Archive for the ‘Baptism’ Tag

Water   1 comment

Above:  Water in Desert

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 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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Jeremiah 31:7-14

Psalm 29

Acts 19:1-7

Mark 1:9-13

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Water is an element in all four readings for today.  There is, of course, the water of baptism–the baptism of Jesus and of the unnamed people in Acts 19.  Yahweh, “upon the mighty waters,” is like yet unlike Baal Peor, the Canaanite storm god, in Psalm 29.  (Yet, of course, the presentation of God is quite different in 1 Kings 19:9-18, set after the killing of the priests of Baal Peor in Chapter 18.)  Finally, water is especially precious in the desert, as in Jeremiah 31.

God is tangibly present in each reading.  God is present in nature in Psalm 29, leading exiles out of exile through nature in Jeremiah 31, present via the Holy Spirit in Acts 19, and present in the flesh of Jesus in Mark 1.  God remains tangibly present with us in many ways, which we notice, if we pay attention.

One usually hears the theme of the Epiphany as being the Gospel of Jesus Christ going out to the gentiles.  That is part of the theme.  The other part of the theme is gentiles going to God–Jesus, as in the case of the Magi.  Today, in Mark 1 and Acts 19, however, we have the first part of the theme of the Epiphany.  The unnamed faithful, we read in Acts 19, had their hearts and minds in the right place; they merely needed to learn what they must do.

Acts 19:1-7 is an excellent missionary text for that reason.  The unnamed faithful, prior to their baptisms, fit the description of those who belong in the category of Baptism of Desire, in Roman Catholic theology.  As good as the Baptism of Desire is, baptism via water and spirit is superior.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 11, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BARNABAS, COWORKER OF SAINT PAUL THE APOSTLE

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Adapted from this post:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2019/06/11/devotion-for-the-first-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-b-humes/

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Joint Baptist-Disciples of Christ Hymnals   5 comments

Christian Worship

Above:  My Copies of Christian Worship:  A Hymnal (1941) and Hymnbook of Christian Worship (1970)

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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My knowledge of denominational hymnals beyond my own turf has expanded greatly over the years.  One day on which it expanded came during the Summer of 1992, during my time as a student at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, Tifton, Georgia.  My mother was nearing the end of her time as a student at Valdosta State University, Valdosta, Georgia.  I visited her one week that Summer, when she lived at the Presbyterian Student Center just off campus.  We spent part of days that week volunteering at an ecumenical Vacation Bible School hosted by First Christian Church.  The two Lutheran congregations (one Missouri Synod, the other Evangelical Lutheran Church in America), the three Episcopal churches, and the Disciples of Christ congregation cooperated on this effort.  There I found in an open room–yet not in any pew–a copy of Hymnbook for Christian Worship (1970).  (I recall that the hymnal in the pews was the Gaither Hymns for the Family of God, 1976).  I was intrigued with the hymnbook not in the pews.  Eventually I found my own copy in a thrift store.

From the 1930s to the early 1950s the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the Northern Baptist Convention (from 1950 to 1972 the American Baptist Convention) pondered merging.  They had much in common, given the Disciples’ position between the Baptist and Presbyterian positions and the Disciples’ practice of baptizing by immersion.  The Christian Century, in its July 22, 1936, issue, editorialized regarding a possible organic union.  The editorial, which discussed baptismal theology, concluded:

What really keeps Baptists and Disciples apart and, in the main, keeps all Protestant denominations apart, is not actual present differences but hangover attitudes developed in the day when there were differences.  Though difficult to define, these are very real obstacles to union.  There are also institutional obstacles of a more substantial nature.  Organizations and agencies have been built up at a great cost of effort and money.  These vested interests are the objects of a kind of family or tribal pride on the part of each denomination.  This pride is fostered by the large and influential secretariat  which has charge of the sacred vessels of the Lord.  Unless there is a conscience on Christian unity, some vivid sense of the sin of being Baptists or Disciples, or anything else than Christians, there is no hope of overcoming the inertia of the status quo.

Union between Baptists and Disciples is both desirable and possible.  No one wishes to rush it, and it will doubtless be years before the natural processes that make for unification can work out their full effect.  Perhaps the most that can be done now is to realize that these processes are natural and that the end is both desirable and possible.

But if the ultimate merging of Baptists and Disciples were to be considered as creating an immersionist bloc, as giving renewed emphasis to a single ordinance, and as producing a deeper cleavage between immersionist and non-immersionist bodies, its injuries would far outweigh its benefits.  To make this one practice which the two denominational bodies have in common the bond of unity between them would be to make it afresh a divisive issue in the Christian world.  The attainment of a larger fellowship does not lie in that direction.  When Baptists and Disciples unite, they should do so upon the realization that they are both free peoples giving liberty within their ranks for a wide variety of individual opinion and local congregational practice.  Most of their congregations practice immersion, but not all of them insist upon it.  The fact that the practice is general among them and that it has been prominent in their history gives them a feeling of kinship, but it is not the true ground for union between them, as it is not the ground of their present denominational unity.

To unite immersionists against the world would be a calamity to the Christian cause.  To unite Baptists and Disciples on the ground of their common faith, purpose and liberty would be a step toward still wider union on the same basis.  For the essential things that Baptists and Disciples have in common are not their exclusive possession.

The two groups did not merge, obviously, but they did produce two joint hymnals.  The first was Christian Worship:  A Hymnal (1941).

Christian Worship A Hymnal

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

It was, like many hymnals of its generation, classy–emphasizing the quality of hymn texts and a degree of formality of worship.  As the Preface said in part:

It [the hymnal] will be adaptable to the more dignified and formal worship of the stately church and to the simple service of the less pretentious.

My experience with the book has been positive, for I have located some wonderful hymns here, having not found them in any other hymnal in my collection.  This has proven quite helpful to the pursuit of one of my hobbies.

Hymnbook for Christian Worship

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Less successful, my Internet research has indicated, was the 1970 follow-up, Hymnbook for Christian Worship (1970), which was more formal than many of its contemporaries in mainline Protestantism.  Whereas the 1941 hymnal had limited worship resources (just responsive readings, some invocations, a few Scriptural selections for baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and a page of benedictions), the 1970 volume offered Scriptural readings for Adoration and Praise, a collection of litanies, pages of Affirmations of Faith, Prayers of Worship, some Psalms, and Biblical excerpts arranged topically:  Offering, The Lord’s Supper, Baptism, and Benedictions.  Archaic language remained, for God was often “Thee.”  Hymnbook for Christian Worship was a volume which reflected a previous age in a time of rapid change.  Sometimes its stylistic conservatism was justified, especially given certain excesses of innovative worship in the 1960s and 1970s.  Yet it, like its Presbyterian contemporary, The Worshipbook, showed its age rapidly–yet in a different way.  The former was nouveau; the latter was ancien.

Subsequent denominational developments in worship have revealed that Hymnbook for Christian Worship was a dead end.  The American Baptists have not authorized a hymnal since 1970.  Their congregations use a range of hymnbooks.  The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) published Chalice Hymnal (1995) and Chalice Worship (1997).  The former, unfortunately, has been out of print for a few years.  Yesterday morning, while not even looking for it, I found a copy of Chalice Praise (2003) at a thrift store.  Editor David P. Polk, in A Word to Worshipers, wrote:

You hold in your hands not just another supplement to a recent hymnal.  This set of musical resources for the church’s worship is a different type of collection.  It specifically offers a gathering together of the best and often the freshest of songs that characterize contemporary Christian music.

–page vi

That last sentence is oxymoronic.

Christian Worship:  A Hymnal (1941) and Hymnbook for Christian Worship (1970) are volumes I am glad to have in my hymnal collection, for I consult them while conducting research into hymnody.  I am, with regard to hymnody, much like the archaeologist of a certain joke; the older his wife became, the more interesting he found her.  Chalice Praise (2003), however, reminds me of what Thomas Day, in the subtitle to his book, Why Catholics Can’t Sing (1990), called

the triumph of bad taste

Why is bad taste so ubiquitous?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 29, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS LYDIA, DORCAS, AND PHOEBE, COWORKERS OF THE APOSTLE PAUL

THE FEAST OF ANDREI RUBLEV, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX ICONOGRAPHER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS GENESIUS I OF CLERMONT AND PRAEJECTUS OF CLERMONT, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; AND SAINT AMARIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINT GILDAS THE WISE, HISTORIAN AND ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

All This I Steadfastly Believe: Baptismal Vows in Rites of The United Methodist Church and Predecessor Denominations, 1901-1992   6 comments

017380pv

Above:  Community Methodist Church, Half Moon Bay, California

Image Created by the Historic American Buildings Survey

Image Source = Library of Congress

(http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/ca0808.photos.017380p/)

Reproduction Number = HABS CAL,41-HAMOB,1–7

The Congregation’s Website:  http://cumc-hmb.org/

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All this I steadfastly believe.

The Methodist Hymnal:  Official Hymnal of the Methodist Episcopal Church and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South (1905), page 87

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I.  MY PURPOSE

My purpose in this blog post is to write about baptismal vows in rituals of The United Methodist Church (UMC) and its predecessor bodies since circa 1901.  The UMC is the product of the union of two denominations, each of which was the result of other mergers.  UM roots in the United States sink back into the soil of the past as deeply as the 1700s.

This post and the immediately preceding one (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/07/30/solemn-promises-baptismal-vows-in-rites-of-the-presbyterian-church-u-s-a-and-predecessor-bodies-1906-1993/) are spin-offs from a post (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/07/27/and-all-his-works-u-s-lutheran-baptismal-vows-1917-2006/) about U.S. Lutheran baptismal vows from 1917 to 2006.  Yes, I am a liturgy geek.  Where is my Prayer Book pocket protector?

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II.  THE METHODIST PROTESTANT CHURCH HYMNAL (1901)

The Methodist Protestant Church Hymnal (1901) (http://archive.org/details/protest00meth) is an excellent, if arbitrary place to start.  My explorations at http://archive.org/ have yet to reveal a ritual for that denomination in a book prior to 1901.

In the ritual for the baptism of a child, the minister reminds the parents/guardians to

guide its feet in the paths of righteousness, and raise it up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

The parents/guardians promise to

by precept and example, to bring up this child [or these children] in the nurture and admonition of the Lord

and to pray earnestly

to God for the assistance of the Holy Spirit

in accomplishing this goal.

Those baptismal candidates able to speak for themselves affirm that they

believe in the existence of God, and that he is a rewarder of all those who diligently seek him,

that

the Lord Jesus Christ is the redeemer and Saviour of the world,

affirm that they are

now determined to forsake every evil way, to look to Christ as your only and and all-sufficient Saviour, and to walk in all the commandments of God

and vow to

endeavor to be faithful in the discharge

of certain duties:

to search the Holy Scriptures, and to attend on all the ordinances of the house of God.

Probationary members received into the church ratify the baptismal covenants others made for them, affirm the the resurrection of Jesus, repent of their sins, and affirm that they

rely only upon the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ

for salvation and that they intend

to obey him

as their

Prince and to conform

their lives

to his teaching and example.

They also promise to attend church services,

co-operate with the pastor and members, and contribute

as able

to the religious enterprises of the church.

Full members received into the church agree to

all its rules of government; to contribute

as able

for the support of the gospel ministry of and the benevolent enterprises of the church; to seek earnestly its peace and purity; to walk with all its members in meekness and sobriety.

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III.  THE METHODIST HYMNAL (1905)

The Methodist Episcopal Church (1784-1939) and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South (1845-1939), separated because of a controversy over chattel slavery–a fact which does not place the Southern Church in a favorable historical or moral light.  The two denominations were, however, on sufficiently friendly terms as to produce a shared hymn book, The Methodist Hymnal (1905) (http://archive.org/details/methodisthymnalo00meth).

I have provided a hyperlink to an electronic file, although I worked from a physical copy in delicate condition.

The minister reminds the parents/guardians of their duties:

Dearly Beloved, forasmuch as this child is now presented by you for Christian Baptism, you must remember that it is your part and duty to see that he be taught, as soon as he shall be able to learn, the nature and end of this Holy Sacrament.  And that he may know these things the better, you shall call upon the appointed means of grace, such as the ministry of the word, and the public and private worship of God; and further, you shall provide that he shall read the Holy Scriptures, and learn the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostles’ Creed, the Catechism, and all other things which a Christian ought to know and believe to his soul’s health, in order that he may be brought up to lead a virtuous and holy life, remembering always that Baptism doth represent unto us that inward purity which disposeth us to follow the example of our Saviour Christ; that as he died and rose again for us, so should we, who are baptized, die unto sin and rise again unto righteousness, continually mortifying all corrupt affections, and daily proceeding in all virtue and godliness.

They

therefore solemnly engage to fulfill these duties, so far as is in

them

lies, the Lord being

their helper.

Those who can speak for themselves

renounce the devil and all this works, the vain pomp and glory of the glory of the world, with all covetous desires of the same, and the carnal desires of the flesh, so that thou wilt not follow nor be led by them.

That language comes verbatim from The Book of Common Prayer (1662).

Then the baptismal candidates affirm the Apostles’ Creed and vow to

obediently keep God’s holy will and commandments, and walk in the same all the days of thy life.

Those who join the church affirm that they desire to be saved from their sins, that they endeavor to guard themselves

against all things contrary to the teaching of God’s word

and

to lead a holy life, following the commandments of God,

and are determined to

give reverent attendance upon the appointed means of grace in the ministry of the word, and the private and public worship of God.

That is one form of Reception of Members.  In the other rite the new member renews his or her baptismal covenant, states that he or she trusts he or she has

saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ,

affirms the doctrinal statements of the Methodist Episcopal Church,

cheerfully to be governed by the Rules of the Methodist Episcopal Church, hold sacred ordinances of God, and endeavor,

as able,

to promote the welfare

of the brethren

and the advancement of the Redeemer’s kingdom.

Then the new member promises to contribute, as able, of his or her

earthly sustenance

for the purpose of supporting

the Gospel and the various benevolent enterprises of the Church.

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IV.  THE METHODIST HYMNAL (1935) AND THE BOOK OF WORSHIP FOR CHURCH AND HOME (1945)

The Methodist Episcopal Church, the Methodist Protestant Church, and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South reunited in 1939 to create The Methodist Church.  First, however, they produced a common hymn book, The Methodist Hymnal (1935).  Ten years later the merged denomination published its Book of Worship for Church and Home (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/05/30/the-book-of-worship-for-church-and-home-1945/), the first volume of its kind in U.S. Methodism since John Wesley’s failed Sunday Service.

Much of the 1935-1945 baptismal ritual content looks familiar, for its primary foundation seems to be the Ritual from the 1905 Hymnal.  So I focus on elements which differ from that.

Children and youth answering for themselves vow to put away from themselves

every known sin, of thought, word, or deed, and accept and confess Jesus Christ

as Savior and Lord, to

diligently study the Bible as God’s Holy Word, and in all things to make it the rule

of life, and to

faithfully endeavor to live so as to be pleasing unto Him.

Adults baptized repent of their sins, confess Jesus as Saviour and Lord, and

earnestly endeavor to keep God’s Holy Will and commandments.

New members renew their baptismal covenants, confess Jesus as Saviour and Lord,

pledge allegiance to His kingdom,

receive

and profess the Christian faith as contained in the New Testament of our Lord Jesus Christ,

and swear loyalty to the denomination, vowing to

uphold it

by their prayers, presence, gifts, and service.

Children and youth who join the the church affirm belief in God as their Heavenly Father, accept Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour, state their belief

in the Bible as God’s Holy Word,

and swear loyalty to the denomination, vowing to

uphold it

with their prayers, presence, gifts, and service.

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V.  THE BOOK OF WORSHIP FOR CHURCH AND HOME (1965) AND THE METHODIST HYMNAL (1966)

The Methodist Church (1939-1968) published its hymnal and book of worship (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/05/30/the-book-of-worship-for-church-and-home-1965/), complete with revised rites of Christian initiation with echoes of and quotes from older forms.

The minister asks the parents/guardians if they accept their

bounden duty and privilege to live before this child a life that becomes the Gospel; to exercise all godly care that he be brought up in the Christian faith, that he be taught the Holy Scriptures, and that he learn to give reverent attendance upon the private and public worship of God

and to

endeavor to keep this child under the ministry and guidance of the Church until he by the power of God shall accept for himself the gift of salvation, and be confirmed as a full and responsible member of Christ’s holy Church.

Youth and adults repent of their sins, accept Jesus as Savior, and affirm belief in

God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, his only Son our Lord; and in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life

before vowing to

obediently keep God’s holy will and commandments and walk in the same

all the days of their lives.

Those who join the church renew their baptismal covenant, confess Jesus Christ as Savior and pledge

allegiance to his kingdom

affirm that they

receive and profess the Christian faith as contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments,

and promise

according to the grace given

them to

live a Christian life and always remain a faithful member of Christ’s holy Church.

They also promise, as in the 1935 rites, swear to be loyal to the denomination, and to uphold it with prayers, presence, gifts, and service.

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VI.  THE UNITED EVANGELICAL CHURCH, 1894-1922

The Evangelical United Brethren Church (1946-1968) (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/05/31/rituals-of-the-evangelical-united-brethren-church-1946-1968/) united with The Methodist Church (1939-1968) to form The United Methodist Church.  The Evangelical United Brethren Church was the union of the Evangelical Church and the Church of the United Brethren in Christ.  The Evangelical Church was the reunion of the Evangelical Association and its offshoot, the United Evangelical Church.

My searches, including those at http://archive.org/, have not turned up any Evangelical Association ritual.  I have sought yet not found.  But I have located a copy of the ritual (ratified in 1894), of the United Evangelical Church in its Discipline (http://archive.org/details/doctrinesdiscipl00unit).

The minister reminds the parents/guardians of their duties to teach him or her

early fear of the Lord; to watch over

his or her education that he or she

be not led astray; to direct

his or her youthful mind to the Holy Scriptures, and his or her

feet to the house of God; to restrain from evil association and habits,

and, as able, to bring him or her

up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

The parents/guardians agree to do this.

Adult baptismal candidates affirm the Apostles’ Creed and, in the words of the 1662 Prayer Book and the Methodist Ritual,

renounce the devil and all his works, the vain pomp and glory of the world….

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VII.  THE CHURCH OF THE UNITED BRETHREN IN CHRIST

I have confirmed the existence of a consistent ritual of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ since at least its 1897 Discipline (http://archive.org/details/origindoctrineco1897unit).

The minister, in language almost identical to that quoted in the previous section, reminds the parents of their duties.

Baptismal candidates able to speak for themselves consecrate themselves

to Christ and his service

and vow to

endeavor henceforth to keep God’s holy commandments and to walk in the same

all the days of their lives, a passage which the 1965 Methodist rite echoes.

New members swear that they

believe the Bible to be the Word of God, and that therein only is revealed the way of salvation,

take

this Word

as the

rule of faith and conduct,

affirm belief

that Jesus Christ is the Son of God,

and as their

personal Savior,

state their determination

by the grace of God to follow Christ, renouncing the world and all ungodliness, seeking to lead a life of holiness and devotion to God and his cause,

affirm their willingness

to be governed by our church rules as laid down in the Discipline,

and to

attend the various means of grace and the services of the church whenever practicable,

vow to

prayerfully study to know

their duty

as a Christian steward,

and to contribute

to the support of the local church and the benevolent interests of the church

as God enables them to do so.

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VIII.  THE EVANGELICAL UNITED BRETHREN CHURCH, 1946-1968

The Evangelical United Brethren Church published the Book of Ritual, a separately bound portion of its Discipline, in 1952, 1955, and 1959, each time with slight revisions, but not in the baptismal rites.

The minister instructs the parents (chiefly via the Apostles’ Creed) of their duties, which are to

set before this child the example of a godly life, instruct him in the elements of the Christian faith, seek to lead him to acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior, nurture him in the Christian life, and endeavor to bring him into the membership of the church.

The parents vow to do these things.

The minister, addressing baptismal candidates able to speak for themselves, recites the Apostles’ Creed then asks them to

acknowledge and profess the Christian faith as taught in the Holy Scriptures,

to

repent from sin,

and acknowledge Jesus as Savior and Lord, and to be

determined by the grace of God to live the Christian life.

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IX.  THE UNITED METHODIST HYMNAL (1989) AND THE UNITED METHODIST BOOK OF WORSHIP (1992)

The United Methodist Church has four Services of the Baptismal Covenant in its hymnal and book of worship (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/06/28/the-united-methodist-book-of-worship-1992/):

  • I is for Holy Baptism, Confirmation, Reaffirmation of Faith, and Reception of Members.
  • II is Baptism of Children, based on the Methodist and Evangelical United Brethren rites.  The Book of Worship, unlike the Hymnal, divides this into II, II-A (the Brief Order), and II-B.
  • III is Baptism of Adults, based on the Methodist and Evangelical United Brethren rites.
  • IV is for Congregational Reaffirmation.

There is little left to write which is different except that, having read the preceding rites in the last few hours, these look very familiar relative to the older rites.  I note that the first three questions and answers are very good and indicate a social conscience and a sound theology of the Image of God:

Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of your sin?

I do.

Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?

I do.

Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Savior, put your whole trust in his grace, and promise to serve him as your Lord, in union with the Church which Christ has opened to people of all ages, nations, and races?

I do.

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X.  CONCLUSION

As I wrote in the corresponding Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) baptismal vows post,

There is no single correct way to cover the serious theological work of baptismal vows.

The denominations of which I have written in this post have done that job well and in a variety of ways.  Such variety is the spice of liturgical life.

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KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 30, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT WILLIAM PINCHON, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF HORATIUS BONAR, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF RUDOLF BULTMANN, BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM WILBERFORCE, ABOLITIONIST

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

First I acknowledge my brain, given the years I grew up in United Methodist parsonages and have spent studying U.S. Methodist history.  Citing my brain is quicker and easier than seeking print sources for certain details.

I consider any document to which I have provided a hyperlink cited properly already.

I also used certain books while drafting this post.  Those credits follow:

Book of Common Prayer, The.  The Church of England, 1662.

Book of Ritual of The Evangelical United Brethren Church, The.  Dayton, OH:  Otterbein Press, 1952.

Book of Ritual of The Evangelical United Brethren Church, The.  Dayton, OH:  Otterbein Press, 1955.

Book of Ritual of The Evangelical United Brethren Church, The.  Dayton, OH:  Otterbein Press, 1959.

Book of Worship for Church and Home, The.  Nashville, TN:  Methodist Publishing House, 1945.

Book of Worship for Church and Home, The.  Nashville, TN:  Methodist Publishing House, 1965.

Church Hymnal:  The Official Hymnal of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, The.  Dayton, OH:  United Brethren Publishing House, 1935.  Reprint, 1943.

Methodist Hymnal:  Official Hymnal of The Methodist Church, The.  Nashville, TN:  Methodist Publishing House, 1935, 1939.

Methodist Hymnal:  Official Hymnal of The Methodist Church, The.  Nashville, TN:  Methodist Publishing House, 1966.

Methodist Hymnal:  Official Hymnal of the Methodist Episcopal Church and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, The.  New York, NY:  Eaton & Mains, 1905.

United Methodist Book of Worship, The.  Nashville, TN:  United Methodist Publishing House, 1992.

United Methodist Hymnal:  Book of United Methodist Worship, The.  Nashville, TN:  United Methodist Publishing House, 1989.

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Solemn Promises: Baptismal Vows in Rites of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and Predecessor Bodies, 1906-1993   8 comments

124002pv

Above:  Pulpit and Baptismal Font, First Presbyterian Church of Ulysses, Trumansburg, New York

Image Created by the Historic American Buildings Survey

Image Source = Library of Congress

(http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/ny1328.photos.124002p/)

Reproduction Number = HABS NY,55-TRUM,1–10

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I.  MY PURPOSE

My purpose in this post is to write about baptismal vows in Directories for Worship and baptismal rites of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and its predecessor bodies, following chiefly the five editions of the Book of Common Worship (1906-1993) so far.  I am aware of germane material relating to this topic in certain other bodies, such as the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (ARPC), the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC), and the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA).  Yet that material resides beyond the purview of this post and my interests today.

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II.  BACKGROUND

The first of four denominations (two of them concurrent) to bear the name Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.) (PCUSA) met in General Assembly for the first time in 1789.  The commissioners adopted the Directory for the Worship of God (http://archive.org/details/formofgovernment00pres), adapted from the original Directory for the Publick Worship of God (1645).  Although John Knox had provided ritual forms for the Church of Scotland in the 1500s, Presbyterianism came under Puritan influence shortly thereafter, this Directories, with their guidelines and suggestions, replaced service book (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/07/01/a-brief-history-of-u-s-presbyterian-worship-to-1905/).  The Church of Scotland, by the way, recovered Knox’s service book in the 1800s (http://archive.org/details/bookofcommonorde01chur).  And High Churchmanship here and there in the PCUSA during the 1800s led to the first, authorized Book of Common Worship (http://archive.org/details/bookcommonworsh00assegoog) in 1906.  But Puritan influences continue to shape Presbyterianism.  And Puritanism clashes with my spiritual type.

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III.  THE DIRECTORY FOR THE WORSHIP OF GOD (1789)

The Directory for the Worship of God (1789) was in effect in the succession of bodies called the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (PCUSA) through 1958 (when the last one merged with The United Presbyterian Church of North America to form The United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.)., in The United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.  (UPCUSA) through 1961, and in mostly Southern Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUS) through 1894.  Thus the 1906, 1932, and 1946 versions of The Book of Common Worship had to conform to this document.  That fact makes the 1789 Directory more relevant than it would be otherwise to my inquiry today.

The 1789 Directory contains guidelines for conducting baptism.

The minister, when conducting the baptism of a child, reminds the parents/guardians that children are holy but

that we are by nature, sinful, guilty, and polluted, and have need of sanctifying influences of the Spirit of God.

Next the minister instructs the parents/guardians

That they teach the child to read the Word of God; that they instruct it in the principles of our holy religion, as contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament; an excellent summary of which we have in the Confession of Faith of this Church, and in the Larger and Shorter Catechisms of the Westminster Assembly, which are to be recommended to them, as adapted by this church, for their direction and assistance, in the discharge of this important duty; that they pray with and for it, that they set an example of piety and godliness before it; and endeavour, by all the means of God’s appointment, to bring up their child in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Then the minister blesses and baptizes the child.

Later, when the baptized has learned to recite the Catechism, the Apostles’ Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer, has learned the faith as taught to him or her, and has

come to years of discretion,

while being

free and scandal,

appearing

sober and steady,

and having

sufficient knowledge to discern the Lord’s body,

therefore being ready to begin to take Communion, he or she, before the church elders,

shall be examined

as to his or her

knowledge and piety

to the elders’ satisfaction.

Unbaptized people seeking to join to church must

after giving satisfaction with respect to their knowledge and piety, make a public profession of their faith in the presence of the congregation; and thereupon be baptized.

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IV.  THE DIRECTORY FOR THE WORSHIP OF GOD (1894)

The Southern Presbyterian Directory for the Worship of God (1894) (http://archive.org/details/constitutionofp00pres) contains some optional forms, but not one for baptism.  Its guidelines regarding Christian initiation retain the 1789 standards, adjust some language slightly, and add questions.  There are now, for example, three optional model questions to follow the minister’s instructions to the parents/guardians:

Do you acknowledge your child’s need of the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ, and the renewing grace of the Holy Spirit?

Do you claim God’s covenant promises in his behalf and do you look in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ for his salvation, as you do for your own?

Do you now unreservedly dedicate your child to God, and promise, in humble reliance upon divine grace, that you will endeavor to set before him a godly example, that you will pray with and for him, that you will teach him the doctrines of our holy religion, and that you will strive, by all the means of God’s appointment, to bring him up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord?

Likewise, the 1894 Directory establishes four model questions for those professing their faith and seeking to join the church:

Do you acknowledge yourselves to be sinners in the sight of God, justly deserving his displeasure, and without hope save his sovereign mercy?

Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and Saviour of sinners, and do you receive and rest upon him alone for salvation as he is offered in the gospel?

Do you now reserve and promise, in humble reliance upon the grace of the Holy Spirit, that you will endeavor to walk as becometh the followers of Christ, forsaking all sin, and conforming your life to his teaching and example?

Do you submit yourselves to the government and discipline of the church, and promise to study its purity and peace?

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V.  THE UNITED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF NORTH AMERICA, 1858-1958

The United Presbyterian Church of North America (UPCNA)  (http://archive.org/details/testimony00unit) adopted its revised Book of Government and Worship (http://archive.org/details/digestofprinci00unit) in 1910.  The 1926 version of it, containing amendments passed from 1911 to 1925, provides guidance regarding baptism.

Parents/guardians must answer the following questions:

Do you now take God as your God in covenant, and as the God of your children?

Do you renew the profession you made when you were admitted to the Church?

Do you solemnly promise, if God shall spare your life and that of your children, to train them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; to instruct them in regard to their lost condition by nature, and to lead them to the Saviour; to pray with them and for them, to worship God regularly in your family; to set before them an example of piety; and to use all the appointed means of salvation?

People baptized as adults make a public profession of faith and receive baptism by water.  They promise

to cultivate the spirit of Christian fellowship and brotherly love, and to seek the welfare of the congregation

while a member of it.

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VI.  THE BOOK OF COMMON WORSHIP (1906), THE BOOK OF COMMON WORSHIP (REVISED) (1932), AND THE BOOK OF COMMON WORSHIP (1946)

The 1870-1958 incarnation of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. published three versions of The Book of Common Worship (BCW).

The 1906 BCW (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/07/02/the-book-of-common-worship-1906/), although authorized by the General Assembly, was unofficial and optional.  And many PCUS ministers found some of its contents useful, despite the fact that the Southern Presbyterian General Assembly never authorized its use.  The PCUS General Assembly did authorized the use of the PCUSA’s 1932 and 1946 versions of the BCW, however.

The 1906 ritual for baptism requires the parents/guardians to answer the following questions affirmatively:

Do you accept, for yourself and for your Child, the covenant of God, and therein consecrate your Child to Him?

Do you promise to instruct your Child in the principles of our holy religion, as contained in the Scriptures, to pray with him and for him, and to bring him up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord?

Adults being baptized answer the following questions:

Do you receive and profess the Christian faith and in this faith do you desire to be baptized?

Do you confess your sins, and turn from them with godly sorrow, and put all your trust in the mercy of God, which is in Christ Jesus; and do you promise in His strength to lead a sober, righteous, and godly life?

One who confirms baptismal vows confesses

Christ as Lord,

adhering

to the Christian faith,

ratifying and confirming his or her baptismal vows, and promising

with God’s help to serve the Lord, and keep His commandments all the days

one one’s life.  Then one answers the the following question:

Now desiring to be received to the Lord’s Supper, do you promise to make diligent use of the means of grace, submitting yourself to the lawful authority and guidance of the Church, and continuing in the peace and fellowship of the people of God?

The 1932 (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/07/03/the-book-of-common-worship-revised-1932/) Christian initiation rites are identical to those of 1906.

The 1946 (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/07/03/the-book-of-common-worship-1946/) Christian initiation rites are similar to those of 1906 and 1932, with one notable change:  Adults being baptized and renewing their baptismal covenants affirm the Apostles’ Creed also.

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VII.  THE WORSHIPBOOK (1970/1972)

Different language appears in the baptismal rites in the late 1960s and early 1970s (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/07/03/the-worshipbook-services-and-hymns-1972-services/).

The questions (with answers), directed to parents/guardians or to the baptismal candidates, follow:

Who is your Lord and Savior?

Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior.

Do you trust in him?

I do.

Do you intend (your child) to be his disciple, to obey his word and show his love?

I do.

Will you be a faithful member of this congregation, giving of yourself in every way, and will you seek the fellowship of the church wherever you may be?

I will.

At confirmation one answers the first two questions and a variant of the fourth.

These rites are consistent with the 1961 Directory of The United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (UPCUSA) and the 1963 Directory of the Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUS).

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VIII.  BOOK OF COMMON WORSHIP (1993)

The Directory for Worship (1989) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) lists the required elements of baptism in that denomination.  Among these are:

Those desiring the Sacrament of Baptism of their children or for themselves shall make vows that

(a)  profess their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior,

(b)  renounce evil and affirm their reliance on God’s grace,

(c)  declare their intention to participate actively and responsibly in the worship and mission of the church,

(d)  declare their intention to provide for the Christian nurture of the child.

–W-3.3603

The Book of Common Worship (1993) (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/06/28/book-of-common-worship-1993/) provides a variety of baptismal texts, which I will quote here quite partially.  The renunciations, long parts of the baptismal rituals in many denominations, appear now in Presbyterian rites.  The baptismal candidates, for example, renounce

evil and its power in the world

in two options and

all evil, and powers in the world which defy God’s righteousness and love

plus

the ways of sin that separate you from the love of God

in another.  There is also the Consultation on Common Texts service for baptism, in which one renounces, in order:

Satan and all the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God;

the evil powers of this world, which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God;

all sinful desires that draw you from the love of God;

evil and its power in the world, which defy God’s righteousness and love;

the ways of sin that separate you from the love of God.

The renunciations and affirmations associated with baptism recur in the confirmation ritual and the rite for the public profession of faith.

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IX.  CONCLUSION

There is no single correct way to cover the serious liturgical work of baptismal vows.  One can do much of it via renunciations, but, if one words affirmations properly, one can cover the same content in purely positive terms.  How to do it best is a matter of taste.

As I read the texts for this blog post I noticed much continuity amid change from one generation to the next.  I chose not to quote extensively from the 1993 texts, but they echo and quote previous Presbyterian liturgies while expanding upon them.  The 1993 texts are, I think, the best which the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) tradition offers.

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KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 30, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT WILLIAM PINCHON, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF HORATIUS BONAR, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF RUDOLF BULTMANN, BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM WILBERFORCE, ABOLITIONIST

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

First I acknowledge my brain, given the years I have spent becoming an expert on U.S. Presbyterianism.  Citing my brain is quicker and easier than seeking print sources for certain details.

I consider any document to which I have provided a hyperlink cited properly already.

I also used certain books while drafting this post.  Those credits follow:

Book of Common Worship.  Louisville, KY:  Westminster/John Knox Press, 1993.

Book of Common Worship, The.  Philadelphia, PA:  Presbyterian Board of Publication and Sabbath-School Work, 1906.  Reprint, 1922.

Book of Common Worship, The.  Philadelphia, PA:  Board of Christian Education of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, 1946.

Book of Common Worship (Revised), The.  Philadelphia, PA:  Presbyterian Board of Christian Education, 1932.  Reprint, 1942.

Confessional Statement and The Book of Government and Worship of The United Presbyterian Church of North America, The.  Pittsburgh, PA:  United Presbyterian Board of Publication and Bible School Work, 1926.

Constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), The.  Part II.  Book of Order 2004-2005.  Louisville, KY:  Office of the General Assembly, 2004.

Psalms and Hymns Adapted to Social, Private, and Public Worship in the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America.  Philadelphia, PA:  Presbyterian Board of Education, 1843.

Worshipbook:  Services and Hymns, The.  Philadelphia:  Westminster Press, 1972.

KRT

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And All His Works: U.S. Lutheran Baptismal Vows, 1917-2006   2 comments

Liturgy Books

Above:  Selected Works from My Liturgy Library, July 27, 2013

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U.S. LUTHERAN LITURGY, PART XX

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Dost thou renounce the devil, and all his works, and all his ways?

Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church (1917), page 234

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I.  INTRODUCTION

Among the issues I encountered while comparing U.S. Lutheran service books was baptismal vows–especially renunciations.  Christians–not all of them, to be sure–have been renouncing the devil during baptismal rituals since at least the 200s.  There have been permutations of this in the U.S. Lutheran liturgies since 1917.

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II.  THE COMMON SERVICE BOOK OF THE LUTHERAN CHURCH (1917)

The Common Service Book (1917) (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/07/17/truly-meet-right-and-salutary-the-common-service-in-the-united-lutheran-church-in-america-and-the-american-lutheran-church-1918-1930/), being fairly traditional in its baptismal rites, is a good place to begin.

The Minister asks the sponsors of an infant to

renounce the devil, and all his works, and all his ways,

to affirm the Apostles’ Creed, to instruct the child

in the Word of God,

and to bring the child

up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

If the baptism is of an adult, however, the baptismal candidate renounces

the devil, and all his works, and all his ways,

affirms the Apostles’ Creed, and promises to

abide in

the Christian Faith and to

remain faithful to

the teachings of the Evangelical Lutheran Church and

to be diligent in the use of the Means of Grace.

If one is being confirmed, one does the same things then is permitted to receive the Holy Communion.

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III.  THE SERVICE BOOK AND HYMNAL (1958)

Traditionally U.S. Lutheran baptismal rites have included the renunciation of the devil, all his works, and all his ways in one question or in three.  The Service Book and Hymnal (1958) (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/07/25/holy-art-thou-the-service-book-and-hymnal-1958/) retains that language in the baptism of infants but merges the baptism of adults with Confirmation, something to which Martin Luther might have objected.  The 1958 book also makes that question optional in both the Order for the Baptism of Infants and the Order for Confirmation, for the rubric for each instance indicates that the Minister

may then

say:

Do you renounce the devil, and all his works, and all his ways?

In the ritual for infant baptism this renunciation follows instructions to teach the child

the Ten Commandments, the Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer,

to place

the Holy Scriptures

in the child’s hands as he or she matures, to bring the child

to the services of God’s House,

and to provide for the child’s

instruction in the Christian Faith.

After the renunciation the Minister asks the sponsors to affirm the Apostles’ Creed.

But one being baptized/confirmed as an adult might

renounce the devil, and all his works, and all his ways

if the Minister asks the question.  Such a candidate does, however, affirm the Apostles’ Creed, promise to

abide in this Faith and in the covenant

of his or her baptism, and,

as a member of the Church to be diligent in the use of the Means of Grace and in prayer.

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IV.  THE LUTHERAN BOOK OF WORSHIP (1978)

Liturgical renewal affected baptismal rites, as in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/07/25/lord-of-heaven-and-earth-the-lutheran-book-of-worship-1978/).  The language, although different, remains close to tradition.

Sponsors of young children promise to bring them

faithully…to the services of God’s house, and to teach them the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, and the Ten Commandments,

and,

as they grow in years,

to

place in their hands the Holy Scriptures and provide for their instruction in the Christian faith….

That material is familiar, is it not?

The baptismal vows entail renouncing

all the forces of evil, the devil, and all his empty promises

and affirming the Apostles’ Creed.  The traditional renunciation is gone, replaced by a stronger statement.

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V.  LUTHERAN WORSHIP (1982)

Lutheran Worship (1982) (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/07/26/gathered-in-the-name-and-remembrance-of-jesus-lutheran-worship-1982/) takes a more traditional approach to the baptismal vows than does the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978).  Sponsors of young children make the traditional promises retained in the previously discussed volume.  Then the candidate or sponsor renounces

the devil and all his works and all his ways

before affirming the Apostle’s Creed.

Lutheran Worship, unlike the Lutheran Book of Worship, on which it is based, contains a separate rite of Confirmation.  The confirmand renounces

the devil and all his works and all his ways,

affirms the Apostles’ Creed, promises to

continue steadfast in this confession and Church and to suffer all, rather than fall away from it,

affirms that

all the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures

are

the inspired Word of God

and confesses

the doctrine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, drawn from them,

as learned from

the Small Catechism, to be faithful and true.

The confirmand also vows

faithfully to conform

all his or her

life to the divine Word, to be faithful in the use of God’s Word and Sacraments, which are his means of grace, and in faith, word, and action to remain true to God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, even to death.

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VI.  EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN WORSHIP (2006)

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006) (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/07/27/you-are-indeed-holy-o-god-the-fountain-of-all-holiness-with-one-voice-1995-and-evangelical-lutheran-worship-2006/), successor to the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), remains grounded in liturgical tradition while modifying the baptismal vows to make them stronger.

Sponsors of children presented for baptism receive the following instruction:

As you bring your children to receive the gift of baptism, you are entrusted with responsibilities:

to live with them among God’s faithful people,

bring them to the word of God and the holy supper,

teach them the Lord’s  Prayer, the Creed, and the Ten Commandments,

place in their hands the holy scriptures,

and nurture them in faith and prayer,

so that your children may learn to trust God,

proclaim Christ through word and deed,

care for others and the world God made,

and work for justice and peace.

I notice the added emphasis on social justice and environmental justice approvingly.

The sponsors also promise

to nurture these persons in the Christian faith as you are empowered by God’s Spirit, and to help them live in the covenant of baptism and in communion with the church.

The baptismal vows entail renouncing

the devil and all the forces that defy God

then renouncing

the powers of this world that rebel against God

then renouncing

the ways of sin that draw you from God

before affirming the Apostles’ Creed.

There is a rite for the Affirmation of Baptism, which includes the three renunciations and the affirmation of the Apostles’ Creed.

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VII.  THE LUTHERAN SERVICE BOOK (2006)

The Lutheran Service Book (2006) (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/07/26/blessed-are-you-o-lord-our-god-king-of-all-creation-hymnal-supplement-98-1998-and-the-lutheran-service-book-2006/), successor to Lutheran Worship (1982), is more traditional than Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006).

The sponsors receive instructions to pray for the children,

support them in their ongoing instruction and nurture in the Christian faith, and encourage them toward the faithful reception of the Lord’s Supper,

as well as

at all times to be examples to them of the holy life of faith in Christ and love for the neighbor.

The baptismal vows entail renouncing

the devil

then renouncing

all his works

then renouncing

all his ways

before affirming the Apostles’ Creed.

There is also a Confirmation rite, which includes the three renunciations and the affirmation of the Apostles’ Creed.  Confirmands also

hold all the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures to be the inspired Word of God,

confess the doctrine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, drawn from the Scriptures, as you have learned to know it from the Small Catechism, to be faithful and true…intend to hear the Word of God and receive the Lord’s Supper faithfully,

… and

intend to live according to the Word of God, and in faith, word, and deed to remain true to God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, even to death.

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VIII.  OTHER SERVICE BOOKS

To be concise, my survey of other U.S. Lutheran service books past and present reveals that, without exception, conservative synods retain the traditional baptismal vows and renunciations, with varying degrees of formality and some linguistic variations and degrees of formality, including modernizing personal pronouns if the book postdates the 1950s.

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IX.  CONCLUSION

The more often mainline Lutherans revise their baptismal rites the more those renunciations resemble questions from The Book of Common Prayer (1979), in which one renounces

Satan and all the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God

then

the evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God

then

all sinful desires that draw you from the love of God.

And the environmental stewardship and social justice components of the rites from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006) echo themes from the Baptismal Covenant from the 1979 Prayer Book, including the promise to

strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.

These are positive developments, ones rooted in tradition and Christian ethics.

As to the rites themselves from 1917 to 2006, I recognize much consistency–usually a good thing in this case–yet with shining examples of innovation which makes the language more potent.

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KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 27, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN HENRY BATEMAN, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM REED HUNTINGTON, EPISCOPAL PRIEST

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Ambassador Hymnal for Lutheran Worship.  Minneapolis, MN:  Association of Free Lutheran Congregations, 1994.

Book of Common Prayer, The.  New York:  Oxford University Press, 1979.  Reprint, 2007.

Christian Worship:  A Lutheran Hymnal.  Milwaukee, WI:  Northwestern Publishing House, 1993.

Commission on the Liturgy and Hymnal, The.  Service Book and Hymnal.  Music Edition.  Philadelphia, PA:  United Lutheran Publication House, 1958.

Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church.  Philadelphia, PA:  The Board of Publication of The United Lutheran Church in America, 1917, 1918.

Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary.  St. Louis, MO:  MorningStar Music Publishers, Inc., 1996.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship.  Minneapolis, MN:  Augsburg Fortress, 2006.

Hymnal and Order of Service, The.  Lectionary Edition.  Rock Island, IL:  Augustana Book Concern, 1925.

Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship.  Lutheran Book of Worship.  Ministers Desk Edition.  Philadelphia, PA:  Board of Publication, Lutheran Church in America, 1978.

__________.  Lutheran Book of Worship.  Pew Edition.  Philadelphia, PA:  Board of Publication, Lutheran Church in America, 1978.

Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship for Provisional Use.  Contemporary Worship 2:  Services–The Holy Communion.  Philadelphia, PA:  Board of Education, Lutheran Church in America, 1970.

Jones, Cheslyn, et al, eds.  The Study of Liturgy.  Revised Edition.  New York:  Oxford University Press, 1992.

Lutheran Service Book.  St. Louis, MO:  Concordia Publishing House, 2006.

Lutheran Worship.  St. Louis, MO:  Concordia Publishing House, 1982.

Pfatteicher, Philip H.  Commentary on the Lutheran Book of Worship:  Lutheran Liturgy in Its Ecumenical Context.  Minneapolis, MN:  Augsburg Fortress, 1990.

Pfatteicher, Philip H., and Carlos R. Messerli.  Manual on the Liturgy:  Lutheran Book of Worship.  Minneapolis, MN:  Augsburg Publishing House, 1979.

Reed, Luther D.  The Lutheran Liturgy:  A Study in the Common Service of the Lutheran Church in America.  Philadelphia, PA:  Muhlenberg Press, 1947.

__________.  The Lutheran Liturgy:  A Study in the Common Liturgy of the Lutheran Church in America.  2d. Ed.  Philadelphia, PA:  Fortress Press, 1959.

Stulken, Marilyn Kay.  Hymnal Companion to the Lutheran Book of Worship.  Philadelphia, PA:  Fortress Press, 1981.

Wentz, Abdel Ross.  The Lutheran Church in American History.  2d. Ed.  Philadelphia, PA:  The United Lutheran Publication House, 1933.

I also found some PDFs helpful:

Schalk, Carl.  ”A Brief History of LCMS Hymnals (before LSB).”  Based on a 1997 document; updated to 2006.  Copyrighted by The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.

Stuckwisch, D. Richard.  ”The Missouri Synod and the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship.”  Lutheran Forum, Volume 37, Number 3 (Fall 2003), pages 43-51.

KRT

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The Book of Common Prayer (2004)   2 comments

Ireland_amo_2010284_lrg

Above:  Ireland, October 11, 2010

Image Source = Jet Propulsion Laboratory

(http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=49687)

Image Courtesy of Jeff Schmaltz

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A NOTE ABOUT SOURCES:

The contents of this post flow from Bishop Harold Miller’s chapter in The Oxford Guide to The Book of Common Payer:  A Worldwide Survey (Oxford University Press, 2006, pages 431-437), his lecture at the Institute of Sacred Music at Yale University (http://www.yale.edu/ism/colloq_journal/vol3/miller1.html), my online research, and my use and study of The Book of Common Prayer (2004).

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SOME ONLINE RESOURCES:

The Texts Themselves:

http://www.ireland.anglican.org/index.php?do=worship&id=12

Worship Homepage, Church of Ireland:

http://ireland.anglican.org/worship/1

Previous Editions of the Irish Prayer Book:

http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bcp/Ireland.htm

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Eternal God and Father,

whose Son at supper prayed that his disciples might be one,

as he is one with you:

Draw us closer to him,

that in common love and obedience to you

we may be united to one another

in the fellowship of the one Spirit,

that the world may believe that he is Lord,

to your eternal glory;

through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (2004), page 335

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PREFACE

Liturgy interests me.  My childhood experiences of bad liturgy in rural United Methodist congregations in southern Georgia interacted with my innate interest in ritualism to make me an Episcopalian.  There were other factors, of course, but those two constituted major factors in my decision to convert.  So I have become attached to versions of the Book of Common Prayer.  I know the 1979 BCP of The Episcopal Church the best.  Indeed, I am a Rite II person.  The 1928 Prayer Book is nothing more than an artifact to me; may it reside only as an exhibit in the proverbial museum of liturgy.  A New Zealand Prayer Book (1989) (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/01/03/a-new-zealand-prayer-bookhe-karakia-mihinare-o-aotearoa-1989/), among my favorites, has carved out a niche on the vanguard of Prayer Book revision and liturgical renewal.  I seek it out when I want more adventurous and less traditional rites, more experimental than even The Episcopal Church’s Enriching Our Worship series offers.

The language of prayer interests me.  My private name for God–the one I use when speaking to God alone–is simply “You.”  It is a modern English word, for I speak modern English.  “You” is intimate without committing anthropomorphism.  To call God “Thee” in this age is to rebuild a barrier which Jesus tore down via the Incarnation.  And, in the romance language versions of the Bible I have seen, the text uses the informal form of the second person to refer to God.

I understand that it is impossible to avoid committing anthropomorphism when calling God anything other than “You,” given our human perspectives and the limitations of language.  This is especially true in public worship and liturgies for private prayer.  Yet me must remember that our language for God contains many metaphors and that the reality behind them exceeds our capacity for understanding.  So I choose not to take offense at gendered metaphors, which can prove spiritually helpful if one knows that they are merely metaphors.

REVIEW

The Church of Ireland has produced and authorized a new edition of the Book of Common Prayer which contains both Elizabethan and modern English, preserves poetry in the modern English portions, and offers a relatively conservative example of Prayer Book revision.  The Church’s previous Prayer Books (that of 1926, for example) were based mostly on the 1662 BCP.  Liturgical renewal and Prayer Book revision, starting with the publication of the first new rites in 1967, led to the Alternative Prayer Book (1984) and subsequent services in the 1990s.  There were 1926 BCP parishes, 1984 APB parishes, and parishes that alternated between the two books.  But now, with The Book of Common Prayer (2004), the Church of Ireland has just one legal Prayer Book.

Harold Miller, Bishop of Down and Dromore, lecturing at the Institute of Sacred Music of Yale University, summarized the volume as follows:

A quick review of prayer books in the Anglican Communion would show many liturgical volumes that are more flexible, more inculturated, more imaginative, and more “on the edge” theologically than the liturgies of the Church of Ireland.  For example, apart from a list of Celtic saints and their dates, and one or two Irish propers, some of the Irish hymns in the hymnal, and the fact that there is an Irish edition of the new BCP, there are very few signs of Celtic spirituality in the formal worship books of the Church of Ireland.  While characteristics such as flexibility, inculturation, and imagination and not in any sense absent from the 2004 Book of Common Prayer, the book is nevertheless characterized above all else by a desire for unity in the worship of God’s people–something greatly treasured in the Church of Ireland, not least because of our other political, cultural, and theological divisions on the island of Ireland.  This desire is, therefore, part of our own inculturation in a varied and sometimes divided community.  The theme song of the 1878 preface to the Book of Common Prayer is very much part of the psyche of the Church of Ireland when it states:  “What is imperfect wiht peace is often better than what is otherwise excellent without it.”

Indeed, unity is what The Book of Common Prayer (2004) is meant to maintain.  For example the rite for the Ash Wednesday service does not mention the imposition of ashes.  As Bishop Miller said at Yale University,

Reference to such a custom might divide.

My use of the book  has been restricted to private devotional purposes.  So I am not equipped to comment on whether the volume has had a unifying effect.  Bishop Miller says that it has had such an effect; I take his word for that.

The book itself is a handsome volume.  The green hardcover book features a Celtic cross and the words

THE BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER

on the front cover.  The spine displays smaller versions of each of those features.  There are three ribbon bookmarks (white, light green, and dark green) for the user’s convenience.  The paper quality inside is excellent and the font is easy to read.  The rubrics are even printed in red ink.  The volume demonstrates the care which people took in preparing it.

The services and prayers are a combination of Elizabethan and modern English.

  1. Morning and Evening Prayer (printed together with morning and evening portions labeled plainly) come in both forms.
  2. The rites for Holy Communion come in both forms.
  3. The rituals for Christian Initiation come in both forms.
  4. The marriage ceremony comes in both forms.
  5. The Funeral Services come in both forms.
  6. The ordination rites come in both forms.
  7. The Collects and Canticles come in both forms.
  8. Compline comes only in Elizabethan English yet A Late Evening Office comes only in modern English.
  9. The ashless Ash Wednesday service comes only in modern English.
  10. The Daily Prayer service, which comes only in modern English, features a seven-day cycle of thanksgivings and intercessions–a nice touch.
  11. The Psalter, borrowed from The Church of England’s Common Worship (2000), is stately modern English.  Those who prefer the modified Coverdale Psalter from The Book of Common Prayer (1926) have the option of using it instead.
  12. The “Some Prayers and Thanksgivings” section contains both Elizabethan and modern English language.

The most non-traditional service in the 2004 BCP is the Service of the Word, outlined on page 165 with three pages of instructions following.  The rubrics use the word “may” often, as in

A Psalm and/or a Scripture Song may precede or follow readings.

It reminds me of An Order for Celebrating the Holy Eucharist, a.k.a. Rite III, from The Book of Common Prayer (1979) in flexibility of structure.

The 2004 Prayer Book contains the Revised Common Lectionary for Sundays plus readings for major holy days and saints’ days.  The retention of the practice of numbering Sundays after Trinity, not Pentecost, is a holdover from olden times.  (The Episcopal switched to counting Sundays after Pentecost in the 1970s.)  The absence of a Daily Office lectionary seems odd to me, but the Worship Homepage of the denominational website provides that information.

I detect a careful Protestant-Roman Catholic balancing act taking place in the 2004 BCP.  This becomes evident not only in the ashless Ash Wednesday service but in a comparison of Holy Communion One (traditional) and Holy Communion Two (contemporary).  The language in both refers to the body and blood of Jesus in relation to the bread and the wine of the sacrament, but Holy Communion Two contains something crucial which Holy Communion One lacks.  The priest, at the breaking of the bread, says:

The bread which which we beak

is a sharing in the body of Christ.

The congregation responds:

We being many are one body,

for we all we share in the one bread.

Where is the Incarnation of Jesus in the sacrament located?  Is it situated in the bread and wine themselves?  Or is it a non-localized spiritual presence, as in Reformed theology?  The texts are vaguer on that point in Holy Communion Two than those of Holy Communion One are.  And one can read the language (without stretching them too much) in both rites to find them consistent with Transubstantiation or Consubstantiation, the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion not withstanding.  This vagueness need not be negative and my comments are not criticisms.  Much of the beauty of Anglicanism is located in its fence-straddling between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism.  My own theology borrows generously from both sides.

CONCLUSION

The Book of Common Prayer (2004) has become a valuable part of my library.  I found its services online a few years ago, printed two of them, placed the pages in sheet protectors, and used the rituals.  But it is better to have a book sometimes, and I am a man of books.  True, the 2004 BCP is not a cutting-edge volume in regard to inclusive language or any other criterion, for it is a relatively cautious revision.  But it is a nice and graceful revision, a copy of which occupies space on the same shelf as A New Zealand Prayer Book, my favorite source for good cutting-edge liturgies.  I recognize the good in both and praise them.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 25, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARK THE EVANGELIST, MARTYR

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Receive the Holy Spirit, Part I   1 comment

Above:  The Holy Spirit as a Dove

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Isaiah 43:1-7 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob,

he who formed you, O Israel:

Fear not, for I have redeemed you;

I have called you by name, you are mine.

When you pass through the waters I will be with you;

and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;

when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,

and the flame shall not consume you.

For I am the LORD your God,

the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

I give Egypt as your ransom,

Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you.

Because you are precious in my eyes,

and honored, and I love you,

I give men in return for you,

peoples in exchange for your life.

Fear not, for I am with you;

I will bring your offspring from the east,

and from the west I will gather you;

I will say to the north, Give up,

and o the south, Do not withhold;

bring my sons from afar

and my daughters from the end of the earth,

every one who is called by my name,

whom I have created for my glory,

whom I formed and made.

Psalm 29 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Ascribe to the LORD, you gods,

ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.

Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;

worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.

3 The voice of the LORD is upon the waters;

the God of glory thunders;

the LORD is mighty upon the waters.

4 The voice of the LORD is a powerful voice;

the voice of the LORD is a voice of splendor.

The voice of the LORD breaks the cedar trees;

the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon;

6 He makes Lebanon skip like a calf,

and Mount Hermon like a young wild ox.

The voice of the LORD splits the flames of fire;

the voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness;

the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.

The voice of the LORD makes the oak trees writhe

and strips the forest bare.

9 And in the temple of the LORD

all are crying, “Glory!”

10 The LORD sits enthroned above the flood;

the LORD sits enthroned as King for evermore.

11 The LORD shall give strength to his people;

the LORD shall give his people the blessing of peace.

Acts 8:14-17 (Revised English Bible):

When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent off Peter and John, who went down there and prayed for the converts, asking that they might receive the Holy Spirit.  Until then the Spirit had not come upon any of them, they had been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus, that and nothing more.  So Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

Luke 3:15-17, 21-22 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

As the people were in expectation, all men questioned in their hearts concerning John, whether perhaps he were the Christ.  John answered them all,

I baptize you with water; but he who is mightier than I is coming; the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.  His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into his granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.

Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form, as a dove, and a voice came from heaven,

You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.

The Collect:

Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit: Grant that all who are baptized into his Name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Baptism of Jesus:  Prayers:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/baptism-of-jesus-prayers/

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/12/22/prayer-of-praise-and-adoration-for-the-first-sunday-after-epiphany-the-baptism-of-our-lord/

Prayer of Confession:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/12/22/prayer-of-confession-for-the-first-sunday-after-epiphany-the-baptism-of-our-lord/

Prayer of Dedication:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/12/22/prayer-of-dedication-for-the-first-sunday-after-epiphany-the-baptism-of-our-lord/

When Jesus Came to Jordan:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/11/19/when-jesus-came-to-jordan/

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Water can be threatening.  People have drowned in it.  Sometimes water has flooded, causing great devastation.  Yet water is essential to life; those who dwell in the desert know this well.  An insufficient supply of drinkable water causes death, but too much water can have the same effect.  Yet just enough is healthy.

And water played a vital role in the history of the Jews.  The passage through the Sea of Reeds during the Exodus from Egypt marked the birth of the Hebrew nation.  Episcopal baptismal rituals refer to the Exodus, for in water we have a potent symbol of life, physical and spiritual.

…and the flame will not consume you,

we read in the context of promised divine protection in Isaiah 43:2b.  Fire is also an image for the Holy Spirit, said (in lovely poetic language) to have descended upon Jesus

in bodily form like a dove

(Luke 3:22a).  Fire is also either helpful or harmful, depending on the context.  But the proverbial fire of the Holy Spirit is positive.  As a High Churchy Episcopalian I understand the Holy Spirit differently than do Pentecostals and Charismatics, so I will try to express my concept clearly.  The Holy Spirit, one third of the Trinity (however that works) is how God works on Earth in the here and now.  It is how God speaks to us today.  And God speaks to many people in different ways.

However God speaks to each of us, may all of us receive the Holy Spirit. And, if or when one manner of receiving it differs  from another, so be it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 15, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ZACHARY, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF EDMUND MUSKIE, UNITED STATES SENATOR AND SECRETARY OF STATE

THE FEAST OF SAINT LOUISE DE MARILLAC, COFOUNDER OF THE DAUGHTERS OF CHARITY

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/03/15/first-sunday-after-the-epiphany-the-baptism-of-our-lord-year-c/

Being Heavenly-Minded in Daily Life   1 comment

Above:  Infant Baptism

Photograph by Tom Adrianssen

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Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.

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Colossians 3:1-11 (The Jerusalem Bible):

Since you have been brought back to true life with Christ, you must look for the things that are in heaven, where Christ is, sitting at God’s right hand.  Let your thoughts be on heavenly things, not on the things that are on the earth, because you have died, and now the life you have is hidden with Christ in God.  But when Christ is revealed–and he is your life–you too will be revealed in all your glory with him.

That is why you must kill everything in you that belongs only to earthly life:

  • fornication,
  • impurity,
  • guilty passion, evil desires
  • and especially greed,

which is the same thing as worshipping a false god; all this is the sort of behaviour that makes God angry.  And it is the way in which you used to live when you were surrounded by people doing the same thing, but now you, of all people, must give all these things up:

  • getting angry,
  • being bad-tempered,
  • spitefulness,
  • abusive language and dirty talk;
  • and never tell each other lies.

You have stripped off our old behaviour with your old self, and you have put on a new self which will progress towards true knowledge the more it is renewed in the image of its creator; and in that image there is no room for distinction

  • between Greek and Jew,
  • between the circumcised or the uncircumsised,
  • or between barbarian and Scythian,
  • slave and free man.

There is only Christ:  he is everything and he is in everything.

(I reformatted the text to include bullet lists.)

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The Collect:

Grant us, O Lord, to trust in you with all our hearts; for, as you always resist the proud who confide in their own strength, so you never forsake those who make their boast of your mercy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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The reading from Colossians exists within the context of baptism.  Christ was everything for Paul, so the Apostle wrote that following Christ would dictate one’s choices in daily life.  The “thou shall not” rules out much of politics and and popular culture, including AM talk radio, Cinemax, and the euphemistically named FOX News Channel.

Baptism is one of the seven sacraments.  The brief act involving water is supposed to function as a visible and outward sign of divine and inward grace in a person’s life.  The ceremony is beautiful, but the hard work follows it.  But as the Scriptures, quoted in the funeral service from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, say:

For none of us has life in himself,

and none becomes his own master when he dies.

For if we have life, we are alive in the Lord,

and if we die, we die in the Lord.

So, then, whether we live or die,

we are the Lord’s possession.

(Page 491)

The Lukan version of the Beatitudes and subsequent woes (in Luke but not Matthew) comes from the Sermon on the Plain, that gospel’s counterpart of the Sermon on the Mount.  The Beatitudes and Woes from Luke contrast value systems.  Those who choose the values of the Beatitudes will go from spiritual height to height.  There is a physical element, too.  The poor are the poor, not the “poor in spirit,” as in Matthew.  The hungry seek food; they are not hungry for righteousness.  Those who value money, possessions, temporary happiness, and public acclaim might get them, but their gains will prove unsatisfactory in the long term.

So, without resorting to persistent grumpiness, of which Paul was disapprove, may we cling to Christ and value him above all else.  Christ does not need our defense; he can defend himself.  His gospel stands forever, withstanding all assaults of scoffers.  But he needs our witness.  May we witness with our ingrained attitudes, which will dictate our actions.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 15, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ZACHARY OF ROME, BISHOP

THE FEAST OF EDMUND MUSKIE, U.S. SENATOR AND SECRETARY OF STATE

THE FEAST OF LOUISE DE MARILLAC, COFOUNDER OF THE DAUGHTERS OF CHARITY

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Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/15/week-of-proper-18-wednesday-year-1/

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Posted May 4, 2012 by neatnik2009 in Colossians 3

Tagged with

Great Blessings Come With Great Obligations   1 comment

Above: The Children of Israel Crossing the Jordan, by Gustave Dore

Image in the Public Domain

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Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.

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Joshua 3:7-17 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

The LORD said to Joshua,

This day, for the first time, I will exalt you in the sight of all Israel, so that they shall know that I will be with you as I was with Moses.  For your part, command the priests who carry the Ark of the Covenant as follows:  When you reach the edge of the waters of the Jordan, make a halt in the Jordan.

And Joshua said to the Israelites,

Come closer and listen to the words of the LORD your God.  By this,

Joshua continued,

you shall know that a living God is among you, and that He will dispossess for you the Canannites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites:  the Ark of the Covenant of the Sovereign of all the earth is advancing before you into the Jordan.  Now select twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one man from each tribe.  When the feet of the priests bearing the Ark of the LORD, the Sovereign of all the earth, come to rest in the waters of the Jordan–the water coming from upstream–will be cut off and will stand in a single heap.

When the people set out from their encampment to cross the Jordan, the priests bearing the Ark of the Covenant were at the head of the people.  Now the Jordan keeps flowing over its entire bed throughout the harvest season.   But as soon as the bearers of the Ark reached the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the Ark dipped into the water at its edge, the waters coming down from upstream piled up in a single head a great way off, at Adam, the town next to Zarethan; and those flowing away downstream to the Sea of the Arabah (the Dead Sea) ran out completely.  The priests who bore the Ark of the LORD’s Covenant stood on dry land exactly in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel crossed over on dry land, until the entire nation had finished crossing the Jordan.

Psalm 114 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Hallelujah!

When Israel came out of Egypt,

the house of Jacob from a people of strange speech,

2 Judah became God’s sanctuary

and Israel his dominion.

3 The sea beheld it and fled;

Jordan turned and went back.

The mountains skipped like rams,

and the little hills like young sheep.

What ailed you, O sea, that you fled?

O Jordan, that you turned back?

You mountains, that you skipped like rams?

you little hills like young sheep?

7 Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord,

at the presence of the God of Jacob,

8 Who turned the hard rock into a pool of water

and flint-stone into a flowing spring.

Matthew 18:21-19:1 (J. B. Phillips, 1972):

Then Peter approached him [Jesus] with the question,

Master, if my brother goes on wronging me how often should I forgive him?  Would seven times be enough?

Jesus replied,

No, not seven times, but seventy times seven!  For the kingdom of Heaven is like a king who decided to settle his accounts with his servants.  When he had started calling in his accounts, a man was brought to him who owed him millions of pounds.  As he had no means of repaying the debt, his master gave orders for him to be sold as a slave, and his wife and children and all his possessions as well, and the money to be paid over.  At this the servant fell on his knees before his master.  ’Oh, be patient with me!’ he cried, ‘and I will pay you back every penny!’  Then his master was moved with pity for him, set him free and cancelled his debt.

But when this same servant had left his master’s presence, he found one of his fellow-servants who owed him a few shillings.  He grabbed him and seized him by the throat, crying, ‘Pay up what you owe me!’  At this his fellow-servant fell down at his feet, and implored him, ‘Oh, be patient with me, and I will pay you back!’  But he refused and went out and had him put in prison until he should repay the debt.

When the other fellow-servants saw what had happened, they were horrified and went and told their master the whole incident.  This his master called him in.

‘You wicked servant!’ he said.  ’Didn’t I cancel all that debt when you begged me to do so?  Oughtn’t you to have taken pity on your fellow-servant as I, your master, took pity on you?’  And his master in anger handed him over to the jailers till he should repay the whole debt.  This is how my Heavenly Father will treat you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.

When Jesus had finished talking on these matters, he left Galilee and went on to the district of Judea on the far side of the Jordan.

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The Collect:

Grant to us, Lord, we pray, the spirit to think and do always those things that are right, that we, who cannot exist without you, may by you be enabled to live according to your will; 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 thank you, Almighty God, for the gift of water.

Over it the Holy Spirit moved in the beginning of creation.  Through it you led the children of Israel out of their bondage in Egypt into the land of promise.  In it your Son Jesus received the baptism of John and was anointed by the Holy Spirit as the Messiah, the Christ, to lead us, through his death and resurrection, from the bondage of sin into everlasting life.

We thank you, Father, for the water of Baptism.  In it we are buried with Christ in his death.  By it we share in his resurrection.  Through it we are reborn by the Holy Spirit.  Therefore in joyful obedience to your Son, we bring into his fellowship those who come to him in faith, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

At the following words, the Celebrant touches the water.

Now sanctify this water, we pray you, by the power of the Holy Spirit, that those who here are cleansed from sin and born again may continue for ever in the risen life of Jesus Christ our Savior.

To him, to you, and to the Holy Spirit, be all honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), pages 306-307

There is symmetry in the story of the Israelites.  They leave Egypt (and slavery) through parted waters and enter the promised land in the same way.  Each time God goes in front of them.  In the case of the reading from Joshua, the Ark of Covenant, an object of great mystical power, went before them.

At this moment I cannot help but recall a classic line from the Spider-Man background story.  His wise Uncle Ben said that with great power comes great responsibility.  Likewise there is a Biblical principle that with great blessing comes the responsibility to be a light to the nations, to serve God and to bring others to God.  Being chosen should never become an occasion of hubris.

And so, throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, prophets excoriate society for neglecting the poor, usually widows and orphans.  The proper sacrifice to God, they say, is not superficial fasting and other meaningless shows of insincere religion, but caring for each other in practical ways.  (See Isaiah 58:1-12, for example.)

This principle resides at the heart of the reading from Matthew.  As I wrote in yesterday’s devotion, Matthew 18 speaks of the coexistence of mercy and judgment with God.  And the parable in 18:23-35 is consistent with this, from the Sermon on the Mount:

Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get….

–Matthew 7:1-2 (Revised Standard Version)

These can be difficult passages to digest.  At least they are for me.  I want God to forgive, not judge.  But God does both.  I choose to engage the Scriptures and to digest them, including the principle that I must forgive (something I can do only by grace) if I am to receive forgiveness.  This particular parable comes to my mind frequently, pushing me to extend graciousness to many people.

The first servant has somehow accumulated a debt he has no chance of paying back.  Yet this master takes pity on him and forgives the entire debt.  Nevertheless, this servant has a man who owes him a far smaller debt thrown into debtor’s prison.  (Aside:  I have never grasped the principle of debtor’s prison.  If someone cannot pay when a free man or woman, how can he or she pay when in prison?)  The master then treats the first servant the same way he (the servant) acted toward his (the servant’s) debtor.  This is poetic justice.

If we cannot forgive just yet, we can confess this sin to God and seek grace to reach that point.  This is a beginning, at least.  And I believe that God responds favorably to such requests.  We are weak, but God is strong.  At any given moment, especially when we die, may we be in the good graces of God, obeying divine guidance.  We will never achieve entire sanctification in this lifetime, but we can make progress, by grace.  But we must cooperate with God.

The waters of baptism mark outwardly new life in God and in the community of the Church.  Among the baptismal questions in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer is this:

Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?

The answer is,

I will, with God’s help.  (page 305)

We are all weak; may we be gracious toward one another, with God’s help.  This is our common vocation:  to foster goodwill, to love each other as ourselves, and to seek the best for each other.  Society will improve when more of us live this way.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 7, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MOSES, APOSTLE TO THE SARACENS

THE FEAST OF SAINT APOLLONIA, MARTYR AT ALEXANDRIA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BLAISE OF SEBASTE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP’

THE FEAST OF GREGORIO ALLEGRI, COMPOSER

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Adapted from this post:

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

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Holy Baptism   2 comments

Above:  Baptism of a Child

Image Source = Tom Adriaenssen

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Child_baptism_with_water.jpg)

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Genesis 9:8-17 (New Revised Standard Version):

God said to Noah and to his sons with him,

As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.

God said,

This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.

God said to Noah,

This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.

Psalm 25:1-9 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul;

my God, I put my trust in you;

let me not be humiliated,

nor let my enemies triumph over me.

2  Let none who look to you be put to shame;

let the treacherous be disappointed in their schemes.

3  Show me your ways, O LORD,

and teach me your paths.

4  Lead me in your truth and teach me,

for you are the God of my salvation;

in you have I trusted all the day long.

5  Remember, O LORD, your compassion and love,

for they are from everlasting.

6  Remember not the sins of my youth and my transgressions;

remember me according to your love

and for the sake of your goodness, O LORD.

7  Gracious and upright is the LORD;

therefore he teaches sinners in his way.

8  He guides the humble in doing right

and teaches his way to the lowly.

9  All the paths of the LORD are love and faithfulness

to those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.

1 Peter 3:18-22 (New Revised Standard Version):

Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you– not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.

Mark 1:9-15 (New Revised Standard Version):

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven,

You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.

And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying,

The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.

The Collect:

Almighty God, whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be tempted by Satan: Come quickly to help us who are assaulted by many temptations; and, as you know the weaknesses of each of us, let each one find you mighty to save; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

First Sunday in Lent, Year A:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/27/first-sunday-in-lent-year-a/

Take My Life, and Let It Be Consecrated, Lord, to Thee:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/09/13/take-my-life-and-let-it-be-consecrated-lord-to-thee/

Genesis 9:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/26/week-of-6-epiphany-thursday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/11/13/week-of-proper-1-thursday-year-1/

1 Peter 3:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/thirty-sixth-day-of-easter-sixth-sunday-of-easter-year-a/

Baptism of Christ:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/first-sunday-after-the-epiphany-the-baptism-of-our-lord-year-a/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/05/first-sunday-after-the-epiphany-the-baptism-of-our-lord-year-b/

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The theme of Baptism holds this Sunday’s readings together.

There is a link between Genesis 9:8-17, which tells of aftermath of the mythical Great Flood, and 1 Peter 3:18-22.  1 Peter tells us that the flood prefigured the baptism, something, the epistle tells us, saves us.  This was an odd prefiguring, for, even as 1 Peter admits, only eight people (plus animals) survived that deluge.  I notice these details, and they bother me; maybe that is why I felt out of place in some Sunday School classes while growing up.

The very concise lesson from Mark 1 covers the baptism of Jesus, his temptation in the wilderness, and the beginning of his ministry–all in a few verses.  The baptism of John the Baptist was a one-time ritual act demonstrating repentance.  Yet Jesus was perfect.  So why did he undergo this rite?  He identified with us, mere mortals.

It is also true that rituals play important parts in individual lives and in societies.  Rites mark the passage from one state to another.  We hope, for example, that two people who marry have already committed themselves to each other before their wedding day, and so are already married in the spiritual sense.  But the ceremony, aside from having legal, tax, and benefits consequences, marks the transition for those getting married and for those who look upon them afterward.  Likewise, our Lord’s baptism at the hands of John the Baptist marked the beginning of a new phase in his life.

Lent, in my tradition, is the forty days-long period of preparation for Easter.  As a historical matter, this was when people prepared for baptism at the Easter Vigil and when those severed from the church prepared to reconcile with and rejoin it.  It is also that season during the Church Year that we are not supposed to baptize–just prepare for it.  So the placement of baptism in the readings for the First Sunday in Lent is appropriate; it establishes a theme for the season.

Baptism, when it is what it ought to be, is a ceremony marking what God has done.  The modern Christian ceremony is one of initiation into the Christian community, in which we are responsible for each other.  If we are adults when baptized, the rite marks our response to what God has done; if not, it signifies the recognition of adults responsible for us of their responsibility to raise us to respond favorably to God.  In the case of the latter, confirmation will follow at an appropriate age.

May we take our commitments to God and each other seriously.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 24, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT THOMAS A KEMPIS, SPIRITUAL WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JOHN BOSTE, GEORGE SWALLOWELL, AND JOHN INGRAM, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

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Adapted from this post:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2011/07/24/first-sunday-in-lent-year-b/

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Posted February 7, 2012 by neatnik2009 in 1 Peter 3, Genesis 9, Mark 1, Psalm 25

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