Archive for the ‘December 1’ Category

Feast of Albert Barnes (December 1)   6 comments

Above:  Albert Barnes

Image in the Public Domain



U.S. Presbyterian Minister, Abolitionist, and Alleged Heretic

Public sentiment controls the land; public sentiment will ultimately control the world.  All that error, tyranny, and oppression demand is a strong public sentiment in their favor; all that is necessary to counteract their influence is that public sentiment be right.

Albert Barnes, The Church and Slavery (1857), 7

When that book rolled off the presses, the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled that African Americans were not citizens and therefore lacked all constitutional rights.  In 1857 vocal defenders of slavery who quoted the Bible made the authority of scripture one of the pillars of their arguments.  That year, the United States was moving toward the Civil War.

Barnes was humble yet not timid.  He, a man of this time and his Evangelical subculture in some ways, for better and worse, was also ahead of his time in other ways.  He expressed his opinions boldly and acted on them in the same manner.  Targets included dancing, saloons, slavery, and High Church Episcopalians.  Our saint counterbalanced that with a tolerant attitude regarding a range of theological opinions, however.

Barnes comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days via G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).

Our saint, born in Rome, New York, on December 1, 1798, was a skeptic who converted.  He became a Christian under the influence of the Second Great Awakening, while he was a student at Hamilton College, Clinton, New York.  Our saint’s original plans had been to become an attorney.  He matriculated at Princeton Theological Seminary in 1820 instead.  Barnes graduated in 1824 and became a minister the following year.

Barnes, ordained by the Presbytery of Elizabethtown in 1825, served in only two congregations.  While in Morristown, New Jersey (1825-1830), he helped to close all the taverns in town.  In 1829 our saint became both prominent and controversial in his denomination, the old Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (1789-1838), with a sermon, “The Way to Salvation.”  In this sermon Barnes made a number of controversial statements, not the least of which was his rejection of Original Sin.  This position aligned him with Judaism and Eastern Orthodoxy, but separated him from most of Western Christianity.

Barnes served in the First Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from 1830 to 1870.  With greater prominence came more theological scrutiny.  Our saint, accused of heresy, won acquittal at the General Assemblies of 1831 and 1836, both times with votes from delegates belonging to the New School wing of the denomination.  Both acquittals caused much consternation in the Old School.  During the 1830s Barnes wrote and published an internationally best-selling series of Biblical commentaries marked by both erudition and accessibility.  Ministers and Sunday School teachers were the main audiences.   In Notes on the Epistle to the Romans (1835) Barnes wrote in opposition to Original Sin (without using that term) in the note on 5:9.   The presbytery suspended our saint from his pulpit and declared the volume dangerous.  The General Assembly of 1836 not only dismissed those charges but also restored him to his pulpit.  These two acquittals hastened the Old School-New School schism of 1838.

Barnes minced no words regarding slavery, although he changed his mind.  In An Inquiry into the Scriptural Views of Slavery (1846), our saint acknowledge a range of views regarding slavery in the Bible yet concluded that the principles of Christ vis-à-vis slavery led to abolition of slavery.  Therefore, according to Barnes, all pro-slavery Biblical principles were not applicable to chattel slavery in the 1800s.  In The Church and Slavery (1857), Barnes took a harder line; those pro-slavery Biblical principles never applied in any circumstances; slavery was wrong at all times and in all places.  The 1858 schism in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (New School), resulting in the formation of the (Southern) United Synod of the Presbyterian Church, resulted from an effort by Barnes et al. to discipline slaveholders in 1856.  The consensus of the delegates to the General Assembly of 1856 was merely to express official displeasure with slavery.  Even that mild measure was too much for some.

Historical Note:  The Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (Old School) divided in 1861, with the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States of America forming at First Presbyterian Church, Augusta, Georgia, in December 1861.  The United Synod of the Presbyterian Church merged into the Confederate Church in 1864.  The Confederate Church renamed itself the Presbyterian Church in the United States in December 1865.  The remaining, national (“Northern”) bodies reunited as the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. in 1870.  Ultimately, the Southern and national (“Northern”) bodies wound up together again, in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in 1983. 

One does need far more than a flow chart to keep track of Presbyterian schisms and mergers in the United States of America.

Barnes, who served as the Moderator of the New School General Assembly in 1851 and as the President of the Pennsylvania Bible Society from 1858 to 1870, did not reject science out of hand.  Early during the controversy over Evolution our saint made a distinction between the Bible and the interpretation thereof.  He insisted that science may contradict an interpretation of scripture without running afoul of the Bible.

Our saint, open to dialogue and cooperation with others (especially Congregationalists and other Calvinists) of whom Old School Presbyterians disapproved, died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on December 24, 1870.  He was 71 years old.

One may, of course, disagree with Barnes on more than one issue; I, an Episcopalian fond of “smells and bells,” do.  That is fine, as our saint would agree.  One ought to recognize the moral courage Barnes showed as he fought the good fight against slavery while one differs with him on other matters.








Holy and righteous God, you created us in your image.

Grant to us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and to make no peace with oppression.

Help us, like your servant Albert Barnes, 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

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60


Holiday Busyness   2 comments

Above:  A Domestic Scene, December 8, 2018

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor


On my bed when I think of you,

I muse on you in the watches of the night,

for you have always been my help;

in the shadow of your wings I rejoice;

my heart clings to you,

your right hand supports me.

–Psalm 63:6-8, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)


In my U.S. culture, the time from Thanksgiving (late November) to New Year’s Day is quite busy.  Holidays populate the calendar.  Some of these holidays are, for lack of a better word, ecumenical.  Others are religiously and/or culturally specific, though.  Christmas, originally the Christ Mass, has become an occasion, for many, to worship the Almighty Dollar at the high altar of commercialism.  This is how many Evangelicals of the Victorian Era wanted matters to be.

On the relatively innocuous side, this is the time of the year to populate one’s calendar with holiday social events, such as parties, school plays, and seasonal concerts.  Parents often like to attend their children’s events, appropriately.  Holiday concerts by choral and/or instrumental ensembles can also be quite pleasant.

Yet, amid all this busyness (sometimes distinct from business), are we neglecting the innate human need for peace and quiet?  I like classical Advent and Christmas music, especially at this time of the year (all the way through January 5, the twelfth day of Christmas), but I have to turn it off eventually.  Silence also appeals to me.  Furthermore, being busy accomplishing a worthy goal is rewarding, but so is simply being.

The real question is one of balance.  Given the absence of an actual distinction between the spiritual and the physical, everything is spiritual.  If we are too busy for God, silence, and proper inactivity, we are too busy.  If we are too busy to listen to God, we are too busy.  If we are too busy or too idle, we are not our best selves.

May we, by grace, strike and maintain the proper balance.  May we, especially at peak periods of activity, such as the end of the year, not overextend ourselves, especially in time commitments.









Published originally at BLOGA THEOLOGICA


Feast of Blessed Charles de Foucauld (December 1)   2 comments


Above:  Blessed Charles de Foucauld

Image in the Public Domain



Roman Catholic Hermit and Martyr

One volume in my library is Saints Behaving Badly, by Thomas J. Craughwell.  The author summarizes the point of recalling the impious behavior of certain men and women who went on to become saints:

The point of reading these stories is not to experience some tabloid thrill, but to understand how grace works in the world.  Every day, all day long, God pours out his grace upon us, urging us, coaxing us, to turn away from everything that is base and cheap and unsatisfying, and turn toward the only thing that is eternal, perfect, and true–that is, himself.

–page xii

Foucauld’s story is not in that volume, but it is suitable for inclusion in that book.

Charles Eugene de Foucauld, born on September 15, 1858, at Strasbourg, Alsace, France, came from an aristocratic family.  His father was Francois Edouard, Viscount de Foucauld de Pontbriand and Deputy Inspector of Forests.  Our saint’s mother died on March 13, 1864.  His father followed her in death on August 9 of the same year.  A maternal grandfather, Charles Gabriel de Morlet, a retired Colonel of Engineers, raised our saint and Marie, his sister.  At the end of the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871) the German Empire came into existence and France lost Alsace and Lorraine to the new nation-state.  Foucauld and his family had to move because of this.  They settled at Nancy.

Foucauld, raised a Roman Catholic, lost his faith as an adolescent in 1872 and regained it 14 years later.  He, a lazy student as a young man, entered the Saint-Cyr Military Academy in 1876.  Our saint’s military career, much of which he spent in Algeria, was brief, for his scandalous behavior led to his discharge from the army in 1882.  During 1883 and 1884 he explored Morocco on behalf of the French Geographical Society.  The expedition was dangerous and life-changing.  As our saint witnessed expressions of Muslim piety he began to question his own lack of religion and to consider the possibility that God might exist.  Back in France, the support of certain French lay Roman Catholics and one Father Huvelin helped Foucauld to reclaim his Christian faith in October 1886.  Our saint resolved to live for God alone from that moment forward.

Foucauld acted on that pledge.  He made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land before becoming a Trappist monk in 1890.  As a Trappist monk he lived in France then in Syria.  Our saint left the order in 1897 and became a servant at a convent of the Poor Clares at Nazareth.  The nuns encouraged him to become a priest, a vocation he was reluctant to accept.  The ordination occurred in 1901.

The newly-minted priest became a hermit in the desert of Algeria.  At first he lived at Beni Abbes, near the Moroccan frontier.  Later our saint relocated to Tamanghasset, in southern Algeria.  He lived among the Touareg people, studying their language, and writing a dictionary and grammar (Volumes I and II) of it.  Foucauld sought to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ with his life.

I would like to be sufficiently good that people would say, “If such is the servant, what must the Master be like?”

–Blessed Charles de Foucauld

Foucauld pondered founding a new religious order.  He did not live long enough to do that, for marauders shot him at his hermitage on December 1, 1916.  He was 58 years old.  Eventually the Little Brothers of Jesus (1933) and the Little Sisters of Jesus (1939), inspired by our saint’s example, in turn inspired by the life of Christ, came into existence.

Pope Benedict XVI beatified Foucauld on November 13, 2005.  The Episcopal Church added his feast at the General Convention of 2009.

Robert Ellsberg wrote:

Alone, a seeming failure by the end of his life, Foucauld was to become one of the most influential spiritual figures of the twentieth century.  He was responsible for reviving the tradition of desert spirituality in our time.  Rather than a retreat from humanity, he believed, the experience of being alone with God made us truly available to encounter and love our neighbor as ourselves.  In contrast with triumphalistic models of mission, Foucauld exemplified an evangelism of presence, an encounter with people of other faiths on a basis of mutual respect and equality.  Furthermore, he pioneered a new model of religious life, patterned after the life of Jesus himself, whose only cloister was the world of the poor.

All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York, NY:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), page 525

I have had conversations with people (both Christian and otherwise) who have recounted stories of having been on the receiving end of obnoxious evangelism.  These experiences turned them off, did nothing to draw them closer to Jesus, and did not glorify God.  Certainly the obnoxious evangelists meant well, but they did not seem to know which tactics to employ.  Foucauld understood well, however, the importance of proper motivations and tactics while seeking to convert people to Christianity and to make disciples in all nations.  Indeed, as many missionaries and trainers thereof have known well for a long time, insulting and alienating the population (or just one person) one seeks to convert is a counter-productive tactic.  Some of them have learned from the examples of holy people such as Foucauld.






Loving God, who restored the Christian faith of Charles de Foucauld

through an encounter with Islam in North Africa and sustained him in the desert

where he converted many with his witness of presence:

Help us to know you wherever we find you, that with him,

we may be faithful unto death; through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God , for ever and ever.  Amen.

Wisdom of Solomon 13:1-5

Psalm 73:24-28

James 1:2-4, 12

John 16:25-33

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 95


Feast of Douglas LeTell Rights (December 1)   Leave a comment

Divinity Library, Harvard, 1900

Above:  Library, Harvard Divinity School, 1900

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-det-4a08542



U.S. Moravian Minister, Scholar, and Hymn Writer

Douglas LeTell Rights, born in Salem (now Winston-Salem), North Carolina, on September 11, 1891, was a minister and a scholar.  The saint’s mother was Emma Jones Rights.  His father was George Hanes Rights, editor of The Union Republican, a local newspaper.  Our saint attended local schools, graduating from Salem Boys School in 1905, at age 14.  Eight years later he graduated from the University of North Carolina with an A.B. degree.  Two years of study at the Moravian Theological Seminary, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, ended with graduation in 1915.  Then Rights studied for a year at Harvard Divinity School, graduating with a Bachelor of Sacred Theology degree in 1916.

Twin City Daily Sentinel, October 9, 1916, page 2 01A

Twin City Daily Sentinel, October 9, 1916, page 2 01B

Twin City Daily Sentinel, October 9, 1916, page 2 01C

Twin City Daily Sentinel, October 9, 1916, page 2 02A

Twin City Daily Sentinel, October 9, 1916, page 2 02B

Twin City Daily Sentinel, October 9, 1916, page 2 02C

Twin City Daily Sentinel, October 9, 1916, page 2 02D

Twin City Daily Sentinel, October 9, 1916, page 2 03

Above:  Twin City Daily Sentinel, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, October 9, 1916, Page 2

Accessed via

Then his ministerial career began.  Rights, ordained in October 16, became the pastor of the First Moravian Church, Greensboro, North Carolina, serving until 1918, when he left to become a chaplain in the United States Army.  That service ended the following year, when our saint became the pastor of Trinity Moravian Church, Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  He remained there until his death (1956).  During his tenure church membership increased from about 200 to more than 850.

Indianapolis Star, May 18, 1920, page 7 I

Indianapolis Star, May 18, 1920, page 7 II

Above:  Indianapolis Star, Indianapolis, Indiana, May 18, 1920, Page 7

Accessed via

Rights married Cecil Leona Burton (1894-1977) on June 15, 1920.  The couple had five children.  Two sons, Burton, and Henry, became Moravian ministers.  Douglas (1922) died in infancy, George (1928-1951) died in the Korean War, and Eleanor (Rights Roller) revised one of her father’s hymn texts in 1991.

Gastonia Gazette, June 28, 1957, page 8 01

Gastonia Gazette, June 28, 1957, page 8 02

Gastonia Gazette, June 28, 1957, page 8 03

Above:  Gastonia Gazette, June 28, 1957, Page 8

Accessed via

Our saint had a lifelong interest in Native Americans.  Over time his collection of artifacts became quite large and he became an authority on native peoples of North Carolina.  Rights also founded and served as the first President of the Archaeological Society of North Carolina (1933-1991), a predecessor of the North Carolina Archaeological Society.  His articles and books relative to indigenous peoples included the following:

  1. Traces of the Indian in Piedmont North Carolina (1924);
  2. A Voyage Down the Yadkin-Great Peedee River (1929);
  3. “The Trading Path to the Indians,” in The North Carolina Historical Review, October 1931; and
  4. The American Indian in North Carolina (1947).

Our saint also studied the history of the Moravian Church.  Many of his sources were in German, a language he read.  Rights, the Archivist of the Southern Province of the Moravian Church in America from 1950 to his death (1956), wrote about Moravian history in the Tar Heel State also:

  1. The Beginning of Bethabara, in Wachovia, the First Moravian Settlement in North Carolina (1953); and
  2. The Records of the Moravian Church in North Carolina, Volume VIII:  1823-1837 (1954), as editor.

Rights had varied interests, as his affiliations indicated.  In addition to the groups I have named already, he belonged to, among others, the American Legion, the Freemasons, The Wachovia Historical Society, the Boy Scouts of America, and The North Carolina Literary and Historical Association.  The Moravian College and Theological Seminary awarded our saint the honorary Doctor of Divinity degree in 1947.

World peace was among our saint’s interests.  The former Army chaplain (1918-1919) considered war to be a “dangerous disease.”  Rights considered promoting peace via Christianity to be a duty.  He proposed a lecture series, whereby world leaders would speak of ways of creating peace, to Harvard University.  Our saint made the first contribution to the endowment for the lecture series.  The first lectures occurred in 1960.

Rights also wrote hymns.  I found two such texts, both under copyright protection as of 2004, in the Moravian Book of Worship (1995).  One hymn was “Veiled in Darkness Judah Lay” (1915), an Advent text, originated during World War I, the conflict which informed the references to “our dark night” and the song of the angels who appeared to the shepherds outside Bethlehem.  The committee which prepared the Moravian Book of Worship included the text as our saint’s daughter, Eleanor Rights Roller, had altered it in 1991.  In 1956 Bessie Whittington Pfohl, wife of Bishop J. Kenneth Pfohl, asked Rights to compose a hymn appropriate for the transition from one year to another.  The result was “With Praises and Thanksgiving” (1956).  Every year the Pfohls hosted a New Year’s gathering at their home in Winston-Salem.  They debuted the new hymn at the 1957 event.

The days are swiftly passing, time is not ours to hold,

Rights wrote in that hymn.  On November 15, 1956, the synod of the Southern Province chose him as its next bishop.  At the time our saint was recovering from a heart attack.  Certainly those who chose him to serve as a bishop expected him to complete the process of recovery.  Rights died on December 1, 1956, however, so he never joined the ranks of Moravian bishops.  Nevertheless, he left a great legacy.






Holy and righteous God, you created us in your image.

Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and make no peace with oppression.

Help us, like your servant Douglas LeTell Rights,

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

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60


Feast of Edward Timothy Mickey, Jr. (December 1)   3 comments

Hymnal and Liturgies Title Page

Above:  The Title Page of the Hymnal and Liturgies of the Moravian Church (1969)

Scanned by Kenneth Randolph Taylor



U.S. Moravian Bishop and Liturgist

Winston-Salem Journal, December 8, 1921, page 3

Above:  Winston-Salem Journal, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, December 8, 1921, Page 3

Accessed via

Edward Timothy Mickey, Jr., came from a family of the Moravian Church (Unitas Fratrum).  He, born, at Salem (now Winston-Salem), North-Carolina, on May 5, 1908, was a son of Edward Timothy Mickey, Sr. (1877-1949), a businessman, and Ada Fogle Mickey.  Our saint attended local schools before studying at Moravian Church and Theological Seminary, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, graduating from the college in 1930 and the seminary in 1933.

Reading Times, April 29, 1929, page 22 01

Reading Times, April 29, 1929, page 22 02

Above:  Reading Times, Reading, Pennsylvania, April 29, 1929, Page 22

Accessed via

During 45 years (1933-1978) of active ministry Mickey served 10 churches.  In the early 1940s our saint was the pastor of Grace Moravian Church, Mt. Airy, North Carolina.  The local schools lacked a music education program, but Grace Moravian Church did.  Thus, in 1942, Mickey began to give voice and trombone lessons to a young Andy Griffith (1926-2012), and to function as his mentor.  Our saint helped Griffith to matriculate at the University of North Carolina a few years later.

Our saint married Helen Schimmel (1910-2004).  The couple had two sons.  Edward Timothy Mickey, III (1935-2008), installed pipe organs, and David Charles Mickey, Sr. (1943-1993), was a merchant.

Our saint, a bishop from 1977 to his death (1986), was a liturgist.  He chaired the liturgical commission that prepared the Hymnal and Liturgies of the Moravian Church (1969), which succeeded the Hymnal and Liturgies of the Moravian Church (Unitas Fratrum) (1923).   He also wrote Let Us Worship–A Study of the Hymnal of the Moravian Church, the 1985-1986 study guide for the Moravian Women’s Fellowship.  Furthermore, Mickey altered Arthur Tozer Russell‘s translation (“How Shall I Meet My Saviour“) of a hymn by Paul Gerhardt (1607-1676) to remove awkward repetitions.  Thus the Hymnal and the Liturgies of the Moravian Church (1969), offered both versions of the hymn, although the committee which prepared the Moravian Book of Worship (1995) dropped the unaltered translation.

Mickey was, toward the end of life, the Bishop-in Residence at the Moravian Theological Seminary, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.  Although our saint lived in Winston-Salem, he visited Bethlehem frequently.

Mickey died at Winston-Salem on December 1, 1986.  He was 80 years old.






Holy God, whose majesty surpasses all human definitions and capacity to grasp,

thank you for those (especially Edward Timothy Mickey, Jr.)

who have nurtured and encouraged the reverent worship of you.

May their work inspire us to worship you in knowledge, truth, and beauty.

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

1 Chronicles 25:1-8

Psalm 145

Revelation 15:1-4

John 4:19-26






Feast of Sts. Brioc and Tudwal (December 1)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Breton Flag


Roman Catholic Abbot

His feast transferred from May 1

uncle of


Roman Catholic Bishop of Treguier

Today I honor two saints from one family.  Both of these saints were foundational evangelists whose labors helped to convert the Breton population to Christianity.  Indeed, hindsight enables one to recognize their great contributions.

St. Brioc (died circa 502) is a mostly mysterious figure, for little certain knowledge of his life survives.  Many details of his life have become confused with another saint of the same name, so sometimes one does not know which St. Brioc did what.  Yet we do know that this St. Brioc was a Celt from Great Britain who settled in Brittany circa 480.  We also know that he founded monasteries and served as the first abbot of what became known as St. Brieuc.

We know more about St. Brioc’s nephew, St. Tudwal (died circa 564).  This saint, along with his mother, his sisters, and a group of monks, traveled to Brittany during the reign of their cousin, Deroc II (reigned 520-530) of Dumnonia, in that part of France.  The saint founded monasteries.  And, during a journey to visit King Chilldebert I of Paris (reigned 511-558) for the purpose of confirming land grants, the saint became a bishop.  St. Tudwal settled at the monastery at Treguier and became the first bishop of that see.

Today the memories of these saints’ lives live on in place names and the legacy of their evangelistic work continues in the lives of faithful Christians in Brittany.








God of grace and glory, we praise you for your servants

Saint Brioc and Saint Tudwal,

who made the good news known in Brittany.

Raise up, we pray, in every country, heralds of the gospel,

so that the world may know the immeasurable riches of your love,

and be drawn to worship you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Isaiah 62:1-7

Psalm 48

Romans 10:11-17

Luke 24:44-53

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 59

Saints’ Days and Holy Days for December   Leave a comment


Image Source = Andre Karwath

1 (Charles de Foucauld, Roman Catholic Hermit and Martyr, 1916)

  • Albert Barnes, U.S. Presbyterian Minister, Abolitionist, and Alleged Heretic

  • Brioc, Roman Catholic Abbot; and Tudwal, Roman Catholic Abbot and Bishop

  • Douglas LeTell Rights, U.S. Moravian Minister, Scholar, and Hymn Writer

  • Edward Timothy Mickey, Jr., U.S. Moravian Bishop and Liturgist

2 (Maura Clarke and Her Companions, U.S. Roman Catholic Martyrs in El Salvador, December 2, 1980)

  • Channing Moore Williams, Episcopal Missionary Bishop in China and Japan

  • Gerald Thomas Noel, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer; brother of Baptist Wriothesley Noel, Anglican Priest, English Baptist Evangelist, and Hymn Writer; and his niece, Caroline Maria Noel, Anglican Hymn Writer

  • Hormisdas, Bishop of Rome; and his son, Silverius, Bishop of Rome, and Martyr, 537

  • Rafal Chylinski, Polish Franciscan Roman Catholic Priest

3 (Francis Xavier, Roman Catholic Missionary to the Far East)

  • Amilie Juliane, Countess of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt, German Lutheran Hymn Writer

  • Archibald Campbell Tait, Archbishop of Canterbury

  • Sophie Koulomzin, Russian-American Christian Educator

4 (John of Damascus and Cosmas of Maiuma, Theologians and Hymnodists)

  • Alexander Hotovitzky, Russian Orthodox Priest and Martyr, 1937

  • Bernard of Parma, Roman Catholic Bishop

  • Joseph Mohr, Austrian Roman Catholic Priest; and Franz Gruber, Austrian Roman Catholic Teacher, Musician, and Composer

  • Maruthas, Roman Catholic Bishop of Maypherkat and Missionary to Pesia

  • Osmund of Salisbury, Roman Catholic Bishop

5 (Clement of Alexandria, Father of Christian Scholarship)

  • Cyran, Roman Catholic Abbot

  • Nelson Mandela, President of South Africa, and Renewer of Society

  • Nicetius of Trier, Roman Catholic Monk, Abbot, and Bishop; and Aredius of Limoges, Roman Catholic Monk

  • Peter Mortimer, Anglo-German Moravian Educator, Musician, and Scholar; and Gottfried Theodor Erxleben, German Moravian Minister and Musicologist

6 (Nicholas of Myra, Bishop)

  • Abraham of Kratia, Roman Catholic Monk, Abbot, Bishop, and Hermit

  • Anne Ross Cousin, Scottish Presbyterian Hymn Writer

  • Alice Freeman Palmer, U.S. Educator and Hymn Writer

  • Henry Ustick Onderdonk, Episcopal Bishop, Liturgist, and Hymn Writer

  • Philip and Daniel Berrigan, Roman Catholic Priests and Social Activists

7 (Maria Josepha Rossello, Cofounder of the Daughters of Our Lady of Pity)

  • Emma Francis, Lutheran Deaconess in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Harlem

  • Georg Friedrich Hellstrom, Dutch-German Moravian Musician, Composer, and Educator

  • John Howard Bertram Masterman, Anglican Scholar, Hymn Writer, Priest, and Bishop of Plymouth

  • John Greenleaf Whittier, U.S. Quaker Abolitionist, Poet, and Hymn Writer

  • William Gustave Polack, U.S. Lutheran Minister, Liturgist, and Hymn Writer and Translator

8 (Walter Ciszek, Roman Catholic Missionary Priest and Political Prisoner)

  • Amatus of Luxeuil and Romaric of Luxeuil, Roman Catholic Monks and Abbots

  • Erik Christian Hoff, Norwegian Lutheran Composer and Organist

  • Marin Shkurti, Albanian Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1969

9 (Liborius Wagner, German Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1631)

  • George Job Elvey, Anglican Composer and Organist

  • Peter Fourier, “The Good Priest of Mattaincourt;” and Alix Le Clerc, Foundress of the Congregation of Notre Dame of Canonesses Regular of Saint Augustine

10 (Karl Barth, Swiss Reformed Minister, Theologian, and Biblical Scholar; father of Markus Barth, Swiss Lutheran Minister and Biblical Scholar)

  • Howell Elvet Lewis, Welsh Congregationalist Clergyman and Poet

  • John Roberts, Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr

  • Olivier Messiaen, Claire Delbos, and Yvonne Loriod, French Roman Catholic Musicians and Composers

  • Paul Eber, German Lutheran Theologian and Hymn Writer

  • Robert Murray, Canadian Presbyterian Minister and Hymn Writer

11 (Luke of Prague and John Augusta, Moravian Bishops and Hymn Writers)

  • Kazimierz Tomas Sykulski, Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1942

  • Lars Olsen Skrefsrud, Hans Peter Boerresen, and Paul Olaf Bodding, Lutheran Missionaries in India

  • Martyrs of El Mozote, El Salvador, December 11-12, 1981

  • Severin Ott, Roman Catholic Monk

12 (William Lloyd Garrison, Abolitionist and Feminist; and Maria Stewart, Abolitionist, Feminist, and Educator)

  • Bartholomew Buonpedoni and Vivaldus, Ministers among Lepers

  • William Louis Poteat, President of Wake Forest College, and Biologist; his brother, Edwin McNeill Poteat, Sr., Southern and Northern Baptist Minister, Scholar, and President of Furman University; his son, Edwin McNeill Poteat, Jr., Southern Baptist Minister, Missionary, Musician, Hymn Writer, and Social Reformer; his brother, Gordon McNeill Poteat, Southern and Northern Baptist and Congregationalist Minister and Missionary; and his cousin, Hubert McNeill Poteat, Southern Baptist Academic and Musician

  • Ludwik Bartosik, Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1941

  • Thomas Canning, U.S. Composer and Music Educator

13 (Samuel Johnson, “The Great Moralist”)

  • Christian Furchtegott Gellert, German Lutheran Minister, Educator, and Hymn Writer

  • Ella J. Baker, Witness for Civil Rights

  • Paul Speratus, German Lutheran Bishop, Liturgist, and Hymn Writer

  • Pierson Parker, U.S. Congregationalist Minister, Episcopal Priest, and Biblical Scholar

14 (Radegunda, Thuringian Roman Catholic Princess, Deaconess, and Nun; and Venantius Honorius Clementius Fortunatus, Roman Catholic Bishop of Poitiers)

  • Dorothy Ann Thrupp, English Hymn Writer

  • Henry Aldrich, Anglican Priest, Composer, Theologian, Mathematician, and Architect

  • James Arnold Blaisdell, U.S. Congregationalist Minister, Scholar, and Hymn Writer

  • John of the Cross, Roman Catholic Mystic and Carmelite Friar

  • William Adams Brown, U.S. Presbyterian Minister, Theologian, and Social Reformer

15 (Thomas Benson Pollock, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer)

  • Fred D. Gealy, U.S. Methodist Minister, Missionary, Musician, and Biblical Scholar

  • Henry Fothergill Chorley, English Novelist, Playwright, and Literary and Music Critic

  • John Horden, Anglican Bishop of Moosenee

  • Ralph Wardlaw, Scottish Congregationalist Minister, Hymn Writer, and Liturgist

  • Robert McDonald, Anglican Priest and Missionary

16 (Ralph Adams Cram and Richard Upjohn, Architects; and John LaFarge, Sr., Painter and Stained-Glass Window Maker)

  • Filip Siphong Onphithakt, Roman Catholic Catechist and Martyr in Thailand, 1940

  • Maude Dominica Petre, Roman Catholic Modernist Theologian

17 (Eglantyne Jebb and Dorothy Buxton, Founders of Save the Children)

  • Dorothy Sayers, Anglican Poet, Novelist, Playwright, Translator, Apologist, and Theologian

  • Frank Mason North, U.S. Methodist Minister, Social Reformer, and Hymn Writer

  • Mary Cornelia Bishop Gates, U.S. Dutch Reformed Hymn Writer

  • Olympias of Constantinople, Widow and Deaconess

18 (Marc Boegner, French Reformed Minister and Ecumenist)

  • Alicia Domon and Her Companions, Martyrs in Argentina, 1977

  • Giulia Valle, Roman Catholic Nun

  • John Darwall, Anglican Priest and Composer

  • John MacLeod Campbell Crum, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer

19 (Raoul Wallenberg, Righteous Gentile)

  • Francesco Antonio Bonporti, Italian Roman Catholic Priest and Composer

  • Kazimiera Wolowska, Polish Roman Catholic Nun and Martyr, 1942

  • Robert Campbell, Scottish Episcopalian then Roman Catholic Social Advocate and Hymn Writer

  • William Henry Draper, Anglican Priest, Hymn Writer, and Hymn Translator

  • William Howard Bishop, Founder of the Glenmary Home Missioners

20 (Dominic of Silos, Roman Catholic Abbot)

  • Bates Gilbert Burt, Episcopal Priest, Hymn Writer, and Composer

  • D. Elton Trueblood, U.S. Quaker Theologian

  • Michal Piasczynski, Polish Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1940


22 (Frederick and William Temple, Archbishops of Canterbury)

  • Chaeremon and Ischyrion, Roman Catholic Martyrs, Circa 250

  • Chico Mendes, “Gandhi of the Amazon”

  • Henry Budd, First Anglican Native Priest in North America; Missionary to the Cree Nation

  • Isaac Hecker, Founder of the Missionary Society of St. Paul the Apostle

23 (John of Kanty, Roman Catholic Theologian)

  • Charbel, Roman Catholic Priest and Monk

  • James Prince Lee, Bishop of Manchester

  • William John Blew, English Priest and Hymn Writer










  • Antonio Caldara, Roman Catholic Composer and Musician

  • John Burnett Morris, Sr., Episcopal Priest and Witness for Civil Rights

  • Philipp Heinrich Molther, German Moravian Minister, Bishop, Composer, and Hymn Translator

  • Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Martyr, 1170

  • Thomas Cotterill, English Priest, Hymn Writer, and Liturgist


  • Allen Eastman Cross, U.S. Congregationalist Minister and Hymn Writer

  • George Wallace Briggs, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer

  • John Main, Anglo-Canadian Roman Catholic Priest and Monk

  • Frances Joseph-Gaudet, African-American Educator, Prison Reformer, and Social Worker


  • Giuseppina Nicoli, Italian Roman Catholic Nun and Minister to the Poor

  • New Year’s Eve

  • Rossiter Worthington Raymond, U.S. Novelist, Poet, Hymn Writer, and Mining Engineer

  • Zoticus of Constantinople, Priest and Martyr, Circa 351

Lowercase boldface on a date with two or more commemorations indicates a primary feast.

First Sunday of Advent, Year A   Leave a comment

Above:  The Swords into Plowshares Statue at the United Nations

Image Source = Melesse

God With Us

NOVEMBER 27, 2016

DECEMBER 1, 2019


Isaiah 2:1-5 (New Revised Standard Version):

The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

In days to come

the mountain of the LORD’s house

shall be established as the highest of the mountains,

and shall be raised above the hills;

all the nations shall stream to it.

Many people shall come and say,

Come let us go up tot he mountain of the LORD,

to the house of the God of Jacob;

that he may teach us his paths.

For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,

and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

He shall judge between the nations,

and shall arbitrate for many peoples;

they shall beat their swords into plowshares,

and their spears into pruning hooks;

nation shall not lift up sword against nation,

neither shall they learn war any more.

O house of Jacob,

come, let us walk

in the light of the LORD!


Psalm 122 (New Revised Standard Version):

I was glad when they said to me,

Let us go to the house of the LORD!

Our feet are standing

within your gates, O Jerusalem.

Jerusalem–built as a city

that is bound firmly together.

To it the tribes go up,

the tribes of the LORD,

as was decreed for Israel,

to give thanks for the name of the LORD.

For there the thrones of judgment were set up,

the thrones of the house of David.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:

May they prosper who love you.

Peace be within your walls,

and security within your towers.

For the sake of my relatives and friends

I will say,

Peace be within you.

For the sake of the house of the LORD our God,

I will seek your good.


Romans 13:11-14 (New Revised Standard Version):

You know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.


Matthew 24:36-44 (New Revised Standard Version):

Jesus said to the disciples,

But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

The Collect:

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Happy New Year!  The First Sunday of Advent opens the Western Christian Year.  (The Eastern Orthodox churches keep a different schedule.)  About four weeks from the First Sunday of Advent falls Christmas day.  So, in Western Christian sacred time, this is a time to begin preparing for Christmas, much as Lent is a time of preparation for Easter.  I encourage you, O reader, to give Advent its full due attention, not rushing to Christmas Day.  In fact, I prefer to hold off on “Merry Christmas” greetings until about December 24.  The rest of the time I wish people a “Holy Advent.”

The name “Emmanuel” means “God with us.”  This summarizes the readings for this day.  They speak of the God who is present with us, what this deity will do at some unspecified time, and the responsibilities the faithful must execute in this context.  These lessons tell us that God loves us, expects us to behave ourselves, and will establish justice on the earth in the future.

No mere mortal can predict the future with perfect accuracy.  Science fiction scenarios look dated with the passage of time.  Think about the computer technology in 2001:  A Space Odyssey (1968), for example.  The computers are SO BIG compared to what they were in 2001, much less 2010.  And since shortly after the time Jesus walked the earth people have predicted his return many times, often with specific dates.  One of my favorite thrift store finds is a small paperback book, Christ Returns by 1988:  101 Reasons Why, by Colin Hoyle Deal.  I feel safe in claiming that 1988 came and went without Jesus returning.

Let us not become so preoccupied with reading the news in hopes of identifying the Antichrist or other apocalyptic indicators that we give short shrift to or ignore signs of God’s actual  activity around us.  Alleged Antichrists have come and gone; they are ranged from Adolf Hitler to Joseph Stalin to Ronald Wilson Reagan–the latter for having three names, each with six letters–666.  All politics aside, I propose that to become caught up prophesy is a fool’s errand, and that we Christians need to focus on the present constructively.  God is active all around us; do we not see it.  If we look with spiritual eyes we will see Jesus in friends, strangers, and even in those we dislike.  We will witness divine activity in places we expect the least or do anticipate at all.  So we will know more deeply that God is with us and will remain with us, and that this fact makes certain demands upon us.

As for the rest, the details will be what they will be.  And any of us could be wrong about our predictions.  Sometimes a belief that Jesus’ Second Coming is near has become a reason not to seek social justice or not to conserve part of the natural world.  Yet we humans have a mandate to care for creation and to seek social justice.  So let us live faithfully in the present tense, leaving the future to God.



P.S.: The Episcopal Church has adopted an Advent lectionary.  My practice regarding Advent is as follows:  I use the designated Year A readings, according to the Revised Common Lectionary and the lessons which are part of the Episcopal lectionary for Advent.  This lectionary designates Monday-Saturday lessons for the first two weeks of Advent, Monday-Friday readings for the Third Week of Advent, and dated lessons for December 24.  I will provide devotions for all of these, including Friday in the Third Week, which will fall on December 17 in 2010 and December 19, which will double as the Fourth Sunday of Advent this year.  My intention is that these devotions will roll over from year to year, adding Year B Sundays next year and Year C Sundays the year after that, and changing dates on blog posts as necessary each year.

So I invite you to accompany me on this faith journey.

Pax vobiscum,