Archive for the ‘October 28’ Category

Devotion for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday After Proper 25, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Belshazzar's Feast

Above:   Belshazzar’s Feast, by Mattia Preti

Image in the Public Domain

Humility Before People and God

OCTOBER 28, 2019

OCTOBER 29, 2019

OCTOBER 30, 2019


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


The Assigned Readings:

1 Samuel 2:1-10 (Monday)

Daniel 5:1-12 (Tuesday)

Daniel 5:13-31 (Wednesday)

Psalm 84:8-12 (All Days)

1 Peter 4:12-19 (Monday)

1 Peter 5:1-11 (Tuesday)

Matthew 21:28-32 (Wednesday)


O LORD of hosts,

happy are they who put their trust in you!

–Psalm 84:12, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)


Do not be arrogant, the readings for these three days tell us.  Trust in God instead, we read.  Daniel 5 tells us of Belshazzar, viceroy under this father, King Nabonidus (reigned 556-539 B.C.E.) of the Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian Empire.  God, the story tells us, found Belshazzar wanting.  Furthermore, we read, God delivered the empire to the Persians and the Medes, and the Babylonian Exile ended shortly thereafter.

Cease your proud boasting,

let no word of arrogance pass your lips,

for the LORD is a God who knows;

he governs what mortals do.

Strong men stand in mute dismay,

but those who faltered put on new strength.

Those who had plenty sell themselves for a crust,

and the hungry grow strong again.

The barren woman bears seven children,

and the mother of many sons is left to languish?

–1 Samuel 2:3-5, The Revised English Bible (1989)

That is a timeless lesson.  We read of Jesus telling certain professional religious people that penitent tax collectors and the prostitutes will precede them in the Kingdom of God.  Later in 1 Peter, we read of the imperative to clothe ourselves in humility, when dealing with each other and God.  As Proverbs 3:34-35 tells us,

Toward the scorners he [God] is scornful,

but to the humble he shows favor.

The wise will inherit honor,

but stubborn fools, disgrace.

The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

Persecution might come, but one must remain faithful.  That is a recurring message in the Bible, from Jeremiah to the Books of the Maccabees to the Gospels to 1 Peter to Hebrews to the Revelation of John.  It can also be a difficult lesson on which to act, as many chapters in the history of Christianity attest.  Fortunately, God is merciful than generations of Donatists (regardless of their formal designations) have been.  That lack of mercy flows from, among  other sources, pride–the pride which says,

I persevered.  Why did you not do likewise?  I must be spiritually superior to you.

We all need to acknowledge, confess, and repent of our sins.  We all need to change our minds and turn around spiritually.  We all need to be humble before God and each other.







Devotion for Saturday Before Proper 25, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Crucifix II July 15, 2014

Above:  One of My Crucifixes

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Sin and Grace

OCTOBER 28, 2017


The Collect:

O Lord God, you are the holy lawgiver, you are the salvation of your people.

By your Spirit renew us in your covenant of love,

and train us to care tenderly for all our neighbors,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 51


The Assigned Readings:

Proverbs 24:23-34

Psalm 1

John 5:39-47


Happy are they who have not walked in the counsel of the wicked,

nor lingered in the way of sinners,

nor sat in the seats of the scornful!

Their delight is in the law of the LORD,

and they meditate on his law day and night.

–Psalm 1:1-2, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)


The Book of Proverbs has a hit-or-miss quality when I read from it.  Sometimes passages are overly optimistic, as in the statement that children, once they learn the proper path, will not stray from it.  Other passages seem banal.  This fact might indicate more about me than the texts in question; so be it.  Today’s section, however, falls into the “hit” side of “hit-or-miss.”  I detect three main points of advice:

  1. Have a well-reasoned plan for work,
  2. Follow it, and
  3. Be honest.

The third point applies to the pericope from John 5.  Many opponents of our Lord and Savior told lies about him as part of an effort which led to his execution.  Thus they protected their own status, which Jesus, by his mere presence, threatened.  Before they lied to others, however, they deceived themselves partially and decided not to follow him.  They knew that Jesus was no charlatan, but they acted as they did.  And they did so in the name of God.

Sometimes we sin in ignorance.  We think we know what we are doing, but we really do not.  On other occasions, however, we know exactly what we are doing.  In the case of our Lord and Savior’s opponents, they were scapegoating a man and protecting their socio-economic-political status.  They were looking out for number one and defending the status quo ante by means of deception and eventually violence.

Do we know what we are doing when we sin against God and each other each time?  Of course not!  But, regardless of the status of our knowledge, grace is available to us.  Both judgment and mercy abide in the nature of God.  Also relevant are the decisions we make ultimately, for our free will plays a part in the drama of our salvation (unless, of course, we are among those God has predestined to Heaven) or damnation.  Grace precedes us, walks beside us, carries us sometimes, and succeeds us.  Dare we reject it?








Devotion for October 28 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   5 comments


Above:  Jesus Blessing the Children

An Image from 1891

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-pga-01427

Deuteronomy and Matthew, Part XIX:  The Kingdom of the Powerless



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 30:1-20

Psalm 62 (Morning)

Psalms 73 and 8 (Evening)

Matthew 19:1-15


Women and children were among the most vulnerable members of our Lord’s society.  Widows and orphans especially at risk.  Thus in Matthew 19:1-15, Jesus affirmed the dignity of women and children and the importance of commitments.  Some men divorced their wives for casual reasons, thereby placing the divorced women at great risk of falling through the cracks of society.  And, as Richard Horsley has taught me, some Pharisees permitted elites to divorce and remarry for reasons of consolidating control over land and other resources.  (Source = Jesus and Empire:  The Kingdom of God and the New World Disorder, Minneapolis, MN:  Fortress Press, 2003, page 122).  Jesus frowned upon people making a mockery of solemn commitments to God and each other.

Children were powerless.  So Jesus, of course, spoke highly of such socially invisible people.  The man who dined with notorious sinners, spoke at length about profound topics with women, and scandalized the defenders and guardians of ritual purity codes said:

Let the children come to me; do not try to stop them, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.

–Matthew 19:14, The Revised English Bible

Welcome, O reader, to the Kingdom of God, where the meek inherit the earth, the hungry eat, the thirsty drink, and the powerless and socially invisible people are role models.  This is consistent with the best of the Law of Moses and the commandments of God in our mouths and hearts.









Proper 25, Year B   18 comments

Above:  Christ Healing the Blind Man, by Eustace Le Sueur


The Sunday Closest to October 26

The Twenty-Third Sunday After Pentecost

OCTOBER 28, 2018



Job 42:1-6, 10-17 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

Job said in reply to the LORD:

I know that You can do everything,

That nothing you propose is impossible for You.

Who is this who obscures counsel without knowledge?

Indeed, I spoke without understanding

Of things beyond me, which I did not know.

Hear now, and I will speak;

I will ask, and You inform me.

I had heard You with my ears,

But now I see You with my eyes;

Therefore I recant and relent,

Being but dust and ashes.

The LORD restored Job’s fortunes when he prayed on behalf of his friends, and the LORD gave Job twice what he had before.

All his brothers and sisters and all his former friends came to him and had a meal with him in his house.  They consoled, and comforted him for all the misfortune that the LORD had brought upon him.  Each gave him one kesitah and each one gold ring.Thus the LORD blessed the latter years of Job’s life more than the former.  He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, one thousand yoke of oxen, and one thousand she-asses.  He also had seven sons and three daughters.  The first he named Jemimah, the second Keziah, and the third Keren-happuch.  Nowhere in the land were women as beautiful as Job’s daughters to be found.  Their father gave them estates together with their brothers.  Afterward, Job lived one hundred and forty years to see four generations of sons and grandsons.  So Job died old and contented.

Psalm 34:1-8, (19-22) (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 I will bless the LORD at all times;

his praise shall ever be in my mouth.

2 I will glory in the LORD;

let the humble hear and rejoice.

3 Proclaim with me the greatness of the LORD;

let us exult his Name together.

4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me

and delivered me out of all my terror.

5 Look upon him and be radiant,

and let not your faces be ashamed.

6 I called in my affliction and the LORD heard me

and saved me from all my troubles.

The angel of the LORD encompasses those who fear him,

and he will deliver them.

Taste and see that the LORD is good;

happy are they who trust in him.

19 Many are the troubles of the righteous,

but the LORD will deliver him out of them all.

20 He will keep all his bones;

not one of them shall be broken.

21 Evil shall slay the wicked,

and those who hate the righteous will be punished.

22 The LORD ransoms the life of his servants,

and none will be punished who trust in him.


Jeremiah 31:7-9 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

For thus said the LORD:

Cry out in joy for Jacob,

Shout at the crossroads of the nations!

Sing aloud in praise, and say:

Save, O LORD, Your people,

The remnant of Israel.

I will bring them in from the northland,

Gather them from the ends of the earth–

The blind and the lame among them,

Those with child and those in labor–

In a vast throng they shall return here.

They shall come with weeping,

And with compassion will I guide them.

I will lead them to streams of water,

by a level road where they will not stumble.

For I am ever a Father to Israel,

Ephraim is My first-born.

Psalm 126 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,

then were we like those who dream.

2 Then was our mouth filled with laughter,

and our tongue with shouts of joy.

3 Then they said among the nations,

“The LORD has done great things for them.”

The LORD has done great things for us,

and we are glad indeed.

5 Restore our fortunes, O LORD,

like the watercourses of the Negev.

6 Those who sowed with tears

will reap with songs of joy.

7 Those who go out weeping, carrying the seed,

will come again with joy, shouldering their sheaves.


Hebrews 7:23-28 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office; but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues for ever.  Consequently he is able for all time to save those who draw near God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, blameless, unstained, separated from sinners, exalted above the heavens.  He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people; for he did this once for all when he offered up himself.  Indeed, the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been make perfect for ever.


Mark 10:46-52 (Revised English Bible):

They came to Jericho; and as he was leaving the town, with his disciples and a large crowd, Bartimaeus (that is, son of Timaeus), a blind beggar, was seated at the roadside.  Hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout,

Son of David, Jesus, have pity on me!

Many of the people told him to hold his tongue; but he shouted all the more,

Son of David, have pity on me.

Jesus stopped and said,

Call him;

so they called the blind man:

Take heart,

they said.

Get up; he is calling you.

At that he threw off his cloak, jumped to his feet, and came to Jesus.  Jesus said to him,

What do you want me to do for you?

The blind man answered,

Rabbi, I want my sight back.

Jesus said to him,

Go; your faith as healed you.

At once he recovered his sight and followed him on the road.

The Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command; 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:

Proper 25, Year A:

Job 42:

Hebrews 7:

Mark 10:

Luke 18 (Parallel to Mark 10):

Prayers for Inclusion:

A Prayer for the Blind:


The theme for Proper 25, Year B, is restoration.  Job, who had lost so much, got much more back.  Descendants of the original Judean exiles would return to their ancestral homeland.  And a blind man sought and received his sight back in the last healing by Jesus recorded in the Gospel of Mark.

Blindness was common in the ancient world, and it resulted from various causes.  It was, in Jewish custom of the time, a ritual blemish, rendering one unfit to serve as a priest (Leviticus 21:18).  And a blind animal was not suitable for ritual sacrifice (Leviticus 22:22 and Deuteronomy 15:21).  So the blind man was, in the estimation of many people in his culture, defective, perhaps even punished by God.  That must have taken an emotional toll on the man.  Yet the Law (in Leviticus 19:14) forbade placing an obstacle in the way of the blind, so those who told the blind man to be quiet violated the Law of Moses.

Healing stories involving Jesus are about more than correcting the physical, emotional, and psychological disorders of people.  They also speak of the restoration to society.  The blind man no longer had a ritual blemish; he was no longer allegedly defective or punished by God.

As I write these words, I belong to a culture which considers itself fairly enlightened.  It is, in many ways.  We even have the Americans with Disabilities Act.  And, based  on the architecture of certain church buildings in which I have worshiped, I recognize a lack of concern for handicapped access in the late 1800s and early 1900s yet a keen attention to this issue in structures from more recent decades.  Yet the disabled still face many challenges in getting from Point A to Point B, entering many buildings, and using many restrooms.  Our lack of concern for them forces many of them to the margins; we are not as enlightened as we like to think we are.

Jesus restored people to society; we ought to do the same, as we are able.


Week of Proper 25: Monday, Year 1   14 comments

Above:  A Father and His Son

Image Source = Onkelbo

Compassion and the Family of God

OCTOBER 28, 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 8:12-17 (Revised English Bible):

It follows, my friends, that our old nature has no claim on us. we are not obliged to live in that way.  If you do so, you must die.  But if by the Spirit you put to death the base pursuits of the body, then you will live.

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.  The Spirit you have received is not a spirit of slavery, leading you back into a life of fear, but a Spirit of adoption, enabling us to cry “Abba!  Father!”  The Spirit of God affirms to our spirit that we are God’s children; and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow-heirs with Christ; but we must share his sufferings if we are also to share his glory.

Psalm 68:1-6, 19-20 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Let God arise, and let his enemies be scattered;

let those who hate him flee before him.

Let them vanish like smoke when the wind drives it away;

as the wax melts at the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God.

But let the righteous be glad and rejoice before God;

let them also be merry and joyful.

Sing to God, sing praises to his Name;

exalt him who rides upon the heavens;

YAHWEH is his Name, rejoice before him!

Father of orphans, defender of widows,

God in his holy habitation!

God gives the solitary a home and brings forth prisoners into freedom;

but the rebels shall live in dry places.

19  Blessed be the Lord day by day,

the God of our salvation, who bears our burdens.

20  He is our God, the God of our salvation;

God is the LORD, by whom we escape death.

Luke 13:10-17 (Revised English Bible):

He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath, and there was a woman there possessed by a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years.  She was bend double and quite unable to stand up straight.  When Jesus saw her he called her and said,

You are rid of your trouble,

and he laid hands on her.  Immediately she straightened up and began to praise God.  But the president of the synagogue, indignant with Jesus for healing on the sabbath, intervened and said to the congregation,

There are six working day:  come and be cured on one of them, and not on the sabbath.

The Lord gave him this answer:

What hypocrites you are!

he said.

Is there a single one of you who does not loose his ox or his donkey from its stall and take it out to water on the sabbath?  And here is this woman, a daughter of Abraham, who has been bound by Satan for eighteen long years:  was it not right for her to be loosed from her bonds on the sabbath?

At these words all his opponents were filled with confusion, while the mass of the people were delighted at all the wonderful things he was doing.


The Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


In modern times we might say that the woman suffered from a psychosomatic condition.  We would, anyhow, offer a scientific explanation, not demonic affliction, a common diagnosis in the Hellenistic world.  That, however, is really beside the point.  Whatever ailed the woman, Jesus rid her of it on the sabbath, and he faced criticism for doing so.  It was a matter of timing, his critic said.  Why did you perform this good deed on the sabbath?

Jesus offered some excellent logic, which I find summarized on page 241 of Volume VIII of The Interpreter’s Bible (1952):

If it is right to care for domestic animals on the sabbath, it is right to relieve human distress.

This, as I understand it, is a very Jewish understanding of the sabbath.  I have heard of Jewish medical professionals who consider their sabbath shifts as ways of keeping the sabbath.  Yet Jesus was up against a narrower interpretation, one which said that is permissable to save a life but not to offer full first aid,much less a cure, on the sabbath.

This woman had lived in poverty, on the margins of society, for years because of her physical condition.  Jesus restored her to health, wholeness, and social standing, and one person dared to criticize him!  Where was this man’s compassion?

Paul, for a while now in Romans, has been extolling the virtues and consequences of grace–including its cost to God.  Now, in this day’s portion, he uses the analogy of adoption into the family of God and states the cost of grace for us:

…but we must share in his sufferings if we are also to share his glory.

The inheritance comes in two flavors:  pleasant and unpleasant.  My first thought as I typed that partial verse the first time was of Lutheran congregational names.  One of the common names of Lutheran churches I have seen in various places is “Cross and Crown.”  That sums it up, does it not?

Yet, by grace, we have the opportunity to be members of the household of God.  We can be children and heirs.  And how do members of functional families act toward each other?  They support, care for, and look out for each other, do they not?  They do not complain about a sabbath healing.

Karen Armstrong has said that the basic act of transcendence each of us needs to do is to transcend self and identify with other people.  This is compassion.  God has identified with us, hence the Incarnation.  Grace requires us to identify with others.  Where will compassion take us?  What will it cost us?