Archive for August 2011

Feast of the First Book of Common Prayer, 1549 (May-June)   Leave a comment

Above:  Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury

THE BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER (1549)

Effective on the Day of Pentecost, June 9, 1549, During the Reign of King Edward VI

The Episcopal Church specifies that one observes this feast properly on a weekday after the Day of Pentecost.

The 1549 Book of Common Prayer, which, along with many of its successors, is available at http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bcp/, was mainly the product of Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury and poet extraordinaire.  He translated texts from various sources, ranging from Greek liturgies to German Lutheran rites to the Roman Catholic missal and the Liturgy of the Hours.  Along the way Cranmer quoted the Bible extensively.  Thus it is a common Anglican and Episcopal joke to say that the Bible quotes the Prayer Book.

My first encounter with the Book of Common Prayer was indirect, so indirect in fact that I was not aware of it.  I grew up United Methodist in the era of the 1966 Methodist Hymnal, which is far superior to the 1989 United Methodist Hymnal.  The ritual in the 1966 Hymnal was that of its 1935 and 1905 predecessors, that is, based on the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.   So, when I saw the 1979 Prayer Book and read Holy Eucharist Rite I, I recognized it immediately, down to the Prayer of Humble Access.

Now I an Episcopalian.  As someone told me early this year, I left the church that John Wesley made and joined the church that made John Wesley.  The rhythms of the 1979 Prayer Book have sunk into my synapses and my soul.  I also use A New Zealand Prayer Book (1989), of  The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, which breaks out from parts of tradition creatively and beautifully while standing within the Prayer Book tradition.

I have become a person of the Prayer Book, thankfully.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 24, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BARTHOLOMEW, APOSTLE AND MARTYR

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Almighty and everliving God, whose servant Thomas Cranmer, with others, restored the language of the people in the prayers of your Church:  Make us always thankful for this heritage; and help us to pray in the Spirit and with the understanding, that we may worthily magnify your holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

1 Kings 8:54-61

Psalm 33:1-5, 20-21

Acts 2:38-42

John 4:21-24

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010)

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“In the Sweet By and By”   2 comments

Above:  The Communion of Saints

(An Image in the Public Domain)

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While growing up in rural United Methodist congregations in southern Georgia, U.S.A., I realized that I did not fit in.  Lacking a proper frame of reference for years, I could not diagnose the issue properly until I became keenly aware of good Episcopal Church liturgy, a la The Book of Common Prayer (1979) and The Hymnal 1982.  I had latent High Church tendencies yet was in a very Low Church setting.

And the music did not help.  Southern Gospel tended to be prominent.  The diction was usually abhorrent, choirs seldom blended, and, in one church, loud and nasal singing was commonplace.  I still have traumatic aural memories.

So I was glad to convert to The Episcopal Church, bow to altars and passing processional crosses, and sing more hymns which sounded good with a proper organ.  From time to time the old hymnody–the one I fled–follows me, even into The Episcopal Church.   If I have advance notice, I can arrange to attend a different service, one without music, perhaps.  My attitude toward certain Low Church Protestant music is reflexively negative.

Much of the problem of Southern Gospel, I am convinced, is the way in which most or many people who sing it sing it.  Often the songs are too fast and inappropriately happy.  Even the sad songs sound happy sometimes.  Consider, for example, “In the Sweet By and By,” which is about the afterlife in Heaven.  Here are the words:

1.  There’s a land that is fairer than day,

And by faith we can see it afar;

For the Father waits over the way,

To prepare us a dwelling-place there.

Chorus:

In the sweet by and by,

We shall meet on that beautiful shore;

In the sweet by and by,

We shall meet on that beautiful shore.

2.  We shall sing on that beautiful shore

The melodious songs of the blest,

And our spirits shall sorrow no more,

Nor a sigh for the blessing of rest.

Repeat the Chorus

3.  To our bountiful Father above,

We will offer our tribute of praise,

For the glorious gift of His love,

And the blessings that hallow our days.

Repeat the Chorus

The lyrics reflect a sense of longing, as if one misses departed friends and loved ones yet anticipates reuniting with them after one’s own death.  Thus the hymn contains both grief and hope.  Yet I have almost always heard this sung as if it is all happiness.

This most recent Memorial Day morning, I heard part of Performance Today on my local public radio station.  The program that day was a concert by Cantus, a men’s choral ensemble.  Their concert included a slow and a cappella version of “In the Sweet By and By.”  It was simultaneously mournful and hopeful.  It was hauntingly beautiful.  The diction was flawless.  And I could hear the sparse harmonies and the interplay among the voice parts.  This was what I wished I had heard while growing up.

I wonder what other hymns and songs I might like if only I could hear them performed properly.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 23, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROSE OF LIMA, ROMAN CATHOLIC MYSTIC

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/04/18/in-the-sweet-by-and-by/

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Proper 8, Year B   Leave a comment

Above:  Statue of Reconciliation, St. Michael’s Cathedral, Coventry, England, United Kingdom

Image Source = Rebecca Kennison

Community, Beloved and Broken

The Sunday Closest to June 29

Fifth Sunday After Pentecost

JULY 1, 2018

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FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #1

2 Samuel 1:1, 7-27 (New Revised Standard Version):

After the death of Saul, when David had returned from defeating the Amalekites, David remained two days in Ziklag.

David intoned this lamentation over Saul and his son Jonathan.  (He ordered that The Song of the Bow he taught to the people of Judah; it is written in the Book of Jashar.)  He said:

Your glory, O Israel, lies slain upon your high places!

How the mighty have fallen!

Tell it not in Gath,

proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon;

or the daughters of the Philistines will rejoice,

the daughters of the uncircumcised will exult.

You mountains of Gilboa,

let there be no dew or rain upon you,

nor bounteous fields!

For there the shield of the mighty was defiled,

the shield of Saul, anointed with oil no more.

From the blood of the slain,

from the fat of the mighty,

the bow of Jonathan did not turn back,

nor the sword of Saul return empty.

Saul and Jonathan, beloved and lovely!

In life and in death they were not divided;

they were swifter than eagles,

they were stronger than lions.

O daughters of Israel, weep over Saul,

who clothed you with crimson, in luxury,

who put ornaments of gold on your apparel.

How the mighty have fallen

in the midst of the battle!

Jonathan lies slain upon your high places.

I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;

greatly beloved were you to me;

your love to me was wonderful,

passing the love of women.

How the mighty have fallen,

and the weapons of war perished!

Psalm 130 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  Out of the depths have I called to you, O LORD;

LORD, hear my voice;

let your ears consider well the voice of my supplication.

2  If you , LORD, were to note what is done amiss,

O Lord, who could stand?

3  For there is forgiveness with you;

therefore you shall be feared.

4  I wait for the LORD; my soul waits for him;

in his word is my hope.

5  My soul waits for the LORD,

more than watchmen in the morning,

more than watchmen in the morning.

6  O Israel, wait for the LORD,

for with the LORD there is mercy;

7  With him there is plenteous redemption,

and he shall redeem Israel from all their sins.

FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #2

Wisdom of Solomon 1:12-15; 2:23-24 (New Revised Standard Version):

Do not invite death by the error of your life,

or bring on destruction by the works of your hands;

because God did not make death,

and he does not delight in the death of the living.

For he created all things that they might exist;

the generative forces of the world are wholesome,

and there is no destructive poison in them,

and the dominion of Hades is not on earth.

For forgiveness is immortal.

…for God created us for incorruption,

and made us in the image of his own eternity.

but through the devil’s envy death entered the world,

and those who belong to his company experience it.

Response, Option #2A:  Lamentations 3:21-33 (New Revised Standard Version):

But this I call to mind,

and therefore I have hope:

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases,

his mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness.

“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,

“therefore I will hope in him.”

The LORD is good to those who wait for him,

to the soul that seeks him.

It is good that one should wait quietly

for the salvation of the LORD.

It is good for one to bear

the yoke in youth,

to sit alone in silence

when the Lord has imposed it,

to put one’s mouth to the dust

(there may yet be hope),

to give one’s cheek to the smiter,

and be filled with insults.

For the Lord will not

reject forever.

Although he causes grief, he will have compassion

according to the abundance of his steadfast love;

for he does not willingly afflict

or grieve anyone.

Response:  Option #2B:  Psalm 30 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

 I will exalt you, O LORD,

because you have lifted me up

and have not let my enemies triumph over me.

 O LORD my God, I cried out to you,

and you restored me to health.

 You brought me up, O LORD, from the dead;

you restored my life as I was going down to the grave.

 Sing to the LORD, you servants of his;

give thanks for the remembrance of his holiness.

 For his wrath endures but the twinkling of an eye,

his favor for a lifetime.

6 Weeping may spend the night,

but joy comes in the morning.

 While I felt secure, I said,

“I shall never be disturbed.

You,  LORD, with your favor, made me as strong as the mountains.”

 Then you hid my face,

and I was filled with terror.

 I cried to you, O LORD;

I pleaded with the LORD, saying,

10  “What profit is there in my blood, if I go down to the Pit?

will the dust praise you or declare your faithfulness?

11  Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me;

O LORD, be my helper.”

12  You have turned my wailing into dancing;

you have put off my sack-cloth and clothed me with joy.

13  Therefore my heart sings to you without ceasing;

O LORD my God, I will give you thanks for ever.

SECOND READING

2 Corinthians 8:7-15 (New Revised Standard Version):

As you excel in everything– in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you– so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking.

I do not say this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love against the earnestness of others. For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. And in this matter I am giving my advice: it is appropriate for you who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something– now finish doing it, so that your eagerness may be matched by completing it according to your means. For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has– not according to what one does not have. I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance. As it is written,

The one who had much did not have too much,

and the one who had little had too little.

GOSPEL READING

Mark 5:21-43 (New Revised Standard Version):

When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly,

My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.

He went with him.

And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said,

If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.

Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said,

Who touched my clothes?

And his disciples said to him,

You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, “Who touched me?”

He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her,

Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.

While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say,

Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?

But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue,

Do not fear, only believe.

He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them,

Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.

And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her,

Talitha cum,

which means,

Little girl, get up!

And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

The Collect:

Almighty God, you have built your Church upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone: Grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their teaching, that we may be made a holy temple acceptable to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Proper 8, Year A:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/15/proper-8-year-a/

Proper 8, Year B:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/08/20/proper-8-year-b/

2 Samuel 1:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/10/week-of-2-epiphany-saturday-year-2/

Wisdom of Solomon 1-2:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/twenty-seventh-day-of-lent/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/19/week-of-proper-27-tuesday-year-1/

Mark 5:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/06/week-of-4-epiphany-tuesday-year-1/

Jerusalem:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/08/01/jerusalem-by-william-blake/

O Lord, You Gave Your Servant John:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/08/06/o-lord-you-gave-your-servant-john/

New Every Morning is the Love:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/22/new-every-morning-is-the-love-by-john-keble/

A Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/25/a-prayer-by-st-francis-of-assisi/

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/09/11/911-a-prayer-of-st-francis-of-assisi/

A Franciscan Blessing:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/17/a-franciscan-blessing/

Where Cross the Crowded Ways of Life:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/06/26/where-cross-the-crowded-ways-of-life/

A Prayer for Shalom:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/17/a-prayer-for-shalom/

On a ______:

http://taylorfamilypoems.wordpress.com/2011/08/14/on-a/

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We are social creatures–some more so than others.  But we are all social creatures.  This fact helps explain why solitary confinement is such a strong punishment.  Furthermore, empathy helps bind us to each other.  It is to empathy that Paul appeals in 2 Corinthians 8:7-15.  Nobody should have too much or too little, he wrote; there should be a “fair balance” between the abundance of one and the needs of another.

In other words, we ought to take care of each other.  Corporations with enough cash on hand to spend millions or billions or dollars to purchase patents for things they did not invent for the purpose of either suing other corporations for patent infringement or intimidating other corporations from suing them for patent infringement have enough cash on hand to hire actual human beings.  There is an imbalance between abundance and needs.  As Martin Luther King, Jr., said on April 4, 1967, people should matter more than things and other forms of wealth.  To value property more highly than people is to have an inverse moral order.

We read of Jesus healing a woman with a persistent hemorrhage.  This condition had afflicted her for twelve years, during which she could not earn money and she was ritually unclean.  Therefore she was marginal in her community.  But now she was once again whole.

The woman had to deal with stigma over a physical problem.  David had another difficulty:  an estranged father-in-law who wanted him dead and against whom he was leading a rebellion.  Despite these facts, David had spared Saul’s life when he had the chance to take it.  And David mourned both Saul and Jonathan, his brother-in-law and best friend, who had died recently.  He referred to both of them as “beloved and cherished.”

We should grieve when relationships break, and we ought to mourn the fact that there is no way to repair some interpersonal ruptures due to realities such as death.  We should also be discontented when unjust economic disparities persist.  What can we do about it, whether in a family, community, county, state, national, or international level.  Alone we might not be able to do anything, but what can we accomplish collectively?  That is a question with an answer worth finding.  For, as the author of the Wisdom of Solomon reminds us,

God created us for incorruption,

and made us in the image of his own eternity.

KRT

Published in a nearly identical form at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on August 20, 2011

Feast of John Duckett and Ralph Corby (September 7)   Leave a comment

Logo of the Society of Jesus

BLESSED RALPH CORBY (MARCH 25, 1598-SEPTEMBER 7, 1644)

BLESSED JOHN DUCKETT (1603-SEPTEMBER 7, 1644)

Roman Catholic Priests and Martyrs in England

Feast Moved from September 7 to September 8 for the Purposes of This Ecumenical Calendar

Today I add to the Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days two Roman Catholic priests convicted of high treason for simply being Catholic priests in England when that was illegal.  The sentence, carried out on both at London on September 7, 1644, was hanging, drawing, and quartering.

The Irish-born Ralph Corby grew up in a devout family.  He joined the Jesuits and became a priest in 1625.  All of his siblings joined one religious order or another.  And, after the nest emptied, his parents took vows, with his father becoming a Jesuit lay brother and his mother a Benedictine nun.  Corby began his English mission in 1631/1632 and ministered in secret for twelve years, until July 8, 1644, when authorities at Newcastle arrested him.

John Duckett, who had a gift for contemplative prayer, was born in Sedbergh Parish, Yorkshire, England, in 1603.  Ordained a priest in 1639, he then studied for three years at the College of Arras in Paris, France, for three years.  Before Duckett began his English mission, he spent two months under the spiritual direction of his uncle, a Carthusian prior.  Duckett worked as a priest at Durham for about a year before the authorities arrested him on July 2, 1644, when he was en route to baptize two children.  The following quote comes from Duckett’s final letter, which he wrote on the night before he died:

I fear not death, nor do I condemn not life.  If life were my lot, I would endure it patiently; but if death, I shall receive it joyfully, for that Christ is my life, and death is my gain.  Never since my receiving of Holy Orders did I so much fear death as I did life, and now, when it approacheth can I faint?

Pope Pius XI beatified John Duckett and Ralph Corby in 1929.

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The Collect:

Blessed Lord Jesus Christ, who was born, lived, and died that we might have life and have it more abundantly, we thank you for the holy lives of John Duckett and Ralph Corby, who followed you all the way to their martyrdom.  Where martyrdom persists may the blood of the martyrs water the Church.  Yet may those who would make martyrs, moved by the Holy Spirit, refrain from violence instead.  In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

The Readings:

Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-9

Psalm 63

2 Timothy 4:6-8

Luke 6:20-26

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KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 16, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE HOLY WOMEN OF THE OLD TESTAMENT

THE FEAST OF BROTHER ROGER OF TAIZE, FOUNDER OF THE TAIZE COMMUNITY

Proper 7, Year B   2 comments

 A Box

God Does Not Fit Into Any Theological Box

The Sunday Closest to June 22

Fourth Sunday After Pentecost

JUNE 21, 2015

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FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #1

1 Samuel 17:(1a, 4-11, 19-23), 32-49 (New Revised Standard Version):

[Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle. And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. He had greaves of bronze on his legs and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders. The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron; and his shield-bearer went before him. He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel,

Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants; but if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.

And the Philistine said,

Today I defy the ranks of Israel! Give me a man, that we may fight together.

When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.

Now Saul, and they, and all the men of Israel, were in the valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines. David rose early in the morning, left the sheep with a keeper, took the provisions, and went as Jesse had commanded him. He came to the encampment as the army was going forth to the battle line, shouting the war cry. Israel and the Philistines drew up for battle, army against army. David left the things in charge of the keeper of the baggage, ran to the ranks, and went and greeted his brothers. As he talked with them, the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, came up out of the ranks of the Philistines, and spoke the same words as before. And David heard him.]

David said to Saul,

Let no one’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.

Saul said to David,

You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are just a boy, and he has been a warrior from his youth.

But David said to Saul,

Your servant used to keep sheep for his father; and whenever a lion or a bear came, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after it and struck it down, rescuing the lamb from its mouth; and if it turned against me, I would catch it by the jaw, strike it down, and kill it. Your servant has killed both lions and bears; and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, since he has defied the armies of the living God.

David said,

The LORD, who saved me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, will save me from the hand of this Philistine.

So Saul said to David,

Go, and may the LORD be with you!

Saul clothed David with his armor; he put a bronze helmet on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail. David strapped Saul’s sword over the armor, and he tried in vain to walk, for he was not used to them. Then David said to Saul,

I cannot walk with these; for I am not used to them.

So David removed them. Then he took his staff in his hand, and chose five smooth stones from the wadi, and put them in his shepherd’s bag, in the pouch; his sling was in his hand, and he drew near to the Philistine.

The Philistine came on and drew near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. When the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was only a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. The Philistine said to David,

Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?

And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. The Philistine said to David,

Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the field.

But David said to the Philistine,

You come to me with sword and spear and javelin; but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This very day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head; and I will give the dead bodies of the Philistine army this very day to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the earth, so that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD does not save by sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD’s and he will give you into our hand.

When the Philistine drew nearer to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. David put his hand in his bag, took out a stone, slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead; the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground.

Psalm 9:9-20 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

9  The LORD will be a refuge for the oppressed,

a refuge in time of trouble.

10  Those who know your Name will put their trust in you,

for you never forsake those who seek you, O LORD.

11  Sing praise to the LORD who dwells in Zion;

proclaim to the peoples the things he has done.

12  The Avenger of blood will remember them;

he will not forget the cry of the afflicted.

13  Have pity on me, O LORD;

see the misery I suffer from those who hate me,

O you who lift me up from the gate of death;

14  So that I may tell of all your praises

and rejoice in your salvation

in the gates of the city of Zion.

15  The ungodly have fallen into the pit they dug,

and in the snare they set is their own foot caught.

16  The LORD is known by his acts of justice;

the wicked are trapped in the works of their own hands.

17  The wicked shall be given over to the grave,

and also all the people that forget God.

18  For the needy shall not always be forgotten,

and the hope of the poor shall not perish for ever.

19  Rise up, O LORD, let not the ungodly have the upper hand;

let them be judged before you.

20  Put fear upon them, O LORD;

let the ungodly know they are but mortal.

FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #2

1 Samuel 17:57-18:5, 10-16 (New Revised Standard Version):

On David’s return from killing the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul, with the head of the Philistine in his hand.  Saul said to him, “Whose son are you, young man?”  And David answered,

I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.

When David had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was bound to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.  Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father’s house.  Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul.  Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that he was wearing, and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt.  David went out and was successful wherever Saul sent him; as a result, Saul set him over the army.  And all the people, even the servants of Saul, approved.

The next day an evil spirit from God rushed upon Saul, and he raved within his house, while David was playing the lyre, as he did day by day.  Saul had his spear in his hand; and Saul threw the spear, for he thought,

I will pin David to the wall.

But David eluded him twice.

Saul was afraid of David, because the LORD was with him but had departed from Saul.  So Saul removed him from his presence, and made him a commander of a thousand; and David marched out and came in, leading the army.  David had success in all his undertakings; for the LORD was with him.  When Saul saw that he had great success, he stood in awe of him.  But all Israel and Judah loved David; for it was he who marched out and came in leading them.

Psalm 133 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 Oh, how good and pleasant it is,

when brethren live together in unity!

2 It is like fine oil upon the head

that runs down upon the beard,

3 Upon the beard of Aaron,

and runs down upon the collar of his robe.

It is like the dew of Hermon

that falls upon the hills of Zion.

5 For there the LORD has ordained the blessing;

life for evermore.

FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #3

Job 38:1-11 (New Revised Standard Version):

Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind:

Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?

Gird up your loins like a man,

I will answer you, and you shall declare to me.

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?

Tell me, if you have understanding.

Who determined its measurements–surely you know!

Or who stretched out the line upon it?

On what were its bases sunk,

or who laid its cornerstone

when the morning stars sang together

and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy?

Or who shut in the sea with doors

when it burst out from the womb?–

when I made the clouds its garment,

and thick darkness its swaddling band,

and prescribed bounds for it,

and set bars and doors,

and said, “Thus far shall you come, and no farther,

and here shall your proud waves be stopped?”

Psalm 107:1-3, 23-32 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,

and his mercy endures for ever.

2  Let all those whom the LORD has redeemed proclaim

that he redeemed them from the hand of the foe.

3  He gathered them out of the lands;

from the east and from the west,

from the north and from the south.

23  Some went down to the sea in ships

and plied their trade in deep waters;

24  They beheld the works of the LORD

and his wonders in the deep.

25  Then he spoke, and a stormy wind arose,

which tossed high the waves of the sea.

26  They mounted up to the heavens and fell back to the depths;

their hearts melted because of their peril.

27  They reeled and staggered like drunkards

and were at their wits’ end.

28  Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,

and he delivered them from their distress.

29  He stilled the storm to a whisper

and quieted the waves of the sea.

30  Then were they glad because of the calm,

and he brought them to the harbor they were bound for.

31  Let them give thanks to the LORD for his mercy

and the wonders he does for his children.

32  Let them exalt him in the congregation of the people

and praise him in the council of the elders.

SECOND READING

2 Corinthians 6:1-13 (New Revised Standard Version):

As we work together with Christ, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. For he says,

At an acceptable time I have listened to you,

and on a day of salvation I have helped you.

See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation! We are putting no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see– we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

We have spoken frankly to you Corinthians; our heart is wide open to you. There is no restriction in our affections, but only in yours. In return– I speak as to children– open wide your hearts also.

GOSPEL READING

Mark 4:35-41 (New Revised Standard Version):

When evening had come, Jesus said to his disciples,

Let us go across to the other side.

And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him,

Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?

He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea,

Peace! Be still!

Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them,

Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?

And they were filled with great awe and said to one another,

Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?

The Collect:

O Lord, make us have perpetual love and reverence for your holy Name, for you never fail to help and govern those whom you have set upon the sure foundation of your loving­kindness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Proper 7, Year A:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/06/proper-7-year-a/

Proper 7, Year B:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/08/15/proper-7-year-b/

I have chosen to focus on the reading from Job, not that I have ignored other lessons.

David, Goliath, Jonathan, and Saul:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/08/week-of-2-epiphany-wednesday-year-2/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/09/week-of-2-epiphany-thursday-year-2/

Mark 6:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/05/week-of-3-epiphany-saturday-year-1/

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False certainty is not helpful.

The Book of Job consists of poetry combined with some prose.  It is a work of literature and a fictional story containing deep theological truth.  In this old epic, Job, a wealthy and righteous man, suffers greatly not because of any sin he had committed but because God permitted it.  For much of the book Job argued with three alleged friends–Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar–who insisted, among other things, that Job’s suffering must have resulted from some sin or sins he had committed.

Thus the Book of Job refuted a popular idea in ancient theology.  Yes, sometimes we suffer the negative consequences of our actions, but this fact does not account for all our suffering.  In face, we cannot account for the causation of some suffering.  Uncertainty can be unnerving, so we might prefer the simple formula “sins lead to suffering.”

Job made his final verbal defense in Chapters 29-31.  Then, in the book as it exists today, Elihu, an arrogant young man began to speak.  He was proud of himself, what he thought he knew, and how well he said it.  He filled six chapters before departing the book’s narrative as suddenly as he entered it.

Elihu’s speeches stick out in the Book of Job because they were not part of the original text.  The book contains authorial and editorial layers.  It seems that God’s speech, beginning in Chapter 28, originally followed Job’s concluding statement in Chapters 29-31 immediately.

The summary of much of God’s speech in Chapters 38 and 39 is “I’m God and you’re not.”  The text tells us that God is speaking to Job.  Yet something strikes me as interesting and crucial to grasping the book and its message.  God’s audience could just as well be Elihu or Eliphaz or Bildad or Zophar, given the content.  Job and these men had all spoken as if they knew far more than they did.  Elihu and the alleged friends thought that they how God ran the world and Job thought that he know how God should run the world.

Job needed to admit that he knew little about God.  He needed to accept ambiguity in his theology.  And he did.  The lesson he learned was that relationship to the living God, who is beyond complete human comprehension, is the goal for which to strive.  We hold expectations of God, how God acts, or how God should behave, but sometimes (perhaps even often) our reality and our expectations do not match.

Unanswered questions make some people uncomfortable.  The failure of easy and inadequate yet neat theological formulas unnerves many of us.  Yet may we embrace the ambiguity of the unanswered question and the broken formula.  May we accept the uncertainty of “I don’t know.”

Often catastrophic events set the stage for people questioning the existence or justice of God.  ”If there is a God, why did X happen?” people ask.  Or, “If God is just, why did X happen?”  X might be a massive storm or earthquake, the Holocaust, a war, or other terrible event.  Often the complaint regards something God did not do, something God permitted or allegedly permitted to happen.

Here a message from the Book of Job becomes helpful.  The most basic certainties are that God exists and that God does not fit into our theological boxes.  ”I don’t know” is something a spiritually honest person will say often.  We can know much, but not nearly everything.  If we accept this fact, we continue on the path of wisdom.

KRT

Published originally at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on August 15, 2011

Posted August 15, 2011 by neatnik2009 in June 21-30, Revised Common Lectionary Year B

Tagged with

Proper 6, Year B   Leave a comment

Above:  Christ Pantocrator

Jesus Shall Reign

The Sunday Closest to June 15

Third Sunday After Pentecost

JUNE 14, 2015

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FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #1

1 Samuel 15:34-16:13 (New Revised Standard Version):

Samuel went to Ramah; and Saul went up to his house in Gibeah of Saul. Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death, but Samuel grieved over Saul. And the LORD was sorry that he had made Saul king over Israel.

The Lord said to Samuel,

How long will you grieve over Saul? I have rejected him from being king over Israel. Fill your horn with oil and set out; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.

Samuel said,

How can I go? If Saul hears of it, he will kill me.

And the Lord said,

Take a heifer with you, and say, “I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.” Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for me the one whom I name to you.

Samuel did what the Lord commanded, and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling, and said,

Do you come peaceably?

He said,

Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord; sanctify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.

And he sanctified Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.

When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought,

Surely the Lord’s anointed is now before the Lord.

But the Lord said to Samuel,

Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.

Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. He said,

Neither has the Lord chosen this one.

Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said,

Neither has the Lord chosen this one.

Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, and Samuel said to Jesse,

The Lord has not chosen any of these.

Samuel said to Jesse,

Are all your sons here?

And he said,

There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep.

And Samuel said to Jesse,

Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.

He sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. The Lord said,

Rise and anoint him; for this is the one.

Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. Samuel then set out and went to Ramah.

Psalm 20 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  May the LORD answer you the day of trouble;

the Name of the God of Jacob defend you;

2  Send you help from his holy place

and strengthen you out of Zion;

3  Remember all your offerings

and accept your burnt sacrifice;

4  Grant you your heart’s desire

and prosper all your plans.

5  We will shout for joy at your victory

and triumph in the Name of our God;

may the LORD grant all your requests.

6  Now I know that the LORD gives victory to his anointed;

he will answer him out of his holy heaven,

with the victorious strength of his right hand.

7  Some put their trust in chariots and some in horses,

but we will call upon the Name of the LORD our God.

8  They collapse and fall down,

but we will arise and stand upright.

9  O LORD, give victory to the king

and answer us when we call.

FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #2

Ezekiel 17:22-24 (New Revised Standard Version):

Thus says the LORD God:

I myself will take a sprig

from the lofty top of a cedar;

I will set it out.

I will break off a tender one

from the topmost of its young twigs;

I myself will plant it

on a high and lofty mountain.

On the mountain height of Israel

I will plant it,

In order that it may produce boughs and bear fruit,

and become a noble cedar.

Under it every kind of bird will live;

in the shade of its branches will nest

winged creatures of every kind.

All the trees of the filed shall know

that I am the LORD.

I bring low the high tree;

I make high the low tree;

I dry up the green tree

and make the dry tree flourish.

I the LORD have spoken;

I will accomplish it.

Psalm 92:1-4, 11-14 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  It is a good thing to give thanks to the LORD,

and to sing praises to your Name, O Most High;

2  To tell of your loving-kindness early in the morning

and of your faithfulness in the night season;

3  On the psaltery, and on the lyre

and to the melody of the harp.

4  For you have made me glad by your acts, O LORD;

and I shout for joy because of the works of your hands.

11  The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree,

and shall spread abroad like a cedar of Lebanon.

12  Those who are planted in the house of the LORD

shall flourish in the courts of our God.

13  They shall still bear fruit in old age;

they shall be green and succulent;

14  That they may show how upright the LORD is,

my Rock, in whom there is no fault.

SECOND READING

2 Corinthians 5:6-10, (11-13), 14-17 (New Revised Standard Version):

We are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord– for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil.

[Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade others; but we ourselves are well known to God, and I hope that we are also well known to your consciences. We are not commending ourselves to you again, but giving you an opportunity to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast in outward appearance and not in the heart. For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.] For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them. From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!

GOSPEL READING

Mark 4:26-34 (New Revised Standard Version):

Jesus said,

The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.

He also said,

With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.

With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.

The Collect:

Keep, O Lord, your household the Church in your steadfast faith and love, that through your grace we may proclaim your truth with boldness, and minister your justice with compassion; for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Proper 6, Year A:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/11/30/proper-6-year-a/

Proper 6, Year B:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/08/09/proper-6-year-b/

1 Samuel 15-16:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/07/week-of-2-epiphany-tuesday-year-2/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/fourth-sunday-in-lent-year-a/

Mark 4:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/05/week-of-3-epiphany-friday-year-1/

Matthew 13 (Parallel to Mark 4):

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/01/11/proper-12-year-a/

The Remnant:

http://taylorfamilypoems.wordpress.com/2011/08/09/the-remnant/

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Yea, Amen! let all adore thee,

High on thine eternal throne;

Saviour, take the power and glory;

Claim the kingdom for thine own:

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thou shalt reign, and thou alone.

–Charles Wesley, “Lo! He Comes with Clouds Descending,” 1758, adapted

A mustard seed is quite small–not actually the smallest of seeds, for we humans know of smaller seeds–but it is minute.  Yet from it comes a mighty weed, a mustard plant, which goes where it will and offers shade and housing to a wide variety of wildlife.  The Kingdom of God, Jesus said, is like this giant weed:  unstoppable and containing a heterogeneous population.

He did not liken the Kingdom of God to a cedar of Lebanon, a mighty and lovely tree.  We will not ignore that species; I will, in fact, get to it very soon.

One of the options for the Old Testament lesson is the familiar story of Samuel anointing David, the most unlikely (in human estimation) candidate for kingship.  Yet, as the text reminds us, God and we human beings see differently.

From that tender sprout came a dynasty (likened to a cedar of Lebanon), one which fell on hard times within a few generations.  This brings me to the reading from Ezekiel.  17:22-24 flows naturally from 17:1-21, so I summarize those initial verses now.  The Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian Empire had exiled King Jehoichin in 597 B.C.E. and installed Zedekiah, another member of the Davidic Dynasty, as King of Judah.  But Zedekiah rebelled.  So, in 586 B.C.E., the Chaldeans ended the existence of the Kingdom of Judah.  The Babylonian Exile began.  Many years later, the prophet Ezekiel predicted that through the Davidic line the world would, in time, come to worship God alone.  The days of glory of David and Solomon were over, but divine glory the likes of which no one alive had witnesses would become public and widespread.

This brings me to 2 Corinthians 5:6-17, which needs no summary.  Just read it again, for the text speaks for itself.

It is obvious that the prediction of universal worship of God has yet to come true.  We human beings can cooperate with God in helping that day become reality, but we cannot stand in its way.  Tyrants have tried.  They have murdered many Jews and Christians over thousands of years, but the Judeo-Christian tradition remains quite alive.  The mustard plant keeps going where it will.  One day, certainly after my lifetime, it will have gone everywhere on this planet.

Until then my fellow Christians and I can anticipate the day when these great words by Isaac Watts become reality:

Jesus shall reign where’er the sun

Doth his successive journeys run;

His kingdom stretch from shore to shore,

Till moons shall wax and wane no more.

–”Jesus Shall Reign,” 1719

KRT

Published in a nearly identical form at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on August 9, 2011

Posted August 9, 2011 by neatnik2009 in June 11-20, Revised Common Lectionary Year B

Tagged with

Feast of Milner Ball (April 6)   Leave a comment

Image Source = University of Georgia Law School Tribute Page

(Link located in this post)

MILNER SHIVERS BALL (APRIL 10-1936-APRIL 6, 2011)

Presbyterian Minister, Law Professor, Witness for Civil Rights, Humanitarian

From time to time one finds one’s self in the company of greatness.  The greatest of people are those who improve the lives of others, often facing scorn for part or much of their efforts.  Years and decades later, admirers speak of how courageous these great people were, but such high praise was scarce at the time.

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1936, and educated in Georgia and Tennessee public schools, Milner Ball earned his A.B. degree from Princeton University and his Master of Divinity from Harvard University.  A man possessed of a keen intellect and deep Christian faith, he studied with Karl Barth and became a Presbyterian minister.  Lifelong concerns for social justice led Ball to support causes usually described as liberal.  In the 1960s, for example he was openly pro-civil rights.  After a stint as pastor in Manchester, Tennessee, he became the Presbyterian campus minister at The University of Georgia (UGA).  There his demonstrated belief in racial equality aroused much opposition at the recently (1962) integrated campus.  The last straw, however, came when Ball became a delegate to the 1968 Democratic National Convention, but not as a member of the Lester Maddox-approved delegation.  Ball, joined the Julian Bond-led delegation instead.

Ball, fired from his position, entered law school and commenced a career of public service via the law.  Graduating first in his class from the UGA Law School, Ball served as former U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk’s representative to the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in 1971 and 1972.  Then he taught law at Rutgers University from 1972 to 1978 before returning to UGA as a law professor.  He retired in 2006.

A prolific scholar, Ball wrote many law review articles and four books:  The Promise of American Law:  A Theological, Humanistic View of Legal Process (1981), Lying Down Together:  Law, Metaphor, and Theology (1985), The Word and the Law (1993), and Called by Stories:  Biblical Sagas and Their Challenge for Law (2000).  A specialist in environmental law, tribal law, constitutional law, and the intersection of theology and law, Ball challenged his students and readers to improve the lives of the less fortunate and to work for justice.  Law, he wrote, ought to be a force which transfigures society and builds up human community.

Ball’s work extended far beyond Athens, Georgia.  He taught overseas (in Argentina, France, Belgium, England, and Iceland) over the years and served as a judge on the International People’s Tribunal in Hawaii (1993).  Ball was also a member of the Theological Anthropology Project at the Center of Theological Inquiry at Princeton University.  And his influence continues through the careers of his law students.

Locally in Athens, Ball was instrumental in the Athens Justice Project, which, in the words of its website, “assists low income individuals with pending criminal charges in achieving a fair legal outcome and in becoming productive, law-abiding community members.”  Such work, truly a living memorial to Ball’s commitment to social justice, reflects his active belief in helping the disadvantaged and building up human community.  The Athens Justice Project was just one of Ball’s many community-building activities, with others including a soup kitchen and a homeless shelter.

Ball received many civil rights and public service honors.  It is appropriate then that the Working in the Public Interest (WIPI) Law Conference established the Milner S. Ball Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.

Our love for our neighbors, Jesus said, must be active.  The obligation to love our neighbors as ourselves requires us to reach out to those who need the assistance we can offer.  Following our Lord in this way will cause us to cross lines some of our neighbors consider improper, for we human beings cling to social injustices which benefit us, if only psychologically.  But crossing these lines is part of God’s mandate upon our lives.  Jesus disregarded such barriers, as the canonical Gospels record.  He was (and is) the Master; a servant is not above his or her master.

Milner Ball followed his master faithfully.  He and I participated in the life of the same parish, crossing paths.  Knowing him, even casually, was a great honor.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 6, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE TRANSFIGURATION

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For More Information:

UGA Law School Tribute Page

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A collect and the readings for a Renewer of Society, according to Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), the hymnal and worship book of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:

Holy and righteous God, you created us in your image.  Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and to make no peace with oppression.  Help us, like your servant Milner Ball, to work for justice among people and nations, to the glory of your name, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36