Archive for the ‘November 5’ Category

Devotion for Monday and Tuesday After Proper 26, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Lot and His Daughters

Above:   Lot and His Daughters, by Lucas van Leyden

Image in the Public Domain

The Good Society

NOVEMBER 4 and 5, 2019

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The Collect:

Merciful God, gracious and benevolent,

through your Son you invite all the world to a meal of mercy.

Grant that we may eagerly follow this call,

and bring us with all your saints into your life of justice and joy,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 52

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The Assigned Readings:

Nehemiah 13:1-3, 23-31 (Monday)

Zechariah 7:1-14 (Tuesday)

Psalm 50 (Both Days)

1 Corinthians 5:9-13 (Monday)

Jude 5-21 (Tuesday)

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“When you see a thief, you make him your friend,

and you cast your lot in with adulterers.

You have loosed your lips for evil,

and harnessed your tongue to a lie.

You are always speaking evil of your brother

and slandering your own mother’s son.

These things you have done, and I kept still,

and you thought that I am like you.”

–Psalm 50:18-21, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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The Law of Moses teaches that, among other things:

  1. We humans depend on God for everything,
  2. We depend on each other also,
  3. We have no right to exploit each other,
  4. We are responsible to each other, and
  5. We are responsible for each other.

Thus hospitality is a great virtue, for it can make the difference between someone coming to harm or avoiding harm, as well as the difference between someone dying or living.

My summary of the forbidden behaviors in these days’ readings is that they are generally activities that harm others.  I note that, in post-exilic zeal to obey the Law of Moses, many people went too far with regard to the treatment of foreigners.  The Book of Jonah pushes back against such excesses.  The Book of Ruth, in which a Moabite woman marries a Hebrew man and becomes an ancestor of King David, is probably another protest against such zealousness-turned-xenophobia, such as that praised in Nehemiah 13:1.

As for homosexual behavior (as opposed to homosexuality as a sexual preference, an understanding which did not exist until recent centuries), Jude 7 is the only verse in the Bible to make explicit the link between homosexual conduct and the story of Sodom in Genesis 19.  In that chapter Lot, who has lived in the city since Genesis 13, presumably knows his neighbors well enough to understand what they like.  Lot has taken in two angels.  A mob gathers outside his door and demands that he send them outside to that they can gang rape the angels.  Lot refuses the demands and offers to send his two virgin daughters out instead.  (Bad father!)  Fortunately for Lot’s daughters, the mob is not interested and the angels have a plan to save Lot and his family from the imminent destruction of the city.  In the context of Genesis 19 the planned sexual activity is rape, not anything consensual; may nobody miss that point.  The standard Biblical condemnations of the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah are like those in Ezekiel 16:48-50 and 3 Maccabees 2:5-6, where one reads that the cities’ sins were notorious and the people were arrogant and brazen in their iniquity.  Ezekiel 16 adds to that description the neglect of the poor and the hungry–a lack of hospitality.

Zechariah 7:8-14 states that the pre-exilic Kingdoms of Israel and Judah violated the basic requirements of the Law of Moses, and paid the price.  The societies, generally speaking, did not administer true justice and act kindly and compassionately.  No, it oppressed widows, orphans, the poor, and resident aliens.  The societies were unrepentant, and divine patience ran out.

Society is people.  It shapes its members, who also influence it.  May we–you, O reader, and I–influence society for the better–to care for the vulnerable, to resist bullying and corruption, to favor kindness and compassion, and to seek and find the proper balance between individual and collective responsibility.  May we eschew bigotry in all forms, for we have a divine mandate to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.  May we seek to love God and each other fully, manifesting respect for the image of God in each other, seeking to build each other up, for that is not only the path to the common good but is also godly.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 31, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE VISITATION OF MARY TO ELIZABETH

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2016/05/31/the-good-society/

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Devotion for Monday and Tuesday After Proper 26, Year B (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Moses Pleading with Israel

Above:  Moses Pleading with Israel

Image in the Public Domain

Difficult Obedience to God

NOVEMBER 5 and 6, 2018

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The Collect:

Almighty God, you have taught us in your Son that love fulfills the law.

Inspire us to love you with all our heart, our soul, our mind, and our strength,

and teach us how to love our neighbors as ourselves,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 51

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The Assigned Readings:

Deuteronomy 6:10-15 (Monday)

Deuteronomy 28:58-29:1 (Tuesday)

Psalm 51 (Both Days)

Romans 12:17-21; 13:8-10 (Monday)

Acts 7:17-29 (Tuesday)

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Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all.  If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.  Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”  No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.”  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good….Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves has fulfilled the law.

–Romans 12:17-21; 13:1, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

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That is a worthy and difficult standard by which to live.  The advice to remain faithful to God (or else, as in Deuteronomy) functions as a reminder of the consequences of actions; we reap whatsoever we sow.  When we tether ourselves to idols, we enslave ourselves.  Yet, when we obey God, we find liberation to love each other as effectively as possible.

As for me, the passage from Romans I have quoted highlights challenges with which I have struggled and continue to struggle.  The desire for revenge is elemental.  Yet, when one thinks rationally, one will realize that it is counterproductive.  Nevertheless, seeking vengeance is easier to do than to seek justice–even reconciliation–or at least to lay down a grudge or to refrain from carrying one.  As I admit my weakness, I pray in the words of Psalm 51, 3,

For I acknowledge my rebellion:

and my sin is ever before me.

The Alternative Service Book 1980

What about you, O reader?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 5, 2015 COMMON ERA

PROPER 9:  THE SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANTHONY MARY ZACCARIA, FOUNDER OF THE BARNABITES AND THE ANGELIC SISTERS OF SAINT PAUL

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ADALBERO AND ULRIC OF AUGSBURG, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS

THE FEAST OF H. RICHARD NIEBUHR, UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST THEOLOGIAN

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2015/07/05/difficult-obedience-to-god/

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Devotion for November 5 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   2 comments

First Temple

Above:  The First Temple

Image in the Public Domain

Jeremiah and Matthew, Part IV:  False Talismans

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 5, 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:

Jeremiah 7:1-29

Psalm 42 (Morning)

Psalms 102 and 133 (Evening)

Matthew 23:1-12

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Don’t put your trust in illusions and say, “The Temple of the LORD, the Temple of the LORD, the Temple of the Lord are those [buildings].”  No, if you mind your ways and your actions; if you execute justice between one man and another; if you do not oppress the stranger, the orphan, and the widow; if you do not shed the blood of the innocent in this place; if you do not follow other gods, to your own hurt–then only will you dwell in this place….

–Jeremiah 7:4-7a, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

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I have eaten ashes for bread

and mingled my drink with weeping,

Because of your indignation and wrath,

for you have taken me up and cast me down.

My days fade away like a shadow,

and I am withered like grass.

–Psalm 102:10-12, The Book of Common Prayer (2004)

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Jeremiah’s Temple sermon condemned idolatry, economic injustice, judicial corruption, and insensitivity toward the needs of others.  It cited these as reasons for God’s wrath against the kingdom.  It picked up a theme from Deuteronomy 28 and 30, especially 30:15-20.  But Jeremiah’s words fell on deaf ears.

One of Jeremiah’s main criticisms was that people treated the Temple and its rituals as talismans–that people thought they could therefore do as they wanted and that the Temple and its rituals would protect them.  Jesus criticized Temple authorities who acted hypocritically and imposed needless burdens on sincere people while seeking opportunities for prestige, not service.  Their alleged talismans did not protect them from the wrath of the Roman Empire in 70 CE.

Yes, there is divine mercy.  Yes, there is divine judgment.  And often that judgment is simply the consequences of our misdeeds backfiring on us.  We err when we forget that each of us is here on the planet to, among other things, care actively and deeply for each other–to serve each other in the name of God and to respect the Image of God in each other.  This ethic is inconsistent with violence and exploitation, whether one commits them or merely consents to them passively.  This ethic is inconsistent with such deeds and their root attitudes regardless of whether they flow from the political left wing or right wing.

God is watching us.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 24, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF IDA SCUDDER, REFORMED CHURCH IN AMERICA MEDICAL MISSIONARY IN INDIA

THE FEAST OF EDWARD KENNEDY “DUKE” ELLINGTON, COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF JACKSON KEMPER, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF WISCONSIN

THE FEAST OF MOTHER EDITH, FOUNDER OF THE COMMUNITY OF THE SACRED NAME

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/06/06/jeremiah-and-matthew-part-iv-false-talismans/

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Week of Proper 26: Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, Year 2   13 comments

Above:  St. James Episcopal Church, Cedartown, Georgia, May 1, 2011

Image Source = Bill Monk, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

“At the Name of Jesus….”

NOVEMBER 5, 6, and 7, 2018

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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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COMPOSITE FIRST READING

Philippians 2:1-3:1a (Revised English Bible):

If then our common life in Christ yields anything to stir the heart, any consolation of love, any participation in the Spirit, any warmth of affection or compassion, fill up my cup of happiness by thinking and feeling alike, with the same love for one another and a common attitude of mind.  Leave no room for selfish ambition and vanity, but humbly reckon others better than yourselves.  Look to each other’s interests and not merely to your own.

Take to heart among yourselves what you find in Christ Jesus:

He was in the form of God; yet he laid no claim to equality with God, but made himself nothing, assuming the form of a slave.  Bearing the human likeness, sharing the human lot, he humbled himself, and was obedient, even to the point of death, death on a cross!  Therefore God raised him to the heights and bestowed on him the name above all names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow–in heaven, on earth, and in the depths–and on every tongue acclaim, “Jesus Christ is Lord,” the glory of God the Father.

So you too, my friends, must be obedient, as always; even more, now that I am absent, than when I was with you.  You must work out your own salvation in fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you, inspiring both the will and the deed, for his own chosen purpose.

Do everything without grumbling or argument.  Show yourselves innocent and above reproach, faultless children of God in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in a dark world and proffer the word of life.  Then you will be my pride on the day of Christ, proof that I did run my race in vain or labour in vain.  But if my lifeblood is to be poured out to complete  the sacrifice and offering up of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all.  You too must rejoice and share your joy with me.

I hope, in the Lord Jesus, to send Timothy to you soon; it will cheer me up to have news of you.  I have no one else here like him, who has a genuine concern for your affairs; they are all bent on their own interests, not on those of Christ Jesus.  But Timothy’s record is known to you:  You know that he has been at my side in the service of the gospel like a son working under his father.  So he is the one I mean to send as soon as I see how things go with me; and I am confident, in the Lord, that I shall be coming myself before long.

I have decided I must also send our brother Epaphroditus, my fellow-worker and comrade, whom you commissioned to attend to my needs.  He has been missing you all, and was upset because you heard he was ill.  Indeed he was dangerously ill, but God was merciful to him; and not only to him but to me, to spare me one sorrow on top of another.  For this reason I am all the more eager to send him and give you the happiness of seeing him again; that will relieve my anxiety as well.  Welcome him then in the fellowship of the Lord with wholehearted delight.  You should honour people like him; in Christ’s cause he came near to death, risking his life to render me the service you could not give.  And now, my friends, I wish you joy in the Lord.

RESPONSE FOR MONDAY

Psalm 131 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

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.

RESPONSE FOR TUESDAY

Psalm 22:22-28 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

22 Praise the LORD, you that fear him;

stand in awe of him, O offspring of Israel;

all you of Jacob’s line, give glory.

23 For he does not despise nor abhor the poor in their poverty;

neither does he hide his face from them;

but when they cry to him he hears them.

24 My praise is of him in the great assembly;

I will perform my vows in the presence of those who worship him.

25 The poor shall eat and be satisfied,

and those who seek the LORD shall praise him:

“May your heart love for ever!”

26 All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD,

and all the families of the nations shall bow before him.

27 For kingship belongs to the LORD;

he rules over the nations.

28 To him alone who sleep in the earth bow down in worship;

all who go down to the dust fall before him.

RESPONSE FOR WEDNESDAY

Psalm 62:6-14 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

6  For God alone my soul in silence waits;

truly, my hope is in him.

7  He alone is my rock and my salvation,

my stronghold, so that I shall not be shaken.

8  In God is my safety and my honor;

God is my strong rock and my refuge.

9  Put your trust in him always, O people,

pour out your hearts before him, for God is our refuge.

10  Those of high degree are but a fleeting breath,

even those of low estate cannot be trusted.

11  On the scales they are lighter than a breath,

all of them together.

12  Put no trust in extortion;

in robbery take no empty pride;

though wealth increases, set not your heart upon it.

13  God has spoken once, twice have I heard it,

that power belongs to God.

14  Steadfast love is yours, O Lord,

for you repay everyone according to his deeds.

COMPOSITE GOSPEL READING

Luke 14:12-33 (Revised English Bible):

Then he [Jesus] said to his host,

When you are having guests for lunch or supper, do not invite your friends, your brothers or other relations, or your rich neighbours; they will only ask you back again and so you will be repaid.  But when you give a party, ask the poor, the cripples, the lame, and the blind.  That is the way to find happiness, because they have no means of repaying you.  You will be repaid on the day when the righteous rise from the dead.

Hearing this one of the company said to Jesus,

Happy are those who sit at the feast in the kingdom of God!

Jesus answered,

A man was giving a big dinner party and had sent out many invitations.  At dinner-time he sent his servant to tell his guests, “Come please, everything is now ready.”   One after another they all sent excuses. The first said, “I have bought a piece of land, and I must go and inspect it; please accept my apologies.”  The second said, “I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am on my way to try them out; please accept my apologies.”  The next said, “I cannot come; I have just got married.”  When the servant came back he reported this to his master.  The master of the house was furious and said to him, “Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town, and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.”  When the servant informed him that his orders had been carried out and there was still room, his master replied, “Go out on the highways and compel them to come in; I want my house full. I tell you, not one of those who were invited shall taste my banquet.”

Once when great crowds were accompanying Jesus, he turned to them and said:

If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, even his own life, he cannot be a disciple of mine.  No one who does not carry his cross and come with me can be a disciple of mine.  Would any of you think of building a tower without first sitting down and calculating the cost, to see whether he could afford to finish it?  Otherwise, if he has laid its foundation and then is unable to complete it, everyone who sees it will laugh at him.  ”There goes the man,” they will say, “who started to build and could not finish.”  Or what king will march to battle against another king, without first sitting down to consider whether with ten thousand men he can face an enemy coming to meet him with twenty thousand?  If he cannot, then, long before the enemy approaches, he sends envoys and asks for terms.  So also, if you are not prepared to leave all your possessions behind, you cannot be my disciples.

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The Collect:

Almighty and merciful God, it is only by your gift that your faithful people offer you true and laudable service: Grant that we may run without stumbling to obtain your heavenly promises; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Week of Proper 26:  Monday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/16/week-of-proper-26-monday-year-1/

Week of Proper 26:  Tuesday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/17/week-of-proper-26-tuesday-year-1/

Week of Proper 26:  Wednesday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/18/week-of-proper-26-wednesday-year-1/

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1.  At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow,

every tongue confess him King of glory now;

’tis the Father’s pleasure we should call him Lord,

who from the beginning was the mighty Word.

2.  Humbled for a season, to receive a name

from the lips of sinners unto whom he came,

faithfully he bore it, spotless to the last,

brought it back victorious when from death he passed.

3.  Bore it up triumphant with its human light,

through the ranks of creatures to the central height,

to the throne of Godhead, to the Father’s breast;

filled it with the glory of that perfect rest.

4.  In your hearts enthrone him; there let him subdue

all that is not holy, all that is not true.

Crown him as your captain in temptation’s hour;

let his will enfold you in its light and power.

–Caroline M. Noel, 1870

Philippians 2:5-11 forms the basis of the great 1870 hymn, “At the Name of Jesus.”  I do not recall ever singing it prior to attending an Episcopal church.  The 1965 Methodist Hymnal and the 1989 United Methodist Hymnal contain the hymn, so it was at least a hypothetical option in the rural United Methodist congregations I attended as a youth.  More importantly, however, this hymn was not in the Cokesbury Worship Hymnal, so I guess that “At the Name of Jesus” did not pass muster for that reason.  Some of the churches I had to attend when young had quite limited knowledge of hymns, restricted mostly to the Cokesbury Worship Hymnal.  At least I am in a better place now.

The words of the glorious hymn speak of the humility of Jesus.  This theme echoes in Philippians 2,  of course.  And, if one reads the composite lesson from Luke 14, one finds Jesus teaching about humility.  True humility is knowing who one is and being comfortable with that.  Love, like humility, does insist on its own way; it is considerate of others and leads to self-sacrifice.

Take up your cross and follow me,

Jesus says.  These words fit nicely with Paul’s description of Jesus in Philippians 2.  (I adore how lectionaries work very well much of the time!)

I notice also the concern for the Philippians in the epistle.  Epaphroditus, when quite ill, was more concerned about the Philippians’ fears for him than about the fact he was seriously ill.  And Paul sought news from that church, saying that the updates would delight him.  Based on these readings, I propose that the first sacrifices we ought to make to God are apathy and anger toward one another, so that we will have only concern for each other.  That would be a wonderful way to live and become a walking billboard for Jesus.

In your hearts enthrone him; let him there subdue

all that is not holy, all that is not true.

Crown him as your captain in temptation’s hour;

let his will enfold you in its light and power.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/05/09/at-the-name-of-jesus/

Week of Proper 26: Tuesday, Year 1   13 comments

Above:  The Reconciliation Statue in the Nave of old Coventry Cathedral, Coventry, England, United Kingdom

Image Source = Rebecca Kennison

This is Really Hard…

NOVEMBER 5, 2019

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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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Romans 12:1-17a (Revised English Bible):

Therefore, my friends, I implore you by God’s mercy to offer your very selves to him:   a living sacrifice dedicated and fit for his acceptance, the worship offered by mind and heart.  Conform no longer to the pattern of the present world, but be transformed by the renewal of your minds.  Then you will be able to discern the will of God, and to know what is good, acceptable, and perfect.

By authority of the grace God has given me I say to everyone among you:  do not think too highly of yourself , but form a sober estimate on the measure of faith that God has dealt to each of you.  For just as in a single human body there are many limbs and organs, all with different functions, so we who are united with Christ, though many, form one body, and belong to one another as its limbs and organs.

Let us use the different gifts allotted to each of us by God’s grace:  the gift of inspired utterance, for example, let us use in proportion to our faith; the gift of administration to administer, the gift of teaching to teach, the gift of counselling to counsel.  If you give to charity, give without grudging; if you are a leader, lead with enthusiasm; if you help others in distress, do it cheerfully.

Love in all sincerity , loathing evil and holding fast to the good.  Let love of the Christian community show itself in mutual affection.  Esteem others more highly than yourself.

With unflagging zeal, aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord.  Let hope keep you joyful; in trouble stand firm; persist in prayer; contribute to the needs of God’s people, and practise hospitality.  Call down blessings on your persecutors–blessings not curses.  Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.  Live in agreement with one another.  Do not be proud, but be ready to mix with humble people.  Do not keep thinking how wise you are.

Never pay back evil for evil.

Psalm 131 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

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.

Luke 14:15-24 (Revised English Bible):

(Still at the great dinner party at which Jesus was teaching…)

Hearing this one of the company said to Jesus,

Happy are those who sit at the feast in the kingdom of God!

Jesus answered,

A man was giving a big dinner party and had sent out many invitations.  At dinner-time he sent his servant to tell his guests, “Come please, everything is now ready.”   One after another they all sent excuses. The first said, “I have bought a piece of land, and I must go and inspect it; please accept my apologies.”  The second said, “I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am on my way to try them out; please accept my apologies.”  The next said, “I cannot come; I have just got married.”  When the servant came back he reported this to his master.  The master of the house was furious and said to him, “Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town, and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.”  When the servant informed him that his orders had been carried out and there was still room, his master replied, “Go out on the highways and compel them to come in; I want my house full. I tell you, not one of those who were invited shall taste my banquet.”

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The Collect:

Almighty and merciful God, it is only by your gift that your faithful people offer you true and laudable service: Grant that we may run without stumbling to obtain your heavenly promises; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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The reading from Luke flows nicely from what precedes it.  And what precedes it?  Follow this link:  https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/16/week-of-proper-26-monday-year-1/.  As for the rest concerning that teaching, I refer you, O reader, to the links I have posted above.

The passage that draws my attention is that from Romans.  The lectionary specifies Romans 12:1-16, but I have extended it by a half-verse, for how could I exclude 17a?  “Never pay back evil for evil,” it reads.  Try preaching that and count the seconds until someone accuses you of being soft on defense, terrorists, et cetera.  But, as Paul wrote, we ought not to be conformed to the pattern of this world any longer.  So what is still wrong with us, that we find excuses not to practice the Golden Rule and seek the best for each other, that we justify economic and other forms of injustice, and seek ways to legitimate discrimination?  Why do we not recognize and draw out the gifts each has to enrich and ennoble the whole?

The answer is quite simple, and in more than one part:

  1. The current pattern of the world benefits many of us.
  2. We do not want to surrender our ill-gotten gains.
  3. We have accepted the prejudices of those around us.
  4. We are quite sinful.
  5. We are very weak.

One piece of Pauline advice stands out in my mind.

Call down blessings on your persecutors–blessings, not curses.  (12:14)

I had a persecutor (some would say a prosecutor) on my back once.  It was an unjust charge–one dropped, fortunately.  Yet that persecutor (prosecutor, some would say) put me through four months of emotional hell on earth first.  Did I call down blessings, not curses, on him.  What do you think?  Do I call down curses on him now?  No.  Do I call down blessings on him now?  No.

The gospel points out many of my shortcomings, and I struggle with them.  This struggle does indicate something positive, though, for I might not recognize my sin.  If I struggle with it, at least I acknowledge its existence.  It is not a perfect or ideal state, but it is better than embracing it.  On the other hand, I should not have a struggle, for the sin should not exist in the first place.  But this is where I am now.  It is a better place than where I have been, and, by grace, an even better spiritual state awaits me.

So, O reader, here is my challenge for you:    Read the advice in Romans 12:1-17a and seek your own shortcomings.  Then take them to Jesus and seek his help in winning the struggle with them.  We need not be perfect; indeed, our Lord knows that we will stumble often.  We do need, however, to go to him, and to keep going back.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/05/09/this-is-really-hard/

Proper 26, Year A   17 comments

Above:  The Children of Israel Crossing the River Jordan, by Gustave Dore

Image in the Public Doman

God, Who Exalts

The Sunday Closest to November 2

The Twenty-Second Sunday After Pentecost

NOVEMBER 5, 2017

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FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #1

Joshua 3:7-17 (New Revised Standard Version):

The LORD said to Joshua,

This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, so that they may know that I will be with you as I was with Moses. You are the one who shall command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, `When you come to the edge of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.’

Joshua then said to the Israelites,

Draw near and hear the words of the LORD your God.

Joshua said,

By this you shall know that among you is the living God who without fail will drive out from before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites: the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is going to pass before you into the Jordan. So now select twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe. When the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan flowing from above shall be cut off; they shall stand in a single heap.

When the people set out from their tents to cross over the Jordan, the priests bearing the ark of the covenant were in front of the people. Now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest. So when those who bore the ark had come to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the edge of the water, the waters flowing from above stood still, rising up in a single heap far off at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, while those flowing toward the sea of the Arabah, the Dead Sea, were wholly cut off. Then the people crossed over opposite Jericho. While all Israel were crossing over on dry ground, the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, until the entire nation finished crossing over the Jordan.

Psalm 107:1-7, 33-37 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,

and his mercy endures for ever.

Let all those whom the LORD has redeemed proclaim

that he redeemed them from the hand of the foe.

He gathered them out of the lands;

from the east and from the west,

from the north and from the south.

Some wandered in desert wastes;

they found no way to a city where they might dwell.

5  They were hungry and thirsty;

their spirits languised within them.

6  Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,

and he delivered them from their distress.

He put their feet on a straight path

to go to a city where they might dwell.

33  The LORD changed rivers into deserts,

and water-springs into thirsty-ground,

34  A fruitful land into salt flats,

because of the wickedness of those who dwell there.

35  He changed deserts into pools of water

and dry land into water springs.

36  He settled the hungry there,

and they founded a city to dwell in.

37  They sowed fields, and planted vineyards,

and brought in a fruitful harvest.

FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #2

Micah 3:5-12 (New Revised Standard Version):

Thus says the LORD concerning the prophets who lead my people astray, who cry “Peace” when they have something to eat but declare war against those who put nothing in their mouths.

Therefore it shall be night to you, without vision,

and darkness to you, without revelation.

The sun shall go down upon the prophets,

and the day shall be black over them;

the seers shall be disgraced,

and the diviners put to shame;

they shall all cover their lips,

for there is no answer from God.

But as for me, I am filled with power, with the spirit of the LORD, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression and to Israel his sin.

Hear this, you rulers of the house of Jacob

and chiefs of the house of Israel,

who abhor justice

and pervert all equity,

who build Zion with blood

and Jerusalem with wrong!

Its rulers give judgment for a bribe,

its priests teach for a price,

its prophets give oracles for money;

yet they lean upon the LORD and say,

“Surely the LORD is with us!

No harm shall come upon us.”

Therefore because of you

Zion shall be plowed as a field;

Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins,

and the mountain of the house a wooded height.

Psalm 43 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 Give judgment for me, O God,

and defend my cause against an ungodly people;

deliver me from the deceitful and the wicked.

2 For you are the God of my strength;

why have you put me from you?

and why do I go so heavily while the enemy oppresses me?

3 Sent out your light and your truth, that they may lead me,

and bring me to your holy hill

and to your dwelling;

4 That I may go to the altar of God,

to the God of my joy and gladness;

and on the harp I will give thanks to you, O God my God.

5 Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul?

and why are you so disquieted within me?

6 Put your trust in God;

for I will yet give thanks to him,

who is the help of my countenance, and my God.

SECOND READING

1 Thessalonians 2:9-13 (New Revised Standard Version):

You remember our labor and toil, brothers and sisters; we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how pure, upright, and blameless our conduct was toward you believers. As you know, we dealt with each one of you like a father with his children, urging and encouraging you and pleading that you lead a life worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.

We also constantly give thanks to God for this, that when you received the word of God that you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word but as what it really is, God’s word, which is also at work in you believers.

GOSPEL READING

Matthew 23:1-12 (New Revised Standard Version):

Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples,

The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father– the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.

The Collect:

Almighty and merciful God, it is only by your gift that your faithful people offer you true and laudable service: Grant that we may run without stumbling to obtain your heavenly promises; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Often we humans exalt ourselves or at least attempt to do so.  Frequently this comes at the expense of others.  Thus it is common to find gross income inequality and corresponding injustices rife in societies.  Often the wealthy can get away with almost anything because they can hire certain attorneys while prosecutors pressure innocent poor people into plea deals, prison time, and criminal records unjustly.  Those with great talents and the corresponding work ethic might not be able to make the most of those because they cannot afford to attend certain schools, even with the possibility of scholarships.  Much of this is the luck of the draw:  Where and when was one born?

It is all terribly unfair.

The Israelites were supposed to build a just society when they entered Canaan under the leadership of Joshua, son of Nun.  Yet, generation after generation, they failed.  Free from tyranny in Egypt, they followed their countrymen who imposed it on them.  God gives us freedom, but not so that we should abuse it, waste it, or surrender it.  We are free to love one another, care for each other in difficult times, and treat each other as people who bear the image of God.

God exalts us for these purposes, but we exalt ourselves for our advantage.  No wonder those exalt themselves will be humbled, and the humble exalted.

KRT