Thursday, October 9, 2008

Lectionary Notes

Three sets of readings are appointed for “Rogation Days and Harvest Thanksgiving, which are not allotted to Years A, B, or C, but are chosen to suit local needs and conditions. At St Matthias, the first set is used this year, and up to the middle of this week I was reading that set and making notes in my file. Then I was asked to cover for another church who had no priest for this Sunday, and of course I agreed. That parish is using the second set of readings, on which I had to start a whole new set of notes. So I have just enough time to prepare a sermon, but not enough for proper lectionary notes. So here is a brief introduction to Thanksgiving and Harvest Festival, and very meagre introduction to the two sets of readings.

Thanksgiving and Harvest Festival
The first thanksgivings for harvest are lost in the mists of time, and all though Canadian history days have been set aside for public thanksgivings, both particular and general; it was not until 1957 that the second Monday in October was permanently established by the Canadian Parliament as “ A Day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed … to be observed on the 2nd Monday in October.
The modern tradition of Harvest Festival in Anglican churches was apparently begun by Robert Stephen Hawker, the Vicar of Morwenstow , Cornwall in 1843.
[See This article depends much on Sabine Baring-Gould’s biography of Hawker.]
It is not uncommon for a Canadian parishes to keep Harvest Festival and National Thanksgiving Day on separate days. This is often done to ensure that the Harvest Festival is celebrated before the gardens are hit with frost, so that the people may bring their own produce to Church. To keep two thanksgivings also reminds us that while the richness of this land and the bountiful harvest prompts our thanksgiving, there are many other things for which we, as Canadians, ought to be thankful.

The Readings
The first set:

The First Reading: Deuteronomy 8.7-18, a warning to the people of Israel, when they come into the promised land, not to forget that it was the Lord’s hand that brought them to it. The warning against forgetting that all good things come from God is one to be heard in every generation and in every land. Indeed, we speak so much of the wealth of our country that we should be especially careful to be thankful in word and deed.
Psalm 65 is a psalm of thanksgiving for a good harvest,
The Epistle, 2 Corinthians 9.6-15: a collection was being taken in the Churches of Achaia (Greece) and Macedonia for the relief of the Church in Jerusalem (Galatians 2.1-10, 1 Cor 16.1-4, Rom 15.25-27. Paul urges the Corinthians to be generous in their contribution.
Luke 17.11-19: when Jesus cleanses ten lepers, only one returns to give thanks, and that one is a foreigner, a Samaritan.

The second set:
Joel 2.21-27: after the land has been ravaged by an army of locusts, the restoration of God’s favour is prophesied in a bountiful harvest.
Psalm 126, a prayer for deliverance from national misfortune, is an apt reflection on the first reading.
1 Timothy 2.1-7: The writer urges his audience to prau and give thanks for all; the reference to prayer and thanksgiving for kings and those in high positions is appropriate at this time of National Thanksgiving
Matthew 6.25-33 [compare Luke 12.22-31]: In the Sermon on the Mount the Lord Jesus teaches his disciples to trust in their heavenly Father, who feeds the birds of the air and clothes the lilies of the field.

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