Music and the Lectionary
Reflections by Robert Waldrop, director of music, Epiphany of the Lord Parish, Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House
This is an archive page for reflections on the lectionary readings and my choices of music for the Sunday masses at Epiphany of the Lord Catholic Church, where I am the director of music. Besides reflections on the readings, this page also has some brief comments on the various structures and music of the Mass. New reflections and comments on the music of the Mass will be posted every two weeks or so. The reflections are originally posted at http://www.epiphanyokc.com/music_ministry.htm . See also http://www.justpeace.org/scripturecommentary.htm , which is an index to my other series' of lectionary reflections over the past ten years.
And there are also recipes from the music ministers at the parish. The first one is a family recipe handed down through the generations one of our Italian families, transcribed by Dr. Lou Santelli
The Music of the Mass
XXIII Sunday of Ordinary Time
XXIV Sunday of Ordinary Time
XXV Sunday of Ordinary Time
XXVI Sunday of Ordinary Time
XXVII Sunday of Ordinary Time
XXVIII Sunday of Ordinary Time
XXIX Sunday of Ordinary Time
XXX Sunday of Ordinary Time
Recipes of Epiphany Music Ministers
The Music of the Mass
The Gathering Hymn
The Responsorial Psalm
THE GATHERING HYMN
The Gathering Hymn is the opening of the Mass. It is part of the "Introductory Rites", which include the Gathering Hymn, the Greeting of the Altar and the People, the Act of Penitence, the Kyrie Eleison, the Gloria, and the Opening Prayer (also known as the Collect).
The General Instruction of the Roman Missal is the "official" book which tells the Church how to celebrate the Holy Mass. According to that book, the purpose of the gathering hymn is to "open the celebration, foster the unity of those who have been gathered, introduce their thoughts to the mystery of the liturgical season or festivity, and accompany the procession of the priest and ministers."
Thus, the gathering hymn should have a very clear relationship to the spiritual truths that will be illuminated during the celebration in the ministries of the Word and Altar. At the Sunday masses, we typically sing all of the verses. Why? Well, as noted above, the gathering hymn has several purposes, it is not just a song to get the priest from the back of the church to the altar. A hymn is generally a poem, and to leave out one or more verses means that the story of the song is not told in its entirety.
Joining in the Gathering Hymn is an important aspect of our full and complete participation in the mystery and celebration of Holy Mass.
The Kyrie Eleison
After the Gathering Hymn, the next musical part of the Mass is the Kyrie Eleison, or "Lord, have mercy." The Kyrie is the only remnant in our liturgy of Greek, which was the language of the authors of the New Testament. It can be said or sung, and is done in pairs, usually in a "call and response" pattern - the deacon or priest sings or says "Lord have mercy", and the congregation responds. "Tropes", which are short phrases, may be added to the "call", as in "Lord, you are the one who forgives sins, Lord have mercy". Three pairs are done - Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, and a final Lord have mercy. The Kyrie follows the Act of Penitence. It may be done in English, or in the original Greek.
It is generally believed that the phrase pre-dates the Christian era. "Lord have mercy" is found in several places in the Old Testament, in what seems to be a liturgical form. We see it constantly in the New Testament - for example, when the lepers cry out to Jesus to heal them, in the original Greek text they say, "Kyrie eleison". The Latin form of the phrase would be the familiar "Miserere Domine". The Kyrie constitutes the first part of what traditionally has been known as the "Ordinary" of the Mass -- those parts which are always present, the others are the Gloria, the Creed, the Sanctus (Holy, Holy), and the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God). While the date of its introduction into the Mass is not known with certainty, we know it was part of the Eastern rites from the 4th century, and it is prescribed in the most ancient Roman ordo we have, dating from the 7th century. In the early days, Mass often began with a series of litanies, and our present three-fold use of the Kyrie seems to be a remnant of that.
The Gloria, or "Hymnus Angelicus" is one of the most ancient liturgical texts in the Mass. The opening phrase is taken from the words the angels sang, as reported in the 2nd chapter of Luke. Tradition says that it was translated from Greek into Latin by St. Hillary of Potiers, who died in 366 AD. In the 2nd century AD, Pope Telesphorus (128-139 AD), ordered that the Gloria should be sung at the Masses during the Night of Christmas. By the beginning of the 6th Century AD, the Gloria was sung at Sunday masses and on the feasts of the martyrs. In its western form that we sing on Sundays, the Gloria is a Trinitarian hymn, giving praise to God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The original Latin uses a series of four words to emphasize the praise we give - laudamus (praise), benedicimus (thanks), adoramus (adoration), and glorificamos (glorify). The Gloria comes directly after the Kyrie Eleison during the Introductory Rites of the Mass.
The Responsorial Psalm
The singing of psalms is a very ancient practice. Indeed, the Book of Psalms in the Bible is a hymnbook, recording the texts of songs sung by the Hebrews in their worship in synagogues and in the Temple. Our modern practice of the "responsorial psalm" - where a psalm is sung alternating between a cantor and the congregation - is directly derived from the ancient Hebrew practice.
In the Latin Tridentine Mass, a psalm was placed between the readings. It was typically sung from the steps of the ambo - the "gradus" - and thus this became known as the Gradual. The gradual was one of the four "proper" chants of the Latin mass. The "proper" was a chant which changed from Sunday to Sunday, based on the liturgical calendar. The "ordinary" was a chant (like the Gloria or the Sanctus) that was always present in the Mass. The other propers were the Introit, the Offertory, and the Communion.
Thus, the responsorial psalm is not just some "music between the readings", but is an integral aspect of the Liturgy of the Word that goes all the way back to the synagogues of ancient Israel. Generally, the responsorial psalm is related to the readings of the day. The ordinary way of proclaiming the psalm is by singing.
XXIII Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 9, 2007
The readings for the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time continue the lectionary's fall emphasis on the necessity of discipleship. It is not enough that we say "Lord, Lord", true commitment is required of those who would follow the Lord. In today's Gospel, Luke emphasizes this point. He paints a word picture of the great crowds that are following Jesus, as if the Kingdom had already come and was a daily reality. In the midst of this exultation, even as Good Friday follows Palm Sunday, Jesus reminds those who would follow him of the necessity of total dedication, a love that transcends even the love we have for our fathers and mothers. While he uses the word "hate", this should be understood more in terms of "love", that is, "whoever loves their family more than Me", fails the test of discipleship. Jesus teaches that we should count this cost, and be ready to abandon all that we have for the sake of the Gospel.
In the 2nd reading, Paul teaches the early Christians an important lesson - discipleship transcends the social conventions of the era. Paul writes to a man who owned slaves, and counsels him to regard these people not as property, but as brothers and sisters in the Lord. This is a reminder that the Church has always taught that any economic philosophy that reduces the human person to mere economics is false.
Today's Responsorial Psalm is a plea for help in a time of trouble. The antiphon reminds us that the Lord is our refuge, the verses remind us of the power of the Lord, and connect the way we live our lives with the blessings that come from obedience.
The first reading is from the book of Wisdom, which dates most likely from the 1st century BC. It was written in Greek by a person unknown, who attributed it to the sayings of Solomon, King of Israel. This passage is part of a prayer of Solomon for wisdom, which is the path to understanding God's counsels.
The hymns I chose for this Sunday are:
Gathering W 704, Lift high the Cross
Psalm: W 933
Offertory: These alone are enough
Communion: JS 819, Bread of Life
Recessional: W 628, Go make of all disciples
The text of the gathering hymn, Lift High the Cross, clearly evoke the call to discipleship of the Gospel reading. We follow the Cross, wherever it leads, even if it leads us to our own individual crosses. It is important for us to remember how counter-intuitive Jesus' call to follow the Cross was for the people of his day. In the first century AD, the cross was a sign of a terrible, painful, and agonizing death. To us, the cross is a safe symbol, and we often forget what the cost of the Cross was for Jesus. Yet, this sign of degradation, in Christ is transformed to a sign of triumph.
Lift High the Cross was composed in 1887, commissioned by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, in Winchester, England.
At the 10 AM mass, the choir will sing, "These alone are enough", by Dan Schutte. It has a series of short verses, followed by the antiphon, "Give me nothing more than your love and grace. These alone, O God, are enough for me. I felt that this message illustrated the readings of the day with great clarity.
The communion song, Bread of Life, by Bernadette Farrell, speaks of proclaiming the death of our Lord, which I felt was a good communion hymn to accompany the readings this Sunday.
The closing hymn, which I always think of as the "musical devotion at the end of Mass", is "Go Make of All Disciples". I typically use the same closing hymn several Sundays in a row, and I select it for its message of continuity with the readings for that period. Since the readings in fall ordinary time of Cycle C of the Lectionary focus on discipleship, so does the closing hymn of this mass.
XXIV Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 16, 2007
Commentators sometimes say that the Gospel of Luke is the "Gospel of the Poor", because of his emphasis on Jesus' ministry to those who were rejected by the society of his time. This chapter begins with what could be considered an outrageous statement -"tax collectors and sinners were drawing near to Jesus". To get the emotional effect in our own time, we should read this as something along the lines of "drug dealers and prostitutes were drawing near to Jesus." Then as now, one of the quickest ways to stir up comment and gossip is to be a friend to sinners - that is, to open your heart to those that others reject. This isn't to approve of the sin, but to separate the sin from the sinner, and to recognize that even the prostitute and the drug dealer are human persons and thus worthy of love.
With this introduction, today's Gospel gives us three "Parables of Mercy": the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and the Prodigal Son.
The society of Israel was pastoral. Sheep were an important economic and social asset, and to lose one is to lose value. Thus, the shepherd does not hesitate to leave the 99 who are safe and go in search of the one who is lost and if necessary, carry it home. A woman with only ten coins was probably poor, and could not afford to lose one. So if one turns up missing, she will search for it until it is found. She sweeps the floor to find it, because in that era, without glass windows, most interior rooms were dark. By using a broom, she would hope to hear its sound tinkle against the floor. Because she is poor, it would be a very small coin. The story of the Prodigal Son reminds us that we can never go so far away that we are not loved by God, who rejoices when we come home.
Continuing in this theme of mercy for sinners, the 2nd reading is an autobiographical reminder by Paul that he was once a man who hated Jesus and persecuted the church. By the grace of God, the darkness over his soul was lifted, and he, although first among sinners, became an instrument of grace for others.
In the first reading, we recall the story of Israel's rejection of God while wandering in the desert. Moses "bargains" with God, reminding him of his promises, so the Lord shows mercy and does not destroy the people. In this story, Moses takes on the role of a mediator, and thus pre-figures Christ, who mediates between God and humanity.
The antiphon for the psalm today is taken from Luke 15, and is the call of the Prodigal Son who decides to return to his Father. The verses are from one of the great penitential psalms of the Old Testament.
Here are the hymns I chose for this Sunday's celebration:
Gathering: W 752, The Master came to bring good news
Psalm: W 936
Offertory: Tender Mercies
Communion: JS 811, Seed, Scattered and Sown
Recessional: JS 599, O bless the Lord, my soul
Since the purpose of the Gathering Hymn is to clearly announce the mysteries that will be illuminated during the celebration, I felt that this hymn was a good choice. We will hear parables of mercy, and that is what this hymn is about. The hymn gives an additional point to ponder - as we are forgiven, we are to forgive others.
The choir anthem at the 10 AM Mass is about the mercy and compassion of the Lord. One repeated musical phrase unifies the music - "And I thank you for your tender mercies, that could only come from you."
The communion hymn, Seed, Scattered and Sown, speaks of sowing and reaping, and all being gathered into Christ.
The closing hymn, "O bless the Lord my soul," is a hymn of praise that evokes the joy of the Shepherd who has found the lost sheep, the Woman who has found the lost coin, and the Father who welcomes his lost son home. It is a paraphrase of Psalm 103.
XXV Sunday of Ordinary Time
The readings for this Sunday begin with a stern warning from the Prophet Amos regarding sins against the poor. Writing probably about the year 750 BC during the reign of Jeroboam II, in the prosperous Kingdom of Israel, Amos was a contemporary of Isaiah, Micah, and Hosea. He denounced the persecution of the poor by the rich. He preached strongly against the social evils of his day. He told the people that if they did not repent of their injustices and sins, God would destroy their nation. Thus it came to pass that about 30 years later, in 721 BC, the nation of Israel was destroyed by the Assyrians and many people were carried away into slavery.
Amos' warnings remain timely for our present era. One reason we have so many homeless people is that over the last 30 years, most cities have used "urban renewal" programs to systematically destroy the "housing of last resort" for very poor people. Millions of units of low income housing have been destroyed by this non-market, politicized process. This drives up the rent for low income people, which increases the financial stress on their households. Financial stress is well documented as a driver of many social problems, including violence against women and children, gang involvement, alcoholism and drug abuse, abortion, and dropping out of school. The lesson of Amos is clear: persecution of the poor brings destruction upon a society.
The 2nd reading is an instruction by the Apostle Paul regarding prayer. Paul uses four different words for prayer - supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings - not necessarily to give a systematic list, but to indicate the importance of prayer.
The Gospel reading today certainly qualifies as one of the more difficult passages in the Gospels to interpret. Written 2,000 years ago, in a completely different cultural context, the modern reader doesn't necessarily have all the knowledge he or she needs to properly interpret this. It is a parable about riches and their proper use. The position of "steward" was common in ancient times, we would tend to use the word "manager" instead. To make a living, he would often add expenses to loans and such, just like a mortgage broker or title company will do today. When faced with the loss of his position, he knew he would need friends - so he goes to the debtors, and tells them to write off his managerial "add-ons". The dishonest steward is praised, not condemned for his shrewdness. The reading concludes with a clear statement that Christians must order their priorities correctly, putting the Kingdom of God first. When we think of the situation in the United States today, do we see our nation and its people putting God first - or are we more interested in money?
The gathering hymn I chose for today is a reflection on the first reading - "The Cry of the Poor". While the rulers of this world are inclined to cheat the poor, this is not true for the Lord. He hears the cry of the poor, and answers their pleas.
The Offertory - Prayer for Creation - evokes the 2nd reading. The text prays for everyone, everywhere, all races and states of life.
The Communion hymn, Servant Song, places our life in the context of Christian service, and suggests the proper ordering of our priorities. The recessional hymn continues the hymn of praise of the Church, as we leave Mass to go back into the world.
XXVI Sunday of Ordinary Time
September 30, 2007
The first reading, from the book of Amos, continues that prophet's denunciation of the improper use of wealth. While the poor starve, the wealthy waste their money on wanton luxury. Amos prophesies that these will be the first to be punished, a prophecy realized only a few years later when Israel was invaded by the Assyrian Empire.
The 2nd reading is taken from Paul's closing exhortation to Timothy. It encourages perseverance and faithfulness. The phrase translated as "manifest" in today's reading is the Greek word "epiphaneia", from which we derive the word "Epiphany" or "Manifestation." It was often used in the ancient world to describe alleged appearances of deities, and was later appropriated by Roman emperors who claimed divinity. Here it undoubtedly refers to the incarnation of Christ. The final lines of this reading are probably taken from an ancient Christian hymn.
Today's Gospel is the story of the rich man and Lazarus. The Lazarus of this parable is not the Lazarus who was the brother of Mary and Martha and who was raised from the dead, but rather a poor beggar who laid at the doorstep of the rich merchant. He was so poor the dogs in the street had pity on him and licked his wounds. The wealth of the merchant is emphasized by the description of his lifestyle.
And so it comes to pass that both men die. The poor man goes to heaven, the wealthy man is condemned to hell because of his indifference. Even in hell, though, he continues to see the poor man Lazarus as a servant. "Send Lazarus to fetch me some water," he prays to the Lord. But this cannot be done, because of the gulf that separates heaven and hell.
The gathering hymn is Gather Us In, which sings of the universality of the Gospel. All are welcome, rich and poor, black and white, all come together at the banquet of the Lord. No one is to be indifferent to his or her neighbors. In Christ, we are one family.
The offertory is a sermon in itself about the danger of indifference. Written for a commemoration for the victims of hurricane Katrina, it alternates between the choir and piano, with the piano theme being "Were you there, when they crucified my Lord." The verses compare our indifference to the suffering of others to the crucifixion of Jesus.
I chose the Communion hymn - Whatsoever you do - as a reflection on our duty to each other. Whatever we do to the poor, we do to Jesus, for good or for ill. We can bless the poor, or we can curse the poor.
The final hymn, O bless the Lord, continues our hymn of praise to the Father for his blessings to us.
October 7, 2007
The first reading today is from the book of Habbakuk. Not much is known about its author. From the book's text, we can discern that he was an accomplished writer, and a deep thinker. His book is essentially a meditation on the problem of evil. How can a good God allow evil to flourish? It may be derived from the text of the liturgy of the Jerusalem Temple, or it may have later been used in that liturgy. The book was written during a time of great chaos and oppression, but the text isn't clear as to the cause. It wasn't a minor episode, however, because the description of the times suggests a complete breakdown in law, order, and civilization. The reading begins with a cry from the prophet - "How long O Lord? I cry for help, but no one listens!" The second half of the reading is the answer from the Lord, who commands the prophet to write down the vision, which will surely have its time, its fulfillment. The reading closes with a statement which sets the tone for the readings for this day: The just shall live by faith.
Timothy had been appointed bishop of Ephesus, a major city of ancient times located in the modern nation of Turkey (then referred to as Asia Minor). This letter was written by Paul while in prison in Rome. The opening of the reading recalls the ordination of Timothy by Paul. Its closing speaks of the importance of safeguarding the truths of the Gospel - which we call today the "Deposit of Faith" - that Timothy had received from Paul.
According to the New Jerome Bible Commentary, "Luke is the gospel of total dedication," and we certainly see that teaching in today's Gospel. In speaking of the mustard seed, Jesus was making reference to a Hebrew saying similar to the English phrase, "Great oaks grow from tiny acorns". Jesus teaches that its not the quantity of faith that is important, but rather the quality of the faith. This teaching is followed by a parable, found only in the Gospel of Luke, that reminds all who serve in the church that they can never "rest on their laurels", and think that they have done "all there is to be done."
In keeping with the theme of faith in today's readings, I selected "We walk by faith" from the Journeysongs hymnal for the gathering hymn. The tune of this hymn - known as "St. Anne" - is more familiarly known as "O God our help in ages past." At the offertory of the 10 AM Mass, the choir will sing the anthem, "The faith we sing was sown". Originally written for the Jubilee Year 2000, it connects the theological virtue of faith with the transmission of the teachings of the Church over the centuries, from one generation to another. Centered on the Eucharist, our faith leads us to acknowledge Jesus as Lord of all. The closing hymn is a new to our parish, "Praise to you, O Christ our Savior." This hymn speaks of Jesus as the Word who calls us into light, faith, unity, and service.
October 14, 2007
The first reading today is the conclusion of the healing of Naaman. Alas, the brevity of it leaves out much of the drama of this event. Naaman is a powerful army commander in service in a foreign country, but he is a leper. Through the agency of a nameless captive Israelite slave girl -- and a "little girl", at that -- he learns that Elisha the prophet can cure his disease. So he gets a letter from his king to the king of Israel (who suspects some kind of plot), and Naaman takes along gifts fit for a king to (presumably) impress the prophet and encourage the healing processes along a bit.
Elisha doesn't even come to the door when Naaman arrives. He sends a messege, "Go wash seven times in the Jordan and you will be clean". But this isn't what Naaman was looking for. He was an important man. He wanted some acknowledgement of that - some ritual, some cult, some impressive magic suitable to his dignity, to cure his leprosy. And so he heads off back to Aram, still a leper. His nameless servants, however, save the day by telling their master the facts of life. Look, you came all this way, and if this guy had said "do something extraordinary", you would have been happy to do it. So here he has asked you to do something simple. Since it is so easy, what can it hurt to do it and see what happens.
At the conclusion of our reading, Naaman offers Elisha gifts, but they are refused, so Naaman asks for a gift of earth, to take home to build an altar to the true God.
This story inspires certain questions. When we ask God for healing, do we ignore his often plain and simple advice? If a prophet sent us on an extraordinary quest, would we go? If a prophet gave us a simple, easy, and mundane task -- would that be easier or harder than the grand quest?
The lectionary returns to 2nd Timothy for our second reading today. Paul makes reference to his imprisonment, but his sufferings have value for Christians and for those not yet converted. The reading ends with lines almost certainly taken from an ancient Christian hymn - "If we have died with him, we will live with him."
The Gospel reading today is the story of the healing of the Ten Lepers. As Jesus was on one of his journeys, ten lepers saw him and cried out, "Lord, have mercy" - in the Greek, Kyrie eleison, exactly what we sing during the penitential rite of the Mass. Jesus heals them, but only one of them returns to give thanks - and Luke goes out of his way to note that he was a Samaritan, that is, a FOREIGNER - in Greek, XENOS. The Jews despised the Samaritans and that feeling was mutual. In keeping with Luke's theme of ministry to those who are outcast, including this story shows that the Kingdom of God is not only for the Jews, but for all people, even those who are socially unacceptable. To get the real emotional impact of this passage on people in the first century AD, we would read the sentence as - "Has none but this IILLEGAL ALIEN returned to give thanks to God?" Let us also recall that in the first reading, Naaman - also a foreigner by Jewish standards - returned to give thanks to Elisha after being healed. In the end, Jesus says, "Your faith has saved you." May our faith save us from our own sins!
The gathering hymn this morning sings of the healing ministry of Jesus - "Your hands O Lord, in Days of old, were strong to heal and save." The lyrics speak of Jesus' ministry to the blind, the deaf, and the leper. The touch of Jesus brings life and health and renewed strength. In the final verse, we pray that Jesus will be our healer too, that he will restore and strengthen us.
At the offertory at the 10 AM mass, the choir will sing an arrangement by Dale Wood of the traditional hymn "Come ye disconsolate". "Earth has no sorrow, that heaven cannot heal." I chose the communion hymn "I am the Bread of Life" because of the strong refrain, "And I will raise you up", which can refer not only to the resurrection, but also to our present life, where Christ raises us up out of our sorrows. The closing hymn is a repeat from last week, as I typically do, continuing our song of praise to Christ, the Word who brings healing and hope.
October 21, 2007
The theme of this Sunday's readings is perseverence in prayer.
The parable of the Dishonest Judge is found only in Luke. Besides teaching on prayer, it is a reminder of the precarious situation of those who are poor and without influence. In this judge's court, judgement was in favor of the man or woman with the largest bribe. This poor woman has no money for a bribe, but she is persistent, coming often to the judge and demanding a just verdict. Finally in exasperation, the unjust judge says, "Fine, to get you out of my hair, here is your just judgement." This unjust judge is then compared by Jesus to the true Just Judge. If even an unjust judge will give heed to persistence, certainly God will hear our persistent prayers.
A foreshadowing of this teaching is found in the first reading, where we read an ancient story of victory in battle. As long as Moses held his hands in the air, Israel triumphed, but when he grew tired and let them down, the battle went against them. This was so important, that two men came to the assistance of Moses, and helped him hold up his arms. The implication for us is that we should always be persistent in our prayer (symbolized by holding Moses' arms in the air), and also that we should be open to the prayers - helps - of others, who will in a sense stand with us and hold our arms in the air.
The second reading touches on the importance of God's word in the life of the Christian, whose word and deed should be a constant proclamation of the reality of the living God and a witness of Christ.
The gathering hymn today is a new text to an old familiar tune, "As we gather". The tune is "Nettleton", and more familiar names that we know it by are "God we praise you" and "Come thou fount of every blessing". In the new text, we sing of God's presence at the Altar, in the gathered assembly, and in the proclamation of the Word. We pray that our worship will turn into witness, and that we will go forth to love and serve Christ. We sing of our call to bring others to share in the feast. Persistence in worship - in prayer - brings blessings to our lives.
The choir at the 10 AM Mass will sing a traditional version of an old hymn, "What a friend we have in Jesus", set to a tune from the Sacred Harp hymnal. The willingness of Christ to hear our prayers shows that He indeed is a true friend at all times. Our persistence in prayer shows our friendship for Christ.
The communion hymn, Only a Shadow, sings of the importance of our persistence in love, even though our love for God and Christ is "only a shadow" of the Trinity's love and compassion for us. Our belief, dreams, and joy are foretastes of what is to come. Our persistence in that love is a sign of our faith.
With our closing hymn, Praise to you O Christ our Savior, we continue our hymn of praise to Christ for his great mercies to us.
October 28, 2007
Today's Gospel is a continuation of Luke's narrative from last week. Like the Unjust Judge, the Pharisee and the Sinner is found only in Luke. It illustrates one of Luke's favorite themes - the mercy of God. Luke contrasts two different persons - one man, full of self-righteousness and pride, who prays a prayer of arrogance - the second, a man who is conscious of his own sins and failures, and who humbly prays for mercy.
The poverty of spirit exemplified by the tax collector/sinner in the Gospel is illustrated in our Old Testament reading from the book of Sirach. Typically, we humans in our sin love the rich and hate and fear the poor. God, however, while he loves everyone, has a special love for the poor, who are so often rejected, blamed, and punished by society. They are the prey of those who are stronger than they. If you don't think this is still a problem, consider this. Everyone in the state of Oklahoma is secure in his or her property in that it cannot be taken by the State through eminent domain and given to someone else for their private profit - EXCEPT for anyone who lives in a poor neighborhood. "There be poor people here" is what the legal term "blighted" means. And if you live in a "blighted" neighborhood, your property rights could disappear in an instant, you could be forced to move, you would receive a pittance for your property, and someone else - not another poor person - would get your land.
The 2nd reading was written by Paul in the time before his martyrdom. Writing to Timothy, he thanks the Lord for his faithfulness, and looks forward to his entrance into the Kingdom of God.
Gathering: W 630, Lord whose love in humble service
Psalm: W 954
Offertory: Fill my cup
Communion: JS 847, The Cry of the Poor
Recessional: JS 674, Praise to you, O Christ our Savior
Unlike the arrogant in today's Gospel reading, in our gathering hymn we welcome all to the Table of the Lord. We bring worship, not of voice alone, but like the sinner in today's readings, of the heart. Sin remains in the world - children wander homeless, the hungry cry for bread - but through our worship we bring compassion we make ourselves whole. This compassion, awakened in our hearts, calls us to service.
The choir anthem is "Fill my Cup, Lord", by Carl Schalk and Rusty Edwards. Like the sinner in our parable, we sing - I am empty, I am weakness, I am doubting, afraid, powerless, sinful. The Lord responds to our weakness. He Lord warms our love, gives us courage, he is our strength. He takes our hand, shows us mercy
The communion hymn is a contemporary setting that relates directly to the first reading. The Lord does hear the cry of the poor - not only those afflicted with poverty, but also those who come to him with poverty in their hearts.
The closing hymn continues our song of praise to the Savior for his mercy to us.
From the music ministers at Epiphany of the Lord Parish, Oklahoma City
This recipe is from Dr. Louis Santelli, a member of the parish's Traditional Choir. The recipe is a family tradition, handed down from his mother.
10 lbs of pork butts - ask the butcher to pass through the chili plate twice
3 tbs fennel seed
2 tbs black pepper
6 tbs salt
1 teaspoon red pepper
1-1/2 tsp garlic powder (FRESH)
3 tbs paprika (optional)
On a clean table, spread your meat like a giant hamburger. Spread your seasonings evenly over the meat. Wearing rubber gloves, mix the seasoning into your giant patty.
Keep a pan of warm water at your mixing table so that you can warm your hands, and splash a handful of water over the meat. Mixing is easier if a little water is added. When you think your mixing is through, repeat the mixing process - too much mixing is impossible.
You may add 4 ounces of red wine (if desired).
If you have the means, you may stuff your meat into pork casings or you may make patties. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze.
Whole Wheat Pancakes
Submitted by Bob Waldrop
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup yogurt
Mix the dry ingredients, and then add the olive oil. Mix thoughly. Add the egg and the yogurt, mix briefly. It's OK if the batter is a bit lumpy. Let the batter sit for about 10 minutes. Fry on a hot griddle. Makes about 14 pancakes, and the recipe may be doubled or tripled. You can substitute buttermilk or sour milk for the yogurt. Also, it is best to use fresh whole wheat flour.