Video: Passiontide through Easter Week

We’re a few days into Passiontide already, but Holy Week is still not quite here, so this is a good time to share this introduction to Passiontide, Holy Week, the Triduum, and Easter/Pascha.

subject index:

  • 00:00 Nomenclature
  • 05:03 Major Themes and Traditions of these three weeks
  • 11:33 Walkthrough of Passiontide & Holy Week in the 2019 Prayer Book
  • 15:08 Walkthrough of Easter Week in the 2019 Prayer Book
  • 19:47 Daily Office Lectionary and other liturgical features
  • 23:47 Closing in prayers

Holy Week Readings all-in-one

There’s a lot going on during Holy Week.  Morning and Evening Prayer continue.  This Customary’s supplemental midday prayer lectionary appoints special readings for these days, and there are Communion propers for each day of the week as well.  So there are a lot of opportunities for deeper devotions, both in the following of the liturgy itself as well as in simply taking their Bible readings for individual reading and reflection.

So I’ve put together an all-in-one chart: Holy Week all-in-one 2020

There you’ll see for the day of the week the Psalm(s) and Lessons for: Morning Prayer, Holy Communion, Midday Prayer, Evening Prayer, and Compline.  There are a couple of either/or choices in the 2019 Book’s lectionaries, and I picked them for you, according to what I’ve developed of the Saint Aelfric Customary thus far.  The goals, as usual are:

  • to be faithful to historic Anglican tradition whenever possible
  • to make the maximum use of the 2019 Prayer Book material
  • to avoid repetition of Lessons whenever possible

Since so many of us are home-bound during this time of plague, this is a golden opportunity to step up our disciplines of prayer, and observe more of our liturgical tradition than we might normally experience.  I hope this chart helps you so to do!

Work as to the Lord

Nearly every church and clergyman is doing a lot of stuff online now during the global pandemic.  I don’t mean to overload anyone with devotional resources, but I since I have a history of sharing occasional reflections on a lesson from the Daily Office lectionary here already, it seems alright to do so now.

“Work as to the Lord” is my brief homily on Ephesians 6:1-9, which is the New Testament lesson in Evening Prayer today.

Happy Friday!  Keep the fast, pray the litany.  Work as to the Lord.

Annunciations to Mary and to the world

In the 2019 Prayer Book, Luke 1:26-38 is the New Testament reading at Morning Prayer on March 25, as well as the Gospel lesson for the Communion service on this holy day – The Annunciation to Mary.  It may be obvious, but it’s easy to miss, that we are now nine months ahead of Christmas Day, the exact relative timing between this gospel story and the birth of Christ.  I’ve written about its timing before, and how it can assist our reading of Scripture in the daily lectionary, compared it to other Marian holy days, and even shared a hymn appropriate for the Annunciation.  So my backlog of blog posts provide quite a few opportunities for devotional reading.

I also put together a trilogy of theological explorations of various doctrines concerning our Lady, soberly examining the biblical and traditional foundations behind a few popular beliefs.  So you can read about typologies of Mary in the Old Testament and their theological implications, the motherhood of Mary from various angles, the significance of the virginity of Mary, and the potential extent of the blessedness of Mary.  If you like to learn and study, there you go, have fun!

Rabbit trails aside, let’s settle down with the text mentioned at the start.  The angel (traditionally considered one of the Archangels) Gabriel appears to Mary with a message.  Gabriel has appeared before, to prophets like Daniel, and will promptly appear again to Joseph.  As one great hymn puts it, Gabriel is the “herald of heaven”, always appearing with a message, invariably about the incarnation of God in the person of Jesus.  While there is a lot about angels that we simply don’t, and can’t, know, the angelic role of messenger is one that is very informative for the Christian calling – we, too, in our own ways, are messengers or ambassadors or witnesses, proclaiming to the world in some fashion or another that Jesus is here.  Just as Gabriel appears, surprises Mary, and gives her good news, so too do we go about the world with surprising news that’s hard to believe: God loves his world such that he came among us in the humblest of ways!  We proclaim a Jesus who is great, and is called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God has given to him the throne of his father David, and Jesus will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.  Gabriel’s message to Mary, almost verbatim, is the message of the Church to the world to this day.

How will this be?”  How can we proclaim the reality of Christ to a world that so rarely seems interested in listening to us?  This is hard question and the answers look different, according to the situation.

Sometimes we must wield the hammer of the Law – identifying the sins of the people and pointing out the dire demands of divine justice.
Sometimes we must apply the salve of the gospel – announcing the prodigal love of a merciful God.

Sometimes we need to proclaim the truth with emotion – that through our fervency the world will realize how serious we are.
Sometimes we need to proclaim the truth with carefully reasoned argumentation – that through such apologetics we may show ourselves a people who are thoughtful and wise, even “scientific” in the truest sense.

Whatever the details, the underlying reality is the same: God is a worker of miracles.  He made the barren womb bear life, the made the virgin womb bear life, “for nothing will be impossible with God.”

At the end of the day, our posture before God is perfectly embodied in Mary’s response at the climax of this text.  “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”  Car puns aside, this is Mary’s fiat.  The first fiat is God’s, in Genesis 1: fiat lux, “let there be light.”  That is how the old creation begun.  The new creation begins in the second fiat from the Second Eve, the mother of all re-living, fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum, “let it be to me according to your word.”  This is then simplified and codified forever in the Lord’s Prayer: fiat voluntas tua, “thy will be done.”

I daresay there is no holier, no more humble, prayer than this.

The Gospel in Apocalyptic Vision

If you’re using our Supplementary Midday Prayer Lectionary, you’ll be coming across this gem today from 2 Esdras 7…

For behold, the time will come, when the signs which I have foretold to you will come to pass, that the city which now is not seen shall appear, and the land which now is hidden shall be disclosed. And every one who has been delivered from the evils that I have foretold shall see my wonders.   For my son the Messiah shall be revealed with those who are with him, and those who remain shall rejoice four hundred years.

And after these years my son the Messiah shall die, and all who draw human breath.  And the world shall be turned back to primeval silence for seven days, as it was at the first beginnings; so that no one shall be left.  And after seven days the world, which is not yet awake, shall be roused, and that which is corruptible shall perish.

In the first paragraph, the Messiah is said to live for 400 years, and in the second the Messiah is said to be dead for seven days.  Are these just bad predictions?  No, this is apocalyptic writing.  This literary genre is meant to read like an epic tale, not like a dry history book of the future.  400 years of life and 7 days of death depict the grand importance of the life and death of the Messiah both by using dramatically large numbers and by using symbolically significant numbers.  People make this kind of mistake with the writings of the Bible all too often, trying to line up Daniel’s “weeks of years” and Revelation’s “thousand years” with chronological history – apocalyptic writings such as these are not meant to be understood in such shallow and mundane terms.

It’s also fascinating to note how the language here anticipates New Testament language quite vividly.  The world “shall be roused, and that which is corruptible shall perish.”  This is very much like what St. Paul would write to the Corinthians.  In the death of Christ, we who are united with Him also die; and in the resurrection of Christ, we who are united with Him also arise.  We put off that which is perishable (sin) and put on that which is imperishable (the righteousness of Christ).

I have written more of this vision from 2 Esdras 7 (the above is just a sample), so if you’re interested in learning more, I’d encourage you to give this article a read:

Why Baruch now?

For those of you who follow the Midday Lectionary promulgated by this page, you may be puzzled to find that the continuous reading through 1 Esdras is interrupted today and for the next couple days to make space for the first three chapters of Baruch.  This is in anticipation of the regular Daily Office Lectionary’s inclusion of Baruch 4 & 5 in Evening Prayer on February 23rd and 24th.

Okay, that makes sense I guess.  But why are we reading from Baruch between Jeremiah and Lamentations at Evening Prayer?

The bigger question is why are we not reading all of Baruch at that point!  In the Greek Old Testament, Baruch is connected to Jeremiah and Lamentations because of the authorship attribution.  The books of Jeremiah and Lamentations are ascribed to Jeremiah and his scribe, Baruch, and thus the book of Baruch simply belongs with them.  What the 2019 book’s lectionary does (strangely, given historical precedent) is only appoint chapters 4 & 5 of Baruch, and omit the first three.

Chapters 1 & 2 in particular are poignant “answers” to the instructions left by Jeremiah in Jer. 29.  Perhaps that renders them redundant in the eyes of the suspicious-of-the-books-called-apocrypha editors?  Instead, Evening Prayer appoints chapters 4 & 5, which contain the tail end of a wisdom discourse and an extensive section of hope.  This is, again, in accord with the writings of Jeremiah, but both historically and thematically it is reasonable to follow up the dour ending of Jeremiah’s book the hopeful ending of Baruch’s little book.

Still, it’s best to read the whole thing if you can, which is why I created this Midday Prayer lectionary in the first place!

A Cheerful Giver, 2 Cor. 9:6-7

Today I’ve got a little homily for you based on part of this evening’s reading from 2 Corinthians 9.  I must apologize in advance for a distracted recording process; I usually record videos when my two-year-old is asleep, but it turned out he was up and about and I was a bit distracted as a result.

Hopefully where the minister falls short, the Word of God continues to stand strong regardless!

Planning Prayers & Readings Review 2/3

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.

The Propers

Yesterday was the feast of the Presentation, so it’d be a good idea (assuming you celebrated that holy day) to make a point of observing Epiphany 4 on a weekday Communion service if you have one this week.

Among the three optional commemorations this week, I would particularly highlight Cornelius the Centurion as worthy of observance (on Tuesday the 4th), as he is a New Testament character.  Although the generic “For a Saint” propers should be used, it may be a good idea to substitute out the Epistle lesson for Acts 10, in which Cornelius actually appears.

Even if you celebrated the Presentation on Sunday, the Collect for Epiphany IV is the Collect of the Day throughout this week in Morning & Evening Prayer.

Readings Review

Last week: Genesis 25-31, John 13-16, Jeremiah 25-31, 1 Corinthians 10-15:34
This week: Genesis 32-38, John 17-20, Jeremiah 32-38, 1 Cor. 15-16, 2 Cor.1-6

Let me remind you of this lovely resource to highlight the readings coming up:

As this week unfolds we reach the ‘historical narrative’ chapters of the book of Jeremiah.  You may recall in the case of Isaiah that his book also has some stories about half-way through, separating some earlier from later writings that tend to take on different tones and emphases.  Unfortunately that is not really the case with Jeremiah, or at least, it’s not quite so clear-cut.  As we will read in chapter 36, Jeremiah’s earliest prophetic writings were destroyed by King Jehoiakim, necessitating a rewrite by Jeremiah’s scribe, Baruch.  That incident is probably the beginning of the confused and confusing manuscript history of the book of Jeremiah – you can read more about the book here and here.  It’s also important to note that the Greek and Hebrew versions of Jeremiah are unusually different: entire chapters are relocated, and sometimes added or subtracted, when you compare the two manuscript traditions.

Meanwhile in Genesis we are wrapping up the Jacob stories and heading into the last major “Genesis Story” of the book: Joseph and the rest of the twelve tribes of Israel.  But before we get there, we find three little “interruptions”:

  1. the story of Dinah (ch. 34)
  2. the Genesis of Esau/Edom (ch. 36)
  3. the story of Tamar (ch. 38)

Dinah is the only named daughter of Jacob, and she is unpleasantly married off to the local gentiles, much to her brothers’ chagrin.  The enmity that springs up between Jacob’s clan and the local tribes is but the beginning of strife that continues to this day, really.

Esau is named here the ancestor of Edom, one of the neighboring kingdoms that would be a thorn in Israel’s side for centuries to come.  They’re even identified (and cursed) for their cheering on the Babylonians when Jerusalem was finally sacked in 586 BC.  But their ancient ancestry is named and honored here because they are a ‘brother nation’ to Israel, and thus they foreshadow the redemption of the Gentiles that the prophets would eventually proclaim, and the Church would finally realize in her own growth and ministry.

Tamar, finally, is the wife of Judah’s firstborn, Er; but Er is struck down by the Lord for his wickedness, so the expectation was that Tamar should be married to Judah’s next son.  This foreshadows the levirate marriage laws that would be enshrined in the Law of Moses, and would go on to be a central point to the story of Ruth.  Judah, however, fails to get Tamar a new husband, so she disguises herself and has a child by Judah herself.  Judah accepts his guilt when he is later called out for this act, and Tamar is vindicated.

These are “interruptions” to the larger stories of Isaac & Jacob and Joseph, but they’re also important entries in their own right.  Not only do two of these stories bring important women to the spotlight (which is relatively unusual in ancient writing) but they also give us deeper insight into the moral shortcomings and failings of God’s people.  This may be the chosen family, the line of promise, but they are still as fallible as any other.  Their elect status is not due to their own works or earnings or deservings, but entirely to God’s grace.  Let that be an important reminder to us, too, who rejoice in our calling unto salvation – God called pulled us out of the mire, not rewarded us for our prior righteousness!

Planning Prayers & Readings Review 1/20

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 2nd Sunday of Epiphany, so the first traditional prayer book option for a weekday Eucharist is to repeat yesterday’s Collect and Lessons.  Another good option would be to use the traditional Collect and Lessons for Epiphany 2, which deal with the wedding at Cana.  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 Conversion of St. Paul – the Collect for that Day beginning at Evening Prayer on Friday, and carrying through Saturday evening.

Apart from that, some commemorations to consider are St. Fabian today (Monday the 20th), St. Agnes tomorrow, and St. Vincent of Saragossa on Wednesday the 22nd.

Readings Review

Last week: Genesis 12-18, John 6-8, Jeremiah 11-17, 1 Thessalonians 4-5, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Corinthians 1-2
This week: Genesis 19-24, John 9-13, Jeremiah 18-24, 1 Corinthians 3-9

Special reading for the Conversion of St. Paul on Saturday morning: Acts 9:1-22.  This is not one of the lessons appointed for the Communion service that day, but it is similar – the reading in the place of the Epistle is Acts 26:9-21, which is one of St. Paul’s re-tellings of his conversion on the road to Damascus, whereas the morning’s reading from Acts 9 is the initial account of that event in this book.

Our readings from John’s Gospel complete the “Book of Signs”, or, the first half of the book.  For the most part this is a forward-looking section of the book, anticipating the “glorification” of Jesus which is to take place on the Cross.  If you search this book for the words glory and glorify and glorification you’ll find a massive concentration of them in chapter 12, where the book makes its turning point – “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified!”  The last supper follows, and does his final discourse before his arrest, trials, suffering, and death.  That is the “Book of Glory” where all the “signs” finally pay off.