Archive for the ‘June 7’ Category

Devotion for Thursday and Friday Before Proper 5, Year B (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

The Two Reports of the Spies

Above:  The Two Reports of the Spies

Image in the Public Domain

God, Affliction, Judgment, and Mercy

JUNE 7 and 8, 2018

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The Collect:

All-powerful God, in Jesus Christ you turned death into life and defeat into victory.

Increase our faith and trust in him,

that we may triumph over all evil in the strength

of the same Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 39

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 28:9-13 (Thursday)

Deuteronomy 1:34-40 (Friday)

Psalm 130 (Both Days)

1 Peter 4:7-19 (Thursday)

2 Corinthians 5:1-5 (Friday)

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Out of the depths have I called to you, O LORD

LORD, hear my voice;

let your ears consider well the voice of my supplication.

If you, LORD, were to note what is done amiss,

O Lord, who could stand?

–Psalm 130:1-2, Book of Common Worship (1993)

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Who indeed?

We read of judgment, mercy, and affliction in the pericopes for these two days.  Faithfulness to God, especially when the depiction of God is that of one with a short fuse, is especially dangerous.  And even when texts depict God as having more patience, persistent faithlessness remains perilous.  The readings from the New Testament add the element of enduring suffering for the sake of righteousness faithfully.  Trust in God and rejoice, they advise.

I recognize that judgment and mercy exist in God.  Sometimes the former precedes the latter, but, on other occasions, mercy for some entails judgment on others.  I prefer a utopia in which all is peace, love, mutuality, faithfulness to God, and other virtues, but that is not this world.  If, for example, the oppressors refuse to refrain from oppressing, is not the deliverance of the oppressed sometimes the doom of the oppressors?  We human beings make our decisions and must live with the consequences of them.  Nevertheless, I choose to emphasize the mercy of God, but not to the exclusion of judgment.  (I am not a universalist.)  The depiction of God in much of the Torah disturbs me, for the divine temper seems too quick.  I prefer the God of Psalm 130.

Nevertheless, enduring suffering for the sake of righteousness patiently and with rejoicing is something I have not mastered.  I am glad that my circumstances have not led to such suffering.  Yet I have endured some suffering with great impatience, finding God to be present with me during the ideal.  I have rejoiced in the spiritual growth I have experienced in real time and after the fact, with the benefit of hindsight.  Divine mercy has been especially evident in difficult circumstances.

I conclude that trusting God to fulfill divine promises is wise, for God is faithful.  None of my doubts have led to divine retribution, fortunately.  God has never failed me, but I have failed God often.  Reducing the number of instances of failure is among the spiritual goals I am pursuing via grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 17, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT PATRICK, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF ARMAGH

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2015/03/17/god-affliction-judgment-and-mercy/

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Devotion for Wednesday After Pentecost, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

STPN_6036

 

Above:  St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Newnan, Georgia, January 26, 2014

My favorite aspect of this arrangement is the centrality of the baptismal font.

Image Source = Bill Monk, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

Active Love and Living Water

JUNE 7, 2017

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The Collect:

O God, on this day you open the hearts of your faithful people by sending into us your Holy Spirit.

Direct us by the light of that Spirit, that we may have a right judgment in all things

and rejoice at all times in your peace, through Jesus Christ, your Son and our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 36

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The Assigned Readings:

Numbers 11:24-30

Psalm 104:24-34, 35b

John 7:37-39

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When you send forth your spirit, they are created,

and you renew the face of the earth.

–Psalm 104:32, Common Worship (2000)

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This devotion owes much to the excellent and scholarly work of the late Father Raymond E. Brown in Volume One (1966) of his commentary on the Gospel of John for The Anchor Bible set of books. He wrote two thick volumes on that Gospel. I am glad that I walked into a certain thrift store on a certain day and purchased those two books.

The Spirit of God fell upon seventy Hebrew elders in Numbers 11. Meat for the masses followed. The liberated people who pined for the food they ate when they were slaves in Egypt had received freedom from the hand of God. Since that freedom was apparently insufficient for many and since God had compassion, God sent quails also. Moses had seventy people with whom to share his burdens. God had provided abundantly.

The Exodus, the central narrative of the Hebrew Bible, informs the Gospel of John also. In the scene from John 7, Jesus was in Jerusalem for the Festival of Tabernacles (or Booths), originally a harvest festival (in September-October on the Gregorian Calendar). The holy time also carried associations with the Exodus and with the Day of the Lord (as in later Jewish prophecy), when, as Bishop N. T. Wright fixates on in books, God would become king in Israel. Thus the festival carried messianic meanings also.

A helpful note in The New Interpreter’s Study Bible (2003) reads:

As part of the celebration of the Tabernacles, the priest poured freshly drawn water on the altar as a libation to God. Just as Jesus is the means of Passover (chap. 6), he is also the life-giving water of Tabernacles (4:10-14; 6:35).

–Page 1922

That living water (yes, a baptismal metaphor in Christian theology) refers to new life in Christ, to divine wisdom (see John 1:1-18), and to the active power of God in the world. (The Church came to call the latter the Holy Spirit.) And, as Father Brown writes,

If the water is a symbol of the revelation that Jesus gives to those who believe in him, it is also a symbol of the Spirit that the resurrected Jesus will give, as v. 39 specifies.

–Page 328

One might also take interest in another detail of John 7:38, the prompt for a lively theological debate. How should one read the Greek text? From whose heart shall the streams of living water flow? Much of Western Christian theology (especially that of the Roman Catholic variety) identifies the heart in question as that of Jesus. (Father Brown argues for this in his commentary.) This position is consistent with the filoque clause of the Nicene Creed: the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. Many who maintain that the heart in question is that of Jesus also cite John 14:6 and 26, John 16:17, and John 20:20, in which the Holy Spirit proceeds from God the Father or from Jesus unambiguously.

The Eastern Orthodox, however, use a form of the Creed with omits the filoque clause. The Eastern Church Fathers, consistent with their theology, interpreted the heart in quiestion as that of a believer in Christ. A note in The Orthodox Study Bible (2008) indicates this:

The living water (v. 38) is the gift of the Holy Spirit (v. 39) and the new life that accompanies this gift.

–page 1438

I have noticed that some translations, such as the New Revised Standard Version, render John 7:38 as to support the Eastern Orthodox position.  Gail R. O’Day and Susan E. Hylen, in their volume for John (2006) for the Westminster Bible Companion series (Westminster/John Knox Press) refer to this decision and refer to the linguistic ambiguity in the Greek text of that verse.  They, without dismissing the possibility of the stream of living water coming somehow through the individual believer, note that

…the ultimate source of then living water in John is always Jesus or God.

–Page 86

The ultimate textual context for interpreting a given passage of scripture is the rest of scripture, as I have read in various books about the Bible.  Given this interpretive framework, we ought never to forget that the source of the living water is divine.  The role of the individual in that in John 7:38 is a live theological issue.  Even if the heart in question is that of the individual believer, the living water still comes from God–in this case, via Jesus.

As for filoque, the question of the procession of the Holy Spirit is a recipe for mental gymnastics. How, for example, can the Holy Spirit proceed from the Father and the Son if the Son also proceeded from the Father, especially if the Son has always existed? When, then, did he proceed from the Father? And how does one attempt to untangle details of Trinitarian theology without falling into serious heresy? The question of how the procession of the Holy Spirit works is also an issue irrelevant to salvation.  I am content to say that God is active among us and to leave the details of the procession of the Holy Spirit as a divine mystery.

The contents of these questions do not change a basic point: God, who liberates us (not so we can grumble and be ungrateful), also empowers us to glorify God and to support one another. If we do not love one another, whom we can see, we do not love God, whom we cannot see. This is active love, the kind which resists exploitation and other evils in our midst. This is active love, which builds up the other and thereby improves not only his or her lot in life but the society also. This is active love, by which we help each other bear burdens. This is active love, a mandate from God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 15, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE FIRST U.S. PRESBYTERIAN BOOK OF COMMON WORSHIP, 1906

THE FEAST OF CAROLINE CHISHOLM, HUMANITARIAN

THE FEAST OF PIRIPI TAUMATA-A-KURA, ANGLICAN MISSIONARY

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/05/29/active-love-and-living-water/

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Devotion for June 7 and 8 in Ordinary Time (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   3 comments

Above:  Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

Proverbs and John, Part II:  Spiritual Obliviousness and Self-Deception

NOT OBSERVED IN 2019

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

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

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

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Proverbs 4:1-27 (June 7)

Proverbs 5:1-23 (June 8)

Psalm 86 (Morning–June 7)

Psalm 122 (Morning–June 8)

Psalms 6 and 19 (Evening–June 7)

Psalms 141 and 90 (Evening–June 8)

John 12:1-19 (June 7)

John 12:20-36a (June 8)

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The readings from Proverbs pertain to how to glorify God.  Love wisdom, hate evil, pursue the path of righteousness, and choose one’s lover well, they say.  Indeed, to do the opposite of any of these does not glorify God.

Those who plotted to kill Jesus (since John 11) and Lazarus (in Chapter 12) did not love wisdom, hate evil, and pursue the path of righteousness.  Yet their violent perfidy did not thwart the glorification of God.  In fact, in the Gospel of John, the crucifixion of Jesus is our Lord’s glorification.  And his resurrection from the dead was most glorious.

I derive great comfort from the knowledge that, despite human efforts, much of the time, God wins.  And I think it better to function as one of God’s willing partners on the path or righteousness rather than as one through whom God works in spite of one’s wishes and actual purposes.

I suspect that none of those who plotted to kill Jesus and Lazarus woke up on any day and asked themselves,

What can I do today to thwart God’s will?  Let me count the ways.

We humans justify ourselves to ourselves quite often, do we not?  So I wonder how often I do not function as one of God’s wiling partners on the path of righteousness while thinking that I am.  This is a question of spiritual obliviousness and self-deception.  To point it out among the long-dead is easier than to diagnose it in the person one sees in the mirror.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 8, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF BETTY FORD, U.S. FIRST LADY AND ADVOCATE FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE

THE FEAST OF ALBERT RHETT STUART, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF GEORGIA

THE FEAST OF BROOKE FOSS WESTCOTT, ANGLICAN BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT GRIMWALD, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

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Other Devotions for Today:

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/04/24/proverbs-and-john-part-ii-spiritual-obliviousness-and-self-deception/

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Week of Proper 4: Thursday, Year 2   6 comments

Above:  First Paragraph of the Shema in Hebrew

Finally, a Sincere Question!

JUNE 7, 2018

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2 Timothy 2:8-15 (Revised English Bible):

Remember the theme of my gospel:  Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, born of David’s line.  For preaching this I am exposed to hardship, even to the point of being fettered like a criminal; but the word of God is not fettered.  All this I endure for the sake of God’s chosen ones, in the hope that they too may attain the glorious and eternal salvation which is in Christ Jesus.

Here is a saying you may trust:

If we have died with him, we shall live with him;

if we endure, we shall reign with him;

if we disown him, he will disown us;

if we are faithless, he remains faithful,

for he cannot disown himself.

Keep on reminding people of this, and charge them solemnly before God to stop disputing about mere words; it does not good, and only ruins those who listen.  Try hard to show yourself worthy of God’s approval, as a worker with no cause for shame; keep strictly to the true gospel….

Psalm 25:1-12 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul;

my God, I put my trust in you;

let me not be humiliated,

nor let my enemies triumph over me.

2  Let none who look to you be put to shame;

let the treacherous be disappointed in their schemes.

3  Show me your ways, O LORD,

and teach me your paths.

4  Lead me in your truth and teach me,

for you are the God of my salvation;

in you have I trusted all the day long.

5  Remember, O LORD, your compassion and love,

for they are from everlasting.

6  Remember not the sins of my youth and my transgressions;

remember me according to your love

and for the sake of your goodness, O LORD.

7  Gracious and upright is the LORD;

therefore he teaches sinners in his way.

8  He guides the humble in doing right

and teaches his way to the lowly.

9  All the paths of the LORD are love and faithfulness

to those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.

10  For your Name’s sake, O LORD,

forgive my sin, for it is great.

11  Who are they who fear the LORD?

he will teach them the way that they should choose.

12  They shall dwell in prosperity,

and their offspring shall inherit the land.

Mark 12:28-34 (Revised English Bible):

Then one of the scribes, who had been listening to these discussions and had observed how well Jesus answered, came forward and asked him,

Which is the first of all the commandments?

He answered,

The first is, “Hear, O Israel:  the Lord our God is the one Lord, and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.”   The second is this:  “You must love your neighbour as yourself.”  No other commandment is greater than these.

The scribe said to him,

Well said, Teacher.  You are right in saying that God is one and beside him there is no other.  And to love him with all your heart, all your understanding, and all your strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself–that means far more than any whole-offerings and sacrifices.

When Jesus saw how thoughtfully he answered, he said to him,

You are not far from the kingdom of God.

After that nobody dared put any more questions to him.

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The Collect:

O God, your never-failing providence sets in order all things both in heaven and earth:  Put away from us, we entreat you, all hurtful things, and give us those things which are profitable for us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

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A Related Post:

Week of Proper 4:  Thursday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/11/16/week-of-proper-4-thursday-year-1/

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This time I borrow the text of the devotion from myself, specifically the Year 1 counterpart to this post.

KRT

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THE SHEMA

Hear, Israel:  the LORD is our God, the LORD our one God; and you must love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments which I give you this day are to be remembered and taken to heart; repeat them to your children, and speak to them both indoors and out of doors, when you lie down and when you get up.  Bind them as a sign on your hand and wear them as a pendant on your forehead; write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates.

–Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (Revised English Bible)

The recent arc of the Markan narrative in the lectionary has been one of Jesus fielding insincere questions.  But, at the end of this part of the story, a scribe asks an intelligent and sincere question:  What is the greatest commandment.  This man receives a reply unlike the one Jesus had for the Sadducees just a few verses ago:  “You are so far from the truth!”  In this case, Jesus quotes the Shema, a duly famous part of the Law of Moses, and amends it:  We must love our neighbors as we love ourselves.  The scribe agrees with the answer, and Jesus says that the man is near to the kingdom of God.  Did the scribe complete the journey?  The texts are silent on that point, but I hope the answer is affirmative.

Too often certain people and institutions who claim the Christian label become caught up in legalism and call this holiness.  For example, the Church of God (Anderson, Indiana) began in the 1800s as a Restorationist body claiming the Bible alone as its source of authority in matters of doctrine and practice.  For a while men were not allowed to wear neckties to church; the denomination was that strict.  The Anderson, Indiana, group liberalized by 1910-1911, when it permitted men to wear neckties to church.  This was one issue that prompted the Church of God (Guthrie, Oklahoma) to break away; it opposed neckties.  (My source =Encyclopedia of American Religions)

In the 1960s, in rural Kathleen, Georgia, parents began to offer a regular Saturday night chaperoned dance at the fellowship hall of Andrew Chapel Methodist Church.  This was an event for local youth, so they would have something positive to do on the weekend.  One night, the pastor of a local Baptist church made an unfortunate scene at one of these dances when he complained loudly about all the allegedly sinful dancing taking place indoors.  Some of his parishioners were at that dance, and that pastor had to seek other employment shortly thereafter.  (My source = the United Methodist minister who had served as pastor of Andrew Chapel in the 1960s)

These are just two examples of what has happened when people seeking to obey God become so lost in the trees that they lose sight of the forest.  If we will focus on loving people as ourselves, for example, many details will fall into place.  It is laudable to love the Bible, but not to seek permission for every minute detail (such as whether it is proper to wear a necktie) in its pages.  And the denunciation of all dancing as sinful is an old saw, one that ought to die.

The scriptures say that God wants to be gracious to us.  May we respond favorably to God and extend grace to others, as we have opportunity.  Yesterday I had the chance to be extraordinarily kind to a student experiencing a medical situation.  It will not derail her progress in my course; I will not permit it to do so.  I mention this for one reason:  Everything I have learned from my formative years tells me that my decision was the only proper one.  So, when the opportunity to function as an agent of grace presented itself, I never considered doing anything else.  Yes, I broke rules to do this, but God has broken rules in order to extend grace to many of us again and again.  I have learned the meaning of the words of Jesus:  “Go and do likewise.”

All praise to the God of mercy!

KRT