The 5th Sunday after the Epiphany

Holy Eucharist, Rite II

February 7, 2021

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 The Celebrant and LEM stand, maintaining physical distance. There is no procession.

Opening Rites

 

Celebrant:       Blessed be God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

LEM:               And blessed be God’s kingdom, now and forever.

 

Celebrant:      Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Celebrant:    Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One,
LEM:           Have mercy upon us.

 

 Opening Hymn:  Immortal, Invisible                      Hymnal 1982  #423

Immortal, invisible, God only wise,

in light inaccessible hid from our eyes,

most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,

almighty, victorious, thy great Name we praise.

 

Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light, nor wanting, nor wasting, thou rulest in might; thy justice like mountains high soaring above

thy clouds, which are fountains of goodness and love.

 

The Collect of the Day

Celebrant:    The Lord be with you,
LEM:           And also with you.

Celebrant:      Let us pray.

The Celebrant says the Collect.

Lord of fierce compassion,

you name the forces of death

in our hearts and institutions

and even in the holy places:

lift from us the canopy of fear

that feeds on repression

and pushes away

what it cannot abide;

go with us

to dark and lonely places

where we can learn again

who we are called to be;

through Jesus Christ, the healer of creation. Amen.  

The Lessons[1]

 

The Old Testament Lesson                                                Isaiah 40:21-31

21Have you not known? Have you not heard?
    Has it not been told you from the beginning?
    Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
22 It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,
    and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;
who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
    and spreads them like a tent to live in;
23 who brings princes to naught,
    and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing.

24 Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown,
    scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth,
when he blows upon them, and they wither,
    and the tempest carries them off like stubble.

25 To whom then will you compare me,
    or who is my equal? says the Holy One.
26 Lift up your eyes on high and see:
    Who created these?
He who brings out their host and numbers them,
    calling them all by name;
because he is great in strength,
    mighty in power,
    not one is missing.

27 Why do you say, O Jacob,
    and speak, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord,
and my right is disregarded by my God”?

28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
    his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
    and strengthens the powerless.
30 Even youths will faint and be weary,
    and the young will fall exhausted;
31 but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
    they shall walk and not faint.”

 

LEM:               The Word of the Lord.

Celebrant:       Thanks be to God.

  

Psalm of the Day:                                                            Psalm 147:1-11, 20c

1Praise the Lord!
How good it is to sing praises to our God;
    for he is gracious, and a song of praise is fitting.
The Lord builds up Jerusalem;
    he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted,
    and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars;
    he gives to all of them their names.
Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
    his understanding is beyond measure.
The Lord lifts up the downtrodden;
    he casts the wicked to the ground.

Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;
    make melody to our God on the lyre.
He covers the heavens with clouds,
    prepares rain for the earth,
    makes grass grow on the hills.
He gives to the animals their food,
    and to the young ravens when they cry.
10 His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
    nor his pleasure in the speed of a runner;[a]
11 but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him,
    in those who hope in his steadfast love.

20 Praise the Lord!

 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;

As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

 

The New Testament Lesson:                                              I Corinthians 9:16-23

If I proclaim the gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me, and woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel! 17 For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward; but if not of my own will, I am entrusted with a commission. 18 What then is my reward? Just this: that in my proclamation I may make the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my rights in the gospel.

19 For though I am free with respect to all, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I might win more of them. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) so that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law) so that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.

 LEM:           The Word of the Lord.

Celebrant:    Thanks be to God.

 

 Gradual Hymn: Hail to the Lord’s Anointed                                            Hymnal 1982 #616

 

Hail to the Lord’s Anointed,

great David’s greater Son!

Hail, in the time appointed,

his reign on earth begun!

He comes to break oppression,

to set the captive free;

to take away transgression,

and rule in equity.

 

He comes with succor speedy

to those who suffer wrong,

to help the poor and needy,

and bid the weak be strong;

to give them songs for sighing,

their darkness turn to light,

whose souls, condemned and dying,

were precious in his sight.

 

The Gospel:                                                                      Mark 1:29-39

Then, all standing, the Deacon or a Priest reads the Gospel, first saying

                                        

Celebrant:       The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Mark.

LEM:              Glory to you, Lord Christ.

 

29 As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. 31 He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.

32 That evening, at sunset, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. 33 And the whole city was gathered around the door. 34 And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.

35 In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. 36 And Simon and his companions hunted for him. 37 When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” 38 He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.” 39 And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.

 

Priest:      The Gospel of the Lord.

LEM:       Praise to you, Lord Christ.

 

 The Sermon: “Shrovetide”[2]

(The printed sermon text may differ from the spoken sermon)

Sexagesima / Epiphany 5 B, February 7, 2021

Last week, friends, I forgot something – forgot something that I am one of the few still likely to remember, which I guess is a sign of increasing age, & one of its strange gifts. Like perhaps some of you, I’ve reached a stage in life in which I can walk into a room and promptly forget why I’ve done so, or put down a book and be unable to find, five minutes later, where it’s gone. I recently spent ten minutes looking for a pencil that was stuck behind my ear, and then managed to prick my finger in frustration at how long it had taken to make its presence known. I cannot remember how the pencil got up there in the first place, nor quite why experiences like that should linger in the memory of a mind that cannot remember to pick up pasta and cheese and cereal from the store during the same trip, and also batteries for the kitchen scale and oh, yes, paper towels. And cat food. And lettuce; you know you need to eat more greens. I’d make a list except I’d probably forget where I put that, too.

But back to last Sunday. It is one of the three Sundays in the church year with a weird name: Septuagesima, the 9th Sunday before Easter, and the 3rd before Ash Wednesday. The word comes from the Latin for “seventy days” that being how far from it Easter is, much as this Sunday’s title, Sexagesima – imagine how readily a teenager remembered that Sunday’s name – derives from the Latin for “sixty” or “the sixtieth”. All of this counting and odd naming and looking ahead was part of introducing a season of the church year that’s fallen out of fashion, yet perhaps should not have. It used to be the three weeks prior to Lent, which were meant to be a time of preparation for a holy Lent, as we call it. Its name? Shrovetide.

Not all words are beautiful, but that word is beautiful, even if you don’t quite know what it means. Part of the reason for that beauty is how it ends. “Tide” is always a lovely suffix for a season or a time; is not an evening made more peaceful and restful for being known as “eventide”, or the heat of the midday made more tolerable when known as “noontide”? Is there not something extra special about the Christmas season when we mark it off as the far more ancient and timely “Yuletide” – as in the carol’s directive, “Troll the ancient Yuletide carol / Fa la la la la, la la la la”? “Troll” in that older sense means to sing at the top of your lungs, and not the contemporary meaning “annoy and pester with idiotic commentary, freq. anonymous and electronic”. To troll the ancient yuletide carol is to belt it out so all can hear; as the saying goes, if you can’t sing well, sing loud. All other trolls, please stifle yourselves, in the name of Jesus, now and always.

A lovely, now almost lost, word meaning a time devoted to religion may be the sweetest of all of these: holytide. Like all such tides, it ebbs and flows, and there is a time when it is in, and a time when it is out, and by the regular changes of these various tides to we mark the various seasons of our year and life, and their regular repetition makes it easier to remember the many things we have to do, and do well, to thrive as people of God.

“-Tide” sounds lovely, as an ending, usually. Please don’t bring up “peptide,” “nucleotide,” or “riptide,” though, in this context, nor various tasks related to laundry; we’re going for happy and peaceful, here, for cycles and memory.

Shrovetide is, or was, a season of confession, a season of reconciliation, a season of penance and penitence, a season of being freed from guilt. Isn’t that Lent, you ask, or anytime you need it? In a way, but I think the idea is akin to warm-up exercises before one’s main exertion. Stretch thy muscles before a long walk or run, swim or bicycle ride, lest ye cramp and moan unto the Lord, “I can go no further!” and thy heart be then not strengthened, nor thy lats and abdomen well-toned. Prepare, as people did in medieval times, by feasting and in carnival release; this is the season that ends with Shrove Tuesday / Mardi Gras, after all, and one hopes that treats ranging from pancakes to feijoada to jambalaya will be on the menu. But prepare, also, by looking within, assessing where you are weak and where you are strong, get ready to do without something, or add something in, that will help you throughout the forty days of Lent to…what, exactly?

When I was a kid, Lent was all about giving up chocolate, but I think a more appropriate adult discipline would be to give up illusions. “We must disenthrall ourselves,” wrote Lincoln to Congress on December 1, 1862, as he was preparing the Emancipation Proclamation, “and then we shall save our country.”[1] He knew, and wrote, that he and they had to destroy slavery in order to save the Union, “giving freedom to the slave…[to] assure freedom to the free,” and that everybody with a lick of sense knew it. Those reluctant to do everything it would take to make freedom ring, end the rebellion, win the war, and save “the last best hope on earth” had to wake up and do it, and do it now, while there was still time.

A month ago, the battle flag of the rebellion that fought to destroy that Union, preserve slavery, and found a nation confederated in and bound to white supremacy was paraded through this nation’s Capitol building. Holding it was a white guy looking both proud and murderous, one cog in a mob incited, as many of its members made sure to tell us, by the then-president, among others, to storm the seat of government and overturn the freest and fairest election we have seen in our lifetimes. We have learned much, and will doubtless learn more, about how close they came to doing so, and how deeply those at the highest levels were involved. We will continue to celebrate those who defended the Capitol and, with it, the nation. We will continue to mourn those who died as part of that defense. We must also keep vigil, as followers of a just and loving God, against an insurrection whose flame, now lit, burns undimmed and undaunted, a threat to all we hold dear. We must douse with compassion, wisdom, and truth the lies, conspiracy theories, and cults of personality that fuel that flame. We must accept that preserving this “last best hope on earth” may be no easier for us than it was for Lincoln et al., but we must also shed any illusion that doing so is either inevitable or impossible.

Not so long ago, the custom was for people to bring to church during Shrovetide any palm leaves they had left over from last Holy Week. Dry and brittle by now, with barely the memory of life left to them, they symbolized all that had gone by in the year past. Broken and often sharp, the palm fronds from last year were gathered together and burned on Shrove Tuesday. Their remains became the ashes the church would use for Ash Wednesday, mixed perhaps with a little olive oil as the Greeks do, to make the dust of them more likely to stick to our foreheads with what Lear calls, in a similar context, the smell of mortality, a reminder that we are mortal, and that this life has an end. We have, for a limited time only, but one life in which to do all the good we can, any which way we can. All that Lent is follows from that reminder of our mortality, our humanity, and the disciplines of Lent are meant, I am convinced, to remind us once again of the fragility and glory that human life is, and of the wonder and pain that can infuse it, the hopes and fears that cannot but come with it, and the danger and opportunity that lie around its every corner, within its every memory, and at the heart of its every dream.

The tasks of Shrovetide, by contrast, is to remind us to be reminded, to which today’s lessons for what is also the 5th Sunday after the Epiphany, the showing-forth, of God, also speak. As the gospel tells us, after freeing the man in Capernaum from the demon that had beset him so long, Jesus and his new followers went home. Not to Jesus’s home – rabbits may have their holes and badgers their dens, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head, and Galilee’s Motel Sixes do not leave the light on for him. No, they went to Simon’s and Andrew’s home, in which dwelled inter alia Simon’s mother-in-law, who had a fever. Jesus drove that fever down, and then the party started: all the sick in body or in mind came to Simon’s house so that Jesus could make them well. Mortality means being able to sicken, but also being able to be made well for a time, while life lasts. Then Jesus got up to pray in the early morning, alone, and knew it was time for them to move on. The next town over had sick people in it, and demons in need of being made outcast, so we have to go. Prepare to do the work, to preach the word, to heal the sick, and set minds free. Mortality means to make the most of the time, and there is no time to waste on weakness, lies, or leaving our gifts and talents to lay about unused. Who out there needs to hear truths they haven’t heard yet? It’s time we went and told them, Jesus told them.

Who knew more about that than Paul? Okay, Barnabas, Mark, Timothy, and anyone else who went with him, sure, but besides that, you know what I mean. He was never quite as a good – none of them was – as Jesus was at healing and casting out demons. It’s not for nothing that the adage is to wait for the head barber if you want the best haircut, even if the wait, as in my case, looks like it might be long. But Paul also knew, as he writes in the passage we just heard from 1st Corinthians, that speaking truth to people, preaching the word to them, and living amongst them while you do has a bit of an art to it – an art that did not come easy to him. Being “all things to all people,” so that he might save some, always sounds disingenuous to me, and it clearly doesn’t come easy to him. Yet the lesson is wise: speak to people in words they can understand, particularly when what you want them to understand is difficult, but necessary, for them to understand.

“Sexagesima,” this Sunday’s name, is not one such word, you will be quick and right to tell me. But even saying it makes us as the question, “What does that mean?” – and questions are good. Think of those in Isaiah today: “Have you not known? Have you not heard?” What? Who the Lord is, and what our Lord God Almighty has done. “Who is my equal?” asks the Holy One, rather rhetorically. “Have you not known, have you not seen” who this Lord is? He tires not, nor grows weary, knows all, “brings princes to naught” but also “gives power to the faint, and strength to the powerless,” renewing the strength of those who wait upon him so that they, we, can “mount up with wings like eagles.” The Lord will be with us and give us strength as we speak the truth, love abundantly, preach the word, get the sick made well, cast out demons, and set minds, hearts, and bodies free. He got this, and He got us, even if we can’t always remember where we left that pencil, or what it was that we came in here for.

Amen

         

There is no passing of plates or reception of gifts.

The Deacon or Priest prepares the altar and sanctuary for the Eucharist.

The People make ready their gifts of bread and wine. The LEM continues

 

The Creed

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty,

     maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God,
    eternally begotten of the Father,
    God from God, Light from Light,
    true God from true God, begotten, not made,
    of one Being with the Father.
    Through him all things were made.
    For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven:
    by the power of the Holy Spirit
        he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made human.
  For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
        he suffered death and was buried.
        On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures;
        he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
    He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
        and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
    who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
    With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
    He has spoken through the Prophets.
    We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
    We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
    We look for the resurrection of the dead,
        and the life of the world to come. Amen.

 

The Prayers of the People

The LEM prays. In the silence after each bidding, the People offer their prayers without speaking.

I ask your prayers for all God’s people; for our bishops, our clergy, and this gathering, and for all ministers and people. Pray for the Church.

Silence

I ask your prayers for peace; for goodwill among nations; and for the well-being of all. Pray for justice and peace.

Silence

I ask your prayers for the poor, the sick, the hungry, the oppressed, and those in prison.
Pray for those in any need or trouble.

Silence

I ask your prayers for all who seek God, or a deeper knowledge of God.
Pray that they may seek, and pray that they might find.

Silence

I ask your prayers for the departed [especially N.N.]. Pray for those who have died.

Silence

I ask your prayers for those on the prayer list of this parish, and those whose needs are known to you alone.

Silence

The Celebrant adds a concluding collect.

The Peace

The People stand.

Celebrant:  The peace of the Lord be always with you,

LEM:          And also with you.

The Ministers and People greet one another in silence while keeping physical distance.

 

The Holy Eucharist: The Great Thanksgiving

Celebrant:    The Lord be with you,

LEM:           And also with you.

Celebrant:    Lift up your hearts.

LEM:           We lift them to the Lord.

Celebrant:    Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

LEM:           It is right to give God thanks and praise.

Then, facing the Holy Table, the Celebrant proceeds

It is right, and a good and joyful thing, always and everywhere to give thanks to you, Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, because in the mystery of the Word made flesh, you have caused a new light to shine in our hearts, to give the knowledge of your glory in the face of your son Jesus Christ our Lord.

Therefore we praise you, joining our voices with Angels and Archangels and with all the host of heaven, who for ever sing this hymn to the glory of your Name:

The LEM says

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.                      Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed are they who come in the name of the Lord.   Hosanna in the highest.

The people stand or kneel. The People hold forth their gifts. The Celebrant continues

We give thanks to you, O God, for the goodness and love which you have made known to us in creation; in the calling of Israel to be your people; in your Word spoken through the prophets; and above all in the Word made flesh, Jesus, your Son. For in these last days you sent him to be incarnate from the Virgin Mary, to be the Savior and Redeemer of the world. In him, you have delivered us from evil, and made us worthy to stand before you. In him, you have brought us out of error into truth, out of sin into righteousness, out of death into life.

On the night he died for us, our Lord Jesus Christ took bread; and when he had given thanks to you, he broke it, and gave it to his friends, and said, “Take, eat: This is my Body, which is given for you. Do this in memory of me.”

After supper he took the cup of wine, gave thanks, gave it to them, and said, “Drink this, all of you: This is my Blood of the new Covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink it, do this in memory of me.”

Therefore, according to his command, O Lord:

LEM    We remember his death. We proclaim his resurrection. We await his coming in glory;

The Celebrant continues

And we offer our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to you, O Lord of all, presenting to you, from your creation, this bread and this wine.

We pray you, gracious God, to send your Holy Spirit upon these gifts that they may be the Sacrament of the Body of Christ and his Blood of the new Covenant. Unite us to your Son in his sacrifice, that we may be acceptable through him, being sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

In the fullness of time, put all things in subjection under your Christ, and bring us to that heavenly country where, with [­­N.N.   and] all your saints, we may enter the everlasting heritage of your sons and daughters; through Jesus Christ our Lord, the firstborn of all creation, the head of the Church, and the author of our salvation,

By whom, and with whom, and in whom, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honor and glory is yours, Almighty Father, now and for ever. Amen.

 

Now, as Christ taught us, we are bold to say,

The LEM prays

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name,
    thy kingdom come, thy will be done,
        on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those
        who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,
    for ever and ever. Amen.


The Breaking of the Bread

The Celebrant breaks the consecrated Bread, and then keeps a period of silence. The Celebrant continues

Celebrant:       [Alleluia.] Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us;

LEM:                Therefore, let us keep the feast. [Alleluia.]
Celebrant:      The Gifts of God for the People of God.

The People come forward to retrieve the hosts, maintaining physical distance. They consume the hosts upon returning to their seats. They consume their gifts. After Communion, the Celebrant says

Let us pray.  The Celebrant prays

Eternal God, heavenly Father, you have graciously accepted us as living members
of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ, and you have fed us with spiritual food in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood. Send us now into the world in peace, and grant us strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Blessing and Dismissal

The Celebrant says

           The Lord bless you and keep you.

           The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you.

           The Lord be with you, this day and always, and give you peace.

 

The LEM says

            Let us go forth, in peace, to love and serve the Lord.

 

Withdrawal Hymn: O Christ, the Word Incarnatl                     Hymnal 1982, # 632

 

O Christ, the Word Incarnate,

O Wisdom from on high,

O Truth, unchanged, unchanging,

O Light of our dark sky;

we praise thee for the radiance

that from the scripture’s page,

a lantern to our footsteps,

shines on from age to age.

 

The Church from our dear Master

received the word divine,

and still that light is lifted

o’er all the earth to shine.

It is the chart and compass

that o’er life’s surging sea,

mid mists and rocks and quicksands,

still guides, O Christ, to thee.

 

O make thy Church, dear Savior,

a lamp of purest gold,

to bear before the nations

thy true light as of old;

O teach thy wandering pilgrims

by this their path to trace,

till, clouds and darkness ended,

they see thee face to face.

 

The Celebrant, the LEM, and the People depart, maintaining physical distance.

 

We hope that today’s service has been a blessing to you.
We are here to serve you, and hope to see you again.
Please feel free to call us, email us, or visit us online.

 

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Fairland, MD

12621 Old Columbia Pike

Silver Spring, MD  20904

office@stmarks-silverspring.org * 301-622-5860 ext. 1002


The Rev. Dr. Christopher Wilkins, Priest-in-Charge

rector@stmarks-silverspring.org * 301-622-5860 ext. 1001

Linda Lee, Parish Administrator

administrator@stmarks-silverspring.org  * 301-622-5860 ext. 1003

Beresford Coker, Musical Director

Joyce Walker, Administrative Assistant

Lee Mericle, Senior Warden

Rosanne Tingley, Junior Warden

 

For information about St. Mark’s, please visit our website:

www.stmarksfairland.org

www.stmarks-silverspring.org

 

[1] The readings are from the Revised Common Lectionary. See: https://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/.

The table for readings in Year B (Epiphany) may be found here: https://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/lections.php?year=B&season=Epiphany.

[2] Sermon text © 2021 Christopher Wilkins. All rights reserved.

[3] Source:  Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, edited by Roy P. Basler et al. qtd. in http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/speeches/congress.htm.


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