Liturgy Lesson: The Offices of Instruction

Liturgy Lesson: The Offices of Instruction

Eastertide is the most important season of the Christian year and is a great time to remember our entry into the Church through baptism and confirmation. The Anglican Reformers, keeping with ancient Jewish tradition, and the practice of the Church Fathers, included the Offices of Instruction in our prayerbook to provide a basic framework for teaching children and other candidates for Baptism and Confirmation Christian essentials. But that’s not their only purpose. The entire congregation needs to revisit them regularly. Called catechism—this instruction by word of mouth, especially questioning and answering—is a Scriptural concept, found in St. Luke: "That thou mayest know the verity of those things in which thou hast been instructed." In Acts, 28:25, Apollos is "instructed [katechemenos] in the way of the Lord". St. Paul uses the word twice: First, in 1 Corinthians 14:19, "I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may instruct [katecheso] others also," and then, in Galatians 6:6, "Let him that is instructed [ho katechoumenos] in the word, communicate to him that instructeth [to katechounti] him, in all good things" Clearly, we must be trained—not passively, but actively involved—in this case, responding to queries. However, this doesn’t meet our need for Christian training, but only the barest rudiments. St. Paul wrote to St. Timothy for him to “Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing (rightly handling and skillfully teaching) the Word of Truth.” This means, if we are to be effective, we must develop our spiritual skills—in real, structured Christian training, beyond simple catechism, with God’s people and Him, learning His Word and what it means to our lives. If we are not in Sunday School or Bible study—time to start!

Collect for the Third Sunday after Easter

ALMIGHTY God, who showest to them that are in error the light of thy truth, to the intent that they may return into the way of righteousness; Grant unto all those who are admitted into the fellowship of Christ's Religion, that they may avoid those things that are contrary to their profession, and follow all such things as are agreeable to the same; through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

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