Archive for the ‘October 14’ Category

Devotion for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday After Proper 23, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

World Map 1570

Above:   World Map 1570

Image in the Public Domain

Nationality and Discipleship

OCTOBER 14, 2019

OCTOBER 15, 2019

OCTOBER 16, 2019


The Collect:

Almighty and most merciful God, your bountiful goodness fills all creation.

Keep us safe from all that may hurt us,

that, whole and well in body and spirit,

we may with grateful hearts accomplish all that you would have us to do,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 50


The Assigned Readings:

2 Kings 5:15-19a (Monday)

2 Kings 5:19b-27 (Tuesday)

2 Kings 15:1-7 (Wednesday)

Psalm 61 (All Days)

Acts 26:24-29 (Monday)

Ephesians 6:10-20 (Tuesday)

Matthew 10:5-15 (Wednesday)


So I will always sing he praise of your Name,

and day by day I will fulfill your vows.

–Psalm 61:8, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)


In the assigned readings for these three days we read of people accepting and recognizing God or doing the opposite.  Jews and Gentiles alike accept and recognize God.  Jews and Gentiles alike do the opposite.  The standard of acceptability before God has nothing to do with national identity.

This principle occurs elsewhere in scripture.  Off the top of my head, for example, I think of the Book of Ruth, in which a Moabite woman adopts the Hebrew faith and marries into a Hebrew family.  I recall also that Matthew 1:5 lists Ruth as an ancestor of Jesus.  That family tree also includes Rahab the prostitute (Joshua 2:1-21 and 6:22-25), who sheltered Hebrew spies in Jericho.  I think also of St. Simon Peter, who, at the home of St. Cornelius the Centurion, said:

The truth I have now come to realize is that God does not have favorites, but that anybody of any nationality who fears God and does what is right is acceptable to him.

–Acts 10:34-35, The Jerusalem Bible (1966)

Nationalism is inherently morally neutral.  What people do with it is not morally neutral, however.  These applications can be positive or negative.  Nationalism seems to be a human concern, not a divine one.  As we seek to build up our communities and nations may we not label those who are merely different as dangerous because of those differences.  Many of them might be people of God, after all.  Others might become followers of God.  Furthermore, many within our own ranks might not be devout.







Devotion for Saturday Before Proper 23, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Destruction of Jerusalem by Ercole de' Roberti

Above:  The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans Under the Titus, A.D. 70, by David Roberts

Image in the Public Domain


OCTOBER 14, 2017


The Collect:

Lord of the feast, you have prepared a table before all peoples

and poured out your life with abundance.

Call us again to your banquet.

Strengthen us by what is honorable, just, and pure,

and transform us into a people or righteousness and peace,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 49


The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 24:17-23

Psalm 23

Mark 2:18-22


Psalm 23 presents a pristine, pleasant picture of verdant pastures, safety in God, and an overflowing cup.  That is the opposite of Isaiah 24, in which God pronounced judgment on the sinful Earth.  Leading up to that chapter we read of divine judgment on various nations (including the Kingdom of Judah) and a condemnation of official corruption.  Divine redemption of Judah and human thanksgiving for God’s deliverance of the people from oppression follow Isaiah 24 immediately.  Destruction of the wicked order makes room for the new world of righteousness.

I detect an apocalyptic note in Mark 2:18-22 also.  The disciples of Jesus will not fast until

the bridegroom is taken away from them

–2:20a, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985).

The canonical Gospels contain openly apocalyptic sections, especially in proximity to the Passion of Jesus.  That seems appropriate, given the nature of crucifixion and the Roman imperial use of violence.

I have noticed two unhelpful extremes in theology and Bible-based art.   One is fixating on the pleasant, so that Jesus usually smiles, for example.  The other is to focus on doom, gloom, destruction, and judgment.  Both contain true elements, of course, but the error is fixating on one extreme so as to deny or minimize its opposite.  So, avoid extremism, I note that the rescue of people from oppressors is good news for the oppressed and bad news for the oppressors and their allies.  May none of us be like those who mourn the fall of Babylon in Revelation 18.

Sometimes we mere mortals find ourselves in the wrong place at the wrong time, so we suffer and lament.

Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days!

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

That is the unfortunate reality of many people in parts of the world, is it not?  Yet we humans may hope for a better time.  We might even function as partners with God to improve circumstances.







Devotion for October 13 and 14 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   1 comment


Above:  Diocesan Confirmation, the Cathedral of St. Philip, Atlanta, Georgia, April 28, 2013

Image Source = Bill Monk, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

Deuteronomy and Matthew, Part XII:  Identity

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 13, 2019, and MONDAY, OCTOBER 14, 2019


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


The Assigned Readings:

Deuteronomy 11:26-12:12 (October 13)

Deuteronomy 12:13-32 (October 14–Protestant Versification)

Deuteronomy 12:13-13:1 (October 14–Jewish, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox Versification)

Psalm 19 (Morning–October 13)

Psalm 136 (Morning–October 14)

Psalms 8 and 113 (Evening–October 13)

Psalms 97 and 112 (Evening–October 14)

Matthew 12:22-37 (October 13)

Matthew 12:38-50 (October 14)


In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek,

and neither slave nor free,

both male and female heirs are made,

and all are kin to me.

–John Oxenham, 1913


The letter of the Law of Moses is culturally specific.  So, given the passage of time and the fact of living in a different place, undertanding the spirit of the Law can require some reading of well-researched commentaries.  Such reading has made much of the content of Deuteronomy 12 clear to me.  Now, for example, two themes of which I choose to write stand out in my mind:

  1. The Israelites were to avoid emulating the Caananites.  Thus, for example, there was to be one legitimate sanctuary, not a plethora of them.
  2. The Israelites were to recognize God as the owner of everything.  They were stewards and tenants.

As the unfolding narrative of the Hebrew Bible reveals, of course, the great majority of Israelites disregarded those principles, both of which pertained to identity relative to God and Gentiles.

Jesus, in Matthew 12, faced questions relative to God and Gentiles.  Hence the Sabbath question was a major issue in 12:1-21.  Also, if Jesus was God, what did that fact say about his religious critics?  Of whom were they?  That issue fed much sustained opposition to our Lord and Savior, for carping apparently proved easier than converting.  Even members of our Lord’s family (a vital unit in that and other societies) misunderstood him.  But, for Jesus, the more important family identity was spiritual and fictive.

Within societies our place relative to others defines us, of course.  It can be no other way.  But our more important identity is the one relative to God, in whose house there are many rooms.  May we honor God more than any human considerations which counter it.









Proper 23, Year B   16 comments

Above:  Front of the 1934 U.S. $100,000 Bill  (Worth $1,630,000 in 2010 Currency)

Images of U.S. banknotes are in the public domain.

God, Injustice, Wealth, and Misplaced Attachments

The Sunday Closest to October 12

The Twenty-First Sunday After Pentecost

OCTOBER 14, 2018



Job 23:1-9, 16-17 (New Revised Standard Version):

Then Job answered:

Today my complaint is bitter;

his hand is heavy despite my groaning.

Oh, that I knew where I might find him,

that I might come even to his dwelling!

I would lay my case before him,

and fill my mouth with arguments.

I would learn what he would answer me,

and understand what he would say to me.

Would he contend with me in the greatness of his power?

No, but he would give heed to me.

There an upright person could reason with him,

and I should be acquitted forever by my judge.

God has made my heart faint;

the Almighty has terrified me;

If only I could vanish in darkness,

and thick darkness would cover my face!

Psalm 22:1-15 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

and are so far from my cry

and from the words of my distress?

2  O my God, I cry in the daytime, but you do not answer;

by night as well, but I find no rest.

3  Yet you are the Holy One,

enthroned upon the praises of Israel.

4  Our forefathers put their trust in you;

they trusted, and you delivered them.

5  They cried out to you and were delivered;

they trusted in you and were not put to shame.

6  But as for me, I am a a worm and no man,

scorned by all and despised by the people.

7  All who see me laugh me to scorn;

they curl their lips and wag their heads, saying,

8  “He trusted in the LORD; let him deliver him;

let him rescue him, if he delights in him.”

9  Yet you are he who took me out of the womb,

and kept me safe upon my mother’s breast.

10  I have been entrusted to you ever since I was born;

you were my God when I was still in my mother’s womb.

11  Be not far from me, for trouble is near,

and there is none to help.

12  Many young bulls encircle me;

strong bulls of Bashan surround me.

13  They open wide their jaws at me,

like a ravening and roaring lion.

14  I am poured out like water;

all my bones are out of joint;

my heart within my breast is melting wax.

15  My mouth is dried out like a pot-sherd;

my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;

and you have laid me in the dust of the grave.


Amos 5:6-7, 10-15 (New Revised Standard Version):

Seek the LORD and live,

or he will break out against the house of Joseph like fire,

and it will devour Bethel, with no one to quench it.

Ah, that you will turn justice to wormwood,

and bring righteousness to the ground!

They hate the one who reproves in the gate,

and they abhor the one who speaks the truth.

Therefore because you trample on the poor

and take from them levies of grain,

you have built houses of hewn stone,

but you shall not live in them;

you have planted pleasant vineyards,

but you shall not drink their wine.

For I know how many are your transgressions,

and how great are your sins–

you who afflict the righteous, who takes a bribe,

and push aside the needy in the gate.

Therefore the prudent will keep silent in such a time;

for it is an easy time.

Seek good and not evil,

that you may live;

and so the LORD, the God of hosts, will be with you,

just as you have said.

Hate evil and love good,

and establish justice in the gate;

it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts,

will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

Psalm 90:12-17 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

12 So teach us to number our days

that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.

13 Return, O LORD; how long will you tarry?

be gracious to your servants.

14 Satisfy us by your loving-kindness in the morning;

so shall we rejoice and be glad all the days of our life.

15 Make us glad by the measure of the days that you afflicted us

and the years in which we suffered adversity.

16 Show your servants your works

and your splendor to their children.

17 May the graciousness of the LORD our God be upon us;

prosper the work of our hands;

prosper our handiwork.


Hebrews 4:12-16 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  And before him no creature is hidden, but all are open and laid bare to the yes of him with whom have to do.

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.  For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sinning.  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.


Mark 10:17-31 (Revised English Bible):

As he was starting out on a journey, a stranger ran up, and, kneeling before him, asked,

Good Teacher, what must I do to win eternal life?

Jesus said to him,

Why do you call me good?  No one is good except God alone.  You know the commandments:  ‘Do not murder; do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not give false evidence; do not defraud; honour your father and your mother.’

He replied,

But Teacher, I have kept all these since I was a boy.

As Jesus looked at him, his heart warmed to him.

One thing you lack,

he said.

Go, sell everything you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come and follow me.

At these words his face fell and he went away with a heavy heart; for he was a man of great wealth.

Jesus looked round at his disciples and said to them,

How hard it is for the wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!

They were amazed that he should say this, but Jesus insisted.

Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!  It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.

They were more astonished than ever, and said to one another,

Then who can be saved?

Jesus looked at them and said,

For men it is impossible, but not for God; everything is possible for God.

Peter said,

What about us?  We have left everything to follow you.

Jesus said,

Truly I tell you:  there is no one who has given up home, brothers or sisters, mother, father, or children, or land, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive in this age a hundred times as much–houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and land–and persecutions besides; and in the age to come eternal life.  But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

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.


Some Related Posts:

Proper 23, Year A:

Amos 5:

Hebrews 4:

Mark 10:

Matthew 19 (Parallel to Mark 10):

A Prayer for Proper Priorities:

A Prayer for Humankind:

For the Right Use of Possessions:


Job sought God and, in Chapter 23, did not find him.  In the next chapter he complained about rampant injustice, a subject which also vexed the prophet Amos.  The rich man in Mark 10 also sought God, yet his attachment to his wealth got in the way.

Do not rely on your money and say, “This makes me sufficient.”

Do not yield to every impulse you can gratify

or follow the desires of your heart.

Do not say, “I have no master”;

the Lord, you may be sure, will call you to account.

–Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 5:1-3, Revised English Bible

Both economic injustice and idolization of wealth are sins which go hand-in-hand.  Indeed, the idolization of wealth and one’s corresponding social status can lead to more economic injustice by way of Social Darwinism, which is an unfortunate and misleading label, for Darwin wrote about animal species, not human socio-economic status.  It is easier to cling to wealth in lieu of God when one has much money than when one is quite poor, but both the rich and the poor can cling to a great variety of false security blankets.

We–regardless of status–need to have just one security blanket.

As the author of Hebrews reminds us, we can

approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.–4:16, New Revised Standard Version

Our worthiness is in Christ, who died by an unjust act and was therefore acquainted with human inhumanity.  So, where is God in the midst of injustice?  God is in the midst of if with us, suffering with us.  God, who identifies and suffers with us, is our legitimate security blanket.


Week of Proper 23: Monday, Year 1   7 comments

Above:  Trinity Episcopal Church, Statesboro, Georgia (Note the cross with triumphant Jesus on it.)

Image Source = Parish Album at the parish website

Christ Crucified and Raised–Hopefully Not a Disappointment To Us

OCTOBER 14, 2019


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.


With this post I switch translations again.  I do this occasionally to add some variety, truly the spice of life.  I do this also to make a simple point:  I am writing devotions based on the Bible, not one translation of it.  All translations of the Bible are human efforts, and translating from Language A into Language B can be an inexact process.  Something becomes lost in translation.  In addition, one can become so accustomed to certain wordings that one does not really read or listen to certain passages.  So, to mix things up, why not find another version of the Bible and compare and contrast it with the ones I choose to quote?


Romans 1:1-7 (Revised English Bible):

From Paul, servant of Christ Jesus, called by God to be an apostle and set apart for service of his gospel.

This gospel God announced beforehand in sacred scriptures through his prophets.  It is about his Son:  on the human level he was a descendant of David, but on the level of the spirit–the Holy Spirit–he was proclaimed Son of God by an act of power that raised him from the dead; it is about Jesus Christ our Lord.  Through him I received the privilege of an apostolic commission to bring people of all nations to faith and obedience in his name, including you who have heard the call and belong to Jesus Christ.

I send greetings to all of you in Rome, who are loved by God and called to be his people.  Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Psalm 98 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Sing to the LORD a new song,

for he has done marvelous things.

With his right hand and his holy arm

has he won for himself the victory.

The LORD has made known his victory;

his righteousness has he openly shown in the sight of the nations.

He remembers his mercy and faithfulness to the house of Israel,

and all the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.

Shout with joy to the LORD, all you lands;

lift up your voice, rejoice, and sing.

Sing to the LORD with the harp,

with the harp and the voice of song.

With trumpets and the sound of the horn

shout with joy before the King, the LORD.

Let the sea make a noise and all that is in it,

the lands and those who dwell therein.

Let the rivers clap their hands,

and let the hills ring out with joy before the LORD,

when he comes to judge the earth.

10 In righteousness shall he judge the world

and the peoples with equity.

Luke 11:29-32 (Revised English Bible):

With the crowds swarming round him [Jesus] he went on to say:

This is a wicked generation.  It demands a sign, and the only sign that will be given it is the sign of Jonah.  For just as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man to this generation.  The queen of the south will appear in court when the men of this generation are on trial, and ensure their condemnation; for she came up from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and what is here is greater than Solomon.  The men of Nineveh will appear in court when this generation is on trial, and ensure its condemnation; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and what is here is greater than Jonah.


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.


Paul probably dictated the Letter to the Romans in 57 C.E.  Consider that the crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus most likely occurred in 29 or 30 C.E., so Paul wrote about these events within a generation of them happening.  It would be like me writing today about an event from the early or middle 1980s, if only in relative temporal terms.

Paul understood correctly that Jesus was the Son of God prior to the Resurrection (Romans 8:3).  But he also grasped that the Resurrection constituted, among other things, a divine proclamation and declaration of Jesus’ true status.  This was a death and Resurrection for the sake of all people.  As Martin Luther understood, one might not be predestined for Heaven, but one still has access to it via Jesus.

Speaking of Jesus…

The reading from Luke 11 contains references to those who traveled far to preach the word of God to strangers or seek wisdom God has bestowed.  The Queen of Sheba was a Gentile.  The character of Jonah was an idiot, but his story teaches, among other things, that God can work even through such people.  And Jonah had a mission to hostile Gentiles.  The Gentiles, hostile or not, were receptive.  So, Jesus is saying, what is wrong with these local people of his tribe?  They want signs.  When they get them, they do not like them.  Some of these locals have even argued that he performed them on the wrong day of the week–the Sabbath, for example.  They refused to be satisfied.

Why was that?  Jesus was not what they wanted him to be.  He did not confirm that they and their form of organized religion were correct.  He disturbed them.

There is a perhaps apocryphal story about a lady who traveled on the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) lecture circuit in the United States in the late 1800s.  She gave her standard stump speech in one town then did something risky:  she asked if anyone had a question.  One polite young man raised his hand.  She called on him.  He asked,

If what you say is true, how do you explain Jesus turning water into wine?

The woman answered,

I would like him better if he had not done that.

Does Jesus disappoint us?  Does he not measure up according to our standards?  If so, we need to reexamine our standards.  He is the incarnate Son of Man.  If anyone did not recognize this, his Resurrection should have made it plain.  If we do not see this and act accordingly, what more do we want?