Archive for the ‘August 1’ Category

Devotion for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday Before Proper 13, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Christ and the Rich Young Ruler

Above:  Christ and the Rich Young Ruler, by Heinrich Hofmann

Image in the Public Domain

Attachments

AUGUST 1, 2019

AUGUST 2, 2019

AUGUST 3, 2019

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The Collect:

Benevolent God, you are the source, the guide, and the goal of our lives.

Teach us to love what is worth loving,

to reject what is offensive to you,

and to treasure what is precious in your sight,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 44

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The Assigned Readings:

Proverbs 23:1-11 (Thursday)

Proverbs 24:1-12 (Friday)

Ecclesiastes 1:1-11 (Saturday)

Psalm 49:1-12 (All Days)

Romans 11:33-36 (Thursday)

Ephesians 4:17-24 (Friday)

Mark 10:17-22 (Saturday)

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In prosperity people lose their good sense,

they become no better than dumb animals.

So they go on in their self-assurance,

right up to the end they are content with their lot.

–Psalm 49:12-13, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

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The assigned readings, taken together, caution against becoming attached to temporal and transitory things, trusting in one’s imagined self-sufficiency, and endangering the resources of orphans.  We should, rather, focus on and trust in God, whose knowledge is inscrutable and ways are unsearchable.  One of the timeless principles of the Law of Moses is complete human dependency upon God.  Related to that principle are the following ones:

  1. We are responsible to each other,
  2. We are responsible for each other, and
  3. We have no right to exploit each other.

In Mark 10 Jesus encounters a wealthy man who has led a moral life.  He has not killed, committed adultery, stolen, borne false witness, defrauded anyone, or dishonored his parents.  Yet the man is attached to his money and possessions.  Our Lord and Savior tells him to detach himself by ridding himself of his wealth.  The man, crestfallen, leaves.

I ponder that story and ask myself how it would be different had the man been poor.  He still would have had some attachment of which to rid himself.  The emphasis of the account, therefore, is attachments, not any given attachment.  These attachments are to appetites, whether physical, psychological, or spiritual.

The challenge is, in the words of Ephesians, to clothe ourselves

with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

–4:24, The Revised English Bible (1989)

Fortunately, we have access to grace.  We also have a role model, Jesus.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 18, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT LEONIDES OF ALEXANDRIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR; ORIGEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC THEOLOGIAN; SAINT DEMETRIUS OF ALEXANDRIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP; AND SAINT ALEXANDER OF JERUSALEM, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANSELM II OF LUCCA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT CYRIL OF JERUSALEM, BISHOP, THEOLOGIAN, AND LITURGIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAUL OF CYPRUS, EASTERN ORTHODOX MARTYR

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2016/03/18/attachments/

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Devotion for Wednesday After Proper 12, Year B (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   3 comments

St. Edward's, Lawrenceville

Above:  St. Edward’s Episcopal Church, Lawrenceville, Georgia, October 19, 2014

Image Source = Bill Monk, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

Four Banquets

AUGUST 1, 2018

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The Collect:

Gracious God, you have placed within the hearts of all your children

a longing for your word and a hunger for your truth.

Grant that we may know your Son to be the true bread of heaven

and share this bread with all the world,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 43

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 25:6-10a

Psalm 111

Mark 6:35-44

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He has provided food for his worshippers;

he remembers his covenant for ever.

–Psalm 111:5, Harry Mowvley, The Psalms Introduced and Newly Translated for Today’s Readers (1989)

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This is a post about four banquets:  the divine coronation feast in Isaiah 25:6-10a, the sordid feast of Herod Antipas in Mark 6:14-29, the Feeding of the 5000 (Plus) in Mark 6:30-44, and the Holy Eucharist.

The reading from Isaiah 25 speaks of a time immediately after Yahweh has defeated pride, evil, and sorrow, and established the Kingdom of God, in its fullness, on the Earth.  This is a time in our future.  All people are welcome at Yahweh’s coronation feast, to take place on Mount Zion, in Jerusalem.  All is well, except for those whom God has vanquished, namely the Moabites (25:10).

Our next two banquets, which stand is stark contrast to each other, come from Mark 6.  The first is a sordid event, with Herod Antipas lusting after the seductive Salome (whose name and image come to us via archaeology, not the Bible) and making a hasty promise which leads to the execution of St. John the Baptist.  The Herodian family tree was complicated, for both Herodias and her daughter, Salome, were granddaughters of Herod the Great via different women.  Herod Antipas, a son of Herod the Great via a third woman, married Herodias, who had been the wife of a half-brother of Herod Antipas.  Thus Salome was the step-daughter and a cousin of Herod Antipas.

I will not attempt to explain the Feeding the 5000 (Plus) rationally, for doing that constitutes seeking an answer to the wrong question.  (And I am more of a rationalist than a mystic.)  Neither will I try to explain Jesus walking on water (next in Mark 6) logically, for the same reason.  No, I am interested in answering the question which compelled one of my spiritual mentors whenever he studied any passage of scripture:

What is really going on here?

The Markan account of the Feeding of the 5000 men (no word about the number of women and children) uses imagery from elsewhere in the Bible.  Jesus is the Good Shepherd feeding the flock.  His feeding of the multitude exceeds Elisha’s feeding of 100 men (2 Kings 4:42-44) and Elijah’s miracle of the refilling jug of oil (1 Kings 17:8-16).  The messianic banquet, an echo of Isaiah 25:6-10a, recurs in the wilderness motif in subsequent pseudipigraphal works, such as in 2 Baruch 29:4 and 4 Ezra 6:52.  Two main ideas stand out in my mind:

  1. Jesus is greater than Elijah and Elisha (see Mark 6:15, in which some people thought that Jesus was Elijah), and
  2. Nothing we bring to Jesus is inadequate in his capable hands.  There will be leftovers after he has finished working with it.  We are insufficient by ourselves yet more than sufficient in Christ.  That is what grace can effect.

The eucharistic imagery in Mark 6 points to the fourth banquet, which I, as an Episcopalian, celebrate at least once weekly.  The Holy Eucharist has constituted the core of my spiritual life since childhood.  One reason I left the United Methodism of my youth was to have the opportunities to partake of the sacrament more often.  In the Holy Eucharist I meet Jesus in the forms of bread and wine and swear loyalty to him again.  No, I am not worthy on my merit (such as it is) to do this, but I rely on his merits to make me worthy to do so.  The first step to becoming worthy is acknowledging one’s unworthiness.

The contrast between human systems built on the foundation of violence, exploitation, and oppression on one hand and the Kingdom of God on the other hand is clear.  Injustice and artificial scarcity characterize the former, but justice and abundance for all distinguish the latter.  We can experience a foretaste of the Kingdom of God, which is partially present already, but we await the fullness of the Kingdom.  Until then we can, at least, leave the world better off than we found it.  No effort toward this goal is too little in Christ’s capable hands.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 6, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCELLINUS OF CARTHAGE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR

THE FEAST OF DANIEL G. C. WU, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND MISSIONARY TO CHINESE AMERICANS

THE FEAST OF FREDERIC BARKER, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF SYDNEY

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2015/04/06/four-banquets/

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Devotion for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday After Proper 12, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

King Solomon's Court

Above:  King Solomon’s Court

Image in the Public Domain

The Kingdom of Solomon Versus the Kingdom of God

JULY 31, 2017

AUGUST 1, 2017

AUGUST 2, 2017

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The Collect:

Beloved and sovereign God,

through the death and resurrection of your Son

you bring us into your kingdom of justice and mercy.

By your Spirit, give us your wisdom,

that we may treasure the life that comes from

 Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 43

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The Assigned Readings:

1 Kings 3:16-28 (Monday)

1 Kings 4:29-34 (Tuesday)

Proverbs 1:1-7, 20-33 (Wednesday)

Psalm 119:121-128 (All Days)

James 3:13-18 (Monday)

Ephesians 6:10-18 (Tuesday)

Mark 4:30-34 (Wednesday)

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I am your servant; grant me understanding,

that I may know your decrees.

–Psalm 119:125, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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The Biblical authors, although usually honest about the faults of heroic or allegedly heroic figures, nevertheless created a tapestry of ancient texts which sometimes overplays the virtues of certain people.  If David really was, for example, a man after God’s own heart, I have a major problem with the nature of God.  And, although the narrative of 1 Kings turned against Solomon after Chapter 4, Chapter 2 contained troubling information about the methods by which the new monarch consolidated his power and eliminated his rivals.  Thus the positive discussion of Solomon’s wisdom in Chapters 3 and 4 rings hollow for me.  Nevertheless, the much vaunted wisdom won him such a reputation that tradition has credited him with writing Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, historically dubious claims.

Perhaps nostalgia from a time after the division of the united monarchy–a split due in large part to Solomon’s own domestic policies–accounted primarily for the minimization of the acknowledged faults of David and Solomon.  I consider what the Bible tells me of those two kings and ponder Proverbs 1:7 (The New Revised Standard Version, 1989):

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;

fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Then I consider incidents from their lives and interpret the verse as a negative commentary on them.  I arrive at the same conclusion regarding this passage:

The wisdom that comes from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, approachable, full of merciful thoughts and kindly actions, straight forward, with no hint of hypocrisy.  And the peacemakers go on quietly sowing for a harvest of righteousness.

–James 3:17-18, J. B. Phillips, The New Testament in Modern English, Revised Edition, 1972

I think also of the large plant which grows from a mustard seed.  (The mustard seed is not actually the smallest seed, but Jesus did not attend school to study horticulture.  Besides, there is a rhetorical device called hyperbole, which we find in the Bible.)  From that very small seed comes a large, pesky plant–a weed–to which the parable likens the Kingdom of God.  The kingdom, like the mustard plant, provides shelter for a variety of creatures and goes where it will.  One knows that not everyone in the Kingdom of God gets along well with each other, so this analogy is worth considering with regard to how we think of those who differ from us and are also of God.

David and Solomon presided over a kingdom built on force and compulsion, as political states are by nature.  Their Kingdom of Israel also sat on a foundation composed partially of economic injustice, evident partly in artificial scarcity.  In the weed-like Kingdom of God, however, there is no scarcity; everybody has enough.  The Kingdom of God functioned partially as a negative commentary on political-religious-economic realities within the Roman Empire at the time of Jesus and the early Church, contributing to his crucifixion.  The Kingdom of God continues to indict all forms of exploitation and injustice, including those which people have institutionalized.

The purpose of the Gospel, I have heard, is to comfort the afflict the comfortable and to comfort the afflicted.  Are we among the comfortable or the afflicted?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 14, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BASIL THE GREAT, FATHER OF EASTERN MONASTICISM

THE FEAST OF DOROTHY FRANCES BLOMFIELD GURNEY, ENGLISH POET AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT METHODIUS I OF CONSTANTINOPLE, PATRIARCH

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/06/15/the-kingdom-of-israel-and-the-kingdom-of-god/

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Devotion for July 31, August 1, and August 2 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   5 comments

Above:  David and Goliath, by Gustave Dore

Image in the Public Domain

1 Samuel and Acts, Part VII:  The Triumph of Faith Over Physical Strength

WEDNESDAY, JULY 31, 2019

THURSDAY, AUGUST 1, 2019

FRIDAY, AUGUST 2, 2019

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

1 Samuel 16:1-23 (July 31)

1 Samuel 17:1-19 (August 1)

1 Samuel 17:20-47 (August 2)

Psalm 65 (Morning–July 31)

Psalm 143 (Morning–August 1)

Psalm 86 (Morning–August 2)

Psalms 125 and 4 (Evening–July 31)

Psalms 81 and 116 (Evening–August 1)

Psalms 6 and 19 (Evening–August 2)

Acts 25:13-27 (July 31)

Acts 26:1-23 (August 1)

Acts 26:24-27:8 (August 2)

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I was small among my brothers,

and the youngest in my father’s house;

I tended my father’s sheep.

My hands made a harp;

my fingers fashioned a lyre.

And who will tell my Lord?

The Lord himself; it is he who hears.

It was he who sent his messenger

and took me from my father’s sheep,

and anointed me with his anointing oil.

My brothers were handsome and tall,

but the Lord was not pleased with them.

I went out to meet the Philistine,

and he cursed me by his idols.

But I drew my own sword;

I beheaded him, and took away

disgrace from the people of Israel.

–Psalm 151, New Revised Standard Version

Saul knows David at the end of 1 Samuel 16 yet has not met him at the beginning of Chapter 17.  This is a major narrative discrepancy, evidence of the weaving together of different documents.  That is a scholarly matter, and I like such things.  But this is a devotional blog, so I focus my attentions in that direction.

A note on page 592 of The Jewish Study Bible (2004) begins

The story of David and Goliath demonstrates the triumph of faith over physical strength.

That excellent sentence provides a means for understanding not only 1 Samuel 17 but the life of St. Paul as a Christian.  One man proved crucial to Christian and world history.  The might of the Roman Empire, which executed him, proved powerless to quash Christianity.

As for St. Paul in Acts 25:13-26:32, he stood before Herod Agrippa II, the last of the Herodian Dynasty and a client ruler for the Roman Empire.  Herod Agrippa II’s realm shifted according to Roman imperial decisions, but he did reign from 50 to 100 CE.  He, considered a religious leader, appointed the High Priest yet carried on an incestuous relationship with Bernice, his sister.  Yet this was the man who noted that St. Paul, if he had not appealed to the Emperor, could have gone free.  Unfortunately, the Emperor was Nero.

Yet, as Psalm 125:3 (The New Jerusalem Bible) reads,

The sceptre of the wicked will not come to rest

over the heritage of the upright….

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 5, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE SAINTS AND MARTYRS OF ASIA

THE FEAST OF HARRY EMERSON FOSDICK, NORTHERN BAPTIST PASTOR

THE FEAST OF THE INAUGURATION OF THE UNITED REFORMED CHURCH, 1972 

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/05/03/1-samuel-and-acts-part-vii-the-triumph-of-faith-over-physical-strength/

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Week of Proper 12: Wednesday, Year 2   Leave a comment

Above:  Fists

Complaining Against God

AUGUST 1, 2018

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Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.

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Jeremiah 15:10, 15-21 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

(Jeremiah speaking)

Woe is me, my mother, that you ever bore me–

A man of conflict and strife with all the land!

I have not lent,

And I have not borrowed;

Yet everyone curses me.

O LORD, you know–

Remember me and take thought of me,

Avenge me on those who persecute me;

Do not yield to Your patience,

Do not let me perish!

Consider how I have borne insult

On Your account.

When Your words were offered, I devoured them;

Your words were offered, I devoured them;

Your word brought me the delight and joy

Of knowing that Your name is attached to me,

O LORD, God of Hosts.

I have not sat in the company of revelers

And made merry!

I have sat lonely because of Your hand upon me,

For You have filled me with gloom.

Why must my pain be endless,

My wound incurable,

Resistant to healing?

You have been to me like a spring that fails,

Like waters that cannot be relied on.

Assuredly, thus said the LORD:

If you turn back, I shall take you back

And you shall stand before Me;

If you produce what is noble

Out of the worthless,

You shall be My spokesman.

They shall come back to you

As a fortified wall of bronze:

They shall attack you

But they shall not overcome you,

For I am with you to deliver and save you

–declares the LORD.

I will save you from the hands of the wicked

And rescue you from the clutches of the violent.

Psalm 59:1-4, 18-20 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  Rescue me from my enemies, O God;

protect me from those who rise up against me.

2  Rescue me from evildoers

and save me from those who thirst for my blood.

3  See how they lie in wait for my life,

how the mighty gather together against me;

not for any offense or fault of mine, O LORD.

4  Not because of any guilt of mine

they run and prepare themselves for battle.

18  For my part, I will sing of your strength;

I will celebrate your love in the morning;

19  For you have become my stronghold,

a refuge in the day of my trouble.

20  To you, O my Strength, will I sing;

for you, O God, are my stronghold and my merciful God.

Matthew 13:44-46 (J. B. Phillips, 1972):

[Jesus continued,]

Again, the kingdom of Heaven is like some treasure which has been buried in a field.  A man finds it and buries it again, and goes off overjoyed to sell all his possessions to buy himself that field.

Or again, the kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls.  When he has found a single pearl of great value, he goes and sells all his possessions and buys it.

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The Collect:

O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Week of Proper 12:  Wednesday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/01/12/week-of-proper-12-wednesday-year-1/

A Prayer for Those Who Have Harmed Us:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/09/19/a-prayer-for-those-who-have-harmed-us/

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Jeremiah had a difficult vocation.  He delivered the bad news God had told him to utter.  For his trouble the prophet faced not only rampant unpopularity but persecution.  So here we find him in Chapter 15, at a breaking point.  Is this self-pity, for which he needs to repent, or is it a legitimate complaint?  Many Bible commentaries argues the former, but I side with the latter.  There is nothing wrong with demanding answers from God when one deserves them.  There is no error in shaking one’s fist at God and screaming, “Why!?!”  If the relationship is troubled, at least it exists.

Some, out of piety (surely a good motive), have stated that one ought not to argue with God.  Submit to God passively, they claim.  But the Old Testament contains stories of people who struggled with God and emerged stronger spiritually.  Consider Israel and Job, for example.  God was with them before, during, and after their struggles.  And God was with Jeremiah after the prophet’s complaint.

Did Jeremiah come dangerously close to committing blasphemy?  Some think so.  May we take a useful lesson away from the reading from Jeremiah 15:  Be honest, but do not commit blasphemy or come close to doing so.

KRT

Week of Proper 12: Thursday, Year 1   7 comments

Above:  Construction of the Tabernacle, by Gerard Hoet (1728)

Image in the Public Domain

Something Old, Something New–Yet All For God

AUGUST 1, 2019

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Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.

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Exodus 40:17-21, 34-38 (Richard Elliott Friedman, 2001):

And it was:  in the first month, in the second year, on the first day of the month, the Tabernacle was set up.  And Moses set up the Tabernacle and put on its bases and set its frames and put on its bars and set up its columns.  And he spread the Tent over the Tabernacle and set the Tent’s covering on it above, as YHWH had commanded Moses.  And he took the Testimony and put it into ark, and he set the poles on the ark, and he put the atonement dais on the ark above.  And he brought the ark into the Tabernacle and set the covering pavilion and covered over the Ark of the Testimony, as YHWH had commanded Moses.

And the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and YHWH’s glory filled the Tabernacle.  And Moses was not able to come into the Tent of Meeting, because the cloud had settled on it and YHWH’s glory filled the Tabernacle.  And when the cloud was lifted from on the Tabernacle, the children of Israel would travel–in all their travels–and if the cloud would not be lifted, then they would not travel until the day that it would be lifted.  Because YHWH’s cloud was on the Tabernacle by day, and fire would be in it at night, before the eyes of all the house of Israel in all their travels.

Psalm 84 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 How dear to me is your dwelling, O LORD of hosts!

My soul has a desire and longing for the courts of the LORD;

my heart and my flesh rejoice in the living God.

2 The sparrow has found her a house

and the swallow a nest where she may lay her young;

by the side of your altars, O LORD of hosts,

my King and my God.

3 Happy are they who dwell in your house!

they will always be praising you.

4 Happy are the people whose strength is in you!

whose hearts are set on the pilgrims’ way.

5 Those who go through the desolate valley will find it a place of springs,

for the early rains have covered it with pools of water.

6 They will climb from height to height,

and the God of gods will reveal himself in Zion.

7 LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer;

hearken, O God of Jacob.

8 Behold our defender, O God;

and look upon the face of your Anointed.

9 For one day in your courts is better than a thousand in my own room,

and to stand in the threshold of the house of my God

than to dwell in the tents of the wicked.

10 For the LORD is both sun and shield;

he will give grace and glory;

11 No good thing will the LORD withhold

from those who walk with integrity.

12 O LORD of hosts,

happy are they who put their trust in you!

Matthew 13:47-53 (J. B. Phillips, 1972):

[Jesus continued,]

Or the kingdom of Heaven is like a big net thrown into the sea collecting all kinds of fish.  When it is full, the fishermen haul it ashore and sit down and pick out the good ones for the barrels, but they throw away the bad.  This is how it will be at the end of this world.  The angels will go out and pick out the wicked from among the good and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be tears and bitter regret.

Have you grasped all this?

They replied,

Yes.

Jesus returned,

You can see, then, how everyone who knows the Law and becomes a disciple of the kingdom of Heaven is like a householder who can produce from his store both the new and the old.

When Jesus had finished these parables he left the place, and came into his own country.

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The Collect:

O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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The Book of Exodus with an emphasis on Moses.  Yet, at the end, Moses does not speak.  God once spoke to Moses in the leader’s own tent.  But, in Chapter 40, there is a new Tabernacle.  The emphasis is moving away from Moses to God.  The people are not to move until the cloud of YHWH moves; they are to follow God in more way than one.

If you are reading these words, O reader, you probably agree that you ought to follow God.  But what does that mean?  Jesus, in Matthew, provides a partial answer.  The parable of the fish in the net points toward an inclusive church, one that does not take upon itself the task of labeling some fish “bad” then throwing them back.  This is a repeated theme with Jesus.  For another example, consider the Parable of the Mustard Seed.  The mustard plant, a weed really, provides shelter to a wide variety of creatures.  Think, too, about the tares and the wheat.  The weeds and the wheat must grow up together until harvest time, and God will oversee the separation.  To do otherwise would damage valuable wheat.  Chapter 13 contains these parables, too.  The grouping is not accidental.

And, Jesus continues, coming to him does not mean beginning at square one, or forgetting all that one used to be.  Transformation follows, but one brings oneself–complete with one’s knowledge, skills, and abilities–to the spiritual journey.  The old has its proper uses, just for different purposes.

I know something about transformation.  I have never had a dramatic conversion experience of the “born again” variety, as many North American Evangelicals understand it.  Nor do I seek one, for it is not necessary.  I have a long-standing relationship with God which has grown during a long process, not from an event.  My life as I knew it collapsed in late 2006 and early 2007, resulting in a traumatic crisis, a death of sorts, and a resurrection in an altered form.  My former self ceased to exist, and a new self with the same outward appearances came into the world.  I became a better person by grace alone, and those who perceived this the most were those who knew me the best.  I am a new person, but all the knowledge, skills, and core personality type of the former self carry over.

Yet there are key differences.  I am more patient and kind than before.  Leniency comes more easily to me, and I am far less likely to despise unpopular and accused people.  As a recipient of grace, which is inherently extravagant, I am more likely to extend it to others.  I have not “arrived” spiritually, but I am closer to my destination.  God is responsible for this.  I draw upon the best of the former self, as well as the unpleasantness which constituted my death-resurrection crisis, to inform the new man.

And I hope that I follow God more often than not.  May you, O reader, do the same.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/04/20/something-old-something-new-yet-all-for-god/