Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Kingdom of Heaven is Like....



The Kingdom of heaven is like…..



Today we will hear more examples of Jesus teaching about the Kingdom of heaven.   Matthew’s gospel is once again paired with readings that describe the King.  Last week the Book of Wisdom described a heavenly king who’s might is a source of justice and who judges with clemency.  Today’s reading from the Book of Kings describes an earthly king; Solomon.  You will notice similarities between these as the writer of the Book of Wisdom drew upon his knowledge of Solomon to describe the heavenly king.   

Note:  While we as Christians, acclaim Christ as King; the Book of Wisdom and Kings were written before Christ’s birth.

The word wisdom is virtually synonymous with Solomon.  Today’s reading from the Book of Kings is one major source of this association.  Instead of asking for riches and power, Solomon asks God for an understanding heart to judge God’s people and know right from wrong.  

The text of today’s gathering song “Holy Wisdom, Lamp of Learning” (#520) puts a similar desire for God’s wisdom on our lips and in our hearts.  The title contains just 2 of the names for God of the composer; Ruth Duck.  

Ruth Duck is professor of worship at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, where she has been on the faculty since 1989.  She was president of the North American Academy of Liturgy, an organization of liturgical scholars.  She has written numerous books and articles about Christian worship.  Her hymns are included in the hymnals of 14 different denominations.

I had originally planned to use Holy Wisdom, Lamp of Learning as our recessional hymn but changed my mind.  It is exactly what a gathering hymn needs to be:  a gateway to meeting God in Word and Sacrament.  I was also concerned that if left to the recessional hymn this essential text might go unsung and unnoticed.  

By no means am I denigrating our recessional song “A Rightful Place” a contemporary composition by Steve Angrisano based on the confessions of St. Augustine.  Steve is  also the co-composer (along with Sarah Hart) of today’s communion song; We Remember, We Believe.

Blessed to be serving at St. Mary’s,

Bruce 

Today’s Music Selections

Gathering            Holy Wisdom, Lamp of Learning      #520
Offertory             Amazing Grace   #431
Communion        We Remember, We Believe            In bulletin
Recessional        A Rightful Place                                 #632

Monday, July 17, 2017

16th Sunday of Ordinary Time




 
Today we hear three parables from the 13th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel.  Last week we heard the first of these:  The Parable of the Sower.   Be sure to read the entire portion of today’s reading as you may only hear the short version at mass.  The agricultural metaphor Jesus used was readily understood by his listener.  Some of its impact, however, may be lost on us.  Do not underestimate the impact of a poor or ruined harvest to a community in first century Palestine.  


I’ve chosen to repeat the song Parable to as a means of connecting these two weeks of hearing this portion of Matthew’s gospel.  


Fr. Albino’s homily last week brought to mind something that has been at the center of several recent conversations with friends and family.  Despite being raised in the church by parents who still attend church, many of our children no longer do so.   My take away from Fr. Albino’s words was to consider the seed planted rather than its current state of dormancy.   

Reconsider the words of Archbishop Romero's prayer: 

This is what we are about.  We plant the seeds that one day will grow.  We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise… We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.                          
                                        

Perhaps you will find the idea of allowing God to be the master builder (or in this case the master gardener) as freeing as I.

Blessed to be spending this season of my life at St. Mary’s,

Bruce

p.s.

The composer of Parable; M.D. Ridge passed away on June 5th of this year.  Born in 1938 in New York City, Meri Dell was the daughter of a show biz couple who found her own passion in church music.  M.D. was a liturgical composer, musician, writer, and editor. For 45 years she wrote music for Catholic churches and was a pastoral musician for parishes around the country.   Her compositions will continue to bear fruit for generations to come.  

Requiescat in Pace
 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

There is an appointed time for everything


     There is an appointed time for everything.

                                                Ecclesiastes 1a


Our gospel over the next two weeks comes from the thirteenth chapter of the gospel of Matthew.  The entire chapter consists of four parables.  Today, we hear the first: The Parable of the Sower.   

I've chosen the song Parable, by M.D ridge as our gathering song both this week and next.  It will create a connection between the weeks and allow you to become familiar with this very beautiful composition.  

The verses of the song speak directly to the parable of the sower.  The verses come from a familiar scripture from the Book of Ecclesiastes that we will not hear today. 


Consider the idea of everything in God's time when you hear each of today's readings proclaimed.  Think of how long a seed remains dormant in the ground before a sprout appears.  Remember that Isaiah was writing to a people who had been held captive for generations and Paul to a Christian community who thought that the second coming of Christ would occur during their lifetime but  instead faced persecution.

My hope is that these reflections and the words and music of Parable will be like the rain and snow that creates a fertile place for the Word of God for you today.

                                                            ***

This would be a great time to suggest Parable as an appropriate song for funeral liturgies.  I often add it when people choose Ecclesiastes 3 as one of the scripture readings.

Blessed to be serving at St. Mary's,

Bruce



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