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Holy Eucharist, Rite II, the 24th Sunday after Pentecost

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Dies Irae


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.

[acc_item title=”The Collect”]

Celebrant:     The Lord be with you,

LEM:              And also with you.

Celebrant:     Let us pray.

The Celebrant says the Collect.

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for
our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn,
and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever
hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have
given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with
you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.


The Lessons

( Click on the “+” as you go to show each part of the service )

[acc_item title=” The Old Testament Lesson:                                              Zephaniah 1:7, 12-18″]

Be silent before the Sovereign Lord,
    for the day of the Lord is near.
The Lord has prepared a sacrifice;
    he has consecrated those he has invited.

12 At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps
    and punish those who are complacent,
    who are like wine left on its dregs,
who think, ‘The Lord will do nothing,
    either good or bad.’
13 Their wealth will be plundered,
    their houses demolished.
Though they build houses,
    they will not live in them;
though they plant vineyards,
    they will not drink the wine.”

14 The great day of the Lord is near—
    near and coming quickly.
The cry on the day of the Lord is bitter;
    the Mighty Warrior shouts his battle cry.
15 That day will be a day of wrath—
    a day of distress and anguish,
        a day of trouble and ruin,
    a day of darkness and gloom,
        a day of clouds and blackness—
16     a day of trumpet and battle cry
against the fortified cities
    and against the corner towers.

17 “I will bring such distress on all people
    that they will grope about like those who are blind,
    because they have sinned against the Lord.
Their blood will be poured out like dust

 and their entrails like dung.
18 Neither their silver nor their gold
    will be able to save them
    on the day of the Lord’s wrath.”

In the fire of his jealousy
    the whole earth will be consumed,
for he will make a sudden end
    of all who live on the earth.


[acc_item title=”The New Testament Lesson:                                              I Thessalonians 5:1-11″]

Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.


The Gospel

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

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

LEM:                  Glory to you, Lord Christ.

[acc_item title=”The Gospel Lesson:                                                        Matthew 25:14-30″]

14 “For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; 15 to one he gave five talents,[f] to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. 17 In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. 

18 But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 20 Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. 29 For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 30 As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’


Deacon or Priest:         The Gospel of the Lord.

LEM:                              Praise to you, Lord Christ.

[acc_item title=” Sermon: Dies Irae”]

Dies Irae

24th Sunday after Pentecost, Year A 2020

One of my favorite pieces of music, one to which I return frequently when I need to refocus or reach stable emotional ground, is Mozart’s Requiem in d minor, K.626. It was one of the last pieces he worked on, and was not quite complete at his death, though one of his finest students knew what he wanted, and completed it. When he wrote it, he knew he was dying, meaning that, even more than for most composers, Mozart wrote his own requiem knowing that it would be the culmination of his life and work, the last chance he would have to have one last word with the world which gave him triumph and torment in almost equal measure.

Requiem comes from the Latin for “remember,” and a requiem mass is a eucharist offered for the repose of the souls of those who have died. The central thing it adds to the eucharist is a medieval Latin poem called the Dies irae, from its first two words: Dies irae, day of wrath. “Dies irae, dies illa” – day of wrath, O day of mourning. That last and terrible day when the dead shall rise, the trumpet sound, and all face the final judgment. The poem is one of anguish and emotional torment in which the speaker begs for a salvation he knows he needs but cannot quite allow himself to believe he will receive. Not for Thomas of Celano, the author, the easy tones and cheap self-assurance of Job’s “I know that my redeemer liveth, and at the last day I shall stand” and all shall be well. No, to this blessed salt of the Franciscan earth came, as he contemplated that end, words of this kind:

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus? / Quem patronum rogaturus, / Cum vix justus sit securus?    

That is: “What shall I, frail man, be pleading? / Who for me be interceding, / When the just are mercy needing?”[1]

Hearing how Mozart sets these words in his Requiem mass will break anyone down who has ears. To whom, and how, shall we plead at a time when even the just among us must beg for mercy?

It is likely that Thomas of Celano heard, marked, and inwardly digested today’s reading from Zephaniah, and that it is a major source for his Dies irae. Listen to vv. 15-16 again:

15 That day will be a day of wrath—
    a day of distress and anguish,
        a day of trouble and ruin,
    a day of darkness and gloom,
        a day of clouds and blackness—
16     a day of trumpet and battle cry
against the fortified cities
    and against the corner towers.

Day of wrath, of doom impending indeed. It will make a strong will bend low and bring all pride to its knees, such a day and such an end. 18 “Neither their silver nor their gold / will be able to save them.” Might treasure in heaven? Perhaps; it may be, as Paul writes to the Thessalonians, that the Lord does not mean a day of wrath for us, but salvation, with faith and love to guard our hearts as a breastplate of steel, and hope to guard our heads, and hence our minds, against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and the sea of troubles against which Hamlet pondered whether one ought, or even could, take up arms. “Encourage one another and build each other up,” he advises, even on the day of doom impending, with the earth turning to ash like the contrition of my heart, what Tolkien imagines at a similar moment in his mythology as a Day of Unnumbered Tears. We cling to one another in hope even when it looks like all hope is lost, because that is, and we are, all we have.

November’s lectionary readings are typically in this minor key, brow-furrowing mood, leading us to contemplate the end of the year, the end of all years, and the end of our own years, whichever might come first. As the pandemic waxes to its predicted full in the midst of the gathering darkness, and a rejected chief magistrate stews feckless in the sty of his resentments and does nothing to help, the cry goes up from those in this building and those watching at home, “How long?” When shall song again break forth in the assembly, and the gathered dance, share the peace in person? When shall justice flow down and mercy rise up? When shall we take off our masks and stretch forth our hands, see each other laugh and watch each other smile, breathe deeply in the midst of our common humanity and not wonder, “Is that it? Is that the one? Did I just take with this breath this virus inside the only body I will ever have, roll fortune’s dice that my body won’t destroy itself as it breaks that virus down?” We know not the day nor the hour, we often say, when, to quote Paul again, “destruction will come on them suddenly.” But to not know even the breath?

To quote the Dies irae, again: Recordare, Jesu pie, Quod sum causa tuae viae, Ne me perdas illa die. “Remember, Jesus of mercy, that I am the reason for your life, your incarnation. Do not lose me on that day.”

Today’s gospel, from Matthew 25, gives as little comfort as did last week’s. Then, the message was “Who falls behind, fool, stays behind.” Now, it is a lesson on using an aggressive investment strategy with other people’s money, the upshot of which is, 29“For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.” It is not easy to reconcile either parts of this gospel with the Beatitudes, as I noted last week. Nor does it soothe anxiety as much as one would like to reflect that it is the foolish, the feckless, the weak, the frightened, the anxious, who lose most of all. We can tell ourselves that this all must work out somehow, some way, but simply saying it doesn’t make it so. “If wishes were horses, all men would ride,” goes the saying, and it is a fallacy and a sin to conflate What Is So with What We Wish Were So. There’s no way to read Matthew 25 without concluding that, as far as Jesus is concerned, the kingdom of heaven does not suffer fools, will not carry dead weight, and is perfectly willing to leave people behind who don’t measure up. In the kingdom of heaven, if we waste our lives, waste the one chance that we’ve been given to live, to do good or to do ill, to do well or to do poorly, to act with courage and forthrightness or with weakness and pusillanimity, we won’t get it back, won’t get a second chance, will have thrown away our shot much in the way Esau threw away his birthright for a mess of pottage, or Cain threw away his by cutting his brother down in jealousy and spite.

“Every man is guilty of all the good he didn’t do,” wrote Voltaire – no friend of the church, but no enemy of the gospel. What would be worse than to be confronted with that on the last day, once the trumpet sounds and we rise to see What It All Amounts To, and that what it comes to is that we had a chance to sow peace, but did not, or instead sowed discord; that we had a chance to be kind, but chose to be mean; that we had a chance to speak truth to power but just sat there, scared to lose our jobs or our pensions; that we had a chance to plumb the depths of our thoughts and experiences and make great art or a great difference in people’s lives, or even to save the world from the consequences of human actions and inactions, but couldn’t be bothered, didn’t get around to it, figured we had time or that someone else would do it, or were, in Kurt Vonnegut’s words, simply “too damn cheap and lazy.”

I’ve often wondered why being saved from sin is so often thought of with an eye to the past more than to the future. It may come from a common misreading of the gospel according to which baptizing and making disciples is all about convincing people they’re sinners, convicting them of their sin, and then getting them to believe that Christ freed them from it, once and for all, by his oblation of himself once offered as he let them tie and nail him up on something very like the large wooden cross behind me. It may come from that deep truth in our confession of sin, whereby we not only acknowledge our manifold sins and wickedness but also confess than the remembrance of them is grievous unto us, and the burden of them is intolerable.

If we are, indeed, guilty of all the good we didn’t do, and are burdened by that guilt, it is all easy to become stuck in that; many of us often are. But surely salvation’s power should be seen not primarily in the rear view, but through the windscreen in front of us. Surely we are set free from the powers of sin and death not simply to avoid paying a long-term and sulfered visit to Old Hob once we shuffle off this mortal coil, but for something far better and closer to home: to do what Jesus said to many sinner whose guilt he purged and mind he set free: “Go forth and sin no more.” Easier said than done – ah, yes, but if you have faith as small as a mustard seed….

What such salvation looks like is to do all the good you can to all those to whom you can do it. That way, you can look into the mirror and see not simply a sinner whom God has redeemed, but the image of God your maker, for whom creation in love of beings who can love is the fullest expression of what it means to be at all. For the kingdom of heaven is like that: if you get given an amazing gift and simply bury it in a hole in the ground, in the end you will lose it. If we think salvation is simply making sure we all get our Get Out of Hellfire Free ticket punched we’ve missed the point entirely. We are set free in order to do something, in order to forgive ourselves and forget, focus on making the world better, the day brighter, against the coming night, the pending darkness “when the wicked are confounded / doomed to flames of woe unbounded,” to quote one last time the Dies irae. For one day will be the last day, our last day, or that of something beautiful and good, as it was in the time of Zephaniah and the time of the apostle Paul. Then let us pray to have been set free long before it to have nothing to regret, since we will have used our freedom to have done good, to have encouraged one another, and to have kept our minds and hearts – and, yes, our lungs and bloodstream – free of the snakes and snares and infections of the world. That would be something to remember, indeed, on that last and dreadful day. Amen.

[1] Source:


Musical Offering

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

There is no passing of plates and no reception the collection or other gifts.

After the offering, the Celebrant continues, saying


A Statement of Faith

The Celebrant says

[acc_item title=”A Statement of Faith, A Song of God’s Love  – 1 John 4:7-11″]

Beloved, let us love one another, *
for love is of God.
Whoever does not love does not know God, *
for God is Love.
In this the love of God was revealed among us, *
that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.
In this is love, not that we loved God, but that God loved us *
and sent his Son that sins might be forgiven.
Beloved, since God loved us so much, *
we ought also to love one another.
For if we love one another, God abides in us, *
and God’s love will be perfected in us.[/acc_item]


The Prayers of the People

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

[acc_item title=”Prayers of the People“]

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.


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


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.


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.


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


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


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


[acc_item title=”The Holy Eucharist: The Great Thanksgiving”]

It is right, and a good and joyful thing, always and everywhere to give thanks to you, Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, for you are the source of light and life, you made us in your image, and you call us to new life in 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:

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


The people stand or kneel. The Celebrant continues

[acc_item title=”The Celebrant continues…”]

Holy and gracious Father: In love you made us for yourself, and, when we had fallen into sin, evil, and death, you, in your mercy, sent Jesus Christ, your only and eternal Son, to share our human nature, to live and die as one of us, to reconcile us to you. He offered himself, in obedience to your will, a perfect sacrifice for the whole world.

On the night he was handed over, 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 we proclaim the mystery of faith: [/acc_item]

LEM:  Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.

The Celebrant continues.

[acc_item title=”The Celebrant continues…”]

We celebrate the memorial of our redemption, O God, in this sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. Recalling his death, resurrection, and ascension, we offer you these gifts.

Sanctify them by your Holy Spirit to be for your people the Body and Blood of your Son, the holy food and drink of new and unending life in him. Sanctify us that we may faithfully receive this holy Sacrament, and serve you in unity, constancy, and peace; and at the last day bring us with all your saints into the joy of your eternal kingdom.

All this we ask through your Son Jesus Christ 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

[acc_item title=”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

[acc_item title=”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.

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.[/acc_item]


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 turn his face toward you and give you peace.


The LEM says

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

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.

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About Episcopal Worship and this Service

The audio and video of this service will be posted to the church website after the service. Please join us, either in person or online, as you are able.  We are grateful for your pledge support, and hope that you will continue it.

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St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Fairland, MD

12621 Old Columbia Pike

Silver Spring, MD  20904 * 301-622-5860 ext. 1002

The Rev. Dr. Christopher Wilkins, Priest-in-Charge * 301-622-5860 ext. 1001

Linda Lee, Parish Administrator  *301-622-5860 ext. 1004

Beresford Coker, Musical Director

Joyce Walker, Administrative Assistant

Charles Smith, Senior Warden

Lee Mericle, Junior Warden

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

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Resources (available for free online)

These resources contain the prayers and worship services used in The Episcopal Church and by Episcopalians in their daily devotions.


This source shows the readings assigned for use in Sunday worship and for daily office use for each day of the year, with links to online biblical texts.

The Revised Common Lectionary and Daily Office,


Links to church websites – National, Diocesan and our church’s website.

The Episcopal Church:

Episcopal News Service:

The Episcopal Diocese of Washington:

St. Mark’s, Fairland:


[1] The readings are from the Revised Common Lectionary. See: