Archive for the ‘October 23’ Category

Devotion for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday After Proper 24, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Agony in the Garden

Above:   The Agony in the Garden, by El Greco

Image in the Public Domain

Trust in God

OCTOBER 21, 2019

OCTOBER 22, 2019

OCTOBER 23, 2019


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


The Assigned Readings:

1 Samuel 25:2-22 (Monday)

1 Samuel 25:23-35 (Tuesday)

1 Samuel 25:36-42 (Wednesday)

Psalm 57 (All Days)

1 Corinthians 6:1-11 (Monday)

James 5:7-12 (Tuesday)

Luke 22:39-46 (Wednesday)


Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful,

for I have taken refuge in you;

in the shadow of your wings will I take refuge

until this time of trouble has gone by.

–Psalm 57:1, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)


Yet sometimes suffering does happen.  Jesus goes on to die after Luke 22:39-46.  Furthermore, James 5:11 refers to Job.  In addition, much suffering of the innocent results from the actions of others.

Several of the assigned readings for these days speak of deferred yet certain divine justice.  The length of the delay might be relatively brief (as in 1 Samuel 25) or part of an eschatological plan.  Regardless of the duration of the wait, having patience can be quite difficult.  In Revelation 6:10-11 the impatience extends into the afterlife.  How much more difficult will patience be for us on this side of Heaven?

We must try to trust in God.  That is the meaning of belief in the Bible:  to trust.  We can strive for that goal on our own power, but can succeed only by grace.







Devotion for Monday and Tuesday After Proper 24, Year B (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Samuel Blesses Saul Gustave Dore

Above:  Samuel Blesses Saul, by Gustave Dore

Image in the Public Domain

Rejecting or Accepting God, Part I

OCTOBER 22 and 23, 2018


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


The Assigned Readings:

1 Samuel 8:1-18 (Monday)

1 Samuel 10:17-25 (Tuesday)

Psalm 37:23-40 (Both Days)

Hebrews 6:1-12 (Monday)

Hebrews 6:13-20 (Tuesday)


Keep innocence and heed the thing that is right,

for that will bring you peace at the last.

–Psalm 37:38, Common Worship (2000)


The people of Israel asked for a king.  They had one already; God (Yahweh) was their monarch.  That arrangement proved unsatisfactory to a sufficient number of people for the petition for a human king to succeed.  The prophet Samuel warned against abuses of monarchy, to no avail.  Saul became the first in a line of kings, and Samuel proved to be correct.

The request for a human king constituted a rejection of God.  Rejecting God after having accepted God is committing apostasy, or falling away from God, which is what the author of the Letter to the Hebrews warned against doing.  Committing apostasy is possible via free will; grace is not irresistible for those not predestined to Heaven.  (There goes one-fifth of TULIP, the five points of Calvinism.)  Maintaining a healthy relationship with God requires both divine grace and human free will, which exists because of the former.  Thus everything goes back to grace, not that free will ceases to be relevant.  May we use our free will to cooperate with divine grace.






Devotion for Monday and Tuesday After Proper 24, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment


Above:  Ruins of Babylon, 1932

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-matpc-16078

Violence and Exploitation

OCTOBER 23 and 24, 2017


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


The Assigned Readings:

Daniel 3:1-18 (Monday)

Daniel 3:19-30 (Tuesday)

Psalm 98 (Both Days)

Revelation 18:1-10, 19-20 (Monday)

Revelation 18:21-24 (Tuesday)


In righteousness shall he [the LORD] judge the world

and the peoples with equity.

–Psalm 98:10, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)


I have the read the Book of Daniel (in its Jewish/Protestant and Roman Catholic/Eastern Orthodox versions) closely.  Neither version has a chronology which makes any sense.  Thus, I conclude, we are reading theologically important folk tales, not anything resembling history.

The character of Nebuchadnezzar II (reigned 605-562 B.C.E.) was not only violent but willing to reverse previous decisions, as the Book of Daniel presents him.  This combination placed others in dangerous positions, for what was mandatory one day might contribute a capital offense the next.  In Daniel 3, for example, the monarch made committing idolatry mandatory upon pain of death.  Then he found three Jewish men–Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego–who disobeyed him.  Nebuchadnezzar II tried to execute them in the furnace, but they survived without even a singe mark.  Next the monarch promised violence against anyone who blasphemed Yahweh.

We know from history that, after the time of Nebuchadnezzar II, the Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian Empire fell to the forces of the Persian Empire in 539 B.C.E.  “Babylon” became the code word for the Revelation to John, which owed much to the Book of Daniel.  In Revelation 18 “Babylon” has fallen and those merchants, monarchs, and other people who had benefited from her oppressive and violent system mourn her demise.  There is much rejoicing in Heaven, however.

“Babylon” functions as an effective, damning metaphor in our day.  We of today live within systems of politics and economics which depend on violence and exploitation, do we not?  Some of us are even invested in one of these systems, whether or not we know it.  If it were to end tomorrow, such people would mourn its passing.  And that fact would stand in condemnation of such people.

I think of this text then ponder the ways in which even my simple lifestyle depends upon deplorable labor conditions and immorally low wages everywhere from down the street to far away.  Who made my garments, shoes, and radios, for example?  And under what conditions?  I apply the same questions to the pens I used to write the first draft of this post and the notebook in which I wrote it.  I could continue in this line of thought, but I have made my point plainly.  Would I mourn the fall of “Babylon”?  (I hope so.)  Would you, O reader?









Devotion for October 22 and 23 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   5 comments


Above:  The Right Reverend Robert C. Wright, Bishop of Atlanta, Participating in the Stations of the Cross, Atlanta, Georgia, Good Friday, March 29, 2013

Image Source = Bill Monk, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

Deuteronomy and Matthew, Part XVI:  Serving Others for God



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 21:1-23 (October 22)

Deuteronomy 24:10-25:10 (October 23)

Psalm 54 (Morning–October 22)

Psalm 65 (Morning–October 23)

Psalms 28 and 99 (Evening–October 22)

Psalms 125 and 91 (Evening–October 23)

Matthew 16:1-12 (October 22)

Matthew 16:13-28 (October 23)


Deuteronomy 21:1-23 and 24:10-25:10 contain the usual unpleasantness, such as when to stone people (see 21:18-21, for example, then contrast it with Luke 15:11-32, the Parable of the Prodigal Son) yet also many practical rules about helping the less fortunate and the vulnerable.  Thus, for example, even female captives have rights, as do wives, and laborers of various national origins.  Furthermore, childless widows can find security via levirate marriage.  There was an ethic that all Israelites were slaves of God, so they each had obligations to his or her fellow human beings; therein resided the formula for a stable and just society.

Jesus, in Matthew 16, offered a model of service and self-sacrifice in contrast to the teachings of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

In serving one another we find true freedom to become what we ought to be:  those who recognize the image of God in each other and act accordingly.  The details of how to that properly and effectively vary according to time and place, but the principle is everlasting and constant.  So may each of us take up his or her cross and follow Jesus, who came to serve, not to be served.









Week of Proper 24: Monday, Year 2, and Week of Proper 24: Tuesday, Year 2   7 comments

Above:  An Ecumenical Environmental Stewardship Meeting at St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia, September 24, 2011

Image Source = Bill Monk, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

Unity in Christ

OCTOBER 22 and 23, 2018


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.



Ephesians 2:1-22 (Revised English Bible):

You once were dead because of your sins and wickedness; you followed the ways of this present world order, obeying the commander of the spiritual powers of the air, the spirit now at work among God’s rebel subjects.  We too were once of their number:  we were ruled by our physical desires, and did what instinct and evil imagination suggested.  In our natural condition we lay under the condemnation of God like the rest of mankind.  But God is rich in mercy, and because of his great love for us, he brought us to life with Christ when we were dead because of our sins; it is by grace you are saved.  And he raised us up in union with Christ Jesus and enthroned us with him in the heavenly realms, so that we might display in the ages to come how immense are the resources of his grace, and how great his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.  For it is by grace you are saved through faith; it is not your own doing.  It is God’s gift, not a reward for work done.  There is nothing for anyone to boast of; we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the life of good deeds which God designed for us.

Remember then your former condition, Gentiles as you are by birth, “the uncircumcised” as you are called by those who call themselves “the circumcised” because of a physical rite.  You were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the community of Israel, strangers to God’s covenants and the promise that goes with them.  Yours was a world without hope and without God.  Once you were far off, but now in union with Christ Jesus you have been brought near through the shedding of Christ’s blood.  For he is himself our peace.  Gentiles and Jews, he has made the two one, and in his own body of flesh and blood has broken down the barrier of enmity which separated them; for he annulled the law with its rules and regulations, so as to create out of the two a single new humanity in himself, thereby making peace.  This was his purpose, to reconcile the two in a single body to God through the cross, by which he killed the enmity.  So he came and proclaimed the good news:  peace to you who were far off, and peace to those who were near; for through him we both have access to the Father in the one Spirit.

Thus you are no longer aliens in a foreign land, but fellow-citizens with God’s people, members of God’s household.  You are built on the foundations of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the corner-stone.  In him the whole building is bonded together in the Lord.  In him you also are being built with all the others into a spiritual dwelling for God.


Psalm 100 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Be joyful in the LORD, all you lands;

serve the LORD with gladness

and come before his presence with a song.

Know this:  The LORD himself is God;

he himself has made us, and we are his;

we are the sheep of his pasture.

3 Enter his gates with thanksgiving;

go into his courts with praise;

give thanks to him and call upon his name.

4 For the LORD is good;

his mercy is everlasting;

and his faithfulness endures from age to age.


Psalm 85:8-13 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

8 I will listen to what the LORD God is saying,

for he is speaking peace to his faithful people

and to those who turn their hearts to him.

9 Truly, his salvation is very near those who fear him,

that his glory may dwell in our land.

10 Mercy and truth have met together;

righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

11 Truth shall spring up from the earth,

and righteousness shall look down from heaven.

12 The LORD will indeed grant prosperity,

and our land will yield its increase.

13 Righteousness shall go before him,

and peace shall be a pathway for his feet.


Luke 12:13-21 (Revised English Bible):

Someone in the crowd said to him [Jesus],

Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family property with me.

He said to the man,

Who set me over you to judge or arbitrate?

Then to the people he said,

Beware!  Be on your guard against greed of every kind, for even when someone has more than enough, his possessions do not give him life.

And he told them this parable:

There was a rich man whose land yielded a good harvest.  He debated with himself: “What am I to do?  I have not the space to store my produce.  This is what I will do, ” said he:  ”I will pull down my barns and build them bigger.  I will collect in them all my grain and other goods, and I will say to myself, ‘You have plenty of good things laid by, enough for many years to come:  take life easy, eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.’”  But God said to him, “You fool, this very night you must surrender your life; and the money you have made, who will get it now?” That is how it is with the man who piles up treasure for himself and remains a pauper in the sight of God.


Luke 12:35-38 (Revised English Bible):

[Jesus continued,]

Be ready for action, with your robes hitched up and your lamps alight.  Be like people who wait for their master’s return from a wedding party, ready to let him in the moment he returns and knocks.  Happy are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes.  Truly I tell you:  he will hitch up his robe, seat them at table, and come and wait on them.  If in the middle of the night or before dawn when he comes he still finds them awake, and they are happy indeed.


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.


Some Related Posts:

Week of Proper 24:  Monday, Year 1:

Week of Proper 24:  Tuesday, Year 1:

A Prayer for All Bishops of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church:


Ephesians 2 speaks of unity in Christ.  In the Pauline historical context, the unity was that of Jews and Gentiles.  Times have moved along and circumstances have changed.  To stay local, with a radius of about seven miles from my front door in Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, congregations of various Christian denominations have their meeting places.  A partial list follows:

  1. African Methodist Episcopal–1
  2. United Methodist–3
  3. Episcopal–1
  4. Roman Catholic–1
  5. National Baptist–1
  6. Free Will Baptist–1
  7. Southern Baptist–2
  8. Cooperative Baptist–1
  9. Presbyterian (U.S.A.)–2
  10. Presbyterian in America–1
  11. Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)–2
  12. Churches of Christ–1
  13. Christian Church and Churches of Christ–1
  14. Independent–1
  15. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America–1
  16. Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod–1

Of course, separate denominational identities need not lead to hostilities, mutual or otherwise.  I am ritualistic, but some of my best friends are not.  We bear different denominational labels, but we all follow Jesus.  So, as a saying goes,

It’s all good.

Yet many lack this positive attitude.  I recall a late-season episode of Cheers (1982-1993).  Woody and Kelly had discovered on their honeymoon that they belonged to different Lutheran denominations, he to the Missouri Synod and she to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).  They spent much of the episode arguing until he agreed to convert, saying,

Yes, dear.

The episode highlighted the relatively minor differences between and among many denominations, and how much many of us emphasize them.

Our unity as Christians is in Christ, first and foremost.  May we focus on that.


Week of Proper 24: Wednesday, Year 1   9 comments

Above:  Eleanor Roosevelt Memorial, New York, New York

Image in the Public Domain

High Expectations and Great Responsibilities

OCTOBER 23, 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.


Romans 6:12-19 (Revised English Bible):

Therefore sin must no longer reign in your mortal body, exacting obedience to the body’s desires.  You must no longer put any part of it at sin’s disposal, as an implement for doing wrong.  Put yourselves instead at the disposal of God; think of yourselves instead at the disposal of God; think of yourselves as raised from death to life, and yield your bodies to God as implements for doing right.  Sin shall no longer be your master, for you are no longer under law, but under grace.

What then?  Are we to sin, because we are not under law but under grace?  Of course not!  You know well enough that if you bind yourselves to obey a master, you are slaves of the master you obey; and this is true whether the master is sin and the outcome death, or obedience and the outcome righteousness.  Once you were slaves of sin, but now, thank God, you have yielded wholehearted obedience to that pattern of teaching to which you were made subject; emancipated from sin, you have become slaves of righteousness (to use language that suits your human weakness).  As you once yielded your bodies to the service of impurity and lawlessness, making for moral anarchy, so now you must yield them to the service of righteousness, making a holy life.

Psalm 124 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 If the LORD had not been on our side,

let Israel now say,

If the LORD had not been on our side,

when enemies rose up against us;

3 Then they would have swallowed us up alive

in their fierce anger toward us;

Then would the waters have overwhelmed us

and the torrent gone over us;

5 Then would the raging waters

have gone right over us.

6 Blessed be the LORD!

he has not given us over to be a prey for their teeth.

We have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowler;

the snare is broken, and we have escaped.

Our help is in the Name of the LORD,

the maker of heaven and earth.

Luke 12:39-48 (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.


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.


Privilege carries responsibility.  This is a basic lesson in Biblical ethics.

Consider, in U.S. history, Eleanor Roosevelt, who was quite wealthy and usually close to power.  She used her position to, among other things, help common and poor people during the Great Depression, visit soldiers and sailors during World War II, work on international human rights after that war, and labor for civil rights during much of her life.  You might know, O reader, about her role in arranging Marian Anderson’s 1939 concert at the Lincoln Memorial, but did you know that the former First Lady risked her life in the 1950s while traveling through the South to teach civil rights workers civil disobedience tactics?  Klan members sought to murder her and the Federal Bureau of Investigation did not protect her during these risky travels.

And let us think of the second person of the Trinity, who left a position of prestige to become one of us, to suffer, and to die for us.  Jesus offers us liberation from sin to serve him.  May we say yes and act accordingly.  If we have said yes are acting accordingly, may we continue to do so.

The cost, of course, might be martyrdom, or at least great suffering.  Consider the eleven surviving Apostles plus Matthias, who filled the vacancy Judas left.  Only St. John died of old age/natural causes, but in exile.  The manner of dying for most of the other eleven was gruesome.

Each day enemies of the cross of Christ martyr more Christians across the world.  Do these makers of martyrs suppose that they will win?  History indicates that they will lose, for, as an old saying tells us, “The blood of the martyrs waters the church.”  And, as the Wisdom of Solomon says,

…the souls of the righteous are in Gods’ hand; no torment will touch them.  In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to be dead their departure was reckoned a defeat, and their going from us as disaster.  But they are at peace, for though in the sight of men they may suffer punishment, they have a sure hope of immortality…. (3:1-4, Revised English Bible)

Martyrdom, of course, is not every faithful Christian’s lot.  Yet grace, although free, is not cheap; it makes costly demands on us.  The call of being chosen by God carries with it corresponding responsibilities to others.  If we are to fulfill these well, we must change from what we are to what we ought to be.  This requires sacrifices.  Some people, for example, understand the call to sacrifice an easy and comfortable life so that they can become renewers of society.  In the case of Eleanor Roosevelt, this meant driving through rural Tennessee in the middle of the night while Klansmen hunted her.  She could have died there, and she knew it.  Thank God that she was safe after all!

Which responsibilities does grace require of you?  Which responsibilities will grace demand of you?