Fr. David Curry preached this sermon at Old St. Edward’s, Clementsport, at the 95th annual anniversary service in the 219th year of the building.
How readest thou?
It is Jesus’ question and one which sets up the scene for the very familiar parable of the Good Samaritan. It is the Gospel reading at Holy Communion on this day, the Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity. How we read the Scriptures goes to the heart of what it means to be the confessing church in a post-Christian age. For Anglicans, classically speaking, the Collect, Epistle and Gospel for each Sunday provide the critical matrix through which to think about the readings in the Offices of Morning and Evening Prayer which in turn shape our actions.
The 17th century poet and priest, George Herbert, for example, made it his goal and practice to teach about how and what we read and why. “The Texts for all his future Sermons”, his biographer, Izaak Walton, tells us, “were constantly taken out of the Gospel for the day; and he did as constantly declare why the Church did appoint that portion of Scripture to be that day read: And in what manner the Collect for every Sunday does refer to the Gospel, or to the Epistle then read to them”, explaining all the things which belong to our liturgy. Why? “That they might pray with understanding” and that it would be shown “that the whole service of the Church, was a reasonable, and therefore an acceptable Sacrifice to God”.
My deep thanks to Fr. Gordon Neish for the privilege and honour of preaching here at Old St. Edward’s, a place redolent with so many memories and associations that belong to the history of the Anglican diocese and, indeed, to the wider witness of the Church in Canada. I would like to dedicate my brief and, no doubt, poor remarks to the memory of Nellie Neish, one who attended so well to Jesus’ question and whose life was itself a parable of the parable of the Good Samaritan in terms of her care and compassion for so many.
The evening prayer lessons speak profoundly to the significance of this holy ecclesiastical place and its purpose. Ezra talks about the Lord moving Cyrus, the King of Persia, a non-Israelite, to be sure, to issue a proclamation directing the rebuilding of the house of the Lord at Jerusalem. Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians, speaks about the foolishness of God being greater than the wisdom of men; his power and strength being greater than ours. Such is the divine wisdom that belongs to the real purpose and meaning of our churches.