Archive for the ‘Prodigal Son’ Tag

Deuteronomy and Matthew, Part XVI: Serving Others for God   1 comment

stations-123

Above:  The Right Reverend Robert C. Wright, Bishop of Atlanta, Participating in the Stations of the Cross, Atlanta, Georgia, Good Friday, March 29, 2013

Image Source = Bill Monk, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

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

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

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

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Deuteronomy 21:1-23 (October 22)

Deuteronomy 24:10-25:10 (October 23)

Psalm 54 (Morning–October 22)

Psalm 65 (Morning–October 23)

Psalms 28 and 99 (Evening–October 22)

Psalms 125 and 91 (Evening–October 23)

Matthew 16:1-12 (October 22)

Matthew 16:13-28 (October 23)

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Some Related Posts:

Deuteronomy 24:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/11/04/week-of-7-epiphany-friday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/08/17/week-of-proper-7-monday-year-2/

Matthew 16:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/01/25/week-of-proper-13-thursday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/01/27/week-of-proper-13-friday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/02/26/proper-16-year-a/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/08/proper-17-year-a/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/02/week-of-proper-13-wednesday-year-2-and-week-of-proper-13-thursday-year-2/

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Deuteronomy 21:1-23 and 24:10-25:10 contain the usual unpleasantness, such as when to stone people (see 21:18-21, for example, then contrast it with Luke 15:11-32, the Parable of the Prodigal Son) yet also many practical rules about helping the less fortunate and the vulnerable.  Thus, for example, even female captives have rights, as do wives, and laborers of various national origins.  Furthermore, childless widows can find security via levirate marriage.  There was an ethic that all Israelites were slaves of God, so they each had obligations to his or her fellow human beings; therein resided the formula for a stable and just society.

Jesus, in Matthew 16, offered a model of service and self-sacrifice in contrast to the teachings of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

In serving one another we find true freedom to become what we ought to be:  those who recognize the image of God in each other and act accordingly.  The details of how to that properly and effectively vary according to time and place, but the principle is everlasting and constant.  So may each of us take up his or her cross and follow Jesus, who came to serve, not to be served.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 8, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BENEDICT II, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF DAME JULIAN OF NORWICH, SPIRITUAL WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAGDALENA OF CANOSSA, FOUNDER OF THE DAUGHTERS OF CHARITY AND THE SONS OF CHARITY

THE FEAST OF SAINT PETER OF TARENTAISE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP

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Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/05/08/devotion-for-october-22-and-23-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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Numbers and Luke, Part I: Respecting God   1 comment

return-of-the-prodigal-son-leonello-spada

Above:  The Return of the Prodigal Son, by Leonello Spada

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

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

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

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Numbers 3:1-16, 39-48 (36th Day of Easter)

Numbers 8:5-26 (37th Dayof Easter)

Psalm 93 (Morning–36th Day of Easter)

Psalm 97 (Morning–37th Day of Easter)

Psalms 136 and 117 (Evening–36th Day of Easter)

Psalms 124 and 115 (Evening–37th Day of Easter)

Luke 14:25-15:10 (36th Day of Easter)

Luke 15:11-32 (37th Day of Easter)

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Some Related Posts:

Luke 14-15:

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

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/05/22/fourth-sunday-in-lent-year-c/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/18/week-of-proper-26-wednesday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/18/week-of-proper-26-thursday-year-1/

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/prayer-of-praise-and-adoration-for-the-sixth-sunday-of-easter/

Prayer of Dedication:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/prayer-of-dedication-for-the-sixth-sunday-of-easter/

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I belong to a wonderful congregation in Athens, Georgia.  It is friendly, generous, socially progressive, and open to free intellectual and spiritual inquiry.  The parish has become a community leader in environmental stewardship, with plans to improve according to this standard.  Of all the churches to which I have belonged, it is the closest fit for me.  Yet I think that my parish is too casual.  This is not a deal breaker for me, but the place is too casual.  So I come to church most Sundays dressed in a suit, a tie, and a fedora.  I stand out.  In a place where I, once the resident heretic in southern Georgia, am now relatively orthodox (without having changed my mind much), I stand out in another way.  Blending in is overrated.

The concept of one’s Sunday Best is a dated one in my increasingly casual North American culture.  Without turning church into an occasion for a fashion show, I affirm the underlying principle of Sunday Best:  One ought not approach God with a casual attitude.  That principle also undergirded the purity and Levitical codes in the Law of Moses.

This God whom we should not approach casually is the one whom we should love more than any person, possession, or other attachment.  This is the God who seeks us out when we are lost.  This is the God who listens to our insults, waives the death penalty from the Law of Moses, awaits our return, and welcomes us home.  (The son in the parable had told his father, via his early request for his inheritance,

I wish that you were dead.

This met the definition of cursing or insulting a parent, an offense which carried the death penalty.)

This is God, worthy of all our respect.  May our manner and attitude of approaching God in public and private reflect that reality.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 16, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF RUFUS JONES, QUAKER THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN FRANCIS REGIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH BUTLER, ANGLICAN BISHOP

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Adapted from this post:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/06/16/devotion-for-the-thirty-sixth-and-thirty-seventh-days-of-easter-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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Leviticus and Luke, Part V: Like a Broken Record   1 comment

phonograph

Above:  A Long-Playing Record

Image Source = Tomasz Sienicki

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gramofon_1_ubt.jpeg)

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

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

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

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Leviticus 20:1-16, 22-27 (29th Day of Easter)

Leviticus 21:1-24 (30th Day of Easter)

Leviticus 23:1-22 (31st Day of Easter)

Psalm 93 (Morning–29th Day of Easter)

Psalm 97 (Morning–30th Day of Easter)

Psalm 98 (Morning–31st Day of Easter)

Psalms 136 and 117 (Evening–29th Day of Easter)

Psalms 124 and 115 (Evening–30th Day of Easter)

Psalms 66 and 116 (Evening–31st Day of Easter)

Luke 11:37-54 (29th Day of Easter)

Luke 12:1-12 (30th Day of Easter)

Luke 12:13-34 (31st Day of Easter)

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Some Related Posts:

Leviticus 21-23:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/05/02/devotion-for-the-fourth-day-of-lent-lcms-daily-lectionary/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/11/07/proper-25-year-b/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/01/13/week-of-proper-12-friday-year-1/

Luke 11-12:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/04/week-of-proper-23-tuesday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/04/week-of-proper-23-wednesday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/05/week-of-proper-23-thursday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/06/week-of-proper-23-friday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/07/week-of-proper-23-saturday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/08/week-of-proper-24-monday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/09/week-of-proper-24-tuesday-year-1/

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/03/prayer-of-praise-and-adoration-for-the-fifth-sunday-of-easter/

Prayer of Dedication:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/03/prayer-of-dedication-for-the-fifth-sunday-of-easter/

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 I admit it; I sound like a broken record:  Loving people and seeking justice for them matters far more than does keeping an obscure element of the Law of Moses.  Speaking of that law code, shall we consider some provisions of it?  We read some sexual laws and an order to execute one for the offense of idolatry.  Then there is this law:

If anyone insults his father or his mother, he shall be put to death; he has insulted his father and his mother–his blood guilt is upon him.

–Leviticus 20:9, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

To insult is also to curse, the sort of activity the Prodigal Son committed in Luke 15.  Yet the father, the God figure in the parable, forgave the son.

We read in Leviticus 21:16 forward that physically handicapped or deformed Levites were forbidden to serve as priests.  It seems that such men were not supposed to serve God in that way because their physical imperfections reflected the divine form inadequately.  I am glad of progressive attitudes regarding physical differences in modern times; may these ideas flourish.

Then we read about what makes a sacrifice acceptable.  I do not care, for none of that has mattered since the first century CE.

Jesus criticized people who were meticulous about legalistic details while they ignored the imperative of social justice.  He advocated humility before God, trust in God, and active concern for the conditions and circumstances of others.  I think that he cared about blind and disabled Levites, who got to eat well yet were still second-class spiritual citizens.

Speaking of Levites, contact with a corpse made one unclean (Leviticus 22).  That concern played a role in the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37).  And who was the hero in that story?

People matter more than arcane laws.  Here ends the lesson, again.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 15, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT LANDELINUS OF VAUX, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; SAINT AUBERT OF CAMBRAI, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP; SAINT URSMAR OF LOBBES, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND MISSIONARY BISHOP; AND SAINTS DOMITIAN, HADELIN, AND DODO OF LOBBES, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONKS

THE FEAST OF EVELYN UNDERHILL, ANGLICAN MYSTIC

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Adapted from this post:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/06/15/devotion-for-the-twenty-ninth-thirtieth-and-thirty-first-days-of-easter-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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Lost and Found   1 comment

Above:  The Return of the Prodigal Son, by Leonello Spada (1576-1622)

Collect and lections from the Episcopal Lesser Feasts and Fasts Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints

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Follow the assigned readings with me this Lent….

Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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Micah 7:14-15, 18-20 (Revised English Bible):

Shepherd your people with your crook,

the flock that is your own,

that lives apart on a moor with meadows all around;

let them graze in Bashan and Gilead as in days gone by.

Show us miracles as in the days when you came out of Egypt.

Who is god like you?  You take away guilt,

you forgive the sins of the remnant of your people.

You do not let your anger rage for ever,

for to be merciful is your true delight.

Once more you will show us compassion and wash away our guilt,

casting all our sins into the depths of the sea.

You show faithfulness to Jacob, unfailing mercy to Abraham,

as you swore to our forefathers in days gone by.

Psalm 103:1-14 (Revised English Bible):

Bless the LORD, O my soul;

with all my being I bless his holy name.

Bless the LORD, my soul,

and forget none of his benefits.

He pardons all my wrongdoing and heals all my ills.

He rescues me from death’s pit and crowns me with love and compassion.

He satisfies me with all good in the prime of life,

and my youth is renewed like an eagle’s.

The LORD is righteous in all he does;

he brings justice to all who have been wronged.

He revealed his ways to Moses,

his mighty deeds to the Israelites.

The LORD is compassionate and gracious,

long-suffering and ever faithful;

he will not always accuse or nurse his anger forever.

He has not treated us as our sins deserve

or repaid us according to our misdeeds.

As the heavens tower high over the earth,

so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.

As far as east is from west,

so far from us has he put away our offences.

As a father has compassion on his children,

so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;

for he knows how we are made,

he remembers that we are but dust.

Luke 15:11-32 (Revised English Bible):

Again he [Jesus] said:

There was once a man who had two sons; and the younger said to the father, ‘Father, give me my share of the property.’  So he divided his estate between them.  A few days later the younger son turned the whole of his share into cash and left for a distant country, where he squandered it in dissolute living.  He had spent it all, when a famine fell upon that country and he began to be in need.  So he went and attached himself to one of the local landowners, who sent him on to his farm to mind the pigs.  He would have been glad to fill his belly with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.  Then he came to his senses: ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more food than they can eat,’ he said, ‘and here I am, starving to death!  I will go at once to my father, and say to him, “Father, I have sinned against God and against you; I am no longer fit to be called your son; treat me as one your hired servants.”‘ So he set out for his father’s house.  But while he was still a long way off his father saw him, and his heart went out to him; he ran to meet him, flung his round him, and kissed him.  The son said, ‘Father, I have sinned against God and against you; I am no longer fit to be called your son.’  But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Fetch a robe, the best we have, and put it on him; put a ring on his finger, and sandals on his feet.  Bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us celebrate with a feast.  For this son of mine was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and is found.’ And the festivities began.

Now the elder son had been out on the farm; and on his way back, as he approached the house, he heard music and dancing.  He called one of the servants and asked what it meant.  The servant told him, ‘Your brother has come home, and your father has killed the fatted calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ But when he was angry and refused to go in.  His father came out and pleaded with him; but he retorted, ‘You know how I have slaved for you all these years; I have never once disobeyed your orders; yet you never gave me so much as a kid, to celebrate with my friends.  But now that this son of yours turns up, after running through your money with women, you kill the fatted calf for him.’

‘My boy,’ said the father, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.’ How could we fail to celebrate this happy day?  Your brother here was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and has been found.’

The Collect:

Grant, most merciful Lord, to your faithful people pardon and peace, that they may be cleansed from all their sins, and serve you with a quiet mind; 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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Luke 15 contains three parables about being lost and found.  First, a shepherd tending a hundred sheep sought out one lost member of his flock the rejoiced.  Next, a woman sought and found a valuable coin in her home.  Then she rejoiced.  Finally, a patient father looked and waited for the return of wasteful son who had turned his back on his family.  When the son returned, the father rejoiced.

The Encarta World English Dictionary defines “prodigal” (as an adjective) to mean:

  1. EXTRAVAGANTLY WASTEFUL spendthrift or extravagant to a degree bordering on recklessness
  2. PRODUCING GENEROUS AMOUNTS giving or producing something in large amounts
  3. WASTING PARENTAL MONEY BUT STILL LOVED spending parental money wastefully, but returning home to a warm welcome

The third definition derives from this day’s parable.  The first meaning applies to the younger son, and the second definition applies to the father, a stand-in for God.

Tradition calls this day’s parable “the Prodigal Son.”  This is a misnomer.  It is really a parable about a loving father, as wasteful younger son who comes to his senses and repents, and a resentful older son who stays home dutifully.  The father loves his sons, both of whom disappoint him.  Yet the younger son repents.  And what about the older son?  His part of the story contains the climax of the parable.  He does not join in his father’s joy and extravagant grace.

Grace scandalizes us sometimes, especially if we are more like the older son than the younger one.  Grace means that someone does not receive what he or she deserves.  Yet none of us deserves grace, so who are we to criticize?  And can we not be merely decent human beings who rejoice in God’s extravagant, scandalous, even prodigal (according to definition #2) love?

Think of the reading from Micah.  To show mercy is God’s true delight.  And consult the psalm.  God knows that we are dust, is compassionate and gracious, and loves as a father (and mother, too) loves a child.  Previous readings this Lent have informed us that we should love God completely and be compassionate and merciful, as God is compassionate and merciful.  Let us connect the dots.  Let us love ourselves, one another, and God.  And if this causes scandal, so be it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 24, 2010 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MATTHIAS THE APOSTLE, MARTYR

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Adapted from this post:

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

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Posted February 10, 2012 by neatnik2009 in Luke 15, Micah, Psalm 103

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Reading and Pondering Hosea, Part Four   1 comment

The Return of the Prodigal Son

Image Source = FranzMayerstainedglass

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

Divine Love

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Hosea 11:1-11 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

I fell in love with Israel

When he was still a child;

And I have called [him] My son

Ever since Egypt.

Thus were they called,

But they went their own way;

They sacrifice to Baalim

And offer to carved images.

I have pampered Ephraim,

Taking them in My arms;

But they have ignored

My healing care.

I drew them with human ties,

With cords of love;

But I seemed to them as one

Who imposed a yoke on their jaws,

Though I was offering them food.

No!

They return to the land of Egypt,

And Assyria is their king.

Because they refuse to repent,

A sword shall descend upon their towns

And consume their limbs

And devour [them] because of their designs.

For My people persists

In its defection from Me;

When it is summoned upward,

It does not rise at all.

How can I give you up, O Ephraim?

How surrender you, O Israel?

How can I make you like Admah,

Render you like Zeboiim?

I have had a change of heart,

All My tenderness is stirred.

I will not act on My wrath,

Will not turn to destroy Ephraim.

For I am God, not man,

The Holy One in your midst:

I will not come in fury.

The LORD will roar like a lion,

And they shall march behind Him;

When he roars, His children shall come

Fluttering out of the west.

They shall flutter from Egypt like sparrows,

From the land of Assyria like doves;

And I will settle them in their homes

–declares the LORD.

Hosea 14:2-10 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God,

For you have fallen because of your sin.

Take words with you

And return to the LORD.

Say to Him:

Forgive all guilt

And accept what is good;

Instead of bulls we will pay

[The offering of] our lips.

Assyria shall not save us,

No more will we ride on steeds,

Nor ever again will we call

Our handiwork our god,

Since in You alone orphans find pity!

I will heal their affliction,

Generously will I take them back in love;

For My anger has turned away from them.

I will be to Israel like dew;

He shall blossom like the lily,

He shall strike root like a Lebanon tree.

His boughs shall spread out far,

His beauty shall be like the olive tree’s,

His fragrance like that of Lebanon.

They who sit in his shade shall be revived:

They shall bring to life new grain,

They shall blossom like the vine;

His scent shall be like the wine of Lebanon.

Ephraim [shall say]:

What more have I to do with idols?

When I respond and look to Him,

I become like a verdant cyprus.

Your fruit is provided by Me.

He who is wise will consider these words,

He who is prudent will take note of them.

For the paths of the LORD are smooth;

The righteous can walk on them,

While sinners stumble on them.

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In Hosea we have another metaphor for the relationship between God and the rebellious people:  parent and child.  Despite the ingratitude on one side and anger on the other, divine love remains.  Elsewhere in Hosea we read of God as the jilted husband.  The constant factor, however, is divine love.

So the rebellious people must face the consequences of their actions yet will not face annihilation.  This stands in contrast to other groups, which perished utterly.  As a Christian, I accept that God loved them also.  Yes, the violent depictions of God in the Bible disturb me; I will neither excuse nor ignore them.  My understanding of God comes from the person of Jesus, who said to love one’s enemies and to pray for one’s persecutors.

Nevertheless the main point remains the love of God (expressed via various metaphors) for us.  May we reciprocate.  May we love the image of God in our fellow human beings. This is often difficult, for anger is a powerful emotion.  Yet love is more powerful, not to mention much healthier.

I can think of a few people I need to contemplate in compassionate and loving ways, not with wrath and indignation.  You, O reader, can probably do the same within your context.  Empowered by grace, may we love not only God and those we like, but also those we dislike, perhaps intensely.  God is also their parent.

I think also of the Prodigal Son’s father.  The father, a stand-in for God, permits the foolish son to make his mistakes then to come home.  The father watches for his son, whom he welcomes back into the fold.  Then the other son, the dutiful one who stayed home, did not welcome his brother back, however.  Who are you in this story?  Are you resentful, not greeting those who have amended their ways?  Or have you come to your senses and corrected your ways?  Maybe the parental role fits better.

Divine love does not prevent us from making mistakes or suffering certain consequences of our misdeeds, but it does welcome us home.  May we, who have benefited from such love, extend it to others.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 6, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CHARLES ELLIOT FOX, ANGLICAN MISSIONARY

THE FEAST OF MADELEINE L’ENGLE, NOVELIST

THE FEAST OF PETER CLAVER, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

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Published originally at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/09/06/week-of-proper-9-thursday-year-2-and-week-of-proper-9-friday-year-2/

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Posted September 6, 2011 by neatnik2009 in Micah

Tagged with , ,