Archive for the ‘Henry Louttit Jr.’ Tag

Repentance and Restoration, Part IV   2 comments

Above:  Onesimus

Image in the Public Domain

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For the Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year 1, according to the U.S. Presbyterian lectionary of 1966-1970

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Almighty and everlasting God, who art always more ready to hear than we to pray,

and art wont to give more than wither we desire or deserve:

pour down upon us the abundance of thy mercy;

forgiving us those things whereof our conscience is afraid,

and giving us those good things which we are not worthy to ask,

but through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Common Worship–Provisional Services (1966), 125-126

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Hosea 14:1-9

Philemon 4-20

Luke 18:9-14

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Repentance–national in Hosea 14, individual in Luke 18 and Philemon–is the essence of these readings.

The Letter to Philemon has long been a misunderstood text.  Since antiquity many have cited it to justify reuniting runaway slaves with their masters–obviously a misinterpretation, given verse 16.  Onesimus may even not have been a slave, for the correct translation of verse 16 is

…as if a slave,

not the usual

…as a slave.

And Onesimus may not have been a thief either, according to a close reading of the text.

According to tradition, by the way, Philemon heeded the letter’s advice; he freed Onesimus.  Both men became bishops and martyrs, furthermore.

Tax farming was an inherently exploitative system.  Not only did the collected taxes support the Roman occupiers, but tax collectors were not salaried bureaucrats.  No, they lived off what they collected in excess of Roman taxes.  They were literal tax thieves.  The tax collector in the parable knew what he was.  He was honest before God as he pleaded for mercy.  The Pharisee in the parable was proud, though.

As Henry Irving Louttit, Jr., the retired Episcopal Bishop of Georgia, said, the Pharisees were the good churchgoing people of their day.

If we churchy people are honest with ourselves, we must admit that we have more in common with the Pharisee than the tax collector of the parable.  We make our handiwork–spiritual, more than physical, probably–our idol.  Perhaps we imagine ourselves as being better than we are.

What would a sequel to the parable have been?  Would the tax collector have found a new profession?  Would the Pharisee have continued to be insufferably smug and self-righteous?

Repentance is active. Grace, although free, is far from cheap.  Perhaps it requires one to become a bishop and martyr, or to change one’s career.  Certainly it requires one to be humble before God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 12, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE ELEVENTH DAY OF ADVENT, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF SAINT JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL, FOUNDRESS OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE VISITATION

THE FEAST OF ALICIA DOMON AND HER COMPANIONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS IN ARGENTINA

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

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

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Blind Fools   1 comment

Above:  Woe Unto You, Scribes and Pharisees, by James Tissot

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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Daniel 6:16-27

Psalm 108:1-5

Revelation 18:1-3

Matthew 23:13-26

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My heart is firmly fixed, O God, my heart is fixed;

I will sing and make melody.

Wake up, my spirit;

awake, lute and harp;

I myself will waken the dawn.

I will confess you among the peoples, O LORD;

I will sing praises to you among the nations.

For your loving-kindness is greater than the heavens,

and your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.

Exalt yourself above the heavens, O God,

and your glory over all the earth.

–Psalm 108:1-5, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

[Psalms 57 and 108 do seem somewhat similar, do they not?]

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The chronology of the Book of Daniel is frankly a mess impossible to reconcile with the rest of the Bible and with ancient history.  The Book of Daniel is a collection of folktales, not history, so one ought not to mistake it for a factually reliable source of knowledge of past events.  Those folktales do contain much truth and wisdom, however.  We ought to interpret the Book of Daniel based on what it is, not what it is not.

Our story from the Book of Daniel affirms the wisdom of trusting God.  That is a strong thematic link to last Sunday’s readings, which are generally gloomier than the pericopes for this Sunday.  In fact, much of what I would like to write, based on the assigned readings, would prove redundant, compared to what I have written in the previous post in this series.  Ackerman crafted his lectionary that well and tightly.

I prefer, therefore, to focus on Matthew 23:13-26.

Those much-maligned scribes and Pharisees were not mustache-twirling villains.  Yes, some of them had spiritual issues pertaining to power and the illusion of control.  And yes, they collaborated with Roman authorities.  But no, they were not mustache-twirling villains.  They were, as Henry Irving Louttit, Jr., the retired Episcopal Bishop of Georgia, said, the good, church-going people of their time.  Many–perhaps most–of them sought to honor God by keeping divine commandments, as they understood them.  Yet they were, in the words of Christ, “blind fools.”

How many of us are “blind fools” and do not know it?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 29, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS BOSA OF YORK, JOHN OF BEVERLEY, WILFRID THE YOUNGER, AND ACCA OF HEXHAM, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS

THE FEAST OF SAINT CATHERINE OF SIENA, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN

THE FEAST OF TIMOTHY REES, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LLANDAFF

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Adapted from this post:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2017/04/29/devotion-for-the-fourth-sunday-of-advent-ackerman/

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Our Mission As Christians Entails Being Part of the Solution, Not Seeking to Flee This World   2 comments

Above:  Second Coming Icon

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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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1 Thessalonians 3:6-13 (The Jerusalem Bible):

However, Timothy is back from you and he has given us good news of your faith and your love, telling us that you always remember us with pleasure and want to see us quite as much as we want to see you.  And so, brothers, your faith has been a great comfort to us in the middle of your own troubles and sorrows; now we can breathe again, as you are still holding firm in the Lord.  How can we thank God enough for you, for all the joy we feel before our God on your account?  We are earnestly praying night and day to be able to see you face to face again and make up any shortcomings in your faith.

May God our Father himself, and our Lord Jesus Christ, make it easy for us to come to you.  May the Lord be generous in increasing your love and make you love one another and the whole human race as much as we love you.  And may he so conform your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless in the sight of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus Christ comes with all his saints.

Psalm 90:13-17 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

13 Return, O LORD; how long will you tarry?

be gracious to your servants.

14 Satisfy us by your loving-kindness in the morning;

so shall we rejoice and be glad all the days of our life.

15 Make us glad by the measure of the days that you afflicted us

and the years in which we suffered adversity.

16 Show your servants your works

and your splendor to their children.

17 May the graciousness of the LORD our God be upon us;

prosper the work of our hands;

prosper our handiwork.

Matthew 24:42-51 (The Jerusalem Bible):

Jesus said,

So stay awake, because you do not know the day when your master is coming.  You may be quite sure of this that if the householder had known at what time of the night the burglar would come, he would have stayed awake and would not have allowed anyone to break through the wall of his house.  Therefore, you too must stand ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

What kind of servant, then, is faithful and wise enough for the master to place him over his household to give him their food at the proper time?  Happy that servant if his master’s arrival finds him at this employment.  I tell you solemnly, he will place him over everything he owns. But as for the dishonest servant who says to himself, “My master is taking his time,” and sets about beating his fellow servants and drinking with drunkards, his master will come on a day he does not expect and at an hour he does not know.  The master will cut him off and send him to the same fate as hypocrites, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.

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The Collect:

Grant, O merciful God, that your Church, being gathered together in unity by your Holy Spirit, may show forth your power among all peoples, to the glory of your Name; 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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Some glad morning when this life is o’er,

I’ll fly away;

To a home on God’s celestial shore,

I’ll fly away.

I’ll fly away, O glory,

I’ll fly away in the morning;

When I die, hallelujah, by and by.

When the shadows of this life have grown,

I’ll fly away;

Like a bird from prison bars has flown,

I’ll fly away.

I’ll fly away, O glory….

Just a few more weary days and then,

I’ll fly away;

To a land where joys shall never end,

I’ll fly away.

I’ll fly away, O glory….

–Albert E. Brumley, 1932

Bishop Henry Irving Louttit, Jr., leader of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia from 1995 to 2010, is a man I respect greatly.  He has diagnosed correctly the problem with the rather annoying gospel song I have quoted above:  It is escapist.

The Incarnation is about, among other things, God coming into world to transform and redeem it.  So let us not give up on it.  Giving up on the world, with its plethora of severe problems, lies at the heart of much apocalyptic thought.  The logic runs something like this:  Since the world has gone to Hell in a handbasket, the best we Christians can do is hang on until Jesus returns.  But how much better, I ask, might the world be if we were more active in the world, if we focused less on prophecy seminars and conferences, and if we got busy doing our best to be salt and light?  We ought not strive to get the hell out of Dodge.  No, we need to make Dodge a better town.

Apocalyptic thought is almost as old as Christianity.  The Apostle Paul expected Jesus to return within his lifetime.  And many members of the church at Thessalonica had the same idea.  Since then some people have set dates, only to meet with disappointment.  William Miller, founder of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, did this more than once.  One Colin Hoyle Deal published a book entitled Christ Returns by 1988:  101 Reasons Why in 1979.  And, as I write these words, another deadline, May 21, 2011, is in my near future.  I expect many people to be disappointed on May 22, 2011.  I expect nothing, so I will not be disappointed.

May we focus on being salt and light, to the best of our ability, by the help of God.  Then, regardless of whatever God’s plans are on any given day, God will not catch us unawares.

Where shall we start?  I propose that we start by loving ourselves and one another in God, in whom we have identity.  Paul’s affection for the Thessalonian Christians is obvious in the reading from the epistle.  But it is also evident in 1 Thessalonians 2:14-3:5, over which the Canadian Lectionary skips.  Consider these words:

What do you think is our pride and our joy?  You are…. (2:19a)

For all the references to slanders some in the Thessalonian church had made against Paul, the Apostle was genuinely fond of the congregation.

United by mutual love and affection in God, may we Christians be salt and light in the world, which is our neighborhood, not the enemy camp.  We are responsible for our neighborhoods.  And if we are not part of the solution, we are part of the problem.  Empowered by God, we can succeed in our mission.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 7, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS DRAUSINUS AND ANSERICUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS OF SOISSONS; SAINT VINDICIAN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF CAMBRAI; AND SAINT LEODEGARIUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF AUTUN

THE FEAST OF SAINT PERPETUA AND HER COMPANIONS

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Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/07/week-of-proper-16-thursday-year-1/

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