Archive for the ‘June 23’ Category

Devotion for Proper 7, Year A (Humes)   1 comment

Above:  Pole Gate, July 1978

Image Source = Library of Congress

Photographer = Suzi Jones

Faithful Servants of God, Part V

JUNE 23, 2019


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 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


Ecclesiastes 12 or Ezekiel 36:22-36

Psalm 10:1, 14-20

Galatians 6:1-18

Matthew 7:1-14


To sum up the matter:  fear God, and keep his commandments, since this is the whole duty of man.  For God will call all hidden deeds, good or bad, to judgment.

–Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, The Jerusalem Bible (1966)


Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.

–Galatians 6:2, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)


The author of Psalm 10’s query remains germane.  Why does God stand far off while the wicked hunt down the poor?  At least God does not always stand far off, although I also wonder about divine timing.

A major theme for this Sunday is how we treat each other.  God seems to care a great deal about that in the Bible.  We are supposed to build up one another, thereby creating an improved common good.  We actually benefit ourselves by putting others first.  This is part of “fearing”–actually, standing in awe of–God.

Selfishness is a difficult habit to break, unfortunately.  May we break it, by grace, and become the people and societies we are supposed to be.








Adapted from this post:


Devotion for Wednesday After Proper 7, Year B (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Christ Walking on the Sea

Above:  Christ Walking on the Sea, by Amedee Varint

Image in the Public Domain

Do Not Be Afraid

JUNE 23, 2021


The Collect:

O God of creation, eternal majesty,

you preside over land and sea, sunshine and storm.

By your strength pilot us,

by your power preserve us,

by your wisdom instruct us,

and by your hand protect us,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 40


The Assigned Readings:

Joshua 10:1-14

Psalm 65

Mark 6:45-52


Awesome things will you show us in your righteousness,

O God of our salvation,

O Hope of all the ends of the earth

and of the seas that are far away.

–Psalm 65:5, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)


Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.

–Jesus in Mark 6:50b, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)


Among the repeated themes in the Bible is that God is on the side of the righteous.  This might prove difficult to see sometimes, given persecutions and other hard times, but texts acknowledge this reality.  The composite theme holds that being on God’s side does not automatically mean that life will be prosperous, healthy, and easy, but that God will be present with one during good times as well as bad times.  Sometimes, in fact, one will suffer for being on God’s side.

I have had difficulty reconciling the God of battles in Joshua 10 with the God of Jesus, but I must, in all honesty, acknowledge that Revelation is not the most peaceful of books in the Bible and that its depiction of God is not pacifistic.  The truth is that we mortals can never, as much as we might try, remove our biases from our quest to understand God as much as we can, which is quite partially.  May we, therefore, consider our God concepts with humility, recognizing that we are all partially mistaken.

Fortunately, God remains faithful to divine promises and accepts with much kindness that which we offer sincerely.  Mercy flows abundantly.  We come to God with our fears, hopes, preconceptions, and the desire to obey divine commandments, but often our spiritual blind spots prevent us from understanding those commandments fully and recognizing many of our sins.  As in the story preceding the pericope from Mark, we bring all we have–a few loaves and fishes, to speak–and God transforms that which is inadequate into that which is more than sufficient.  May we take comfort in that reality.






Devotion for Monday and Tuesday After Proper 7, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment



Above:  Marble Street, Ruins of Ephesus, in Turkey, Between 1950 and 1960

Photographer = Osmo Visuri

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-matpc-23105

Faith in Time of Adversity

JUNE 22 and 23, 2020


The Collect:

Teach us, good Lord God, to serve you as you deserve,

to give and not to count the cost,

to fight and not to heed the wounds,

to toil and not to seek for rest,

to labor and not to ask for reward,

except that of knowing that we do your will,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 40


The Assigned Readings:

Micah 7:1-17 (Monday)

Jeremiah 26:1-12 (Tuesday)

Psalm 6 (Both Days)

Revelation 2:1-7 (Monday)

Revelation 2:8-11 (Tuesday)


Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am weak;

Lord, heal me, for my bones are racked.

–Psalm 6:2, Common Worship (2000)


Faith under pressure can waver, but may it hold until the end.

The assigned readings for these days come from places of difficulty. The audience of the Book of Revelation consisted of persecuted Christians and Christians about to endure persecution. Perhaps the faith of the persecuted Christians at Ephesus had begun to waver. Maybe that was what Revelation 2:4 meant. The prophet Jeremiah faced persecution for prophesying against the officult cult in a vassal kingdom which lacked the separation of religion and state. And the prophet Micah wrote that

The faithful have vanished from the land….

–Micah 7:2a, The Revised English Bible (1989)

then catalogued a variety of offenses, such as murder, corruption, and general dishonesty. Then he continued:

But I shall watch for the LORD,

I shall wait for God my saviour;

my God will hear me.

My enemies, do not exult over me.

Though I have fallen, I shall rise again;

though I live in darkness, the LORD is my light.

Because I have sinned against the LORD,

I must bear his anger, until he champions my cause

and gives judgement for me,

until he brings me into the light,

and with gladness I see his justice.

–Micah 7:7-9, The Revised English Bible (1989)

I understand why faith wavers in the context of great adversity. That is when keeping faith can prove especially difficult. After all, many of us have a certain false notion in our minds. If we do what is right, we will be safe, if not prosperous, we think—perhaps even if we know better. Good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people, we tell ourselves—perhaps even if we know better. When adversity befalls us we might ask what wrong we have done—even when we know better. Reality challenges false assumptions.

But, as I have learned the hard way, faith can also become stronger in times of adversity and enable one to survive them intact, even stronger spiritually. I have alternated between wavering and becoming stronger spiritually during a certain very difficult time in my life, but I emerged stronger—singed, but stronger.

May you, O reader, find adversity—when it comes—a time of spiritual growth overall.









Devotion for June 23, 24, and 25 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   5 comments

Above:  The Edicule, Church of Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem, Palestine, 1878-1946

Image Source = Library of Congress

Proverbs and John, Part IX:  Resurrection and Vocation



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:

Proverbs 27:1-24 (June 23)

Proverbs 30:1-9, 18-33 (June 24)

Proverbs 31:10-31 (June 25)

Psalm 19 (Morning–June 23)

Psalm 136 (Morning–June 24)

Psalm 123 (Morning–June 25)

Psalms 81 and 113 (Evening–June 23)

Psalms 97 and 112 (Evening–June 24)

Psalms 30 and 86 (Evening–June 25)

John 20:1-18 (June 23)

John 20:19-31 (June 24)

John 21:1-25 (June 25)


The readings from Proverbs cover a variety of topics, from friendship to flock management to the imperative of championing the poor and the needy to the virtues of a capable wife.  One can establish links between some of these unites and John 20-21, and I will hint at a few of them.

After one has seen Jesus die and meet him afterward, what is one supposed to do?  He did die as an insurrectionist (that was the charge), so following him was dangerous.  An initial and not unreasonable lack of understanding of the Resurrection faded and made way for mission.  A woman told men that Jesus was alive, thereby becoming the first post-Resurrection evangelist.  (St. Mary Magadalene, as the Eastern Orthodox say, was an equal of the Apostles.)  Returning to  fishing was a momentary lapse; the time had come for people after Christ’s Ascension (or whatever form the departure took according to the laws of Nature.)  Christ changed everything in the lives of those who went on to proclaim him after he left.

Some understanding comes best by experience, for words, although necessary, are woefully inadequate on some occasions.  An author of some proverbs did not grasp how an eagle could fly or a ship navigate.  These were (are remain) natural and technological issues, respectively.  Such matters one can explain well via facts.  The Resurrection of Jesus, however, is more mysterious in its mechanics, and I embrace the mystery.  Besides, the post-Resurrection reality really interests me, for it is my reality.  It has been human reality for nearly two thousand years.  And what that reality will require of me is not necessarily (in technical details) a match for what it will require of you, O reader.  Our circumstances are different, and we are not identical.  There is plenty of work to do for Jesus; may each of us do our part faithfully.








Proper 7, Year C   12 comments

Above:  Elijah in the Wilderness, by Washington Allston

Terrifying Grace

The Sunday Closest to June 22

Second Sunday After Pentecost

JUNE 23, 2019


The Assigned Readings:

1 Kings 19:1-4 (5-7), 8-15a and Psalms 42 and 43


Isaiah 65:1-9 and Psalm 22:18-27


Galatians 3:23-29

Luke 8:26-39

The Collect:

Keep, O Lord, your household the Church in your steadfast faith and love, that through your grace we may proclaim your truth with boldness, and minister your justice with compassion; for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Some Related Posts:

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

Prayer of Confession:

Prayer of Dedication:

1 Kings 19:

Isaiah 65:

Galatians 3:

Luke 8:

The Remnant:


As I took notes on the readings then pondered connections the first unifying thread I noticed was fear.  To begin with the Old Testament options, Elijah was a fugitive  from the wrath of Queen Jezebel after the contest with the priests of Baal.  Yet God, who was present in the silence, not the storm, encouraged the prophet and gave him more tasks to complete.  Third Isaiah reminded his audience that a remnant of the faithful would survive the destruction of the wicked.  So the faithful needed not to fear, although the wicked did.

In the Gospel of Luke Jesus healed a demoniac (whatever his modern psychiatric label would be) and killed a herd of swine.  Then fearful locals asked our Lord to depart the premises.  What scared them?  The loss of the swine, economic assets, disturbed some obvious reasons.  And the demonstration of such power certainly disturbed others.  But the healing was the scariest part of the sequence of events.  Who were the locals relative to the man if he, once ill, was now well?

Change disturbs many people profoundly.  We become accustomed to the status quo, even if we know that it is imperfect.  But at least it is familiar.  Some things, of course, should remain constant, so discomfort with some change is healthy and proper.  But resistance to change in general constitutes a spiritual dysfunction.  Besides, life is replete with change.  One who likes things just so and constant will not cope well with life.  And an organism that is not changing is dead.

Speaking of change, Christ Jesus overrides a variety of distinctions, such as slave and free person, male and female, and Jew and Gentile. Opposites such as these cease to matter in the context of our Lord.   That causes me great joy.  Yet many others find that breaking down barriers frightening.  If we define ourselves by who and what we are not rather than by who and what we are, it is terrifying news.

Grace scandalizes many of us.  It calls us as we are and leads us to become a new creation.  Grace ignores categories we use to make sense of the world and destroys our illusion that we know more than we do.  Grace tell sus that we need not hide from our enemies if God is with us.  We still might die–the Romans did crucify Jesus–but divine power remains unrivaled.  And God will preserve a remnant of the faithful as the wicked perish.  The members of that remnant will have a responsibility to minister grace to others, for grace is free, not cheap.

Dare we embrace this potentially upsetting and terrifying grace?  Or do we prefer the comfortable fictions and realities which comfort us while afflicting others?








Before a Bible Study   Leave a comment

Above:  An Old Family Bible

Image Source = David Ball


God of glory,

as we prepare to study the Bible,

may we approach the texts with our minds open,

our intellects engaged,

and our spirits receptive to your leading,

so that we will understand them correctly

and derive from them the appropriate lessons.

Then may we act on those lessons.

For the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ,








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Week of Proper 7: Tuesday, Year 2   2 comments

Above:  King Hezekiah and the Prophet Isaiah

A Time for Introspection

JUNE 23, 2020


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.


2 Kings 19:9-36 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

But the [king of Assyria] learned that king Tirhakah of Nubia had come out to fight him; so he again sent messengers to Hezekiah, saying,

Tell this to King Hezekiah of Judah:  Do not let your God, on whom you are relying, mislead you into thinking that Jerusalem will not be delivered into the hands of the king of Assyria.  You yourself have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the lands, how they have annihilated them; and can you escape?  Were the nations that my predecessors destroyed–Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, and the Bethedenites in Telassar–saved by their gods?  where is the king of Hamath?  And the king of Arpad?  And the kings of Lair, Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah?

Hezekiah took the letter from the messengers and read it.  Hezekiah then went up to the House of the LORD and spread out before the LORD.  And Hezekiah prayed to the LORD and said,

O LORD of Hosts, Enthroned on the Cherubim!  You alone are God of all the kingdoms of the earth.  You made the heavens and the earth.  O LORD, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see.  Hear the words that Sennacherib has sent to blaspheme the living God!  True, O LORD, the kings of Assyria have annihilated the nations and their lands, and have committed their gods to the flames and have destroyed them; for they are not gods, but man’s handiwork of wood and stone.  But now, O LORD our God, deliver us from his hands, and let all the kingdoms of the earth know that You alone, O LORD, are God.

Then Isaiah son of Amoz sent this message to Hezekiah:

Thus said the LORD, the God of Israel:  I have heard the prayer you have offered to Me concerning King Sennacherib of Assyria.  This is what the word of the LORD has spoken concerning him:

Fair Maiden Zion despises you,

She mocks at you;

Fair Jerusalem shakes

Her head at you.

Whom have you blasphemed and reviled?

Against whom made loud your voice

And haughtily raised your eyes?

Against the Holy One of Israel!

Through your envoys you have blasphemed my Lord.

Because you thought,

“Thanks to my vast chariotry,

It is I who have climbed the highest mountain,

To the remotest parts of Lebanon,

And have cut down its loftiest cedars,

Its choicest cypresses,

And have reached its remotest lodge,

Its densest forest.”

It is I who have drawn and drunk the waters of strangers;

I have dried up with the soles of my feet

All the streams of Egypt.

Have you not heard? Of old

I planned that very thing,

I designed it long ago,

And now I have fulfilled it.

And it has come to pass,

Laying waste fortified towns

In desolate heaps.

Their inhabitants are helpless,

Dismayed and shamed.

They were but grass of the field

And green herbage,

Grass of the roofs that is blasted

Before the standing grain.

I know your stayings

And your goings and comings,

And how you raged against Me.

Because you have raged against Me,

And your tumult has reached My ears,

I will place My hook in your nose

And My bit between your jaws;

And I will make you go back by the road

By which you came.

And this is the sign for you:  This year you eat what grows of itself, and the next year what springs from that; and in the third year, sow and reap, and plant vineyards and eat their fruit.  And the survivors of the House of Judah that have escaped shall regenerate its stock below and produce boughs from above.

For a remnant shall come forth from Jerusalem,

Survivors from Mount Zion.

The zeal of the LORD of Hosts

Shall bring this to pass.

Assuredly, thus said the said the LORD concerning the king of Assyria:

He shall not enter this city;

He shall not shoot an arrow at it,

Or advance upon it with a shield,

Or pile up a siege mound against it.

He shall go back

By the way he came;

He shall not enter this city

–declares the LORD.

I shall protect and save this city for My sake,

And for the sake of My servant David.

That night an angel of the LORD went out and struck down one hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp, and the following morning they were all dead corpses.

So King Sennacherib of Assyria broke camp and retreated, and stayed in Nineveh.  While he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisroch, his sons Adrammelech and Sarezer struck him down with the sword.  They fled to the land of Ararat, and his son Esarhaddon succeeded him as king.

Psalm 48 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised;

in the city of our God is his holy hill.

2 Beautiful and lofty, the joy of all the earth, is the hill of Zion,

the very center of the world and the city of the great King.

God is in her citadels;

he is known to be her sure refuge.

Behold, the kings of the earth assembled

and marched forward together.

5 They looked and were astonished;

they retreated and fled in terror.

Trembling seized them there;

they writhed like a woman in childbirth,

like ships of the sea when the east wind shatters them.

As we have heard, so have we seen,

in the city of the LORD of hosts, in the city of our God;

God has established her for ever.

8 We have waited in silence on your loving-kindness, O God,

in the midst of your temple.

Your praise, like your Name, O God, reaches to the world’s end;

your right hand is full of justice.

10 Let Mount Zion be glad

in the cities of Judah rejoice,

because of your judgments.

11 Make the circuit of Zion;

walk round about her;

count the number of her towers.

12 Consider well her bulwarks;

examine her strongholds;

that you may tell those who come after.

13 This God is our God for ever and ever;

he shall be our guide for ever more.

Matthew 7:6, 12-14 (An American Translation):

[Jesus continued,]

Do not give what is sacred to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, or they will trample them under their feet and turn and tear you in pieces….Therefore you must always treat other people as you would like them to have them treat you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

Go in at the narrow gate.  For the road that leads to destruction is broad and spacious, and there are many who go in by it.  But the gate is narrow the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few that find it.


The Collect:

O Lord, make us have perpetual love and reverence for your holy Name, for you never fail to help and govern those whom you have set upon the sure foundation of your loving-kindness; 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 7:  Tuesday, Year 1:

The Remnant:


The Canadian Anglican Lectionary has skipped ahead.  So here is a summary of what you, O reader, have missed:

2 Kings 17 continues by condemning Judah.

The Assyrians resettled Israel, where religious syncretism became commonplace.

King Hezekiah (reigned 727/715-698/687 B.C.E. according to The Jewish Study Bible–dates are uncertain), son of Ahaz, reigned for 29 years.  He abolished shrines and smashed pillars.  The text tells us that

He trusted only in the LORD, the God of Israel; there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those before him. (18:5)

That catches us up to the point of Chapter 19, in which God delivers Judah from an Assyrian invasion.  It is a happy ending for Hezekiah and his kingdom, yet we readers know that, later in 2 Kings, Babylonians will destroy the city.

The books of Samuel and Kings are not primarily historical, and their authors did not pretend that they were.  Indeed, my academic study of history has taught me that objective history is like the Loch Ness Monster; one hears much about it yet hard evidence does not exist.  Two historians can write about the same topic, agree factually, and arrive at different conclusions.  I can think of a few examples of this quite quickly.

The books of Samuel and Kings are theological works using the past to demonstrate certain points.  Among those points is this:  Draw near to God, and God will draw near to you.  We ought not overgeneralize, for the fact of national collapse does not necessarily indicate divine judgment any more than national success indicates divine approval.

But the editors of the final version of Samuel-Kings worked in the context of return from the exile of Judah.  They, like historians at any time, understood the past in the context of their present day.  These editors applied spiritual retrospection to their cultural and national past.

You, O reader, might wonder, “What is the devotional value of this day’s reading from 2 Kings?”  Here is my answer:  Each of us needs, as an individual, to reflect on our relationship with God over time.  What has been right with it?  What has been wrong with it?  And we also need to do the same collectively.  The collective might be a family, a couple, a book group, a Bible study group, or a religious congregation or commune.  After all, the focus in these readings has been collective, not individual, except when the narrator has been discussing monarchs and prophets.  And, when we have prayerfully identified our weak spots, what is the best way to strengthen them?