Archive for the ‘November 12’ Category

Feast of John Tavener (November 12)   2 comments

Above:  Flag of England

Image in the Public Domain



English Presbyterian then Orthodox Composer


Suffering is a kind of ecstasy in a way.  Having pain all the time makes me grateful for every moment I’ve got.

–Sir John Tavener


John Tavener composed beautiful music that still enriches the lives of many people.

Tavener, born in Wembley, England, on January 28, 1944, grew up a Presbyterian and studied music from an early age.  His father was an organist at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Frognal, Hampstead.  Our saint studied music and began to compose at Highgate School, London, where he also sang in the choir at classical concerts.  Tavener became a fine pianist.  He began to study at the Royal Academy of Music in 1962.  There our saint decided to focus on composition.  Tavener also served as the organist and choirmaster at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, Kensington, from 1961 to 1975.

Tavener was a prominent composer, starting in 1968.  That year he debuted a cantata, The Whale, based on the Book of Jonah.  He composed A Celtic Requiem the following year.  Tavener, who began to teach at the Trinity College of Music, London, in 1971, composed an opera, Thérèse (1973), about St. Thérèse of Lisieux, and a chamber opera, A Gentle Spirit (1977).

Tavener was no stranger to health problems and spiritual crises.  His brief marriage to dancer Victoria Maragopoulou in 1974 haunted him.  Health problems included a stroke in 1979, Marfan Syndrome (diagnosed in 1990), and a heart attack in 2007.  Tavener was acutely aware of his mortality.  In 1977 he converted to Russian Orthodoxy, the faith he practiced for the rest of his life.

The Russian Orthodox Church and literary works were the primary influences in Tavener’s music, starting in 1977.  Major compositions included The Lamb (1982; a setting of a poem by William Blake), Ikon of Light (1984), The Protecting Veil (1989), We Shall See Him as He Is (1990), Song for Athene (1993), Eternity’s Sunrise (1997), and Prayer of the Heart (2000; for Icelandic singer Bjork).  When Tavener began to set texts from non-Christian traditions to music, many people suspected he had become an apostate.  Tavener, who remained an Orthodox Christian, was expanding his artistic range.

Tavener, knighted in 2000, died in Child Okeford, England, on November 12, 2013.  He was 69 years old.  Maryanne Schaeffer (his wife since 1991) and three children survived him.








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

We bless your name for inspiring John Tavener and all those

who with music have filled us with desire and love for you;

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

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

1 Chronicles 29:14b-19

Psalm 90:14-17

2 Corinthians 3:1-3

John 21:15-17, 24-25

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 728



Feast of Ray Palmer (November 12)   1 comment


Above:  Central Congregational Church, Bath, Maine, 1851

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = HABS ME,12-BATH,8–13


RAY PALMER (NOVEMBER 12, 1808-MARCH 29, 1887)

U.S. Congregationalist Minister and Hymn Writer


Many who sing hymns in the English-speaking world these days might recognize the name of Ray Palmer in conjunction with “My Faith Looks Up to Thee” and no other text.  He did, however, write or translate thirty-seven other texts, some of which I have excavated from hymnals in my collection and added to my GATHERED PRAYERS weblog.  I choose not to list those hymns individually, but I invite you, O reader, to follow the link in the previous sentence and read them for yourself.  Consider also, O reader, that he wrote most of his hymns in 1830, when he was twenty-one years old and having a difficult year between graduating from Yale College and returning to New Haven, Connecticut, for seminary.  “My Faith Looks Up to Thee” came from that time in his life.  Palmer refused to accept payment for his hymns or to permit changes to the texts.  Ironically, Lutheran Worship, the 1982 service book-hymnal of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, contained a badly rewritten of our saint’s most famous hymn.  “My Faith Looks Trustingly” confused congregations for twenty-four years until the Lutheran Service Book (2006) restored the original text.  As the Missouri Synod has proven, butchering old hymns in the name of modernizing them is not the sole province of well-intentioned liberals; well-intentioned conservatives intent on preserving meaning at the expense of language are just as capable of committing this offense.

Ray Palmer (1808-1887) was a son of Judge Thomas Palmer of Little Compton, Rhode Island.  Our saint left home for Boston, Massachusetts, at age thirteen, to work as a clerk in a dry goods store.  He joined the Park Street Congregational Church, whose senior minister helped Palmer enter Phillips Andover Academy.   Three years later our saint, having graduated, commenced his studies at Yale College, New Haven, Connecticut.  He supported himself financially by teaching others while attending classes at Yale.  Our saint, aged twenty-one years and having graduated from Yale, lived for a year in New York City, where he taught at a girls’ school while studying theology under a pastor’s direction.  In 1831 our saint started seminary at New Haven.  He became an ordained Congregationalist minister in 1835.

Palmer’s ministerial career did not require him to move much.  He served two congregations as pastor, each for about fifteen years.  First, in 1835, started his time at Central Congregational Church, Bath, Maine.  Then, in 1850, he transferred to First Congregational Church, Albany, New York.  In 1865 Palmer moved to New York City to become the Corresponding Secretary of the American Congregational Union.  The retired after fourteen years in that position and moved to Newark, New Jersey, in 1879.  There our saint, active in Belleville Avenue Congregational Church, specialized in the ministry of visiting people.  He died in Newark on March 29, 1887.

A partial list of Palmer’s publications follows:

  1. Memoirs, and Select Remains of Charles Pond, Late Member of the Sophomore Class of Yale College (First Edition, 1829; Second Edition, 1831);
  2. The Spirit’s Life; A Poem (1837);
  3. The Study of History Commended to the Active Classes of Society (1838);
  4. Doctrinal Textbook (1839);
  5. Spiritual Improvement; or, Aid to Growth in Grace; A Companion for the Christian’s Closet (1839);
  6. Closet Hours; or, Aids to Spiritual Improvement and Practical Religion (1851), the reissued edition of Spiritual Improvement (1839);
  7. Christ Going Forth to Purify the World:  A Sermon Preached Before the Foreign Evangelical Society, New York, May 7, 1848 (published in 1851); and
  8. Address on the Education of Women (1852), unfortunately of its time regarding the propriety of separate spheres for men and women;
  9. Hints on the Formation of Religious Opinions; Addressed Especially to Young Men and Women of Christian Education (1860);
  10. Hymns and Sacred Pieces; with Miscellaneous Poems (1865);
  11. Remember Me; or, the Holy Communion (1865);
  12. Hymns of My Holy Hours; and Other Pieces (1868);
  13. Home; or, the Unlost Paradise (1872);
  14. Earnest Words on True Success in Life; Addressed to Young Men and Women (1873);
  15. The Poetical Works of Ray Palmer (1876); and
  16. Voices of Hope and Gladness (1881).

Palmer contributed to other volumes (excluding hymnals), including:

  1. Speeches in Behalf of the University of Albany (1852);
  2. Hymns to Our King (1872); he wrote the Note to the Publisher; and
  3. Higher Education and a Common Language (1879)

Palmer makes a fine addition to the Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.







Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

Ray Palmer 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








Feast of William Arthur Dunkerley (November 12)   3 comments

Flag of England

Above:  Flag of England

Image in the Public Domain



British Novelist, Poet, and Hymn Writer


The name of William Arthur Dunkerley might not be familiar, but his primary nom de plume, John Oxenham, and some of his writings remain famous.  Consider this text, for example, O reader:

In Christ there is no East or West,

In Him no South or North;

But one great fellowship of love

Throughout the whole wide earth.


In Him shall true hearts everywhere

Their high communion find;

His service is the golden cord

Close binding all mankind.


Join hands, then, brothers of the faith,

Whate’er your race may be.

Who serves my Father as a son

Is surely kin to me.


In Christ now meet both East and West,

In Him meet South and North;

All Christly souls are one in Him

Throughout the whole wide earth.

Our saint composed those words as part of the libretto for the Pageant of Darkness and Light, depicting successes in foreign missions, at an exhibit, The Orient in London, in 1908.

Dunkerley, the author for more than sixty books, including novels, religious non-fiction, and collections of verse, entered this world at Manchester, England, on November 22, 1852.  His father operated the family business, a firm specializing in wholesale provisions.  Our saint’s father also served as a deacon and as the Sunday School Superintendent at Charlton Road Congregational Church, Manchester.  Thus Dunkerley learned religion from an early age.

Our saint started writing and learned to love literature at a tender age.  One Sunday School teacher gave a copy to Charles Kingsley’s Westward Ho! (Volume I, 1855, and Volume II) to each student, including Dunkerley.  In Kingsley’s fiction our saint found his main nom de plume, John Oxenham.  Dunkerley, who began to write poetry at age fourteen, attended Trafford School and Victoria University, both at Manchester, before entering the family business, for which he worked from 1871 to 1882.

Dunkerley worked overseas for the family firm for nine years.  First he lived in Rennes, Brittany, France, where he purchased then shipped butter, eggs, and fruit to England.  After a few years our saint married Margery “Madgie” Anderson (died 1925), his pastor’s sister-in-law, in 1877.  The couple, which went on to have six children, relocated to the vicinity of New York City, where he opened a new office for the family firm.  That branch of the business failed, however, due to an employee’s crime of embezzlement.

Dunkerley returned to England and became involved in the press.  He opened the London branch (1882-1890) of the Detroit Free Press and helped to launch periodicals, such as The Idler and Today.  Our saint left Fleet Street in 1897 and focused on writing novels for sixteen years.  From 1913 forward he focused on religious subjects, not that they had been absent from his earlier writing.  As one clergyman wrote Dunkerley,

Forgive me if I say I feel drawn to a man who writes poems and novels that have the fresh air of God blowing all about them–a none too common quality in 20th-century literature.

–Quoted in Armin Haeussler, The Story of Our Hymns:  The Handbook to the Hymnal of the Evangelical and Reformed Church (St. Louis, MO:  Eden Publishing House, 1952), page 834

A partial list of Dunkerley’s books follows:

  1. Rising Fortunes (1899);
  2. God’s Prisoner (1899);
  3. Barbe of Grand Bayou (1903);
  4. Hearts in Exile (1904);
  5. Under the Iron Flail (1905);
  6. A Man of Sark (1907);
  7. The Long Road (1907);
  8. The Song of Hyacinth (1908);
  9. Pearl of Pearl Island (1908);
  10. The Coil of Carne (1911);
  11. Queen of the Guarded Mounts (1912);
  12. Bees in Amber (1913);
  13. Broken Shackles (1915);
  14. “All’s Well!” (1916);
  15. 1914 (1916);
  16. The King’s High Way (1916);
  17. The Vision Splendid (1917);
  18. Inasmuch:  Some Thoughts Concerning the Wreckage of the War (1918);
  19. The Fiery Cross (1918);
  20. Hearts Courageous (1918);
  21. “All Clear!”  A Book of Verse Commemorative of the Great Peace (1919);
  22. Winds of the Dawn (1919);
  23. Gentleman–the King! (1920);
  24. The Wonder of Lourdes; What It Is and What It Means (1924);
  25. Selected Poems (1925);
  26. The Hidden Years (1925);
  27. The Man Who Would Save the World (1927);
  28. God’s Candle (1929);
  29. The Pageant of the King’s Children (with his son Roderick, 1930); and
  30. Christ and the Third Wise Man (1934).

Dunkerley wrote at least nineteen hymns.  Links to three of them follow:

  1. “O God, Within Whose Sight;”
  2. “All Labor Gained New Dignity;” and
  3. “‘Mid the Traffic of All the Ways.”

Dunkerley, moved from Ealing London, to Worthing, Sussex, in 1922.  He served as mayor of Worthing, where he died on January 23, 1941.

Our saint kept his identity a secret from most of his friends.  Some people keep dark and incriminating secrets.  Dunkerley, however, kept a positive one.  He provided a fine justification for that practice with the following words from 1925:

[Christ’s] service is life’s highest joy,

It yields fair fruit a hundred fold,

Be this our prayer–“Not fame, nor gold,

But Thine employ.”

Thus I add William Arthur Dunkerley–Sunday School Teacher, hymn writer, novelist, poet, journalist, father, husband, mayor, supporter of socially progressive causes, and advocate for foreign missions–to the Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.







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

We bless your name for inspiring William Arthur Dunkerley

and all who with words have filled us with desire and love for you;

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

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

1 Chronicles 29:14b-19

Psalm 90:14-17

2 Corinthians 3:1-3

John 21:15-17, 24-25

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 728


Saints’ Days and Holy Days for November   1 comment


Image Source = Didier Descouens



3 (Richard Hooker, Anglican Priest and Theologian)

  • Daniel Payne, African Methodist Episcopal Bishop
  • John Worthington, British Moravian Minister and Composer; John Antes, U.S. Moravian Instrument Maker, Composer, and Missionary; Benjamin Henry LaTrobe, Sr., British Moravian Bishop and Hymn Writer; Christian Ignatius LaTrobe, British Moravian Composer; Peter LaTrobe, British Moravian Bishop and Composer; Johann Christopher Pyrlaeus, Moravian Missionary and Musician; and Augustus Gottlieb Spangenberg, Moravian Bishop and Hymn Writer
  • Pierre-François Néron, French Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr in Vietnam, 1860

4 (Ludolph Ernst Schlicht, Moravian Minister, Musician, and Hymn Writer; John Gambold, Sr., British Moravian Bishop, Hymn Writer, and Translator of Hymns; and John Gambold, Jr., Moravian Composer)

  • Augustus Montague Toplady, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer
  • Léon Bloy, French Roman Catholic Novelist and Social Critic; godfather of Jacques Maritain, French Roman Catholic Philosopher; husband of Raïssa Maritain, French Roman Catholic Contemplative
  • Theodore Weld, U.S. Congregationalist then Quaker Abolitionist and Educator; husband of Angelina Grimké, U.S. Presbyterian then Quaker Abolitionist, Educator, and Feminist; her sister, Sarah Grimké, U.S. Episcopalian then Quaker Abolitionist and Feminist; her nephew, Francis Grimké, African-American Presbyterian Minister and Civil Rights Activist; and his wife, Charlotte Grimké, African-American Abolitionist and Educator

5 (Arthur and Lewis Tappan, U.S. Congregationalist Businessmen and Abolitionists; colleagues and financial backers of Samuel Eli Cornish and Theodore S. Wright, African-American Ministers and Abolitionists)

  • Bernard Lichtenberg, German Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1943
  • Hryhorii Lakota, Ukrainian Greek Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1950
  • Johann Daniel Grimm, German Moravian Musician

6 (Christian Gregor, Father of Moravian Church Music)

  • Giovanni Gabrieli and Hans Leo Hassler, Composers and Organists; and Claudio Monteverdi and Heinrich Schutz, Composers and Musicians
  • Halford E. Luccock, U.S. Methodist Minister and Biblical Scholar
  • Magdeleine of Jesus, Foundress of the Little Sisters of Jesus

7 (Willibrord, Apostle to the Frisians; and Boniface of Mainz, Apostle to the Germans)

  • Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady of the United States, and Civil Rights Activist
  • John Cawood, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer
  • John Christian Frederick Heyer, Lutheran Missionary in the United States and India; Bartholomeaus Ziegenbalg, Jr., Lutheran Minister to the Tamils; and Ludwig Nommensen, Lutheran Missionary to Sumatra and Apostle to the Batak

8 (John Duns Scotus, Scottish Roman Catholic Priest and Theologian)

  • Johann von Staupitz, Martin Luther’s Spiritual Mentor
  • John Caspar Mattes, U.S. Lutheran Minister and Liturgist
  • Pambo of Nitria, Ammonius of Skete, Palladius of Galatia, Macarius of Egypt, Macarius of Alexandria, and Pishoy, Desert Fathers; Evagrius of Pontus, Monk and Scholar; Melania the Elder, Desert Mother; Rufinus of Aquileia, Monk and Theologian; Didymus the Blind, Biblical Scholar; John II, Bishop of Jerusalem; Melania the Younger, Desert Mother; and her husband, Pinian, Monk

9 (Martin Chemnitz, German Lutheran Theologian, and the “Second Martin”)

  • Johann(es) Matthaus Meyfart, German Lutheran Educator and Devotional Writer
  • Margery Kempe, English Roman Catholic Mystic and Pilgrim
  • William Croswell, Episcopal Priest and Hymn Writer

10 (Leo the Great, Bishop of Rome)

  • Elijah P. Lovejoy, U.S. Journalist, Abolitionist, Presbyterian Minister, and Martyr, 1837; his brother, Owen Lovejoy, U.S. Abolitionist, Lawmaker, and Congregationalist Minister; and William Wells Brown, African-American Abolitionist, Novelist, Historian, and Physician
  • Lott Cary, African-American Baptist Minister and Missionary to Liberia; and Melville B. Cox, U.S. Methodist Minister and Missionary to Liberia
  • Odette Prévost, French Roman Catholic Nun, and Martyr in Algeria, 1995

11 (Anne Steele, First Important English Female Hymn Writer)

  • Edwin Hatch, Anglican Priest, Scholar, and Hymn Writer
  • Martha Coffin Pelham Wright; her sister, Lucretia Coffin Mott; her husband, James Mott; his sister, Abigail Lydia Mott Moore; and her husband, Lindley Murray Moore; U.S. Quaker Abolitionists and Feminists
  • Peter Taylor Forsyth, Scottish Congregationalist Minister and Theologian

12 (Josaphat Kuntsevych, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Polotsk, and Martyr, 1623)

  • John Tavener, English Presbyterian then Orthodox Composer
  • Ray Palmer, U.S. Congregationalist Minister and Hymn Writer
  • William Arthur Dunkerley, British Novelist, Poet, and Hymn Writer

13 (Henry Martyn Dexter, U.S. Congregationalist Minister and Historian)

  • Abbo of Fleury, Roman  Catholic Abbot
  • Brice of Tours, Roman Catholic Bishop
  • Frances Xavier Cabrini, Foundress of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart

14 (Samuel Seabury, Episcopal Bishop of Connecticut and Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church)

  • Nicholas Tavelic and His Companions, Roman Catholic Martyrs, 1391
  • Peter Wolle, U.S. Moravian Bishop, Organist, and Composer; Theodore Francis Wolle, U.S. Moravian Organist and Composer; and John Frederick “J. Fred” Wolle, U.S. Moravian Organist, Composer, and Choir Director
  • William Romanis, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer

15 (John Amos Comenius, Father of Modern Education)

  • Gustaf Aulén and his protégé and colleague, Anders Nygren, Swedish Lutheran Bishops and Theologians
  • Johann Gottlob Klemm, Instrument Maker; David Tannenberg, Sr., German-American Moravian Organ Builder; Johann Philip Bachmann, German-American Moravian Instrument Maker; Joseph Ferdinand Bulitschek, Bohemian-American Organ Builder; and Tobias Friedrich, German Moravian Composer and Musician
  • Joseph Pignatelli, Restorer of the Jesuits

16 (Margaret of Scotland, Queen, Humanitarian, and Ecclesiastical Reformer)

  • Giuseppe Moscati, Italian Roman Catholic Physician
  • Ignacio Ellacuria and His Companions, Martyrs in El Salvador, November 15, 1989
  • Johannes Kepler, German Lutheran Astronomer and Mathematician

17 (Hugh of Lincoln, Roman Catholic Bishop and Abbot)

  • Henriette DeLille, Foundress of the Sisters of the Holy Family
  • Isabel Alice Hartley Crawford, Baptist Missionary to the Kiowa Nation

18 (Hilda of Whitby, Roman Catholic Abbess)

  • Alice Nevin, U.S. German Reformed Liturgist and Composer of Hymn Texts
  • Arthur Tozer Russell, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer
  • Jane Eliza(beth) Leeson, English Hymn Writer

19 (Elizabeth of Hungary, Princess of Hungary and Humanitarian)

  • Johann Christian Till, U.S. Moravian Organist, Composer, and Piano Builder; and his son, Jacob Christian Till, U.S. Moravian Piano Builder)
  • Johann Hermann Schein, German Lutheran Composer
  • Samuel John Stone, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer

20 (F. Bland Tucker, Episcopal Priest and Hymnodist; “The Dean of American Hymn Writers”)

  • Henry Francis Lyte, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer
  • Priscilla Lydia Sellon, a Restorer of Religious Life in The Church of England
  • Richard Watson Gilder, U.S. Poet, Journalist, and Social Reformer

21 (Thomas Tallis and his student and colleague, William Byrd, English Composers and Organists; and John Merbecke, English Composer, Organist, and Theologian)

  • Henry Purcell and his brother, Daniel Purcell, English Composers
  • Theodore Claudius Pease, U.S. Congregationalist Minister and Hymn Writer

22 (Robert Seagrave, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer)

  • Ditlef Georgson Ristad, Norwegian-American Lutheran Minister, Hymn Translator, Liturgist, and Educator
  • Eberhard Arnold

23 (John Kenneth Pfohl, Sr., U.S. Moravian Bishop; his wife, Harriet Elizabeth “Bessie” Whittington Pfohl, U.S. Moravian Musician; and their son, James Christian Pfohl, Sr., U.S. Moravian Musician)

  • Caspar Friedrich Nachtenhofer, German Lutheran Minister, Liturgist, and Hymn Writer
  • Clement I, Bishop of Rome
  • Columban, Roman Catholic Monk, Abbot, and Missionary

24 (John LaFarge, Jr., U.S. Roman Catholic Priest and Renewer of Society)

  • Andrew Dung-Lac and Peter Thi, Roman Catholic Priests and Martyrs in Vietnam, 1839
  • Theophane Venard, Roman Catholic Priest, Missionary, and Martyr in Vietnam, 1861
  • Vincent Liem, Roman Catholic Martyr, 1773

25 (William Hiley Bathurst, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer)

  • Isaac Watts, English Congregationalist Minister and Hymn Writer
  • James Otis Sargent Huntington, Founder of the Order of the Holy Cross
  • Petrus Nigidius, German Lutheran Educator and Composer; and Georg Nigidius, German Lutheran Composer and Hymn Writer

26 (Sojourner Truth, U.S. Abolitionist, Mystic, and Feminist)

  • H. Baxter Liebler, Episcopal Priest and Missionary to the Navajo Nation
  • John Berchmans, Roman Catholic Seminarian
  • Theodore P. Ferris, Episcopal Priest and Author

27 (James Intercisus, Roman Catholic Martyr)

  • James Mills Thoburn, Isabella Thoburn, and Clara Swain, U.S. Methodist Missionaries to India
  • William Cooke and Benjamin Webb, Anglican Priests and Translators of Hymns

28 (Stephen the Younger, Defender of Icons)

  • Albert George Butzer, Sr., U.S. Presbyterian Minister and Educator
  • Kamehameha IV and Emma Rooke, King and Queen of Hawai’i
  • Joseph and Michael Hofer, U.S. Hutterite Conscientious Objectors and Martyrs, 1918

29 (Frederick Cook Atkinson, Anglican Church Organist and Composer)

  • Jennette Threlfall, English Hymn Writer



  • Thanksgiving Day


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

Proper 27, Year A   Leave a comment

Above:  Niagara Falls

Image Source = sbittante

“But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”–Amos 5:24

The Sunday Closest to November 9

Twenty-Third Sunday After Pentecost

NOVEMBER 9, 2014

NOVEMBER 12, 2017



Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25 (New Revised Standard Version):

Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and summoned the elders, the heads, the judges, and the officers of Israel; and they presented themselves before God. And Joshua said to all the people,

Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Long ago your ancestors– Terah and his sons Abraham and Nahor– lived beyond the Euphrates and served other gods. Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the River and led him through all the land of Canaan and made his offspring many.

Now therefore revere the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River, and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. Now if you are unwilling to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.

Then the people answered,

Far be it from us that we should forsake the LORD to serve other gods; for it is the LORD our God who brought us and our ancestors up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight. He protected us along all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed; and the LORD drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the LORD, for he is our God.

But Joshua said to the people,

You cannot serve the LORD; for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins. If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you harm, and consume you, after having done you good.

And the people said to Joshua,

No, we will serve the LORD!

Then Joshua said to the people,

You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the LORD, to serve him.

And they said,

We are witnesses.

He said,

Then put away the foreign gods that are among you, and incline your hearts to the LORD, the God of Israel.

The people said to Joshua,

The LORD our God we will serve, and him we will obey.

So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and made statutes and ordinances for them at Shechem.


Psalm 78:1-7 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Hear my teaching, O my people;

incline your ears to the words of my mouth.

I will open my mouth in a parable;

I will declare the mysteries of ancient times.

That which we have heard and known,

and what our forefathers have told us,

we will not hide from their children.

4 We will recount to generations to come

the praiseworthy deeds and the power of the LORD,

and the wonderful works he has done.

5 He gave his decrees to Jacob

and established a law for Israel,

which he commanded them to teach their children;

6 That the generations to come might know,

and the children yet unborn;

so that they in their turn might tell it to their children;

7 So that they might put their trust in God,

and not forget the deeds of God,

but keep his commandments.


Wisdom of Solomon 6:12-16 (New Revised Standard Version):

Wisdom is radiant and unfading,

and she is easily discerned by those who love her,

and is found by those who seek her.

She hastens to make herself known to those who desire her.

One who rises early to seek her will have no difficulty,

for she will be found sitting at the gate.

To fix one’s thought on her is perfect understanding,

and one who is vigilant on her account will soon be free from care,

because she goes about seeking those worthy of her,

and she graciously appears to them in their paths,

and meets them in every thought.


Amos 5:18-24 (New Revised Standard Version):

Alas for you who desire the day of the LORD!

Why do you want the day of the LORD?

It is darkness, not light:

as if someone fled from a lion,

and was met by a bear;

or went into a house and rested a hand against the wall

and was bitten by a snake.

Is not the day of the LORD darkness, not light,

and gloom with no brightness in it?

I hate, I despise your festivals,

and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.

Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings,

I will not accept them;

and the offerings of well-being of your fatted animals

I will not look upon.

Take away from me the noise of your songs;

I will not listen to the melody of your harps.

But let justice roll down like waters,

and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.


Psalm 70 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  Be pleased, O God, to deliver me;

O LORD, make haste to help me.

2  Let those who seek my life be ashamed

and altogether dismayed;

let those who take pleasure in my misfortune

draw back and be disgraced.

3  Let those who say to me “Aha!” and gloat over me turn back,

because they are ashamed.

4  Let all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you;

let those who love your salvation say to for ever,

“Great is the LORD!”

5  But as for me, I am poor and needy;

come to me speedily, O God.

6  You are my helper and my deliverer;

O LORD, do not tarry.


Wisdom of Solomon 6:17-20 (New Revised Standard Version):

The beginning of wisdom is the most sincere desire for instruction,

and concern for instruction is love of her,

and love of her is the keeping of her laws,

and giving heed to her laws is assurance of of immortality,

and immortality brings one near to God;

so the desire for wisdom leads to a kingdom.


1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (New Revised Standard Version):

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died. For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.


Matthew 25:1-13 (New Revised Standard Version):

Jesus said,

Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, “Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.” Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.” But the wise replied, “No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.” And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, “Lord, lord, open to us.” But he replied, “Truly I tell you, I do not know you.” Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

The Collect:

O God, whose blessed Son came into the world that he might destroy the works of the devil and make us children of God and heirs of eternal life: Grant that, having this hope, we may purify ourselves as he is pure; that, when he comes again with power and great glory, we may be made like him in his eternal and glorious kingdom; where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Some Related Posts:

Joshua 24:

Matthew 25:

1 Thessalonians 4:



Sophia, Lady Wisdom

Image Source = Radomil


The Bible uses a variety of metaphors for God.  Most of these are masculine, but some are feminine.  God, in Deuteronomy, is the mother eagle who teaches the eaglets how to fly.  And Jesus likens himself to a mother hen when he laments over Jerusalem.  Then there is Sophia, the wisdom of God personified as a woman in Old Testament wisdom literature, from Proverbs to Sirach/Ecclesiasticus to the Wisdom of Solomon.

Deity, of course, exists beyond human concepts of sex and gender, terms I use in their sociological contexts.  Sex is the physical state, a matter of anatomy.  Gender is what that anatomy means for one.  Is there a glass ceiling?  Which professions does society consider fit and proper for one to pursue?  Does one receive equal pay for equal work?  Can one vote?  And does one carry a purse or a shoulder bag?

The authors of the Bible came from male-dominated societies, so it is not surprising that their vision of God was mainly masculine.  Had they been born into matriarchal societies, metaphors of God the Mother would seem like second nature to us.  My point is this:  Let us not become distracted by metaphors.  No, let us learn from them and focus on the divine reality behind them.

The love of wisdom, we read, leads to eternal life, or life in God.  The love of wisdom, we read, leads to the keeping of the law.  And what fulfills the law?  Love of one’s neighbors does.  See Romans 13:10 ( for details.


The (Western) Christian year always ends with Proper 29, Christ the King Sunday, in late November.  The readings for the Sundays immediately prior to Christ the King Sunday tend to take an eschatological tone, for Advent is near, with the twelve days of Christmas on its heels.

The reading from Joshua contains foreboding.  The people swear to serve and obey God, but Joshua knows better.  The prophet Amos, a few centuries later, warns of God’s judgments on their descendants.  And what have the people done?  They have practiced idolatry, economic exploitation, judicial corruption, and condoned rampant social inequality beyond that which exists in a simple meritocracy.  They have not loved their neighbors as themselves.  We read in Romans 13:10 that love of one’s neighbors fulfills the law of God.

There is hope, even in Amos.  The divine judgment has not come down yet, so there is still time to repent–to turn around, to change one’s mind.  And Paul, in 1 Thessalonians, does not look upon the return of Jesus with dread.  No, he thinks of it as an occasion to encourage people.  Those who have followed Jesus have no reason to dread the Second Coming, in Paul’ mind, for God has justified them.  And so there is no condemnation for them.  But, as the reading from Matthew cautions us, those who become lax at the wrong time will regret their inaction.

Church history contains many incidents of people predicting the Second Coming of Jesus.  He has not kept any of those dates yet.  One might think that, after a while, more people would learn not to place their trust in dates.  We–you and I–have an assignment from God.  It is to love our neighbors as ourselves and to honor the image of God in ourselves and others, whether or not they are similar to us.  How this translates into actions will vary from person to person, according to one’s time, place, gifts, abilities, and circumstances.  But, however God calls you to live this vocation, may you do so.  Then you will be like a bridesmaid with plenty of oil.



Posted May 19, 2011 by neatnik2009 in November 12, Revised Common Lectionary Year A

Tagged with

Feast of St. Josaphat (November 12)   2 comments

An Image of the Former Cathedral of St. Sophia, Polotsk, Belarus, As It Used to Appear

Image in the Public Domain



Roman Catholic Bishop of Vitebsk then Archbishop of Polotsk; Martyr, 1623

Religion, by itself, is neither inherently good nor bad; it just is.  The merits and demerits arise from how people use it.  Some approach religion and act out of  love and generosity of spirit.  Yet others are religious in a negative, hateful way.  These individuals are merely unpleasant at best and murderous at worst.  Well-intentioned people of good will can disagree on profound points without resorting to hostility and/or murder.  This attitude would have prevented an angry mob from killing St. Josaphat.

St. Josaphat Kuntsevych came from a noble family of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.  (Our story unfolds entirely within that late nation-state.)  The saint was a Uniate, an Eastern Rite Roman Catholic.  The Uniates had retained their Eastern Orthodox practices while recognizing the authority of the Bishop of Rome.  This was controversial at the time.  Indeed, it remains so.   Search the Internet for “Uniate” to find websites reflecting this controversy.

The saint, baptized John, took the name Josaphat when he entered a Uniate monastery.  He became the Abbot at Vilna in 1614.  St. Josaphat considered many monks lax in keeping their vows, and insisted therefore insisted on a rigorous monastic rule.  Some especially lax monks threatened to throw him (with the intention of drowning him) into the nearby river.

St. Josaphat became Bishop of Vitebsk (now in Belarus) in 1617.  This position made him next in line to be Archbishop of Polotsk, a post he assumed three years later.  (The Uniate cathedral at Polotsk at the time was St. Sophia.)  His competition for the archbishopric in 1620 was Meletius, who favored breaking with Rome and following Eastern Orthodoxy.  Some Latin Rite Catholics considered the saint too Eastern; some Orthodox thought him too Latin.  His appointment sparked riots and an assassination plot.

St. Josaphat, Archbishop of Polotsk, died at Vitebsk in 1623 when one person shot him and another struck him on the head with an ax.  Certainly theological and liturgical disagreements did not warrant murder.  As an Episcopalian, I am schismatic from Rome, a fact which would have disappointed St. Josaphat.  Yet he would have favored friendly persuasion to try to bring me around to his point of view.  He stood for what he believed in, and he did this in a Christian way.  Ultimately, he gave his life for it.





A Prayer from Lives of the Saints:

God, stir up in your Church the Spirit which strengthened St. Josaphat to be able to lay down his life for his sheep.  May we be strengthened by the same Spirit so that through Josaphat’s intercession we may be ready to lay down our lives for our brothers.  Amen.

Readings I Have Selected:

Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-9

Psalm 84

1 Corinthians 1:10-17

John 17:13-26