Archive for the ‘October 4’ Category

Feast of William Scarlett (October 4)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of The Episcopal Church

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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WILLIAM SCARLETT (OCTOBER 3, 1883-MARCH 28, 1973)

Episcopal Bishop of Missouri, and Advocate for Social Justice

Bishop William Scartlett comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Interpreter’s Bible.

Scarlett, born in Columbus, Ohio, on October 3, 1883, grew up to become a courageous, progressive Christian leader on the vanguard of various moral causes.  He was what certain cynical reactionaries of 2018 would have called a “social justice warrior.”  So were Hebrew prophets.  Our saint, influenced at an early age by Washington Gladden (1836-1918) and Walter Rauschenbush (1861-1918), proponents of the Social Gospel, graduated from Harvard University with his A.B. degree in 1905.  Scarlett, unsure about whether to study for ministry or medicine, worked on a ranch in Nebraska for a year.  He matriculated at the Episcopal Theological School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1906, and graduated three years later.  Our saint, spent the rest of his life in ordained ministry marked by a dedication to social justice dictated by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Scarlett cared deeply by outreach to the poor, the rights of industrial workers, civil rights, and other issues germane to human relations.  He was, in order:

  1. Assistant Rector, St. George’s Episcopal Church, New York, New York (1909-1911);
  2. Dean, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Phoenix, Arizona (1911-1922);
  3. Dean, Christ Church Cathedral, St. Louis, Missouri (1922-1930);
  4. Bishop Coadjutor of Missouri (1930-1933); and
  5. Bishop of Missouri (1933-1952).

Friend Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971) described our saint as

the conscience of the community.

Scarlett was on the avant-garde of The Episcopal Church with regard to social ethics.  He advocated for the liberalization of the denomination’s stance on remarriage after divorce.  In 1946 our saint edited Christianity Takes a Stand, in which various authors took a stand against societal sins such as racial segregation and the federal government’s recent internment of West Coast Japanese Americans.  Although the House of Deputies, at the General Convention of 1946, consented without debate to sponsor the publication of the book, the majority of Episcopalians were not ready to espouse those positions yet.

Scarlett, a Low Church Episcopalian and self-described Liberal Evangelical who wore a tie in lieu of a clerical collar, was a natural ecumenist.  He cooperated with members of other Christian denominations as easily as he did with Jews.  At Christ Church Cathedral, St. Louis, our saint scandalized many Anglo-Catholics by encouraging interdenominational Eucharists.  He also scrapped plans for a new Episcopal hospital in the city when he learned of a similar Presbyterian plan.  The result was cooperation, not competition, in the form of St. Luke’s Episcopal-Presbyterian Hospital.  He also favored the merger of The Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. in the 1940s.  The proposal did not survive the late 1940s.  It would probably have been impractical anyway.

(Aside:  I mean no disrespect to any Presbyterians, but the denominational cultures and certain theological-liturgical factors are too different for merger to be practical.  I suppose that many Presbyterians agree with that assessment.  Cooperation of many issues is feasible and desirable, however.)

Scarlett retired in late 1952.  His successor as Bishop of Missouri was Arthur Carl Lichtenberger (1900-1968), later the Presiding Bishop of the denomination.

In retirement Scarlett wrote the exposition on the Book of Jonah for The Interpreter’s Bible.  He wrote, in part:

If God has a controversy with his people, it is because there has been in our world too little concern for our brother, too little recognition that his fate is bound up in ours, and ours in his, even to the least, too much forgetting that word of old, “We are members of one another” (Eph. 4:25) and if one member suffers, “all the members suffer with it” (I Cor. 12:26).  A plain fact of the nineteen-thirties is that Hitler climbed to power on the backs of the unemployed in Germany, and it was this frustration, this sense of uselessness, in millions of lives that made his way easy.

The Interpreter’s Bible, Volume VI (1956), 877

That is a chilling text in 2018.

The resurgence of fascism and of authoritarianism in general has been current reality in the world, from the Philippines to Europe to Brazil to Turkey to Europe for a few years now.  Many of the enablers of fascist and other authoritarian leaders have been professing Christians.  The call to “Make America Great Again” has echoed pre-World War II movements to make Italy and Germany great again.  The rhetoric of “America First,” originated before World War II in an openly anti-Semitic, pro-Nazi movement to keep the United States out of that war, has returned, still with racist overtones.  Calls for U.S. society and government to practice the Golden Rule have become subversive as many professing Christians have chosen to ignore the demands of that great commandment and embraced xenophobia and nativism, largely out of fear.

I encourage you, O reader, to read Scarlett’s exposition on the Book of Jonah and to oppose–resist–the deplorable resurgence of fascism and of authoritarianism in general.

Scarlett, aged 89 years, died in Castine, Maine, on March 28, 1973.  His wife, Leah Oliver Van Riper (b. 1889), had predeceased him in 1965.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 3, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORGE KENNEDY ALLEN BELL, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF CHICHESTER

THE FEAST OF ALBERTO RAMENTO, PRIME BISHOP OF THE PHILIPPINE INDEPENDENT CHURCH

THE FEAST OF SAINT GERARD OF BROGNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF JOHN RALEIGH MOTT, U.S. METHODIST LAY EVANGELIST, AND ECUMENICAL PIONEER

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Holy and righteous God, you created us in your image.

Help us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and to make no peace with oppression.

Help us, like your servant William Scarlett, to work for justice among people and nations,

to the glory of your name, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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Feast of St. Francis of Assisi (October 4)   10 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
  • Romanus the Melodist, Deacon and Hymnodist
  • Thérèse of Lisieux, Roman Catholic Nun and Mystic

2 (Ralph W. Sockman, U.S. United Methodist Minister)

  • Carl Doving, Norwegian-American Lutheran Minister and Hymn Translator
  • James Allen, English Inghamite then Glasite/Sandemanian Hymn Writer; and his great-nephew, Oswald Allen, English Glasite/Sandemanian Hymn Writer
  • Petrus Herbert, German Moravian Bishop and Hymnodist

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

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

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

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

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

  • Heinrich Albert, German Lutheran Composer and Poet
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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

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
  • Nectarius of Constantinople, Archbishop

13 (Christian David, Moravian Missionary)

  • Claus Westermann, German Lutheran Minister and Biblical Translator
  • Herbert G. May, U.S. Biblical Scholar and Translator
  • Vincent Taylor, British Methodist Minister and Biblical Scholar

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

  • 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)

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

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

18 (LUKE THE EVANGELIST, PHYSICIAN)

19 (Jerzy Popieluszko, Polish Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1984)

  • Claudia Frances Ibotson Hernaman, Anglican Hymn Writer and Translator
  • 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
  • Mary A. Lathbury, U.S. Methodist Hymn Writer
  • Pavel Chesnokov, Russian Orthodox Composer

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

  • David Moritz Michael, German-American Moravian Musician and Composer
  • James W. C. Pennington, African-American Congregationalist and Presbyterian Minister, Educator, and Abolitionist
  • 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

22 (Frederick Pratt Green, British Methodist Minister, Poet, and Hymn Writer)

  • Emily Huntington Miller, U.S. Methodist Author and Hymn Writer
  • Katharina von Schlegal, German Lutheran Hymn Writer
  • Paul Tillich, German-American Lutheran Theologian

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

25 (Philipp Nicolai, German Lutheran Minister and Hymn Writer)

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

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

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

28 (SIMON AND JUDE, APOSTLES AND MARTYRS)

29 (James Hannington, Anglican Bishop of Eastern Equatorial Africa; and His Companions, Martyrs)

  • Bartholomaus Helder, German Lutheran Minister, Composer, and Hymn Writer
  • Joseph Grigg, English Presbyterian Minister and Hymn Writer
  • Paul Manz, Dean of Lutheran Church Music

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

  • 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, German Lutheran Biblical Scholar
  • 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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