Archive for the ‘March 14’ Category

Feast of Venerable Vincenzina Cusmano and Blessed Giacomo Cusmano (March 14)   Leave a comment

Above:  Map of Italian Unification

Image in the Public Domain

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VENERABLE VINCENZINA CUSMANO (JANUARY 6, 1826-FEBRUARY 2, 1894)

Superior of the Sisters Servants of the Poor

Her feast day transferred from February 2

sister of

BLESSED GIACOMO CUSMANO (MARCH 15, 1834-MARCH 14, 1888)

Founder of the Sisters Servants of the Poor and the Missionary Servants of the Poor

His feast day = March 14

One of my purposes in expanding this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, is to emphasize relationships and influences.  Living faith is never properly a “Jesus-and-me” matter.  No, living faith is properly outward-focused, with a core of strong internal care.  One cannot give to others what one lacks.  Furthermore, all of us with faith owe that to other people, to a great extent.  We ought to strengthen each other as we walk with God.

Giacomo Cusmano (the elder) and Magdalena Patti, of Palermo, Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, were a well-to-do couple.  They had five children.  The eldest was Vincenzina (born on January 6, 1826) and the fourth was Giacomo (born on March 15, 1834).  The family dynamic encouraged piety.  Young Vincenzina wanted to become a Carmelite nun.  Those plans ended when Magdalena died of cholera.  Vincenzina, eleven years old , became the substitute mother to her siblings.  The family was financially secure, but raising five children without his wife was very difficult.

Vincenzina, although the substitute mother, still had to grow up.  She, according to convention, studied music and literature at home.  Her spiritual director was Father Domenico Turano, later the Bishop of Agrigento.

Young Giacomo’s path in life seemed set; he would help the poor.  He, as a child, eagerly answered the front door when poor people asked for food.  Our saint, as a boy, gave them food from the family pantry until someone (presumably the father) put a lock on the pantry door. Young Giacomo studied under Jesuits in Palermo from 1841 to 1851.  During this time he became interested in missionary work.  In 1850 he almost ran away, to become a missionary to the Rocky Mountains.  His brother Pietro prevented this.  Giacomo (the younger) became a physician.  He studied medicine in Palermo from 1851 to 1855.  He, as a doctor, treated those he knew could not pay him, and he did not require that they do so.  Nevertheless, Dr. Cusmano perceived a vocation to do more for the poor.

He became a priest in December 22, 1860.  Italian unification was in progress.  One of the consequences of the founding of the united Kingdom of Italy was an increasing rate of poverty in the former Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, due to the loss of patronage.  Father Cusmano, serving in Palermo, derived inspiration from a social custom in the city.  At a meal, every member of a family placed some good from his or her plate on a plate in the middle of the table.  That food was for the poor.  Father Cusmano founded a charitable endeavor, Morsel to the Poor, in 1867.  It provided relief for many impoverished people.

Father Cusmano founded orders to care for the poor.  The Sisters Servants of the Poor came into existence on May 23, 1880; Vincenzina became the first Superior.  She earned her nickname, “Mother of the Poor,” and founded Houses of Mercy in Palermo.  The Missionary Servants of the Poor, a male order, came into existence on November 21, 1887.

The siblings died a few years apart.  Giacomo died of a pleurisy in Palermo on March 14, 1888.  If he had lived one day more, he would have observed his fifty-fourth birthday.  Vincenzina, aged sixty-eight years, died in Palermo on February 2, 1894.

The Roman Catholic Church has placed both siblings on the path to potential canonization.  Pope John Paul II declared Giacomo a Venerable in 1982 then beatified him the following year.  Pope Francis declared Vincenzina a Venerable in 2017.

Members of these orders continue to serve the poor around the world in parishes, schools, orphanages, and hospitals.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 21, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MIROCLES OF MILAN AND EPIPHANIUS OF PAVIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ALBAN ROE AND THOMAS REYNOLDS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND MARTYRS, 1642

THE FEAST OF EDGAR J. GOODSPEED, U.S. BAPTIST BIBLICAL SCHOLAR AND TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN YI YON-ON, ROMAN CATHOLIC CATECHIST AND MARTYR IN KOREA, 1867

W. SIBLEY TOWNER, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

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

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 your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-14

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 37

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Feast of the Confession of St. Martha of Bethany (March 8-April 11)   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of the Raising of Lazarus

Image in the Public Domain

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A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days is one of my hobbies, not a calendar of observances with any force or a popular following.  It does, however, constitute a forum to which to propose proper additions to church calendars.

Much of the Western Church observes January 18 as the Feast of the Confession of St. Peter the Apostle, the rock upon which Christ built the Church.  (Just think, O reader; I used to be a Protestant boy!  My Catholic tendencies must be inherent.)  The celebration of that feast is appropriate.  The Church does not neglect St. Martha of Bethany, either.  In The Episcopal Church, for example, she shares a feast with her sister (St. Mary) and her brother (St. Lazarus) on July 29.

There is no Feast of the Confession of St. Martha of Bethany, corresponding to the Petrine feast, however.  That constitutes an omission.  I correct that omission somewhat here at my Ecumenical Calendar as of today.  I hereby define the Sunday immediately prior to Palm/Passion Sunday as the Feast of the Confession of St. Martha of Bethany.  The reason for the temporal definition is the chronology inside the Gospel of John.

This post rests primarily on John 11:20-27, St. Martha’s confession of faith in her friend, Jesus, as

the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.

The combination of grief, confidence, and faith is striking.  It is one with which many people identify.  It is one that has become increasingly relevant in my life during the last few months, as I have dealt with two deaths.

Faith frequently shines brightly in the spiritual darkness and exists alongside grief.  Faith enables people to cope with their grief and helps them to see the path through the darkness.  We need to grieve, but we also need to move forward.  We will not move forward alone, for God is with us.  If we are fortunate, so are other people, as well as at least one pet.

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Loving God, who became incarnate as Jesus of Nazareth

and enjoyed the friendship of Saints Mary, Martha, and Lazarus of Bethany:

We thank you for the faith of St. Martha, who understood that

you were the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who was coming into the world.

May we confess with our lips and our lives our faith in you,

the Incarnate, crucified, and resurrected Son of God, and draw others to you;

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

Jeremiah 8:18-23

Psalm 142

1 Corinthians 15:12-28

John 11:1-44

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 18, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE CONFESSION OF SAINT PETER THE APOSTLE

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Feast of Nehemiah Goreh (March 14)   Leave a comment

Above:  Nehemiah Goreh

Image in the Public Domian

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NEHEMIAH NILAKANTHA GOREH (FEBRUARY 8, 1825-OCTOBER 29, 1895)

Indian Anglican Priest and Theologian

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The Feast of Nehemiah Goreh comes to my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days via the Church of North India.

Goreh, born near Jhansi, India, on February 8, 1825, came from a Brahmin family.  From an early age he manifested philosophical and theological tendencies, becoming a pandit.  As Nilakantha Goreh he opposed Christian efforts to convert Hindus.  Then he changed his mind.

On March 14, 1848, the 23-year-old Nilakantha Goreh sneaked off to his baptism, by which he became the Christian known as Nehemiah Goreh.  This rite marked not the culmination of his spiritual journey, but just one phase of it.  During the ensuing decades are saint reported a series of conversions, as he struggled with Christology and other doctrinal matters.  Immediately Goreh’s baptism resulted in social death, as family members rejected him and his in-laws took his wife away from him.  Eventually he got her back, she also became a Christian, and they had a daughter.  When the girl was about a year old, the mother died.  Goreh sent his daughter away to grow up in church circles in England.  She returned to England as an Anglican deaconess.

Goreh’s work was that of an evangelist, traveling widely and not setting down roots.  He made two extended visits to England (joining the Society of St. John the Evangelist at Oxford during one of them).  He also worked at various places in India, frequently with the Church Missionary Society.  Our saint, who came under the influence of the Oxford Movement, became an Anglican priest in the 1860s.  He also lived as an ascetic.  Goreh converted many people–especially Brahmins–to Christianity.

Goreh died on October 29, 1895, aged 70 years.  His legacy has never ceased to exist, however.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 24, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE NATIVITY OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST

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Everlasting God, whose servant Nehemiah Goreh

carried the good news of your Son to the dark places of the world:

grant that we who commemorate his service

may know the hope of the gospel in our hearts

and manifest its light in all our ways;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Isaiah 52:7-10 or Isaiah 61:1-3a  or Jonah 3:1-5

Psalms 67 or 96:1-6 or 96:7f

Acts 16:6-10 or Romans 15:17-21 or 2 Corinthians 5:11-6:2

Matthew 9:35f or Matthew 28:16f or Luke 10:1-9

–Adapted from The Alternative Service Book 1980, The Church of England

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Feast of Fannie Lou Hamer (March 14)   2 comments

fannie-lou-hamer-1964

Above:  Fannie Lou Hamer, 1964

Image Source = Library of Congress

Photographer = Warren K. Leffler

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsc-01267

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FANNIE LOU TOWNSEND HAMER (OCTOBER 6, 1917-MARCH 14, 1977)

Prophet of Freedom

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I’m never sure anymore when I leave home whether I’ll get back or not.  Sometimes it seems like to tell the truth today is to run the risk of being killed.  But if I fall, I’ll fall five feet four inches forward in the fight for freedom.  I’m not backing off that and no one will have to cover the ground I walk as far as freedom is concerned.

–Fannie Lou Hamer, quoted by Danny Duncan Collum in Jim Wallis and Joyce Hollyday, Cloud of Witnesses (Maryknoll, NY:  Orbis Books, 2005), page 109

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Christianity is being concerned about your fellow man, not building a million-dollar church while people are starving right around the corner.  Christ was a revolutionary person, out there where it is happening.  That’s what God is all about, and that’s where I get my strength.

–Fannie Lou Hamer, 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 118

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Robert Ellsberg, author of All Saints (1997), lists Fannie Lou Hamer as the saint for March 14 and describes her as a “Prophet of Freedom.”  That is an accurate description.

Fannie Lou Townsend, born in Montgomery County, Mississippi, on October 6, 1917, was always poor.  She was the youngest of 20 children born to sharecroppers in the Mississippi Delta, the poorest region of a state (infamous for its open, institutional racism and reactionary politics) that has long been the butt of jokes about poor states.

Thank God for Mississippi!

has long been the exclamation of citizens of other impoverished states grateful that their states are Forty-Ninth or Forty-Eighth–but not Fiftieth–in the prevention of scabies or some other disease, or in certain educational attainment statistics, et cetera.  As an old joke says, we know that the inventor of the toothbrush hailed from Mississippi because, if he had come from any other state, it would be a teethbrush.

1951

Above:  Northwestern Mississippi

Scanned from Hammond’s Complete World Atlas (1951)

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Our saint, who suffered from childhood polio, had a fourth-grade education and also became a sharecropper.  In 1945 she married Perry “Pap” Hamer, a tractor driver on a nearby plantation.  The Hamers adopted two daughters, Dorothy and Virgie, and worked on plantations in Sunflower County, Mississippi.  Our saint knew both hard work and little reward for it:

Sometimes I be working in the fields and I get so tired, I say to the people picking cotton with us, “Hard as we have to work for nothing, there must be some way we can change this.

–Quoted by Danny Duncan Collum in Jim Wallis and Joyce Hollyday, Cloud of Witnesses (2005), page 103

Hamer also knew the injustice of forced sterilization.  In 1961, while she was having surgery for the removal of a tumor, the surgeon sterilized her as part of a state program targeting poor African-American women.

In August 1962, at the age of 44 years, Hamer became politically active.  She attended a voter registration rally sponsored by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).  Immediately she began to attempt to register to vote–a right the Fifteenth Amendment (1870) to the Constitution of the United States theoretically prevented anyone from denying her on the basis of her race.  She succeeded in January 1963.  By then, however, the Hamers’ landlord had evicted the family and confiscated their possessions in repayment for alleged debts.  These were acts in retaliation for her registering to vote.  Our saint became a field secretary for SNCC.  Her work was to encourage African Americans to register to vote and to communicate the plight of Southern African Americans to Northern whites.  There were consequences.  She received death threats.  The State Sovereignty Commission kept the family under surveillance.  Also, the Ku Klux Klan, the White Citizens’ Council (now the Conservative Citizens’ Council), and J. Edgar Hoover‘s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) harassed the Hamers.

In 1963, when Hamer and some other civil rights workers were returning from Charleston, South Carolina, police in Winona, Montgomery County, Mississippi, arrested them and incarcerated them for several days.  Officers presided over beatings of these activists.  Our saint suffered the effects of the beatings for the rest of her life; a blood clot in her left eye impaired her vision.  She also suffered kidney damage.  Hamer might have died shortly, for she overheard officers plotting to kill the activists and dispose of their bodies.  Fortunately, local activists and the federal Department of Justice arranged for their release.

From 1964 to 1968 Hamer was active the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), which she helped to form and in which she exercised leadership.  She sought unsuccessfully to unseat the state Democratic Party’s delegation to the Democratic National Convention in 1964.  She also ran for Congress in 1964 and 1965.  Hamer did succeed, however, in influencing the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  She also served as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1968 and opposed the Vietnam War, which she understood in the context of human rights for poor people.  In addition, she helped to organize the Poor People’s Campaign of 1968.  All of her actions stemmed from her Christian faith.

Other actions that stemmed from Hamer’s Christian faith were local in nature; she sought to improve conditions in Ruleville and Sunflower County.  Our saint helped to bring the Head Start program to the area, raised funds for building 200 low-income housing units, helped to found a day care center, and was instrumental in bringing a garment factory to town.  Our saint also organized the Freedom Farm Cooperative (ultimately 680 acres), to acquire land for agricultural workers forced off the land they had been farming due to the mechanization of agriculture.

Hamer suffered from a variety of health issues at the end of her life.  She had diabetes.  Also, the effects of juvenile polio and the beatings in Winona in 1963 remained with her.  Furthermore, she had breast cancer.  Hamer died at Mound Bayou Community Hospital, Mound Bayou, Mississippi, on March 14, 1977.  She was 59 years old.

Hamer understood herself to be engaged in a struggle against forces of spiritual darkness.  She was correct.  How else should one categorize Jim Crow laws, a state program of forced sterilization, government surveillance of peaceful activists, and official and unofficial intimidation of them?  And how else should one label consent of these foul deeds?  It has happened here.  Much has changed, but much has also remained the same.  Certain state governments have, in recent years, instituted programs to suppress minority voting.  They have been careful to avoid using openly racist language while doing so, but their actions have targeted minorities.  If Hamer were alive today, she would have much work to do and much opposition to overcome.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 20, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT FABIAN, BISHOP OF ROME AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINTS DEICOLA AND GALL, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONKS; AND OTHMAR, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AT SAINT GALLEN

THE FEAST OF SAINTS EUTHYMIUS THE GREAT AND THEOCRISTUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOTS

THE FEAST OF HARRIET AUBER, ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER

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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

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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Feast of Harriet King Osgood Munger (March 14)   1 comment

4a19643v

Above:  United Church on the Green, New Haven, Connecticut, Between 1900 and 1915

Image Published by Detroit Publishing Company

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-D4-39346

United Church is the name of the merger of North Congregational Church and Third Congregational Church in the 1800s.  Today it is a congregation of the United Church of Christ.

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HARRIET KING OSGOOD MUNGER (MARCH 14, 1857-1925)

U.S. Congregationalist Hymn Writer

Harriet King Osgood, born in Salem, Massachusetts, studied at Wellesley College yet had to leave due to ill health.  After her health improved, however, she studied art at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts School and overseas before teaching at the Burnam School for Girls, Northampton, Massachusetts, in the 1880s.  In 1889 she married the Reverend Theodore T. Munger (1830-1910), pastor of the United Church on the Green, New Haven, Connecticut, from 1885 to 1900.  Our saint, active in church life, taught the Pleasant Sunday Afternoon Class for mothers, held when they could attend.  She also contributed to the life of the city by starting the New Haven Nurses’ Association.

Theodore T. Munger retired in 1900 and remained in New Haven.  After his death in 1910 Harriet returned to Salem, Massachusetts, where she , in the words of the Handbook to the Hymnal (1935), page 412, lived

a highly useful life until her death in 1925.

That reference work indicates that, late in life, our saint mastered Braille, won national recognition for her skills therein, and, for five years, spent two or three years hours daily translating texts into that language.  The volume does not specify how late in life she did this.

Among our saint’s hymns was “O My Father, I Would Know Thee,” debuted at the United Church on the Green on October 7, 1894. One verse is especially applicable:

I would turn my highest powers

Into service sweet;

For all ministry to others

Make me meet.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 18, 2013 COMMON ERA

PROPER 15–THE THIRTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF ERDMANN NEUMEISTER, GERMAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT HELENA, MOTHER OF EMPEROR CONSTANTINE I

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM PORCHER DUBOSE, EPISCOPAL THEOLOGIAN

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Almighty God, whose prophets taught us righteousness in the care of your poor:

By the guidance of your Holy Spirit, grant that we may

do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in your sight;

through Jesus Christ, our judge and Redeemer,

who lives and reigns with you for ever.  Amen.

Isaiah 55:11-56:1

Psalm 2:1-2, 10-12

Acts 14:14-17, 21-23

Mark 4:21-29

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 736

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Revised on December 23, 2016

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Feast of Albert Lister Peace (March 14)   2 comments

Glasgow Cathedral

Above:  Glasgow Cathedral

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsc-07595

Image Source = Library of Congress

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ALBERT LISTER PEACE (JANUARY 26, 1844-MARCH 14, 1912)

Organist in England and Scotland

Albert Lister Peace, born in Yorkshire, was a musical prodigy.  He demonstrated perfect pitch at age five.  From ages nine to twenty-one Peace played the organ for his parish at Holinfirth, Yorkshire.

Peace spent much of his life in Glasgow, Scotland.  At age twenty-one he became the Organist at Trinity Congregational Church.  He also served in that capacity at the University of Glasgow, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Hillshead Parish Church, St. Andrew’s Halls, and Glasgow Cathedral over time.  The Church of Scotland had lifted its ban on organs in 1865, so Peace, with his reputation as a skilled musician and his degrees from Glasgow and Oxford, worked during a Renaissance in Scottish organ music.  In fact, he opened two-thirds of the organs built in Scotland from 1865 to 1890.

Peace returned to England in 1897, becoming the Organist at St. George’s Hall, Liverpool.  He served in that capacity until his death.

Peace’s dedication to church music and the excellence thereof found expression in the service books he edited for the Church of Scotland:

  • The Scottish Hymnal (1885)
  • Psalms and Paraphrases with Tunes (1886)
  • The Psalter with Chants (1888)
  • The Scottish Anthem Book (1891).

He also composed at least two hymn tunes, Guild and St. Margaret.  Some readers of this post might recognize St. Margaret as the tune for “O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go.”

Worship matters.  Reverent worship–not entertainment masquerading as worship–is vital.  The examples of people such as Alfred Lister Peace reinforce that principle.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 15, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., NATIONAL BAPTIST PASTOR

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Almighty God, beautiful in majesty, majestic in holiness:

You have shown us the splendor of creation in the work of your servant Albert Lister Peace.

Teach us to drive from the world all chaos and disorder,

that our eyes may behold your glory,

and that at last everyone may know the inexhaustible richness of your new creation

in Christ Jesus our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God,  now and forever.  Amen.

Isaiah 28:5-6 or Hosea 14:5-8 or 2 Chronicles 20:20-21

Psalm 96

Philippians 4:8-9 or Ephesians 5:18b-20

Matthew 13:44-52

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 61

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Revised on December 24, 2016

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Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year B   Leave a comment

Above:  Moses and the Snake

Sins and Suffering

MARCH 14, 2021

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Numbers 21:4-9 (New Revised Standard Version):

From Mount Hor the Israelites set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; but the people became impatient on the way. The people spoke against God and against Moses,

Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we detest this miserable food.

Then the LORD sent poisonous serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said,

We have sinned by speaking against the LORD and against you; pray to the LORD to take away the serpents from us.

So Moses prayed for the people. And the LORD said to Moses,

Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live.

So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live.

Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,

and his mercy endures for ever.

2  Let all those whom the LORD has redeemed proclaim

that he redeemed them from the hand of the foe.

3  He gathered them out of the lands;

from the east and from the west,

from the north and from the south.

17  Some were fools and took to rebellious ways;

they were afflicted because of their sins.

18  They abhorred all manner of food

and drew near to death’s door.

19  Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,

and he delivered them from their distress.

20  He sent forth his word and healed them

and saved them from the grave.

21  Let them give thanks to the LORD for his mercy

and the wonders he does for his children.

22  Let them offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving

and tell of his acts with shouts of joy.

Ephesians 2:1-10 (New Revised Standard Version):

You were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else. God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ– by grace you have been saved– and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God– not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.

John 3:14-21 (New Revised Standard Version):

Jesus said to Nicodemus,

Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.

The Collect:

Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year A:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/fourth-sunday-in-lent-year-a/

Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year B:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2011/07/26/fourth-sunday-in-lent-year-b/

Numbers 21:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/thirtieth-day-of-lent/

John 3:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/second-sunday-in-lent-year-a/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/tenth-day-of-easter/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/eleventh-day-of-easter/

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Sometimes there is a link between one’s sin and one’s suffering. Actions do have consequences, after all.  But, as we read in Job and the Gospels, one’s sufferings, diseases, and disabilities do not always result from one’s sins.  Reason and experience confirm this conclusion.

Some suffering results from the sins of others.  Suppose, for example, that somebody steals my car, causing me inconvenience at least and perhaps suffering.  I was just minding my business, but the other person’s greed has hurt me.  Likewise, one can come down with lung cancer because of the cigarette smoke of others.  Living well is no guarantee against all bad ends.

Then there are the cases where suffering has no apparent cause.  Why are some people born blind, for example?  Jesus faced this question.  Nobody needed to have sinned for the blindness to have resulted.  So let us refrain from assuming that a person’s suffering has resulted from something he or she has done, for we run the risk of judging others unjustly.  Our knowledge is limited, but God’s is not.  And God is also prone to forgiving generously.

KRT

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Published in a nearly identical form at LENTEN AND EASTER DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR