Tuesday, February 2, 2016THE PRESENTATION (CANDLEMAS)
Candlemas is always the 40th day of Christmas, or February 2, when, according to the Gospel of Luke, Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple. In 2018, in addition to celebrating Candlemas on Friday, February 2, we also are celebrating on Sunday, February 4 so that the maximum number of people can participate and so that we can hear music associated with the feast day.
Here is the account beginning at verse 22 of Luke, chapter 2:
And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; (as it is written in the law of the LORD, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) and to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.
And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,
Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.
And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. This passage reveals not only yet another epiphany (another revelation that this Jesus is Christ), but it also gives our tradition a great Christmas gift: Simeon's Song, also known as the Nunc dimittis, which the choir sings at every Choral Evensong.
Almighty and everliving God, we humbly beseech thee that, as thy only-begotten Son was this day presented in the temple, so we may be presented unto thee with pure and clean hearts by the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Wednesday, February 3, 2016Anskar
Archbishop of Hamburg, Missionary to Denmark and Sweden
d. February 3, 865
In Sketches of Church History (published in 1904 by SPCK, London), J. C. Robertson writes of Anskar:
In the north of Germany, in Denmark, and in Sweden, Anskar, who had been a monk at Corbey, on the Weser, laboured for thirty-nine years with earnest devotion and with great success (AD 826-865). In addition to preaching the Gospel of salvation, he did much in such charitable works as the building of hospitals and the redemption of captives; and he persuaded the chief men of the country north of the Elba to give up their trade in slaves, which had been a source of great profit to them, but which Anskar taught them to regard as contrary to the Christian religion. Anskar was made archbishop of Hamburg and Bremen, and is styled "The Apostle of the North."
But he had to suffer many dangers and reverses in his endeavours to do good. At one time, when Hamburg was burnt by the Northmen, he lost his church, his monastery, his library, and other property; but he only said, with the patriarch Job, "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord!" Then he set to work again, without being discouraged by what had befallen him, and he even made a friend of the heathen king who had led the attack on Hamburg.
Anskar died in the year 865. It is told that when some of his friends were talking of miracles which he was supposed to have done, he said, "If I were worthy in my Lord's sight, I would ask of Him to grant me one miracle--that He would make me a good man."
Almighty and everlasting God, who didst send thy servant Anskar as an apostle to the people of Scandinavia, and didst enable him to lay a firm foundation for their conversion, though he did not see the results of his labors: Keep thy Church from discouragement in the day of small things, knowing that when thou hast begun a good work thou wilt bring it to a fruitful conclusion; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Thursday, February 4, 2016Cornelius
Centurion, first Gentile converted to Christianity
From Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2000:
The author of Acts considered Cornelius’ conversion very momentous for the future of Christianity. He records that it occurred as the result of divine intervention and revelation, and as a response to the preaching of Peter the chief apostle. The experience of Cornelius’ household was regarded as comparable to a new Pentecost, and it was a primary precedent for the momentous decision of the apostolic council, held in Jerusalem a few years later, to admit Gentiles to full and equal partnership with Jewish converts in the household of faith.
O God, who by thy Spirit didst call Cornelius the Centurion to be the first Christian among the Gentiles: Grant to thy Church, we beseech thee, such a ready will to go where thou dost send and to do what thou dost command, that under thy guidance it may welcome all who turn to thee in love and faith, and proclaim the Gospel to all nations; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Sunday, February 7, 2016THE LAST SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY
The season after the Epiphany ends in glory, with Jesus revealed once more as Christ. There are many epiphanies within the season: the visit of the magi, the presentation of Jesus in the temple (and Simeon's response), the Lord's baptism, his first miracle at Cana. On this Sunday, the last of the Epiphany season before Ash Wednesday takes us into Lent, we see Christ in all his glory, his transfiguration, atop the mountain.
We celebrate the Transfiguration twice each year: on the Last Sunday after the Epiphany, and on the feast day itself, August 6. At Saint Thomas, there have been many sermons over the years which are helpful in understanding this miraculous event. Among them are these.
O God, who before the passion of thy only-begotten Son didst reveal his glory upon the holy mount: Grant unto us that we, beholding by faith the light of his ountenance, may be strengthened to bear our cross, and be changed into his likeness from glory to glory; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Wednesday, February 10, 2016ASH WEDNESDAY
Ash Wednesday begins the holy season of Lent, a 40-day period (excluding Sundays) extending through Holy Week as we approach Easter.
The imposition of ashes occurs at all three liturgies of the day -- 8am, 12:10pm and 5:30pm -- as well as throughout the day in between these services. Simply enter the Fifth Avenue doors and walk down the center aisle toward the high altar.
Almighty and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made and dost forgive the sins of all those who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Thursday, February 11, 2016
Sunday, February 14, 2016THE FIRST SUNDAY IN LENT
On the first Sunday in Lent, we ask God to save us in the time of trial -- to think on his mercy and not our many offenses. Always timely.
As you prepare your heart and mind for Lent, you might find these sermons helpful.
Almighty God, whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be tempted of Satan: Make speed to help thy servants who are assaulted by manifold temptations; and, as thou knowest their several infirmities, let each one find thee mighty to save; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Tuesday, February 16, 2016
Wednesday, February 17, 2016Ember Wednesday
A series of three Ember Days (on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday) are observed four times a year:
(1) following the Third Sunday of Advent
(2) following the First Sunday in Lent
(3) following the Day of Pentecost (Whitsunday)
(4) following Holy Cross Day
A major feast day overrides an Ember Day if they fall on the same day.
Ember Days, traditionally seasonal days of fasting and prayer, became over time associated with ordination of clergy and with prayer for the Church.
Almighty God, the giver of all good gifts, who of thy divine providence hast appointed various orders in thy Church: Give thy grace, we humbly beseech thee, to all who are called to any office and ministry for thy people; and so fill them with the truth of thy doctrine and clothe them with holiness of life, that they may faithfully serve before thee, to the glory of thy great Name and for the benefit of thy holy Church; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Thursday, February 18, 2016
Sunday, February 21, 2016THE SECOND SUNDAY IN LENT
O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy: Be gracious to all who have gone astray from thy ways, and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of thy Word, Jesus Christ thy Son; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Tuesday, February 23, 2016
Wednesday, February 24, 2016SAINT MATTHIAS
O Almighty God, who into the place of Judas didst choose thy faithful servant Matthias to be of the number of the Twelve: Grant that thy Church, being delivered from false apostles, may always be ordered and guided by faithful and true pastors; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Thursday, February 25, 2016
Sunday, February 28, 2016THE THIRD SUNDAY IN LENT
Almighty God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.