Archive for the ‘October 19’ Category

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

Jacob and Esau Are Reconciled

Above:   Jacob and Esau Are Reconciled, by Jan Van den Hoecke

Image in the Public Domain

Building Up Others

OCTOBER 18 and 19, 2019

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The Collect:

O Lord God, tireless guardian of your people,

you are always ready to hear our cries.

Teach us to rely day and night on your care.

Inspire us to seek your enduring justice for all the suffering world,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 50

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The Assigned Readings:

Genesis 31:43-32:2 (Friday)

Genesis 32:3-21 (Saturday)

Psalm 121 (Both Days)

2 Timothy 2:14-26 (Friday)

Mark 10:46-52 (Saturday)

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He will not let your foot be moved and he who watches over you will not fall asleep.

Behold, he who keeps watch over Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD himself watches over you; the LORD is your shade at your right hand,

So that the sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.

The LORD shall preserve you from all evil; it is he who shall keep you safe.

The LORD shall watch over your going out and your coming in, from this time forth for evermore.

–Psalm 121:3-8, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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Here is a saying you may trust:

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

if we endure, we shall reign with him;

if we disown him, he will disown us;

if we are faithless, he remains faithful,

for he cannot disown himself.”

Keep on reminding people of this, and charge them solemnly before God to stop disputing about mere words; it does no good, and only ruins those who listen.

–2 Timothy 2:11-14, The Revised English Bible (1989)

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God seeks to build us up; we should strive to the same for each other.  That is the unifying theme of these lessons.

Distracting theological arguments constitute “mere words” (2 Timothy 2:14).  Of course, many people do not think that such theological arguments are distracting and destructive.  Partisans certainly understand them to be matters of fidelity to God.  Such arguments help to explain the multiplicity of Christian denominations.  I think in particular of the Church of God (Guthrie, Oklahoma), which separated from the Church of God (Anderson, Indiana) in 1910-1911 over, in part, the parent body’s liberalization with regard to Sola Scriptura (or, more to the point, that which the Reformed churches call the Regulative Principle of Worship) and worldliness.  The Anderson Church began to (gasp!) permit the wearing of neckties!  (Shock horror)  Granted, the original, narrow meaning of Sola Scriptura, especially in Lutheran theology, applies only to requirements for salvation, but certain schools of Christianity have expanded its scope to matters beyond salvation–from liturgy to the presence or absence of neckties.

Legalism does not build up the body of Christ.  Reconciliation, however, does.  We read a prelude to the reconciliation of Jacob and Esau (effected in Genesis 33) in Chapter 32.  Jacob, who had, with the help of his mother, cheated his brother out of his birthright in Genesis 27, had gone on to become a recipient of trickery in Chapter 29.  He parted company with his father-in-law, Laban, with whom he had a difficult relationship, in Genesis 31, and was nervous about what might happen at a reunion with Esau, who proved to be conciliatory.

The healing of blind Bartimaeus (literally, son of Timaeus) is familiar.  Jesus, unlike many people in the account, has compassion for the blind man calling out to him.  Those others, we might speculate with little or no risk of being wrong, thought of Bartimaeus as a nuisance at worst and an irritant at best.  One need not use one’s imagination much to grasp the application of this story in daily life.  Do we see people, or do we see irritants and nuisances?

A moral law of the universe is that, whatever we do to others, we do to ourselves also.  This challenges us all, does it not?  Tearing others down might be in one’s short-term interests, but, in the long term, those who injure others do so to their detriment.

How is God calling you to build up others today, O reader?

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/building-up-others-2/

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

Herodian Temple with Antonia Fortress

Above:  The Herodian Temple and the Antonia Fortress

Image in the Public Domain

How Long, O Lord?

OCTOBER 19 and 20, 2018

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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:

Isaiah 47:1-9 (Friday)

Isaiah 47:10-15 (Saturday)

Psalm 91:9-16 (Both Days)

Revelation 17:1-18 (Friday)

Luke 22:24-30 (Saturday)

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In the Life of Brian (1979), a brilliant spoof of organized religion and of old-school Biblical movies, but not of Jesus or the Bible, Jewish Palestinian rebels meet to discuss how little the Roman Empire has done for them.  The partisans come up with a long list, however.  The scene is funny, but it does not constitute a defense of imperialism.  The fact is that imperialism can bring many benefits to the conquered and occupied populations, but a host of indignities and abuses accompanies the benefits.  For all the roads, schools, bridges, and aqueducts, living under occupation comes with a psychological burden.  This reality indicates that the main beneficiary of imperialism is the imperial power.

On a literal level Isaiah 47 condemns the Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian Empire and Revelation 17 does the same with regard to the Roman Empire.  In a broader sense, however, they condemn all authorities based on violence, oppression, and hubris.  Such authorities exist, as some always have at any given time.  Names, locations, and ideological foundations change, but such tyranny has never ceased to exist since the dawn of human governments.

Our Lord and Savior rejected the standards of these authorities.  They claim to be benefactors, he said, but they are not.  Jesus went on to propose a different standard of greatness:  service.

But he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them and are called benefactors.  But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves.  For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves?  Is it not the one at the table?  But I am among you as one who serves.

–Luke 22:25-27, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

Psalm 91 seems too optimistic to me, for it speaks of the faithful finding deliverance (via God) from peril.  This happens sometimes and has occurred often, of course, but many of the faithful have become martyrs instead.  I think of the martyrs in Heaven in the Revelation of John asking “how long?”  Nevertheless, I affirm that God provides justice for the faithful eventually and that all violent regimes collapse in time–frequently too late for my taste, however.  That is an issue to take up with God faithfully, in the tradition of other Psalms and those martyrs from the Apocalypse of John.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 4, 2015 COMMON ERA

INDEPENDENCE DAY (U.S.A.)

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2015/07/04/how-long-o-lord/

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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, 2017

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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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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/proper-leadership/

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Devotion for October 18 and 19 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

05555v

Above:  Northern Views, Site of the Feeding of the Five Thousand

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-matpc-05555

Deuteronomy and Matthew, Part XIV:  Violence and Compassion

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2019, and SATURDAY, OCTOBER 19, 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:

Deuteronomy 17:1-20 (October 18)

Deuteronomy 18:1-22 (October 19)

Psalm 13 (Morning–October 18)

Psalm 56 (Morning–October 19)

Psalms 32 and 139 (Evening–October 18)

Psalms 100 and 62 (Evening–October 19)

Matthew 14:1-21 (October 18)

Matthew 14:22-36 (October 19)

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I have become convinced that the best way to read the Law of Moses is in small doses, usually in reference to narrative Bible stories.  Yet the main purpose of a lectionary is to guide the orderly reading of the Bible, even books one might avoid otherwise.  So I continue.

These days in Deuteronomy we read about court procedures.  There must be at least two witnesses, in a capital case, for a person who has committed idolatry must die.  Levites will settle baffling cases, and the king will have no role in justice.  We read also of Levites and prophets, whose authority came from God, not any other source.

Speaking of prophets—yes, more than a prophet—we read of Jesus feeding the five thousand men plus an uncounted number of women and children with a small amount of food and ending up with more leftovers than the original supply of food.  Then we read of Jesus walking on water then curing many people.  That material completes a chapter which begins with the execution of St. John the Baptist due to a rash promise made at a tawdry party.  The sublime grace and a great power of God at work in Jesus exists among violent men and women.  That is the story I detect uniting Matthew 14.

There is also violence—albeit carefully regulated violence—in Deuteronomy 17.  I continue to object to executing people for committing idolatry either.  But, if human life is as valuable as some parts of the Law of Moses indicate, why is so much stoning demanded there?  I read of how Jesus helped people from various backgrounds (often marginalized individuals) and think of his great compassion.  Surely executing someone for working on the Sabbath or committing idolatry is inconsistent with that ethic.

But at least the Levites got to eat.

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-xiv-violence-and-compassion/

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Week of Proper 23: Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, Year 2   5 comments

Above:  A Baptismal Font

Image Source = Cadetgray

The Ministry of Lay Persons

OCTOBER 18, 19, and 20, 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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My practice for this series of devotions based on the Letter to the Ephesians is to keep chapters unified.–KRT

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COMPOSITE FIRST READING

Ephesians 1:1-23 (Revised English Bible):

From Paul, by the will of God apostle of Christ Jesus, to God’s people at Ephesus, to the faithful, incorporate in Christ Jesus.

Grace to you and peace from our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has conferred on us in Christ every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms.  Before the foundation of the world he chose us in Christ to be his people, to be without blemish in his sight, to be full of love; and he predestined us to be adopted as his children through Jesus Christ.  This was his will and pleasure in order that the glory of his gracious gift, so graciously conferred on us in his Beloved, might redound to his praise.  In Christ our release is secured and our sins forgiven through the shedding of his blood.  In the richness of his grace God has lavished on us all wisdom and insight.  He has made known to us his secret purpose, in accordance with the plan which he determined beforehand in Christ, to be put into effect when the time was ripe; namely, that the universe, everything in heaven and on earth, might be brought into a unity in Christ.

In Christ indeed we have been given our share in the heritage, as was decreed in his design whose purpose is everywhere at work; for it was his will that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, should cause his glory to be praised.  And in Christ you also–once you had heard the message of the truth, the good news of your salvation, and had believed it–in him you were stamped with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; and that Spirit is a pledge of the inheritance which will be ours when God has redeemed what is his own, to his glory and praise.

Because of all this, now that I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and the love you bear towards all God’s people, I never cease to give thanks for you when I mention you in my prayers.  I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the all-glorious Father, may confer on you the spiritual gifts of wisdom and vision, with the knowledge of him that they bring.  I pray that your inward eyes may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope to which he calls you, how rich and glorious is the share he offers you among his people in their inheritance, and how vast are the resources of his power open to us who have faith.  His mighty strength was seen at work when he raised Christ from the dead, and enthroned him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all government and authority, all power and dominion, and any title of sovereignty that commands allegiance, not only in this age but also in the age to come.  He put all things in subjection beneath his feet, and gave him as head over all things to the church which is his body, the fullness of him who is filling the universe in all its parts.

RESPONSE FOR THURSDAY

Psalm 98 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 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.

3 The LORD has made known his victory;

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

4 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.

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

the lands and those who dwell therein.

9 Let the rivers clap their hands,

and 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.

RESPONSE FOR FRIDAY

Psalm 33:1-12 (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 the lyre.

3 Sing for him a new song;

sound a fanfare with all your skill upon the trumpet.

For the word of the LORD is right,

and all his works are sure.

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.

12 Happy is the nation whose God is the LORD!

happy the people he has chosen to be his own!

RESPONSE FOR SATURDAY

Psalm 8 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 O LORD our Governor,

how exalted is your Name in all the world!

2 Out of the mouths of infants and children,

your majesty is praised above the heavens.

You have set up a stronghold against your adversaries,

to quell the enemy and the avenger.

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,

the moon and the stars you have set in their courses,

What is man that you should be mindful of him?

the son of man that you should seek him out?

You have made him but little lower than the angels;

you adorn him with glory and honor;

You give him mastery over the works of your hands;

you put all things under his feet;

All sheep and oxen,

even the wild beasts of the field,

The birds of the air, the fish of the sea,

and whatsoever walks in the paths of the sea.

10 O LORD our Governor,

how exalted is your Name in all the world!

COMPOSITE GOSPEL READING

Luke 11:47-12:12 (Revised English Bible):

[Jesus continued, rejoining one of the lawyers:]

Alas, you build monuments to the prophets whom your fathers murdered, and so testify that you approve of the deeds your fathers did; they committed the murders and you provide the monuments.

This is why the Wisdom of God said, “I will send them prophets and messengers; and some of these they will persecute and kill;’ so that this generation will have to answer for the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world; from the blood of Abel to the the blood of Zechariah who met his death between the altar and the sanctuary.  I tell you, this generation will have to answer for it all.

Alas for you lawyers!  You have taken away the key to knowledge.  You did not go in yourselves, and those who were trying to go in, you prevented.

After he had left the house, the scribes and Pharisees began to assail him fiercely and to ply him with a host of questions, laying snares to catch him with his own words.

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.

I tell you this:  whoever acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will acknowledge before the angels of God; but whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God.

Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but for him who slanders the Holy Spirit there will be no forgiveness.

When you are brought before synagogues and state authorities, do not worry about how you will conduct defence or what you will say.  When that time comes the Holy Spirit will instruct you what to say.

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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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Some Related Posts:

Week of Proper 23:  Thursday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/05/week-of-proper-23-thursday-year-1/

Week of Proper 23:  Friday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/06/week-of-proper-23-friday-year-1/

Week of Proper 23:  Saturday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/07/week-of-proper-23-saturday-year-1/

Links to Baptism and Confirmation Prayers:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/10/31/baptism-and-confirmation/

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Inside my copy of the Revised English Bible, in the Letter to the Ephesians, I have a bookmark from the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta.  The front bears the words,

sealed…marked…forever.

next to an image of a dove.  The back bears the text,

You are sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked as Christ’s own forever.

These words come from the baptismal liturgy of The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 308, to be precise.  Those who prepared the Prayer Book derived the words from Ephesians 1:13.  As an old joke says, it is amazing how often the Bible quotes the Prayer Book.

The Prayer Book catechism, on page 855 of the Prayer Book, tells us:

The ministers of the Church are lay persons, bishops, priests, and deacons.

Furthermore, on the same page we read:

The ministry of lay persons is to represent Christ and his Church; to bear witness to him wherever they may be; and, according to the gifts given them, to carry on Christ’s work of reconciliation in the world; and to take their place in the life, worship, and governance of the Church.

The hope to which God calls us (to borrow language from Ephesians 1) requires something of us.  The grace is free but not cheap, for the price tag was Christ’s blood.  If we avoid martyrdom, we still must give up some things.  If we are to represent Christ and his Church effectively, we must avoid certain pursuits which would bring discredit to both in the minds of some who would associate them with us.  Yet it is also true that the most accurate and laudatory representation will not impress all people.  So may we be accurate so that, when one takes offense, we did not cause it.  Christ does offend many; we cannot change that fact.

So may we live, write, and speak the truth in love, proclaiming–with words when necessary–the redemptive power of God in the crucified and resurrected Jesus of Nazareth.  And may we bring reconciliation, by the power of God, where possible.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/11/06/the-ministry-of-lay-persons/

Week of Proper 23: Saturday, Year 1   10 comments

Above:  NGC 3603

Image Source = Hubble Space Telescope

The Favor of God and What That Requires of Us

OCTOBER 19, 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 4:13-18 (Revised English Bible):

It was not through the law that Abraham and his descendants were given the promise that the world would be their inheritance, but through righteousness that came from faith.  If the heirs of are those who hold by the law, then faith becomes pointless and the promise goes for nothing; law can bring only retribution, and where there is no law there can be no breach of law.  The promise was made on the ground of faith in order that it might be valid for all Abraham’s descendants, not only for those who hold by the law, but also for those who have Abraham’s faith.  For he is the father of all, as scripture says:

I have appointed you to be father of many nations.

In the presence of God, the God who makes the dead live and calls into being things that are not, Abraham had faith.  When hope seemed hopeless, his faith was such that he became “father of many nations,” in fulfillment of the promise,

So shall your descendants be.

Psalm 105:5-10, 42-45 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

5  Remember the marvels the LORD has done,

his wonders and the judgments of his mouth,

6  O offspring of Abraham his servant,

O children of Jacob his chosen.

7  He is the LORD our God;

his judgments prevail in all the world.

8  He has always been mindful of his covenant,

the promise he made for a thousand generations:

9  The covenant he made with Abraham,

the oath that he swore to Isaac,

10  Which he established as a statute for Jacob,

an everlasting covenant for Israel….

42  For God remembered his holy word

and Abraham his servant.

43  So he led forth his people with gladness,

his chosen with shouts of joy.

44  He gave his people the lands of the nations,

and they took the fruit of others’ toil,

45  That they might keep his statutes,

and observe his laws.

Hallelujah!

Luke 12:8-12 (Revised English Bible):

[Jesus continued,]

I tell you this:  whoever acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will acknowledge before the angels of God; but whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God.

Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but for him who slanders the Holy Spirit there will be no forgiveness.

When you are brought before synagogues and state authorities, do not worry about how you will conduct defence or what you will say.  When that time comes the Holy Spirit will instruct you what to say.

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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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I have long been prone to sacramentalism.  It should come as no surprise, then, that I chose to become and remain an Episcopalian.  The catechism in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer defines sacraments as follows:

The sacraments are outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace, given by Christ as sure and certain means by which we receive that grace.

Grace, in turn, is:

…God’s favor towards us, unearned and undeserved; by grace God forgives our sins, enlightens our minds, stirs our hearts, and strengthens our wills.

Sacraments are primarily about what God has done, is doing, and will do.  Consider baptism, for example.  We baptize infants, thereby marking their entry into Christian community.  There is confirmation, another sacrament, by which, in time, the chronologically more mature claim faith for themselves in public and enter into formal church membership.  But none of this would mean anything if God had not acted first.

Divine grace scandalizes or at least shocks us sometimes.  Why did God passover more likely candidates and choose a shepherd boy to be a king or a man with a speech impediment to be his messenger before the Pharaoh of Egypt?   How did a former Roman collaborator become one of our Lord’s Apostles and an erstwhile persecutor of nascent Christianity one of its most influential evangelists?  We might wonder:  How dare God offer healing from leprosy to an enemy general by means of a great Hebrew prophet?  And how did an impetuous fisherman become the leader of the Apostles at Pentecost?

This grace requires of us a faithful and affirmative response to God via free will, which God has implanted in us.  Peter, the fisherman, died when people crucified him upside down.  Matthew, the former collaborator, also died as a martyr.  Moses bore the burden of leadership of his people for a generation, and David had to govern a kingdom.  Naaman, the general, who had his life back, praised the God of a people foreign to himself.

What will grace require of you?

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/05/08/the-favor-of-god-and-what-that-requires-of-us/