Archive for the ‘September 24’ Category

Feast of Anna Ellison Butler Alexander (September 24)   Leave a comment

Above:  Deaconess Anna Ellison Butler Alexander

Image in the Public Domain

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ANNA ELLISON BUTLER ALEXANDER (1865?-SEPTEMBER 24, 1947)

African-American Episcopal Deaconess in Georgia, and Educator

Deaconess Anna Ellison Butler Alexander comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Episcopal Church.

The history of this feast exemplifies how many commemorations rise to the denominational level in The Episcopal Church.

The feast rose from the diocesan level.  In 1998 Henry Irving Louttit, Jr., the Bishop of Georgia, declared Deaconess Anna Alexander a saint of Georgia, with the feast day of September 24.  The feast rose to the national level at the General Convention of 2015, which added the commemoration to A Great Cloud of Witnesses (2016), the expanded version of the official calendar of saints contained in Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2006 (2007).  The General Convention of 2018 approved the greatly expanded official calendar of saints, Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018 (as of the writing of this post, available as a PDF, pending the final, published version next year), with the deaconess included.

As with many other Southern African-Americans of the time, the date–the year, even–of Anna’s birth remained uncertain, due to the lack of written records.  Records of the Diocese of Georgia listed her year of birth as 1878.  In 1947 her death certificate listed 1881 as her year of birth.  Anna’s birth actually occurred shortly after the end of the Civil War.  Most recent sources have given 1865 as her year of birth.

Above:  Coastal Georgia, 1951

Scanned from Hammond’s Complete World Atlas (1951)

Our saint was the youngest of eleven children of former slaves James and Daphne Alexander (married in 1841), of the Pierce Butler Plantation on St. Simon’s Island, Georgia.  Daphne was a child of plantation rape; her biological father was Roswell King, Jr.  James, or “Aleck,” was a skilled carpenter and builder, as well as Butler’s personal assistant.  The Alexanders instilled the value of education into their children, and modeled it.  James, for example, taught himself to read and write.  The couple, when slaves, violated the law against educating slaves; they taught their children.

Above:  Glynn and McIntosh Counties, Georgia, 1951

Scanned from Hammond’s Complete World Atlas (1951)

Anna, raised in The Episcopal Church, found the public education available to her in Glynn County, Georgia, substandard.  (The inadequate education of African Americans in the Postbellum South was often a matter of policy.)  It was fortunate, then, that the Alexanders provided informal education for their children.  Our saint, seeking to help others less fortunate than herself, became a teacher at the parochial school (attached to St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church, Darien, Georgia) her sister, Mary Alexander Mann, had founded.  (Mary’s husband, Ferdinand M. Mann, was the Vicar of St. Cyprian’s Church from 1892 to 1914.)  Many also taught at the parochial school, as did another sister, Dora.  The school was, for a time, a vital to the education of African Americans in Darien.

Anna’s base of operations for most of her life was the poor, rural community of Pennick, in Glynn County.  In 1894 she prompted the founding of a mission, Church of the Good Shepherd.  She spent 1894-1897 studying at St. Paul’s Normal School (later College), Lawrenceville, Virginia.  Episcopal priest James Solomon Russell (1857-1935) had founded the school in 1888.  (St. Paul’s College closed in 2013).  Our saint, back in Pennick, rebuilt the congregation and, in 1901, founded the parochial school, which grew from one room to two rooms, with an apartment for the deaconess.

The Diocese of Georgia, founded in 1823, divided in 1907; the Diocese of Atlanta formed to the northwest of the rump Diocese of Georgia.  Bishop Cleland Kinloch Nelson, based in Atlanta when he was the Bishop of Georgia (1892-1907), remained in the capital city and became the first Bishop of Atlanta (1907-1917).  Nelson was a relatively liberal white Georgian of the time.  He disapproved of Jim Crow, but knew he could not change the system alone, so he at least tried to keep his diocese integrated.  Nelson also encouraged African-American missions.  The bishop was not all-powerful, however; he could not override the collective will of the majority of lay people.  So, in 1907, after the as the Diocese of Atlanta was forming, the Diocese of Georgia was segregating.  Nevertheless, one of Nelson’s final acts as the Bishop of Georgia was to consecrate Anna Alexander as a deaconess–the only African-American deaconess in the denomination.  He did this on Friday, May 13, 1907, at the second annual meeting of the Council of Colored Churchmen.

The rump Diocese of Georgia was officially segregated for four decades.  During most of that time policy was to discourage African-American missions.  In 1907-1946 there were no African-American delegates to the annual diocesan conventions.  The Council of Colored Churchmen, formed in 1906, barely had any representation on diocesan committees.  Bishop Frederick Focke Reese (in office 1908-1936), a racist who delivered paternalistic addresses to African-American clergymen, neglected African-American congregations and schools financially.  Therefore, much financial assistance had to come from other sources, official (such as the denomination) and individual.  Anna was an effective fund raiser in this context.  The deaconess provided an education to many African-American youth and shepherded them into further education–some at colleges and others at technical schools.  She also worked as a cook at Camp Reese, the diocesan, whites-only summer camp on St. Simon’s Island, for a number of years.  The racially segregated Diocese of Georgia named a cabin after her in 1938.  The deaconess, while working as a cook for white campers at Camp Reese, brought groups of African-American youth to St. Simon’s Island and provided a sort of summer camp for them.

Bishop Middleton Stuart Barnwell (in office 1936-1954), unlike Bishop Reese, took an interest in African-American missions.  He spent diocesan funds to replace or repair buildings.  And, in 1947, he welcomed African Americans to the first racially integrated diocesan convention in four decades.

During the Great Depression Good Shepherd, Pennick, was a distribution center for federal and private aid in Glynn County.  Anna, who ministered to her neighbors without regard to race, was in charge of distribution.  She wrote:

I am to see everyone gets what they need….some folk don’t need help now and I know who they are.  The old people and the children, they need the most….When I tell some people they can’t get help just now…that others come first, they get mad, a little, but I don’t pay no mind and soon they forget to be mad.

The deaconess earned respect in her community and vicinity; many white men removed their hats in deference when she walked past them.

Anna died on September 24, 1947.  She was either in her late seventies or early eighties.  She remained mostly forgotten for many years.  The Episcopal Church in Georgia, 1733-1957 (1960), by Henry Thompson Malone, never mentioned the deaconess’s name.  Even the otherwise excellent Black Episcopalians in Georgia:  Strife, Struggle and Salvation (1980), by Charles Lwanga Hoskins, frequently misidentified her as Dora.  (Father Hoskins was a wonderful man, a charming priest, and a fine homilist.  When I was a member of Trinity Episcopal Church, Statesboro, Georgia, he was a supply priest, filling in when the Rector was away.  Memories of some of his sermons have never ceased to edify me spiritually.  Hoskins did, however, often mistake Anna for her sister, Dora, in his book, still an invaluable source for this post.)  In recent years, however, Anna’s legacy has become more prominent, fortunately.  It has become sufficiently prominent that, in January 2018, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, an African American, visited Good Shepherd, Pennick.

May that legacy become more prominent.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 4, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PAUL JONES, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF UTAH, AND PEACE ACTIVIST; AND HIS COLLEAGUE, JOHN NEVIN SAYRE, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND PEACE ACTIVIST

THE FEAST OF E. F. SCHUMACHER, GERMAN-BRITISH ECONOMIST AND SOCIAL CRITIC

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH AND MARY GOMER, U.S. UNITED BRETHREN MISSIONARIES IN SIERRA LEONE

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM MCKANE, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

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O God, you called Anna Alexander as a deaconess in your Church

and sent her as teacher and evangelist to the people of Georgia:

Grant us the humility to go wherever you send

and the wisdom to teach the word of Christ to whomever we meet,

that all may come to the enlightenment which you intend for your people;

through Jesus Christ, our Teacher and Savior.  Amen.

A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016)

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O God, who called Anna Alexander as a deaconess in your Church:

Grant us the humility to go wherever you send

and the wisdom to teach the word of Christ to whomever we meet,

that all may come to the enlightenment you intend for your people;

through Jesus Christ, our Teacher and Savior.  Amen.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 20-25

Psalm 78

Matthew 11:25-30

Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018

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Feast of St. Juvenal of Alaska (September 24)   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of Alaskan Saints

Image Source = St. Gregory the Great Orthodox Church, Silver Spring, Maryland

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SAINT JUVENAL OF ALASKA (1761-1796)

Russian Orthodox Martyr in Alaska, and First Orthodox Martyr in the Americas, 1796

Also known as Saint Juvenaly of Alaska

Alternative feast days = July 2 and December 12

Saint Juvenal(y) of Alaska comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via the Orthodox Church in America.

Ivan Feodorovich Hovorukhin, born in Nerchinsk, Siberia, in 1761, went from being a mining engineer to serving as a priest-monk and missionary.  After our saint’s wife died in 1791, he entered the St. Petersburg monastery where St. Herman of Alaska (1755-1837) lived, and became Juvenal(y).  He and St. Herman belonged to the missionary team that arrived at Kodiak Island, Alaska, in 1794.  The priest-monks proved to be effective evangelists among the indigenous peoples in the region.  St. Juvenal(y) was certainly a capable missionary.  In 1795, for example, he baptized more than 700 members of the Chugatchi people at Nushak, then crossed Kenai Bay and baptized more people.  In 1796, at the village of Quinahgak, a hunting party killed our saint.  He became the first Orthodox martyr in the Americas.

Decades later, natives told St. Innocent of Alaska (1797-1879) that St. Juvenal(y) had faced those committing violence against him and asked them not to attack those whom he had baptized.  That was a credible story.  Accounts of the corpse standing up and challenging the assailants to repent were not.

The Orthodox Church in America canonized St. Juvenal(y) in 1980.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 3, 2018 COMMON ERA

LABOR DAY (U.S.A.)

THE FEAST OF JEDEDIAH WEISS, U.S. MORAVIAN CRAFTSMAN, MERCHANT, AND MUSICIAN

THE FEAST OF ARTHUR CARL LICHTENBERGER, PRESIDING BISHOP OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH AND WITNESS FOR CIVIL RIGHTS

THE FEAST OF JAMES BOLAN LAWRENCE, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND MISSIONARY IN SOUTHWESTERN GEORGIA, U.S.A.

THE FEAST OF SUNDAR SINGH, INDIAN CHRISTIAN EVANGELIST

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Almighty and everlasting God, who kindled the flame of your love

in the heart of your holy martyr Saint Juvenal(y) of Alaska:

Grant to us, your humble servants, a like faith and power of love,

that we who rejoice in his triumph may profit by his example;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Jeremiah 15:15-21

Psalm 124 or 31:1-5

1 Peter 4:12-19

Mark 8:34-38

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 715

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Feast of St. Peter the Aleut (September 24)   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of Alaskan Saints

Image Source = St. Gregory the Great Orthodox Church, Silver Spring, Maryland

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SAINT PETER THE ALEUT (1800-1815)

Russian Orthodox Martyr in San Francisco, 1815

St. Peter the Aleut comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via the Orthodox Church in America.  Some sources argue that St. Peter never existed.  Others merely raise doubts regarding the matter.  The documentation of the martyrdom of St. Peter comes from the writings of St. Herman of Alaska (1756-1837), a man in a position to know if there were such a person.

In 1794 St. Herman and other Russian Orthodox missionaries arrived at Kodiak Island, Alaska.  They were effective evangelists in the region.  One of their converts was Tchounanak, a fur-trader, and a native of that island.

Tchounagnak, baptized as Peter, participated in a hunting party to the Russian colony in California in 1815.  (The Russian presence, centered in Fort Ross, about 50 miles north of San Francisco, was extant from 1812 to 1842.  The purposes of the colony were to facilitate trade, and to raise cattle and crops for the Russian presence in Alaska.  Spanish, then Mexican, authorities considered the Russian colony in California a threat.)   In 1815 Spanish sailors captured the 14 members of the hunting party off the coast of California and transported them to San Francisco.  St. Peter, enduring torture by Jesuits, refused to convert to Roman Catholicism.  Suffering partial dismemberment (removal of some extremities and the loss of his hands) caused him to bleed to death, however.  Other members of the Aleut hunting party, released, returned to Alaska, where they told the story of the martyrdom of St. Peter the Aleut, and St. Herman wrote it down.

In 1980 the Orthodox Church in America canonized St. Peter the Aleut, the third Orthodox martyr in the Americas.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 3, 2018 COMMON ERA

LABOR DAY (U.S.A.)

THE FEAST OF JEDEDIAH WEISS, U.S. MORAVIAN CRAFTSMAN, MERCHANT, AND MUSICIAN

THE FEAST OF ARTHUR CARL LICHTENBERGER, PRESIDING BISHOP OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH AND WITNESS FOR CIVIL RIGHTS

THE FEAST OF JAMES BOLAN LAWRENCE, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND MISSIONARY IN SOUTHWESTERN GEORGIA, U.S.A.

THE FEAST OF SUNDAR SINGH, INDIAN CHRISTIAN EVANGELIST

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Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyr Saint Peter the Aleut

triumphed over suffering and was faithful even to death:

Grant us, who now remember him in thanksgiving,

to be so faithful in our witness to you in this world,

that we may receive with him the crown of life;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 51:1-12

Psalm 116 or 116:1-8

Revelation 7:13-17

Luke 12:2-12

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 714

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Feast of Henry Hart Milman (September 24)   1 comment

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Above:  St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, Between 1910 and 1920

Copyright Claimant = Detroit Publishing Company

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-D4-73191

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HENRY HART MILMAN (FEBRUARY 10, 1791-SEPTEMBER 24, 1868)

Anglican Dean, Translator, Historian, Theologian, and Hymn Writer

Henry Hart Milman was a scholar and a clergyman.  Some accused him of being to much a rationalist and a scholar, but his hymn texts, some of which I have added to my GATHERED PRAYERS weblog, reveal his piety well.

Our saint, son of Sir Francis Milman, physician to King George III (reigned 1760-1820), pursued a literary, historical, and theological path.  Milman, educated at Greenwich then Eton then Brasenose College, Oxford, won the Newdigate Prize for his Belvidere Apollo and became a fellow of the college.  Our saint, after his brilliant career as a student at Oxford, took Anglican Holy Orders.  He served at St. Mary’s, Reading (1818-1821), as a Professor at Oxford (1821-1831, and as Bampton Lecturer in 1827), as Canon of Westminster and Rector of St. Margaret’s (1835-1849), and as Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London (1849-1868).

The man was multi-talented.  He wrote dramas, including the acclaimed Fazio.  Our saint, among the earliest Western translators of texts from the Indian subcontinent, published Nala and Damayanti, and Other Poems (1835).  His Poetical Works filled three volumes.  Our saint edited Edward Gibbon’s History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776) then published the Life of Gibbon the following year.  And Milman, a historian, wrote multi-volume works such as History of the Jews (1830), History of Christianity from the Birth of Christ to the Abolition of Paganism in the Roman Empire (1840), and History of Latin Christianity to the Pontificate of Nicholas V (1856).  I have found the extend of his works available at archive.org impressive, thus I encourage you, O reader, to visit that website and find all the Milman texts your intellect might crave.

Milman also wrote thirteen hymns at the suggestion of his good friend, Bishop Reginald Heber.  These texts appeared in Heber’s posthumous Hymns Adapted to the Weekly Service of the Year (1827).  (The initials H.M.M. appear at the top of Milman’s hymns in the book.)  Among his greatest hymns was “Ride On, Ride On in Majesty,” a Palm Sunday text.

Milman was also a theological pioneer of sorts. His History of the Jews (1830), which was sympathetic to them, caused a great controversy, which led to official censure by ecclesiastical authorities and a temporary halt in the publication of the volumes.  (Revised editions followed in time.)  The cause of the uproar was Milman’s introduction of rationalistic German theology into England–at least what the Presbyterian Handbook to the Hymnal (1935) called

the first decisive inroad of German theology into England.

–page 164

In plain English, Milman minimized the miraculous and sought, with academic rigor, natural explanations.  That was fine, for God does work through nature, does God not?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 9, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF BENJAMIN SCHMOLCK, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF ADELAIDE ANNE PROCTER, ENGLISH POET AND FEMINIST

THE FEAST OF HANNAH GRIER COOME, FOUNDER OF THE SISTERHOOD OF SAINT JOHN THE DIVINE

THE FEAST OF JOHN HOOPER, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF GLOUCESTER

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

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [Henry Hart Milman 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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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 21, 2014

SEPTEMBER 24, 2017

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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 24

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