Author: Steve Pankey
The Bible is ripe with commandment to “Go.” Jesus was especially fond of inviting people to go. “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel,” is my particular favorite, but there are others. The idea didn’t start with Jesus, however, God has been calling people to go for thousands of years.
This Sunday’s Old Testament lesson is a prime example. God calls Abram and Lot to “go!” Go, be blessed to be a blessing. That really is the ongoing call of the spiritual life: Go, be blessed to be a blessing. But the first step of that call is to go.
As I sit on the front porch of Cumming Lodge, enjoying the company of my fellow priests, reflecting on the nature of our lives as members of the clergy, I’m keenly aware that of the six of us here, only one is from this area, and he hasn’t stayed in this diocese forever. Inherent in our call is the call to “go, be blessed to be a blessing.” It is a particular call for us, and our going perhaps moves us further than the average person in the pews, but the call to every disciple of Jesus is to “go.”
As you’ve probably guessed by now, my energy around this 7 Experiment is waning, and waning greatly. This week’s focus was on spending, and the idea was to only spend our money in seven places. If we had been doing it for a month, like Jen did, I can see how this might be a challenge, but honestly, I could spend money at maybe only two places in a given week: the gas station and the grocery store. Add to that that this week included a pay day and bill paying, and I just wasn’t up for the mental gymnastics required to make online bill pay a single payee.
What this week did do, as the rest of these weeks have done, is to invite me to pay attention to the choices that I often make unconsciously. In the Church, we often say in that a budget is a moral document, which is true. It is perhaps more true in a household budget than it is in the parish.
The final week – Stress
You can listen to what I actually ended up saying on the Saint Paul’s website, or read on to see where I jumped off from.
Have you ever felt envious or jealous toward Jesus? I mean, in about six weeks’ time, as he’s sweating blood in the Garden of Gethsemane, getting arrested, and hanging crucified on a tree, we won’t wish we were him, but this morning as we hear about his 40 days in the wilderness, maybe you’re getting just a tinge of jealousy. Jesus’ wilderness experience isn’t easy, but it is a once in a lifetime experience. Two-thousand years later, the Church invites us into a 40 day wilderness experience every year. Jesus was able to focus solely on his spiritual journey during his time away. Lent happens in the midst of the busyness of life: work, kids, grand kids on spring break, tax season, and, to add insult to injury, just four days into Lent this year we’ve lost an hour of sleep in the name of “Saving Daylight.” It probably isn’t rational, but sometimes, I’m tempted to feel jealous of Jesus’ wilderness experience.
Of course, that’s what this day is all about, isn’t it? Temptation is the overarching theme of the First Sunday in Lent, and probably with good reason. We’ve got four full days of Lent under our belt, and if Lenten disciplines are anything like New Year’s Resolutions, then by now nearly 20% of you have already given up on what you’ve given up for Lent. Couple that with the peculiarity of Lent that Sundays, as mini-Easters and Feasts of our Lord Jesus Christ, don’t count, and your personal Lenten devotion is in for a real challenge today. I guarantee, you’ll be tempted to give up that extra 15 minutes of Bible reading, or to take back up that morning Coca-Cola before the day is over. Temptation is alive and well here on the First Sunday in Lent.
It can be said, for many different reasons, that there was great wisdom in the members of the Standing Liturgical Commission that created the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, but this morning I am particularly grateful that they chose to pray for God’s help against temptation when they made the decision to replace the Collect for Lent 1 that had appeared in every Book of Common Prayer since Cranmer’s first in 1549. Somewhere, in the midst their negotiations, someone brought up a collect buried deep in the Appendix of a book published in 1864. After more than two-hundred pages of history, theology, and devotional reflections on the Collects of the Church of England’s 1662 Book of Common Prayer, William Bright, the author of Ancient Collects and Other Prayers, was brave enough to offer several collects he had written himself. Third from the end was a prayer “For the Tempted” which reads, “Merciful and High Priest, Who didst deign for us to be tempted of Satan; make speed to aid Thy servants who are assaulted by manifold temptations; and as Thou knowest their several infirmities, let each one find Thee mighty to save, Who livest and reignest with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, now and for ever. Amen.” Like I said, thankfully there are Churchnerds out there who are nerdier than even I am, and found that collect that, with only a few minor revisions, became the Collect for Lent 1 which Keith prayed on our behalf this morning. A prayer which calls us to keep alert for the ways in which the tempter will make himself known in our lives.
The deceiver gets to work early on in scripture, seemingly within hours of Eve’s creation out of Adam’s side, sewing seeds of mistrust and doubt into their minds; finding a particular weakness that he could exploit. “Did God really say that you couldn’t eat from any of the trees in the garden?” the serpent asks Eve, ignoring her nearby partner Adam, the one who was actually around to hear God give his short list of rules.
“No,” Eve responds, “we can eat the fruit of almost all the trees in the garden, there’s just one, the one in the middle of the garden, that God said we couldn’t eat from, in fact, I don’t think we’re even supposed to touch it, or we’ll die.”
“Die!?!” the serpent snorted, “No way! God wouldn’t kill you over some silly fruit, but he knows that if you eat of it, you’ll gain knowledge, you’ll have your eyes open, you’ll be like God, knowing good from evil. God hasn’t told you the whole truth,” he goes on, “you can have it all, all you have to do is eat this delicious, beautiful piece of fruit.”
And eat they do. The tempter invited them to question God’s wisdom and resolve, he cracked open within them the thought that they too could be like God, and with that, they fell into the trap, ate the fruit, and had their eyes opened to the difference between good and evil. Genesis tells us the first thing noticed what their nakedness, but I doubt that puritanical American opinions on the human body is the gift that came from the forbidden fruit. Instead, it seems that their nakedness was a metaphor for their vulnerability. They now knew good from evil, they knew that the serpent had led them to temptation and they had made a mistake. They longed for the goodness of God’s perfect vision for them, lost in the moment of temptation.
Fast forward to Matthew, and we find the tempter, personified in a new way, this time as the devil, seeking out Jesus’ particular weaknesses in the wilderness. The story doesn’t tell us how long Jesus had been in the desert when the devil showed up, though you could read it as if all of this is happening on the fortieth day. Whether it is day two or day forty, the truth remains that the fasting Jesus was hungry. The easiest entry point for Satan was through food, but take notice of the subtlety of his work. Satan doesn’t begin by hitting Jesus’ growling stomach, but rather seeks to crack the perfect relationship between the Father and the Son. In effect, he wants to test whether or not Jesus believed the voice that spoke at his baptism, “you are my son, whom I love.”
“If you are the Son of God,” the devil says, “then why are you out here starving to death? Command these stones to become bread.”
When that didn’t work, he moved on to further test the relationship of the Godhead. “If you are the Son of God, and if your Father loves you so much, then certainly he’ll catch you when you fall. Throw yourself off the top of the Temple and watch as he sends an army of angels to catch you.” Jesus is not swayed.
Realizing that Jesus’ divinity is nothing to mess with, finally, the devil focuses his attention back on Jesus’ humanity, aiming for that part that lies deep within all of us: that piece that seeks after power and glory. From the top of a high mountain, Satan shows Jesus every kingdom in the world, every stockpile of gold and jewels, every country club membership, every hundred-foot yacht and says, “Worship me, and this can all be yours.”
In the end, Jesus doesn’t just know good from evil, he is good – perfect goodness. He withstands the temptations of Satan by placing his full trust in the Father; something he’ll have to do again late one Thursday night in the Garden of Gethsemane and again on Friday morning in the court of Pontius Pilate and again just after noon as he hangs gasping for breath on a cross.
As the Collect for this week makes clear, the death and resurrection of Jesus does not make us immune to the work of the tempter. Even now, he knows the particular weakness of each of us. He knows our insecurities, he knows our vices and our areas of excessive pride, and he will not stop in attempting to exploit them in order to turn us away from our relationship with God. The truth of the matter is, the tempter will succeed more often than not, but the Good News is that the God who created us, vulnerabilities and all, is mighty to save. Again and again, he’ll receive us back into his arms and recreate us as his beloved children. Again and again, he’ll welcome us back into fullness of life. You will be tempted today, I guarantee it, but rest assured that God stands beside you as a merciful and high priest ready to forgive and restore you. Amen.
 http://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/ (accessed 3/6/14)
 Hatchett, Commentary on the American Prayer Book, 174.
 Bright, Ancient Collects and Other Prayers, 237-8.
 Note that Genesis 3:6 suggests that Adam and Eve have been together through this whole story.
 David Lose, “Dear Working Preacher” http://www.workingpreacher.org/craft/axpx?post=1488 (accessed 3/3/14).
“Almighty God, whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be tempted by Satan: Come quickly to help us who are assaulted by many temptations; and, as you know the weaknesses of each of us, let each one find you mighty to save; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.” – The Collect for the First Sunday in Lent (BCP, 218)
As you can tell by the Collect above, this Sunday is all about temptation. The tempter’s work starts early on as he finds a particular weakness within Adam and Eve (note Gen 3:6 specifically says that Adam was there the whole time) and exploits it. He invites them to question God’s wisdom and resolve, he cracks open within them the thought that they too could be like God, and with that, they fall into the trap, eat the fruit, and have their eyes opened to the difference between good and evil. Genesis tells us the first thing noticed what their nakedness, but I doubt that puritanical American opinions on the human body was the gift given from the forbidden fruit. Instead, it seems that their nakedness was a metaphor for their vulnerability. They now knew good from evil, they knew that the serpent had led them to temptation and they had made a mistake. They longed for the goodness of God’s perfect vision for them.
Fast forward to Matthew, and we find the tempter, personified in a new way, seeking out Jesus’ particular weaknesses in the wilderness. The story doesn’t tell us how long Jesus had been in the desert when the devil showed up, though you could read it as if all of this is happening on the 40th day. Whether it is day 2 or day 40, the truth remains that the fasting Jesus was hungry. The easiest entry point for Satan was through food. When that didn’t work, he moved on to testing the relationship of the Godhead. If your Father loves you so much, certainly he’ll catch you when you fall. But Jesus is unswayed. Finally, the devil goes back after Jesus’ humanity, aiming for that part that lies deep within all of us that seeks after power and control. “Worship me, and this can all be yours.” Jesus, however, doesn’t just know good from evil, he is good – perfect goodness. He withstands the temptations by placing his full trust in the Father; something he’ll have to do again and again over the next three years.
We are not immune to the work of the tempter. Even know, he knows the particular weakness of each of us. He knows our insecurities and our areas of excessive pride, and will attempt to exploit them and in so doing, turn us away from our relationship with God. The truth of the matter is, the tempter will succeed more often than not, but the Good News is that the God who created us, vulnerabilities and all, is mighty to save. Again and again, he’ll receive us back into his arms and recreate us as his beloved children.
I grew up in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where the Tuesday that falls 47 days before the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox is celebrated as Fasnacht Day. I can remember school lunches featuring something akin to “fasnachts” (German donuts) that were covered in powdered sugar. Beyond the fact that having donuts at school was a rare treat, most of us gave little thought to why this was a day to eat such things. Certainly, none of us was aware that fasnacht is German for “fast night,” not as in a speedy night, but the night which begins our fast of Lent.
As I grew older, and began to become aware of certain traditions in life, the annual Shrove Tuesday pancake supper at Saint Thomas Episcopal Church. The Pankeys and the Logans would take up a whole table and gorge ourselves on pancakes, sausage and apple sauce. I looked forward to the annual feast every year, but hadn’t a clue that to be properly shriven one must confess and seek absolution for their sins.
Now that I live in Mardi Gras country, the annual celebration of the days leading up to 46 days before the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox has grown to include parades, moon pies, beads, balls, and booze lasting weeks on end, and my guess is that the vast majority of Mardi Gras revelers have no idea what the Wednesday after Mardi Gras is about, other than hangover cures, of course.
If my life is any indication of broader society, it would seem that Ash Wednesday and the Season of Lent have little, if any cultural impact, but there are two things that I’ve noticed this year that lead me to believe otherwise. The first is the growing success of Ashes To Go programs sponsored by Episcopal congregations around the country. In big cities and small towns, faithful clergy and lay leaders are helping the harried and the hurried to stop for a moment and remember that they “are dust and to dust they shall return.” I’ve struggled with this idea of Ashes to Go for several years now, and this isn’t the place for that debate, but what I’ve come to realize is that there is a hungry world out there, filled with people who are starved of the message of God’s love for them. The picture of a long line waiting for ashes on 43rd St. in NYC is a reminder to me that the Gospel is never insignificant.
Perhaps more telling of the ongoing cultural significance of Ash Wednesday comes from our locally owned and operated radio station, 92ZEW. 92ZEW is based in Mobile, Alabama, a decidedly Roman Catholic city, and 92ZEW loves them some Mardi Gras. As I listened to part of a live broadcast from The Garage, I heard the typical sounds of the season: loud music, shouts for shots, and people celebrating. What I didn’t expect to hear came in the midst of a conversation about how cold it was yesterday when one of the radio personalities said, “Can we petition the Church Fathers to permanently move Easter to June?” I actually found myself excited to hear, on the air, that in the midst of all the excess of Fat Tuesday, somebody knew that it was tied to Easter Day, which is a moveable feast celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox. I was even more surprised this morning as I drove to Saint Paul’s for our 7am Liturgy for Ash Wednesday to hear Tim Camp of the TLC Morning Show dropping knowledge on the 40 days of Lent and how the six Sundays don’t count as days of fasting because Sunday is a day of resurrection. It was probably the best Ash Wednesday moment I’ve ever had, as I came to realize that in a world that is hell bent on turning every holiday into an excuse to get trashed and make poor decisions, maybe there is still a thirst for the living water that comes through faith in Jesus Christ.
Lent is upon us, dear friends, and as I will do three times standing before a congregation of the faithful today, “I invite you, in the name of Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.” And I pray, for you dear reader just as I do for my parish family, that God might “grant us true repentance and his Holy Spirit, that hose things may please him which we do on this day, and that the rest of our life hereafter may be pure and holy, so that at the last we may come to his eternal joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Miroslav Satan played NHL hockey for the better part of a decade, but he never played for the New Jersey Devils. Still, this jersey would have been kind of cool.
We get both the Devil and Satan in Sunday’s Gospel lesson for Lent 1.
In Matthew 4:1-11, diabolon shows up four times, satanas appears once, and a more generic term, the tempter, occurs once. The story of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness is fraught with personifications of evil, which is a topic that makes many an Episcopal priest itchy just thinking about. I’m not in the itchy camp, per se, I’ve experienced too many “coincidences” in my spiritual journey to not believe that an adversary exists, but I do find the whole conversation about spiritual warfare tiring.
The tendency in conversations that deal with evil or Satan is to throw our hands up and fatalistically say, “the Devil made me do it.” Honestly, though, that’s just a lame excuse. We give the Devil power way beyond his pay grade. Just look at the translations of the Greek for diabolon and satanas. Life is full of choices that have to be made, and there are forces: spiritual, moral and otherwise; that pull us in one direction or another, but in the end, every decision that we make comes down to us. We decide whether to choose good or to choose evil, or as Moses said, “to choose life or choose death,” and the Devil didn’t make you do it.
Doubtless, many a preacher will skirt this issue, they’ll work hard to say that the Temptation story isn’t meant to be an example for us, but I just don’t buy it. The life of faith is full of moments when we have to choose between Kingdom living or selfish living, and the clear desire of God is that we would follow the example of his Son and choose the Kingdom.
In Lent, more than any other season, we make some fairly dramatic changes to the Sunday service in order to reflect the mood of the season. While it is true that Sundays in Lent are still “mini-Easters,” which is why we celebrate the Eucharist (Great Thanksgiving) and continue to remember not only Jesus’ death, but his resurrection, ascension, and the surety of his coming again. Below you will find the entirety of our Sunday liturgy with notes along the way as to what the changes means, where they’ve come from, and, in some cases, why we’ve made them.
Standing – The Procession enters in silence
Bless the Lord who forgives all our sins.
His mercy endures for ever. Amen.
The opening acclamation during Lent is prescribed in the Book of Common Prayer. We have chosen to enter in silence this year to highlight the starkness of the season. You’ll also notice that the sanctuary has been stripped of its usual brass and silver trimmings. Instead, earth tones and pottery remind us visually of what is to come in the great silence of Good Friday and Holy Saturday.
Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Let us confess our sins against God and our neighbor.
Almighty and most merciful father, we have erred and strayed from your ways like lost sheep, we have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts, we have offended against your holy laws, we have left undone those things which we ought to have done, and we have done those things which we ought not to have done. But you, O Lord, have mercy upon us, spare those who confess their faults, restore those who are penitent, according to your promises declared unto humankind in Christ Jesus our Lord; and grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake, that we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, to the glory of your holy Name. Amen.
The Almighty and merciful Lord grant you absolution and remission of all your sins, true repentance, amendment of life, and the grace and consolation of his Holy Spirit. Amen.
As is our custom, we will be using the service of Holy Eucharist Rite I, which we have conformed to contemporary language. This is a backwards reading of a rubric on page 14 of the Book of Common Prayer that allows for contemporary idioms to be conformed in traditional language. The Confession occurs right at the beginning of the service, as in the Penitential Order and the Daily Office, in order to prepare our hearts for what is to come in the rest of the litrugy.
Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One, Have mercy upon us.
Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One, Have mercy upon us.
Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One, Have mercy upon us.
The Trisagion literally means “thrice holy” and is a standard replacement for the Gloria or a Hymn of Praise during Lent.
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Let us pray.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of his Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made; who for us and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; he suffered and was buried; and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and he shall come again, with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.
And I believe in the Holy Ghost the Lord, and Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified; who spoke by the Prophets.
And I believe in one holy catholic and Apostolic Church; I acknowledge on Baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
Again, we have brought the Rite I rendition of the Nicene Creed into more modern language.
Prayers of the People
In joy and humility let us pray to the creator of the universe, saying, “Give us strength and hear our prayer.”
We pray to the Lord for courage to give up other things and to give ourselves to him this Lent. Give your Church the courage to give up her preoccupations with herself and to give more time to your mission in the world. We pray especially for Katherine, our Presiding Bishop, Philip, our Bishop, Keith and Steve, our Priests, and for the staff, vestry, and lay leaders of this congregation. Give us strength and hear our prayer.
We pray for the special need and concerns of this congregation, including: (The prayer list is read) Give us strength and hear our prayer.
Give you world the courage to give up war, bitterness, and hatred, and to seek peace. May the shoulders of the risen Jesus, once scourged by soldiers, bear the burden of political and military conflict in the world. Lord, meet us in the silence, Give us strength and hear our prayer.
Give us the courage to give up quarrels, strife, and jealousy in our families, neighborhoods, and communities. May the presence of the risen Jesus, his body once broken and now made whole, bring peace and direction as we live with on another. Lord meet us in the silence, Give us strength and hear our prayer.
Give us the courage to give up our selfishness as we live for others, and to give time, care, and comfort to the sick. May the wounded hands of Jesus bring his healing touch, and the light of his presence fill their lives. Lord, meet us in the silence, Give us strength and hear our prayer.
Give us the courage to give up our fear of death and to rejoice with those who have died in faith. May the feet of the risen Lord Jesus, once nailed to the cross, walk alongside the dying and bereaved in their agony, and walk with us and all your Church through death to the gate of glrory. Lord, meet us in the silence, Give us strength and hear our prayer.
The Celebrant may then offer the following words of comfort.
Hear the Word of God to all who truly turn to him. Come to me, all you are tired and carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. (Mt. 11:28)
The Prayers of the People come from the Church of England’s supplemental liturgical resource entitled, “Common Worship” and is indicated as especially appropriate for Lent. We change our recent custom and include the reading of our parish prayer list to remind us that our attendance at worship is not for ourselves alone, but for those who sit around us as well as those who cannot join along. Our prayer is two-fold: give us strength and hear our prayer. The strength is defined in each petition as the courage required to meet the days ahead with faith.
The peace of the Lord be always with you.
And also with you.
The Holy Communion
The Great Thanksgiving
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up unto the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is meet and right to give him thanks and praise.
It is very meet, right, and our bounden duty, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks to you, O Lord, holy Father, almighty, everlasting God, through Jesus Christ our Lord; who was tempted in every way as we are, yet did not sin. By his grace we are able to triumph over every evil, and to live no longer for ourselves alone, but for him who died for us and rose again. Therefore with Angels and Archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify your glorious Name; evermore praising you, and saying,Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might;
Heaven and earth are full of your glory,
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord
Hosanna in the highest.
The people remain standing or kneel
All glory be to you, O Lord our God, for you created heaven and earth, and made us in your own image; and, of your tender mercy, gave your only Son Jesus Christ to take our nature upon him, and to suffer death upon the cross for our redemption. He made there a full and perfect sacrifice for the whole world; and did institute, and in his holy Gospel command us to continue, a perpetual memory of his precious death and sacrifice, until his coming again.
For in the night in which he was betrayed, he took bread; and when he had given thanks to you, he broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take, eat, this is my Body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” Likewise, after supper, he took the cup; and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink this, all of you; for this is my Blood of the New Covenant, which is shed for you, and for many, for the remission of sins. Do this, as often as you shall drink it, in remembrance of me.”
Therefore, O Lord and heavenly Father, we your people do celebrate and make, with these your holy gifts which we now offer to you, the memorial your Son commanded us to make; having in remembrance his blessed passion and precious death, his mighty resurrection and glorious ascension; and looking for his coming again with power and great glory.
And we most humbly beseech you, O merciful Father, to hear us, and, with your Word and Holy Spirit, to bless and sanctify these gifts of bread and wine, that they may be for us the Body and Blood of your dearly-beloved Son Jesus Christ.
And we earnestly desire your fatherly goodness to accept this our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, whereby we offer and present to you, O Lord, ourselves, our souls and bodies. Grant, that all who partake of this Holy Communion may worthily receive the most precious Body and Blood of your Son Jesus Christ, and be filled with your grace and heavenly benediction; and also that we and the whole Church may be made one body with him, that he may dwell in us, and we in him; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord; By whom, and with whom, and in whom, in the unity of the Holy Spirit all honor and glory be to you, O Father Almighty, world without end. AMEN.
And now, as our Savior Christ has taught us, we are bold to say,
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
We tried to use the modern “ecumenical version” of the Lord’s Prayer last year, but our children rebelled. Even as young as 2 or 3, they knew the version we use most often, and so we continue to use it so that they can join us in the liturgy, which means “the work of the people.”
The Breaking of the Bread
O Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
O Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
O Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, grant us peace.
Another place where the Prayer Book offers a more seasonally appropriate option.
Prayer of Humble Access
Merciful Lord we come here to your table trusting not in our own goodness but in your measureless grace.Even though we are not worthy to eat the crumbs from under your table, you are always overflowing with mercy. Gracious Lord, enable us by faith in Jesus Christ to eat his flesh and drink his blood, so that we may be cleansed and forever dwell in him, and he in us. Amen.
The Gifts of God for the People of God. Take them in remembrance that Christ died for you, and feed on him in your hearts by faith with thanksgiving.
Let us pray.
Almighty and everliving God, we most heartily thank you for your feeding us, in these holy mysteries, with the spiritual food of the most precious Body and Blood of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; and for assuring us thereby of your favor and goodness towards us; and that we are very members incorporate in the mystical body of your Son, the blessed company of all faithful people; and are also heirs, through hope, of your everlasting kingdom. And we humbly beseech you, O heavenly Father, so to assist us with your grace, that we may continue in that holy fellowship, and do all such good works as you have prepared for us to walk in; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be all honor and glory, world without end. Amen.
From beginning to end, the tone of the Eucharistic Prayer in Rite I is different than Rite II. In Rite I, we are keenly aware of God’s power at work in the life, ministry, and sacrifice of Jesus. In Rite II, we find ourselves standing alongside, which is, by and large, not a bad thing. However, when we forget that our salvation is a gift of grace, something that is wholly undeserved by us, there is a tendency to put ourselves on par with God, somehow deserving of his love and charity. The great language of Rite I reminds us of our sinfulness and our need for repentance and a savior.
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
Over the past few years, I’ve grown increasingly annoyed with the penitential seasons of the Church. I just don’t get Advent and last year, I gave up Lent for Lent. With Ash Wednesday just around the corner, I’ve spent some time over the past week or so thinking about Lent this year. Ever since The 7 Experiment’s week of fasting from media, I’ve found myself, more often than not, riding in the car without the radio on. Naturally, then I’ve been thinking about the season in which traditionally, we give things up that take our attention away from God’s saving work in our lives. As I drove to a VTS alumni lunch over in Pensacola last Thursday, I gave the first real thought on my Lent 1 sermon this year, and these words came to mind, “I love Lent.”
I love Lent!?!
This can’t be true. My subconscious mind is playing tricks on me in the silence of a hour long car ride. The more I pressed myself, however, the more I realized that I might, in fact, like Lent this year. Maybe it is because by the time Lent rolls around, the hardest parts of The 7 Experiment will be over. Maybe I won’t feel guilty about not giving anything up this year because my life has already been dramatically rearranged by this crazy book. Maybe I’m already more in tune with God’s calling me toward Kingdom living than I have been in years past. Or Maybe Lent is starting late enough and coupled with Daylight Savings Time, so the season of penitence won’t be couple with miserable weather and 6pm darkness. Whatever it is, I find myself with the strange feeling of looking forward to Lent this year.
Maybe you are too. Or perhaps you haven’t given it any thought yet. With parades running almost non-stop today and tomorrow, I can understand that, but by the time you’ve gobbled down your pancakes and buried your alleluias tomorrow night, I hope you will have taken a minute to think about what Lent will be for you this year.
I had several goals for this week’s experiment on waste. None of them were particularly kingdom building, at least not explicitly. Of course, that is part of the problem with the “Green” movement, it is all a bit squishy. Do you buy the Prius because it is good for the environment or because it will pay itself off in skipped gas station trips? Is the local power company really interested in your having an energy efficient hot water heater, or do they just want to make sure you buy it from them? Are Christians called to be environmentally friendly because of Genesis 1? Because it is the right thing to do? Because Jesus came to redeem the whole world (John 3:16-17)? Because it saves us money that we can use to feed the hungry? Because the hungry are those most affected by environmental shifts? Because…?
My goals this week were to limit my carbon footprint and to get my almost 2 year old out of diapers. The latter was a pipe dream, at best. The former, I have no idea how to measure. In the end, I pretty much failed waste week. Sure, we ate leftovers, used up items in our freezer, and were more careful to sort out recyclable materials, but I put more than 500 miles on my car this week, took a shower everyday in clean drinking water (I’m still mad at 2004/5 VTS Student Body President, Carlye Hughes, for pointing this out to me), and threw out, on average, seven disposable diapers a day.
To be serious about removing oneself from the cycle of waste is really difficult work. Should we have used cloth diapers? Probably, but how much water is wasted in the cleaning of those? What sort of detergents are used? Could we live with just one car? Not in South Alabama when my vocation has me running to hospitals 40 miles in either direction. Are cloth napkins better than paper napkins? Suddenly, I’m back in Tim Sedgwick’s Ethics class weighing goods in conflict. Which may, in the end, be the true benefit of waste week, it got me thinking about my habits, about what I really “need” as opposed to what is really a “want.” Maybe I didn’t fail this week afterall.
The Penultimate week of The 7 Experiment is Spending – Our money can only go to 7 places.
After several years of hard-knocks, the term “Missionary” and “Missionary Society” are becoming all the rage again. At least in the dorky-Episcopal circles that I run in. The official corporate name of The Episcopal Church is The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America. Over the years, the Church has taken on various nicknames and acronyms for herself. She’s been the Protestant Episcopal Church (and I attended the Protestant Episcopal Seminary in Virginia). She’s been The Episcopal Church USA or ECUSA. Currently, she likes to be called The Episcopal Church or TEC, but the insiders, those who work to keep this giant multimillion dollar machine running and writing them paychecks have taken to calling her “The Missionary Society.” I, for one, applaud their chutzpah. It is a welcome change from the corporate minded church that we’ve seen over the last several decades.
Less than a year before the internal name change in TEC, a group of wild-eyed General Convention deputies gathered in a random ballroom in Indianapolis to inaugurate the Acts 8 Moment. I’ll save you the long historical discourse and invite you to see the links below for more information. As the movement grew legs and became a living, breathing organism, with things like a board (Core Team, of which I am a part) and even an Executive Committee, it was clear that a tagline would be required for the hundreds of times we’d hear the question, “What is the Acts 8 Moment anyway?”
The Acts 8 Moment is a missionary society whose purpose is to “Proclaim resurrection in [T]he Episcopal Church.” There’s that phrase again. As one who is sloppy in my own use of language, but annoyingly exacting when others use particular words, I’ve given a lot of thought to this idea of a 21st century Missionary Society. Thanks be to God, I didn’t have to take the GOEs this year, which means I can look up, rather than having to know by heart, what the Catechism says about the mission of the Church. On page 855 of the Book of Common Prayer, we read, “The Mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ… The Church pursues its mission as it prays and worships, proclaims the Gospel, and promotes justice, peace, and love… The Church carries outs its mission through the ministry of all its members.”
Putting those catechetical answers into a practical form, it seems to me that to be a Missionary Society means to be an example of the Kingdom of God on earth; where the perfect relationship of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is the MO for all of our relationships. It means that everything we do is cloaked in prayer and corporate worship. It requires us to preach the Gospel, sharing the saving love of God through Jesus Christ. And then, we go out into the world, promoting the Gospel imperatives of justice, peace, and love.
I applaud the effort of the 815 staff and the brains behind Acts 8 (I may be a member of the Core Team, but I wasn’t on the retreat when they came up with all the good ideas) to call the Church to be a Missionary Society in the 21st century. I think it begins the work of putting the cart back behind the horse. For too long, we’ve been about the justice, peace, and love stuff without giving much thought to the prayer, worship, and proclamation components. We’ve been, as I’ve said before, the Rotary Club in vestments. Subtly, I think this move invites us to put things back in the right order. I’m ready to be a 21st century Missionary. How about you?
This post is a participating post in the Acts8 BLOGFORCE on “What does it mean to be a 21st century Missionary Society?”
Other BLOGFORCE member posts on this topic (Link active on the Friday following this post)
The Acts8 Moment is a missionary society whose purpose is to proclaim resurrection in the Episcopal Church.