Monthly Archives: April 2011

The Easter Octave

By the provisions of the Book of Common Prayer, the weekdays of the Easter Octave (the week from Easter Day through the Second Sunday of Easter), like the days of Holy Week, take precedence over any commemorations on fixed dates. Thus, the feast of Saint Mark the Evangelist is transferred this year from April 25 to May 2 (and the feast of Saint Philip and Saint James, Apostles is transferred from May 1 to May 3). The other commemorations of this week, including Catherine of Siena (April 29) and Marie de l’Incarnation (April 30), will not be celebrated this year.

If you have not already been following them, the appointed propers for the days of the Easter Octave may be found at the Lectionary Page.

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“Thenceforth the Form of servant to assume”

In one of the most moving passages of John Milton’s epic poem, Paradise Lost, God the Son descends to Eden to pronounce judgment upon our foreparents (a judgment which before creation he promised the Father to bear himself). This descent of the Son recalls the theophanies of God in the Old Testament, theophanies that the Church Fathers and many since have believed to have been appearances of God the Son before his incarnation.

After pronouncing judgment on Adam and Eve, the Judge then clothes the judged in a passage that wondrously interweaves the clothing of Adam and Eve and Jesus’ washing of the disciples feet in the upper room on the night before he was handed over to suffering and death:

So judg’d he Man, both Judge and Saviour sent,
And th’ instant stroke of Death denounc’t that day
Remov’d farr off; then pittying how they stood
Before him naked to the aire, that now
Must suffer change, disdain’d not to begin
Thenceforth the Form of servant to assume,
As when he wash’d his servants feet, so now
As Father of his Familie he clad
Thir nakedness with Skins of Beasts, or slain,
Or as the Snake with youthful Coate repaid;
And thought not much to cloath his Enemies;
Nor hee thir outward onely with Skins
Of Beasts, but inward nakedness, much more
Opprobrious, with his Robe of righteousness,
Arraying cover’d from his Fathers sight.

It never fails to move me to tears, and I shall think of it tonight at the liturgy of the pedilavium.

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Wednesday in Holy Week

The Collect

Lord God, whose blessed Son our Savior gave his body to be whipped and his face to be spit upon: Give us grace to accept joyfully the sufferings of the present time, confident of the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Old Testament
Isaiah 50:4-9a

The Lord God has given me
the tongue of those who are taught,
that I may know how to sustain with a word
him who is weary.
Morning by morning he awakens;
he awakens my ear
to hear as those who are taught.
The Lord God has opened my ear,
and I was not rebellious;
I turned not backward.
I gave my back to those who strike,
and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard;
I hid not my face
from disgrace and spitting.

But the Lord God helps me;
therefore I have not been disgraced;
therefore I have set my face like a flint,
and I know that I shall not be put to shame.
He who vindicates me is near.
Who will contend with me?
Let us stand up together.
Who is my adversary?
Let him come near to me.
Behold, the Lord God helps me;
who will declare me guilty?

Psalm 70
Deus, in adjutorium

Be pleased, O God, to deliver me; *
O LORD, make haste to help me.

Let those who seek my life be ashamed
and altogether dismayed; *
let those who take pleasure in my misfortune
draw back and be disgraced.

Let those who say to me “Aha!” and gloat over me turn back, *
because they are ashamed.

Let all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; *
let those who love your salvation say for ever,
“Great is the LORD!”

But as for me, I am poor and needy; *
come to me speedily, O God.

You are my helper and my deliverer; *
O LORD, do not tarry.

The Epistle
Hebrews 12:1-3

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

The Gospel
John 13:21-32

After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table close to Jesus, so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.

When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once.
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The scripture texts for the Lesson, the Epistle, and Gospel are taken from the English Standard Version Bible. The Collect and Psalm are taken from the Book of Common Prayer (1979).

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Tuesday in Holy Week

The Collect

O God, by the passion of your blessed Son you made an instrument of shameful death to be for us the means of life: Grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ, that we may gladly suffer shame and loss for the sake of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Old Testament
Isaiah 49:1-7

Listen to me, O coastlands,
and give attention, you peoples from afar.
The Lord called me from the womb,
from the body of my mother he named my name.
He made my mouth like a sharp sword;
in the shadow of his hand he hid me;
he made me a polished arrow;
in his quiver he hid me away.
And he said to me, “You are my servant,
Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”
But I said, “I have labored in vain;
I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity;
yet surely my right is with the Lord,
and my recompense with my God.”

And now the Lord says,
he who formed me from the womb to be his servant,
to bring Jacob back to him;
and that Israel might be gathered to him—
for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord,
and my God has become my strength—
he says:
“It is too light a thing that you should be my servant
to raise up the tribes of Jacob
and to bring back the preserved of Israel;
I will make you as a light for the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

Thus says the Lord,
the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One,
to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nation,
the servant of rulers:
“Kings shall see and arise;
princes, and they shall prostrate themselves;
because of the Lord, who is faithful,
the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”

Psalm 71:1-14
In te, Domine, speravi

In you, O LORD, have I taken refuge; *
let me never be ashamed.

In your righteousness, deliver me and set me free; *
incline your ear to me and save me.

Be my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe; *
you are my crag and my stronghold.

Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked, *
from the clutches of the evildoer and the oppressor.

For you are my hope, O Lord GOD, *
my confidence since I was young.

I have been sustained by you ever since I was born;
from my mother’s womb you have been my strength; *
my praise shall be always of you.

I have become a portent to many; *
but you are my refuge and my strength.

Let my mouth be full of your praise *
and your glory all the day long.

Do not cast me off in my old age; *
forsake me not when my strength fails.

For my enemies are talking against me, *
and those who lie in wait for my life take counsel together.

They say, “God has forsaken him;
go after him and seize him; *
because there is none who will save.”

O God, be not far from me; *
come quickly to help me, O my God.

Let those who set themselves against me be put to shame and be disgraced; *
let those who seek to do me evil be covered with scorn and reproach.

But I shall always wait in patience, *
and shall praise you more and more.

The Epistle
1 Corinthians 1:18-31

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

The Gospel
John 12:20-36

Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die. So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”

When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them.
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The scripture texts for the Lesson, the Epistle, and Gospel are taken from the English Standard Version Bible. The Collect and Psalm are taken from the Book of Common Prayer (1979).

The weekdays of Holy Week take precedence over feast days and commemorations on fixed dates, therefore the commemoration of Alphege, Archbishop of Canterbury and Martyr (April 19), is not observed this year.
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Monday in Holy Week

The Collect

Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Old Testament
Isaiah 42:1-9

Behold my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my Spirit upon him;
he will bring forth justice to the nations.
He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice,
or make it heard in the street;
a bruised reed he will not break,
and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;
he will faithfully bring forth justice.
He will not grow faint or be discouraged
till he has established justice in the earth;
and the coastlands wait for his law.

Thus says God, the Lord,
who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and what comes from it,
who gives breath to the people on it
and spirit to those who walk in it:
“I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness;
I will take you by the hand and keep you;
I will give you as a covenant for the people,
a light for the nations,
to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
from the prison those who sit in darkness.
I am the Lord; that is my name;
my glory I give to no other,
nor my praise to carved idols.
Behold, the former things have come to pass,
and new things I now declare;
before they spring forth
I tell you of them.”

Psalm 36:5-11
Dixit injustus

Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, *
and your faithfulness to the clouds.

Your righteousness is like the strong mountains,
your justice like the great deep; *
you save both man and beast, O LORD.

How priceless is your love, O God! *
your people take refuge under the shadow of your wings.

They feast upon the abundance of your house; *
you give them drink from the river of your delights.

For with you is the well of life, *
and in your light we see light.

Continue your loving-kindness to those who know you, *
and your favor to those who are true of heart.

Let not the foot of the proud come near me, *
nor the hand of the wicked push me aside.

The Epistle
Hebrews 9:11-15

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.

The Gospel
John 12:1-11

Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”

When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.
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The scripture texts for the Lesson, the Epistle, and Gospel are taken from the English Standard Version Bible. The Collect and Psalm are taken from the Book of Common Prayer (1979).

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Isabella Gilmore, Deaconess, 1923

The pagan writer Pliny the Younger attests to the existence of deaconesses in the church in Bithynia in the second century, and documents of the late third and fourth centuries (including the Didascalia and the Apostolic Constitutions) describe the ministry and duties of deaconesses, including assisting at the baptism of women and visiting and ministering to the sick.  The ministry disappeared in the West and declined in the East for a number of centuries, but was revived in the Lutheran Church in the nineteenth century, when Pastor Theodor Fliedner opened the first deaconess motherhouse at Kaiserswerth am Rhein.  At the request of a local pastor, Fliedner brought four deaconesses to American in 1849 to work in the Pittsburgh Infirmary.  In following decades, other deaconess communities were founded in Lutheran population centers both in America and in Europe.  In 1862 Elizabeth Catherine Ferard was licensed as a deaconess by the Bishop of London, thus becoming the first Anglican deaconess.

Born in 1842, Isabella Gilmore, sister of the artist William Morris, was widowed at the age of 40.  She began training as a nurse at Guy’s Hospital, London in 1882, and two years later, without children of her own, she took on the care of the eight children of her late brother Randall.

In 1886, Bishop Anthony Thorold of Rochester recruited her to pioneer deaconess work in his diocese.  The bishop eventually overcame the reluctance she initially felt because of her lack of theological education and lack of practical knowledge of the deaconess order.   She received a sense of calling during Morning Prayer in October of that year, later writing, “it was just as if God’s voice had called me, and the intense rest and joy were beyond words.”  Together she and the bishop planned for an Order of Deaconesses, and in 1887 she was made a deaconess.  A training house was developed on North Side, Clapham Common, which was later to be called Gilmore House in her memory.  Isabella herself retired in 1906.  During her nineteen years of service, she trained head deaconesses for at least seven other dioceses.  At her memorial service, Dr Randall Davidson, the Archbishop of Canterbury, remarked that “Some day, those who know best will be able to trace much of the origin and root of the revival of the Deaconess Order to the life, work, example and words of Isabella Gilmore.”

She died on April 16, 1923 and is commemorated on this day in the Calendar of the Church of England.

Deaconesses were eventually introduced into many Anglican Churches.  The office of deaconess has disappeared in those Anglican Churches that ordain women to the diaconate, but the office has been maintained as a commissioned or consecrated lay ministry for women in a number of traditional Anglican Churches, including the Reformed Episcopal Church and the Anglican Province in America.

prepared from Celebrating the Saints (Robert Atwell) and other sources

The Collect

Almighty God, by your Holy Spirit you have made us one with your saints in heaven and on earth: Grant that in our earthly pilgrimage we may always be supported by this fellowship of love and prayer, and know ourselves to be surrounded by their witness to your power and mercy. We ask this for the sake of Jesus Christ, in whom all our intercessions are acceptable through the Spirit, and who lives and reigns for ever and ever.  Amen.

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George Augustus Selwyn, Bishop of New Zealand, and of Lichfield, 1878

George Augustus Selwyn was born on April 5, 1809, at Hampstead, London. He was prepared at Eton, and in 1831 was graduated from St John’s College, Cambridge, of which he became a Fellow.

Ordained to the diaconate in 1833 (and later to the presbyterate), Selwyn served as a curate at Windsor until his selection as missionary Bishop of New Zealand in 1841. A Tractarian in his convictions, he protested against a clause in his civil Letter Patent that gave him “power to ordain” (objecting that, as a bishop, he already had the power to ordain), signaling the beginnings of a less Erastian conception of episcopacy in the British colonies. On the voyage to his new field, he mastered the Maori language and was able to preach in it upon his arrival. In the tragic ten years’ war between the English and the Maoris, Selwyn was able to minister to both sides and to keep the affection and admiration of natives and colonists alike. He began missionary work in the Pacific islands of Melanesia in 1847.

Selwyn’s first general synod in 1859 laid down a constitution, influenced by that of the American Church and for which Selwyn was himself largely responsible, which was important for other subsequently-established English colonial Churches.

After the first Lambeth Conference in 1867, Selwyn was reluctantly persuaded to accept the See of Lichfield in England. He died on April 11, 1878, and his grave in the cathedral has been a place of pilgrimage for the Maoris to whom he first brought the light of the Gospel.

Bishop Selwyn twice visited America, and was the preacher at the 1874 General Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church.

His son, John Richardson Selwyn, was Bishop of Melanesia and master of Selwyn College, Cambridge, which had been founded in memory of his father in 1881.

prepared from Lesser Feasts and Fasts, amended
and enlarged with material from The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church

The Collect

Almighty and everlasting God, we thank you for your servant George Augustus Selwyn, whom you called to preach the Gospel to the people of New Zealand and Melanesia, and to lay a firm foundation for the growth of your Church in many nations. Raise up in this and every land evangelists and heralds of your kingdom, that your Church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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The image of the painting of Bishop Augustus Selwyn is taken from the webpage of the Selwyn College Archives.

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