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The presentation of Christ in the temple, commonly called the Purification of Saint Mary the Virgin - 2014

The presentation of Christ in the temple, commonly called the Purification of Saint Mary the Virgin

Psalm 134
Ecce nunc
BEHOLD now, praise the Lord : all ye servants of the Lord;
2. Ye that by night stand in the house of the Lord : even in the courts of the house of our God.
3. Lift up your hands in the sanctuary : and praise the Lord.
4. The Lord that made heaven and earth : give thee blessing out of Sion.

The Collect
Almighty and everliving God, we humbly beseech thy Majesty, that, as thy only-begotten Son was this day presented in the temple in substance of our flesh, so we may be presented unto thee with pure and clean hearts, by the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Old Testament Reading: Malachi 3.1-5
Psalter: Psalm 84
Epistle Reading: Galatians 1.1-24
Gospel Reading: St. Luke 2.22-40

Toon: “Let us now turn to the actual content of the Collect.

"Almighty and everliving God, we humbly beseech thy Majesty." God the Father is both all-powerful and all-alive. He is not merely everlasting but everliving. And he is "Majesty," a most appropriate word here as what is being remembered actually happened in the temple of Jerusalem, the LORD's earthly palace in the time of the old covenant. He is the "great King over all the earth" (Psalm 47:2). Did not Isaiah see "the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up" with the train of his robe filling the whole temple (Isaiah 6: 1)?

"That, as thy only-begotten Son was this day presented in the temple in substance of our flesh." As Jesus is the Incarnate Son of God, One Person made known in two natures, divine and human, he is both of one substance with the Father and also of one substance with us. He shares our human nature, our humanity, our flesh and blood. As the infant of 40 days he appeared in the temple as boy, as human, as flesh, but Simeon and Anna were given eyes to see also that he was/is the Son of God who has taken to himself our human flesh.

"So we may be presented unto thee with pure and clean hearts." We fervently ask the Father for the sake of his Son and by his Holy Spirit to assist us in our self-examination and penitence that we may know his forgiveness and cleansing, and thus approach him with purified hearts.

Perhaps here we can think of infant baptism followed later by confirmation and whole-hearted commitment to the Lord and his work. In such baptism we are presented by sponsors/godparents and then later we take unto ourselves the promises they made for us and we receive the strengthening of the Lord in order to be full and active members of his Church.

The ending of the Collect, by the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is the only use of "by" in the Collects of the editions of the Prayer Book from 1549 to 1662 in this way. Usually it is "through Jesus Christ." Perhaps it was directed against any idea of addressing intercession to the Blessed Virgin Mary by making it absolutely clear that Jesus is the sole and only Mediator between God and man.

One final comment. As the festival occurs in Epiphany, the season wherein the emphasis is upon the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles, at his Baptism, and in other ways, it fits into this theme, being his earliest manifestation inside the house of his heavenly Father” (


Conversion of St. Paul (25 January) and the Third Sunday after Epiphany - 2014

The Conversion of Saint Paul (25 January)

Psalm 138
Confitebor tibi
I WILL give thanks unto thee, O Lord, with my whole heart : even before the gods will I sing praise unto thee.
2. I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy Name, because of thy loving-kindness and truth : for thou hast magnified thy Name and thy word above all things.
3. When I called upon thee, thou heardest me : and enduedst my soul with much strength.
4. All the kings of the earth shall praise thee, O Lord : for they have heard the words of thy mouth.
5. Yea, they shall sing in the ways of the Lord : that great is the glory of the Lord.
6. For though the Lord be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly : as for the proud, he beholdeth them afar off.
7. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, yet shalt thou refresh me : thou shalt stretch forth thy hand upon the furiousness of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me.
8. The lord shall make good his loving-kindness toward me : yea, thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever; despise not then the works of thine own hands.

The Collect
O God, who, through the preaching of the blessed Apostle Saint Paul, hast caused the light of the Gospel to shine throughout the world: Grant, we beseech thee, that we, having his wonderful conversion in remembrance, may shew forth our thankfulness unto thee for the same, by following the holy doctrine which he taught; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Old Testament Reading: Jeremiah 1.4-10
Psalter: Psalm 67
Epistle Reading: Acts 9.1-22
Gospel Reading: *St. Matthew 19.27-30

The Third Sunday after the Epiphany.
Psalm 15
Domine, quis habitabit?
LORD, who shall dwell in thy tabernacle : or who shall rest upon thy holy hill?
2. Even he that leadeth an uncorrupt life : and doeth the thing which is right, and speaketh the truth from his heart.
3. He that hath used no deceit in his tongue, nor done evil to his neighbour : and hath not slandered his neighbour.
4. He that setteth not by himself, but is lowly in his own eyes : and maketh much of them that fear the Lord.
5. He that sweareth unto his neighbour, and disappointeth him not : thou it were to his own hindrance.
6. He that hath not given his money upon usury : nor taken reward against the innocent.
7. Whoso doeth these things : shall never fall.

The Collect.
ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmities, and in all our dangers and necessities stretch forth thy right hand to help and defend us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 41.8-10, 17-20
Psalter: Psalm 20, 21 | 27, 29
Epistle Reading: Romans 12.16-21
Gospel Reading: St. Matthew 8.1-13

Personal Reflection: The Collect begins with a clear acknowledgment of our weakness, our brokenness. We are a people who have a clear-eyed view of things. Instead of positing to God a positive mental attitude, we state the situation truthfully: God is Almighty and we afflicted with infirmities. We are needy ones. From that clearheaded position we are then able to ask rightly “stretch forth thy right hand to help and defend us.” That line is displayed in the Gospel reading where Jesus stretches forth his hand to heal the leper, and it is promised in the Old Testament reading where God promises that “the right hand of my righteousness” will “hold thee” so that God can say to us, “Fear thou not”! It’s in that secure stance, that St. Paul’s admonitions can be lived out, and we are freed to put v. 21 in action: “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”


The Second Sunday after Epiphany - 2014

The Second Sunday after the Epiphany.

Psalm 14
Dixit insipiens
THE fool hath said in his heart : There is no God.
2. They are corrupt, and become abominable in their doings : there is none that doeth good, no not one.
3. The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men : to see if there were any that would understand, and seek after God.
4. But they are all gone out of the way, they are altogether become abominable : there is none that doeth good, no not one.
5. Their throat is an open sepulchre, with their tongues have they deceived : the poison of asps is under their lips.
6. Their mouth is full of cursing and bitterness : their feet are swift to shed blood.
7. Destruction and unhappiness is in their ways, and the way of peace have they not known ; there is no fear of God before their eyes.
8. Have they no knowledge, that they are all such workers of mischief : eating up my people as it were bread, and call not upon the Lord?
9. There were they brought in great fear, even where no fear was : for God is in the generation of the righteous.
10. As for you, ye have made a mock at the counsel of the poor : because he putteth his trust in the Lord.
11. Who shall give salvation unto Israel out of Sion? When the Lord turneth the captivity of his people : then shall Jacob rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.

The Collect.
ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who dost govern all things in heaven and earth; Mercifully hear the supplications of thy people, and grant us thy peace all the days of our life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 45.1-15
Psalter: Psalm 96, 97 | 45, 46
Epistle Reading: Romans 12.6-16
Gospel Reading: St. Mark 1.1-11

Toon: “In addressing, God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible, the Church recalls that not only is this Lord God the Creator of all that is, but he is also the sovereign ruler of all that is. He governs all things in his providence and does so in such a way as to allow for the exercise of the wills of human beings, even when they rebel against his law.

Since the Lord our God does actually rule and guide all things at all times in all places, then he can hear the petitions, prayers and supplications of his people wherever they be within his created order, and whatever language they speak. So it is most appropriate for the Church to ask him in his great mercy and compassion to hear the prayers of his people, whether they are private or public, uttered or unexpressed.
One supplication that Christians make daily (see the Second Collect for Morning & Evening Prayer) is for the peace of God, the peace that is experienced deep in the soul and that passes understanding, remaining there in trial and tribulation. Christians need God's peace not one day or one week, but all the days of their life on this earth, where they are pilgrims and sojourners, labourers and ambassadors, servants and soldiers for the kingdom of heaven. Further, they hope for peace on earth and good will towards men, as the angels sang.

And all prayer, private and public, arises to the Father Almighty by one route, through his Son our Lord Jesus Christ, the only Mediator between God and man, and by the energising presence and power of the Holy Ghost, who dwells in the souls of true believers.

The Epistle reminds the congregation of the spiritual gifts given unto it from the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit. They are to be used to manifest and make known Jesus, his Gospel and his way of life.

The Gospel continues the great theme of Epiphany, the Manifestation of Jesus as the Messiah, Saviour and Son of the Father. By the miracle of the turning of water into wine, Jesus performs a sign which points to his real and true identity. He shows himself to be - in the words of the dogma of the Church - One Person made known in two Natures, divine and human. Jesus is obviously a person to whom Mary speaks and whom Mary knows well, her Son. Yet the miracle reveals that he is a complex Person, more than Man while also being Man. He reveals the Father.

The Manifestation of the identity of Jesus at the first miracle in Cana of Galilee is linked in Christian celebration with his Manifestation when visited by the Magi and when he was baptized by John in the Jordan. On all three occasions his true identity was made known and manifested in Epiphany”(


A Prayer for Missions

{This is from the Book of Common Prayer-Canada 1962}

The following Collect, Epistle, and Gospel may be used throughout the Epiphany season on weekdays, for THE MISSIONARY WORK OF THE CHURCH OVERSEAS. 

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who desirest not the death of sinners, but rather that they may turn unto thee and live: Deliver the nations of the world from superstition and unbelief, and gather them all into thy holy Church, to the praise and glory of thy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen (p. 121).

PSALM 67. Deus misereatur. 
OD be merciful unto us, and bless us, / and show us the light of his countenance, and be merciful unto us; 
2 That thy way may be known upon earth, / thy saving health among all nations.
3 Let the people praise thee, O God; / yea, let all the people praise thee.  
4 O LET the nations rejoice and be glad; / for thou shalt judge the folk righteously, and govern the nations upon earth. 
5 Let the people praise thee, O God; / yea, let all the people praise thee.  
6 THE earth hath brought forth her increase; / and God, even our own God, shall give us his blessing. 
7 God shall bless us; / and all the ends of the world shall fear him. 

THE EPISTLE. Romans 10. 8. 
WHAT saith the Scripture? Near is the word, in thy mouth and in thy heart, even the word which we proclaim. If thou shalt confess with thy mouth that Jesus is Lord, and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved; for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be put to shame. For there is no difference between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord of all is rich unto all that call upon him; for Whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they be sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that bring glad tidings of good things! 

THE GOSPEL. St Matthew 28. 16. 
THEN the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into the mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him they worshipped him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All authority is given unto me in heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you all the days, even unto the end of the world. Amen. 


The First Sunday after Epiphany - 2014

The First Sunday after the Epiphany.

Psalm 13
Usque quo, Domine?
HOW long wilt thou forget me, O Lord, for ever : how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?
2. How long shall I seek counsel in my soul, and be so vexed in my heart : how long shall mine enemies triumph over me?
3. Consider, and hear me, O Lord my God : lighten mine eyes, that I sleep not in death.
4. Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him : for if I be cast down, they that trouble me will rejoice at it.
5. But my trust is in thy mercy : and my heart is joyful in thy salvation.
6. I will sing of the Lord, because he hath dealt so lovingly with me : yea, I will praise the Name of the Lord most Highest.
The Collect.
O LORD, we beseech thee mercifully to receive the prayers of thy people which call upon thee; and grant that they may both perceive and know what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to fulfil the same; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 60.1-9
Psalter: Psalm 47, 48 | 66, 67
Epistle Reading: Romans 12.1-5
Gospel Reading: St. Luke 2.41-52

Toon: “Having prayed since the Feast of the Epiphany to be given the grace to contemplate the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ in heaven, five days later the Church makes two further and inter-connected petitions of her heavenly Father, the Lord our God, in the name of her Saviour and Mediator, Jesus Christ our Lord.

The first is that God will receive in mercy and compassion the desires, vows and prayers of his people who supplicate, with bended knee, before him. However, the Church does not ask God to answer them as asked, but rather to receive them and then in the judgment of his perfect wisdom and mercy to respond to them for the true good of his people. For, if God gave to his people merely what they desired and asked for, he would not be a merciful God, since we often desire and ask for that which is not for our short-term or long-term good!

The force of the verb "grant" in prayer is that of "give and supply for no other is able to do so." Of God the Church asks that she will be inspired by the Holy Ghost to recognize and see what is her duty according to the divine will, and that, further, she will have the will and strength to perform that duty in its totality.

In relating to God, we need to know him, to perceive by his inspiration what is his will and then knowing the will, to perform and do the same. It is so easy for us to assume that our own best human wisdom and insights are in fact God's will for us and his Church. Such an assumption is best avoided and in its place there should be a humble recognition that we need to know from God what is his purpose and plan, and then we need his help to fulfil the same!

The Epistle calls for wholehearted commitment to the Lord and his service by each and every member of the congregation of Christ's flock and that they all be conformed to his perfect will. The Gospel provides us with an example of the developing consecration of Jesus to the Father's will and his growing sense of being uniquely the Father's Son. Thus he is the One to whom we go in order to know and come to the same Father.

Because of the Gospel lesson, this Sunday is sometimes called "A Feast of the Holy Family".
A final comment. If the original Latin prayer in the Gregorian Sacramentary had been translated literally by Archbishop Cranmer, it would have been something like this:

"O Lord, we beseech thee, regard with the compassion of a heavenly Father the fervent desires of thy people, who make their supplications unto thee, that they may both see what things ought to be done, and may have strength to fulfil what they see. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

It will be observed that each prayer seeks the same blessings from the one and the same Lord God” ()

***Since this Collect is talking about prayer, and seeking God's will, let me recommend a free booklet you can download as you own: "Winning Life's Battles through Prayer" - you can go to this site and download it -


Epiphany - 2014

The Epiphany, or the Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles.

Psalm 96
Cantate Domino
O SING unto the Lord a new song : sing unto the Lord, all the whole earth.
2. Sing unto the Lord, and praise his Name : be telling of his salvation from day to day.
3. Declare his honour unto the heathen : and his wonders unto all people.
4. For the Lord is great, and cannot worthily be praised : he is more to be feared than all gods.
5. As for all the gods of the heathen, they are but idols : but it is the Lord that made the heavens.
6. Glory and worship are before him : power and honour are in his sanctuary.
7. Ascribe unto the Lord, O ye kindreds of the people : ascribe unto the Lord worship and power.
8. Ascribe unto the Lord the honour due unto his Name : bring presents, and come into his courts.
9. O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness : let the whole earth stand in awe of him.
10. Tell it out among the heathen that the Lord is King : and that it is he who hath made the round world so fast that it cannot be moved; and how that he shall judge the people righteously.
11. Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad : let the sea make a noise, and all that therein is.
12. Let the field be joyful, and all that is in it : then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice before the Lord.
13. For he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth : and with righteousness to judge the world, and the people with his truth.

The Collect.
O GOD, who by the leading of a star didst manifest thy only-begotten Son to the Gentiles: Mercifully grant, that we, which know thee now by faith, may after this life have the fruition of thy glorious Godhead; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

[Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 60.1-9]
Psalter: Psalm 96
Epistle Reading: Ephesians 3.1-11
Gospel Reading: St. Matthew 2.1-12

Toon: “The Feast of the EPIPHANY, the twelfth day after Christmas, begins the season of EPIPHANY, which continues in the Church Year to the beginning of Lent. The Book of Common Prayer (1928) makes provision for up to six Sundays in Epiphany, depending on the date of Easter.

If we think that the Feast (or even the season) of the Epiphany is only about the visit of the (three) kings or magi or wise men "from the east" then we only partially appreciate it! There is much more to it.
The word EPIPHANY is Greek and means MANIFESTATION or APPEARANCE. It is a Greek name because the Festival was in origin, and for its first period of celebration, an Eastern Mediterranean Christian feast, not a Roman one. Originally the Greek-speaking Church celebrated both the Birth of Christ and the Manifestation on one and the same day, January 6th, while the Latin-speaking Church celebrated Christmas on December 25.

From the early fifth century, both East and West celebrated both Christmas Day (Dec 25) and the Epiphany (Jan 6) but with different emphases. The West celebrated the Nativity on December 25th and the Manifestation to the Gentiles on January 6. Possibly the focusing of the feast in the West of the Manifestation particularly on the visit of the magi/kings is related to the moving of their relics from Constantinople to Milan in the fourth century, when Milan was capital of the western half of the Roman Empire.

Related to the Epiphany/Manifestation of the Son of God incarnate to the Gentiles are two other central Manifestations of God observed at this time - very particularly so in the East on the feast day, Jan 6, but also in the West during the season of Epiphany.

These other two are (a) the Manifestation of the Holy Trinity at the Baptism of Jesus when the Father speaks to the Son and the Spirit from the Father descends upon the Son (Mark 1:1-11), and (b) the Manifestation of Jesus as the One Person made known in two Natures when he performed the "sign" at Cana of Galilee - the miracle of water into wine (John 2:1-11). (For the use of these two Events in the West see the Gospels for Epiphany 2 & 3 in the 1928 BCP.)

If we put these three Manifestations together we have in its primary, biblical, narrative form what was achieved dogmatically by the first four Ecumenical Councils of the Church up to AD 451. That is, the setting forth by Gentile Christian bishops the dogma of the One, Blessed, Holy and Undivided Trinity and of the One Person of Christ Jesus made know in two natures, divine and human.

Returning to the Western celebration of the Epiphany feast proper on January 6, it is an old tradition that states that there were three visitors (because three gifts) and that they were kings. In fact prophecy encouraged the idea that they were kings, "The Gentiles shall come to thy light and kings to the brightness of thy rising" (Psalm 72:10 & Isaiah 60:3). That the new king should be born in Canaan was seen in the prophecy of Balaam (Num. 24:17) and so the magi took the main road from Persia to Jerusalem, and from there to Bethlehem in particular, because of the clear prophecy in Micah 5:2 that the Messiah would be born in the city of David.

The Manifestation to mankind by Jesus Christ & the Holy Trinity has for its ultimate purpose the deification of man through salvation, sanctification and glorification. Thus the Collect for the Feast in the BCP itself prays that "we may have the fruition (= enjoyment) of thy glorious Godhead" - the beatific vision, the seeing of the glory of the Father in the face of the Incarnate Son. ( . . . )

This Collect in its original Latin wording is based upon (a) the biblical narrative of the visit of the magi as recorded in Matthew 2; and (b) the thought that "we walk by faith and not by sight" on earth ( 2 Corinthians 5:7).

The translation provided in the BCP of 1549 and thereafter, however, does not bring out as clearly as possible, the second of these themes, the walking by faith now towards the future contemplation by sight in heaven. The petition in Latin may be more literally translated: "Mercifully grant that we, which know thee now by faith, may be led onwards until we come to gaze upon thy Exaltation [Majesty] by sight..."

It seems that in 1549 Archbishop Cranmer had in mind the writings of St. Augustine of Hippo and others, who had written of the beatific vision in heaven as "the fruition of thy glorious Godhead." So he used this expression rather than literally translating the Latin before him. The translation provided above points to the same glorious conclusion as Augustine & Cranmer had in mind, but it picks up more clearly on the theme of "being led onwards" (in the case of the magi by a star and of ourselves by faith) and of "contemplation/gazing" (the magi gazed at the heavens and then upon the Only-Begotten Son Incarnate, while we shall see the glory of the Father in the face of the exalted Jesus Christ).

What this Collect actually prays for in Latin or in English is of course the important thing. The people of God make petition for divine assistance so that, after being faithful sojourners and pilgrims here on earth in this evil age, they will experience the full realization of Christian hope and see the Glory of the Father in the face of Jesus Christ in the glorious age to come. But we must first walk by faith in order later by grace to walk by sight! This is a message for the whole of the season of the Epiphany” (


Renewal of Vows (3 January) and Second Sunday after Christmas Day - 2014

Feast of the Order of Centurions (3 January)

Renewal of our Vows


The Second Sunday after Christmas Day

Psalm 37 (v.1-6)
Noli aemulari
FRET not thyself because of the ungodly : neither be thou envious against the evil-doers.
2. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass : and be withered even as the green herb.
3. Put thou thy trust in the Lord, and be doing good : dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.
4. Delight thou in the Lord : and he shall give thee thy heart’s desire.
5. Commit thy way unto the Lord, and put thy trust in him : and he shall bring it to pass.
6. He shall make thy righteousness as clear as the light ; and thy just dealing as the noon-day.

The Collect
ALMIGHTY GOD, who hast poured upon us the new light of thine incarnate Word; grant that the same light enkindled in our hearts may shine forth in our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 61.1-3
Psalter: Psalm 85, 87 | 90, 91
{Epistle Reading: Philippians 2.12-18}
Gospel Reading: St. Matthew 2.19-23