Archive for April 2013

Feast of James Moffatt (June 27)   1 comment

Flag of Scotland

Above:  Flag of Scotland

JAMES MOFFATT (JULY 4, 1870-JUNE 27, 1944)

Scottish Presbyterian Minister, Scholar, and Bible Translator

James Moffatt (1870-1944) devoted his life, mind, and talents to the glory of God.  In so doing he offended many relatively conservative people with his acceptance of the Sources Hypothesis and other elements of biblical criticism.  And his The Holy Bible:  A New Translation (1913-1926; revised subsequently) became a lightning rod for Evangelical and Fundamentalist attacks.  Then Moffatt helped to translate the Revised Standard Version (New Testament, 1946), which many critics of the same ilk found objectionable, some going so far as to call it the Revised Standard Perversion.

But I like him.  True, his A New Translation of the Bible rearranges the order of some verses, but there are legitimate reasons for doing that.  And subsequent versions have done the same thing.  Moffatt’s companion volume to the 1927 Church Hymnary of various Presbyterian denominations contains references to the manliness of certain authors.  I surmise that he favored masculinity, which is not a major concern of mine.  So I find those references amusing.

Moffatt, educated at Glasgow University and the Free Church College, Glasgow, entered the ministry of the Free Church of Scotland in 1896.  (Aside:  The Free Church of Scotland, by merger, became the United Free Church of Scotland in 1900.  That denomination reunited with the Church of Scotland in 1929.)  Moffatt left parish work behind in 1911 to pursue his academic vocation.  He taught Greek and the New Testament at Mansfield College, Oxford, from 1911 to 1915.  Then Moffatt taught church history at his alma mater, the United Free Church College, Glasgow, from 1915 to 1927.  Next, from 1927 to 1939, he taught church history at Union Theological Seminary, New York, New York.

Moffatt’s written contributions were numerous.  He wrote New Testament commentaries.  And, as I have mentioned, he translated the Bible.  One different aspect of A New Translation was the use of “the Eternal” for God.  It was accurate, for “eternity” and “eternal” refer to God.  In the Gospel of John, for example, eternal life is knowing God via Jesus.

Moffatt also composed at least one hymn tune, Ultima.

Moffatt earned his spot on my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 26, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS REMACLUS OF MAASTRICHT, THEODORE OF MAASTRICHT, LAMBERT OF MAASTRICHT, HUBERT OF MAASTRICHT AND LIEGE, AND FLORIBERT OF LIEGE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; SAINT LANDRADA OF MUNSTERBILSEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBESS; AND SAINTS OTGER OF UTRECHT, PLECHELM OF GUELDERLAND, AND WIRO, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARIES

THE FEAST OF CHRISTINA ROSSETTI, POET

THE FEAST OF SAINT PASCHASIUS RADBERTUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF ROBERT HUNT, FIRST ANGLICAN CHAPLAIN AT JAMESTOWN, VIRGINIA

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For Further Reading:

http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/book/lookupname?key=Moffatt%2c%20James%2c%201870-1944

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O God, you have endowed us with memory, reason, and skill.

We thank you for the faithful legacy of James Moffatt and all others

who have dedicated their lives to you and to the intellectual pursuits.

May we, like them, respect your gift of intelligence fully and to your glory.

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Psalm 103

Philippians 4:8-9

Mark 12:28-34

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 6, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CHRODEGANG OF METZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF EDMUND KING, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LINCOLN

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Feast of William Pierson Merrill (June 19)   Leave a comment

GEO_Globe

Above:  A Globe

Image Source = Christian Fischer

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WILLIAM PIERSON MERRILL (JANUARY 10, 1867-JUNE 19, 1954)

U.S. Presbyterian Minister, Social Reformer, and Hymn Writer

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Doctor Merrill, an author of repute, an outstanding preacher, an authority on hymns and tunes, has for nearly a half century battled for righteous causes in America’s three largest cities.

–Robert Guy McCutchan, Our Hymnody:  A Manual of The Methodist Hymnal, 2d. ed. (Nashville, TN:  Abingdon Press, 1937, pages 304-305)

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Many readers of this post might not know the name “William Pierson Merrill” yet might be quite familiar with his great hymn, “Rise Up, O Men of God.”

Rise up, O men of God!

Have done with lesser things;

Give heart and soul and mind and strength

To serve the King of kings.

—–

Rise up, O men of God!

His Kingdom tarries long;

Bring in the day of brotherhood,

And end the night of wrong.

—–

Rise up, O men of God!

The Church for you doth wait,

Her strength unequal to her task;

Rise up and make her great.

—–

Lift high the Cross of Christ!

Tread where His feet have trod;

As brothers of the Son of Man

Rise up, O men of God!

I wonder how many people who have sung that hymn would find Merrill’s theology horrifying or at least objectionable.  I, of course, consider it to be neither.

William Pierson Merrill (1867-1954) graduated from Rutgers College, New Brunswick, New Jersey, then from Union Theological Seminary, New York, New York.  The Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. ordained him in 1890.  He served at the following churches:

  1. Trinity Presbyterian Church, Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1890-1895);
  2. Sixth Presbyterian Church, Chicago, Illinois (1895-1911); and
  3. Brick Presbyterian Church, New York, New York (1911-1938).  From there he retired.

Update on the churches:

  1. Trinity Presbyterian Church has become The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill by means of a reunion of Trinity with its parent congregation, First Presbyterian Church.
  2. Sixth Presbyterian Church (not to be confused with the former Sixth United Presbyterian Church) has ceased to exist, as has its building.
  3. Brick Presbyterian Church has moved from the location it occupied when Merrill was pastor.

Merrill was a peace activist and a biblical scholar.  He published a commentary on Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, and Micah in 1927.  And, in 1914, he became the first President of the Church Peace Union, now the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs.   Merrill’s liberalism and internationalism were evident in Christian Internationalism (1918) and Liberal Christianity (1925).

Merrill declined the opportunity to become the President of Union Theological Seminary in 1917 yet accepted the position of Moderator of the Presbytery of New York from 1940 to 1942.

William Pierson Merrill spoke out for ethics in public life on the global scale.  Indeed, he chose not to focus on “lesser things,” but to work on bringing in “the day of brotherhood.”  That was a worthy cause, one which continues to be crucial.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 26, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS REMACLUS OF MAASTRICHT, THEODORE OF MAASTRICHT, LAMBERT OF MAASTRICHT, HUBERT OF MAASTRICHT AND LIEGE, AND FLORIBERT OF LIEGE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; SAINT LANDRADA OF MUNSTERBILSEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBESS; AND SAINTS OTGER OF UTRECHT, PLECHELM OF GUELDERLAND, AND WIRO, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARIES

THE FEAST OF CHRISTINA ROSSETTI, POET

THE FEAST OF SAINT PASCHASIUS RADBERTUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF ROBERT HUNT, FIRST ANGLICAN CHAPLAIN AT JAMESTOWN, VIRGINIA

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For Further Reading:

http://www.cyberhymnal.org/bio/m/e/merrill_wp.htm

http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/book/lookupname?key=Merrill%2c%20William%20Pierson%2c%201867-1954

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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 William Pierson Merrill,

to work for justice among people and nations, to the glory of your name,

through Jesus Christ, 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

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

Feast of Norman Macleod and John Macleod (June 16)   1 comment

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Above:  Glasgow University, Glasgow, Scotland, 1890-1900

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsc-07596

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NORMAN MACLEOD (JUNE 3, 1812-JUNE 16, 1872)

Scottish Presbyterian Minister and Hymn Writer

Cousin of

JOHN MACLEOD (JUNE 22, 1840-AUGUST 4, 1898)

Scottish Presbyterian Minister, Liturgist, and Hymn Writer

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With this post I add two cousins to the Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.  Both Norman Macleod and John Macleod belonged to a dynasty of Scottish Presbyterian clergymen.  Both of them wrote hymns.  And each, in his own way, served God.

Norman Macleod (1812-1872), educated at Glasgow University, entered the ranks of Church of Scotland clergy in 1838.  He remained with that denomination after the great schism of 1843, the one that formed the Free Church of Scotland (1843-1900), which became part of the merged United Free Church of Scotland in 1900 before reuniting with the mother church in 1929.  Norman served at Loudoun Parish, Ayrshire, starting in 1838, moved to Dalkeith in 1843, and transferred to Barony Parish, Glasgow, in 1851.  He had joined the family business, so to speak, for his father and grandfather (both named Norman Macleod also) were Scottish Presbyterian ministers.

Norman had a great interest in the welfare of the people around him and elsewhere.  Thus he founded the first penny savings bank in Glasgow and provided mechanisms by which poor people could purchase good and affordable food and clothing. In 1865 Norman became embroiled in a Sabbath-related controversy.  His relatively liberal position was that, since Sunday was the only day many people had off, nobody should expect them to spend most of that day in church.  And, two years later, as the Convener of the India Mission Committee of the Church of Scotland, traveled to the subcontinent.  The trip broke his health.

Norman engaged in other activities beyond the parish level.  In 1849 he became the Editor of The Edinburgh Christian Instructor.  Two years prior he had cofounded the Evangelical Alliance, an anti-Tractarian ecumenical organization.  And, from 1860 to 1872, he edited and contributed to Good Words magazine.  Finally, in 1869, he served as the Moderator of the Church of Scotland.

Norman also wrote hymns.  One of these was “Courage, Brother!  Do Not Stumble.”

Courage, brother! do not stumble,

Though thy path be dark as night;

There’s a star to guide the humble:

“Trust in God, and do the right.”

—–

Let the road be rough and dreary,

And its end be far out of sight,

Foot it bravely; strong or weary,

Trust in God, and do the right.

—–

Perish policy and cunning,

Perish all that fears the light!

Whether losing, whether winning,

Trust in God, and do the right.

—–

Some will hate thee, some will love thee,

Some will flatter, some will slight;

Cease from man, and look above thee;

Trust in God, and do the right.

—–

Simple rule, and safest guiding,

Inward peace, and inward might,

Star upon our path abiding,–

Trust in God, and do the right.

—–

Courage, brother! do not stumble,

Though thy path be dark as night;

There’s a star to guide the humble:

“Trust in God, and do the right.”

James Moffatt wrote of Norman that

He was one of the greatest of Scottish churchmen, a man of rare breadth and catholicity of spirit, an earnest philanthropist, an eloquent and moving preacher, and a warm-hearted, manly Christian.

Handbook to The Church Hymnary (London:  Oxford University Press, 1927, page 418)

A more immediate tribute came from Queen Victoria, whose chaplain Norman had become in 1857.  She donated two memorial windows at Crathie Church, Deeside.

John Macleod (1840-1898), Norman’s cousin, was the son of another John Macleod, a minister of the Church of Scotland.  The younger John, educated at Glasgow University, entered the ranks of Church of Scotland clergy in 1861.  Fourteen years later he became pastor of the great Govan Parish in Glasgow.  There he led the growing congregation effectively, oversaw the construction of a new building, and founded daughter congregations.

Govan Parish belonged to the High Church wing of the Church of Scotland.  There, at Govan, John pioneered responsive readings, practiced taking Holy Communion as the central act of Christian worship, and favored celebrating the major Christian feasts–radical ideas by the standards of Puritanical Presbyterians.  “Pope John of Govan,” as many people called him, wrote a treatise, The Holy Sacrament of Baptism, and wrote two posthumously published books–Poems and Hymns (1902) and The Gospel in the Institution of the Lord’s Supper (1907).  The Scottish Church Society, which he founded, carried on his liturgical work.

Among the hymns which John wrote was “Blessed Jesus, High in Glory,” which debuted in The Scottish Hymnal (1884).

Blessed Jesus, high in glory,

Seen by saints and angels fair,

Children’s voices now adore Thee;

Listen to Thy children’s prayer.

—–

Gentle Jesus, Thou dost love us,

Thou hast died upon the Tree,

And Thou reignest now above us,

That we too might reign with Thee.

—–

Give us grace to trust Thee wholly,

Give us each a childlike heart,

Make us meek and pure and holy,

Meet to see Thee as Thou art.

—–

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

Bless us all our life below,

Till we each that heaven inherit,

Which the childlike only know.

May more people honor these holy men.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 25, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARK THE EVANGELIST, MARTYR

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For Further Reading:

http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/book/lookupname?key=Macleod%2c%20Norman%2c%201812-1872

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Heavenly Father, shepherd of your people,

we thank you for your servants Norman Macleod and John Macleod,

who were faithful in the care and nurture of your flock.

We pray that, following their examples and the teachings of their holy lives,

we may by your grace attain our full maturity in Christ,

through the same Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Ezekiel 34:11-16 or Acts 20:17-35

Psalm 84

1 Peter 5:1-4 or Ephesians 3:14-21

John 21:15-17 or Matthew 24:42-47

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

Feast of John Ellerton (June 15)   2 comments

Flag of England

Above:  Flag of England

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JOHN ELLERTON (DECEMBER 16, 1826-JUNE 15, 1893)

Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer and Translator

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…it is no exaggeration to say that his hand may be traced and his voice heard in every [English] hymn-book of importance during the last thirty years before his death.

–James Moffatt, Handbook to the Church Hymnary (London:  Oxford University Press, 1927, page 329)

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John Ellerton (1826-1893), educated at King William’s College, Isle of Man, and at Trinity College, Cambridge, combined elements of the Evangelical (Low), Broad, and Anglo-Catholic (High) schools of The Church of England.  He, ordained to the priesthood in 1850, became the Curate of Easeborne, Midhurst, Sussed, and of St. Nicholas, Brighton.  During the period of 1850-1860 Ellerton began to compose and translate hymns.

From 1860 to 1872 Ellerton served as Vicar of Crewe Greene.  During this period Ellerton became involved in that community, organizing one of the first choral associations in the Midlands region.  He also served as Vice President of the Mechanics Institution, reorganizing the curriculum and teaching Bible and English history.

Ellerton came close to overworking himself during the final two decades of his life.  He served as Rector at Hinstock, Shropshire (1872-1876), then at Barnes, Surrey (1876-1884), before having to take a year off and to travel abroad.  His final cure was at White Riding, Essex, starting in 1885.

Ellerton’s output was staggering.  He wrote or translated at least eighty-six hymns.  He edited two hymnals–Church Hymns (1871) and The Children’s Hymn Book.  He published Hymns, Original and Translated (1888), a collection of his works.  Ellerton also worked on Hymns Ancient and Modern (1875 and 1889), Hymns for Schools and Bible Classes (1859), The Temperance Hymn Book, and The London Mission Hymn Book.  And he advised the committee which produced the final (1890) edition of the Hymnal Companion tonthe Book of Common Prayer.  Ellerton refused to copyright his hymns because if they were

counted worthy to contribute to Christ’s praise in the congregation, one ought to feel very thankful and humble.

St. Albans Cathedral, St. Albans, named Ellerton as a Canon toward the end of his life, but he was too ill to attend a formal installation ceremony.  Nevertheless, many people referred to him as Canon Ellerton.

Ellerton’s hymns have enriched my spiritual life.  The extent of his contribution there has become abundantly clear when I have looked up his hymns in The Hymnal 1982 and other hymnbooks.  So now I have become very grateful for the life and legacy of John Ellerton.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 25, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARK THE EVANGELIST, MARTYR

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For Further Reading:

http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/book/lookupname?key=Ellerton%2c%20John%2c%201826-1893

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Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

John Ellerton and others, who have composed hymn texts.

May we, as you guide us,

find worthy hymn texts to be icons,

through which we see you.

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 44:1-3a, 5-15

Psalm 147

Revelation 5:11-14

Luke 2:8-20

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 20, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS AMATOR OF AUXERRE AND GERMANUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; SAINT MAMERTINUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AND SAINT MARCIAN OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

THE FEAST OF JOHANNES BUGENHAGEN, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCELLINUS OF EMBRUN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF OLAVUS AND LAURENTIUS PETRI, RENEWERS OF THE CHURCH

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Feast of Edwin Paxton Hood (June 12)   Leave a comment

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Above:  Daisies for All, 1906

Image Copyrighted by E. W. Kelley

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-USZ62-56660

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EDWIN PAXTON HOOD (OCTOBER 24, 1820-JUNE 12, 1885)

English Congregationalist Minister, Philanthropist, and Hymn Writer

Today I add a biographer, hymn writer, philanthropist, and minister to the Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.

Edwin Paxton Hood (1820-1885), the son of an able seaman and a domestic servant, became an orphan at a young age.  He had little formal education yet possessed an eager mind;  he was mostly self-educated.  At about age twenty Hood began to lecture about peace and temperance.  His oratorical skills helped greatly when he became an ordained Congregationalist minister in 1852.  And Hood remained a popular lecturer after his ordination.

Hood served various congregations, having to resign from one (Cavendish Street Church, Manchester) for political reasons; he belonged to the Liberal Party.  Finally Hood ministered at Falcon Street Church, Aldersgate Street, London, the city of his birth.

Hood was a prolific writer.  He edited and contributed to The Ecclectic and Congregational Review, composed texts for at least seventeen hymns , and wrote many popular books.  Among these were biographies of Oliver Cromwell, Emmanuel Swedenborg, and Thomas Binney.  One of Hood’s hymns was “God, Who Hath Made the Daisies” (1870), based on Matthew 19:13-15.  It debuted in The Children’s Choir (1870), which he edited.

God, who hath made the daisies,

And every lovely thing,

He will accept our praises,

And hearken while we sing.

He says, though we are simple,

Though ignorant we be,

“Suffer the little children,

And let them come to Me.”

—–

Though we are young and simple,

In praise we may be bold;

The children in the Temple

He heard in days of old;

And if our hearts are humble,

He says to you and me,

“Suffer the little children,

And let them come to Me.”

—–

He sees the bird that wingeth

Its way o’er earth and sky;

He hears the lark that singeth

Up in the heaven so high;

He sees the heart’s low breathings,

And says, well pleased to see,

“Suffer the little children,

And let them come to Me.”

—–

Therefore we will come near Him,

And joyfully we’ll sing;

No cause to shrink or fear Him,

We’ll make our voices ring;

For in our temple speaking,

He says to you and me,

“Suffer the little children,

And let them come to Me.”

Hood also devoted himself to philanthropic causes, especially the Royal Hospital for Incurables, founded by Andrew Reed in 1854.  That institution has become the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability.

Edwin Paxton Hood loved God with his mind, talents, and interests.  He, obeying our Lord and Savior’s instructions and following that great exemplar, helped others in practical ways.  Hood was a holy man, one whom I am proud to honor.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 24, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF ARMENIA

THE FEAST OF JOHANN WALTER, COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF THE SEVEN MARTYRS OF THE MELANESIAN BROTHERHOOD

THE FEAST OF WALTER RUSSELL BOWIE, EPISCOPAL PRIEST

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For Further Reading:

http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/book/lookupname?key=Hood%2c%20Edwin%20Paxton%2c%201820-1885

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O God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served, and to give his life for the life of the world.

Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom the world offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the helpless,

love to the unloved,

peace to the troubled,

and rest to the weary,

through Jesus Christ, 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

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

Proper 21, Year C   Leave a comment

Meister_des_Codex_Aureus_Epternacensis_001

Above:  Dives and Lazarus

God and the Marginalized

The Sunday Closest to September 28

Sixteenth Sunday After Pentecost

SEPTEMBER 29, 2019

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The Assigned Readings:

Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15 and Psalm 91:1-6, 14-16

or 

Amos 6:1a, 4-7 and Psalm 146

then 

1 Timothy 6:6-19

Luke 16:19-31

The Collect:

Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure; 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:

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/25/prayer-of-praise-and-adoration-for-the-nineteenth-sunday-after-pentecost/

Prayer of Confession:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/08/23/the-greater-our-greed-becomes/

Prayer of Dedication:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/25/prayer-of-dedication-for-the-nineteenth-sunday-after-pentecost/

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There is hope in God.

  1. Then Prophet Jeremiah understood this when he purchased a field.  Yes, the invaders were still going to arrive, the king was still going to become a captive, and the kingdom was still going to fall, but there was still hope in God.
  2. The other readings focus on the hope of the economically marginalized.  The combination of great wealth and a dearth of sensitivity to human needs explains the lessons from Amos, Luke, and 1 Timothy.  Indeed, such insensitivity leads not only to the destruction of the insensitive person but to that of others.  Yet the poor man in the parable does receive his reward in the his afterlife while the heartless rich man suffers punishment after dying.  Even the rich man still does not care about the poor man.

The divine preference for the poor is part of the Bible.  I suspect that one reason for this is that the poor are among the most easily noticed marginalized populations.  Our Lord and Savior found much support among the marginalized and less among those who defined them as marginal.  On that broad point I choose to found this blog post.  Are we marginalized?  Or are we among those who define others are marginal or consent passively to that reality?  In other terms, do we care enough about others to draw the circle wider, thereby including those whom God includes already?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 19, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MURIN OF FAHAN, LASERIAN OF LEIGHLIN, GOBAN OF PICARDIE, FOILLAN OF FOSSES, AND ULTAN OF PERONNE, ABBOTTS; AND OF SAINTS FURSEY OF PERONNE AND BLITHARIUS OF SEGANNE, MONKS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALPHEGE OF CANTERBURY, ARCHBISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARY OF THE INCARNATION, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN

THE FEAST OF SAINT SIMEON BARSABAE, BISHOP; AND HIS COMPANIONS, MARTYRS

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Proper 20, Year C   Leave a comment

Teachings_of_Jesus_31_of_40._parable_of_the_unjust_steward._Jan_Luyken_etching._Bowyer_Bible

Above:  The Parable of the Unjust Steward, by Jan Luyken

God, the Powerful, and the Powerless

The Sunday Closest to September 21

Fifteenth Sunday After Pentecost

SEPTEMBER 22, 2019

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The Assigned Readings:

Jeremiah 8:18-9:1 and Psalm 79:1-9

or 

Amos 8:4-7 and Psalm 113

then 

1 Timothy 2:1-7

Luke 16:1-13

The Collect:

Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure; 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:

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/25/prayer-of-praise-and-adoration-for-the-eighteenth-sunday-after-pentecost/

Prayer of Confession:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/25/prayer-of-confession-for-the-eighteenth-sunday-after-pentecost/

Prayer of Dedication:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/25/prayer-of-dedication-of-the-eighteenth-sunday-after-pentecost/

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The lectionary readings for this Sunday challenge several audiences.

  1. In Jeremiah 8:18-9:1 either the prophet or God mourns for the afflicted people, who suffer because of societal sins.  Are you, O reader, among those who take part in societal sins?  Am I?  My Neo-orthodox theology tells me that the answer to both questions is affirmative.
  2. Amos 8:4-7 reminds us that God will punish those who exploit the poor.  This should frighten many people.
  3. The Unjust Steward/Corrupt Manager, in a difficult situation of his own creation, eased his problem by easing the economic burdens of those who could not repay him.  In the process he made his employer look good and exposed that employer’s exploitation of those people simultaneously.  The employer could not reverse the Unjust Steward/Corrupt Manager’s actions without making himself look bad.  This parable reminds us of, among other things, the divine imperative of helping those who cannot repay us.
  4. 1 Timothy 2:1-7 tells us to pray for everyone, powerful and powerless.

One of my favorite ways of approaching a given passage of narrative Scripture is to ask myself who I am most like in a story.  Since I am honest, I am not like the Unjust Steward/Corrupt Manager except when I function as an agent of grace.  And I have not exploited people, so I am not like the Unjust Steward/Corrupt Manager’s employer.  So I am usually most like one of those who benefited from debt reduction.  If we are honest, we will admit that we have all benefited from grace via various agents of God.  Some of these agents of God might have had mixed or impure motives, but the consequences of their actions toward us have been positive, have they not?

One great spiritual truth I have learned is that, in the Bible, good news for the exploited often (but not always) means bad news for the exploiters.  And the exploiters can learn to change their ways.  I ponder the Parable of the Unjust Steward/Corrupt Manager and play out possible subsequent developments in my mind.  How did the Unjust Steward/Corrupt Manager fare in his new life?  Did his former employer cease to exploit people?  There is hope for all of us, powerful and powerless, in God’s mercy.  What we do with that possibility is to our credit or discredit.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 10, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HENRY VAN DYKE, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND LITURGIST

THE FEAST OF HOWARD THURMAN, PROTESTANT THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF PIERRE TEILHARD DE CHARDIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM LAW, ANGLICAN PRIEST

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