Oct 31- Sasaki & Tsen, Bishops

Oct 31- Sasaki & Tsen

Paul Shinji Sasaki + Philip Lindel Tsen
Bishop of Mid-Japan + Bishop of Honan, China
31 October 1946 + 1954

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From the Satucket Lectionary

Bp. Paul SasakiSasaki, Paul Shinji, Bishop of Tokyo, Japan [1885-1946] and Philip Lendel Tsen shop of Honan, China [d. June 6, 1954]. Sasaki was a bishop of BiNippon Sei Ko Kai (the Anglican Church in Japan) who endured much persecution for his beliefs. In 1937, Tsen and Sasaki attended the 1937 Synod in Canada where they publicly bore witness to the unity among Asian Christians despite the Sino-Japanese war. Sasaki was tortured and imprisoned by the Japanese government in 1944. Bishop Tsen was raised by American missionaries, but after his priestly ordination became involved with a Canadian mission group. He helped sustain the people of his district during the bitter war with Japan. At the end of WW2, he became the leader of the Chinese Anglican Church. Returning from the 1948 Lambeth meeting, he was placed under house arrest by the Communist government.

- from the description in Holy Women, Holy Men

Oct 30 – John Wyclif, Translator + Controversialist

Oct 30 - John Wyclif

John Wyclif
Translator + Controversialist
30 October 1384

click here for books about or by John Wylif


From the Satucket Lectioanary

John WyclifJohn Wyclif (also spelled Wycliffe, Wycliff, Wicliffe, or Wiclif) was born in Yorkshire around 1330, and was educated at Oxford, becoming a doctor of divinity in 1372.

In 1374, King Edward III appointed him rector of Lutterworth, and later made him part of a deputation to meet at Brussels with a papal deputation to negotiate difference between King and Pope. About this time Wyclif began to argue for “dominion founded on grace.” By “dominion” he meant both the right to exercise authority in church or state and the right to own property. He maintained that these rights were given to men directly from God, and that they were not given or continued apart from sanctifying grace. Thus, a man in a state of mortal sin could not lawfully function as an official of church or state, nor could he lawfully own property. He argued that the Church had fallen into sin and that it ought therefore to give up all its property and that the clergy should live in complete poverty. This disendowment was to be carried out by the king. From 1376 to 1378 Wyclif was clerical advisor to John of Gaunt, who effectively governed England until his nephew, Richard II, came of age in 1381. It is not clear what influence each man had on the other, but it is conjectured that John of Gaunt, who had his own reasons for opposing the wealth and power of the clergy, may have used a naive Wyclif as his tool. In 1377, King and Parliament asked his judgement on whether it was lawful to withhold traditional payments from Rome, and he responded that it was. Pope Gregory XI issued five bulls against him, but without effect. Wyclif’s last political act was in 1378, when he argued that criminals who had taken sanctuary in churches might lawfully be dragged out of sanctuary. He then retired to private life in Lutterworth in 1381.

From Lutterworth, he published a series of severe attacks on corruption in the Church. These, although bitterly worded even for the time, might have found agreement, were it not that he also attacked the doctrine of transubstantiation (that, once the Eucharist has been consecrated, the bread is no longer present in reality, but only in appearance). He taught instead that the bread remains, but that Christ is truly present in the bread, though not in a material manner. This view cost him the support of John of Gaunt and of many other friends whose support he could not afford to lose. In all his controversies, he declared himself a loyal churchman, willing to submit his cause and his opinions to the judgement of the Pope.

In 1381, disaster struck with the Peasants’ Revolt. It is unlikely that Wyclif’s teachings, circulated chiefly among the learned, had any role in instigating the revolt, but the fact that many peasants were setting out to put to death all landlords, lay and clerical alike, made Wyclif’s “dominion founded on grace” look extremely dangerous; and Wyclif’s movement was bloodily suppressed along with the Revolt. In 1382, all of his writings were banned. In that year Wyclif suffered a stroke, and on 31 December 1384 a second stroke killed him. After his death, his opponents finally succeeded in having him condemned for heresy, and in 1428 his body was removed from consecrated ground. Later generations saw him as a precursor of the Protestant Reformation of the 1500’s, but his direct influence on the beginnings of that movement appear to be surprisingly slight. (Only John Hus seems to have read any of his work.)

Wyclif is chiefly remembered and honored for his role in Bible translating. In the early 1380’s he led the movement for a translation of the Bible into English, and two complete translations (one much more idiomatic than the other) were made at his instigation. (How much of the translating he did himself, if any, remains uncertain.) He proposed the creation of a new religious order of Poor Preachers who would preach to the people from the English Bible. Today, the Wyclif Foundation, named in his honor, is committed to translating the Bible into all the languages spoken anywhere in the world.

Sources: (1) Every Man’s Book of Saints (Mowbray’s, London and Oxford, 1981); (2) Encyclopedia Britannica; (3) The New Catholic Encyclopedia; (4) H B Workman, John Wyclif: a Study of the English Medieval Church, 2 vol, 1926.

by James Kiefer

Oct 29 – James Hannington & Companions, Martyrs

Oct 29 - James Hannington & Companions

James Hannington & Companions
Martyrs of Uganda
29 October 1885

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From the Satucket Lectionary

James HanningtonAmong the new nations of Africa, Uganda is the most predominantly Christian. Mission work began there in the 1870’s with the favor of King Mutesa, who died in 1884. However, his son and successor, King Mwanga, opposed all foreign presence, including the missions.

James Hannington, born 1847, was sent out from England in 1884 by the Anglican Church as missionary Bishop of Eastern Equatorial Africa. As he was travelling toward Uganda, he was apprehended by emissaries of King Mwanga. He and his companions were brutally treated and, a week later, 29 October 1885, most of them were put to death. Hannington’s last words were: “Go tell your master that I have purchased the road to Uganda with my blood.”

The first native martyr was the Roman Catholic Joseph Mkasa Balikuddembe, who was beheaded after having rebuked the king for his debauchery and for the murder of Bishop Hannington. On 3 June 1886, a group of 32 men and boys, 22 Roman Catholic and 10 Anglican, were burned at the stake. Most of them were young pages in Mwanga’s household, from their head-man, Charles Lwanga, to the thirteen-year-old Kizito, who went to his death “laughing and chattering.” These and many other Ugandan Christians suffered for their faith then and in the next few years.

In 1977, the Anglican Archbishop Janani Luwum and many other Christians suffered death for their faith under the tyrant Idi Amin.

Thanks largely to their common heritage of suffering for their Master, Christians of various communions in Uganda have always been on excellent terms.

 

by James Kiefer

Oct 28 – Simon & Jude, Apostles

Oct 28 - Simon & Jude

Saints Simon & JudeApostles

28 October NT

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From the Satucket Lectionary
Christ teaching his disciples, from a 19thC BCPOn the various New Testament lists of the Twelve Apostles (Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:14-16; Acts 1:13), the tenth and eleventh places are occupied by Simon the Zealot (also called Simon the “Cananean,” the Aramaic word meaning “Zealot”) and by Judas of James, also called Thaddaeus or Lebbaeus. (“Judas” in New Testament contexts corresponds to “Judah” in Old Testament ones. Note that masculine names ending in “-ah” when translated from Hebrew directly to English usually end in “-as” when the translation passes through Greek, since in Greek a terminal “-a” is normally feminine, but a terminal “-as” is normally masculine. Thus we have “Elijah” => “Elias,” “Jeremiah” => “Jeremias,” etc.)

Some ancient Christian writers say that Simon and Jude went together as missionaries to Persia, and were martyred there. If this is true, it explains, to some extent, our lack of historical information on them and also why they are usually put together.

Simon is not mentioned by name in the New Testament except on these lists. Some modern writers have used his surname as the basis for conjectures associating him, and through him Jesus and all His original followers, with the Zealot movement described by Josephus, a Jewish independence movement devoted to assassination and violent insurrection. However, there were many movements that were called Zealot, not all alike, and Josephus tells us (Jewish War 4,3,9) that the movement he is describing did not arise until shortly before the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD.


Judas (often called Jude in English, but the Greek has Judas) is variously named, but this is not surprising. Before the Crucifixion, there would be a need to distinguish him among the apostles from Judas Iscariot, and after the Crucifixion there would be an additional reason for being emphatic about the distinction. “Thaddaeus” is possibly a variant of “Theudas,” which in turn is perhaps used as a Greek equivalent of “Judas” (with the Hebrew Name of God replaced by the Greek “theos”). Since the Aramaic “thad” means “chest,” we may suppose either that “Theudas” was re-Semiticized by a folk-etymology or that Judas received the nickname “Thaddeus” directly. I assume that the nickname suggests a brawny lad. “Lebbaeus,” according to Young’s Concordance, means “man of heart,” and so may be a variant of “Thaddaeus,” but there is a lot of linguistic conjecture flying around here. (Note: It is not suggested that the Judas => Theudas => Thaddaeus => Lebbaeus linguistic derivation took place with the Apostle personally, but that the names were considered in his day to be vaguely equivalent, as today in England the names Mary and Polly, or Margaret and Peggy, or Edward, Ed, Ted, and Ned, are considered to be equivalent, or as today many Jewish names are considered in some Jewish circles to have Gentile equivalents (Moishe = Maurice, Yitzak = Isadore, Yaakov = Jack, Label = Larry, Shmuel = Shawn, etc.). The reader will have noticed mention of “Thomas, surnamed Didymus,” and will note that these names are Aramaic and Greek respectively, both meaning “twin.”)

After the Last Supper it was Jude who asked Our Lord why he chose to reveal Himself only to the disciples. He received the reply: “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (John 14:22f)

The ninth name on the lists of Apostles is that of James (the son) of Alphaeus. Although most modern translations render “Judas of James” as “Judas the son of James,” there has been a tendency to understand it as “Judas the brother of James” and to assume that these two apostles were brothers. This assumption in turn leads to an identification of the two with the “brothers of the Lord” of the same name. The difficulty with this is that the brothers (at least some of them) did not believe in Jesus until after the Resurrection, and therefore could not have been part of the Twelve.

The New Testament Epistle of Jude was written by “Judas the brother of James,” which could refer to either Jude. In any case, we commemorate on this day (1) Simon the Zealot, one of the original Twelve; (2) Judas of James (also called Thaddaeus or Lebbaeus), also one of the original Twelve; and (3) Jude (or Judas) the brother of James and author of the Epistle, without settling the question of whether (2) and (3) are the same person.

The Epistle of Jude is a brief document addressed to the Church, and warns against corrupt influences that have crept in. It has some obscure and baffling references to old Jewish traditions, but it includes a memorable exhortation to “contend for the faith once delivered to the saints,” and an even more memorable closing:

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding great joy, to the only wise God, or Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.


Jude is often, in popular usage, referred to as the patron of desperate causes, the “saint of last resort,” the one you ask for help when all else fails. Some readers will wonder what this is all about.

Since his name reminds hearers of Judas Iscariot, there is a tendency for someone asking a Christian brother now with the Lord for intercessory prayers to try one of the other apostles first. Hence, Jude has come to be called “the saint of last resort,” the one whom you ask only when desperate.

Doubtless, you want to hear my personal opinion on this business of invocation of saints. Since you insist….

In the first place, the expression, “praying to Saint X” is misleading and unfortunate. In older English “pray” simply meant to request politely. Thus, in the KJV, we read that Jesus boarded Simon Peter‘s ship and “prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land.” (L 5:3) Thus, the idea of “praying to Saint X” is simply the idea of asking a fellow Christian to intercede with God on one’s behalf. It is not different in principle from asking your Christian roommate to pray for you. However, in modern English, the word “pray” is generally understood to refer to worship. I therefore urge everyone who talks about “praying to Saint X” to modernize his language and instead talk about “asking Saint X to join me in praying to God for the recovery of my sick aunt,” or whatever. The other way of talking can mislead others, and it can mislead the speaker.

That was a preliminary comment on terminology. Now to the question. Undoubtedly asking one’s fellow Christians in heaven for their prayers is something that can be abused. It can readily degenerate into the notion that getting what you want from God is a matter of knowing what channels to go through, what strings to pull. One ends up thinking of heaven as a place like the seat of a corrupt government (whether Washington or Versailles), where favors are traded and deals are made by influence peddlers. But the fact that something can be abused does not mean that we ought to give up its proper use. And surely one of the most valuable truths of the Christian faith is that God’s love for us moves us to love in return, not only God but also one another, so that every Christian is a mirror in which the light of Christ is reflected to every other Christian. The Scriptures seem to show that God delights in giving us gifts through others when He could just as easily have given them directly. When Paul on the road to Damascus asks, “Lord, what will you have me do?” God does not tell him, but sends Ananias to tell him instead (A 9:1-19). When the centurion Cornelius is praying, God sends an angel to speak to him, but the angel does not preach the Gospel to him. It tells him to send for a man called Peter, and Peter comes and preaches the Gospel to him (A 10). God wants us to owe our spiritual well-being, not just to Him, but also to one another. Hence He has told us to pray for one another. Nor is the bond of Christian love broken by death. The martyrs under the altar in John’s vision (Rev 6:9ff) pray for the church on earth. Even the Rich Man in Hell, in Jesus’ parable, intercedes for his five brothers on earth. Are we to suppose that the saved are less compassionate than the damned?

Is this an important part of my faith, you ask. Well, it is certainly an important doctrine that Jesus said: “A new commandment I give you, that you love one another as I have loved you.” To feel myself surrounded by the love of God and of my fellow Christians, living and dead, is important. To love in return, by praying for my fellow Christians as well as for my own concerns, is important. It is not for nothing that Jesus taught us to pray: “Give US OUR daily bread, and forgive US OUR sins.” Do I spend a significant fraction of my prayer time asking various Christians now in heaven for their prayers. No, just as I do not spend a lot of time asking my fellow Christians here on earth for their prayers. But I do ask for, and value, the prayers of my fellow Christians, living and dead; and I delight in the knowledge that when I praise God, my voice is part of a great chorus of praise in which angels, glorified and perfected saints, saints still on their pilgrimage, and even (in ways befitting their natures) beasts, plants, and inanimate objects join together. “Let all things praise the LORD.” Amen.

by James Kiefer

Oct 26 – Alfred the Great, King + Christ Follower

Oct 26 - Alfred the Great

Alfred the Great
King + Christ Follower
26 October 899

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From the Satucket Lectionary

portrait of Alfred the GreatWhen the Gospel was first preached in Britain, the island was inhabited by Celtic peoples. In the 400’s, pagan Germanic tribes, the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes, invaded Britain and drove the Christian Celts out of what is now England into Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. The new arrivals (called collectively the Anglo-Saxons) were then converted by Celtic missionaries moving in from the one side and Roman missionaries moving in from the other. (They then sent missionaries of their own, such as Boniface, to their pagan relatives on the Continent.)

In the 800’s the cycle partly repeated itself, as the Christian Anglo-Saxons were invaded by the Danes, pagan raiders, who rapidly conquered the northeast portion of England. They seemed about to conquer the entire country and eliminate all resistance when they were turned back by Alfred, King of the West Saxons.

Alfred was born in 849 at Wantage, Berkshire, youngest of five sons of King Aethelwulf. He wished to become a monk, but after the deaths (all in battle, I think) of his father and his four older brothers, he was made king in 871. He proved to be skilled at military tactics, and devised a defensive formation which the Danish charge was unable to break. After a decisive victory at Edington in 878, he reached an agreement with the Danish leader Guthrum, by which the Danes would retain a portion of northeastern England and be given other concessions in return for their agreement to accept baptism and Christian instruction. From a later point of view, it seems obvious that such a promise could not involve a genuine change of heart, and was therefore meaningless (and indeed, one Dane complained that the white robe that he was given after his baptism was not nearly so fine as the two that he had received after the two previous times that he had been defeated and baptized). However, Alfred’s judgement proved sound. Guthrum, from his point of view, agreed to become a vassal of Christ. His nobles and chief warriors, being his vassals, were thereby obligated to give their feudal allegiance to Christ as well. They accepted baptism and the presence among them of Christian priests and missionaries to instruct them. The door was opened for conversions on a more personal level in that and succeeding generations.

In his later years, having secured a large degree of military security for his people, Alfred devoted his energies to repairing the damage that war had done to the cultural life of his people. He translated Boethius’ Consolations of Philosophy into Old English, and brought in scholars from Wales and the Continent with whose help various writings of Bede, Augustine of Canterbury, and Gregory the Great were likewise translated. He was much impressed by the provisions in the Law of Moses for the protection of the rights of ordinary citizens, and gave order that similar provisions should be made part of English law. He promoted the education of the parish clergy. In one of his treatises, he wrote:
“He seems to me a very foolish man, and very wretched, who will not increase his understanding while he is in the world, and ever wish and long to reach that endless life where all shall be made clear.”

He died on 26 October 899, and was buried in the Old Minster at Winchester. Alone among English monarchs, he is known as “the Great.”

The writer G K Chesterton has written a long narrative poem about Alfred, called, “The Ballad of the White Horse.” In my view, it would be improved by abridgement (I would, for example, terminate the prologue after the line “And laid peace on the sea”), but I think it well worth reading as it stands, both for the history and (with minor reservations) for the theology.

by James Kiefer


A contemporaneous biography of Alfred is available online.

Oct 23 – James of Jerusalem, Bishop + Martyr

Oct 23 - James of Jerusalem

James of Jerusalem
Bishop + Martyr
23 October NT

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From the Satucket Lectionary

Icon of St. James of JerusalemJames of Jerusalem is referred to in the New Testament as the brother of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

He was for many years the leader of the Christian congregation in Jerusalem, and is generally supposed to be the author of the Epistle of James, although the Epistle itself does not state this explicitly.

James is mentioned briefly in connection with Jesus’ visit to Nazareth (Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3).

We are told that Jesus’ brothers did not believe in Him (John 7:2-5), and from this, and from references in early Christian writers, it is inferred that James was not a disciple of the Lord until after the Resurrection.

Paul, listing appearances of the Risen Lord (1 Cor 15:3-8), includes an appearance to James.

Peter, about to leave Jerusalem after escaping from Herod, leaves a message for James and the Apostles (Acts 12:17). When a council meets at Jerusalem to consider what rules Gentile Christians should be required to keep, James formulates the final consensus (Acts 15:13-21).

Paul speaks of going to Jerusalem three years after his conversion and conferring there with Peter and James (Gal. 1:18-19), and speaks again of a later visit (perhaps the one described in Acts 15) on which Peter, James, and John, “the pillars,” placed their stamp of approval on the mission to the Gentiles (Gal. 2:9).

A few verses later (Gal. 2:11-14), he says that messengers from James coming to Antioch discouraged Jewish Christians there from eating with Gentile Christians. (If this refers to the same event as Acts 15:1-2, then Paul takes a step back chronologically in his narration at Gal. 2:11, which is not improbable, since he is dictating and mentioning arguments and events that count as evidence for his side as they occur to him.)

On his last recorded visit to Jerusalem, Paul visits James (others are present, but no other names are given) and speaks of his ministry to the Gentiles (Acts 21:18).

Outside the New Testament, James is mentioned by the Jewish historian Josephus, who calls him “the brother of Jesus the so-called Christ,” and reports that he was much respected even by the Pharisees for his piety and strict observance of the Law, but that his enemies took advantage of an interval between Roman governors in 62 AD to have him put to death. His death is also reported by the second-century Christian writer Hegesippus.

Numerous references in early Christian documents show the esteem in which he was held in the early Church.

There appear to be at least three persons named James mentioned in the New Testament, and possibly as many as eight. For an attempt to sort them out, see the BIO of Philip and James at 1 May.

by James Kiefer

Oct 19 – Henry Martyn, Translator + Missionary to India & Persia

Oct 19 - Henry Martyn

Henry Martyn
Translator + Missionary to India & Persia
19 October 1812

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From the Satucket Lectionary

portrait of henry martynHenry Martyn was born in 1781, studied at Cambridge, and became Senior Wrangler. (That is, he won the Cambridge University annual mathematics problem-solving competition, and was accordingly recognized as the University’s best undergraduate mathematician. “Wrangling” is a British University expression for solving mathematical problems.) He had, moreover, a considerable facility in languages. Under the encouragement of Charles Simeon (see 12 Nov 1836), he abandoned his intention of going into law and instead went to India as a chaplain in 1806. In the six remaining years of his life, he translated the New Testament into Hindi and Persian, revised an Arabic translation of the New Testament, and translated the Psalter into Persian and the Prayer Book into Hindi. In 1811 he left India for Persia, hoping to do further translations and to improve his existing ones, there and in Arabia. But travel in those days was not a healthy occupation, and he fell ill and eventually died at Tokat on October 16, 1812. (The American Calendar commemorates him on 19 October.) He was buried by the Armenian church there, with the honors ordinarily reserved for one of their own bishops. His diary (vol. 1, vol. 2) has been called “one of the most precious treasures of Anglican devotion.”

by James Kiefer

Oct 19 – William Carey, Translator + Missionary to India

Oct 19 - William Carey

William Carey
Translator + Missionary to India
19 October 1834

click here for books by or about William Carey


From the SCLM Lectionary

William Carey DD, Professor of Sanskrit, Marat...

William Carey DD, Professor of Sanskrit, Marathi and Bengali in Calcutta (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

William Carey was an English Baptist missionary and was a major figure in developing the Protestant missionary movement of the nineteenth century.

Born a son of the Church of England in 1761, Carey took an early interest in his studies and excelled at languages, a gift that would serve him in his ministry. After his village schooling, Carey apprenticed as a cobbler where he came into contact with a fellow worker who was a Nonconformist. Carey was challenged by this relationship and he eventually left the Church of England and became a Congregationalist. Carey developed into a master cobbler, married, and with his wife, Dorothy, had six children, only three of which survived childhood. During his years as a master cobbler, Carey’s interest in languages became a passionate avocation; he learned Italian, French, Dutch, and Hebrew, while increasing his mastery of Latin, a language he had taught himself as a youngster.

Carey’s spiritual quest continued. He was re-baptized in 1783 and was a Baptist for the remainder of his life. He became a schoolmaster and served as a Baptist pastor while struggling with his responsibility to foreign missions. He was among the founders in 1792 of what would become the Baptist Missionary Society. Finally, in 1793, Carey and company set out for India.

After transitional periods in Calcutta and Midnapore, Carey and his fellow missionaries settled in Serampore in 1800 where Carey would spend the rest of his life. He was appointed a professor at Fort Williams College, which had been founded to educate the children of civil servants. While teaching, Carey translated the Bible into Bengali and Sanskrit and the New Testament into other Indian languages and dialects, in addition to providing translations of other Christian literature. Carey also completed a Bengali-English dictionary and other linguistic tools to support missionary work.

In 1818, Carey’s mission established Serampore College for the dual purpose of training indigenous ministers and providing a classical education to anyone regardless of caste or national origin.

William Carey died on June 9, 1834, and was buried in Serampore.

Trees and Taxes

470px-General_Sherman_tree_looking_up

By Jim Bahn (Sherman Tree Uploaded by hike395) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Those who organized the Revised Common Lectionary think they’re so clever. As so many churches make a push for members to begin or increase their giving, they throw in readings like this one from Matthew about paying taxes:

“The Pharisees went and plotted to entrap Jesus in what he said. So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin used for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” They answered, “The emperor’s.” Then he said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away” (Matthew 22:15-22).

The Pharisees thought they would surely trap Jesus by forcing him to either confirm that the Roman emperor was due taxes or else anger Rome and provide himself a ticket to jail without passing “Go.” Does the emperor deserve this money, or does it belong to God? But unless these Pharisees are also ready to answer the question for themselves, they are barking up the wrong tree.

There’s a lot of this—barking up wrong trees—going around the United States right now as simplistic and often despicable campaign ads and debate performances intentionally churn up negative emotions about opposition in order to win votes by default.

After November 4th, I’m going to be in need of a major detox.

Sometimes I wonder if all of the wretchedness in campaign season is motivated by the candidates’ desire to have an overall low voter turnout—to dissuade conscientious people from the thought that their votes make a difference, leaving a select groups of voters to bring about more controlled and predictable results. Wherever the actual practices come from, those in power too often put humanity and progress at risk for the sake of maintaining power.

I was glad to see that the mayor of my old stomping grounds, Vancouver, Washington (no, not the one in Canada) recently risked at least some popularity by boycotting a prayer breakfast which is to be keynoted by, “former Army Lt. Gen. William G. ‘Jerry’ Boykin, who in interviews, speeches and writings has said that the war on terrorism is a Christian war against Satan and that followers of Islam are ‘under an obligation to destroy our Constitution.’”[1] But the mayor’s boycott is merely a political stunt if it does nothing to bring about acceptance, tolerance, and compassion, for which he claims the community strives.

It’s possible to hear Jesus’ phrase, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s,” and think that Jesus is making a quick getaway from an uncomfortable situation—when, in fact, he’s saying something quite radical: namely that where, when, and to whom we give our time, money, votes, energy, and compassion matters…

…and that we must think for ourselves how we go about making those decisions. To that extent, he’s not only talking about taxes, but about priorities. In a world where so much is too often sacrificed for the sake of power and control, how are we to give to God what is God’s?

Maybe I’m barking up the wrong tree.

 

[1] http://www.columbian.com/news/2014/oct/15/leavitt-will-boycott-fridays-prayer-breakfast/

Oct 18 – Saint Luke, Physician + Evangelist

Oct 18 - Luke the Evangelist

Saint Luke
Physician + Evangelist
18 October NT

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From the Satucket Lectionary

St. LukeAlmost all that we know about Luke comes from the New Testament. He was a physician (Col 4:14), a companion of Paul on some of his missionary journeys (Acts 16:10ff; 20:5ff; 27-28). Material found in his Gospel and not elsewhere includes much of the account of Our Lord’s birth and infancy and boyhood, some of the most moving parables, such as that of the Good Samaritan and that of the Prodigal Son, and three of the sayings of Christ on the Cross: “Father, forgive them,” “Thou shalt be with me in Paradise,” and “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.”

In Luke’s account of the Gospel, we find an emphasis on the human love of Christ, on His compassion for sinners and for suffering and unhappy persons, for outcasts such as the Samaritans, tax collectors, lepers, shepherds (not a respected profession), and for the poor. The role of women in Christ’s ministry is more emphasized in Luke than in the other Gospel writings.

In the book of Acts, we find the early Christian community poised from the start to carry out its commission, confident and aware of Divine guidance. We see how the early Christians at first preached only to Jews, then to Samaritans (a borderline case), then to outright Gentiles like Cornelius, and finally explicitly recognized that Gentiles and Jews are called on equal terms to the service and fellowship of Christ.

St. Luke, from an old Book of Common PrayerLuke makes many casual references throughout his writings (especially in Acts) to local customs and practices, often with demonstrable and noteworthy precision. To mention just one example, he refers to two centurions by name, Cornelius in Acts 10 and Julius in Acts 27, and he calls them both by nomen only, rather than by nomen and cognomen (Sergius Paulus in Acts 13;7) or cognomen only (Gallio in Acts 18:12), as he does when speaking of civilian officials. It is a distinction that would have been routine at the time that Luke is writing about, but one that had largely died out by, say, 70 AD. His preserving it shows either that (1) he wrote fairly close to the events he described, or (2) he was describing persons and events on which he had good information, or (3) he was an expert historical novelist, with an ear for the authentic-sounding detail.

Luke is commonly thought to be the only non-Jewish New Testament writer. His writings place the life of Christ and the development of the early Church in the larger context of the Roman Empire and society. On the other hand, his writings are focused on Jerusalem and on the Temple. His Gospel begins and ends in the Temple, and chapters nine through nineteen portray Jesus as journeying from Galilee to Jerusalem. Similarly, the Book of Acts describes the Church in Jerusalem (and worshipping in the Temple) and then describes the missionary journeys of Paul as excursions from and returns to Jerusalem.


What writer wrote more pages of the New Testament than anyone else? If you say Paul, try again. In my pocket Bible, Acts and the Gospel of Luke occupy a total of sixty pages, while all the letters traditionally attributed to Paul (not counting Hebrews) total fifty-six.

The writer of the Third Gospel and the Book of Acts does not give his name in his writings. (Except for Nehemiah, no Biblical writer of a narrative book does.) He does claim to be a traveling companion of Paul, and his interests and vocabulary suggest that he is a physician. Since Paul tells us that he had a companion named Luke who was a physician, the conclusion that Luke is the writer we are looking for is reasonable.

Was the two-volume work Luke-Acts in fact written by a companion of Paul? Scholars are not agreed on the answer.

By and large, most German writers favor a negative answer. Their reasons are that (1) the chronology of Paul’s life found in the Book of Acts presents certain apparent conflicts with that found in Paul’s letter to the Galatians, and that (2) the writer seems unfamiliar with the geography of Israel.

On the other hand, most English scholars favor an affirmative answer. Their reasons are that the “We” sections in Acts (the sections in which the author explicitly claims to have been present at the events he describes) contain a wealth of circumstantial detail that make invention extremely unlikely. (Thus, for example, Mr. James Smith of Jordan Hill, FRS, having sailed a vessel over the same route described in Acts 27-28, argues in his book, The Voyage and Shipwreck of Saint Paul, that the account must have been written by someone who had sailed that route. It used to be a popular theory that the writer had somehow gotten his hands on a travel diary of the real “Luke” and incorporated it into his work. However, a detailed analysis of the writing style of various sections of the work shows none of the differences that would be expected on this theory. Scholars on the affirmative side generally answer the negative objections mentioned above by supposing that (1) the conferences mentioned in Acts 15 and Galatians 2 are not the same conference, and that (2) Luke uses the word “Judea” sometimes to mean the southern portion of the land of Israel, and sometimes to mean the whole land. For some comments on the historical reliability of the opening chapters of the Gospel of Luke, go to the following URLs:
http://elvis.rowan.edu/~kilroy/CHRISTIA/library/infancy1.html
http://elvis.rowan.edu/~kilroy/CHRISTIA/library/infancy2.html
http://elvis.rowan.edu/~kilroy/CHRISTIA/library/infancy3.html
http://elvis.rowan.edu/~kilroy/CHRISTIA/library/infancy4.html