Archive for the ‘October 4’ Category

Feast of John Clarke (October 4)   1 comment

Above:  United Baptist Church, John Clarke Memorial, Newport, Rhode Island

Image Source = Google Earth

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JOHN CLARKE (BAPTIZED OCTOBER 8, 1609-DIED APRIL 20, 1676)

English Baptist Minister and Champion of Religious Liberty in New England

The Reverend John Clarke comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006), as well as his association with Obadiah Holmes, Sr. (1609-1682).

Many people accept a host of falsehoods about the history of the United States of America.  One of these lies is that most Puritans came to this country (when it was still a collection of British colonies) to practice religious freedom.  Shall I point to the numerous examples that prove the existence of Puritan theocracies in New England?  How about the four executed Quakers (link and link) in the Massachusetts Bay colony?  I point also to the cases of Roger Williams (1603?-1683) and Anne Hutchinson (1591-1643) and company, exiled for dissenting.  To that list I add the case of John Clarke.

Clarke arrived in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in November 1637 yet left soon thereafter.  The church in Boston was embroiled in the Antinomian Controversy.  Proponents of the Covenant of Grace argued against supporters of the Covenant of Works.  (I understand the three Calvinist covenants objectively and intellectually yet cannot muster enough theological interest to become either excited or offended by this dispute.)  The Antinomian Controversy did lead to expulsions from the colony and to voluntary relocation.  Many people in the Massachusetts Bay Colony cared deeply about this matter.

Clarke and his first wife, Elizabeth Harris Clarke, joined other dissidents (including Williams and the Hutchinsons) who had moved to Rhode Island.  He had left England to get away from religious restrictions.  Then he had found the Massachusetts Bay Colony to be a Puritan theocracy and not to his liking, either.  Rhode Island was not a theocracy, though.  The Clarkes settled at Pocasset, Aquidneck Island, in 1638.  By the end of the year, however, our saint had helped to establish a new settlement, Newport, and the First Baptist Church there.  This was the second Baptist congregation in America.

Clarke, who had legal training, too, helped to secure the charter for Rhode Island.  In 1641, he and Roger Williams traveled to England for this purpose in 1643.  Clarke remained in England for a few years, to function as colonial agent.  Our saint, back in Rhode Island, resumed his role as pastor of First Baptist Church.  In 1647, he was the main author of the colony’s new legal code.

Clarke’s life intersected with that of Obadiah Holmes in 1649.  Holmes and eight other members, excommunicated from the church in Reheboth, Massachusetts Bay Colony, had argued with the pastor over infant baptism.  The Reverend Samuel Newman was for it; Holmes and company were against it.  The excommunicated church members formed a house church, with Holmes as the pastor.  Clarke rebaptized the members of the house church in 1649.  With the local court declaring the house church illegal, the dissidents of Reheboth moved to Newport and joined First Baptist Church.

John Clarke and John Crandall (1618-1676) of First Baptist Church, Newport, visited William Witten, an old blind man, in Lynn, Massachusetts Bay Colony, in July 1651.  Obadiah traveled with Clarke and Crandall to visit Witten.  The three visitors conducted a church service.  They celebrated communion and baptized converts.  Authorities arrested the three visitors.  The court convicted and fined them:

  1. John Crandall–five pounds, or about $984.15 (2021);
  2. John Clarke–twenty pounds, or about $3,939.37 (2021); and
  3. Obadiah Holmes–thirty pounds, or about $4,270.15 (2021).

The alternative was a severe whipping.  Nevertheless, Governor John Endecott considered that punishment lax; he claimed that the three men deserved to die.

Allies offered to pay the fines of all three men.  Crandall and Clarke accepted and returned to Newport.  Our saint, however, refused.  Therefore, he endured 30 strokes on his back.  For weeks, he had to sleep on his knees and elbows.  For the rest of his life, he called his scars “the marks of the Lord Jesus.”

Clarke returned to England again in 1651, to serve as colonial agent.  He remained there until 1664.  While in England, our saint wrote against religious persecution in New England and ruffled the feathers of New England Puritan authorities.  He also secured a royal charter for Rhode Island in 1663.  That charter guaranteed freedom of religion except when a person’s actions

disturb the civil peace of our said colony.

The Clarkes–John and Elizabeth–returned to Newport, Rhode Island, in early 1664.  Our saint returned to First Baptist Church, as co-pastor, with Obadiah Holmes.  Clarke continued to be active in colonial governance.  From 1664 to 1672, not all at once, he did he following:

  1. Clarke represented Newport in the General Assembly.
  2. Clarke served as the Deputy Governor.
  3. Clarke made a digest of the laws of Rhode Island.
  4. Clarke returned to England briefly as colonial agent in 1670.

First Baptist Church, Newport, experienced one major and two minor schisms while Clarke was alive.

  1. Second Baptist Church (somewhat Arminian) formed in 1656.  This congregation reunited with First Baptist Church in 1946.  The merged congregation took the name United Baptist Church, John Clarke Memorial.
  2. A few members broke away and organized the first Seventh Day Baptist church in America in late 1671.  This congregation closed in the middle of the nineteenth century.
  3. Some excommunicated members and their extended family became Quakers in 1673.

Clarke married three times and buried two wives.  Elizabeth Harris Clarke having died, our saint married a widow, Jane Fletcher, on February 1, 1671.  The couple had a daughter (February 14, 1672-May 18, 1673).  Jane died on April 19, 1672.  Clarke’s third wife was another widow, Sarah David (d. circa 1692).

Clarke, aged 66 years, died in Newport on April 20, 1676.  His will established the oldest educational trust in what became the United States of America.  That will specified

relief of the poor or bringing up of children unto learning from time to time forever.

Clarke was a pioneer of religious freedom in what became the United States of America.  That part of his legacy has benefited more people than perhaps he could have imagined.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 22, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GENE BRITTON, EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF DONALD S. ARMENTROUT, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF HADEWIJCH OF BRABERT, ROMAN CATHOLIC MYSTIC

THE FEAST OF KATHE KOLLWITZ, GERMAN LUTHERAN ARTIST AND PACIFIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT VITALIS OF GAZA, MONK, HERMIT, AND MARTYR, CIRCA 625

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O God, our light and salvation, who makes all free to worship you:

May we ever strive to be faithful to your call, following the example of John Clarke,

that we may faithfully set our hands to the Gospel plow,

confident in the truth proclaimed by your Son Jesus Christ;

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

–Adapted from A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016)

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O God our light and salvation, we thank you for John Clarke,

whose visions of the liberty of the soul illumined by the light of Christ

made him a brave prophet of religious tolerance in the American colonies;

and we pray that we may follow paths of holiness and good conscience,

guided by the radiance of Jesus Christ;

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

1 Kings 17:1-16

Psalm 133

1 Peter 1:13-16

Luke 9:51-62

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 211

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This is post #2250 of SUNDRY THOUGHTS.

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Feast of H. H. Rowley (October 4)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Dedication from John Gray, I & II Kings:  A Commentary, Second Edition (1970)

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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HAROLD HENRY ROWLEY (MARCH 24, 1890-OCTOBER 4, 1969)

English Baptist Minister and Biblical Scholar

H. H. Rowley comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Biblical scholarship.

Rowley was one of the most influential British Biblical scholars of the twentieth century.  He, born in Leicester, England, on March 24, 1890, was the fifth of six children.  Our saint’s father was Richard Rowley, a foreman finisher in a shoe factory.  Our saint’s mother was Emma Saunt Rowley.  The family attended Melbourne Hall, a Baptist chapel.  This stage of Rowley’s life proved to be foundational for the the rest of his life, spiritually.  In particular, our saint developed interests in practical holiness, as well as in missionary work in China.

Rowley received a fine education.  He studied at Wyggeston School, Leicester.  Our saint was simultaneously a student at University College, London (B.D., 1912), and Bristol Baptist College (B.A., 1913).  Rowley, awarded a Baptist Union scholarship in 1913, would have studied in Germany (as that scholarship usually entailed), but World War I prevented him from doing so.  Therefore, our saint matriculated at Mansfield College, Oxford.  He studied under G. Buchanan Gray, and received the Houghton Syraic Prize in 1915.

Rowley spent 1915-1929 in ministry.  He was a chaplain (under the auspices of the Y.M.C.A.) to troops in Egypt in 1915-1916.  Ill health forced our saint to return to England, though.  He served as the pastor of Baptist-Congregational Church in Wells, Somerset, from 1916 to 1922.  Then Rowley was a missionary in China (under the auspices of the Baptist Missionary Society) from 1922 to 1929.  During this time, he taught Old Testament at Shangtung Christian University.

Rowley, back in Britain, dedicated himself full-time to academia.  He worked simultaneously as a Tutor in the Old Testament at the Baptist College of South Wales, Cardiff, Wales, and as an Assistant Lecturer in Biblical Languages, University College, Cardiff, Wales, from 1930 to 1935.  Then Rowley was the Professor of Old Testament and Semitic Languages at the University College of North Wales, Bangor (1935-1945).  From there our saint went on to become the Chair of Semitic Languages and Literatures (1945-1949) at the University of Manchester.  His title from 1949 to his retirement in 1959 was Professor of Hebrew Language and Literature.

Rowley the scholar imposed high and rigorous academic standards upon himself, his students, and his colleagues.  He was a meticulous fact-checker and proofreader.  Rowley was a natural choice to serve as the editor of the Journal of Semitic Studies (1956-1960), as well as the Secretary (1946-1960) and President (1950) of the Society of Old Testament Research.  Our saint’s books spanned topics from archaeology to the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Rowley retired to Stroud, Gloucestershire.  He, aged 79 years, died there on October 4, 1969.

Certain themes recurred in Rowley’s writings.  He, a friend and colleague of William F. Albright (1891-1971), understood archaeology to be an invaluable tool for Biblical scholarship.  Related to this point was another one; our saint kept his facts straight and his chronologies in order.  He understood what Karen Armstrong did when she wrote, in A History of God (1993):

…fundamentalism is antihistorical.

–xx

For Rowley, history was central to Christian faith.  He also insisted on reading the history of the Bible through the eyes of faith.  Rowley, who found this balance, regarded fundamentalist attacks on Biblical scholarship dimly.  Rowley the bibliophile and bookworm, kept a meticulous card index.  He did not check his brain at the church doors.  Predictably, Rowley was too liberal for some people and too conservative for others.  Yet he refrained from an error ubiquitous on both the left and the right of Biblical scholarship; he did not make up anything.  Our saint’s historical and factual exactitude led him to lay aside aspects of his theological heritage.  He wound up arguing, for example, that election, in the Bible, is collective, not individual.

Rowley was an intellectual who expressed his love of God partially via his use of his intellect.  Our saint contributed much to Biblical scholarship.  His influence has remained in the work of subsequent scholars.  The Church has been better off because of this.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 6, 2021 COMMON ERA

TUESDAY IN EASTER WEEK

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCELLINUS OF CARTHAGE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR, 413

THE FEAST OF BENJAMIN HALL KENNEDY, GREEK AND LATIN SCHOLAR, BIBLE TRANSLATOR, AND ANGLICAN PRIEST

THE FEAST OF DANIEL G. C. WU, CHINESE-AMERICAN EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND MISSIONARY

THE FEAST OF EMIL BRUNNER, SWISS REFORMED THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF MILNER BALL, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, LAW PROFESSOR, WITNESS FOR CIVIL RIGHTS, AND HUMANITARIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT NOKTER BALBULUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

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O God, you have endowed us with memory, reason, and skill.

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [H. H. Rowley and all others]

who have dedicated their lives to you and to the intellectual pursuits.

May we, like them, respect your gift of intelligence fully and to your glory.

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

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Psalm 103

Philippians 4:8-9

Mark 12:28-34

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 6, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CHRODEGANG OF METZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF EDMUND KING, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LINCOLN

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Feast of Agneta Chang (October 4)   Leave a comment

Above:  Korea Within the Japanese Empire, 1910-1945

Image Source = Hammond’s New Era Atlas of the World (1945)

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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AGNETA CHANG JEONG-EUN (SEPTEMBER 25, 1906-CIRCA OCTOBER 4, 1950)

Maryknoll Sister and Martyr in Korea, 1950

Sister Agneta Chang Jeong-eun comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1950).

Above:  The Flag of the Korean Empire

Image in the Public Domain

Sister Agneta came from a devout Korean Roman Catholic family.  Our saint debuted in the Korean Empire, then a protectorate of the Japanese Empire, on September 25, 1906.  For most of her life, her homeland was part (1910-1945) of the Japanese Empire.  Sister Agneta was one of six children of Chang Gi-bin and Lucia Hwang.  Our saint’s father, Chang Gi-bin, worked at ports.  He was the revenue officer at Inchon then the superintendent of customs at Busan.  Our saint had three brothers and two sisters.  The parents , fluent in Korean, Japanese, and English, had their children educated (for some number of years, per child) in the United States of America.

Above:  The Flag of Japan

Image in the Public Domain

One brother was Chang Myon, a.k.a. John Chang (1899-1966).  He served as a delegate to the United Nations (1948), as the South Korean Ambassador to the United States of America (December 1949f), as the Prime Minister (November 1950-April 1952), as the last Vice President (May 1956-April 1960), and as the Prime Minister again (August 1960-May 1961).

Sister Agneta connected with the Maryknoll Sisters via her father, one of their supporters in Korea.  She completed her novitiate training (started in 1921) in Maryknoll, New York.  Then she returned to Korea in 1925.  Our saint worked as a catechist at Uyju (now in North Korea).  She also taught Korean to the non-Korean Maryknoll Sisters there.  Sister Agneta, artistic and musically-inclined, shared those talents.  In 1930, after five years at Uyju, our saint spent five years at the College of Religious of the Sacred Heart, in Japan.  She graduated with her A.B. degree om 1935.

The Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help had formed in the Diocese of Pyongyang in 1931.  Sister Agneta, upon returning to Korea in 1935, joined them.  In December 1941, with U.S. entry into World War II, the U.S. Sisters left Korea.  Sister Agneta, the novice mistress, was cut off from from the Maryknoll Sisters organization, supplies, and funding.  She struggled with inadequate funding and supplies, as well as high inflation, behind enemy lines.

Above:  Japan and Divided Korea, 1945-1948

Image Source = Post-World War II Supplement to Hammonds’ New Era Atlas of the World (1945)

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

After the Japanese surrender, the United States America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics divided Korea into two occupation zones.  The Soviets occupied the portion of Korea north of the 38th Parallel.  Sister Agneta lived in the Soviet Occupation Zone (1945-1948).  During this time, she reestablished contact with her family and the Maryknoll Sisters.  She also received necessary supplies and funding.

Above:  The Flag of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea)

Image in the Public Domain

All that ceased with the establishment of the ironically-named Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, informally, North Korea.  The North Korean government began its persecution of religion it could not control.  Therefore, for example, many Roman Catholic priests and bishops went to prison.  Some became martyrs.  Authorities also seized ecclesiastical buildings.

On May 14, 1950, North Korean agents closed the last building the Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help used.  The Sisters dispersed.  Sister Agneta traveled with Sister Mary Peter Kang to a Roman Catholic village, Songrimi.  Our saint had long had a bad back, due to an injury.  Sister Agneta, who wore a back brace, was in constant pain, and the journey to Songrimi was extremely difficult for her to make.  She was bedridden in the village when officials came to apprehend her on the pretense of her summons to perform compulsory civil defense work.

Sister Mary Peter Kang last saw Sister Agneta on October 4, 1950.  Our saint was lying in anguish on an ox cart, groaning and praying as the cart moved on a mountain trail.  According to subsequent reports, North Korean soldiers shot Agneta and some other women then buried their corpses in an unmarked mass grave.  

Sister Agneta was 44 years old when she died.

Twelve Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help remained in North Korea.  They also perished, presumably.  Sister Mary Peter Chang and other Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help arrived safely in South Korea, though.  

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 30, 2021 COMMON ERA

TUESDAY IN HOLY WEEK

THE FEAST OF SAINT INNOCENT OF ALASKA, EQUAL TO THE APOSTLES AND ENLIGHTENER OF NORTH AMERICA

THE FEAST OF CORDELIA COX, U.S. LUTHERAN SOCIAL WORKER, EDUCATOR, AND RESETTLER OF REFUGEES

THE FEAST OF JOHN MARRIOTT, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN WRIGHT BUCKHAM, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, THEOLOGIAN, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT JULIO ALVAREZ MENDOZA, MEXICAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1927

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Almighty God, who gave to your servant Agneta Chang

boldness to confess the Name of our Savior Jesus Christ before the rulers of this world,

and courage to die for this faith:

Grant that we may always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us,

and to suffer gladly for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God,

for ever and ever.  Amen.

2 Esdras 2:42-48

Psalm 126 or 121

1 Peter 3:14-18., 22

Matthew 10:16-22

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 713

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Feast of Ernest William Olson (October 4)   Leave a comment

Above:  The End of the Preface to The Hymnal and Order of Service (1925)

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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ERNEST WILLIAM OLSON (MARCH 16, 1870-OCTOBER 6, 1958)

Swedish-American Lutheran Poet, Editor, Hymn Translator, and Hymn Writer

Born Ernst Wilhelm Olson

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God of peace, in peace preserve us,

Hear us, merciful Lord God!

Let no lust for power swerve us

From the way our Master trod.

Guarded by thy mighty hand,

Safe and free our people stand.

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God of love, if foemen face us

Armed with weapons forged in hate,

Let not pride nor greed debase us;

All our efforts consecrate

That the wrong shall be made right

In thy Spirit, by thy might.

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God of mercy, bid the terrors

Of inhuman strife to cease;

Overrule our grievous errors

By thy scepter, Prince of Peace.

Let thine angels speak again,

“Peace on earth, good will toward men.”

–E. W. Olson

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Ernest William Olson comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via hymnody.  Hymnary.org lists 35 credits for him as author and translator.  However, some of these credits are duplicates, due to hymnal committees altering titles, by turning “Thy” into “Your,” for example.  Olson may be most familiar as the translator of Tryggare kan ingen vara as “Children of the Heavenly Father.”  That translation dates to The Hymnal and Order of Service (1925).

Olson, born in Finja parish, Skane, Sweden, spent most of his life in the United States of America.  He, his parents, and his nine siblings immigrated in 1878.  The family settled first on a farm near Wahoo, Nebraska.  The family moved to Texas later.

Olson became a journalist.  He matriculated at Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois, in 1887.  While there, he developed an interest in journalism.  Our saint contributed to campus publications, including the college newspaper.  After graduating in 1891, he became the editor of Nya Pressen, a Swedish-language newspaper in Moline, Illinois, in 1893.  Seven years later, Olson also became the editor of Fosterlandet, published in Moline, too.  Then, in 1900, Olson moved to Chicago to become the editor of Svenska Tribunen.  He held this job until 1906. 

Our saint worked for the Engberg-Holmberg Publishing Company, Chicago, Illinois, as an editor from 1906 to 1911.  During this time, He edited History of the Swedes of Illinois (1908, Volumes I and II).  Our saint also translated The Fortunes of Life; or, Struggles of the Ornshield Family, by Emily Nonnen (English version, 1909).

Olson worked as an editor at the Augustana Book Concern, Rock Island, Illinois, from 1911 to 1949. He edited the magazines Observer (1913) and Ungdomsvännen (1914-1918).  He wrote The Swedish Element in Illinois:  Survey of the Past Seven Decades; With Life Stories of Men of Today (1917).  That year, our saint also wrote the notes and vocabulary for Volumes I and II of Jules Mauritzson’s Svensk Diktning:  Selections from Swedish Poets.  Olson also translated Hillis Grane’s Reclaimed:  The Story of a Parish (English version, 1920).  The following year, he wrote the glossary for Jules Mauritzson’s Graded Reader for Classes in Swedish.  

Above:  The Title Page of The Hymnal and Order of Service (1925)

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Olson helped to create The Hymnal and Order of Service (1925), of the Augustana Synod.  Hymnal companion volumes and hymnary.org have proven to be objectively inaccurate regarding our saint’s hymn count in this volume.  Hymnary.org and most germane hymnal companion volumes I have consulted have told me that he wrote four and translated twenty-eight of the hymns.  Another hymnal companion volume has informed me that he wrote three and translated twenty-seven of the hymns.  I consulted the hymnal itself; the index proved helpful.  I made a list of thirty-three hymns (four of which Olson wrote and twenty-nine of which he translated) from Olson’s pen.  For the record, the original hymns were:

  1. #43–“Glorious Yuletide, Glad Bells Proclaim” (1920);
  2. #323–“Mine Eyes Unto the Mountains” (1922);
  3. #444–“Behold, By Sovereign Grace Alone” (1917); and
  4. #605–“Jesus, Let My Final Rest” (1924).

Olson, a distinguished literary figure, won the St. Eric’s Society of New York Swedish poetry competition (1922), received honorary degrees, and received recognition in the Royal Order of Vasa.  He also wrote Olof Olsson:  The Man, His Life, and His Thought (1941).  Our saint retired in 1949.

Above:  The Copyright Notice of the Service Book and Hymnal (1958)

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

In retirement, Olson sat on the committee that produced the inter-Lutheran Service Book and Hymnal (1958), originally of eight denominations, but finally of two, via mergers (1960-1963).  This volume included six of Olson’s hymns–two original texts and four translations.  The original hymns were:

  1. #349–“God of Peace, in Peace Preserve Us;” and
  2. #398–“Mine Eyes Unto the Mountains.”

The translated hymns were:

  1. #33–“All Hail to Thee, Blessed Morn;”
  2. #270–“A Voice, a Heavenly Voice I Hear!;”
  3. #381–“By Thy Cross, O Christ, and Passion;” and
  4. #572–“Children of the Heavenly Father.”

Within U.S. Lutheran hymnody alone, Olson’s hymn count (other than zero) in major denominational hymnals after 1958 is as follows:

  1. Lutheran Book of Worship (1978)–one translation;
  2. Hymnal Supplement 98 (1998)–one translation;
  3. Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006)–one translation; and
  4. Lutheran Service Book (2006)–one translation.

That translation is, of course, “Children of the Heavenly Father.”

Olson, aged 88 years, died on October 6, 1958.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 26, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARGARET CLITHEROW, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR, 1586

THE FEAST OF FLANNERY O’CONNOR, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC WRITER

THE FEAST OF GEORGE RUNDLE PRYNNE, ANGLICAN PRIEST, POET, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JAMES RENDEL HARRIS, ANGLO-AMERICAN CONGREGATIONALIST THEN QUAKER BIBLICAL SCHOLAR AND ORIENTALIST; ROBERT LUBBOCK BENSLY, ENGLISH BIBLICAL TRANSLATOR AND ORIENTALIST; AGNES SMITH LEWIS AND MARGARET DUNLOP SMITH GIBSON, ENGLISH BIBLICAL SCHOLARS AND LINGUISTS; SAMUEL SAVAGE LEWIS, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND LIBRARIAN OF CORPUS CHRISTI COLLEGE; AND JAMES YOUNG GIBSON, SCOTTISH UNITED PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND LITERARY TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT LUDGER, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF MUNSTER

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Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

Ernest William Olson and others, who have composed hymn texts.

May we, as you guide us,

find worthy hymn texts to be icons,

through which we see you.

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

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

Psalm 147

Revelation 5:11-14

Luke 2:8-20

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 20, 2013 COMMON ERA

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

THE FEAST OF JOHANNES BUGENHAGEN, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCELLINUS OF EMBRUN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

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Feast of St. Francis of Assisi (October 4)   12 comments

Above:  St. Francis Beneath a Tree, Praying, by Rembrandt van Rijn

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-USZ62-102921

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GIOVANNI FRANCESCO PIETRO DI BENRADONE (1181/1182-OCTOBER 3, 1226)

Founder of the Order of Friars Minor

Beatified in 1228

I have done my part.  May Christ teach you to do yours.

–St. Francis of Assisi, as he lay dying

St. Francis of Assisi is one of the most popular saints.  Statues of him populate many gardens and other public places.  St. Francis seems harmless, friendly, and inoffensive in the imaginations of many people.  Yet the testimony of his life is revolutionary.

I have decided not to write a biography of St. Francis.  I have reasoned that (1) those are easy to find, and (2) most of them are superior to any biography I might compose.  (Here is one.)  I have decided, however, to reflect on some lessons from his life for modern people and societies.

St. Francis renounced the idol of materialism.  In so doing, he found liberation to follow God, whom he found liberation to follow, and whom he recognized in the poor and in nature.

Economies depend on materialism.  They do so because (1) some people created economies this way, and (2) other people have retained these systems.  The industry of advertising tells people that they cannot live without that which they can live–and have lived.  Advertising often convinces people that material goods will solve their spiritual problems.  It also converts the Seven Deadly Sins into virtues.  Materialism is one of the most popular idols.

I think about this matter perhaps most often at the end of each year.  The commercialization of Christmas is the real “War on Christmas.”  Ironically, it is a campaign many U.S. Protestants favored in the 1800s, rather than celebrate a Roman Catholic feast day.  I seek few Christmas gifts, just as I give few.  I do most of my Christmas shopping at thrift stores, too.  I know that many jobs depend directly and indirectly on the orgy of materialism at the end of the year, and I manage to avoid most of that madness, but I also know that, if most people were to behave as I do, the consequences for many working people would be dire.  This is an example of what economists call the paradox of thrift.

Poverty, which St. Francis chose for himself, comes with a stigma in much of the world.  Many of the hardest working people are poor, contrary to much rhetoric.  In much of the world many of the poor are impoverished because the economic-political system is one rigged against them.  This is a truth as old as antiquity, as well as one against which certain Biblical prophets railed.  Whenever policy is to keep much of the population in poverty, government retards the progress and well-being of a society, to the common detriment.

We are part of nature, of which we have a divine mandate to be good stewards.  Science tells us that species have evolved in nature, and that they continue to do so.  Yet many of us seem not to have evolved spiritually in relation to nature, for evidence of disrespect for the created order is ubiquitous.  From littering to pollution to global warming to the driving of species to extinction, humanity’s record of damaging the planet and ecosystems is long and shameful.  It also harms us, for we are part of nature, too.

The legacy of St. Francis of Assisi should stand in the minds of more people as a call to moral, social, economic, and political revolution, for the glory of God and the common good.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 2, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF RALPH W. SOCKMAN, U.S. UNITED METHODIST MINISTER

THE FEAST OF CARL DOVING, NORWEGIAN-AMERICAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF JAMES ALLEN, ENGLISH INGHAMITE THEN GLASITE/SANDEMANIAN HYMN WRITER; AND HIS GREAT-NEPHEW, OSWALD ALLEN, ENGLISH GLASITE/SANDEMANIAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF PETRUS HERBERT, GERMAN MORAVIAN BISHOP AND HYMNODIST

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Most high, omnipotent, good Lord, grant your people grace to renounce gladly the vanities of this world;

that, following the way of blessed Francis, we may for love of you,

delight in your whole creation with perfectness of joy;

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

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 22:13-16

Psalm 148:7-14

Galatians 6:14-18

Matthew 11:25-30

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 623

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O God, you ever delight to reveal yourself to the childlike and lowly of heart;

grant that, following the example of the blessed Francis,

we may count the wisdom of this world as foolishness and know only Jesus Christ and him crucified,

who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Common Worship:  Daily Prayer (2005), 505

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Gracious and merciful God, you kindled in the heart of Francis such a flame of love that he became wholly yours;

increase in us a whole-hearted trust in you and a humble love of all your creatures,

that we may know the joy the gospel brings; through Jesus Christ our Redeemer.  Amen.

or

Holy Jesus, give us something of Francis’ simplicity,

something of his recklessness,

something of his obedience;

give us the courage to understand what you say and do it.  Amen.

Song of the Three Young Men 52-65

Psalm 119:145-152 or Psalm 148

Galatians 6:14-18

Matthew 11:25-30

–The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia

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God of creation, we thank you for all that you have made and called good:

Grant that we may rightly serve and conserve the earth, and live at peace with all your creatures;

through Jesus Christ, the firstborn of all creation,

in whom you are reconciling the whole world to yourself.  Amen.

Job 14:7-9

Psalm 104:24-31

Romans 1:20-23

Mark 16:14-15

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 732

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Bountiful Creator, you open your hand to satisfy the needs of every living creature:

Make us always thankful for your loving providence,

and grant that we, remembering the account we must one day give,

may be faithful stewards of your abundance, for the benefit of the whole creation;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom all things were made,

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

1 Kings 4:29-30, 33-34

Psalm 145:1-7, 22

Acts 17:24-31

John 1:1-5, 9-14

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 731

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Saints’ Days and Holy Days for October   1 comment

Calendula

Image Source = Alvesgaspar

1 (Anthony Ashley Cooper, Lord Shaftesbury, British Humanitarian and Social Reformer)

  • Marie-Joseph Aubert, Foundress of the Daughters of Our Lady of Compassion

  • Ralph W. Sockman, United Methodist Minister

  • Romanus the Melodist, Deacon and Hymnodist

  • Thérèse of Lisieux, Roman Catholic Nun and Mystic

2 (Petrus Herbert, German Moravian Bishop and Hymnodist)

  • Carl Doving, Norwegian-American Lutheran Minister and Hymn Translator

  • Chuck Matthei, Founder and Director of the Equity Trust, Inc.

  • James Allen, English Inghamite then Glasite/Sandemanian Hymn Writer; and his great-nephew, Oswald Allen, English Glasite/Sandemanian Hymn Writer

  • Maria Anna Kratochwil, Polish Roman Catholic Nun and Martyr, 1942

3 (George Kennedy Allen Bell, Anglican Bishop of Chichester)

  • Alberto Ramento, Prime Bishop of the Philippine Independent Church

  • Gerard of Brogne, Roman Catholic Abbot

  • John Raleigh Mott, U.S. Methodist Lay Evangelist, and Ecumenical Pioneer

  • William Scarlett, Episcopal Bishop of Missouri, and Advocate for Social Justice

4 (Francis of Assisi, Founder of the Order of Friars Minor)

  • Agneta Chang, Maryknoll Sister and Martyr in Korea, 1950

  • Ernest William Olson, Swedish-American Lutheran Poet, Editor, Hymn Translator, and Hymn Writer

  • H. H. Rowley, English Baptist Minister and Biblical Scholar

  • John Clarke, English Baptist Minister and Champion of Religious Liberty in New England

5 (David Nitschmann, Sr., “Father Nitschmann,” Moravian Missionary; Melchior Nitschmann, Moravian Missionary and Martyr; Johann Nitschmann, Jr., Moravian Missionary and Bishop; Anna Nitschman, Moravian Eldress; and David Nitschmann, Missionary and First Bishop of the Renewed Moravian Church)

  • Cyriacus Schneegass, German Lutheran Minister, Musician, and Hymn Writer

  • Francis Xavier Seelos, German-American Roman Catholic Priest

  • Harry Emerson Fosdick, U.S. Northern Baptist Minister and Opponent of Fundamentalism

  • Joseph Lowery, African-American United Methodist Minister and Civil Rights Leader; “The Dean of the Civil Rights Movement”

6 (George Edward Lynch Cotton, Anglican Bishop of Calcutta)

  • Heinrich Albert, German Lutheran Composer and Poet

  • Herbert G. May, U.S. Biblical Scholar and Translator

  • John Ernest Bode, Anglican Priest, Poet, and Hymn Writer

  • William Tyndale, English Reformer, Bible Translator, and Martyr; and Miles Coverdale, English Reformer, Bible Translator, and Bishop of Exeter

7 (Wilhelm Wexels, Norwegian Lutheran Minister, Hymn Writer, and Hymn Translator; his niece, Marie Wexelsen, Norwegian Lutheran Novelist and Hymn Writer; Ludwig Lindeman, Norwegian Lutheran Organist and Musicologist; and Magnus Landstad, Norwegian Lutheran Minister, Folklorist, Hymn Writer, and Hymnal Editor)

  • Bradford Torrey, U.S. Ornithologist and Hymn Writer

  • Claus Westermann, German Lutheran Minister and Biblical Translator

  • Johann Gottfried Weber, German Moravian Musician, Composer, and Minister

  • John Woolman, Quaker Abolitionist

8 (Erik Routley, English Congregationalist Hymnodist)

  • Abraham Ritter, U.S. Moravian Merchant, Historian, Musician, and Composer

  • Alexander Penrose Forbes, Scottish Episcopal Bishop of Brechin; Church Historian; and Renewer of the Scottish Episcopal Church

  • Richard Whately, Anglican Archbishop of Dublin, Ireland

  • William Dwight Porter Bliss, Episcopal Priest; and Richard Theodore Ely, Economists

9 (Denis, Bishop of Paris, and His Companions, Roman Catholic Martyrs)

  • John Leonardi, Founder of the Clerks Regular of the Mother of God of Lucca; and Joseph Calasanctius, Founder of the Clerks Regular of Religious Schools

  • Penny Lernoux, U.S. Roman Catholic Journalist and Moral Critic

  • Robert Grosseteste, English Roman Catholic Scholar, Philosopher, and Bishop of Lincoln

  • Wilfred Thomason Grenfell, Medical Missionary to Newfoundland and Labrador

10 (Johann Nitschmann, Sr., Moravian Missionary and Bishop; David Nitschmann, Jr., the Syndic, Moravian Missionary and Bishop; and David Nitschmann, the Martyr, Moravian Missionary and Martyr)

  • Christian Ludwig Brau, Norwegian Moravian Teacher and Poet

  • Edward White Benson, Archbishop of Canterbury

  • Louis FitzGerald Benson, U.S. Presbyterian Minister and Hymnodist

  • Vida Dutton Scudder, Episcopal Professor, Author, Christian Socialist, and Social Reformer

11 (PHILIP THE EVANGELIST, DEACON)

12 (Martin Dober, Moravian Bishop and Hymn Writer; Johann Leonhard Dober, Moravian Missionary and Bishop; and Anna Schindler Dober, Moravian Missionary and Hymn Writer)

  • Cecil Frances Alexander, Irish Anglican Hymn Writer

  • Edith Cavell, English Nurse and Martyr, 1915

  • Elizabeth Fry, English Quaker Social Reformer and “Angel of the Prisons”

  • Nectarius of Constantinople, Archbishop

13 (Christian David, Moravian Missionary)

  • Alban Butler, English Roman Catholic Priest and Hagiographer

  • Henry Stephen Cutler, Episcopal Organist, Choirmaster, and Composer

  • João Bosco Burnier, Brazilian Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1976

  • Vincent Taylor, British Methodist Minister and Biblical Scholar

14 (Callixtus I, Anterus, and Pontian, Bishops of Rome; and Hippolytus, Antipope)

  • Jean-Baptiste Lamy, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Santa Fe, New Mexico

  • Roman Lysko, Ukrainian Greek Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1949

  • Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky, Episcopal Bishop of Shanghai, and Biblical Translator

  • Thomas Hansen Kingo, Danish Lutheran Bishop, Hymn Writer, and “Poet of Eastertide”

15 (Teresa of Avila, Spanish Roman Catholic Nun, Mystic, and Reformer)

  • Gabriel Richards, French-American Roman Catholic Missionary Priest in Detroit, Michigan
  • Obadiah Holmes, English Baptist Minister and Champion of Religious Liberty in New England

16 (Albert E. R. Brauer, Australian Lutheran Minister and Hymn Translator)

  • Augustine Thevarparampil, Indian Roman Catholic Priest and “Good Shepherd of the Dalits”

  • Gaspar Contarini, Italian Roman Catholic Cardinal and Agent of Reconciliation

  • Hedwig of Andechs, Roman Catholic Princess and Nun; and her daughter, Gertrude of Trzebnica, Roman Catholic Abbess

  • Józef Jankowski, Polish Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1941

17 (Charles Gounod, French Roman Catholic Composer)

  • Birgitte Katerine Boye, Danish Lutheran Poet, Playwright, Hymn Translator, and Hymn Writer

  • John Bowring, English Unitarian Hymn Writer, Social Reformer, and Philanthropist

  • Richard McSorley, U.S. Roman Catholic Priest, Professor, and Peace Activist

18 (LUKE THE EVANGELIST, PHYSICIAN)

19 (Martyrs of North America, 1642-1649)

  • Claudia Frances Ibotson Hernaman, Anglican Hymn Writer and Translator

  • Jerzy Popieluszko, Polish Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1984

  • Paul of the Cross, Founder of the Congregation of Discaled Clerks of the Most Holy Cross and Passion

20 (Philip Schaff and John Williamson Nevin, U.S. German Reformed Historians, Theologians, and Liturgists)

  • Friedrich Funcke, German Lutheran Minister, Composer, and Hymn Writer

  • James W. C. Pennington, African-American Congregationalist and Presbyterian Minister, Educator, and Abolitionist

  • John Harris Burt, Episcopal Bishop of Ohio, and Civil Rights Activist

  • Mary A. Lathbury, U.S. Methodist Hymn Writer

21 (George McGovern, U.S. Senator and Stateman; and his wife, Eleanor McGovern, Humanitarian)

  • David Moritz Michael, German-American Moravian Musician and Composer

  • Emily Gardiner Neal, Episcopal Deacon, Religious Writer, and Leader of the Healing Movement in The Episcopal Church

  • Laura of Saint Catherine of Siena, Foundress of the Works of the Indians and the Congregation of Missionary Sisters of Immaculate Mary and of Saint Catherine of Siena

  • Walter and Albertina Sisulu, Anti-Apartheid Activists and Political Prisoners in South Africa

22 (Paul Tillich, German-American Lutheran Theologian)

  • Emily Huntington Miller, U.S. Methodist Author and Hymn Writer

  • Frederick Pratt Green, British Methodist Minister, Poet, and Hymn Writer

  • Katharina von Schlegal, German Lutheran Hymn Writer

  • Martyrs of Heraclea, 304

23 (JAMES OF JERUSALEM, BROTHER OF JESUS)

24 (Rosa Parks, African-American Civil Rights Activist)

  • Fritz Eichenberg, German-American Quaker Wood Engraver

  • Henry Clay Shuttleworth, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer

  • Pavel Chesnokov, Russian Orthodox Composer

  • Proclus, Archbishop of Constantinople; and Rusticus, Bishop of Narbonne

25 (Johann Daniel Grimm, German Moravian Musician)

  • Eric Norelius, Swedish-American Lutheran Minister

26 (Alfred the Great, King of the West Saxons)

  • Arthur Campbell Ainger, English Educator, Scholar, and Hymn Writer

  • Francis Pott, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer and Translator

  • Henry Stanley Oakeley, Composer

  • Philip Nicolai, German Lutheran Minister and Hymn Writer

27 (James A. Walsh and Thomas Price, Cofounders of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers; and Mary Josephine Rogers, Foundress of the Maryknoll Sisters of Saint Dominic)

  • Aedesius, Priest and Missionary; and Frumentius, First Bishop of Axum and Abuna of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church

  • Dmitry Bortniansky, Russian Orthodox Composer

  • Harry Webb Farrington, U.S. Methodist Minister and Hymn Writer

  • Levi and Catherine Coffin, U.S. Quaker Abolitionists and Conductors of the Underground Railroad

28 (SIMON AND JUDE, APOSTLES AND MARTYRS)

29 (Martyrs of Lien-Chou, China, October 28, 1905)

  • Bartholomaus Helder, German Lutheran Minister, Composer, and Hymn Writer

  • James Hannington, Anglican Bishop of Eastern Equatorial Guinea; and His Companions, Martyrs

  • Joseph Grigg, English Presbyterian Minister and Hymn Writer

  • Paul Manz, Dean of Lutheran Church Music

30 (Hugh O’Flaherty, “Scarlet Pimperel of the Vatican”)

  • Elizabeth Comstock, Anglo-American Quaker Educator, Abolitionist, and Social Reformer

  • Marcellus the Centurion and Cassian of Tangiers, Roman Catholic Martyrs, 298

  • Oleksa Zarytsky, Ukrainian Greek Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1963

  • Walter John Mathams, British Baptist then Presbyterian Minister, Author, and Hymn Writer

31 (Reformation Day)

  • Daniel C. Roberts, Episcopal Priest and Hymn Writer

  • Gerhard Von Rad and Martin Noth, German Lutheran Biblical Scholars

  • Ivan Kochurov, Russian Orthodox Priest and Martyr, 1917

  • Paul Shinji Sasaki, Anglican Bishop of Mid-Japan, Bishop of Tokyo, and Primate of Nippon Sei Ko Kei; and Philip Lendel Tsen, Anglican Bishop of Honan and Presiding Bishop of Chung Hua Sheng Kung Hui

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

Proper 22, Year A   Leave a comment

Above:  A Vineyard

Expectations, Realities, and Consequences

The Sunday Closest to October 5

Eighteenth Sunday After Pentecost

OCTOBER 4, 2017

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FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #1

Exodus 20:1-20 (New Revised Standard Version):

Then God spoke all these words:

I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.

You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the earth.  You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation to those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.

You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.

Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work.  But the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God; you shall not do any work–you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns.  For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.

Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.

You shall not murder.

You shall not commit adultery.

You shall not steal.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

When all the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking, they were afraid and trembled and stood at a distance, and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, or we will die.” Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid; for God has come only to test you and to put the fear of him upon you so that you do not sin.”

Psalm 19 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  The heavens declare the glory of God,

and the firmament shows his handiwork.

2  One day tells its tale to another,

and one night imparts knowledge to another.

3  Although they have no words or language,

and their voices are not heard,

4  Their sound has gone out into all lands,

and their message to the ends of the world.

5  In the deep has he set a pavilion for the sun;

it comes forth like a bridegroom out of his chamber;

it rejoices like a champion to run its course.

6  It goes forth from the uttermost edge of the heavens

and runs about to the end of it again;

nothing is hidden from its burning heat.

The law of the LORD is perfect and revives the soul;

the testimony of the LORD is sure and gives wisdom to the innocent.

8 The statutes of the LORD are just and rejoice the heart;

the commandment of the LORD is clear and gives light to the eyes.

The fear of the LORD is clean and endures for ever,

the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.

10 More to be desired are they than gold more than much fine gold,

sweeter far than honey, than honey in the comb.

11 By them also is your servant enlightened,

and in keeping them there is great reward.

12 Who can tell how often he offends?

cleanse me from my secret faults?

13 Above all, keep your servant from presumptuous sins;

let them not get dominion over me;

then shall I be whole and sound,

and innocent of a great offense.

14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight,

O LORD, my strength and my redeemer.

FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #2

Isaiah 5:1-7 (New Revised Standard Version):

Let me sing for my beloved

my love-song concerning his vineyard:

My beloved had a vineyard

on a very fertile hill.

He dug it and cleared it of stones,

and planted it with choice vines;

he built a watchtower in the midst of it,

and hewed out a wine vat in it;

he expected it to yield grapes,

but it yielded wild grapes.

And now, inhabitants of Jerusalem

and people of Judah,

judge between me

and my vineyard.

What more was there to do for my vineyard

that I have not done in it?

When I expected it to yield grapes,

why did it yield wild grapes?

And now I will tell you

what I will do to my vineyard.

I will remove its hedge,

and it shall be devoured;

I will break down its wall,

and it shall be trampled down.

I will make it a waste;

it shall not be pruned or hoed,

and it shall be overgrown with briers and thorns;

that they rain no rain upon it.

For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts

is the house of Israel,

and the people of Judah

are his pleasant planting;

he expected justice,

but saw bloodshed;

righteousness,

but heard a cry!

Psalm 80:7-14 (New Revised Standard Version):

7  Restore us, O God of hosts;

show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.

8  You have brought a vine out of Egypt;

you cast out the nations and planted it.

9  You prepared the ground for it;

it took root and filled the land.

10  The mountains were covered by its shadow

and the towering cedar trees by its boughs.

11  You stretched out its tendrils to the Sea

and its branches to the River.

12  Why have you broken down its wall,

so that all who pass by pluck off its grapes?

13  The wild boar of the forest has ravaged it,

and the beasts of the field have grazed upon it.

14  Turn now, O God of hosts, look down from heaven;

behold and tend this vine;

preserve what your right hand has planted.

SECOND READING

Philippians 3:4b-14 (New Revised Standard Version):

If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.

GOSPEL READING

Matthew 21:33-46 (New Revised Standard Version):

Jesus said, “Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. Finally he sent his son to them, saying, `They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, `This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.’ So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.”

Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures:

‘The stone that the builders have rejected

has become the cornerstone;

this was the Lord’s doing,

and it is amazing in our eyes’?

Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom. The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.”

The Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear than we to pray, and to give more than we either desire or deserve: Pour upon us the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask, except through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Savior; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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These readings seem familiar, do they not?  Thus they are the kind of lections we need to read very carefully again, if not for the first time.  I have dealt with the Ten Commandments and the parable already within this blog network, so I refer you, O reader to the links above for certain thoughts while I pursue another thread.

“…he expected justice,/but saw bloodshed;/[he expected] righteousness, /but heard a cry!” Isaiah 5:7c-d reads.  Thus, in Isaiah 5:1-7, God vows to make the vineyard a “waste.”  The vineyard in that reading is the people of Israel, and the laying waste refers to the Babylonian Exile.

The vineyard theme recurs in the reading from Matthew.  The writing of the Gospels took place in the shadow of the Jewish War, which ended with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 C.E.  So my historical-critical eyes detect animosity toward the mainstream Jewish community from the marginalized Christian Jews in Matthew’s audience.

Nevertheless, I also detect a universal and timeless lesson:  The wages of sin is death.  Yet, as Paul reminds us, keeping the Law scrupulously is insufficient, lest we boast in what we have done.  Rather, the “surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus” makes the difference.  ”Knowing” is about far more than acknowledging him intellectually; it is about following him–as individuals and as faith communities.  Jesus is the trump card.

I write these words on Easter Sunday 2011, so this is an especially opportune time to quote the motto of the Moravian Church:  ”Our lamb has conquered; let us follow him.”

KRT

Published originally at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on April 24, 2011

Posted May 9, 2011 by neatnik2009 in October 4, Revised Common Lectionary Year A

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