Archive for the ‘May 24’ Category

Feast of Jackson Kemper (May 24)   3 comments

Above:  Jackson Kemper, 1855

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-cwpbh-01884

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JACKSON KEMPER (DECEMBER 24, 1789-MAY 24, 1870)

Episcopal Missionary Bishop

Jackson Kemper was the first missionary bishop in The Episcopal Church.  He held various titles during his ministerial career.  Perhaps the most appropriate one was “Bishop of All Outdoors,” which he applied to himself.  Also apt was “The Bishop of the Whole Northwest,” given his importance to The Episcopal Church in the Old Northwest of the United States.

Kemper, who spent most of his life in the Midwest and the Old Northwest, came from the East.  He, born on February 24, 1789, hailed from Pleasant Valley, New York.  He studied at Columbia College, where John Henry Hobart (1775-1830), who became the Bishop of New York in 1816, became his mentor.  Kemper, who graduated in 1809, joined the ranks of Episcopal deacons two years later and became a priest in 1814.  From 1811 to 1831 he was one of the assistants serving under William White (1747-1836).  White was a major figure in The Episcopal Church.  He was an assistant priest at Christ Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1772-1779); the Rector of Christ Church, Philadelphia (1779-1836); the Chaplain of the Second Continental Congress (1777-1781); the Chaplain of the Confederation Congress (1781-1788); the Chaplain of the United States Senate (1789-1800); the Bishop of Pennsylvania (1787-1836); and the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church (1789 and 1795-1836).  Kemper was White’s agent in western Pennsylvania, traveling in the wilds on behalf of the Diocese of Pennsylvania and the new Society for the Advancement of Christianity in Pennsylvania while keeping track of Episcopal Church work on the frontier of that state.  He also traveled into western Virginia (now West Virginia) and Ohio in that capacity.  Kemper convinced the 78-year-old White to embark on a 800-mile long journey into western Pennsylvania, to pay pastoral visits in 1826.

Kemper was also a pioneer in the Sunday School movement in the United States.  In 1814 he and another assistant, James Milnor, founded a Sunday school immediately north of Philadelphia.  This was the first Sunday school in The Episcopal Church and the United States.

Kemper left the Diocese of Pennsylvania in 1831.  For four years he was the Rector of St. Paul’s Church, Norwalk, Connecticut.

On September 25, 1835, Kemper acquired another title and a different set of responsibilities when he became the Bishop of Missouri and Indiana.  He, a high churchman, became the first missionary bishop in The Episcopal Church.  In 1836, at St. Louis, Missouri, our saint founded a college for training priests.  Kemper College, as friends called it contrary to his wishes, struggled financially due to the Panic of 1837 and closed in 1845.  Despite his title, Kemper’s work extended far beyond Missouri and Indian.  In 1837 and 1838 he and Bishop James Harvey Otey of Tennessee visited Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida.

The Diocese of Georgia, organized with three parishes (Christ Church, Savannah; Christ Church, Frederica, St. Simon’s Island; and St. Paul’s, Augusta) in 1823, did not have its own bishop until 1841.  By that time the diocese had grown to six congregations.  The newer churches were Christ Church, Macon; Trinity Church, Columbus; and Grace Church, Clarkesville.  On March 25, 1838, Kemper dedicated the new edifice of Christ Church, Macon, and conducted the first confirmation service in Middle Georgia.  On June 3 of that year our saint dedicated the new building of Trinity Church, Columbus.

The territorial range of Kemper’s episcopal jurisdiction expanded and contracted over time.  After 1838, for example, our saint was also responsible for Iowa and Wisconsin, but Bishop Leonidas Polk’s new territory covered parts of the South.  Over time Kemper became responsible for Kansas, Nebraska, and Minnesota, also.  Along the way new dioceses elected their bishops.  He visited the East to recruit missionary priests and raise funds.  Two of his recruits were John Henry Hopkins, Jr., and James Lloyd Breck (1818-1876), “The Apostle of the Wilderness.”  These men were some of the founders of St. John-in-the-Wilderness Church, Waukesha, Wisconsin, in 1841, and Nashotah House, Nashotah, Wisconsin, the following year.  Kemper also founded Racine College, Racine, Wisconsin, in 1852.

Kemper’s legacy was impressive.  It included seven dioceses–Missouri (1840), Indiana (1841), Wisconsin (1847), Iowa (1853), Minnesota (1857), Kansas (1859), and Nebraska (1868).  From 1859 until his death in 1870 Kemper was simply the Bishop of Wisconsin.  His legacy also included ministry to indigenous people.  Our saint, an advocate of such work, helped to found a mission to Native Americans in Minnesota, in 1859.

Kemper, aged 80 years, died at Nashotah, Wisconsin, on May 24, 1870.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 22, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ROBERT SEAGRAVE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

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Lord God, in your providence Jackson Kemper was chosen first missionary bishop in this land,

and by his arduous labor and travel congregations were established in scattered settlements of the West:

Grant that the Church may always be faithful to its mission,

and have the vision, courage, and perseverance to make known to all people the Good News of Jesus Christ;

who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Exodus 15:22-25

Psalm 67

1 Corinthians 3:8-11

Matthew 28:16-20

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 385

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Feast of Mother Edith (May 24)   Leave a comment

Above:  Flag of New Zealand 

Image in the Public Domain

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EDITH MARY MELLISH (MARCH 10, 1861-MAY 25, 1922)

Foundress of the Community of the Sacred Name

Mother Edith comes to my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days from the calendar of saints according to The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia, which commemorates her life on May 24.

One of the best developments in the corporate lives of Anglican and Lutheran churches in the nineteenth century was the revival of the female diaconate, the order of deaconesses.  That order, merged with the previously solely male diaconate in the Anglican tradition since the late twentieth century, did much to create opportunities for women in Christian service in places from parishes to hospitals.

Edith Mary Mellish, a daughter of English banker-businessman Edward Mellish and his wife Ellen, grew up in a variety of places.  She, born in Mauritius, spent some of her early years in China before moving to England.  There she studied at a boarding school.  Edith’s mother died when she was two years old.  Edward married two more times.  Our saint’s first stepmother was Sarah Waterworth, late of the Church Missionary Society.  She took great interest in our saint’s spiritual development.  That growth led to Edith becoming a deaconess in London in 1891.

Also in 1891, Churchill Julius (1847-1938), then the Bishop of Christchurch, New Zealand (and later the Archbishop of New Zealand), wrote Frederick Temple (1821-1902), then the Bishop of London (and later the Archbishop of Canterbury), requesting a deaconess for the Diocese of Christchurch.   Temple agreed, with one condition–that he deaconess build up a community of such women in the diocese.  Certain women in the Diocese of Christchurch were already intent on forming a community of deaconesses.  Bishop Julius admitted the first deaconesses in his diocese in January 1892.  Our saint arrived in August of the following year.  The deaconesses visited prisoners and hospital patients, taught, ministered to orphans, embroidered for churches, and helped unmarried women.  Our saint, dubbed Sister Edith, called the community “The Sisters of Bethany.”  That community became “The Community of the Sacred Name” in 1911, and Sister Edith became Mother Edith.

Despite the deaconesses’ many good works, some opposition to the sisters existed.  Certain Anglicans considered them “popish,” for example.  The transition of the deaconeses’ Sisters of Bethany into a religious order, the Community of the Sacred Name, certainly seemed “popish.”  The nuns grounded their lives in prayer, meditation, and quiet retreats and quiet days.  That was “popish,” yes, but laudable.

Mother Edith, aged 61 years, died on May 25, 1922, after an extended illness.

The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia’s official biography of Mother Edith lists her “outstanding characteristics” as

compassion, humility, fearlessness, and a loving concern for all.

Those are virtues all of us should nurture in ourselves and encourage in others, n’est-ce pas?

The Community of the Sacred Name still exists.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 22, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ROBERT SEAGRAVE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

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Everliving God, we thank you for Mother Edith and the community she founded;

give us grace to love you above all things and each other in you,

that we may care for those in need and faithfully sing your praise;

this we ask in the sacred name of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

or 

Jesus, you promise that when two or three of us are gathered together in your name, you will be there;

we praise you for Edith, who left behind all that she loved to found a community in your name;

you have blessed her sisters greatly, bless them now, and into the time ahead.  Amen.

1 Samuel 1:21-28

Psalm 20 or 96

Philippians 3:7-11

Mark 9:33-41

–The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia

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Feast of Nicolaus Selnecker (May 24)   1 comment

Nikolaus-Selnecker

Above:  Nicolaus Selnecker

NICOLAUS SELNECKER (DECEMBER 5, 1532-MAY 24, 1592)

German Lutheran Minister, Theologian, and Hymn Writer

There are at least two ways to become controversial:

  1. To be extreme in one’s context, and
  2. To be moderate in one’s context, thereby offending extremists.

Nicolaus Selnecker proved controversial via the second method.

Selnecker, born in Hersbruck in 1532, became the organist at Nurnberg Chapel at the tender age of twelve years.  Later positions included the following:

  • Lecturer at the University of Wittenberg;
  • Preacher at Dresden;
  • Professor of Theology at Jena; and
  • Pastor of St. Thomas Church, Leipzig.

He wrote 175 theological works (many of them controversial) and composed Latin poems and 130 German hymns.  Selnecker, who had studied under Phillip Melanchthon at Wittenberg, also cowrote the Formula of Concord (1577).

Selnecker lived during a time of extremes and mutual exclusion.  The Protestant Reformation was underway.  Lutherans, Calvinists, and Roman Catholics engaged in invective and violence against each other.  And few people stood up for the Anabaptists.  Selnecker’s relative moderation in this setting made him a figurative hot potato, hence his relatively frequent career transitions.

The Yattendon Hymnal (1899) translation of one of Selnecker’s hymns follows:

Now cheer our hearts this eventide,

Lord Jesus Christ, and with us abide;

Thou that canst never set in night,

Our heavenly Sun, our glorious Light.

—–

May we and all who bear Thy Name

By gentle love Thy Cross proclaim,

Thy gift of people on earth secure,

And for Thy truth the world endure.

May gentle love never fall out of fashion.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 30, 2013 COMMON ERA

HOLY SATURDAY

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN CLIMACUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

THE FEAST OF SAINT INNOCENT OF ALASKA, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOAN OF TOULOUSSE, CARMELITE NUN; AND SAINT SIMON STOCK, CARMELITE FRIAR

THE FEAST OF KARL RAHNER, ROMAN CATHOLIC THEOLOGIAN

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O God, by your Holy Spirit you give to some the word of wisdom,

to others the word of knowledge,

and to others the word of faith:

We praise your Name for the gifts of grace manifested in your servant Nicolaus Selnecker,

and we pray that your Church may never be destitute of such gifts;

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

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

Wisdom 7:7-14

Psalm 119:97-104

1 Corinthians 2:6-10, 13-16

John 17:18-23

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 720

Feast of the First Book of Common Prayer, 1549 (May-June)   Leave a comment

Above:  Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury

THE BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER (1549)

Effective on the Day of Pentecost, June 9, 1549, During the Reign of King Edward VI

The Episcopal Church specifies that one observes this feast properly on a weekday after the Day of Pentecost.

The 1549 Book of Common Prayer, which, along with many of its successors, is available at http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bcp/, was mainly the product of Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury and poet extraordinaire.  He translated texts from various sources, ranging from Greek liturgies to German Lutheran rites to the Roman Catholic missal and the Liturgy of the Hours.  Along the way Cranmer quoted the Bible extensively.  Thus it is a common Anglican and Episcopal joke to say that the Bible quotes the Prayer Book.

My first encounter with the Book of Common Prayer was indirect, so indirect in fact that I was not aware of it.  I grew up United Methodist in the era of the 1966 Methodist Hymnal, which is far superior to the 1989 United Methodist Hymnal.  The ritual in the 1966 Hymnal was that of its 1935 and 1905 predecessors, that is, based on the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.   So, when I saw the 1979 Prayer Book and read Holy Eucharist Rite I, I recognized it immediately, down to the Prayer of Humble Access.

Now I an Episcopalian.  As someone told me early this year, I left the church that John Wesley made and joined the church that made John Wesley.  The rhythms of the 1979 Prayer Book have sunk into my synapses and my soul.  I also use A New Zealand Prayer Book (1989), of  The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, which breaks out from parts of tradition creatively and beautifully while standing within the Prayer Book tradition.

I have become a person of the Prayer Book, thankfully.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 24, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BARTHOLOMEW, APOSTLE AND MARTYR

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Almighty and everliving God, whose servant Thomas Cranmer, with others, restored the language of the people in the prayers of your Church:  Make us always thankful for this heritage; and help us to pray in the Spirit and with the understanding, that we may worthily magnify your holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

1 Kings 8:54-61

Psalm 33:1-5, 20-21

Acts 2:38-42

John 4:21-24

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

Saints’ Days and Holy Days for May   Leave a comment

Rosa Chinensis

Image Source = Sakurai Midori

1 (PHILIP AND JAMES, APOSTLES AND MARTYRS)

2 (Alexander of Alexandria, Patriarch; and Athanasius of Alexandria, Patriarch and “Father of Orthodoxy”)

  • Charles Silvester Horne, English Congregationalist Minister and Hymn Writer
  • Julia Bulkley Cady Cory, U.S. Presbyterian Hymn Writer
  • Sigismund of Burgundy, King; Clotilda, Frankish Queen; and Clodoald, Frankish Prince and Abbot

3 (Caroline Chisholm, English Humaniarian and Social Reformer)

  • Marie-Léonie Paradis, Foundress of the Little Sisters of the Holy Family
  • Maura and Timothy of Antinoe, Martyrs, 286
  • Tomasso Acerbis, Capuchin Friar

4 (Ceferino Jimenez Malla, Spanish Romani Martyr)

  • Jean-Martin Moyë, Roman Catholic Priest, Missionary in China, and Founder of the Sisters of Divine Providence and the Christian Virgins
  • John Houghton, Robert Lawrence, Augustine Webster, Humphrey Middlemore, William Exmew, and Sebastian Newdigate, Roman Catholic Martyrs

5 (Charles William Schaeffer, U.S. Lutheran Minister, Historian, Theologian, and Liturgist)

  • Edmund Ignatius Rice, Founder of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools of Ireland and the Congregation of Presentation Brothers
  • Friedrich von Hügel, Roman Catholic Independent Scholar and Philosopher
  • Honoratus of Arles and Hilary of Arles, Roman Catholic Bishops, and Venantius of Modon and Caprasius of Lerins, Roman Catholic Hermits

6 (Anna Rosa Gattorno, Foundress of the Institute of the Daughters of Saint Anne, Mother of Mary Immaculate)

  • Tobias Clausnitzer, German Lutheran Minister and Hymn Writer
  • Willibald of Eichstatt and Lullus of Mainz, Roman Catholic Bishops; Walburga of Heidenhelm, Roman Catholic Abbess; Petronax of Monte Cassino, Winnebald of Heidenhelm, Wigbert of Fritzlar, and Sturmius of Fulda, Roman Catholic Abbots; and Sebaldus of Vincenza, Roman Catholic Hermit and Missionary
  • Clarence Dickinson, U.S. Presbyterian Organist and Composer

7 (Domitian of Huy, Roman Catholic Archbishop)

  • Harriet Starr Cannon, Foundress of the Community of Saint Mary
  • Joseph Armitage Robinson, Anglican Dean, Scholar, and Hymn Writer
  • Rosa Venerini, Foundress of the Venerini Sisters; mentor of Lucia Filippini, Foundress of the Religious Teachers Filippini

8 (Juliana of Norwich, Mystic and Spiritual Writer)

  • Acacius of Byzantium, Martyr, 303
  • Magdalena of Canossa, Foundress of the Daughters of Charity and the Sons of Charity
  • Peter of Tarentaise, Roman Catholic Archbishop

9 (Stefan Grelewski and his brother, Kazimierz Grelewski, Polish Roman Catholic Priests and Martyrs, 1941 and 1942)

  • Dietrich Buxtehude, Lutheran Organist and Composer
  • Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin, Cofounders of the Catholic Worker Movement
  • Thomas Toke Lynch, English Congregationalist Minister and Hymn Writer

10 (Enrico Rebuschini, Roman Catholic Priest and Servant of the Sick; and his mentor, Luigi Guanella, Founder of the Daughters of Saint Mary of Providence, the Servants of Charity, and the Confraternity of Saint Joseph)

  • Anna Laetitia Waring, Humanitarian and Hymn Writer; and her uncle, Samuel Miller Waring, Hymn Writer
  • Ivan Merz, Croatian Roman Catholic Intellectual
  • John Goss, Anglican Church Composer and Organist; and William Mercer, Anglican Priest and Hymn Translator

11 (Henry Knox Sherrill, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church)

  • John James Moment, U.S. Presbyterian Minister and Hymn Writer
  • Matteo Ricci, Roman Catholic Missionary
  • Matthêô Lê Van Gam, Vietnamese Roman Catholic Martyr

12 (Germanus I of Constantinople, Patriarch of Constantinople and Defender of Icons)

  • Christian Friedrich Hasse, German-British Moravian Composer and Educator
  • Gregory of Ostia, Roman Catholic Abbot, Cardinal, and Legate; and Dominic of the Causeway, Roman Catholic Hermit
  • Roger Schütz, Founder of the Taizé Community

13 (Henri Dominique Lacordaire, French Roman Catholic Priest, Dominican, and Advocate for the Separation of Church and State)

  • Frances Perkins, United States Secretary of Labor
  • Gemma of Goriano Sicoli, Italian Roman Catholic Anchoress
  • Sylvester II, Bishop of Rome

14 (Francis Makemie, Father of American Presbyterianism and Advocate for Religious Toleration)

  • Carthage the Younger, Irish Abbot-Bishop
  • Maria Dominica Mazarello, Cofounder of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians
  • Victor the Martyr and Corona of Damascus, Martyrs in Syria, 165

15 (JUNIA AND ANDRONICUS, COWORERS OF SAINT PAUL THE APOSTLE)

16 (Andrew Fournet and Elizabeth Bichier, Cofounders of the Daughters of the Cross; and Michael Garicoits, Founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Betharram)

  • John Nepomucene, Bohemian Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr
  • Martyrs of the Sudan
  • Ubaldo Baldassini, Roman Catholic Bishop of Gubbio

17 (Thomas Bradbury Chandler, Anglican Priest; his son-in-law, John Henry Hobart, Episcopal Bishop of New York; and his grandson, William Hobart Hare, Apostle to the Sioux and Episcopal Missionary Bishop of Niobrara then South Dakota)

  • Caterina Volpicelli, Foundress of the Servants of the Sacred Heart; Ludovico da Casoria, Founder of the Gray Friars of Charity and Cofounder of the Gray Sisters of Saint Elizabeth; and Giulia Salzano, Foundress of the Congregation of the Catechetical Sisters of the Sacred Heart
  • Charles Hamilton Houston and Thurgood Marshall, Attorneys and Civil Rights Activists
  • Donald Coggan, Archbishop of Canterbury

18 (Maltbie Davenport Babcock, U.S. Presbyterian Minister, Humaitarian, and Hymn Writer)

  • John I, Bishop of Rome
  • Mary McLeod Bethune, African-American Educator and Social Activist
  • Stanislaw Kubski, Polish Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr

19 (Jacques Ellul, French Reformed Theologian and Sociologist)

  • Celestine V, Bishop of Rome
  • Dunstan of Canterbury, Abbot of Glastonbury and Archbishop of Canterbury
  • Ivo of Kermartin, Roman Catholic Attorney, Priest, and Advocate for the Poor

20 (Alcuin of York, Abbot of Tours)

  • Columba of Rieti and Osanna Andreasi, Dominican Mystics
  • John Eliot, “The Apostle to the Indians”
  • Rose Hawthorne Lathrop, Foundress of the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne

21 (Christian de Chargé and His Companions, Martyrs of Tibhirine, Algeria, 1996)

  • Eugene de Mazenod, Bishop of Marseilles and Founder of the Congregation of the Missionaries, Oblates of Mary Immaculate
  • Franz Jägerstätter, Austrian Roman Catholic Conscientious Objector and Martyr, 1943
  • Joseph Addison and Alexander Pope, English Poets

22 (Frederick Hermann Knubel, President of the United Lutheran Church in America)

  • Georg Gottfried Muller, German-American Moravian Minister and Composer
  • John Forest and Thomas Abel, English Roman Catholic Priests and Martyrs, 1538 and 1540
  • Julia of Corsica, Martyr at Corsica, 620

23  (Ivo of Chartres, Roman Catholic Bishop)

24 (Nicolaus Selnecker, German Lutheran Minister, Theologian, and Hymn Writer)

  • Jackson Kemper, Episcopal Missionary Bishop
  • Edith Mary Mellish (a.k.a. Mother Edith), Foundress of the Community of the Sacred Name

25 (Bede of Jarrow, Roman Catholic Abbot and Father of English History)

  • Aldhelm of Sherborne, Poet, Literary Scholar, Abbot of Malmesbury, and Bishop of Sherborne
  • Madeleine-Sophie Barat, Foundress of the Society of the Sacred Heart; and Rose Philippine Duchesne, Roman Catholic Nun and Missionary
  • Mykola Tsehelskyi, Ukrainian Greek Catholic Priest and Martyr

26 (Augustine of Canterbury, Archbishop)

  • Lambert Péloguin of Vence, Roman Catholic Monk and Bishop
  • Philip Neri, the Apostle of Rome and the Founder of the Congregation of the Oratory
  • Quadratus the Apologist, Early Christian Apologist

27  (Paul Gerhardt, German Lutheran Minister and Hymn Writer)

  • Alfred Rooker, English Congregationalist Philanthropist and Hymn Writer; and his sister, Elizabeth Rooker Parson, English Congregationalist Hymn Writer
  • Amelia Bloomer, U.S. Suffragette
  • Lojze Grozde, Slovenian Roman Catholic Martyr

28 (John H. W. Stuckenberg, German-American Minister and Academic)

  • Bernard of Menthon, Roman Catholic Priest and Archdeacon of Aosta
  • Edwin Pond Parker, U.S. Congregationalist Minister and Hymn Writer
  • Jeremias Dencke, Silesian-American Moravian Composer and Organist; and Simon Peter and Johann Friedrich Peter, German-American Composers, Educators, Musicians, and Ministers

29 (Percy Dearmer, Anglican Canon and Translator and Author of Hymns)

  • Bona of Pisa, Roman Catholic Mystic and Pilgrim
  • Jiri Tranovsky, Luther of the Slavs and Father of Slovak Hymnody
  • Joachim Neander, German Reformed Minister and Hymn Writer

30 (Joan of Arc, Roman Catholic Visionary and Martyr)

  • Apolo Kivebulaya, Apostle to the Pygmies
  • Josephine Butler, English Feminist and Social Reformer
  • Luke Kirby, Thomas Cottam, William Filby, and Laurence Richardson, Roman Catholic Priests and Martyrs

31 (VISITATION OF MARY TO ELIZABETH)

Floating

  • Ascension
  • First Book of Common Prayer, 1549

 

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

 

Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year A   Leave a comment

Above: Praying Hands, by Albrecht Durer

The Power of Prayer

MAY 24, 2020

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Acts 1:6-14 (New Revised Standard Version):

When the apostles had come together, they asked Jesus, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away. When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.

Psalm 68:1-10, 32-35 (New Revised Standard Version):

Let God rise up, let his enemies be scattered;

let those who hate him flee before him.

As smoke is driven away, so drive them away;

as wax melts before the fire,

let the wicked perish before God.

But let the righteous be joyful;

let them exult before God;

let them be jubilant with joy.

Sing to God, sing praises to his name;

lift up a song to him who rides upon the clouds–

his name is the LORD–

be exultant before him.

Father of orphans and protector of widows

is God in his holy habitation.

God gives the desolate a home to live in;

he leads out the prisoners to prosperity,

but the rebellious live in a parched land.

O God, when you went out before your people,

when you marched through the wilderness,

the earth quaked, the heavens poured down rain

at the presence of God, the God of Sinai,

at the presence of God, the God of Israel.

Rain in abundance, O God, you showered  abroad;

you restored your heritage when it languished;

your flock found a dwelling in it;

in your goodness, O God, you provided for the needy.

Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth;

sing praises to the Lord.

O rider in the heavens the ancient heavens;

listen, he sends out his voice, his mighty voice.

Ascribe power to God,

whose majesty is over Israel;

and whose power is in the skies.

Awesome is God in his sanctuary,

the God of Israel;

he gives power and strength to his people.

Blessed by God!

1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11 (New Revised Standard Version):

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you.

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.

John 17:1-11 (New Revised Standard Version):

Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.

“I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. ”

The Collect:

O God, the King of glory, you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven: Do not leave us comfortless, but send us your Holy Spirit to strengthen us, and exalt us to that place where our Savior Christ has gone before; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

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First a definition of prayer is appropriate.  The best and most succinct definition comes from the catechism in the Book of Common Prayer (1979).  Prayer, it says, “is responding to God, by thought and by deeds, with or without words.”  Furthermore, Christian prayer is “response to God the Father, through Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit.”

A few thoughts about prayer, mostly in relation to the assigned lections, come to mind.

  1. Primary among these is that a number of Biblical readings indicate that God listens to prayers, sometimes reversing a decision.  Hence we are not mere peons in the eyes of God.
  2. Then I suggest that implicit in the lection from Luke is an assumption that one is in tune with God, hence the statements about God answering our prayers in the affirmative.  Sometimes the best (for us) answer to our prayers is, “No, I have a better plan for you.”
  3. Prayer has the power also to transform the one who prays.  Ponder this:  If you pray for, not pray about, someone whom you despise, that person might or might not change.  Yet your way of thinking about that individual will probably change.  You can become a better and more spiritual person.
  4. Also, silent prayer is at least as important as spoken prayer.  Much of the time it is appropriate to be quiet in the presence of God, to watch, and to listen.  This is quite transformational.
  5. Finally, there is no one method by which all people must pray.  Growing up in the Baptist Belt of the U.S. South, I became familiar with a style of prayer which entails a cadence and great deal of talking.  This type of praying has never appealed to me.  My preference turns toward a combination of corporate liturgical prayer, private liturgical prayer, informal chattiness, and periods of listening.  Furthermore, I have long been uncomfortable praying aloud in public without a Prayer Book.  Informal prayer is an inherently private matter for me; I want no eavesdroppers.   I have gleaned from conversations I have had from people the late, great, and frequently funny Molly Ivins would have described as “Shi’ite Baptists” that they think that I do not really pray because I pray differently than they do.  Actually, I know that there is a link between personality type and prayer style preference; a large body of literature exists on the subject.  In prayer one size does not fit all.

KRT