lessons for Epiphany 1, which deal with the finding of Jesus in the Temple.  Because of the missional tone that the modern lectionary brings to the fore in this season, good second choice for a weekday Eucharist is For the Mission of the Church, noted on page 733, using the propers for World Mission Sunday.

And, of course, Saturday is a major feast day, so be sure to observe the Confession of St. Peter – the Collect for that Day beginning at Evening Prayer on Friday, and carrying through Saturday evening.

Apart from that, a commemoration definitely worth noting are St. Anthony on Friday the 17th.  Consider also St. Kentigern on Tuesday the 14th.

Readings Review

Last week: Genesis 5-11, John 3:22-6:21, Jeremiah 4-10, Galatians 5-6, 1 Thess. 1-4:12

This week: Genesis 12-18, John 6-8, Jeremiah 11-17, 1 Thessalonians 4-5, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Corinthians 1-2

Special reading for the Confession of St. Peter on Saturday morning: Matthew 16:13-20.  This is a clone of the Gospel lesson for the communion service that day, albeit with one extra verse, providing us the raison d’etre for this holy day.

The changeover from last week to this week with regards to the readings from Genesis is that before we were dealing with ancient history of almost legendary or pre-historic quality, and now we are stepping into the story of Abraham.  The book of Genesis is organized into ten “origin stories”, subtly given a ten-fold prologue to the exposition of the Mosaic Law and Covenant in the book of Exodus, which itself centers around a famous group of ten.  If you’re not familiar with the Genesis Ten, feel free to pull up an overview.  The focus switches to Terah (and primarily his son Abraham) part-way through chapter 11 and remains with him into chapter 25, so we’ll have just over two weeks with the Abrahammic Sagas, as some like to call them.

The importance of Abraham in the Christian faith cannot be overstated.  While there are indeed many references to the Law of Moses in the New Testament, those references are a mixed bag of positive and negative iterations of keeping the Old Covenant.  Ultimately, while we have much to learn from what God revealed through Moses, our ancient-historical identity as Christians largely bypasses him and links us straight back to Abraham.  Abraham, as we read last week in Galatians, is the father of all the faithful, both circumcised and uncircumcised.  We are blessed through him and his offspring (Jesus), not through Moses and his law.  So take a good look at the interactions between Abraham and the Lord.  He indeed has a journey of growth in working knowledge and trusting faith, but in the end God lays a foundation with him upon which even we, today, are built.

Filling in the Blanks: Tobit

The Daily Office Lectionary exists to get us through the majority of the Bible in a year, and the one in our 2019 Prayer Book is one of the best on that account.  But it still has some gaps.  That is why I created a Midday Prayer Lectionary, to “fill in the blanks” where the Daily Office has left something out.  We’ll have a few of these entries scattered throughout the year to highlight a few of these opportunities.

Now that we’ve finished the book Wisdom which had been left off at the end of December, let’s move on to one of the Ecclesiastical Books that is completely omitted in the 2019 Daily Lectionary: Tobit.  Tobit was one of the books read in full in the original daily lectionaries… possibly every Prayer Book lectionary until this one, I haven’t checked them all.  At the very least it’s a shame that we’ve lost the truly excellent prophecy of the gospel in Tobit 14.

Unlike the story in the book of Judith, Tobit does not have any noteworthy historical anachronisms to challenge its setting and context.  Where Judith has to be read purely as a morality tale, mixing together different stories of biblical heroes (heroines, specifically), Tobit is more readily understood as a story of some actual Israelite exiles.  Their fidelity to the Law, and God’s provision of an angel to assist them, makes for an encouraging story for God’s faithful people in any age of exile and/or disillusionment.

So if you want to make your way through this book, pull up this Customary’s Supplemental Midday Prayer Lectionary and read along!  We’ll get through all 14 chapters, with a one-day break on the 18th to celebrate the Confession of St. Peter.

A Guide to choosing the Supplemental Canticles

One of the features of the 2019 Prayer Book that has raised eyebrows among the hard-core prayer book traditionalists, and perhaps evoked mixed reactions from those familiar with the 1979 Prayer Book also, is the section of the book called Supplemental Canticles for Worship.  Starting on page 79, after the Family Prayer and Additional Prayers, these are ten canticles that are offered for use in the Daily Office, each with a rubric recommendation of when it is “especially suitable” – Magna et mirabilia for Advent or Easter, Surge illuminare for Epiphany, and so forth.

The improvement here over against the 1979 Prayer Book is that the primary texts of the Daily Offices are not cluttered with a massive pile of Canticles to wade through.  This also gives place of preference for the historic canticles (Te Deum and Benedictus for the Morning, and Magnificat and Nunc dimittis in the Evening).  Those who want to “complicate” the Office, by drawing from a larger number of canticles, will not be overly bothered by the extra page-flip involved in doing so.

Let’s say you’re a regularly pray-er of the Office, or are getting into it now with this new prayer book.  How should you go about choosing these canticles?  When should you use them?  Which of the standard options should they replace?  To answer this question, let’s start with the “liturgical standard” of 1662.

The “original” Canticles

In Morning Prayer the first canticle was the Te Deum laudamus or Benedicite omnia opera (of which our Canticle 10 is a slightly-streamlined reduction).  The second canticle was the Benedictus, except for when it shows up as a reading at Morning Prayer or the Holy Communion; on those handful of days each year the Jubilate Deo (Psalm 100) is appointed instead.

In Evening Prayer the first canticle was the Magnificat or Cantate Domino (Psalm 98), the only stipulation being that the latter may not be used on the 19th day of the month, when that psalm is one of the regularly-appointed psalms of the day.  The second canticle was the Nunc dimittis or Deus misereatur (Psalm 67) with the same stipulation as before – no repeating the psalm on the 12th day of the month.

In our American context it is worth noting that by the time of the 1928 Prayer Book, further options had emerged.  Along with the Te Deum and the Benedicite was also offered the Benedictus es, which we find as an option alongside the Te Deum in the 2019 Prayer Book.  In Evening Prayer, alongside the Magnificat and Psalm 98 was added Psalm 92; and alongside the Nunc dimittis and Psalm 67 was added Psalm 103 (well, a portion of it).

Between this, and other similar features of the Office in the 1928 Prayer Book, and there can be seen a clear trajectory of diversification when it comes to canticle usage.

the Canticles before the Payer Book

Another factor that may guide how we go about utilizing the canticles at our disposal (in any prayer book, but especially the 2019) is how the canticles were handled in the liturgy of the hours, the Offices, before the first Prayer Book of 1549.  After all, Archbishop Cranmer didn’t just slap together a few random psalm and canticles, he was drawing from centuries of tradition and practice, simplifying what was needlessly complex and streamlining the wide sprawl of medieval monastic practice into something that all the laity could follow.

One major feature of canticle use was the trio of Gospel Canticles.  I’ve written about them before, but in a nutshell these were standard daily canticles that were (as far as I’m aware) never replaced with substitutions.  The Benedictus was said every morning, the Magnificat every evening, and Nunc dimittis every night (compline).  You can see a hint of that in the 1662 rubric concerning the Benedictus – that it should only be replaced with Psalm 100 when its text shows up in one of the readings that morning.

As for the Te Deum, I am generally aware (but not authoritatively certain) that it was appointed to be said in one of the morning Offices on Sundays and Holy Days.  This is also vaguely affirmed by the fact that, in prayer book history, it has the largest number of substitutions allowed.

the Saint Aelfric Customary – on the Canticles

Given all this, what’s our recommendation for using the canticles in the 2019 Prayer Book?  Table first, brief explanations after…

Morning Prayer

  • First Canticle
    • Te Deum laudamus (page 17) on Sundays, weekdays in Christmastide, and other Holy Days
    • Magna et mirabilia (Canticle 1) on weekdays during Advent (and perhaps the first Sunday)
    • Surge illuminare (Canticle 2) on weekdays during Epiphanytide (perhaps including Epiphany Day itself)
    • Benedictus es (page 18) on weekdays during Lent (and perhaps the first Sunday)
    • Cantemus Domino (Canticle 5) on weekdays during Eastertide
    • Dignus es (Canticle 6) on weekdays from Ascension Day through Pentecost week
    • Ecce Deus (Canticle 8) on weekdays during Trinitytide
    • Benedicite (Canticle 10) on Saturdays during Trinitytide
  • Second Canticle
    • Benedictus (page 19) except when it’s in a reading for that morning
    • Jubilate (Psalm 100, taken from the invitatory option on page 15)

Evening Prayer

  • First Canticle
    • Magnificat (page 45) except when it’s in a reading for that evening
    • Cantate Domino (Canticle 7) on those couple days a year
  • Second Canticle
    • Nunc dimittis (page 46) except for the following…
    • Quaerite Dominum (Canticle 4) on Monday through Friday during Advent
    • Kyrie Pantokrator (Canticle 3) on Monday through Friday during Lent
    • Deus misereatur (Canticle 9) on Monday through Friday during Epiphanytide and Trinitytide

Explanations

Two of the three Gospel Canticles are kept stable with almost no exceptions – the Benedictus and Magnificat only get replaced when their text will be read in a lesson at same time of day.  What the 1662 book extended to the Benedictus, we also extend here to the Magnificat.  The Nunc dimittis doesn’t receive this treatment however because it is a mainstay in Compline, which is now available in our prayer book.

Speaking of Compline, its seasonal replacements only apply “Monday through Friday.”  This is because Saturday evenings are the “Eve of” a Sunday, and thus the ‘feast day’ quality of a Sunday begins to apply, hence the retention of the Nunc dimittis on Saturday nights.  Indeed in many liturgical texts of a more Roman style, Saturday evening and night are called “Sunday I” and Sunday evening and night called “Sunday II.”  We need not complicate our liturgy with such terms, but the principles are still sound.

It falls, then, to the Te Deum to receive the largest number of substitutions, rendering that Canticle primarily a feast-day role.  Most of the seasonal substitutions note that they may be used “perhaps on the first Sunday” or something to that effect; this is for the benefit of those who hold regular Sunday Morning Prayer services and wish to utilize occasional seasonal changes while still retaining the Te Deum as the primary regular first canticle.

In order to divide the ten Supplemental Canticles across the various seasonal options, it became necessary to ignore or narrow two of their rubric recommendations: Canticle 1 we appoint in Advent only and not also Easter, and Canticle 4 we appoint in Advent instead of Lent.  But because the rubrics in question are only recommendations, there is no rule violation involved here.

Want to finish the Wisdom of Solomon?

You may have noticed that when we finished reading from Wisdom (or, in full, The Wisdom of Solomon) on December 31st, we weren’t actually finished with the book.  The lectionary just ran out of space, dropped it, and moved on with life.  This is typical of how the 2019 daily lectionary handles the Ecclesiastical Books: just highlight some of the main features of a few books and scurry along in what almost looks like embarrassment of the unique Anglican perspective on these books.

So what if you want to finish the book of Wisdom?  The Saint Aelfric Customary has an answer!  Turn to the Midday Lectionary I put together and you will find that today we pick up where December left us off, and chapter by chapter you can finish the book in Midday Prayer.  With one more interruption on January 6th for The Epiphany, you’ll finish the Wisdom of Solomon on January 10th.

Is this an ideal situation?  Not really; it’d be simpler if we, like the original daily office lectionary in the prayer book, just read it all the way through.  But with our culture the way it is, the best way to “fill the gaps” in the daily lectionary is to utilize Midday Prayer as a catch-up.  And in its own way this is actually a reasonable solution, because Midday Prayer is an extra office, not part of the historic prayer book standard; so by having a lectionary of “primary” readings for Morning & Evening Prayer and a lectionary of “supplemental” readings for Midday Prayer, we can cover literally the entire Bible in a way that actually acknowledges some sense of gradations regarding the usefulness or edifying nature of its component writings.  It’s not a perfect analogy, but it works reasonably well for what we’ve got.

Christmas Psalms

If you, like me, are partial to the traditional 30-day cycle of Psalms, this is one of the few days of the year you should feel free to step away from it.  The classical Prayer Books appointed special psalms for Morning and Evening Prayer on Christmas Day: 19, 45, and 85 in the Morning, and in the Evening, 89, 110, and 132.

However, if you want to opt for a shorter version of this, the 60-day psalter in the 2019 Prayer Book does appoint holiday-appropriate psalms for several days in the year, including Christmas Day.  The entries there are 19 or 45 in the Morning, and in the Evening 85 and 110.  As you can see, these are drawn from the original Prayer Book psalms for Christmas Day, just pared down a bit.  Psalm 89 is pretty long, for example.  So take advantage of the freedom afforded in this prayer book and enjoy some traditional Christmas Psalms today, whether it is the longer list of olden times or the shorter list in the new.

And, of course, have a merry Christmas.

Understanding the Revelation

As promised yesterday, we’re taking a look now at that strange book at the end of the Bible: Revelation.  The Revelation of Jesus Christ to Saint John, or the “Apocalypse”, for short, is a unique book in the Bible, especially compared to the rest of the New Testament.  Only brief half-chapter snippets of the first three Gospels come close to the style and tone that is found throughout this book.  Revelation is often the centerpiece in popular end-times debates and theories, and people sometimes take their own interpretation and perspective for granted, assuming that “if you just read the book, you’ll see what I mean.”

Since we will be spending most of the rest of December reading this book, I’m inviting you to take thirty minutes out of your day to refresh your familiarity with the style, content, and purpose of this book, with a nod to the major interpretive approaches that are taken up.

Of course, now I realize that I’ve doubled this entry.  I wrote this up last week already.  Oh well, sorry.  Now you get a second shot at it if you missed it last week.

For further reading:
Subject Index:
00:00 Revelation/Apocalypse
02:46 Signs, Metaphors, and the Literal Sense
07:17 Examples: seven lamps, lamb that was slain, city dressed as a bride
12:58 Interpretive Approaches: preterist, historicist, futurist, spiritualist
20:18 The 1,000 Years: pre-millennial, post-millennial, amillennial
30:30 Concluding Summary

Readings Review & Planning Propers 11/25

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.

Readings Review

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.

Planning Propers

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.

During the Anthem at the Communion

The bread and wine have been consecrated and broken, and we’ve just prayed the Prayer of Humble Access… now what?

The following or some other suitable anthem may be sun or said here

Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world;
have mercy upon us.

Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world;
have mercy upon us.

Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world;
grant us your peace.

This is the Agnus Dei, or “Lamb of God”, a classic feature of Communion liturgy.  It takes the words of St. John the Baptist (in John 1:29) turns them into a prayer.  The classical prayer book tradition does not appoint this (or any) anthem here.  In fact, a strict reading of the 1662 Prayer Book makes it difficult to work out where any music can be inserted into the liturgy!  The 1928 Prayer Book, however, notes that a Hymn may be sung at this point.  A liturgical traditionalist probably would have had the Agnus Dei in mind, although the Anglican hymnody tradition has produced some truly marvelous communion hymns, and I miss them terribly whenever I’m away from my congregation!

Behind the scenes, this where things are getting busy.  In a large setting, it may take a while to pour consecrated wine from flagons into chalices, and to break the large communion host into smaller pieces.  This anthem is a good time for the priest and deacon to make such preparations without spending too much time in silence.  It’s similar to how the initial preparation of the altar is typically done during the Offertory Hymn.

Don’t get me wrong though, silence is a good thing; and as a general pattern I think most of our celebrations of the liturgy need more silence.  But if it takes a significant amount of time to accomplish a mundane task, then an anthem (be it spoken or sung) can help people remain meditative upon the spiritual realities – the Holy Communion of our Lord.

As a final encouragement, don’t be afraid of the repetitive nature of this and similar anthems.  I avoided using it for most of Trinitytide, probably out of an over-anxious concern for time, but when I did finally use it again one Sunday, I got a comment after that it was nice to have it back, and that we should keep saying it.  I was reminded that it’s not just a “filler”, but a meaningful prayer.  Sometimes our pithy one-liner Acclamations and Antiphons are simply too short and abrupt for people to take them.  When we repeat the same thing a couple times, it gives us more opportunity to process (or digest) what we’re saying and praying.  So, please, if you have a habit of utilizing the option of skipping the Agnus Dei, try bringing it back for a while.

Readings Review & Planning Propers 11/11

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.

Readings Review

Last week: 2 Kings 18-22, 2 Chronicles 30-33, Acts 9:32-13:12, Isaiah 16-22, Mark 11-14
This week: 2 Kings 23-25, Judith 4, 8, 9-10, Acts 13-16, Isaiah 23-29, Mark 15-16, Luke 1-2

You may have seen something like this kicking around Facebook or other social media:

Adventwith-Lukea4[1]

It’s a neat idea, as Luke has 24 chapters, so if you read one chapter a day starting on December 1st, you’ll cover the whole story of Jesus just in time for Christmas.  If there was no such thing as a Daily Office, I would wholeheartedly endorse this sort of thing.  But, of course, we have a Daily Office, with a Daily Lectionary, that takes the entire year into account.  And so, reading a full chapter at a time is a bit excessive, especially for chapters 1, 2, and 20-24, which are quite long.  So instead we’re starting Luke on November 12th and finishing on December 31st.

By way of an interesting aside in version 2 (of 3) of this daily office lectionary, Christmas Day’s reading for Evening Prayer did not have a special Christmas-related reading, resulting in a reading on the passion and suffering of Jesus on CHRISTMAS DAY itself.  That struck me as inappropriate, and enough other people complained that we got the reading for Christmas Day fixed to be about Christmas in the final version.

Meanwhile, in Morning Prayer, we’re finishing 2 Kings and moving on to the deuterocanonical books, commonly called apocrypha.  Unlike historic Anglican lectionaries, we’re not getting the full story of Judith, just selections from that book to get the highlights of the story in 10 parts instead of 16.  An even stranger disappointment: the book of Tobit is omitted entirely from this lectionary – perhaps a first in Prayer Book history.  Nevertheless, enjoy what we’ve got.  The fall of Jerusalem, in progress today and tomorrow, is a dramatic turning point in biblical history, and sets up a very different situation for the later prophets and the intertestamental period – no longer are God’s people a distinct country.  A nation, or people-group, sure, but complete political autonomy under their own Davidic King is gone forever.  As we get into Judith later this week, and Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) and Wisdom after that, that backwards-looking sentimentality for the fullness of Israel becomes quite a noticeable trend, accompanied with a growing forward-looking hopefulness for full restoration.  A restoration we see only in Christ!

Planning Propers

This is the week of Proper 27 (or 21st after Trinity 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 11/11 = Veterans/Remembrance Day or St. Martin (bishop)
  • Tuesday 11/12 = Votive*
  • Wednesday 11/13 = Votive
  • Thursday 11/14 = Votive
  • Friday 11/15 = Votive
  • Saturday 11/16 = Votive or St. Margaret

* 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.