This week during my scripture readings the Church prescribed to us 1 John. We read the whole book this week with the start of it at the end of last week. We don’t read 1 John very often but as I read it this year it really struck me. Here are the verses I was hit by…
He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.1 John 2:9-11
In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous. Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.1 John 3:10-17
And last but certainly not least…
If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, [dhow can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.1 John 4:20-21
These readings occur in the church in the couple weeks leading up to Forgiveness Sunday (each and every year), which is the day before Great Lent Begins. On this day we have a service in the afternoon/evening that offers to us a time of forgiveness towards our brothers. One of the loveliest services ever.
This might be the first year I’ve been faithful at reading the daily scriptures, I’m not sure. But it is for sure the first year I’ve made the connection between the readings of 1 John above and the fact that the Church prescribes them just a week or so before we seek forgiveness of our brothers & sisters as we begin Great Lent.
How perfectly relevant! And I really needed to hear these readings! And I need to take heed!
I am so grateful for the prescribed lectionary of the Church, the layout of liturgical rubrics handed down to us over the centuries. The ebb and flow of services and readings that follow the church calendar and give us the constant reminders and teachings and have been for a very long time. The ebb and flow of fasting mixed with feasting. The reminders of seeking repentance, learning to love and serve, and of course, celebrating the joyous resurrection of Christ.
This is what we are made for. This structure brings constancy which brings belonging and love. Belonging to and immersing ourselves into the life of the church makes it near impossible to forget, because the church doesn’t let us.
I am so very grateful.
If you don’t have a wall calendar with the prescribed readings for the whole year and you would like to see what the Church prescribes to us you can check out this website. It is pretty amazing that all those in the Orthodox Church pretty much are reading the same scriptures throughout the liturgical year together. Pretty cool! Every Orthodox Christian around the world will be reading in their parishes tomorrow from the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew 25:31-46 to be exact.
I am very grateful!