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