Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Janani Luwum, Archbishop of Uganda, and Martyr

Today the church remembers Janani Luwum, Archbishop of Uganda, and Martyr, 1977.

Born in northern Uganda in 1922, Janani Luwum coverted to Christianity in 1948 and was ordained in 1956. He was ordained as bishop in 1969, and became Archbishop of Uganda five years later. When Idi Amin came to power in 1971, Luwum was one of the leading critics.

Things came to a head in 1977 as Luwum presented a note to Amin protesting arbitrary killings. Not long after that, Luwum was arrested with two cabinet ministers and charged with treason. They were paraded before a large demonstration, loaded into a car, and bundled away. The government soon said they had been killed in a car accident, but when their bodies were presented to their families, they were riddled with bullets.

While Luwum could have enjoyed the power and prestige of an archiepiscopal living, he chose instead to stand for justice, at the cost of his own life. While Idi Amin is now reviled as a villian, Luwum is remembered in a statue on the west front of Westminster Abbey, a witness for the power of right over might.

Strengthen us that we may stand ready to profess with our lives the faith that we proclaim with our lips. Amen.

O God, whose Son the Good Shepherd laid down his life for the sheep: We give you thanks for your faithful shepherd, Janani Luwum, who after his Savior's example gave up his life for the people of Uganda. Grant us to be so inspired by his witness that we make no peace with oppression, but live as those who are sealed with the cross of Christ, who died and rose again, and now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Daily Readings for February 17, 2016

Genesis 37:25-36
Then they sat down to eat; and looking up they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, with their camels carrying gum, balm, and resin, on their way to carry it down to Egypt. Then Judah said to his brothers, "What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh." And his brothers agreed. When some Midianite traders passed by, they drew Joseph up, lifting him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt. When Reuben returned to the pit and saw that Joseph was not in the pit, he tore his clothes. He returned to his brothers, and said, "The boy is gone; and I, where can I turn?" Then they took Joseph's robe, slaughtered a goat, and dipped the robe in the blood. They had the long robe with sleeves taken to their father, and they said, "This we have found; see now whether it is your son's robe or not." He recognized it, and said, "It is my son's robe! A wild animal has devoured him; Joseph is without doubt torn to pieces." Then Jacob tore his garments, and put sackcloth on his loins, and mourned for his son many days. All his sons and all his daughters sought to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted, and said, "No, I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning." Thus his father bewailed him. Meanwhile the Midianites had sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh's officials, the captain of the guard.

1 Corinthians 2:1-13
When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God. Yet among the mature we do speak wisdom, though it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish. But we speak God's wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him"-- these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within? So also no one comprehends what is truly God's except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. And we speak of these things in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things to those who are spiritual.

Mark 1:29-45
As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon's mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them. That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, "Everyone is searching for you." He answered, "Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do." And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons. A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, "If you choose, you can make me clean." Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, "I do choose. Be made clean!" Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. After sternly warning him he sent him away at once, saying to him, "See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them." But he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word, so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter.

Psalm 119: Zayin Memor esto verbi tui
49   Remember your word to your servant, because you have given me hope.
50   This is my comfort in my trouble, that your promise gives me life.
51   The proud have derided me cruelly, but I have not turned from your law.
52   When I remember your judgments of old, O LORD, I take great comfort.
53   I am filled with a burning rage, because of the wicked who forsake your law.
54   Your statutes have been like songs to me wherever I have lived as a stranger.
55   I remember your Name in the night, O LORD, and dwell upon your law.
56   This is how it has been with me, because I have kept your commandments.

Psalm 119: Heth Portio mea, Domine
57   You only are my portion, O LORD; I have promised to keep your words.
58   I entreat you with all my heart, be merciful to me according to your promise.
59   I have considered my ways and turned my feet toward your decrees.
60   I hasten and do not tarry to keep your commandments.
61   Though the cords of the wicked entangle me, I do not forget your law.
62   At midnight I will rise to give you thanks, because of your righteous judgments.
63   I am a companion of all who fear you and of those who keep your commandments.
64   The earth, O LORD, is full of your love; instruct me in your statutes.

Psalm 119: Teth Bonitatem fecisti
65   O LORD, you have dealt graciously with your servant, according to your word.
66   Teach me discernment and knowledge, for I have believed in your commandments.
67   Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word.
68   You are good and you bring forth good; instruct me in your statutes.
69   The proud have smeared me with lies, but I will keep your commandments with my whole heart.
70   Their heart is gross and fat, but my delight is in your law.
71   It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.
72   The law of your mouth is dearer to me than thousands in gold and silver.

Psalm 49 Audite haec, omnes
1   Hear this, all you peoples; hearken, all you who dwell in the world, you of high degree and low, rich and poor together.
2   My mouth shall speak of wisdom, and my heart shall meditate on understanding.
3   I will incline my ear to a proverb and set forth my riddle upon the harp.
4   Why should I be afraid in evil days, when the wickedness of those at my heels surrounds me,
5   The wickedness of those who put their trust in their goods, and boast of their great riches?
6   We can never ransom ourselves, or deliver to God the price of our life;
7   For the ransom of our life is so great, that we should never have enough to pay it,
8   In order to live for ever and ever, and never see the grave.
9   For we see that the wise die also; like the dull and stupid they perish and leave their wealth to those who come after them.
10   Their graves shall be their homes for ever, their dwelling places from generation to generation, though they call the lands after their own names.
11   Even though honored, they cannot live for ever; they are like the beasts that perish.
12   Such is the way of those who foolishly trust in themselves, and the end of those who delight in their own words.
13   Like a flock of sheep they are destined to die; Death is their shepherd; they go down straightway to the grave.
14   Their form shall waste away, and the land of the dead shall be their home.
15   But God will ransom my life; he will snatch me from the grasp of death.
16   Do not be envious when some become rich, or when the grandeur of their house increases;
17   For they will carry nothing away at their death, nor will their grandeur follow them.
18   Though they thought highly of themselves while they lived, and were praised for their success,
19   They shall join the company of their forebears, who will never see the light again.
20   Those who are honored, but have no understanding, are like the beasts that perish.

Psalm 53 Dixit insipiens
1   The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God." All are corrupt and commit abominable acts; there is none who does any good.
2   God looks down from heaven upon us all, to see if there is any who is wise, if there is one who seeks after God.
3   Every one has proved faithless; all alike have turned bad; there is none who does good; no, not one.
4   Have they no knowledge, those evildoers who eat up my people like bread and do not call upon God?
5   See how greatly they tremble, such trembling as never was; for God has scattered the bones of the enemy; they are put to shame, because God has rejected them.
6   Oh, that Israel's deliverance would come out of Zion! when God restores the fortunes of his people Jacob will rejoice and Israel be glad.

Daily Meditation for February 17, 2016

From Forward Day by Day

Mark 1:41 Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him.

In 1866, terror ran rampant in Hawaii about Hansen’s disease (then called leprosy). The Hawaiian government designated a quarantined area for its afflicted citizens on the island of Molokai.

In its early years, the colony’s residents suffered horribly. Adults and children alike were taken from their families, delivered to the island by boat, and left to die. The early residents had no homes; most lived in caves or in huts made of sticks and leaves.

When Father Damien DeVeuster came to Molokai in 1873, he helped the colonists establish a community, building homes and churches and arranging for health care. Other helpers followed Damien, and slowly life on Molokai improved.

All too often, when people have physical conditions or social problems that frighten us, we abandon them. Jesus touches the leper in order to heal him. Today’s society has plenty of its own lepers, and few people willing to touch them. Today’s Damiens and so many hurting people need all the support that we can muster.