Archive for the ‘September 9’ 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 9, 2019

SEPTEMBER 10, 2019

SEPTEMBER 11, 2019

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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

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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)

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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)

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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.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 18, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF MALTBIE DAVENPORT BABCOCK, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN I, BISHOP OF ROME

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2016/05/18/attachments-and-idolatry/

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Devotion for Saturday Before Proper 18, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

U-Turn

Above:  Diagram of a U-Turn

Image Source = Smurrayinchester

Godly Imagination

SEPTEMBER 9, 2017

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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

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The Assigned Readings:

Ezekiel 33:1-6

Psalm 119:33-40

Matthew 23:29-36

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The route of transformation–a process which God initiates–is that of turning around.  Ezekiel 33, the beginning of which is an assigned reading for today, makes those two points clearly.  It also states, contrary either to Exodus 34:7 and Deuteronomy 5:9-10 or to interpretations thereof, that individuals are responsible only for their sins; they carry no responsibility for the sins of any of their ancestors.

Regardless of how nice we think we are, we are complicit in sins of society because of our roles in societal institutions.  Our hands might not be as clean as we imagine because others do our dirty work while we are either oblivious or we approve.  I think of that reality when I read Jesus from Matthew 23:36:

Truly I tell you:  this generation will bear the guilt of it all.

The Revised English Bible, 1989

To repent is to turn around and to change one’s mind.  Changing one’s mind is crucial and difficult, for we become accustomed to ways of being and thinking; we are creatures of habit.  I am convinced that more sin flows from lack of imagination than from cartoonish, mustache-twirling perfidy.  Yes, there are malicious people who seek out opportunities to harm others each day, but more negativity results from functional fixedness.  Those of us who are not malicious might not even be able at certain moments to imagine that what God has said ought be (A) is what God has said ought to be or (B) can come to pass, at least any time soon.  Our lack of imagination condemns us and injures others.

How might the world be a better place for more people if more of us had a more highly developed imagination in tune with God?  Many of us, in the words of Psalm 119:35 (The Book of Common Prayer, 1979), pray:

Make me go in the path of your commandments,

for that is my desire.

How many of us, however, have the imagination to recognize that route?  May we see then follow it to the end, by grace and free will, itself a result of grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 15, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARY OF NAZARETH, MOTHER OF GOD

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Bloga Theologica version

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Devotion for September 9 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   7 comments

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Above:  An Ax

Image Source = b.gliwa

2 Kings and Philippians, Part II:  Conduct Worthy of the Gospel

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 2019

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

2 Kings 6:1-23

Psalm 5 (Morning)

Psalms 84 and 29 (Evening)

Philippians 1:21-2:11

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Whatever happens, let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ….

–Philippians 1:27, Revised English Bible

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The miracle stories regarding Elijah and Elisha violate the standards of credulity which I, as a product of the Enlightenment, accept.  But, when I look beneath the surface, I find timeless lessons.  For example, I read of Elijah making an iron ax head float then utilizing his clairvoyance and deceiving an invading force with the help of God via a blinding light.  But these texts from 2 Kings predate scientific thinking, so getting into the spirit of them unlocks meanings.

In learn, for example, that iron was precious–therefore expensive–and that most members of Elisha’s band of prophets were poor.  So the prophet who borrowed the ax head needed to recover it so that he could return it and avoid financial hardship.  We should help others as we are able.

And leading an enemy army into hostile territory then treating the members thereof to a banquet is one way of deterring war.  Loving one’s enemies is sound moral teaching.

I criticized Elisha for cruelty and insensitivity in the previous post in this series, but I have no such cause today  The verse from Philippians which I have highlighted summarizes Elisha’s behavior in 2 Kings 6 well if one substitutes Yahweh for Christ.  May we who call ourselves Christians behave consistently in ways which are worthy of the gospel of Christ, for we might be the most influential emissaries of Jesus some people will encounter.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 3, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF NICHOLAS KASATKIN, ORTHODOX ARCHBISHOP OF ALL JAPAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANSKAR, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF HAMBURG-BREMEN

THE FEAST OF GIOVANNI PIERLUIGI DA PALESTRINA, COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF MILLARD FULLER, FOUNDER OF HABITAT FOR HUMANITY

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/2-kings-and-philippians-part-ii-conduct-worthy-of-the-gospel/

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Proper 18, Year B   15 comments

Above:  The Logo of Lehman Brothers, a Firm Defunct Since 2008

God, Avenger and Hope of the Poor

The Sunday Closest to September 7

The Sixteenth Sunday After Pentecost

SEPTEMBER 9, 2018

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FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #1

Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23 (New Revised Standard Version):

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,

and favor is better than silver or gold.

The rich and the poor have this in common:

the LORD is the maker of them all….

Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity,

and the rod of anger will fail.

Those who are generous are blessed,

for they share their bread with the poor….

Do not rob the poor because they are poor,

or crush the afflicted at the gate;

for the LORD pleads their cause

and despoils of life those who despoil them.

Psalm 125 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion,

which cannot be moved, but stands fast for ever.

2  The hills stand about Jerusalem;

so does the LORD stand round about his people,

from this time forth for evermore.

3  The scepter of the wicked shall not hold sway over the land allotted to the just,

so that the just shall not put their hands to evil.

4  Show your goodness, O LORD, to those who are good

and to those who are true of heart.

5  As for those who turn aside to crooked ways,

the LORD will lead them away with the evildoers;

but peace be upon Israel.

FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #2

Isaiah 35:4-7a (New Revised Standard Version):

Say to those who are of a fearful heart,

Be strong, do not fear!

Here is your God.

He will come with vengeance,

with terrible recompense.

He will come and save you.

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,

and the ears of the deaf unstopped:

then the lame shall leap like a deer,

and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.

For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,

and streams in the desert;

the burning sand shall become a pool,

and the thirsty ground springs of water….

Psalm 146 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Hallelujah!

Praise the LORD, O my soul!

I will praise the LORD as long as I live;

I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.

2 Put not your trust in rulers, nor in any child of earth,

for there is not help in them.

When they breathe their last, they return to earth,

and in that day their thoughts perish.

Happy are they who have the God of Jacob for their help!

whose hope is in the LORD their God;

Who made heaven and earth, the seas, and all that is in them;

who keeps his promise for ever.

Who gives justice to those who are oppressed,

and food to those who hunger.

The LORD sets the prisoner free;

the LORD opens the eyes of the blind;

the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down.

8 The LORD loves the righteous;

the LORD cares for the stranger;

he sustains the orphan and the widow,

but frustrates the way of the wicked!

The LORD shall reign for ever,

your God, O Zion, throughout all generations.

Hallelujah!

SECOND READING

James 2:1-17 (Revised English Bible):

My friends, you believe in our Lord Jesus Christ who reigns in glory and you must always be impartial.  For instance, two visitors may enter your meeting, one a well-dressed man with gold rings, and the other a poor man in grimy clothes.  Suppose you pay special attention to the well-dressed man and say to him,

Please take this seat,

while to the poor man you say,

You stand over there, or sit here on the floor by my footstool,

do you not see that you are discriminating among your members and judging by wrong standards?  Listen, my dear friends:  has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to possess the kingdom he has promised to those who love him?  And yet you have humiliated the poor man.  Moreover, are not the rich your oppressors?  Is it not they who drag you into court and pour contempt on the honoured name by which God has claimed you?

If, however, you are observing the sovereign law laid down in scripture,

Love your neighbor as you love yourself,

that is excellent.  But if you show partiality, you are committing a sin and you stand convicted by the law as offenders.   For if a man breaks just one commandment and keeps all the others, he is guilty of breaking all of them.  For he who said,

You shall not commit adultery,

said also,

You shall not commit murder.

If you commit murder you are a breaker of the law, even if you do not commit adultery as well.  Always speak and act as men who are to be judged under a law which makes them free.  In that judgement there will be no mercy  for the man who has shown none.  Mercy triumphs over judgement.

What good is it, my friends, for someone to say he has faith when his actions do nothing to show it?  Suppose a fellow-Christian, whether man or woman, is in rags with not enough food for the day, and one of you says,

Goodbye, keep warm, and have a good meal,

but does nothing to supply their bodily needs, what good is that?  So with faith; if it does not lead by action, it is by itself a lifeless thing.

GOSPEL READING

Mark 7:24-37 (J. B. Phillips, 1972):

Then he got up and left that place and went off to the neighbourhood of Tyre.  There we went into a house and wanted no one  to know where he was.  But it proved impossible to remain hidden.  For no sooner had he got there, than a woman who had heard about him, and who had a daughter possessed by an evil spirit, arrived and prostrated herself before him.  She was a Greek, a Syrophoenician by birth, and she asked him to drive the evil spirit out of her daughter.  Jesus said to her,

You must let the children have all they want first.  It is not right, you know, to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.

But she replied,

Yes, Lord, I know, but even the dogs under the table eat the scraps that the children leave.

Jesus said to her,

If you can answer like that, you can go home!  The evil spirit has left your daughter.

And she went back to her home and found the child lying quietly on her bed, and the evil spirit gone.

Once more Jesus left the neighbourhood of Tyre and passed through Sidon towards the Lake of Galilee, and crossed the Ten Towns territory.  They brought to him a man who was deaf and unable to speak intelligibly, and they implored him to put his hand upon him.  Jesus took him away from the crowd by himself. He put his fingers in the man’s ears and touched his tongue with his saliva.  Then, looking up to Heaven, he gave a deep  sigh and said to him in Aramaic,

Open!

And his ears were opened and immediately whatever had tied his tongue came loose and he spoke quite plainly.  Jesus gave instructions that they should tell no one about this happening, but the more he told them, the more they broadcast the news.  People were absolutely amazed, and kept saying,

How wonderfully he has done everything!  He even makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak.

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.

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Some Related Posts:

Proper 18, Year A:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/12/proper-18-year-a/

Isaiah 35:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/ninth-day-of-advent/

James 2:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/25/week-of-6-epiphany-thursday-year-2/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/26/week-of-6-epiphany-friday-year-2/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/06/25/week-of-proper-1-thursday-year-2/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/06/26/week-of-proper-1-friday-year-2/

Mark 7:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/15/week-of-5-epiphany-thursday-year-1/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/19/week-of-5-epiphany-friday-year-1/

Matthew 15 (Parallel to Mark 7):

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/01/24/week-of-proper-13-wednesday-year-1/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/02/11/proper-15-year-a/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/02/week-of-proper-13-wednesday-year-2-and-week-of-proper-13-thursday-year-2/

Arise, O King of Grace:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/07/30/arise-o-king-of-grace/

For the Right Use of Possessions:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/05/04/for-the-right-use-of-possessions-i/

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/05/04/for-the-right-use-of-possessions-ii/

In Remembrance of Me:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/01/27/in-remembrance-of-me/

Yom Kippur Litany of Confession:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/09/14/yom-kippur-litany-of-confession/

The Greater Our Greed Becomes:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/08/23/the-greater-our-greed-becomes/

O Lord, You Gave Your Servant John:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/08/06/o-lord-you-gave-your-servant-john/

Prayers for Inclusion:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/prayers-for-inclusion/

For Social Righteousness:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/08/06/for-social-righteousness/

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As I type these words, the first draft of which I wrote in pencil a few days ago, I am in the third year of following various lectionaries and blogging about daily readings.  I started doing this at SUNDRY THOUGHTS, from which I spun off the three devotional blogs.  Some of the content at ADVENT, CHRISTMAS, AND EPIPHANY DEVOTIONS and LENTEN AND EASTER DEVOTIONS in particular was originally at SUNDRY THOUGHTS.  I have covered much content so far, and even repeated myself more times than I have kept count.  I do endeavor not to be overly redundant, so I will be concise in this post and refer you, O reader, to the “Some Related Posts” section, where I have provided links.  If you want to know more about part of a reading I have not discussed here, check those links.  I might have covered that material at one of those posts.

Now I need to get down to some class warfare.  Many people (often among the wealthy and apologists for corporate excesses) condemn class warfare as something bad.  It is bad when they engage in it, but they damn those who resist their exploitative practices.  In the Bible we read that excessive interest is sinful.  And Jesus was certainly a class warrior in part.  If it was good enough for Jesus….  If I am to treat the Bible as having any authority, I must acknowledge this aspect of that sacred anthology.

The rich and the poor have this in common:

the LORD is the maker of them all.

–Proverbs 22:2, New Revised Standard Version

The rich foul up, and the poor pay the greatest price.  Greek pensioners lose most–up to 2/3–of their money.  In Spain, some towns have not paid their entire police force for months.  In many nations, many job seekers cannot find employment and real wages have been stagnant for years at best and are falling at worst.  Government austerity measures hurt the economy because less government spending means fewer government jobs and lower government wages.  Unemployment increases, taxable income decreases, and many people have less money to buy goods, thus affecting the private sector.  Demand at soup kitchens and food pantries increases, and the hope of the long-term unemployed and underemployed fades.  These circumstances lead to increased rates of psychological depression and corresponding public health problems.

Yet

Whoever sows calamity will reap calamity….–Proverbs 22:8

and

…the LORD pleads [the cause of the poor]

and despoils of life those who despoil them.  (Proverbs 22:23)

How should we understand the Biblical depiction of God as the avenger of the poor and the mistreated?  Some claim that such violent imagery is unseemly, yet I have no problem with the “God as avenger” metaphor.  Often the oppressors will not stop unless a stronger power forces them to do so.  And there is a difference between a rescue operation and a negotiation.  So God coming in vengeance, as in Isaiah 34:4, comforts me.  And I read in James 2:13 and in the Gospels that God will judge us according to the standards we apply to others.  So, if we have acted mercifully, that bodes well for us.  But if we have not….

There must be justice in this life or the next one.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/10/16/god-avenger-and-hope-of-the-poor/

Week of Proper 18: Monday, Year 1   14 comments

Above:  Jesus Healing the Man with the Withered Hand

Image in the Public Domain

Supporting Each Other in Our Journeys Toward Achieving Our Potential

SEPTEMBER 9, 2019

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Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.

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Colossians 1:24-2:3 (The Jerusalem Bible):

It makes me happy to suffer for you, as I am suffering now, and in my own body to do what I can to make up all that has still to be undergone by Christ for the sake of his body, the Church.  I became the servant of the Church when God made me responsible for delivering God’s message to you, the message which was a mystery hidden for generations and centuries and has now been revealed to his saints.  It was God’s purpose to reveal it to them and to show all the rich glory of this mystery to pagans.  The mystery is Christ among you, your hope of glory; this is the Christ we proclaim, this is the wisdom in which we thoroughly train everyone and instruct everyone, to make them all perfect in Christ.  It is for this I struggle wearily on, helped only by his power driving me irresistibly.

Yes, I want you to know that I do have to struggle hard for you, and for those in Laodicea, and for so many others who have never seen me face to face.  It is all to bind you together in love and to stir your minds, so that your understanding may come to full development, until you really know God’s secret in which all the jewels of wisdom and knowledge are hidden.

Psalm 62:1-7 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 For God alone my soul in silence waits;

from him comes my salvation.

2 He alone is my rock and salvation,

my stronghold, so that I shall not be greatly shaken.

3 How long will you assail me to crush me,

all of you together,

as if you were a leaning fence, a toppling wall?

4 They seek only to bring me down from my place of honor;

lies are their chief delight.

5 They bless with their lips,

but in their hearts they curse.

6 For God alone my soul in silence waits;

truly, my hope is in him.

7 He alone in my rock and my salvation,

my stronghold, so that I shall not be shaken.

Luke 6:6-11 (The Jerusalem Bible):

Now on another sabbath he [Jesus] went into the synagogue and began to teach, and a man was there whose hand was withered.  The scribes and the Pharisees were watching him to see if he would cure a man on the sabbath, hoping to find something to use against him.  But he knew their thoughts; and he said to the man with the withered hand,

Stand up!  Come out into the middle.

And he came out and stood there.  Then Jesus said to them,

I put it to you; it is against the law on the sabbath to do good, or to do evil; to save life, or to destroy it?

Then he looked round at them all and said to the man,

Stretch out your hand.

He did so, and his hand was better.  But they were furious, and began to discuss the best way of dealing with Jesus.

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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.

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In the Letter to the Colossians Paul writes of making all people perfect in Christ.  That, at least, is the rendering of the text in The Jerusalem Bible.  Other translations offer other English equivalents or the original Greek.  Instead of perfect they say “complete” and “mature.”  The meaning of that passage, then, is that we, in Christian community, have our identities in Christ, only in whom we can achieve our spiritual potential.

Again I repeat the theme of spiritual communitarianism.  I am redundant only because the Bible is.  Such repetition ought to prompt us to pay closer attention than we are.

So, to be concise, may we support each other in our spiritual journeys in Christ.

Speaking of potential, this time, physical…

Strict sabbath laws permitted one to save a life on that day, but required one to wait to do any more until the next day.  So Jesus violated a sabbath law in the presence of his religious enemies when he healed a man with a withered hand.  This physical disability affected the man’s ability to earn a living.  So Jesus helped the man to achieve his potential.  What could be wrong with that?  As Jesus asked, “Is it against the law on sabbath to do good…?”  No, it is not, in Jesus’ understanding of morality; it is lawful to do good every day of the week.  So, if this act violates our sabbath laws, we need to change those laws.

To repeat myself again, compassion is the trump card.

Our challenge, then, is to act compassionately to support each other spiritually and otherwise as possible whenever the opportunity presents itself.  I propose, furthermore, that the distinction between the physical and the spiritual is often a blurry zone.  We are, biologically speaking, physical beings.  Our bodies are products of evolution, a continuing process.  But we are also spiritual beings who bear the image of God.  The parts of ourselves interact, so helping someone physically can aid that person spiritually.

We have our mandate; may we obey it.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/10/17/supporting-each-other-in-our-journeys-toward-achieving-our-potential/