Archive for the ‘July 11’ Category

Devotion for Thursday and Friday Before Proper 10, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Joseph Explaining the Dream to Pharoah, Jean Adrien Guignet

Above:  Joseph Explains Pharaoh’s Dreams, by Adrien Guignet

Image in the Public Domain

Good and Bad Fruit

JULY 11 and 12, 2019


The Collect:

O Lord God, your mercy delights us, and the world longs for your loving care.

Hear the cries of everyone in need, and turn our hearts to love our neighbors

with the love of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 42


The Assigned Readings:

Genesis 41:14-36 (Thursday)

Genesis 41:37-49 (Friday)

Psalm 25:1-10 (Both Days)

James 2:14-26 (Thursday)

Acts 7:9-16 (Friday)


Adoration I offer, Yahweh,

to you, my God.

But in my trust in you do not put me to shame,

let not my enemies gloat over me.

–Psalm 25:1-2, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)


Joseph son of Jacob overcame adversity, including servitude (including incarceration for an offense of which he was innocent) to become the second most powerful man in Egypt.  His policy of storing grain was in Genesis 41 was wise, but the means of feeding the population during years of famine was unfortunate.  In Genesis 47 He sold the grain back to Egyptians in exchange for money.  When they had no more funds, he accepted livestock as payment.  When they were out of livestock, he accepted their land as payment, making them serfs.

According to the author of the Letter of James, faith without works is useless and dead.  In other words, one can know a tree by its fruit.  The fruit of Joseph included servitude for the masses.  May our fruit be more positive than negative.








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: Wednesday, Year 2   1 comment

Gallery of the Apostles, Temmenhausen Nikolauskirche

Teachers of Righteousness

JULY 11, 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 10:1-15 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

Israel is a ravaged vine

And its fruit is like it.

When his fruit was plentiful,

He made altars aplenty;

When his land was bountiful,

Cult pillars abounded.

Now that his boughs are broken up,

He feels his guilt;

He himself pulls apart his altars,

Smashes his pillars.

Truly, now they say,

We have no king;

For, since we do not fear the LORD,

What can a king do to us?

So they conclude agreements and make covenants

With false oaths,

And justice degenerates into poison weeds,

Breaking out on the furrows of the fields.

The inhabitants of Samaria fear

For the calf of Beth-aven;

Indeed, its people and priestlings,

Whose joy it once was,

Mourn over it for the glory

That is departed from it.

It too shall be brought to Assyria

As tribute to a patron king;

Ephraim shall be chagrined,

Israel shall be dismayed

Because of his plans.

Samaria’s monarchy is vanishing

Like foam upon water,

Ruined shall be the shrines of [Beth-]aven,

That sin of Israel.

Thorns and thistles

Shall grow on their altars.

They shall call to the mountains,

Bury us!

To the hills,

Fall on us!

You have sinned more, O Isreal,

Than in the days of Gibeah.

They shall stand [as] at Gibeah!

Shall not they be overtaken

By a war upon scoundrels

As peoples gather against them?

When I chose [them], I broke them in,

Harnessing them for two furrows.

Ephraim became a trained heifer,

But preferred to thresh;

I placed a yoke

Upon her sleek neck.

I will make Ephraim do advance plowing;

Judah shall do [main] plowing!

Jacob shall do final plowing!

Sow righteousness for yourselves;

Reap the fruits of goodness;

Break for yourselves betimes fresh ground

Of seeking the LORD,

So that you may obtain a teacher of righteousness.

You have plowed wickedness,

You have reaped iniquity–

[And] you shall eat the fruits of treachery–

Because you relied on your way,

On your host of warriors.

But the din of war shall arise in your own people,

And all your fortresses shall be ravaged

As Beth-arbel was ravaged by Shalman

On a day of battle,

When mourners and babes were dashed to death together.

This is what Bethel has done to you

For your horrible wickedness:

At dawn shall Israel’s monarch

Utterly perish.

Psalm 105:1-7 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Give thanks to the LORD and call upon his Name;

make known his deeds among the peoples.

2 Sing to him, sing praises to him,

and speak of his marvelous works.

Glory in his holy Name;

let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.

Search for the LORD and his strength;

continually seek his face.

Remember the marvels he has done;

his wonders and the judgments of his mouth,

O offspring of Abraham his servant,

O childrenof Jacob his chosen.

He is the LORD our God;

his judgments prevail in all the world.

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.


A Related Post:

Week of Proper 9:  Wednesday, Year 1:


The pronouncements of judgment continue in Hosea.  Much of the content is familiar and repetitive to a student of the Hebrew Scriptures, so I will not rehash it here.

I am, however, following a lectionary, one which pairs this reading with Matthew 10,  which tells of Jesus empowering his twelve Apostles and sending them out on a mission.  The Apostles were diverse, including two cousins of Jesus, a former Roman tax collector, and a violent revolutionary against the Roman occupation.

Hosea 10:12, in TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures, commands people to sow righteousness for themselves, to reap the fruits of goodness, and break the fallow ground of seeking YHWH “So that you may obtain a teacher of righteousness.”  This is apparently a passage which lends itself to various translations, so that, in the New Revised Standard Version, the command concludes with “that he [YHWH] may come and rain righteousness upon you.”

Teachers of righteousness can come in various shapes and sizes and from various backgrounds. And, when God comes to rain righteousness upon us, the divine methodology might surprise us.  Do we dare even to attempt to look past our preconceived notions and to recognize the methods of God and the identities of teachers of righteousness?

Righteousness is far from an abstract idea.  It is lived, as is orthodoxy.  Theology of a certain variety tells me that orthodoxy is right belief and that orthopraxy is right practice.  But, if Paul was correct regarding faith, faith is active, not just intellectual, and is therefore lived.  Ergo the proper situation is for orthopraxy and orthodoxy to be one and the same.  Do I love my neighbor?  My actions will tell, will they not?  After all, we will know a tree by its fruits.

So, where do we find teachers of righteousness to lead us down the orthodoxy-orthopraxy trail?  The union of these is righteousness.  This righteousness is not individualistic, so that we can feel good and holy while the world around us goes to hell in a handbasket.  No, this righteousness is socially transformative.

Our mission as Christians is to be salt and light–the best salt and the brightest light we can be by grace.  What one person does affects others, and we are God’s, not our own.  May we leave our corner of creation better than we found them.  May we work in the corners of creation God has assigned to each of us.  And may we be teachers of righteousness by words and deeds.


Week of Proper 9: Thursday, Year 1   14 comments

Above:  Gallery of the Apostles, Temmenhausen, Nikolauskirche, Bergische Gladbach, Germany

Image in the Public Domain

Grace:  Pass It On

JULY 11, 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 44:18-45:5 (An American Translation):

Then Judah went back to him [Joseph], and said,

If you please, my lord, let your servant speak a word in the ear of my lord, and  your anger not blaze against your servant; for you are the equal of Pharaoh himself.  My lord asked his servants, ‘Have you a father or a brother?’  And we said to my lord, ‘We have an aged father, and a young brother, the child of his old age; his brother is dead, so that he alone is left of mother’s children, and his father loves him.’  Then you said to your servants, ‘Bring him down to me that I may see him.’  But we told my lord, ‘The boy cannot leave his father; his father would die if he were to leave him.’  Whereupon you said to your servants, ‘Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you cannot have audience with me again.’

When we went back to your servant, my father, we reported to him the words of my lord.  Then our father said, ‘Go again and buy a little food for us.’  But we said, ‘We cannot go down; if our youngest brother accompanies us, we can go down; for we shall not be allowed to have audience with the man unless our youngest brother is with us.’  Then your servant, my father, said to us, ‘You know that my wife bore me only two children; then one of them left me, and I think that he must surely have been torn to pieces; for I have never seen him since.  If then you take this one with me too, and harm befall him, you will bring down my gray hairs to Sheol in trouble.’

And now, when I rejoin your servants, my father, and the boy not with us, his life is so bound up with the boy’s that will die when he sees that there is no boy, and your servants will bring down the gray hairs of your servant, our father, to Sheol in sorrow; for your servant went suretly for the boy to my father, saying, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, let my father blame me for it all my life.’  Now then, pray let your servant remain in the boy’s place as my lord’s slave, but let the boy go back with his brothers; for how can I go back to my father unless the boy is with me, and witness the agony that would come to my father?’

Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, so he cried out,

Have everyone withdraw from me.

So there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers; but he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it, and Pharaoh’s household heard it.  Joseph said to his brothers,

I am Joseph.  Is my father still living?

But his brothers could not answer him, because they were so dismayed at being in his presence.  So Joseph said to his brothers,

Come nearer to me.

When they came nearer, he said,

I am your brother Joseph whom you sold into Egypt.  Now do not be distressed nor angry with yourselves that you sold me here….

Psalm 105:7-21 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

7 He is the LORD our God;

his judgments prevail in all the world.

8 He has always been mindful of his covenant,

the promise he made for a thousand generations:

9 The covenant he made with Abraham,

the oath that he swore to Isaac,

10 Which he established as a statute for Jacob,

and everlasting covenant for Israel,

11 Saying, “To you will I give the land of Canaan

to be your allotted inheritance.”

12 When they were few in number,

of little account, and sojourners in the land,

13 Wandering from nation to nation

and from one kingdom to another,

14 He let no one oppress them

and rebuked kings for their sake,

15 Saying, “Do not touch my anointed

and do my prophets no harm.”

16 Then he called for a famine in the land

and destroyed the supply of bread.

17 He sent a man before them,

Joseph, who was sold as a slave.

18 They bruised his feet in fetters;

his neck they put in an iron collar.

19 Until his prediction came to pass,

the word of the LORD tested him.

20 The king sent and released him;

the ruler of the peoples set him free.

21 He set him as a master over his household,

as a ruler over all his possessions.

Matthew 10:7-15 (An American Translation):

[Jesus said to his disciples,]

And as you go about, preach and say, ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!’  Cure the sick, raise the dead, heal lepers, drive out demons.  Give without payment, just as you received without payment.  Do not take gold or silver or copper money in your purses, and do not take a bag for your journey, nor two shirts, nor shoes, nor a staff, for the workman deserves his food!  Whatever town or village you come to, inquire for some suitable person, and stay with him till you leave the place.  And as you go into his house, wish it well.  If the house deserves it, the peace you wish it will come over it, but if it does not deserve it, let your blessing come back upon yourselves.  And where no one will welcome you, or listen to you, leave that house or town and shake off its very dust from your feet.  I tell you, the land of Sodom and Gomorrah will fare better on the Day of Judgment than that town.


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.


Freely you have received; freely give.

–Matthew 10:8b, Translated by William Barclay

I got slightly ahead of the story from Genesis in the previous day’s devotional post.  That is fine, for, in so doing, I made a pertinent point.  Here, in this post, we have the great reveal:  Joseph tells his brothers who he is then forgives them to their faces.  Joseph had received grace freely; freely he extended it to his brothers.

This is one of the great scenes from the Bible.  Joseph had been through varieties of hell on earth due to the jealousy of brothers.  Yet this evil intent let to Joseph being in place to save Egypt, complete with foreign strangers, and his family members, including said brothers.  It all worked out well in the end.  Holding a grudge against the brothers would have hurt them, but it would have caused greater spiritual injury to Joseph.

Letting go is often hard to do.  Believe me, I know this well.  As I write these words, I feel unpleasant emotions when thinking of the names of certain people.  They did serious harm to me in 2006, putting me through academic hell.  But they are beyond my reach, and their own karma will catch up with them in time unless they change their ways, just as mine will pursue me unless take a route other than anger and fantasies of revenge.  I have decided to have nothing to do with what happens to them, not even to mention their names here.  It is a safe course, and my anger has been fading for years, by grace.    One day I might even find cause to thank them, out of recognition of the fact that what they did put me on the road to something far better than my original destination.

The Twelve Apostles  received grace freely.  So Jesus instructed them to impart it freely.  Is this not how we ought to act toward each other?  Indeed, it is.  This can prove controversial, depending upon the identityof the beneficiary or the recipient.  Consider the Parable of the Good Samaritan.  Samaritans were half-breeds and heretics.  Many respectable Jews of Jesus’ time spoke of Samaritans in disparaging terms.  Yet a Samartian was the hero of the story, and the respectable religious figures did nothing to help.  I suppose that, if Jesus were telling that parable today in the North American context, he would speak of the Good Illegal Immigrant.  Would not that scandalize many people?  So did the concept of a Good Samaritan in Jesus’ time.

Grace is scandalous.  It prevents us from getting what we deserve or what others think we deserve.  We, of course, like this when grace spares us.  But we tend to take great offense when it rescues someone we do not like, with whom we disagree strongly, or someone we otherwise consider unworthy.  I guarantee that someone considers me unworthy of grace, and that somebody has the same opinion of you, O reader.  All of us are unworthy, of course, but God extends grace anyway.  Should we not just be grateful for it and look for ways to treat people kindly?