Archive for May 2013

Rituals of the Evangelical United Brethren Church (1946-1968)   8 comments

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Above:  Otterbein United Brethren Church, Baltimore, Maryland, July 1936

Photograph by E. H. Pickering

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = HABS MD,4-BALT,54–4

In 2013 this is Old Otterbein United Methodist Church, Baltimore, Maryland.

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Hoyt L. Hickman, writing of increasing levels of formality among U.S. Methodists (particularly the forebears of The United Methodist Church), wrote:

A few Methodist choirs had begun to vest as early as the 1890s, and by the mid-twentieth century one could expect to find vested choirs in medium-sized and larger congregations.  Black clergy robes were already appearing in Methodist services in the 1920s and became commonplace by the 195os.  By the 1950s and 60s a stole in the seasonal color might be worn with the robe, and the robe might be white in the summer.

Worshiping with United Methodists:  A Guide for Pastors and Church Leaders (Nashville, TN:  Abingdon Press, 1996, page 59)

George Washington Barrett (1873-1956), one of my great-grandfathers, was a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South (extant 1845-1939), then of The Methodist Church, into which his original denomination merged.  He had no use for what he described as “externals”, such as

emphasizing…the manner of religious ceremony.

He was a product of his time and subculture, having become clergy in the North Georgia Conference in 1899.  (http://taylorfamilypoems.wordpress.com/2013/05/30/spiritual-religion-and-ritualism/ and http://taylorfamilypoems.wordpress.com/2012/07/28/family-tree-of-george-washington-barrett/)

The United Methodist Church (1968-) is the result of the merger of two denominations with roots in 1700s America.  The Methodist Church (1939-1968) was immediate successor of the Methodist Episcopal Church (1784-1939) and two of its offshoots, with which it reunited.  Hoyt L. Hickman, in the portion of his book which I quoted, described liturgical and ritualistic developments on that side of the denominational family tree.  I would be surprised if the other side of the family tree advanced faster.  That other side of the denominational family tree was The Evangelical United Brethren Church (1946-1968) (abbreviated as E.U.B.), the combination of the former Church of the United Brethren in Christ (1816-1946) and the Evangelical Church (1922-1946).  The latter body formed by means of the reunion of the Evangelical Association (1800-1922) and the United Evangelical Church (1894-1922).

The Order of Worship from the Methodist Book of Worship for Church and Home (1945) provided for one reading of Scripture, as did the “Aids to Worship” section of The Church Hymnal (United Brethren in Christ, 1935).  Yet the Order of Worship from the Methodist Book of Worship for Church and Home (1965) provided for readings from the Bible, specifically,

…one from the Old Testament, and one from the Epistles or Gospels.”

–page 5

The Hymnal of The Evangelical Brethren Church (1957) contained two orders of worship.  The second (page 10) provided for “Reading of the Scriptures,” and the first (page 9) specified an Epistle reading and a Gospel reading.

Of Communion rituals I have slightly less information than I prefer.  The Evangelical Hymnal (1921) contained no such ritual.  Mainly it offered hymns, indices, and responsive readings.  But The Church Hymnal (United Brethren in Christ, 1935) contained two versions of “An Order for Service for the Holy Communion,” both based on and reduced greatly from The Book of Common Prayer (1662) and

revised in accordance with the usage of non-liturgical churches and adapted to meet the needs of our own Communion.

–page 418

“The Ritual of the Holy Communion, or the Lord’s Supper,” from the E.U.B. Hymnal (1957), came also from the 1662 Prayer Book, with reductions and other modifications.  The E.U.B. Book of Ritual (1952, 1955, and 1959) contained two Communion rituals.  The Longer Form was the one printed in The Hymnal (1957).  The Briefer form was reduced from the Longer Form.  The 1950s Briefer Form was different from the 1935 abbreviated rite.

The Church Hymnal (United Brethren in Christ, 1935) contained a section entitled “Aids to Worship.”  There were Orders of Service, occasional services (such as confirmation and baptism), responsive readings (from the Bible), “Responsive Hymn Services” (which used hymn verses in lieu of responsive readings), and litanies for opening and for closing worship.

Likewise the E.U.B. Hymnal (1957) contained an “Aids to Worship” section, which, the book said,

…may be supplemented by the rich resources, ancient and modern, which are available in the Bible and in other books of worship.

–page not numbered

In this section were calls to worship, invocations, offertory sentences, suggested Bible readings specified by topic, the Decalogue, Old Testament Beatitudes (from various Psalms), New Testament Beatitudes (from Matthew 5:3-12, Revised Standard Version), and responsive readings (from the Bible).

The Book of Ritual of The Evangelical United Brethren Church (1952, 1955, and 1959) was a separately bound portion of the denominational Discipline.  All editions of The Book of Ritual contained the following rites:

  • Baptism of Infants;
  • Baptism of Adults;
  • Dedication of Infants (in lieu of Baptism of Infants);
  • Holy Communion (the Longer Form and the Briefer Form);
  • Reception of Members;
  • Holy Matrimony (with identical vows for the bride and the groom);
  • Burial of the Dead (a Christian form and a General form);
  • Ordination of Elders;
  • Breaking Ground;
  • Laying a Cornerstone;
  • Dedication of a Church;
  • Rededication of a Church;
  • Dedication of an Educational Building;
  • Dedication of an Organ;
  • Dedication of a Home;
  • Dedication of a Parsonage;
  • Mortgage or Note Burning;
  • Installation of a Conference Superintendent;
  • Installation of General Church Officials;
  • Installation of a Bishop; and
  • Retirement of Elders.

The 1955 Book of Ritual added a separate rite for receiving children as members and dropped the General Installation service from 1952.

The 1959 Book of Ritual replaced the 1952 rite for the Commissioning of Missionaries with a new ritual for the Recognition of Missionary Commitment.

As The Book of Ritual (1952) said,

Divine worship is the inestimable privilege of man who, in the presence of Deity, bows in humility and adoration.  Worship in its deepest and purest sense is the response of the human to the Divine.  The object of a worship service is to lead souls to an act of pure adoration and self-dedication.  A profound and wide-spread desire for enriched worship services marks the age in which we are living.

The true object of worship ever lies beyond the full comprehension of man; therefore he bridges that gap by the use of symbol and ritual.  Great liturgies are of slow growth, and are the product of an ever-enlarging spiritual experience.  They gather up that which has been the most helpful and noble in the faith and devotion of the ages.  The church has a rich literature of worship, which is stimulating and uplifting, and by its use, worship is given concrete expression.

The ultimate value of rituals and formulas depends largely upon the devotional spirit of the Minister in the leadership of worship.  Orderliness in procedure commends itself to all who understand the meaning of true worship….

Now, of course, The United Methodist Book of Worship (1992) (abbreviated as UMBOW) is the official collection of United Methodist liturgies, some duplicated from The United Methodist Hymnal (1989).  Both volumes contain the following, “A Service of Word and Table IV,” which borrows from Methodist and E.U.B. service books.  The Hymnal (1989) contains the former Methodist and E.U.B. versions of the Lord’s Prayer (identical except for some punctuation and the debts vs. trespasses issue).  The UMBOW (1992) offers the following:

  • The Baptismal Covenant II-B (for children and based on former Methodist and E.U.B. rites),
  • The Baptismal Covenant III (for adults and based on former Methodist and E.U.B. rites), and
  • A Service of Christian Marriage II (based on former Methodist and E.U.B. rites).

The Hymnal (1989) also contains The Baptismal Covenant III and offers the following:

  • The Congregational Pledge 1 (for use with the former E.U.B. rite) and
  • The Congregational Pledge 2 (for use with the former Methodist rite).

Both of these are for use with The Baptismal Covenant II.  The UMBOW (1992) contains not only the text of The Baptismal Covenant II but The Baptismal Covenant II-A and The Baptismal Covenant II-B, the latter two of which are briefer than the former.  II-A in The UMBOW (1992) incorporates The Congregational Pledge 2 and II-B features The Congregational Pledge II-A.  But the Hymnal (1989), for the sake of  simplicity, has simply The Baptismal Covenant II, followed by the two options for The Congregational Pledge.  The wording of both Congregational pledges changed slightly between the Hymnal (1989) and The UMBOW (1992), but with no theological importance I can discern.

There is no rite for the Dedication of Infants anywhere in The UMBOW (1992).  Neither was there one in the 1945 or the 1965 Book of Worship for Church and Home.

The Evangelical United Brethren Church offered a Book of Ritual with a narrower range of options than the Methodist Book of Worship for Church and Home.  Yet the 1957 E.U.B. Hymnal, with its worship aids, compensated somewhat for that fact.  A review of E.U.B. Church rituals reveals a growing sense of the importance of more congregational involvement in worship as the twentieth century progressed.  That was already evident in The Church Hymnal (United Brethren in Christ, 1935).  The E.U.B. Church, for a “non-liturgical” denomination, seemed, officially at least, aware of the need for more ritual as they approached union with the Methodists, their ecclesiastical cousins.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 31, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE VISITATION OF MARY TO ELIZABETH

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The Book of Worship for Church and Home (1965)   8 comments

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Above:  Lawrence Street Methodist Episcopal Church, Denver, Colorado, Between 1868 and 1882

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-USZ62-117988

Trinity United Methodist Church, Denver, Colorado, is the spiritual heir of this congregation.

Thanks to Cyclopedia of Methodism (1882) for giving me the church name (Lawrence Street) and an engraving to match the photograph from the Library of Congress!

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The 1956 General Conference of The Methodist Church (1939-1968) approved a revision of the 1945 Book of Worship for Church and Home.  The ultimate result was the 1965 Book of Worship for Church and Home (BOW), this time without the redundant title page disclaimer:

FOR VOLUNTARY AND OPTIONAL USE.

Yet church politics of formal liturgy were not entirely amicable.  Hence the last paragraph of the Preface reads:

The Book of Worship is designed  to provide significant structure for the worship of the Church.  It is not intended in any way to fetter the spontaneity or reject the reliance upon the Holy Spirit which have characterized Methodist worship throughout its history.  Rather The Book of Worship seeks to claim for the Church and its people the total Methodist heritage in worship.  John Wesley himself, by his devotion to the Book of Common Prayer and his ordering of the “Sunday Service of the Methodists in America,” has made us heirs of the deeply meaningful historic forms of devotion of the universal Church.  As we make these our own we shall find that the Holy Spirit will move among us with mighty power.

The 1965 BOW mostly expands upon the foundation laid by its 1945 predecessor.

  • The Order of Worship provides for reading more Scripture than before.
  • The volume includes a new (in 1965) lectionary, one which is outmoded in 2013.  Pentecost Season runs through late August then Kingdomtime follows, ending on the eve of Advent.  In contrast, The United Methodist Book of Worship (1992), this volume’s successor, follows the modern custom of one’s enormous Season after Pentecost, ranging from May or June to late November or early December.
  • There are more prayers (and sometimes different ones on the same topics) than in the 1945 BOW.
  • The section of daily readings for a month is absent.
  • The Psalter is now present.
  • There are more occasional services.
  • There is a greater wealth of seasonal prayers than in either the 1945 BOW or the 1992 United Methodist Book of Worship.

I have two copies of the 1965 BOW–one from before the 1968 merger of The Methodist Church (1939-1968) and the Evangelical United Brethren Church (1946-1968) which forged The United Methodist Church and the other from after that occasion.  So the covers are slightly different, for one has the cross-and-M logo of the former Methodist Church and the other bears the cross-and-flame logo of The United Methodist Church.  And the post-1968 copy inserts the word “United” in front of “Methodist” inside.

I grew up in United Methodist parsonages in the South Georgia Conference in the 1980s.  There was not a copy of the 1965 BOW at home or in the church office.  In fact, I first saw a copy at a family friend’s home.  What use is a good book of worship if people do not use it or know that it exists?

As with the 1945 BOW, I find the widespread use of archaic language annoying.  Is calling God “you” instead of “thee” really so bad?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 30, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT EUSEBIUS OF CAESAREA, HISTORIAN AND ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF APOLO KIVEBULAYA, ANGLICAN EVANGELIST

THE FEAST OF JOACHIM NEANDER, GERMAN REFORMED MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOSEPHINE BUTLER, WORKER AMONG WOMEN

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The Book of Worship for Church and Home (1945)   12 comments

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Above:  Methodist Church, Streator, Illinois, Circa 1900

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-D4-13897

In 2013 the congregation bears the name “First United Methodist Church of Streator” and has a different yet still graceful structure.

(http://www.igrc.org/churches/detail/755)

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Last Summer I began to write reviews of current worship books for denominations.  Among those reviews was one of The United Methodist Book of Worship (1992). Now, with this post, I commence a series of reviews of superceded worship books.

Cyclopedia of Methodism (Fifth Revised Edition), edited by Bishop Matthew Simpson and published in 1882, contains an article on John Wesley’s Sunday Service, an abridgment of The Book of Common Prayer (1662) of The Church of England.   The article (on page 842) concludes:

The general feeling of the American people was averse to these forms and ceremonies which were being used in the English Church, and especially to the wearing of gowns and bands, and the liturgical services.  In addition to this, many of the congregations were gathered in sparsely-settled sections of the country, where the people had no books, and where the long travels of the minister prevented his being able to supply them.

Yet much of U.S. Methodism became more formal–genteel even–in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  Thus a widespread acceptance of more structured worship emerged.  The Methodist Episcopal Church (1784-1939) and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South (1845-1939), each having reprinted Wesley’s Sunday Service and increasingly elaborate orders of worship, produced jointly The Methodist Hymnal (1905), the first U.S. Methodist hymnal to feature a psalter structured for responsive readings.

Enough support for even more formal worship existed in 1940, when the General Conference of the reunited Methodist Church (1939-1968) approved the creation of the Commission on Ritual and Orders of Worship, mandated to provide liturgies which would

draw upon richer and wider sources than those that have been available up to the present time.

Four years later the General Conference approved the first Book of Worship for Church and Home (BOW), published in 1945.

The focus of the 1945 BOW is daily devotion, for much opposition to any Prayer Book remained widespread, hence the redundant disclaimer on the title page:

FOR VOLUNTARY AND OPTIONAL USE.

Nevertheless, the book provides orders of worship for the Morning (three of them), the Evening (three of them), and the Morning or the Evening (four of them), as well as major festivals and seasons in the Church Year:  Advent, Christmas Sunday, Lent, Good Friday, Easter Day, Pentecost, et cetera.  There are also services for other occasions, such as Kingdomtide (since absorbed into Ordinary Time), agricultural observances, Thanksgiving Day, and an ecumenical service.

The 1945 BOW includes many other features, such as the extant Methodist Ritual, hence rites baptism, confirmation, marriage, and burial services, plus a variety of truly occasional rites, such as the dedication of a home or a cornerstone.  The extensive collection of prayers and graces draws upon a variety of sources, including the 1906 and 1932 editions of the U.S. Presbyterian Book of Common Worship and the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer (1928).  There is also a section of Daily Readings and Prayers for a Month (pages 286-323).

The 1945 BOW was a good start, but I find it uncomfortable to use.  The volume was not meant for me, an Episcopalian accustomed to more elaborate rites, so the 1945 BOW seems deficient according to my sensibilities.  And I, as one born late in the twentieth century and used to contemporary language in worship, dislike using the archaic language in which the book is written.

In 2013 The United Methodist Church is on the third book (The United Methodist Book of Worship, 1992).  That volume, like its 1945 predecessor, seems to have made no great impact on United Methodism, for most United Methodists do not even know that it exists.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 30, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT EUSEBIUS OF CAESAREA, HISTORIAN AND ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF APOLO KIVEBULAYA, ANGLICAN EVANGELIST

THE FEAST OF JOACHIM NEANDER, GERMAN REFORMED MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOSEPHINE BUTLER, WORKER AMONG WOMEN

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Faithful Servants of God, Part I   1 comment

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Above:  Gordon Bienvenue (Center), at the Diocesan Ministry Fair Held at St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Saturday, April 13, 2013

Image Source = Bill Monk, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

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The population of Athens-Clarke County changes as students come and go, retirees move to town, and people move away or die.  Thus the congregation of St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia, my parish, has an ever-changing quality about it.  I have been here since August 2005, so I will, God willing, begin my ninth year at St. Gregory the Great Church, in a few months.  I have seen graduates move away, members migrate to other churches (including the other Episcopal congregation in town), come from other churches (including the other Episcopal congregation in town), and come to faith in our midst.  People I have come to like and respect very much have died.  And I have forged new friendships.

I look out from my perch in the choir (along a back wall) and see clergymen of other denominations.  One retired pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) congregation in town died recently;  he had attended services at St. Gregory the Great Church for years.  His widow continues to attend.  A United Church of Christ (UCC) minister and his family have joined our community.  A more recent addition to the community is Gordon Bienvenue, a retired United Methodist minister, of whom I have more to write, all of it positive.

Gordon and Katie, his wife, have become integral parts of St. Gregory the Great Church.  I have not had the opportunities to interact with them as often as I would like, but hopefully time will correct that.  Gordon writes lovely icons.  He has delivered sermons, something he has been glad to do.  Gordon has also assisted at the altar, distributing communion bread and gluten-free wafers, sometimes with planning and sometimes not, but always to the priest’s relief.

Our Rector is Beth Long, of whom I have only positive comments as a priest and a human being.  She is to my theological left.  I, after having spent too much time as the resident heretic in a succession of congregations, find myself, without having changed my mind much, on the relative right in a church.  Actually, I enjoy learning from people to my left.  I even relish the fact that they are there.  And I do to them as I wish many people to my right had done to me.  Beth is, simply put, well-equipped for her duties.  She is in the right place at the right time.  And I thank God for her and that fact.

Beth, due to canonical reasons, may consecrate the bread and wine of the Holy Eucharist at St. Gregory the Great Church, but Gordon Bienvenue may not do so.  (I would not object to those with the power to change that rule doing so.)  Anyhow, an allergy has affected Beth’s voice adversely recently.  A few Sundays ago Gordon preached.  Later, after Beth had done what the canons required her to, she rested her voice and Gordon distributed the bread and gluten-free wafers.  Last Sunday, as Beth began to distribute the bread and the gluten-free wafers, her voice required rest.  So Gordon stepped up and took up the task.  Beth was glad.

It is good to attend church with such people–individuals who serve God gladly, with or without notice.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 29, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE FIRST U.S. PRESBYTERIAN BOOK OF CONFESSIONS, 1967

THE FEAST OF JIRI TRANOVSKY, HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS LUKE KIRBY, THOMAS COTTAM, WILLIAM FILBY, AND LAURENCE RICHARDSON, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND MARTYRS

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Deuteronomy and Matthew, Part XXI: Moses and Jesus   1 comment

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Above:  Christ Pantocrator

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Deuteronomy 34:1-12

Psalm 85 (Morning)

Psalms 25 and 40 (Evening)

Matthew 21:1-22

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Some Related Posts:

Deuteronomy 34:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/02/06/week-of-proper-14-wednesday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/11/proper-25-year-a/

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Let none who look to you be put to shame,

but let the treacherous be shamed and frustrated.

–Psalm 25:2, The Book of Common Prayer (2004)

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For all those who hope in you shall not be ashamed:

but only those who wantonly break faith.

–Psalm 25:2, New Zealand Prayer Book (1989)

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Deuteronomy 34:10-12 tells me that

Never again did there arise in Israel a prophet like Moses—whom the LORD singled out, face to face, for the various signs and portents that the LORD sent him to display in the land of Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his courtiers, and his whole country, and for all the great might and awesome power that Moses displayed before all Israel.–TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

Okay, Exodus 33:20-23 states that Moses did not see God face-to-face, but that minor quibble does not pertain to my point here today.

Greater than Moses was Jesus.  Those who saw the face of the latter saw the face to God incarnate.  And, in today’s reading from Matthew 21, Jesus entered Jerusalem at the beginning of his last Passover week, cleansed the Temple, and confronted a corrupt political-religious system.  It was no accident that such an incident led to his crucifixion within a few days.  There were older contributing factors, of course, but it added to the pile.  And may we never forget that the Roman Empire—a Pharaonic system of a sort—killed Jesus.  Then divine power resurrected him.  But I am getting ahead of the narrative.

Empires rise and fall, but God remains forever.  And so does the memory of Moses.  Christ, of course, continues to live in another realm, having fulfilled and expanded the Law of Moses.  The household of faith has its foundation (God) then various levels then a roof.  After Jesus, all else is elaboration, for his was the fullest revelation of God, one which transformed shame into glory and defeat into everlasting victory.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 9, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE FEAST OF THOMAS TOKE LYNCH, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF ANNA LAETITIA WARING, HUMANITARIAN AND HYMN WRITER; AND HER UNCLE, SAMUEL MILLER WARING, HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT GREGORY OF NAZIANZUS, BISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE

THE FEAST OF SAINTS WILLIBALD OF EICHSTATT AND LULLUS OF MAINZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; SAINT WALBURGA OF HEIDENHELM, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBESS; SAINTS PETRONAX OF MONTE CASSINO, WINNEBALD OF HEIDENHELM, WIGBERT OF FRITZLAR, AND STURMIUS OF FULDA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOTS; AND SAINT SEBALDUS OF VINCENZA, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT AND MISSIONARY

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Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/05/09/devotion-for-november-1-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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Deuteronomy and Matthew, Part XX: Mutual Responsibility   1 comment

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Above:  Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard, by Rembrandt van Rijn

Image in the Public Domain

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Deuteronomy 31:1-29 (October 29)

Deuteronomy 31:30-32:27 (October 30)

Deuteronomy 32:28-52 (October 31)

Psalm 13 (Morning–October 29)

Psalm 96 (Morning–October 30)

Psalm 116 (Morning–October 31)

Psalms 36 and 5 (Evening–October 29)

Psalms 132 and 134 (Evening–October 30)

Psalms 26 and 130 (Evening–October 31)

Matthew 19:16-30 (October 29)

Matthew 20:1-16 (October 30)

Matthew 20:17-34 (October 31)

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Some Related Posts:

Deuteronomy 31:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/02/04/week-of-proper-14-tuesday-year-1/

Matthew 19:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/02/13/week-of-proper-15-monday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/02/13/week-of-proper-15-tuesday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/07/week-of-proper-15-monday-year-2-and-week-of-proper-15-tuesday-year-2/

Matthew 20:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/thirteenth-day-of-lent/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/02/17/week-of-proper-15-wednesday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/29/proper-20-year-a/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/06/proper-15-year-b/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/07/week-of-proper-15-wednesday-year-2/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/07/week-of-proper-15-wednesday-year-2/

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So the last will be first, and the first last.

–Matthew 20:16, The Revised English Bible

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All who enter the Kingdom of God must do so as powerless children.  All who labor for God will receive the same reward regardless of tenure.  He who serves is greater than he who does not.  The Messiah is the servant of all and the ransom for many, not a conquering hero.  All this content points to one unifying theme:  the first will be last, and the last will be first.

This is a description of a social world turned upside-down.  Prestige is worthless, for God does not recognize such distinctions.  Even the great Moses died outside of the Promised Land, for justice took precedence over mercy.  Prestige, honor, and shame are socially defined concepts anyway, so they depend upon what others think of us.  And the Song of Moses refers to what happens when God disapproves of a people.

The last can take comfort in the seemingly upside-down Kingdom of God.  Likewise, the first should tremble.  Good news for some can constitute bad news for others.  This reversal of fortune occurs elsewhere in the Gospels—in the Beatitudes and Woes (Matthew 5:3-13 and Luke 6:20-26), for example.  This is a subversive part of the Christian tradition, not that I am complaining.  I do, after all, follow Jesus, the greatest subversive.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 9, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE FEAST OF THOMAS TOKE LYNCH, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF ANNA LAETITIA WARING, HUMANITARIAN AND HYMN WRITER; AND HER UNCLE, SAMUEL MILLER WARING, HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT GREGORY OF NAZIANZUS, BISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE

THE FEAST OF SAINTS WILLIBALD OF EICHSTATT AND LULLUS OF MAINZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; SAINT WALBURGA OF HEIDENHELM, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBESS; SAINTS PETRONAX OF MONTE CASSINO, WINNEBALD OF HEIDENHELM, WIGBERT OF FRITZLAR, AND STURMIUS OF FULDA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOTS; AND SAINT SEBALDUS OF VINCENZA, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT AND MISSIONARY

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Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/05/09/devotion-for-october-29-30-and-31-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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Deuteronomy and Matthew, Part XIX: The Kingdom of the Powerless   1 comment

01427v

Above:  Jesus Blessing the Children

An Image from 1891

Image Source = Library of Congress

(http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2003688894/)

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-pga-01427

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Deuteronomy 30:1-20

Psalm 62 (Morning)

Psalms 73 and 8 (Evening)

Matthew 19:1-15

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Some Related Posts:

Deuteronomy 30:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/19/sixth-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-a/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/27/second-day-of-lent/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/05/07/first-sunday-in-lent-year-c/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/11/12/proper-1-year-a/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/01/04/proper-18-year-c/

Matthew 19:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/02/07/week-of-proper-14-thursday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/02/10/week-of-proper-14-friday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/02/10/week-of-proper-14-saturday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/05/week-of-proper-14-wednesday-year-2-and-week-of-proper-14-thursday-year-2/

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Women and children were among the most vulnerable members of our Lord’s society.  Widows and orphans especially at risk.  Thus in Matthew 19:1-15, Jesus affirmed the dignity of women and children and the importance of commitments.  Some men divorced their wives for casual reasons, thereby placing the divorced women at great risk of falling through the cracks of society.  And, as Richard Horsley has taught me, some Pharisees permitted elites to divorce and remarry for reasons of consolidating control over land and other resources.  (Source = Jesus and Empire:  The Kingdom of God and the New World Disorder, Minneapolis, MN:  Fortress Press, 2003, page 122).  Jesus frowned upon people making a mockery of solemn commitments to God and each other.

Children were powerless.  So Jesus, of course, spoke highly of such socially invisible people.  The man who dined with notorious sinners, spoke at length about profound topics with women, and scandalized the defenders and guardians of ritual purity codes said:

Let the children come to me; do not try to stop them, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.

–Matthew 19:14, The Revised English Bible

Welcome, O reader, to the Kingdom of God, where the meek inherit the earth, the hungry eat, the thirsty drink, and the powerless and socially invisible people are role models.  This is consistent with the best of the Law of Moses and the commandments of God in our mouths and hearts.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 9, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE FEAST OF THOMAS TOKE LYNCH, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF ANNA LAETITIA WARING, HUMANITARIAN AND HYMN WRITER; AND HER UNCLE, SAMUEL MILLER WARING, HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT GREGORY OF NAZIANZUS, BISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE

THE FEAST OF SAINTS WILLIBALD OF EICHSTATT AND LULLUS OF MAINZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; SAINT WALBURGA OF HEIDENHELM, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBESS; SAINTS PETRONAX OF MONTE CASSINO, WINNEBALD OF HEIDENHELM, WIGBERT OF FRITZLAR, AND STURMIUS OF FULDA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOTS; AND SAINT SEBALDUS OF VINCENZA, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT AND MISSIONARY

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Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/05/09/devotion-for-october-28-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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