Archive for the ‘Death’ Tag

The Gift of Tears to Shed   1 comment

Above:  Tear Ducts

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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Isaiah 25:6-9

Psalm 24

Revelation 21:1-6a

John 11:32-44

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[The Lord GOD] will destroy death for ever….

–Isaiah 25:8a, The Revised English Bible (1989)

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Writing another devotional blog post for All Saints’ Day can prove challenging, given how many I have composed.  My perspective on this hobby of writing lectionary-based devotions is unique, O reader.  I am the only mortal who knows how often I have repeated myself.

Anyway, the connection between Isaiah 25:5-9 and Revelation 21:1-6a is obvious.  Isaiah 25:6-9, set during the great eschatological banquet, is a fine choice to pair with Revelation 21:1-6a.

I have joined the company of those who visit someone’s grave and talk.  In my case, those are the graves of my father (who had Alzheimer’s Disease and died a combination of ailments on October 30, 2014) and my girlfriend (who struggled with mental illness until she died violently on October 14, 2019).  Therefore, Isaiah 25:6-9 has special meaning for me.  Perhaps you, O reader, also find special meaning in this text.  We mere mortals grieve because we are human and have emotions.  We need not grieve alone.  Hopefully, we can rely on other people to help us through the grieving process.  And God is with us, of course.

Jesus wept.

–John 11:35, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

Jesus weeps with us.  We are not alone.

Sister Ruth Fox, O.S.B., wrote “A Franciscan Blessing” (1985), which reads, in part:

May God bless you with the gift of tears to shed with those who suffer

from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all that they cherish,

so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and transform their pain into joy.

One day, I will be a position to help someone experiencing grief.  I will be able to assist that person because of my grief.  So be it.  Life in God requires people to look out for each other.  

The Feast of All Saints is an occasion to ponder all who have preceded us in the Christian faith.  They constitute a “great cloud of witnesses.”  Some are famous.  Most are obscure.  We may know a few of them by name.  To miss them is legitimate.

At the right time (the time of God’s choosing), may we join them on the other side of the veil.  In the meantime, we have work to do and God to glorify.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 30, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF LESSLIE NEWBIGIN, ENGLISH REFORMED MISSIONARY AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT BATHILDAS, QUEEN OF FRANCE

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK OAKELEY, ANGLICAN THEN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

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 JACQUES BUNOL, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1945

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2021/01/30/devotion-for-all-saints-day-year-d-humes/

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The Tears of the Christ   1 comment

Above:  Jesus, from The Gospel According to Saint Matthew (1964)

A Screen Capture

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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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Genesis 13:1-16 or Ezra 1:1-7; 3:8-13

Psalm 136:1-9, 23-26

Revelation 7:9-17

John 11:1-3. 16-44

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Jesus wept.

–John 11:35, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

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They will never hunger or thirst again; neither the sun nor scorching wind will ever plague them because the Lamb who is at the throne will be their shepherd and will lead them to springs of living water; and God will wipe away all tears like their eyes.

–Revelation 7:16-17, The Jerusalem Bible (1966)

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I could take so many paths through the assigned readings for this week.  These readings are rich texts.  I will take just one path, however.

Before I do, here are a few notes:

  1. Abraham waited for God to tell him which land to claim.  Abraham chose well.
  2. Lot chose land on his own.  He chose poorly.  However, at the time he seemed to have chosen wisely; he selected fertile land.
  3. I agree with Psalm 136.  Divine mercy does endure forever.
  4. The chronology of the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah weaves in and out of those books.  I know, for I blogged my way through them in chronological order at BLOGA THEOLOGICA last year.

For the record, the chronological reading order of Ezra-Nehemiah follows:

  1. Ezra 1:1-2:70; Nehemiah 7:6-73a;
  2. Ezra 3:1-4:5;
  3. Ezra 5:1-6:22;
  4. Ezra 4:6-24;
  5. Nehemiah 1:1-2:20;
  6. Nehemiah 3:1-4:17;
  7. Nehemiah 5:1-19;
  8. Nehemiah 6:1-7:5;
  9. Nehemiah 11:1-12:47;
  10. Nehemiah 13:1-31;
  11. Nehemiah 9:38-10:39;
  12. Ezra 7:1-10:44; and
  13. Nehemiah 7:73b-9:38.

I take my lead in this post from the New Testament readings.  Tears are prominent in both of them.  Tears are on my mind during the COVID-19 pandemic.  They are also on my mind as I continue to mourn the violent death of my beloved.  Her departure from this side of the veil of tears has left me shaken and as forever changed me.

The full divinity and full humanity of Jesus are on display in John 11.  We read that Jesus wept over the death of his friend, St. Lazarus of Bethany.  We also read of other people mourning and weeping in the immediate area.  We may not pay much attention to that.  We may tell ourselves, “Of course, they grieved and wept.”  But two words–“Jesus wept”–remain prominent.

There is a scene in The Gospel According to Saint Matthew (1964) that fits this theme.  At the time, Hollywood studios had recently released technicolor movies about a Jesus who had no tear ducts yet had an impressive command of Elizabethan English while resembling a Northern European.  Yet Pier Paolo Pasolini, who committed about half of the Gospel of Matthew to film, presented a Jesus who had tear ducts.  Immediately after the off-camera decapitation of St. John the Baptist, the next shot was a focus on Christ’s face.  He was crying.  So were the men standing in front of him.

Jesus wept.

We weep.  Jesus weeps with us until the day God will wipe away all tears of those who have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 23, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN THE ALMSGIVER, PATRIARCH OF ALEXANDRIA

THE FEAST OF CHARLES KINGSLEY, ANGLICAN PRIEST, NOVELIST, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF EDWARD GRUBB, ENGLISH QUAKER AUTHOR, SOCIAL REFORMER, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JAMES D. SMART, CANADIAN PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF PHILLIPS BROOKS, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF MASSACHUSETTS, AND HYMN WRITER

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2021/01/23/devotion-for-proper-19-year-d-humes/

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From the Depths   Leave a comment

Above:  De Profundis, by Horatio Walker

Image in the Public Domain

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For the First Sunday in Lent, Year 2

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Lectionary from A Book of Worship for Free Churches (The General Council of the Congregational Christian Churches in the United States, 1948)

Collect from The Book of Worship (Evangelical and Reformed Church, 1947)

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We beseech thee, O Lord, by the mystery of our Savior’s fasting and temptation,

to arm us with the same mind that was in him toward all evil and sin;

and give us grace to keep our bodies in such holy discipline,

that our minds may be always ready to resist temptation,

and obey the direction of thy Holy Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Worship (1947), 146

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Genesis 22:1-14

Psalm 130

2 Corinthians 6:1-10

Matthew 4:1-11

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Before I settle into the main business of this blog post, I choose to get some preliminary matters out of the day.

  1. I have written about the near-sacrifice of Isaac many times.  (Check the category for Genesis 22, O reader.)  It is a terrible, traditionally misinterpreted tale.  In modern times, the state Department of Family and Children’s Services would be all over Abraham like lint on a cheap suit, and properly so.  Police officers would arrest Abraham for attempted murder, and properly so.  A prosecutor would try to convict Abraham in court, and properly so.  God tested Abraham.  Abraham failed that test.  He should have asked questions, to be sure he understood correctly.
  2. The Temptation of Jesus in the desert (Matthew 4) offers more familiar, much written-about ground.  (Check the category for Matthew 4, O reader.)  

I take my key note from Psalm 130, a prayer for forgiveness, both individual and collective.  The text affirms the merciful love of God, as well as the human obligation to confess sins, feel remorse for them, and repent of them.  That is the academic side of Psalm 130 for me.

There is no error is offering an objectively accurate analysis and summary of a text, of course.  In the case of Psalm 130, however, I add the dimension of grief.  During the years I loved Bonny Thomas, who struggled with mental illness, I returned frequently to Psalm 130.  I cried to God from the depths.  After Bonny lost her battle with mental illness and died violently, I cried again to God from the depths.  I have continued to do so.

We can cry to God from the depths in proper confidence that God will hear us and take pity on us.  We can also be present for others in their depths.  Having been or being in the depths can enable us to help others in the depths better than we could aid them otherwise.

This point ties into 2 Corinthians 6:6.  One of the ways we prove we are servants of God is by being kind.  Speaking of kindness, Jesus can help us, too.  He knows temptations, too.  So, in the darkness of the depths, we can find a cause for rejoicing and recognize that we have everything we need.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 6, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE EPIPHANY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST

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In Times of Distress   Leave a comment

Above:  Pearl of Grief, by Rembrandt Peale

Image in the Public Domain

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For the Second Sunday Before Lent, Year 2

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Lectionary from A Book of Worship for Free Churches (The General Council of the Congregational Christian Churches in the United States, 1948)

Collect from The Book of Worship (Evangelical and Reformed Church, 1947)

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O Lord God, who seest that we put not our trust in anything that we do;

mercifully grant that by thy power,

we may be defended against all adversity;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Worship (1947), 139

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Ecclesiastes 11:1-6

Psalm 71

2 Timothy 3:10-4:5

Luke 8:4-15

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These four readings include the unifying theme of perseverance in faith during times of misfortune.  Do we become stronger or weaker in faith during such times?

The bottom has fallen out of my life twice–in late 2006 and early 2007 then again on October 14, 2019.  I rebounded spiritually from the 2006-2007 collapse years ago.  I am still rebuilding spiritually from Bonny’s sudden, violent death on October 14, 2019.  The COVID-19 pandemic has added complications on top of my personal catastrophe.

I have grown the most spiritually during times of distress.  The light of God has seemed brighter in the darkness.  Perhaps that light was as bright as it had always been.  If so, the darkness around it magnified the light’s effectiveness.  I remain grateful for that spiritual growth without wanting to relive those experiences or anything similar to them.

Life is unfair.  It hurts horribly, sometimes.  If one relies on one’s own resources, one cannot move along from one moment to the next, let alone one day to the next.  If one relies on God, both directly and indirectly, however, one can do that.  Life will still hurt, but one will not feel alone in that hurt.  Jesus can identify with us, our temptations, and our pain.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 12, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FOURTEENTH DAY OF ADVENT

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM LLOYD GARRISON, ABOLITIONIST AND FEMINIST; AND MARIA STEWART, ABOLITIONIST, FEMINIST, AND EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINTS BARTHOLOMEW BUONPEDONI AND VIVALDUS, MINISTERS AMONG LEPERS

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM LOUIS POTEAT, PRESIDENT OF WAKE FOREST COLLEGE, AND BIOLOGIST; HIS BROTHER, EDWIN MCNEILL POTEAT, SR., SOUTHERN AND NORTHERN BAPTIST MINISTER, SCHOLAR, AND PRESIDENT OF FURMAN UNIVERSITY; HIS SON, EDWIN MCNEILL POTEAT, JR., SOUTHERN BAPTIST MINISTER, MISSIONARY, MUSICIAN, HYMN WRITER, AND SOCIAL REFORMER; HIS BROTHER, GORDON MCNEILL POTEAT, SOUTHERN AND NORTHERN BAPTIST AND CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND MISSIONARY; AND HIS COUSIN, HUBERT MCNEILL POTEAT, SOUTHERN BAPTIST ACADEMIC AND MUSICIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT LUDWIK BARTOSIK, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1941

THE FEAST OF THOMAS CANNING, U.S. COMPOSER AND MUSIC EDUCATOR

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A Prayer for Memorial Day (U.S.A.)   1 comment

08662v

Above:  Memorial Day, 1923

Image Source = Library of Congress

(http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/npc2007008661/)

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-npcc-08662

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Loving God, we mourn those who have died in wars.

May we cease to cause needless deaths,

and may those necessary deaths occur only in the service of justice and freedom,

so that so many future deaths in that cause will prove unnecessary.

In the name of Jesus, who conquered death;

who came to serve and not to be served;

who lived, died, and rose again for the redemption of generations not yet born;

and whose ethical teachings challenge us still.  Amen.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 26, 2013 COMMON ERA

TRINITY SUNDAY:  THE FIRST SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF SAINT AUGUSTINE, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

THE FEAST OF SAINT PHILIP NERI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

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Published Originally at GATHERED PRAYERS

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2013/05/26/a-prayer-for-memorial-day-u-s-a/

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Posted May 26, 2013 by neatnik2009 in Worship, Liturgy, and Prayers

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“The Souls of the Righteous Are In the Hand of God, And No Torment Shall Ever Touch Them.”   1 comment

Above:  Grave Niches in the Roman Catacombs

Image Source = Gerald M

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

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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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Wisdom of Solomon 2:23-3:9 (Revised English Bible):

But God created man imperishable, and made him in the image of his own eternal self; it was the devil’s spite that brought death into the world, and the experience of it is reserved for those who take his side.

But the souls of the just are in God’s hands; no torment will touch them.  In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to be dead; their departure was reckoned as defeat, and their going from us as disaster.  But they are at peace, for though in the sight of men they may suffer punishment, they have a sure hope of immortality; and after a little chastisement they will receive great blessings, because God has tested them and found them worthy to be his.  He put them to the proof like gold in a crucible, and found them acceptable like an offering burnt whole on the altar.  In the hour of their judgement they will shine in glory, and will sweep over the world like sparks through stubble.  They will be like judges and rulers over nations and peoples, and the Lord will be their King for ever.  Those who have put their trust in him will understand that he is true, and the faithful will attend upon him in love; they are his chosen, and grace and mercy will be theirs.

Psalm 34:15-22 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

15 The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous,

and his ears are open to their cry.

16 The face of the LORD is against those who do evil,

to root out the remembrance of them from the earth.

17 The righteous cry, and the LORD hears them

and delivers them from all their troubles.

18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted

will save those whose spirits are crushed.

19 Many are the troubles of the righteous,

but the LORD will deliver him out of them all.

20 He will keep all his bones;

not one of them shall be broken.

21 Evil shall slay the wicked,

and those who hate the righteous will be punished.

22 The LORD ransoms the life of his servants,

and none will be punished who trust in him.

Luke 17:7-10 (Revised English Bible):

[Jesus said to his disciples,]

Suppose one of you has a servant ploughing or minding sheep.  When he comes in from the fields, will the master say, “Come and sit down straightway”?  Will he not rather say, “Prepare my supper; hitch up your robe, and wait on me while I have my meal.  You can have yours afterwards”?  Is he grateful to the servant for carrying out his orders?  So with you:  when you have carried out all you have been ordered to do, you should say, “We are servants and deserve no credit; we have only done our duty.”

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The Collect:

O God, whose blessed Son came into the world that he might destroy the works of the devil and make us children of God and heirs of eternal life: Grant that, having this hope, we may purify ourselves as he is pure; that, when he comes again with power and great glory, we may be made like him in his eternal and glorious kingdom; where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Many antebellum Southern defenders of slavery used the reading from Luke 17 to justify race-based slavery.  They missed the point, of course.  They did this because they engaged in prooftexting, one of the more frequent errors in Biblical interpretation.

The point, rather, is that those who follow God are servants of God.  But, as Paul wrote, we are also heirs and members of the family of God (http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/11/week-of-proper-25-monday-year-1/).  And our forebears in Christianity have joined the Church Triumphant.  They are the family, as I like to think of them.

So they are not really dead.  It is no accident that Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-5, 9 is among the approved readings for a funeral, according to the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer of 1979.  (See page 494.)

The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God,

the lector reads,

and no torment shall ever touch them.

They have not perished; they have gone to their new home, with God.  They have received their inheritance.

May we rejoice for them while we continue faithfully the work God has assigned to us and look forward to our inheritance, at its proper time, whenever that is.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 19, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANDREW BOBOLA, JESUIT MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT DUNSTAN OF CANTERBURY, ARCHBISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT IVO OF CHARTRES, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT IVO OF KERMARTIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND ADVOCATE FOR THE POOR

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Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/19/week-of-proper-27-tuesday-year-1/

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Longing for Death   1 comment

Above:  A Graveyard

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Job 3:1-3, 11-23 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

Afterward, Job began to speak and cursed the day of his birth.  Job spoke up and said:

Perish the day on which I was born,

And the night it was announced,

“A male has been conceived!”

Why did I not die at birth,

Expire as I came forth from the womb?

Why were their knees to receive me,

Or breasts for me to suck?

For now would I be lying in repose, asleep and at rest,

With the world’s kings and counselors who rebuild ruins for themselves,

Or with nobles who possess gold and who fill their houses with silver.

Or why was I not like the buried stillbirth,

Like babies who never saw the light?

There the wicked cease from troubling;

There rest those whose strength is spent.

Prisoners are wholly at ease;

They do not hear the taskmaster’s voice.

Small and great alike are there,

And the slave is free of his master.

Why does He give light to the sufferer

And life to the bitter in spirit;

To those who wait for death but it does not come,

Who search for it more than for treasure,

Who rejoice to exultation,

And are glad to reach the grave;

To the man who has lost his way,

Whom God has hedged about?

Psalm 88:1-8 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  O LORD, my God, my Savior,

by day and night I cry to you.

2  Let my prayer enter into your presence;

incline your ear to my lamentation.

3  For I am full of trouble;

my life is at the brink of the grave.

4  I am counted among those who go down to the Pit;

I have become like one who has no strength;

5  Lost among the dead,

like the slain who lie in the grave,

6  Whom you remember no more,

for they are cut off from your hand.

7  You have laid me in the depths of the Pit,

in dark places, and in the abyss.

8  Your anger weighs upon me heavily,

and all your great waves overwhelm me.

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Some Related Posts:

A Prayer for Those Suffering from Holiday Grief:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/a-prayer-for-those-suffering-from-holiday-grief/

Prayers for Those Who Suffer:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/prayers-for-those-who-suffer/

Hope of the World:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/08/02/hope-of-the-world/

Stabat Mater:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/04/17/stabat-mater/

A Prayer for the Healing of Minds:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/a-prayer-for-the-healing-of-minds/

Rebirth:  A Prayer:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/17/rebirth-a-prayer/

A Prayer for Those Who Are Desperate:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/a-prayer-for-those-who-are-desperate/

For Those Who Are Unemployed:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/04/03/for-those-who-are-unemployed/

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This day I will be quite concise.  I have longed for death and prayed for it, even cursed each morning I awoke.  I have sought escape–the sooner the better–from my troubles.  You, O reader, might have also known this feeling.  Or you might know it now.  If you do, O reader, all I can do to help you is tell you what happened to me:  My circumstances improved, thanks to God.  In my darkest hours I noticed acutely the presence of God.  Now I have another experience upon which to draw to help others.  My mandate from God is to use that dark time in my life for positive ends.

In my case, it got better.  If you need the same result, may that happen for you, by grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 26, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ALFRED THE GREAT, KING OF THE WEST SAXONS

THE FEAST OF SAINT CEDD, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF LONDON

THE FEAST OF DMITRY BORTNIANSKY, COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF PHLIP NICOLAI, JOHANN HEERMANN, AND PAUL GERHARDT, HYMN WRITERS

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Published originally at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on October 26, 2011

Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/26/week-of-proper-21-tuesday-year-2/

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Posted October 26, 2011 by neatnik2009 in Job 3, Psalm 88

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