Celebrating Saint Luke’s Day

Happy Saint Luke’s Day!

How do we observe this day with the 2019 Prayer Book in hand?  I thought you’d never ask….

Morning Prayer

At the Invitatory (Psalm 95) use the antiphon for “All Saints’ and other major saints’ days” on page 30.

For the Canticles, use the traditional celebratory Te Deum laudamus and the Benedictus.

The second lesson is special for this holy day: Luke 1:1-4.  It’s very short, but it “introduces” St. Luke to us in the very first worship service of the day.

Use the Collect of the Day for St. Luke’s Day, not Proper 23.

It’s still Friday, so don’t forget the Great Litany at the end of Morning Prayer.  You can even name St. Luke in its commemoration of the saints near the bottom of page 95.

Holy Communion or Antecommunion

Use the Acclamation for All Saints’ Day: “Worthy is the Lord our God…

Make sure you include the Gloria in excelsis and the Nicene Creed, as this is a major feast day.

The lessons and Psalm are Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 38:1-14, Psalm 147:1-11, 2 Timothy 4:1-13, and Luke 4:14-21.

At the end of the Prayers of the People, feel free to name St. Luke in the fill-in-the-blank spot when mentioning the fellowship of the Saints.

Consider using Galatians 6:10 as the Offertory Sentence (page 149).

The Proper Preface to be used is the one for All Saints’ Day.

Midday Prayer

Consider using Psalm 125, as it is a festive option in the rubrics.

Evening Prayer

For the Canticles, use the traditional Magnificat and the Nunc dimittis.

If you use the second set of Suffrages on page 48, name St. Luke in the commemoration of the Saints.

Use the Collect of the Day for St. Luke’s Day, not Proper 23.

Check your hymnal for a song pertinent to St. Luke’s Day to sing or read as the anthem after the three Collects!

Leading up to All Saints’ Day

There are three major feast days in October, in the modern calendar, and with All Saints’ Day on November 1st we get a pretty close succession of four holidays in close proximity.

This unusually “thick” part of the calendar actually make for an excellent introduction to why we have Saints Days at all in the Anglican tradition.  Even though it’s been a staple of the Prayer Book order since Day One, there are many life-long self-identifying Anglicans who know almost nothing about the purpose of these holidays, and are even uncomfortable with talking about “saints” at all.  This is a real shame!  The discipleship value, not to mention spirituality, is great, and to lose this part of our tradition leaves a gap that can only be filled with lesser things.  So if you need or want an introduction to why we celebrate saints days, or know someone else who needs such an explanation, here’s an article using the next four holy days as an example: https://leorningcniht.wordpress.com/2016/10/31/the-testimony-of-the-saints/

In the meantime, consider yourself reminded of the upcoming holy days:

  • Friday the 18th is St. Luke’s Day
  • Wednesday the 23rd is St. James of Jerusalem’s Day
  • Monday the 28th is Sts. Simon & Jude’s Day
  • Friday the 1st of November is All Saints’ Day, which the calendar permits may also be celebrated on the Sunday immediately following (see page 688 of the BCP 2019).  This is one of the last vestiges of an Octave – wherein the holy day continues its observance for a full week after its official date.

Happy Michaelmas!

On this special occasion of celebrating the feast of St. Michael and All Angels with the whole congregation on a Sunday morning, I thought it would be fun to share our liturgy here.  The Communion rite we’re using is the Anglican Standard Text, as usual.

OPENING HYMN: Christ the fair glory of the holy angels

ACCLAMATION: Worthy is the Lord our God: / To receive glory and honor and power.

COLLECT FOR PURITY, SUMMARY OF THE LAW, KYRIE,

GLORIA IN EXCELSIS sung to the setting #784 in the Book of Common Praise 2017

CHILDREN’S MINISTRY MOMENT

  • Revelation 12:7-12, followed by a 1-minute Children’s sermon
  • explanation: my church has two children, ages 2 and 4, so they spend most of the liturgy playing in a separate room.  I’m a big believer in including young children in the liturgy, but sometimes they need space to move around, and our context is so small that it wouldn’t work so well at the moment.  Soon the older will be able to sit/draw/play/read quietly in the worship space with the adults, and this addition to the liturgy will be removed.
    Normally, this ministry moment includes a few-verse Bible reading followed by a one-minute teaching, but on this occasion the short reading is actually the same as the Epistle Lesson, so it’s just being moved up here wholesale.  Yes it’s a strange way to tinker with the liturgy, and no I’m not crazy about it, but I’ve got to minister to everyone I can with the very limited resources and manpower available.

HYMN: Ye holy angels bright

COLLECT OF THE DAY, OLD TESTAMENT LESSON: Genesis 28:10-17

PSALM: 103, SEQUENCE HYMN: Life and strength of all thy servants

GOSPEL LESSON: John 1:47-51

THE SERMON, THE NICENE CREED, THE PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE

THE CONFESSION AND ABSOLUTION OF SIN, THE PEACE

OFFERTORY HYMN: Bread of heav’n on thee we feed

THE SURSUM CORDA, leading to the Preface for Trinity Sunday

THE SANCTUS, THE PRAYER OF CONSECRATION, THE LORD’S PRAYER

THE FRACTION, THE PRAYER OF HUMBLE ACCESS, THE AGNUS DEI

THE MINISTRATION OF COMMUNION

POST-COMMUNION CANTICLE: #6 Dignus es (from page 84)

THE POST-COMMUNION PRAYER, THE BLESSING

CLOSING HYMN: Ye watchers and ye holy ones

THE DISMISSAL

Stewardship and St. Matthew’s

Today in the Offices and Eucharist we pray:

Lord Jesus, you called Matthew from collecting taxes to become your apostle and evangelist; grant us the grace to forsake all covetous desires and the pursuit of inordinate riches, so that we may follow you as he did and proclaim to the world around us the good news of your salvation; for with the Father and the Holy Spirit you live and reign, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Combined with his story from Matthew 9:9-13 and the other lessons from today’s Communion (Proverbs 3:1-12, 2 Timothy 3:1-17), we have a day that provides a solid groundwork for a “stewardship” sermon or devotion.  Perhaps that is an evangelical buzzword, I’m not sure if everyone uses it with the same connotation – this is an opportunity to talk to people about money and what they do with it.

St. Matthew was a corrupt lover of money before he followed Christ.  Although the Bible doesn’t give us any specifics of his life post-call, it stands to reason that he, like the others, lived a life radically dedicated to his Lord: his priorities changed from “covetous desires and the pursuit of inordinate riches” over to the proclamation of “the good news of… salvation.”  This is a transformation that is part and parcel of Christian living for everyone.  For some of us the love of money is manifest in the insane hoarding of wealth – buying that summer cottage and new yacht while neglecting the tithe and basic charity; for others it is the more subtle beast of “waiting for the next pay-raise” before finally trusting God with generous giving; for others the love of money is the miserly life in constant fear on the edge of poverty.  Money can rule the heart of rich, comfortable, and poor, alike.  All need the transformation of heart.

What makes this feast day particularly interesting in timing in Year C of the Sunday Communion lectionary is that (this year at least) we’ve been hearing about a lot of hospitality and wealth related lessons from Luke 14-16.  St. Matthew’s Day fits right in to this context, giving us a concrete example of a person who experienced this reformation of heart regarding money.  To make this clear, here are the Gospel lessons from September 1st, 8th, 15th, and 22nd in the 2019 Prayer Book:

  • Luke 14:7-14 = be hospitable to those who can’t repay you
  • Luke 14:25-33 = renounce all to be Christ’s disciple
  • Luke 15:1-10 = Jesus is hospitable with sinners in order to draw them to salvation
  • Luke 16:1-13 = parable of dishonest manager, you cannot serve two masters

Obviously it’s too late to go back and turn September into Stewardship Sermon Series Month.  But in your own devotions today may be a good time to glance back, put some of these pieces together, and reflect on your personal relationship with money versus your personal relationship with our Lord.  And if your reflections bear fruit in the form of an article or bulletin note or other communication for your congregation, all the better!

An Ember Day Hymn

If you’re following this Customary’s plan for Daily Hymnody from The Book of Common Praise 2017, then you’ll find that the hymn appointed for this Ember Day is “Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire.”  In the 2017 hymnal this is set to the Sarum Plainsong tune VENI CREATOR SPIRITUS, which is a bummer for me because I’m used to it being sung to COME HOLY GHOST.  And the way the lyrics are matched to the notes in the 2017 hymnal is different from how it’s done in the 1940 hymnal, so that’s just confusing to me as a musician who has paid attention to that in the past.

Tune-related issues, aside, the text of this hymn is very significant.  It is appointed in the Ordinal to be sung or said at the ordination of a priest and bishop!  This is true for the 1662 as well as the 2019 book, so it’s pretty standard Anglican fare.  And it’s a 9th century text, so it’s a piece of our Western/Latin heritage as well! Let’s take a look at these words.

COME, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire,
And lighten with celestial fire.
Thou the anointing Spirit art,
Who dost thy sevenfold gifts impart.
Thy blessed unction from above,
Is comfort, life, and fire of love.

Prayers addressed to the Holy Spirit are rare in the liturgical tradition.  Confirmations and Ordinations are among the few times we actually do this.  The seven-fold gift of the Spirit is a long-standing image in Church literature, stemming from the New Testament itself, and includes an Old Testament precedent that is not often in favor with Protestant interpretation.  You can read more about that here if this is unfamiliar to you.

Enable with perpetual light
The dulness of our blinded sight.
Anoint and cheer our soiled face
With the abundance of thy grace.
Keep far our foes, give peace at home;
Where thou art guide, no ill can come.

These are the primary specific petitions of this hymn.  Open our eyes, cheer us, grant us peace… if you think back to one of the titles our Lord gave for the Holy Spirit – The Comforter – these all make perfect sense.  Christ has won the victory, Christ has redeemed us; it falls to the Holy Spirit to apply these truths to our hearts and minds, to point us back to Jesus.  Such sight, cheering, and peace are all thereby ministries of comfort and help.

Teach us to know the Father, Son,
And thee, of both, to be but One;
That, through the ages all along,
This may be our endless song:
Praise to thy eternal merit,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Finally our plea is that we would know God the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and that in this knowledge we would be able to worship and praise him forever.  Knowledge and worship, doctrine and doxology, teaching and liturgy, these are pairs that should never be separated.

Interesting that this hymn doesn’t actually mention anyone getting ordained, huh?  Yes, its function in the ordination liturgy makes it into a prayer especially for the candidate for ordination, but but textually it need not be so limited.  By all means, sing this and pray for your clergy.  But you can pray this for yourself, for all the Church, just as easily and honestly.  In the context of ordination, it makes sense that we should pray for clarity, for sight, for knowledge – not just for the candidate but for the whole congregation.  Calling a new minister of the Gospel, in any Order, is a “big deal” – one that will impact many lives for many years to come.  The Church needs to be in her right mind when placing the collar of recognizable authority upon another servant.

So on these Ember Days, be sure to pray for your Bishop and his clergymen, as well as for those individuals considering or seeking Holy Orders and the congregations in discernment with them.  The process is useless if the aspirant is surrounded by “Yes Men” whose eagerness to support blinds them from asking any hard questions about his true calling.  So pray this hymn with them and for them.

Readings Review & Planning Propers 9/16

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: 1 Kings 1-5, 1 Chronicles 28, Ephesians 5:18-6, Hebrews 1-5, Micah 6-7, Nahum, Habakkuk 1-2, Matthew 8:18-12:21
This week: 1 Kings 6-11, Hebrews 5-10, Habakkuk 3, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah 1, Matthew 12:22-16:12
Special reading Saturday for St. Matthew’s Day: Matthew 9:9-13

The Old Testament lessons in Evening Prayer are still powering through the Minor Prophets (or slogging through, depending upon how you feel about them).  In the next few days we finish up the middle group of minor prophets, covering the “late kingdom era”, that is, the prophets who served at the royal court in the final century of Judah’s existence as a kingdom.  Later this week we’re starting into the last three (Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi) who wrote during the Second Temple Era, that is, during the rebuilding of Jerusalem after the exile in Babylon was complete.  The short book of Haggai is one with which I’m particularly familiar, having preached through it a few years ago.  Click here to find eight articles and sermons about Haggai and his themes!

Meanwhile in Morning Prayer we started the Epistle to the Hebrews last week, and are now working our way through the thickest part of that book culminating in chapters 9 and 10.  The gist of Hebrews is basically “Jesus is better than __!” where the blank is just about anything important from the Old Testament religion.  The priesthood descended from Aaron is the particular focus of what Jesus fulfills and transforms in chapters 9 and 10, and have much to teach us about priestly sacrificial atonement.

Planning Propers

This is the week of Proper 19 (or 13th 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 9/16 = Votive (of the Holy Spirit) * or St. Ninian
  • Tuesday 9/17 = Votive (of the Holy Angels)
  • Wednesday 9/18 = Ember Day I
  • Thursday 9/19 = Votive (of the Holy Eucharist) or St. Theodore of Tarsus
  • Friday 9/20 = Ember Day II
  • Saturday 9/21 = SAINT MATTHEW

* A Votive is a “Various Occasion” (page 733 in the BCP 2019) and label in parentheses are simply a traditional suggestion.

Holy Cross Day Round-up

Today is the feast of the Holy Cross, a red-letter day newly introduced into the Prayer Book tradition in the 20th century.  Historically, this holiday commemorates the date that Emperor Constantine’s mother, Helena, found the True Cross in a rubbish heap outside of Jerusalem, thus beginning the veneration (not worship) of the instrument whereby Christ redeemed the world.  In modern Prayer Book context, this holiday focuses on the glory of Christ on the Cross, thus instead of the Gospel lesson being about the crucifixion, it’s from John 12 wherein our Lord declares that when he will be lifted up the whole world will be drawn to him.

Here’s a round-up of different sorts of writings to help explore different facets of the Cross and this holy day.  (In general the first three links are shorter reads and the latter three are longer, in case you need to budget your time.)

Readings Review & Planning Propers 9/9

One of the things we’re doing on this blog on Mondays is look back and forth at the Daily Office readings (or lessons) so we can better process together what the Scriptures are saying.  The other thing we’re going to do on Mondays starting today is list the recommended Propers for the Communion or Antecommunion service for each day of the week.

Readings Review

Last week: 2 Samuel 19-24, 1 Chronicles 22, Ephesians 1-5:17, Jonah 3-4, Micah 1-5, Matthew 4-8:17
This week: 1 Kings 1-5, 1 Chronicles 28, Ephesians 5:18-6, Hebrews 1-6, Micah 6-7, Nahum, Habakkuk 1-2, Matthew 8:18-12:21
Special reading Saturday for Holy Cross Day: John 12:23-33

The main body of the Gospel according to St. Matthew (chapters 5-25) form a five-part cycle of Teachings & Activities.  It’s almost as if he was making a point of imitating the Torah (the five books of Moses) in the way that he compiled his gospel book.  This week’s coverage of Matthew sees us through most of the second block of the cycle: Jesus’ teachings on mission (or least relations with the world) in chapter 10, followed by feedback and opposition (from disciples and critics alike) in chapters 11 & 12.  At the end of the week we even get an example of Matthew’s signature move in citing an Old Testament prophet in the language of Jesus bringing “fulfillment” to the scriptures.

The epistle lessons in Morning Prayer also switch over the book of Hebrews this week, which is another book that leans heavily on Old Testament references.  If you’ve got a Bible with cross references in the margins or footer, this is a book where you should especially watch out, because unless you’re very familiar with the Old Testament already there are going to be a lot of strange-sounding references that you’ll need help clarifying.

Planning Propers

This is the week of Proper 18 (or 12th 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 9/9 = Votive (of the Holy Spirit) or Constance & companions (marytrs)
  • Tuesday 9/10 = Votive (of the Holy Angels) *
  • Wednesday 9/11 = Votive (for Peace) **
  • Thursday 9/12 = Votive (of the Holy Eucharist)
  • Friday 9/13 = St. John Chrysostom (teacher of the faith)
  • Saturday 9/14 = HOLY CROSS DAY

* A Votive is a “Various Occasion” (page 733 in the BCP 2019) and label in parentheses are simply a traditional suggestion.

** This is not the traditional votive mass for a Wednesday, but seems an appropriate choice for the nation’s commemoration of September 11th.

The September Feasts

As a new month is about to begin, let’s take a moment to look ahead at the upcoming noteworthy feast days in the calendar.  September is an exciting month in general, so let’s see what’s coming up.

Foremost is the fact that the feast of Michael the Archangel, and of all angels, is on September 29th, which is a Sunday this year.  Remember that one of the lovely restorations of tradition in the 2019 Prayer Book that the 1979 nearly squashed is the fact that we can celebrate most major feast days on Sundays again!  The rubrics authorizing this can be found at the top of page 689:

Any of these feasts that fall on a Sunday, other than Advent, Lent, and Easter, may be observed on that Sunday or transferred to the nearest following weekday.

So you have the option of going “1979-style” and transfer the feasts off of Sundays, but if the order-of-options is significant then the primary suggestion is to keep those feasts on the Sundays on which they land.  This is how the old prayer books worked; this is what this Customary encourages.  As a result, this is a big opportunity to pull out those classic angel-themed hymns such as Christ the fair glory of the holy angels (although this is one of the only omissions from the new 2017 hymnal that this writer deeply misses).  This is also a great opportunity to preach about angels, spiritual beings, and all that great biblical stuff that popularly doesn’t get much attention apart from Christmas.

Also coming up this month are the major feasts of Holy Cross Day and St. Matthew’s, on the 14th and 21st respectively, both on Saturdays.

Holy Cross Day is (uncoincidentally) forty days after Transfiguration Day, thus bringing an interesting potential “third great fast” of the year to a close.  Historically, Holy Cross Day is tied to the story of the finding of “the true cross” outside Jerusalem by Emperor Constantine’s mother, St. Helena, but liturgically that feast day for us is more about the Cross of Christ at the time of the crucifixion.  It’s not quite a clone of Good Friday, though. Where Good Friday focuses on the “Holy Week” narrative of the death of Christ and our culpability in our sinfulness, Holy Cross Day emphasizes the glory of Christ on the Cross.

St. Matthew, of course, is the first Evangelist (gospel-book-writer).  The historic one-year lectionary seems to draw from his book more than the other three (not that I’ve literally counted the number of appearances of each) and some of the most-beloved gospel texts, like the Sermon on the Mount, are primarily known from Matthew’s book.  St. Matthew is also one of the apostles of whom we know a decent amount, having lived as a tax collector (the equivalent of a traitor to his people in that situation) before getting to follow Jesus.

Among the optional commemorations, the two most noteworthy entries are St. John Chrysostom on Friday the 13th (lucky him) and Cyprian of Carthage on Sunday the 15th.  The former is sometimes referred to as “the Augustine of the East”, being a major preacher and teacher of his day, influential in the East like Augustine of Hippo is in the West.  The latter, of course, will not be celebrated this year because his caliber of feast day cannot be observed on a Sunday in any calendar tradition, but you can still feel free to offer a Collect in his honor at the end of the Prayers of the People at the Sunday Communion liturgy if you wish.  Living in the 200’s, Cyprian represents a fairly early generation of Christian leaders and teachers.  His most famous work was De Ecclesiae Catholicae Unitate (On the Unity of the Catholic Church), one of the great written products of the Early Church.

One more September commemoration I’d like to note here is one that’s not found in the 2019 calendar: the Nativity of Mary on September 8th.  It’s also on a Sunday, and therefore also a day that we can’t really celebrate either.  I mention it partly because it’s a significant feast day in the Roman calendar, and partly because it’s the ordination anniversary of yours truly.  (I apologize for the self-indulgence.)  Some people say there are already enough feast days in the calendar to commemorate the Blessed Virgin Mary, others say “the more the merrier”, so I leave it to you to decide to what degree it’s worth taking note of our Lady in corporate worship a week and a half from now.

As usual, we’ll note most of these days here when they arrive.  But it’s always important to know these celebrations are coming, before they get here, especially with St. Michael’s on a Sunday about a month from now.

Generic or Specific Saints’ Day Collects

When I started getting into catholicism (in the broad sense – Roman, Eastern, Lutheran, Anglican, hadn’t decided yet) one of the things I found myself hoping for was that there’d be more information on the Saints.  Where did the twelve apostles go, besides Paul?  What did they do, and how did they die?  It was a naive hope, of course, because we’ve all got the same Bible, and the Bible is still the surest witness to the history of that generation.

We all have access to the same histories, too, which indicate the further stories all of the apostles, but some of that is legendary, and it’s often hard (if not impossible) to separate fact from fancy.  To some degree it doesn’t matter: if we know what kind of people the apostles were (thanks to the Bible) then we can infer the kinds of things they did, even if the details have gotten muddled over the centuries.

But we can’t teach as doctrine what history only assumes and the Bible doesn’t tell or infer… so how do we celebrate saints days like today’s?  We know nothing about Bartholomew’s activity in the Bible, and assuming he’s the same man as Nathaniel we’ve only got about one instance of Jesus even speaking directly to him (toward the end of John 1).

So what we do is have a Collect of the Day that’s more generic.  The wording is a little different between classic and modern prayer books but in this case the content is the same:

Almighty and everlasting God, who gave to your apostle Bartholomew grace truly to believe and to preach your Word: Grant that your Church may love what he believed and preach what he taught; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

As you can see, we assert nothing specific about his life, only the generic fact that he believed and preached the Word of God, as did all the apostles, especially after the Day of Pentecost.  New-to-traditional-Christianity-me was disappointed at this sort of thing; I was unconsciously feeling the gnostic pull, hoping for secret knowledge and insight that was previously denied me in the generic non-denominational setting.  But it is good, in its own way, that we don’t know much about most of the apostles.  For the reason that we celebrate them isn’t for their own sake.  If that were so we’d need to know a lot about them… each would need his own biography in the Bible!  But we celebrate the saints for the sake of Christ.  We live by their light not because they shine like the sun but because they’re moons that reflect the sun’s light back toward us from another angle.  (This analogy has long been used of Mary, too, to the extent were you’ll occasionally see a moon associated with her in certain strands of iconography.)

So, with St. Bartholomew, the lesson is going to be generic but fundamental: let us love the Word which the apostles taught, and let us go and preach the same.