Archive for the ‘February 19’ Category

Feast of James Drummond Burns (February 19)   1 comment

burns_jd2

Above:  James Drummond Burns

Image Source = hymntime.com

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

JAMES DRUMMOND BURNS (FEBRUARY 18, 1823-NOVEMBER 17, 1864)

Scottish Presbyterian Minister, Hymn Writer, and Hymn Translator

James Drummond Burns lived for fewer than 42 years, but he made them count for God.  Our saint, born at Edinburgh, Scotland, on February 18, 1823, studied at Edinburgh.  He was a theology student in 1843, the year of the Disruption in The Church of Scotland. Burns left The Church of Scotland for the new Free Church of Scotland.  Two years later he became the Free Church minister at Dunblane.  In 1847, however, bad health (specifically, pulmonary problems) forced him to leave.  Our saint began to serve at Funchal, Madera.  His health improved to the point that, in 1855, he was able to transfer to the new Presbyterian Church of England congregation in Hampstead, in the metropolitan London area.  This was his final pastorate.  In 1863 our saint’s health took a last turn for the worse; he contracted a cold that caused more lung-related problems for him.  Burns died at Mentone, France, where he was attempting to recover his health.  He was 41 years old.

Burns, known for

his fine personality, attractive voice, and big heart

–Armin Haeussler, The Story of Our Hymns  The Handbook to the Hymnal of the Evangelical and Reformed Church (1952), page 574,

left a written legacy, which included original hymns and 39 translations of hymns from German.  He also published sermons, wrote the article of hymns for the eighth edition of The Encyclopedia Britannica, as well as two volumes of poetry (The Vision of Prophecy and Other Poems, 1854; and The Heavenly Jerusalem, or Glimpses Within the Gates, 1856).

Certainly Burns deserves a place on an official calendar of saints.  That is a matter for others, those in positions of influence in the lives of various denominations, to pursue.  As for me, I do what I can; I add him to my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 4, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JOHN OF DAMASCUS AND COSMAS OF MAIUMA, THEOLOGIANS AND HYMNODISTS

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN CALABRIA, FOUNDER OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE POOR SERVANTS AND THE POOR WOMEN SERVANTS OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH MOHR, AUSTRIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF THOMAS COTTERILL, ENGLISH PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND LITURGIST

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

James Drummond Burns 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

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Advertisements

Feast of Samuel Davies (February 19)   Leave a comment

samuel-davies

Above:  Samuel Davies

Image in the Public Domain

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

SAMUEL DAVIES (NOVEMBER 3, 1723-FEBRUARY 4, 1761)

American Presbyterian Minister and Hymn Writer

+++++++++++++++

To preach repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ–To alarm secure impenitents; to reform the profligate; to undeceive the hypocrite; to raise up the hands that hang down, and to strengthen the feeble knees;–These are the doctrines I preach, these are the ends I pursue…’Tis the conversion and salvation of men I aim to promote…The design of the gospel is to bring perishing sinners to heaven…I cannot help thinking [he continued, comparing his own preaching with that of the Anglican ministers in Virginia] that they who generally entertain their hearers with languid harangues on morality or insipid speculations, omitting or but slightly touching upon the glorious doctrines of the gospel, which will be everlastingly found the most effectual means to reform a degenerate world; such as the corruption of human nature in its present lapsed state; the nature and necessity of regeneration, and of divine influences to effect it; the nature of saving faith, evangelical repentance, etc.  I cannot, I say, help thinking that they who omit, pervert, or but slightly hint at these and the like doctrines, are not likely to do much service to the souls of men.

–Samuel Davies to Thomas Sherlock, Bishop of London; quoted in Ernest Trice Thompson, Presbyterians in the South, Volume One:  1607-1861 (Richmond, VA:  John Knox Press, 1963), page 75

+++++++++++++++

Samuel Davies was a Presbyterian divine and an early President of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University).  He also became the earliest American writer of widely accepted hymns.  His hymns included “Eternal Spirit, Source of Light,” “Lord, I am Thine,” and “While O’er Our Guilty Land, O Lord.”

Davies accomplished much.  He, born at New Castle, Delaware, on November 3, 1723, studied under Presbyterian ministers Samuel Blair of Chester County, Pennsylvania, and William Robinson of New Brunswick, New Jersey.  The Presbytery of New Castle licensed our saint to preach 1746.  The following year, although our saint’s health was fragile and even he thought he might die of tuberculosis shortly, became an evangelist in Virginia, starting in Hanover County.  Authorities in Virginia restricted the rights of religious dissenters (non-Anglicans), reserving the right to issue licenses to preach and to dictate who may evangelize.  Davies won limited yet expanded rights for dissenters, specifically those who registered their ministers and agreed to obey colonial law.  He also added many people to the rolls of Presbyterian churches in Virginia.  Davies published Miscellaneous Poems, Chiefly on Divine Subjects (1752) in two volumes.  The following year the Synod of New York (the New School faction in the North American colonies) commissioned our saint and Gilbert Tennant to travel to England to raise funds for the College of New Jersey.  Davies was so well-known that King George II invited him to preach at the Chapel Royal.  Davies, back in Virginia, helped to found the Hanover Presbytery, the first presbytery in Virginia, in late 1755.  The presbytery covered most of Virginia plus all of the Carolinas.  He led the presbytery in an evangelistic push and in numerical expansion.  After he left to become the President of the College of New Jersey in 1759, however, that growth stopped.  Davies died at Princeton, New Jersey, on February 4, 1761.  He was 36 years old.

Among the posthumous collections honoring Davies was Sermons on Important Subjects (1792)–Volumes I, II, and III.  In 1930 historian Wesley M. Gewehr described our saint’s style of preaching as

plain and pungent, peculiarly adapted to pierce the conscience and affect the heart.

–Quoted in Thompson, Presbyterians in the South, Volume One (1963), page 75

The historian continued:

His eloquence and his influence in developing a new type of oratory characterized alike by naturalness, warmth and directness of expression, and great dignity of style are too well-known to need further comment here.

–Quoted in Thompson, Presbyterians in the South, Volume One (1963), page 75

Davies filled his life with activities that glorified God and created long-lasting legacies that have continued to enrich the lives of many people, even to today.

Not all of us can leave such legacies, but we can glorify God via our lives.  We must also know that we will influence many people directly.  They will, in turn, influence others, who will influence still others, et cetera.  Thus we will influence many people indirectly.  Will we do so more for the good or for the bad?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 4, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JOHN OF DAMASCUS AND COSMAS OF MAIUMA, THEOLOGIANS AND HYMNODISTS

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN CALABRIA, FOUNDER OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE POOR SERVANTS AND THE POOR WOMEN SERVANTS OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH MOHR, AUSTRIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF THOMAS COTTERILL, ENGLISH PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND LITURGIST

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

O God, you have brought us near to an innumerable company of angels,

and to the spirits of just men made perfect:

Grant us during our earthly pilgrimage to become partakers of their joy;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns

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

Wisdom 3:1-9

Psalm 34 or 34:15-22

Philippians 4:4-9

Luke 6:17-23

–Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 725

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Feast of Bernard Barton (February 19)   Leave a comment

Flag of England

Above:  Flag of England

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

BERNARD BARTON (JANUARY 31, 1784-FEBRUARY 19, 1849)

English Quaker Poet and Hymn Writer

Bernard Barton, born into a Quaker home, attended Ipswich Quaker School.  As a young man, he apprenticed to a Halstead, Essex, shopkeeper from 1796 to 1806 then entered into the corn-and-coal business at Woodbridge, Suffolk, with a brother.  Barton married Lucy Jesup in 1807 yet lost her to death during childbirth the next year.  The widower worked briefly as a tutor at Liverpool before returning to Woodbridge, where, for four decades, he worked at a bank.

Barton was a published poet with a day job.  Thus he did not have to rely on his writing to support himself.  He also befriended Lord Byron and Sir Walter Scott, major literary figures.  And Barton’s son-in-law, husband of his daughter Lucy, was Edward FitzGerald, translator of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.  During his lifetime Barton published nine books, including Devotional Verses (1826).  A posthumously published memoir completed the list of volumes.

Barton had a good reputation.  People knew him to be punctual, methodical, gentle, and good-natured.  And, of course, they knew about the devotional poems he had published.

Among Barton’s poems which have become hymns are “Walk in Light! So Shalt Thou Know” (based on 1 John 1:7) and “Lamp of our Feet.”

Lamp of our feet, whereby we trace

Our path when  wont to stray;

Stream from the fount of heavenly grace,

Brook by the traveler’s way;

Bread of our souls, whereon we feed,

True manna from on high;

Our guide and chart, wherein we read

Of realms beyond the sky;

Word of the everliving God,

Will of His glorious Son;

Without thee how could earth be trod,

Or heaven itself be won?

Lord, grant us all aright to learn

The wisdom it imparts;

And to its heavenly teaching turn

With simple, childlike hearts.

1 John 1:7, as Barton knew it, read:

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

Authorized Version

Barton’s hymn based on that verse follows:

Walk in the light! so shalt thou know

That fellowship of love

His Spirit only can bestow,

Who reigns in light above.

Walk in the light! and thou shalt find

Thy heart made truly his

Who dwells in cloudless light enshrined,

In whom no darkness is.

Walk in the light! and thou shalt own

Thy darkness pass’d away,

Because that light hath on thee shone

In which is perfect day.

Walk in the light! thy path shall be

A path, though thorny bright;

For God, by grace, shall dwell in thee,

And God himself is light.

Vocation can lead to a career in a field for which one  might become well-known or respected.  Or vocation can manifest itself in a hobby for which one might become well-known or respected.  Or vocation might lead to both.  Barton is here, on my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, because of his poetry, not his profession at a bank–honorable work, to be sure.  But his legacy of writing survives to today.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 16, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF GUSTAV AULEN, SWEDISH LUTHERAN THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT ADELAIDE, HOLY ROMAN EMPRESS

THE FEAST OF MARIANNE WILLIAMS, ANGLICAN MISSIONARY

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

We bless your name for inspiring Bernard Barton

and all those who with words and image 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

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Revised on December 2, 2016

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Feast of Sts. Nerses I the Great and Mesrop (February 19)   1 comment

Above:  Logo of the Armenian Apostolic Church

SAINT NERSES I THE GREAT (DIED CIRCA 373)

Catholicos of the Armenian Apostolic Church

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

SAINT MESROP (DIED 441)

Armenian Priest, Scholar, and Linguist

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

With this post I add two more Armenian saints to my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.

St. Nerses I the Great (died circa 373), of royal ancestry, was related to St. Gregory the Illuminator and father of St. Isaac the Great.  St. Nerses entered the world at Caesarea, Cappadocia, in 333 or 337.  He grew up and married a princess, who predeceased him.  Then the saint became a priest.  Made Catholicos (archbishop) against his will in 353, St. Nerses founded hospitals and encouraged monasticism.

But not all was well.  St. Nerses had condemned Armenian King Arshak II (reigned 350-367) for murdering the Queen.  So the monarch banished the Catholicos, who returned after Arshak died.  The new king was Pap (reigned 370-374), whom the Catholicos condemned for what sources I have consulted describe vaguely as a wicked lifestyle.  Pap was certainly a bad character, for he pretended to repent and to reconcile with St. Nerses, whom he poisoned at a banquet.

St. Mesrop (died 441) was a government official who became a hermit then a disciple of St. Nerses I the Great, who ordained him to the priesthood.  St. Mesrop studied Greek, Syraic, and Persian.  He also worked with St. Isaac the Great  as a missionary and proved instrumental in creating the Armenian alphabet.  St. Mesrop also translated the New Testament and Proverbs into Armenian.  “But wait,” as Ron Popeil says, “there’s more.”  St. Mesrop also organized schools in Armenia and Georgia, created a Georgian alphabet, and preached well into his eighties, until his dying day, February 19, 441.  His nickname is “the Teacher.”

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 7, 2011 COMMON ERA

FEAST OF SAINT AMBROSE OF MILAN, ARCHBISHOP

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Almighty God,

we praise you for your servants Saint Nerses I the Great and Saint Mesrop,

through whom you have called the church to its tasks and renewed its life.

Raise us 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

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

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Revised on December 2, 2016

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Saints’ Days and Holy Days for February   Leave a comment

Winter, by Hendrick Avercamp

Image in the Public Domain

1 (Henry Morse, Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr)

  • Benedict Daswa, Roman Catholic Catechist and Martyr
  • Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Roman Catholic Composer and Musician
  • Sigebert III, King of Austrasia

2 (PRESENTATION OF JESUS IN THE TEMPLE)

3 (Anskar and Rimbert, Roman Catholic Archbishops of Hamburg-Bremen)

  • Alfred Delp, German Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr
  • Charles Seymour Robinson, U.S. Presbyterian Minister, Hymn Writer, and Hymnologist
  • Nicholas Kasatkin, Orthodox Archbishop of All Japan

4 (CORNELIUS THE CENTURION, WITNESS TO THE CRUCIFIXION)

5 (Martyrs of Japan, 1597-1639)

  • Avitus of Vienne, Roman Catholic Bishop
  • Jane (Joan) of Valois, Cofounder of the Sisters of the Annunciation
  • Phileas and Philoromus, Roman Catholic Martyrs

6 (Marcus Aurelius Clemens Prudentius, Poet and Hymn Writer)

  • Mateo Correa-Magallanes and Miguel Agustin Pro, Mexican Roman Catholic Priests and Martyrs
  • Vedast (Vaast), Roman Catholic Bishop of Arras and Cambrai
  • William Boyce and John Alcock, Anglican Composers

7 (Helder Camara, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Olinda and Recife)

  • Adalbert Nierychlewski, Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr
  • Mitchell J. Dahood, Roman Catholic Priest and Biblical Scholar
  • Moses, Apostle to the Saracens

8 (Josephine Bakhita, Roman Catholic Nun)

  • Jerome Emiliani, Founder of the Company of the Servants of the Poor
  • John of Matha and Felix of Valois, Founders of the Order of the Most Holy Trinity
  • Josephina Gabriella Bonino, Foundress of the Sisters of the Holy Family

9 (Benjamin Schmolck, German Lutheran Pastor and Hymn Writer)

  • Adelaide Anne Procter, English Poet and Feminist
  • Alto of Altomunster, Roman Catholic Hermit
  • Porfirio, Martyr

10 (Scholastica, Abbess of Plombariola; and her twin brother, Benedict of Nursia, Abbot of Monte Cassino and Father of Western Monasticism)

  • Benedict of Aniane, Restorer of Western Monasticism; and Ardo of Aniane, Roman Catholic Abbot
  • Henry Williams Baker, Anglican Priest
  • Philip Armes, Anglican Church Organist and Composer

11 (ONESIMUS, BISHOP OF BYZANTIUM)

12 (Absalom Jones, Richard Allen, and Jarena Lee, Evangelists and Social Activists)

  • Charles Freer Andrews, Anglican Priest
  • Christoph Carl Ludwig von Pfeil, German Lutheran Hymn Writer
  • Michael Weisse, German Moravian Minister and Hymn Writer and Translator; and Jan Roh, Bohemian Moravian Bishop and Hymn Writer

13 (AQUILA, PRISCILLA, AND APOLLOS, COWORKERS OF SAINT PAUL THE APOSTLE)

14 (Abraham of Carrhae, Roman Catholic Bishop)

  • Cyril and Methodius, Missionaries to the Slavs
  • Johann Michael Altenburg, German Lutheran Pastor, Composer, and Hymn Writer
  • Victor Olof Petersen, Swedish-American Lutheran Hymn Translator

15 (New Martyrs of Libya, 2015)

  • Francis Harold Rowley, Northern Baptist Minister, Humanitarian, and Hymn Writer
  • Michael Praetorious, German Lutheran Composer and Musicologist
  • Thomas Bray, Anglican Priest

16 (Philipp Melanchton, German Lutheran Theologian and Scribe of the Reformation)

  • Christian Frederick Martin, Sr., and Charles Augustus Zoebisch, German-American Instrument Maker
  • Louis (Lewis) F. Kampmann, U.S. Moravian Minister, Missionary, and Hymn Translator
  • Norbert of Xanten, Founder of the Premonstratensians; Hugh of Fosses, Second Founder of the Premonstratensians; and Evermod, Bishop of Ratzeburg

17 (August Crull, German-American Lutheran Minister, Poet, Professor, Hymnodist, and Hymn Translator)

  • Francis Serrano, Roman Catholic Priest and Missionary
  • Janani Luwum, Archbishop and Martyr
  • Marie Adolphine Dierks, Roman Catholic Nun, Missionary, and Martyr

18 (Ben Salmon, Roman Catholic Pacifist and Conscientious Objector)

  • Barbasymas, Sadoth of Seleucia, and Their Companions, Martyrs
  • Colman of Lindisfarne, Agilbert, and Wilfrid, Bishops
  • Guido di Pietro, a.k.a. Fra Angelico, Roman Catholic Monk and Artist

19 (Nerses I the Great, Catholicos of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and Mesrop, Bible Translator)

  • Bernard Barton, English Quaker Poet and Hymn Writer
  • James Drummond Burns, Scottish Presbyterian Minister, Hymn Writer, and Hymn Translator
  • Samuel Davies, American Presbyterian Minister and Hymn Writer

20 (Johann Heermann, German Lutheran Minister and Hymn Writer)

  • Henri de Lubac, Roman Catholic Priest, Cardinal, and Theologian
  • Karl Friedrich Lochner, German Lutheran Minister and Hymn Writer
  • Wulfric of Haselbury, Roman Catholic Hermit

21 (John Henry Newman, Cardinal)

  • Arnulf of Metz, Roman Catholic Bishop; and Germanus of Granfel, Roman Catholic Abbot and Martyr
  • Robert Southwell, Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr
  • Samuel Wolcott, U.S. Congregationalist Minister, Missionary, and Hymn Writer

22 (Hans Scholl, Sophie Scholl, and Christoph Probst, Anti-Nazi Martyrs at Munich, Germany)

  • Eric Liddell, Scottish Presbyterian Missionary to China
  • Margaret of Cortona, Penitent and Foundress of the Poor Ones
  • Praetextatus, Roman Catholic Bishop of Rouen

23 (Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp of Smyrna, and Irenaeus of Lyons, Bishops and Martyrs)

  • Alexander Akimetes, Roman Catholic Abbot
  • Stefan Wincenty Frelichowski, Polish Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr
  • Willigis, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Mainz; and Bernward, Roman Catholic Bishop of Hildesheim

24 (MATTHIAS THE APOSTLE, MARTYR)

25 (Gregory of Nazianzus the Elder, Nonna, and Their Children:  Gregory of Nazianzus the Younger, Caesarius of Nazianzus, and Gorgonia of Nazianzus)

  • Felix Varela, Cuban Roman Catholic Priest and Patriot
  • John Roberts, Episcopal Missionary to the Shoshone and Arapahoe
  • Theodor Fliedner, Renewer of the Female Diaconate; and Elizabeth Fedde, Norwegian Lutheran Deaconess

26 (Antonio Valdivieso, Roman Catholic Bishop of Leon and Martyr)

  • Emily Malbone Morgan, Founder of the Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross
  • Paula of St. Joseph of Calasanz, Foundress of the Daughters of Mary

27 (Nicholas Ferrar, Anglican Deacon; George Herbert, Anglican Priest and Metaphysical Poet; and All Saintly Parish Priests)

  • Anne Line and Roger Filcock, Roman Catholic Martyrs
  • Gabriel Possenti, Penitent
  • Luis de Leon, Spanish Roman Catholic Priest and Theologian

28 (Thomas Binney, English Congregationalist Minister, Liturgist, and “Archbishop of Nonconformity”)

  • Andrew Reed, English Congregationalist Minister, Humanitarian, and Hymn Writer
  • Anna Julia Haywood Cooper and Elizabeth Evelyn Wright, African-American Educators
  • Elizabeth C. Clephane, Scottish Presbyterian Philanthropist and Hymn Writer

29 (John Cassian and John Climacus, Roman Catholic Monks and Spiritual Writers)

  • Bernhardt Severin Ingemann, Danish Lutheran Author and Hymn Writer
  • Edward Hopper, U.S. Presbyterian Minister and Hymn Writer
  • Jemima Thompson Luke, English Congregationalist Hymn Writer; and James Edmeston, Anglican Hymn Writer

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

Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A   Leave a comment

Above: The Gleaners, by Jean-Francois Millet, 1857

Active Compassion

FEBRUARY 19, 2017

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18 (New Revised Standard Version):

The LORD spoke to Moses, saying:

Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them: You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.

When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien: I am the LORD your God.

You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; and you shall not lie to one another. And you shall not swear falsely by my name, profaning the name of your God: I am the LORD.

You shall not defraud your neighbor; you shall not steal; and you shall not keep for yourself the wages of a laborer until morning. You shall not revile the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind; you shall fear your God: I am the LORD.

You shall not render an unjust judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great: with justice you shall judge your neighbor. You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not profit by the blood of your neighbor: I am the LORD.

You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin; you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

Psalm 119:33-40 (New Revised Standard Version):

Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes,

and I will observe it to the end.

Give me understanding, that I may keep your law

and observe it with my whole heart.

Lead me in the path of your commandments,

for I delight in it.

Turn my heart to your decrees,

and not to selfish gain.

Turn my eyes from looking at vanities;

give me life in your ways.

Confirm to your servant your promise,

which is for those who fear you.

Turn away the disgrace that I dread,

for your ordinances are good.

See, I have longed for your precepts;

in your righteousness give me life.

1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23 (New Revised Standard Version):

According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it. Each builder must choose with care how to build on it. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ.

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

Do not deceive yourselves. If you think that you are wise in this age, you should become fools so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written,

He catches the wise in their craftiness,

and again,

The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise,

that they are futile.

So let no one boast about human leaders. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future– all belong to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.

Matthew 6:24-34 (New Revised Standard Version):

Jesus said,

You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.

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.

The Collect:

O Lord, you have taught us that without love whatever we do is worth nothing: Send your Holy Spirit and pour into our hearts your greatest gift, which is love, the true bond of peace and of all virtue, without which whoever lives is accounted dead before you. Grant this for the sake of your only Son Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Book of Leviticus is really quite interesting in places.  High-minded, laudatory-sounding commandments rub shoulders with others that seem scary or trivial.  So, Leviticus 19:3-8 contains the commandments to honor one ‘s parents (a good thing to do), reject idols (also a good thing to do), and to make peace offerings to God just so, or else be cut off from the community (scary).  Then 19:19 mentions kosher clothing, and 19:20 requires the sacrificial offering of a ram for forgiveness of the sin of having sex with a slave girl whose freedom has been purchased yet who is promised to another man.  I could continue with this list, but that exercise would constitute overkill, and the book is in print.

One can become lost in such details in Leviticus, but that is an error.  The selected commandments for reading on this Sunday go hand-in-hand with other assigned lessons.  These commandments from God require active compassion toward others.  Some of the literal details do not apply to how many people live in 2010 or 2011, but the spirit of the law is timeless.  And there is a time-honored religious practice of seeking new applications of the spirit of the law.

The word “perfect” from Matthew 5:48 requires some explanation.  The word choice makes sense when one applies it to God, but no sense with regard to fallible human beings.  Commentaries tell me that “honest” is a better choice with regard to people:  “Be honest, just as God is perfect.”  The parallel reading in Luke says “merciful,” which applies here, too.  And these options echo nicely with Leviticus and its command to be holy, as God is holy.

Holiness is concrete, not abstract.  And it entails acts of mercy and compassion toward others–those we know and do not know, as well as our friends and our enemies.  The last part of that equation is quite difficult, possible only through grace.  But it is possible.

Thanks be to God!

KRT