Archive for the ‘December 17’ Category

Feast of Dorothy Sayers (December 17)   Leave a comment

Above:  Dorothy Sayers

Image in the Public Domain

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DOROTHY LEIGH SAYERS (JUNE 13, 1893-DECEMBER 17, 1957)

Anglican Novelist, Playwright, Poet, Translator, and Theologian

December 17 is the feast day of Dorothy Sayers in The Episcopal Church.

Sayers was the only child of the Reverend Henry Sayers, headmaster of the Christchurch Cathedral Choir School, Oxford, England.  Our saint, born in Oxford on June 13, 1893, grew up singing hymns and playing the violin and the piano.  When she was four years old, the family moved to Bluntisham-cum-Earith, Huntingdonshire, in the Fens.  She started studying Latin at the age of six.  She had mastered French by age thirteen.  Then she began to study German.  She spent two unhappy years (1909-1911) at a boarding school (Godolphin School for Girls, Salisbury) then matriculated at Somerville College, Oxford, in 1912.  She became one of the first women to receive academic degrees from Oxford–in her case, a B.A. and an M.A.

Sayers built her literary reputation on a solid foundation.  She published her first novel (the debut of Lord Peter Wimsey) in 1923 and plays.  Our saint began to build that literary reputation while working other jobs.  She taught in 1916-1922, first in Hill High School for Girls then at a boys’ school in France.  She found the time to co-edit Oxford Poetry (1917-1919) while working as a reader at Blackwell’s.  In 1922-1931 Sayers worked as a copywriter at Benson’s, an advertising firm in London.

In 1923 Sayers conducted an affair with William “Bill” White, who kept a secret:  he was married.  Sayers gave birth to John Anthony (adoptive surname = Fleming) in January 1924.  Sayers kept her maternity a secret for a long time.  A relative raised John Anthony.  Sayers publicly referred to her son as her nephew.  She also provided for him financially, took pride in his academic progress, and left her literary estate to him.

Sayers married Captain Oswald Atherton Fleming (d. 1950), a journalist, in 1926.  His hobby was painting miniatures.  The couple had no children.

Sayers, having left the advertising agency, focused on Christian apologetics and drama.  She was an apologist on par with G. K. Chesterton and her friend, C .S. Lewis.  Sayers expressed her low regard for plays composed to edify or evangelize.  As she entitled an essay from 1955, “Playwrights Are Not Evangelists.”

If he writes with his eye on the spiritual box-office, he will at once cease to be a dramatist, and decline into a manufacturer of propagandist tracts…He will lose his professional integrity, and all his power–including his power to preach the Gospel.”

–Quoted in Lee W. Gibbs, The Middle Way:  Voices of Anglicanism (Cincinnati, OH:  Forward Movement Publications, 1991), 99-100

(That is my main critique of most Christian movies.)

This attitude did not prevent her from composing religious plays.  She wrote plays for the Canterbury Festivals in 1937, 1939, 1946, and 1951.  In 1938 she wrote He Who Must Come, about the birth of Christ, for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).  The Man Born to be King (1940), a series of twelve short plays about Jesus she wrote for the BBC, was controversial.  Many conservatives objected for various reasons, including the use of modern English.

Conservative objections to works of Sayers were ironic, for she was an orthodox Christian.  During and shortly after World War II, she lectured and wrote about Christian doctrine.  Her most important work of apologetics was The Mind of the Maker (1941).  Sayers. true to her Anglicanism, revered both faith and reason without placing excessive emphasis on rationalism.  She did not care about systematic theology, but about the creative experience and activity of God, as revealed in the Holy Trinity and the Incarnation.

Sayers, from 1952 the church warden of St. Anne’s Church, Soho, began an ambitious project when she translated Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy.  She published between 1949 and 1955, but died before completing the work.  Friend and Dante scholar Dr. Barbara Reynolds published the final portion in 1962.

Sayers died in Witham, England, on December 17, 1957.  She was 64 years old.

Her literary and theological legacies continue to enrich people, fortunately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 4, 2019 COMMON ERA

INDEPENDENCE DAY (U.S.A.)

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ADALBERO AND ULRIC OF AUGSBURG, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ELIZABETH OF PORTUGAL, QUEEN AND PEACEMAKER

THE FEAST OF SAINT PIER GIORGIO FRASSATI, ITALIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC SERVANT OF THE POOR AND OPPONENT OF FASCISM

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Incarnate God, who gave your servant Dorothy the grace of eloquence to defend your truth to a distressed church,

and to proclaim the importance of Christian principles for the world;

may we too, assisted by her prayers and example,

be given the same grace of passionate conviction to teach right doctrine rightly;

We ask this in your name, who lives and reigns with the Father,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Wisdom of Solomon 7:7-14

Psalm 19

John 21:1-25

Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018

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Feast of Frank Mason North (December 17)   1 comment

Above:  Frank Mason North

Image in the Public Domain

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FRANK MASON NORTH (DECEMBER 3, 1850-DECEMBER 17, 1935)

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

The best of the liberal strain of Christianity has fought for humanitarian causes, including decent standards for low-income housing, workplace safety, and the abolition of slavery and child labor.  From that tradition came Frank Mason North, who understood that morality had to do with much more than personal peccadilloes, and that the Golden Rule applied to societies as well as to individuals.

North, who became a leading advocate of the Social Gospel and Christian Socialism, was a son of Charles Carter North and Elizabeth Mason (North).  Our saint, born in Madison, New Jersey, on December 3, 1850, graduated from Wesleyan University (B.A., 1872; M.A., 1875) and became a minister in the Methodist Episcopal Church (1784-1939).  Through 1892 he served as a pastor, serving in Florida, New York, and Connecticut.

North worked beyond the parish level, starting in 1892.  He was an urban missionary headquartered in New York City, through whose harbor immigrants entered the country.  Social concerns, such as urban poverty, mattered much to our saint, also; he was active in the labor movement and the movement to end child labor.  As the Corresponding Secretary of the New York Church Extension and Missionary Society, he also edited the Christian City and helped to draft the Social Creed of the Methodist Episcopal Church (1908).  North was also a founder of the Methodist Federation for Social Service (1907).  Then, in 1912, North made the turn toward foreign missions.  He went to work for the denominational Board of Missions in 1912.  Later, starting in 1919, our saint served as the Secretary of the denominational Board of Foreign Missions.  This work led to him serving on the International Mission Council from 1921 to 1928.  Furthermore, North served on the Methodist Committee on Unification (1920-1928), ahead of the three-way reunion in 1939.

North was also an ecumenist.  He helped to found the Federal Council of Churches (1908) then served as its President (1916-1920).

North married twice.  His first wife was Frances L. “Fannie” Stewart (1848-1878).  The couple had two sons:  Adolphus Stewart (1875-1913) and Mason Longacre North (1877-1878).  North’s second wife was Louise J. McCoy, whom he married in 1885.

North, aged 85 years, died on December 17, 1935.

North’s reputation seems to rest primarily on one hymn, “Where Cross the Crowded Ways of Life” (1903).  He wrote at least seven more hymns:

  1. O Master of the Waking World” (1928), a socially-conscious missionary hymn;
  2. Jesus, the Calm that Fills My Breast;”
  3. O Christ, My Lord, Whose Perfect Life;”
  4. The World’s Astir; the Clouds of Storm;”
  5. Thou Lord of Light, Across the Years;”
  6. Touch Thou, O Lord, the Century’s Crest;” and
  7. “Where Lies our Path, We Seek to Know.”

More of our saint’s hymns should become more popular.

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God of compassion and the Incarnation, we thank you for the life, work, and legacy of Frank Mason North,

who understood the importance of domestic and foreign missions, of ecumenism, and of social justice.

We also thank you for his enduring legacy of hymnody as we recognize the continued relevance of his texts.

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

Leviticus 19:1-16

Psalm 100

1 Corinthians 1:10-17

Matthew 28:16-28

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 4, 2019 COMMON ERA

INDEPENDENCE DAY (U.S.A.)

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ADALBERO AND ULRIC OF AUGSBURG, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ELIZABETH OF PORTUGAL, QUEEN AND PEACEMAKER

THE FEAST OF SAINT PIER GIORGIO FRASSATI, ITALIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC SERVANT OF THE POOR AND OPPONENT OF FASCISM

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Feast of St. Olympias of Constantinople (December 17)   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Olympias of Constantinople

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT OLYMPIAS OF CONSTANTINOPLE (361/368-JULY 25, 408)

Widow and Deaconess

Also known as Saint Olympias the Younger

Alternative feast day = July 25

St. Olympias the Constantinople had another name–Olympias the YoungerOlympias the Elder, her aunt, had been a fiancée of Emperor Constans I (reigned 337-350) and the Queen of Armenia, then a kingdom subordinate to the Roman Empire.  Our saint came from one of the elite families of the Roman Empire.

St. Olympias the Younger, daughter of Seleucus and Alexander, entered the world in Constantinople no earlier than 361 and no later than 368.  She married Nebridius, who served as the Prefect of Constantinople.  St. Olympias, as a widow, used her wealth well.  She financed a hospital and an orphanage.  She helped monks exiled from Nitria.

St. Olympias, a deaconess as a widow, also befriended St. John Chrysostom, the Patriarch of Constantinople.  The Patriarch had run afoul of Empress Eudoxia, the power behind the throne of Emperor Arcadius (reigned 395-408).  Arcadius, at Eudoxia’s behest, had St. John exiled in 404.  The Patriarch died in exile three years later.

St. Olympias also went into exile in 404, because of her association with the Patriarch.  The empire disbanded the community of non-cloistered women in her home, seized her assets, and sent her on her way.  St. Olympias died in Nicomedia on July 25, 408.

St. Olympias did much for God and other people, especially the poor, orphaned, and sick.  She could have done more, if not for the intervention of Eudoxia.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 4, 2019 COMMON ERA

INDEPENDENCE DAY (U.S.A.)

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ADALBERO AND ULRIC OF AUGSBURG, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ELIZABETH OF PORTUGAL, QUEEN AND PEACEMAKER

THE FEAST OF SAINT PIER GIORGIO FRASSATI, ITALIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC SERVANT OF THE POOR AND OPPONENT OF FASCISM

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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 hopeless,

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), 60

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Holiday Busyness   2 comments

Above:  A Domestic Scene, December 8, 2018

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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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)

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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.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 14, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE THIRTEENTH DAY OF ADVENT, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF SAINT VENANTIUS HONORIUS CLEMENTIUS FORTUNATUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF POITIERS

THE FEAST OF DOROTHY ANN THRUPP, ENGLISH HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN OF THE CROSS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MYSTIC

THE FEAST OF ROBERT MCDONALD, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND MISSIONARY

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Published originally at BLOGA THEOLOGICA

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Feast of Eglantyne Jebb and Dorothy Buxton (December 17)   Leave a comment

420px-save_the_children_logo-svg

Above:  Logo of Save the Children

Use of Logo Allowed According to Fair Use

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EGLANTYNE JEBB (AUGUST 25, 1876-DECEMBER 17, 1928)

Cofounder of Save the Children

sister of

DOROTHY FRANCES JEBB BUXTON (MARCH 3, 1881-APRIL 8, 1963)

Cofounder of Save the Children

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Common Worship:  Services and Prayers for the Church of England (2000) lists December 17 as the day to commemorate the life of Eglantyne Jebb, “Social Reformer, Founder of ‘Save the Children’, 1928.”

However, Save the Children, had two founders.

Eglantyne Jebb and Dorothy Frances Jebb, born on the family estate at Ellesmere, Shropshire, England, came from a wealthy family devoted to public service and possessed of a strong social conscience.  Their mother, Eglantyne Louisa Jebb (1845-1925), had founded the Home Arts and Industries Association, to reduce rural poverty, in 1884.  Their father was Arthur Trevor Jebb (1839-1894), a barrister.

Eglantyne Jebb studied history at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford.  She taught at St. Peter’s Junior School, Marlborough, for just one year.  She was not on this planet to be a teacher, she concluded, but she had become more aware of childhood poverty.  Her next task was to care for her mother at Cambridge.  At Cambridge Eglantyne became involved with the Charity Organisation Society, committed to administering social services while restoring as much self-sufficiency as possible.  She also researched and wrote Cambridge:  A Study in Social Questions (1906).

Dorothy Frances Jebb married Charles Roden Buxton (1875-1942), later a Member of Parliament, in 1904.  The Buxtons were active in the Liberal Party until 1917, when they switched to the Labour Party.  The couple also converted to the Society of Friends.

The sisters founded the Fight the Famine Council in 1918.  The purpose of this organization was to feed civilians in Germany in Austria-Hungary.  The following year the sisters expanded their work and founded Save the Children, which, in the early 1920s, conducted humanitarian work in Greece and Russia.  Dorothy had two children, but Eglantyne remained single and childless voluntarily.  In fact, she referred to children as “the little wretches,” but she fed many of them.  She also drafted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child (1924).

Eglantyne Jebb died of goiter at Geneva, Switzerland, on December 17, 1928.  She was 52 years old.

Dorothy continued her humanitarian work.  In 1935 she traveled to Germany to investigate Nazi persecution of Christians.  Then she reported her evidence of that persecution to George Kennedy Allen Bell (1883-1958), the Bishop of Chichester.  Although she was a practicing Quaker, she understood that World War II was necessary.  After the war she campaigned on the behalf of refugees and German prisoners of war.

Dorothy Buxton died at Peaslake, near Guildford, England, on April 8, 1963.  She was 82 years old.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 8, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN CASPAR MATTES, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND LITURGIST

THE FEAST OF JOHANN VON STAUPITZ, MARTIN LUTHER’S SPIRITUAL MENTOR

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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 hopeless,

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

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Feast of Mary Cornelia Bishop Gates (December 17)   1 comment

rca-crest

Above:  The Crest of the Reformed Church in America

A Scan from the Cover of Our Reformed Church, by Howard G. Hageman and Revised by Gregg A. Mast (New York, NY:  Reformed Church Press, 1995)

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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MARY CORNELIA BISHOP GATES (DECEMBER 14, 1842-DECEMBER 17, 1905)

U.S. Dutch Reformed Hymn Writer

Mary Cornelia Bishop, born at Rochester, New York, on December 14, 1842, came from a family where culture and public service were values.  Roger Williams (1603-1683), the founder of Rhode Island and champion of religious toleration and the separation of church and state, was in the family tree.  Her father, William S. Bishop (1804-1863), was an attorney, a state legislator, and an elder of the Central Presbyterian Church, Rochester.  Our saint’s mother, Anna Cornelia Bishop (1808-1893), was a daughter of a state legislator.  Young Mary received a fine education before teaching at Le Roy Female Seminary (now Ingham University), Le Roy, New York, for several years.

In 1873 our saint married Dr. Merrill Edward Gates (1848-1922), who served as the Principal of Albany Academy, Albany, New York, from 1870 to 1882.  Then he was the President of Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, from 1882 to 1890, and the President of Amherst College, Amherst, Massachusetts, from 1891 to 1899.  Next the educator served on the U.S. Board of Indian Commissioners from 1899 to 1912.  During that time he preached at a Congregational church in Washington, D.C.

Mary was a skilled writer.  She contributed to publications such as The Christian Intelligencer (Dutch Reformed, 1830-1920), The Independent (Congregationalist, 1848-1928), The Youth’s Companion (1827-1929), and The Atlantic Monthly (1857-present, now just The Atlantic).  A posthumous volume, Hymns of Nature and Songs of the Spirit (1908), collected many of her writings between two covers.  Dr. Denis Wortman (1835-1922) wrote:

The characteristic of her poems is their evangelical nature.  She lives in the great world of nature, but her particular home is with the Nazarene.  She has a personal affection for Jesus, like Mary and Martha, and like them she makes him the guest of her home and of her heart.

One of the themes in our saint’s hymns was foreign missions, for she served on the Women’s Board of Foreign Missions of the Reformed Church in America for many years.

Gates died on December 17, 1905.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 3, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILL CAMPBELL, AGENT OF RECONCILIATION

THE FEAST OF SAINT LIPHARDUS OF ORLEANS AND URBICIUS OF MEUNG, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOTS

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF UGANDA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MORAND OF CLUNY, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK AND MISSIONARY

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Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

Mary Cornelia Bishop Gates 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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Third Sunday of Advent, Year B   Leave a comment

Above:  The Visitation, with the Magnificat in Latin

God-Bearers

DECEMBER 17, 2017

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THE FIRST READING

Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11 (New Revised Standard Version):

The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,

because the LORD has anointed me;

he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,

to bind up the brokenhearted,

to proclaim liberty to the captives,

and release to the prisoners;

to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor,

and the day of vengeance of our God;

to comfort all who mourn;

to provide for those who mourn in Zion–

to give them a garland instead of ashes,

the oil of gladness instead of mourning,

the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.

They will be called oaks of righteousness,

the planting of the LORD, to display his glory.

They shall build up the ancient ruins,

they shall raise up the former devastations;

they shall repair the ruined cities,

the devastations of many generations.

For I the LORD love justice,

I hate robbery and wrongdoing;

I will faithfully give them their recompense,

and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.

Their descendants shall be known among the nations,

and their offspring among the peoples;

all who see them shall acknowledge

that they are a people whom the LORD has blessed.

I will greatly rejoice in the LORD,

my whole being shall exult in my God;

for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation,

he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,

as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,

as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

For as the earth brings forth its shoots,

and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,

so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise

to spring up before the nations.

THE TWO OPTIONS FOR THE RESPONSE

Psalm 126 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,

then were we like those who dream.

2 Then was our mouth filled with laughter,

and our tongue with shouts of joy.

3 Then they said among the nations,

“The LORD has done great things for them.”

The LORD has done great things for us,

and we are glad indeed.

5 Restore our fortunes, O LORD,

like the watercourses of the Negev.

6 Those who sowed with tears

will reap with songs of joy.

7 Those who go out weeping, carrying the seed,

will come again with joy, shouldering their sheaves.

Canticle 15 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

(The Magnificat plus the Trinitarian formula)

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,

my spirit rejoices in God my Savior;

for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.

From this day all generations will call me blessed:

the Almighty has done great things for me,

and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him

in every generation.

He has shown the strength of his arm,

he has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,

and has lifted up the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things,

and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of his servant Israel,

for he has remembered his promise of mercy,

The promise he made to our fathers,

to Abraham and his children for ever.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:

as it was in the beginning is now, and will be for ever.  Amen.

THE SECOND READING

1 Thessalonians 5 (New Revised Standard Version):

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil.

May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.

THE GOSPEL READING

John 1:6-8, 19-28 (New Revised Standard Version):

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.

This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him,

Who are you?

He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed,

I am not the Messiah.

And they asked him,

What then? Are you Elijah?

He said,

I am not.

[They asked,]

Are you the prophet?

He answered,

No.

Then they said to him,

Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?

He said,

I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, “Make straight the way of the Lord,” as the prophet Isaiah said.

Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him,

Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?

John answered them,

I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.

This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.

The Collect:

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Third Sunday of Advent, Year A:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/fifteenth-day-of-advent-third-sunday-of-advent-year-a/

First Sunday of Advent, Year B:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/02/first-day-of-advent-first-sunday-of-advent-year-b/

Second Sunday of Advent, Year B:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/03/eighth-day-of-advent-second-sunday-of-advent-year-b/

1 Thessalonians 5:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/09/week-of-proper-17-tuesday-year-1/

Luke 1 (Magnificat):

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/advent-devotion-for-december-22/

O Blessed Mother:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/17/o-blessed-mother/

The Hail Mary:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/25/the-hail-mary/

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There is a cliche:  The Lord moves in mysterious ways.  Many statements become cliched because they are true, as is the case for this one.  In these readings we read of the divine mandate for us to establish justice, especially that of the economic variety.  We read also of the humility of John the Baptist, forerunner of our Lord, and of Mary, who became Mother of God.  (Follow the logic:  Jesus was God incarnate.  Mary was his mother.  Therefore she was the Mother of God.)

My Eastern Orthodox brethren refer to Mary of Nazareth as the Theotokos, or God-bearer.  That she was, indeed.  Through her God chose to become incarnate, to become one of us, and therefore to set into motion redemptive plans while affirming human dignity.  It is a great mystery, one I choose to savor, not try to explain away or dismiss.

So I invite you, O reader, to echo the words of the Magnificat and to say the Hail Mary.  And, I hope that, regardless of the state of your mariology (assuming that you have one) , that you will recognize yourself and all other human beings as God-bearers, then treat yourself and all others accordingly.  Much justice will flow from that attitude.

KRT

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Published originally at ADVENT, CHRISTMAS, AND EPIPHANY DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on June 4, 2011

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