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

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Lectionary Notes

Some Notes for the Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost
The Sunday between 4 and 10 September
Proper 23 in Year A
The Collect for this Sunday in the BAS was the one appointed for the Sunday Next before Advent in the Prayer Book, which in turn is a version of the ancient Latin Collect. Since in the new lectionary, the Sunday before Advent is kept as the Reign of Christ it is good that this Collect has been retained on a different day. Other Churches of the Anglican
Communion have done the same in different ways. See

Some of the notes on the readings have appeared in earlier postings, but the whole has been largely re-written.

Exodus 12.1–14

This is the account of the institution of the Feast of Passover, which God commanded the people of Israel to keep as an everlasting memorial of the delivery from bondage in Egypt. The feast is called “the Passover of the Lord” because the Lord passed over the land of Egypt in judgement (verse 12), but passed over the houses where the Israelites were, which were marked with the blood of the Passover lamb (verses 7, 13). The first Passover meal was, as it were, the “last supper” of Israel in Egypt, as can be seen in the words about eating the meal in haste (verse 11). The whole of the Exodus celebrated in the Passover is seen in Christian tradition as a type or foreshadowing of the death and resurrection of Christ, the true Paschal Lamb. This is why we read this passage on Maundy Thursday. We read it today as one of the highlights in the story of the Exodus. Much has been passed over since last week’s reading (Chapter 3), and should be read in order to know the whole story.
The word ‘passover’ translates the Hebrew pesach, which is from a verb meaning ‘to pass over, spring over’. An old Hebrew commentary on this passage says, “The sacrifice is called פֶּסַח (pesach) because of the skipping and the jumping over, which the Holy One, blessed be He, skipped over the Israelites’ houses that were between the Egyptians houses. He jumped from one Egyptian to another Egyptian, and the Israelite in between was saved.” In the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures and in Christian writings, pesach became pascha, which in turn became the name for Easter in many languages. Pascha is surprisingly similar to the Greek word for ‘suffering’ (paschein).
It seems unnecessary to comment here on all the technical instructions for the passover
The Psalm
Psalm 149, is one of the “Hallelujah Psalms”. “Hallelujah” (alleluia is simply a form of the word more euphonious in Latin and Greek) is a Hebrew word meaning “Praise the Lord”. This is a liturgical song, inviting the congregation of the faithful to praise. The New Oxford Annotated Bible suggests that it was a hymn meant to accompany a festival dance [verse 3], of an apparently war-like character [verses 6-9]. The psalms chosen for the lectionary usually seem to reflect on the first reading: here the judgement on the nations reflects the final plague sent by the Lord against Egypt. One might also note, however, a link between the “binding of the kings in chains” and the promise of the Lord Jesus to his disciples that what they “bind” on earth will be bound in heaven. See also the notes on this Psalm at the RCL site:
The Epistle: Romans 13.8–14
Importance of Love for One’s Neighbour
Our reading from the Letter to the Romans jumps over the opening seven verses of Chapter 13, a very important passage which speaks of the relation Christians ought to have to the civil government of the country in which they live. In particular there are assumptions about the duty to pay taxes which should not be ingored. These verses are not read in Church, but it would be helpful to read them over before looking at the passage we will be reading.
After making it clear that we are to pay everything that we owe, St Paul begins the next section by reminding us of the one debt that is never paid: “Owe no one anything, except to love one another: for he who loves his neighbour, has fulfilled the law”. Love of neighbour is not a favour we grant and could as well withhold, but is a debt we owe—to God. This might be a surprise to some; in fact it is another element of the Christian life which involves being “transformed by the renewal of our minds”. On the words that love fulfills the law, see Mark 12.31; James. 2.8 John 13.34; 1 John 4.11; Col 3.14;1 Tim 1.5; 1 Corinthians 13. St Paul is here commenting on the words of Jesus, who in turn quoted Leviticus 19.18.
If love is the fulfilling of the law it is the foundation of all Christian conduct. The urgency for Christians to conduct themselves is all the greater because of the imminence of Christ’s coming. Though the time seems to have stretched, the urgency of our calling is no less. We may not know the time [kairos] of Christ’s coming, but we know very well that it is high time to act in love, and follow all these words of St Paul.
The Holy Gospel: Matthew 18.15–20
Much important material between last week’s Gospel reading and this week’s is omitted from the Sunday readings. Passages that are read at other times or read in parallel version are noted:
XVII. 1-8. The Transfiguration. Read on the Last Sunday after Epiphany or Lent 2
XVII. 9-13. Conversation On The Descent.
XVII. 14-21. The Epileptic Boy.
XVII. 22, 23. Second Announcement Of The Passion. The parallel, Mark 9:30-32 is read on Proper 25, Year B
XVII. 24-27. The Temple Tax.
XVIII. 1-4. Jesus On Personal Ambition. The parallel, Mark 9:33-37 is read on Proper 25 ,Year B
XVIII. 5-9. Considerate Behaviour Towards Little Ones. The parallel, Mark 9:38-50 is read on Proper 26, YearB
XVIII. 10-14. The Preciousness Of The Individual. Partly paralleled in Luke 15:1-10, read on Proper 24, Year C

This teaching on disputes that arise between Christians is found only in St Matthew, except for an echo in one verse of St Luke: Take heed to yourselves; if you brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him (Luke 17.3). A sizeable body of opinion holds that this passage reflects the later experience and condition of the Christian community rather than the original words of Jesus. Indeed, the passage seems to assume a more established community even if we understand “church” as a local group of believers, as some do.
Some Christians, particularly at the time of the Reformation, have taken this passage as a prescriptive regulation for Church discipline. It is one of the scriptural foundations of the practice of excommunication.
The rule is obviously good, for first one is to try and settle the matter privately, and only when that has failed, to involve other Christians. In verse 15 ‘point out the fault’ could be given with more strength, "convince him of his fault," i.e. get him to acknowledge the wrong. The teaching on reconciliation continues in next week’s reading : the whole shows us that it is a duty for both the offender and the one offended.The need for witnesses (verse 16) is founded on Deuteronomy 19:15, but the Lord Jesus seems to have reduced the minimum requirement to one witness in addition to the plaintiff.
We cannot stress too much that the goal is the reclamation of the sinner, rather than punishment: if he listens to you you have won him. This commends the translation “convince” in verse 15: unless one acknowledges one’s fault there is no real reconciliation, but only giving in resentfully.
The passage concludes with a guarantee, the assurance, so to speak, that the decisions of the church have the authority of heaven. Here the words that were spoken to Simon Peter are now addressed to all the disciples.
This passage needs to be read and understood in context, for its context is forgiveness and reconciliation, as the Gospel Acclamation reminds us. It immediately follows the parable of the Lost Sheep (18.10-14) and is itself followed immediately by Peter’s question of how many times he must forgive his brother, to which Jesus says “Seventy times seven” (18.21-22). This in turn is followed by the parable of the Unforgiving Servant (18.23-end). This context should make Christians cautious, thoughtful, and prayerful in applying the rules of 18.15-17.
A further consideration how we are to take the words let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector, which is generally taken to mean “an unworthy outsider”, one fit to be expelled from the Church. This interpretation is hard to deny. But as we think about these words, let us simply consider how the Lord Jesus himself treated Gentiles and tax collectors.

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
ACP: Anglican Cycle of Prayer.

1 Thursday: Feria [in BCP, Giles, Abbot in Provence, c. 720]
Pray for the parish of St. George, Haliburton
ACP Saskatchewan (Rupert's Land, Canada) The Rt Revd Michael William Hawkins; Saskatoon (Rupert's Land, Canada) The Rt Revd David Irving
Have an oyster! This day is traditionally counted as the beginning of the oyster season, the eight months containing the letter R in which it was thought safe to eat oysters. However, the legal opening of the oyster season in Britain was August 5th. He was a bold man that first eat an oyster. ~ Jonathan Swift

2 Friday: Memorial of The Martyrs of New Guinea, 1942
When Japanese forces invaded New Guinea in 1942, a number of Anglican missionaries decided to stay with their people for as long as possible, despite orders for white people to evacuate the island. Their faithfulness resulted in martyrdom. See FAS p. 266
Pray for the parish of St. James, Fenelon Falls
ACP: Sebei - (Uganda) The Rt Revd Augustine Joe Arapyona Salimo
On this day in 1666 began the Great Fire of London

3 Saturday: Memorial of Gregory the Great, Bishop of Rome, 604
Gregory the Great was Bishop of Rome from 590 to 604, a time of great danger and uncertainty, and in which the leaders of the Church had to take care for civil government and social welfare. Gregory is particulalry remembered for sending Augustine of Canterbury to preach the gospel among the heathen English. See FAS p. 268
Pray for the parish of St. James, Kinmount
ACP Sekondi - (West Africa) The Rt Revd John Kwamina Otoo

4 Sunday: The Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost
Pray for Volunteer Workers in Diocesan Ministry
ACP The Rt Revd Paul Keun-Sang Kim Presiding Bishop of the Anglican Church of Korea & Bishop of Seoul

5 Monday: Commemoration of First Anglican Eucharist in Canada, 1578; Labour Day
Robert Wolfall, a priest of the Church of England, was among the company of Martin Frobisher’s expedition to the canadian Arctic in 1568. On Sunday, September third, Wolfall preached and celebrated communion on the shore of Baffin Island, the first Anglican Eucharist in what is now Canada. FAS, p. 270.
Pray for Couchiching Jubilee House, Orillia (FaithWorks)
ACP Seychelles - (Indian Ocean) The Rt Revd James Richard Wong Yin Song

6 Tuesday: Feria
Pray for the parish of St. John, Dunsford
ACP Sheffield - (York, England) The Rt Revd Steven Croft; Sheffield - Doncaster - (York,
England) The Rt Revd Cyril Guy Ashton

7 Wednesday: Feria
Pray for the parish of St. John, Irondale
ACP Shinyanga - (Tanzania) The Rt Revd Charles Kija Ngusa

8 Thursday: Memorial of The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
'The legend of the nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary … bears witness to a deeper truth of faith — that Mary herself was the daughter of Israel’s hope and the child whose own offspring would fulfill the longing of the whole family of creation’ ; see FAS, p. 272.
Pray for the parish of St. John, Rosedale
ACP Shyira - (Rwanda) The Rt Revd Laurent Mbanda

9 Friday: Feria
Pray for the parish of St. Luke, Burnt River
ACP Shyogwe - (Rwanda) The Rt Revd Jered Kalimba
On this day in 1513 an English army defeated the Scots at Flodden Field, a disaster for the Scots commemorated in the famous lament The Flowers of the Forest.

10 Saturday: Memorial of Edmund James Peck, Missionary to the Inuit, 1924 Edmund Peck spent almost forty years in mission in the Eastern Arctic where he ‘built the Anglican Church … not only spiritually by his preaching but also physically with his own hands. See FAS, p. 274
Pray for the parish of St. Margaret, Wilberforce
ACP Sialkot - (Pakistan) The Rt Revd Samuel Sant Masih Pervaiz

11 Sunday: The Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Pray for The Bridge Prison Ministry, Brampton (FaithWorks)
ACP Sittwe - (Myanmar) The Rt Revd Dr James Min Deng