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Sea Sunday

Sea Sunday

In a recent conversation with a group of relatively-newly-ordained clergy I happened to be talking about the Three Year/Revised Common Lectionary and how the readings, especially in Ordinary Time, run independently. One priest in particular found this very freeing. This person had been sweating week by week to try and find a theme or something that tied the readings and the psalm together.

I spoke of pebbles being thrown in a pond, intersecting ripples going out to meet the varying needs of those gathered.

By all means this coming Sunday sing, and pray, and preach, and colour in, and take a collection for “Sea Sunday” – but please do not abandon our commitment to the readings for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Bonus: there’s even some diving off points from our agreed readings:

Psalm 65… By awesome deeds you answer us with deliverance, O God of our salvation; you are the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas…
You silence the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples.
Those who live at earth’s farthest bounds are awed by your signs; you make the gateways of the morning and the evening shout for joy.
You visit the earth and water it, you greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; you provide the people with grain, for so you have prepared it.
You water its furrows abundantly,…

Matthew 13 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea.
Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach…

For those who want to press the rules about this: we in NZ have agreed to the Three Year/Revised Common Lectionary readings. FAS (For all the Saints) is not a formulary of our church – and we have just had our General Synod Te Hinota Whanui re-stress that only the formularies of our church are authorised. If you are abiding by our rules, agreements, vows, and signing then we use the readings for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time at services where the appointed readings are required.

Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who biddest the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

O Christ! Whose voice the waters heard
And hushed their raging at Thy Word,
Who walked on the foaming deep,
And calm amidst its rage didst sleep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

Most Holy Spirit! Who didst brood
Upon the chaos dark and rude,
And bid its angry tumult cease,
And give, for wild confusion, peace;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

O Trinity of love and power!
Our family shield in danger’s hour;
From rock and tempest, fire and foe,
Protect us wheresoever we go;
Thus evermore shall rise to Thee
Glad hymns of praise from land and sea.

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10 Responses to Sea Sunday

  1. For quite some time i gained from this post. But it has become obsessed with riual and proper ways which is in the end result boring. I will quote again Isaiah.
    Their worship of Me is a commandment of men, learned by rote (29:13).

      • Thanks, Graham-Michoel. None at all taken. If people want to take a daily blog post as the Law of the Medes and Persians, that’s up to them. If it’s an encouragement to think something through a bit more – cool! This comment, and others not addressed to me, give me an idea for a blog post about being obsessed with rules… and I’m always trying to think of something to write about… Blessings.

  2. ‘… run independently’ of what, Bosco? Isn’t it the case that both the Continuous and Related sets of readings are from the RCL so that if people what something coherent they can choose the Related set. I have to say I think preaching would be much improved if the Continuous set were abandoned so that preaching focussed on a central theme and not jump all over the place without much of a point. Perhaps that’s just me.

    • Thanks, Robert. At the moment on Sundays we are reading through Matthew’s Gospel, and Paul’s letter to the Romans (for the next 2-3 months). Do you think there is some sort of “theme connection” between these? There is not. And a preacher ends up twisting the texts to construct a “theme” from these. Then, yes, there are the two RCL tracks for the First Testament readings: “Related” (usually connected in some way to the Gospel reading) and “Continuous” which, like the New Testament and Gospel readings runs independently. Preaching cannot and should not cover everything that is read. Preaching is another pebble thrown in the pond. Blessings.

      • Ah I see what you mean, the *NT* readings run independently. To be honest I have always misunderstood the Epistles and Gospels to be related. That of course, explains why, at best, all I could see were tenuous links.

        Simple soul that I am, give me coherent themes any day!

  3. On the business of thematically linked readings, I’m just near the end of a visit to England, and I’ve been worshipping at Evensong in various places. I see that the cathedrals and chapels I have visited are using the Common Worship “Additional Weekday Lectionary”, which provides thematically linked OT and NT Office readings for “those churches and cathedrals which attract occasional rather than regular congregations”. (http://www.churchofengland.org/media/1172737/2010%20additional%20weekday%20lectionary.pdf)

    It seems sensible enough, I suppose. But I imagine it must be grating on the small resident communities that sing those services day in and day out! And it occurred to me that anyone sufficiently biblically literate to pick up on the “thematic link” between the lessons would already be able to listen profitably to a pair of unlinked lessons. As for those who *wouldn’t* notice the link… well, what’s the point?

  4. I guess the thing is, with preaching in mind, that following on from the prayer books which had themed Sundays, the expectation from many of us (even those that attend the Eucharist very regularly) is that the readings *do* have some relationship to each other. What I’ve learnt here certainly explains some of the tortuous homilies one hears as preachers attempt to ‘reconcile the irreconcilable’. Perhaps the lectionaries around the Communion need to be more explicit in pointing this out. I think it would greatly improve the average sermon.

    Btw, re. the hymn … is it really ‘foe’ in line 3 of the last verse? ‘Floe’, I would have thought.

    • You will have to explain, Robert, which prayer books you are referring to that “had themed Sundays”. Certainly not any of the Books of Common Prayer which followed the Christian tradition of unrelated readings during Ordinary Time that we have had for a couple of thousand years now. Blessings.

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Rev. Bosco Peters Welcome to this ecumenical website of resources and reflections on liturgy, spirituality, and worship for individuals and communities. It is run by Rev. Bosco Peters.