Thoughts for the Day

Wednesday, 26th June 2024: An Ember day

Psalm 101 Deacon Ministry Priest Mission

Reading : Verses from Psalm 101


I will sing of loyalty and of justice;
to you, O Lord, I will sing.
I will study the way that is blameless.
When shall I attain it?

I will walk with integrity of heart
within my house;
I will not set before my eyes
anything that is base.

I hate the work of those who fall away;
it shall not cling to me.
Perverseness of heart shall be far from me;
I will know nothing of evil.

One who secretly slanders a neighbour
I will destroy.
A haughty look and an arrogant heart
I will not tolerate....

No one who practises deceit
shall remain in my house;
no one who utters lies
shall continue in my presence.

(Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)


Today is an 'Ember Day' in the Anglican church and in many other denominations. But what is an Ember Day? Well the name seems to be derived from the Latin quattuor tempora meaning "four times". They are days of fasting and prayer, usually the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday - before the Third Sunday of Advent, the Second Sunday of Lent, and the Sundays nearest to 29 June (Petertide) and 29 September (Michaelmas), the latter two are often the weeks before ordination of deacons or priests or the licensing of lay ministers. Ember Days are also used to pray for all those who serve the Church in its various ministries, both ordained and lay people, and for fresh vocations to this work.

The Episcopal Church in the USA requires by canon Law that every candidate for Holy Orders must report to their Bishop four times a year or write an Ember Day letter. The report must include 'reflection on their academic experience as well as their personal and spiritual development'. A very tall order, and one I am rather glad lots of us, didn't have to make.

For those not training for some form of ministry in this period (ie Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday of this week) the church has traditionally dedicated Ember Days to fasting and prayer—specifically prayer for those about to be ordained to Holy Orders or licensed to some form of ministry in the Church. Ember Days are also a particularly great time for all Christians to pray for all clergy and ministers, and to ask God to inspire his people to find more dedicated men and women with "integrity" as Psalm 101 says, to serve Him.


You might like to say this prayer of confession sometimes said by ministers since each of us is called to ministry. Then you could follow it up with the Collect for Ember Day afterwards:


"I set no store by life:
I only want to finish the race and complete the task
that the Lord has assigned to me,
of bearing witness to the gospel of God’s grace."

I confess my failure to live up to my calling.

Collect for an Ember Day

O God,
You led Your holy apostles to ordain ministers
in every place:
Grant that Your Church,
under the guidance of the Holy Spirit,
may choose suitable persons
for the ministry of Word and Sacrament,
and may uphold them in their work
for the extension of your kingdom;
through the great Shepherd,
Jesus Christ our Lord.

Follow Up Thoughts

You might like to play this lovely setting of a well known hymn, sung by two young choristers:

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