Archive for the ‘October 29’ 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

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The Collect:

Holy God, our righteous judge, daily your mercy

surprises us with everlasting forgiveness.

Strengthen our hope in you, and grant that all the

peoples  of the earth may find their glory in you,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 51

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The Assigned Readings:

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)

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O LORD of hosts,

happy are they who put their trust in you!

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

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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.

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/humility-before-people-and-god/

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Devotion for Monday After Proper 25, Year B (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Icon of Moses 02

Above:  Icon of Moses

Image in the Public Domain

The Qualified Called

OCTOBER 29, 2018

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The Collect:

Eternal light, shine in our hearts.

Eternal wisdom, scatter the darkness of our ignorance.

Eternal compassion, have mercy on us.

Turn us to seek your face, and enable us to reflect your goodness,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 51

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The Assigned Readings:

Exodus 4:1-17

Psalm 119:17-24

1 Peter 2:1-10

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Though princes sit and plot together against me:

your servant shall meditate on your statutes:

For your commands are my delight:

and they are counsellors in my defence.

–Psalm 119:23-24, Alternative Prayer Book 1984

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Moses seemed like an unlikely agent of God.  The erstwhile prince of Egypt was a killer and a fugitive from Egyptian justice.  He was also a poor speaker.  Nevertheless, God chose Moses for the mission and provided an answer to every alleged reason he should not return to Egypt and function as a divinely appointed agent of the liberation of the Hebrew people.  Moses was, in the language of 1 Peter 5 (The New Revised Standard Version, 1989), “a spiritual house.”

Far be it for me to guess why God chooses certain people for specific tasks.  An old saying tells me that God qualifies the called, not that God calls the qualified.  Whatever God calls each of us to do, I suppose that it will probably be less dramatic than the events of the Book of Genesis.  If this holds true, that task is no less vital to complete faithfully and in confidence in the faithfulness of God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 4, 2015 COMMON ERA

INDEPENDENCE DAY (U.S.A.)

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2015/07/04/the-qualified-called/

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Devotion for October 29, 30, and 31 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   5 comments

Rembrandt_-_Parable_of_the_Laborers_in_the_Vineyard

Above:  Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard, by Rembrandt van Rijn

Image in the Public Domain

Deuteronomy and Matthew, Part XX:  Mutual Responsibility

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 29, 2019

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2019

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 31, 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 31:1-29 (October 29)

Deuteronomy 31:30-32:27 (October 30)

Deuteronomy 32:28-52 (October 31)

Psalm 13 (Morning–October 29)

Psalm 96 (Morning–October 30)

Psalm 116 (Morning–October 31)

Psalms 36 and 5 (Evening–October 29)

Psalms 132 and 134 (Evening–October 30)

Psalms 26 and 130 (Evening–October 31)

Matthew 19:16-30 (October 29)

Matthew 20:1-16 (October 30)

Matthew 20:17-34 (October 31)

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So the last will be first, and the first last.

–Matthew 20:16, The Revised English Bible

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All who enter the Kingdom of God must do so as powerless children.  All who labor for God will receive the same reward regardless of tenure.  He who serves is greater than he who does not.  The Messiah is the servant of all and the ransom for many, not a conquering hero.  All this content points to one unifying theme:  the first will be last, and the last will be first.

This is a description of a social world turned upside-down.  Prestige is worthless, for God does not recognize such distinctions.  Even the great Moses died outside of the Promised Land, for justice took precedence over mercy.  Prestige, honor, and shame are socially defined concepts anyway, so they depend upon what others think of us.  And the Song of Moses refers to what happens when God disapproves of a people.

The last can take comfort in the seemingly upside down Kingdom of God.  Likewise, the first should tremble.  Good news for some can constitute bad news for others.  This reversal of fortune occurs elsewhere in the Gospels—in the Beatitudes and Woes (Matthew 5:3-13 and Luke 6:20-26), for example.  This is a subversive part of the Christian tradition, not that I am complaining.  I do, after all, follow Jesus, the greatest subversive.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 9, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE FEAST OF THOMAS TOKE LYNCH, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF ANNA LAETITIA WARING, HUMANITARIAN AND HYMN WRITER; AND HER UNCLE, SAMUEL MILLER WARING, HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT GREGORY OF NAZIANZUS, BISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE

THE FEAST OF SAINTS WILLIBALD OF EICHSTATT AND LULLUS OF MAINZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; SAINT WALBURGA OF HEIDENHELM, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBESS; SAINTS PETRONAX OF MONTE CASSINO, WINNEBALD OF HEIDENHELM, WIGBERT OF FRITZLAR, AND STURMIUS OF FULDA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOTS; AND SAINT SEBALDUS OF VINCENZA, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT AND MISSIONARY

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/deuteronomy-and-matthew-part-xx-mutual-responsibility/

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Week of Proper 25: Monday, Year 2, and Week of Proper 25: Tuesday, Year 2   7 comments

Above:  Wedding Rings

Source = Jeff Belmonte

Men, Women, Paul, and Jesus

OCTOBER 29 and 30, 2018

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COMPOSITE FIRST READING

Ephesians 5:1-33 (Revised English Bible):

In a word, as God’s dear children, you must be like him.  Live in love as Christ loved you and gave himself up on your behalf, an offering and sacrifice whose fragrance is pleasing to God.

Fornication and indecency of  any kind, or ruthless greed, must not be so much as mentioned among you, as befits the people of God.  No coarse, stupid, or flippant talk:  these things are out of place; you should rather be thanking God.  For be very sure of this:  no one given to fornication or vice, or the greed which makes an idol of gain, has any share which makes an idol of gain, has any share in the kingdom of Christ and of God.  Let no one deceive you with shallow arguments; it is for these things that divine retribution falls on God’s rebel subjects.  Have nothing to do with them.  Though you once were darkness, now as Christians you are light.  Prove yourselves at home in the light, for where light is, there is a harvest of goodness, righteousness, and truth.  Learn to judge for yourselves what is pleasing to the Lord; take no part in the barren deeds of darkness, but show them up for what they are.  It would be shameful even to mention what is done in secret.  But everything is shown up by being exposed to the light, and whatever is exposed in the light becomes light.  That is why it is said:

Awake, sleeper,

rise from the dead,

and Christ will shine upon you.

Take great care, them, how you behave:  act sensibly, not like simpletons.  Use the present opportunity to the full, for these are evil days.  Do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.  Do not give way to drunkenness and the ruin that goes with it, but let the Holy Spirit fill you:  speak to one another in psalms, hymns, and songs; sing and make music from your heart to the Lord; and in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ give thanks every day for everything to our God and Father.

Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Wives, be subject to your husbands as though to the Lord; for the man is the head of the woman, just as Christ is the head of the church.  Christ is, indeed, the saviour of that body; but just as the church is subject to Christ, so must women be subject to their husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for it, to consecrate and cleanse it by water and word, so that he might present the church to himself all glorious, with no stain or wrinkle or anything of the sort, but holy and without blemish.  In the same way men ought to love their wives, as they love their own bodies.  In loving his wife a man loves himself.  No one ever hated his own body; on the contrary, he keeps it nourished and warm, and that is how Christ treats the church, because it is his body, of which we are living parts.

That is why

(in the words of scripture)

a man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.

There is hidden here a great truth, which I take to refer to Christ and to the church.  But it applies also to each one of you:  the husband must love his wife as his very self, and the wife must show reverence for her husband.

RESPONSE FOR MONDAY

Psalm 37:27-33 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

27  The righteous are always generous in their lending,

and their children shall be a blessing.

28  Turn from evil, and do good,

and dwell in the land for ever.

29  For the LORD loves justice;

he does not forsake his faithful ones.

30  They shall be kept safe for ever,

but the offering of the wicked shall be destroyed.

31  The righteous shall possess the land

and dwell in it for ever.

32  The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom,

and their tongue speaks what is right.

33  The law of their God is in their heart,

and their footsteps shall not falter.

RESPONSE FOR TUESDAY

Psalm 128 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 Happy are they who fear the LORD,

and who follow in your ways!

2 You shall eat the fruit of your labor;

happiness and prosperity shall be yours.

Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine within your house,

your children like olive shoots round about your table.

4 The man who fears the LORD

shall thus be blessed.

The LORD bless you from Zion,

and may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life.

May you live to see your children’s children;

may peace be upon Israel.

COMPOSITE GOSPEL READING

Luke 13:10-21 (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.

What is the kingdom of God like?

he [Jesus] continued.

To what shall I compare it?  It is like a mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his garden; and it grew to be a tree and the birds came to roost among its branches.

Again he said,

To what shall I compare the kingdom of God?  It is like yeast which a woman took and mixed with three measures of flour till it was all leavened.

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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.

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Some Related Posts:

Week of Proper 25:  Monday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/11/week-of-proper-25-monday-year-1/

Week of Proper 25:  Tuesday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/12/week-of-proper-25-tuesday-year-1/

The Feast of Aquila, Priscilla, and Apollos (February 13):

http://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/01/22/feast-of-aquila-priscilla-and-apollos-february-13/

The Feast of Sts. Lydia, Dorcas, and Phoebe, Holy Women (January 29):

http://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/06/15/feast-of-sts-lydia-dorcas-and-phoebe-holy-wome-january-29/

The Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, Equal to the Apostles (July 22):

http://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/06/13/feast-of-st-mary-magdalene-equal-to-the-apostles-july-22/

The Feast of Joanna, Mary, and Salome (August 3):

http://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/01/29/feast-of-joanna-mary-and-salome-august-3/

The Feast of Sts. Mary and Martha of Bethany, Friends of Jesus (July 29):

http://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/06/13/feast-of-sts-mary-and-martha-of-bethany-friends-of-jesus-july-29/

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Ephesians 5:2 sets the tone for the rest of the chapter, which flows organically from Chapter 4.

Live in love as Christ loved you and gave himself up on your behalf, an offering and sacrifice whose fragrance is pleasing to God.

Therefore exploitative behavior, whether sexual or economic, is off-limits, as is all else that does not build up others.  And, in terms of relationships, there is no license for one to lord over another in the style of a dictator.  So nobody ought to read Ephesians 6:22-24 outside of the context of Ephesians 5:21

(Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.)

and 5:25-33.  To do so is to engage in the Biblical malpractice of prooftexting. If wives are then supposed to be subject to their husbands, husbands ought to be subject to their wives, according to Ephesians 5:21.

Women feature prominently and favorably in the New Testament.  We read of Paul working with women in ministry.  The example of Prisca/Priscilla comes to mind immediately.  And Jesus treated women as equals, violating social conventions.  So he, for example, saw no difficulty with Mary of Bethany sitting at his feet as a male disciple would or with speaking at length and intelligently to the woman at the well.  Our Lord also depended on certain women for financial support of his ministry.  And let us never forget the women at the cross and the tomb.  Furthermore, there is Galatians 3:28; in Christ, it tells us, there is no male or female.

I invite you, O reader, to consider the end of Ephesians 5 in the context of these facts and the rest of the epistle, which speaks of acting compassionately, thinking of feelings and reputations of others, and being tender-hearted with one another.  All of this occurs within the context of an understanding that we are parts of the body of Christ; one part ought not to oppress another.  Then I invite you to act and continue to act accordingly.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/11/07/men-women-paul-and-jesus/

Week of Proper 25: Tuesday, Year 1   7 comments

Above:  Dawn Over Greece, 2010

Image Source = Kat Hannaford

Great Expectations

OCTOBER 29, 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 8:18-25 (Revised English Bible):

For I reckon that the sufferings we now endure bear no comparison with the glory, as yet unrevealed, which is in store for us.  The created universe is waiting us with eager expectation for God’s sons to be revealed.  It was made subject to frustration, not of its own choice, but by the will of him who subjected it, yet with the hope that the universe itself is to freed from the shackles of mortality and is to enter upon the glorious liberty of the children of God.  Up to the present, as we know, the whole created universe in all its parts groans as if in the pangs of childbirth.  What is more, we also, to whom the Spirit is given as the firstfruits of the harvest to come, are groaning inwardly while we look forward eagerly to our adoption, our liberation from mortality.  It was with this hope that we were saved.  Now to see something is no longer to hope:  why hope for what is already seen?  But if we hope for something we do not yet see, then we look forward to it eagerly and with patience.

Psalm 126 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 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.”

4 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.

Luke 13:18-21 (Revised English Bible):

What is the kingdom of God like?

he [Jesus] continued.

To what shall I compare it?  It is like a mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his garden; and it grew to be a tree and the birds came to roost among its branches.

Again he said,

To what shall I compare the kingdom of God?  It is like yeast which a woman took and mixed with three measures of flour till it was all leavened.

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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.

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The reading from Romans 8 combines metaphysics with prose poetry quite nicely to speak of the remaking of the cosmic order by God.  This was an expectation that had dwelt within Judaism for centuries before Paul was even born.  Paul’s vision was an optimistic one in which God will win in the end, despite the mess which is the current reality.

Dare we hope for something better that which we see?  Or do we fear heartbreak?

Consider the mustard plant, which I have discussed in other posts, to which I have provided links.  It has humble origins in a tiny seed yet sprawls out and goes where it will.  The mustard plant is really a weed, if the truth be told.  So, according to Jesus, the kingdom of God is like a really big and unconquerable weed.  Many different types of creatures take up residence within that weed.  So this parable, as you, O reader, might see, also tells us that the kingdom of God is inherently diverse.  We do not need to be alike or to think identically; indeed, God seems not to care about many differences.  Variety is, as the cliché tells us, the spice of life.

We read also that the kingdom of God is like yeast, which begins its work unseen.  In due time, however, the influence of that yeast is impossible to miss, for the bread does rise.  Christianity began with Jesus of Nazareth and a relatively few disciples and Apostles.  Within just a few years after the crucifixion of Jesus, however, it had become impossible to ignore.  And, about a century later, Christianity had completed the process of breaking away from Judaism.  The rest is, as we say, history.

From small beginnings come great things.

The “eager expectation” of which Paul writes in Romans 8:19 is, as William Barclay describes it,

…the attitude of a man who scans the horizon with head thrust forward, eagerly searching the distance for the first signs for the first signs of the dawn break of glory.  (The Letter to the Romans, Revised Edition, 1975, page 110)

This is an appropriate passage to read in late October, as the Season after Pentecost nears its end–as early as November 26 and as late as December 2, depending on the calendar year–and Advent is near.  Beyond Advent, of course, is Christmas, that glorious season which spans December 25-January 5.  When the world seems to have gone to Hell in a handbasket and to have been there for a very long time, dare we hope for something better and trust God to redeem creation?   I hope so.

May the peace of God be with you today and always.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/05/09/great-expectations-2/

Proper 25, Year A   21 comments

Above:  The Logo of Lehman Brothers, Now Defunct

Image in the Public Domain

Loving Our Neighbors As We Love Ourselves

The Sunday Closest to October 26

The Twenty-First Sunday After Pentecost

OCTOBER 29, 2017

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FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #1

Deuteronomy 34:1-12 (New Revised Standard Version):

Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho, and the LORD showed him the whole land: Gilead as far as Dan, all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Western Sea, the Negeb, and the Plain– that is, the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees– as far as Zoar. The LORD said to him,

This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, `I will give it to your descendants’; I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not cross over there.

Then Moses, the servant of the LORD, died there in the land of Moab, at the LORD’s command. He was buried in a valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-peor, but no one knows his burial place to this day. Moses was one hundred twenty years old when he died; his sight was unimpaired and his vigor had not abated. The Israelites wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days; then the period of mourning for Moses was ended.

Joshua son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, because Moses had laid his hands on him; and the Israelites obeyed him, doing as the LORD had commanded Moses.

Never since has there arisen a prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face. He was unequaled for all the signs and wonders that the LORD sent him to perform in the land of Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his servants and his entire land, and for all the mighty deeds and all the terrifying displays of power that Moses performed in the sight of all Israel.

Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Lord, you have been our refuge

from one generation to another.

Before the mountains were brought forth,

or the land and the earth were born,

from age to age you are God.

3  You turn us back to the dust and say,

“Go back, O child of earth.”

For a thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it is past

and like a watch in the night.

You sweep us away like a dream;

we fade away suddenly like the grass.

In the morning it is green and flourishes;

in the evening it is dried up and withered.

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

be gracious to your servants.

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

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

15  Make us glad with 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.

FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #2

Leviticus 19:1-2, 15-18 (New Revised Standard Version):

The LORD spoke to Moses, saying:

Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them: You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.

You shall not render an unjust judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great: with justice you shall judge your neighbor. You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not profit by the blood of your neighbor: I am the LORD.

You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin; you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

Psalm 1 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 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!

2 Their delight is in the law of the LORD,

and the meditate on his law day and night.

They are like trees planted by streams of water,

bearing fruit in due season, with leaves that do not wither,

everything they do shall prosper.

4 It is not so with the wicked;

they are like the chaff which the wind blows away.

Therefore the wicked shall not stand upright when judgment comes,

nor the sinner in the council of the righteous.

For the LORD knows the ways of the righteous,

but the way of the wicked is doomed.

SECOND READING

1 Thessalonians 2:1-8 (New Revised Standard Version):

You yourselves know, brothers and sisters, that our coming to you was not in vain, but though we had already suffered and been shamefully mistreated at Philippi, as you know, we had courage in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in spite of great opposition. For our appeal does not spring from deceit or impure motives or trickery, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the message of the gospel, even so we speak, not to please mortals, but to please God who tests our hearts. As you know and as God is our witness, we never came with words of flattery or with a pretext for greed; nor did we seek praise from mortals, whether from you or from others, though we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children. So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.

GOSPEL READING

Matthew 22:34-46 (New Revised Standard Version):

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him.

Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?

He said to him,

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them this question:

What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he?

They said to him,

The son of David.

He said to them,

How is it then that David by the Spirit calls him Lord, saying,

“The Lord said to my Lord,

Sit at my right hand,

until I put your enemies under your feet”?

If David thus calls him Lord, how can he be his son?

No one was able to give him an answer, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.

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.

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There was a notoriously violent slave master in the Antebellum U.S. South.  This man also claimed to be a good Christian.  Indeed, he attended church frequently and bore the nickname “Deacon.”  One of Deacon’s slaves left a written testament in which he claimed not to want to go to Heaven if Deacon was going to be there.

Many of us are aware of the Golden Rule and the Shema.  We quote them and make warm and positive statements about the Good Samaritan.  Yet how often do we act to the contrary and/or justify those who do?  Do we really believe our excuses or are we trying to convince ourselves of that which we know to be immoral?

And how much better off would the rest of us be if certain people in some corporations valued the common good more than short-term profits?

This is a very basic topic–one I have covered elsewhere, as the links testify.  So, in the name of not repeating myself too many times, I conclude with these words:  Whatever the cost(s) to ourselves, may we love our neighbors as ourselves.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/11/07/loving-our-neighbors-as-we-love-ourselves/