Sunday, January 28 was Septuagesima, Latin for seventieth, which is the third Sunday before Lent and approximately seventy days before Easter. This is another of the ancient Christian customs we observe in traditional Anglican/Episcopal churches that has fallen out of use in more contemporary churches. Bishop Hartley explained that it is not a new season on the Christian calendar which traces the events of Christ’s earthly life, but rather a pre-season that marks a turning toward a new season and the emphasis is on preparation for Lent. In the Gospel for the day, St. Matthew 20:1, the parable of the vineyard, Jesus tells us that “So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called but few chosen.” This is the parable in which the owner of the vineyard, or God, pays all the workers the same including those who came late. There are three points to be made about this parable. First, salvation is God’s gift through Jesus and cannot be earned, just accepted. Second, the reward is the same for all, the gift of life with God in Christ. Third, latecomers are also welcome, there is no time requirement. In the Epistle for the day, 1 Corinthians 9:24, “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.” Here Paul tells us that the prize is life with God, and compares the discipline of the athlete with the discipline necessary for the Christian life. The overall lesson of today’s scriptures is that it is never too late.
Saturday I drove to Springfield to the Landers Theater where the Jets and the Sharks are at it again in the Springfield Little Theater production of the classic Broadway musical “West Side Story.” Like most people, I had seen the movie but had not seen a live production so it was a real treat with wonderful music and dancing by a large and talented cast. I also had a visit with Ava native Dr. Mike Gentry and his wife Barbara, who are also fans of the SLT and often go, so it was a very enjoyable evening.
For more information on St. Francis Anglican (Traditional Episcopal) Church visit our website at stfrancisavamo.org.