A Promise is a Promise?: The Sunday of All Saints

Heb 11:33-12:2; Job 1 and 42; Ex 20:12; Deut 6:3; Ps 119:50; Lk 1: 7 and 24:49 The end of the passage in Hebrews concerning the cloud of witnesses is so important that we read it liturgically several times a year—we hear it both as we begin Lent, and as we cap Pascha and Pentecost on All Saints.  Let us listen yet again to Hebrews 11:33-12:2: [Let us remember those] who through…

“It Is More Blessed To Give Than To Receive:” Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council

Acts 20:16-36, Genesis 15, Genesis 28 Where do we usually go to hear the words of Jesus?  Why, of course, to the gospels!  But this Sunday, as we prepare for Pentecost (just as St. Paul was in our reading from Acts), we find an otherwise unattested word of Jesus in an unusual place:  in the mouth of St. Paul as he instructs the Ephesian elders who have come to meet him as…

The Diaspora: Disaster or Divine Dispensation?

(Acts 11:19-30; 2 Esdras 10:21-23; Psalm 43 LXX/44 MT; Genesis 22:15-18) For you see that our sanctuary has been laid waste, our altar thrown down, our temple destroyed; our harp has been laid low, our song has been silenced, and our rejoicing has been ended; the light of our lampstand has been put out, the ark of our covenant has been plundered, our holy things have been polluted, and the name by…

Multiplication, Ministry, and Maturity: Third Sunday of Pascha

Acts 6:1-7; Ephesians 4:10-13; Ex 18:19-21; Numbers 17; Deut 34:9 We may be surprised that we are running ahead this week in Acts’ story of the early Church, when we have not yet reached Pentecost.  But it is indeed appropriate for us to be thinking of the burgeoning life of the Church at this season, since Easter is the beginning of new life for God’s people.  God the Son did not simply…

Knowing the Times and Seasons—the Paschal Epistle

Acts 1:1-8, Genesis 1-2; Genesis 30-50, Romans 8:22-25. The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and…

Disinfecting the Conscience: The Fifth Sunday of Lent

Hebrews 9:11-14, Leviticus 16, Jeremiah 31:33 In the midst of Great Lent, we are also in the midst of a people (understandably) obsessed with quarantine and disinfecting whatever we can.  Our reading from Hebrews for the fifth Sunday of Lent takes us back to the time of the Torah, when both cleansing and distancing were a significant part of the ritual for atonement.  This annual time of ritual purification for the Hebrew…

“Grace to help in time of need”—The Cross, the Christ, and the Coronavirus

Hebrews 4:14-5:9; Leviticus 16; Genesis 14; Psalm 109 (LXX)/110 (MT) Despite the upset of Church closings and quarantine this spring, Great Lent still has great riches to offer us. We have, after all, many readings from the Old Testament during these weeks, and we also plumb the depths of the book of Hebrews, which interprets much of the Old Testament for us.  For the Third Sunday of Lent, even in our homes…