Archive for the ‘January 17’ Category

Feast of St. Antony of Egypt (January 17)   2 comments

stanthony

Above:  Icon of St. Antony

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT ANTONY OF EGYPT (251-356)

Roman Catholic Abbot and Father of Western Monasticism

Also known as St. Anthony of Egypt, St. Anthony of the Desert, St. Anthony the Great, et cetera

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Let us not look back upon the world and fancy we have given up great things.  For the whole earth is a very little thing compared with the whole of heaven.

–St. Antony, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York, NY:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), page 34

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Asceticism is a vocation from God.  It, like other divine vocations, is not universal.  Asceticism has helped many people deal effectively with their idolatry related to physical and psychological attachments and appetites.  For others, however, it has not proven proper or useful.  So be it.

Asceticism was among the vocations of St. Antony of Egypt.  He came from a wealthy Christian family at Heracleas, near Memphis, Egypt, in 251.  St. Antony’s parents died when he was 18 or 20 years old, leaving him as the heir to a fortune and as his sister’s guardian.  Eventually, in church, he heard the gospel story in which Jesus told the rich young ruler, “Go sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.”  Our saint took this message to heart and acted on it, leaving just enough to meet his needs and those of his sister.  Years later he felt guilty for doing that much, given the biblical injunction not to be anxious about tomorrow.  At the age of 35 years St. Antony sold the rest of his possessions and gave himself to God.  His sister entered a convent (and eventually became an abbess) and he went off to live in the desert–to be precise, in a series of caves, huts, and cemeteries.  Our saint, a hermit for 20 years, survived the risks of wildlife and rejected temptations, such as wine, women, food, and indolence.  He remained healthy, living to the ripe old age of 105 years.

St. Antony ceased to be a hermit and became an abbot.  Not only did monks gather around him, but pilgrims came to him for spiritual guidance.  At Mount Kolzim, near the northwestern corner of the Red Sea, our saint was a magnet for those seeking to be near a holy man.  St. Antony, who encouraged Christians suffering under the persecution of Maximinus II Daia (reigned 305-313), was so removed from the priorities of the world that, when he received a letter from Constantine I “the Great” (reigned 306-337), he was not impressed.  In his final years St. Antony condemned the Arian heresy.

He died at Mount Kolzim in 356.  Our saint’s biography has come to us courtesy of St. Athanasius of Alexandria (296-373), author of the Life of Antony.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 20, 2016 COMMON ERA

PROPER 29:  THE FEAST OF CHRIST THE KING

THE FEAST OF RICHARD WATSON GILDER, U.S. POET, JOURNALIST, AND SOCIAL REFORMER

THE FEAST OF HENRY FRANCIS LYTE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF PRISCILLA LYDIA SELLON, A RESTORER OF RELIGIOUS LIFE IN THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND

THE FEAST OF THEODORE CLAUDIUS PEASE, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

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O God, by your Holy Spirit you enabled your servant Antony

to withstand the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil:

Give us grace, with pure hearts and minds, to follow you, the only God;

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

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

Isaiah 61:1-3

Psalm 139:1-9 or 139:1-17

A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016)

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Saints’ Days and Holy Days for January   Leave a comment

Snow in January

Image in the Public Domain

1 (EIGHTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS:  HOLY NAME OF JESUS)

  • World Day of Peace

2 (NINTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS: Johann Konrad Wilhelm Loehe, Bavarian Lutheran Minister and Coordinator of Domestic and Foreign Missions)

  • Narcissus, Argeus, and Marcellinus of Tomi, Roman Martyrs
  • Odilo of Cluny, Roman Catholic Abbot
  • Sabine Baring-Gould, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer

3 (TENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS: William Alfred Passavant, Sr., U.S. Lutheran Minister, Humanitarian, and Evangelist)

  • Edward Caswall, Roman Catholic Priest and Hymn Writer
  • Edward Perronet, British Methodist Preacher
  • Gladys Aylward, Missionary in China and Taiwan

4 (ELEVENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS: Felix Manz, First Anabaptist Martyr)

  • Elizabeth Ann Seton, Foundress of the American Sisters of Charity
  • Gregory of Langres, Terticus of Langres, Gallus of Clermont, Gregory of Tours, Avitus I of Clermont, Magnericus of Trier, and Gaugericus, Roman Catholic Bishops
  • Johann Ludwig Freydt, German Moravian Composer and Educator

5 (TWELFTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS: John Nepomucene Neumann, Roman Catholic Bishop of Philadelphia)

  • Antonio Lotti, Roman Catholic Musician and Composer
  • Genoveva Torres Morales, Foundress of the Congregation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Holy Angels
  • Margaret Mackay, Scottish Hymn Writer

6 (EPIPHANY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST)

7 (François Fénelon, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Cambrai)

  • Aldric of Le Mans, Roman Catholic Bishop
  • Angelia of Foligno, Penitent and Humanitarian
  • Lucian of Antioch, Roman Catholic Martyr

8 (Thorfinn of Hamar, Roman Catholic Bishop)

  • Archangelo Corelli, Roman Catholic Musician and Composer
  • Harriet Bedell, Episcopal Deaconess and Missionary
  • Nicolaus Copernicus and Galileo Galilei, Scientists

9 (Pepin of Landen, Itta of Metz, Their Relations, Amand, Austregisilus, and Sulpicius II of Bourges, Faithful Christians Across Generational Lines)

  • Anthony Mary Pucci, Roman Catholic Priest
  • Julia Chester Emery, Upholder of Missions
  • Philip II of Moscow, Metropolitan of Moscow and All Russia, and Martyr

10 (Theodosius the Cenobiarch, Roman Catholic Monk)

  • Charles William Everest, Episcopal Priest and Hymn Writer
  • John the Good, Roman Catholic Bishop of Milan
  • William Gay Ballantine, U.S. Congregationalist Minister, Educator, Scholar, Poet, and Hymn Writer

11 (Mary Slessor, Scottish Presbyterian Missionary in West Africa)

  • George Fox, Founder of the Religious Society of Friends
  • Miep Gies, Righteous Gentile
  • Paulinus of Aquileia, Roman Catholic Patriarch

12 (Benedict Biscop, Roman Catholic Abbot of Wearmouth)

  • Aelred of Hexham, Roman Catholic Abbot of Rievaulx
  • Henry Alford, Dean of Canterbury
  • Samuel Preiswerk, Swiss Reformed Minister and Hymn Writer

13 (Hilary of Poitiers, Roman Catholic Bishop of Poitiers, “Athanasius of the West,” and Hymn Writer; mentor of Martin of Tours, Roman Catholic Bishop of Tours)

  • Christian Keimann, German Lutheran Hymn Writer
  • Kentigern (Mungo), Roman Catholic Bishop of Glasgow
  • Marguerite Bourgeoys, Foundress of the Sisters of Notre Dame

14 (Macrina the Elder, Her Family, and Gregory of Nanzianzus the Younger)

  • Christian Keimann, German Lutheran Hymn Writer
  • Civil Rights Martyrs and Activists
  • Kristen Kvamme, Norwegian-American Hymn Writer and Translator

15 (MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER AND MARTYR)

16 (Pachomius the Great, Founder of Christian Communal Monasticism)

  • Greville Phillimore, English Priest, Hymn Writer, and Hymn Translator
  • Richard Meux Benson, Anglican Priest and Cofounder of the Society of St. John the Evangelist; Charles Chapman Grafton, Episcopal Priest, Cofounder of the Society of St. John the Evangelist, and Bishop of Fond du Lac; and Charles Gore, Anglican Bishop of Worcester, Birmingham, and Oxford; Founder of the Community of the Resurrection; Theologian; and Advocate for Social Justice and World Peace
  • Roberto de Nobili, Roman Catholic Missionary in India

17 (Antony of Egypt, Roman Catholic Abbot and Father of Western Monasticism)

  • Berard and His Companions, Roman Catholic Martyrs in Morocco
  • Edmund Hamilton Sears, Unitarian Pastor and Hymn Writer
  • Rutherford Birchard Hayes, President of the United States of America

18-25 (WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY)

18 (CONFESSION OF ST. PETER, APOSTLE)

19 (Sargent Shriver and Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Humanitarians)

  • Caesarius of Arles, Roman Catholic Bishop, and Caesaria of Arles, Roman Catholic Abbess
  • Henry Augustine Collins, Anglican then Roman Catholic Priest and Hymn Writer
  • Richard Rolle, English Roman Catholic Spiritual Writer

20 (Fabian, Bishop of Rome and Martyr)

  • Deicola and Gall, Roman Catholic Monks, and Othmar, Roman Catholic Abbot at St. Gallen
  • Euthymius the Great and Theoctistus, Roman Catholic Abbots
  • Harriet Auber, Anglican Hymn Writer

21 (Mirocles of Milan and Epiphanius of Pavia, Roman Catholic Bishops)

  • Alban Roe and Thomas Reynolds, Roman Catholic Priests and Martyrs
  • Gaspar del Bufalo, Founder of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood
  • John Yi Yon-on, Roman Catholic Catechist and Martyr in Korea

22 (Syncletica of Alexandria, Desert Mother)

  • Adelard of Corbie, Roman Catholic Monk
  • John Julian, Anglican Priest, Hymn Writer, and Hymnologist
  • Vincent Pallotti, Founder of the Pallotines

23 (John the Almsgiver, Roman Catholic Patriarch of Alexandria)

  • Caspar Neumann, German Lutheran Minister and Hymn Writer
  • Phillips Brooks, Episcopal Bishop of Massachusetts
  • Thomas A. Dooley, Physician and Humanitarian

24 (Ordination of Florence Li-Tim-Oi, First Female Priest in the Anglican Communion)

  • Angela Merici, Founder of the Company of St. Ursula
  • Martyrs of Podlasie, 1874
  • Suranus of Sora, Roman Catholic Abbot and Martyr

25 (CONVERSION OF ST. PAUL, APOSTLE)

26 (TIMOTHY, TITUS, AND SILAS, COWORKERS OF THE APOSTLE PAUL)

27 (Allen William Chatfield, Anglican Priest, Hymn Writer, and Translator)

  • Jerome, Paula of Rome, Eustochium, Blaesilla, Marcella, and Lea of Rome
  • John Cosin, Anglican Bishop of Cosin
  • William Jones, Anglican Priest and Musician

28 (Albert the Great and his pupil, Thomas Aquinas, Roman Catholic Theologians)

  • Charles Kingsley, Anglican Priest, Novelist, and Hymn Writer
  • Joseph Barnby, Anglican Church Musician and Composer
  • Richard Frederick Littledale, Anglican Priest and Translator of Hymns

29 (LYDIA, DORCAS, AND PHOEBE, COWORKERS OF THE APOSTLE PAUL)

30 (Lesslie Newbigin, Missionary and Theologian)

  • Bathildas, Queen of France
  • Frederick Oakeley, Anglican then Roman Catholic Priest
  • Genesius I of Clermont and Praejectus of Clermont, Roman Catholic Bishops, and Amarin, Roman Catholic Abbot

31 (Charles Frederick Mackenzie, Anglican Bishop of Central Africa)

  • Henry Twells, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer
  • Mary Lundie Duncan, Scottish Presbyterian Hymn Writer
  • Menno Simons, Mennonite Leader


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

Feast of Rutherford Birchard Hayes (January 17)   Leave a comment

Above:  President Hayes

Image in the Public Domain

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RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES (OCTOBER 4, 1822-JANUARY 17, 1893)

President of the United States of America (1877-1881)

Governor of Ohio (1868-1872 and 1876-1877)

United States Representative (1865-1867)

Ecclesiastical calendars of saints are interesting documents.  I read about some people on them–whether Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, or Anglican/Episcopalian–and understand the presence of many of those people on them, yawn at some, and wonder what possessed anyone to put such a person on any calendar of saints.  (I am especially weary of any saint involved in the Crusades, which is why St. Bernard of Clairvaux and St. Louix IX of France are not present on the Ecumenical Calendar.)  But I choose whom to exclude and whom to include, and many of my choices are of people not on anyone’s calendar of saints, as far as I can tell.  So I add President Rutherford Birchard Hayes to the Ecumenical Calendar today.

Hayes never knew his father, who died before the future President’s birth.  A native of Delaware, Ohio, Hayes grew up with his mother, Sophia Birchard Hayes, and his sister, Fanny.  His uncle, Sardis Birchard, was his father figure.

Hayes attended Norfolk Seminary, a Methodist school in Ohio, from 1836 to 1838.  There he maintained a good academic and personal reputation.  After his time at Norfolk Seminary, the future President enrolled at Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio, from which he graduated four years later.  Studies at Harvard Law School followed beginning in 1843 and ending in 1845.  As a student from 1836 to 1845, Hayes kept up with his studies, enjoyed nature walks, and maintained a daily regimen of prayer and Bible reading.

Hayes practiced law from 1845 to 1858, when he won election as Cincinnati city solicitor.  Defeated for reelection to that post two years later, the future President joined the U.S. Army in 1861, rising from a Major to a Major General.  At the end of the Civil War Hayes resigned from the Army to join the House of Representatives, where he served from 1865 to 1867.  Congressman Hayes supported Radical Republican-sponsored civil rights measures and opposed President Andrew Johnson, an unrepentant racist who vetoed such measures.

Hayes served honorably in the constiutionally weak office of Governor of Ohio from 1868 to 1872 and 1876 to 1877.  Ohio was a racist state where opposition to the Fifteenth Amendment (voting rights) was strong.  But the fact that the state constiitution denied the Governor the veto power spared the good name of Rutherford Birchard Hayes when the legislature did something morally repugnant, such as deny voting rights to African Americans.

The presidential election of 1876 was nasty.  At the end of Ulysses S. Grant’s scandal-ridden presidency, the Republican Party turned to honest Rutherford Birchard Hayes to run for President.  Hayes came 20 electoral votes shy of winning the presidency before the settlement of the question of the assignment of twenty electoral votes.  The election commission gave all of these to Hayes.  The means were underhanded, but Hayes was not involved in this process.

So, on March 4, 1877, Rutherford Birchard Hayes became President and his wife, “Lemonade” Lucy Hayes, became First Lady.  (There were no alcoholic beverages at Executive Mansion functions.)  The major issue of the Hayes Administration was the end of Reconstruction, a noble and failed civil rights movement.  A political compromise required Hayes to end miliary reconstruction formally and leaving the Southern African Americans to the non-existant mercies of the state governments controlled by racist conservative whites, many of whom had been slaveholders and allies of slaveholders prior to the Thirteenth Amendment (1865).  But this was already a reality on the ground, so the transition from de facto to de jure was a mere formality.  There was nothing Hayes or anyone else could do in 1877.

As President, Hayes supported civil service reform (passed in the subsequent Chester Alan Arthur Administration), sympathized with the grievances of oppressed laborers while condemning labor riot violence, spoke out on behalf of Southern African Americans, advocated for the rights of Native Americans, and continued his regimen of prayer, Bible reading, and daily duties of his office.

Hayes retired from the presidency in 1881.  He spent his last twelve years traveling with his beloved Lucy (until her death in 1889), sitting on boards of colleges, and presiding over the Slater Education Fund (for African Americans), the National Prison Association (which advocated for prison reforms), and the Garfield Monument Association.  As head of the Slater Education Fund, Hayes helped fund a young W. E. B. DuBois, whom he admired.

A liberal by the standards of his day, Hayes tried to lift up the oppressed, downtrodden, and marginalized members of society as best he could.  Although he never joined a church, Hayes understood the Bible well and acted on it, as best he knew to do.  And, like a good tree, he bore good fruit.

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God of justice and mercy, we thank you for the life and legacy of Rutherford Birchard Hayes.  May we, like him, seek to produce fruit indicative of righteousness.  In your name we pray.  Amen.

Deuteronomy 26:1-19

Psalm 72

James 2:14-26

Matthew 7:15-23

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 20, 2010

THE FEAST OF KATHARINA VON BORA LUTHER, WIFE OF MARTIN LUTHER

THE FEAST OF PETER CANISIUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND LEADER OF THE COUNTER-REFORMATION IN GERMANY

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Revised on November 20, 2016

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Feast of St. Berard and His Companions (January 17)   Leave a comment

Above:  Order of Friars Minor

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT BERARD AND HIS COMPANIONS (DIED IN 1220)

Roman Catholic Franciscan Missionaries and Martyrs

Saint Francis of Assisi sent six friars to the Almohad Caliphate (1121-1269), which controlled southern Spain and much of the northwestern Mediterranean coast of Africa.  Their goal was to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to the people there.  The friars were Berard, Peter, Adjute, Accurs, Odo, and Vitalis.  The six men left Italy for Spain in 1219.  Along the way, Vitalis left the mission due to illness.

The Almohad Caliphate (1121-1269) was markedly fundamentalist and, of course, theocratic, as the term Caliphate implies.  The government persecuted Jews and Christians, most of whom chose to emigrate.  So the five friars who landed in Spain placed their lives in danger.  They preached in Seville, but made no converts.  They were arrested instead, and insisted that they see the Caliph, Yusuf II.  So the governor at Seville sent them to Marrakesh, Morocco, to see the Caliph.  At Marrakesh the five friars preached in the marketplace.  The Caliph had them arrested, beaten, and bribed, all in hopes of convincing them to cease preaching.  But they refused.  So, on January 16, 1220, the five friars became martyrs by beheading.

These, the first Franciscan martyrs, inspired missionary zeal among members of the Order of Friars Minor.  And the gospel of Jesus Christ, of course, does not cease because potentates order executions.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 14, 2010 COMMON ERA

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

THE FEAST OF CARL PHILIPP EMANUEL BACH, COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF ST. JOHN OF THE CROSS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MYSTIC

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Gracious God, in every age you have sent men and women who have given their lives in witness to your love and truth.  Inspire us with the memory of  Berard, Peter, Adjute, Accurs, and Odo, whose faithfulness led to the way of the cross, and give us courage to bear full witness with our lives to your Son’s victory over sin and death, for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Ezekiel 20:40-42

Psalm 5

Revelation 6:9-11

Mark 8:34-38

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 5

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Revised on November 20, 2016

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Feast of Edmund Hamilton Sears (January 17)   1 comment

Above:  Edmund Hamilton Sears

Image in the Public Domain

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EDMUND HAMILTON SEARS (APRIL 6, 1810-JANUARY 16, 1876)

U.S. Unitarian Minister and Hymn Writer

Edmund Hamilton Sears, born in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, on April 6, 1810, graduated from Harvard Divinity School in 1837 and entered the ranks of Unitarian clergymen.  He spent most of his career at Wayland, Massachusetts.  Conservative by Unitarian standards at the time (much less today), Sears affirmed the deity of Christ.  This became apparent in his most scholarly theological book, The Fourth Gospel, the Heart of Christ.

Sears wrote nearly 500 hymns.  Within my library I have found the texts of two of them, both Christmas carols.  The first comes from 1834.

1.  Calm, on the listening ear of night,

Come heaven’s melodious strains,

Where wild Judea stretches far

Her silver mantled plains.

2.  Celestial choirs, from courts above,

Shed sacred glories there;

And angels, with their sparkling lyres,

Make music on the air.

3.  The answering hills of Palestine

Send back the glad reply;

And greet, from all their holy heights,

The Dayspring from on high.

4.  O’er the blue depths of Galilee

There comes a holier calm;

And Sharon waves, in solemn praise,

Her silent groves of palm.

5.  “Glory to God!” the sounding skies

Loud with their anthems ring;

“Peace to the earth, good will to men,”

From heaven’s eternal king!

6.  Light on thy hills, Jerusalem!

The Prince of Peace is born!

And bright, on Bethlehem’s joyous plains,

Breaks the first Christmas morn.

Sears was also a pacifist, opposing the U.S.-Mexican War of 1846-1848.  (This was a good war to oppose, given that President James Knox Polk started it on a false pretense and that it was a war of conquest, not self-defense.)  The pastor’s most famous hymn, “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear,” which he wrote in 1849 and published the following year, mixes the Christmas story from Luke with a critique of that conflict:

1.  It came upon the midnight clear,

That glorious song of old,

From angels bending near the earth

To touch their harps of gold

“Peace on the earth, good will to men,

From heaven’s all gracious King.”

The world in silent stillness lay

To hear the angels sing.

2. Still through the cloven skies they come

With peaceful wings unfurled,

And still their heavenly music floats

O’er all the weary world;

Above its sad and lowly plains

They bend on hovering wing,

And ever o’er its Babel sounds

The blessed angels sing.

3.  Yet with the woes of sin and strife

The world has suffered long;

Beneath the heavenly strain have rolled

Two thousand years of wrong;

And man, at war with man, hears not

The tidings which they bring;

O hush the noise, ye men of strife,

And hear the angels sing!

4. And you, beneath life’s crushing load,

Whose forms are bending low,

Who toil along the climbing way

With painful steps and slow:

Look now, for glad and golden hours

Come swiftly on the wing;

Oh, rest beside the weary road

And hear the angels sing!

5.  For lo! The days are hast’ning on,

By prophets seen of old,

When with the ever-circling years

Shall come the time foretold,

When peace shall over all the earth

Its ancient splendors fling,

And all the world give back the song

Which now the angels sing.

I grew up singing this carol yet blissfully unaware of the wonderfully prophetic politics of the hymn.  Then again, I grew up in reactionary rural southern Georgia, U.S.A.  Pacifists and critics of U.S. wars were not (and are not) popular there.  And Unitarians are a rare and exotic species in those parts.

F.Y.I.:  The reference to midnight in the carol comes from Christian tradition, which gets that from the Wisdom of Solomon 18:15, which states that the angel of death departed to smite the Egyptian firstborn sons at midnight during the time of plagues.  Many early Christians conflated that poetic account with the Lukan narrative of Christ’s birth and a choir of angels singing to shepherds.

The Reverend Edmund Hamilton Sears died at Weston, Massachusetts, on January 16, 1876.

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God of peace, love of you pervaded the life of Edmund Hamilton Sears.  Inspired by his witness, may we work for peace and justice in our own day.  In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, fully human and fully divine.  Amen.

Isaiah 7:1-25

Psalm 110

Romans 16:25-27

Luke 2:1-20

Kenneth Randolph Taylor

May 16, 2010

The Seventh Sunday of Easter

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Revised on November 20, 2016

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