Isaiah 35: 4 – 7a; Psalm 146; James 2: 1 – 10 (11 – 13) 14 – 17; Mark 7: 24 – 37
I love this story of the healing of the Syrophoenician woman’s daughter from the Gospel of Mark! I love it in part, because I get to say the word Syrophoenician! Just throw that into the conversation next time you are at a dinner party and see how impressed people are with your erudition! I love it because of the breathlessness with which Mark tells the story. You can almost hear the urgency in Mark’s voice, as in just six verses he tells us an awful lot, that is profoundly significant. I love it, because it harkens back to the church of my youth, and it calls to mind growing up at St. Mary’s, Regina. It is from this passage, among other sources, that Cranmer created, what some of you will remember, as the Prayer of Humble Access, or the Zoom Prayer, as a friend of mine calls it:
We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, Trusting in our own righteousness, But in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy So much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy: Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the Flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his Blood, That our sinful bodies may be made clean by his Body, and our souls washed through his most precious Blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him, And he in us. Amen.
But mostly I love this story because it shouldn’t have happened! There is a hint of the forbidden. We see Jesus acting out of the box. He shouldn’t be where we find him today, doing what he shouldn’t be doing. And that’s just the point.
The Twenty-Fourth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 27B)
1 Kings 17: 8-16
Hebrews 9: 24-28
Mark 12: 38-44
Several years ago, in fact the summer of 1991, the whole community packed up, and we went on pilgrimage to Britain. Some of you might remember. It was the summer of our 125th anniversary, and we went to Britain to visit some of the places the community had been associated with. We went to, and stayed in, the old Mission House in Oxford. We met sisters at the Fairacres convent, a community we had helped to found in the early days of the twentieth century. We had our annual retreat at Bishop’s House on Iona, which had once been a house of the Society. It was a great time, and for the most part the weather was spectacular. Whenever I am in Britain, I am struck buy two things. I am struck by just how small the country is and how close everything is to everything else. And I am struck by the fact that I lose all sense of direction. I am struck by the fact that I have absolutely no sense of where things are in relation to one another. Now that’s fine if you are not driving, but if you are driving … and alone …without a map, that’s a recipe for disaster. I mean, how hard can it really be to get from Heathrow to Oxford, especially when you have just come from Oxford? It’s just over there. Or was it there. Or maybe it was that way. I guess I didn’t know after all. Boy did I get lost that day. I am surprised I ever made it back to Oxford because after a while it became really clear, I wasn’t anywhere near Oxford.
“Pentecost continues! Pentecost is most fundamentally a continuing gift of the Spirit;”
So begins “A Pastoral letter to the Episcopal Church” (2 June 2010) [https://www.episcopalchurch.org/79425_122615_ENG_HTM.htm], issued this past week by Presiding Bishop and Primate Katharine Jefferts Schori.
“Pentecost is most fundamentally a continuing gift of the Spirit, rather than a limitation or quenching of that Spirit,” writes the Primate. Her letter comes in response to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Pentecost letter to the Anglican Communion (28 May 2010) [https://www.episcopalchurch.org/79425_122553_ENG_HTM.htm] concerning current struggles within the Communion. Bishop Katharine expresses concern that the text of that letter “seems to equate its understanding of the Spirit’s outpouring,” as she puts it, “with a single understanding of gospel realities. Those who received the gift of the Spirit on that day all heard good news,” Jefferts Schori continues. “The crowd reported, ‘in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power’ [Acts 2:11].”
1 Kings 17: 8-16;
Hebrews 9: 24-28;
Mark 12: 38-44
One of the most brilliant and talented of the first generation of Father Benson’s spiritual sons, Arthur Hall, who later served as Episcopal Bishop of Vermont for 38 years, was also a gifted spiritual director. When Jack and Isabella Gardner moved their membership to the Church of the Advent on Bowdoin Street in 1873, Mrs. Gardner sought him out for counsel and Hall very shortly assumed the responsibility for her spiritual formation. At the time Hall was 25, attractive and a recent graduate of Christ Church, Oxford. Mrs. Gardner was mourning the death of her only child.