Archive for the ‘December 8’ 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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Feast of Walter Ciszek (December 8)   Leave a comment

grave-of-walter-ciszek

Above:  The Grave of Father Walter Ciszek, S.J.

Image in the Public Domain

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WALTER JOSEPH CISZEK (NOVEMBER 4, 1904-DECEMBER 8, 1984)

Roman Catholic Missionary Priest and Political Prisoner

Father Walter Ciszek suffered for Christ and glorified God in dire circumstances.

The son of Polish immigrants entered the world at Shenandoah, Pennsylvania.  At a young age he belonged to a gang, but he changed his ways and resolved to become a priest instead.  Ciszek, who became a Jesuit novice in 1928, planned as early as 1929 to become a missionary to Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.  He began to study theology and the Russian language at the Pontifical Russian College, Rome, in 1934.  Three years later our saint became a Byzantine Rite priest.  The Church sent him to the Jesuit mission at Alberty, in eastern Poland, in 1938.

Ciszek, a citizen of the United States, did not return to his homeland until 1963.  The beginning of World War II in Europe forced the closing of the Jesuit mission at Alberty.  Our saint, a clandestine missionary in the Soviet Union, was in custody from 1941 to 1963.  He spent five years at the notorious Lubyanka prison, Moscow.  For most of that time our saint was in solitary confinement.  In 1942, under pressure due to torture, Ciszek signed a false confession and received a sentence of 15 years of hard labor.  From 1946 to 1963 our saint suffered in the gulag in Siberia, performing slave labor (frequently in mines) and menial tasks.  Until 1955, when authorities permitted him to write letters to his family, Ciszek’s relatives and the Society of Jesus had presumed him to be have been dead for years.  From 1955 to 1963 the KGB forced him to move periodically, usually after he had become “too popular” and founded a church.  Through all of the suffering and indignities Ciszek relied on divine providence and maintained his dignity.

On October 12, 1963, the Soviet Union traded Ciszek and Marvin W. Markinen (an American student convicted of being a spy) for two Soviet agents.  Back in the United States our saint wrote two memoirs, lectured at Fordham University, and worked as a counselor and a spiritual advisor.  He died, aged 80 years, on December 8, 1984.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 23, 2016 COMMON ERA

PROPER 25:  THE TWENTY-THIRD SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES OF JERUSALEM, BROTHER OF JESUS

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Almighty God, whose will it is to be glorified in your saints,

and who raised up your servant Walter Ciszek to be a light to the world:

Shine, we pray, in our hearts, that we also in our generation may show forth your praise,

who called us out of darkness into your marvelous light;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you

and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Isaiah 49:1-6

Psalm 98 or 98:1-4

Acts 17:22-31

Matthew 28:16-20

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 717

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Feast of Erik Christian Hoff (December 8)   Leave a comment

Akershus Fortress and Castle

Above:  Akershus Castle and Fortress, Oslo, Norway

Image in the Public Domain

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ERIK CHRISTIAN HOFF (JANUARY 21, 1832-DECEMBER 8, 1894)

Norwegian Lutheran Composer and Organist

The name of Erik Christian Hoff came to my attention when I read about the life of his contemporary, Ludwig Mathias Lindeman (1812-1887), with whom he competed in the 1870s.  The new official hymnal was the Kirkesalmebog (1869) of Magnus Brostrup Landstad (1802-1880).  That hymnbook contained words yet not music, as was the custom at the time.  Hoff had prepared the Melodibog til samtlige authorisered Salmeboger, containing 265 tunes, including many Danish and Swedish tunes plus 61 tunes of his composition, for consideration as the official musical companion to the hymnal.  However, Lindeman’s Koralbog, indeholdende de i Landstads Salmebog forekommende Melodier (1871) became the authorized chorale book in 1877.  Lindeman’s innovation was to change how Norwegians sang, replacing uniform rhythms and slow tempo with dotted rhythms, faster tempos, and rests (not the usual fermatas) at the ends of phrases.  Hoff’s proposed chorale book, which he published privately in 1878, was more traditional.

Hoff, son of a smith of Bergen, Norway, entered the world on January 21, 1832.  He attended school at Stord, received his introduction to music there, and graduated at the top of his class.  For a time our saint taught music at Bergen, where he became the lead singer at the Korskirken (Church of the Cross).  Next Hoff studied organ and music theory at the Vogel conservatory, from which he graduated with honors.  From 1860 to 1862 he taught at Halmestrand.  Then Hoff moved to Christiania (now Olso), the capital city of Norway, which was then part of Sweden.

Hoff worked in Christiania for the rest of his life.  From 1862 to 1864 he conducted choirs and taught music; he taught until 1870.  From 1864 to 1894 he served as the organist at the Garnisonskirken, the garrison church at Akershus Castle and Fortress.  Among his most ardent admirers was King Oscar II (reigned 1872-1905), who visited frequently to hear him play.  Hoff, who ceased teaching so he could devote more time to choral music, composed works for the organ, songs for male chorus, and songs for children.

Hoff died on December 8, 1894.

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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Eternal God, light of the world and Creator of all that is good and lovely:

We bless your name for inspiring Erik Christian Hoff

and all those who with music have filled us with desire and love for you;

through Jesus Christ our Savior, who with you and the Holy Spirit

lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

1 Chronicles 29:14b-19

Psalm 90:14-17

2 Corinthians 3:1-3

John 21:15-17, 24-25

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 728

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Feast of St. Amatus of Luxeuil and St. Romaric of Luxeuil (December 8)   Leave a comment

Above:  Gaul in 628 

SAINT AMATUS OF LUXEUIL (DIED 630)

Also known as Saint Ame

Roman Catholic Monk and Abbot

His feast transferred from September 13

converted

SAINT ROMARIC OF LUXEUIL (DIED 653)

Roman Catholic Monk and Abbot

One of the joys of preparing these posts about lives of saints is discovering for myself the links between and among saints.  Today, with this post, I add two saints to my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.  These stories converge with the lives of at least four saints of whom I have written already.  Such overlapping holiness gladdens my heart.

This saga of sanctity begins with St. Amatus (died 630).  The monk from Grenoble had grown up in a monastery.  And, in 614, at the urging of St. Eustace of Luxeuil, abbot from 611, he became a monk there.  A few years later, St. Amatus converted St. Romaric (died 653), then a nobleman serving in the court of Lothair II (reigned 584-629), King of Neustria from 584 and King of all Franks from 613.  St. Romaric also became a monk at Luxeuil.  At that monastery both saintly monks were subject to the positive influence of St. Columban/Columbanus, the great evangelist and founder of monasteries.

In 620 Sts. Amatus and Romaric, with the approval of St. Eustace, founded the double monastery of Remiremont Abbey on St. Romaric’s estate at Habendum.  St. Amatus served as the first abbot; St. Romaric succeeded him in 623 and ruled for the next thirty years.  Among the monks there were St. Arnulf of Metz, a nobleman and a bishop, and St. Germanus of Granfel (see the hyperlink for St. Arnulf), later an abbot.

Accounts of St. Romaric’s life as abbot include stories of him becoming involved in Merovingian dynastic politics, which were frequently dangerous, for certain Merovingian monarchs were violent toward their own family members.  The particulars of St. Romaric’s political entanglements are irrelevant and would distract me from my focus, but I do note that he strove for a better society–surely a good cause.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 16, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARGARET OF SCOTLAND, QUEEN

THE FEAST OF SAINT GIUSEPPE MOSCATI, PHYSICIAN

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O God, by whose grace your servants Saint Amatus of Luxeuil and Saint Romaric of Luxeuil,

kindled with the flame of your love, became burning and shining lights in your Church:

Grant that we may also be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline, and walk before you as children of light,

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Acts 2:42-47a

Psalm 133 or 34:1-8 or 119:161-168

2 Corinthians 6:1-10

Matthew 6:24-33

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 723

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.

Second Sunday of Advent, Year A   Leave a comment

Above:  The Tomb of St. John the Baptist, Lower Egypt

Image Source = Lollylolly 78

The Approaching Kingdom of God

DECEMBER 4, 2016

DECEMBER 8, 2019

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Isaiah 11:1-10 (New Revised Standard Version):

A shoot will come from the stump of Jesse,

and a branch will grow out of his roots.

The spirit of the LORD shall rest on him,

the spirit of wisdom and understanding,

the spirit of counsel and might,

the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.

His delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.

He shall not judge by what his eyes see,

or decide by what his ears hear;

but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,

and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;

he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,

and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.

Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist,

and faithfulness the belt around his loins.

The wolf shall live with the lamb,

the leopard shall lie down with the kid,

the calf and the lion and the fatling together,

and a little child shall lead them.

The cow and the bear shall graze,

their young shall lie down together;

and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,

and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.

They will not hurt or destroy

on all my holy mountain;

for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD

as the waters cover the sea.

On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.

Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19 (New Revised Standard Version):

Give the king your justice, O God,

and your righteousness to the a king’s son.

May he judge your people with righteousness,

and your poor with justice.

May the mountains yield prosperity for the people,

and the hills, in righteousness.

May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,

give deliverance to the needy,

and crush the oppressor.

May he live while the sun endures,

and as long as the moon, throughout all generations.

May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass,

like showers that water the earth.

In his days may righteousness flourish

and peace abound, until the moon is no more.

Blessed by the LORD, the God of Israel,

who alone does wondrous things.

Blessed be his glorious name forever;

may his glory fill the whole earth.

Amen and Amen.

Romans 15:4-13 (New Revised Standard Version):

Whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of the truth of God in order that he might confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,

Therefore I will confess you among the Gentiles,

and sing praises to your name;

and again he says,

Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people;

and again,

Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles,

let all the peoples praise him;

and again Isaiah says,

The root of Jesse shall come,

the one who rises to rule the Gentiles;

in him the Gentiles shall hope.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 3:1-12 (New Revised Standard Version):

In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming,

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.

This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said,

The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:

“Prepare the way of the Lord,

make his paths straight.”

Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them,

You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance. Do not presume to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our ancestor”; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.

The Collect:

Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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St. John the Baptist was one of a line of prophets who spoke of the coming Kingdom of God on earth.  John, however, spoke of the short-term arrival of this kingdom.  And one of the concepts embedded in the canonical Gospels is that the Kingdom of God was present within and around people; God was active on the earth.  In historical context this constituted, among other things, a strong (and justified) criticism of the Roman imperial order.  Rome occupied the Jewish homeland, maintained order with fear, and encouraged slavery and economic inequity–even exploitation.  Much of this sounds contemporary, does it not?

Jesus was born, lived, died, rose again, and ascended.  And yet the Roman imperial order persisted.  So understandings of the Kingdom of God changed, becoming more abstractly spiritual than concerned with the present tense.  Yet I find the older understanding powerful; I cannot dismiss it.  If the Kingdom of God was present when Jesus walked the face of the earth, is it not still here?  Could it have faded away after the Ascension?  I think not.

So I leave you, O reader, with this:  How is the Kingdom of God an indictment of your society and government, perhaps even the dominant form of organized religion in your society?  And, when you have your answer(s), what ought you to do with this (these) realization(s)?  It cost Jesus his life, and St. John the Baptist before him.  What will it cost you?

KRT