Friday, December 2, 2011

Lectionary Notes

Some Notes for the Second Sunday in Advent, Year B 
4 December 2011 

 The Three Advents 
We are well used to thinking of the first Advent of our Lord, when he came in humility to be born for us at Bethlehem, and looking ahead to his second coming in glory to judge the world; but as Peter of Blois, who lived from about 1135 to about 1200, said in an Advent Sermon
"There are three Advents of the Lord: the first to take our flesh; the second to our soul; the third to judgment. The first at midnight, the second in the morning, the third at noon.
The first Advent has been; the third is yet to come; the third is in our lives. In the second Advent our Lord comes to us in the Spirit, and if we welcome him, takes possession our souls, and gives us new life. We must keep this in mind when we hear the words of Isaiah : Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 
In one sense this means that I must be sure that the way is open for him to me. And this is why in the Gospel today we hear of John’s Baptism for the remission of sins. In sin I turn from the way of God to go my own way. It is not that Christ won’t come to me, but that I block his way, being blind to his coming and deaf to his voice. In another sense, when we hear these words we must ask ourselves whether we are preparing a way for the Lord to come to his people or are blocking him.
  With this in mind, it is clear why the particular Sentence or Alleluia Verse was chosen for today, for it contains a very clear promise and a very clear command: The promise is that “All flesh shall see the salvation of God”, that is to say, the salvation of God comes to all people; it is most obviously fulfilled in the proclaiming of the Gospel in all lands and nations. The command is to prepare the way of the Lord. What crooked ways are there? 

 The Readings 
In each year of the Revised Common Lectionary the Four Sundays of Advent follow the same pattern. The Gospels of the first Sunday all concern the Coming of the Son of Man in glory to judge the world; The Gospels of the Second and Third Sundays concern the John the Baptist, the Forerunner of the Son of Man and his testimony to Jesus. The Gospel of the fourth Sunday concern the annunciation of Jesus’ birth to Joseph (Year A) and Mary (Years B and C).

 Isaiah 40.1-11 
The first reading today is the opening of the second part of the Book of Isaiah. It is a prophecy of the return of Israel from exile in Babylon. The prophet sees it as a new Exodus (which was a journey through the wilderness) and a promise that God himself will be shepherd of his people. This, as we remember was a theme through the last Sundays of the Church year. Another passage of Isaiah which is closely related to this one is Isaiah 35 (which is read on Advent 3 in year A). 
Verse 1 is the theme, not only of this chapter, but of the whole prophecy which it introduces ; compare. 35.3, 4, 41.2. Verse 3-4. “Make straight in the desert a highway”: the ordinary way from Babylon to Jerusalem for the most part went round, and not through, the desert. For the return of the exiles the Lord commands a straight road in defiance of all obstacles. See Isaiah 35.8-10. 
Verses 6-8: It is not clear whether the words from “All flesh is grass” belong to the questioner, or to the voice which said, “Call”. In the former case, the preceding question is one of despondency, and “All flesh is grass” gives the reason of this despondency:—”How can ‘all flesh’ see such a glorious sight as in verse 5, when it is subject to the law of decay and death?” To this implied question, v. 8 may be regarded as the answer. In the last verses proclaim again God’s salvation of his people. The Advent focus of this passage is made clear because it was used by John the Baptist, as seen in today’s Gospel. 

Several parts of this reading are well-known in their settings in Handel’s Messiah. Here are some links to the sections of the Oratorio: 
 At each one there are links to other performances and other parts of Messiah.

 Psalm 85.1-2, 8-13 
The Psalm, like the first lesson, looks to God’s mighty acts of salvation as assurance that he will continue to show loving kindness to his people. 

 2 Peter 3.8-15a 
The Epistle reading brings us back to the theme of Christ’s coming in judgement. We must not forget that this, too, is answer to the question “what child is this?” for Christ was not always a child, and he did not come to give only a superficial love and peace. He came to meet the needs of the human race at the very roots of sin and death, and to restore God’s loving and merciful rule. That cannot be without judgement.
 More immediately, this passage says two things to us. The first is that although the promised coming may seem delayed, it is not. All things, and the end of the story, are in the hands of Christ. If we are given time, it is so that we may turn to him and learn his ways. The other thing is that if we are to be his people, knowing that he is to judge, we must ask ourselves, How then shall we live? At Christmas, we may put this another way: our Lord came in humility to become an infant, which is a sign of his giving all he had for our sake. How then shall we live?
I have to confess that I am not sure what is meant by "waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God" (verse 12). Most early modern translations (such as the Authorized Version of 1611) give it as hastening unto; some more recent versions give ‘vehemently desiring’. Hastening seems to be the most literal version, but what does it mean? What can we do to hasten the day of God? This would be an excellent question for a Bible Study Group. Another question that comes from this verse is: what difference is there, if any, between the "day of the Lord" and the "day of God"? Is it possible that we are delaying the day of Lord by failing to repent as John Baptist and Jesus taught repentance? 

 The Gospel according to Mark 1:1-8 
Although the Gospel passage is very straightforward, a few notes might be helpful. 
Verse 1 is the title of the whole book, which is called a ‘Gospel’. This familiar word comes to us from the Anglo-Saxon God-spell, good news (opposite of lath-spell, bad news), but was very early on understood to mean ‘God-story’. The Greek word it translates, evangelion, meant at first a present or reward given for good news and later the good news itself. In the Greek translation of the O. T. it is applied generally to any kind of ‘good news’ (e. g. 2 Sam. 4.10 ; 2 Kings 7.9), and specifically to the prophetic announcement of the coming of the Messianic kingdom (e.g. Isa. 61.1-2). … In this opening verse of Mark we see the transition from the good news brought by Christ to the good news regarding Christ In ‘Jesus Christ the Son of God’ we have a personal name, Jesus, an official name, Christ, and a title, Son of God. ‘Jesus’ is the Greek way of writing ‘Joshua’, a fairly common name at the time; it signifies ‘The Lord saves’. “Christ’ translates the Hebrew ‘Messiah’, which means the anointed. Those who held office in Israel were anointed to it, e. g. the priests. But in the O. T. the king is specially spoken of as anointed (1 Sam. 24.7, 11 ; Ps. 2.2; Isa. 44.1, &c.), and in Daniel (ix. 25) the Messiah is described as prince. So the term ‘Messiah’ came to express the idea that the one who was to come to restore Israel was to come in the character of a king, and as one of David’s line. Although it later came to be used almost as a personal name, in the Gospels , it still has its technical sense, and is best rendered the Christ. 
Unlike the opening verse of Matthew, where Jesus is described as ‘Son of David, son of Abraham’, Mark says simply ‘Son of God’. This important title occurs (not to speak of equivalent forms, ‘the Son’, ‘the only begotten Son’, ‘my beloved Son’, etc.) some nine times in Matthew, four times in Mark, six times in Luke, and ten times in John, It is used of Christ both by others and by himself. As the RCL notes point out, 
 In the Old Testament this term is used to describe angels or divine beings (see Genesis 6:2 and Job 37:7), the Israelite nation (see Hosea 11:1) and an anointed king (see Psalm 2:7). There it usually has moral force: God loves Israel, so Israel should in turn love and obey her Father: see Deuteronomy 32:6. Two of the late apocalyptic books seem to use it of the Messiah (see 1 Enoch 105:2; 2 Esdras 7:28-29; 13:32, 27, 52), as does Mark in 14:61. The Greco-Roman world knew of gods and heroes, usually saviours and healers, who were called sons of god. So it is understandable that the centurion at the foot of the cross remarks: “Truly this man was God's Son” (in 15:39). 
In fact it took the Christian community no little time to come to a true understanding of what it means to call Jesus the Son of God. 
Verses 2-8 act as a sort of prologue, declaring who Jesus is: the awaited Messiah. This is accomplished by Although verse 2 only refers to the Prophet Isaiah, the first quotation is from Malachi 3.1, possibly influenced by Exodus 23.20. The Gospel writer has adapted the words so that the messenger who, according to the prophet, is sent before the Lord himself, is said here to be sent before the Messiah. In Malachi the messenger`s work is to prepare for the sudden coming of the Lord to judge His temple. In the Gospel the work ascribed to the Forerunner is that of religious preparation for the coming of the object of Israel’s hope. In ‘Prepare thy way’, the image comes from the custom which was necessary in times when roads were few and ill kept, of sending on an official (a harbinger) to make the ways passable for a monarch on a journey or a royal progress. As the king`s officers made roads ready for the visits of kings, so God`s messenger was to make spiritual preparation for the coming of the His anointed. 
The second quotation, verse 4, is from Isa. 40.3, which we read in this morning`s first reading. It gives the same idea as the first quotation, though with more fullness. By reading ‘The voice of one crying in the desert, “Prepare ….”’ in place of ‘the voice of one crying, “In the desert prepare …”’ the desert, which in Isaiah is the scene of the preparation, is now the place of the prophecy, and so fulfilled in John the Baptist, who preached and worked in the desert. It is important to understand that Mark is not playing fast and loose with the Old Testament to make it fit his message. The reading he follows was not his own invention, but is found in the ancient Greek translation of the text. It helps to remember that ancient texts had no punctuation, no small letters and no quotation marks—and in ancient Hebrew no vowels—, and did not normally separate words. So the translators and copyists all had to deal with something rather like: 


There is no help at all in knowing where a quotation begins or ends, or even a sentence. 

  The Sources of our English Bible 
In connection with this point, it might be interesting to learn something about the Manuscripts of the Bible. You can look at today’s Gospel passage in one of the most important Greek Manuscripts, the Codex Sinaiticus. At this site you can see a copy of the MS, a transcription in Greek, and an English translation
Go to
 and enter Mark in the box. Our passage is in the first column of text. Notice how the word εὐαγγελίου (euaggeliou,or euangeliou, ‘of the Gospel’) runs over onto the second line: euaggeli-ou

 In the description of John in verses 4-8 we are told only enough to identify him as the one foretold to be the Forerunner or Harbinger of the Messiah. Although Mark clearly knew more about the Baptist, he does not say it here—unlike Luke, who includes a snippet of John’s ethical teaching (Luke 3.7-14). 
In verse 5, note that ‘to baptize’ was a familiar term in ancient Greek. It means literally to dip in or under water, to immerse, but also to wash. The usual form of baptism in ancient times and in these Eastern countries was by immersion. There were Jewish rituals of purification that had some similarity to baptism, in particular the immersion required for converts to Judaism. 
John’s baptism of repentance (v.4) was a baptism characterized by or implying repentance. It was a baptism which befitted the approach of the Messianic kingdom and prepared the people for the Messiah himself (cf. Matt. 3.7-10). It seems to have been held that it was the sin of the people that delayed the Messiah’s advent; and John’s baptism involved the sense and confession of sin and carried with it the obligation to repent. The word metanoia, which is rendered by ‘repentance’ here is neither on the one hand mere grief or regret for sin, nor on the other only an outward change of life, but a change of mind, a change of one’s views of self and God and all things, carrying with it a change of life. It is one of the many words which received a new, deeper, more spiritual significance in Christianity. 
 John’s clothing and way of life (v. 6) reflect the descriptions of the prophets of old, and particularly Elijah (see Zech. 13.4 and 2 Kings 1.8). 
Verses 7-8. For Mark the central element of the Baptist’s work is his preaching and the heart of his preaching is the coming Messiah. D. E. Nineham: 
The first eight verses (of St Mark) might seem to be devoted to John the Baptist, but in fact they have much to say about the credentials of Jesus, For they treat John almost exclusively in his capacity as the forerunner of the Mighty One—or Messiah, though as a matter of fact he was a considerable person in his own right, and St Mark knew a great deal more about him (cf. e.g. 2.18 and 11.32).

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Lectionary Notes

Notes for the Reign of Christ

Dear Readers,

Please see the last set of Notes for this Sunday in Year A, which were posted on  FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 21, 2008. I didn't make enough changes in this year's notes for the Parish to justify reposting here.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Some Notes for All Saints’ Day, Year A 
AD 2011 

 Some of these notes appeared in this Blog in 2008. 
In addition to its fixed date, this feast may also be kept on the following Sunday; in 2001 on 6 November. Such a celebration on a Sunday is known as the ‘Sollemnity’ of the feast. 

The festival of All Saints had its origins in the fourth century, when the great persecutions had ended, and the Church and there was a desire to remember all the martyrs, not just the local ones or those who had gained a wide veneration. Christians have long recognized that some of their brothers and sisters showed “an extraordinary love for Christ”, as Fr Reynolds put it, and whose lives displayed Christ’s triumph over evil in the witness to death of the martyrs, the witness through suffering of the confessors, and the witness of those who made themselves the servants of others. These, according to the theology that developed, are in heaven granted the Beatific Vision, the vision of the glory of God. It is these men and women whose lives are commemorated in the Calendar of Saints. There are many who are known but have no place in the Calendar, and others who are known only to God: it is all these we remember on this day.

After the Reformation the English Church maintained many commemorations of individual saints as well as the festival of All Saints, even though devotions to and invocation of the saints were eliminated from the liturgy. With the Catholic revival of the 19th century a full-blooded devotion to the saints has been restored in many Anglican churches with the result that today some Anglican churches have images of the saints and do them honour, and both churches and individuals personally ask prayers of the saints, even though these practices are not found in any official Anglican liturgy. 
For the theological questions involved, see chapters 71 and 72 of C. B. Moss, The Christian Faith: An Introduction to Dogmatic Theology: 
 For the traditional doctrine of Heaven in Western Christian theology, see
   The absence of a public cultus of saints and a formal doctrine of Purgatory makes it rather hard to pin down the Anglican understanding of the distinction between All Saints and All Souls. Perhaps this is something that individual Anglicans would do well to think about and discuss. A good question to start with is: Do we believe that some of the departed are taken immediately into the presence of God while others are given healing and growth in Purgatory, and that we ask the prayers of the first and pray for the second group? If not, what difference is there? Does Scripture give us enough information to allow us to speculate? 
  Despite these questions, what might be considered the complex feast of All Saints and All Souls is a celebration of the community of the members of Christ, “knit together in one communion and fellowship” in his mystical Body. It reminds us that, as Eric Mascall wrote, people become members of the Church in baptism; they do not leave it through death. It is the assurance that just as “neither death, nor life … nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ,” so none of these things will be able to separate the members of Christ from one another. 
  Finally, on All Saints’ Day we must remember that the saints are not some special type of person more wonderful than us and somehow holy by nature, somehow without failings; they are, like us, redeemed sinners. To study the lives of the saints is to study all the achievements and faults of humanity taken up into the life of Christ. In them we see what we are called to do and be; their example reminds us that we can be and do the same. 

The Sentence is taken from the first reading of this year; it differs from the Alleluia verse in the Roman Missal (Matthew 11. 8) The Collect of the Day is an adaptation of the traditional Prayer Book collect. 

For detailed notes on all the readings, the “comments” and “clippings” in the RCL site should be consulted []; here are provided only an introduction to the readings and a note on the theme offvision that runs through them all. For it is the vision of God which is the goal of our Christian life. 
 The First Reading: The Revelation to John, 7.9-17 
It apparently cannot be said too often that this Book is not called the “Book of Revelations” but The Apocalypse, or Revelation, to John. “Apocalypse” is simply a Greek word that means “revelation”. 
The Revelation has been described as a fitting close to the Holy Scriptures, since its concluding chapters “depict the consummation toward which the whole Biblical message of redemption is focused”. (Though parts of it may be older, it is probable that it was put in its present form towards the end of the reign of Domitian (AD 81-96) by one John—scholars differ as to whether he is the same as the author of the fourth Gospel. This John had been banished to the island of Patmos (1.9), where he received a vision of consolation to the Church in a time of stress and persecution. 
Much nonsense has been written about the Book of Revelation; a good commentary is absolutely essential when reading it. The Wikipedia article on it has a good bibliography, out of which I should recommend that one begin with the volumes in the Anchor Bible series. See 
 On All Saints’ Day we should stress that this vision is of a great throng beyond all reckoning; for the celebration of the Saints is the celebration of God’s triumph in Christ, made real and material in the winning of each Christian soul. By this vision we see the glory of the hope that is offered to us. 
In verse 9 we read that the great multitude was “standing before the throne and before the Lamb”: in both cases the Greek word translated “before” is ἐνώπιον, of which the root sense is “in the sight of”. The same word is used in verse 11, where we read that “they fell on their faces before the throne”. The sense of vision is perhaps at a lower level here, in the “back story” of the words, but it is still here, giving a sense of closeness and knowledge. 
A little point might be made about verse 14, where John says to "one of the elders", "Sir, you know". This translation obscures the fact that the elder is addressed as "my lord" (κύριέ μου). Distinguishing the meanings of "lord" and "sir" when translating κύριέ may make sense in our culture, but it obscures the fact that the same word covered both uses in the Greek and imports a distinction unknown to the original writer and audience into the text. 
Psalm 34.1-10, 22 
Like Psalms 9, 10 and 25, this is an alphabetical acrostic, in which the verses begin with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. It is a thanksgiving for deliverance from trouble, in which the psalmist tells of his experience of God’s answer to his cry for help (4-6) and calls on the people to have the same kind of faith in God that the psalmist has, and assures them that God will never be found wanting. Those who fear the Lord lack nothing – “They shall hunger no more, nor thirst any more, nor shall the sun fall on them nor any heat.” The theme of vision appears in verse 6: “Look upon him and be radiant” It is the vision of God which gives beauty and splendour to us. 
The Epistle, 1 John 3.1-3 
This is part of the Epistle for Epiphany VI in the BCP; it is the Epistle for All Saints in the Roman Missal. 
Although called a letter, 1 John has neither the salutation nor the conclusion of a letter and resembles rather a sermon or treatise. None of the three letters “of John” give the author’s name: their theological ideas, vocabulary and style are so like the fourth gospel as to be from the same pen. The letters appear to date from the end of the first Christian century and may have circulated together with the Gospel of John. 
The verses appointed to be read on this festival in Year A point to our hope of being made like Christ, which  will come in our vision of him: “we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” This is something to consider: what does it mean to say that to see Christ as he is will make us like him? 
The passage ends saying that it is because of the hope of this vision that we purify ourselves: is this what makes the change? Is this the same as what St Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13.12?
The Gospel, Matthew 5.1-12 
The Beatitudes are the traditional Gospel for All Saints’ Day. In these opening words of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus declares God’s favour towards those who aspire to live under his rule. To “live under God’s rule” is another way of saying to be a saint, for holiness is to live and be as God wills one to live and be. In self-examination it is good to read the Beatitudes regularly as a standard against which to measure your life. 
The RCL notes, like some modern translations, suggest that “Blessed are” can be translated as Happy are those who. This is true, but depends on the meaning we attach to “happy”. A word’s etymology or derivation can be well thought of as its “back story”, those things that we might not consciously think of but which influence the present sense of the word. The root of “happy” is “hap”, chance, fortune or luck. While it clearly means “very glad” it has a strong sense of luck to it, which is not what this passage has in mind. “Blessed” on the other hand, although it has taken on sense of “bliss”, ultimately means “consecrated”, “made holy” by sprinkling with sacrificial blood (see Revelation 7.14). 
Note the sixth beatitude, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God,” which brings in the theme of the vision of God. The vision of God, above all, describes a relationship. As St Paul wrote to the Christians at Corinth: For now we see as in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood (1 Cor. 13.12). 
The final verse of the passage (12) reminds us that we are not only to suffer persecution patiently, but to rejoice and be glad. We have the example of the Apostles who sang in prison (Acts 16.25). We are to rejoice because in this we are like the prophets. Prophecy is not telling the future as much it is God’s Word and the Good News of God’s love. If we know God’s word and turn to him in prayer in times of peace, then we will have the clarity to know it him in times of calamity and persecution. 


For the notes in For All the Saints, see 

6 Sunday:  The Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost 
The Solemnity of All Saints is kept this Sunday
In the Anglican Communion we remember the diocese of Ughelli in the Province of Bendel, Nigeria, and the bishop, The Rt Revd Cyril Odutemu 
In our own Diocese we remember: Oshawa Deanery 

7 Monday:  Commemoration of Willibrord, Archbishop of Utrecht, Missionary, 739
“Willibrord was an early medieval monk who pioneered the Anglo-Saxon mission to northwestern Europe.” See FAS, p. 336 
In the Anglican Communion we remember the diocese of Ukwa in the Province of Aba, Nigeria, The Rt Revd Samuel Kelechi Eze 
In our own Diocese we remember: The University of Trinity College

8 Tuesday:  Feria
 In the Anglican Communion we remember the diocese of Umuahia in the Province of Aba, Nigeria, and The Most Revd Dr Ikechi Nwachukwu Nwosu 
In our own Diocese we remember: All Saints, Whitby 

9 Wednesday: Feria 
In the Anglican Communion we remember the diocese of Umzimvubu in Southern Africa and The Rt Revd Mlibo Ngewu 
In our own Diocese we remember: Church of the Ascension, Port Perry 

10 Thursday: Memorial of Leo the Great, Bishop of Rome, Teacher of the Faith, 461 
“Today we remember Leo the Great, an effective pastor and wise teacher who served as bishop of Rome from the year 440 until his death two decades later.” See FAS, p. 338. 
In the Anglican Communion we remember the diocese of Upper South Carolina in Province IV of The Episcopal Church, and The Rt Revd William Waldo 
In our own Diocese we remember: Christ Memorial Church, Oshawa 

11 Friday: Memorial of Martin, Bishop of Tours, 397 Remembrance Day 
“Today the Church honours Martin, a fourth-century bishop of Tours who was “filled with power from on high” — and used it to serve the poor and strengthen the faithful in their witness to Christ.” See FAS p. 340. 
It is probably a coincidence that the Armistice of 1918 came into effect on this feast of Martin, who is counted one of the patron saints of soldiers. 
If you cannot attend a public service of Remembrance today, please remember to keep silence at 11 am and remember before God those who have lost their lives for their Sovereign and Country in war. 
In the Anglican Communion we remember the diocese of Uruguay in the Province of the Southern Cone), The Rt Revd Miguel Eudaldo Tamayo Zaldívar and the Suffragan Bishop of Uruguay, The Rt Revd Gilberto Obdulio Porcal Martínez 
In our own Diocese we remember: St. George's Memorial Church Oshawa 

12 Saturday:  Commemoration of Charles Simeon, Priest, 1836 
“Charles Simeon was an Anglican priest who died in 1836 after fifty-four years of ministry at Cambridge University, where he was a spiritual guide for innumerable students and a shining light in the Evangelical Revival of his day.” See FAS p. 342. 
In the Anglican Communion we remember the diocese of Utah in Province VIII of The Episcopal Church, and The Rt Revd Scott Hayashi 
In our own Diocese we remember: St. George, Pickering Village, Ajax 

13 Sunday: The Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost 
In the Anglican Communion we remember the diocese of Uyo in the Province of Niger Delta, Nigeria,. and The Rt Revd Isaac Orama 
In our own Diocese we remember: The Philip Aziz Centre (FaithWorks)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Some Notes For The Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost 
30 October 2011 
Proper 31 in Year A 

The Sentence was chosen to reflect the Gospel passage for Year A; it is not so clear what connection the Collect has with any of today’s readings. 

The Readings
Joshua 3.7–17: The Crossing of the Jordan 
In the reading last Sunday, we heard that Joshua, son of Nun, succeeded Moses as leader of the people of Israel (Deuteronomy 34.9). The Book of Joshua tells of the conquest of the land of Canaan under Joshua’s command. In Chapter 3 we read that the people have come to the Jordan; verses 1-6 tell of the preparations for crossing into Canaan. Joshua has already (v. 5) promised the people that the LORD would do wonders among them. At this critical moment, the LORD promises to Joshua that he will magnify him in the sight of the people, and that this should be the mere beginning of that magnifying : the promise is fulfilled in iv. 14. The comparison with Moses reminds us of what is said, Ex. xiv. 31, how after crossing the Red Sea 'the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD and His servant Moses.' See also Joshua 1.5 Joshua was first to command the priests to carry the ark of the covenant to go and stand in the Jordan at its brink; then he was to call the people to draw near and listen to the words of the Lord. They followed him, and the river was miraculously divided so that they could cross into Canaan. It was indeed the most unlikely season of the year for such an event, the most hopeless for any explanation other than the immediate act of God without natural means: for at the passover season, about the spring equinox, which is the harvest time in the Jordan valley around Jericho, the melting of the snow on the mountains made the river overflow its banks and spread over into what may be called the outer channel, covered during the rest of the year with luxuriant undergrowth.
Psalm 107.1–7, 33–37
This Psalm is a thanksgiving for the Lord‘s deliverance of his people; this selection is particularly intended to reflect on the crossing of the Jordan. This might be a good place for a helpful comment on the use and meaning of the Psalms in Christian worship [the emphasis is mine]: 
“The Psalter is the Church’s hymn-book. … Those Christians who know their Psalter well, and understand it, have little need of any other hymn-book. … The key to the interpretation of the Church’s hymn-book is that it is intended primarily for united use. The word ‘I’ in the Psalter does not mean the person who is reciting the words. It denotes our Lord himself, or the Church united with him; and if it is applicable to the individual worshipper, it applies to him only as a member of Christ and the Church. The worshippers are meant to use the words, not to express their own personal sentiments, but in order to enter into the mind of Christ and his Church. For example: such words as, I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I may keep thy word (Ps 119.101), are not an assertion of one’s own self-righteousness, but of Christ’s righteousness. The whole of Psalm 119 is a meditation on the perfect human nature and character of Christ.” 
~ G. D. Carleton, The King’s Highway (1924), pp. 170-171. 
Archdeacon Carleton goes on to show how this applies to the various categories of the Psalms. Since today’s Psalm of thanksgiving recites the history of God’s care for his people Israel, we can quote a little further: 
“The historical psalms are used in Christian worship, not simply as records of the events of Jewish history, but because that history is regarded as typical of the history of the Catholic Church throughout the ages: privileged, sinning, forgiven, punished. When we sing of Israel, Jacob, Sion, we mean the Church.”

The Epistle: 1 Thessalonians 2.9–13 
The first three chapters of this letter are spent in thanksgiving to God for the faith of the new church at Thessalonica. I have no particular comment to make on this passage, except to suggest that you read the notes at the RCL site and to quote a point made by the New St Joseph Sunday Missal that applies to the last verse: “Not all priests are as gentle, great, saintly, and dedicated as Paul was. Whether a priest’s sermon be good or bad, we should receive the message not as the word of humans, but as the word of God.” 
That’s not an easy discipline to learn.

The Holy Gospel according to St Matthew 23.1–12
After silencing his principal critics, the Sadducees and the Pharisees, by showing that they do not truly understand the teaching of the Law, Jesus turns to the “the crowds and to his disciples. He tells them to honour the teachings of the scribes and Pharisees (v. 2), for they sit in Moses’ seat, that is, they stand in an unbroken succession from Moses, but to beware of their practices! They teach a strict interpretation of the Law but do not themselves follow it; and worse still, they do nothing to help others to bear these burdens (v. 4). Their motive is not love, which seeks to help others, but selfish ostentation (cf. vi. i, 2, 5, 16). Phylacteries:- Two small leather cases, worn on the forehead and on the left arm opposite the heart, kept in position by leather straps. Inside of these cases were slips of parchment on which were written Ex. 13. 1-16, Deut. 6. 4-9, 11. 13-21. In Hebrew they were called Tephillin—prayers ; the Greek, phylacteries = amulets, charms, for they had come to be regarded as possessing a mystic power to protect the wearer against the influence of evil spirits. Fringes on the borders of garments are prescribed in Numbers and Deuteronomy as a way of remembering to live by the commandments. To make broad the phylacteries and enlarge the tassels was a sign of special holiness, of ardent devotion to the law. This ostentatious piety was offensive to Jesus. 
 In vv. 6-7 Jesus gives four examples of their vanity. (“Rabbi” means master and later became a title for a synagogue leader.) He then (vv. 8-10) teaches his followers that Christians are not to use honorific titles. Jesus is our one “teacher” and instructor for we are his lifelong disciples; others teach us only for a time. God the “Father” is our father. Finally, in vv. 11-12 he emphasize the importance of humility and service to one another. It is obvious that the teaching on honorific titles has not been taken literally by Christians. We obviously cannot here go into this question, and will only add a light-hearted comment:


 I CANNOT call you ‘Father’
Because I’m C. of E.,
With such un-English customs I strongly disagree
I can’t forget a precept
 That I was taught from birth:
‘Call nobody your father,’
 The Bible says, ‘on earth.’

‘And be ye not called masters’
 The text announces too;
So do not call me ‘Mister,’
 Which also is taboo.
Such narrow exegesis
 Will, one day, drive you mad;
If `Father` is forbidden,
 What do you call your Dad?

I cannot call you ‘Father,’
 It strongly smacks of Rome;
But I have found a title
 Which brings us nearer home.
I think I’ll call you ‘Padre,’
 As normally is done
Throughout our British Forces,
 Approved by everyone.

But still you call me ‘Father,’
 Which ‘Padre’ signifies;
Your quaint circumlocution
 Deserves a special prize.
For ‘Padre’ is Italian,
 And papal, through and through;
So, why use foreign language
 When English words will do?

I cannot call you ‘Father’
 In spite of what you say;
No argument will move me
 Although you talk all day.
Yet I have found a label
With which I can concur,
And with your kind permission,
 I’m going to call you ‘Sir.’

Of course, you’re only leaping
 From frying-pan to fire,
Your ‘Sir’ is also ‘Father,’
 For ‘Sir’ is really ‘sire’;
So, how you will address me,
 I’m sure I do not know;
But, as my name is Joseph,
 You’d better call me Joe.
 ~ S. J. Forrest

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Lectionary Notes

Some Notes for the Week of the Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Sunday, 16 October 2011 
Proper 29 Year A

The Notes for last Sunday were delayed because of a technical problem with the Blogger.

The Sentence, based on Philippians 2.15, 16 is the Alleluia verse for this Sunday in the Roman Missal; it has no obvious connection with any of the readings
The Collect is apparently a new composition, which is fouind in many other prayer books. It is in part based on Philippians 3.13-14: Brethren, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. See also Psalm 119:32

The Readings
Exodus 33.12-23
or the Lord's abiding presence with His people, which is granted.
Verse 12 gives a hint that the text has been somehow muddled: the saying of the Lord to which Moses refers, ‘I know thee by name’ comes in verse 17.
Verse 22, inMoses, having been told that the Lord will not go with His people, asks for help in leading them to Canaan, which is granted ; then for a knowledge of him who is to help them, and of the Lord's ways, and a sight of His glory, which is granted in the form of a partial revelation ; lastly f a cleft of the rock: This rock has been interpreted allegorically (as for example by St Gregory of Nazianzus and other Church Fathers) as Christ, the Word that was made flesh for us [see the second Thological Oration of St Gregory,]. This interpretation underlies the hymn ‘Rock of Ages’ which we will eb singing this Sunday at the 10:30 Eucharist. ‘The Incarnation gives an assured point from which we may observe and study God without being overwhelmed by the greatness of the revelation. The glories of the Divine Nature are tempered for us, as it were, by the Human Life which encompasses us as we look out from it to the Divine. By the Incarnation our field of contemplation is at once restricted and made clear.’

Psalm 99
A hymn of praise to God as king. The refrain, He is the Holy One, in verses 3 and 5, expanded to ‘the Lord our God is the Holy One’ in verse 9, sets the hymns in three parts. The threefold declaration of God’s holiness has been likened to the ‘Holy, holy, holy’ of the Seraphim in Isaiah 6. The effect of the refrain was described thus in an older commentary on the Psalms:
‘First, there is an acknowledgment of the manifestations of Jehovah's kingly might in heaven and upon earth, which makes the world tremble, and is worthy to evoke praise to this exalted Ruler and His mighty name. To this is attached the simple acknowledgment of His holiness. This is then connected with the worship of Jehovah on the steps of His throne, as the King who has established the Theocracy in Israel. Finally, both the place of worship and the object to whom it is due are particularly described, after it had been shown from the history of Israel previous to the establishment of the Monarchy, that God's kingdom is not dependent upon the existence of earthly kings, but is regulated in accordance with a course of action, in harmony with its true nature, both on the part of the Church and on the part of God.’

The Epistle: 1 Thessalonians 1.1-10
The first Letter to the Thessalonians is perhaps the oldest book of the New Testament. Paul, with the aid of Silas (Silvanus) and Timothy, preached at Thessalonica and founded a church there during his second missionary journey (see Acts 17). He was forced to leave the city because of persecution. This letter was written perhaps in the early 50’s from Athens or Corinth. Five sections of this letter are set for reading on Sunday in Year A:
October 16: 1 Thess 1.1-10
                23: 1 Thess 2.1-8
                30: 1 Thess 2.9-13
November 6: 1 Thess 4.13-18
                 13: 1 Thess 5.1-11
The usual course of readings will be interrupted on November 6 for the Solemnity of All Saints; this is in a way unfortunate, for the sense of the next passage is clearer if the whole section is read. For this reason I encourage you to read the whole of the letter this week (it is only four pages).
The reading today is the salutation of the letter (verse 1) and St Paul’s opening prayer of Thanksgiving for the faith of the Thessalonian community (verses 2-10).
It is noteworthy that St Paul’s name is here given without any title; in all the other letters except for 2 Thessalonians he describes himself as Apostle, and often as Servant of Jesus Christ. It has been suggested that in these early letters he had no need to assert his claims. Paul joins Silvanus and Timothy with himself in the greeting, though he was the sole author. Grace and peace join the usual forms of greeting used by Jews and Greeks.
In verses 2-10, Paul thanks God for the graces seen in the Thessalonians They prove that his preaching has not been ineffectual. These people, manifesting joy in spite of persecution, have become a example to others north and south of them, the word of the gospel thus sounding out from Thessalonica in both directions and thus the report of their conversion has come round to the Apostle from Macedonia and Achaia.
Note the mention in verse 3 of the three Christian graces of which Paul writes later in 1 Cor. 13. 1 and elsewhere. In both cases faith comes first, not because it is most important, since in Corinthians love is expressly declared to be the greatest of the three, but doubtless because Paul regards it as coming earlier than the other graces in experience, and in a way as laying the foundation for them. In this verse the graces are associated with their fruits: the Apostle describes himself as remembering the fruits, which are outward signs of the graces, and valued as evidences of their existence. The work, labour, and patience spring from or are characterized by hope, love, and faith.
In verse 5 the literal our Gospel is translated by our message of the gospel: the word gospel as it is used in the Bible never means a book, as for us it means the works of the four Evangelists. It always means preachers’ message, the good news they were proclaiming.
The passage ends with a note of expectation of the coming of the Son from heaven; this prepares us for the retirn of this theme in Chapters 4 and 5.

The Holy Gospel according to St Matthew 22.15-20
A conspiracy: the Pharisees and Herodians combine to ensnare Jesus with the question whether tribute to Caesar is lawful to which Jesus gives an historic reply.
The parallel version of this incident in Luke (12.20-26) states that the chief priests and scribes sent spies to catch Jesus out in his words ‘so as to deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor’, that is, get him to declare that the tribute was against the law of God, thus making himself an open rebel against Rome. The question they put showed their political astuteness; if Jesus forbade tribute to Caesar, the Herodians, as the supporters of the existing regime, would condemn him as a traitor; if he recommended the payment, he would offend the Pharisees and the populace. The nationalist cry was, No king but God.
It is interesting that the term used for the tribute in Greek was ‘census’, a Latin word which means a register of the citizens, their property, and so on. Here and in 17.24, where it is paired with ‘tribute’, it seems to mean a poll-tax.
The coin of the tribute was a denarius, which was traditionally translated in English as penny (hence the d of the old English coinage) and is usually explained as a working-man’s daily pay. It was to oppose this taxing of a denarius per head that Judas of Galilee had risen in revolt long before. See Acts 5. 37.
Jesus’s reply to his foes astonished the men of that day, and is still being pondered by human governors in church and state today. What do you think he meant?

Please Note: because I am going away next weekend the Notes may be somewhat limited in scope.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Some Notes for the Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 27 in Year A
Sunday, October 2 2011

The Sentence is a clear echo of the Gospel parable read today.
The Collect in the BAS is the Prayer Book Collect for the feast of SS Simon and Jude (October 28), which was originally composed in 1549 for the first BCP.
Exodus 20.1–4, 7–9, 12–20
This reading is, of course, the Ten Commandments (in Hebrew, ‘Ten Words’). It would be useful before turning to this passage to read Exodus 19, which tells of the arrival of the people of Israel at Mount Sinai, where the Covenant between God and Israel was established.
The Commandments are repeated in Deuteronomy 5: the two versions differ only slightly, chiefly in the reason given for the institution of the Sabbath Day (compare Exodus 20.11 and Deuteronomy 5:15). In the Tenth Commandment Deuteronomy places the neighbour’s wife ahead of his house and the slaves and livestock (compare Deuteronomy 5.21 with Exodus 20.17). Rather than take the space here for an inadequate commentary on the Commandments, we suggest that for a first step in applying the Commandments in one’s daily life, one should refer to the portion of the Catechism on pages 546 to 549 of the Book of Common Prayer. Many other commentaries on the Commandments may be found.
Exodus tells us that God himself spoke the commandments in the hearing of all Israel. They were given, in effect, to each individual, and without any intermediary or interpretation.
In the Sixth Commandment the translation ‘Thou shalt do no murder’ is more accurate than ‘Thou shalt not kill.
The last three verses of the reading (18-20) relate the people’s immediate reaction of fear and awe, and their request that God no longer speak directly to them.

Psalm 19
This psalm praises God as creator of all things and the giver of the law. It has been suggested that the second part, which praises the Law of the Lord, was added by a later writer to balance the revelation of God in nature. In verses 7-9 six terms for ‘law’ are used, reminiscent of Psalm 119. Some scholars suggest that for ‘fear’ in verse 9 ‘word’ should be read.

The Epistle: Philippians 3.4b–14
Philippians 3.1-11 is a warning against those who were trying to convince the Philippians that acceptance of Jewish law, including circumcision was necessary for converts to Christianity. (vv. 1-3: see also Galatians 5.12). As to the outward conditions and ritual, Paul now asserts that he is second to none (vv. 4-6), but all this is nothing in comparison with ‘the supreme value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (vv. 7-8). In Christ he has found a true righteousness, which comes not from the law, but through faith in Christ Jesus (v. 9). But while this righteousness is of grace, and not works, Paul must still ‘press on’, make the serious effort to take hold of the gift. But all his effort is for the goal of knowing the power of the resurrection: it is for this that he undergoes the self-giving of his ministry as an apostle. In stating all this about himself, he is exhorting the Philippians—and us who read him in later centuries—to seek the same knowledge of Christ and in their own lives to press on toward the goal, “the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus” (v. 14).

The Holy Gospel according to St Matthew 21.33-46
The Parable of the Vineyard or of the Wicked Husbandmen
This is the second of the three parables addressed to the religious leaders in Jerusalem after the challenge to Jesus’ authority in 21.23-27. Archbishop Trench noted:
“The Lord's adversaries had by this time so manifestly gotten the worse, that, for this day at least, they would willingly have brought the controversy by them so imprudently provoked (see ver. 23) to a close. But no; He will not let them go: He has begun and will finish; 'Hear another parable;' as though He would say, 'I have still another word for you of warning and rebuke,' and to that He now summons them to listen.”
Jesus clearly based this parable on Isaiah 5.1-7, and one should read that passage in connection with this. The vineyard represents Israel; but how much weight should be placed on the details of the hedge, the tower, and the winepress in interpreting the story? Perhaps it is enough to say that they mean that God has done everything possible to make the vineyard a good one. The owner of the vineyard lets it out to tenants and goes on a journey (though our translation has him go to a far country, the expression is literally went away from home). This detail is the occasion for messages through his servants, i.e., the prophets. The details of the ill-treatment of the prophets cannot be pressed. Simply all the prophets, whenever they came, were shamefully treated. The sending of the owner’s son is a foretelling of the passion and death of Christ. At the end Jesus gets the chief priests and Pharisees to pronounce judgement on the case. Note that the expression “He will put those wretches to a miserable death” is in the original “kakous kakόs apolesei autous, literally, ‘he will badly destroy those bad ones’.
Verse 42 quotes Psalm 118.22-23 (see also Acts 4.11, 1 Peter 2.7). In the original the stone stood for Israel so lightly esteemed by the world) is here applied to Christ, the Messiah, the ideal of Israel, head of the corner = the corner-stone binding the two walls together.
The arrangement of verses 41 to 44 should be compared with the arrangement of the same material in Luke 20.17-19. Here verse 43 seems to be out of place, as it interrupts an obvious flow of thought from 42 to 44. Verse 44: compare Dan. 2. 34, 44, 45, where the stone ‘cut by no human hand’ rolls down from the mountain.
The rest of the passage is fairly straightforward and the time for finishing these notes is past due.

Calendar Notes

Feria signifies an ordinary weekday.
FAS is For All the Saints: Prayers and Readings for Saints’ Days, which may be purchased at the ABC or found on-line at
Anglican Cycle of Prayer: for more information, see

2 Sunday The Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost
In the Anglican Communion we remember the Diocese of St Asaph - The Rt Revd Gregory Cameron (The Church in Wales)
In our diocesan Cycle of Prayer we remember The Ecclesiastical Province of Ontario

3 Monday Feria
In the Anglican Communion we remember the Diocese of St David's - (Wales) The Rt Revd John Wyn Evans
In our diocesan Cycle of Prayer we remember St. Luke, Rosemont

4 Tuesday Memorial of Francis of Assisi, Friar, 1226
'Today we celebrate Francis of Assisi, the thirteenth-century Italian whose greatest honour was to be known as il Poverello, “the little poor one of Christ.”' FAS, p. 298.
In the Anglican Communion we remember the Diocese of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich - (Canterbury, England) The Rt Revd William Nigel Stock, and in that diocese the sufffragan bishop of Dunwich, The Rt Revd Clive Young
In our diocesan Cycle of Prayer we remember St. Paul, Coulson’s Hill

5 Wednesday Feria
In the Anglican Communion we remember the Diocese of St Helena, The Rt Revd Richard David Fenwick (Southern Africa)
In our diocesan Cycle of Prayer we remember St. Peter, Churchill

6 Thursday Feria
Provincial General Election in Ontario
In the Anglican Communion we remember the Diocese of St Mark the Evangelist, The Rt Revd Martin Andre Breytenbach (Southern Africa)
In our diocesan Cycle of Prayer we remember Trinity Church, Bradford

7 Friday Feria
In the Anglican Communion we remember the Diocese of Sunyani, The Rt Revd Festus Yeboah-Asuamah (West Africa)
In our diocesan Cycle of Prayer we remember David Busby Street Centre (FaithWorks)

8 Saturday Feria
In the Anglican Communion we remember the Diocese of Swansea & Brecon (Wales) The Rt Revd John Davies
In our diocesan Cycle of Prayer we remember The Archbishop’s Committee on Healing

9 Sunday The Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost
In the Anglican Communion we remember the Diocese of Sydney - (New South Wales, Australia) The Most Revd Dr Peter Frederick Jensen
In our diocesan Cycle of Prayer we remember The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

Friday, September 23, 2011

Lectionary Notes

The Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 26, Year A
September 25, ad 2011

Dear Readers, I apologize for the intermittent postings of late; life has been busy. Even more, for some time I was so annoyed with the formatting on Blogger that I simply dreaded the job of taking my notes and making them available. There is a new interface, I believe it is called, that seems to make the job much easier. When I have posted this I will know for certain.
These notes are an revised and expanded version of notes that appeared on this site in 2008.
The Sentence
My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord; I know them and they follow me” is taken from St John 10.27; the Roman Missal uses the same sentence for this Sunday’s Alleluia verse. The sentence gives no particular emphasis to a theme for the day; rather it invites us to hear the voice of Christ in the Holy Gospel.

The Collect
This Collect is also found in the American Book of Common Prayer on Proper 16, the Sunday nearest August 24. It emphasises that the unity of the Church comes as we are gathered in the Holy Spirit, and suggests that as far as we do not share that unity we will not show forth God’s power among all peoples. 

The Readings
The First Reading: Exodus 17.1-7
We continue to follow the people of Israel as they journey towards their encounter with the Lord at Mount Sinai.
Some things to be noted:
In verse 1 we are told that Israel journeyed “by stages”, that is, from camp to camp. A more detailed narrative is found in Chapter 33 of the Book of Numbers.
The motif of water from the stricken rock is also found in Numbers 20.2-13. In later legend this rock was said to have followed the Israelites on their journeys. St Paul refers to this legend in 1 Corinthians 10.4, where also speaks of the rock as a type of Christ.
Although I am not always happy with the New Revised Standard Version, I must give them credit for using “Israelites” where the literal meaning is “sons” or “children of Israel”. It is generally thought better to avoid “sons” in modern English; and while “children” is inclusive it has other drawbacks. But the ending “–ite” signifies “one belonging to”, and in the plural “the people of” so that “Israelite” avoids the problem of exclusivity while nicely capturing the sense of the original.
Although Psalm 78 is chosen as the reflection on this reading in today’s propers, and the Roman Missal uses selections from Psalm 25, the classic link is to Psalm 95.8-11, which also ties in Numbers 20.1-13 and Numbers 14.33. This is all brought into service of Christian life and faith in the reflection in the third chapter of the Letter to the Hebrews. 
The Psalm
Psalm 78.1-4, 12-16, like Psalms 105, 106, 135, and 136, recites the history of God’s dealings with Israel. 78 puts a particular emphasis on the disobedience and ingratitude of the people. Verses 12-53 record God’s care for his people during the Exodus and the wandering jn the wilderness, and the section chosen for today reflects particularly oin the incident at the Rock of Horeb. 

The Epistle Philippians 2.1-13.
The importance of this passage from the letter to the Philippians appears clearly from the number of times it is read in the three-year lectionary. As well as this Sunday, it is read every year on Passion (Palm) Sunday and on the Feast of the Naming of Jesus (January 1).
Writing from prison, St Paul urges the Christians at Philippi in Macedonia to be of one mind, the mind of Christ, following his way of humility. We are more accustomed to hearing he central part of this reading at Christmastide and Passiontide, for it is the great hymn of Christ’s self- giving in the Incarnation and Passion, and of God’s triumphant Yes! to all he did in the Resurrection and Ascension. When we read it in this season of the “ordinary Sundays” perhaps we can look more at ourselves, seeking to find the humility of spirit without which we can never have true unity with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
As is often pointed out, verses 6 to 11 are considered to be an ancient Christian hymn. The reasons for this are set out in the “Clippings” at the RCL site: 
In the first verse the words translated “any compassion and sympathy” are literally, “any bowels and mercies”. This is our friend σπλάγχνα again, compassion in the very literal sense of feeling the other person’s condition in your guts. In the Elizabethan Book of Homilies, the second part of the ‘Homily against Contention’ comments on this verse:
Who is he that hath any bowels of pity, that will not be moved with these words so pithy? Whose heart is so stony that the sword of these words, which may be more sharp than any two edged sword, may not cut an break asunder? Wherefore, let us endeavour to fulfil St Paul’s joy here in this place, which shall be at length our great joy in another place.

The Holy Gospel Matthew 21.23-32
After last week’s passage, the lectionary jumps from Matthew 20.16 to 21.23, omitting several important passages, especially the Palm Sunday material. The sections omitted are:
20.17-19: The third Prediction of the passion
20.20-28: On personal Ambition: The request of the mother of the Sons of Zebedee
20.29-34: The healing of the Blind Men at Jericho     
21.1-17: Palm Sunday:—
1-11. The Triumphant entry into Jerusalem
12, 13. The Cleansing of the Temple
14-17. The Displeasure of the Priests
21.18-22. The Withering of the Fig Tree.
This reading is in two parts which are both concerned with the response of the religious leaders to John Baptist. Verses 23-27 report the question of the chief priests and elders of the people, who want to know what authority Jesus has for “doing these things”. ‘These things’ apparently refers to  the Cleansing of the Temple which had taken place the day before and implied a claim to be Messiah. Jesus’ response, which poses a question about John Baptist, is precisely about Jesus’ authority because John bore witness to the coming of the Messiah (iii. 11-12), and the implication seems to be, bore witness to Jesus as the Messiah.
The Parable of the two Sons follow in vv. 25-32.
In verse 28, one commentator suggests that the words 'Son, go and work in the vineyard today,' might better be taken as ‘go to-day, work in the vineyard’; which is the word order in the original. He notes that “It is an exceptional work, whose value lies in its being done to-day.” Further, the word meaning ‘Son’ is literally ‘child’ a more affectionate term. In return the son who refuses is brusque, and does not even say ‘Father’ [29], while the other, who speaks obedience, says ‘Sir’, “the attitude of Oriental slavish submissiveness, not of filial love,” in response to his father’s "child”.
I do think that the words “the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you” deserve to be stressed. I suspect that some people read this correctly but are thinking instead of you. The phrase can in fact, mean go ahead of you in the sense of “lead the way”. It would do no violence to the text to read it as “the tax collectors and prostitutes will lead you into the kingdom.” There’s something to meditate on this week!
From Anderson’s Commentary : go . . . before you. Not "will go," because Jesus is stating a present fact of His experience and observation, not prophesying about entrance into the future kingdom. Hence Matthew does not change the phrase "Kingdom of God," found in his source, into his usual " Kingdom of the Heavens." The meaning is that they are far in advance of you on the way to the kingdom, i.e. far more responsive to God's rule. Before you does not imply that these official leaders of the people are going or will go into the kingdom, though after them. They would, of course, if they repented, and did the will of God. But as things stand, in the race to the kingdom they have lost the place of primacy. They have rejected the call (ver. 32), and the following parable (33 ff.) expresses their judgment.”
You may find more detailed notes at:

Calendar Notes
Feria signifies an ordinary weekday.
FAS is For All the Saints:  Prayers and Readings for Saints’ Days, which may be purchased at the ABC or found on-line at
Anglican Cycle of Prayer: for more information, see

25        Sunday        The Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost           
In the Anglican Communion we remember the Diocese of Southern Virginia - The Rt Revd Herman Hollerith (Province III, USA)
In our own Diocese we remember Tecumseth Deanery and its parishes

26           Monday         Commemoration of Lancelot Andrewes, Bishop of Winchester, 1626
“Lancelot Andrewes was a scholarly bishop of Winchester who died in 1626, and we remember him today because his legacy of preaching and devotion is one of the touchstones of our Anglican tradition.” FAS p. 292
In the Anglican Communion we remember the Diocese of Southwark - The Rt Revd Christopher Thomas Chessun, bishop;  Southwark - Croydon - Vacant ; Southwark - Kingston-upon-Thames - The Rt Revd Richard Ian Cheetham;  Southwark - Woolwich – Vacant (Province of Canterbury, England)
                In Our own Diocese we remember St. Thomas, Huron St 
27           Tuesday       Commemoration of  Sergius, Abbot of Holy Trinity, Moscow, 1392
(Transferred from Sunday) “Today we remember Sergius, a Russian monk of the fourteenth century who, even before his death in 1392, was regarded by the Russian people as their national saint. FAS p 290
In the Anglican Communion we remember the Diocese of Southwell & Nottingham - The Rt Revd Paul Roger Butler;  Southwell - Sherwood - The Rt Revd Anthony Porter (Province of York, England.
In our own Diocese we remember St. Andrew, Alliston 
28           Wednesday   Feria; Eve of Michaelmas
In the Anglican Communion we remember the Diocese of Southwestern Virginia - The Rt Revd Frank Neff Powell (Province III, USA)
In our own Diocese we remember St. David, Everett
29           Thursday   Saint Michael and All Angels HD
“Today we celebrate those mysterious beings which Scripture calls “angels,” a name which comes from the Greek word for ‘messengers’.” FAS  p. 294. See also the note in Chambers’ Book of Days for September 29th:
The Golden Legend tells of many apparitions of the Archangel Michael, of which the most famous and probably most remembered on his day is the third:
"The third apparition happed in the time of Gregory the pope. For when the said pope had established the litanies for the pestilence that was that time, and prayed devoutly for the people, he saw upon the castle which was said sometime: The memory of Adrian, the angel of God, which wiped and made clean a bloody sword, and put it into a sheath. And thereby he understood that his prayers were heard. Then he did do make there a church in the honour of Saint Michael, and that castle is yet named the Castle Angel."
In the Anglican Communion we remember the Diocese of Spokane - The Rt Revd James Edward Waggoner (Province VIII, USA)
In our own Diocese we remember the Parish of the Evangelists, Tottenham
30           Friday            Memorial of Jerome, Teacher of the Faith, 420
“Jerome was a fourth-century monk who produced the standard Latin version of Scriptures known as the Vulgate and by his own commentaries on the text had a lasting influence on the Church’s interpretation of the Bible.” FAS p. 296
In the Anglican Communion we remember the Diocese of Springfield - The Rt Revd Daniel Hayden Martins (Province V, USA)
In our own Diocese we remember St. John, Cookstown
1              Saturday         Feria
                In the Anglican Communion we remember the Diocese of St Albans - The Rt Revd Alan Gregory Clayton Smith
St Albans - Bedford - The Rt Revd Richard Neil Inwood;  St Albans - Hertford - The Rt Revd Paul Bayes (in the Province of Canterbury, England)
In our own Diocese we remember St. John Caledon (formerly Mono) 
2          Sunday        The Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost
In the Anglican Communion we remember the Diocese of St Asaph - The Rt Revd Gregory Cameron (The Church in Wales)
In our diocesan Cycle of Prayer we remember The Ecclesiastical Province of Ontario