Lenten Devotionals from Presiding Bishop Michael Curry

posted Mar 13, 2016, 11:55 AM by CalvaryEpiscopal Church   [ updated Mar 2, 2018, 12:53 PM ]


Early Christians observed "a season of penitence and fasting" in preparation for the Paschal feast, or Pascha (BCP, pp. 264-265). The season now known as Lent (from an Old English word meaning "spring," the time of lengthening days) has a long history. Originally, in places where Pascha was celebrated on a Sunday, the Paschal feast followed a fast of up to two days. In the third century this fast was lengthened to six days. Eventually this fast became attached to, or overlapped, another fast of forty days, in imitation of Christ's fasting in the wilderness. The forty-day fast was especially important for converts to the faith who were preparing for baptism, and for those guilty of notorious sins who were being restored to the Christian assembly. In the western church the forty days of Lent extend from Ash Wednesday through Holy Saturday, omitting Sundays. The last three days of Lent are the sacred Triduum of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. Today Lent has reacquired its significance as the final preparation of adult candidates for baptism. Joining with them, all Christians are invited "to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God's holy Word" (BCP, p. 265).


March 25, 2018

The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday

The Episcopal Church | Leave a Comment |

“Let these branches be for us signs of his victory, and grant that we who bear them in his name may ever hail him as our King, and follow him in the way that leads to eternal life.”

Today is the first day of Holy Week and the last Sunday in Lent, known as Palm Sunday or the Sunday of the Passion. The day begins by marking Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Many churches participate in the Liturgy of the Palms, first offered in The Episcopal Church in the 1960 Book of Offices. In this liturgy, the celebrant blesses palms or other branches, and, following a reading from the Gospels, leads the congregation in procession into their church—often singing “All Glory, Laud, and Honor” or “Ride On! Ride On In Majesty!”

This liturgy evokes the early observances of Palm Sunday. According to Armentrout and Slocum’s An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church (Church Publishing, 2000), by the year 381, the faithful would process from the Mount of Olives into Jerusalem, waving palm or olive branches. As they processed, they sang songs from Scripture – including the exultant antiphon of Psalm 118 sung at Christ’s entrance into the city: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

When the Palm Sunday service includes the Eucharist, the Liturgy of the Palms is followed by the salutation and the collect of the day. Afterward, the tone of the service shifts noticeably. In contrast to the earlier song of joy, Psalm 31, appointed for today, cries, “For I have heard the whispering of the crowd; fear is all around; they put their heads together against me; they plot to take my life.” The Gospel reading is likewise sorrowful, recalling the events of Jesus’ Passion (that is, the events and suffering before and during his death). Still, we are reminded throughout the difficult days ahead that this is not the end of the story.

Despite the Savior’s death on the cross, he promises to rise again. The Man of Sorrows remains the one at whose name, “every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, [and] every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11).

Collect for the Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday  

This prayer is a contemporary version of the collect for “The Sonday next before Easter” in the 1549 Book of Common Prayer. The day was not referred to as Palm Sunday in an official capacity until the 1928 Prayer Book added “Commonly called Palm Sunday” to the prayer’s title. The doxology at the end of the prayer was appended in the 1979 Prayer Book.

Almighty and everliving God, in your tender love for the human race you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen (Book of Common Prayer, p. 219).

March 18, 2018

The Good Friday Offering

The Episcopal Church

“Christian Presence”

Most of us are not concerned about Christians being present where we live. Most of us take it for granted that Christians have been and will continue to be a part of the fabric of our neighborhoods. This is not the case in what we often call the “Holy Land”. We have seen the results of enormous pressure brought upon Christians in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere to leave their homes under the onslaught of fundamentalism. Tens of thousands have become refugees. Political realities in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza have limited access to education, health care and opportunities which have prompted some families to re-locate. Numbers are very politically charged, but it is safe to say that something far less than 10% of the population in the region are made up of indigenous Christians.

The importance of Christians living and working in the region is essential to a civil society. Christians provide a vital bridge between Muslims and Jews through organizations like the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land, meeting in Jerusalem, which brings together leaders of all three Abrahamic faiths for discussion on topics of common concern.

Education, health programs and pastoral care are the essential tools which are used throughout the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East which bring people together and provide examples of day to day cooperation and efforts to build a shared future to benefit all. Teachers and students; doctors, nurses and patients; clergy immersed in an inter-faith context all bear witness to the love of Christ in their relationships throughout the region.

The Good Friday Offering is a response from throughout the Episcopal Church in support of Christians in the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East. Our church-wide effort to provide meaningful support for these “living stones” of the faith we share in Jesus Christ gives them hope for a future where perhaps, by God’s grace, we will no longer have to be concerned about the ongoing presence of Christians throughout the region where our Lord lived, died and rose again.

March 11, 2018

The Feast of St. Patrick

The Episcopal Church

Each year the Episcopal Church celebrates the Feast Day of Saint Patrick, fifth-century bishop and missionary of Ireland, on March 17, the day of his death in 461.

Holy Women, Holy Men (Church Publishing, 2010) relates that Patrick was born on the northwest coast of Britain in about 390. His grandfather had been a Christian priest, and his father was a deacon in the early Christian church. When Patrick was a teenager, he was captured by a band of Irish slavers and was forcibly taken to Ireland to serve as a shepherd. When Patrick was in his early 20s, he escaped and returned to Britain, where he was educated as a Christian. After taking holy orders as both presbyter and bishop, he had a vision, calling him to return to Ireland.

Sometime around the year 431, when Patrick returned to Ireland, he began converting Irish pagans into Christians by appealing to the local kings, and through them to their tribes. Patrick built Christian churches over sacred pagan sites, carved crosses on old druidic pillars, and protected sacred wells and springs with Christian saints.

Saint Patrick is generally credited with being the first bishop of Armagh, Primate of All Ireland.

Saint Patrick’s Day, March 17, is celebrated as both a liturgical and non-liturgical holiday. In popular culture, this feast day is often a celebration of Ireland itself.

Collect for Saint Patrick

Almighty God, in your providence you chose your servant Patrick to be the apostle of the Irish people, to bring those who were wandering in darkness and error to the true light and knowledge of you: Grant us so to walk in that light that we may come at last to the light of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

March 4, 2018

The Presiding Bishop’s Lent 3 Devotional

The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop and Primate Michael Curry joined the leaders of the Anglican Church of Canada, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in preparing Lenten Devotions for the season. The full set of devotions, “Set Free by Truth,” can be found and printed at bit.ly/lentendevotional.

“But we proclaim Christ crucified”

Some things just don’t make much sense. Water doesn’t become wine, bread and fish do not suddenly multiply, the lame do not jump up and walk. And most certainly, dead people stay dead, especially those who experience the horrific death of crucifixion!

And yet, where Jesus is involved, all kinds of things that don’t make much sense…happen.

In those earliest years of the Jesus Movement, his followers didn’t wear crosses around their necks or hang them in the homes in which they worshipped. They had other symbols, certainly, but not crosses. Crucifixion was not a historical curiosity, but a still present reality, and an agonizing and shameful one at that. To be crucified was to be executed as a common criminal. Worse, according to the Hebrew Scriptures, cursed was one who hung on a tree, on the wood of a cross.

So to speak of “Christ crucified” didn’t make sense to many. It was a stumbling block, something foolish or offensive. But Paul said otherwise. Yes, Jesus could have avoided the cross, found some other way around it. But instead he faced the worst the world could throw at him, and then broke through death itself, and left an empty cross behind as witness to his astonishing victory.

Some things don’t make much sense. The cross is one of them. But it stands now and forever as our rallying cry that God—not injustice, not suffering, not even death—has the final, victorious word.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry
The Episcopal Church


“Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace.”

February 25, 2018

Invitation to the Good Friday Offering

The Episcopal Church

Presiding Bishop Curry wrote in the annual Good Friday letter to all bishops and congregations asking them to consider providing assistance for the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East.

Information, including bulletin covers and bulletin inserts on the Good Friday Offering, is available at episcopalchurch.org/good-friday-offering.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I greet you in the Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I am writing to you in preparation for Holy Week and the focus of that week on our Lord’s sacrificial offering of love on the cross.

The Good Friday Offering is one way we in the Episcopal Church help to support the ongoing ministry of love and compassion carried out by our Anglican sisters and brothers throughout the Province of Jerusalem and Middle East.

Whether funding an eye clinic in Aden or women’s programs, schools and medical services in the West Bank, the Good Friday Offering is making a difference in the lives of so many. I believe our partnership with those who keep the faith of Jesus alive in the region where our Lord walked and began his movement is a significant aspect of our work as part of the church catholic.

I hope you will participate in this effort. Information is available at episcopalchurch.org/good-friday-offering which offers bulletin covers, bulletin inserts, and other helpful information. Any questions about this program may be directed to the Rev. Canon Robert Edmunds, our Middle East Partnership Officer. He can be reached at redmunds@episcopalchurch.org.

Thank you for considering this important witness to the love of Jesus across our Church and in the Holy Land. May God bless you and keep you always. I remain

Your brother in Christ,

The Most Rev. Michael Curry
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

February 18, 2018

For Such a Time As This: Protect and Support Indigenous People

The Episcopal Public Policy Network

As Episcopalians, we are taught that it is our duty to not only follow and worship Christ, but also to “work, pray, and give for the spread of the kingdom of God.” Approximately 1.9 million American Indians and Alaska Natives, whose ancestors had taken from them millions of acres of land that makes the United States what it is today, have been and still are subjected to various forms of physical and social injustices.

As Christians and Americans, we have an obligation to work, pray, and give to respond to and end those injustices. Let us lift our voices and ask our members of Congress to protect funding for programs that provide relief, promote public safety, and support a meaningful livelihood for American Indians and Alaska Natives.

On February 21, join the Episcopal Public Policy Network and the Presiding Bishops of the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America as we pray, fast, and act.

Pray for our nation’s elected leaders and for all who struggle with hunger and poverty.

Look with pity, O heavenly Father, upon the people in this land who live with injustice, terror, disease, and death as their constant companions. Have mercy upon us. Help us to eliminate our cruelty to these our neighbors. Strengthen those who spend their lives establishing equal protection of the law and equal opportunities for all. And grant that every one of us may enjoy a fair portion of the riches of this land; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.                    from the Book of Common Prayer, pg. 826

Fast to call attention in our own minds and actions the needs and circumstances of the poorest among us.

Join us on social media using #PrayFastAct and @TheEPPN. On the 21st, post a picture of a dinner place setting with the reason you are fasting this month.

Act: Prepare for action…

  • by reading this one-pager on protecting Indigenous People: bit.ly/FSATindigenous
  • by asking Congress to support programs aimed at reducing poverty and protecting American Indians and Alaska Natives.
  • by reading the testimony of the National Congress of American Indians before the House Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies expressing, on behalf of Native Americans and Alaska Natives, expressing the need for public safety and business support: bit.ly/FSATtestimony