Archive for the ‘July 10’ Category

Devotion for Wednesday After Proper 9, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Ruins at Chorazin

Above:  Ruins at Chorazin

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-matpc-01110

With and Without Excuses

JULY 10, 2019


The Collect:

O God, the Father of our Lord Jesus,

you are the city that shelters us, the mother who comforts us.

With your Spirit accompany us on our life’s journey,

that we may spread your peace in all the world,

through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 41


The Assigned Readings:

Joshua 23:1-16

Psalm 119:73-80

Luke 10:13-16


I know, Yahweh, that your judgements are upright,

and in punishing me you show your constancy.

–Psalm 119:75, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)


The brief reading from Luke 10 follows Jesus sending the 70 (or 72) members of his outer circle on a missionary journey.  He concludes his instructions by commanding them to leave paces where they encounter rejection.

I tell you, it shall be more tolerable on that day for Sodom than for that town.

–Luke 10:12, Revised Standard Version–Second Edition (1971)

In Luke 10:13-16 punishment for those who reject God and should have known better will be worse than the penalty for those who had no opportunity to know better.  The historical context is the spread of early Christianity, so Luke means the rejection of the Christian gospel.

The reading from Joshua 23 foreshadows much subsequent Biblical material.  The theology of the Babylonian Exile in the Hebrew Bible is that it resulted from habitual and widespread disregard for the Law of Moses, especially the principles against idolatry and economic injustice.  I cannot read Joshua 23 without thinking of Hebrew prophets thundering against judicial corruption, the exploitation of the poor, and the cynical use of sacred ceremonies as talismans meant to shield victimizers from the wrath of God.

With regard to certain theological propositions many people have  no way of knowing better, for the message has yet to reach them.  Nevertheless, the Golden Rule exists in almost all of the world’s religions.  Nobody has an excuse for violating that commandment.







Devotion for Tuesday and Wednesday After Proper 9, Year B (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Jeremiah Icon

Above:  An Icon of the Prophet Jeremiah

Image in the Public Domain


JULY 10 and 11, 2018


The Collect:

God of the covenant, in our baptism you call us

to proclaim the coming of your kingdom.

Give us the courage you gave the apostles,

that we may faithfully witness to your love and peace

in every circumstance of life,

in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 41


The Assigned Readings:

Jeremiah 16:1-13 (Tuesday)

Jeremiah 16:14-21 (Wednesday)

Psalm 119:81-88 (Both Days)

James 5:7-12 (Tuesday)

John 7:1-9 (Wednesday)


My soul is pining for your salvation;

I have hoped in your word.

My eyes fail with watching for your word,

while I say, “O, when will you comfort me?”

I have become like a wineskin in the smoke,

yet I do not forget your statutes.

How many are the days of your servant?

When will you bring judgment on those who persecute me?

The proud have dug pits for me

in defiance of your law.

All your commandments are true;

help me, for they persecute me with falsehood.

They had almost made an end of me on earth,

but I have not forsaken your commandments.

Give me life according to your lovingkindness;

so shall I keep the testimonies of your mouth.

–Psalm 119:81-88, The Book of Common Prayer (2004)


The tone of these days’ readings is grim.  James 5:7-12 and Psalm 119:81-88 occur in the context of suffering.  The theme of endurance unites those pericopes.  Jesus chooses not to risk his life yet in John 7:1-9 the time to do that has yet to arrive.  And divine punishment for societal sins is over the horizon in Jeremiah 16:1-21.  The lovingkindness of God, a topic of Psalm 119:81-88, is absent from Jeremiah 16:1-21.

Suffering has more than one cause.  Sometimes one suffers because of one’s sins.  On other occasions, however, one suffers because of the sins of other people.  At certain times one might not be able to determine any reason for one’s suffering, perhaps because there is none.  I do not pretend to have knowledge I lack.  Nevertheless, this reality of suffering does not damage my faith (trust) in God.  I have enough confidence in God to ask hard and inconvenient questions as part of my search for answers.









Devotion for Monday and Tuesday After Proper 9, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment


Above:  King Zedekiah

Image in the Public Domain

Righteousness, Justification, Justice, and Awe

JULY 10 and 11, 2017


The Collect:

You are great, O God, and greatly to be praised.

You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.

Grant that we may believe in you, call upon you, know you, and serve you,

through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 41


The Assigned Readings:

Jeremiah 27:1-11, 16-22 (Monday)

Jeremiah 28:10-17 (Tuesday)

Psalm 131 (Both Days)

Romans 1:18-25 (Monday)

Romans 3:1-8 (Tuesday)


O LORD, I am not proud;

I have no haughty looks.

I do not occupy myself with great matters,

or with things that are too hard for me.

But I still my soul and make it quiet,

like a child upon its mother’s breast;

my soul is quieted within me.

O Israel, wait upon the LORD,

from this time forth for evermore.

–Psalm 131, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)


“Righteousness” and “justification” are English translations of the same Greek word.  “Justification” refers to how we get right with God.  St. Paul the Apostle, understanding faith as something which comes with works as a component of it (as opposed to the author of the Letter of James, who comprehended faith as intellectual and therefore requiring the addition of works for justification), argued that faith alone was sufficient for justification.  The two men agreed in principle, but not their definition of faith.  They arrived at the same conclusion by different routes.  That conclusion was that actions must accompany thoughts if the the thoughts are to be of any good.

A note on page 2011 of The New Interpreter’s Study Bible (2003) makes an excellent point:

In the OT, righteousness and justice repeatedly characterize God’s nature and activity, particularly in relationship  to the covenant with Israel.

Thus we arrive at the lections from Jeremiah, excerpts from a section of that book.  The prophet argued that God had made Judah a vassal state of the Babylonians, so rebellion against them would constitute a sin.  Hananiah was a false prophet who advocated for the opposite point of view.  The argument that a fight for national liberation is wrong might seem odd to many people, but it made sense to Jeremiah in a particular context.

Discerning the will of God in a given context can prove to be challenging at best.  Often the greatest obstacle to overcome is our penchant for confirmation bias–to reinforce what we think already.  Are we listening to God’s message or conducting an internal monologue?  But, when we succeed in discerning the divine will, we might realize that we do not understand or agree with it.  Honesty is the best policy with God; may we acknowledge truthfully where we stand spiritually and proceed from that point.  If divine justice confuses or frustrates us, may we tell God that.  If we argue, may we do so faithfully, and so claim part of our spiritual inheritance from the Jews, our elder siblings in faith.  Jeremiah, for example, argued with God often.

And may we trust in the faithfulness of God, the mysteries of whom we can never hope to explore completely.  Mystery can be wonderful, inspiring people with a sense of awe, the meaning of “the fear of God.”  Such awe provides us with proper context relative to God.  Such awe shows us how small we are relative to ultimate reality, God.  And such awe reinforces the wondrous nature of grace.







Devotion for July 10 and 11 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   5 comments

Above:  Gideon’s Fountain

Image in the Public Domain

Image Source = Library of Congress

Judges and Acts, Part III:  Undue Burdens and Obstacles



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


The Assigned Readings:

Judges 6:1-24 (July 10)

Judges 6:25-40 (July 11)

Psalm 96 (Morning–July 10)

Psalm 116 (Morning–July 11)

Psalms 132 and 134 (Evening–July 10)

Psalms 26 and 130 (Evening–July 11)

Acts 14:19-15:5 (July 10)

Acts 15:6-21 (July 11)


The Council of Jerusalem decided not to impose circumcision, an undue burden, upon Gentile Christians.  This was a serious and a difficult issue, for circumcision was (and remains) a major issue of Jewish identity.  It reminded men that they owed their existence to God.  But this ritual stood as an obstacle for many Gentiles, understandably.

Back in the Book of Judges, Gideon thought of God’s call as a burden.  Why else would he have kept testing God by asking for confirmation of the mandate to liberate the Israelites from the Midianite oppression?  Yet, as the story after Judges 6 makes clear, God succeeded because of divine power, not Gideon’s military ability or great determination or true grit.

We who claim to follow God need to distinguish between real burdens and imagined ones.  And we need to remember that God provides the means to succeed and/or to persevere on divine missions.  Paul risked his life for God; he lost it eventually for the same purpose.  Elsewhere in the Bible, prophets experienced scorn and ridicule, even exile.  But may we recall the words of God in Judges 6:16:

I will be with you….

(TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures)

And may we not impose any undue spiritual burden on anyone or erect obstacles in their path.  Rather, may we remove them.  May we not get in God’s way, even while trying to do the right thing or what we imagine to be the right thing.






Week of Proper 9: Tuesday, Year 2   3 comments

Christ Pantocrator

A Moral Form of Divestiture

JULY 10, 2018


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.


Hosea 8:3-14 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

Israel rejects what is good;

An enemy shall pursue him.

They have made kings,

But not with My sanction;

They have made officers,

But not of My choice.

Of their silver and gold

They have made themselves images,

To their own undoing.

He rejects your calf, Samaria!

I am furious with them!

Will they never be capable of purity?

For it was Israel’s doing;

It was only made by a joiner,

It was not a god.

No, the calf of Samaria shall be

Reduced to splinters!

They sow wind,

And they shall reap the whirlwind–

Standing stalks devoid of ears

And yielding no flour.

If they do yield any,

Strangers shall devour it.

Israel is bewildered;

They have now become among the nations

Like an unwanted vessel,

[like] a lonely wild ass.

For they have gone up to Assyria,

Ephraim has courted friendship.

And while they are courting among the nations,

There I will hold them fast;

And they shall begin to diminish in number

From the burden of king [and] officers.

For Ephraim has multiplied altars–for guilt;

His altars have redounded to his guilt:

The many teachings I wrote for him

Have been treated as something alien.

When they present sacrifices to Me,

It is but flesh for them to eat:

The LORD has not accepted them.

Behold, He remembers their iniquity,

He will punish their sins:

Back to Egypt with them!

Israel has ignored his Maker

And built temples

(And Judah has fortified many cities).

So I will set fire to his cities,

And it shall consume their fortresses.

Psalm 115:1-10 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  Not to us, O LORD, not to us,

but to your Name give glory;

because of your love and because of your faithfulness.

2  Why should the heathen say,

“Where then is their God?”

3  Our God is in heaven;

whatever he wills to do he does.

4  Their idols are silver and gold,

the work of human hands.

5  They have mouths, but they cannot speak;

eyes have they, but they cannot see;

6  They have ears, but they cannot hear;

noses, but they cannot smell;

7  They have hands, but they cannot feel;

feet, but they cannot walk;

they make no sound with their throat.

8  Those who make them are like them,

and so are all who put their trust in them.

9  O Israel, trust in the LORD;

he is their help and their shield.

10  O house of Aaron, trust in the LORD;

he is their help and their shield.

Matthew 9:32-38 (An American Translation):

But just as they were going out, some people brought to him a dumb man who was possessed by a demon, and as soon as the demon was driven out, the dumb man was able to speak.  And the crowds were amazed, and said,

Nothing like this was ever seen in Israel!

But the Pharisees said,

It is by the prince of demons that he drives them out.

Jesus went round among all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness.

But the sight of the crowds of people filled him with pity for them, because they were bewildered and dejected, like sheep that have no shepherd.  Then he said to his disciples,

The harvest is abundant enough, but the reapers are few.  So pray to the owner of the harvest to send reapers to gather it.


The Collect:

O God, you have taught us to keep all your commandments by loving you and our neighbor: Grant us the grace of your Holy Spirit, that we may be devoted to you with our whole heart, and united to one another with pure affection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Some Related Posts:

Week of Proper 9:  Tuesday, Year 1:

Be Thou My Vision:


This is an unhappy reading from Hosea.  Corruption, dishonesty, idolatry, and murder were commonplace in the northern Kingdom of Israel.  Official corruption was especially ubiquitous.  King Jeroboam II, who made alliances with dangerous foreign nations and therefore weakened the nation, was not a legitimate king, according to Hosea.  The House of David continued to rule in the south, but Israel had a series of dynasties, most of them established by means of palace coups.

The Book of Hosea moves back and forth between judgment and mercy.  The YHWH of Hosea is a passionate deity seeking the love of a faithless people whose ancestors he had rescued from slavery and led to freedom.

We read in Matthew 9:32-38 of the faithlessness of certain Pharisees, members of just one sect of First Century Palestinian Judaism.  Yet Jesus, the rejected one, helped, cured, and healed many people, on whom he had pity.  Why was Jesus the rejected one?  Would not nearly anyone in the region want to follow such a great man?  The answer, I think, is that simple goodness threatens many people with certain vested interests.  Most people might say that “Love your neighbor as you love yourself” is an excellent ethic, yet how many of them might condemn someone who obeys this great commandment in a politically unpopular way?

We need to divest ourselves or all which causes us to hate or otherwise fear or despise those who are different from us and whose existence prompts us to nurture the dark side of our nature.  God loves all of us–the exploiters and the exploited, the murderers and the murdered, the cheaters and the cheated, the corrupt and the honest.  Where there is love there do not cease to exist the consequences of our actions, which flow from attitudes.

May we value people more than power, status, honor, and wealth.  May we love God more than these things, which can become idols if we treat them as such.  Power, status, honor (which is socially defined), and wealth are transitory, but God is forever.  And people die in time, but human relationships are much more valuable than anything material.

This lesson is timeless, but successive generations of human beings have contained many people who have not acted consistently in accordance with it.  So, unfortunately, we need reminders.

It is no wonder that we read of God’s anger in books such as Hosea.


Week of Proper 9: Wednesday, Year 1   12 comments

Above:  Christ Pantocrator, an Icon from the 500s

Image in the Public Domain

The Kingdom of God is At Hand; It Has Been Here for Some Time

JULY 10, 2019


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.


Genesis 41:55-57; 42:5-7a, 17-24a (An American Translation):

When all the land of Egypt became famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for food; so Pharaoh announced to all Egypt,

Go to Joseph, and do what he tells you.

The famine spread all over the land, so Joseph threw open all that he had locked up, and sold grain to the Egyptians, since the famine was severe in the land of Egypt.  People from all lands came to Joseph in Egypt to buy grain; for the famine was severe all over the earth.

Thus the Israelites came with the rest to buy grain; for the famine was in the land of Canaan.

Now Joseph was the vizier of the land; it was he who sold the grain to all the people of the land.  So Joseph’s brothers came and prostrated themselves before him, with their faces to the ground.  When Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he treated them as if he were a stranger, and spoke harshly to them.

So he bundled them off to prison for three days, but on the third day Joseph said to them,

“Since I am one who fears God, you may save your lives, if you do this:  if you are honest men, let one of your brothers remain confined in your prison and then the rest of you, go and take grain home to your starving households; but you must bring me your youngest brother.  Thus your words shall be verified, and you shall not die.”

They proceeded to do so, saying to one another,

Unfortunately, we were to blame about our brother, upon whose distress, when he pleaded with us for mercy, we gazed unmoved; that is why this disaster has come to us.

Then Reuben spoke up and said to them,

Did I not say to you, ‘Do not sin against the lad’?  But you paid no attention; so now comes a reckoning for his blood!

They did not know that Joseph heard them; for the intermediary was between them.  He turned from them, and wept.

Psalm 33:1-4, 18-22 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 Rejoice in the LORD, you righteous;

it is good for the just to sing praises.

2 Praise the LORD with the harp;

play to him upon the psaltery and lyre.

3 Sing for him a new song;

sound a fanfare with all your skill upon the trumpet.

4 For the word of the LORD is right,

and all his works are sure.

18 Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon those who fear him,

on those who wait upon his love,

19 To pluck their lives from death,

and to feed them in time of famine.

20 Our soul waits for the LORD;

he is our help and our shield.

21 Indeed, our heart rejoices in him,

for in his holy Name we put our trust.

22 Let your loving-kindness, O LORD, be upon us,

as we have put our trust in you.

Matthew 10:1-7 (An American Translation):

Then he [Jesus] called his twelve disciples to him, and gave them power over the foul spirits so that they could drive them out, and so that they could heal any disease or illness.

These are the names of the twelve apostles:  first, Simon, who was called Peter, and his brother Andrew, and James the son of Zebedee and his brother John, Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew the tax-collector, James the son of Alpheus and Thaddeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot who afterward betrayed him.

James sent these twelve out, after giving them these directions:

Do not go among the heathen, or to any Samaritan town, but proceed instead to the lost sheep of Israel’s house.  As you go about, preach and say, “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!”


The Collect:

O God, you have taught us to keep all your commandments by loving you and our neighbor: Grant us the grace of your Holy Spirit, that we may be devoted to you with our whole heart, and united to one another with pure affection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Joseph had been an annoying brat bothering his brothers, most of them his elders, with his favored status and reports of dreams.  So most of his brothers conspired to sell him into slavery into Egypt and to tell Jacob/Israel, their father, that Joseph was dead.  They were really bad brothers.  After years of servitude and imprisonment in Egypt, Joseph rose to power just beneath that of the Pharaoh and put in place policies that paid off nicely a few years later.  Egypt had surplus grain during a severe drought.

Thus Joseph saw most of his brothers again and proceeded to test them.  After the events from this day’s Genesis lection, Joseph revealed his true identity to his brothers and reconciled with them, and even reunited with his father.  Most importantly, Joseph forgave his brothers.

Forgiveness is an essential element of the Kingdom of God/Heaven, which Jesus proclaims in the Synoptic Gospels is near, or at hand.  In simpler terms, it is here; it has been here for some time.  Following a set of lectionaries, I cover old terrain from time to time.  So, as I read and typed Matthew 10:1-7, I recalled having covered Jesus announcing the presence of the Kingdom of God in Mark and Luke.  In Mark 1:15, Jesus says that the Kingdom of God “has come near.”  The Greek tense indicates present tense, an action begun previously and continuing in the present.  So the inauguration of the ministry of Jesus postdates the beginning of the Kingdom of God.

What is this Kingdom of God?  It is the reign of God.  It is in the here and now.  The Kingdom of God in inside of us and outside of us.  And it did not go away when Jesus left the Earth, despite any appearances to the contrary.  In fact, according to certain standards, the Kingdom of God was not evident during the earthly lifespan of Jesus.  Yet Jesus says at the beginning of his ministry that the Kingdom of God has come near, is at hand.  This is the same man the Gospel of John (16:33) quotes as saying that he has “conquered the world”–immediately before his arrest, torture, and execution.  Should we not lay outward appearances aside?

The presence of Jesus, God incarnate, was a great sign of extravagant divine forgiveness.  God enabled Joseph, Vizier of Egypt, to forgive his brothers.  Most of us have lesser offenses to forgive, but even those can difficult to release.  I know this very well, so I address myself first when writing of the necessity of forgiveness.  But this is the best way to live–free of resentments and grudges, which hurt the one who carries them.  The Kingdomof God is about the active love of God for the created order, of which people are part.  And we ought to be so busy demonstrating our love and concern for each other that we have no time for resentments, grudges, and petty arguments.  We have a kingdom to build up.  May we get to work.

This kingdom includes Jews and Gentiles, of course, thanks largely to the Apostle Paul.  But consider the context of the reading from Matthew:  The Apostles were beginning their work.  They started by preaching to people like themselves.  One must hone one’s tactics with a smaller, more homogeneous group before preaching to a more larger, more diverse one.  This plan might apply when we begin to do our part to build up the Kingdom.