April 4: Martin Luther King, Jr, Civil Rights Leader and Martyr, 1968

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Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta. As the son and grandson of Baptist preachers, he was steeped in the Black Church tradition. To this heritage he added a thorough academic preparation, earning the degrees of B.A., B.D., and Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from Boston University.

In 1954, King became pastor of a church in Montgomery, Alabama. There, Black indignation at inhumane treatment on segregated buses culminated in December, 1955, in the arrest of Rosa Parks for refusing to give up her seat to a white man. King was catapulted into national prominence as the leader of the Montgomery bus boycott. He became increasingly the articulate prophet, who could not only rally the Black masses, but could also move the consciences of Whites.

King founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to spearhead non-violent mass demonstrations against racism. Many confrontations followed, most notably in Birmingham and Selma, Alabama, and in Chicago. King’s campaigns were instrumental to the passage of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964, 1965 and 1968. King then turned his attention to economic empowerment of the poor and opposition to the Vietnam War, contending that racism, poverty and militarism were interrelated.

King lived in constant danger: his home was dynamited, he was almost fatally stabbed, and he was harassed by death threats. He was even jailed 30 times; but through it all he was sustained by his deep faith. In 1957, he received, late at night, a vicious telephone threat. Alone in his kitchen he wept and prayed. He relates that he heard the Lord speaking to him and saying, “Martin Luther, stand up for righteousness, stand up for justice,” and promising never to leave him alone—“No, never alone.” King refers to his vision as his “Mountain-top Experience.”

After preaching at Washington Cathedral on March 31, 1968, King went to Memphis in support of sanitation workers in their struggle for better wages. There, he proclaimed that he had been “to the mountain-top” and had seen “the Promised Land,” and that he knew that one day he and his people would be “free at last.” On the following day, April 4, he was cut down by an assassin’s bullet.

 

Collects

I    Almighty God, who by the hand of Moses thy servant didst lead thy people out of slavery, and didst make them free at last: Grant that thy Church, following the example of thy prophet Martin Luther King, may resist oppression in the name of thy love, and may strive to secure for all thy children the blessed liberty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

II     Almighty God, by the hand of Moses your servant you led your people out of slavery, and made them free at last: Grant that your Church, following the example of your prophet Martin Luther King, may resist oppression in the name of your love, and may secure for all your children the blessed liberty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Lessons

Genesis 37:17b-20

Ephesians 6:10-20

Luke 6:27-36

Psalm 77:11-20

Preface of Baptism

From Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.

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February 18: Martin Luther, Theologian, 1546

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•   •   •

Martin Luther by Lucas Cranach, 1532

About this Commemoration

Martin Luther was born November 10, 1483. His intellectual abilities were evident early, and his father planned a career for him in law. Luther’s real interest lay elsewhere, however, and in 1505 he entered the local Augustinian monastery. He was ordained a priest April 3, 1507.

In October 1512 Luther received his doctorate in theology, and shortly afterward he was installed as a professor of biblical studies at the University of Wittenberg. His lectures on the Bible were popular, and within a few years he made the university a center for biblical humanism. As a result of his theological and biblical studies he called into question the practice of selling indulgences. On the eve of All Saints’ Day, October 31, 1517, he posted on the door of the castle church in Wittenberg the notice of an academic debate on indulgences, listing 95 theses for discussion. As the effects of the theses became evident, the Pope called upon the Augustinian order to discipline their member. After a series of meetings, political maneuvers, and attempts at reconciliation, Luther, at a meeting with the papal legate in 1518, refused to recant.

Luther was excommunicated on January 3, 1521. The Emperor Charles V summoned him to the meeting of the Imperial Diet at Worms. There Luther resisted all efforts to make him recant, insisting that he had to be proved in error on the basis of Scripture. The Diet passed an edict calling for the arrest of Luther. Luther’s own prince, the Elector Frederick of Saxony, however, had him spirited away and placed for safekeeping in his castle, the Wartburg.

Here Luther translated the New Testament into German and began the translation of the Old Testament. He then turned his attention to the organization of worship and education. He introduced congregational singing of hymns, composing many himself, and issued model orders of services. He published his large and small catechisms for instruction in the faith. During the years from 1522 to his death, Luther wrote a prodigious quantity of books, letters, sermons and tracts. Luther died on February 18, 1546.

Collects

I    O God, our refuge and our strength: Thou didst raise up thy servant Martin Luther to reform and renew thy Church in the light of thy word. Defend and purify the Church in our own day and grant that, through faith, we may boldly proclaim the riches of thy grace which thou hast made known in Jesus Christ our Savior, who with thee and the Holy Spirit, liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

II    O God, our refuge and our strength: You raised up your servant Martin Luther to reform and renew your Church in the light of your word. Defend and purify the Church in our own day and grant that, through faith, we may boldly proclaim the riches of your grace which you have made known in Jesus Christ our Savior, who with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Lessons

Isaiah 55:6–11

Romans 3:21–28

John 15:1–11

Psalm 46

Preface of Trinity Sunday

Text from Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.

•   •   •

We invite your reflections about this commemoration and its suitability for the official calendar and worship of The Episcopal Church. How did this person’s life witness to the Gospel? How does this person inspire us in Christian life today?

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October 30 – John Wyclif, Priest and Prophetic Witness, 1384

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Portrait of John Wycliffe originally published in Bale’s Scriptor Majoris Britanniae (1584)

About this commemoration

John Wyclif is remembered as a forerunner of the Protestant Reformation.

Born in Yorkshire, England, around 1330, Wyclif was educated at Oxford. Although he served as a parish priest, he spent most of his vocation teaching theology and philosophy at Oxford and was celebrated for his academic achievements.

In 1374, Wyclif defended the position of the Crown during a dispute with the papacy over finances. Because of this newfound notoriety, Wyclif gathered around him a group of powerful patrons who were able to provide a reasonable level of safe haven and security for him. This meant that Wyclif could begin to test some of his theological views that were at odds with and critical of the positions of the medieval church. Without the support of such powerful allies, Wyclif, a priest and university professor, could never have withstood the discipline that would have come his way.

A number of Wyclif’s radical ideas got worked out in the centuries that followed as the movement toward reformation gained momentum. Wyclif believed that believers could have a direct, unmediated relationship with God, not requiring the intervention of the church or its priesthood. He held that a national church could be fully and completely the church and not have to tolerate the interference and abuse of international, i.e. papal, authority. Believing that the Scriptures should be available to all who could read them, and not mediated through the instruction of the church, Wyclif translated the Vulgate—the Latin edition of the Bible—into English.

The tables turned dramatically when Wyclif questioned the eucharistic doctrine of transubstantiation. He believed that the underlying philosophy was problematic and that the popular piety flowing from it led inevitable to superstitious behaviors. He was condemned for his eucharistic views in 1381. Although Wyclif had nothing to do with inciting the Peasants’ Revolt of the same year, he was an easy target for blame. He retired, left Oxford, and died three years later in Leicestershire.

Later reformers, John Hus (July 6) and Martin Luther (February 18) acknowledged their debt to Wyclif.

Collects

I  O God, whose justice continually challenges thy Church to live according to its calling: Grant us who now remember the work of John Wyclif contrition for the wounds which our sins inflict on thy Church, and such love for Christ that we may seek to heal the divisions which afflict his Body; through the same Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

II  O God, your justice continually challenges your Church to live according to its calling: Grant us who now remember the work of John Wyclif contrition for the wounds which our sins inflict on your Church, and such love for Christ that we may seek to heal the divisions which afflict his Body; through the same Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Psalm 33:4-11

Lessons:  Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 43:26–33, Hebrews 4:12–16, and Mark 4:13–20

Preface of God the Holy Spirit

From Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.

We invite your reflections about this commemoration and its suitability for the official calendar and worship of The Episcopal Church. How did this person’s life witness to the Gospel? How does this person inspire us in Christian life today?

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August 14: Jonathan Myrick Daniels, Seminarian and Martyr, 1965

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About this commemoration

Jonathan Myrick Daniels
Jonathan Myrick Daniels

Jonathan Myrick Daniels was born in Keene, New Hampshire, in 1939. He was shot and killed by an unemployed highway worker in Hayneville, Alabama, August 14, 1965.

From high school in Keene to graduate school at Harvard, Jonathan wrestled with the meaning of life and death and vocation. Attracted to medicine, the ordained ministry, law and writing, he found himself close to a loss of faith when his search was resolved by a profound conversion on Easter Day 1962 at the Church of the Advent in Boston. Jonathan then entered the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In March 1965, the televised appeal of Martin Luther King, Jr. to come to Selma to secure for all citizens the right to vote drew Jonathan to a time and place where the nation’s racism and the Episcopal Church’s share in that inheritance were exposed.

He returned to seminary and asked leave to work in Selma where he would be sponsored by the Episcopal Society for Cultural and Racial Unity. Conviction of his calling was deepened at Evening Prayer during the singing of the Magnificat: “ ‘He hath put down the mighty from their seat and hath exalted the humble and meek. He hath filled the hungry with good things.’ I knew that I must go to Selma. The Virgin’s song was to grow more and more dear to me in the weeks ahead.”

Jailed on August 14 for joining a picket line, Jonathan and his companions were unexpectedly released. Aware that they were in danger, four of them walked to a small store. As sixteen-year-old Ruby Sales reached the top step of the entrance, a man with a gun appeared, cursing her. Jonathan pulled her to one side to shield her from the unexpected threats. As a result, he was killed by a blast from the 12-gauge gun.

The letters and papers Jonathan left bear eloquent witness to the profound effect Selma had upon him. He writes, “The doctrine of the creeds, the enacted faith of the sacraments, were the essential preconditions of the experience itself. The faith with which I went to Selma has not changed: it has grown … I began to know in my bones and sinews that I had been truly baptized into the Lord’s death and resurrection … with them, the black men and white men, with all life, in him whose Name is above all the names that the races and nations shout … We are indelibly and unspeakably one.”

Collect of the Day

O God of justice and compassion, you put down the proud and mighty from their place, and lift up the poor and the afflicted: We give you thanks for your faithful witness Jonathan Myrick Daniels, who, in the midst of injustice and violence, risked and gave his life for another; and we pray that we, following his example, may make no peace with oppression; through Jesus Christ the just one, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Lessons

Proverbs 4:20–27

Galatians 3:22–28

Luke 1:46–55

Psalm 85:7–13

Preface of a Saint (2)

We invite your reflections about this commemoration and its suitability for the official calendar and worship of The Episcopal Church. How did this person’s life witness to the Gospel? How does this person inspire us in Christian life today?

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From Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.

August 5: Albrecht Dürer, 1528, Matthias Grünewald, 1529, and Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1553, Artists

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About this commemoration

Albrecht Dürer
Albrecht Dürer

In the turbulent sixteenth century as the Renaissance and the Reformation changed the cultural, social, political and religious face of northern Europe from medieval to modern, three artists stand as signs of those revolutions.

Lucas Cranach the Elder was born in south Germany. In his twenties he moved to Vienna where he became known in humanist circles. He later moved to Wittenberg where he became court painter to Frederick III, who was Martin Luther’s protector. His work enjoyed great popularity in his day, but history best remembers him for his several portraits of Luther and for the exquisite woodcuts he provided for the first German New Testament in 1522.

Albrecht Dürer was born Nurnberg and is generally regarded as the greatest German artist of the Renaissance. While he produced exquisite, life-like paintings, he is best known for his woodcuts and copperplate engravings. This art form enabled numbers of prints to be made of each work, which could then be sold to satisfy the rising middle class’s new demand for affordable art. His production was a sign of the shift in early modern society, especially in Protestant areas, from the church to the home as the center of life and religion.

Little is known of the early life of Matthias Grünewald, the name given to this artist by his seventeenth-century biographer. He is known to have been in Strasburg in 1479, already accomplished at portraits and woodcuts. He went to Basel in 1490, where Dürer was his pupil. Later he moved to what is now Alsace where he painted his famous Isenheim Altarpiece between 1512 and 1516. This piece was designed to go behind the chapel altar at the hospital in the monastery of the Order of St. Anthony. Grünewald was a deeply religious man who was particularly fascinated by the crucifixion as witnessed by the combination of raw physicality and mysticism that can be observed in the Isenheim Altarpiece.

Collect of the Day

We give thanks to you, O Lord, for the vision and skill of Albrecht Dürer, Matthias Grünewald and Lucas Cranach the Elder, whose artistic depictions helped the peoples of their age understand the full suffering and glory of your incarnate Son; and we pray that their work may strengthen our faith in Jesus Christ and the mystery of the Holy Trinity; for you live and reign, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Lessons

Exodus 35:21–29

Romans 8:1–11

John 19:31–37

Psalm 96:7–13

Preface of God the Son

We invite your reflections about this commemoration and its suitability for the official calendar and worship of The Episcopal Church. How did this person’s life witness to the Gospel? How does this person inspire us in Christian life today?

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From Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.

August 3: William Edward Burghardt DuBois, Sociologist, 1963

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About this commemoration

WEB DuBois
WEB DuBois

William Edward Burghardt Dubois was born in 1868 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. As a young man he had already developed a deep concern for the advancement of his race, and at 15, he began to advocate for black Americans in his capacity as the local correspondent for the New York Globe.

In 1896, following the completion of his doctoral degree, Dubois received a fellowship to conduct research in the seventh ward slums of Philadelphia. His work with the urban black population there marked the first scientific approach to sociological study, and for that reason, Dubois is hailed as the father of Social Science.

In 1903, while teaching at Atlanta University, he published his book The Souls of Black Folks, in which he outlined his philosophical disagreement with important figures such as Booker T. Washington, who argued that Black people should forego political equality and civil rights and focus instead on industrial evolution. DuBois believed instead in the higher education of a “talented tenth” whose education would naturally help other African Americans achieve.

In 1906, he sought others to aid him in his efforts toward “organized determination and aggressive action on the part of men who believe in Negro freedom and growth.” The result was the so-called “Niagara Movement” (named for the group’s first meeting site, which was shifted to Canada when they were prevented from meeting in the U.S.), the objectives of which were to advocate civil justice and oppose discrimination. In 1909, most of the group members merged with white supporters and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was formed. DuBois advanced his causes, sometimes at odds with the white leadership of the NAACP, in the magazine Crisis.

A leading participant in several Pan-African meetings, DuBois renounced his American citizenship and moved to Ghana, where he died in 1963, on the eve of the March on Washington. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote of DuBois, “His singular greatness lay in his quest for truth about his own people. There were very few scholars who concerned themselves with honest study of the black man and he sought to fill the immense void.”

Collect of the Day

Gracious God, we thank you for the witness of William Edward Burghardt DuBois, passionate prophet of civil rights, whose scholarship advanced the dignity of the souls of black folk; and we pray that we, like him, may use our gifts to do justice in the Name of Jesus Christ our Liberator and Advocate; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God for ever and ever. Amen.

Lessons

Jeremiah 34:8–18

Galatians 2:15–20

Mark 3:23–29

Psalm 113:1–7

Preface of Baptism

We invite your reflections about this commemoration and its suitability for the official calendar and worship of The Episcopal Church. How did this person’s life witness to the Gospel? How does this person inspire us in Christian life today?

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From Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.

September 8: Søren Kierkegaard; Teacher and Philosopher, 1855

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About this commemoration

One of the most influential philosophers of the nineteenth century, Søren Kierkegaard, the son of a devout Lutheran, spent most of his life in Copenhagen. As a young man, he studied Latin, history, and theology, though he was particularly drawn to philosophy and literature, and his works are remarkable in part for his deft blending and treatment of theological, literary, and philosophical themes.

In 1841 he proposed to Regine Olsen, but self-doubt about his suitability for marriage led him to break off the engagement. The event was greatly influential on his life and his works. From 1843 until his death in 1855, Kierkegaard was a prolific writer. Sometimes referred to as the “Father of Existentialism,” Kierkegaard is known for his concept of “the leap of faith,” his understanding of how a person’s beliefs and actions are based not on evidence, of which there can never be enough, but on the willingness to take the leap despite that lack of evidence. He explored this theme in works such as Fear and Trembling, Repetition, and Stages on Life’s Way.

For most of his life, Kierkegaard was critical of established religion, which he felt substituted human desire for God’s law. In 1854, he published several articles which attacked what he saw as the selfishness of many leaders of the institutional church. His criticism of the church as an institution, however, should not be confused with the absence of faith or the lack of trust in the ethical teachings of the Christian Gospel.

His religious and theological works, such as Practice in Christianity and Christian Discourses, though sometimes overlooked, show his profound understanding of the significance of the teaching and sacrificial death of Jesus Christ and of the human call to live in imitation of the selfless, sacrificial life of Jesus. His work was influential on philosophers such as Martin Heidegger and on theologians such as Karl Barth. His challenges to the Church remain powerful reminders of the institution’s call to pattern its common life according the teaching of its founder, Jesus Christ.

COLLECTS

Heavenly Father, whose beloved Son Jesus Christ felt sorrow and dread in the Garden of Gethsemane: Help us to remember that though we walk through the valley of the shadow, thou art always with us, that with thy philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, we may believe what we have not seen and trust where we cannot test, and so come at length to the eternal joy which thou hast prepared for those who love thee; through the same Jesus Christ our Savior, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Heavenly Father, whose beloved Son Jesus Christ felt sorrow and dread in the Garden of Gethsemane: Help us to remember that though we walk through the valley of the shadow, you are always with us, that with your philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, we may believe what we have not seen and trust where we cannot test, and so come at length to the eternal joy which you have prepared for those who love you; through the same Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Lessons

Exodus 33:14–23

1 Timothy 1:12–17

Matthew 9:20–22

Psalm 22:1–11

Preface of a Saint (2)

Text From Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.

We invite your reflections about this commemoration and its suitability for the official calendar and worship of The Episcopal Church. How did this person’s life witness to the Gospel? How does this person inspire us in Christian life today?

If you’d like to participate in the official online trial use survey, click here. For more information about the survey, click here.

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