Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Ember Wednesday

Exodus 24:12And the LORD said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them. 13And Moses rose up, and his minister Joshua: and Moses went up into the mount of God. 14And he said unto the elders, Tarry ye here for us, until we come again unto you: and, behold, Aaron and Hur are with you: if any man have any matters to do, let him come unto them. 15And Moses went up into the mount, and a cloud covered the mount. 16And the glory of the LORD abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud. 17And the sight of the glory of the LORD was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel. 18And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights.
The Ember Days are observed four times a year, a set of fast days (Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday), which became associated at some point with ordinations -- which traditionally take place on Ember Saturday. The Mass for each Ember Saturday has 5 extra lessons, in addition to the Epistle and Gospel, and ordinations to each of the minor orders takes place before each one of the lessons. In Anglican circles, the tradition of an "Embertide letter", which each seminarian (and in some dioceses, clergy) are required to write to their bishop to report on their progress. We have recently adopted this custom in our jurisdiction, sharing them with each other on our email group (sharing what each is comfortable sharing), and it is proving to be a helpful exercise of reflection. In the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, the "Litany for Ordinations" is suggested for use on the Ember Days as a way of praying for vocations to ministry, for those called to various ministries, and for the ministries of all the baptized. (We prayed this as part of Vespers this evening.)

The scripture lesson above (I'm departing from just commenting on the gospel) is one of two lessons read before the Gospel in the Ember Wednesday mass, and it is intriguing to note the amount of time Moses spent in prayer -- a week BEFORE the forty days he spent receiving the Torah.

As those called to lead communities of faith, it is my prayer, that we clergy may take the time to spend in prayer and retreat to be able to be able to receive inspiration as to the direction our communities should go.

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