Archive for the ‘December 29’ Category

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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That Old Sweet Song of Angels   Leave a comment

nativity-and-annunciation-to-the-shepherds

Above:  Nativity and Annunciation to the Shepherds

Image in the Public Domain

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Long ago the angels vanished–

But their song is sounding still!

Millions now with hope are singing,

“Peace on earth, to men good will.”

Sing, my heart!  Tho’ peace may tarry,

Sing good will mid human strife!

Till that old sweet song of angels

Shall attune to heav’n our life.

–William Allen Knight (1863-1957), “Come, My Heart, Canst Thou Not Hear It” (1915), quoted in The Pilgrim Hymnal (1931/1935), Hymn #77

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Part of the mystery of the Incarnation is its counterintuitive nature:  a vulnerable baby was God incarnate.  This truth demonstrates the reality that God operates differently than we frequently define as feasible and effective.  Then again, Jesus was, by dominant human expectations, a failure.  I would never claim that Jesus was a failure, of course.

If your enemies are hungry, give them bread to eat;

and if they are thirsty, give them water to drink;

for you will heap coals of fire on their heads,

and the LORD will reward you.

–Proverbs 25:22, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

Speaking of counterintuitive ways of God, shall we ponder the advice of St. Paul the Apostle in Romans 12:14-21?

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.  Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.  Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are.  Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all.  If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.  Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”  No, if your enemies are hungry, feed them, if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.”  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

That old sweet song of angels will not attune to heaven our life if we ignore this sage advice–if we fail to overcome evil with good.  How we treat others indicates more about what kind of people we are than about what kind of people they are.  If we react against intolerance with intolerance, we are intolerant.  We also add fuel to the proverbial fire.  Is not a fire extinguisher better?

As the Master said,

You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.”  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.  For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?  Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others?  Do not even the Gentiles do the same?  Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

–Matthew 5:43-48, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

Perfection, in this case, indicates suitability for one’s purpose, which is, in the language of the Westminster Shorter Catechism,

to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

–Quoted in The United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, The Book of Confessions (1967)

As the annual celebration of the birth of Christ approaches again, may we who follow him with our words also follow him with our deeds:  may we strive for shalom on a day-to-day basis.  Only God can save the world, but we can leave it better than we found it.

Merry Christmas!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 21, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE TWENTY-FIFTH DAY OF ADVENT

THE FEAST OF SAINT THOMAS THE APOSTLE, MARTYR

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Feast of Thomas Cotterill (December 29)   1 comment

Ruins of Sheffield Manor, 1819

Above:  Ruins of Sheffield Manor, 1819

Image in the Public Domain

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THOMAS COTTERILL (DECEMBER 4, 1779-DECEMBER 29, 1823)

English Priest, Hymn Writer, and Liturgist

Thomas Cotterill was a pioneer in the field of English hymnody.

The saint, born at Cannock, Staffordshire, England, on December 4, 1779, was a son of a wool-stapler.  Cotterill attended the Free School, Birmingham, and St. John’s College, Cambridge, before taking Anglican Holy Orders in 1803.  He served as Curate of Tutbury (1803-1808), Incumbent of Lane End, Staffordshire (1808-1817), and Perpetual Curate of St. Paul’s, Sheffield (1817-1823).

Cotterill wrote hymns and worked on hymnals.  In 1805 he collaborated with Jonathan Stubbs on the First Edition of A Selection of Psalms and Hymns for Public and Private Use.  The congregational singing of metrical psalms was normative in The Church of England in the early 1800s.  Support for the congregational singing of hymns in the Established Church was increasing, but opposition to this change remained strong.  In 1819 Cotterill and his collaborator, James Montgomery (1771-1854), published the Eighth Edition of A Selection of Psalms and Hymns for Public and Private Use in 1819.  Their volume contained 150 psalms and 367 hymns, 25 of which Cotterill had written and 50 of which Montgomery had composed.  The new hymnal proved so controversial that a faction of Cotterill’s church sued him in a diocesan court.  Archbishop of York Edward Venables-Vernon-Harcourt settled the matter.  Cotterill withdrew the Eighth Edition then worked on a replacement, which the Archbishop of York supervised and financed.  The Ninth Edition (1820), dedicated to the archbishop, contained 150 psalms and 146 hymns.  It circulated with official support, but the Eighth Edition (1819) became one of the most influential hymnals in the English-speaking world and in The Church of England.

Cotterill died at Sheffield on December 29, 1823.  His friend and collaborator, James Montgomery, wrote of our saint that he had

the piety of a saint, the tastes of a scholar, the aspect and demeanor of an unaffected Christian gentleman.

Among our saint’s texts was “In Memory of the Saviour’s Love” (1805), a communion hymn:

In memory of the Saviour’s love,

We keep the sacred feast,

Where every humble, contrite heart

Is made a welcome guest.

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One fold, one faith, one hope, one Lord,

One God alone we know;

As brethren all, let every heart

With kind affection glow.

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By faith we take the bread of life

With which our souls are fed,

The cup in token of his blood

That was for sinners shed.

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In faith and memory thus we sing

The wonders of his love,

And thus anticipate by faith

The heavenly feast above.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 20, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL HANSON COX, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND ABOLITIONIST; AND HIS SON, ARTHUR CLEVELAND COXE, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF WESTERN NEW YORK, HYMN WRITER, AND TRANSLATOR OF HYMNS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANSEGISUS OF FONTANELLE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF ELIZABETH CADY STANTON, AMELIA BLOOMER, SOJOURNER TRUTH, AND HARRIET ROSS TUBMAN, WITNESSES TO CIVIL RIGHTS FOR AFRICAN AMERICANS AND WOMEN

THE FEAST OF SAINTS FLAVIAN II OF ANTIOCH AND ELIAS OF JERUSALEM, ROMAN CATHOLIC PATRIARCHS

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

thank you for those (especially Thomas Cotterill)

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

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 27, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES INTERCISUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR

THE FEAST OF HENRY SLOANE COFFIN, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN THEOLOGIAN

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Feast of Philipp Heinrich Molther (December 29)   Leave a comment

Bedford Bridge 1783

Above:  Bedford Bridge, 1783, by Francis Grose

Image in the Public Domain

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PHILIPP HEINRICH MOLTHER (DECEMBER 28, 1714-SEPTEMBER 9, 1780)

German Moravian Minister, Bishop, Composer, and Hymn Translator

Philipp Heinrich Molther (1714-1780) was a multi-talented man who glorified God and improved the life of his communities of faith.  Our saint, a graduate of the University of Jena, taught French to Christian Renatus von Zinzendorf (1727-1752), son of Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf (1700-1760), on whose estate the underground Unity of the Brethren became the Renewed Moravian Church.  Our saint, a member of the Moravian Church since 1738, also translated many hymns into French and composed several cantatas, including one for the laying of the Single Brothers House (1738) at Herrnhaag, a settlement the Unitas Fratrum closed in the early 1750s.

Molther spent much time (1739-1740, 1741, and 1766-1780) in England.  He a minister, helped to start Moravian Church work in the British Isles.  Prior to his final stint in England our saint served as a pastor at Montmirial, Switzerland, then at Dublin, Ireland.  At Bedford, England, where Molther served from 1766 to 1780, he had the distinction of being one of the most gifted Moravian Church musicians in the country at the time.  Our saint, a bishop since 1775, died at Bedford on September 9, 1780.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 4, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN GOTTFRIED GEISLER AND JOHANN CHRISTIAN GEISLER, SILESIAN MORAVIAN ORGANISTS AND COMPOSERS; AND JOHANNES HERBST, GERMAN-AMERICAN ORGANIST, COMPOSER, AND BISHOP

THE FEAST OF FRANCES RIDLEY HAVERGAL, ENGLISH HYMN WRITER AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF SAINT FRANCIS CARACCIOLO, COFOUNDER OF THE MINOR CLERKS REGULAR

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN XXIII, BISHOP OF ROME

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God of grace and glory, we praise you for your servant Philipp Heinrich Molther,

who made the good news known in the British Isles.

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

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 59

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Feast of John Burnett Morris, Sr. (December 29)   Leave a comment

Above:  Shield of The Episcopal Church

JOHN BURNETT MORRIS, SR. (FEBRUARY 10, 1930-DECEMBER 28, 2010)

Episcopal Priest and Witness for Civil Rights

John Burnett Morris, Sr., born in Brunswick, Georgia, devoted his life to social justice, work he considered a natural extension of his Christian faith.  He graduated from Columbia University in 1951, married Harriet Barnes Pratt the following year, graduated from Virginia Theological Seminary in 1954.  Ordained deacon in that year and priest in 1955, Burnett began his parish ministry in South Carolina.

Burnett’s main work lay beyond the parish level, however.  He founded the Episcopal Society of Cultural and Racial Unity in 1959 and served as its first Executive Director from 1960 to 1966.  In this role he worked for civil rights in church and society.  He supported the 1961 Freedom Riders with a Prayer Pilgrimage of a racially integrated group of clergymen.  He called the Prayer Pilgrimage

a sermon in action…to set the household of faith in order so that prejudice may be eliminated.

Authorities in Jackson, Mississippi, arrested and jailed he and fourteen other clergymen for trying to eat together at a Whites-only lunch counter.

Morris also led other civil rights protests, such as those at the Lovett School, an Episcopal Church-related institution in the Diocese of Atlanta.  The Lovett School desegregated in 1966.  Morris organized other clergymen to participate in the March on Washington in 1963 and the Selma, Alabama, protests in 1965. And he criticized the Right Reverend Charles Carpenter, Bishop of Alabama form 1938 to 1968, for condemning civil disobedience.  (Carpenter was one of the clergymen to whom Martin Luther King, Jr., addressed the Letter from Birmingham Jail in 1963.)

On which side of Letter from Birmingham Jail’s moral arguments would you, O reader, do you prefer to be?

Morris had Parkinson’s Disease in his final years.  He died on December 28, 2010, at a retirement home in Evans, Georgia.  His first wife and a daughter predeceased him, but his second wife, a daughter, two sons, a sister, and six grandchildren survived him.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 27, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES INTERCISUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR

THE FEAST OF HENRY SLOANE COFFIN, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN THEOLOGIAN

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For More Information:

http://www.ecusa.anglican.org/80263_126363_ENG_HTM.htm

http://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta/the-rev-john-burnett-792540.html

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Almighty God,

we praise you for your servant John Burnett Morris, Sr.,

through whom you have called the church to its tasks

and renewed its life.

Raise up in our own day teachers and prophets inspired by your Spirit,

whose voices will give strength to your church

and proclaim the reality of your reign,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever. Amen.

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

Saints’ Days and Holy Days for December   Leave a comment

Poinsettia

Image Source = Andre Karwath

THIS IS THE RESET MODE OF THE DECEMBER CALENDAR, AFTER I HAVE CHANGED DATES AND BEFORE I FINISH ADDING SAINTS AS PART OF THE PROCESS OF RENOVATING MY ECUMENICAL CALENDAR OF SAINTS’ DAYS AND HOLY DAYS.

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

  • 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 (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

3 (Maruthas, Roman Catholic Bishop of Maypherkat and Missionary to Persia)

  • Amilie Juliane, Countess of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt, German Lutheran Hymn Writer
  • Archibald Campbell Tait, Archbishop of Canterbury
  • Francis Xavier, Roman Catholic Missionary to the Far East

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

  • Bernard of Parma, Roman Catholic Bishop
  • John Calabria, Founder of the Congregation of the Poor Servants and the Poor Women Servants of Divine Providence
  • Joseph Mohr, Austrian Roman Catholic Priest and Hymn Writer
  • 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, Roman Catholic Bishop)

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

  • Anne Ross Cousin, Scottish Presbyterian Hymn Writer
  • Georg Friedrich Hellstrom, Dutch-German Moravian Musician, Composer, and Educator
  • William Gustave Polack, U.S. Lutheran Minister, Liturgist, and Hymn Writer and Translator

8 (Martin Rinckart, German Lutheran Hymn Writer and Archdeacon of Eilenburg)

  • Amatus of Luxeuil and Romaric of Luxeuil, Roman Catholic Monks and Abbots
  • Erik Christian Hoff, Norwegian Lutheran Composer and Organist
  • Walter Ciszek, Roman Catholic Missionary Priest and Political Prisoner

9 (Peter Fourier, “The Good Priest of Mattaincourt;” and Alix Le Clerc, Foundress of the Congregation of Notre Dame of Canonesses Regular of Saint Augutine)

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
  • 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
  • Lars Olsen Skrefsrud, Hans Peter Boerresen, and Paul Olaf Bodding, Lutheran Missionaries in India
  • Severin Ott, Roman Catholic Monk

12 (Jane Frances de Chantal, Founder of the Congregation of the Visitation)

  • Bartholomew Buonpedoni and Vivaldus, Ministers among Lepers
  • Ludwik Bartosik, Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1941
  • William Lloyd Garrison, Abolitionist and Feminist; and Maria Stewart, Abolitionist, Feminist, and 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

14 (Venantius Honorius Clementius Fortunatus, Roman Catholic Bishop of Poitiers)

  • Dorothy Ann Thrupp, English Hymn Writer
  • John of the Cross, Roman Catholic Mystic

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

  • 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)

  • Frank Mason North, U.S. Methodist Minister
  • Mary Cornelia Bishop Gates, U.S. Dutch Reformed Hymn Writer

18 (Marc Boegner, French Reformed Minister and Ecumenist)

  • Alicia Domon and Her Companions, Martyrs in Argentina, 1977
  • Giulia Valle, Roman Catholic Nun

19 (Raoul Wallenberg, Righteous Gentile)

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

20 (Dominic of Silos, Roman Catholic Abbot)

21 (THOMAS THE APOSTLE, MARTYR)

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)

  • Antonio Caldara, Roman Catholic Composer and Musician
  • Charbel, Roman Catholic Priest and Monk
  • James Prince Lee, Bishop of Manchester
  • William John Blew, English Priest and Hymn Writer

24 (CHRISTMAS EVE)

25 (CHRISTMAS DAY)

26 (SECOND DAY OF CHRISTMAS)

  • Stephen, Deacon and Martyr

27 (THIRD DAY OF CHRISTMAS)

  • John the Evangelist, Apostle

28 (FOURTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS)

  • Holy Innocents, Martyrs

29 (FIFTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS)

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

30 (SIXTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS)

  • Allen Eastman Cross, U.S. Congregationalist Minister and Hymn Writer
  • Frances Joseph-Gaudet, Prison Reformer

31 (SEVENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS)

  • New Year’s Eve
  • Rossiter Worthington Raymond, U.S. Novelist, Poet, Hymn Writer, and Mining Engineer

 

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

First Sunday after Christmas, Years A, B, and C   Leave a comment

Above:  Christ the Sun Mosaic, the Vatican

The Logos of God

DECEMBER 29, 2019

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Isaiah 61:10-62:3 (New Revised Standard Version):

I will greatly rejoice in the LORD,

my whole being shall exult in my God;

for he has clothed me with the garment of salvation,

has covered me with the robe of righteousness,

as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,

and 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 all nations.

For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,

and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest,

until her vindication shines out like the dawn,

and her salvation like a burning torch.

The nations shall see your vindication,

and all the kings your glory;

and you shall be called by a new name

that the mouth of the LORD will give.

You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD,

and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.

Psalm 147:12-20 (New Revised Standard Version):

Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem!

Praise your God, O Zion!

For he strengthens the bars of your gates;

he blesses your children within you.

He grants peace within your borders;

he fills you with the finest of wheat.

He sends out his command to the earth;

his word runs swiftly.

He gives snow like wool;

he scatters frost like ashes.

He hurls down hail like crumbs–

who can stand before his cold?

He sends out his word, and melts them;

he makes his wind blow, and the waters flow.

He declares his word to Jacob,

his statutes and ordinances to Israel.

He has not dealt thus with any other nation;

they do not know his ordinances.

Praise the LORD!

Galatians 3:23-25; 4:4-7 (New Revised Standard Version):

Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian.

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying,

Abba! Father!

So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.

John 1:1-18 (New Revised Standard Version):

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

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. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (John testified to him and cried out,

This was he of whom I said, “He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.”)

From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.

The Collect:

Almighty God, you have poured upon us the new light of your incarnate Word: Grant that this light, enkindled in our hearts, may shine forth in our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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The prologue to the Gospel of John speaks (in Greek) of Jesus as the Logos (Word, in English) of God.  Embedded within this idea is that grace and nature are not separate.  Nature owes its existence to grace, and nature can be a means of grace.  Furthermore, nature is a form of grace.

The Enlightenment was a wonderful corrective to abuses and excesses of the ages preceding it.  So let nobody give short shrift to the Enlightenment.  Yet this era, like all epochs, contained certain excesses and errors of its own.  Among these was Deism, the idea that God is like a watchmaker.  The watchmaker puts the watch together and winds it up, then leaves it alone.  In contrast, the doctrine of the Logos indicates a God active in nature and our lives up to the present, and presumably well into the future.  These dealings are for purpose of helping us find our proper equilibrium relative to God, and therefore to enjoy and glorify God.  The love in this relationship should be mutual.  That, at least, is the ideal.  We, abusing or misusing our free will, however, make decisions which sabotage this plan.

So may we reciprocate the love God extends to us.

KRT