Friday, November 11 2022
Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
This is the collect for our coming week, Proper 28, starting this Sunday. I mentioned a few weeks back that my favorite collect is from Proper 22 (early October). I can believe this is one of Bishop Provenzano’s favorite collects, as I’ve heard our bishop quote this collect time and time again – and it’s a good line: to “hear, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest” scripture. As we are preparing for the season of Advent, we have a couple of themed weekends before we start preparing for the birth of Jesus. As Fr. Duncan mentioned in this past weekend’s services, last week was Loyalty Sunday. Loyalty Sunday is where our parish family is invited to pledge a financial gift to the parish, so our vestry (governing body) is able to create a budget for this next year. FYI - there is still time to get in your pledge cards!
One article I read regarding this Sunday’s lectionary readings called this Sunday Bible Sunday. As a prayer book people, I think we Episcopalians sometimes shy away from the good book. This Sunday’s collect ties us to scripture, but we don’t know or truly recognize how much scripture affects our liturgy. Our Confession, Prayers of the People, and Eucharistic Prayers, all reference portions of scripture that tie us to the Bible.
This week’s collect drives home the importance of scriptural repetition. We hear scripture every Sunday. We have four readings from scripture proclaimed: two Old Testament readings and two New Testament readings. We hear from the time of the prophets before Christ and we hear a psalm from King David, singing of God’s glory or lamenting life on this fragile earth, our island home. We also hear from the epistles – one of Paul’s letters or the Acts of the Apostles, and a Gospel reading which focuses on the life of Jesus of Nazareth. A majority of the Bible is read in a three-year cycle we call the lectionary, that we share with our sister churches. All Episcopal Churches, in addition to other mainline denominations like the Lutherans, the Methodists, the Roman Catholics, the Presbyterians follow this common lectionary for the most part as well.
As a prayer book people, meaning that we use the Book of Common Prayer, we have access to the Daily Office. The Daily Office is an opportunity for all of us to read the prayers of the church and pray for others in our community daily – like the monks and nuns of old. Clergy promise to read the holy scriptures and pray for those who have asked for prayer, especially within our church family. A group of us gather to pray together every weekday at 9:00am (lay people from our parish community and our clergy). It is not a commitment that one needs to promise to – we have people who join for a period and then leave. We offer the opportunity to those who would like to learn how to pray the Daily Office and join us in reading scripture because we know it is important for us to know about our spiritual roots.
Mark – not the evangelist St. Mark, but mark as in taking notes – mark up your Bible! Marking your Bible is something us seminarians did to understand scripture and remember what our professors taught us. It is a task for all who study the Bible – either with our parish community or on your own. Bible Study is an opportunity for those who want to dig deeper into knowing our spiritual roots. Mark goes hand-in-hand with learn which is the follow-up of marking. Learning more about the Bible can be done in community like at our Bible studies on Monday nights and Tuesday mornings, but also on one’s own. Lectio Devina is a spiritual practice of reading the Bible by marking and learning the parts that God calls you to focus on whether in community or on your own.
The last term that draws my attention is the inwardly digest. It is a slightly graphic image to think of an illustration of one digesting anything, but the analogy remains: the breaking down of scripture and taking in the spiritual nutrients that God needs us to take in.
This is all a process. We start with easy steps of hearing and reading, which we do regularly on Sundays. I invite us all to go deeper into our faith – marking, learning, and inwardly digesting the word of God – the good news of Jesus Christ. Let us meditate on our commitment to scripture and pray on how we can go one step deeper this upcoming Advent season of hope – which our collect points us to. God wants to know us. We need to know God as well.
Your sibling in Christ,