Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The First Sunday of Advent (C), November 29, 2015 - Luke 21:25-36

We Would Ever Be More Faithful
PICARDY                      French Carol

1. Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
As we grieve and mourn this day,
Gasping in the face of violence,
Lives and trust all torn away;
We would ever be more faithful,
Seeking peace from you, we pray.

2. Bombings that sow dread and terror,
Making tears for those who are lost,
Have the power to lead us to error,
Tolerance for others the cost;
We would ever be more faithful,
Never sunk, although we be tossed.

3. In the midst of fear and foreboding,
Christ, your way still lives herein,
Keep the love we've known from eroding,
Reign o'er us, and draw us in;
We would ever be more faithful,
Loving all, again, we begin.

Scott L. Barton

This hymn was written in the wake of recent bombings in Paris, Baghdad and Beirut and would be suitable for congregational singing on November 22 or 29, or at any other appropriate time. The motto of Paris, "Elle est agitée par les vagues, et ne sombre pas,” essentially means, “Tossed, but not sunk.” Permission given for congregational use. The author would appreciate knowing where it is used at SCOTT.L.BARTON@GMAIL.COM. Click on the image above for a bulletin-ready copy.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Bonus Poem: Delusions of Grandeur (Donald Trump, Starbucks and Merry Christmas)

(Note: for the lectionary poem for November 22, please page down to the next poem.)

"If I become President, we're all going to be saying 'Merry Christmas' again. That I can tell you. That I can tell you!"  -Donald Trump

Delusions of Grandeur

"The Donald" thinks that he could change
The greetings that we all exchange;
He thinks if he'd be President
That he could change the precedent
Back to the way it was before!
Delusions from this clown's lips pour;
Just like The Queen, with dread who said,
Those nightmare words, "Off with her head."

Scott L. Barton

Friday, November 13, 2015

Christ the King (B), November 22, 2015 - John 18:33-37

 Christ the King statue, Świebodzin, Poland
"Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

I think it's funny that
it's not the other way around:
That all who listen to his voice
belong to truth, would sound
Religious! Yet, he still confounds
what we expect to hear;
The truth is that it's all a gift,
and everyone is dear;
Those living thus, will love as much -
he could not be more clear!

Still, list'ning to this king is
never easy - any year!

Scott L. Barton

Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

Monday, November 9, 2015

Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), November 15, 2015 - 1 Samuel 1:4-20 and 1 Samuel 2:1-10

Marc Chagall: Hannah (c. 1956)
Hannah's Hymn

Tune: St. Catherine (Faith of Our Fathers; Jesus, Thy Boundless Love to Me)
[Note: The following could also be read as a poem without singing, in which case the refrain at the end of each stanza can be removed.]

Hannah could never know some day
Her prayer would be the model for
Another pray-er who magnified
The Lord, rejoicing in whom she bore.
Faith of our mothers, fathers, too,
Teach us God's love makes all things new.

But Hannah knew how Elkanah
Forsook her not, nor cast aside,
And as a spendthrift, even more,
On Hannah, lavished love with pride.
Faith of our mothers, fathers, too,
Teach us God's love makes all things new.

Letting loose doubt the Lord provides,
Pouring out faith set Hannah free,
By love and prayer her wish bore fruit,
And what she asked for, came to be.
Faith of our mothers, fathers, too,
Teach us God's love makes all things new.

"There is no Holy One like the LORD,"
Thus Hannah prayed, exulting that day;
Girding the feeble and thwarting the proud,
Love for the world will find a way!
Faith of our mothers, fathers, too,
Teach us God's love makes all things new.

Scott L. Barton

On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters; but to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the LORD had closed her womb. Her rival used to provoke her severely, to irritate her, because the LORD had closed her womb. So it went on year by year; as often as she went up to the house of the LORD, she used to provoke her. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat. Her husband Elkanah said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? Why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?”

After they had eaten and drunk at Shiloh, Hannah rose and presented herself before the LORD. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the LORD. She was deeply distressed and prayed to the LORD, and wept bitterly. She made this vow: “O LORD of hosts, if only you will look on the misery of your servant, and remember me, and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a male child, then I will set him before you as a nazirite until the day of his death. He shall drink neither wine nor intoxicants, and no razor shall touch his head.”

As she continued praying before the LORD, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying silently; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard; therefore Eli thought she was drunk. So Eli said to her, “How long will you make a drunken spectacle of yourself? Put away your wine.” But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman deeply troubled; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the LORD. Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation all this time.” Then Eli answered, “Go in peace; the God of Israel grant the petition you have made to him.” And she said, “Let your servant find favor in your sight.” Then the woman went to her quarters, ate and drank with her husband, and her countenance was sad no longer.

They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the LORD; then they went back to their house at Ramah. Elkanah knew his wife Hannah, and the LORD remembered her. In due time Hannah conceived and bore a son. She named him Samuel, for she said, “I have asked him of the LORD.”

Hannah prayed and said,
“My heart exults in the LORD;
my strength is exalted in my God.
My mouth derides my enemies,
because I rejoice in my victory.

“There is no Holy One like the LORD,
no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God.
Talk no more so very proudly,
let not arrogance come from your mouth;
for the LORD is a God of knowledge,
and by him actions are weighed.
The bows of the mighty are broken,
but the feeble gird on strength.
Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,
but those who were hungry are fat with spoil.
The barren has borne seven,
but she who has many children is forlorn.
The LORD kills and brings to life;
he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
The LORD makes poor and makes rich;
he brings low, he also exalts.
He raises up the poor from the dust;
he lifts the needy from the ash heap,
to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor.
For the pillars of the earth are the LORD's,
and on them he has set the world.

“He will guard the feet of his faithful ones,
but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness;
for not by might does one prevail.
The LORD! His adversaries shall be shattered;
the Most High will thunder in heaven.
The LORD will judge the ends of the earth;
he will give strength to his king,
and exalt the power of his anointed.”

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), November 8, 2015 - Ruth 3:1-5; 4:13-17 and Mark 12:38-44

Rembrandt: Boaz and Ruth
Pen and brush, ca.1637-40, Berlin

Not Ruthless!

Beware of those who like the part,
who like the way they look in robes,
perfecting every day their art.
This is the same all o'er the globe.

If I forget, pull out this text;
remind me of the widow, poor,
who gave - not knowing what came next -
from trust that, on her, love still poured.

An earlier widow used her wits
to snag a man for Ruth (and her!)
while knowing all along, grace is
the gift of what could be, conferred.

Thus, Obed, David's grandpa, born
to one who served Naomi dear,
was named for service, like that sworn
by One who, in his line, appeared.

If Boaz didn't bite, the Christ
we know would never have been born;
This widow's trust in God sufficed;
Not ruthless, we're by love adorned!

Scott L. Barton

Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, I need to seek some security for you, so that it may be well with you. Now here is our kinsman Boaz, with whose young women you have been working. See, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor. Now wash and anoint yourself, and put on your best clothes and go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. When he lies down, observe the place where he lies; then, go and uncover his feet and lie down; and he will tell you what to do.” She said to her, “All that you tell me I will do.”

So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When they came together, the Lord made her conceive, and she bore a son. Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without next-of-kin; and may his name be renowned in Israel! He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has borne him.” Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her bosom, and became his nurse. The women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed; he became the father of Jesse, the father of David.

+ + +

As he taught, he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets! They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), November 1, 2015 - Mark 12:28-34

A Saint of a Different Color

We like to paint the Pharisees and scribes
With one broad brush, as if they're all one tribe,
And think alike! - 'til such a text reminds
Us even Jesus would not have us blind
To God's salvation in some faithful soul
Who, by our standards, doesn't fit the role.
Thus, those who follow Jesus dare to see
One never knows who's in the family tree.

Scott L. Barton

One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Then the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that ‘he is one, and besides him there is no other’; and ‘to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and ‘to love one’s neighbor as oneself,’ —this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that no one dared to ask him any question.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), October 25, 2015 - Job 42:1-6, 10-17 and Mark 10:46-52

William Blake: Job and His Daughters

Job's Non-Hollywood Ending

First, Job is told to say his prayers
for his annoying friends;
It must be prayer's required for
the Lord to make amends.
Next, sympathy and gifts turn out
to be Job's grieving need;
Since kindness, not explaining,
all our hurting spirits feed.
And now we know Job's daughters' names!
And they were given land!
Who knew that such catastrophe,
such progress could command?
These things we need to see, to keep
the blindness from our eyes,
About old Job's disaster which
resulted in surprise;
Not just that all was well again,
but life was fully new;
Thus, grace which always looks ahead
is what will see us through.

Scott L. Barton

Then Job answered the Lord: “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you declare to me.’ I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job when he had prayed for his friends; and the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. Then there came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and they ate bread with him in his house; they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him; and each of them gave him a piece of money and a gold ring. The Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; and he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand donkeys. He also had seven sons and three daughters. He named the first Jemimah, the second Keziah, and the third Keren-happuch. In all the land there were no women so beautiful as Job’s daughters; and their father gave them an inheritance along with their brothers. After this Job lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his children, and his children’s children, four generations. And Job died, old and full of days.


They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.