Archive for the ‘June 18’ Category

Devotion for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday After Proper 6, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Hezekiah

Above:  Hezekiah

Image in the Public Domain

The Law of Moses, Faith, Works, and Justification

JUNE 17, 2019

JUNE 18, 2019

JUNE 19, 2019

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The Collect:

O God, throughout the ages you judge your people with mercy,

and you inspire us to speak your truth.

By your Spirit, anoint us for lives of faith and service,

and bring all people into your forgiveness,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 39

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The Assigned Readings:

2 Chronicles 29:1-19 (Monday)

2 Chronicles 30:1-12 (Tuesday)

2 Chronicles 30:13-27 (Wednesday)

Psalm 130 (All Days)

Galatians 3:1-9 (Monday)

Galatians 3:10-14 (Tuesday)

Mark 2:1-12 (Wednesday)

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For with Yahweh is faithful love,

with him generous ransom;

and he will ransom Israel

from all its sins.

–Psalm 130:7b-8, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

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The Law of Moses receives positive treatment in 2 Chronicles 29 and 30.  Keeping it is an outward sign of devotion to God in the narrative from the reign of King Hezekiah.  After all, the theology of the Babylonian Exile is that it resulted from widespread and persistent disregard for the Law of Moses, especially those regarding idolatry and social injustice, especially economic exploitation and judicial corruption.

What are we to make, then, of St. Paul the Apostle’s attitude toward the Law of Moses?  The immediate context of Galatians 3 was the question of the relationship between faith and works with regard to justification with God.  St. Paul argued that justification with God occurs via faith alone, faith being inherently active; faith and works were, in the Apostle’s mind, a package deal.  He cited the example of Abraham, whose faith God reckoned as righteousness.  The author of the Letter of James cited that example also, but to argue that

a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.

–James 3:24, Revised Standard Version–Second Edition (1971)

For the author of James faith was intellectual and not inherently active, so the pairing of faith and works was crucial.  The men agreed that active faith was essential.

Jesus came not to abolish the law but to fulfill it.  He engaged in disputes with religious officials whose legalism amplified certain aspects of the Law of Moses while ignoring the mandate to practice mercy, also part of the law.  Our Lord and Savior argued that certain religious leaders taught the Law of Moses wrongly, not that the law was invalid.  The law, ideally, was something that would become part of one, that one would keep it in principle, bearing in mind that some parts of it were culturally specific examples, and not becoming bogged down in them.  It was something one was supposed to keep as a matter of reverence and gratitude, not legalism.  Perhaps St. Paul was objecting more to legalism than to the Law of Moses itself.  He was, after all, engaged in a dispute with Judaizers, who insisted that Gentile converts to Christianity (then a Jewish sect) became Jews first.  The context of argument contributed to taking an opposite position, not seeking a moderate position.

Jesus agreed with Rabbi Hillel, who summarized the Torah as loving God with all of one’s being.  Hillel continued,

The rest is commentary.  Go and learn it.

Much of that commentary consists of instructions (many of them culturally specific) about how to care for the vulnerable people in our midst.  May we Gentiles follow the lead of our Jewish brethren and ask ourselves how to apply those laws in our contexts.  Then may we live according to the divine mandate to love God fully and each other as we love ourselves.  May we do this out of reverence and gratitude, as an expression of faith.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 4, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PAUL CUFFEE, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MISSIONARY TO THE SHINNECOCK NATION

THE FEAST OF SAINT CASIMIR OF POLAND, PRINCE

THE FEAST OF EMANUEL CRONENWETT, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MARINUS OF CAESAREA, ROMAN SOLDIER AND CHRISTIAN MARTYR, AND ASTERIUS, ROMAN SENATOR AND CHRISTIAN MARTYR

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2016/03/04/the-law-of-moses-faith-works-and-justification/

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Devotion for Tuesday After Trinity Sunday, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Light bulb in darkness

Above:   Lightbulb in Darkness

Image in the Public Domain

The Light of Christ

JUNE 18, 2019

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The Collect:

God of heaven and earth, before the foundation of the universe

and the beginning of time you are the triune God:

Author of creation, eternal Word of salvation, life-giving Spirit of wisdom.

Guide is to all truth by your Spirit, that we may

proclaim all that Christ has revealed and rejoice in the glory he shares with us.

Glory and praise to you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 37

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The Assigned Readings:

Proverbs 8:4-21

Psalm 124

Ephesians 5:15-20

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If Yahweh had not been on our side

–let Israel repeat it–

if Yahweh had not been on our side

when people attacked us,

they would have swallowed us alive

in the heat of their anger.

–Psalm 124:1-3, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

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The wisdom literature of the Old Testament identifies the power of God as masculine and the wisdom of God as feminine.  Thus, for example, we read Psalm 124, in which God has delivered Israel, and Proverbs 8, in which Lady Wisdom (Sophia) offers spiritual discipline more valuable than gold or rubies.  Spiritual discipline is also the theme of Ephesians 5:15-20.  Be filled with God; do not be drunk, it says.

The context of that passage is the renunciation of pagan ways.  Christianity was a young and small religion, and was still a school of Judaism.  The author’s concern in the passage was that Ephesian Christians behave themselves–be good examples.  This entailed curtailing certain appetites and resisting temptations.

That can prove difficult to do in any time and at any place.  Indeed, I think of a cocktail napkin I saw years ago.  It read,

LEAD ME NOT INTO TEMPTATION.  I CAN FIND MY OWN WAY.

My own temptations keep me busy.  Among my spiritual difficulties is the fact that, quite often, virtues and vices resemble each other.  I know well that resolving to do the right thing is easy, but succeeding is frequently challenging.  Fortunately, God knows that I, like my fellow human beings, am dust, and grace is abundantly available.

In some ways my cultural context is similar to that of Ephesians 5.  Christianity is old, not new, but, in the Western world, it is increasingly in the position of occupying minority status.  In the United States, for example, the fastest-growing religious category is “none.”  Some people are overtly hostile to religion; Reza Aslan calls them antitheists, a category distinct from atheists.  Some adherents of other religions are openly hostile to Christianity.  In such contexts the advice from Ephesians 5:15-20 proves especially helpful.  May the light of Christ shine through us who identify as Christians.  May it scatter the darkness of ignorance and antipathy.  May we, by grace, comport ourselves in a manner worthy of Christ, our Master.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 26, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALEXANDER OF ALEXANDRIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF EMILY MALBONE MORGAN, FOUNDER OF THE SOCIETY OF THE COMPANIONS OF THE HOLY CROSS

THE FEAST OF FRED ROGERS, EDUCATOR AND U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2016/02/26/the-light-of-christ/

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Devotion for Monday After Proper 6, Year B (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Cedars of Lebanon in Snow

Above:  Cedars of Lebanon in Snow, March 1946

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-matpc-22650

Glorifying God

JUNE 18, 2018

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The Collect:

O God, you are the tree of life, offering shelter to the world.

Graft us into yourself and nurture our growth,

that we may bear your truth and love to those in need,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 39

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The Assigned Readings:

Ezekiel 31:1-12

Psalm 52

Galatians 6:11-18

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Why do you glory in evil, you tyrant,

while the goodness of God endures forever?

–Psalm 52:1, Common Worship (2000)

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The date on the oracle in Ezekiel 31 places it about two months prior to the fall of the First Temple.  Yes, the Temple which King Solomon had built fell, but God did not.  And the Pharaoh of Egypt lost power, but God did not.  The common assumption that a kingdom’s downfall indicated the defeat of its deities was false.

The crucifixion of Jesus was, according to Roman authorities, supposed to be his extinguishment, not just his execution.  No trace of him was to remain, according to the imperial plan.  There was, however, a resurrection, which made plain the power of God and the defeat of evil plans.  Thus it was fitting that St. Paul the Apostle chose to boast of the cross of Christ.

I, without falling into the pietistic error of dismissing “externals,” recognize a biblical theme present in both Testaments:  maintaining appearances of piety without obeying God (including working for social justice) makes a mockery of rituals.  Repeating prayers and rituals while exploiting others or justifying the exploitation of others does not make one less impious.

So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

–James 2:17, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

May our Christian faith be active, work for evangelism and social justice, and not constitute a mockery of piety.  May it glorify God and not ourselves.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 21, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF RICHARD CHEVENIX TRENCH, ANGLICAN ARCHBISHOP OF DUBLIN

THE FEAST OF SAINT SERAPION OF THMUIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF THOMAS KEN, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF BATH AND WELLS

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM EDWARD HICKSON, ENGLISH MUSIC EDUCATOR AND SOCIAL REFORMER

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2015/03/21/glorifying-god/

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Devotion for Thursday and Friday Before Proper 7, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Christ Pantocrator

Above:  Christ Pantocrator

Image in the Public Domain

Love, Not Vengeance

JUNE 18 and 19, 2020

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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

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The Assigned Readings:

Jeremiah 18:12-17 (Thursday)

Jeremiah 18:18-23 (Friday)

Psalm 69:7-10 [11-15], 16-18 (Both Days)

Hebrews 2:5-9 (Thursday)

Acts 5:17-26 (Friday)

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For your sake I have suffered reproach;

shame has covered my face.

–Psalm 69:8, Common Worship (2000)

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The desire for vengeance—directly by one’s own efforts or indirectly by those of God—is commonplace and frequently predictable and understandable. One finds it in the readings from Jeremiah and the Book of Psalms today, in fact. But it also poisons one’s soul. I have known that desire and the accompanying spiritual toxins. I have also known the grace to let go of that dark feeling. I recall what some people have done to me and refuse to deny objective reality regarding the past, but if anything bad happens to those individuals and I hear of it, I will have had nothing to do with it and I will take no delight in their misfortune. I have set my focus on the future.

Each of us is present on the planet to do great things for God and each other. Whether we fulfill that vocation is a separate question, of course. Sts. John the Evangelist and Simon Peter suffered as innocents for their good deeds, which upset the apple carts of some people. The Apostles, broken out of jail by the hand of God, simply returned to the tasks to which God had called them. And Jesus, another innocent—one which a legal system executed—not only rose from the dead but rejected vengeance. He returned to the work of God—the work of love.

That is our work also. May we, by grace, succeed more often than we fail.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 19, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANDREW BOBOLA, JESUIT MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT DUNSTAN OF CANTERBURY, ARCHBISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT IVO OF CHARTRES, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT IVO OF KERMARTIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND ADVOCATE OF THE POOR

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/05/29/love-not-vengeance/

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Devotion for June 18, 19, and 20 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   3 comments

Above:  First Phonograph

Image Source = Library of Congress

Proverbs and John, Part VII:  Like a Broken Record

THURSDAY-SATURDAY, JUNE 18-20, 2020

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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:

Proverbs 20:5-25 (June 18)

Proverbs 22:1-21 (June 19)

Proverbs 22:22-23:12 (June 20)

Psalm 42 (Morning–June 18)

Psalm 89:1-18 (Morning–June 19)

Psalm 97 (Morning–June 20)

Psalms 102 and 133 (Evening–June 18)

Psalms 1 and 33 (Evening–June 19)

Psalms 16 and 62 (Evening–June 20)

John 17:1-26 (June 18)

John 18:1-14 (June 19)

John 18:15-40 (June 20)

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I am tiring rapidly of the Book of Proverbs.  Of course I have dipped into it over the years.  And, years ago, I read it from beginning to end as part of a project to read all 78 books of the Slavonic Bible.  Yet the Slavonic Bible project was in the 1990s.  Now, as a daily lectionary takes me through Proverbs again, this time in conjunction with the Gospel of John, I find myself agreeing with the Fourth Gospel and arguing with Proverbs quite often.  Proverbs tends to flit about from topic to topic, saying things like

Put your trust in the LORD and he will deliver you.

–20:22b, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

I reply,

Tell that to Jesus.

The next verse in Proverbs is true, however:

False weights are an abomination to the LORD;

Dishonest scales are not right.

–20:23, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

Today I find myself repeating myself yet again:  Proverbs is excessively optimistic and the Gospel of John subverts certain traditional notions of sin, suffering, and shame, including many in Proverbs.

I will be glad when the lectionary leaves Proverbs behind.  Maybe I will sound less like a broken record…record…record…record…record….record…record…..

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 16, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF RUFUS JONES, QUAKER THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN FRANCIS REGIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH BUTLER, ANGLICAN BISHOP

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/04/24/proverbs-and-john-part-vii-like-a-broken-record/

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Before a Bible Study   Leave a comment

Above:  An Old Family Bible

Image Source = David Ball

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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,

Amen.

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KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 7, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HENRY MELCHIOR MUHLENBERG, SHEPHERD OF LUTHERANISM IN THE AMERICAN COLONIES

THE FEAST OF FRED KAAN, HYMNWRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN WOOLMAN, ABOLITIONIST

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Week of Proper 6: Thursday, Year 2   1 comment

Above:  Elisha

“Your Kingdom Come!”

JUNE 18, 2020

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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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Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 48:1-14 (An American Translation):

Then the prophet Elijah arose like fire,

And his word burned like a torch;

He brought a famine upon them,

And made them few by his zeal,

By the word of the Lord he shut up heaven;

In the same way, he brought down fire three times.

How glorified you were, Elijah, in your wonderful acts,

And who can glory like you?

You who raised one who was dead, from death,

And from Hades, by the word of the Most High;

Who brought kings down to destruction,

And distinguished men from their beds.

Who heard rebukes at Sinai,

And judgments of vengeance at Horeb;

Who anointed kings to exact retribution,

And prophets to succeed him;

Who were taken up in a whirlwind of fire,

In a chariot with fiery horses;

Who, it is written, is to come in rebuke at the appointed time,

To quiet anger before it becomes wrath,

To turn the heart of the father to his son,

And to reform the tribes of Jacob.

Happy are those who saw you,

And those who fell asleep in love;

For we will surely live.

When Elijah was sheltered by the whirlwind,

Elisha was filled with his spirit.

In all his days he was not shaken by any ruler

And no one overmastered him.

Nothing was too wonderful for him,

And when he had fallen asleep, his body prophesied.

In life he did signs,

And after his death he worked wonders.

Psalm 97 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 The LORD is King;

let the earth rejoice;

let the multitude of the isles be glad.

2 Clouds and darkness are round about him,

righteousness and justice are the foundations of his throne.

A fire goes before him

and burns up his enemies on every side.

4 His lightnings light up the world;

the earth sees it and is afraid.

The mountains melt like wax at the presence of the LORD,

at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.

The heavens declare his righteousness,

and all the peoples see his glory.

Confounded be all who worship carved images

and delight in false gods!

Bow down before him, all you gods.

Zion hears and is glad, and the cities of Judah rejoice,

because of your judgments, O LORD.

For you are the LORD,

most high over all the earth;

you are exalted far above all gods.

10 The LORD loves those who hate evil;

he preserves the lives of the saints

and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.

11 Light has sprung up for the righteous,

and joyful gladness for those who are truehearted.

12 Rejoice in the LORD, you righteous,

and give thanks to his holy Name.

Matthew 6:7-15 (An American Translation):

[Jesus continued,] “And when you pray, do not repeat empty phrases as the heathen do, for they imagine that their prayers will be heard if they use words enough.  You must not be like them.  For God, who is your Father, knows what you need before you ask him.  This, therefore, is the way you are to pray:

Our Father in heaven,

Your name be revered!

Your kingdom come!

Your will be done

On earth as well as in heaven!

Give us today bread for the day,

And forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven our debtors.

And do not subject us to temptation,

But save us from the evil one.

For if you forgive others when they offend you, your heavenly Father will forgive you too.  But if you do not forgive others when they offend you, your heavenly Father will not forgive you for your offenses.”

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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.

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A Related Post:

Week of Proper 6:  Thursday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/03/week-of-proper-6-thursday-year-1/

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There is a famous roll call of faith in the Epistle to the Hebrews.  Many of my coreligionists might not know, however, that Sirach/Ecclesiasticus offers a more extensive and an older honor roll of the righteous, beginning in Chapter 44 and terminating in Chapter 50.  There we read summaries of the careers of Elijah and Elisha, praised for bringing glory to God, even though idolatry persisted in the land.  That, however, was not their fault.

I have found this recent line of Old Testament lessons increasingly tedious.  “More Baal worshipers are dead?  This is old news.  Same song, fifth verse!” I exclaim to myself within my cranium.  The only way I can make any spiritually helpful sense of all this is focusing now on this day’s reading from Sirach/Ecclesiasticus and connecting it to Matthew 6:9:

Our Father in heaven,

Your name be revered!

Your kingdom come!

Elijah and Elisha had their faults, as all of us do.  Yet they served YHWH, the only deity.  They sought, albeit unsuccessfully, to end the worship of other gods so that people in the Kingdom of Israel would worship only YHWH.  We must not bow down to idols and imaginary gods, which distract us from God.  May anyone who takes note of us say that we worship God alone, love God fully, and love our neighbors as ourselves.  That is a difficult calling, one we can accomplish by grace.

KRT