Archive for the ‘September 20’ Category

Feast of John Coleridge Patteson and His Companions (September 20)   1 comment

Above:  Map of New Zealand and Melanesia, 1958

Image Scanned and Cropped from Hammond’s World Atlas–Classics Edition (1958)

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JOHN COLERDIGE PATTESON (APRIL 1, 1827-SEPTEMBER 20, 1871)

Anglican Bishop of Melanesia, and Martyr, 1871

worked with

JOSEPH ATKIN (DIED SEPTEMBER 27, 1871)

Anglican Priest, and Martyr, 1871

worked with

STEPHEN TARONIARA (CIRCA 1845-SEPTEMBER 20, 1871)

Anglican Missionary and Martyr, 1871

John Coleridge Patteson, born into a wealthy family in London on April 1, 1827, could have led a comfortable life.  He, educated at Eton and at Oxford University, mastered the Hebrew and Arabic languages.  Our saint, ordained to the Anglican diaconate in 1853 and priesthood the following year,chose to become a missionary to Melanesia.

George Augustus Selwyn (1809-1878) was the Anglican Bishop of New Zealand (1841-1858) then Primate of New Zealand (1858-1868).  He was one of the great missionary bishops in the Anglican Communion.  Patteson arrived in New Zealand and began to work under Selwyn’s jurisdiction in 1855.  Two years later he became the leader of the Melanesian Mission.  Then, on February 24, 1861, Selwyn consecrated Patteson the first Bishop of Melanesia.

Selwyn had created a particular missionary system, which Patteson inherited.  Young men and women from Pacific islands studied at St. John’s School, the Melanesian Mission’s institution in Auckland, New Zealand, for the summer then returned home.  The hope was that they would provide Christian influence in their communities.  Experience proved that it was an ineffective strategy.  As Patteson insisted, missionary work in indigenous languages was necessary.

Above:  Map Showing the Solomon Islands

Stephen Taroniara, born circa 1845, was a native of Makira/San Cristobal, in the Solomon Islands.  In the middle 1850s Selwyn had taken him to St. John’s School, Auckland, numerous summers, encountering Patteson.  Back home on Makira/San Cristobal, Taroniara had married one Sumarua, with whom he had a child, Paraiteku.  When our saint retured to Auckland in 1864, he had to do so without his family, for his wife’s relatives refused to permit her to travel to Auckland.

Above:  Map Showing Norfolk Island

Meanwhile, Patterson was establishing new schools, to share the Gospel with Melanesians.  One of these institutions was on Norfolk Island, starting in 1867.  He sought to educate Melanesian men as priests, with the ultimate goal of having Melanesian bishops.  Taroniara, baptized on July 19, 1868, and confirmed on Easter Day 1869, became the first native of the Solomon Islands to receive the Anglican Eucharist.  He, having lost both his child and first wife, due to his in-laws giving his first wife in marriage to another man, had relocated to Norfolk Island with his second wife, Tori (from Sa’a) and her daughter, Rosa.  At Norfolk Island Taroniara studied for the priesthood, and was due for ordination in late 1871.

Missionaries have frequently defended indigenous people from those with powerful economic incentives to exploit their fellow human beings.  In the middle 1700s, for example, Jesuits in South America risked their lives to protect Indians from slavers.  Many Jesuits died while doing so.  In Melanesia, in the middle and late 1800s, many missionaries put their lives at risk to protect natives from entrepreneurs in Fiji and Australia seeking indentured servants to exploit.  Some of these unscrupulous businessmen used the names of missionaries to lure victims.

On August 25, 1871, Patterson, Taroniara, and a priest, Joseph Atkin, left for a missionary tour.  Atkin, from New Zealand, had been a member of the Melanesian Mission since 1863 and both a priest and a missionary to Makira/San Cristobal since 1869.  The traveling companions were visiting the island of Nakapu (in the Santa Cruz group in the Solomon Islands, when natives attacked them, apparently in retribution for actions of those seeking indentured servants.  Patteson and Taroniara died on September 20, 1871; Atkin died a week later.

The deaths of these missionaries led to constructive actions.  The British Government cracked down on the indentured servant trade.  Also, support for missionary work increased in England.

Also, the Melanesian Mission renamed its headquarters after Taroniara.

The Anglican Church of Melanesia became a province of the Anglican Communion in 1975.

The province, with indigenous leaders, spans Vanuatu (the former New Hebrides), the Solomon Islands, and New Caledonia.  The denomination as nine dioceses.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 21, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BRUNO ZEMBOL, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC FRIAR AND MARTYR, 1942

THE FEAST OF SAINTS CAMERIUS, CISELLUS, AND LUXORIUS OF SARDINIA, MARTYRS, 303

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF EDESSA, CIRCA 304

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAXIMILIAN OF ANTIOCH, CIRCA 353; AND SAINTS BONOSUS AND MAXIMIANUS THE SOLDIER, MARTYRS, 362

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God of the southern isles and seas, we remember with thanksgiving your servant John Patteson,

whose life was taken by those for whom he would freely have given it;

grant us the same courage in extending your gospel and readiness to share our life with others,

for the sake of Jesus Christ, our Redeemer.  Amen.

or

God of the resurrection, blessed are you in John, first bishop to the Melanesians;

for by his willing sacrifice you revealed the people’s cruel suffering,

and their right to hear the Gospel.  Amen.

Hosea 11:1-4

Psalm 16 or 116:1-9

2 Corinthians 4:5-12

Mark 8:31-35

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

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Almighty God, you called your faithful servant John Coleridge Patteson

and his companions to be witnesses and martyrs in the islands of Melanesia,

and by their labors and sufferings raised up a people for your own possession:

Pour out your Holy Spirit upon your Church in every land,

that by the service and sacrifice of many,

your holy Name may be glorified and your kingdom enlarged;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 22:1-4

Psalm 118:49-56

1 Peter 4:12-19

Mark 8:34-38

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 595

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Feast of Henri Nouwen (September 20)   1 comment

Above:  Icon of Henri Nouwen

Image in the Public Domain

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HENRI JOSZEF MACHIEL NOUWEN (JANUARY 24, 1932-SEPTEMBER 21, 1996)

Dutch Roman Catholic Priest and Spiritual Writer

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We have been chosen to make our own limited and very conditional love the gateway for the unlimited and unconditional love of God.

–Henri Nouwen

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Robert Ellsberg lists Henri Nouwen as the saint for September 20 in All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997).  The date of September 20 works well for Nouwen on this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, for I reserve September 21 for St. Matthew the Apostle.

Much of contemporary spiritual writing has a reputation for shallowness.  This is fair because it is frequently accurate.  This generalization does not apply to the 39 books by Henri Nouwen, however.  I think in particular of The Way of the Heart, with its interpretation of the temptations of Jesus and application of those temptations to contemporary ministry.

Nouwen, born in Nijkerk, The Netherlands, on January 24, 1932, became one of the most influential and popular spiritual writers of the twentieth century.  He discerned his priestly vocation at an early age.  Our saint, ordained to the priesthood in the Diocese of Utrecht in 1957, studied psychology at the Catholic University of Nijmegan from 1957 to 1964.  Next he studied at the Menninger Clinic, in the United States, in 1964-1966, and became involved in the Civil Rights Movement.

Nouwen was an academic.  He taught at the University of Notre Dame (1966-1968), the Catholic Theological University of Utrecht (1968-1970), and Yale University School (1971-1981).  After spending six months in Bolivia and Peru in 1982-1983, our saint taught at Harvard Divinity School (1983-1985).  Nouwen was spiritually restless, seeking his proper place.  His moves from one teaching position to another indicated this restlessness.

Nouwen also experienced great stress.  He was, by all accounts, a priest who lived according to his wows, including celibacy.  He also had the needs for physical and emotional intimacy all people have.  Our saint struggled with those issues as well as his homosexuality, which he kept secret.  One biographer has suggested that Nouwen made peace with himself toward the end of his life.

Nouwen made a truly disturbing discovery about himself:  In the Parable of the Prodigal Son (perhaps not the best name for the parable, but the traditional one), he was most like the resentful older brother.  This was a spiritual condition he could change, and did address.

Nouwen spent 1986-1996 as the pastor at the Daybreak Community in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  The community specialized in serving severely handicapped people.  In addition to his pastoral duties Nouwen was caregiver to Adam, a young man who could do nothing for himself–not even speak or feed himself.  In taking care of Adam our saint learned the meaning of being beloved by God.

Nouwen died of a heart attack on September 21, 1996, when he was in Hilversum, The Netherlands.  He was 64 years old.  He left a fine published legacy, which continues to benefit many people spiritually.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 20, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ZACCHAEUS, PENITENT TAX COLLECTOR AND ROMAN COLLABORATOR

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Almighty God, you gave to your servant Henri Nouwen

special gifts of grace to understand and teach the truth as it is in Christ Jesus:

Grant that by this teaching we may know you,

the one true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent;

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

Proverbs 3:1-7

Psalm 119:89-96

1 Corinthians 3:5-11

Matthew 13:47-52

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 721

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Saints’ Days and Holy Days for September   Leave a comment

Forget-Me-Nots

Image Source = Wilder Kaiser

1 (Dionysius Exiguus, Roman Catholic Monk and Reformer of the Calendar)

  • David Pendleton Oakerhater, Cheyenne Warrior, Chief, and Holy Man, and Episcopal Deacon and Missionary in Oklahoma
  • Fiacre, Roman Catholic Hermit
  • François Mauriac, French Roman Catholic Novelist, Christian Humanist, and Social Critic

2 (F. Crawford Burkitt, Anglican Scholar, Theologian, Hymn Writer, and Hymn Translator)

  • David Charles, Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Minister and Hymn Writer
  • Martyrs of New Guinea, 1942 and 1943
  • William of Roskilde, English-Danish Roman Catholic Bishop

3 (Jedediah Weiss, U.S. Moravian Craftsman, Merchant, and Musician)

  • Arthur Carl Lichtenberger, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church and Witness for Civil Rights
  • James Bolan Lawrence, Episcopal Priest and Missionary in Southwestern Georgia, U.S.A.
  • Sundar Singh, Indian Christian Evangelist

4 (Paul Jones, Episcopal Bishop of Utah, and Peace Activist; and his colleague, John Nevin Sayre, Episcopal Priest and Peace Activist)

  • E. F. Schumacher, German-British Economist and Social Critic
  • Joseph and Mary Gomer, U.S. United Brethren Missionaries in Sierra Leone
  • William McKane, Scottish Presbyterian Minister and Biblical Scholar

5 (Carl Johannes Sodergren, U.S. Lutheran Minister and Theologian; and his colleague, Claus August Wendell, Swedish-American Lutheran Minister and Theologian)

  • Athol Hill, Australian Baptist Biblical Scholar and Social Prophet
  • Teresa of Calcutta, Foundress of the Congregation of the Missionaries of Charity
  • William Morton Reynolds, U.S. Lutheran Minister, Episcopal Priest, Educator, and Hymn Translator

6 (Charles Fox, Anglican Missionary in Melanesia)

  • Aaron Robarts Wolfe, U.S. Presbyterian Minister and Hymn Writer
  • Allen Crite, Artist
  • William F. Albright and G. Ernest Wright, U.S. Biblical Scholars and Archaeologists

7 (Beyers Naudé, South African Dutch Reformed Minister and Anti-Apartheid Activist)

  • Elie Naud, Huguenot Witness to the Faith
  • Jane Laurie Borthwick and Sarah Borthwick Findlater, Scottish Presbyterian Translators of Hymns
  • John Duckett and Ralph Corby, Roman Catholic Priests and Martyrs in England, 1644

8 (Nikolai Grundtvig, Danish Lutheran Minister, Bishop, Historian, Philosopher, Poet, Educator, and Hymn Writer)

  • Gottfried Wilhelm Sacer, German Lutheran Attorney and Hymn Writer; and Frances Elizabeth Cox, English Hymn Writer and Translator
  • Shepherd Knapp, U.S. Congregationalist Minister and Hymn Writer
  • Søren Kierkegaard, Danish Philosopher and Theologian, and Father of Existentialism

9 (Martyrs of Memphis, Tennessee, 1878)

  • Francis Borgia, “Second Founder of the Society of Jesus;” Peter Faber, Apostle of Germany, and Cofounder of the Society of Jesus; Alphonsus Rodriguez, Spanish Jesuit Lay Brother; and Peter Claver, “Apostle to the Negroes”
  • Lynn Harold Hough, U.S. Methodist Minister, Theologian, and Biblical Scholar
  • William Chatterton Dix, English Hymn Writer and Hymn Translator

10 (Alexander Crummell, U.S. African-American Episcopal Priest, Missionary, and Moral Philosopher)

  • Mordecai Johnson, Educator
  • Nemesian of Sigum and His Companions, Roman Catholic Bishops and Martyrs, 257
  • Salvius of Albi, Roman Catholic Bishop

11 (Paphnutius the Great, Roman Catholic Bishop of Upper Thebaid)

  • Anne Houlditch Shepherd, Anglican Novelist and Hymn Writer
  • John Stainer and Walter Galpin Alcock, Anglican Church Organists and Composers
  • Patiens of Lyons, Roman Catholic Archbishop

12 (Frederick J. Murphy, U.S. Roman Catholic Biblical Scholar)

  • Franciscus Ch’oe Kyong-Hwan, Korean Roman Catholic Catechist and Martyr, 1839; Lawrence Mary Joseph Imbert, Pierre Philibert Maubant, and Jacques Honoré Chastán, French Roman Catholic Priests, Missionaries to Korea, and Martyrs, 1839; Paul Chong Hasang, Korean Roman Catholic Seminarian and Martyr, 1839; and Cecilia Yu Sosa and Jung Hye, Korean Roman Catholic Martyrs, 1839
  • Kaspar Bienemann, German Lutheran Minister and Hymn Writer
  • William Josiah Irons, Anglican Priest, Hymn Writer, and Hymn Translator; and his daughter, Genevieve Mary Irons, Roman Catholic Hymn Writer

13 (Peter of Chelcic, Bohemian Hussite Reformer; and Gregory the Patriach, Founder of the Moravian Church)

  • Godfrey Thring, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer
  • Jane Crewdson, English Quaker Poet and Hymn Writer
  • Narayan Seshadri of Jalna, Indian Presbyterian Evangelist and “Apostle to the Mangs”

14 (HOLY CROSS)

15 (Martyrs of Birmingham, Alabama, September 15, 1963)

  • Charles Edward Oakley, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer
  • James Chisholm, Episcopal Priest
  • Philibert and Aicardus of Jumieges, Roman Catholic Abbots

16 (Cyprian of Carthage, Bishop and Martyr, 258; and Cornelius, Lucius I, and Stephen I, Bishops of Rome)

  • George Henry Trabert, U.S. Lutheran Minister, Missionary, and Hymn Translator and Author
  • James Francis Carney, U.S.-Honduran Roman Catholic Priest, Missionary, Revolutionary, and Martyr, 1983
  • Martin Behm, German Lutheran Minister and Hymn Writer

17 (Jutta of Disibodenberg, Roman Catholic Abbess; and her student, Hildegard of Bingen, Roman Catholic Abbess and Composer)

  • Gerard Moultrie, Anglican Priest, Hymn Writer, and Translator of Hymns
  • Zygmunt Szcesny Felinski, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Warsaw, Titutlar Bishop of Tarsus, and Founder of Recovery for the Poor and the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of the Family of Mary
  • Zygmunt Sajna, Polish Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1940

18 (Dag Hammarskjöld, Secretary-General of the United Nations)

  • Edward Bouverie Pusey, Anglican Priest
  • Henry Lascelles Jenner, Anglican Bishop of Dunedin, New Zealand
  • John Campbell Shairp, Scottish Poet and Educator

19 (Theodore of Tarsus, Archbishop of Canterbury)

  • Emily de Rodat, Founder of the Congregation of the Holy Family of Villefranche
  • Walter Chalmers Smith, Scottish Presbyterian Minister and Hymn Writer
  • William Dalrymple Maclagan, Archbishop of York and Hymn Writer

20 (Henri Nouwen, Dutch Roman Catholic Priest and Spiritual Writer)

  • John Coleridge Patteson, Anglican Bishop of Melanesia, and His Companions, Martyrs, 1871
  • Marie Therese of Saint Joseph, Foundress of the Congregation of the Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus
  • Nelson Wesley Trout, First African-American U.S. Lutheran Bishop

21 (MATTHEW THE EVANGELIST, APOSTLE AND MARTYR)

22 (Philander Chase, Episcopal Bishop of Ohio, and of Illinois; and Presiding Bishop)

  • C. H. Dodd, Welsh Congregationalist Minister, Theologian, and Biblical Scholar
  • Charlotte Elliott, Julia Anne Elliott, and Emily Elliott, Anglican Hymn Writers
  • Justus Falckner, Lutheran Pastor and Hymn Writer

23 (Amos Niven Wilder, U.S. Congregationalist Minister, Poet, Literary Critic, and Biblical Scholar)

  • Bernhard W. Anderson, U.S. United Methodist Minister and Biblical Scholar
  • Elizabeth Kenny, Australian Nurse and Medical Pioneer
  • Francisco de Paula Victor, Brazilian Roman Catholic Priest

24 (Anna Ellison Butler Alexander, African-American Episcopal Deaconess in Georgia, and Educator)

  • Henry Hart Milman, Anglican Dean, Translator, Historian, Theologian, and Hymn Writer
  • Juvenal of Alaska, Russian Orthodox Martyr in Alaska, and First Orthodox Martyr in the Americas, 1796
  • Peter the Aleut, Russian Orthodox Martyr in San Francisco, 1815

25 (Sarah Louise “Sadie” Delany, African-American Educator; her sister, Annie Elizabeth “Bessie” Delany, African-American Dentist; and their brother, Hubert Thomas Delany, African-American Attorney, Judge, and Civil Rights Activist)

  • Euphrosyne and her father, Paphnutius of Alexandria, Monks
  • Herman of Reichenau, Roman Catholic Monk, Liturgist, Poet, and Scholar
  • Sergius of Radonezh, Abbot of the Monastery of the Holy Trinity, Sergiyev Posad, Russia

26 (Paul VI, Bishop of Rome)

  • Frederick William Faber, English Roman Catholic Hymn Writer
  • John Bright, U.S. Presbyterian Minister and Biblical Scholar
  • John Byrom, Anglican then Quaker Poet and Hymn Writer

27 (Francis de Sales, Roman Catholic Bishop of Geneva; Vincent de Paul, “The Apostle of Charity;’ Louise de Marillac, Cofounder of the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul; and Charles Fuge Lowder, Founder of the Society of the Holy Cross)

  • Eliza Scudder, U.S. Unitarian then Episcopalian Hymn Writer
  • Martyrs of Melanesia, 1864-2003

28 (Jehu Jones, Jr., African-American Lutheran Minister)

  • Joseph Hoskins, English Congregationalist Minister and Hymn Writer
  • Lorenzo Ruiz, Roman Catholic Martyr

29 (Mary Ramabai, Prophetic Witness and Evangelist in India)

  • Francis Turner Palgrave, Anglican Poet, Art Critic, and Hymn Writer

30 (Honorius, Archbishop of Canterbury)

Floating

  • Labor Day

 

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

Proper 20, Year A   Leave a comment

Above:  Map of Ancient Nineveh

Image Source = Fredarch

Scandalous Generosity

The Sunday Closest to September 21

Sixteenth Sunday After Pentecost

SEPTEMBER 20, 2020

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FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #1

Exodus 16:2-15 (New Revised Standard Version):

The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

Then the LORD said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day. In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction or not. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather on other days.” So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “In the evening you shall know that it was the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning you shall see the glory of the LORD, because he has heard your complaining against the LORD. For what are we, that you complain against us?” And Moses said, “When the LORD gives you meat to eat in the evening and your fill of bread in the morning, because the LORD has heard the complaining that you utter against him– what are we? Your complaining is not against us but against the LORD.”

Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the Israelites, `Draw near to the LORD, for he has heard your complaining.’” And as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the Israelites, they looked toward the wilderness, and the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud. The LORD spoke to Moses and said, “I have heard the complaining of the Israelites; say to them, `At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread; then you shall know that I am the LORD your God.’”

In the evening quails came up and covered the camp; and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the layer of dew lifted, there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground. When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat.”

Psalm 105:1-6, 37-45 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Give thanks to the LORD and call upon his Name;

make known his deeds among the peoples.

2 Sing to him, sing praises to him,

and speak of all his marvelous works.

Glory in his holy Name;

let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.

Search for the LORD and his strength;

continually seek his face.

5 Remember the marvels he has done,

his wonders and the judgments of his mouth,

O offspring of Abraham his servant,

O children of Jacob his chosen.

37 He led out his people with silver and gold;

in all their tribes there was not one that stumbled.

38 Egypt was glad of their going,

because they were afraid of them.

39 He spread out a cloud for a covering,

and a fire to give light in the night season.

40 They asked, and quails appeared,

and he satisfied them with bread from heaven.

41 He opened the rock, and water flowed,

so the river ran in the dry places.

42 For God remembered his holy word

and Abraham his servant.

43 So he led forth his people with gladness,

his chosen with shouts of joy.

44 He gave his people the lands of the nations,

and they took the fruit of others’ toil.

45 That they might keep his statutes

and observe his laws.

Hallelujah!

FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #2

Jonah 3:10-4:11 (New Revised Standard Version):

When God saw what the people of Nineveh did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.

But this was very displeasing to Jonah, and he became angry. He prayed to the LORD and said, “O LORD! Is not this what I said while I was still in my own country? That is why I fled to Tarshish at the beginning; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing. And now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” And the LORD said, “Is it right for you to be angry?” Then Jonah went out of the city and sat down east of the city, and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, waiting to see what would become of the city.

The LORD God appointed a bush, and made it come up over Jonah, to give shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort; so Jonah was very happy about the bush. But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the bush, so that it withered. When the sun rose, God prepared a sultry east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint and asked that he might die. He said, “It is better for me to die than to live.”

But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the bush?” And he said, “Yes, angry enough to die.” Then the LORD said, “You are concerned about the bush, for which you did not labor and which you did not grow; it came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should I not be concerned about Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also many animals?”

Psalm 145:1-8 (New Revised Standard Version):

1 I will exalt you, O God my King,

and bless your Name for ever and ever.

2 Every day will I bless you

and praise your Name for ever and ever.

Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised;

there is no end to his greatness.

One generation shall praise your works to another

and shall declare your power.

I will ponder the glorious splendor of your majesty

and all your marvelous works.

They shall speak of the might of your wondrous acts,

and I will tell of your greatness.

They shall publish the remembrance of your great goodness;

they shall sing of your righteous deeds.

8 The LORD is gracious and full of compassion,

slow to anger and of great kindness.

SECOND READING

Philippians 1:21-30 (New Revised Standard Version):

For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which I prefer. I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. Since I am convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in faith, so that I may share abundantly in your boasting in Christ Jesus when I come to you again.

Only, live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent and hear about you, I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel, and are in no way intimidated by your opponents. For them this is evidence of their destruction, but of your salvation. And this is God’s doing. For he has graciously granted you the privilege not only of believing in Christ, but of suffering for him as well– since you are having the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

GOSPEL READING

Matthew 20:1-16 (New Revised Standard Version):

Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; and he said to them, `You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, `Why are you standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, `Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, `You also go into the vineyard.’ When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, `Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, `These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, `Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

The Collect:

Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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We like grace when we benefit from it, as in the case of the children of Israel, whom God fed in the wilderness.  Yet often we object when others–especially our enemies and others unlike us–benefit from it, too.

Consider Jonah, one of the most interesting literary creations in the Bible.  He was a satirical figure who epitomized the worst of post-Exilic Judaism, which had a strong dose of exclusivity about it.  So, in the short book bearing the name “Jonah” the titular character receives a mandate from God to offer the people of Nineveh–traditional enemies–a chance to repent.  Jonah runs away, but cannot escape from God.  Finally, Jonah does as God demands, and finds success in this effort disappointing.  Who is he without his traditional enemy?  What is his identity now?  This man cares more for a plant than for fellow human beings who are different from him, but whom God loves and to whom God reaches out.

This not merely about the scandal of grace extended to our enemies.  Jesus told a parable about a vineyard owner who hired people during various times of day then paid everybody the same amount–the standard daily wage at the time and place.  Those who had worked all day were upset, but the vineyard owner had not cheated them.

Why does God’s generosity scandalize us, or at least bother us?  Perhaps we think that we are deserving, but those people over there are not.  I have seen a sticker which reads, “GOD LOVES EVERYBODY, BUT I’M HIS FAVORITE.”  This is supposed to be funny, which is how I interpret it.  But some people believe it.  In reality, however, we are just as deserving as those people are, which is to say that we are not deserving at all.  This, however, is not how many of us like to think of ourselves.

Too often we define ourselves according to what we are not.  We are not like those people.  We are not those people.  We are better than them, we tell ourselves.  In reality, however, my identity, your identity, and the identity of the person least like us all exist in the context of God.  We are children of God, and therefore siblings.  So our quarrels exist within a family context.  God, our Father-Mother (Metaphors relative to God are imperfect, and the Bible contains both masculine and feminine images for God.), loves us and does not give up on any of us.  So we ought not to write anyone off.  Yet we do.

We can be instruments of God voluntarily–like, Moses dealing with the ever-grumbling children of Israel, or Paul, bringing the message of Jesus to the Gentiles–or involuntarily–like Jonah, weeping over a dead plant while bemoaning the repentance of a population.  If divine grace and generosity scandalize us, the fault is with us, not with God.

KRT

Published originally at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on March 29, 2011

Posted May 9, 2011 by neatnik2009 in Revised Common Lectionary Year A, September 20

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Feast of Nelson Wesley Trout (September 20)   Leave a comment

Above:  Logo of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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JOHN WESLEY TROUT (1921-SEPTEMBER 20, 1996)

First African-American U.S. Lutheran Bishop

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America celebrates the life of Bishop Nelson Wesley Trout on September 20.

Trout was born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1921.  He attended and graduated from Capital University and Trinity Lutheran Seminary, both in Columbus.  Also, Wartburg College, Waverly, Iowa, bestowed upon Trout the Doctor of Divinity degree.  Trout pastored congregations in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Montgomery, Alabama, and Los Angeles, California.

Taylor Branch wrote of Trout in Parting the Waters:  America in the King Years, 1954-1963 (1988), the first volume in his America in the King Years trilogy.  (Volumes Two and Three are Pillar of Fire and At Canaan’s Edge, completing the exodus metaphor.)  Trout left Montgomery in 1955, but not before he befriended Martin Luther King, Jr.  Trinity Lutheran Church, Montgomery, was a small congregation with an attached private school funded as a mission by the World Lutheran Council.  This school provided a fine and much sought-after education for Montgomery African-American children, even though many of their parents disliked the high Lutheran liturgy.  Trout and King kidded each other.  Trout asked King how he got the name “Martin Luther.”  King replied by asking Trout how he had become a Lutheran.  Trout joked that competition among Baptist preachers was rough, and that the Lutherans were begging for Negroes (to use the word common at the time).

Trout served on the staff of the American Lutheran Church (ALC) in the 1960s.  (Two denominations carried the name “American Lutheran Church.”  The first resulted from a 1930 merger and existed for three decades before combining with other Lutheran bodies to create the second American Lutheran Church.  This second organization merged into the Evangelical Lutheran Church in 1987.)  From 1960 to 1967 Trout was the ALC’s Associate Youth Director, a post he left to become Director of Urban Evangelism (1968-1970).  Trout also served as Executive Director of Lutheran Social Services in Dayton, Ohio, then as a professor and Director of Minority Ministry Studies at Trinity Lutheran Seminary, Columbus, Ohio.  He held that position on June 17, 1983, when the South Pacific District elected him their bishop, making him the first African-American bishop in U.S. Lutheranism.  Trout was 62 years old.

From 1983 to 1987 the Rev. Dr. Nelson Wesley Trout oversaw the South Pacific District, which in 1983 had 144,000 members in 310 congregations in California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Hawaii, and some Texas counties.  The three-way merger, which formed the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) in 1987, entailed the creation of 65 synods, so Trout’s jurisdiction ceased to exist.

(Note:  The practice among those U.S. Lutheran bodies who have the episcopate is to elect bishops to specified terms, with the possibility of re-election.  Yet once a bishop leaves office he or she ceases to be a bishop.)

Trout became the Bishop Emeritus of the new Southwest California Synod, as well as the Director for Mission Theology and Evangelism Training within ELCA’s Division of Outreach.  In 1991 his alma mater, Trinity Lutheran Seminary, established the Nelson W. Trout Lectureship in Preaching.  Trout died at Inglewood, California, on September 20, 1996, survived by his wife and three children.  He was 75 years old.

Kenneth Randolph Taylor

May 16, 2010

(The Seventh Sunday of Easter)

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Almighty God, you have raised up faithful bishops of your church, including your servant Nelson Wesley Trout.  May the memory of his life be a source of joy for us and a bulwark of our faith, so that we may serve and confess your name before the world, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

The First Reading:

Ezekiel 34:11-16 or Acts 20:17-35

The Response:

Psalm 84

The Second Reading:

1 Peter 5:1-4 or Ephesians 3:14-21

The Gospel:

John 21:15-17 or Matthew 24:42-47

(The Proper for a Bishop from Evangelical Lutheran Worship, 2006, hymnal of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America)