February 7, 2023
PART of the ARTS !
Title: St. Peter and St. Andrew
Artist: Koenig, Peter
Date: 20th Century
Peter Winfried (Canisius) Koenig, https://www.pwkoenig.co.uk/
O God, whom saints and angels delight to worship in heaven: Be ever present with your servants who seek through art and music to perfect the praises offered by your people on earth; and grant to them even now glimpses of your beauty, and make them worthy at length to behold it unveiled for evermore; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The sacramental rites of the Episcopal Church include Confirmation, Ordination, Holy Matrimony, Reconciliation of a Penitent, and Unction (BCP, pp. 860-861). These rites are distinguished from the sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist, which were given by Christ and are understood to be necessary for the Christian life of all persons. The Roman Catholic Church recognizes seven sacraments, including Baptism, Eucharist, and the five other sacramental rites. Peter Lombard (c. 1095-1160) identified these seven rites as sacraments of the church. This position was affirmed by the Council of Florence (1439) and the Council of Trent (1545-1563). The Orthodox Church also accepts seven sacraments. Martin Luther (1483-1546) was willing to identify Reconciliation of a Penitent as a sacrament, in addition to Baptism and Eucharist. In 1521 Henry VIII was awarded the title “Defender of the Faith” by Pope Leo X in recognition of Henry’s treatise Assertio Septem Sacramentorum (Assertion of the Seven Sacraments) which defended the doctrine of the seven sacraments against Luther. After the English Reformation, Marriage or the Reconciliation of a Penitent are presented as sacraments by some Elizabethan homilies and formularies. Article XXV of the Articles of Religion acknowledged Baptism and the Lord’s Supper as the two sacraments ordained by Christ in the gospel. Article XXV states that the five other sacramental rites “have not like nature of Sacraments with Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper, for that they have not any visible sign or ceremony ordained of God” (BCP, p. 872). The five sacramental rites are not understood to be necessary for all Christians.
The earliest source of a number of collects and other forms in the BCP. A sacramentary is a liturgical book which contains those parts of the rites (Daily Offices, Eucharist, and Pastoral Offices) read by the celebrant. The oldest known Roman Sacramentary is the Leonine or Verona Sacramentary which exists in a manuscript from about 600. It contains materials from the fifth and sixth centuries. The next oldest is the so-called Gelasian Sacramentary which exists in an eighth-century manuscript but represents a time slightly later than the Leonine or Verona Sacramentary. It was for a long time incorrectly attributed to Pope Gelasius I (d. 496).
“It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”
God is trying to do something so much bigger than we can imagine. How do we allow our thinking to get stretched?
The prophet Isaiah today seems to be saying on God’s behalf, “You think I am trying to get you to reconcile with your brother with whom you are not speaking or your lost tribe cousins?! Oh, not so small. What I am calling you to is big. It is so much bigger than that.” Isaiah clarifies God’s intention not to send him a messenger to the tribes of Israel only – but to the nations.We are talking the ends of the earth here. God’s plan? It is always so much bigger than our little human minds can comprehend.
In John’s Gospel today, monumental, ends-of-the-earth stuff is happening, too. In this story, which focuses on the whole institution of baptism, Jesus enters after the warm-up act, John the Baptist. John the Baptist isn’t totally clear with the crowds whom he’s the opener for; this is a world in which the players are bumbling around doing a little of this and a little of that, but are not completely sure how the whole thing fits together. Imagine John telling the story of how his small, everyday action, was made so much bigger.
He might say, “So, there I was, doing the thing. I am washing him in the water of repentance – baptism. I’m just going about my business, doing this thing with the water, doing this thing that God put on my heart. I mean, I knew that all of this was about getting ready for the One. But I just didn’t know exactly that he was the one. And then, it hit me. You have to understand, I had been baptizing so many people in the water. But this day, this extra thing happens. It is like a dove, like the Spirit from heaven coming down on this guy. It hits me again, only deeper. He’s the One. I mean, I know my first instinct when I saw him coming was “He’s the One,”but it did not stay with me. It’s like, God has to keep knocking me over the head with the knowledge! It is so big. I can’t quite take it in. God’s story. God’s message. It is so much bigger than I can take in. And the big story is unfolding around me.”
“The next day, I was hanging out with some of my friends. Get this. At this point, they are my disciples – nobody else’s. I tell them, ‘Hey, that guy over there, he is the One.’ I am getting deeper into this bigger picture. I can tell because everyone gets curious, following everything I say. They are taking me really, really seriously. They are taking my words really, really seriously. And even though they’ve been my followers, they’re getting really curious. This is all taking on a life of its own. They feel an urge to turn, and well, follow the One. And do you know how the One responds when he senses they’re following him? He turns around and confronts them with a question about their intentions. He asks, ‘What are you seeking?’ They respond with a small story answer. ‘Teacher, we just want to know where you are… where you stay.’ The One responds, ‘Follow me. Come with me and you will see. You will see where I am.’”
It almost reads like the One is saying, “Not only will you see where I am, but you can be with me there. I want you. I want you with me. I want to bless your seeking of truth. And later, I want to help you do the very same thing with others who will be drawn to me, just like you were.”
And the thing, the thing with John, the small thing of John getting it right and pointing toward Jesus? Well, he tells these two friends and they come close to Jesus. And just like it happened with John, being with him, spending time with him, they know he is the One. They start pointing. They start pointing it out to other friends. Andrew for one. And guess what? Andrew has a brother! And the brother? His name is Simon. Andrew, the friend of John the Baptist, tells his brother Simon about the man – the man who is the One.
And this bumbling, evolving, simple story, this story of a few friends among friends, is about to get bigger – much bigger. This brother named Simon will be renamed “Peter” – the Rock – by the One. The little story doesn’t stay a little story. It grows into a way bigger story of God’s imagining – an ends-of-the-earth kind of story.
We can’t take it all in. It is so much bigger than we can imagine. In fact, it is a journey of following that will take a lifetime. We will have moments of seeing and then, like John, we forget. And then we see again. It’s okay; God knows this about us. We are journeying to be with Jesus, in fits and starts now, but seeing the whole, big picture later.
And in the meantime?
Don’t worry about the bumbling. God already knows about that and picked you anyway. Just keep pointing. Just keep remembering. You will forget. And then it will come clear to you again. Others need to come. Others need to know where the One stays (Hint: it’s usually with the folks on the margins!). God is not going to give up. God’s target is not only your block. It’s not merely your parish. It’s not just your city. It’s your heart – and the very ends of the earth.
God is trying to do something so much bigger than we can imagine. How do we allow our thinking to get stretched? Where do you see glimmers of the One in your time? When have you felt an urge to turn and follow the One? When do you get most excited about following – more excited than you had previously imagined? What might it look like for you to allow yourself to stretch, to allow God’s story in your life to get bigger?
Anne Zobel is a postulant from the Diocese of Southern Virginia in her second year of an M.Div. program at Bexley Seabury Seminary. She loves all things tree – for the many lessons they teach about cycles, rootedness, and being agents of transformation. She and her husband love to hike the mountains of Virginia and spend time with their four grown children. Anne’s preferred method of Jesus-following is breaking open the stories of God at work in community with wondering.
Bible Study: Epiphany 2 (A)
January 15, 2023
The season of Epiphany is when we celebrate the revealing of Christ to the world. We mark the arrival of the One who is the light of the world: a light that brings life, a light that brings hope. This light shines its brightest when we are in community – with God and with one another.
The Office of Global Partnerships of The Episcopal Church invites individuals, small groups, congregations, and dioceses to use our weekly video series throughout the season of Epiphany to draw closer to each other and our Lord. Using an adaptation of lectio divina with the gospel passage for each Sunday, you’ll meet and hear from Episcopal missionaries who have served around the world as they read and reflect on Jesus’ revelation to us. Missionary service through The Episcopal Church is accomplished through the Young Adult Service Corps (for Episcopalians aged 21-30) and Episcopal Volunteers in Mission (for Episcopalians over the age of 30). Learn more about these programs at iam.ec/yasc and iam.ec/evim respectively.
This week’s lectio divina features Sophie Swallow, Andrew Walker, and the Rev. Bryan Vélez. Watch their discussion, recorded in Spanish first, at iam.ec/epiphany2023 and follow along by yourself or in a small group. To participate:
1. Read today’s Gospel passage: John saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.” And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.” The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter). (John 1:29-42, NRSV)
2. Reflect: Which word or short phrase caught your attention or came to mind? Whether you’re alone or in a group, say it aloud.
3. Read: Reread the passage, perhaps in a different translation.
4. Reflect: Where does the passage touch your life today? If you’re with a group, share your responses with each other, without discussing further. If you’re alone, say your response aloud or write it down.
5. Read: Reread the passage, perhaps in yet another translation.
6. Reflect: Where is God calling you to go? Where, either near or far, can you cross boundaries, listen deeply, and live like Jesus? You might consider journaling out your response and meditating on it over the course of this week.
7. Pray: In closing, say the Collect for Epiphany 2 in the Book of Common Prayer (p. 215).
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“O God, our heavenly Father, whose glory fills the whole creation, and whose presence we find wherever we go:
preserve those who travel; surround them with your loving care; protect them from every danger;
and bring them in safety to their journey’s end; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.