“How readest thou?”
At the heart of the Common Prayer tradition is the Eucharistic lectionary, a creedal way of reading the Scriptures and one which, at the very least, has the virtue of being able to say what the Scriptures are and why and how they should and can be read, a lectionary, too, which is at once catholic and ecumenical.
We meet for Evening Prayer, a wonderful service which provides us with the luxury of luxuriating in longer passages of Scripture than that to which we are ordinarily accustomed and especially for extended passages belonging to the wonderful narratives of the Hebrew Scriptures, such as the story of Joseph which we begin to read tonight. But the Gospel this morning about the parable of the Sower and the Seed provides the interpretative framework. It complements the question raised in this evening’s second lesson, “How do you read?” “Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God.” There is a parable and there is its interpretation. The parallel to tonight’s second lesson could hardly be clearer. The force of the question, “how readest thou?” could not be greater.
The year 2015 marked the 30th anniversary of The Book of Alternative Services here in Canada and in some sense the anniversary of the founding of The Prayer Book Society of Canada. The conjunction of the two is at once necessary and unfortunate. What was unfortunate is that it appeared that the Prayer Book Society arose and exists essentially in reaction to institutional authority, particularly, the Bishops in their mistaken and misguided attempt to impose the new alternative liturgies upon parishes over and against the constitutional principles of the Anglican Church of Canada and the doctrinal magisterium of an Anglican Christian identity embodied in the principles of the Common Prayer tradition. What is necessary is the task of upholding and reclaiming the fullness of our spiritual identity and life.