Thursday
May082014

Choral Evensong - June 8 at 5:30 pm

This Spring youth choristers from St. Timothy’s School (Dallas, Tx) and St. Andrew’s Academy (Lake Almanor, Ca) will be touring the east coast, exploring many of the historical sites of the founding of our country. 

The combined choir will join students from St. Mark's Classical Academy to sing Evensong at St. Mark’s Reformed Episcopal Church (Jenkintown, Pa) at 5:30 pm on Sunday, June 8th

The St. Timothy’s School Choir is under the direction of choirmaster Andrew Dittman. The St. Andrew’s Academy Choir is under the direction of choirmaster Father Brian Foos.  Both choirs and their associated schools are ministries of Reformed Episcopal parishes, The Chapel of the Cross (Dallas) and St. Andrews Church (Lake Almanor, Ca), respectively.   

The St. Timothy’s Choir, though only 4 years old, has mastered a challenging repertoire, especially impressive for a newer school.  The St. Andrew’s Choir has been singing for 15 years and has performed in Italy, Southern California, England, the South East of America, and Victoria, B.C.

Both choirs exhibit strong treble voices that lend themselves to choral pieces with descants and strong upper lines. 

The canticle settings they have chosen for Evensong were written by Christopher Hoyt, and exhibit lovely, soaring melody lines.  Mr. Hoyt is a talented organist and composer at the Pro-Cathedral of The Holy Communion in Dallas, Texas.  They will also be singing a contemporary setting of the preces and suffrages.  The anthem is yet to be determined.

Wednesday
May072014

The Collect for the 2nd Sunday after Easter

The Second Sunday after Easter

Almighty God, who hast given thine only Son to be unto us both a sacrifice for sin, and also an ensample of godly life: Give us grace that we may always most thankfully receive that his inestimable benefit, and also endeavour ourselves to follow the blessed steps of his most holy life; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle: 1 Peter 2:19-25
The Gospel: John 10:11-16

Historical Note

This Collect from the pen of Archbishop Cranmer (1549) replaced the one found in the Sarum Missal, which read: "O God, who by thy Son's humbling himself hast raised up a fallen world: Grant unto thy faithful people perpetual joy, that they whom thou hast snatched from the dangers of perpetual death, may be brought by thee to the fruition of eternal joys. Through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."  The Sarum collect rings with Easter joy but is not as fine a prayer as Cranmer’s replacement, which one commentator called a collect of “more solid excellence.  This prayer is framed according to the best type of Collect.  It is remarkable for balance, balance not only in style, but in the doctrine which it expresses.  With two masterly touches it summarizes the whole benefit of Redemption, as consisting in the provision of a sin offering, and of a perfect example.  And not less happily it summarizes the duty of a Christian, as consisting, first, in reception, and, secondly, in imitation.  The richness and fullness of thought compressed into the seven or eight lines of this brief prayer is really remarkable.  Perhaps we should not err in saying that it embraces more matter than any other Collect.  And it is built upon, and stands in living relation to the Epistle and Gospel for the day, which certainly cannot be said of the medieval Collect.”[1]

Commentary on the Collect

Almighty God, who hast given thine only Son.  The Father sent his only-begotten Son into the world as a gift to humanity. Without ceasing to be God, the Son took unto himself in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary human nature and lived as a Man.  He revealed the Kingdom of God in word and deed – he suffered, died, was buried and raised from the dead to be exalted to the Father's right hand in heavenly glory.  

To be unto us both a sacrifice for sin, and also an ensample of godly life.  The centre of the Incarnation on earth was the passion and crucifixion where the Lamb of God offered himself as a sacrifice for human sin, and where in all that he suffered Jesus Christ our Lord provided a perfect example of loving submission to the demanding will of God.

The giving of the Son is a gift too precious to fully comprehend, though we must try so to do.  He that hath the Son hath life – everlasting, abundant, divine life (as the Scriptures bear witness).  In the proclamation of good news the Church of God offers this amazing gift that is beyond price.  Blessed are they who receive him in penitence and faith, in joy and consecration!

Give us grace that we may always most thankfully receive that his inestimable benefit.  In the Petition we recognize two things, first that sin and the effects of sin are still present within baptized Christians, even as they aspire to holiness.  Second, we recognize that this should not be so.  Thus we ask God to give us grace so that: (a) we might both continually (always) receive the gift of the Son (both what he has done for us and what he has shown us to do) with gratitude and also (b) live lives in imitation of Jesus.  Let us consider each aspect of the petition, in turn.

Because the effects of sin stays with us as long as we are in our mortal bodies in this evil age, we are utterly dependent upon the assistance of divine help and mercy (grace) if we are to have thankful, receptive, believing and trusting hearts such that we might recognize and appropriate the amazing and eternal nature of the gift that is in the gospel.  A truly thankful heart is a great motivation to seek to do God's holy will.

And also endeavour ourselves to follow the blessed steps of his most holy life.  In the second part of the Petition we ask for the grace needed to imitate the blessed and holy life of Jesus.  In the Petition’s first clause we asked for the grace to be thankful as we receive the benefit of his death, now we are asking for joyfulness as we imitate the pattern of his life.  The request for joy is not explicit, but it is implied by the use of “blessed” to describe his life upon the earth.  Our confession that his life upon earth was blessed is a confession that it was good – that it was admirable and desirable.  He lived a holy life without sin, wholly submitted in love to the Father’s will.  The life of Jesus is the supreme example for the Christian to follow, day by day until life's end.[2]  The particular feature of Christ's example brought out by the Epistle is the patient bearing of undeserved indignities and rough usage (1 Peter 2:23).

Through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.  Jesus, the Messiah, the Saviour of the world, is God's gift and God's example to the ChurchBy continually receiving this gift and continually striving to follow the blessed example of our Lord’s life, Christian people will be truly what they are called to be – the Body of Christ on earth. This is a most appropriate message for Eastertide.

Peter Toon & Jason Patterson

© The Prayerbook Society

 

 


[1] Goulburn, 203.

[2] Note: "To endeavour oneself" is a reflexive verb not much in use today (for another important use of this verb, see The Form and Manner of Making Deacons in the BCP and the seventh answer to the questions, "I will endeavour myself, the Lord being my helper.").

Wednesday
May072014

Historical & Devotional Thoughts on the Collect for Easter 3

The Third Sunday after Easter

Almighty God, who showest to them that be in error the light of thy truth, to the intent that they may return into the way of righteousness: Grant unto all them that are admitted into the fellowship of Christ's religion, that they may eschew[1] those things that are contrary to their profession, and follow all such things as are agreeable to the same; through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Epistle: 1 Peter 2:11-17
The Gospel: St John 16:16-22

Historical Note

Being found in the Sacramentary of Leo (the oldest extant Sacramentary), this is one of the prayerbook’s most ancient Collects.  It has undergone little change since then – Gelasius added nothing and Gregory made only a very minor addition (he added of righteousness to describe the way).[2]

Commentary on the Collect

To unpack the meaning of this very ancient Collect we would do well to consider the significance of its proximity to Easter Eve – a night upon which converts to the Faith were admitted into the fellowship of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church through the Sacrament of Baptism.  It is primarily with these new members of the Church in mind that we offer this prayer to the God who has redeemed them (and us). 

Almighty God, who showest to them that be in error the light of thy truth, to the intent that they may return into the way of righteousness.  The Collect begins with the confession that whatever spiritual good we may have – whatever Truth we may be able to recognize as being true – is owing to the grace and mercy of God being operative upon us and within us.  We do not come to recognize error or embrace the truth (spiritually speaking) because of our own brilliance or insightfulness.  Jesus said: “no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.[3]  Likewise even when the Apostles were preaching (after the outpouring of the Holy Ghost), St. Luke is careful to emphasize that the fruit being born was owing to the activity and will of God: “the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”[4]  Because of these (and other) Biblical passages, the prayerbook’s baptismal liturgy begins by drawing our attention to our utter dependence upon God for our salvation.[5]  The Minister addresses the godparents and parents and instructs them to call upon God that “of his bounteous mercy he will grant (to the child about to be baptized) that thing which by nature he cannot have.”  There is thus an important thematic unity between today’s Collect, and our theology of the manner in which the grace of God is at work in Baptism – both of which emphasize God (not us) and His gracious redemption of us (not we of ourselves).  

We can hear this theme in the description of God as the One who “showest to them that be in error the light of thy truth.” As we address God, we are confessing that whatever truth with which we may be enlightened and whatever error we are able to reject is because He showest it to us.  The upshot of this is that, as St. Paul says, no man will have any cause to boast before God, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”[6]  Whenever we witness a baptism or the repentance of a non-Christian or of a Christian – we should quickly call to mind how gracious is this Good Shepherd who seeks and saves the lost, and thus should our hearts be moved to honor and obey His word and commandment.

To the intent that they may return into the way of righteousness.  Here we are remembering before God the purpose for which he shows his truth to men.  As will be made more explicit in the Collect’s petition, God’s desire is that being enlightened by the Truth, we live lives transformed by it.[7]

When we fail to do this (through sin and unbelief), the way back into fellowship with God is through faith-filled and godly repentance.  It is possible to understand the word “return” as being in reference to Christians who have strayed but are returning to the fellowship of Christ’s Church.  But, in light of the fact that the petition that follows is clearly a reference to the soul’s initial conversion, it is more likely that the primary referent of this phrase is the newly baptized.  The new convert has “returned” to the way of righteousness in the sense that they have returned to the purpose for which God created mankind.  Having been made in God’s image, we are restored to the way of righteousness through faith and the birth from above.

Grant unto all them that are admitted into the fellowship of Christ's religion, that they may eschew those things that are contrary to their profession, and follow all such things as are agreeable to the same.  We ask the Petition in which we are (again) asking the Almighty God to mercifully involve himself in our lives – granting to all who are within the fellowship of the Church the grace to practice both renunciation and obedience.

Though the primary referents are the newly baptized, any Christian may pray this prayer for himself and for the entire Church, for all Christians are called to die daily to sin and to live unto righteousness in the power of the Holy Ghost.  All Christians are called to holiness of life and consecration unto the Lord and his purposes, and thus they are to think and do only that which they know to be a part of his will for them.

We must renounce all that is in any way in conflict with the Faith of Christ.  The 1662 uses the old verb eschew (replaced in the American BCP with avoid).  The sense is to “both avoid and deliberately repel.  The Latin original is respuere, which means to eject, to vomit, as in Revelation 3:16, ‘I will spue thee out of my mouth.”[8]  Baptized believers are to shoo or drive away (as birds from a fruit tree) all that is evil and contrary to holiness, for in baptism we promise to reject the world, the flesh and the devil and to accept and follow Christ in the way of self-denial and of grace.  This Collect thus recalls us to our vocation as the people of God, saved by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Peter Toon & Jason Patterson

© The Prayerbook Society

 

 

 


[1] The 1928 BCP reads “avoid.”

[2] The seven oldest Collects in the BCP come from the Leonite Sacramentary (either being composed or adopted by Leo I): the Third Sunday after Easter, the Fifth, Ninth, Tenth, Twelfth, Thirteenth and Fourteenth Sundays after Trinity.

[3] John 14:6b.

[4] Acts 2:47b (ESV), emphasis added.

[5] In the BCP 1662, see pages 263-264 and in the BCP 1928 see page 274. 

[6] Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV), emphasis added.

[7] Originally (in the Leonite Sacramentary) the Collect read simply “the way.”  Gregory added “of righteousness.”  Neil & Willoughby, 175.

[8] See L. E. H. Stephens-Hodges, The Collects: An Introduction and Exposition, 111.

Tuesday
Mar042014

Classical Academy Open House

 

Sunday
Mar022014

Ash Wednesday

 

Ash Wednesday - March 5, 2014 (services at 8 am & 7 pm)

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the season of Lent, a forty day period especially set aside for careful personal reflection, confession and repentance.  It is a season in which we remember the passion of Christ (His sufferings) and meditate upon the oft ignored reality of our own mortality.  It is a time of self denial and of self examination, a time to seek to understand (and enter into) the sufferings of our Lord in a deeper manner.  Lent is a time to slow down and consider with focused attention those things which we tend to conveniently ignore.  It is a season in which we look to this life as a means of further preparing for the life to come.  

What is the meaning of having Ashes put on one’s forehead?

We use ashes because in the Bible ashes are often indicators of mourning and repentance (1 Sam 4:12; 2 Sam 1:20, 13:19, 15:32), making the imposition of ashes a deeply symbolic gesture.  Listen to the words spoken when the ashes are imposed - they remind us both of the consequences of Adamís fall (i.e. our mortality: Gen 3:19) and of the words spoken at a funeral (ìAshes to ashes; dust to dustî).  

A cross is made on our foreheads because in the Bible to be marked on the forehead is symbolic of ownership (Ez 9:4-6; Rev 7:3, 9:4, 14:1).  Having been redeemed by God, we belong to God ñ He has marked us as His own.  

The Collect for Ash Wednesday (to be said every day in Lent).

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. Amen.

Ash Wednesday servcies at St. Marks - 8 am & 7:00 pm (March 5th)