Collect: Thomas Bray, Priest and Missionary, 1730 (Feb 15)

Thomas Bray was a man who paid attention, promoted good, and wanted all to keep learning.

Thomas Bray, Priest

In 1696, Thomas Bray, an English country parson, was invited by the Bishop of London to be responsible for the oversight of Church work in the colony of Maryland. Three years later, as the Bishop’s Commissary, he sailed to America for his first, and only, visitation. Though he spent only two and a half months in Maryland, Bray was deeply concerned about the neglected state of the American churches, and the great need for the education of clergymen, lay people, and children. Read more…

Lesser Feasts and Fasts

The Collect for the Commemoration

O God of compassion, you opened the eyes of your servant Thomas Bray to see the needs of the Church in the New World, and led him to found societies to meet those needs: Make the Church in this land diligent at all times to propagate the Gospel among those who have not received it, and to promote the spread of Christian knowledge; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

In the collect for this commemoration we pray that the God of compassion will “[m]ake the Church in this land diligent at all times to propagate the Gospel among those who have not received it, and to promote the spread of Christian knowledge.”  You and I (and many others) are the Church in this land. Pay attention, for surely God will answer our prayer with graces to exceed our request allowing us to meet the needs of others. ~Fr. Dan

[Bray’s] greatest contributions were the founding of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, both of which are still effectively in operation after two and a half centuries of work all over the world.

Lesser Feasts and Fasts

Be well. Do good. Pay attention. Keep learning.

Collect: Frances Jane (Fanny) Van Alstyne Crosby, Hymnwriter, 1915 (Feb 11)

Echoes of mercy, whispers of love … words that still touch the heart

Fanny Crosby and Blessed Assurance

Fanny Crosby was the most prolific writer of hymn texts and gospel songs in the American evangelical tradition of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. She wrote more than eight thousand sacred texts in addition to other poetry.

Frances Jane Crosby was born in Putnam County, New York, on March 24, 1820. Although not born blind, she lost her sight as an infant as a result of complications from a childhood illness. At the age of fifteen, she entered the New York Institute for the Blind where she would later teach for a number of years. In 1858, she married Alexander van Alstyne, a musician in New York who was also blind. Crosby was a lifelong Methodist.

Read more…

Holy Women, Holy Men

O God, the blessed assurance of all who trust in you: We give you thanks for your servant Fanny Crosby, who, though blind from infancy, beheld your glory with great clarity of vision and spent her life giving voice to your people’s heartfelt praise; and we pray that we, inspired by her words and example, may rejoice to sing of your love, praising our Savior all the day long; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God in perfect harmony, now and for ever. Amen.

In our prayer we give thanks for Fanny Crosby who, “though blind from infancy, beheld [God’s] glory with great clarity of vision.” We pray that, “inspired by her words and example” we may sing God’s praises—in our words and example—all the day long. May it be so. ~Fr. Dan

Be well. Do good. Pay attention. Keep learning.

Image: Church Marketing Sucks

Collect: Samuel Shoemaker, Priest and Evangelist, 1963 (Jan 31)

The Rev. Samuel ShoemakerBorn in Baltimore in 1893, Sam Shoemaker was a highly influential priest of the Episcopal Church and is remembered for his empowerment of the ministry of the laity.

While attending Princeton University, Shoemaker came under the influence of several major evangelical thinkers, among them Robert Speer and John Mott. After  college he spent several years in China and came under the influence of Frank Buchman, founder of The Oxford Group, a group initially oriented toward the personal evangelization of the wealthy and influential. Although he would eventually break from Buchman, aspects of the Oxford Group’s approach would influence Shoemaker for the rest of his life. […]

Two significant movements—Faith at Work and Alcoholics Anonymous—have their roots in Shoemaker’s work at Calvary Church, New York City. Read more…

Holy Women, Holy Men

Holy God, we thank you for the vision of Samuel Shoemaker, priest and co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous; and we pray that we may follow his example to help others find salvation through knowledge and love of Jesus Christ our  Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Do you really want to “help others find salvation through knowledge and love of Jesus Christ”? Does the vision of Samuel Shoemaker resonate with you? Is this your calling? Is this our calling? How does his work inspire our work today in the Jesus Movement? Just a few questions Sam’s life and example and this Collect raise for us today. ~Fr. Dan

Keep learning

Collect: Lydia, Dorcas, and Phoebe; Witnesses to the Faith (Jan 27)

Collect for Lydia, Dorcas, Phoebe

The commemoration of these three devout women follows directly on the observance of three of Paul’s male co-workers in the Lord. It is a reminder that though the first century was a patriarchal time from which we have very few women’s voices, the apostles and indeed the whole early church depended on women for sustenance, protection and support. Read more…

Holy Women, Holy Men

Filled with your Holy Spirit, gracious God, your earliest disciples served you with the gifts each had been given: Lydia in business and stewardship, Dorcas in a life of charity and Phoebe as a deacon who served many. Inspire us today to build up your Church with our gifts in hospitality, charity and bold witness to the Gospel of Christ; who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Dare we ask God to “inspire us today to build up your Church with our gifts” without expecting God to answer “Yes”? And isn’t it equally true that God expects us to use our gifts of time and talent in witness to the Gospel of Christ? ~Fr. Dan

For further reading

Collect: Timothy, Titus, and Silas, Companions of Saint Paul (Jan 26)

A form of the Anchor Cross

[Timothy, Titus, and Silas are remembered and] celebrated on the day after the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul because of their close connections with him. Though they were all young and inexperienced, they were entrusted with missions and matters that helped form the very life and history of the Church. Faithfulness, love and devotion to Christ saw them through situations they could not have imagined. Read more…

Holy Women, Holy Men

Just and merciful God, in every generation you raise up prophets, teachers and witnesses to summon the world to honor and praise your holy Name: We thank you for sending Timothy, Titus and Silas, whose gifts built up your Church by the power of the Holy Spirit. Grant that we too may be living stones built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ our Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (source: Holy Women, Holy Men)

I have placed the “Provisional Collect” from the SCLM here. The official collect for this commemoration may be accessed here. Today, I will explore what it means to be a “living stone” built on the foundation of Jesus Christ. And you? ~Fr. Dan

For further reading

Collect: Conversion of Saint Paul the Apostle (Jan 25)

Caravaggio: Conversion of St. Paul
The Conversion of St. Paul by Caravaggio. Click the image to read more.

Today, because many of you will not have access to this material, I quote in its entirety the description of this commemoration in Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2006. ~Fr. Dan

Begin quote

Paul, or Saul as he was known until he became a Christian, was a Roman citizen, born at Tarsus, in present-day Turkey. He was brought up as an orthodox Jew, studying in Jerusalem for a time under Gamaliel, the most famous rabbi of the day. Describing himself, he said, “I am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin” (Romans 11:1).

A few years after the death of Jesus, Saul came in contact with the new Christian movement, and became one of the most fanatical of those who were determined to stamp out this “dangerous heresy.” Saul witnessed the stoning of Stephen. He was on the way to Damascus to lead in further persecution of the Christians when his dramatic conversion took place.

From that day, Paul devoted his life totally to Christ, and especially to the conversion of Gentiles. The Acts of the Apostles describes the courage and determination with which he planted Christian congregations over a large area of the land bordering the eastern Mediterranean.

His letters, the earliest of Christian writings, reveal him as the greatest of the interpreters of Christ’s mind, and as the founder of Christian theology. He writes, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

Paul describes himself as small and insignificant in appearance: “His letters are weighty and strong,” it was said of him, “but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account” (2 Corinthians 10:10). He writes of having a disability which he had prayed God to remove from him, and quotes the Lord’s reply, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, Paul went on to say, “I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Paul is believed to have been martyred at Rome in the year 64 under Nero.

End quoted material

 

O God, by the preaching of your apostle Paul you have caused the light of the Gospel to shine throughout the world: Grant, we pray, that we, having his wonderful conversion in remembrance, may show ourselves thankful to you by following his holy teaching; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

May we follow the “holy teaching” of Saint Paul as we let our own light shine with the radiance of Christ. ~Fr. Dan 

For further reading

Image: On Art via The Christian Century

Collect: Ordination of Florence Li Tim-Oi, First Woman Priest in the Anglican Communion, 1944 (Jan 24)

Florence Li Tim-OiNamed by her father “much beloved daughter,” Li Tim-Oi was born in Hong Kong in 1907. When she was baptized as a student, she chose the name of Florence in honor of Florence Nightingale. Florence studied at Union Theological College in Guangzhou (Canton). In 1938, upon graduation, she served in a lay capacity, first in Kowloon and then in nearby Macao.

In May 1941 Florence was ordained deaconess. Some months later Hong Kong fell to Japanese invaders, and priests could not travel to Macao to celebrate the Eucharist. Despite this setback, Florence continued her ministry. Her work came to the attention of Bishop Ronald Hall of Hong Kong, who decided that “God’s work would reap better results if she had the proper title” of priest.

On January 25, 1944, the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, Bishop Hall ordained her priest, the first woman so ordained in the Anglican Communion. Read more…

Holy Women, Holy Men

Collect for Florence Li Tim-Oi

Gracious God, we thank you for calling Florence Li Tim-Oi, much beloved daughter, to be the first woman to exercise the office of a priest in our Communion: By the grace of your Spirit inspire us to follow her example, serving your people with patience and happiness all our days, and witnessing in every circumstance to our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the same Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

May we indeed serve others with patience and happiness no matter our circumstances, for the glory of God. ~Fr. Dan

Like Roman Catholics and the Orthodox, Episcopalians honor our ancestors in the faith, men and women of exceptional character and action as Christ-followers, who inspire and encourage us along the Way. The Collect used on the day they are honored often asks for graces to become a better Christ-follower in our day and in our lives.

For further reading