Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Thursday After Ash Wednesday

FIRST READING (Deuteronomy 30:15-20)
Moses spoke to the people, saying, "See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you this day, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his ordinances, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you are entering to take possession of it.

"But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you this day, that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land which you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice, and cleaving to him; for that means life to you and length of days, that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them."

GOSPEL (Luke 9:22-25)
Jesus said to his disciples, "The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised."

And he said to all, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?"

“Decisions have consequences.” That’s a bit of wisdom we may have heard somewhere along the line. Moses’ address to the people makes the truth of that statement so clear: Staying with the Lord leads to life; turning hearts to “adore and serve other gods” leads to death.

Jesus’ words echo that sentiment. Click HERE to keep reading the reflection.

Prevent us O Lord, in all our doings with thy most gracious favour, and further us with thy continual help; that in all our works begun, continued, and ended in thee, we may glorify thy holy Name, and finally by thy mercy obtain everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

This is the Anglican translation - from the Book of Common Prayer - of an old prayer from the Gregorian Sacramentary, which is now the Collect for Thursday After Ash Wednesday in the new Roman Missal. Re the translation: Some people complain about retaining "archaisms" ("prevent" = "go before us"), but as Christopher Howse has commented on this particular Collect, "Once the meaning is learnt by children, the archaism is no obstacle. Archaism goes towards dignity, gravity and beauty."


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