Archive for the ‘1 Corinthians 2’ Tag

Devotion for Proper 10, Year A (Humes)   1 comment

Above:  Jacob’s Dream, by William Blake

Image in the Public Domain

The Call of God

JULY 16, 2023


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


Genesis 28:10-19 or Isaiah 5:1-7

Psalm 13

1 Corinthians 2:1-16

Matthew 8:18-34


Isaiah 5:1-7 and Psalm 13 point in one theological direction.  Genesis 28:10-19 points in another direction.  The note of judgment for injustice and iniquity sounds in Isaiah 5:1-7 and Psalm 13, but God shows mercy to the deceitful Jacob, on the run from Esau, his vengeful brother, whom he had cheated more than once, in Genesis 28:10-19.  Via the dream of Jacob’s Ladder (more of a stairway or a ramp, actually), God confirms that Jacob is the carrier of the patriarchal promise.  Sometimes the wisdom of God seems foolish.

The call of God on our lives is to follow without making excuses.  The call of God on our lies is to follow even when doing so is inconvenient–or more.  The call of God on our lives is to function as vehicles of grace, to leave others better than they were when first our paths crossed theirs, the owners of the herd of swine in Matthew 8:23-24 not withstanding.

That which we do to others, we do to ourselves; this is a profound statement.  If one takes it seriously, one will be less likely to act in selfish ways that benefit me (at the expense of others) in the short term.  If one takes this truth seriously, one will be less likely to fail to recognize problems of others, as being problems that God will also affect one.  If we internalize this truth, we will be less likely to make excuses and shirk our responsibilities.









Devotion for Monday and Tuesday After Pentecost Sunday, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Pentecost Dove May 24, 2015

Above:  Pentecost Dove

Image Source = St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, May 24, 2015

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Listening to the Holy Spirit

JUNE 6 and 7, 2022


The Collect:

God our creator, the resurrection of your Son offers life to all peoples of the earth.

By your Holy Spirit, kindle in us the fire of your love,

empowering our lives for service and our tongues for praise,

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), page 36


The Assigned Readings:

Joel 2:18-29 (Monday)

Ezekiel 11:14-25 (Tuesday)

Psalm 48 (Both Days)

1 Corinthians 2:1-11 (Monday)

1 Corinthians 2:12-16 (Tuesday)


We reflect on your faithful love, God,

in your temple!

Both your name and your praise, God,

are over the whole wide world.

–Psalm 48:9-10a, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)


I teach a Sunday School class in my parish.  We adults discuss the assigned readings for each Sunday.  I recall that, one day, one of the lections was 1 Corinthians 13, the famous love chapter in which the form of love is agape–selfless and unconditional love.  I mentioned that St. Paul the Apostle addressed that text to a splintered congregation that quarreled within itself and with him.  A member of the class noted that, if it were not for that troubled church, we would not have certain lovely and meaningful passages of scripture today.

That excellent point, in its original form, applies to the lection from 1 Corinthians 2 and, in an altered form, to the readings from Joel and Ezekiel.  A feuding congregation provided the context for a meditation on having a spiritual mindset.  The Babylonian Exile set the stage for a lovely message from God regarding certain people with hearts of stone:

Then they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

–Ezekiel 11:20b, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

As for those who refuse to repent–change their minds, turn around–however,

I will bring their deeds upon their own heads, says the Lord GOD.

–Ezekiel 11:21b, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

And, in the wake of natural disaster and repentance new grain, wine, and oil will abound in Joel 2.  Divine mercy will follow divine judgment for those who repent.  That reading from Joel 2 leads into one of my favorite passages:

After that,

I will pour out My spirit on all flesh;

Your sons and daughters shall prophesy;

Your old men shall dream dreams,

And your young men shall see visions.

I will even pour out My spirit

Upon male and female slaves in those days.

–Joel 3:1-2, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

This is a devotion for the first two days after the day of Pentecost.  The assigned readings fit the occasions well, for they remind us of the necessity of having a spiritual mindset if we are able to perceive spiritual matters properly then act accordingly.  The Holy Spirit speaks often and in many ways.  Are we listening?  And are we willing to act faithfully?








Devotion for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday Before Proper 20, Year B (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment



Above:  Icon of Christ the Merciful

Image in the Public Domain

A Loving Orthodoxy

SEPTEMBER 16-18, 2021


The Collect:

O God, our teacher and guide,

you draw us to yourself and welcome us as beloved children.

Help us to lay aside all envy and selfish ambition,

that we may walk in your ways of wisdom and understanding

as servants of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 48


The Assigned Readings:

Judges 6:1-10 (Thursday)

1 Kings 22:22-40 (Friday)

2 Kings 17:5-18 (Saturday)

Psalm 54 (All Days)

1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (Thursday)

Romans 11:25-32 (Friday)

Matthew 23:29-39 (Saturday)


Save me, O God, by your Name;

in your might, defend my cause.

Hear my prayer, O God;

give ear to the words of my mouth.

For the arrogant have risen up against me,

and the ruthless have sought my life,

those who have no regard for God.

Behold, God is my helper;

it is the Lord who sustains my life.

Render evil to those who spy on me;

in your faithfulness, destroy them.

I will offer you a freewill sacrifice

and praise your Name, O LORD, for it is good.

For you have rescued me from every trouble,

and my eye has seen the ruin of my foes.

–Psalm 54, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)


The prayer for divine destruction of enemies–hardly unique to Psalm 54–does violate the commandment to love one’s enemies as oneself, does it not?

Enemies exist.  In the pericopes for these three days alone we read of Midianites, monarchs, Assyrians, Arameans, and corrupt officials from the Temple at Jerusalem.  Furthermore, we, if we are to become properly informed, must know that many early Christians regarded Jews who rejected Jesus as enemies.  Christianity began as a Jewish sect, one which remained on the Jewish margins.  Frustrations over this reality became manifest in, among other texts, the Gospel of John, with its repeated references to “the Jews” in negative contexts.  Nevertheless, St. Paul the Apostle, who preached to Gentiles, was always Jewish.

Sometimes enemies are others.  On many occasions, however, one can find the enemy looking back at oneself in a mirror.  A recurring theological motif in the Hebrew Bible is that the exiles of Hebrew people resulted from rampant societal sinfulness; the collective was responsible.  That runs afoul of Western notions of individualism, but one finds it in the pages of the Bible.  There are at least two varieties of responsibility and sin–individual and collective.  We are responsible to God, for ourselves, and to and for each other.  Thus reward and punishment in the Hebrew Bible are both individual and collective.  Sometimes, the texts tell us, we bring destruction on ourselves.

But how does that translate into language regarding God?  May we take care not to depict God as a cosmic tyrant while investing that God is also merciful.  Yes, actions have consequences for ourselves and those around us.  Yes, God has sent many prophets, a large number of whom have endured the consequences of rejection.  Yes, both judgment and mercy exist in God.  I do not presume to know where the former ends and the latter begins; such matters are too great for me, a mere mortal.

No, I reject false certainty and easy answers.  No variety of fundamentalism is welcome here.  No, I embrace what St. Paul the Apostle called

the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God,

complete with

his judgments


inscrutable ways.–Romans 11:33, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

I favor “the mystery of God,” as in 1 Corinthians 2:1, as well as a relationship with God, which depends on divine faithfulness, not on human wisdom.

Kenneth J. Foreman, writing in Volume 21 (1961) of The Layman’s Bible Commentary, noted in reference to 1 Corinthians 2:1-5:

One point to note is that Paul does not present Christianity as a set of dogmas or as a manual of advice.  It is a story, something that happened, something God has done.–Page 75

Orthodoxy can be healthy, so long as it is neither stale nor unloving.  Pietism, with its legalism, is quite unfortunate.  Pietism, a reaction against stale orthodoxy, is at least as objectionable as that which it opposes.

Some thoughts of Dr. Carl J. Sodergren (1870-1949), a theologian of the former Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church (1860-1962), from 1937 apply well in the context of these pericopes and many circumstances:

Orthodoxy is good.  It means adherence to the truth, and no sane man would willingly surrender that.  But orthodoxy without love is dangerous.  It provides fertile soil for bigotry, hatred, spiritual pride, self-conceit, and a score of other evils which hide the Holy One from the eyes of the world.  It turns men into merciless heresy hunters, the most contemptible vermin on earth.  It aligns us with the scribes and Pharisees, the priests and high priests of the time of Jesus.  Nobody ever questioned their orthodoxy, but because it was loveless, it blinded them to His divinity and made it easier to spike Him to a cross.  We are not worried about the trumpet calls to orthodoxy which for some reason have begun to blare may drown out in our hearts the still small voice which prays for unity and love among all Christ’s disciples.

–Quoted in G. Everett Arden, Augustana Heritage:  A History of the Augustana Lutheran Church (Rock Island, IL:  Augustana Press, 1963), pp. 287-288

May love of God and for each other be evident in our lives and social structures and institutions.  Wherever it is evident, may it increase.  May we obey the divine commandment to take care of each other, not to exploit anyone or to discriminate against any person.  The Golden Rule is difficult to live, but we have God’s grace available to us; may we avail ourselves of it.  We also have an example–Jesus–to follow.  May his love be evident (then more so) in us, especially those of us who claim to follow him or to attempt to do so.








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

Holy Trinity Icon--Andrei Rublev

Above:  Icon of the Holy Trinity, by Andrei Rublev

Image in the Public Domain

Discipleship and the Mystery of God

MAY 27 and 28, 2024


The Collect:

God of heaven and earth,

before the foundation of the universe and the beginning of time

you are the triune God:

Author of creation, eternal Word of creation, life-giving Spirit of wisdom.

Guide us to all truth by your Spirit,

that we may proclaim all that Christ has revealed

and rejoice in the glory he shares with us.

Glory and praise to you,

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 37


The Assigned Readings:

Numbers 9:15-23 (Monday)

Exodus 25:1-22 (Tuesday)

Psalm 20 (Both Days)

Revelation 4:1-8 (Monday)

1 Corinthians 2:1-10 (Tuesday)


Some put their trust in chariots and some in horses,

but we will call upon the Name of the LORD our God.

They will collapse and fall down,

but we will arise and stand upright.

–Psalm 20:7-8, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)


The doctrine of the Holy Trinity contains much mystery, as it should.  No single passage of scripture teaches the entirety of the doctrine, which theologians cobbled together from verses and interpreted (with much argument) long ago.  Some details remain contentious.  For example, does the Holy Spirit proceed from the Father and the Son or just from the Father?  (This is a difference between Eastern Orthodoxy and most of Western Christianity.)  The answer to that question is irrelevant to me.  Nevertheless, my muscle memory directs me, when reciting the Nicene Creed (even when the ecumenical text omits “and the Son”, to say, “and the Son.”  I am, at least for the purpose of habit, a filioque man.

Perhaps the main purpose of the doctrine of the Trinity (the closest human thought can come to explaining the nature of God) is to discourage explanations.  Maybe the proper response to the doctrine is to accept the mystery inherent in it and to admit that we will never comprehend God fully or anything close to it.

That sense of the mystery of God exists in most of these days’ pericopes.  Although Abraham and God were on a first-name basis in Genesis, according to that book, the depiction of God changed later in the Torah.  In the Book of Exodus God was remote and the holiness of God was lethal to people, according to that text.  We read of God appearing as a cloud and as a pillar of fire.  The Ark of the Covenant, which a pseudo-documentary on the History Channel argued without proof was probably a nuclear reactor, was, according Hebrews scriptures, deadly to anyone who touched it.  And the mystery of God is a topic appropriate for the Apocalypse of John, with its plethora of symbolic language from the beginning to the end.

Jesus, the incarnate form of the Second Person of the Trinity (however the mechanics of that worked; I am preserving the mystery), was approachable, interacting with people and dining in homes.  There was nothing secret about that.  There remains nothing secret about that.  Yet the wisdom of God, manifested in Jesus, remains a secret to many.  Furthermore, many people, including a host of professing Christians, misunderstand that wisdom frequently.  The main reason for this reality, I suspect, is that we humans often see what we want or expect to see, and that God frequently works in ways contrary to our expectations.  The fault is with us, of course, not with God.  Also, the radical message of Jesus, inflammatory nearly 2000 years ago, remains so.  It challenges political, economic, social, and military system.  Many professing Christians are found of these systems and depend upon them.  Following Jesus can be costly, then.

We can know something about the nature of God, but mostly we must embrace the mystery, or else fall into Trinity-related heresies.  Much more important than attempting to explain God is trying to follow God and to act properly in relation to our fellow human beings.  Throughout the pages of the Bible we can find commandments to care for the vulnerable, refrain from exploiting each other, welcome the strangers, love our neighbors as we love ourselves, et cetera.  How human societies would look if more people pursued that agenda is at least as great a mystery as is the Trinity.  We are more likely, however, to find an answer to the former than to the latter in this life.






Devotion for August 8 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Above:  Saul and David, by Rembrandt van Rijn

Image in the Public Domain

1 Samuel and 1 Corinthians, Part II:  God’s Choices

AUGUST 8, 2023


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:

1 Samuel 24:1-22

Psalm 116 (Morning)

Psalms 26 and 130 (Evening)

1 Corinthians 1:26-2:16


The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod Daily Lectionary from the Lutheran Service Book (2006) skips over part of 1 Samuel.  A summary of that portion follows:  David, a fugitive from King Saul, becomes a rebel leader.  Saul, who knows that David will succeed him as monarch, kills some of those (excluding others, including Jonathan) who aid David.  Chapter 24 contains the famous story of David sparing the life of the monarch (his former father-in-law) who had tried more than once to kill him.

That content fits well with a part of 1 Corinthians 1:

No. God chose those who by human standards are fools to shame the wise; he chose those who by human standards are common and contemptible–indeed those who count for nothing–to reduce to nothing all those that do count for something, so that no human being might feel boastful before God.

–Verses 27-29, The New Jerusalem Bible

Saul was of less than “noble” origin.  His activity while chosen king as chasing runaway donkeys, after all.  But Saul was tall and handsome by the standards of the day.  And he was powerful relative to young David, who, in contrast, was the son his father left tending the sheep when Samuel met the other brothers.  The choice of David was an unlikely one by human standards.

Many of God’s choices will surprise us.  First we need to be sure that we have perceived correctly that x is God’s choice.  (This can be difficult.)  But, assuming that x is God’s choice, it might violate our sense of what ought to be.  Saul preferred to be the founder of a dynasty and for Jonathan to succeed him immediately.  Yet that was not what happened.  How will we respond to God’s choices?








Week of Proper 17: Tuesday, Year 2, and Week of Proper 17: Wednesday, Year 2   3 comments

Above:  The Old Main Building at Andrew College, Cuthbert, Georgia

Image Source = Robbie Honerkamp

Jealousy and Wrangling

AUGUST 30 and 31, 2022



Andrew College takes its name from Bishop James Osgood Andrew, a slaveholder.  His case triggered the 1844-1845 schism in the Methodist Episcopal Church and the 1845 formation of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, which allowed its bishops to own slaves, at least until 1865 and the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  The Southern denomination reunited with its parent body in 1939, however, and both groups are predecessor bodies of The United Methodist Church (1968-present).

I grew up United Methodist, steeped in that denomination’s history.



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 2:10-16 (The Jerusalem Bible):

These are the very things that God has revealed to us through the Spirit, for the Spirit reaches the depths of everything, even the depths of God.  After all, the depths of a man can only be known by his own spirit, not by any other man, and in the same way the depths of God can only be known by the Spirit of God.  Now instead of the spirit of the world, we have received the Spirit that comes from God, to teach us to understand the gifts that he has given us.  Therefore we teach, not in the way which philosophy is taught, but in the way that the Spirit teaches us:  we teach spiritual things spiritually.  An unspiritual person is one who does not accept anything of the Spirit of God:  he sees it all as nonsense; it is beyond his understanding because it can only be understood by means of the Spirit.  A spiritual man, on the other hand, is able to judge the value of everything, and his own value is not to be judged by other men.  As scripture says:

Who can know the mind of the Lord, so who can teach him?

But we are those who have the mind of Christ.


1 Corinthians 3:1-9 (The Jerusalem Bible):

Brothers, I myself was unable to speak to you as people of the Spirit:  I treated you as sensual men, still infants in Christ.  What I fed you with was milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it; and indeed, you are still not ready for it since you are still unspiritual.  Isn’t that obvious from all the jealousy and wranglin that there is among you, from the way that you go on behaving like ordinary people?  What could be more unspiritual than your slogans,

I am for Paul


I am for Apollos?

After all, what is Apollos and what is Paul?  They are servants who brought the faith to you.  Even the difficult ways in which they brought it were assigned to them by the Lord.  I did the planting, Apollos did the watering, but God made things grow.  Neither the planter nor the waterer matters:  only God, who makes things grow.  It is all one who does the planting and who does the watering, and each will duly be paid according to his share in the work.  We are fellow workers with God; you are God’s farm, God’s building.


Psalm 145:8-15 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

The LORD is gracious and full of compassion,

slow to anger and of great kindness.

The LORD is loving to everyone

and his compassion is over all his works.

10  All your works praise you, O LORD,

and your faithful servants bless you.

11 “Hear, O daughter; consider and listen closely;

forget your people and your father’s house.

12 The king will have pleasure in your beauty;

he is your master; therefore do him honor.

13 The people of Tyre are here with a gift,

the rich among the people seek your favor.”

14 All glorious is the princess as she enters;

her gown is cloth-of-gold.

15 In embroidered apparel she is brought to the king;

after her the bridesmaids follow in procession.


Psalm 62 (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 my 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 is my rock and my salvation,

my stronghold, so that I shall not be shaken.

8  In God is my safety and my honor;

God is my strong rock and my refuge.

9  Put your trust in him always, O people,

pour out your hearts before him, for God is our refuge.

10  Those of high degree are but a fleeting breath,

even those of low estate cannot be trusted.

11  On the scales they are lighter than a breath,

all of them together.

12  Put no trust in extortion;

in robbery take no empty pride;

though wealth increases, set not your heart upon it.

13  God has spoken once, twice have I heard it,

that power belongs to God.

14  Steadfast love is yours, O Lord,

for you repay everyone according to his deeds.


Luke 4:31-37 (The Jerusalem Bible):

He [Jesus] went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath.  And his teaching made a deep impression on them because he spoke with authority.

In the synagogue there was a man who was possessed by the spirit of an unclean devil, and it shouted at the top of its voice,

Ha!  What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth?  Have you come to destroy us?  I know who you are:  the Holy One of God.

But Jesus said sharply,

Be quiet!  Come out of him!

And the devil, throwing the man in front of everyone, went out of him without hurting him at all.  Astonishment seized them and they were all saying to one another,

What teaching!  He gives orders to unclean spirits with authority and power and they come out.

And reports of him went all through the surrounding countryside.


Luke 4:38-44 (The Jerusalem Bible):

Leaving the synagogue he went to Simon’s house.  Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever and they asked him to do something for her.  Leaning over her he rebuked the fever and it left her.  And she immediately got up and began to wait on them.

At sunset  all those who had friends suffering from diseases of one kind or another brought them to him, and laying his hands on each he cured them.  Devils too came out of many people, howling,

You are the Son of God.

But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak because they knew that he was the Christ.

When daylight came he left the house and made his way to a lonely place.  The crowds went to look for him, and when they had caught up with him they wanted to prevent him leaving them, but he answered,

I must proclaim the Good News of the kingdom of God to the other towns too, because that is what I was sent to do.

And he continued his preaching in the synagogues of Judaea.


The Collect:

Lord of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things: Graft in our hearts the love of your Name; increase in us true religion; nourish us with all goodness; and bring forth in us the fruit of good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.


\The Corinthian church suffered from factionalism.  This, Paul wrote, was unspiritual.  Factionalism persists, as the existence of denominations and “non-denominational” traditions persists.  I belong to a denomination–one I have chosen–and I am satisfied with my choice.  As an Episcopalian, I notice the lack of a well-developed liturgy and the too-infrequent celebration of the Holy Eucharist in many congregations of other traditions.  So, although I am an ecumenist–breaking bread gladly with other types of Christians, I retain my affiliation affirmatively.  I do all of this I know that my coreligionists and I have more in common than not.  Yes, I belong to a tribe, but that does not lead me to pursue intertribal warfare.  So, when I recognize deceased Christians as saints on my calendar of saints’s days and holy days at SUNDRY THOUGHTS OF KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR, the blog from which I spun this one off, I have Baptists, Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Lutherans, Anglicans, Methodists, Calvinists, Moravians, Anabaptists, and even a few Unitarians sharing the calendar year.

Often the arguments do seem to concern major and spiritual points, at least from the point of view of partisans.  Consider the following examples.:

  1. Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, and other Christians in the U.S. South formed regional denominations in support of slavery from 1845 to 1861.  (The Methodists reunited in 1939 and the Presbyterians in 1983, by the way.  The Southern Baptist Convention, formed in 1845 on the proposition that slaveholders should be able to serve as missionaries, apologized in 1995, at the urging of Billy Graham.  The probability of a Baptist reunion is nihl.)
  2. In the 1700s, Presbyterians argued about the theological validity of hymns–not any given hymns–but hymns themselves, in lieu of settings of psalms.  (This is mostly a non-issue these days.)
  3. The Oxford Movement within Anglicanism won in the 1800s and 1900s, but not before some opponents of it went so far as to consider it of the Devil.

As time passes, one might wonder how anyone could defend slavery from the Bible, argue against hymns themselves, or object to lighting a few more candles, but people did–vehemently.  I wonder how time will shape reflections on our current spats, hissy fits, and schisms.  Not favorably, I predict.

All of us who claim the label “Christian” should focus on Christ first and other religious leaders second, and therefore be genuine.  We need to have the mind of Christ, which is available only via God.  “Jealousy and wrangling” (1 Corinthians 2:3) do not bring glory to God and attract people to Jesus.  Those through whom we have come to God and deepened our spiritual development have played their parts; may we likewise play ours.  This work can take many forms; all of them, if of God, are valid.  May we remember that and act accordingly, supporting and encouraging one another in our spiritual vocations and eschewing “jealousy and wrangling.”


Week of Proper 17: Monday, Year 2   8 comments

Above:  View of Nazareth (1842), by David Roberts

The Jesus Who Offends

AUGUST 29, 2022


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 2:1-5 (The Jerusalem Bible):

As for me, brothers, when I came to you, it was not with any show of oratory or philosophy, but simply to tell you what God had guaranteed.  During my stay with you, the only knowledge I claimed to have was about Jesus, and only about him as the crucified Christ.  Far from relying on any power of my own, I came among you in great “fear and trembling” and in my speeches and the sermons that I gave, there were none of the arguments that belong to philosophy; only a demonstration of the power of the spirit.  And I did this so that your faith should not depend on human philosophy but on the power of God.

Psalm 119:97-104 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

97  Oh, how I love your law!

all the day long it is in my mind.

98  Your commandment has made me wiser than my enemies,

and it is always with me.

99  I have more understanding than all my teachers,

for your decrees are my study.

100  I am wiser than the elders,

because I observe your commandments.

101  I restrain my feet from every evil way,

that I may keep your word.

102  I do not shrink from your judgments,

because you yourself have taught me.

103  How sweet are your words to my taste!

they are sweeter than honey to my mouth.

104  Through your commandments I gain understanding;

therefore I hate every lying way.

Luke 4:16-30 (The Jerusalem Bible):

He [Jesus] came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day as he usually did.  He stood up to read, and they handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah.  Unrolling the scroll he found the place where it is written:

The spirit of the Lord has been given to me,

for he has anointed me.

He has sent me bring the good news to the poor,

to proclaim liberty to the captives

and to the blind new sight,

to set the downtrodden free,

to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.

He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the assistant and sat down.  And all eyes in the synagogue were fixed on him.  Then he began to speak to them,

This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.

And he won the approval of all, and they were astonished by the gracious words that came from his lips.

They said,

This is Joseph’s son, surely?

But he replied,

No doubt you will quote the saying, “Physician, heal yourself” and tell me, “We have heard all that happened in Capernaum, do the same here in your own countryside.”

And he went on,

I tell you solemnly, no prophet is ever accepted in his own country.

There were many widows in Israel, I can assure you, in Elijah’s day, when heaven remained shut for three years and six months and a great famine raged throughout the land, but Elijah was not sent to any one of those; he was sent to a widow at Zarephath, a Sidonian town.  And in the prophet Elisha’s time there were many lepers in Israel, but none of these was cured, except the Syrian, Naaman.

When they heard this everyone in the synagogue was enraged.  They sprang to their feet and hustled him out of town; and they took him up to the brow of the hill their town was built on, intending to throw him down the cliff, but he slipped through the crowd and walked away.


The Collect:

Lord of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things: Graft in our hearts the love of your Name; increase in us true religion; nourish us with all goodness; and bring forth in us the fruit of good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.


The Feast of Saint James of Jerusalem, Bishop and Martyr (October 23):


With this post the Canadian Anglican lectionary leaves the Gospel of Matthew behind, for, if we continue in that book, we will commence the Passion Narrative.  This is Ordinary Time, not the latter part of Lent.  So we begin readings from Luke, another commendable book.  The rejection of Jesus at Nazareth is set at the beginning of his ministry, shortly after the temptation in the wilderness.

It begins well.  Jesus enters the synagogue and reads from Isaiah 61.  Then he announces that the people assembled are witnesses of the fulfillment of that text.  So far, so good.  As verse 22 tells us,

…he won the approval of all.

Yet the approval had a short lifespan.  Some began to murmur; how could Joseph’s boy say such a thing?  Who did he think he was?  Even worse, from a certain point of view, Jesus proceeded to speak kindly of Gentiles.  As we read in verse 28,

…everyone in the synagogue was enraged.

Okay, there is probably some hyperbole here.  It is possible that not everyone approved of Jesus or then became enraged.  One or two people (at least) might have stood out from the crowd.  Yet Jesus did face rejection.

The audience for the Gospel of Luke was Gentile, so it is no accident that, of the three versions of this story (the others being Mathew 13:54-58 and Mark 6:1-6), this is the only one to include the Gentile element.  Its inclusion here testified to the inclusion of faithful Gentiles among God’s redeemed people, a fact which proved quite contentious in the early decades of the Jesus movement.  Our Lord’s brother, St. James of Jerusalem, who became a martyr circa 62 C.E., stirred up much controversy by insisting that Gentile converts to Christianity not have to become Jews first.  He died for this.

We read in 1 Corinthians that the Christian message is about Jesus–not any Apostle or evangelist–and that  it

should not depend on human philosophy but on the power of God.

That power of God encompasses Jews and Gentiles, those who agree with us and those who disagree with us, those we like and those we dislike, heterosexuals and homosexuals, the native-born and the foreign-born.  If that offends us, we need to examine ourselves spiritually.

Have we, who have grown up immersed in Christianity, become so familiar with one overly simplistic, manageable understanding of Jesus that the full reality of our Lord and Savior offends some of our sensibilities?  I am convinced that the Jesus of my childhood Sunday School classes in rural southern Georgia was a domesticated fiction.  The actual Jesus was much more interesting–and even offensive.  That is my Jesus–a Messiah worth following and a character worthy of the title “Savior.”