Archive for the ‘1 Kings 3’ Tag

Devotion for Proper 16 (Ackerman)   1 comment

Above:   The Judgment of Solomon, by Giorgione

Image in the Public Domain

Right Judgment

AUGUST 26, 2018

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

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

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

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

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

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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1 Kings 3:16-28

Psalm 119:49-56

1 Corinthians 14:6-19

John 7:19-24

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Do not judge by appearances,

but judge with right judgment.

–John 7:24, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

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When I think of your ordinances from of old,

I take comfort, O LORD.

–Psalm 119:52, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

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Sometimes exercising right judgment is easy.  For example, the actual mother of a child will not want to see him killed and cut in half.  At other times, however, the circumstances exist in the gray, vague area.  There people might agree regarding goals yet differ as to proper tactics.  May we, by grace, make proper decisions, choices consistent with right judgment.

A principle related to right judgment is the building up of the community, secular or religious.  The gifts of the Spirit, for example, exist to glorify God and benefit the faith community in 1 Corinthians 14.  They do not exist to draw attention to the recipients of those gifts.  Human beings are inherently social, community-oriented creatures.  We depend entirely on God and on each other.  We are responsible to and for each other.  We have no moral right to exploit one another.  Our responsibilities fall into two categories–individual and collective.  We cannot harm others without injuring ourselves or help others without benefiting ourselves.

These principles exist in the Law of Moses, present in many culturally specific examples.  May we, by grace, apply these principles to our circumstances correctly.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 18, 2017 COMMON ERA

PROPER 6:   THE SECOND SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINTS DELPHINUS OF BORDEAUX, AMANDUS OF BORDEAUX, SEVERINUS OF BORDEAUX, VENERIUS OF MILAN, AND CHROMATIUS OF AQUILEIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS

THE FEAST OF ADOLPHUS NELSON, SWEDISH-AMERICAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF ANSON DODGE, EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM BINGHAM TAPPAN, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, POET, AND HYMN WRITER

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2017/06/18/right-judgment/

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Devotion for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday After Proper 12, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   2 comments

King Solomon's Court

Above:  King Solomon’s Court

Image in the Public Domain

The Kingdom of Solomon Versus the Kingdom of God

JULY 31, 2017

AUGUST 1, 2017

AUGUST 2, 2017

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The Collect:

Beloved and sovereign God,

through the death and resurrection of your Son

you bring us into your kingdom of justice and mercy.

By your Spirit, give us your wisdom,

that we may treasure the life that comes from

 Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 43

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The Assigned Readings:

1 Kings 3:16-28 (Monday)

1 Kings 4:29-34 (Tuesday)

Proverbs 1:1-7, 20-33 (Wednesday)

Psalm 119:121-128 (All Days)

James 3:13-18 (Monday)

Ephesians 6:10-18 (Tuesday)

Mark 4:30-34 (Wednesday)

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I am your servant; grant me understanding,

that I may know your decrees.

–Psalm 119:125, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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The Biblical authors, although usually honest about the faults of heroic or allegedly heroic figures, nevertheless created a tapestry of ancient texts which sometimes overplays the virtues of certain people.  If David really was, for example, a man after God’s own heart, I have a major problem with the nature of God.  And, although the narrative of 1 Kings turned against Solomon after Chapter 4, Chapter 2 contained troubling information about the methods by which the new monarch consolidated his power and eliminated his rivals.  Thus the positive discussion of Solomon’s wisdom in Chapters 3 and 4 rings hollow for me.  Nevertheless, the much vaunted wisdom won him such a reputation that tradition has credited him with writing Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, historically dubious claims.

Perhaps nostalgia from a time after the division of the united monarchy–a split due in large part to Solomon’s own domestic policies–accounted primarily for the minimization of the acknowledged faults of David and Solomon.  I consider what the Bible tells me of those two kings and ponder Proverbs 1:7 (The New Revised Standard Version, 1989):

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;

fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Then I consider incidents from their lives and interpret the verse as a negative commentary on them.  I arrive at the same conclusion regarding this passage:

The wisdom that comes from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, approachable, full of merciful thoughts and kindly actions, straight forward, with no hint of hypocrisy.  And the peacemakers go on quietly sowing for a harvest of righteousness.

–James 3:17-18, J. B. Phillips, The New Testament in Modern English, Revised Edition, 1972

I think also of the large plant which grows from a mustard seed.  (The mustard seed is not actually the smallest seed, but Jesus did not attend school to study horticulture.  Besides, there is a rhetorical device called hyperbole, which we find in the Bible.)  From that very small seed comes a large, pesky plant–a weed–to which the parable likens the Kingdom of God.  The kingdom, like the mustard plant, provides shelter for a variety of creatures and goes where it will.  One knows that not everyone in the Kingdom of God gets along well with each other, so this analogy is worth considering with regard to how we think of those who differ from us and are also of God.

David and Solomon presided over a kingdom built on force and compulsion, as political states are by nature.  Their Kingdom of Israel also sat on a foundation composed partially of economic injustice, evident partly in artificial scarcity.  In the weed-like Kingdom of God, however, there is no scarcity; everybody has enough.  The Kingdom of God functioned partially as a negative commentary on political-religious-economic realities within the Roman Empire at the time of Jesus and the early Church, contributing to his crucifixion.  The Kingdom of God continues to indict all forms of exploitation and injustice, including those which people have institutionalized.

The purpose of the Gospel, I have heard, is to comfort the afflict the comfortable and to comfort the afflicted.  Are we among the comfortable or the afflicted?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 14, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BASIL THE GREAT, FATHER OF EASTERN MONASTICISM

THE FEAST OF DOROTHY FRANCES BLOMFIELD GURNEY, ENGLISH POET AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT METHODIUS I OF CONSTANTINOPLE, PATRIARCH

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/06/15/the-kingdom-of-israel-and-the-kingdom-of-god/

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Devotion for August 23 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   4 comments

Solomon's_Wealth_and_Wisdom

Above:  Solomon’s Wealth and Wisdom

Image in the Public Domain

1 Kings and 2 Corinthians, Part I: Potential

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 23, 2017

THURSDAY, AUGUST 23, 2018

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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:

1 Kings 3:1-15

Psalm 130 (Morning)

Psalms 32 and 139 (Evening)

2 Corinthians 1:1-22

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2 Corinthians is an interesting epistle so far as its internal structure is concerned.  The letter is a composite document with odd seems indicating editing, cutting, and pasting.  And Paul might not have been responsible for all the words.  Those are details which a serious student of the New Testament should want to know.  But, for today, they have no impact on devotional reading.

Paul had a difficult relationship with the Corinthian congregation.  Yet he wrote of suffering then of receiving divine consolation, which  would help him to console the Corinthian Christians.  In other words, he thought of their benefit after he had a brush with death.

The benefit of others was the heart of the matter in God granting Solomon wisdom, for David’s son was no constitutional monarch.  The observant reader of that part of the Old Testament knows that the Kingdom of Israel broke apart shortly after Solomon’s death for reasons flowing from oppressive royal policies, which his son and successor continued against counsel.  So the observant reader of 1 Kings 3 cannot help but notice the unrealized potential of Solomon in that text.

Paul recognized potential in the troublesome Corinthian Church.  Circa 100 CE, at the time of St, Clement of Rome’s First Epistle to the Corinthians, a fascinating, authenticated, and non-canonical text of great historical value, the Corinthian Christians had not improved.  Solomon had potential, which he squandered by losing his way.  May we learn from these bad examples and not emulate them.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 30, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANDREW THE APOSTLE, MARTYR

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/1-kings-and-2-corinthians-part-i-potential/

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Proper 15, Year B   25 comments

Above:  The Right Reverend Keith Whitmore, Assistant Bishop of Atlanta, Celebrating the Holy Eucharist at St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia,  October 31, 2010

Image Source = Bill Monk, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

Living Wisely, Maturely, and In the Ways of Insight

The Sunday Closest to August 17

The Thirteenth Sunday After Pentecost

AUGUST 19, 2018

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FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #1

1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14 (New Revised Standard Version):

David slept with his ancestors, and was buried in the city of David. The time that David reigned over Israel was forty years; he reigned seven years in Hebron, and thirty-three years in Jerusalem. So Solomon sat on the throne of his father David; and his kingdom was firmly established.

Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of his father David; only, he sacrificed and offered incense at the high places. The king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the principal high place; Solomon used to offer a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said,

Ask what I should give you.

And Solomon said,

You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant my father David, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you; and you have kept for him this great and steadfast love, and have given him a son to sit on his throne today. And now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David, although I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a great people, so numerous they cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?

It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. God said to him,

Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches, or for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, I now do according to your word. Indeed I give you a wise and discerning mind; no one like you has been before you and no one like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor all your life; no other king shall compare with you. If you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your life.

Psalm 111 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Hallelujah!

I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart,

in the assembly of the upright, in the congregation.

2 Great are the deeds of the LORD!

they are studied by all who delight in them.

3 His work is full of majesty and splendor,

and his righteousness endures for ever.

4 He makes his marvelous works to be remembered;

the LORD is gracious and full of compassion.

He gives food to those who fear him;

he is ever mindful of his covenant.

6 He has shown his people the power of his works

in giving them the lands of the nations.

7 The works of his hands are faithfulness and justice;

all his commandments are sure.

8 They stand fast for ever and ever,

because they are done in truth and equity.

He sent redemption to his people;

he commanded his covenant for ever;

holy and awesome is his Name.

10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;

those who act accordingly have a good understanding;

his praise endures for ever.

FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #2

Proverbs 9:1-6 (New Revised Standard Version):

Wisdom has built her house,

she has hewn her seven pillars.

She has slaughtered her animals, she has mixed her wine,

she has also set her table.

She has sent out her servant girls, she calls

from the highest places in the town,

You that are simple, turn in here!

To those without sense she says,

Come, eat of my bread

and drink of my wine I have mixed.

Lay aside immaturity and live,

and walk in the way of insight.

Psalm 34:9-14 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Fear the LORD, you that are his saints,

for those who fear him lack nothing.

10 The young lions lack and suffer hunger,

but those who seek the LORD lack nothing that is good.

11 Come, children, and listen to me;

I will teach you the fear of the LORD.

12 Who among you loves life

and desires long life to enjoy prosperity?

13 Keep your tongue from evil-speaking

and your lips from lying words.

14 Turn from evil and do good;

seek peace and pursue it.

SECOND READING

Ephesians 5:15-20 (New Revised Standard Version):

Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

GOSPEL READING

John 6:51-58 (New Revised Standard Version):

Jesus said,

I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.

The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying,

How can this man give us his flesh to eat?

So Jesus said to them,

Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.

The Collect:

Almighty God, you have given your only Son to be for us a sacrifice for sin, and also an example of godly life: Give us grace to receive thankfully the fruits of his redeeming work, and to follow daily in the blessed steps of his most holy life; through Jesus Christ your Son 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 15, Year A:

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

1 Kings 2 and 3:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/16/week-of-4-epiphany-thursday-year-2/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/19/week-of-4-epiphany-saturday-year-2/

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In the Gospel of John, the Last Supper is implicit, but Eucharistic language and imagery pervade the book.  The combination of such language and imagery in John 6 and Proverbs 9 unifies this Sunday’s readings.

We read in Ephesians 5 not to “be foolish,” but to “understand what the will of the Lord is.”  Likewise, in 1 Kings 3, King Solomon (in a dream) asks God for wisdom.  And, in Proverbs 9, we see Sophia, divine wisdom personified, setting her table, inviting people to eat of her bread, drink her wine, and “lay aside immaturity, and live and walk in the way of insight.”  Then, in John 6, we read of the imperative to eat the body and drink the blood of Jesus, so that we will have life in us.

I have already (https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/01/proper-13-year-b/) covered much of the Eucharistic content in John 6.  So some other thoughts follow:

  1. It is not enough to start well.  One must also finish well.  Solomon started well yet lost his way.
  2. We must imitate our Lord’s example, his holy life.  He came to serve, not to be served (Matthew 20:28).  He acted compassionately on many occasions; this was his pattern.  And he did not shrink back from confronting those who imposed needless burdens, especially economic ones, on others, especially the pious poor (Matthew 21:12-13, for example).
  3. It can be relatively easy to identify ancient examples of foolishness and immaturity, but more difficult (not to mention politically loaded) to do the same for contemporary times.  I have my list; you, O reader, probably have yours.  I share an easy, generally non-controversial item from my list:  Televangelists and pastors who give away or sell prayer cloths and/or “healing” spring water, pretend to be able to heal people, and/or teach the heresy called Prosperity Theology.  This kind of hokum is a variety of religion which deserves Karl Marx’s label “the opiate of the masses.”  And here is another item:  I oppose all who use religion to incite or encourage any form of bigotry or to distract people from the imperative to take care of each other in various ways.  This post is not a proper venue to name names, so I refrain from doing so.

By grace may we succeed in living wisely, maturely, and in the ways of insight that, after we die, God will say to each us,

Well done, good and faithful servant.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/05/03/living-wisely-maturelyand-in-the-ways-of-insight/

Proper 12, Year A   29 comments

Above: Paul Writing His Epistles, a Painting from the 1500s

Image in the Public Domain

Single Predestination

The Sunday Closest to July 27

The Eighth Sunday After Pentecost

JULY 30, 2017

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FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #1

Genesis 29:15-28 (New Revised Standard Version):

Laban said to Jacob,

Because you are my kinsman, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?

Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah’s eyes were lovely, and Rachel was graceful and beautiful. Jacob loved Rachel; so he said,

I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.

Laban said,

It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to any other man; stay with me.

So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.

Then Jacob said to Laban,

Give me my wife that I may go in to her, for my time is completed.

So Laban gathered together all the people of the place, and made a feast. But in the evening he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob; and he went in to her.  (Laban gave his maid Zilpah to his daughter Leah to be her maid.) When morning came, it was Leah! And Jacob said to Laban,

What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?

Laban said,

This is not done in our country– giving the younger before the firstborn. Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also in return for serving me another seven years.

Jacob did so, and completed her week; then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel as a wife.

Psalm 105:1-11, 45b (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 Give thanks to the LORD and call upon his Name;

make known his deeds among the peoples.

2 Sing to him, sing praises to him,

and speak of all his marvelous works.

3 Glory in his holy Name;

let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.

4 Search for the LORD and his strength

continually seek his face.

5 Remember the marvels he has done,

his wonders and the judgments of his mouth,

6 O offspring of Abraham his servant,

O children of Jacob has chosen.

7 He is the LORD our God;

his judgments prevail in all the world.

8 He has always been mindful of his covenant,

the promise he made for a thousand generations.

9 The covenant he made with Abraham,

the oath that he swore to Isaac,

10 Which he established as a statute for Jacob,

an everlasting covenant for Israel,

11 Saying, “To you will I give the land of Canaan

to be your allotted inheritance.”

45b Hallelujah!

Or

Psalm 128 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 Happy are they all who fear the LORD,

and who follow in his ways!

2 You shall eat the fruit of your labor;

happiness and prosperity shall be yours.

3 Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine within your house,

your children like olive shoots round about your table.

4 The man who fears the LORD

shall thus indeed be blessed.

5 The LORD bless you from Zion,

and may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life.

6 May you live to see your children’s children;

may peace be upon Israel.

FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #2

1 Kings 3:5-12 (New Revised Standard Version):

At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said,

Ask what I should give you.

And Solomon said,

You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant my father David, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you; and you have kept for him this great and steadfast love, and have given him a son to sit on his throne today. And now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David, although I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a great people, so numerous they cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?

It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. God said to him,

Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches, or for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, I now do according to your word. Indeed I give you a wise and discerning mind; no one like you has been before you and no one like you shall arise after you.

Psalm 119:129-136 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

129 Your decrees are wonderful;

therefore I obey them with all my heart.

130 When your word goes forth it gives light;

it gives understanding to the simple.

131 I open my mouth and pant;

I long for your commandments.

132 Turn to me in mercy,

as you always do to those who love your Name.

133 Steady my footsteps in your word;

let no iniquity have dominion over me.

134 Rescue me from those who oppress me,

and I will keep your commandments.

135 Let your countenance shine upon your servant

and teach me your statutes.

136 My eyes shed streams of tears,

because people do not keep your law.

SECOND READING

Romans 8:26-39 (New Revised Standard Version):

The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.

What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written,

For your sake we are being killed all day long;

we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

GOSPEL READING

Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52 (New Revised Standard Version):

Jesus put before the crowds another parable:

The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.

He told them another parable:

The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Have you understood all this?

They answered,

Yes.

And he said to them,

Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.

The Collect:

O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.  For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family.  And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.

–Romans 8:28-30 (New Revised Standard Version)

I consider myself a serious student of the Bible–a student, not a teacher or scholar.  There is always something more for me to learn, and what I do know about the Bible outweighs my accumulated learning concerning it.  So I have no problem admitting freely that there are certain passages and verses I have not really read for years.  I have read the words, but I have moved along.

Romans 8:28-30 is one such passage.  Yes, I knew 8:28, but focused on that, not 8:29-30.  I began to focus on this passage in late 2008.  My methodology was quite Episcopalian; I examined the scriptures carefully, read what Christian theologians have made of these verses, and employed my reason in pondering all this information.  The preponderance of scripture, tradition, and reason has convinced me to be become and remain a Single Predestinarian:  God has predestined some people to Heaven, but nobody to Hell.  The witness of the Holy Spirit and the missions efforts of the Church are available to invite all others into the path leading to eternal life in this life and the next.

Being raised United Methodist, I imbibed deeply of free will and the rejection of any form of predestination.  The Methodist concept of salvation available to all according to all, with only the free will choice to reject it standing in the way, is a democratic theology consistent with the American ethos.  It is a powerful idea which has affected U.S. history and culture, helping to liberate women and slaves spiritually while negating social hierarchies.  Despite these positive contributions, it is a flawed idea.

Calvinism, in any form, is a textured and subtle theological system, one which does not lend itself to bumper sticker statements. This confusion is mildly amusing when it becomes the fodder for jokes, but does not aid in spiritual contemplation.

The good news is that the wisdom that Solomon sought is available to all by grace, either in the form of predestination or the witness of the Holy Spirit; that the extremely valuable Kingdom of God is within the grasp of all, either in the form of predestination or the witness of the Holy Spirit.  The mustard seed grows into a giant shrub that goes where it will.  Yeast, traditionally associated with corruption in Judaism, becomes a symbol of extravagant grace.  The pearls are extremely valuable; the pursuit of them indicates single-minded devotion.  The parable of the fish in the net is akin to that of the mustard seed, for both contain the good and the bad, the pure and the impure; God will sort out everything at the end.

The mustard plant provides shelter for many varieties of animal life.  Some of the neighbors do not get along, but there they are, together.  And Jesus says this is a metaphor for the Kingdom of God.  The net collects the good fish along with the rotten ones.  Who is a good fish?  Who is a rotten one?  Do you not get along with your neighbor species in the mustard bush?  Leaving decisions as to who is pure and who is impure, who is good and who is rotten, to God is the better part of wisdom.  We might even be confused about our proper classification.

Fortunately, grace is present, in one form or another, and there is hope for us yet.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/09/26/single-predestination/