Sep 11 – Harry Thacker Burleigh

A Great Cloud of Witnesses

Sep 11 - Harry Thacker Burleigh

Harry Thacker Burleigh
Composer + Arranger + Singer
11 September 1949

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From the Satucket Lectionary

Harry BurleighHenry “Harry” Thacker Burleigh (December 2, 1866September 12, 1949), a baritone, was an African American classical composer, arranger, and professional singer.

In 1894, he became a soloist for St. George’s Episcopal church in New York City. There was opposition to hiring Burleigh at the all-white church from some parishioners, because of his race, at a time when other white New YorkEpiscopal churches were forbidding black people to worship. J. P. Morgan, a member of St. George’s at that time, cast the deciding vote to hire Burleigh. In spite of the initial problems obtaining the appointment, Burleigh became close to many of the members during his long tenure as a soloist at the church.

Burleigh also made the first formal…

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Aug 18 – William Porcher DuBose

A Great Cloud of Witnesses

Aug 18 - William Porcher DuBose

William Porcher DuBose
Priest + Theologian
18 August 1918

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A Prayer

Almighty God, who gave to your servant William Porcher DuBose special gifts of grace to understand the Scriptures and to teach the truth as it is in Christ Jesus: Grant that by this teaching we may know you, the one true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

From the Satucket Lectionary

William DuboseWilliam Porcher DuBose is a serious candidate for the title of “greatest theologian that the Episcopal Church in the USA has produced.” He was born in South Carolina in 1836, and attended the Military College of South Carolina (now the Citadel) in Charleston , and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. He served as a chaplain in the…

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Sep 10 – Alexander Crummell

A Great Cloud of Witnesses

Sep 10 - Alexander Crummell

Alexander Crummell
Priest + Missionary + Educator
10 September 1898

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From the Satucket Lectionary

portrait of Alexander CrummellAlexander Crummell was born in New York City in 1819, and wished to study for the priesthood, but received many rebuffs because he was black. He was ordained in the Diocese of Massachusets in 1844, when he was 25 years old, but was excluded from a meeting of priests of the diocese, and decided to go to England. After graduating from Cambridge, he went to Liberia, an African country founded under American auspices for the repatriation of freed slaves. Crummell hoped to see established in Liberia a black Christian republic, combining the best of European and African culture, and led by a Western-educated black bishop. He visited the United States and urged blacks to join him in Liberia and and swell the ranks…

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Tongues of Fire… The Other Kind

Draughting Theology

As I’ve said before, I love the book of James, but it can, at times, be a real Debbie Downer.  In this Sunday’s lesson from the third chapter, he takes an image that is well known and much beloved, tongues of fire, and turns it into something fairly lamentable.  Most people, when they think of tongues of fire, picture the Pentecost story as the Holy Spirit arrives with power and might to change the whole world.  Through that powerful in-breaking, God undoes the Babel story and makes many tongues speak one language.

In contrast to God’s amazing use of the tongues of men and women to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ far and wide, James sees the tongue as nothing more than a necessary evil.  He goes so far as to say that “the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of…

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On Grace: Week’s End Lecture

Theology Forum

I gave this brief lecture at the end of class today in my course, The Doctrine of the Christian Life. Honestly, I don’t lecture veryRembrandt.The Prodigal Son often, and when I do only briefly. But there are times for it. Like today when I needed to grab hold of the “threads” from the week and suggest how to pull them together.

The week began with readings from Luke 15—the parables of the lost sheep, coin, and son—then into excerpts from Irenaeus’s Against Heresies, and today into Rembrandt’s painting, The Return of the Prodigal Son. Henri Nouwen’s excellent book of the same name was our guide into the world of the painting. What follows below is my attempt to draw these threads together as they relate to the doctrine of grace (the central “thread” of the course). As always, I welcome your interaction.

Our week began with three parables told by Jesus to a mixed audience:…

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Sep 12 – John Henry Hobart

A Great Cloud of Witnesses

Sep 12 - John Henry Hobart

John Henry Hobart
Bishop of New York
12 September 1830

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From the Satucket Lectionary

Portrait of John Henry HobartAfter the American Revolution and the Independence of the United States, the Episcopal Church, under public suspicion in many quarters because of its previous association with the British government, did very little for about twenty years. John Hobart was one of the men who changed this.

John Henry Hobart was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 14 September 1775, the son of a ship’s captain. He was educated at the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University, ordained deacon in 1798 and priest in 1801. Called as assistant minister to Trinity Church, New York, in 1803, at age 36 he was elected assistant bishop of the diocese in 1811, becoming diocesan in 1816.

To look at John Henry Hobart, you wouldn’t have predicted greatness. Height always distinguishes, and…

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Neyhart Explains Her Hermeneutic of Love

God is Open

Open Theist Jennifer Neyhart presents her hermeneutic of love by which she reads the Bible:

Well, when Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment, he responded by saying “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)

In light of this passage, I would argue that the love of God and our love for God and people should be a lens for interpreting Scripture.

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Sep 8 – Soren Kierkegaard

A Great Cloud of Witnesses

Sep 8 - Soren Kierkegaard

Soren Kierkegaard
Teacher + Philosopher
8 September 1855

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A Prayer

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.

From the Satucket Lectionary

Soren KiergkegaardSøren Aabye Kierkegaard is considered the father of the philosophical movement called existentialism.

In a Danish film, Ordet (“The Word”, based on a play by Kaj Munk), one character appears to…

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Peter’s Utter Reasonableness

Draughting Theology

It is really easy to throw good old Peter under the bus.  He’s always the perfect foil to Jesus’ goodness, wisdom, and gentleness.  He’s Dumb-as-a-Box-of-Rocks Peter as he sinks in terror after taking a few steps atop the water.  He’s Sword-Wielding-Maniac Peter in the Garden on the night Jesus is betrayed.  He’s I-Don’t-Know-the-Man Peter around the charcoal fire early on Good Friday morning.  In Sunday’s Gospel lesson, we have another chance to poke fun at Quick-to-Talk-and-Slow-to-Listen Peter as he takes Jesus aside to rebuke him for the whole “I’m going to be handed over, killed, BUT ON THE THIRD DAY RISE AGAIN!” thing.

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But here’s the thing.  I’m not sure how unreasonable Peter’s response is.  Think about it.  If you were in his shoes.  If you had given up everything to follow Jesus around the Judean countryside, had finally started to piece together that he was more than just a…

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