Archive for the ‘October 31: All Hallows’ Eve/Reformation’ Category

Devotion for the Feast of the Reformation (October 31)   2 comments

Above:  Wittenberg in 1540

Image in the Public Domain

Schism and Reconciliation

OCTOBER 31, 2019


The Feast of the Reformation, celebrated first in the Brunswick church order (1528), composed by Johannes Bugenhagen (1485-1558), died out in the 1500s.  Initially the dates of the commemoration varied according to various church orders, and not all Lutherans observed the festival.  Original dates included November 10 (the eve of Martin Luther‘s birthday), February 18 (the anniversary of Luther’s death), and the Sunday after June 25, the date of the delivery of the Augsburg Confession.  In 1667, after the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648), Elector of Saxony John George II ordered the revival of the commemoration, with the date of October 31.  Over time the commemoration spread, and commemorations frequently occurred on the Sunday closest to that date.

The feast used to function primarily as an occasion to express gratitude that one was not Roman Catholic.  However, since 1980, the 450th anniversary of the Augsburg Confession, the Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute (of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement) and the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau have favored observing the feast as a time of reconciliation and of acknowledging the necessity of the Reformation while not celebrating the schism.

This perspective is consistent with the position of Professor Phillip Cary in his Great Courses series of The History of Christian Theology (2008), in which he argues that Protestantism and Roman Catholicism need each other.

I, as an Episcopalian, stand within the Middle Way–Anglicanism.  I am convinced, in fact, that I am on this planet for, among other reasons, to be an Episcopalian; the affiliation fits me naturally.  I even hang an Episcopal Church flag in my home.  I, as an Episcopalian, am neither quite Protestant nor Roman Catholic; I borrow with reckless abandon from both sides–especially from Lutheranism in recent years.  I affirm Single Predestination (Anglican and Lutheran theology), Transubstantiation, a 73-book canon of scripture, and the Assumption of Mary (Roman Catholic theology), and reject both the Immaculate Conception of Mary and the Virgin Birth of Jesus.  My ever-shifting variety of Anglicanism is sui generis.

The scandal of schism, extant prior to 1517, but exasperated by the Protestant and English Reformations, grieves me.  Most of the differences among denominations similar to each other are minor, so overcoming denominational inertia with mutual forbearance would increase the rate of ecclesiastical unity.  Meanwhile, I, from my perch in The Episcopal Church, ponder whether organic union with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is feasible and wise.  It is a question worth exploring.  At least we are natural ecumenical partners.  We already have joint congregations, after all.  If there will be organic union, it will require mutual giving and taking on many issues, but we agree on most matters already.

Time will tell.








Almighty God, gracious Lord, we thank you that your Holy Spirit renews the church in every age.

Pour out your Holy Spirit on your faithful people.

Keep them steadfast in your word, protect and comfort them in times of trial,

defend them against all enemies of the gospel,

and bestow on the church your saving peace,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 31:31-34

Psalm 46

Romans 3:19-28

John 8:31-36

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 58


Revelation 14:6-7

Romans 3:19-28

John 8:31-36 or Matthew 11:12-19

Lutheran Service Book (2006), xxiii


Originally published at SUNDRY THOUGHTS



Devotion for Thursday and Friday Before Proper 26, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Job and His Alleged Friends

Above:   Job and His Alleged Friends

Image in the Public Domain

Easy and False Answers

OCTOBER 31, 2019

NOVEMBER 1, 2019


The Collect:

Merciful God, gracious and benevolent,

through your Son you invite all the world to a meal of mercy.

Grant that we may eagerly follow this call,

and bring us with all your saints into your life of justice and joy,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 52


The Assigned Readings:

Proverbs 15:8-11, 24-33 (Thursday)

Job 22:21-23:17 (Friday)

Psalm 32:1-7 (Both Days)

2 Corinthians 1:1-11 (Thursday)

2 Peter 1:1-11 (Friday)


Then I acknowledged my sin to you,

and did not conceal my guilt.

–Psalm 32:5, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)


The author of Psalm 32 had guilt and sin with which to deal.  The fictional character of Job, however, did not suffer because of any sin he had committed, according to Chapters 1 and 2.  Eliphaz the Temanite did not grasp this reality, so he uttered pious-sounding statements (some of which echo certain Psalms and much of the Book of Proverbs), pestering (not consoling) Job, who felt isolated from the mystery he labeled God.  Job was terrified of God (as he should have been, given God’s conduct throughout the book, especially Chapters 1, 2, 38, 39, 40, and 41) and was honest about his feelings.  Eliphaz, in contrast, offered an easy and false answer to a difficult question.

Yes, some suffering flows from one’s sinful deeds and functions as discipline, but much suffering does not.  Consider the life of Jesus of Nazareth, O reader.  He suffered greatly, even to the point of death, but not because he had sinned.  Much of the time our suffering results from the sins of other people.  On other occasions we suffer for no apparent reason other than that we are at the wrong place at the wrong time or we have a pulse.

May we resist the temptation to peddle in easy and false answers to difficult questions.  May we seek not to be correct but to be compassionate, to live according to love for God and our fellow human beings.






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

Icon of Elisha 02

Above:  Icon of Elisha

Image in the Public Domain

Trusting in God

OCTOBER 30 and 31, 2018


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


The Assigned Readings:

2 Kings 6:8-23 (Tuesday)

Jeremiah 33:1-11 (Wednesday)

Psalm 119:17-24 (Both Days)

Acts 9:32-35 (Tuesday)

Matthew 20:29-34 (Wednesday)


Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all.  If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.  Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”  No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.”  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good….Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves has fulfilled the law.

–Romans 12:17-21; 13:1, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)


This is an interesting set of readings.  The pericopes from the New Testament are stories of individual healing, the portion of Psalm 119 expresses respect for and delight in divine law, the lesson from Jeremiah 33 promises divine healing of the Hebrew people after divine punishment thereof, and the account in 2 Kings 6 is odd.  Somehow Elisha is a clairvoyant who has God’s ear, delivers a force of Aramean raiders into the hands of the King of Israel, and advises giving them food and drink before releasing them.  (There is an interesting military tactic.)

A few thoughts come to mind:

  1. The motif of healing, both individual and collective, is strong. Even individual healing has a collective component, for it restores one to wholeness in his or her family, community, network of friends, et cetera.
  2. The humane treatment of the Aramean raiders demonstrates strength and reduces tensions.  The equivalent of stuffing one’s adversaries with tea and crumpets (if I may be British) is certainly unexpected and provides no incentive for further violence, at least in the short-term future.  It is also consistent with the ethics of Romans 12:17-21.
  3. The balance of judgment and mercy in God is a mystery I cannot even begin to unravel, so I more along to matters not too great for me.
  4. One should have a healthy sense of awe of and gratitude to God.  One can be confident in the faithfulness of God and therefore act boldly and properly, not foolishly and out of fear.

Perhaps the theme which unites these lessons best begins with the faithfulness of God to divine promises.  We, assured of that fidelity, will, by grace, act out of confidence in and obedience to God, in whom exist both judgment and mercy.  We will reap what we sow, either positive or negative.  If we trust God, we will feel sufficiently secure to act righteously, even to extend kindness to our enemies.  That ethic is consistent with the following passage from 1 Peter 3:

Finally, be united, all of you, in thought and feeling; be full of brotherly affection, kindly, and humble.  Do not repay wrong with wrong, or abuse with abuse; on the contrary, respond with a blessing, for a blessing is what God intends you to receive.

–Verses 8-9, The Revised English Bible (1989)

We humans make many of our worst decisions out of fear.  Often we make bad situations worse in so doing.  This generalization holds true in individual and collective settings.  Yet proper confidence in the faithfulness of God strips away the misconception that we must do something when we ought to get out of God’s way.  Letting go and letting God when doing that is appropriate precludes making foolish, fear-based decisions which reveal our lack of trust.  Ignorance is frequently a complicating factor in making good decisions, for how are we to know when to be active and when to be passive?

May we decide wisely, by grace.






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

Ramparts of Constantinople

Above:  Ramparts of Constantinople, Ottoman Empire, Between 1900 and 1920

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-matpc-15141

Spiritual Barriers

OCTOBER 30 and 31, 2017

NOVEMBER 1, 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:

Deuteronomy 6:1-9, 20-25 (Monday)

Deuteronomy 10:10-22 (Tuesday)

Proverbs 119:41-48 (Wednesday)

Psalm 119:41-48 (All Days)

James 2:8-13 (Monday)

James 2:14-26 (Tuesday)

Matthew 19:16-22 (Wednesday)


I shall continue to keep your law;

I shall keep it for ever and ever.

I will walk at liberty,

because I study your commandments.

–Psalm 119:44-45, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)


Rabbi Hillel summarized the Law of Moses by quoting the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-5), the order to love Yahweh with all one’s heart, soul, and might.  Then he said,

The rest is commentary.  Go and learn it.

We humans require “hooks” onto which to “hang” information.  Hillel pointed to an excellent one.  Much of the information, in the Law of Moses, consists of culturally specific examples of timeless principles.  Many interpreters of that code miss this point, hence continued legalism while missing the point.  Some have become lost in the trees and cannot see the forest.

The readings for these three days combine to reinforce a few theological points:

  1. How we think of God influences how we think of people;
  2. How we think influences how we act;
  3. How we treat people matters to God;
  4. To have only abstract theology is insufficient;
  5. As I heard growing up, “our prayers must have feet;” and
  6. We must eliminate spiritual barriers to trusting God.

These six points overlap, for, if we fear scarcity, for example, we might hoard in our self-interest and thereby deprive others of necessities.  God will notice that reality.

All of us have spiritual barriers.  One barrier for the man in Matthew 19:16-22 was wealth, which has functioned in that capacity for many people for a long time.  Fear of vulnerability is among the most common barriers.  This applies to the rich man in Matthew 19 because his wealth insulated him from certain stresses and other problems.  To overcome this fear is a great challenge, especially if one has acculturated in a setting which encourages rugged individualism.  The truth, of course, is that we all rely on each other and depend entirely on God.  Yet the illusion of independence and self-sufficiency remains as a major obstacle to trusting in God.  May we, by grace, find liberation from all barriers which separate us from a deeper relationship with God.








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


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

Image in the Public Domain

Deuteronomy and Matthew, Part XX:  Mutual Responsibility





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 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)


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

–Matthew 20:16, The Revised English Bible


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.









Week of Proper 25: Wednesday, Year 2, and Week of Proper 25: Thursday, Year 2   5 comments

Above:  Frederick Douglass (1817-1895), U.S. Abolitionist and Former Slave


OCTOBER 31, 2018

NOVEMBER 1, 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 6:1-24 (Revised English Bible):

Children, obey your parents; for it is only right that you should.  Honour your father and your mother is the first commandment to carry a promise with it:

that it may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth.

Fathers, do not goad your children to resentment, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Slaves, give single-minded obedience to your earthly masters with fear and trembling, as if to Christ.  Do it not merely to catch their eye or curry favour with them, but as slaves of Christ do the will of God wholeheartedly.  Give cheerful service, as slaves of the Lord rather than of men.  You know that whatever good anyone may do, slave or free, will be repaid by the Lord.

Masters, treat your slaves in the same spirit:  give up using threats, and remember that you both have the same Master in heaven; there is no favouritism with him.

Finally, find your strength in the Lord, in his mighty power.  Put on the full armour provided by God, so that you may be able to stand firm against the stratagems of the devil.  For our struggle is not against human foes, but against cosmic powers, against the authorities and potentates of this dark age,  against the superhuman forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore, take up the armour of God; then you will be able to withstand them on the evil day and, after doing your utmost, to stand your ground.  Stand fast, I say.  Fasten on the belt of truth; for a breastplate put on integrity; let the shoes on your feet be the gospel of peace, to give you firm footing; and, with all these, take up the great shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the burning arrows of the evil one.  Accept salvation as your helmet, and the sword which the Spirit gives you, the word of God.  Constantly ask God’s help in prayer, and pray always in the power of the Spirit.  To this end keep watch and persevere, always interceding for all God’s people.  Pray also for me, that I may be granted the right words when I speak, and may boldly and freely make known the hidden purpose of the gospel, for which I am am ambassador–in chains.  Pray that I may speak of it boldly, as is my duty.

You will want to know how I am and what I am doing; Tychicus will give you all the news.  He is our dear brother and trustworthy helper in the Lord’s work.  I am sending him to you on purpose to let you have news of us and put fresh heart into you.

Peace to the community and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  God’s grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with undying love.


Psalm 145:10-19 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

10 All your works praise you, O LORD,

and all your faithful servants bless you.

11 They make known the glory of your kingdom

and speak of your power;

12 That the peoples may know of your power

and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.

13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom;

your dominion endures throughout all ages.

14 The LORD is faithful in all his words

and merciful in all his deeds.

15 The LORD upholds all those who fall;

he lifts up those who are bowed down.

16 The eyes of all wait upon you, O LORD,

and you give them their food in due season.

17 You open wide your hand

and satisfy the needs of every living creature.

18 The LORD is righteous in all his ways

and loving in all his works.

19 The LORD is near to those who call upon him,

to all who call upon him faithfully.


Psalm 144:1-10 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  Blessed be the LORD my rock!

who trains my hands to fight and my fingers to battle;

2  My help and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer,

my shield in whom I trust,

who subdues the peoples under me.

3  O LORD, what are we that you should care for us?

mere mortals that you should think of us?

4  We are like a puff of wind;

our days like a passing shadow.

5  Bow your heavens, O LORD, and come down;

touch the mountains, and they shall smoke.

6  Hurl the lightning and scatter them;

shoot out your arrows and rout them.

7  Stretch out your hand from on high;

rescue me and deliver me from the great waters,

from the hand of foreign peoples,

8  Whose mouths speak deceitfully

and whose right hand is raised in falsehood.

9  O God, I will sing to you a new song;

I will play to you on a ten-stringed lyre.

10  You give victory to kings

and have rescued David your servant.


Luke 13:22-35 (Revised English Bible):

He [Jesus] continued his journey through towns and villages, teaching as he made his way towards Jerusalem.  Someone asked him,

Sir, are only a few saved?

His answer was:

Make every effort to enter through the narrow door; for I tell you that many will try to enter but will not succeed.

When once the master of the house has got up and locked the door, you may stand outside and knock and say, “Sir let us in!” but he will answer, “I do not know where you come from.”  Then you will protest, “We used to eat and drink with you, and you taught in our streets.”  But he will repeat, “I tell you, I do not know where you come from.  Out of my sight, all of you, you and your wicked ways!”  There will be wailing and grinding of teeth there, when you see prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves are driven away.  From east and west, from north and south, people will come and take their places at the banquet in the kingdom of God.  Yes, and some are now last who will be first, and some who are first will be last.

At that time a number of  Pharisees came and warned him [Jesus],

Leave this place and be on your way; Herod wants to kill you.

He replied,

Go and tell that fox, “Listen:  today and tomorrow I shall be driving out demons and working cures; However, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the next day, because it is unthinkable for a prophet to meet his death anywhere but in Jerusalem.”

[He continued,]

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, city that murders the prophets and stones the messengers sent to her!  How often have I longed to gather your children, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings; but you would not let me.  Look!  There is your temple, forsaken by God.  I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, “Blessings on him who comes in the name of the Lord!”


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:

Week of Proper 25:  Wednesday, Year 1:

Week of Proper 25:  Thursday, Year 1:


Antebellum U.S. defenders of chattel slavery used Ephesians 6:5-9 (mostly 6:5-8, actually; 9 was sometimes inconvenient) to justify the Peculiar Institution.  This interpretation was faulty for a few reasons.  First, slavery in the Roman Empire was not chattel slavery.  Beyond that, the Pauline assumption about the Second Coming of Jesus was that it was imminent, a matter of the very near future–the medium term if not the short term.  So reforming society was not a priority; God, the assumption held, would take care of that part soon.  Preparing oneself for the parousia was immediately important.  Jesus had not returned by the 1800s, so social reform was legitimately on the table.  The Abolitionists (many of them Evangelicals) understood the link between the Golden Rule and imperative to destroy slavery, and many White Southern Evangelicals did not.  As I tell my students, look beyond stereotypes, in this case, Evangelicalism.  It exists on a spectrum and defies easy definition.

The lack of a condemnation of slavery mars the Pauline tradition for me.  Galatians 3:28 tells us that the labels free and slave lose their meaning in Christ, but Paul should have taken the matter to its logical and ethical conclusion:  insistence on radical equality in society.  Alas, egalitarianism upsets many a societal apple cart, for people seem to like privileges which come with rank.

Ephesians 6 continues with a description of metaphorical Christian armor for a battle against evil.  This makes for tacky and cheap toys one can buy from certain Christian bookstores.  And the less we say about Bibleman merchandise, the better.  Kitsch does not become the Bible or religious retail; I suspect that it embarrasses Jesus.  I imagine him now, in Heaven, shaking his head and saying,

I did not suffer and die so that children can play with cheap plastic shields of faith.

No, it is better to be serious about resisting evil in all its forms.  I live slightly northwest of Atlanta, Georgia, one of the centers of human trafficking, i.e., slavery.  Modern slavery assumes many forms and exists in many places.  These days is most often economic and/or sexual.  A foreign worker lured on false pretenses and held against her will is a slave.  A woman forced to work as a prostitute is a slave.  Slavery, unfortunately, is alive and well all over the world.  This spiritual battle continues, and people of good will need to win it, with God’s help.


Week of Proper 25: Thursday, Year 1   10 comments

Above:  A Rooster and a Hen

Image Source = Andrei Niemimaki

Jesus, Our Mother Hen

OCTOBER 31, 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 8:31-39 (Revised English Bible):

With this in mind, what are we to say?  If God is on our side, who is against us?  He did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all; how can he fail to lavish every other gift upon us?  Who will bring a charge against those whom God has chosen?  Not God, who acquits!  Who will pronounce judgement?  Not Christ, who died, or rather rose again; not Christ, who is at God’s right hand and pleads our cause!  Then what can separate us from the love of Christ?  Can persecution, hunger, nakedness, danger, or sword?

We are being done to death for your sake all day long,

as scripture says;

we have been treated like sheep for slaughter

–and yet, throughout it all, overwhelming victory is ours through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that there is nothing in death or life, in the realm of spirits or superhuman powers, in the world as it is or the world as it shall be, in the forces of the universe, in heights or depths–nothing in all creation that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Psalm 30 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

I will exalt you, O LORD,

because you have lifted me up

and have not let my enemies triumph over me.

O LORD my God, I cried out to you,

and you restored me to health.

You brought me up, O LORD, from the dead;

you restored my life as I was going down to the grave.

Sing to the LORD, you servants of his;

give thanks for the remembrance of his holiness.

For his wrath endures but the twinkling of an eye,

his favor for a lifetime.

6 Weeping may spend the night,

but joy comes in the morning.

While I felt secure, I said,

“I shall never be disturbed.

You,  LORD, with your favor, made me as strong as the mountains.”

Then you hid my face,

and I was filled with terror.

I cried to you, O LORD;

I pleaded with the LORD, saying,

10  “What profit is there in my blood, if I go down to the Pit?

will the dust praise you or declare your faithfulness?

11  Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me;

O LORD, be my helper.”

12  You have turned my wailing into dancing;

you have put off my sack-cloth and clothed me with joy.

13  Therefore my heart sings to you without ceasing;

O LORD my God, I will give you thanks for ever.

Luke 13:31-35 (Revised English Bible):

At that time a number of  Pharisees came and warned him [Jesus],

Leave this place and be on your way; Herod wants to kill you.

He replied,

Go and tell that fox, “Listen:  today and tomorrow I shall be driving out demons and working cures; However, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the next day, because it is unthinkable for a prophet to meet his death anywhere but in Jerusalem.”

[He continued,]

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, city that murders the prophets and stones the messengers sent to her!  How often have I longed to gather your children, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings; but you would not let me.  Look!  There is your temple, forsaken by God.  I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, “Blessings on him who comes in the name of the Lord!”


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.


The passage from Romans builds on what precedes it:  God’s justification of us and our adoption into the family of God.  Therefore the lack of condemnation makes sense, for God has removed condemnation.

Yet we need to remember that not everybody belongs to this category.  Certainly Herod Antipas, a duplicitous man and a Roman puppet, was not among the justified.  He wanted to kill Jesus, after all.  By their fruits you shall know them.  Yet Jesus went on to die for all, including the same Herod Antipas.   And the love of God extended to all, even Herod Antipas.

Nothing can separate us from the love of God, but the same love does not immunize us from the consequences of our actions.  Jesus is our mother hen, according to the analogy from Luke 13.  May we be good eggs.  May we rejoice God’s heart by responding affirmatively to grace.

It is the least we can do.