Archive for the ‘December 4’ Category

Devotion for Tuesday After the First Sunday of Advent, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   3 comments

King David

Above:  King David as a Byzantine Emperor

Image in the Public Domain

Washing Our Robes and Bearing Spiritual Fruits

DECEMBER 4, 2018

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Collect:

Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come.

By your merciful protection alert us to the threatening dangers of our sins,

and redeem us for your life of justice,

for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 18

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Assigned Readings:

2 Samuel 7:18-29

Psalm 90

Revelation 22:12-16

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

So teach us to number our days

that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.

–Psalm 90:12, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Earlier in 2 Samuel 7 God had said to David via the prophet Nathan not to build a magnificent temple, contrary to divine wishes.  No, God said, God would make David the founder of a great dynasty.  David would not build a literal house for the Ark of the Covenant, but God would make a metaphorical house of David.  The monarch was overcome with gratitude.

That was all well and good, but the Davidic Dynasty became an instrument of exploitation of the people.  The monarchy became the definition of national identity.  The former model, in which God was the national sovereign, was no more.  One reason for the change of the narrative and its opinion of monarchy was political.  The Biblical authors, who were myriad, disagreed with each other frequently.  Thus, for example, the prophet Samuel’s warning against monarchy came to coexist with texts affirming monarchy.

Nevertheless, the consistent witness of the Old and New Testaments for social justice–frequently in the economic realm–resounds down the corridors of time and reminds us that we do not live in the fully realized Kingdom of God.  Society is not an abstraction.  No, it is simply people.  We make society what it is, so we can change it.  May we improve it, respecting the image of God in others and ourselves.  May we love our fellow human beings–especially those who differ from us–as we love ourselves.  May noble intentions lead to positive results for the benefit of people, the common good of society, and the glory of God.  As I mentioned in the previous post, abundant grace is available to empower us to accomplish the purpose of having a proper, respectful, and awe-filled relationship with God and bearing the related spiritual fruits.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 10, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM WALSHAM HOW, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF WAKEFIELD AND HYMN WRITER; AND HIS SISTER, FRANCES JANE DOUGLAS(S), HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF EUNICE SHRIVER KENNEDY, FOUNDER OF THE SPECIAL OLYMPICS

THE FEAST OF SAINT LAURENCE OF ROME, ROMAN CATHOLIC DEACON AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SHERMAN BOOTH, ABOLITIONIST

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2015/08/12/washing-our-robes-and-bearing-spiritual-fruits/

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Advent and Christmas Message   1 comment

advent-and-christmas-message

Above:  The Beginning of the Draft of This Post

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

And Mary said,

My soul magnifies the Lord,

and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior….

–Luke 1:46-47, The New Revised Standard Version:  Catholic Edition (1993)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

One of the great virtues of High Churchmanship is having a well-developed sense of sacred time.  So, for example, the church calendars, with their cycles, tell us of salvation history.  We focus on one part of the narrative at a time.  Much of Protestantism, formed in rebellion against Medieval Roman Catholic excesses and errors, has thrown the proverbial baby out with the equally proverbial bath water, rejecting or minimizing improperly the sacred power of rituals and holy days.

Consider, O reader, the case of Christmas–not in the present tense, but through the late 1800s.  Puritans outlawed the celebration of Christmas when they governed England in the 1650s.  Their jure divino theology told them that since there was no biblical sanction for keeping Christmas, they ought not to do it–nor should anyone else.  On the other hand, the jure divino theology of other Calvinists allowed for keeping Christmas.  Jure divino was–and is–a matter of interpretation.  Lutherans, Anglicans, and Moravians kept Christmas.  Many Methodists on the U.S. frontier tried yet found that drunken revelry disrupted services.  Despite this Methodist pro-Christmas opinion, many members of the Free Methodist denomination persisted in anti-Christmas sentiment.  The holiday was too Roman Catholic, they said and existed without

the authority of God’s word.

Thus, as the December 19, 1888 issue of Free Methodist concluded,

We attach no holy significance to the day.

–Quoted in Leigh Eric Schmidt, Consumer Rites:  The Buying and Selling of American Holidays (Princeton, NJ:  Princeton University Press, 1995), page 180.  (The previous quote also comes from that magazine, quoted in the same book.)

Many Baptists also rejected the religious celebration of Christmas.  An 1875 issue of Baptist Teacher, a publication for Sunday School educators, contained the following editorial:

We believe in Christmas–not as a holy day but as a holiday and so we join with our juveniles with utmost heartiness of festal celebration….Stripped as it ought to be, of all pretensions of religious sanctity and simply regarded as a social and domestic institution–an occasion of housewarming, and heart-warming and innocent festivity–we welcome its coming with a hearty “All Hail.”

–Quoted in Schmidt, Consumer Rites, pages 179 and 180

Presbyterians, with their Puritan heritage, resisted celebrating Christmas for a long time.  In fact, some very strict Presbyterians still refuse to keep Christmas, citing their interpretation of jure divino theology.  (I have found some of their writings online.)  That attitude was more commonplace in the 1800s.  The Presbyterian Church in the United States, the old Southern Presbyterian Church, passed the following resolution at its 1899 General Assembly:

There is no warrant for the observance of Christmas and Easter as holy days, but rather contrary (see Galatians iv.9-11; Colossians ii.16-21), and such observance is contrary to the principles of the Reformed faith, conducive to will-worship, and not in harmony with the simplicity of the gospel in Jesus Christ.

–Page 430 of the Journal of the General Assembly, 1899  (I copied the text of the resolution verbatim from an original copy of the Journal.)

I agree with Leigh Eric Schmidt:

It is not hard to see in this radical Protestant perspective a religious source for the very secularization of the holiday  that would eventually be so widely decried.  With the often jostling secularism of the Christmas bazaar, Protestant rigorists simply got what they had long wished for–Christmas as one more market day, a profane time or work and trade.

Consumer Rites, page 180

I affirm the power of rituals and church calendars.  And I have no fear of keeping a Roman Catholic holy day and season.  Thus I keep Advent (December 1-24) and Christmas (December 25-January 5).  I hold off on wishing people

Merry Christmas

often until close to Christmas Eve, for I value the time of preparation.  And I have no hostility or mere opposition to wishing anyone

Happy Holidays,

due to the concentrated holiday season in December.  This is about succinctness and respect in my mind; I am not a culture warrior.

Yet I cannot help but notice with dismay the increasingly early start of the end-of-year shopping season.  More retailers will open earlier on Thanksgiving Day this year.  Many stores display Christmas decorations before Halloween.  These are examples of worshiping at the high altar of the Almighty Dollar.

I refuse to participate in this.  In fact, I have completed my Christmas shopping–such as it was–mostly at thrift stores.  One problem with materialism is that it ignores a basic fact:  If I acquire an item, I must put it somewhere.  But what if I enjoy open space?

I encourage a different approach to the end of the year:  drop out quietly (or never opt in) and keep nearly four weeks of Advent and all twelve days of Christmas.  I invite you, O reader, to observe these holy seasons and to discover riches and treasures better than anything on sale on Black Friday.

Pax vobiscum!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 25, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SQUANTO, COMPASSIONATE HUMAN BEING

THE FEAST OF JAMES OTIS SARGENT HUNTINGTON, FOUNDER OF THE ORDER OF THE HOLY CROSS

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/nineteenth-century-evangelical-support-for-a-secular-christmas/

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Adapted from this post:

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/11/25/advent-and-christmas-message/

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Christmas Thoughts   1 comment

st-teresas-december-23-2011

Above:  Live Nativity Scene, St. Teresa’s Episcopal Church, Acworth, Georgia, December 23, 2011

Image Source = Bill Monk, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Be near me, Lord Jesus; I ask Thee to stay

Close by me forever, and love me, I pray.

Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care,

And fit us for heaven to live with Thee there.

–Martin Luther; translated by William James Kirkpatrick

Yesterday I sang in my parish choir’s performance of the Christmas portion of Handel’s Messiah.  We dropped “His yoke is easy and his burden is light,” culminating instead in the Hallelujah Chorus.  The concert was glorious and spiritually edifying for many people.

There are still a few days of Advent left.  So I encourage you, O reader, to observe them.  Then, beginning sometime during the second half of December 24, begin to say

Merry Christmas!

and continue that practice through January 5, the twelfth and last day of Christmas.  And I encourage you to remember that our Lord and Savior was born into a violent world, one in which men–some mentally disturbed, others just mean, and still others both mean and mentally disturbed–threatened and took the lives of innocents.  Names, circumstances, empires, nation-states, and technology have changed, but the essential reality has remained constant, unfortunately.

The Hallelujah Chorus, quoting the Apocalypse of John, includes these words:

The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ.

That is not true yet, obviously.  But that fact does not relieve any of us of our responsibilities to respect the Image of God in others and to treat them accordingly.  We must not try to evade the duty to be the face and appendages of Christ to those to whom God sends us and those whom God sends to us.  We cannot save the world, but we can improve it.  May we do so for the glory of God and the benefit of others.

May the peace of Christ, born as a vulnerable baby and executed as a criminal by a brutal imperial government, be with you now and always.  In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti.  Amen.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 17, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF MARIA STEWART, EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF EGLANTYNE JEBB, FOUNDER OF SAVE THE CHILDREN

THE FEAST OF FRANK MASON NORTH, U.S. METHODIST MINISTER

THE FEAST OF SAINT OLYMPIAS, ORTHODOX DEACONESS

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Adapted from this post:

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/12/17/christmas-thoughts/

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Devotion for Friday Before the Second Sunday of Advent, Year B (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Antioch Hippodrome

Above:  Remains of the Hippodrome at Antioch, Turkey, Between 1934 and 1939

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-matpc-16684

Jeremiah and Barnabas

DECEMBER 4, 2020

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Collect:

Stir up our hearts, Lord God, to prepare the way of your only Son.

By his coming strengthen us to serve you with purified lives;

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

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

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 19

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Assigned Readings:

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 85:8-13

Acts 11:19-26

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Show us your mercy, O LORD,

and grand us your salvation.

I will listen to what the LORD God is saying,

for he is speaking peace to his faithful people

and to those who turn their hears to him.

–Psalm 85:7-8, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Jeremiah had a difficult vocation:  to prophesy to people who ignored his message at best and tried to kill him at worst.  The prophets’ youth was a serious problem, from his initial perspective.  Yet the power of God proved sufficient, as it always does.  Those whom God calls, God qualifies.  And why should youth function as a handicap when many foolish elders walk the earth?

Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, played a pivotal role in the early Christian Church.  He accompanied St. Paul of Tarsus to a meeting with the Apostles at Jerusalem and spoke on behalf of the former persecutor.  Joseph settled at Antioch, where people called him “Barnabas,” or “son of encouragement” or “son of consolation.”  There he encouraged and consoled Jewish and Gentile Christians alike.  He also traveled to Tarsus to retrieve St. Paul, with whom he traveled later.  St. Paul would not have become the great figure he became without St. (Joseph) Barnabas, properly an Apostle also.

Sometimes I read of allegedly self-made people.  The truth, however, is that we depend on God and each other.  Everything comes from God, of course.  And we rely on each other from the womb to the tomb.  St. Paul needed St. (Joseph) Barnabas, with whom he argued sometimes.  And we modern Christians owe a great debt of gratitude to both of these great men.  The prophet Jeremiah came to understand that he depended on God for his life.  He argued with God frequently, but theirs was an honest relationship.  (I have no problem with arguing faithfully with God.  In fact, I think that Jeremiah made some valid points.)

Jeremiah was the weeping prophet and St. (Joseph) Barnabas was the son of encouragement or consolation.  Jeremiah preached a harsh yet necessary message, but St. (Joseph) Barnabas declared an inclusive and positive Gospel.  Both men suffered for their faithful actions.  Jeremiah died in exile;  St. (Joseph) Barnabas became a martyr.  Yet the book of Jeremiah survives in Bibles, as do accounts of St. (Joseph) Barnabas, encourager of St. Paul and many other Christians.  Both men bequeathed living legacies to the human race.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 20, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF MARY A. LATHBURY, U.S. METHODIST HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT BERTILLA BOSCARDIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN AND NURSE

THE FEAST OF JOHN HARRIS BURT, EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF TARORE OF WAHAORA, ANGLICAN MARTYR

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/10/28/jeremiah-and-barnabas/

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Devotion for Wednesday After the First Sunday of Advent, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   2 comments

Icon_second_coming

Above:  Second Coming Icon

A Fresh Start

DECEMBER 4, 2019

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Collect:

Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come.

By your merciful protection awaken us to the threatening dangers of our sins,

and enlighten our walk in the way of your salvation,

for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 18

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 54:1-10

Psalm 124

Matthew 24:23-35

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

A Related Post:

The Remnant:

http://taylorfamilypoems.wordpress.com/2011/08/09/the-remnant/

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Blessed be the LORD,

who has not given us over to be a prey for their teeth.

We have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowler;

the snare is broken, and we have escaped.

–Psalm 124:6-7, Book of Common Worship (1993)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

This is just like the days of Noah to me:

Just as I swore that the waters of Noah would never again go over the earth,

so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you and will not rebuke you.

For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed,

but my steadfast love will not depart from you,

and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,

says the LORD, who has compassion on you.

–Isaiah 54:9-10, The New Revised Standard Version

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Isaiah 54:1-10 speaks of the return of exiles who have never known their ancestral homeland to that homeland.  God will act, the text says, and all will be better than it has ever been.  Sin might have led to the exile, but the faithful descendants of those sinners will have a fresh start.

A fresh start will follow what God will do, as described in the reading from Matthew 24.  The text does not cover that fresh start, but said fresh start will occur nevertheless.

It is common for lectionaries to assign apocalyptic readings for Advent.  May we who follow these lectionaries grasp the liturgical setting–preparation for the First Coming of Jesus at Christmas.  Therefore some readings about the Second Coming  are appropriate at the end of the calendar year, especially over two thousand years after the First Coming.  And may we remember that a fresh start for humankind followed that event, which we will (if we do it properly) celebrate December 25-January 5 in Western Christianity.  (The Eastern Orthodox have their own calendar.)  May we keep the impending fresh start in mind when we ponder the Second Coming.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 10, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE INAUGURATION OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH (U.S.A.), 1983

THE FEAST OF THE INAUGURATION OF THE UNITED CHURCH OF CANADA, 1925

THE FEAST OF SAINT EPHREM OF EDESSA, ROMAN CATHOLIC DEACON AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT LANDERICUS OF PARIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/07/06/a-fresh-start/

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Advent Renewal   Leave a comment

Snapshot_20121202

Above:  The Author on December 2, 2012

The cycle turns

from the Season after Pentecost

to Advent again;

Christ is King,

the announcement of the end of the old order

makes room for

the announcement of the new order.

Soon (liturgically),

a child will be born defenseless

into a dangerous world,

and, today,

I recall that perfidy must never

extinguish innocence and love.

The church year begins again

in apprehension and hope

and in the shadow of Calvary and an empty tomb–

again, apprehension and hope.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 3, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARUTHAS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF MAYPHERKAT AND MISSIONARY TO PERSIA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BERNARD OF PARMA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT FRANCIS XAVIER, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY IN ASIA

THE FEAST OF JOHN OWEN SMITH, UNITED METHODIST BISHOP IN GEORGIA

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

An Invitation to Observe a Holy Advent   2 comments

Above:  St. David’s Episcopal Church, Roswell, Georgia, December 18, 2011

Image Source = Bill Monk, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Advent receives inadequate attention.  The season is certainly not commercial.  Indeed, Christmas receives much commercial attention even before Halloween, for retailers need the money from Christmas-related sales to sustain stores through other times of the year.  I admit to being of two minds.  On one hand I do my rather limited Christmas shopping at thrift stores, so my deeds reveal my creed.  Yet I know that many jobs depend on Christmas-related sales, so I want retailers to do well at the end of the year.  Nevertheless, I am not very materialistic at heart; the best part of Christmas is intangible.  And nobody needs any more dust catchers.

Observing Advent is a positive way of dropping out of the madness that is pre-December 25 commercialism.  The four Sundays and other days (December 2-24 in 2012) preceding Christmas Day are a time of spiritual preparation, not unlike Lent, which precedes Easter.  Garrison Keillor used the term “Advent Distress Disorder” (ADD) in a monologue last year.  Indeed, finding positive news in the midst of apocalyptic tones of Advent readings can prove difficult.  Yet the good news remains and the light shines brightest in the darkness.

So, O reader, I invite you to observe a holy Advent.  Embrace the confluence of joy and distress, of darkness and light.  And give Advent all the time it warrants through December 24.  Christmas will arrive on schedule and last for twelve days.  But that is another topic….

Pax vobiscum!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 6, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM TEMPLE, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

THE FEAST OF TE WHITI O RONGOMAI, MAORI PROPHET

THE FEAST OF SAINT THEOPHANE VERNARD, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, MISSIONARY, AND MARTYR IN VIETNAM

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++