Re the Daily Office Readings May 16 Anno Domini 2020

From St James Episcopal Church, Goshen New York

The Readings: Leviticus 23:23-44; 2 Thessalonians 3:1-18; Matthew 7:13-21

The calendar laid out in Leviticus 23 invites reflection on our Christian calendar. Here’s another bit from Heschel’s The Sabbath, equally suggestive for us:

“Judaism is a religion of time aiming at the sanctification of time. Unlike the space-minded man to whom time is unvaried, iterative, homogeneous, to whom all hours are alike, qualitiless, empty shells, the Bible senses the diversified character of time. There are no two hours alike. Every hour is unique and the only one given at the moment, exclusive and endlessly precious.

“Judaism teaches us to be attached to holiness in time, to be attached to sacred events, to learn how to consecrate sanctuaries that emerge from the magnificent stream of a year. The Sabbaths are our great cathedrals; and our Holy of Holies is a shrine that neither the Romans nor the Germans were able to burn; a shrine that even apostasy cannot easily obliterate: the Day of Atonement. According to the ancient rabbis, it is not the observance of tile Day of Atonement, but the Day itself, the ‘essence of the Day,’ which, with man’s repentance, atones for the sins of man.”

Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost, Trinity, All Saints: each year we’re invited to reexperience these divine acts, and let their life-giving power bleed into the surrounding time.

When we gather together all this is visible in the changing colors on the altar and audible in the changing prayers. In this season of social distancing, where can we change the colors where we live? What other ways can we find to acknowledge and celebrate that Jesus in his flesh claimed our time, our calendars?

(P.S. Jesus claiming our calendars: that’s behind the recent change in the titles of these posts, reclaiming—and writing out in full—the old abbreviation “AD”: Anno Domini, “The Year of the Lord.” 2020 is the year of COVID 19, but that is not its primary identity.)

For more on the festivals in Leviticus 23: The Bible Journey; and Catholic Resources.

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