Archive for the ‘September’ Category

Guide to Ordinary Time Devotions for September 2019   1 comment

Above:  Grace Episcopal Church, Petersburg, Virginia, April 1865

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-cwpb-02283

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PROPER 17:  TWELFTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR C:  SEPTEMBER 1, 2019:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2018/08/27/devotion-for-proper-17-year-a-humes/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2017/06/18/devotion-for-proper-17-ackerman/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2016/12/18/devotion-for-proper-17-year-d/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2012/12/17/proper-17-year-c/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/01/04/devotion-for-september-1-2-and-3-lcms-daily-lectionary/

LABOR DAY (U.S.A.):  SEPTEMBER 2, 2019:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2018/08/29/devotion-for-labor-day-u-s-a/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/12/labor-day-u-s-a/

Monday, September 2:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2016/03/25/devotion-for-monday-and-tuesday-after-proper-17-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/01/04/devotion-for-september-1-2-and-3-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/09/week-of-proper-17-monday-year-1/

Tuesday, September 3:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2016/03/25/devotion-for-monday-and-tuesday-after-proper-17-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/01/04/devotion-for-september-1-2-and-3-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/09/week-of-proper-17-tuesday-year-1/

Wednesday, September 4:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2016/03/25/devotion-for-wednesday-after-proper-17-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/01/04/devotion-for-september-4-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/10/week-of-proper-17-wednesday-year-1/

Thursday, September 5:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2016/05/18/devotion-for-thursday-after-proper-18-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/01/04/devotion-for-september-5-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/10/week-of-proper-17-thursday-year-1/

Friday, September 6:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2016/05/18/devotion-for-friday-and-saturday-before-proper-18-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/01/04/devotion-for-september-6-and-7-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/11/week-of-proper-17-friday-year-1/

Saturday, September 7:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2016/05/18/devotion-for-friday-and-saturday-before-proper-18-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/01/04/devotion-for-september-6-and-7-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/11/week-of-proper-17-saturday-year-1/

PROPER 18:  THIRTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR C:  SEPTEMBER 8, 2019:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2018/08/27/devotion-for-proper-18-year-a-humes/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2017/06/18/devotion-for-proper-18-ackerman/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2016/12/18/devotion-for-proper-18-year-d/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/02/03/devotion-for-september-8-lcms-daily-lectionary/

Monday, September 9:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2016/05/18/devotion-for-monday-tuesday-and-wednesday-after-proper-18-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/02/03/devotion-for-september-9-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/12/week-of-proper-18-monday-year-1/

Tuesday, September 10:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2016/05/18/devotion-for-monday-tuesday-and-wednesday-after-proper-18-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/02/03/devotion-for-september-10-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/14/week-of-proper-18-tuesday-year-1/

Wednesday, September 11:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2016/05/18/devotion-for-monday-tuesday-and-wednesday-after-proper-18-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/02/03/devotion-for-september-11-and-12-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/15/week-of-proper-18-wednesday-year-1/

Thursday, September 12:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2016/05/18/devotion-for-thursday-friday-and-saturday-before-proper-19-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/02/03/devotion-for-september-11-and-12-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/16/week-of-proper-18-thursday-year-1/

Friday, September 13:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2016/05/18/devotion-for-thursday-friday-and-saturday-before-proper-19-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/02/24/devotion-for-september-13-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/17/week-of-proper-18-friday-year-1/

Saturday, September 14:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2016/05/18/devotion-for-thursday-friday-and-saturday-before-proper-19-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/02/24/devotion-for-september-14-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/18/week-of-proper-18-saturday-year-1/

FEAST OF THE HOLY CROSS:  SEPTEMBER 14, 2019:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2018/08/29/devotion-for-the-feast-of-the-holy-cross-september-14/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2018/08/27/devotion-for-the-feast-of-the-holy-cross-years-a-b-c-and-d-humes/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/24/feast-of-the-holy-cross-september-14/

PROPER 19:  FOURTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR C:  SEPTEMBER 15, 2019:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2018/08/27/devotion-for-proper-19-year-a-humes/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2017/06/19/devotion-for-proper-19-ackerman/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2016/12/18/devotion-for-proper-19-year-d/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/02/24/proper-19-year-c/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/02/25/devotion-for-september-15-16-and-17-lcms-daily-lectionary/

Monday, September 16:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2016/05/18/devotion-for-monday-after-proper-19-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/02/25/devotion-for-september-15-16-and-17-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/24/week-of-proper-19-monday-year-1/

Tuesday, September 17:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2016/05/19/devotion-for-tuesday-after-proper-19-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/02/25/devotion-for-september-15-16-and-17-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/24/week-of-proper-19-tuesday-year-1/

Wednesday, September 18:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2016/05/19/devotion-for-wednesday-after-proper-19-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/03/31/devotion-for-september-18-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/24/week-of-proper-19-wednesday-year-1/

Thursday, September 19:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2016/05/19/devotion-for-thursday-before-proper-20-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/04/06/devotion-for-september-19-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/27/week-of-proper-19-thursday-year-1/

Friday, September 20:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2016/05/19/devotion-for-friday-before-proper-20-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/04/10/devotion-for-september-20-and-21-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/29/week-of-proper-19-friday-year-1/

Saturday, September 21:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2016/05/19/devotion-for-saturday-before-proper-20-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/04/10/devotion-for-september-20-and-21-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/29/week-of-proper-19-saturday-year-1/

PROPER 20:  FIFTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR C:  SEPTEMBER 22, 2019:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2018/08/28/devotion-for-proper-20-year-a-humes/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2017/06/20/devotion-for-proper-20-ackerman/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2016/12/18/devotion-for-proper-20-year-d/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/04/10/proper-20-year-c/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/04/17/devotion-for-september-22-23-and-24-lcms-daily-lectionary/

Monday, September 23:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2016/05/19/devotion-for-monday-after-proper-20-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/04/17/devotion-for-september-22-23-and-24-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/04/01/week-of-proper-20-monday-year-1/

Tuesday, September 24:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2016/05/19/devotion-for-tuesday-and-wednesday-after-proper-20-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/04/17/devotion-for-september-22-23-and-24-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/04/04/week-of-proper-20-tuesday-year-1/

Wednesday, September 25:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2016/05/19/devotion-for-tuesday-and-wednesday-after-proper-20-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/04/17/devotion-for-september-25-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/04/05/week-of-proper-20-wednesday-year-1/

Thursday, September 26:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2016/05/20/devotion-for-thursday-before-proper-21-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/04/19/devotion-for-september-26-and-27-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/04/07/week-of-proper-20-thursday-year-1/

Friday, September 27:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2016/05/20/devotion-for-friday-and-saturday-before-proper-21-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/04/19/devotion-for-september-26-and-27-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/04/08/week-of-proper-20-friday-year-1/

Saturday, September 28:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2016/05/20/devotion-for-friday-and-saturday-before-proper-21-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/04/19/devotion-for-september-28-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/04/14/week-of-proper-20-saturday-year-1/

PROPER 21:  SIXTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR C:  SEPTEMBER 29, 2019:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2018/08/28/devotion-for-proper-21-year-a-humes/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2017/06/20/devotion-for-proper-21-ackerman/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2016/12/20/devotion-for-proper-21-year-d/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/04/19/proper-21-year-c/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/04/20/devotion-for-september-29-lcms-daily-lectionary/

Monday, September 30:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2016/05/20/devotion-for-monday-tuesday-and-wednesday-after-proper-21-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/04/20/devotion-for-september-30-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/04/16/week-of-proper-21-monday-year-1/

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Devotion for the Feast of the Holy Cross (September 14)   1 comment

Above:  The Crucifixion and the Way of the Holy Cross, June 9, 1887

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-pga-00312

The Exaltation of the Holy Cross

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2019

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The Feast of the Holy Cross commemorates two events–The discovery of the supposed true cross by St. Helena on September 14, 320, and the dedication of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem, on that day in 335, on the anniversary of the dedication of the First Temple in Jerusalem.  In the Eastern Orthodox Church the corresponding commemoration is the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

The Feast of the Holy Cross has had an interesting history.  It existed in Constantinople in the 600s and in Rome in the 800s.  The feast did not transfer into Anglicanism initially.  It did become a lesser feast–a black-letter day–in The Book of Common Prayer in 1561.  In The Church of England The Alternative Service Book (1980) kept Holy Cross Day as a black-letter day, but Common Worship (2000) promoted the commemoration to a major feast–a red-letter day.  The Episcopal Church dropped Holy Cross Day in 1789 but added it–as a red-letter day–during Prayer Book revision in the 1970s.  The feast remained outside the mainstream of U.S. and Canadian Lutheranism until the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and its variant, Lutheran Worship (1982).

Without getting lost in the narrative weeds (especially in Numbers 21), one needs to know that God chastises Jews and Christians for their sins yet does not destroy them, except when He allegedly sends poisonous snakes to attack them.  Then God provides a healing mechanism.  We should look up toward God, not grumble in a lack of gratitude.  Isaiah 45:21-25, set toward the end of the Babylonian Exile, argues that God is the master of history, and that the vindication of the former Kingdom of Judah will benefit Gentiles also, for Gentiles will receive invitations to worship the one true God.  Many will accept, we read.  In the Gospel of John the exaltation of Jesus is his crucifixion.  That is counter-intuitive; it might even be shocking.    If so, recall 1 Corinthians 1:23–Christ crucified is a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.  God frequently works in ways we do not understand.  John 12 mentions some God-fearers, Gentiles who worshiped YHWH.  This reference picks up from Isaiah 45:21-25.  It also fits well with the Pauline mission to Gentiles and emphasis on Christ crucified.

As for God sending poisonous snakes to bite grumbling Israelites, that does not fit into my concept of God.  My God-concept encompasses both judgment and mercy, but not that kind of behavior.

The choice of the cross as the symbol of Christianity is wonderfully ironic.  The cross, an instrument of judicial murder and the creation of fear meant to inspire cowering submission to Roman authority, has become a symbol of divine love, sacrifice, and victory.  A symbol means what people agree it means; that is what makes it a symbol.  Long after the demise of the Roman Empire, the cross remains a transformed symbol.

The Episcopal collect for Holy Cross Day invites us to take up a cross and follow Jesus.  In Cotton Patch Gospel (1982), the play based on Clarence Jordan‘s The Cotton Patch Version of Matthew and John, Jesus, says that a person not willing to accept his or her lynching is unworthy of Him.

That is indeed a high standard.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 1, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOSEPH OF ARIMATHEA, DISCIPLE OF JESUS

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Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ was lifted high upon the cross

that he might draw the whole world to himself:

Mercifully grant that we, who glory in the mystery of our redemption,

may take up our cross and follow him;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting.  Amen.

Isaiah 45:21-25

Psalm 98 or 8:1-4

Philippians 2:5-11 or Galatians 6:14-18

John 12:31-36a

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 581

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Almighty God, your Son Jesus Christ was lifted high upon the cross

that he might draw the whole world to himself.

To those who look upon the cross, grant your wisdom, healing, and eternal life,

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

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

Numbers 21:4b-9

Psalm 98:1-4 or 78:1-2, 34-38

1 Corinthians 1:18-24

John 3:13-17

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 57

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Numbers 21:4-9

1 Corinthians 1:18-25

John 12:20-33

Lutheran Service Book (2006), xxiii

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Originally published at SUNDRY THOUGHTS

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Devotion for Labor Day (U.S.A.)   1 comment

Above:  Labor Day, by Samuel D. Ehrhart

Published in Puck Magazine, September 1, 1909

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsca-26406

Affirming the Dignity of Work in Words and Deeds

SEPTEMBER 2, 2019

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The Book of Common Prayer (1979) contains a collect and assigned readings for Labor Day.

Interdependence is a cardinal virtue in the Law of Moses.  Interdependence is also obvious, or should be.  Somehow, especially in the global West, the idea of rugged individualism persists.  Yet, no matter how hard or well one works, one drives on roads other people built, relies on technology other people invented or maintain, and depends on many other people might guess at first thought.  Anyone who can read this post with comprehension relies on hosts of educators, for example.

As I affirm that I depend on the work of others, just as others depend on my work, I also affirm the dignity of work.  Therefore, I argue for certain propositions:

  1. Nobody should have to work in a death trap or a sweatshop;
  2. All wages should be living wages;
  3. People should work to live, not live to work;
  4. Union organizing and collective bargaining should be inviolable rights; and
  5. Access to affordable, quality health care is an inalienable right.

Nobody has a moral right to exploit anyone else.  No institution has a moral right to exploit any person.  After all, people should be more important than profits.

Furthermore, all work should benefit societies or communities.  By this standard most jobs pass the test.  We need plumbers and bus drivers, for example, but we also need actors, poets, and novelists.  In a just world teachers, librarians, police officers, and fire fighters would be some of the best paid professionals, but that is not the world in which we live, unfortunately.  It can be, however.  A society is what its members make it.  Sufficient force of public opinion, applied well, changes policies.  The major obstacle to positive social change is resignation to the current reality.

Furthermore, the best kind of work is also indistinguishable from play.  Work ought not only to provide financial support for one but also fulfill intangible needs.  Work, at its best, is something one who performs it enjoys.  Work should improve, not detract from, one’s quality of life.

Work does, of course, assume many forms, at home and out like the home.  One should never forget that a stay-at-home parent is a working parent.  One should never forget that one who leaves the labor force to become a caregiver for a relative is still working, just without wages.  One should acknowledge that those who, for various reasons, cannot join the labor force, are valuable members of society, and that many of them can contribute greatly to society, if others will permit them to do so.  Whenever a society holds back any of its members, it prevents itself from achieving its potential.

May we remember also that, as valuable as work is, rest and leisure are vital also.  Ideally one will balance the three properly.  We know that the brain requires a certain amount of sleep–especially REM sleep–to function properly.  We know that the correct amount of rest is necessary for the body to function properly.  We know that leisure makes for better employees.

Work, at its best, is a gift from God.  It is a gift for divine glory and the meeting of human needs.  Work, at its best, builds up (sometimes literally, sometimes figuratively) individuals, families, communities, societies, nation-states, and the world.  One’s work, at its best, is a vocation from God; it occupies the intersection of one’s greatest joys and the world’s deepest needs.

May you, O reader, find your work fulfilling in every way.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 1, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOSEPH OF ARIMATHEA, DISCIPLE OF JESUS

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Almighty God, you have so linked our lives with one another

that all we do affects, for good or ill, all other lives:

So guide us in the work we do, that we may do it not for self alone, but for the common good;

and, as we seek a proper return for our own labor,

make us mindful of the rightful aspirations of other workers,

and arouse our concern for those who are out of work;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Ecclesiasticus/Wisdom of Sirach 38:27-32

Psalm 107:1-9 or 90:1-2, 16-17

1 Corinthians 3:10-14

Matthew 6:19-24

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), 261, 932

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We invoke thy grace and wisdom, O Lord, upon all men of good will

who employ and control the labor of men.

Amid the numberless irritations and anxieties of their position,

help them to keep a quite and patient temper,

and to rule firmly and wisely, without harshness and anger.

Since they hold power over the bread, the safety, and the hopes of the workers,

may they wield their power justly and with love,

as older brothers and leaders in the great fellowship of labor.

Suffer not the heavenly light of compassion for the weak and the old to be quenched in their hearts.

When they are tempted to sacrifice human health and life for profit,

do thou strengthen their will in the hour of need,

and bring to nought the counsels of the heartless.

May they not sin against thee by using the bodies and souls of men as mere tools to make things.

Raise up among us employers who shall be makers of men as well as of goods.

Give us men of faith who will look beyond the strife of the present,

and catch a vision of a nobler organization of our work,

when all shall still follow the leadership of the ablest,

no longer in fear, but by the glad will of all,

and when all shall stand side by side in a strong and righteous brotherhood of work;

according to thy will in Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

–Evangelical and Reformed Church, Book of Worship (1947) 382-383

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Ecclesiasticus/Wisdom of Sirach 38:24-34 or Nehemiah 2:1-18

Psalms 124 and 125 or 147

2 Timothy 2:1-15 or Matthew 7:15-27

–General Council of the Congregational Christian Churches in the United States, A Book of Worship for Free Churches (1948), 409

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Originally published at SUNDRY THOUGHTS

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Devotion for Proper 21, Year A (Humes)   2 comments

Above:  St. Peter Paying the Temple Tax

Image in the Public Domain

Living in Community

SEPTEMBER 29, 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 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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Genesis 43:1-15, 26-30 or Isaiah 55:1-13

Psalm 28

1 Corinthians 10:19-33

Matthew 17:22-18:5

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We have obligations to each other.  Even what we do (or do not do) in private affects other people.  We should, for example, want scoundrels and wicked people to repent (as in Isaiah 55:7), not give up on them (as in Psalm 28:4).  We should seek reconciliation, as Joseph was preparing to instigate, in Genesis 43.  We should not abuse our freedom to the detriment of others.  In Christ we are free to become our best selves.

The story in Matthew 17:24-27 requires unpacking.

The tax in question was the Temple tax of one didrachmon–a half-shekel.  Every Jewish male was to pay it annually, although enforcement was not rigorous.  The scriptural basis of the Temple tax was Exodus 30:13.  It was a controversial tax for more than one reason.  For the poor the tax–two days’ wages of a laborer–was a burden.  Essenes argued that the tax was properly a once-in-a-lifetime payment.  Sadducees thought that the tax should be voluntary.  Jesus, who seemed to have a low opinion of taxation (see also Matthew 22:15-22), nevertheless decided not to cause offense.

I have no difficulty accepting this story as genuine.  Yet it, like so many stories, carries more than one meaning, depending on the time of the reading or hearing of it.  Consider, O reader, the year of the composition of the Gospel of Matthew–85 C.E. or so.

There was no more Temple yet a version of tax remained.  Roman forces had destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 C.E.  A two-drachma tribute to Rome was due annually, and Roman authorities enforced tax laws.  In the Christian context giving to the church was properly voluntary.  For Jewish Christians, marginal within Judaism, their identity remained Jewish; they did not seek to offend.

In my cultural-political setting–North America in 2018–the culture is moving in more than one direction simultaneously.  On one hand politics and culture are coarsening.  On the other hand efforts to avoid causing offense are become more prominent, sometimes to ridiculous extremes.  Meanwhile, people from various points on the spectrum have become more likely to take offense.  “Snowflakes” come in various political stripes.  Everything is controversial; there is probably nothing that does not offend somebody, somewhere.

I, as a human being, have responsibilities to my fellow human beings, who have responsibilities to me.  I, for example, have no moral right to spout racial and ethnic slurs and/or stereotypes, not that I would ever do that.  Quoting them in certain contexts, in which one’s disapproval is plain, is justifiable, however.  I have a responsibility to consider the sensibilities of others–to a reasonable point.  Yet I know that, whatever I do, I will offend someone, for somebody will be of a mind to take offense.  I am responsible for doing my best to be respectful.  I am also responsible to others not to be ridiculously sensitive, thereby doing nothing or too little.

Where should one draw the line separating responsible self-restraint in the name of not offending the consciences of others from overdoing it and still failing in not causing offense because some people are snowflakes?  The answer to that question varies according to circumstances.  One, relying on grace, should do one’s best.  If one needs to do better, one can do that, by grace.  One is not responsible for the thin skins of others.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 28, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF AMBROSE OF MILAN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP; SAINT MONICA OF HIPPO, MOTHER IF SAINT AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO; AND SAINT AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF HIPPO REGIUS

THE FEAST OF DENIS WORTMAN, U.S. DUTCH REFORMED MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF LAURA S. COPERHAVER, U.S. LUTHERAN HYMN WRITER AND MISSIONARY LEADER

THE FEAST OF SAINT MOSES THE BLACK, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, ABBOT, AND MARTYR

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2018/08/28/living-in-community-part-iii/

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Devotion for Proper 20, Year A (Humes)   2 comments

Above:  Sunlight Through Trees with Building Ruins

Photographer = Theodor Horydczak

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-H824-T-1927-005

A Light to the Nations

SEPTEMBER 22, 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 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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Genesis 42:1-26 or Isaiah 49:1-13

Psalm 26

1 Corinthians 10:1-17

Matthew 16:13-28

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God raises the stakes.  One would think (in Isaiah 49) that, for the people of Israel, identified as the servant of God, restoring the survivors of Israel after the Babylonian Exile would be a sufficiently daunting challenge.  But no!  The mission of the people of Israel in Isaiah 49 is to be a light to the nations.  In Matthew 16 we read of the Confession of St. Peter (yes, the rock upon which Christ built the Church) and Jesus’s immediate rebuke of St. Peter, who failed to understand the meanings of messiahship and discipleship.  Each of us has a calling to take up his or her cross and follow Jesus.  One who does not do that is not a follower of Jesus.  In Genesis 42 we read of most of Joseph’s brothers.  Their challenge, we read, is really to face themselves.  That is our greatest challenge, is it not?  Can each of us deal effectively with the person in the mirror?

The main words in 1 Corinthians 10:1-17 are “idols” and “idolatry.”  Idols, for us, are whatever we treat as such.  Everyone has a set of them.  The test of idolatry is whether an object, practice, idea, et cetera distracts one from God, who calls us to lay idols aside.  How can we follow Christ and be lights of God when pursuing idols instead?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 28, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF AMBROSE OF MILAN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP; SAINT MONICA OF HIPPO, MOTHER IF SAINT AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO; AND SAINT AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF HIPPO REGIUS

THE FEAST OF DENIS WORTMAN, U.S. DUTCH REFORMED MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF LAURA S. COPERHAVER, U.S. LUTHERAN HYMN WRITER AND MISSIONARY LEADER

THE FEAST OF SAINT MOSES THE BLACK, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, ABBOT, AND MARTYR

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2018/08/28/a-light-to-the-nations-viii/

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Devotion for Proper 19, Year A (Humes)   2 comments

Above:  Joseph Interprets Pharaoh’s Dreams, by Peter von Cornelius

Image in the Public Domain

Qualifying the Called

SEPTEMBER 15, 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 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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Genesis 41 (portions) or Isaiah 45:1-8

Psalm 25:7-22

1 Corinthians 9:16-27

Matthew 14:22-36

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The common thread uniting Genesis 41 and Isaiah 45:1-8 is a foreigner as a divine agent of deliverance–from famine in Genesis 41 and the Babylonian Exile in Isaiah 45:108.  God is apparently neither a nativist nor a xenophobe.

A spiritual mentor of mine in the 1990s asked one question about any passage of scripture he read.  Gene asked,

What is really going on here?

Water (as in a lake, as in the Sea of Galilee), symbolized chaos, hence the lack of a sea in the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:3).  The author of the Gospel of Matthew was making a point about the power of Christ over chaos.  That was not the only point he was making.  There was also a point about fear undermining faith and what one might otherwise do in Christ.

The beginning of evil is the mistaken belief that we can–and must–act on our own power, apart from God.  God calls us to specific tasks.  God equips us for them.  God qualifies us for them.  God does not call the qualified; no, God calls qualifies the called, as St. Paul the Apostle knew well.

Integrity and generosity are marks of Yahweh,

for he brings sinners back to the path.

Judiciously he guides the humble,

instructing the poor in his way.

–Psalm 25:8-9, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

Our greatest strengths and best intentions are good, but they are woefully inadequate to permit us to complete our vocations from God.  If we admit this, we are wise, to that extent, at least.  God might not call many of us to ease a famine or end an exile, but God has important work for all of us.  May we succeed in it, for divine glory, by grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 27, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THOMAS GALLAUDET AND HENRY WINTER SYLE, EPISCOPAL PRIESTS AND EDUCATORS OF THE DEAF

THE FEAST OF SAINT AMADEUS OF CLERMONT, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK; AND HIS SON, SAINT AMADEUS OF LAUSANNE, FRENCH-SWISS ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT DOMINIC BARBERI, ROMAN CATHOLIC APOSTLE TO ENGLAND

THE FEAST OF HENRIETTE LUISE VAN HAYN, GERMAN MORAVIAN HYMN WRITER

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2018/08/27/qualifying-the-called-part-ii/

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Devotion for the Feast of the Holy Cross, Years A, B, C, and D (Humes)   2 comments

Above:  The Crucifixion and the Way of the Holy Cross, June 9, 1887

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-pga-00312

The Exaltation of the Holy Cross

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2019

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Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ was lifted high upon the cross

that he might draw the whole world to himself:

Mercifully grant that we, who glory in the mystery of our redemption,

may take up our cross and follow him;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting.  Amen.

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 581

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Almighty God, your Son Jesus Christ was lifted high upon the cross

that he might draw the whole world to himself.

To those who look upon the cross, grant your wisdom, healing, and eternal life,

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

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

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 57

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Numbers 21:4b-9

Psalm 98:1-5 or 78:1-2, 34-38

1 Corinthians 1:18-24

John 3:13-17

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The Feast of the Holy Cross commemorates two events–The discovery of the supposed true cross by St. Helena on September 14, 320, and the dedication of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem, on that day in 335, on the anniversary of the dedication of the First Temple in Jerusalem.  In the Eastern Orthodox Church the corresponding commemoration is the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

The Feast of the Holy Cross has had an interesting history.  It existed in Constantinople in the 600s and in Rome in the 800s.  The feast did not transfer into Anglicanism initially.  It did become a lesser feast–a black-letter day–in The Book of Common Prayer in 1561.  In The Church of England The Alternative Service Book (1980) kept Holy Cross Day as a black-letter day, but Common Worship (2000) promoted the commemoration to a major feast–a red-letter day.  The Episcopal Church dropped Holy Cross Day in 1789 but added it–as a red-letter day–during Prayer Book revision in the 1970s.  The feast remained outside the mainstream of U.S. and Canadian Lutheranism until the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and its variant, Lutheran Worship (1982).

Without getting lost in the narrative weeds (especially in Numbers 21), one needs to know that God chastises Jews and Christians for their sins yet does not destroy them, except when He allegedly sends poisonous snakes to attack them.  Then God provides a healing mechanism.  We should look up toward God, not grumble in a lack of gratitude.  In the Gospel of John the exaltation of Jesus is his crucifixion.  That is counter-intuitive; it might even be shocking.    If so, recall 1 Corinthians 1:23–Christ crucified is a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.  God frequently works in ways we do not understand.

As for God sending poisonous snakes to bite grumbling Israelites, that does not fit into my concept of God.  My God-concept encompasses both judgment and mercy, but not that kind of behavior.

The choice of the cross as the symbol of Christianity is wonderfully ironic.  The cross, an instrument of judicial murder and the creation of fear meant to inspire cowering submission to Roman authority, has become a symbol of divine love, sacrifice, and victory.  A symbol means what people agree it means; that is what makes it a symbol.  Long after the demise of the Roman Empire, the cross remains a transformed symbol.

The Episcopal collect for Holy Cross Day invites us to take up a cross and follow Jesus.  In Cotton Patch Gospel (1982), the play based on Clarence Jordan‘s The Cotton Patch Version of Matthew and John, Jesus, says that a person not willing to accept his or her lynching is unworthy of Him.

That is indeed a high standard.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 27, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THOMAS GALLAUDET AND HENRY WINTER SYLE, EPISCOPAL PRIESTS AND EDUCATORS OF THE DEAF

THE FEAST OF SAINT AMADEUS OF CLERMONT, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK; AND HIS SON, SAINT AMADEUS OF LAUSANNE, FRENCH-SWISS ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT DOMINIC BARBERI, ROMAN CATHOLIC APOSTLE TO ENGLAND

THE FEAST OF HENRIETTE LUISE VAN HAYN, GERMAN MORAVIAN HYMN WRITER

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2018/08/27/the-exaltation-of-the-holy-cross-part-ii/

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