St. Francis – Gary Kester

Feb. 9 – The Third Sunday before Lent, known as Septuagesima or approximately seventy days before Easter. We are in a new season, a pre-Lenten season so altar & vestment colors are dark blue in keeping with the solemnity of the time.  

The themes of the scripture readings for today are temperance & justice.  In the Epistle, 1 Corinthians 9:24, Paul compares the Christian life to an athlete running a race, but he is running for a corruptible crown in the physical world and the Christian life is running for the goal of an eternal crown in heaven.  

The Gospel lesson, St. Matthew 20:1, is the Parable of the Vineyard in which a vineyard owner hires workers at different times but pays the same, provoking complaints from his employees. But he tells them “Take that thine is and go thy way” and closes with the well-known statement “So the last shall be first and the first last; for many are called but few are chosen.    Here the vineyard symbolizes the Kingdom of God which is for us a place of work with the reward the same for all.  Divine justice is not the same as earthly justice and God knows our merits. 

During prayer time Bishop Hartley said the birthday prayer for Stephanie Connell and the rest in peace prayer for Laura Wittorff.  

In announcements he noted that our Ash Wednesday service will be Februrary 26 at 6:30 and all are welcome. 

Last week’s news: February 2 – The Presentation of Christ in the Temple/Purification of Saint Mary the Virgin, usually known as Purification Sunday. This day commemorates a Jewish custom followed by the Holy Family according to which forty days after the birth of a first son the boy was presented in the temple and the mother went to be ritually purified. In English tradition this day is known as Candlemas and the candles are blessed. 

The Collect Prayer sums up the importance of the day in Christian tradition: “Almighty & everliving God, we humbly beseech thy majesty that, as thy only-begotten son was this day presented in the temple in substance of our flesh, so we may be presented unto thee with pure and clean hearts.” 

This day is part of the Epiphany Season because of the theme of presentation to the physical world and manifestation in the world. In the reading from Malachi 3:1, God says “Behold, I will send my messenger and he shall prepare the way before me and the Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come into his temple.” The birth of Christ fulfills this prophecy.  

The Gospel for the day, St. Luke 2:22, gives us the account of the event:  And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished they brought him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.” In our day we come to church to present ourselves to God in the same way.

During prayer time Bishop Hartley said the birthday prayer for Anderia Kelly whose birthday is February 8, and in announcements noted that we will once again attempt to have Evening Prayer, weather permitting.

Services at St. Francis Anglican (Traditional Episcopal) Church are Sundays at 10:30 and Wednesdays at 6:30. For more information visit our website at stfrancisavamo.org.