Readings Review & Planning Propers 11/18

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 23-25, Judith 4, 8, 9-10, Acts 13-16, Isaiah 23-29, Mark 15-16, Luke 1-2
This week: Judith 11-16, Ecclus. (Sirach) 1, Acts 17-20:16, Isaiah 30-36, Luke 3-6:19

The story of Judith is in full swing now – the rising action, or set-up, has taken its place, and now we see our heroine in action.  For those who are new to this story, it is almost certainly a work of pious fiction, like a parable.  Its historical features jumble together several different conflicting markers of time: the Assyrian army, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, the Second Temple in Jerusalem… if there is a true story at the root of this book, it’s indiscernible from the fanciful elaborations that surround it.  And therefore, unlike the Old Testament books we normally consider “historical”, we have to ignore any attempt to connect the story of Judith to the rest of established history.  Instead it should be read on its own terms, as a story unto itself, and be appreciated (and learned from) on its own merits.  Look at the faithfulness of Judith, her piety, her means of devotion to God.  See in her heroism echoes of Rahab and Jael and Deborah.  From the way she is praise, in contrast to the faltering faith of her brethren in Bethulia, we can learn about what virtues were particularly valued in Second Temple Judaism and how they understood the Law of Moses – that outward visible sense of piety is really developing here, which would be “perfected” into hypocrisy with the Pharisees in Jesus’ time.  And in the villains we see pictures of sinners: filled with pride, caught up with Judith’s beauty, and dismissive of the power of God.

Planning Propers

This is the week of Proper 28 (or 22nd 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 11/18 = St. Elizabeth of Hungary (renewer of society) or Votive*
  • Tuesday 11/19 = St. Hilda of Whitby (abbess) or Votive
  • Wednesday 11/20 = St. Edmund or Votive
  • Thursday 11/21 = Votive
  • Friday 11/22 = St. Cecilia (martyr) or Votive
  • Saturday 11/23 = St. Clement (bishop & martyr)

* 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.

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.

Readings Review & Planning Propers 11/4

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 15-17, 2 Chronicles 28-29, Acts 5:12-9:31, Isaiah 9-15, Mark 8:11-11:26

This week: 2 Kings 18-22, 2 Chronicles 30-33, Acts 9:32-13:12, Isaiah 16-22, Mark 11-14

Both in Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer we are hurtling toward some major endings.  In Morning Prayer we are powering through the last century of the kingdom of Judah, recorded in 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles.  We’re in the reign of Hezekiah at the moment, who was one of the last great kings of Judah.  He’s featured heavily not only Kings and Chronicles but also in the middle of Isaiah, so we’ll hear some of his stories again from that book later this month.  We’ll then bounce through the lows and highs of Manasseh and Josiah over the coming week, and finally crash into the destruction of Jerusalem early next week.

In Evening Prayer we have been moving through Mark’s Gospel.  Last week we entered the second “half” of the book, where Jesus’ teachings and claims are increasingly tested.  Disagreements and questionings, even from St. Peter, characterize this half of the book, and things only continue to escalate this week.  We’ve just had the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, so now we’re in “holy week”, leading up to the crucifixion.  It’s an interesting experience reading through the Gospel books at this pace – you discover just how much attention is given to the death and resurrection of our Lord.  In this lectionary, for example, it takes about four weeks to read Mark, which means a quarter of the book is spent on Jesus’ final week in Jerusalem!  You’ll also note here (as in the other gospels) that the chapters dealing with the trial and crucifixion and death are the longest chapters in the book.

Many of us are used to thinking of the resurrection of our Lord as being “more important” than his suffering and death, so it’s thought-provoking to see the Gospels give more attention to the death than the resurrection.

Planning Propers

This is the week of Proper 26 (or 20th 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.  Especially this week a weekday communion service probably should use “Proper 26” if it was not used on Sunday!  Otherwise, we recommend…

  • Monday 11/4 = Votive *
  • Tuesday 11/5 = Elizabeth & Zechariah
  • Wednesday 11/6 = Votive
  • Thursday 11/7 = Votive or St. Willibrord
  • Friday 11/8 = Votive
  • Saturday 11/9 = Votive

* 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.

Readings Review & Planning Propers 10/28

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 10-14, 2 Chronicles 26, Acts 1-5:11, Isaiah 2-8, Mark 4-8:10

This week: 2 Kings 15-17, 2 Chronicles 28-29, Acts 5:12-9:31, Isaiah 9-15, Mark 8:11-11:26

Special reading for St. Simon & Jude’s Day on Monday: John 14:15-31
Special readings for All Saints’ Day on Friday: Hebrews 11:32-12:2 & Revelation 19:1-16

If you’ve got a moment, check out this quick devotional on Isaiah 9 & 10, straddling Sunday and Monday evening’s OT lessons:
https://leorningcniht.wordpress.com/2019/10/27/and-his-hand-is-stretched-out-still/

Planning Propers

This is the week of Proper 25 (or 19th 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 10/28 = SAINTS SIMON AND JUDE
  • Tuesday 10/29 = Votive* or James Hannington (martyr)
  • Wednesday 10/30 = Votive
  • Thursday 10/31 = Votive
  • Friday 11/1 = ALL SAINTS’ DAY
  • Saturday 11/2 = Commemoration of the Faithful Departed

* 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.

Readings Review & Planning Propers 10/21

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 4-9, 1 John – 3 John, 2 Maccabees 8,10, 1 Maccabees 7,9,13,14, Isaiah 1, Matthew 28, Mark 1-3

This week: 2 Kings 10-14, 2 Chronicles 26, Acts 1-5:11, Isaiah 2-8, Mark 4-8:10

Special reading for St. James of Jerusalem’s Day on Wednesday: James 1

As is often the case with biblical authors, the Morning Prayer readings includes the opening section of the saint-of-the-day’s book.  We saw this with St. Luke last week, and St. James this week.  There is some unresolved debate regarding exactly who the various people named James are, in the New Testament, but we can say, regardless of the possible confusions of identity, that the James who became bishop of Jerusalem, whose authority we see in action in Acts 15, is most definitely the author of the Epistle bearing James’ name.

As for the Gospel according to St. Mark, there are a few different ways that this book can be outlined.  One of the simpler theories is that, after a 15-verse introduction, the book is in roughly two “halves”: the demonstration of Jesus’ authority, and the testing of Jesus’ authority (especially his persecution and suffering).  The change from the first half to the second takes place in the latter part of chapter 8, putting our readings this week solely in the first half of the book, and leaving us ready to transition over next week to the push-back, resistance, and persecution that would lead to the death of our Lord.  So for now, consider the Gospel lessons to be various stories that show us the divinity of Jesus in his ministry.  Next week, we’ll see that claim put to the test…

Planning Propers

This is the week of Proper 24 (or 18th 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 10/21 = Votive *
  • Tuesday 10/22 = Votive
  • Wednesday 10/23 = SAINT JAMES OF JERUSALEM
  • Thursday 10/24 = Votive
  • Friday 10/25 = Votive
  • Saturday 10/26 = St. Alfred the Great

* 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.

The Maccabean Famine

In Evening Prayer we’re walking through some brief highlights of 1 & 2 Maccabees this week, and I thought that since so many Anglicans today have minimal experience with these books, it would be a good idea to offer a brief homily.  To that end, I present you with The Maccabean Famine: a reflection on the death of Judas Maccabeus in 1 Maccabees 9.  For best effect, save this for during or after Evening Prayer so you’ll have read the story before watching/listening to this.

Readings Review & Planning Propers 10/14

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 20-22, 2 Kings 1-3, 2 Chronicles 20, 1 Peter 4-5, 2 Peter, Jude, 1 John 1:1-2:6, Malachi 2-4, 1 Maccabees 1-2, 2 Maccabees 6-7, Matthew 25-27:56

This week: 2 Kings 4-9, 1 John – 3 John, 2 Maccabees 8,10, 1 Maccabees 7,9,13,14, Isaiah 1, Matthew 28, Mark 1-3

Special reading for St. Luke’s Day on Friday: Luke 1:1-4

The first hint of the end of the year makes its appearance this coming week: the book of Isaiah begins on Saturday the 19th in Evening Prayer.  In every Prayer Book lectionary (without exception, as far as I’m aware) Isaiah is saved for the end of the year, such that it is the big Old Testament focus in the Daily Office leading up to Christmastide.  Although many of the OT Prophets contain passages that prophesy of the advent of Christ, Isaiah has the most.  It helps that it’s the longest of those books, but even besides that Isaiah does spend an unusual amount of text looking ahead to the Christ, or Messiah, or Anointed One, whom we know to be Jesus of Nazareth, God-with-us.

Before we get there, though, we have to finish our survey of the Maccabean age.  Expect another post on that soon!

In Morning Prayer we have a rapid-fire wrap-up of the Epistles this week.  Having just walked through Peter and Jude’s writings, we’re completing the batch with John’s.  It might seem odd reading them out of order (Jude after Peter, rather than after John), but as I’ve pointed out before, the thematic similarities between 2 Peter and Jude make it very beneficial to read them together.  Plus that leaves us this current stretch of days to focus on John’s final exhortations to love God and keep his commandments, before calling it a day on the year’s second round of epistle-reading.  Acts will be next, followed by the Revelation, to finish off the year in Morning Prayer.

Planning Propers

This is the week of Proper 21 (or 15th 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 10/14 = Votive *
  • Tuesday 10/15 = Votive or St. Theresa of Ávila, nun and reformer
  • Wednesday 10/16 = Votive or Hugh Latimer & Nicholas Ridley, martyrs
  • Thursday 10/17 = St. Ignatius of Antioch, bishop and martyr
  • Friday 10/18 = SAINT LUKE
  • Saturday 10/19 = Votive

* 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.

What happened after Malachi?

It’s a classic Sunday School question in evangelical churches when learning about the books of the Bible – “what happened after Malachi?”  Nearly four centuries pass between the last regular prophet, Malachi, and the forerunner of the Christ, St. John the Baptist.  What happened during that time?  Why is the Bible silent about it?

Well, the Bible isn’t entirely silent.  The Church has always had at least two books specifically devoted to relating some of the key historical events between Malachi and the Gospels: 1 and 2 Maccabees.  They cover only a specific 50-year stretch (roughly 175-135 B.C.) but relate some critical goings-on that provide the social, cultural, historical, and even political set-up for making sense of what’s going on in Judea in the 1st century.  Only in the past couple centuries have these books fallen out of Protestant attentions – the King James Bible (like Luther’s German Bible, and probably others) included these books as an appendix between the Old and New Testaments.  For economic reasons, many publishers started omitting those middle books once mass printing picked up speed in the 18th century, such that by the 20th and 21st centuries now, hardly any Protestant Christian is aware of them, let alone familiar with their contents.

If you want to learn more about those books, I have an introductory video and links to a few written articles here.  For now let’s just focus on 1 & 2 Maccabees, which our lectionary is about to start sampling in Evening Prayer.  1 Maccabees was originally written in Hebrew, but survives primarily in Greek, and gives us a lengthy 50-year history of the struggles between the Hellenistic kingdom and the Jews.  2 Maccabees was originally written in Greek, meant to summarize another source (probably working off of something much like 1 Maccabees), and gives us a closer look at the events surrounding the desecration and purification of the Temple.

In a general sense, 1 Maccabees is more historically-minded, giving more information, covering more years, providing less religious commentary.  2 Maccabees is more religious in nature, summarizing events with an eye to exhortation to faithfulness to God.  They work together not unlike how 2 Samuel – 2 Kings play off 1 & 2 Chronicles: a lot of overlap providing different emphases.  The following table shows how the two books line up.

maccabees parallel

Our lectionary does not walk through the entirety of either book, but steps through a few highlights.  (To read them in full would be a significantly more lengthy process, and, for many readers, a great deal more tedious.)  From October 9th through 18th we cover:

  • 1 Macc. 1 = the rise of Antiochus Epiphanes and his profaning of the Temple (the “abomination of desolation”)
  • 1 Macc. 2 = the uprising of Mattathias and his sons
  • 2 Macc. 6 = the violent suppression of Judaism
  • 2 Macc. 7 = a specific story of martyrdom at the hands of the Greeks
  • 2 Macc. 8 = Judas Maccabeus takes his father’s place and continues the good fight
  • 2 Macc. 10 = the purification of the Temple (origin of Hanukkah)
  • 1 Macc. 7 = the next round of Greek invasion and suppression of Judaism
  • 1 Macc. 9 = the death of Judas Maccabeus and succession of Jonathan
  • 1 Macc. 13 = the death of Jonathan and succession of Simon
  • 1 Macc. 14 = the final peace established by treaty under Simon’s leadership

If you have time, it’s worth exploring these books in full, to get the whole story.  There are a lot of new names and places to keep track of (from the perspective of one unused to this period of history), but the benefits can be great.  The entanglements between Jewish authorities and Rome, for example, find their beginning here.  When you realize that the Romans helped save the Jews from the Greeks, and supported Judean independence, it sheds new rays of light on the relationship between the Sanhedrin and Pontius Pilate in the Gospels!

Historical Accuracy in the Bible

This evening we reach Matthew 26, including the Last Supper.  This is a very familiar part of the Gospel for many readers, and yet it can also be one of the most frustrating stories to get straight.

When it comes to identifying the betrayer, according to St. Matthew, the disciples ask “is it I?” and Jesus answers to Judas “yes.”  According to St. Mark, the disciples ask “is it I?” and Jesus says it’s someone who’s eating bread from the dish like he is.  St. Luke doesn’t specify Jesus’ answer to the question.  According to St. John, John and Peter ask who the traitor is, Jesus indicates by giving a piece of bread to Judas, who then leaves, but the other disciples don’t know why.  How do you reconcile this? It’s pretty complicated.

There are several places in the Bible where the level of detail and precision leave the modernist’s desire for strict chronology not a little frustrated.  The underlying reality is that, even when a part of the Bible is labeled “historical”, its purpose is not to relate history, but to reveal God, specifically the person of Jesus Christ, to us.  We preach the Gospel, not history lessons; the unfailing authority of the Bible is not based upon what it has to say about science or about history, but about God and mankind.  Some people get overly hung up over this sort of issue, and we have to assure them that even in those little corners where the Scriptures don’t seem to add up historically or archaeologically or whatever, there is no cause for alarm.

If you want to share a whole video on the subject, feel free:

Readings Review & Planning Propers

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 Chronicles 16, 1 Kings 15-19, James 3-5, 1 Peter 1-4:6, Zechariah 9-15, Malachi 1, Matthew 21-24

This week: 1 Kings 20-22, 2 Kings 1-3, 2 Chronicles 20, 1 Peter 4-5, 2 Peter, Jude, 1 John 1:1-2:6, Malachi 2-4, 1 Maccabees 1-2, 2 Maccabees 6-7, Matthew 25-27:56

There’s something appropriate about the convergence of St. Matthew’s Passion this week alongside the reading of selections from 1 & 2 Maccabees.  The suffering of God’s people at the hands of hostile non-believers – that is, martyrdom – is always best understood juxtaposed against the Cross.

You’ll also notice that although Kings & Chronicles are still swapping back and forth from time to time, but less often for the first half of October.  The reason for this is that at the end of 1 Kings and for the first half of 2 Kings there are a lot of stories about the Prophets, rather than of the Kings.  The result of this is that there are more chapters to read from 2 Kings before getting to a period of history where 2 Chronicles has anything to add in.  Of course, if you’re using our Supplemental Midday Lectionary then there are still plenty of “duplicate chapters” in 2 Chronicles to read along the way this month.

Planning Propers

This is the week of Proper 21 (or 15th 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 10/7 = Votive *
  • Tuesday 10/8 = Votive
  • Wednesday 10/9 = St. Robert Grosseteste or Votive
  • Thursday 10/10 = St. Palinus or Votive
  • Friday 10/11 = St. Philip the Deacon
  • Saturday 10/12 = Votive

* 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.