The Lessons Appointed for Use on
the Feast of
Pour your grace into our hearts, O Lord, that we who have known the incarnation of your Son Jesus Christ, announced by an angel to the Virgin Mary, may by his cross and passion be brought to the glory of his resurrection; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Again, the Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying, Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test. Then Isaiah said: "Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary mortals, that you weary my God also? Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.
The Song of Mary Magnificat Luke 1:46-55
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior; *
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed: * the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him * in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm, * he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, * and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things, * and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel, * for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
The promise he made to our fathers, * to Abraham and his children for ever.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.
It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, "Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body you have prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, 'See, God, I have come to do your will, O God' (in the scroll of the book it is written of me)." When he said above, "You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings" (these are offered according to the law), then he added, "See, I have come to do your will." He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. And it is by God's will that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you." But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" The angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God." Then Mary said, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her.
Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Annunciation of Our Lady, or the Annunciation of the Lord, is the Christian celebration of the announcement by the Archangel Gabriel to the Blessed Virgin Mary that she would conceive and become the mother of Jesus, the Jewish messiah and Son of God, marking His Incarnation. Gabriel told Mary to name her son Jesus, meaning "YHWH is salvation".
According to Luke 1:26, the Annunciation occurred "in the sixth month" of Elizabeth's pregnancy with John the Baptist. Many Christians observe this event with the Feast of the Annunciation on 25 March, an approximation of the northern vernal equinox nine full months before Christmas, the ceremonial birthday of Jesus. The Annunciation is a key topic in Christian art. It is especially prominent during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. A work of art depicting the Annunciation is sometimes itself called an Annunciation. This feast day is a Major Feast Day in our church. It never ceases to amaze me that a young Jewish girl could accept such an amazing announcement and respond so obediently. We should all have that kind of faith.
The Lessons Appointed for Use on
the Feast of
Father in heaven, by your grace the virgin mother of your incarnate Son was blessed in bearing him, but still more blessed in keeping your word: Grant us who honor the exaltation of her lowliness to follow the example of her devotion to your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Hallelujah! Give praise, you servants of the Lord; *
praise the Name of the Lord.
2 Let the Name of the Lord be blessed, *
from this time forth for evermore.
3 From the rising of the sun to its going down *
let the Name of the Lord be praised.
4 The Lord is high above all nations, *
and his glory above the heavens.
5 Who is like the Lord our God, who sits enthroned on high *
but stoops to behold the heavens and the earth?
6 He takes up the weak out of the dust *
and lifts up the poor from the ashes.
7 He sets them with the princes, *
with the princes of his people.
8 He makes the woman of a childless house *
to be a joyful mother of children.
Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.
In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord." And Mary said,
"My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever."
And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home. Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son.
If we were in church for this Wednesday study, I am sure we would be talking about the riots and the looting that is going on across the country. When I saw that the Visitation was on the calendar, I felt that I was tired of all the bad news and could think about something that is gracious and lovely and obedient to the love of our God.
I am sure that most Protestant Churches either ignore or do not say too much about the Blessed Virgin Mary and the events surrounding her giving birth to a Son, Jesus. It has taken me a long time to fully appreciate Mary and Elizabeth as they tried to figure out what was happening to them. I am sure the world would be a far different place if we were all as obedient as these two ladies in today’s Gospel reading. It is not impossible. Holy Spirit is far stronger than evil spirit and everyone would be better off if we only decided to find Gods plan for our lives.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 18TH, 2020
O God, who from the family of your servant David raised up Joseph to be the guardian of your incarnate Son and the spouse of his virgin mother: Give us grace to imitate his uprightness of life and his obedience to your commands; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Every year Jesus' parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day's journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, "Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety." He said to them, "Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" But they did not understand what he said to them. Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart.
And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.
For the Wednesday morning group and anyone interested in the topic for today. The lectionary puts a special day for Saint Joseph on the 19th.
The Bible pays Joseph the highest compliment: he was a “just” man. The quality meant a lot more than faithfulness in paying debts.
When the Bible speaks of God “justifying” someone, it means that God, the all-holy or “righteous” one, so transforms a person that the individual shares somehow in God’s own holiness, and hence it is really “right” for God to love him or her. In other words, God is not playing games, acting as if we were lovable when we are not.
By saying Joseph was “just,” the Bible means that he was one who was completely open to all that God wanted to do for him. He became holy by opening himself totally to God.
The rest we can easily surmise. Think of the kind of love with which he wooed and won Mary, and the depth of the love they shared during their marriage.
It is no contradiction of Joseph’s manly holiness that he decided to divorce Mary when she was found to be with child. The important words of the Bible are that he planned to do this “quietly” because he was “a righteous man yet unwilling to expose her to shame” (Matthew 1:19).
The just man was simply, joyfully, wholeheartedly obedient to God—in marrying Mary, in naming Jesus, in shepherding the precious pair to Egypt, in bringing them to Nazareth, in the undetermined number of years of quiet faith and courage.
Just as being called to be the father of a “fatherless child” was a bit unusual for Joseph he responded out of love for Mary and obedience to his God. So we in a rather confusing time, facing something we have never done before, something a little frightening we seek the same quiet faith and the same courage that Joseph had.
Pray for the Saint Andrew’s family.
Pray for the first responders.
Pray for the doctors and nurses.
Pray for those seeking to contain the spread of the virus.
Pray for those trying to develop a vaccine.
Pray that we all cooperate with the safety instructions that will contain the virus and give it a short life among us.
Thank you, Jesus.
Fr. George and the Wardens, Vestry and staff of Saint Andrew’s Church.
The Lessons Appointed for Use on
the Feast of
Archbishop of Canterbury, 1109
Almighty God, you raised up your servant Anselm to teach the Church of his day to understand its faith in your eternal Being, perfect justice, and saving mercy: Provide your Church in every age with devout and learned scholars and teachers, that we may be able to give a reason for the hope that is in us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
1 The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God." * 2 God looks down from heaven upon us all, * to see if there is any who is wise, if there is one who seeks after God.
3 Every one has proved faithless; all alike have turned bad; * there is none who does good; no, not one.
4 Have they no knowledge, those evildoers * who eat up my people like bread and do not call upon God?
5 See how greatly they tremble, such trembling as never was; * for God has scattered the bones of the enemy; they are put to shame, because God has rejected them.
6 Oh, that Israel's deliverance would come out of Zion! when God restores the fortunes of his people Jacob will rejoice and Israel be glad.
Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person-- though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Jesus said, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
"Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
In 1093 Anselm was enthroned as Archbishop of Canterbury. The previous Archbishop, Anselm's old master Lanfranc, had died four years earlier, but the King, William Rufus, had left the see vacant in order to plunder the archiepiscopal revenues. Anselm was understandably reluctant to undertake the primacy of the Church of England under a ruler as ruthless as William, and his tenure as Archbishop proved to be as turbulent and vexatious as he must have feared. William was intent on maintaining royal authority over ecclesiastical affairs and would not be dictated to by Archbishop or Pope or anyone else. So, for example, when Anselm went to Rome in 1097 without the King's permission, William would not allow him to return. When William was killed in 1100, his successor, Henry I, invited Anselm to return to his see. But Henry was as intent as William had been on maintaining royal jurisdiction over the Church, and Anselm found himself in exile again from 1103 to 1107.
The underlined verse in the Gospel seems especially relevant for us today. While our activities are extremely limited and there are few distractions in our lives right now it just may be time to reflect on sharing our concerns, worries, and fears with the Lord in prayer. At least we do not have the additional pressure from the government as Anselm did. Yes, we are told to close our churches. Some clergy are arguing with that direction. But it makes sense to me. The virus is not a living organism. It is a molecule (whatever that means?). If there is no host for it to feed on, it will die. So, we have to keep from passing it on to each other.
I miss hearing your input and reactions to today’s readings. I am looking forward to the time when we can be together again. I wonder if it will be different after this experience…..?
March 18th 2020
The Lessons Appointed for Use on
the Feast of
St. John the Baptist
Almighty God, by whose providence your servant John the Baptist was wonderfully born, and sent to prepare the way of your Son our Savior by preaching repentance: Make us so to follow his teaching and holy life, that we may truly repent according to his preaching; and, following his example, constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the truth's sake; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
On the sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down. After the reading of the law and the prophets, the officials of the synagogue sent them a message, saying, “Brothers, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, give it.”
So Paul stood up and with a gesture began to speak: “You Israelites, and others who fear God, listen. The God of this people Israel chose our ancestors and made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt, and with uplifted arm he led them out of it. For about forty years he put up with them in the wilderness. After he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land as an inheritance for about four hundred fifty years. After that he gave them judges until the time of the prophet Samuel. Then they asked for a king; and God gave them Saul son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, who reigned for forty years. When he had removed him, he made David their king. In his testimony about him he said, ‘I have found David, son of Jesse, to be a man after my heart, who will carry out all my wishes.’ Of this man’s posterity God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised; before his coming John had already proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. And as John was finishing his work, he said, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but one is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of the sandals on his feet.”
“My brothers, you descendants of Abraham’s family, and others who fear God, to us the message of this salvation has been sent.”
The time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father. But his mother said, “No; he is to be called John.” They said to her, “None of your relatives has this name.” Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him. He asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And all of them were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God. Fear came over all their neighbors, and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea. All who heard them pondered them and said, “What then will this child become?” For, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him.
Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke this prophecy:
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has looked favourably on his people and redeemed them.
He has raised up a mighty saviour for us
in the house of his servant David,
as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.
Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors,
and has remembered his holy covenant,
the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham,
to grant us that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies,
might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness
before him all our days.”
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to his people
by the forgiveness of their sins.
By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day he appeared publicly to Israel.
There is so much that we could talk about in life of John the Baptist and the scriptures assigned to him. Repentance, for instance is so important to our spiritual life. Then there is the prophecy of Zechariah an amazing example of the God-inspiration of holy scripture.
Zechariah was a prophet who lived in the 6th century before the birth of Christ. He was one of those captives in Babylon.
When the Israelite people eased into a state of lethargy, Zechariah, and his companion prophet, Haggai, sought to bring them back to an invigorated level of service. Haggai worked to encourage the completion of the temple project (which had been destroyed during the Babylonian invasion — 586 B.C.), and Zechariah would attempt to rekindle a spiritual fire in the hearts of the nation.
Zechariah’s prophecy is shown to be most remarkable. It constitutes a collection of amazing details presented more than five centuries before the birth of Jesus Christ. It stands tall as an amazing example of the divine origin of the Scriptures.
The Lessons Appointed for Use on
Wednesday in Easter Week
O God, whose blessed Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread: Open the eyes of our faith, that we may behold him in all his redeeming work; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, at three o'clock in the afternoon. And a man lame from birth was being carried in. People would lay him daily at the gate of the temple called the Beautiful Gate so that he could ask for alms from those entering the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked them for alms. Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, "Look at us." And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, "I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk." And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. Jumping up, he stood and began to walk, and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. All the people saw him walking and praising God, and they recognized him as the one who used to sit and ask for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him
19 Open for me the gates of righteousness; * I will enter them; I will offer thanks to the Lord.
20 "This is the gate of the Lord; * he who is righteous may enter."
21 I will give thanks to you, for you answered me * and have become my salvation.
22 The same stone which the builders rejected * has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord's doing, * and it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 On this day the Lord has acted; * we will rejoice and be glad in it.
Now on that same day, the first day of the week, two of the disciples were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, "What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?" They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, "Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?" He asked them, "What things?" They replied, "The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see him." Then he said to them, "Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?" Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, "Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over." So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?" That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, "The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!" Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Good morning all you Morning Prayer regulars and anyone else who wants to join us in our Morning Prayer service with an extended discussion of the scriptures assigned for today.
Needless to say, I miss you and this is certainly a different way of being together. Somehow the Wednesday group has become a time for me to let my hair down and try to get at what is really on my mind. So, I hope we can get together, in person, very soon.
As usual, we can look at the Scriptures assigned for today and see if the Lord is speaking to any of us. In the Collect for this day we are praying for a clearer vision, open the eyes of our faith to see Jesus more clearly. My Easter sermon says the same thing. Let us have resurrection vision, like Mary did when she got to the tomb and then was confused because it was empty. It took her a little while to see that Jesus is alive. She finally got the right perspective.
The man in the Acts reading for today was asking for a couple of bucks and got healed of a life-long physical impairment. He got a lot more than he expected.
On the road to Emmaus the disciples did not “see” Jesus until after a long discussion on the road, then sitting down to dinner and it all came into focus for them when He broke the bread.
There is evidence that Roman Catholics and Protestants are taking Holy Communion more seriously than ever before. It seems people are turning to focus on their communion in a whole new way. My Wednesday morning breakfast with two Roman Catholic priests is focusing on that for the past few weeks. It was unplanned, the subject just keeps appearing.
I know this for sure, when we are all Christ-centered Christians the Holy Communion service has a definite pattern to it that gets us prepared to receive “the Body of Christ.”
The first part of the service builds toward the “minor climax” the reading of the Gospel, then after an explanation of the Gospel and prayers it builds again to the “major climax” receiving the Body of Jesus, broken for me.” The whole service is preparation for that one moment.
So that is what we are all about, seeing Jesus, risen and active in our lives.
The Lessons Appointed for Use on
the Feast of
O God, Origin, Sustainer, and End of all your creatures: Grant that your Church, taught by your servant Evelyn Underhill, guarded evermore by your power, and guided by your Spirit into the light of truth, may continually offer to you all glory and thanksgiving and attain with your saints to the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have promised by our Savior Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Psalm 37:3–6, 32–33
1 Do not fret yourself because of evildoers; *
do not be jealous of those who do wrong.
2 For they shall soon wither like the grass, *
and like the green grass fade away.
3 Put your trust in the Lord and do good; *
dwell in the land and feed on its riches.
4 Take delight in the Lord, *
and he shall give you your heart's desire.
5 Commit your way to the Lord and put your trust in him, *
and he will bring it to pass.
6 He will make your righteousness as clear as the light *
and your just dealing as the noonday.
32 The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, *
and their tongue speaks what is right.
33 The law of their God is in their heart, *
and their footsteps shall not falter.
1 Corinthians 4:1–5
Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God's mysteries. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive commendation from God.
The Samaritan woman at the well said to Jesus, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Evelyn Underhill (6 December 1875 – 15 June 1941) was an English Anglo-Catholic writer and pacifist known for her numerous works on religion and spiritual practice, in particular Christian mysticism. In the English-speaking world, she was one of the most widely read writers on such matters in the first half of the 20th century. No other book of its type matched that of her best-known work, Mysticism, published in 1911.
If we were meeting at church today there is a lot to talk about in the scriptures that are chosen for Evelyn Underhill. She is contemporary, 1941, and the women at the well is always an interesting Gospel reading for me. We all want to worship “in spirit and in truth.” That seems especially important to us now when we cannot gather for worship.
In addition, “worshipping what we do not know” is a little scary to think that it is even possible. I suppose there are people who go to church and never get around to putting their heart into their worship. I would be interested to hear your opinions and insight into these two parts of the Gospel reading.
For me, I wrote my doctoral dissertation on this reading from John’s Gospel and I read “Mysticism” by Underhill as one of my references for that work so it has been an interest of mine for a long time. And now with this long time at home I am in the middle of a book “Salvation is from the Jews.” It was written by a Jew who became a Christian, which I find very interesting and is also mentioned in the Gospel reading. So there just happens to be many connections in these readings for Underhill for me personally.
Prophetic Witness and Martyr, 1415
Faithful God, you gave Jan Hus the courage to confess your truth and recall your Church to the image of Christ: Enable us, inspired by his example, to bear witness against corruption and never cease to pray for our enemies, that we may prove faithful followers of our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
“Agree with God, and be at peace; in this way good will come to you.
Receive instruction from his mouth, and lay up his words in your heart.
If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored, if you remove unrighteousness from your tents, if you treat gold like dust, and gold of Ophir like the stones of the torrent-bed, and if the Almighty is your gold and your precious silver, then you will delight in the Almighty, and lift up your face to God.
You will pray to him, and he will hear you, and you will pay your vows.
You will decide on a matter, and it will be established for you, and light will shine on your ways.
When others are humiliated, you say it is pride; for he saves the humble.
He will deliver even those who are guilty; they will escape because of the cleanness of your hands.”
113 I hate those who have a divided heart, * but your law do I love.
114 You are my refuge and shield; * my hope is in your word.
115 Away from me, you wicked! * I will keep the commandments of my God.
116 Sustain me according to your promise, that I may live, * and let me not be disappointed in my hope.
117 Hold me up, and I shall be safe, * and my delight shall be ever in your statutes.
118 You spurn all who stray from your statutes; * their deceitfulness is in vain.
119 In your sight all the wicked of the earth are but dross; * therefore I love your decrees.
120 My flesh trembles with dread of you; * I am afraid of your judgments.
Revelation 3:1–6“To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works; you have a name for being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is at the point of death, for I have not found your works perfect in the sight of my God. Remember then what you received and heard; obey it, and repent. If you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. Yet you have still a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes; they will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. If you conquer, you will be clothed like them in white robes, and I will not blot your name out of the book of life; I will confess your name before my Father and before his angels. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.”
Jesus said, “Therefore I send you prophets, sages, and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town, so that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Truly I tell you, all this will come upon this generation.
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you, desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’”
Jan Hus, also known as John Huss (c. 1369 - 1415) was a Czech religious thinker, philosopher, and reformer, master at Charles University in Prague. His followers became known as Hussites. The Roman Catholic Church considered his teachings heretical. Hus was excommunicated in 1411, condemned by the Council of Constance, and burned at the stake on July 6, 1415 Hus was a precursor to the Protestant movement and many of his ideas anticipated those of Martin Luther. He was, though, an even more radical critic than most of the relationship between the Christian church and use of military force, condemning the churches blessing of crusades, which even Francis of Assisi did not do. His extensive writings earn him a prominent place in Czech literary history. In 1405, he wrote to encourage Christians to desist from looking for miracles as signs of Christ's presence, but rather to seek him in his word.
The Acts “Agree with God…?”
The Psalm: What is a divided heart?
The Epistle: What are the marks of a dead church?
The Gospel: What is God’s plan for those who work to hinder the spread of the Gospel.”
How do you feel about Jan Hus’s idea of looking for the presence of the Lord in Scriptures and not in looking for miracles?
The Lessons Appointed for Use on
the Feast of
Public Servant and Prophetic Witness, 1965
Loving God, we bless your Name for Frances Perkins who in faithfulness to her baptism sought to build a society in which all may live in health and decency: Help us, following her example and in union with her prayers, to contend tirelessly for justice and for the protection of all, that we may be faithful followers of Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
If there is among you anyone in need, a member of your community in any of your towns within the land that the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hard-hearted or tight-fisted toward your needy neighbor. You should rather open your hand, willingly lending enough to meet the need, whatever it may be. Be careful that you do not entertain a mean thought, thinking, “The seventh year, the year of remission, is near,” and therefore view your needy neighbor with hostility and give nothing; your neighbor might cry to the Lord against you, and you would incur guilt. Give liberally and be ungrudging when you do so, for on this account the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. Since there will never cease to be some in need on the earth, I therefore command you, “Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbor in your land.”
27 The righteous are always generous in their lending, *
and their children shall be a blessing.
28 Turn from evil, and do good, *
and dwell in the land for ever.
29 For the Lord loves justice; *
he does not forsake his faithful ones.
30 They shall be kept safe for ever, *
but the offspring of the wicked shall be destroyed.
31 The righteous shall possess the land *
and dwell in it for ever.
On their return the apostles told Jesus all they had done. He took them with him and withdrew privately to a city called Bethsaida. When the crowds found out about it, they followed him; and he welcomed them, and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed to be cured.
The day was drawing to a close, and the twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away, so that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside, to lodge and get provisions; for we are here in a deserted place.” But he said to them, “You give them something to eat.” They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.” For there were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, “Make them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” They did so and made them all sit down. And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. And all ate and were filled. What was left over was gathered up, twelve baskets of broken pieces.
Frances Perkins April 10, 1880– May 14, 1965) was an American sociologist and workers-rights advocate who served as the U.S. Secretary of Labor from 1933 to 1945, the longest serving in that position, and the first woman appointed to the U.S. Cabinet. As a loyal supporter of her friend, Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR), she helped pull the labor movement into the New Deal coalition. She and Interior Secretary Harold L. Ickes were the only original members of the Roosevelt cabinet to remain in office for his entire presidency.
During her term as Secretary of Labor, Perkins executed many aspects of the New Deal, including the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Public Works Administration and its successor the Federal Works Agency, and the labor portion of the National Industrial Recovery Act. With the Social Security Act she established unemployment benefits, pensions for the many uncovered elderly Americans, and welfare for the poorest Americans. She pushed to reduce workplace accidents and helped craft laws against child labor. Through the Fair Labor Standards Act, she established the first minimum wage and overtime laws for American workers, and defined the standard forty-hour workweek. She formed governmental policy for working with labor unions and helped to alleviate strikes by way of the United States Conciliation Service. Perkins dealt with many labor questions during World War II, when skilled labor was vital and women were moving into formerly male jobs. She was the subject of the documentary film "Summoned" (2020).
Discussion: Francis Perkins is a fairly recent addition to our list of people honored in our lectionary. She sure worked for the welfare of the people. The scriptures listed for her are obvious all looking for the welfare of the people.
I suppose it is a blessing to have here open male jobs to women??? Rosy the riveter during WW11 started a lot of women doing jobs formerly done by men. The men were in the Army and now even that is available to women.
I would be interested in hearing the women in the Wednesday morning group discuss this as a blessing our a curse. I guess it is something to think about. It sounds like the workers, male and female, benefited from her efforts.
The Lessons Appointed for Use at a Celebration of
Founder of the American Sisters of Charity
May 6, 2020
Holy God, you blessed Elizabeth Seton with your grace as wife, mother, educator and founder, that she might spend her life in service to your people: Help us, by her example, to express our love for you in love of others; through Jesus Christ our Redeemer, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2 Esdras 2:15-24
"Mother, embrace your children; bring them up with gladness, as does a dove; strengthen their feet, because I have chosen you, says the Lord. And I will raise up the dead from their places, and bring them out from their tombs, because I recognize my name in them. Do not fear, mother of children, for I have chosen you, says the Lord. I will send you help, my servants Isaiah and Jeremiah. According to their counsel I have consecrated and prepared for you twelve trees loaded with various fruits, and the same number of springs flowing with milk and honey, and seven mighty mountains on which roses and lilies grow; by these I will fill your children with joy.
"Guard the rights of the widow, secure justice for the ward, give to the needy, defend the orphan, clothe the naked, care for the injured and the weak, do not ridicule the lame, protect the maimed, and let the blind have a vision of my splendor. Protect the old and the young within your walls. When you find any who are dead, commit them to the grave and mark it, and I will give you the first place in my resurrection. Pause and be quiet, my people, because your rest will come."
105 Your word is a lantern to my feet * and a light upon my path.
106 I have sworn and am determined * to keep your righteous judgments.
107 I am deeply troubled; * preserve my life, O LORD, according to your word.
108 Accept, O LORD, the willing tribute of my lips, * and teach me your judgments.
109 My life is always in my hand, * yet I do not forget your law.
110 The wicked have set a trap for me, * but I have not strayed from your commandments.
111 Your decrees are my inheritance for ever; * truly, they are the joy of my heart.
112 I have applied my heart to fulfill your statutes * for ever and to the end.
While your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, I want you to be wise in what is good, and guileless in what is evil. The God of peace will shortly crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
One of the dinner guests said to Jesus, “Blessed is anyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” Then Jesus said to him, “Someone gave a great dinner and invited many. At the time for the dinner he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land, and I must go out and see it; please accept my regrets.’ Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please accept my regrets.’ Another said, ‘I have just been married, and therefore I cannot come.’ So the slave returned and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ And the slave said, ‘Sir, what you ordered has been done, and there is still room.” Then the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled.'"
Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton, SC, (August 28, 1774 – January 4, 1821) was the first person born in what would become the United States to be canonized by the Roman Catholic Church (September 14, 1975). She established the first Catholic girls' school in the nation in Emmitsburg, Maryland, where she also founded the first American congregation of religious sisters, the Sisters of Charity.
The Gospel reading is called the Great Banquet. For some reason those who were invited did not want to attend and the excuses began to flow. I imagine that we all have made excuses for something we did not want to do. We very often get good at it. Sometimes our excuses are a fabrication, but we can make them sound very sincere. Sometimes we use the same excuse over and over again. Why waste a good story.
I ran across this definition of excuses:
EXCUSES ARE TOOLS OF IMCOMPETENCE USED TO BUILD BRIDGES TO NOWHERE AND MONUMENTS OF NOTHINGNESS. (Unknown)
I have been trying to think of an excuse that I have used recently but none comes to my memory. I guess that’s a blessing. Sometimes an excuse sounds sincere and sometimes everyone who hears it knows that it is so much baloney.So how do you see the people making excuses in the Gospel reading for Elizabeth Seaton? Do you make excuses that affect your spiritual life, your love of the Lord Jesus, your commitment to worship, your prayer life, your tithe, your love of your neighbor etc. I guess the Gospel lesson teaches us that if we do not take our place at the banquet table it will be filled by someone else.
The Lessons Appointed for Use on
the Feast of
Catherine of Siena
Everlasting God, you so kindled the flame of holy love in the heart of blessed Catherine of Siena, as she meditated on the passion of your Son our Savior, that she devoted her life to the poor and the sick, and to the peace and unity of the Church: Grant that we also may share in the mystery of Christ’s death, and rejoice in the revelation of his glory; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
73 Your hands have made me and fashioned me; *
give me understanding, that I may learn your commandments.
74 Those who fear you will be glad when they see me, *
because I trust in your word.
75 I know, O Lord, that your judgments are right *
and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.
76 Let your loving-kindness be my comfort, *
as you have promised to your servant.
77 Let your compassion come to me, that I may live, *
for your law is my delight.
78 Let the arrogant be put to shame, for they wrong me with lies; *
but I will meditate on your commandments.
79 Let those who fear you turn to me, *
and also those who know your decrees.
80 Let my heart be sound in your statutes, *
that I may not be put to shame.
1 John 1:5–2:2
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
Jesus said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying. For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, strive for his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.”
St. Catherine of Siena, (born March 25, 1347, Siena, Tuscany—died April 29, 1380, Rome; canonized 1461; feast day April 29), Dominican tertiary, mystic, and one of the patron saints of Italy. She was declared a doctor of the church in 1970 and a patron saint of Europe in 1999.
St. Catherine of Siena was a Dominican tertiary and mystic who lived in Italy in the 1300s. She was known for her holiness, asceticism, and spiritual visions and was said to have received stigmata. She was also a reformer and political activist, and she was influential in religious and political affairs of the church.
St. Catherine of Siena is one of only four women who were named doctor of the church, meaning that her writings, including the mystical The Dialogue and her prayers and letters, have special authority in Roman Catholicism. She was an important defender of the papacy and is a patron saint of Europe and of Italy.
The scriptures that tell us not to worry come at a good time for us at a time when the future looks so foggy. We are impressed with the faith of Catherine. From the Collect we can rejoice in the majesty of His glory. It sure is good to know that Jesus is walking with us at this time. God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all. Sure encouraging word for us to hear at this time.
It looks like the country is trying to open up and get back to business. Our prayers are for the right decisions by our leaders to balance safety and a return to a good economy for all of us.
I sure do miss our Wednesday morning worship and discussion. I wonder how our church will be when this is all over? I am sure we are all in prayer for protection and I would not be surprised it there were also significant spiritual growth ahead for all of us.
Wash your hands, wear your mask, keep your distance and Jesus bless you. George +
God The Holy Spirit
May 27, 2020
This coming Sunday we celebrate an especially important event, the coming of the Holy Spirit, The Feast of Pentecost. This sharing is preparation for that event.
Just before Jesus' ascension He promised to send us the Holy Spirit. When the disciples heard this promise from Jesus, they were not too happy. Many people today feel the same way. Talk about the Holy Spirit is for the evangelicals or the Charismatics. The bottom line is that the Holy Spirit is a major part of our faith.
The disciples did not like the talk about the coming of the Spirit because it meant that Jesus was leaving. And yet Jesus told them it is good that He is leaving because He was sending another "Counselor". The idea of another person did not interest them at all. The word for Counselor means "one who comes alongside".
That is what Jesus was to the disciples, He came alongside of them for the three years of His ministry. The thought of Him leaving was a painful thing to hear. So, the coming of the Holy Spirit was not a blessing to them. The Holy Spirit is often called the missing person of the Holy Trinity. It takes a real effort to be open to the power of God the Holy Spirit. If we were to make the effort to be comfortable with the presence of the third person of the Trinity then there are twenty-one things that we have to know.
1) The Holy Spirit is God.
2) The Holy Spirit is a person.
3) The Holy Spirit is eternal.
4) The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth.
5) The Holy Spirit was involved in Creation.
6) The Holy Spirit uses people, wrote the Bible.
7) The Holy Spirit is our teacher.
8) The Holy Spirit can be grieved.
9) The Holy Spirit can be quenched.
10) The Holy Spirit will be the One who convicts.
11) The Holy Spirit will be our guide.
12) The Holy Spirit speaks only what God the Father gives Him to say.
13) The Holy Spirit will predict the future.
14) The Holy Spirit will glorify Jesus Christ.
15) The Holy Spirit can be blasphemed.
16) The Holy Spirit is our reminder.
17) The Holy Spirit gives power.
18) The Holy Spirit manifests Himself through many spiritual gifts.
19) The Holy Spirit directs people to Jesus and makes Him real.
20) The Holy Spirit manifests Himself through various kinds of blessings.
21) The Holy Spirit gives renewed power.
From these examples of God, the Holy Spirit and His activities, you can see it is necessary to include Him in your spiritual journey. It is with real joy and expectation we can look forward to many, many experiences of the Holy Spirit in our life. The Spirit is not pushy, He will not force Himself on you, He will simply wait for an open door, an open heart, your curiosity, your invitation, for Him to manifest Himself in your life.
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power, and love and self-control.(2 Timothy 1:7)
May 20th, 2020
Almighty God, whose blessed Son our Savior Jesus Chris ascended far above all heavens that he might fill all things: Mercifully give us faith to perceive that, according to his promise, he abides with his Church on earth, even to the end of the ages; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen
In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. "This", he said, "is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."
So when they had come together, they asked him, "Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?" He replied, "It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." when he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward the heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven."
1 The Lord is King;
he has put on splendid apparel;*
the Lord has put on his apparel
and girded himself with strength.
2 He has made the whole world so sure*
that it cannot be moved;
3 Ever since the world began, your throne has been established;*
you are from everlasting.
4 The waters have lifted up, O Lord,
the waters have lifted up their voice;*
the waters have lifted up their pounding waves.
5 Mightier than the sound of many waters,
mightier than the breakers of the sea,*
mightier is the Lord who dwells on high.
6 Your testimonies are very sure,*
and holiness adorns your house, O Lord,
for ever and for evermore.
I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
Jesus said to his disciples, "These are my words that i spoke to you while I was still with you--that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled." Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, "thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise form the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high."
Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God.
History of the Ascension of Our Lord
The Ascension of Our Lord, which occurred 40 days after Jesus Christ rose from the dead on Easter, is the final act of our redemption that Christ began on Good Friday. On this day, the risen Christ, in the sight of His apostles, ascended bodily into Heaven.
The reality of Christ's Ascension is so important that the creeds (the basic statements of belief) of Christianity all affirm, in the words of the Apostles' Creed, that "He ascended into heaven, sits at the right hand of God the Father almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead." The denial of the Ascension is as grave a departure from Christian teaching as is the denial of Christ's Resurrection.
Christ's bodily Ascension foreshadows our own entrance into Heaven not simply as souls, after our death, but as glorified bodies, after the resurrection of the dead at the Final Judgment. In redeeming mankind, Christ not only offered salvation to our souls but began the restoration of the material world itself to the glory that God intended before Adam's fall.
The Feast of the Ascension marks the beginning of nine days of prayer. Before His Ascension, Christ promised to send the Holy Spirit to His apostles. Their prayer for the coming of the Holy Spirit, which began on Ascension Thursday, ended with the descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday, ten days later.
Our prayers during this time should focus on God the Holy Spirit. Between Ascension and Pentecost we ask for the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the fruits of the Holy Spirit.
God had a problem. When He decided to reveal Himself to mankind there was not an easy way to do it. He had to decide who would understand what He wanted to say to them. The world was a rather corrupt and disorganized place. Even the clergy were more interested in how they looked to the public rather than teach the way of God to them.
But God could always find a few people who could be trusted with His message. God always used the few, "the remnant", to get out His message. The Blessed Virgin Mary is an example, the disciples to name another group and who knows how many other faithful Jews there were that were following God's plan for their lives as outlined in the Scriptures.
The Luke reading says that God had to open their minds in order for them to understand what He was doing. After Jesus was crucified, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of His Father is an important cycle for us Christians to understand.
Now we have the Gifts of the Spirit to understand and deal with, the Fruit of the Spirit to enjoy and use to do our ministries. It all starts for us on Ascension Day, this year on May 21st. Look up and be amazed!