Author Archive

Devotion for the Last Sunday After Pentecost: Christ the King Sunday/the Last Sunday in the Church Year: The Sunday of the Fulfillment, Year A (ILCW Lectionary)   1 comment

Above:  Good Shepherd

Image in the Public Domain

Hope

NOVEMBER 26, 2023

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

According to the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship (ILCW) Lectionary (1973), as contained in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and Lutheran Worship (1982)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Ezekiel 34:11-16, 23-24 (LBWLW) or Isaiah 65:17-25 (LW)

Psalm 95:1-7a (LBW) or Psalm 130 (LW)

1 Corinthians 15:20-28 (LBWLW) or 2 Peter 3:3-4, 8-10a, 13 (LW)

Matthew 25:31-46 (LBWLW) or Mathew 25:1-13 (LW)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Almighty and everlasting God,

whose will it is to restore all things to your beloved Son,

whom you anointed priest forever and king of all creation;

Grant that all the people of the earth,

now divided by the power of sin,

may be united under the glorious and gentle rule

of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 30

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Lord God, heavenly Father, send forth your Son, we pray,

that he may lead home his bride, the Church,

that we with all the redeemed may enter into your eternal kingdom;

through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 94

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I wrote about Matthew 25:31-46 in the previous post in this series and about Matthew 25:1-13 here.

We–you, O reader, and I–have arrived at the end of Year A of the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship Lectionary (1973).

This journey concludes on divine judgment and mercy, ever in balance and beyond human comprehension.  Much of this divine judgment and mercy exists in the context of impending apocalypse, in certain readings.  Maintaining hope can prove challenging to maintain during difficult times, but that is another motif.  Apocalypse offers hope for God’s order on Earth.

  1. We read of YHWH as the Good Shepherd (in contrast to bad shepherds–Kings of Israel and Judah) in Ezekiel 34, during the Babylonian Exile.
  2. Third Isaiah (in Isaiah 65) offered comfort to people who had expected to leave the Babylonian Exile and to return to a verdant paradise.  Instead, they returned to their ancestral homeland, which was neither verdant nor a paradise.
  3. Psalm 130 exists in the shadow of death–the depths of Sheol.
  4. Even the crucifixion of Jesus became a means of bestowing hope (1 Corinthians 15).

So, may we all cling to hope in God.  The lectionary omits the parts of Psalm 95 that recall the faithlessness in the desert after the Exodus.  No, we read the beginning of Psalm 95; we read an invitation to trust in the faithfulness of God and to worship sovereign YHWH.  We read that we are the sheep of YHWH’s pasture (see Ezekiel 34, too).

We are sheep prone to stray prone to stray.  We have a Good Shepherd, fortunately.

If You keep account of sins, O LORD,

Lord, who will survive?

Yours is the power to forgive

so that You may be held in awe.

–Psalm 130:3-4, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

Hope always exists in God.  So, are we mere mortals willing to embrace that hope?

As I type these words, I know the struggle to maintain hope.  For the last few years, current events have mostly driven me to despair.  Know, O reader, that when I write about trusting and hoping in God, I write to myself as much as I write to you.  I am no spiritual giant; I do not have it all figured out.  Not even spiritual giants have it all figured out; they know this.  They also grasp that no mere mortal can ever figure everything out anyway.

God has figured everything out.  That must suffice.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 24, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BARTHOLOMEW THE APOSTLE, MARTYR

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Link to the corresponding post at BLOGA THEOLOGICA

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Devotion for the Twenty-Seventh Sunday After Pentecost, Year A (ILCW Lectionary)   3 comments

Above:  Icon of the Last Judgment

Image in the Public Domain

Secret Disciples of Jesus

NOVEMBER 19, 2023

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

According to the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship (ILCW) Lectionary (1973), as contained in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and Lutheran Worship (1982)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Jeremiah 26:1-6 (LBWLW) or Jeremiah 25:30-32 (LW)

Psalm 105:1-7

1 Thessalonians 3:7-13 (LBW, LW) or 1 Thessalonians 1:3-10 (LW)

Matthew 24:1-14 (LBWLW) or Mathew 25:31-46 (LW)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Almighty and ever-living God,

before the earth was formed and even after it ceases to be,

you are God. 

Break into our short span of life

and let us see the signs of your final will and purpose;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 30

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Almighty and ever-living God,

since you have given exceedingly great and precious promises

to those who believe,

grant us so perfectly and without all doubt

to believe in your Son Jesus Christ

that our faith in your sight may never be reproved;

through our Savior, Jesus Christ,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

–Lutheran Worship (1982), 92

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Divine judgment and mercy come mixed in the assigned readings.  Contexts vary.  They include the Day of the LORD, the Exodus, the latter years of the Kingdom of Judah, the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E., and the Second Coming of Jesus.  God is faithful and universal, we read.  And many people who have a relationship with God may be unaware of that relationship.  The flip side is that many people who think they have a relationship with God do not.

In the parable from Matthew 25, those astonished righteous learned that, by helping the vulnerable with whom Jesus identified, they had a relationship with Jesus.  Those astonished righteous learned that they had performed good works for Jesus and had been faithful to him.

A parable, by definition, contains layers of meanings.  Let us not ignore this layer of meaning, O reader.  The parable in Matthew 25:31-46 speaks of service.  The parable ought not to lead to Pietism–downplaying doctrine and falling into works-based righteousness.  No, the parable should tell us something about divine judgment and mercy; we mere mortals do not understand them.  Divine judgment and mercy exist in balance; we cannot grasp what that balance is.

Reread Matthew 25:31-46, O reader.  Notice the astonishment of those who thought they were righteous and the astonishment of those who learned they were righteous.  Then look around and ponder.  The parable counsels against spiritual complacency.  Love is active.  Jesus has many disciples, a host of whom do not know they are his disciples, based on the parable’s standard.  Celebrate grace and Christian service, O reader.  Live grace-fully.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 24, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BARTHOLOMEW THE APOSTLE, MARTYR

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Link to the corresponding post at BLOGA THEOLOGICA

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Devotion for the Twenty-Sixth Sunday After Pentecost, Year A (ILCW Lectionary)   1 comment

Above:  Madonna and Child, by Filippo Lippi

Image in the Public Domain

Like a Child in Its Mother’s Arms

NOVEMBER 12, 2023

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

According to the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship (ILCW) Lectionary (1973), as contained in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and Lutheran Worship (1982)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Malachi 2:1-2, 4-10 (LBW, LW) or Job 14:1-6 (LW)

Psalm 131 (LBW) or Psalm 90:1-12 (LW)

1 Thessalonians 3:11-13 (LW) or 1 Thessalonians 2:8-13 (LBW, LW)

Matthew 23:1-12 (LBWLW) or Mathew 24:15-28 (LW)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Lord God, so rule and govern our hearts and minds

by your Holy Spirit that,

always keeping in mind the end of all things and the day of judgment,

we may be stirred up to holiness here

and may live with you forever in the world to come,

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 29

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

O Lord, absolve your people from their offenses

that from the bonds of sins,

which by reason of our weakness we have brought upon us,

we may be delivered by your bountiful goodness;

through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 91

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Malachi 2:3 is not an assigned verse.  I suppose that hearing it read aloud in church would raise some awkward issues and prompt gasps of shock.  Set in the context of priests offering sacrifices wrongly after the end of the Babylonian Exile, Malachi 2:3 reads:

I will put your seed under a ban, and I will strew dung upon your faces, the dung of your festal sacrifices, and you shall be carried out to its [heap].

TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures 

God seems to take proper worship seriously in Malachi 2.

For all the John 3:16 signs at sporting events, I cannot recall one Malachi 2:3 sign.  Perhaps a wiseacre should correct that oversight.

Eschatological overtones in the New Testament combine with musings about the human condition and about trust in God in the Hebrew Bible.  Psalm 131 speaks of individual and collective trust in God, described in maternal terms.  Matters individual and collective are inseparable, as John Donne (1572-1631) wrote:

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

Therefore, in faith community, encouraging one another is part of

a life worthy of God.

–1 Thessalonians 2:12, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

Lives worthy of God, by grace, build up people.  Lives worthy of God seek and find the common good.  Lives worthy of God play out both individually and collectively.  Lives worthy of God remain deeply flawed–sinful.  That is the human condition.  Yet these lives do not wallow in that sin.  No, these lives

…keep tranquil and quiet

like a child in its mother’s arms,

as content as a child that has been weaned.

–Psalm 131:2, The Jerusalem Bible (1966).

Consider that image, O reader.  Live accordingly.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 24, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BARTHOLOMEW THE APOSTLE, MARTYR

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Link to the corresponding post at BLOGA THEOLOGICA

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Devotion for the Twenty-Fifth Sunday After Pentecost, Year A (ILCW Lectionary)   1 comment

Above:  The Parable of the Talents

Image in the Public Domain

Rejecting Grace

NOT OBSERVED IN 2023

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

According to the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship (ILCW) Lectionary (1973), as contained in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and Lutheran Worship (1982)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Hosea 11:1-4, 8-9

Psalm 90:12-17 (LBW) or Psalm 90:13-17 (LW)

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

Matthew 25:14-30 (LBWLW) or Mathew 24:3-14 (LW)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Stir up, O Lord, the wills of your faithful people

to seek more eagerly the help you offer,

that, at the last, they may enjoy the fruit of salvation;

through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 29

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

O God, so rule and govern our hearts and minds

by your Holy Spirit that, being ever mindful

of the end of all things and your just judgment,

we may be stirred up to holiness of living here

and dwell with you forever hereafter;

through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 90

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Rejecting grace is a frequent behavior, sadly.  Hosea 11:1-9 and Matthew 25:14-20 speak of it.

The difference between the blessed and the cursed is one thing and one thing only:  the blessed accept their acceptance and the cursed reject it; but the acceptance is already in place for both groups before either does anything about it…. The difference between heaven and hell, accordingly, is simply that those in heaven accept endless forgiveness, while those in hell reject it.  Indeed, the precise hell of hell is its endless refusal to open the door to the reconciled and reconciling party that stands forever on its porch and knocks, equally endlessly, for permission to begin the Supper of the Lamb (Rev. 3:20).

–Robert Farrar Capon, Kingdom, Grace, Judgment:  Paradox, Outrage, and Vindication in the Parables of Jesus (2002), 356-357

Or, as C. S. Lewis wrote, the doors to Hell are locked from the inside.

As some of the other assigned readings indicate, the lectionary has turned toward Advent.  Certain Confessional Lutheran denominations have labeled the last four Sundays before Christmas the End Times Season.  In England, in 1990, the Joint Liturgical Group prepared a four-year lectionary that starts nine Sundays before Christmas.

I cannot argue with the logic of both systems.  The Joint Lecitonary Group’s lectionary violates centuries of Western Christian tradition, but so be it.  I know of an Episcopal congregation that celebrates eight Sundays of Advent.

Psalm 90 contextualizes human rebellion, divine judgment, and divine grace within the contrast between divine permanence and human impermanence.  I reject the idea that we must respond favorably to God before we die, or else.  I reject any limitation of grace.  However, I affirm that responding favorably to God consistently and as soon as possible is the best possible strategy, one which gladdens God’s heart.

Receiving grace requires extending it to others.  This principle applies to groups and individuals alike.  As St. Paul the Apostle wrote to the church at Thessalonica:

So give encouragement to each other, and keep strengthening one another, as you do already.

–1 Thessalonians 5:11, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

God seeks everyone.  Divine love pursues and accompanies all of us.  Will we–collectively and individually–accept it or reject it?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 23, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MARTIN DE PORRES AND JUAN MACIAS, HUMANITARIANS AND DOMINICAN LAY BROTHERS; SAINT ROSE OF LIMA, HUMANITARIAN AND DOMINICAN SISTER; AND SAINT TURIBIUS OF MOGREVEJO, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF LIMA

THE FEAST OF SAINT FRANCISZEK DACHTERA, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1944

THE FEAST OF THEODORE O. WEDEL, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR; AND HIS WIFE, CYNTHIA CLARK WEDEL, U.S. PSYCHOLOGIST AND EPISCOPAL ECUMENIST

THE FEAST OF THOMAS AUGUSTINE JUDGE, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST; FOUNDER OF THE MISSIONARY SERVANTS OF THE MOST HOLY TRINITY, THE MISSIONARY SERVANTS OF THE MOST BLESSED TRINITY, AND THE MISSIONARY CENACLE APOSTOLATE

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Link to the corresponding post at BLOGA THEOLOGICA

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Devotion for the Twenty-Fourth Sunday After Pentecost, Year A (ILCW Lectionary)   1 comment

Above:  The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins, by Friedrich Wilhelm Schadow (1788-1862)

Image in the Public Domain

Eschatological Ethics

NOT OBSERVED IN 2023

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

According to the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship (ILCW) Lectionary (1973), as contained in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and Lutheran Worship (1982)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Amos 5:18-24

Psalm 63:1-8 (LBW) or Psalm 84:1-7 (LW)

1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 (15-18)

Matthew 25:1-13 (LBW, LW) or Matthew 23:37-39 (LW)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Lord, when the day of wrath comes

we have no hope except in your grace.

Make us so to watch for the last days

that the consumation of our hope may be

the joy of the marriage feast of your Son,

Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 29

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

O Lord, we pray that the visitation of your grace

may so cleanse our thoughts and minds

that your Son Jesus, when he shall come,

may find us a fit dwelling place;

through Jesus Christ, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 89

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

We have, in the church calendar, turned toward Advent.  The tone in readings has shifted toward the Day of the Lord (Old Testament) and the Second Coming of Jesus (New Testament).  In Matthew, both options, set in the days leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus, have taken a dark turn.

The Psalms are the most upbeat readings.

Amos 5:18-24 issues a collective warning.  Putting on airs of piety while perpetuating and/or excusing social injustice–especially economic injustice, given the rest of the Book of Amos–does not impress God.  It angers God, in fact.  Sacred rituals–part of the Law of Moses–are not properly talismans.

Matthew 23:37-39 includes a denunciation of supposedly pious people executing messengers God has sent.  We readers know that Jesus was about to meet the same fate.  We also read Jesus likening himself to a mother hen–being willing to sacrifice himself for the metaphorical chicks.

The Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13) teaches individual spiritual responsibility.  This is consistent with the collective spiritual authority in Amos 5 and Mattthew 23.  Despite the reality of collective spiritual authority, there are some tasks to which one must attend.

My position on how much of the Church–Evangelicalism and fundamentalism, especially–approaches the Second Coming of Jesus and teaches regarding that matter is on record at this weblog.  Evangelicalism and fundamentalism get eschatology wrong.  The rapture is a nineteenth-century invention and a heresy.  Dispensationalism is bunk.  The books of Daniel and Revelation no more predict the future than a bald man needs a comb.

I affirm that the Second Coming will occur eventually.  In the meantime, we need to be busy living the Golden Rule collectively and individually.  In the meantime, we need to increase social justice and decrease social injustice–especially of the economic variety–collectively and individually.  In the meantime, we need to work–collectively and individually–at leaving the world better than we found it.  We can do that much, by grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 23, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MARTIN DE PORRES AND JUAN MACIAS, HUMANITARIANS AND DOMINICAN LAY BROTHERS; SAINT ROSE OF LIMA, HUMANITARIAN AND DOMINICAN SISTER; AND SAINT TURIBIUS OF MOGREVEJO, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF LIMA

THE FEAST OF SAINT FRANCISZEK DACHTERA, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1944

THE FEAST OF THEODORE O. WEDEL, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR; AND HIS WIFE, CYNTHIA CLARK WEDEL, U.S. PSYCHOLOGIST AND EPISCOPAL ECUMENIST

THE FEAST OF THOMAS AUGUSTINE JUDGE, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST; FOUNDER OF THE MISSIONARY SERVANTS OF THE MOST HOLY TRINITY, THE MISSIONARY SERVANTS OF THE MOST BLESSED TRINITY, AND THE MISSIONARY CENACLE APOSTOLATE

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Link to the corresponding post at BLOGA THEOLOGICA

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Devotion for the Twenty-Third Sunday After Pentecost, Year A (ILCW Lectionary)   1 comment

Above:  Woodland Stream, by Alexander Demetrius Goltz

Image in the Public Domain

Holiness

NOVEMBER 5, 2023

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

According to the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship (ILCW) Lectionary (1973), as contained in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and Lutheran Worship (1982)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Leviticus 19:1-2, 15-18

Psalm 1

1 Thessalonians 1:5b-10

Matthew 22:34-40 (41-46)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Almighty and everlasting God,

increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity;

and, that we may obtain what your promise,

make us love what you command;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 29

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Almighty God, we pray,

show your humble servants your mercy,

that we, who put no trust in our own merits,

may be dealt with not according to the severity of your judgment

but according to your mercy;

through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 87

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Holiness, in the Bible, pertains to separation from the profane/common (Leviticus 10:10; 1 Samuel 21:5-6; Ezekiel 22:26; 44:23; etc.).  Holiness is about complete devotion to God.  Holiness, however, is not about legalism, self-righteousness, and serial contrariness.  No, holiness is more about what it favors than what it opposes.

Holiness–in its proper sense–manifests itself in life:

  1. The Holiness code, as in Leviticus 19:1-37, includes honoring parents; keeping the sabbath; refraining from idolatry; offering a sacrifice of well-being properly; feeding the poor; dealing honestly with people; defrauding no one and stealing from nobody; not insulting the deaf; not placing a stumbling block before the blind; rendering impartial justice; loving one’s kinsman as oneself; not mixing different types of cattle, seeds, and cloth; refraining from sexual relations with a slave woman meant for another man; reserving the fruit of the food tree for God for the first three years; eating nothing with blood; avoiding divination and soothsaying; avoiding extreme expressions of grief and mourning; not forcing one’s daughter into harlotry; and eschewing necromancy.  Most of the items on this list are absent from the assigned portion of Leviticus 19.  Cultural contexts define them.
  2. “The man” (literal from the Hebrew text) is a student of the Torah.  He finds his stability in God, in contrast to the unstable scoffers.  When the scoffers find stability, they do not find it in God.
  3. Holiness is contagious in 1 Thessalonians 1:5-10.
  4. Jesus knew the influence of Rabbi Hillel (Matthew 22:34-40).  Holiness manifests in how we treat each other.

In a dog-eat-dog world, more spiritually toxic since the advent of social media and internet comments sections one does well not to read, loving God fully and loving one’s neighbor as one loves oneself (assuming that one loves oneself, of course) does separate one from the profane/common.  Holiness is love, not legalism.  Many particulars of holiness vary according to context, but the timeless principles remain constant.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 22, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JACK LAYTON, CANADIAN ACTIVIST AND FEDERAL LEADER OF THE NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY

THE FEAST OF JOHN DAVID CHAMBERS, ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER AND TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINTS HRYBORII KHOMYSHYN, SYMEON LUKACH, AND IVAN SLEZYUK, UKRAINIAN GREEK CATHOLIC BISHOPS AND MARTYRS, 1947, 1964, AND 1973

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JOHN KEMBLE AND JOHN WALL, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYRS, 1679

THE FEAST OF SAINTS THOMAS PERCY, RICHARD KIRKMAN, AND WILLIAM LACEY, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS, 1572 AND 1582

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Link to the corresponding post at BLOGA THEOLOGICA

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Devotion for the Feast of All Saints, Years A, B, and C (ILCW Lectionary)   1 comment

Above:  All Saints

Image in the Public Domain

The Communion of Saints

NOVEMBER 1, 2023

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

According to the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship (ILCW) Lectionary (1973), as contained in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and Lutheran Worship (1982)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Isaiah 26:1-4, 8-9, 12-13, 19-21

Psalm 34:1-10

Revelation 21:9-11, 22-27 (22:1-5) (LBW) or Revelation 7:2-17 (LW)

Matthew 5:1-12

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Almighty God, whose people are knit together

in one holy Church, the body of Christ our Lord: 

Grant us grace to follow your blessed saints

in lives of faith and commitment,

and to know the inexpressible joys

you have prepared for those who love you;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 36

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

O almighty God, by whom we are graciously knit together

as one communion and fellowship

in the mystical body of Jesus Christ, our Lord,

grant us to follow your blessed saints

in all virtuous and godly living

that we may come to those unspeakable joys

which you have prepared for those who unfeignedly love you;

through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 116

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The communion of saints is the whole family of God, the living and the dead, those whom we love and those whom we hurt, bound together in Christ by sacrament, prayer, and praise.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), 862

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him forever.

The Westminster Larger Catechism (1647)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I am a ritualistic Episcopalian and a student of history.  Therefore, ecclesiastical history appeals to me.  The study of lives of the sains–glorified, canonized, beatified, declared venerable, or none of these–is a spiritually profitable venture.  Reading about how members of the family of Christ have lived their baptismal vows in a variety of cultures, places, and centuries can help one live one’s baptismal vows.  I find that my ongoing study of lives of the saints frequently makes me feel spiritually inadequate.

Notice the quote from the Episcopal catechism, O reader.  The communion of saints includes

those whom we love and whose whom we hurt.

Our spiritual kinfolk include those whom we do not recognize as being so.  Therefore, we hurt them.  We may even feel justified in doing this to them.

Who are your “secret” (to you) kinfolk in Christ, O reader?  Who are mine?

May we all, by grace, grow into our spiritual vocations of glorifying God, and fully enjoying God forever.  May we do this together.  And may we cease to hurt one another.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 21, 2022 COMMON ERA

PROPER 16:  THE ELEVENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF SAINT BRUNO ZEMBOL, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC FRIAR AND MARTYR, 1942

THE FEAST OF SAINTS CAMERIUS, CISELLUS, AND LUXURIUS OF SARDINIA, MARTYRS, 303

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAXIMILLIAN OF ANTIOCH, MARTYR, CIRCA 353; AND SAINTS BONOSUS AND MAXIMIANUS THE SOLDIER, MARTYRS, 362

THE FEAST OF SAINT VICTOIRE RASOAMANARIVO, MALAGASY ROMAN CATHOLIC LAYWOMAN

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Link to the corresponding post at BLOGA THEOLOGICA

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Devotion for the Twenty-Second Sunday After Pentecost, Year A (ILCW Lectionary)   1 comment

Above:  Statue of Tiberius

Image in the Public Domain

The Sovereignty of God

OCTOBER 29, 2023

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

According to the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship (ILCW) Lectionary (1973), as contained in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and Lutheran Worship (1982)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Isaiah 45:1-7

Psalm 96

1 Thessalonians 1:1-5a

Matthew 22:15-21

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Almighty and everlasting God,

in Christ you revealed your glory among the nations. 

Preserve the works of your mercy,

that your Church throughout the world may persevere

with steadfast faith in the confession of your name;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 28

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Lord, we pray that your grace may always precede and follow us

that we may continually be given to good works;

through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 86

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Roman census tax of one denarius (a day’s wage for a laborer) per year reminded the people of their subjugation.  The denarius in the story from Matthew 22 bore the image of the emperor Tiberius, as well as the Latin inscription that translates as

Tiberius Caesar, Divine Son of Augustus.

The coin was a graven image, according to the Law of Moses.  When Jesus requested to see the coin and one of the Herodians produced it, Christ reversed the trap meant for him.  Jesus taught that God outranked Tiberius and deserved full allegiance.  It was a skillful answer that got him in trouble with nobody among the Romans, whose soldiers were watching the religious pilgrims filling Jerusalem ahead of Passover, the annual celebration of the Exodus from slavery in Egypt.  And those Jewish religious leaders could not dispute that God deserved complete allegiance.

Most Jews of the time assumed that, regardless of the name of the Roman emperor at any given moment, Satan was the power behind the throne.  Jesus taught that Tiberius, despite himself, had to answer to and worked for God.  That would have been news to Tiberius.

The assigned readings from the Hebrew Bible affirm the sovereignty of God, evident in nature, as well as in potentates, the moral characters of whom varied.  The Bible favors Cyrus II of the Persians and the Medes, who ended the Babylonian Exile.  In fact, most Persian kings named in the Bible–except in that work of fiction called the Book of Esther–receive good press.

God is sovereign, despite all appearances to the contrary.  Some rulers and other people are consciously agents of God.  Others are agents of God despite themselves.  The sovereignty of God is sufficient reason to persevere in hope.  Writing the previous sentence is easier than fulfilling it.  I write during extraordinarily dark times.  Therefore, when I write about persevering in hope, I address myself first then everyone else second.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 20, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ZACCHAEUS, PENITENT TAX COLLECTOR AND ROMAN COLLABORATOR

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Link to the corresponding post at BLOGA THEOLOGICA

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Devotion for the Twenty-First Sunday After Pentecost, Year A (ILCW Lectionary)   1 comment

Above:  The Parable of the Unworthy Wedding Guest, by Claes Corneliszaen Moeyaert

Image in the Public Domain

Three Banquets

OCTOBER 22, 2023

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

According to the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship (ILCW) Lectionary (1973), as contained in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and Lutheran Worship (1982)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Isaiah 25:6-9

Psalm 23

Philippians 4:4-13

Matthew 22:1-10 (11-14)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Almighty God, source of every blessing,

your generous goodness comes to us anew every day. 

By the work of your Spirit,

lead us to acknowledge your goodness,

give thanks for your benefits,

and serve you in willing obedience; 

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 28

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Enlighten our minds, we pray, O God,

by the Spirit who proceeds from you, 

that, as your Son has promised,

we may be led into all truth;

through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord,

who lives and reigns and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 85

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The eschatological banquet is a motif in the Bible.  It is a powerful image, given that (a) most people were poor, and (b) most land was not arable.  The eschatological banquet speaks of divine abundance.  Isaiah 25 comes from the great proto-apocalypse of Third Isaiah (see chapters 24-27).  The Parable of the Wedding Feast tells of God’s inclusiveness in inviting guests and of the dire consequences of attending without the “garment” of repentance of sins.  Psalm 23 depicts God as overpowering yet not destroying the Psalmist’s enemies, who must watch the banquet to which God has not invited them.

Philippians 4:8 meshes well with the theme of repentance, present in the parable:

Finally, brothers, let your minds be filled with everything that is true, everything that is honourable, everything that is upright and pure, everything that we love and admire–with whatever is good and praiseworthy.

The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

That is a fine description of a metaphorical wedding garment.

Recall also, O reader, that in Psalm 23, only goodness and mercy pursue or accompany (depending on the translation) the Psalmist.  The enemies cannot keep up with God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 19, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT SIXTUS III, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF BLAISE PASCAL, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC SCIENTIST, MATHEMATICIAN, AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF GEERT GROOTE, FOUNDER OF THE BRETHREN OF THE COMMON LIFE

THE FEAST OF IGNAZ FRANZ, GERMAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMNAL EDITOR

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MAGNUS AND AGRICOLA OF AVIGNON, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS OF AVIGNON

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM HAMMOND, ENGLISH MORAVIAN HYMN WRITER

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Link to the corresponding post at BLOGA THEOLOGICA

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Devotion for the Twentieth Sunday After Pentecost, Year A (ILCW Lectionary)   1 comment

Above:  A Vineyard

Image in the Public Domain

Tenants, Not Landlords

OCTOBER 15, 2023

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

According to the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship (ILCW) Lectionary (1973), as contained in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and Lutheran Worship (1982)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Isaiah 5:1-7

Psalm 80:7-14 (LBW) or Psalm 118:19-24 (LW)

Philippians 3:12-21

Matthew 21:33-43

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Our Lord Jesus, you have endured

the doubts and foolish questions of every generation. 

Forgive us for trying to be judge over you,

and grant us the confident faith to acknowledge you as Lord.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 28

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

O God, whose almighty power is made known chiefly

in showing mercy and pity,

grant us the fullness of your grace

that we may be partakers of your heavenly treasures;

through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 84

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Bible moves past preaching and immediately starts meddling.  Good!  It ought to do this.

The vineyard is an image of the people of God in the Bible.  In Isaiah 5, the image of vineyard full of wild (literally, noxious) grapes condemns the population doomed to suffer exile and occupation.  Psalm 80 likens the people of Israel to a vine and prays for the restoration of Israel in the midst of exile.  The Parable of the Tenants condemns fruitless religious authority figures–a timeless warning.

That parable also quotes Psalm 119 when the Matthean text refers to the cornerstone the builders had rejected.  The cornerstone is a messianic theme, as in Isaiah 8:14; 28:16; and Zechariah 3:9; 4:7.  For other applications of the cornerstone to Jesus, read Acts 4:11; Romans 9:33; 1 Peter 2:4f; Ephesians 2:20; and 1 Corinthians 3:11.

Years ago, I had a discouraging conversation with a female student at the college where I taught.  She told me before class one day that she did not care about what happened to and on the Earth, for her citizenship was in Heaven.  I vainly attempted to persuade her to care.  Her attitude contradicted the Law of Moses, the witness of the Hebrew prophets, the teachings of Jesus, and the epistles–Judaism and Christianity, in other words.

The Golden Rule requires us–collectively and individually–to care for and about each other and the planet.  Judaism and Christianity teach that people are stewards–not owners–of the planet.  (God is the owner.)  The state of ecology indicates that we are terrible stewards, overall.  The lack of mutuality during the COVID-19 pandemic proves that many people do not give a damn about others and the common good.

God remains God.  God still cares.  God cannot exist without caring.  That should comfort many people and terrify many others.  Divine judgment and mercy remain in balance.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 18, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ARTEMISIA BOWDEN, AFRICAN-AMERICAN EDUCATOR AND CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST

THE FEAST OF ERDMANN NEUMEISTER, GERMAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF FRANCIS JOHN MCCONNELL, U.S. METHODIST BISHOP AND SOCIAL REFORMER

THE FEAST OF JONATHAN FRIEDRICH BAHNMAIER, GERMAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF PETTER DASS, NORWEGIAN LUTHERAN MINISTER, POET, AND HYMN WRITER

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Link to the corresponding post at BLOGA THEOLOGICA

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++