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How often do you prepare for the Sabbath by reading the assigned Holy Scriptures before Sunday?

How often do you prepare for the Sabbath by reading the assigned Holy Scriptures before Sunday. The commonly held “Wednesday” Bible study was initiated by the Anglican cleric and founder of the revival movement, Methodism, John Wesley. Wesley encouraged the people of the parish to gather on a Wednesday to discuss the previous Sunday’s sermon and Holy Scriptures.

Some parishes, including my own, have “flipped” the process by holding a Wednesday Bible Study before we hear the Sunday readings. This is a wonderful practice to prepare for receiving the Word of God on a Sunday. Susie Dumbrille kindly sends us the Sunday readings in this newsletter every Friday. I encourage you to take a look at this Sunday’s Gospel reading from Matthew 22:1-14 in which we hear Jesus’ parable of the Wedding Feast.

This is quite a difficult parable, so it will benefit all of us to read and pray over it before Sunday. I would encourage you to do the following:

Spend a few moments in silence. Read the passage. Place yourself in the parable. Ask: Who am I in this story? How does this parable speak to my life today? Pray: talk to God about how the passage speaks to you. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand. Contemplate: rest in the presence of God and be silent. Be open to God’s presence. Share your insights with another person. Try to think about these insights through the week, allowing God to speak to you through the Word. When you hear the sermon on Sunday, notice similarities and differences between your insights and the homilist’s.

Finally, I would encourage you to consider the following historical context of Jesus’ parable of the wedding feast. There was a lot of real hunger in the Holy Land during Jesus’ lifetime. The majority of the population suffered from food insecurity. There was poverty, illness, drought, famine, war, and heavy taxes imposed from Rome. A wedding feast and banquet was a very special event in the lives of common people. The whole village was invited to a wedding feast and for many it was the only time they had enough to eat. There was also music, dancing, and merriment. So why would folks not attend a wedding? How does the father feel when no one turns up to his son’s banquet? How might Jesus feel when we do not partake of His Glory, freely offered? Why do we sometimes resist? What “idols” might get in our way?

I hope you find this practice fruitful. I look forward to celebrating this coming Sabbath with you.

Love and Blessings, Fr. Jon

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