Archive for the ‘November 7’ Category

Devotion for Thursday and Friday Before Proper 27, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Judah and Tamar--School of Rembrandt van Rijn

Above:   Judah and Tamar, by the School of Rembrandt van Rijn

Image in the Public Domain

Troublemakers

NOVEMBER 7 and 8, 2019

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The Collect:

O God, our eternal redeemer, by the presence of your Spirit you renew and direct our hearts.

Keep always in our mind the end of all things and the day of judgment.

Inspire us for a holy life here, and bring us to the joy of the resurrection,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 52

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The Assigned Readings:

Deuteronomy 25:5-10 (Thursday)

Genesis 38:1-26 (Friday)

Psalm 17:1-9 (Both Days)

Acts 22:22-23:11 (Thursday)

Acts 24:10-23 (Friday)

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Let my vindication come forth from your presence,

let your eyes be fixed on justice.

–Psalm 17:2, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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Genesis 38 serves several functions.  One is to mark the passage of time between Genesis 37 and 39.  Another is to make people squirm.  What should one make of a story in which Tamar, the heroine, the wronged woman denied what was due her according to levirate marriage (described in Deuteronomy 25), had to resort to posing as a pagan temple prostitute to seduce her father-in-law to get the child(ren) she deserved, according to social customs meant to protect childless widows?  Due to problems with her first husband’s brothers the duty fell to Judah, her father-in-law.

I remember that, in 1996, at Asbury United Methodist Church, north of Baxley in Appling County, Georgia, an adult Sunday School class read the Book of Genesis at the rate of a chapter per week.  One Sunday that summer the time came to ponder Chapter 38.  The leader of the class skipped to Genesis 39, for he found the contents to be too hot a potato, so to speak.

The story of Judah and Tamar continues to make many readers of the Hebrew Bible uncomfortable.  Tamar remains a troublemaker of sorts, long after her death.  Perhaps modern readers who struggle with the tale should think less about our comfort levels and more about the lengths to which certain people need to go to secure basic needs.

St. Paul the Apostle got into legal trouble (again) in Acts 21.  The trumped-up charge boiled down to him being a troublemaker, a disturber of the peace.  As Tertullus, the attorney for chief priest Ananias and Temple elders argued before Felix, the governor:

We found this man to be a pest, a fomenter of discord among the Jews all over the world, a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.  He made an attempt to profane the temple and we arrested him.

–Acts 24:5-6, The Revised English Bible (1989)

Were not those who plotted and attempted to kill St. Paul the real troublemakers?  He planned or committed no violence toward those with whom he disagreed.  The Apostle knew how to employ strong language, but he avoided resorting to violence after his conversion.

How we deal with alleged troublemakers reveals much about our character.  What, then, does this standard reveal about your character, O reader?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 3, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILL CAMPBELL, AGENT OF RECONCILIATION

THE FEAST OF SAINTS LIPHARDUS OF ORLEANS AND URBICIUS OF MEUNG, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOTS

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF UGANDA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MORAND OF CLUNY, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK AND MISSIONARY

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2016/06/03/troublemakers/

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Devotion for Wednesday After Proper 26, Year B (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Christ Blessing--Nardo di Cione

Above:  Christ Blessing, by Nardo di Cione

Image in the Public Domain

A Risky Pilgrimage

NOVEMBER 7, 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:

Micah 6:1-8

Psalm 51

John 13:31-35

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Create in me a clean heart, O God:

and renew a right spirit within me.

–Psalm 51:10, The Alternative Service Book 1980

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He has told you, O man, what is good,

And what does the LORD require of you:

Only to do justice

And to love goodness,

And to walk humbly with your God;

Then your name will achieve wisdom.

–Micah 6:8, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

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I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.  Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

–John 13:34-35, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

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These three passages speak for themselves, so there is little I can add to them without being redundant.  They, taken together, proclaim a message contrary to that which dominates in many cultures and subcultures.  In many tough neighborhoods, for example, the dominant ethos says to strike back and not to seem “soft” or vulnerable.  Yet, if one follows the advice in Micah 6:8 and John 13:34-35, one will be that way.  Jesus did die on a cross, after all.

When we love we make ourselves vulnerable.  When we walk humbly with God and seek justice for our fellow human beings we make ourselves targets of those who oppose our efforts toward those purposes.  When we strive to be good, not feared, we make ourselves vulnerable to amoral and immoral people who would harm us.  But Jesus did all of the above, and the student is not greater than the teacher.

Shall the pilgrimage with Jesus continue, despite the risks?

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/a-risky-pilgrimage/

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Devotion for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday after Proper 26, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Woe Unto You, Scribes and Pharisees James Tissot

Above:  Woe Unto You, Scribes and Pharisees, by James Tissot

Image in the Public Domain

Neglecting Human Needs in the Name of God

NOVEMBER 6, 7, and 8, 2017

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The Collect:

O God, generous and supreme, your loving Son lived among us,

instructing us in the ways of humility and justice.

Continue to ease our burdens, and lead us to serve alongside of him,

Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 51

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The Assigned Readings:

Jeremiah 5:18-31 (Monday)

Lamentations 2:13-17 (Tuesday)

Proverbs 16:21-33 (Wednesday)

Psalm 5 (All Days)

1 Thessalonians 2:13-20 (Monday)

Acts 13:1-12 (Tuesday)

Matthew 15:1-9 (Wednesday)

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Braggarts cannot stand in your sight;

you hate all those who work wickedness.

You destroy those who speak lies;

the bloodthirsty and deceitful, O LORD, you abhor.

–Psalm 5:6-7, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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The dominant theme of these days’ readings is that false prophets are bad people whom God will punish.  Related to that theme is another:  following false prophets leads to a bad end.  I have summarized that point, which the lessons state eloquently, so I will not dwell on it.  A side comment germane to the topic is that nobody who taught me in Sunday School when I was a child mentioned the story from Acts 13, in which St. Paul the Apostle blinds Elymas the sorcerer with only the power of words and the Holy Spirit.  I could have sworn also that Jesus said to love one’s enemies and that the Apostle wrote that people should overcome evil with good, so I have some unanswered questions about that story.  Maybe those in charge of my childhood Sunday School classes considered the tale too troublesome, assuming that they knew of it.  Many of my childhood Sunday School teachers seemed to know remarkably little about the Bible and much of what they did “know” was objectively wrong.  But I digress.

I choose to focus instead on Matthew 15:1-9.  Jesus chastises some Pharisees for obsessing over an extra-biblical point of ritual hand-washing–a matter of the theology of cleanliness and uncleanliness, of purity and impurity–while accepting gifts which should go instead to support the aging parents of the donors.  Donating wealth to the Temple for the support of professional religious people could be a pious act or a dodge of one’s obligation to honor one’s parents; motivation made all the difference.  Our Lord and Savior’s driving point remains relevant, for how we treat each other (especially within families) matters to God.  Related to that point is a second:  do not obsess about minor points and imagine that doing so makes one holy while one violates major points.

I, as an Episcopalian, embrace the Anglican Three-Legged Stool:  Scripture, tradition, and reason.  A better mental image is a tricycle, with Scripture as the big wheel.  My theology places tradition in a place of respect, where it belongs.  Thus I reject certain Protestant interpretations of Matthew 15:1-9 as a condemnation of all extra-biblical tradition.  My reasoning extends beyond the fact of my chosen denomination, for I understand that even those who criticize extra-biblical traditions of others for being extra-biblical have their own.  Such criticism reeks of hypocrisy.

No, I situate my criticism of those Pharisees where Jesus did:  neglecting human needs while providing theological cover for the practice.  Those who engage in such behaviors are truly false teachers who harm others.  And God is watching them.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 7, 2014 COMMON ERA

PROPER 18:  THE THIRTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF THE SAINTS AND MARTYRS OF THE PACIFIC

THE FEAST OF ELIE NAUD, HUGUENOT WITNESS TO THE FAITH

THE FEAST OF JANE LAURIE BORTHWICK, TRANSLATOR OF HYMNS

THE FEAST OF JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER, POET

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/09/10/neglecting-human-needs-in-the-name-of-god/

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Devotion for November 7 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   6 comments

AgnusDeiWindow

Above:  The Logo of the Moravian Church, Set in Stained Glass

Image Source = JJackman

Jeremiah and Matthew, Part VI:  The Sovereignty of God

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 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 11:11-23

Psalm 97 (Morning)

Psalms 16 and 62 (Evening)

Matthew 24:1-28

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The author of Psalm 62, in the context of persecution because of his holiness, wrote:

Yet be still my soul, and wait for God:

from whom comes my hope of deliverance.

–verse 5, A New Zealand Prayer Book (1989)

I detect echoes of the Jeremiah and Matthew readings in the Psalms appointed for today.  The above quote is just one example of that.

Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, fulfilled his unpleasant duty faithfully while arguing with God.  The prophet announced doom for idolatry and a host of social injustices–in short, breaking the covenant with God, per Deuteronomy 30:15-20.  The prophet placed himself in harm’s way by doing this.  He likened himself to a docile sheep led to the slaughter and asked God to avenge him.

That image of a lamb led to the slaughter is one which Christian tradition has applied to Jesus, although he was hardly docile in Matthew 24 and elsewhere.  Our Lord and Savior was far from docile in Matthew 21 (“the Temple Incident,” as New Testament scholars call it) or in John 18 or in Matthew 26.  Yet the image of a lamb, when applied to Jesus, works well, for he was both the high priest and the sacrificial animal, metaphorically speaking.

In Mathew 24 Jesus warned the Apostles against, among other ills, false prophets and religious persecution:

You will be handed over for punishment and execution; all nations will hate you for your allegiance to me.  At that time many will fall from their faith; they will betray one another and hate one another.  Many false prophets will arise, and will mislead many; and as lawlessness spreads, the love of many will grow cold.  But whoever endures to the end will be saved.  And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the earth as a testimony to  all nations; and then the end will come.

–verses 9-14, The Revised English Bible

This is a devotion for November 7, at the latter part of the Season after Pentecost.  Advent is not far away from November 7–less than one month, in fact.  (Advent can begin as early as November 27 and as late as December 3.)  By November 7 the Sunday readings in the Revised Common Lectionary have taken a dark turn.

Yet, in the darkness of the tail end of Ordinary Time there is hope.  Yes, Jeremiah suffered greatly, but God proved him correct.  And nobody who tried to kill the prophet succeeded.  Yes, sometimes there is persecution for following Jesus, but God still wins in the end.  And God is faithful to the faithful, some of whom will lose their bodies in service to God but none of whom will lose their souls thereby.  And Advent is around the corner.  Christmas will follow.  The summary of the hope of which I write is the Sovereignty of God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 3, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MORAND OF CLUNY, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK AND MISSIONARY

THE FEAST OF SAINTS LIPHARDUS OF ORLEANS AND URBICIUS OF MEUNG, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOTS

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF UGANDA

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/06/06/jeremiah-and-matthew-part-vi-the-sovereignty-of-god/

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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: Thursday, Year 1   16 comments

Above:  Parable of the Lost Sheep, by Jan Luyken

Image in the Public Domain

Repentance

NOVEMBER 7, 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 14:7-12 (Revised English Bible):

For none of us lives, and equally none of us dies, for himself alone.  If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord.  This why Christ died and lived again, to establish his lordship over both dead and living.  You, then, why do you pass judgement on your fellow-Christian? And you, why do you look down on your fellow-Christian?  We all stand before God’s tribunal; for we read in scripture,

As I live, says the Lord, to me every knee shall bow and every tongue acknowledge God.

So, you see, each of us will be answerable to God.

Psalm 27:1-6, 17-18 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 The LORD is my light and my salvation;

whom then shall I fear?

the LORD is the strength of my life;

of whom then shall I be afraid?

When evildoers came upon me to eat up my flesh,

it was they, my foes and my adversaries, who stumbled and fell.

Though an army should encamp against me,

yet my heart shall not be afraid;

4 And though war should rise up against me,

yet I will put my trust in him.

5 One thing I have asked of the LORD;

one thing I seek;

that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life;

To behold the fair beauty of the LORD

and to seek him in his temple.

17 What if I had not believed

that I should see the goodness of the LORD

in the land of the living!

18 O tarry and await the LORD’s pleasure;

be strong, and he shall comfort your heart;

wait patiently for the LORD.

Luke 15:1-10 (Revised English Bible):

Another time, the tax-collectors and sinners were all crowding in to listen to Jesus; and the Pharisees and scribes began murmuring their disapproval:

This fellow,

he said,

welcomes sinners and eats with them.

He answered them with this parable:

If one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them, does he not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is missing until he finds it?  And when he does, he lifts it joyfully on to his shoulders, and goes home to call his friends and neighbours together.  “Rejoice with me!” he cries.  “I have found my lost sheep.”  In the same way, I tell you, there will be greater joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who do not need to repent.

Or again, if a woman has ten silver coins and loses one of them, does she not light the lamp, sweep out the house, and look in every corner till she finds it?  And when she does, she calls her friends and neighbours together, and says, “Rejoice with me!  I have found the coin that I lost.”  In the same way, I tell you, there is joy among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.

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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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A group of shepherds tended a communal flock.  The shepherds were responsible for the well-being of each precious sheep. Sheep and shepherds needed each other.  And the woman probably needed the silver coin, so it was precious to her.

Jesus tells these familiar stories in Luke 15, a chapter full of stories about being lost then found again.  The immediate context is grumbling about him dining with socially undesirable people.  If our Lord ‘s culture had a cliche about lying down with dogs and rising with fleas, he did not live according to it, for he cared more about repentance than respectability.

Repentance is a much-misunderstood word.  It means far more than saying “I’m sorry and I apologize.”  No, it indicates turning around and changing one’s mind. Repentance is active.  Much is active in the Bible.  Faith is active for Paul, for example.  Indeed, Paul reminds us that our lives occur within the context of God, so we ought not pass judgment on our fellow Christians.  All of us, he reminds us, are equally subject to God’s tribunal.

One might recall Matthew 7:1-5, which, according to the Revised Standard Version, reads:

Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.  Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when there is the log in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

I could not say it better myself.  Now all I need to do is practice this advice more often.  And, being not all that different from many other people, I know that I have company in committing this sin.  May God forgive us all and grant us grace to live more nearly as we know we ought to do.

Every sheep and silver coin is precious to those who rely on them, and every person matters to God, who knows us better than we know ourselves.  May we therefore repent of our attitudes and actions which do not value others as much as we ought to do.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/05/09/repentance/