Archive for the ‘January 19’ Category

Feast of Richard Rolle (January 19)   1 comment

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Above:  Richard Rolle

Image in the Public Domain

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RICHARD ROLLE (1290/1300-SEPTEMBER 29, 1349)

English Roman Catholic Spiritual Writer

Richard Rolle has at least two feast days.  The Episcopal Church celebrates his life on September 28 and adds two other saints–Walter Hilton (died circa 1396) and Margery Kempe (died circa 1440) to the mix.  I have chosen, however, to stay close to The Church of England’s practice of celebrating his life apart from those of Hilton and Kempe, and of doing so on January 20.  I booked January 20 fully, so I have moved Rolle’s feast day to January 19.

We know little about the early life of Richard Rolle.  Even the year of his birth is a matter of debate.  We do know, however, that he dropped out of Oxford at age 18 to become an ascetic and a hermit against his family’s wishes.  Rolle spent many years moving from hermitage to hermitage, converting a host of people along the way.  Finally he settled down outside the Cistercian Convent of St. Mary, Hampole, England, where he advised the nuns spiritually.  Rolle died at Hampole on September 29, 1349.

Our saint left an impressive written legacy in both English and Latin.  His Latin style was academic and his English prose style flowed nicely.  Rolle, who was steeped in the Bible, wrote commentaries on entire books of scripture (such as the Psalms and the Lamentations) and parts of other books (such as Job and the Song of Songs).  He also attracted a following of other spiritual writers, some of whose writings have proven difficult to tell apart from those of Rolle.  Tradition has falsely attributed The Pricke of Conscience to our saint, for example.  Rolle defended the contemplative life against critics and himself against those who accused him of promoting an overly subjective form of Christianity.  Our saint, who was well-versed in major theological works, composed both prose and poetry.  He advocated for solitude, physical self-control, and love of God.  Among his theological works were De Emendatione Vitae (The Mending of Life), Incendium Amoris (The Fire of Love)Ego Dormio, The Form of Perfect Living, and The Commandment of Love of God.

Part of the beauty of good theological writing is that, when it survives its authors, members of successive generations can benefit spiritually from it.  We who live in these times are fortunate that Rolle’s writings remain available.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 18, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT EMILY DE RODAT, FOUNDER OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE HOLY FAMILY OF VILLEFRANCHE

THE FEAST OF EDWARD BOUVERIE PUSEY, ANGLICAN PRIEST

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Gracious God, we give you thanks for the life and work of Richard Rolle,

hermit and mystic, who, passing through the cloud of unknowing, beheld the glory.

Help us, after his example, to see you more clearly and love you more dearly,

in the Name of Jesus Christ our Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit

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

Job 26:1-4

Psalm 63:1-8

Romans 11:33-12:2

Matthew 5:43-48

–Altered from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 611

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Feast of Henry Augustine Collins (January 19)   1 comment

Vatican Flag

Above:  The Flag of Vatican City

Image in the Public Domain

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HENRY AUGUSTINE COLLINS (APRIL 28, 1837-JANUARY 29, 1919)

Anglican then Roman Catholic Priest and Hymn Writer

Henry Augustine Collins, born at Barningham, Yorkshire, England, on April 28, 1837, was an author and a priest.  In 1854, the year he took Anglican Holy Orders, our saint, the author of both prose and verse, graduated from Oxford with his M.A. and edited Hymns for Missions, a volume of thirty-seven hymns, two of which (“Jesus, Meek and Lowly” and “Jesu, My Lord, My God, My All“) he had written.  Our saint, the son of the Reverend Thomas Collins, a clergyman of The Church of England, left the Church of his father and his youth for the Roman Catholic Church in November 1857.  Collins joined the Cistercian Order in 1860 and entered the Mount St. Bernard Abbey, Coalville, North Leicester, the following year.  There our saint remained until 1882, when he became the chaplain to the nuns at the Holy Cross Abbey, Stapehill, Dorcetshire.  He retired to the Mount St. Bernard Abbey in 1913.  Collins died there on January 29, 1919.  He was 81 years old.

Collins published works other than Hymns for Missions (1854).  They were:

  1. The Life of Father Gentili (1861);
  2. The Spirit and Mission of the Cistercian Order (1866); and
  3. The Divine Cloud (1871).

Unfortunately, his hymns (three of which I have added to my GATHERED PRAYERS weblog)–theologically dense texts of much grace and beauty–have fallen out of favor with many hymnal committees, which have tended to become more enamored of shallow praise choruses with few words repeated often.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 14, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE HOLY CROSS

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Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

Henry Augustine Collins and others, who have composed hymn texts.

May we, as you guide us,

find worthy hymn texts to be icons,

through which we see you.

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

Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 44:1-3a, 5-15

Psalm 147

Revelation 5:11-14

Luke 2:8-20

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 20, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS AMATOR OF AUXERRE AND GERMANUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; SAINT MAMERTINUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AND SAINT MARCIAN OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

THE FEAST OF JOHANNES BUGENHAGEN, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCELLINUS OF EMBRUN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF OLAVUS AND LAURENTIUS PETRI, RENEWERS OF THE CHURCH

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Feast of Sts. Caesarius and Caesaria of Arles (January 19)   1 comment

Above:  Gaul in 481 C.E.

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT CAESARIUS OF ARLES (468/470-August 27, 543)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Arles

His feast transferred from August 27

brother of

SAINT CAESARIA OF ARLES (DIED CIRCA 530)

Roman Catholic Abbess at Arles

Her feast transferred from January 12

In this post I combine the feasts of two saints, a brother and a sister, a bishop and an abbess.

St. Caesarius of Arles was one of the greatest bishops of his generation, along with Pope St. Gregory I “the Great” and St. Gregory of Tours.  St. Caesarius was religious even as a young man.  His parents were not devout, however.  So his decision (at age 17) to pursue monastic life did not please them.  He began his life as a monk at the monastery at Lerins, where rose to a position of being in charge of discipline at the abbey.  His rigorous standard displeased many of the other monks, a fact which St. Caesarius took so poorly that he began to starve himself.   So the abbot removed St. Caesarius from that post and sent him to Arles for medical care.  The saint had lived at Lerins for a decade, and Arles was his new home.

Restored to health, St. Caesarius became Bishop of Arles in 502, in his early thirties.  He held that post he held for four decades.  He earned a reputation for aiding the poor, ransoming prisoners, and performing many other good deeds.  The saint founded a monastery and a convent at Arles.  He also encouraged reverence for the sacraments, the frequent taking of the Eucharist, and home Bible studies.  The saint also sided with St. Augustine of Hippo with regard to the question of Semi-Pelagianism (the official Roman Catholic position about the relationship of divine grace and human free will in salvation in time), arguing against it.  Hundreds of sermons survive to this day.  Not surprisingly, they reflect the influence of St. Augustine of Hippo.  And St. Thomas Aquinas read and quoted St. Caesarius of Arles favorably.

St. Caesarius wrote the first monastic rule for women in the Western Church.  He appointed his sister, St. Caesaria, abbess  of the convent at Arles he founded in 512.  She and her sister nuns cared for the poor, the sick, and children.  St. Gregory of Tours and St. Venantius Honorius Clementius Fortunatus wrote of her favorably.

One might disagree with St. Caesarius regarding Semi-Pelagianism.  I do.  But that does not matter.  He was a good man, a devout Christian, and a great theological mind.  And he and his sister cared actively for “the least of these.”  I honor these great saints.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 28, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF KAMAHAMEHA AND EMMA, KING AND QUEEN OF HAWAII

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Lord God,

you have surrounded us with so great a cloud of witnesses.

Grant that we, encouraged by the example of your servants

Saints Caesarius and Caesaria of Arles,

may persevere in the course that is set before us and,

at the last, share in your eternal joy with all the saints in light,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Micah 6:6-8

Psalm 9:1-10

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Luke 6:20-23

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

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Revised on November 20, 2016

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Feast of Sargent Shriver and Eunice Kennedy Shriver (January 19)   Leave a comment

Above:  Sargent Shriver Holding a Peace Corps Proclamation

Image Source = Library of Congress

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ROBERT SARGENT SHRIVER, JR. (NOVEMBER 9, 1915-JANUARY 18, 2011)

U.S. Statesman and Humanitarian

husband of

EUNICE MARY KENNEDY SHRIVER (SEPTEMBER 7, 1921-AUGUST 11, 2009)

Humanitarian

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Born in Westminster, Maryland, Sargent Shriver attended Yale University from 1934 to 1938 then Yale Law School from 1938 to 1941.  He opposed U.S. entry in World War II initially yet enlisted in the Navy out of patriotism.  He served mostly in the South Pacific and earned a Purple Heart at Guadalcanal.  Shriver returned to civilian life after the War and married Eunice Kennedy, sister of Senator John F. Kennedy, in 1953.  Shriver worked on his brother-in-law’s 1960 presidential campaign.  Then he became first Director of the Peace Corps (1961-1966), architect of the Great Society (as in the Job Corps and Head Start) under President Lyndon Baines Johnson.  Shriver went on to serve as Ambassador to France (1968-1970), Democratic nominee for Vice President (1972), and a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1976.  He and his wife, Eunice, founded the Special Olympics.  President Bill Clinton awarded Shriver the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994.  This was a well-deserved honor.

Doctors diagnosed Shriver with Alzheimer’s Disease in 2003.  He died at Bethesda, Maryland on January 18, 2011, aged 95 years.

Shriver was a devout Roman Catholic.  His faith informed his views on everything from abortion (he opposed it) to anti-poverty programs (he supported them).  The simplistic labels “liberal” and “conservative” prove inadequate here, as they do much of the time.  The bottom line is this:  Sargent Shriver sought to love his neighbor as he loved himself.  He succeeded.  What else is there to say?

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Eunice Mary Kennedy learned from her mother that she should contribute to society.  Eunice, who graduated from Stanford University with a degree in sociology in 1943, served in the Special War Problems Division, U.S. Department of State, then led a juvenile delinquency project for the U.S. Department of Justice.  In 1950-1951 she worked as a social worker at the women’s penitentiary in Alderson, West Virginia.  Then she left for Chicago, where she worked at the House of the Good Shepherd and for the municipal juvenile court.

Eunice, who married Sargent Shriver in 1953, began to lead the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., Foundation, devoted to preventing mental retardation and to helping the mentally retarded, four years later.  In 1962 she and her husband started a summer camp at their home in Maryland.  The summer camp evolved into the Special Olympics six years later.  For her great humanitarian work Eunice received many honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1984.

She died at Hyannis, Massachusetts, on August 11, 2009, aged 88 years.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 28, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF KAMAHAMEHA AND EMMA, KING AND QUEEN OF HAWAII

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O God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served,

and to give his life for the life of the world.

Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom the world offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

peace to the troubled,

and rest to the weary,

through Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

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

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Revised on November 20, 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.

Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A   Leave a comment

Above:  A Map of the Known World, According to Posidonius, dated 150-130 B.C.E.

“That salvation may reach to the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6c, NRSV)

JANUARY 19, 2020

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Isaiah 49:1-7 (New Revised Standard Version):

Listen to me, O coastlands,

pay attention, you peoples from far away!

The LORD called me before I was born,

while I was still in my mother’s womb he named me.

He made my mouth like a sharp sword,

in the shadow of his hand he hid me;

he made me a polished arrow,

in his quiver he hid me away.

And he said to me,

You are my servant,

Israel, in whom I will be glorified.

But I said,

I have labored in vain,

I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity;

yet surely my cause is with the LORD,

and my reward is with my God.

And now the LORD says,

who formed me in the womb to be his servant,

to bring Jacob back to him,

and that Israel might be gathered to him,

for I am honored in the sight of the LORD,

and my God has become my strength–

he says,

It is too light a thing that you should be my servant

to raise up the tribes of Jacob

and to restore the survivors of Israel;

I will give you as a light to the nations,

that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.

Thus says the LORD,

the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One,

to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nations,

the slave of rulers.

Kings shall see and stand up,

princes, and they shall prostrate themselves,

because of the LORD, who is faithful,

the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.

Psalm 40:1-12 (New Revised Standard Version):

I waited patiently for the LORD;

he inclined his ear tome and heard my cry.

He drew me up from the desolate pit,

out of the miry bog,

and set my feet upon a rock,

making my steps secure.

He put a new song in my mouth,

a song of praise to our God.

Many will see and fear,

and put their trust in the LORD.

Happy are those who make

the LORD their trust,

who do no turn to the proud,

to those who go astray after false gods.

You have multipied, O LORD my God,

your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;

none can compare with you.

Were I to proclaim and tell of them,

they would be more than can be counted.

Sacrifice and offering you do not desire,

but you have given me an open ear.

Burnt offering and sin offering

you have not required.

Then I said,

Here I am;

in the scroll of the book it is written of me.

I delight to do your will, O my God;

your law is within my heart.

I have told the glad news of deliverance

int he great congregation;

see, I have not restrained my lips,

as you know, O LORD.

I have not hidden your saving help within my heart,

I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;

I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness

from the great congregation.

Do not, O LORD, withhold

your mercy from me;

let your steadfast love and your faithfulness

keep me safe forever.

For evils have encompassed me without number;

my iniquities have overtaken me,

until I cannot see;

they are more than the hairs of my head,

and my heart fails me.

1 Corinthians 1:1-9 (New Revised Standard Version):

Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes,

To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind– just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you– so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

John 1:29-42 (New Revised Standard Version):

John saw Jesus coming toward him and declared,

Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, “After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.” I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.

And John testified,

I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, “He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.” And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.

The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed,

Look, here is the Lamb of God!

The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them,

What are you looking for?

They said to him,

Rabbi

(which translated means Teacher),

where are you staying?

He said to them,

Come and see.

They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him,

We have found the Messiah

(which is translated Anointed). He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said,

You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas

(which is translated Peter).

The Collect:

Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory, that he may be known, worshipped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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The reading from Deutero-Isaiah is the Second Servant Song.  Here the servant is the Jewish nation, still in exile, yet about to go home, albeit as part of the Persian Empire.  The soon-to-return Jews’ mission was to be a spiritual light to the nations.  Religious history records that Jewish monotheism (practiced, not merely preached) did not flower fully until after the return from Babylonian Exile, and that this flowering did not occur immediately.  But it did happen.  Monotheism is a great advance in religious thought.  (I make this statement while taking the risk of seeming like a theological chauvinist to some, but so be it.)

Just as God delivered a seemingly insignificant population and bestowed upon them the great responsibility of being a light to the nations, Jesus recognized much potential in an impetuous fisherman we know as St. Peter, or literally “rock.”  The Bible is honest about the heroes within its pages, portraying these individuals as flawed human beings.  So it is with St. Peter, who misunderstood and misspoke often, and even denied Jesus three times shortly before our Lord’s crucifixion.  Yet St. Peter became the leader the Apostles.  Through efforts such as those of this transformed fisherman the Christian message, which began with a few people, has become the largest faith system on the planet.

I remember the pianist at a church my father pastored when I was in high school.  Angela (not her real name) was deeply insecure, partially due to guilt over an indiscretion of a few years past.  I have no doubt that God had forgiven her, but she had not forgiven herself for her own weakness.  Angela said to me one Sunday morning that she had nothing to offer.  She was wrong, of course; she had much to offer that was beautiful and necessary.  She was no more or less flawed than any of us, than St. Peter or any of the exiled Jews awaiting return to a homeland in which they had never lived.

Maybe you, O reader, are not called to be a light to the nations.  Perhaps God has called you to be a light merely to your community.  But God has given you the great responsibility of being a positive influence and a light.  Do not hide it under a bushel.

KRT

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (January 18-25)   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Barnabas Episcopal-Lutheran Worshiping Community, Jefferson City, Tennessee

(Their website is here:  http://stbarnabas.etdiocese.net/)

Let Us Emphasize Our Common Ground and Build On It

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From Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), the hymnal of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:

Isaiah 2:2-4

Psalm 122

Ephesians 4:1-6

John 17:15-23

God our Father, your Son Jesus Christ prayed that his followers might be one.  Make all Christians one with him as he is one with you, so that in peace and concord we may carry to the world the message of your love, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

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Now, for my thoughts….

We Christians have divided ourselves into competing theological and liturgical tribes since the earliest decades of the Jesus movement.  For confirmation of this, read the New Testament epistles.  Sometimes these divisions are silly or based on ego gratification.  Other times, however, the matters are weightier.  Yet the tragedy of schism remains, even after stated issues which people used to justify the schism have become moot points or ceased to points of contention.  Inertia preserves a high degree of divisiveness within Christianity.

Sometimes schisms remain insurmountable.  Yet this fact should not prevent Christians of good will from reaching across boundaries to identify and build upon common ground, to do something positive and for the glory of God together.  I do not expect the Anabaptists and Roman Catholics to reconcile, but they can cooperate.  Last Sunday afternoon I listened to a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) radio interview with a Mennonite pastor who maintains a close faith-based relationship with nearby Catholic monks, often praying with them.

And I believe that when two or more denominations cease to have good reasons to remain separate they should open negotiations to unite organically.  But when issues, such as baptismal theology, prevent a merger, the groups can still cooperate on other matters.  We Christians have more in common with each other than not.  May we build on that.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 11, 2010

THE FEAST OF ST. BARNABAS THE APOSTLE

THE FEAST OF THE REVEREND VERNON JOHNS, U.S. CIVIL RIGHTS PIONEER