Archive for the ‘November’ Category

Devotion for Monday After the First Sunday of Advent, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   5 comments

Moses and Korah

Above:  Moses and Korah

Image in the Public Domain

Maintaining Christian Hope

NOVEMBER 30, 2015

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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

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The Assigned Readings:

Numbers 17:1-11

Psalm 90

2 Peter 3:1-18

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For a thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it is past

and like a watch in the night.

–Psalm 90:4, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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Complaining frequently, rebelling occasionally, and angering God in the process are recurring motifs in the post-Exodus parts of the Torah.  The people were free, had sufficient food and water, and should have been grateful.  Many were, to be sure, but a large proportion of the population waxed nostalgically regarding Egyptian leftovers and kept angering God.  They were impatient.

Allowing for change in God concepts from Numbers 17 to 2 Peter 3, the principle of obeying God remains constant.  The context in 2 Peter 3 is the fact that expectations of the imminent return of Christ proved to be false.  Many early Christians were dying without the Messiah having come back and replaced the corrupt, violent, and exploitative world order with the fully realized Kingdom of God.  Many people were losing hope.  Some were seizing the opportunity to live wrongly.

God is never late, but we humans are frequently impatient.  We are fortunate, for God has blessed us in more ways than we can count, but often we murmur or shout our complaints.  Giving thanks, not kvetching, is in order.

If you love me, you will keep my commandments.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you forever.  This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him.  You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.

–John 14:15-17, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

We need not rely on our own power to have a proper, respectful, awe-filled relationship with God, who advocates for us and does not strike us down with plagues.  No, abundant grace is available.  Will we accept it, maintain Christian hope, and embrace divine love, which demands much of us?

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

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2015/08/12/maintaining-christian-hope/

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A Christmas Message: Come, My Heart, Canst Thou Not Hear It   1 comment

come-my-heart

Above:  Part of a Certain Hymn from Pilgrim Hymnal (1935)

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.

–Luke 2:8, The New Revised Standard Version

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I collect hymnals and service books.  Exploring them and finding treasures is a wonderful hobby, one which brings joy to me.  And sharing those gems sheds that joy abroad.  That is the rationale for my GATHERED PRAYERS weblog, which links into this one.  Some hymns, however, are not prayers, so I seek and fine other venues for sharing them.

William Allen Knight (1863-1957) was a U.S. Congregationalist minister and author.  Yesterday, for example, I found some books he wrote available at archive.org:

Knight also wrote the following Christmas hymn in 1915:

Come, my heart, canst thou not hear it,

Mid the tumult of thy days?

Catch the old sweet song of angels,

Join thy voice to swell their praise!

Hast thou never shared the blessing,

Never known kind Heaven’s gift?

Bethlehem thy Saviour cradled!

Heart of mine, a song uplift.

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First to hear were watching shepherds,

Sore afraid that winter’s night;

Soon their Bethlehem’s low manger

Changed the song to wondrous sight!

Ever since, all they who hear it

Find a Saviour where they dwell;

Sing it, heart!  Who knows what toilers

Thou the Christward way shalt tell!

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Long ago the angels vanished–

But their song is sounding still!

Millions now with hope are singing,

“Peace on earth, to men good will.”

Sing, my heart!  Tho’ peace may tarry,

Sing good will mid human strife!

Till that old sweet song of angels

Shall attune to heav’n our life.

I keep hearing about a war on Christmas.  Yet I note that many, if not most, of those who speak and write at length on that subject seem oblivious to the liturgical calendar and many well-documented facts.  “Xmas” is not a way to remove “Christ” from Christmas.  No, “X” is an abbreviation derived from the Greek alphabet.  I have, for example, squeezed “Xian” into a tiny gap when taking notes and meaning “Christian.”  And I do not hear many of these self-appointed defenders of Christmas against the great secular hordes speak of Advent or twelve days of Christmas often.  Thus many self-appointed defenders of tradition violate the tradition they claim to affirm.  I love the irony.

Talk is cheap and frequently annoying.  But keeping holy seasons quietly and sincerely is where, as an old saying goes, the rubber meets the road.  We can start by dropping out of the rat race or never entering it.  And we can live daily in the awareness that time is sacred–something of which the older, more formalistic Christian denominations tend to engender better than the iconoclastic schools of Protestantism.

The angels’ song is sounding still.  Thanks be to God!  But do we hear it over the din of pointless arguments and of hustle and bustle?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 23, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE TWENTY-THIRD DAY OF ADVENT, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN OF KANTY, ROMAN CATHOLIC THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT CHARBEL, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MONK

THE FEAST OF GERALD R. FORD, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

THE FEAST OF PERCY SUTTON, CIVIL RIGHTS PIONEER

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Adapted from this post:

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/12/23/a-christmas-message-come-my-heart-canst-thou-not-hear-it/

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Advent and Christmas Message   1 comment

advent-and-christmas-message

Above:  The Beginning of the Draft of This Post

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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)

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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

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

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Adapted from this post:

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

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An Invitation to Observe a Holy Advent   1 comment

st-davids-roswell-ga

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

Image Source = Bill Monk, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

(https://plus.google.com/photos/114749828757741527421/albums/5687616707453348225/5687617015750155490?banner=pwa)

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Advent receives inadequate attention.  It 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

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Adapted from this post:

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/11/06/an-invitation-to-observe-a-holy-advent/

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Posted November 6, 2014 by neatnik2009 in Advent, December, November

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, 2013

NOVEMBER 30, 2016

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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

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 54:1-10

Psalm 124

Matthew 24:23-35

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A Related Post:

The Remnant:

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

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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)

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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

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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

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

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Devotion for Tuesday After the First Sunday of Advent, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   8 comments

noahs-thank-offering-koch

Above:  Noah’s Thank Offering, by Joseph Anton Koch

The Unworthiness of the World

DECEMBER 3, 2013

NOVEMBER 28, 2016

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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

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The Assigned Readings:

Genesis 9:1-17

Psalm 124

Hebrews 11:32-40

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If the Lord had not been on our side,

now may Israel say:

If the Lord had not been on our side

when our enemies rose up against us,

then they would have swallowed us up alive:

when their fury was raised against us.

Then the flood would have swept us away:

and the torrent would have covered us.

Then the raging waters

would have gone right over our heads.

–Psalm 124:1-4, A New Zealand Prayer Book (1989)

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The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Daily Lectionary from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006) skips over Genesis 8:20-22 (over J, the Yahwist, and from P, the Priestly Source) to 9:1-17 (back to P), which covers much of the same ground–plus a rainbow.  In that composite narrative many people had died because of their sinfulness.  In Hebrews 11:32-40, however, we read of people who have died because of their righteousness, people

of whom the world was not worthy.

–Verse 38a, The New Revised Standard Version

These saints, the lesson tells us,

…were commended for their faith [yet] did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better, so that they would not, apart from us, be made perfect.

–Verses 39-40, The New Revised Standard Version

Both readings contain the element of the unworthiness of the world.  Although the world might be unworthy God vows never to flood it again.  The world might be unworthy yet God does not give up on it, hence the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity as Jesus of Nazareth and all that followed it–especially the death and resurrection of Jesus and their spiritual implications for us.  God has not given up on the world yet; unwritten chapters in the story of grace on this planet remain for people to see unfold.

Yes, we are unworthy; I take that as a given.  But does that reality constitute a topic upon which we should dwell?  No.  God knows what we are yet has identified with us by means of the Incarnation.  Our worthiness is in God alone.  May we respond lovingly to God, who loves us.

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

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/07/06/the-unworthiness-of-the-world/

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Devotion for Monday After the First Sunday in Advent, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   4 comments

subsiding-of-the-waters-of-the-deluge

Above:  The Subsiding of the Waters of the Deluge, by Thomas Cole

Erasing Sin

DECEMBER 2, 2013

NOVEMBER 28, 2016

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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

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The Assigned Readings:

Genesis 8:1-19

Psalm 124

Romans 6:1-11

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A Related Post:

The Remnant:

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

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Our help is in the name of the Lord,

who has made heaven and earth.

–Psalm 124:7, The Book of Common Prayer (2004)

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With this post I commence new devotions for Advent 2013 and Church Year 2013-2014.

The story of Noah’s Ark and the Great Flood fascinates me.  For starters, it is a composite story with several literary traditions woven together.  The seams are obvious to anyone who knows what to look for, where to look for it, and who uses a fine-toothed comb.  So the story is not history.  That part does not disturb me, for I am comfortable with mythology in the highest sense of that word:  something which is true without being literally true.

The depiction of God in the composite account does disturb me, however.  God–here and elsewhere in the Hebrew Scriptures–seems quite eager to destroy entire populations.  The English word for that is “genocide.”

The theology of the composite story of the Great Flood and Noah’s Ark is that God wanted to erase sin from the face of the earth–clean the slate–and start over.  So we have a story of creative destruction:  a remnant survives and rebuilds.  After our Genesis reading ends, however, YHWH vows never to do such a thing again (Genesis 8:20-22).  God’s change of mind comes from the Yahwist (J), while the preceding nineteen verses are a combination of the Yahwist and the Priestly Source (P), mostly P.

In Romans 6 we read of a new, better way out of sin–the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  The Apostle Paul uses those not only as literal truths but as metaphors for our lives:

For whoever has died is freed from sin.  But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

–Verses 7-8, The New Revised Standard Version

This is the same Jesus for whose First Coming we prepare liturgically during Advent.  So, as we rush from party to party and from store to store, may we never forget the “Christ” in “Christmas.”  And may we never neglect the season of Advent.  No, may it prove to be a spiritually edifying time for us.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 9, 2013 COMMON ERA

PROPER 5–THE THIRD SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF SAINT COLUMBA OF IONA, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY AND ABBOT

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This is post #300 of this blog.–KRT

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/07/06/erasing-sin/

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