Monthly Archives: April 2013

Catherine of Siena, 1380

Catherine of Siena

Born in 1347, Catherine Benincasa was the youngest of twenty-five children of a wealthy dyer of Siena.  At six years old, walking home from a visit, she stopped on the road and gazed upward, beholding a vision of “our Lord seated in glory with Saint Peter, Saint Paul, and Saint John.”  She would later say that in the vision Jesus had smiled on her and blessed her.  Thenceforth, Catherine devoted herself at home to a life of prayer and penance in spite of her mother’s opposition.  In response to attempts to force her to live like other girls, Catherine finally cut off her hair, said to have been her chief beauty.  In the end, convinced that she would stand against all opposition, her father let her live as she wished, to close herself away in a darkened room, fasting and sleeping on boards.  Eventually she became a tertiary of the Order of Preachers, the Dominicans.

Catherine had numerous visions and was tried severely by loathsome temptations and degrading images.  She frequently felt abandoned by the Lord.  At last, in 1366, Jesus appeared to her with Mary and the heavenly host, and espoused her to himself, ending her long years of lonely prayer and struggle.  She began to mix with other people, first through nursing the sick in hospital (particularly lepers and those suffering from cancer) and then by gathering a group of disciples, men and women, including Dominicans and Augustinians.  They accompanied her on her frequent journeys, and their influence was manifested in several spectacular conversions and in their call to reform and repentance through a renewal of the love of God.

Opinion in her home city was sharply divided about whether she was a saint or a fanatic, but when Raymond of Capua, a leading member of the Dominicans, was appointed her confessor, he helped her to win full support from the mother house of their order. Catherine was a courageous worker in time of severe plague, she visited prisoners condemned to death, and she was called upon to arbitrate feuds and to prepare troubled sinners for confession.  She expressed her ideals in her Dialogue, an ecstatic mystical work, and in her letters, both of which were dictated by her, as she never learned to write. Her personal holiness, enhanced rather diminished by criticism, together with her writings, made her an influential spiritual leader of the late Middle Ages.

During the great papal schism of the fourteenth century, with rival popes in Avignon and in Rome, Catherine wrote tirelessly to princes, kings, and popes, urging them to restore the unity of the Church.  She was invited to Rome by Pope Urban the Sixth, whom she had admonished to moderate his harshness and whose papacy she supported.  There she wore herself out working for the cause of the Church’s unity.  She suffered a paralytic stroke on April 21, 1380, and died eight days later.

Her friend, confessor, and biographer, Raymond of Capua, later Master General of the Dominicans, wrote her Life, which was influential in her canonization in 1461.  She became not only Siena’s principal saint, but also a figure of international importance whose influence, it was popularly believed, was decisive in bringing about the return of the papacy to Rome.  Like Bernard of Clairvaux, Catherine had prophetic vision and personal intransigence, qualities that led both of them to identify God’s cause with their own.  She was declared a Doctor (Teacher) of the Church in 1970.

adapted from The Oxford Dictionary of Saints
and Lesser Feasts and Fasts

The Collect

Everlasting God, you so kindled the flame of holy love in the heart of blessed Catherine of Siena, as she meditated on the passion of your Son our Savior, that she devoted her life to the poor and the sick, and to the peace and unity of the Church: Grant that we also may share in the mystery of Christ’s death, and rejoice in the revelation of his glory; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

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The propers for the commemoration of Catherine of Siena are published on the Lectionary Page website.

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Saint Mark the Evangelist

A disciple of Jesus, named Mark, appears in several places in the New Testament. If all references to Mark are accepted as referring to the same person, we learn that he was the son of a woman who owned a house in Jerusalem, perhaps the same house in which Jesus ate the Last Supper with his disciples. Mark may have been the young man who fled naked when Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. In his letter to the Colossians, the Apostle Paul refers to “Mark the cousin of Barnabas”, who was with him in his imprisonment. Mark set out with Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey, but he turned back for reasons which failed to satisfy Paul (Acts 15:36-40). When another journey was planned, Paul refused to have Mark with him. Instead, Mark went with Barnabas to Cyprus. The breach between Paul and Mark was later healed, and Mark became one of Paul’s companions in Rome, as well as a close friend of the Apostle Peter.

An early tradition recorded by Papias, Bishop of Hieropolis in Asia Minor at the beginning of the second century, names Mark as the author of the Gospel bearing his name. This tradition, which holds that Mark drew his information from the teaching of Peter, is generally accepted. In his First Letter, Peter refers to “my son Mark”, which shows a close relationship between the two men (1 Peter 5:13).

The Church of Alexandria in Egypt claimed Mark as their founder, first bishop and most illustrious martyr, and the great Church of San Marco in Venice commemorates the disciple who progressed from turning back while on a missionary journey with Paul and Barnabas to proclaiming in his Gospel Jesus of Nazareth as Son of God, and bearing witness to that faith as friend and companion to the apostles Peter and Paul.

adapted from Lesser Feasts and Fasts

The Collect

Almighty God, by the hand of Mark the evangelist you have given to your Church the Gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God: We thank you for this witness, and pray that we may be firmly grounded in its truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Lesson
Isaiah 52:7-10

How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of him who brings good news,
who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness,
who publishes salvation,
who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
The voice of your watchmen—they lift up their voice;
together they sing for joy;
for eye to eye they see
the return of the Lord to Zion.
Break forth together into singing,
you waste places of Jerusalem,
for the Lord has comforted his people;
he has redeemed Jerusalem.
The Lord has bared his holy arm
before the eyes of all the nations,
and all the ends of the earth shall see
the salvation of our God.

Psalm 2
Quare fremuerunt gentes

Why are the nations in an uproar? *
Why do the peoples mutter empty threats?

Why do the kings of the earth rise up in revolt,
and the princes plot together, *
against the LORD and against his Anointed?

“Let us break their yoke,” they say; *
“let us cast off their bonds from us.”

He whose throne is in heaven is laughing; *
the Lord has them in derision.

Then he speaks to them in his wrath, *
and his rage fills them with terror.

“I myself have set my king *
upon my holy hill of Zion.”

Let me announce the decree of the LORD: *
he said to me, “You are my Son;
this day have I begotten you.

Ask of me, and I will give you the nations for your inheritance *
and the ends of the earth for your possession.

You shall crush them with an iron rod *
and shatter them like a piece of pottery.”

And now, you kings, be wise; *
be warned, you rulers of the earth.

Submit to the LORD with fear, *
and with trembling bow before him;

Lest he be angry and you perish; *
for his wrath is quickly kindled.

Happy are they all *
who take refuge in him!

The Epistle
Ephesians 4:7-8,11-16

But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says,

“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,
and he gave gifts to men.”

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

The Gospel
Mark 1:1-15

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,

“Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way,
the voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,’”

John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

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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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Alphege, Archbishop of Canterbury and Martyr, 1012

Born in 953 or 954, Alphege (Old English, Ælfheah) became a monk at Deerhurst in Gloustershire, but retired after some years to a hermitage in Somerset. Dunstan appointed him abbot of Bath, a community largely composed of Alphege’s former disciples. In 984 Alphege became bishop of Winchester, where he became known for his personal austerity and his lavish almsgiving. In 994 king Æthelred sent him to parley with the Danes Anlaf and Swein, who had raided London and Wessex. The English paid tribute to the Danes, but Anlaf became a Christian and promised never again to come against England “with warlike intent”, a promise that he kept.

In 1005 Alphege succeeded Aelfric as archbishop of Canterbury and received the pallium at Rome. Meanwhile, Æthelred had proved himself unable to defeat the Danish invaders, and in 1011 the Danes overran much of southern England. Though the Danegeld tribute was paid to them, it did not prevent their pillaging and other acts of war against the English. In September of that year they besieged Canterbury and captured it through the treachery of an English archdeacon, Ælfmaer. For seven months they imprisoned Alphege with other magnates and demanded ransom. The ransom was paid for the other prisoners, but the sum demanded for the archbishop’s ransom was enormous and would have reduced his people to penury. Alphege refused to pay the ransom himself and forbade his people to do so as well. In response, the archbishop was brutally murdered, despite the efforts of the Viking commander Thorkell to save him by offering up all his possessions except his ship for Alphege’s life.

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records that the Danes were “much stirred against the bishop, because he would not promise them any fee, and forbade that any man should give anything for him. They were also much drunken…and took the bishop, and led him to their hustings, on the eve of the Saturday after Easter…and then they shamefully killed him. They overwhelmed him with bones and horns of oxen; and one of them smote him with an axe-iron on the head; so that he sunk downwards with the blow. And his holy blood fell on the earth, whilst his sacred soul was sent to the realm of God.”

This took place at Greenwich. Alphege was buried in St Paul’s Cathedral in London and became a national hero by his death.

When the Danish king Canute became king of England in 1016 his policy, after a short period of violence, was one of reconciliation between English and Dane. His policy found expression in the endowment of the abbey of Saint Edmund at Bury and in the translation of the body of Alphege to Canterbury in 1023. The body was interred north of the high altar, where the monks venerated it at the beginning and the end of each day. In his last sermon, Thomas Becket alluded to Alphege as Canterbury’s first martyr, and just before his death commended his cause to God and Saint Alphege.

prepared from the Oxford Dictionary of Saints
and Lesser Feasts and Fasts (1980)

The Collect

O loving God, your martyr bishop Alphege of Canterbury suffered violent death when he refused to permit a ransom to be extorted from his people: Grant that all pastors of your flock may pattern themselves on the Good Shepherd, who laid down his life for the sheep; and who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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The propers for the commemoration of Alphege, Archbishop of Canterbury and Martyr, as published on the Lectionary Page website.

The icon of Saint Alphege is taken from Aidan Hart’s gallery of icons and is reproduced here with his generous permission.

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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 date 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.

The propers for the commemoration of George Augustus Selwyn, Bishop of New Zealand, and of Lichfield, are published on the Lectionary Page website.

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Pastor and Theologian, Martyr, 1945

Born in 1906, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was the son of a prominent professor of psychiatry and neurology in Berlin. The younger Bonhoeffer studied theology at Tübingen and Berlin, though he was later influenced deeply by Karl Barth. After his ordination, he worked in Barcelona and at the Union Theological Seminary in New York City, returning to a university lectureship and pastoral work in Berlin in 1931. Opposed to the Nazi movement from the first, he sided with the Confessing Church against the soi disant German Christians, and he signed the Theological Declaration of Barmen in 1934. After serving as chaplain to a Lutheran congregation in London, he returned to Germany in 1935 to become the head of a Confessing Church seminary at Finkenwalde in Pomerania. It was here that he put into practice ideas he had learned in England at the seminary communities at Kelham and Mirfield. He was forbidden by the Nazi government to teach and was dismissed from his lectureship in Berlin in 1936. In 1937 the seminary at Finkenwalde was closed by the government (stimulating Bonhoeffer to write his treatise on Christian fellowship, Life Together). On the cusp of the outbreak of the Second World War Bonhoeffer was in America on a lecture tour, but he felt it his duty to return to Germany despite Reinhold Neibuhr’s urging him to remain in the United States.

His defiant opposition to the Nazi regime (including attempts at mediating between Germans opposed to Hitler and the British government, and his joining a number of high-ranking military officers in a plan to assassinate Hitler) led to his arrest in 1943. After imprisonment in Buchenwald he was hanged by the Gestapo at Flossenbürg on the morning of April 9, 1945.

In Celebrating the Saints, Robert Atwell writes that Bonhoeffer’s experiences “led him to propose a more radical theology in his later works, which have been influential among post-war theologians”. He is in particular considered a forerunner of the “death of God” movement in 1960s liberal protestant theology. However, this is to read one of his best-known works, a collection of his Letters and Papers from Prison, out of the context of his surroundings and other writings. As a radical theologian (which Bonhoeffer arguably was), he is by his misinterpreters not thought of as one who gets to the root of the matter, as the word implies, but as an iconoclast. “Yet he was and remained a Lutheran and a very orthodox clergyman. His last act before he died was to conduct a religious service” (from the “Translator’s Preface” to Christ the Center, © 1960 Harper San Francisco). As is clear from Christ the Center, a reconstruction of Bonhoeffer’s lectures from his student’s notes, christology – and a robustly orthodox christology at that – lay at the center of Bonhoeffer’s theology. After his experiences of a German Church that lay prostrate and compliant before the pagan and destructive idolatry of Naziism, Bonhoeffer sought a radical reform of the Church, which in its existing form he thought to have no message for his time. In its place he sought a Christianity capable of dispensing with religion (understood in a Barthian sense) and with the cheap grace of religious transactions as a prerequisite of authentic biblical faith.

prepared from The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church
and other sources

The Collect

Gracious God, the Beyond in the midst of our life, you gave grace to your servant Dietrich Bonhoeffer to know and to teach the truth as it is in Jesus Christ, and to bear the cost of following him; Grant that we, strengthened by his teaching and example, may receive your word and embrace its call with an undivided heart; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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The photograph is of the statue of Dietrich Bonhoeffer on the western wall of Westminster Abbey, one of the series of 20th century martyrs commemorated there.

The propers for the commemoration of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Pastor and Theologian, are published on the Lectionary Page website.

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The Annunciation of Our Lord

The feast of the Annunciation celebrates the angel Gabriel’s announcement to the Virgin Mary that she was to become the mother of the Messiah, and her willing submission to God’s will, whereupon the Word of God was conceived and made incarnate in her womb. The celebration of the feast probably began in the East in the fifth century and was introduced into the West in the sixth and seventh centuries. By the time of the Tenth Synod of Toledo in 656, it was celebrated nearly universally in the Church. While the feast falls exactly nine months before December 25, it is likely that the dating of the birth of Jesus depends on the dating of his conception, rather than the other way round. There was widespread belief amongst first century Jews in the “integral age” of prophets and other great men of God, like Abraham; that is, that their lives formed an integral whole, and that they died on the same dates as their birth or conception. Thus, from a presumed dating of the crucifixion to March 25, the angelic announcement to Mary and the conception of Jesus were dated to March 25, and the birth of Jesus to December 25, nine months later.

Gabriel announced to Mary that she would conceive and bear a Son who would be the Messiah, the Son of the Most High, whose name would be Jesus. Astounded, Mary asked how this could be so, since she was a virgin and as yet unmarried. The angel replied that the Holy Spirit would come upon her, and that the power of the Most High would overshadow her, and through this divine means she would conceive. “With God,” said Gabriel, “nothing is impossible.” The same God who had caused Mary’s elderly and barren cousin Elizabeth to conceive would also cause her to conceive without the agency of a man. ” The Messiah was to be born, “not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13). Mary was chosen by the grace of God to be the mother of the Messiah, and so Gabriel called her “favored one”, and Mary’s assent to the angelic announcement opened the way for God to accomplish the salvation of the world, so that all generations call her “blessed” (Luke 1:48).

Cyril of Jerusalem was the first to use the title Theotokos, “God-bearer”, for the Blessed Virgin Mary, a title that was affirmed by the Council of Ephesus (the Third Ecumenical Council) in 431. In the mid-second century Justin Martyr wrote that Mary is “the new Eve”, and as the mother of the New Israel, Mary is the counterpart to Abraham, the father of the chosen people of God.

Although the festival has long been associated with the Mary (in England it is called “Lady Day”), it is a feast of our Lord – the feast of the Annunciation of our Lord, the commemoration and celebration of his conception in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In many parts of western Europe, throughout the Medieval period, the Renaissance and even into the eighteenth century, March 25 was considered the beginning of the new year, reflecting the idea that with the Lord’s conception a new age had begun. There was also a tradition that March 25 was the day on which the world was created, thus joining the first creation and the new creation in one day.

prepared from various sources, including
the New Book of Festivals & Commemorations and Lesser Feasts and Fasts

The Collect

Pour your grace into our hearts, O Lord, that we who have known the incarnation of your Son Jesus Christ, announced by an angel to the Virgin Mary, may by his cross and passion be brought to the glory of his resurrection; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The Lesson
Isaiah 7:10-14

Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, “Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test.” And he said, “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Psalm 40:5-11
Expectans expectavi

Great things are they that you have done, O LORD my God!
how great your wonders and your plans for us! *
there is none who can be compared with you.

Oh, that I could make them known and tell them! *
but they are more than I can count.

In sacrifice and offering you take no pleasure *
(you have given me ears to hear you);

Burnt-offering and sin-offering you have not required, *
and so I said, “Behold, I come.

In the roll of the book it is written concerning me: *
‘I love to do your will, O my God;
your law is deep in my heart.”‘

I proclaimed righteousness in the great congregation; *
behold, I did not restrain my lips;
and that, O LORD, you know.

Your righteousness have I not hidden in my heart;
I have spoken of your faithfulness and your deliverance; *
I have not concealed your love and faithfulness from the great congregation.

The Epistle
Hebrews 10:4-10

For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,

“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body have you prepared for me;
in burnt offerings and sin offerings
you have taken no pleasure.
Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,
as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’”

When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

The Canticle
The Song of Mary, Magnificat

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior; *
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed: *
the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him *
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm, *
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, *
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things, *
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel, *
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
The promise he made to our fathers, *
to Abraham and his children for ever.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;*
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

The Gospel
Luke 1:26-38

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

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The scripture texts for the Lesson, the Epistle, and Gospel are taken from the English Standard Version Bible. The Collect, Psalm, and Canticle are taken from the Book of Common Prayer (1979).

The feast of the Annunciation of our Lord, which falls on March 25, is transferred to the Monday after the Second Sunday of Easter if it fall within Holy Week or the Easter Octave.

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