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The Second Sunday after Christmas, 3 January 2010

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The Readings for the Second Sunday after Christmas
Jeremiah 31:7-14

Psalm 84

Ephesians 1:3-6,15-19a

Saint Matthew 2:1-12



BACKGROUND

On a Sunday such as this one doesn’t know whether to look backward or forward. Backward, since this is still Christmas, we recall the readings of Christmas Day and Eve, and the three holy days that follow – St. Stephen, Holy Innocents, and Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist. These we discussed in the Christmas edition of this blog. Immediately preceding this Sunday is 1 January, which the church knows as The Holy Name, whose readings expound on the name of Jesus. Looking forward to the coming Wednesday, we encounter The Epiphany of our Lord, which is the principal Nativity feast in the Eastern Church, and which marks the close of the “Twelve Days”. The lectionary does not make this day easy, providing for three choices of a Gospel: 1) Joseph’s Dream, and the flight into Egypt (Matthew), 2) the visit to the Temple by Jesus and his parents at the age of 12 (…

The First Sunday after Christmas, 27 December 2009

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The Readings for the First Sunday of Christmas
Isaiah 61:10 – 62:3
Psalm 147
Galatians 3:23-25; 4:4-7
Saint Luke 1:1-18


BACKGROUND
The Book of Common Prayer has rules of precedence that provide for the proper readings of this Sunday to override the holy days that immediately follow upon Christmas.  The first of these holy days is Saint Stephen’s Day.  Stephen was the first martyr of the church, and was also one of the first deacons appointed by the apostles.  Stoned by none other than the Saul who was soon to become Saint Paul, Stephen was a martyr in will and in deed.  The next day, the 27th, is the Day of the Holy Innocents.  In Matthew, who bases his Birth Narrative on the life of Moses, we read how King Herod (in the role of Pharaoh) sent soldiers to murder the infants of Bethlehem.  These young ones were then martyrs not by will but by deed.  Finally, on 28 December, we celebrate Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist.  Never martyred, John was a martyr in will, but not in deed.  These thr…

Christmas, 25 December 2009

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The Readings for Christmas Eve
Isaiah 9:2-7
Psalm 96
Titus 2:11-14
Saint Luke 2:1-20

BACKGROUNDIt isn’t until the fourth century that a day celebrating the Nativity of Jesus begins to be celebrated.The days of such celebrations ranged from March to May to December.It may be that the celebration of two Roman feasts influenced the selection of 25 December as the day.The first was the Winter Solstice (21 December), and a related Feast of Sol Invictus (The Feast of the Conquering Son) which celebrated the resurgence of the sun at the Winter Solstice, and was very popular among the Roman military, many of whom were devotes of Mithras.The development in the west was different than that in the East, where the day chosen was 6 or 7 January, known in the West as The Epiphany (Manifestation) of our Lord.In the west there developed a whole cycle of events that centered on the birth of Christ.There was the preparatory season of Advent, the day(s) of the Nativity, and the twelve days that stretched to…

Advent IV, 20 December 2009

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The Readings for the Fourth Sunday of Advent


Micah 5:2-5a

Saint Luke 1:46-55 Magnificat

Hebrews 10:5-10

Saint Luke 1:39-45



BACKGROUND

If there is a focus for the readings for this Sunday, it is on Mary’s response and thoughts about the task to which she has been called. The themes from her story are actually celebrated on two other holy days in the year, The Annunciation, 25 March, and The Visitation, 31 May. Mary’s story is the center of today’s Gospel and of the Responsorial Psalm which used her song, The Magnificat, rather than an Hebrew Psalm. The first reading is from the prophet Micah who flourished around 721 BCE. As a contemporary of Jeremiah, he mirrors, at least in his initial five chapters, Jeremiah’s thought. The final chapters reflect a later point of view. The second reading is from Hebrews, a letter which uses a great deal of Hebrew and Old Testament imagery to explain the character of Jesus. The Gospel is from Luke’s Birth Narrative.




Micah 5:2-5a
But you, O Bethlehem o…

Advent III, 13 December 2009

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This is a series that appears in the weekly Newsletter of Trinity Church; designed to get you ready to hear the lessons at next Sunday’s liturgy. Your suggestions and comments are most welcome.


- Fr. Michael T. Hiller


The Readings for the Third Sunday of Advent

Zephaniah 3:14-20

Isaiah 12:2-6, The First Song of Isaiah Ecce Deus

Philippians 4:4-7

Saint Luke 3:7-18



BACKGROUND

The name for this Sunday used to be “Gaudete”, the first word in the Introit Psalm for the Day, “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice.” The color for the day is rose, and in some churches rose vestments and paraments are used. This is the reason for the rose candle in the Advent Wreath. In the readings, see if you can detect this theme of joyfulness.

There is a parallel Sunday in Lent, “Laetare”, which is also a rose Sunday. The were meant to give relief to the austerities of Advent and Lent. This might seem strange to us now, in that Advent is not as sparse or penitential as it was in the old lecti…