On Monday, March 23 of this year, The Church of St. Michael & St. George began a new journey, an unexpected journey. Our church had been shuttered as the coronavirus made landfall in the US and the nature of our common life as a parish began to take new shape. That was 101 days ago. Since March 23, we have heard from clergy, staff, and choir members every day. That is –101 "Words of Encouragement." We knew the coming weeks and months would not be easy and that we would need bread for the journey. That is how we have thought of these daily Words of Encouragement.
The Rector's first Words of Encouragement to us back on March 23 came on the Monday after the fourth Sunday in Lent, Laetare Sunday. That was the Sunday where we paused in our journey through Lent and broke fast to be fortified for what was to come. The Rector quoted Isaiah 66:10:
Rejoice O Jerusalem, and be glad for her,
all you who love her;
rejoice with her in joy,
all you who mourn over her—
that you may nurse and be satisfied
from her consoling breast.
God's word tells us, and Jesus himself repeated it on the eve of his wilderness journey, we do not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. This marks the last of the daily Words of Encouragement for now. Following this installment, the "Words of Encouragement" will come to you weekly. For those of you have grown accustomed to a daily meditation, I would love to encourage you to continue in that practice. To continue to consume every word that comes from the mouth of God.
Book of Common Prayer
has a wonderful and oft neglected section entitled Daily Devotions for Individuals and Families found on page 136. Marian Hatchet points out in his commentary on the prayer book that "As early as as the time of Queen Elizabeth a series of "Godly Prayers" for individual or family use was sometimes bound with the Prayer Book." Prayer at home, along with the reading of the Bible at home, has long been a part of our Anglican tradition.
This section gives you four opportunities to pause, Morning, Noon, Evening, and Night, pray a brief prayer and then read from God's Word. If you want to know what Scriptures to read with the day, you simply find the week and the day in Lectionary in the back of the BCP. Today, we are on the week of Proper 8 found on page 973 in the BCP. The Lectionary guides you through the year on your reading, consuming, and inwardly digesting of God's Word. Here is one possible pattern: In the morning you read the Old Testament Lesson. At Noon, you read the New Testament lesson, and in the Evening, you read the Gospel lesson.
God's Word is what will give us strength for the road ahead. Again, even Jesus, the second member of the Godhead, consumed the Scriptures, every word that comes from the mouth of God, for strength. The greatest commandment and the second are to love God and love your neighbor. How can you accomplish that? It is accomplished out of the overflow of God's grace. My encouragement to you is to apply yourself to God's Word daily. St. Augustine said, "For now treat the scriptures of God as the face of God; melt in its presence." Read God's Word, pray daily, and be transformed. Be strengthened, for we still have a journey ahead.