Archive for the ‘October 20’ Category

Devotion for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday Before Proper 25, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Embrace of Elizabeth and the Virgin Mary

Above:   The Embrace of Elizabeth and the Virgin Mary

Image in the Public Domain

The Balance of Judgment and Mercy

OCTOBER 20-22, 2022

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The Collect:

Holy God, our righteous judge, daily your mercy

surprises us with everlasting forgiveness.

Strengthen our hope in you, and grant that all the

peoples  of the earth may find their glory in you,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 51

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The Assigned Readings:

Jeremiah 9:1-16 (Thursday)

Jeremiah 9:17-26 (Friday)

Jeremiah 14:1-6 (Saturday)

Psalm 84:1-7 (All Days)

2 Timothy 3:1-9 (Thursday)

2 Timothy 3:10-15 (Friday)

Luke 1:46-55 (Saturday)

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Happy are the people whose strength is in you!

whose hearts are set on the pilgrims’ way.

–Psalm 84:4, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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And woe to those who hearts are not set on the pilgrims’ way.  They are deceitful, advancing from evil to evil.  They cheat each other and lie.  They wear themselves out by working iniquity.  Those of them who claim to be religious preserve an empty, outward shell of religion.  God, who scatters the proud in their conceit and casts the mighty from their thrones, is not impressed with such people:

Speak thus–says the LORD:

The carcasses of men shall lie

Like dung upon the fields,

Like sheaves behind the reaper,

With none to pick them up.

–Jeremiah 9:21, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

Yet this same deity is also God the merciful.  In the midst of judgment we read the following words:

For what else can I do because of My poor people?

–Jeremiah 9:6c, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

Later we read:

Thus said the LORD:

Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom;

Let not the strong man glory in his strength;

Let not the rich man glory in his riches.

But only in this should one glory:

In his earnest devotion to Me.

For I the LORD act with kindness,

Justice, and equity n the world;

For in these I delight–declares the LORD.

–Jeremiah 9:22-23, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

Furthermore, as Luke 1:46-55 (the Magnificat), echoing the song of Hannah in 1 Samuel 2:1-10, reminds us, God has filled hungry people with good things, sent the rich away empty, and remained faithful to divine promises.

What is one supposed to make of this seeming contradiction between divine judgment and mercy?  I propose, as I have written repeatedly in weblog posts, that good news for the oppressed is frequently bad news for the unrepentant oppressors.  Furthermore, one should consider the issue of discipline, for a responsible parent does not permit a child to get away with everything.  Judgment and mercy exist in balance with each other; God is neither an abuser nor a warm fuzzy.  God is God.

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-balance-of-judgment-and-mercy/

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Devotion for Wednesday After Proper 24, Year B (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Icon of Samuel

Above:  Icon of Samuel

Image in the Public Domain

Rejecting or Accepting God, Part II

OCTOBER 20, 2021

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The Collect:

Sovereign God, you turn your greatness into goodness for all the peoples on earth.

Shape us into willing servants of your kingdom,

and make us desire always and only your will,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 50

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The Assigned Readings:

1 Samuel 12:1-25

Psalm 37:23-40

John 13:1-17

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When your steps are guided by the Lord

and you delight in his way,

Though you stumble, you shall not fall headlong,

for the Lord holds you fast by the hand.

–Psalm 37:23-24, Common Worship (2000)

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This post flows naturally from its predecessor, in which Jesus identified the servant as the greatest person in the Kingdom of God.  He acted on that principle in John 13.  Long before then, elsewhere, the prophet Samuel never used his office to benefit himself.  Actually, sometimes he placed himself at risk while performing his duties.

In 1 Samuel 12, early in King Saul’s reign, the population (as a whole) had rejected God’s rule.  Yet God had not rejected the people:

For the sake of His great name, the LORD will never abandon His people, seeing that the LORD undertook to make you His people.

–1 Samuel 12:22, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

Since God has remained faithful, so should we.  This is possible by grace.  One aspect of this fidelity to God in Christ is following our Lord and Savior’s example of service and humility daily.  Details will vary according to circumstances, but the principle is constant and timeless.  Recognizing the image of God in others and extending them the respect consistent with that ethic requires one to lay aside certain preconceptions and illusions of self-importance one might harbor.  That can prove to be difficult, but it is necessary and proper.  And, if one professes to follow Jesus, not to pursue that course of action increases one’s hypocrisy.

To be faithful in this way has long been a challenge for me.  Challenges, however, are possible to meet; they are difficult.  Fortunately, I have noticed much progress, for which I give thanks to God.  The room for improvement contains much potential for spiritual growth.  I welcome that growth.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 4, 2015 COMMON ERA

INDEPENDENCE DAY (U.S.A.)

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2015/07/04/rejecting-or-accepting-god-part-ii/

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Devotion for Thursday and Friday Before Proper 24, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Licensed Wreckers in the Hands of the Receivers

Above:  Licensed Wreckers–In the Hands of the Receivers, 1882

A familiar event:  a greedy few benefit from the collapse of a corporation, by order of a court.

Artist = Joseph Ferdinand Keppler (1838-1894)

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsca-28458

Proper Leadership

OCTOBER 19 and 20, 2023

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The Collect:

Sovereign God, raise your throne in our hearts.

Created by you, let us live in your image;

created for you, let us act for your glory;

redeemed by you, let us give you what is yours,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 50

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The Assigned Readings:

Judges 17:1-6 (Thursday)

Deuteronomy 17:14-20 (Friday)

Psalm 96:1-9 [10-13] (Both Days)

3 John 9-12 (Thursday)

1 Peter 5:1-5 (Friday)

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The themes of being a good example and of leading intertwine in these days’ assigned readings.  Indeed, one may have fine moral character and be a bad or ineffective leader, but a good leader–a fine shepherd of the people–will possess proper moral qualities.  As an old Greek maxim tells us, character is destiny.

We read of two bad examples–people not to emulate.  Micah of Ephraim (Judges 17:1-6) practiced idolatry.  He went on in the succeeding verses to hire a Levite as his priest.

Now I know that the LORD will prosper me, because the Levite has become my priest.

–Judges 17:13, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

Yet the idolatry remained and no ritual, regardless of its sanctity, functioned as a talisman against the consequences of sin.  And Diotrephes (3 John 9-12) used a local congregation as his power base and lied about others to protect his status.  He disobeyed the advice in 1 Peter 5:1-5, for he used his position to lord it over the congregation.

Proper leadership entails functioning as a good example.  To exercise the trust that is a leadership role as one should is to build up the people–to work for the common good–and not to line one’s proverbial pockets.  Official corruption is one of the major causes of poverty, as numerous examples (especially in oil-rich areas with rampant poverty yet a relative few very wealthy people) demonstrate.  Also, how one behaves speaks more loudly than what one says.  Political talk is cheap, but actions count.  I recall an editorial in a Roman Catholic magazine in the middle 1990s.  The author, who had no kind words for politicians, who used the rhetoric of “family values” to win elections then did little or nothing to help the poor, much less families, wrote,

GET OFF YOUR VALUES AND GET TO WORK.

The criticism remains valid in a host of circumstances.

The words of Psalm 96:13 (The Book of Common Prayer, 1979) can function as both encouragement and as bad news.

He [the LORD] will judge the world with righteousness

and the peoples with his truth.

It is good news for the oppressed and the downtrodden and terrifying news for the oppressors and those who trod upon people.  So be it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 31, 2014 COMMON ERA

PROPER 17:  THE TWELFTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINT AIDAN OF LINDISFARNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

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Proper Leadership

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Devotion for October 20 and 21 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   3 comments

©Photo. R.M.N. / R.-G. OjŽda

Above:  The Canaanite Woman

Image in the Public Domain

Deuteronomy and Matthew, Part XV:  Jesus or Deuteronomy?

OCTOBER 20 AND 21, 2023

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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:

Deuteronomy 19:1-20 (October 20)

Deuteronomy 20:1-20 (October 21)

Psalm 67 (Morning–October 20)

Psalm 51 (Morning–October 21)

Psalms 46 and 93 (Evening–October 20)

Psalms 85 and 47 (Evening–October 21)

Matthew 15:1-20 (October 20)

Matthew 15:21-39 (October 21)

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Jesus of Nazareth, our Lord and Savior, showed great compassion in the stories collected in Matthew 15.  He focused on inner purity or lack thereof (as opposed to ritual purity or impurity), healed a Gentile’s daughter and many suffering people then fed four thousand men plus uncounted women and children.  His heart went out to people (not just the 4000+).  So Jesus acted.

Meanwhile, back in Deuteronomy, we find the usual combination of mercy and proscribed violence. For the latter, O reader, see 20:10-14, where the alternative to death is forced labor.  Yes, I disagree with these laws which command killing or forced labor.  Why should I not do so?  Whom would Jesus kill or enslave?  After all, his heart went out to people.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 8, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BENEDICT II, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF DAME JULIAN OF NORWICH, SPIRITUAL WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAGDALENA OF CANOSSA, FOUNDER OF THE DAUGHTERS OF CHARITY AND THE SONS OF CHARITY

THE FEAST OF SAINT PETER OF TARENTAISE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/deuteronomy-and-matthew-part-xv-jesus-or-deuteronomy/

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Week of Proper 24: Wednesday, Year 2, and Week of Proper 24: Thursday, Year 2   10 comments

Above:  Tragic Mask

Image Source = Holger.Ellgaard

Suffering for the Sake of Righteousness

OCTOBER 19 and 20, 2022

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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

Ephesians 3:1-21 (Revised English Bible):

With this in mind I pray for you, I, Paul, who for the sake of you Gentiles am now the prisoner of Christ Jesus–for surely you have heard how God’s gift of grace to me was designed for your benefit.  It was by a revelation that his secret purpose was made known to me.  I have already written you a brief account of this, and by reading it you can see that I understand the secret purpose of Christ.  In former generations that secret was not disclosed to mankind; but now by inspiration it has been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets, that through the gospel the Gentiles are joint heirs with the Jews, part of the same body, sharers together in the promise made in Christ Jesus.  Such is the gospel of which I was made a minister by God’s unmerited gift, so powerfully at work in me.  To me, who am less than the least of all God’s people, he has granted the privilege of proclaiming to the Gentiles the good news of the unfathomable riches of Christ, and of bringing to light how this hidden purpose was to be put into effect.  It lay concealed for long ages with God the Creator of the universe, in order that now, through the church, the wisdom of God in its infinite variety might be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.  This accords with his age-long purpose, which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have freedom of access to God, with the confidence born of trust in him.  I beg you, then, not to lose heart over my sufferings for you; indeed, they are your glory.

With this in mind, then, I kneel in prayer to the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name, that out of the treasures of his glory he may grant you inward strength and power through his Spirit, that through faith Christ may dwell in your hearts in love.  With deep roots and firm foundations  may you, in company with all God’s people, be strong to grasp what is the breadth and length and height and depth of Christ’s love, and to know it, though it is beyond knowledge.  So may you be filled with the very fullness of God.

Now to him who is able through the power which is at work among us to do immeasurably more than we can ask or conceive, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus from generation to generation for evermore!  Amen.

OPTIONS FOR THE RESPONSE FOR WEDNESDAY

Canticle 9 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

(Isaiah 12:2-6 plus the Trinitarian formula)

Surely it is God who saves me;

I will trust in him and not be afraid.

For the Lord is my strength and my sure defense,

and he will be my Savior.

Therefore you shall draw water with rejoicing

from the springs of salvation.

And on that day you shall say,

Give thanks to the Lord and call upon his Name;

Make his deeds known among the peoples;

see that they remember that his Name is exalted.

Sing the praises of the Lord, for he has done great things,

and this is known in all the world.

Cry aloud, inhabitants of Zion, ring out your joy,

for the great one in the midst of you is the Holy One of Israel.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:

as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

Psalm 113 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Hallelujah!

Give Praise, you servants of the LORD;

praise the Name of the LORD.

2 Let the Name of the LORD be blessed,

from this time forth for evermore.

3 From the rising of the sun to its going down

let the Name of the LORD be praised.

The LORD is high above all nations,

and his glory above the heavens.

Who is like the LORD our God, who sits enthroned on high,

but stoops to behold the heavens and the earth?

He takes up the weak out of the dust

and lifts up the poor from the ashes.

7 He sets them with the princes,

with the princes of his people.

He makes the woman of a childless house

to be a joyful mother of children.

Psalm 122 (New Revised Standard Version):

I was glad when they said to me,

Let us go to the house of the LORD!

Our feet are standing

within your gates, O Jerusalem.

Jerusalem–built as a city

that is bound firmly together.

To it the tribes go up,

the tribes of the LORD,

as was decreed for Israel,

to give thanks for the name of the LORD.

For there the thrones of judgment were set up,

the thrones of the house of David.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:

May they prosper who love you.

Peace be within your walls,

and security within your towers.

For the sake of my relatives and friends

I will say,

Peace be within you.

For the sake of the house of the LORD our God,

I will seek your good.

RESPONSE FOR THURSDAY

Psalm 33:1-11 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Rejoice in the LORD, you righteous;

it is good for the just to sing praises.

2 Praise the LORD with the harp;

play to him upon the psaltery and lyre.

3 sing for him a new song;

sound a fanfare with all your skill upon the trumpet.

4 For the word of the LORD is right,

and all of his works are sure.

5 He loves righteousness and justice;

the loving-kindness of the LORD fills the whole earth.

By the word of the LORD were the heavens made,

by the breath of his mouth all the heavenly hosts.

7 He gathers up the waters of the ocean as in a water-skin

and stores up the depths of the sea.

8 Let all the earth fear the LORD;

let all who dwell in the world stand in awe of him.

9 For he spoke, and it came to pass;

he commanded, and it stood fast.

10 The LORD brings the will of the nations to naught;

he thwarts the designs of the peoples.

11 But the LORD’s will stands fast for ever,

and the designs of his heart from age to age.

COMPOSITE GOSPEL READING

Luke 12:39-53 (Revised English Bible):

[Jesus continued,]

Remember, if the householder had known at what time the burglar was coming he would not have let his house be broken into.  So hold yourselves in readiness, because the Son of Man will come at the time you least expect him.

Peter said,

Lord, do you intend this parable specially for us or is it for everyone?

The Lord said,

Who is the trusty and sensible man whom his master will appoint as his steward, to manage his servants and issue their rations at the proper time?  Happy that servant if his master comes home and finds him at work!  I tell you this:  he will be put in charge of all his master’s property.  But if that servant says to himself, “The master is a long time coming,” and begins to bully the menservants and maids, and to eat and drink and get drunk, then the master will arrive on a day when the servant does not expect him, at a time he has not been told.  He will cut him in pieces and assign him a place among the faithless.

The servant who knew his master’s wishes, yet made no attempt to carry them out, will be flogged severely.  But one who did not know them and earned a beating will be flogged less severely.  Where someone has been given much, much will be expected of him; and the more he has had entrusted to him the more will be demanded of him.

I have come to set fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!  I have a baptism to undergo, and what constraint I am under until it is over!  Do you suppose that I came to establish peace to the earth?  No indeed, I have come to bring dissension.  From now on, a family of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.

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The Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God, in Christ you have revealed your glory among the nations: Preserve the works of your mercy, that your Church throughout the world may persevere with steadfast faith in the confession of your Name; 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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Some Related Posts:

Week of Proper 24:  Wednesday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/09/week-of-proper-24-wednesday-year-1/

Week of Proper 24:  Thursday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/09/week-of-proper-24-thursday-year-1/

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Ephesians 3 picks up where Chapter 2 ends, with the theme of Gentiles as

joint heirs with the Jews.  (3:6).

And we read the following in 3:13:

I beg you, then, not to lose heart over my sufferings for you; indeed, they are your glory.

After all, Paul’s missionary work among Gentiles helped to reveal God’s hidden purpose to bring salvation to them.

Paul had once caused suffering for Christians, until he became one.  Then, after a few years of digesting this conversion experience, Paul began to preach among Gentiles and to face imprisonments and even a shipwreck.  And, if Paul did write the Letter to the Ephesians (the jury is out on that question, a minor one at that), he did so from prison.

This passage provides one example of suffering for the sake of righteousness.  Jesus is another.  And the line of those who who have suffered for the sake of righteousness continues into the present day.  As an occasional author of hagiographers, I am well-aware of the long-line of martyrs for Christ.  Their examples inspire me to persist.  And why not?  My struggles pale in comparison to theirs.  I attend worship services without fear of persecution, for example.  And I write this blog openly.  Many of my fellow coreligionists lack such liberty.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/11/06/suffering-for-the-sake-of-righteousness/

Before a Bible Study   Leave a comment

Above:  An Old Family Bible

Image Source = David Ball

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God of glory,

as we prepare to study the Bible,

may we approach the texts with our minds open,

our intellects engaged,

and our spirits receptive to your leading,

so that we will understand them correctly

and derive from them the appropriate lessons.

Then may we act on those lessons.

For the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ,

Amen.

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KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 7, 2011 COMMON ERA

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

THE FEAST OF FRED KAAN, HYMNWRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN WOOLMAN, ABOLITIONIST

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Prayers of the People for the Season After Pentecost   Leave a comment

Above:  The Missal (1902), by John William Waterhouse (1849-1917)

Image in the Public Domain

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Here I share with everyone a proposed form of the Prayers of the People, for congregational use, for the Season After Pentecost.  Anyone may modify this form to fit local needs and update it as people leave or enter office.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

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The congregational response to “We pray to you, O God” is “Hear our prayer.”

As God’s people, sanctified by the Holy Spirit, we ask that our lives may become prayer pleasing to you, and that all people and institutions which profess to follow our Lord, may express God’s love and grace to others.

We pray to you, O God,

Hear our prayer.

That

  • Barack, our President;
  • Nathan, our Governor;
  • Nancy, our Mayor;
  • And all other government officials and all influential persons

may exercise their power and authority wisely and for the common good, so that all people everywhere may be treated with dignity and respect, dwell in safety, and have everything they need,

we pray to you, O God,

Hear our prayer.

That we may love you with our whole heart and life and strength, and love our neighbors as ourselves,

we pray to you, O God,

Hear our prayer.

That we may be good stewards of Mother Earth,

we pray to you, O God,

Hear our prayer.

We intercede for

  • (first names here);
  • And our men and women in the armed forces, especially (names here);
  • And all people struggling with vocational and career issues.

I invite your prayers, silent or aloud.

(Pause)

We pray to you, O God,

Hear our prayer.

We thank you for

  • (names here), who celebrate their birthdays this week;
  • And (names here), who celebrate their wedding anniversaries this week.

I invite your thanksgivings, silent or aloud.

(Pause)

We pray to you, O God,

Hear our prayer.

That all who have passed from this life to the next will know the boundless joy and peace of eternal rest,

we pray to you, O God,

Hear our prayer.

The celebrant concludes with a collect.

Posted June 1, 2011 by neatnik2009 in August 1, August 10, August 11, August 12, August 13, August 14, August 15, August 16, August 17, August 18, August 19, August 2, August 20, August 21, August 22, August 23, August 24, August 25, August 26, August 27, August 28, August 29, August 3, August 30, August 31, August 4, August 5, August 6: Transfiguration, August 7, August 8, August 9, Christ the King Sunday, December 1, December 2, July 1, July 10, July 11, July 12, July 13, July 14, July 15, July 16, July 17, July 18, July 19, July 2, July 20, July 21, July 22, July 23, July 24, July 25, July 26, July 27, July 28, July 29, July 3, July 30, July 31, July 4, July 5, July 6, July 7, July 8, July 9, June 1, June 10, June 11, June 12, June 13, June 14, June 15, June 16, June 17, June 18, June 19, June 2, June 20, June 21, June 22, June 23, June 24, June 25, June 26, June 27, June 28, June 29, June 3, June 30, June 4, June 5, June 6, June 7, June 8, June 9, Labor Day, May 18, May 19, May 20, May 21, May 22, May 23, May 24, May 25, May 26, May 27, May 28, May 29, May 30, May 31: Visitation, November 10, November 11, November 12, November 13, November 14, November 15, November 16, November 17, November 18, November 19, November 1: All Saints, November 20, November 21, November 22, November 23, November 24, November 25, November 26, November 27, November 28, November 29, November 2: All Souls, November 3, November 30, November 4, November 5, November 6, November 7, November 8, November 9, October 1, October 10, October 11, October 12, October 13, October 14, October 15, October 16, October 17, October 18, October 19, October 2, October 20, October 21, October 22, October 23, October 24, October 25, October 26, October 27, October 28, October 29, October 3, October 30, October 31: All Hallows' Eve/Reformation, October 4, October 5, October 6, October 7, October 8, October 9, September 1, September 10, September 11, September 12, September 13, September 14: Holy Cross, September 15, September 16, September 17, September 18, September 19, September 2, September 20, September 21, September 22, September 23, September 24, September 25, September 26, September 27, September 28, September 29, September 3, September 30, September 4, September 5, September 6, September 7, September 8, September 9, Thanksgiving Day, Trinity Sunday

Week of Proper 23: Friday, Year 1   9 comments


Above:  Chipping Sparrow

Image Source = Dr. Thomas G. Barnes, University of Kentucky, 1980s

Trust in God

OCTOBER 20, 2023

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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 4:1-8 (Revised English Bible):

What, then, are we to say about Abraham, our ancestor by natural descent?  If Abraham was justified by anything he did, then he has grounds for pride.  But not in the eyes of God!  For what does scripture say?

Abraham put his faith in God, and that faith was counted to him as righteousness.

Now if someone does a piece of work, his wages are not “counted” to be a gift; they are paid as his due.  But if someone without any work to his credit simply puts his faith in him who acquits the wrongdoer, then his faith is indeed “counted as righteousness.”  In the same sense David speaks of the happiness of the man whom God “counts” as righteous, apart from any good works:

Happy are they,

he says,

whose lawless deeds are forgiven,

whose sins are blotted out;

happy is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him.

Psalm 32 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Happy are they whose transgressions are forgiven,

whose sin is put away!

Happy are they to whom the LORD imputes no guilt,

and in whose spirit there is no guile!

While I held my tongue, my bones withered away,

because of my groaning all day long.

For your hand was heavy upon me day and night;

my moisture was dried up as in the heat of summer.

Then I acknowledged my sin to you,

and did not conceal my guilt.

I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.”

Then you forgave me the guilt of my sin.

Therefore all the faithful will make their prayers to you in time of trouble;

when the great waters overflow, they shall not reach them.

You are my hiding-place;

you preserve me from trouble;

you surround me with shouts of deliverance.

9  “I will instruct you and teach you in the way that you should go;

I will guide you with my eye.

10  Do not be like horse or mule, which have no understanding;

who must be fitted with bit and bridel,

or else they will not stay near you.”

11  Great are the tribulations of the wicked;

but mercy embraces those who trust in the LORD.

12  Be glad, you righteous, and rejoice in the LORD;

shout for joy, all who are true of heart.

Luke 12:1-7 (Revised English Bible):

Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, packed so close that they were trampling on one another, he [Jesus] began to speak first to his disciples:

Be on your guard against the leaven of the Pharisees–I mean their hypocrisy.  There is nothing covered up that will not be uncovered, nothing hidden that will not be made known.  Therefore everything you have said in the dark will be heard in broad daylight, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be shouted from the housetops.

To you who are my friends I say:  do not fear those who kill the body and after that have nothing more they can do.  I will show you whom to fear:  fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell.  Believe me, he is the one to fear.

Are not five sparrows sold for two-pence?  Yet not one of them is overlooked by God.  More than that, even the hairs of your head have all been counted.  Do not be afraid; you are worth more than any number of sparrows.

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The Collect:

Lord, we pray that your grace may always precede and follow us, that we may continually be given to good works; 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 brief note is in order first:  This is one of a series of devotions based on nearly continuous readings from Romans and Luke.  I have, especially in Romans, been dealing with some fine distinctions, notably in definitions of faith.  So, rather than repeat here everything I have written in the previous few posts, I encourage the reading of the previous few posts, especially if this is the first time you, O reader, have come across this series.

Now I begin with my discussion of the lessons for this day.

Abraham was the father of the Hebrew people.  So many observant Jews in Jesus’ and Paul’s times spoke of him with great awe and respect.  Consider this text, Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 44:19-21, as the Revised English Bible renders it:

Abraham was the great father of a host of nations;

no one has ever been found to equal him in fame.

He kept the law of the Most High;

he entered into a covenant with him,

setting the mark of it on his body.

When put to the test he proved steadfast.

Therefore the Lord assured him on oath

that through his descendants nations should find blessing,

and that his family should be countless as the dust of the earth

and be exalted as high as the stars;

that their territories should extend from sea to sea,

from the river to the ends of the earth.

Abraham’s works, many rabbis during the time of Jesus and Paul insisted, justified him.  He kept the law even before God gave it to Moses, they said.

Yet Paul reached back to another passage Genesis 15:6, which the Revised English Bible renders:

Abram put his faith in the LORD, who reckoned it to him as righteousness….

Paul, in Romans 3, had written of the sole sufficiency of divine grace and trusting in it without clinging to any illusions that any act one commits justifies one. Keeping minute details of the Law of Moses does not justify one, Paul wrote.  Choosing not to rob a local bank or liquor store does not justify one.  Volunteering at a local soup kitchen or donating much food to a local food pantry does not justify one.  These are laudable, but they do not justify one.

The passage from Genesis is interesting.  English translations render a certain Hebrew word as either “trusted” or “believed.”  I prefer “trusted,” for it is more to the point.  Many people misunderstand the Biblical concept of belief as merely intellectual acceptance.  The true meaning, however, is trust, which leads to actions, for our attitudes lead to deeds, accidents excluded.  Another very good alternative to the “trusted” translation is “beloved.”  This fits the Abraham saga well, for he and God, according to the texts, had many conversations and were usually on friendly terms.

So, Paul wrote, Abraham beloved and trusted God and acted accordingly.  Thus Abraham had faith, which Paul understood as acceptance of one’s complete reliance on divine grace.  Thus, out of faith, which is inherently active, Abraham obeyed God.  This obedience was part and parcel of the man’s faith.  This was the faith which justified him.

This, as we say in my part of the United States, is where the rubber meets the road.  Will we trust?  Will we obey?  This can be very difficult, especially when we look at the world in which we live.  I think about the reference to sparrows in Luke 12, for example.  We humans are far more valuable than they to God, the passage says.  Yet I write just a few minutes’ drive from a tent city of homeless people.  And, elsewhere in the same town, there is a notorious, dangerous, and drugs-and-gang-ridden low-income housing project on the margin of downtown, with “First” churches and local merchants, many of them upscale.  Nevertheless, the fact that reality is what it is does not absolve us of the imperative to act as we can to create a new one.  Societies and communities are what they are because people have made them that way, so we can change them.  And active faith can help us improve them.

After all, faith in the Pauline sense is inherently active.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/05/08/trust-in-god/

A Prayer Not To Live in the Past   Leave a comment

Above:  Everything is In the Past, by Vassily Maximov

Image in the Public Domain

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Sovereign Lord of life,

may we not imprison ourselves in the past,

dwelling on disappointments and plotting revenge

or resting on our laurels.

Instead, may we learn the appropriate lessons from the past,

live in the present faithfully, and

look to the future faithfully.

May we be and remain open to

all the possibilities you present for us to fulfill our vocations.

And, in so doing, may we become the persons we need to become

–for your glory and the sake others.

In the name of God, the Holy and Undivided Trinity.  Amen.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 11, 2010

THE FEAST OF ALEXANDER FLEMING

Published originally at GATHERED PRAYERS COLLECTED BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on July 17, 2010

Posted December 18, 2010 by neatnik2009 in August 1, August 10, August 11, August 12, August 13, August 14, August 15, August 16, August 17, August 18, August 19, August 2, August 20, August 21, August 22, August 23, August 24, August 25, August 26, August 27, August 28, August 29, August 3, August 30, August 31, August 4, August 5, August 6: Transfiguration, August 7, August 8, August 9, Christ the King Sunday, December 1, December 2, July 1, July 10, July 11, July 12, July 13, July 14, July 15, July 16, July 17, July 18, July 19, July 2, July 20, July 21, July 22, July 23, July 24, July 25, July 26, July 27, July 28, July 29, July 3, July 30, July 31, July 4, July 5, July 6, July 7, July 8, July 9, June 1, June 10, June 11, June 12, June 13, June 14, June 15, June 16, June 17, June 18, June 19, June 2, June 20, June 21, June 22, June 23, June 24, June 25, June 26, June 27, June 28, June 29, June 3, June 30, June 4, June 5, June 6, June 7, June 8, June 9, Labor Day, May 18, May 19, May 20, May 21, May 22, May 23, May 24, May 25, May 26, May 27, May 28, May 29, May 30, May 31: Visitation, November 10, November 11, November 12, November 13, November 14, November 15, November 16, November 17, November 18, November 19, November 1: All Saints, November 20, November 21, November 22, November 23, November 24, November 25, November 26, November 27, November 28, November 29, November 2: All Souls, November 3, November 30, November 4, November 5, November 6, November 7, November 8, November 9, October 1, October 10, October 11, October 12, October 13, October 14, October 15, October 16, October 17, October 18, October 19, October 2, October 20, October 21, October 22, October 23, October 24, October 25, October 26, October 27, October 28, October 29, October 3, October 30, October 31: All Hallows' Eve/Reformation, October 4, October 5, October 6, October 7, October 8, October 9, September 1, September 10, September 11, September 12, September 13, September 14: Holy Cross, September 15, September 16, September 17, September 18, September 19, September 2, September 20, September 21, September 22, September 23, September 24, September 25, September 26, September 27, September 28, September 29, September 3, September 30, September 4, September 5, September 6, September 7, September 8, September 9, Thanksgiving Day, Trinity Sunday

A Prayer to Relinquish the Illusion of Control   Leave a comment

Allegory of Faith, by Luis Salvador Carmona

Image Source = Luis Garcia

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Sovereign God,

I confess that I have sought control in matters small, medium, and large.

This has been a recurring, unfortunate, and sinful pattern.

Why have I not learned better that human control is purely illusory?

Why am I stubborn in this sin?

Deliver me–deliver all of us–I pray you–from this sin,

so that trust in you may replace the idolatrous quest for control,

that love for you and all your children may abound,

and that Shalom may result.

In the name of God, the Holy and Undivided Trinity.  Amen.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 10, 2010 (THE FEAST OF GEOFFREY STUDDERT KENNEDY)

Published originally at GATHERED PRAYERS COLLECTED BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on July 17, 2010

Posted December 18, 2010 by neatnik2009 in August 1, August 10, August 11, August 12, August 13, August 14, August 15, August 16, August 17, August 18, August 19, August 2, August 20, August 21, August 22, August 23, August 24, August 25, August 26, August 27, August 28, August 29, August 3, August 30, August 31, August 4, August 5, August 6: Transfiguration, August 7, August 8, August 9, Christ the King Sunday, December 1, December 2, July 1, July 10, July 11, July 12, July 13, July 14, July 15, July 16, July 17, July 18, July 19, July 2, July 20, July 21, July 22, July 23, July 24, July 25, July 26, July 27, July 28, July 29, July 3, July 30, July 31, July 4, July 5, July 6, July 7, July 8, July 9, June 1, June 10, June 11, June 12, June 13, June 14, June 15, June 16, June 17, June 18, June 19, June 2, June 20, June 21, June 22, June 23, June 24, June 25, June 26, June 27, June 28, June 29, June 3, June 30, June 4, June 5, June 6, June 7, June 8, June 9, Labor Day, May 18, May 19, May 20, May 21, May 22, May 23, May 24, May 25, May 26, May 27, May 28, May 29, May 30, May 31: Visitation, November 10, November 11, November 12, November 13, November 14, November 15, November 16, November 17, November 18, November 19, November 1: All Saints, November 20, November 21, November 22, November 23, November 24, November 25, November 26, November 27, November 28, November 29, November 2: All Souls, November 3, November 30, November 4, November 5, November 6, November 7, November 8, November 9, October 1, October 10, October 11, October 12, October 13, October 14, October 15, October 16, October 17, October 18, October 19, October 2, October 20, October 21, October 22, October 23, October 24, October 25, October 26, October 27, October 28, October 29, October 3, October 30, October 31: All Hallows' Eve/Reformation, October 4, October 5, October 6, October 7, October 8, October 9, September 1, September 10, September 11, September 12, September 13, September 14: Holy Cross, September 15, September 16, September 17, September 18, September 19, September 2, September 20, September 21, September 22, September 23, September 24, September 25, September 26, September 27, September 28, September 29, September 3, September 30, September 4, September 5, September 6, September 7, September 8, September 9, Thanksgiving Day, Trinity Sunday