Archive for the ‘September 11’ Category

Devotion for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday After Proper 18, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Shalmaneser V

Above:   Shalmaneser V

Image in the Public Domain

Attachments and Idolatry


SEPTEMBER 10, 2019

SEPTEMBER 11, 2019


The Collect:

Direct us, O Lord God, in all our doings by your continual help,

that all our works, begun, continued, and ended in you,

may glorify your holy name; and finally, by your mercy,

bring us to everlasting life, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 47


The Assigned Readings:

2 Kings 17:24-41 (Monday)

2 Kings 18:9-18 (Tuesday)

2 Kings 18:19-25; 19:1-7 (Wednesday)

Psalm 101 (All Days)

1 Timothy 3:14-4:5 (Monday)

1 Timothy 4:6-16 (Tuesday)

Luke 18:18-30 (Wednesday)


Those who in secret slander their neighbors I will destroy;

those who have a haughty look and a proud heart I cannot abide.

My eyes are upon the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me,

and only those who lead a blameless life shall be my servants.

Those who act deceitfully shall not dwell in my house,

and those who tell lies shall not continue in my sight.

I will soon destroy all the wicked in the land,

that I may root out all evildoers from the city of the LORD.

–Psalm 101:5-8, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)


That depiction of God is consistent with the one in 2 Kings 17:25, in which, after the fall of the Kingdom of Israel to kill the Assyrians, God sent lions to kill some of the godless settlers.  That story troubles me, for, although I do not mistake God for a divine warm fuzzy, I do not confuse God for a vengeful thug either.

The emphasis in the composite pericope from 2 Kings, however, is on King Hezekiah of Judah (reigned 727/715-698/687 B.C.E.) and the predicament of his realm.  Judah had to pay tribute to Assyria, after all.  Furthermore, Rabshakeh, the envoy of King Shalmaneser V of Assyria (reigned 727-722 B.C.E.), blasphemed, claiming that God was on the side of Assyria and that the people should disregard Hezekiah, who advised trusting in God for deliverance.  In 2 Kings 19 God saved Judah from Assyrian forces.

We should trust in God, laying aside our attachments to fear, political power, military might, false teaching, and wealth, among other things.  In that list the only inherently negative item is false teaching.  Fear can save one’s life and protect one’s health, but it can also lead to violence, hatred, bigotry, and insensitivity to human needs.  Wealth is morally neutral, but how one relates to it is not.  The same principle applies to political power and military might.

Each of us has attachments which distract from God.  These attachments are therefore idols in so far as they distract from God.  We might not need to abstain from certain behaviors or goods to get closer to God, but we do need at least to redefine our relationships to them.  That is difficult, but it is possible via grace.








Devotion for Monday and Tuesday After Proper 18, Year B (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Jericho, 1925

Above:  Jericho, 1925

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-matpc-14127

Jesus and Genocide

SEPTEMBER 10 and 11, 2018


The Collect:

Gracious God, throughout the ages you transform

sickness into health and death into life.

Openness to the power of your presence,

and make us a people ready to proclaim your promises to the world,

through Jesus Christ, our healer and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 47


The Assigned Readings:

Joshua 6:1-21 (Monday)

Joshua 8:1-23 (Tuesday)

Isaiah 38:10-20 (Both Days)

Hebrews 11:29-12:2 (Monday)

Hebrews 12:3-13 (Tuesday)


I twitter as if I were a swallow,

I moan like a dove.

My eyes are raised to heaven:

“Lord, pay heed; stand surety for me.”

–Isaiah 38:14, The Revised English Bible (1989)


One principle of allegedly holy war in the Torah is to kill entire populations and to destroy all property–for the glory of God, not for one’s own gain.  This was the principle which Achan, a Hebrew warrior, violated when he claimed some souvenirs from Jericho, hence the trouble in Joshua 7.  That chapter tells us that the Israelites did not conquer Ai until they had executed Achan and his family (what had they done?) and burned the souvenirs.  The effect of these deeds, according to Joshua 7, was to nip the contagion of sin in the bud.

The author of Hebrews 11:29-12:13 seemed to have a mixed attitude toward violence in the name of God, for he glossed over the violence of the conquest of Canaan while condemning the violence of those who oppressed Jews and Christians.  That author invited his audience to follow the example of Christ in enduring trials.  We should, the author wrote, endure suffering for the sake of discipline–a nice tie-in to Isaiah 38, part of the story of King Hezekiah of Judah.  Nevertheless, discipline is not mass murder or the killing of innocent people who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I consider the example of Jesus and apply it to Joshua 6-8.  What would Jesus do?  Would he have impaled the King of Ai on a stake, as in Joshua 8:29?  Against which population would our Lord and Savior authorized genocide?

I am a realist.  Yes, some violence becomes necessary for positive purposes because some people have made it so.  Likewise, some violence becomes inevitable for the same reason.  Nevertheless, I suspect that most violence is both avoidable and needless.  It flows from sinful human nature, not the decrees of God, and many people seek to justify their sinful violence by dressing it up as righteousness.  May we–you, O reader, and I–prove to be innocent of that offense all our days.








Devotion for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday After Proper 18, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment


Above:  A Visual Protest Against Police Brutality and Corruption, June 11, 1887

Artist = Eugene Zimmerman (1862-1935)

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-USZC4-4792

Good Trees for God

SEPTEMBER 11, 12, and 13, 2017


The Collect:

O Lord God, enliven and preserve your church with your perpetual mercy.

Without your help, we mortals will fail;

remove far from us everything that is harmful,

and lead us toward all that gives life and salvation,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 46


The Assigned Readings:

Leviticus 4:27-31; 5:14-16 (Monday)

Deuteronomy 17:2-13 (Tuesday)

Leviticus 16:1-5, 20-28 (Wednesday)

Psalm 119:65-72 (All Days)

1 Peter 2:11-17 (Monday)

Romans 13:1-7 (Tuesday)

Matthew 21:18-22 (Wednesday)


These readings present us with some difficult material.  In the Torah an animal sacrifice atoned for unintentional sins, offering an unauthorized sacrifice led to death, and idolatry carried the death penalty.

So you shall purge evil from your midst.

–Deuteronomy 17:7b, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

Also, in the readings from Romans and 1 Peter, resisting authority is a sin, regardless of the nature of that government.    I will address these matters in order.


One was supposed to keep a distance from the holy and approach God in a certain way in the Law of Moses.  Thus one had instructions to offer sacrifices just so, for example.  And touching the Ark of the Covenant was deadly.  In contrast, Jesus, God incarnate, ate with people, many of whom had dubious moral histories and bad reputations.  I side with Jesus in this matter.


One ought to be very careful regarding instructions to kill the (alleged) infidels.  Also, one should recognize such troublesome passages in one’s own scriptures as well as in those of others, lest one fall into hypocrisy regarding this issue.  Certainly those Puritans in New England who executed Quakers in the 1600s thought that they were purging evil from their midst.  Also, shall we ponder the Salem Witch Trials, in which paranoid Puritans trapped inside their superstitions and experiencing LSD trips courtesy of a bread mold, caused innocent people to die?  And, not that I am equating Puritans with militant Islamists, I have no doubt that those militant Islamists who execute Christians and adherents to other religions think of themselves as people who purge evil from their midst.  Violence in the name of God makes me cringe.

When does one, in the name of purging evil from one’s midst, become that evil?


Speaking of removing evil from our midst (or at least trying to do so), I note that Dietrich Bonhoeffer, after struggling with his conscience, participated in a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler.  I let that pass, for if one cannot kill (or at least plan to kill) a genocidal dictator in the name of morality….Sometimes life presents us with bad decisions and worse ones.  Choose the bad in very such circumstance, I say.  In the Hitler case, how many lives might have continued had he died sooner?


Christianity contains a noble and well-reasoned argument for civil disobedience.  This tradition reaches back to the Early Church, when many Christians (some of whom became martyrs) practiced conscientious objection to service in the Roman Army.  The tradition includes more recent figures, such as many heroes of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.  Many of those activists suffered and/or died too.  And, in the late 1800s, the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, hardly a bastion of liberalism at any point in its history, declared that the Ottoman imperial government, which had committed violence against the Armenian minority group, had no more moral legitimacy or right to rule.  Yet I read in the October 30, 1974, issue of The Presbyterian Journal, the midwife for the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) in 1973, that:

When a Herod or a Hitler comes into power, we must thereby assume this is the Lord’s plan; He will use even such as these to put His total plan into effect for the good of His people here on earth.

–page 11

That was an extreme law-and-order position the editor affirmed in the context of reacting against demonstrations of the 1960s and early 1970s.  A few years later, however, the PCA General Assembly approved of civil disobedience as part of protests against abortions.


If one assumes, as St. Paul the Apostle and much of the earliest Church did, that Jesus would return quite soon and destroy the sinful world order, preparation for Christ’s return might take priority and social reform might move off the list of important things to accomplish.  But I am writing in 2014, so much time has passed without the Second Coming having occurred.  Love of one’s neighbors requires us to act and even to change society and/or rebel against human authority sometimes.


The barren fig tree in Matthew 21:18-22 was a symbol of faithless and fruitless people.  If we know a tree by its fruits and we are trees, what kind of trees are we?  May we bear the fruits of love, compassion,and mere decency.  May our fruits be the best they can be, albeit imperfect.  May we be the kind of trees that pray, in the words of Psalm 119:68 (The Book of Common Prayer, 1979):

You are good and you bring forth good;

instruct me in your statutes.





Bloga Theologica version


Devotion for September 11 and 12 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   1 comment


Above:  A Crucifix

Image Source = Benutzer HoKaff

Hatred and Violence



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:

2 Chronicles 29:1-24 (September 11)

2 Chronicles 31:1-21 (September 12)

Psalm 89:1-18 (Morning–September 11)

Psalm 97 (Morning–September 12)

Psalms 1 and 33 (Evening–September 11)

Psalms 16 and 62 (Evening–September 12)

Philippians 3:1-21 (September 11)

Philippians 4:1-23 (September 12)


The 2006 Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod Daily Lectionary has led me through Philippians for a few posts, ending with this one.  Thus time the other main readings come from 2 Chronicles.  I have combined these lections because

  1. They seem repetitive to me, and
  2. They abound with mind-numbing details which seem meaningless to me in the context of the cross of Christ.

As much as I reject the idea that God smote nations for idolatry and sent them into exile, I also reject Penal Substitutionary Atonement.  I reject both for the same reason:  They make God look like a thug.  I do not worship a thug.

Yet turning back to God is always positive.  That was what King Hezekiah did.  And that was what Paul encouraged, even if he did resort to invective, calling advocates of circumcision “dogs” in Philippians 3:2.

The God of my faith is the one who, in the Resurrection of Jesus, demonstrated the power to thwart evil plans.  The God of my faith is the one who hears prayer requests and who

will supply all your needs out of the magnificence of his riches in Christ Jesus.

–Philippians 4:19, Revised English Bible

The God of my faith is the one whose servant St. Paul the Apostle urged his friends at Philippi to focus on

…all that is true, all that is noble, all that is just and pure, all that is lovable and attractive, whatever is excellent and admirable….

–Philippians 4:8, Revised English Bible

That is excellent advice everyday, but especially on and around September 11, now the anniversary of a date which will live in infamy. Violence in the name of God is not sacred, for the love of God is incompatible with “sacred” violence.  Yes, self-defense is necessary sometimes, but let us never mistake such a sad and imposed duty for a sacred task.  What will it profit a person to return hatred for hatred?  He or she will lose his or her soul and not bring glory the executed and resurrected Lord and Savior, who overcame hatred and violence with divine power and love.









Week of Proper 18: Tuesday, Year 2, and Week of Proper 18: Wednesday, Year 2   9 comments

Above:  A Gavel

Image Source = Jonathunder

To Build Up, Not to Tear Down

SEPTEMBER 11 and 12, 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.



1 Corinthians 6:1-11 (The Jerusalem Bible):

How dare one of your members take up complaint against another in the lawcourts of the unjust instead of before the saints?  As you know, it is the saints who are to ‘judge the world’; and if the world is to be judged by you, how can you be unfit to judge trifling cases?  Since we are also to judge angels, it follows that we can judge matters of everyday life; but when you have had cases of that kind, the people you appointed to try them were not even respected in the Church.  You should be ashamed; is there really not one reliable man among you to settle differences between brothers and so one brother brings a court case against another in front of unbelievers?  It is bad enough for you to have lawsuits at all against one another:  oughtn’t you to let yourselves be wronged, and let yourselves be cheated?  But you are doing the wronging and the cheating, and to your own brothers.

You know perfectly well that people who do wrong will not inherit the kingdom of God:  people of immoral lives, idolaters, adulterers, catamites, sodomites, thieves, usurers, drunkards, slanderers and swindlers will never inherit the kingdom of God.  These are the sort of people some of you were once, but you have been washed clean, and sanctified, and justified through the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and through the Spirit of our God.


1 Corinthians 7:25-31 (The Jerusalem Bible):

About remaining celibate, I have no directions from the Lord but give my own opinion as one who, by the Lord’s mercy, has stayed faithful.  Well then, I believe that in these present times of stress this is right:  that it is good for a man to stay as he is.  If you are tied to a wife, do not look for freedom; if you are free of a wife, then do not look for one.  But if you marry, it is no sin, and it is not a sin for a young girl to get married.  They will have their troubles, though, in their married life, and I should like to spare you that.


Psalm 149:1-5 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 Hallelujah!

Sing to the LORD a new song;

sing his praise in the congregation of the faithful.

Let Israel rejoice in his Maker;

let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.

Let them praise his Name in the dance;

let them sing praise to him with timbrel and harp.

For the LORD takes pleasure in his people

and adorns the poor with victory.

5 Let the faithful rejoice in triumph;

let them be joyful on their beds.


Psalm 47 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Clap your hands, all you peoples;

shout to God with a cry of joy.

For the LORD Most High is to be feared;

he is the great King over all the earth.

3 He subdues the peoples under us,

and the nations under out feet.

4 He chooses our inheritance for us,

the pride of Jacob whom he loves.

5 God has gone up with a shout,

the LORD with the shout of the ram’s-horn.

Sing praises to God, sing praises;

sing praises to our King, sing praises.

7 For God is King of all the earth;

sing praises with all your skill.

God reigns over the nations;

God sits enthroned upon his holy throne.

9 The nobles of the peoples have gathered together

with the people of the God of Abraham.

10 The rulers of the earth belong to God,

and he is highly exalted.


Luke 6:12-19 (The Jerusalem Bible):

Now it was about this time that he [Jesus] went out into the hills to pray; and he spent the whole night in prayer to God.  When day came he summoned his disciples and picked out twelve of them; the called them “apostles”:  Simon, whom he called Peter, and his brother, Andrew; James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon called the Zealon, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot who became a traitor.

He then came down with them and stopped at a piece of level ground where there was a large gathering of his disciples with a great crowd of people from all parts of Judaea and from Jerusalem and from the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon who had come to hear him and to be cured of their diseases.  People tormented by unclean spirits were also cured, and everyone in the crowd was trying to touch him because power came out of him that cured them all.


Luke 6:20-26 (The Jerusalem Bible):

Then fixing his eyes on his disciples he [Jesus] said:

How happy are you who are poor; yours is the kingdom of God.

Happy are you who are hungry now; you shall be satisfied.

Happy are you who weep now; you shall laugh.

Happy are you when people hate you, drive you out, abuse you, denounce your name as criminal, on account of the Son of Man.  Rejoice when that day comes and dance for joy, for then your reward will be great in heaven.  This was the way their ancestors treated the prophets.

But alas for you who are rich; you are having your consolation now.

Alas for you who have your fill now; you shall go hungry.

Alas for you who laugh now; you shall mourn and weep.

Alas for you when the world speaks well of you!  This was the way their ancestors treated the false prophets.


The Collect:

Grant us, O Lord, to trust in you with all our hearts; for, as you always resist the proud who confide in their own strength, so you never forsake those who make their boast of your mercy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Some Related Posts:

Feasts of Apostles:


The main idea of the reading from 1 Corinthians 6:1-11 is simple:  Live according to a standard higher than those of the litigious, dishonest, and sexually exploitative society of ancient Corinth.  The same principle, minus the geographical and temporal qualification, applies to today’s North America, my location.

Certain behaviors build up, but others tear down.  It is better to resolve one’s disputes outside a court, not to mention less expensive and less time-consuming.  And pedophilia is always destructive, adultery wrecks relationships, slander ruins reputations, thieves and swindlers damage lives, usurers exploit people for their selfish gain, and drunkards affect the lives of many others negatively.  Idolatry is a frequently-mentioned sin in the Bible, and some authors in that sacred anthology blame the demise of two Israelite kingdoms.  The Greek word usually translated as “homosexuals” or “sodomites” has several meanings, including sexual perverts broadly.  Let us remember also that Paul preferred celibacy, if at all possible, giving marriage between a man and a woman the faint praise that it (A) is not sinful and (B) is better than fornication.  He favored what he understood as spiritual pursuits, especially given the fact that he expected Jesus to return within his lifetime.  So sensual matters were, according to Paul, distractions from more urgent business.  Even heterosexual marriage was fraught with problems, Paul wrote, and he wished to spare people such difficulties.

And there is, of course, the matter of the obligation of the Corinthian Christians to care for each other and treat each other respectfully, not sue each other and exploit each other economically and/or sexually or victimize one’s family members and/or friends with one’s drinking problem and its related vices.  Such behaviors are wrong in any context.

My North American society is overly litigious, as pointless dislaimers and warnings attest.  Such excessive litigiousness also increases the costs of consumer goods.  Anther economic sin is usury, upon which many financial institutions rely for their profit margins.  Theft, whether on a small scale or a grand one, such as massive corporate fraud, also continues.

Beyond those matters, drunkenness and its accompanying offenses, including domestic violence, persist.  Slander has never gone away.  Idolatry assumes many forms, not just outwardly religious ones.  (Consider how many people regard sports, for example.)  Pedophilia is in the news quite a bit, as are sex scandals involving adultery and/or prostitution.

Human nature is a constant.  We have appetites, such as those for gratification via food, alcohol, money, and sex.  But we need to manage them, not they us.  Jesus did not return when Paul thought he would, but the Apostle was correct:  We have work to do, and we need to be spiritually minded.  We need to build each other up, not tear each other down.  We need to love and care for each other, not exploit, abuse, and victimize each other.

Speaking of caring for each other…

The sequence in the Gospel of Luke takes us into the Sermon on the Plain, the Lukan counterpart to the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew.  First, however, Jesus cured many  people who had sought him out.  The crowds dis tire and harry Jesus sometimes; Gospel writers tell us this.  Our Lord was fully divine, but he was also fully human.  He knew stress and fatigue.  And frequent giving of oneself does deplete one’s emotional and spiritual resources if one does not replenish them sufficiently.  Fortunately, Jesus prayed and sought out quite time.

There is a basic lesson here:  We must not neglect ourselves while supporting each other.  There is nothing selfish about filling our own cups, to speak.  If we are to fill the proverbial cups of others, we need to have something to give.  And we are also important.  This is a question of perspective:  I am important, and so are you, O reader.  We are both children of God and bearers of the divine image.  So my importance does not grant me the right to exploit or otherwise harm you.  And your needs ought not prevent me from tending to my necessities.   So, as we navigate our lives in our social contexts, may we take care of ourselves and each other properly as we continue on our respective pilgrimages.


Week of Proper 18: Wednesday, Year 1   18 comments

Above:  Infant Baptism

Photograph by Tom Adrianssen

Being Heavenly-Minded in Daily Life

SEPTEMBER 11, 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.


Colossians 3:1-11 (The Jerusalem Bible):

Since you have been brought back to true life with Christ, you must look for the things that are in heaven, where Christ is, sitting at God’s right hand.  Let your thoughts be on heavenly things, not on the things that are on the earth, because you have died, and now the life you have is hidden with Christ in God.  But when Christ is revealed–and he is your life–you too will be revealed in all your glory with him.

That is why you must kill everything in you that belongs only to earthly life:

  • fornication,
  • impurity,
  • guilty passion, evil desires
  • and especially greed,

which is the same thing as worshipping a false god; all this is the sort of behaviour that makes God angry.  And it is the way in which you used to live when you were surrounded by people doing the same thing, but now you, of all people, must give all these things up:

  • getting angry,
  • being bad-tempered,
  • spitefulness,
  • abusive language and dirty talk;
  • and never tell each other lies.

You have stripped off our old behaviour with your old self, and you have put on a new self which will progress towards true knowledge the more it is renewed in the image of its creator; and in that image there is no room for distinction

  • between Greek and Jew,
  • between the circumcised or the uncircumsised,
  • or between barbarian and Scythian,
  • slave and free man.

There is only Christ:  he is everything and he is in everything.

(I reformatted the text to include bullet lists.)

Psalm 145:10-13 (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.

Luke 6:20-26 (The Jerusalem Bible):

Then fixing his eyes on his disciples he [Jesus] said:

How happy are you who are poor; yours is the kingdom of God.

Happy are you who are hungry now; you shall be satisfied.

Happy are you who weep now; you shall laugh.

“Happy are you when people hate you, drive you out, abuse you, denounce your name as criminal, on account of the Son of Man.  Rejoice when that day comes and dance for joy, for then your reward will be great in heaven.  This was the way their ancestors treated the prophets.

“But alas for you who are rich; you are having your consolation now.

Alas for you who have your fill now; you shall go hungry.

Alas for you who laugh now; you shall mourn and weep.

Alas for you when the world speaks well of you!  This was the way their ancestors treated the false prophets.


The Collect:

Grant us, O Lord, to trust in you with all our hearts; for, as you always resist the proud who confide in their own strength, so you never forsake those who make their boast of your mercy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


The reading from Colossians exists within the context of baptism.  Christ was everything for Paul, so the Apostle wrote that following Christ would dictate one’s choices in daily life.  The “thou shall not” rules out much of politics and popular culture, from including AM talk radio, and Cinemax, and the euphemistically named FOX News Channel.

Baptism is one of the seven sacraments.  The brief act involving water is supposed to function as a visible and outward sign of divine and inward grace in a person’s life.  The ceremony is beautiful, but the hard work follows it.  But as the Scriptures, quoted in the funeral service from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, say:

For none of us has life in himself,

and none becomes his own master when he dies.

For if we have life, we are alive in the Lord,

and if we die, we die in the Lord.

So, then, whether we live or die,

we are the Lord’s possession.

(Page 491)

The Lukan version of the Beatitudes and subsequent woes (in Luke but not Matthew) comes from the Sermon on the Plain, that gospel’s counterpart of the Sermon on the Mount.  The Beatitudes and Woes from Luke contrast value systems.  Those who choose the values of the Beatitudes will go from spiritual height to height.  There is a physical element, too.  The poor are the poor, not the “poor in spirit,” as in Matthew.  The hungry seek food; they are not hungry for righteousness.  Those who value money, possessions, temporary happiness, and public acclaim might get them, but their gains will prove unsatisfactory in the long term.

So, without resorting to persistent grumpiness, of which Paul was disapprove, may we cling to Christ and value him above all else.  Christ does not need our defense; he can defend himself.  His gospel stands forever, withstanding all assaults of scoffers.  But he needs our witness.  May we witness with our ingrained attitudes, which will dictate our actions.