We are a small Episcopal Church on the banks of the Rappahannock in Port Royal, Virginia. We acknowledge that we gather on the traditional land of the first people of Port Royal, the Nandtaughtacund, and we respect and honor with gratitude the land itself, the legacy of the ancestors, and the life of the Rappahannock Tribe. Our mission statement is to do God’s Will in all that we do.

Sermon, Oct. 30, 2022 – Pentecost 21 – “Zacchaeus”

Who in here likes donuts?  I’d never given serious thought before to how doughnuts ended up having a hole in the middle,  but according to Bishop Douglas Fisher from The Diocese of Western Massachusetts, donuts date way back to Ireland and early Christian traditions there. 

For the Irish Christians, All Saints’ Day was a day on which prayers for all the saints were offered, and people had a feast to celebrate the day.  But many people in Ireland were too poor to put enough food on the table for their feast, and so the night before,on All Hollow’s Eve, they’d go out and knock on the doors of houses and beg for food.  As time went on, this practice evolved, and the beggars at the doors would promise to offer prayers for the dead on All Saints ‘Day in exchange for food. 

One woman wondered to herself—“Are these people I’m giving food to really remembering to pray for my dead relatives?” So she decided to start giving those who knocked on her door cakes with a hole in the middle.  The person eating the cake would get to the hole in the middle of the cake and remember to pray for the deceased. 

And so the donut was born. 

Who knows whether or not this is really how donuts came to be, but that’s a good story. 

Bishop Fisher connects this Halloween story of the donut to what happens in the story about Jesus and Zacchaeus. 

Zacchaeus was not only a tax collector, but a chief tax collector.  Zacchaeus was rich.    He had everything he needed and more than enough.  He could make as much money as he wanted at the expense of the people from whom he collected taxes.  The Roman oppressors, who ruled Palestine, hired people to collect the taxes, and in return, the tax collectors could collect whatever they wanted from the people in addition to the actual tax to pay themselves for doing their job.  So not only were the people having to pay taxes, but they were also having to pay whatever  the tax collectors demanded for themselves—talk about a corrupt system!

So certainly, Zacchaeus was not a popular person in his community by any stretch of the imagination.  

I can just hear the derisive laughter when this rich little man went racing through the streets, shedding his dignity out of his desperation to see who Jesus was,  trying to barge his way through the crowd, but I’m sure that no one in the crowd was about to let him get to the front to see anything. 

So Zacchaeus resorts to climbing a tree by the roadside (more laughter)  hoping that from that vantage point, he’ll be able to see Jesus.  The other advantage of being up in the tree is that Zacchaeus is now still, and waiting, rather than rushing and in a frenzy. 

So here comes Jesus down the road, surrounded by the crowd.  Zacchaeus holds his breath up in that tree.  Finally he is going to see this man he’s heard so much about.  Maybe he’s even mesmerized. 

Here’s what I love about this story.  Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus, and he got more than he bargained for, because when Jesus saw Zacchaeus, Jesus saw more than a rich little man in a tree.

Jesus could see inside Zacchaeus. 

And what Jesus saw was that Zacchaeus had a big old hole in his heart, a hole so deep and wide that all the money in the world couldn’t fill it. 

And Jesus, being the healer that he was, did some open heart surgery to repair that hole in Zacchaeus’ heart right there on that dusty road when he said,

 “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” 

What healing grace and mercy this must have been—

Jesus saw Zacchaeus. 

Jesus knew his name. 

Jesus wanted to come to his house. 

The people in the crowd did not like this—that out of all of them around Jesus that day, Jesus would welcome the loser, the despised tax collector, the unclean one, instead of one of them. 

Jesus simply says to them that he has come to seek out and save the lost.  Jesus has come to do open heart surgery, to heal hearts, to repair and fill the holes that nothing else can fill. 

St Augustine described the hole in all our hearts when he wrote this famous line in his Confessions.  “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in thee.” 

That’s the God shaped hole in our hearts, that nothing else can fill.  No matter what we try to put in that hole—money, other people, hobbies, food, our addictions– all of these things will eventually let us down—nothing will ever fill that hole in our hearts except God. 

And as Jesus makes clear in this story, God is a big believer in second chances.  Clearly, Zacchaeus was a sinner—having taken advantage of his fellow citizens for his own gain. 

It’s as if Zacchaeus is knocking on Jesus’ door, begging, and when Jesus welcomes him in, Zacchaeus, out of gratitude, says that he will give half of what he has to the poor, and to go back and repay anyone he’s defrauded four times as much as he has taken. And Zacchaeus welcomes Jesus into his house. 

And his heart is healed and filled with the only thing that can satisfy his longing—his heart is filled with Jesus. 

The first verse of that old gospel hymn, “I love to tell the story” whose words were written by Katherine Hankey,  goes like this. 

“ I love to tell the story of unseen things above, of Jesus and His glory Of Jesus and his love, I love to tell the story, because I know it’s true, it satisfies my longings as nothing else would do.” 

So here is what I hope you’ll remember about this story of Jesus and Zacchaeus. 

Not a one of us is perfect.  We all need healing.  We all need second chances.  Jesus  sees us, full of hurt, full of holes, full of longing.  We all need open heart surgery.  

Zacchaeus reminds us to go in haste,  to climb up a tree if we must and  to  get still and wait for Jesus, because Jesus is coming down the road toward us, his hands full of healing love, ready to give us what we need—his acceptance, and his presence in our hearts. 

If we’re looking and waiting, Jesus will see us.  Jesus knows our names, and Jesus wants to come home with us today.  Jesus wants to fill that hole in our hearts.  Jesus wants to give us a second chance. 

And in gratitude for all that Jesus gives to us, may we go out and do likewise for one another—to accept one another, to fill one another with God’s love, and offer that second chance for those who have wronged us. 

Next time you eat a donut, remember Zacchaeus. 

Remember to pray for someone who needs your prayers when you get to the donut hole. 

And remember to pray that God will come and fill the hole in your heart. 


Zacchaeus: When We Find our Sycamore Tree

From the Bishop’s Blog

“You know the story. Zacchaeus, “chief tax collector and rich”, hears Jesus is coming to town. He goes to see if he can get a glimpse of him but the crowd is dense and he is short. He climbs a sycamore tree to see above the crowd. Jesus sees him, goes to the tree and tells Zacchaeus that he wants to have dinner with him. At dinner Zacchaeus appears to have a great conversion and promises to give half his wealth to the poor and if any are defrauded he will repay them back four times as much. But, and here’s the key, some linguists say the text should not be, “I will do this” but, “I already do this.” Zacchaeus is telling Jesus he already gives half his possessions to the poor. He already repays defrauded people four times what they are owed. In other words, he is a good man. But he is still unhappy. There is still something missing. There is an emptiness in the middle of his soul.

And that is true for all of us. We are built with an inner emptiness and we try to fill it in so many ways. Some of those ways might be self-destructive. Some of those ways might be good – like giving half of what we have to the poor. But nothing will ever fill that hole except a relationship with the Living God. That is why Jesus can say to Zacchaeus, “Today salvation has come to this house.” Now Zacchaeus is connected to the source of all life.

Theologians have expressed this in many ways through the years. St. Augustine wrote, “my heart is restless until it rests in You.

We are saved by relationship with the Living God. Forever. The emptiness is addressed when we find our sycamore tree, that place that allows us to see and meet God. For some of us that place might be our local church.

Setting the Table, by Diana Butler Bass

“While writing Grateful: The Transformative Power of Giving Thanks, I reread Luke’s account of Zacchaeus. Like many Christians, I knew the story from Sunday school — the “wee little man” who climbed a tree to see Jesus. I thought of it as a charming tale that taught us to go to any length to catch a vision of God. But researching Grateful convinced me that gratitude was at the center of an important political tension in the Roman world regarding debts and obligation. The story of Zacchaeus transformed from a children’s story to a powerful encounter between Jesus and an unjust system of quid pro quo. Corrupted gratitude can snare us, or, as Jesus taught, a renewed vision of gratefulness can liberate us. The Zacchaeus story shows us how.

“Zacchaeus thought that gratitude was a political structure of benefactors and beneficiaries that he could manipulate for his own benefit. Then Jesus called him down from that tree and invited him to a table. “Stop climbing, Zacchaeus. Come and sit.” Whereas Rome practiced gratitude as a hierarchy of political and economic obligation, of debt and duty, Jesus envisioned gratitude as hospitality of mutuality and relationship, of gift and response. Jesus opened the door for Zacchaeus to “come down” from his old life, to stop participating in a corrupt system of gratitude that oppressed his own people. In a moment, Jesus turned his world upside down: Who was the guest and who was the host? The Roman structure of gratitude collapsed when assigned roles disappeared and the conventional gifts of hospitality could not be repaid. Instead, Jesus imagined a place where oppressed and oppressor leave their “stations” and meet as friends, where forgiveness is practiced and gratitude expresses itself not in debt payment but in passing on generous gifts to others.

“At the end of the story, Jesus explains that he did this because “the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). Jesus came to deliver those ensnared in the punishment and privilege of gratitude and to set them free from quid pro quo patronage. In its place, he established a table of hospitality where all are guests and no one owes anything to anyone else. Around this table, gifts pass without regard to payback or debt. Everyone sits. Everyone eats. And, recognizing that everything is a gift, all are grateful. Tree or table? Climbing to get ahead or reclining with friends? Choose. What you choose results in either slavery or abundance.

“This is the ancient wisdom of gratitude, told in a Jewish political context by early Christian writers. But we can see beyond its unique religious frame to the story’s larger relevance for today. Who wants to be part of a system of gratitude based on hierarchy?

“To be obligated to repay every favor done? Who wants to perpetuate a system that rewards privilege and is held together by indebtedness? A structure where we are pretty sure that the people above us cheated us to get there? Think of how we depict Thanksgiving — people around a table eating a meal.

“In the United States, it is the romanticized image of our most primal gratitude myth: Europeans and Natives sharing around a table. Of course, it did not happen that way. But that is what myths are — stories that express something we desire, what we hope will be, and how we dream of happiness and peace. There is something in our hearts that longs to banish quid pro quo to the pages of dusty history books forever and instead create a common table where we pass gifts to one another without regard for station or status, where boundaries dissolve around plenty. That is the way of salvation. We know this, and, like Zacchaeus, many of us long for it. We just do not know how to come down from the tree.”

Diana Butler Bass is the author of eight books on American religion, including “Christianity After Religion,” “Christianity for the Rest of Us,” and “A People’s History of Christianity.” This is excerpted from “Grateful: The Transformative Power of Giving Thanks.” Copyright © 2018 by Diana Butler Bass. Published by HarperOne.

Living Generously – Zacchaeus!

Zacchaeus the tax collector is not the ancient equivalent of modern day IRS or Canada Revenue Agency employees. He was not a civil servant. Ancient Roman tax collectors were individuals who bid for the right to collect taxes in a certain geographic area. This bid represented the tax Rome expected from a given geographic area. The tax collector would then collect funds to pay himself back. Any amount collected above that amount was pure profit, with few limitations. So they not only represented the Roman occupation, but they also profited through abusing and defrauding others.

But Jesus came to bring salvation to all, even the hated tax collector. Through Jesus, this one tax collector, Zacchaeus, experiences a remarkable moment of redemption. Jesus calls him out of the tree he had climbed. Jesus invites himself to Zacchaeus’s home, and Zacchaeus is transformed. He immediately offers to give away half of what he has to the poor, and to repay anyone he has defrauded by a factor of four. 

To me, the story of Zacchaeus is a story of learning to live generously. He had far more than he needed. He had much he could share with others. And he recognized that much of that had been earned through fraudulent means.

I believe this story challenges us to consider how we live in our capitalist society. Capitalism isn’t bad. The free market has allowed for much good. But how do we exist within it? Do we hoard all we earn? Are we driven solely by the motivation for our own profit? Or do we seek that balance where we maximize profits, make the world a better place, and share what we have with others?

Stewardship isn’t a euphemism for fundraising in the Church, nor is it restricted to six to eight weeks each fall in the Church year. Stewardship is how we live our lives as Christians, recognizing that this life isn’t ours, but rather God’s. To be a steward is to use this life for the building up of God’s kingdom, one brick at a time. How and what we give to God through the Church is a part of this, but really merely the beginning. How we live our lives is the real heart of stewardship. That might be in a for-profit industry, or not. It might be as a government employee, or a contractor. That might be a soldier, or as an officer. Whatever the setting, let us seek a motivation that isn’t about personal gain and wealth, but rather about making the world a better place.

Sunday Links for Pentecost 21, Oct. 30, 2022

Those lovely yellows in fall

Oct. 30, 11:00am – Holy Eucharist, Pentecost 21, Zacchaeus

  • Holy Eucharist, Sun. Oct. 30 YouTube link Oct. 30
  • Lectionary for Oct. 30, 2022, Pentecost 21
  • Bulletin for Oct. 30, 2022, Bulletin
  • Sermon for Oct. 30, 2022, Sermon
  • Compline, Sun. Oct. 30, 6:00pm Compline Link
  • Morning Meditation , Mon, Oct. 31, 6:30am Zoom link Meeting ID: 879 8071 6417 Passcode: 790929
  • Ecumenical Bible Study, Wed., Nov. 2, 10am-12pm. Reading lectionary of Nov. 6
  • October, 2022 newsletter
  • All articles for Oct. 30, 2022

  • This Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022, was Youth Sunday (every 5th Sunday) reflected in the prayers with a prayer on youth and in the sermon on Zacchaeus. We had about 10 youth present out of a congregation of 26. It was a beautiful Sunday with the trees moving to a matured fall. Fall was all around us – in the church in the graveyards, in the trees, and on the river

    Pentecost 26, October 30, 2022

    I. Theme –  Seeking Transformation in our encounters with God.

    "Zacchaeus" – Joel Whitehead

    The lectionary readings are here or individually:  

    First Reading – Isaiah 1:10-18
    Psalm – Psalm 32:1-8
    Epistle – 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12
    Gospel – Luke 19:1-10 

    Today’s readings explore the transformation that follows our encounters with God. Isaiah  warns against empty religiosity and brings God’s promise of cleansing and purity. In 2 Thessalonians, Paul encourages steady faith that waits quietly for the transformation brought by Christ. In the gospel story, Jesus grants salvation to a wealthy man who responds to Jesus with repentance and generosity.

    These stories look at how we worship.  Do we celebrate internally forgetting the outside world and the needs of the world which Isaiah complained about ? Also we need to look at hospitality.  Isaiah renames Jerusalem as Sodom and Gomorrah.  Was it their inhospitality that earned the people of Jerusalem this insult?   In Thessalonians  the people have reacted incorrect to promises of Jesus second coming and have created problems in the church.   Paul asks  for their “steadfastness and faith during all your persecutions and the afflictions that you are enduring.

    Luke would have us look at the notions or hospitality, redemption, and inclusion.  It is Jesus who demands hospitality, and it is Zacchaeus who gives it. Here the hospitality gives place to salvation and redemption, “Today salvation for this house has happened.” 

    Thus it is not riches that distinguish, nor is it poverty.  It is the inviting in, it is the acceptance of “what I must do” as a sinner, a poor person, a wealthy person, or a person striving for righteousness, that sets the tone and the agenda.  Jesus not only welcomes, but also is welcomed in.  This dual standard is Luke’s call to his hearers to imitate Christ.

    In the readings there is a call for the people to understand their sins, to acknowledge them and be forgiven which is part of the Psalms.  Zacchaeus certainly does and decides he will live a changed life – give half his goods to the poor and to recompense generously those he might have defrauded/

    II. Summary

    First Reading –  Isaiah 1:10-18

    The prophet Isaiah proclaimed his message to Judah between 742 and 687 BC. During this period the northern kingdom, Israel, became part of the Assyrian empire and the southern kingdom of Judah lived precariously as a vassal state. The first five chapters of the book of Isaiah consist of oracles against Judah.

    Today’s reading is a pronouncement against Judah for religious superficiality. Sacrifice and ritual are not in themselves condemned, but the conjunction of worship and injustice is intolerable to God. The people are more concerned with celebrating and having festivals than they are with caring for their fellow people.  Look at the list of sins he provides: doing evil, (and if we look at the opposite, quit oppression, quit ignoring the orphan and the widow).  These themes will be amplified and examined in detail. 

    God despises the lavish celebrations and instead desires justice for the poor, the oppressed, the widowed and the orphaned. If the people return to God and God’s ways, God will forget their sins. God invites the people to “argue it out,” knowing that God will win the argument and turn their hearts back.

    True worship is characterized by sincerity of heart; true sincerity is characterized by obedience and compassion. Correct liturgy does not imply true worship. Ritual devoid of holiness offends God. Repentance brings reconciliation and forgiveness, but impenitence brings judgment.

    Psalm – Psalm 32:1-8

    Psalm 32:1-7 speaks of the freedom that forgiveness brings. In order to be forgiven, however, the psalmist had to acknowledge their sin. But God not only forgives, God is faithful and remains faithful.

    This prayer of thanksgiving for God’s forgiveness divides naturally into six sections tracing the pattern of reconciliation: verses 1-2 are an introduction; verses 3-4 express the weight of guilt; verse 5 is a confession of sin; verses 6-7 offer sound advice.

    It is a vision after the forgiveness, but also relates the process of coming to that forgiveness.  The images are clear and helpful.  The heavy hand, the summer-parched dryness, the weakness of the psalmist’s bones, all are evident so long as there is silence – a silence that does not admit to the sins that have been committed in the past.  Then comes an important understanding.  “Then I acknowledged…(then) I said.”  This is not a noetic or cerebral understanding of sin.  It is an admission of sin that comes from the mouth – is admitted in the real time of day – that can be heard by another.  To this situation, God greets the psalmist with forgiveness, and the psalmist is surrounded with shouts of deliverance.

    Epistle-  2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12

    This reading is the first of three from 2 Thessalonians. Paul’s stay in Thessalonica (Acts 17:1-10) was relatively brief, and he left the new congregation exposed to the attacks of local Jews and Gentiles. Timothy’s encouraging report of their steadfastness in faith led Paul to write 1 Thessalonians (c. AD 51). Presumably 2 Thessalonians was written a few months later in order to correct a misunderstanding of his teaching on the “day of the lord” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2).

    In this reading, “Paul” greets the congregation along with his cohorts Silvanus and Timothy.  There is a word of thanks for the congregation’s lively faith, and love of one another.

    Second Thessalonians is a pastoral letter which addresses a number of problems that have arisen in a Christian community jolted by the claim that the "day of the Lord" [in this context, Jesus’ second coming] has come upon them. Some in this community have reacted in terror, quit work, and are making a general nuisance of themselves to others within the community as they await the full effect of the Lord’s coming. Somme members of the church there that dispute Paul’s teaching about living and working soberly.

    Paul reminds the Thessalonians of the need to give thanks, even in persecution, for God is increasing their faith and love. The reading then moves into a brief prayer for the community’s’ sanctification through the cooperation of God’s initiative in grace and of their human actions.

    Then Paul begins his further teaching on the return of Christ, which apparently some believed had already happened. This echoes Christ’s own predictions of how people would use this confidence for personal gain. Paul discourages an alarmist mentality that disrupts the normal activities of life.

    Gospel –  Luke 19:1-10 

    Luke 19:1-10 tells the story of Zacchaeus who climbed a tree to see Jesus. We are missing part of the story—it seems that Jesus and Zacchaeus have met before, and that Zacchaeus has changed his life because of his encounter with Jesus, and that others do not see the change that Zacchaeus has gone through.

    Throughout Luke’s gospel we have become accustomed to Jesus’ socializing with outcasts: the poor, the prostitutes, the physically disabled. So it comes as something of a surprise when the protagonist in today’s reading is a wealthy man.  Zacchaeus is great in terms of his personal wealth, but he is small in stature, and small in the eyes of the community that judges his moral standards

    Jericho was a major trade center and thus also a center for the collection of customs. Zacchaeus risks ridicule and perhaps violence out among the crowds. When Jesus discerns the diminutive Zacchaeus, he asks that the tax collector come down because “I must stay in your house today.”  Jesus makes the decisive gesture of inviting himself to dinner, thus offering Zacchaeus a fellowship denied to him by others.   Here the crowd complains that Jesus is so willing to make company with an obvious sinner

    Zacchaeus, meaning “innocent” or “clean” may be a story to tell us that what doesn’t seem acceptable, clean or pure to us may be to God. This story, however, clearly shows us that Jesus delighted in people who were seen as despicable by others. And what makes someone despicable is not always what they do, but the fact that we look for something to despise others by. The people didn’t believe that Zacchaeus had changed because then they would have to change their minds.

    We don’t know what Zacchaeus was like before, but Jesus clearly liked him in this moment, and Zacchaeus has become a generous person. Not in fulfillment of a rule, but in joyous and thankful response, Zacchaeus vows to give half his goods to the poor and to recompense generously those he might have defrauded. Zacchaeus chooses the most extreme repayment penalty prescribed by the law.

    Jesus recognizes his attempts to live a righteous life. In answer both to him and to the murmurers, Jesus points out that even an outcast may receive and respond to “salvation,” the presence of the kingdom in the person and message of Jesus. Through his repentance and faith, Zacchaeus became a true son of Abraham, walking in the ways of his forefather.

    Jesus can read Zaccahaus needs of longing. He blesses this tree-climber before Zacchaeus ever says a word. Jesus’ response far exceeds Zacchaeus’s expectations. He wanted a glimpse; he got a guest. Again, this outrageous divine generosity mirrors our experience. Those who venture even a step into regular prayer or the service of others voice a similar response: “I got much more than I gave!&r

    Zacchaeus, the Chief Tax Collector – What does this mean ?

    Who is Zacchaeus? His name is a form of Zechariah, which means righteous one. We find him only in Luke’s Gospel account, and then only in Luke 19. We are able to understand that he at least heard about Jesus, if he hadn’t already met him. He is a short man, and, because he cannot see Jesus passing by, he ran ahead of the disciples in order to climb a tree and thereby get a glimpse of Jesus over the heads of the crowd, as Jesus and his disciples passed by. One has to wonder what this is all about. It seems from the text that the Lord looked for him, because he says he must stay at his home overnight, as though he had a prior appointment with him.

    In Luke 19:1 we are told that Jesus had entered and passed through Jericho. At this time (Luke 19:2) Luke introduces Zacchaeus to his readers. Zacchaeus is a chief tax-collector. We are not told in the narrative what it meant to be a chief tax-collector, but we are able to add meaning to Luke’s narrative by defining Zacchaeus’ office from history.

    “Large-scale bankers included tax farmers (publicani) doing private business. Among their customers were government officials in the provinces who cashed government bills of exchange with them.” [James S. Jeffers: “The Greco-Roman World of the New Testament Era”; page 24]

    “During the late Republic, when most of its provinces were added, Rome used private enterprise to handle tasks such as tax collection. Companies formed by the second rank of Rome’s aristocracy, the equestrian order (senators were forbidden to engage in this kind of enterprise), would bid for the right to collect taxes in a certain province. The highest bidder would then send out his agents, called publicans (publicani) or tax-farmers (so called because they raised tax revenue for Rome like a farmer raised crops), to make the collections. They were named for the Roman public treasury (publicum). They had to collect enough money to cover their bid before they could begin to make a profit, and Rome did not limit the amount they could collect over their bid. The Roman general, Pompey, after his conquest of Palestine used local officials as their tax collection agents.”

    “…Zacchaeus, called a “chief tax collector”, may have been the contractor for the revenues of Jericho and may have supervised a number of collectors. At the least he supervised a collecting district. Most of the New Testament publicans, like Levi / Matthew (Matthew 9:9; Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27), were lesser officials. Levi, for example, may have been a local customs official, collecting taxes for a local treasury rather than for Rome. They might have their “place of toll” located where the residents could not easily avoid them: by city gates, on public roads or on bridges. Levi’s post at Capernaum probably was near the sea on the important trade route entering Galilee from Damascus.” [James S. Jeffers: “The Greco-Roman World of the New Testament Era”; page 144-146]

    I believe that Jesus’ Parable of the Pounds (Minas in some translations) as told to us in Luke 19:11-27 is modeled after Zacchaeus’ office as a chief tax-collector. He may have had to go to Rome (the ‘far country’ alluded to in the parable) to bid on or formally receive the territory he wished to govern and collect its taxes for the Emperor. He would have had several publicans executing his office as tax collector, because such a responsibility couldn’t be accomplished by a single man. Publicans would need to have been stationed at key points like city gates and, in the case of Jericho, at the bridge or ferry across the Jordan River that connected Mesopotamia to the highway leading through Jericho to Egypt. Taxes, right-of-passage, currency exchanges and business and private loans were responsibilities of the chief tax-collector, who executed those duties through his publican servants.

    End of Oct., Early Nov.

    The End of October, Early Nov. – a summary

    Halloween originated in Celtic cultures the day before Samhain, the beginning of the Celtic winter. It focused on death blending in the supernatural. The Catholic Church incorporated non-Christian traditions into its holidays to bring people to the church. It scheduled All Saints (Nov 1 ) and All Souls (Nov. 2) after Halloween. All Soul’s focused on those who had died without the supernatural. All Saints celebrated all who believed and were baptized The word saint originally meant “holy”. Later it became a feast day commemorating all martyrs.

    Reformation day, Oct. 31

    The Reformation began Oct. 31, 1517

    Reformation Day is a religious holiday celebrated on October 31, alongside All Hallows’ Eve, in remembrance of the Reformation, particularly by Lutheran and some Reformed church communities. It is a civic holiday in some German states.

    It celebrates Martin Luther’s posting of the 95 theses on the church door at Wittenberg in Germany on Oct. 31, 1517. The event is seen as sparking the Protestant Reformation.

    There are some questions of fact. The event was not publicized until 1546 by Philipp Melanchthon and no contemporaneous evidence exists for Luther’s posting of the theses. At the time, it was common for scholars to post their debate points on the door where people could read them. Copies of Luther’s theses and his fiery follow-up sermons were mass produced on a relatively new invention the printing press.

    Luther’s movement began as a criticism of Catholic practices, not to split off from the Catholic church. Sinners could buy God’s forgiveness by purchasing an indulgence. Luther preferred justification by faith.  He also wanted people to read the Bible in their own languages and not just in Latin

    The Reformation led to the split from one Catholic church to Protestant ones. There are now nearly 45,000 Protestant denominations around the world, including mainline Protestants, Anglicans, Evangelicals, Pentecostals and more.

    It has been seen as the most significant event in Western Christian history and mirror in which we measure ourselves today.  Many of the differences that promoted the reformation have been solved – indulgences, justification by faith and having the Bible printed in multiple languages. Others such marriage of priests, same sex marriages are still divisive.  Will they be able celebrate communion together ?  That may take another reformation.

    Here is an impromptu performance after the 11am service on Oct. 27, 2019 of part of Luther’s famous hymn. He wrote the words and composed the melody sometime between 1527 and 1529:


    1. PBS (video and transcript)

    2. How Martin Luther Changed the World

    3. Reformation Day

    4. Transcript from Christianity: First 3000 years

    5. The English Reformation extended from this event which created the Church of England, the ancestor of the Episcopal Church. Henry VIII was made Supreme Head of the Church by an Act of Parliament in 1534. The country was still Catholic but the pope’s power had been ended. By the time of his death in 1547, the Lord’s Prayer was said in English in the English Bible (written in English) and the monasteries have been dissolved. The first prayer book was in 1549 in the time of Henry’s successor Edward.  Read More