Archive for the ‘2 Corinthians 11’ Tag

Devotion for Proper 22 (Ackerman)   1 comment

Above:  Job and His Friends, by Ilya Repin

Image in the Public Domain

Hardship and Compassion

OCTOBER 6, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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Job 3

Psalm 119:113-120

2 Corinthians 11:16-31

John 8:39-47

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The theme of hardship unites the assigned readings for this day.  The Psalmist prays for deliverance and affirms his fidelity to God.  Job, suffering with divine permission for no sin, curses the fact of his existence yet refuses to curse God and die.  St. Paul the Apostle cites his hardships as his apostolic credentials.  And, in the Gospel of John, the life of Jesus is in peril from people claiming to be faithful to God.

Reading the Book of Job and the Gospel of John is an interesting experience.  In the Johannine Gospel the glorification of Jesus involves his crucifixion–his execution by an ignominious method, and not for any sin he had committed. This contradicts the theology of Job’s alleged friends, who defended their God concepts.  As we read in Job, these alleged friends angered God (42:7-8).

Whenever we encounter people experiencing hardship, the proper response is compassionate in nature.  Particulars will, of course, vary from circumstance to circumstance, but the element of compassion will always be present.  We, if we are to respond properly, must be sure that, although we might need to act compassionately, we actually do so.  This is possible via grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 20, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF BERNARD ADAM GRUBE, GERMAN-AMERICAN MINISTER, MISSIONARY, COMPOSER, AND MUSICIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT BAIN OF FONTANELLE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP, MONK, MISSIONARY, AND ABBOT

THE FEAST OF JOHANN FRIEDRICH HERTZOG, GERMAN LUTHERAN HYMN WRITER

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2017/06/20/hardship-and-compassion/

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Devotion for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday Before Proper 4, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Temple of Solomon

Above:   The Temple of Solomon

Image Scanned by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Christ, the Temple of Yahweh

MAY 26, 2016

MAY 27, 2016

MAY 28, 2016

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The Collect:

Merciful Lord God, we do not presume to come before you

trusting in our own righteousness,

but in your great and abundant mercies.

Revive our faith, we pray; heal our bodies, and mend our communities,

that we may evermore dwell in your Son,

Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 38

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The Assigned Readings:

1 Kings 6:23-38 (Thursday)

1 Kings 8:14-21 (Friday)

1 Kings 8:31-40 (Saturday)

Psalm 96:1-9 (All Days)

2 Corinthians 5:11-17 (Thursday)

2 Corinthians 11:1-6 (Friday)

Luke 4:31-37 (Saturday)

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Great is Yahweh, worthy of all praise,

more awesome than any of the gods.

All the gods of the nations are idols.

–Psalm 96:4-5a, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

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King Solomon presided over the construction of the first Temple at Yahweh.  That process entailed forced labor, unfortunately.  That structure functioned both religiously, housing the Ark of the Covenant, and politically, boosting the monarchy.  The crown controlled the place where God dwelt, according to the orthodoxy of the day.  How convenient was that?

Jesus engaged in conflicts with people attached to the successor of Solomon’s Temple.  The Second Temple, expanded by the order of King Herod the Great as a political and self-serving policy, was the seat of collaboration with the occupying Roman forces.  Yes, much of the Jewish populace of Palestine had great respect for the Temple, but the fact of the exploitative system rooted in that place remained.  That Jesus competed with the Temple and the priesthood, healing people and offering reconciliation with God, contributed to animosity between him and people invested in the Temple system financially.

Christ became the new Temple, the figure via whom people can become new creations.  He was the figure whom St. Paul the Apostle proclaimed jealously, defending his version of the Christian gospel.  Christ became the timeless Temple free of corruption, the Temple no power can control or destroy.

May all nations worship God at that Temple.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 28, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE THIRD SUNDAY IN LENT, YEAR C 

THE FEAST OF THOMAS BINNEY, ENGLISH CONFORMIST MINISTER, LITURGIST, AND “ARCHBISHOP OF NONCONFORMITY”

THE FEAST OF ANDREW REED, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, HUMANITARIAN, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF ANNA JULIA HAYWOOD COOPER AND ELIZABETH EVELYN WRIGHT, AFRICAN-AMERICAN EDUCATORS

THE FEAST OF ELIZABETH C. CLEPHANE, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN HYMN WRITER

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2016/02/28/christ-the-temple-of-yahweh/

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Devotion for Monday After Proper 9, Year B (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Ezekiel Icon

Above:  An Icon of the Prophet Ezekiel

Image in the Public Domain

Ignoring the Prophets of God

JULY 9, 2018

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The Collect:

God of the covenant, in our baptism you call us

to proclaim the coming of your kingdom.

Give us the courage you gave the apostles,

that we may faithfully witness to your love and peace

in every circumstance of life,

in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 41

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The Assigned Readings:

Ezekiel 2:8-3:11

Psalm 119:81-88

2 Corinthians 11:16-33

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My soul is pining for your salvation;

I have hoped in your word.

My eyes fail with watching for your word,

while I say, “O, when will you comfort me?”

I have become like a wineskin in the smoke,

yet I do not forget your statutes.

How many are the days of your servant?

When will you bring judgment on those who persecute me?

The proud have dug pits for me

in defiance of your law.

All your commandments are true;

help me, for they persecute me with falsehood.

They had almost made an end of me on earth,

but I have not forsaken your commandments.

Give me life according to your lovingkindness;

so shall I keep the testimonies of your mouth.

–Psalm 119:81-88, The Book of Common Prayer (2004)

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The role of a prophet of God can be an unhappy and quite difficult one.  Ezekiel accepted his commission readily then objected bitterly to having to make harsh statements to a population which refused to heed his message, which he relayed from God.  St. Paul the Apostle, by his own accounts, was frequently in danger.  Nevertheless, the audience of 2 Corinthians 11:16-33 had misplaced priorities:

For you put up with it when someone makes slaves of you, or preys upon you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or gives you a slap in the face.

–2 Corinthians 11:20, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

They suffered because of their foolishness, not for the sake of righteousness.

A more interesting question concerns why so many of we human beings refuse to heed prophets from God.  Often we have difficulty telling the false prophets from the genuine articles, so we clump them together as “kooks.”  That explains much, but not all, germane to my question.  I am convinced that we humans prefer to be comfortable, sometimes in socially unjust and theologically false contexts.  God’s prophets denounce idolatry, but we have become fond of and attached to our idols.  We find that not resisting social injustice is easier than calling it what it is then acting accordingly, so we do little or nothing when the opportunity to act presents itself.  The prophets of God remind us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.  They tell us to welcome strangers and to care for widows and orphans, but we find ways to justify dong the opposite while claiming to follow God.  The prophets of God call our attention to the exploitation of people, but we might benefit financially from economic injustice.

The image of God is among the most profound theological concepts in the Bible, an anthology packed with them.  I wonder how much better societies and communities would be if more people tried to recognize the image of God in all others then acted accordingly.  The treatment of human beings, especially the somehow different, would certainly improve.  Prejudices would decline, the world would be a more peaceful place, and efforts to justify discrimination as the protection of religious freedom would have less support.  More people would heed the words of God’s prophets.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 4, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE EVE OF EASTER, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF BENJAMIN HALL KENNEDY, GREEK AND LATIN SCHOLAR, BIBLE TRANSLATOR, AND ANGLICAN PRIEST

THE FEAST OF SAINT GEORGE THE YOUNGER, GREEK ORTHODOX BISHOP OF MITYLENE

THE FEAST OF MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2015/04/04/ignoring-the-prophets-of-god/

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Devotion for Tuesday After Proper 3, Year B (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Paul Writing His Epistles

Above:  Paul Writing His Epistles, by Valentin de Boulogne

Image in the Public Domain

Scolding Unto Repentance

MAY 29, 2018

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The Collect:

 Loving God, by tender words and covenant promise

you have joined us to yourself forever,

and you invite us to respond to your love with faithfulness.

By your Spirit may we live with you and with one another

in justice, mercy, and joy,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 37

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The Assigned Readings:

Hosea 14:1-9 (Protestant versification)/Hosea 14:2-10 (Jewish, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox versification)

Psalm 45:6-17

2 Corinthians 11:1-15

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Your throne, O God, endures forever and ever,

a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of your reign;

you love righteousness and hate iniquity.

–Psalm 45:6-7a, Book of Common Worship (1993)

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The arrangement of 2 Corinthians is not chronological, so Chapter 11 is part of a painful letter which St. Paul the Apostle wrote prior to Chapters 1 and 2.  The tone of Chapters 10-13–scolding and sometimes threatening (as in 10:6)–comes from a place of disappointment.  Sometimes a scolding is appropriate, for it can bring us back to our senses.  Underlying the scolding is hope that it will have a positive effect.

Hope of return and restoration drives the conclusion of the Book of Hosea.  God is willing to forgive Israel, a nation, which God calls to repent–to change its mind, to turn around–and to accept God’s generous love.

St. Paul loved the Corinthian Church, so he scolded it even as he stayed away to avoid causing needless pain.  He called them to repent.  The historical record indicates, however, that the Corinthian Church struggled with factionalism as late as a generation after the martyrdom of St. Paul.  St. Clement of Rome wrote a letter to the congregation circa 100 C.E.  In the opening of that document he made the following statement:

Because of our recent series of unexpected misfortunes and set-backs, my dear friends, we feel there has been some delay in turning our attention to the causes of dispute in your community.  We refer particularly to the odious and unholy breach of unity among you, which is quite incompatible with God’s chosen people, and which a few hot-headed and unruly individuals have inflamed to such a pitch that your venerable and illustrious name, so richly deserving of everyone’s affection, has been brought into such disrepute.

Early Christian Writings:  The Apostolic Fathers (Penguin Books, 1987, page 23)

When God calls us to repent–even scolds us–may we respond more favorably.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 1, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE SECOND SUNDAY IN LENT, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF DANIEL MARCH, SR., U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST AND PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, POET, HYMN WRITER, AND LITURGIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAXIMILLIAN OF TREVESTE, ROMAN CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT THEOPHANES THE CHRONICLER, DEFENDER OF ICONS

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2015/03/02/scolding-unto-repentance/

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Devotion for Monday After Proper 3, Year B (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Hosea

Above:  Hosea

Image in the Public Domain

Forgiveness and Restoration

MAY 28, 2018

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The Collect:

 Loving God, by tender words and covenant promise

you have joined us to yourself forever,

and you invite us to respond to your love with faithfulness.

By your Spirit may we live with you and with one another

in justice, mercy, and joy,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 37

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The Assigned Readings:

Hosea 3:1-5

Psalm 45:6-17

2 Corinthians 1:23-2:11

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Your throne, O God, endures forever and ever,

a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of your reign;

you love righteousness and hate iniquity.

–Psalm 45:6-7a, Book of Common Worship (1993)

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St. Paul the Apostle had visited Corinth and had a difficult experience with the church there–or rather, with certain members of the church there.  Then he wrote a scolding letter (Chapters 10-13 of 2 Corinthians, a book with a non-chronological organization).  Afterward, to avoid causing more pain, the Apostle stayed away.  His absence was, according to some, evidence of the Apostle’s vacillating nature.  (Some people seem to thrive on criticizing others!)  St. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 1 and 2, explaining his rationale for staying away and announcing that he had forgiven the ringleader of the critics.  The Apostle also encouraged his allies to forgive that person.  The dispute had injured the body (to use a Pauline metaphor for the church), so continuing the unhappiness would make a bad situation worse.

Forgiveness is a difficult grace to bestow on the offender and on oneself much of the time.  I know this difficulty firsthand and wonder why letting go of a burden as great as a grudge is frequently so hard.  I have arrived at no satisfactory answer, but I do know that a grudge hurts the person who holds it.

The reading from Hosea is ambiguous regarding the identity of Hosea’s platonic female friend yet the metaphor is clear:  that human relationship is like God’s relationship with Israel.  Difficult times will occur, but restoration will become the new reality.  Israel will

thrill over the LORD and over His bounty in the days to come.

–Hosea 3:5b, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

The restoration of offenders can be a sensitive subject, for forgiveness seems to deny justice.  Sometimes, I agree, offenders must face the consequences of their actions.  Yet, much of the time, radical forgiveness is the best way into the future for the community, the society, the nation-state, and the individual.  (I think especially of the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the Republic of South Africa.)  Taking an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth might curtail otherwise unrestrained vengeance, but should anyone seek revenge?  Does not the quest for vengeance reveal the seeker’s protestation of righteousness to be a lie?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 1, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE SECOND SUNDAY IN LENT, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF DANIEL MARCH, SR., U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST AND PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, POET, HYMN WRITER, AND LITURGIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAXIMILLIAN OF TREVESTE, ROMAN CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT THEOPHANES THE CHRONICLER, DEFENDER OF ICONS

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This is post #650 of ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS.

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2015/03/02/forgiveness-and-restoration/

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Week of Proper 6: Friday, Year 1   6 comments

Above:  Paul Writing His Epistles (A 16th-Century Painting)

Our Lives Belong to God

JUNE 21, 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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2 Corinthians 11:18, 21b-30 (An American Translation):

Since many are so human as to boast, I will do it also….But whatever anyone else dares to boast of–I am playing the part of a fool–I will dare to boast of too.  If they are Hebrews, so am I!  If they are Israelites, so am I!  If they are descended from Abraham, so am I!  If they are Christian workers–I am talking like a madman!–I am a better one! with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, vastly worse beatings, and in frequent danger of death.  Five times I have been given one less than forty lashes, by the Jews.  I have been beaten three times by the Romans, I have been stoned once, I have been shipwrecked three times, a night and a day I have been adrift at sea; with my frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from the heathen, danger in the city, danger in the desert, danger at sea, danger from false brothers, through toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, through hunger and thirst, often without out food, and exposed to cold.  And besides everything else, the thing that burdens me every day is my anxiety about all the churches.  Who is weak without being weak?  Whose conscience is hurt without my being fired with indignation?  If there must be boasting, I will boast of the things that show my weakness!

Psalm 34:1-6 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 I will bless the LORD at all times;

his praise shall ever be in my mouth.

2 I will glory in the LORD;

let the humble hear and rejoice.

3 Proclaim with me the greatness of the LORD;

let us exalt his Name together.

4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me

and delivered me out of all my terror.

5 Look upon him and be radiant,

and let not your faces be ashamed.

6 I called in my affliction and the LORD heard me

and saved me from all my troubles.

Matthew 6:19-23 (An American Translation):

[Jesus continued,] “Do not store up your riches on earth, where moths and rust destroy them, and where thieves break in and steal them, but store up your riches in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy them, and where thieves cannot break in and steal them.  But wherever your treasure is, your heart will be also.  The eye is the lamp of the body.  So if your eye is sound, your whole body will be light, but if your eye is unsound, your whole body will be dark.  If, therefore, your very light is darkness, how deep the darkness will be!”

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The Collect:

Keep, O Lord, your household the Church in your steadfast faith and love, that through your grace we may proclaim your truth with boldness, and minister your justice with compassion; for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

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Almost never do I watch television, as I have chosen to live without cable TV service.  If I do not pay for that utility, I do not receive it.  And I live better without it, doing more reading and writing than I would otherwise.  Also, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio offers much wonderful cultural and news programming.  Giving up cable television has not been a real sacrifice for me; I have traded up.

Yet I do sit a house sit from time to time, and I find cable TV there.  Once, during such a job, I found a Hoarders marathon on A&E.  Each hour follows an intervention in the life of a person with the mental illness called hoarding.  These individuals live in needlessly dirty and cluttered homes, which have health risks (such as mold) frequently.  Yet these hoarders cling emotionally and psychologically to their possessions, most of which they have no way of accessing due to the clutter.  They become anxious when someone throws away a three-year-old jar of a condiment, for example.

Hoarding, being a mental illness, is treatable.  So I leave it, an extreme version of materialism, in the realm of professionals.  Run-of-the mill materialism, however, falls into the category of sin.  I read a few years ago about the increasing popularity of three-car garages in the United States.  The extra space is for storage, not a third vehicle.  I write these words early in the Christmas shopping season of 2010.  Very little is more materialistic than the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day in the United States.

I am not cranky about this, for crankiness does not become me.  No, it is possible to stand firmly for one’s principles without resorting to a bad attitude and becoming unpleasant company.  Without trying to seem self-righteous, I state simply that I do all or most of my Christmas shopping (what little I do) at thrift stores, and hope that people perceive that statement with the matter-of-fact way I intend it.

As I write these words, I am in my sixth year in Athens, Georgia, and the fourth year in the same apartment.  This is the longest period of time I have spent in one town.  I was mobile as a youth, given the frequent moves I made with my family, due to my father’s transfers from one United Methodist parsonage to another.  I learned along the way that moving many possessions is no fun.  So, to this day, I ask myself one question before buying something durable:  “Do I want to move with this?”  I maintain a large private library, which I use, and resign myself to the occasional pain of packing, moving, unpacking, and reshelving it according to the organizational plan only I understand.  But, like Thomas Jefferson, I cannot live without books.

But, as Jesus says in Luke 12:15 (New Revised Standard Version):

Take care!  Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.”

Edgar J. Goodspeed’s An American Translation gets to the point with slightly different wording:

Take care! You must be on your guard against every form of greed, for a man’s life does not belong to him, no matter how rich he is.

Goodspeed’s translation, by eschewing the traditional language, cuts to the chase and bares the point of the teaching.  Materialism is an attempt to control one’s life, but all life is from God in the presence of God, so nobody’s life is his or her own.  Any idea to the contrary is mistaken.  Paul of Tarsus understood that his life was in God, and, after listing his hardships, he boasted only in God.  In God he found peace, frequently in a prison cell and occasionally in a wrecked hull.  Despite it all, he was able, in the words of the psalm, to look upon God and be radiant.

How many material possessions does one really need?  There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question.  I enjoy and use my library, which feeds the life of my mind.  Anyone who tells me that I do not need books does not understand me properly.  But I know that my life is not my own, and that it does not consist of my library holdings.  The problem with the rich man who came to Jesus in Mark 10:17-22 was that he clung to his wealth, not that he had it.  His money and possessions constituted his security blanket, if you will permit me to use a Peanuts allusion.  We are supposed to have only one security blanket:  God.

All else decays in time.  And what does not decay before our demise we cannot take with us anyway.  May we cling to God alone, placing all else in this context, the only proper one.  St. Laurence of Rome (died in 258) understood that the poor were the treasures of the Church.  And St. Giuseppe Moscati used his wealth to enable himself to serve the poor.  The service of others and the glory of God are the proper uses of all forms of wealth.

KRT

Week of Proper 6: Thursday, Year 1   3 comments

Above:  The Lord’s Prayer in Welsh

Source

“The Glory of the Power That is Love”

JUNE 20, 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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2 Corinthians 11:1-11 (An American Translation):

I wish you would put up with a little folly from me.  Do put up with it!  I feel a divine jealousy about you, for I betrothed you to Christ, to present you as a pure bride to her one husband.  But I am afraid that just as the serpent by his cunning deceived Eve, your thoughts will be led astray from their single-hearted fidelity to Christ.  For when somebody comes along and preaches another Jesus than the one I preached, or you receive a different spirit from the one you received or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it well enough!  For I think that I am not in the least inferior to these superfine apostles of yours.  Even if I have no particular gifts in speaking, I am not wanting in knowledge.  Why, I have always made that perfectly clear in my dealings with you.

Do you think that I did wrong in degrading myself to uplift you, because I preached God’s good news to you without any compensation?  I robbed other churches, letting them pay me so that I could work for you!  And when I was with you and wanted money, I did not burden any of you, for when the brothers came from Macedonia they supplied what I needed.  So I kept myself, as I shall always do, from being a burden to you in any way.  By the truth of Christ that is in me, this boast of mine shall not be silenced anywhere in Greece.  And why?  Because I do not love you?  God knows I do.

Psalm 111 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 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.

5 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.

9 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.

Matthew 6:7-15 (An American Translation):

[Jesus continued,] “And when you pray, do not repeat empty phrases as the heathen do, for they imagine that their prayers will be heard if they use words enough.  You must not be like them.  For God, who is your Father, knows what you need before you ask him.  This, therefore, is the way you are to pray:

Our Father in heaven,

Your name be revered!

Your kingdom come!

Your will be done

On earth as well as in heaven!

Give us today bread for the day,

And forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven our debtors.

And do not subject us to temptation,

But save us from the evil one.

For if you forgive others when they offend you, your heavenly Father will forgive you too.  But if you do not forgive others when they offend you, your heavenly Father will not forgive you for your offenses.”

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The Collect:

Keep, O Lord, your household the Church in your steadfast faith and love, that through your grace we may proclaim your truth with boldness, and minister your justice with compassion; for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

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The designated Matthew reading for the Week of Proper 6:  Wednesday, Year 1, was actually 6:1-6, 16-18, but I typed 6:1-18, thus maintaining the unity of the text.  This day, of course, the assigned reading from Matthew is 6:7-15, most of which is the Lord’s Prayer.

Some texts bear repeating.  And why not pray this prayer publicly and privately?  I will return to this great prayer soon.  But first I will address the reading from 2 Corinthians.

The Corinthian church was an ecclesiastical problem child.  Paul had founded it, yet some members thereof spread vicious rumors about him and taught a version of Christianity contrary to Paul’s.  It is important to remember that much Christian theology we modern Christians have inherited was new during the time of Paul.  Arguments from the first five centuries of Christianity established theological propositions I take as given, assumed truths.

Paul is obviously unhappy with the state of the Corinthian church in this day’s reading.  His tone is sarcastic, and he asserts his authority strongly.  This tone does not come easily or comfortably for Paul.  This is a man who has struggled with these people and reached a point of great frustration.  Yet he has not given up on them.  The existence of the epistle demonstrates Paul’s hope that the Corinthian church might reform.

History tells us that, as late as 100 C.E. or so, the Corinthian church had not become any better.  The (First) Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians, which is available in various English translations, echoes much of the content of the Pauline letters to that congregation.  But Paul had to try, did he not?

The Corinthian church was short on love.

Sometimes familiarity with a translation of a text leads to not paying sufficient attention to the content.  So read the following, which comes from the New Zealand Prayer Book (1989), of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia:

Eternal Spirit,

Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver,

Source of all that is and that shall be,

Father and Mother of us all,

Loving God, in whom is heaven:

The hallowing of your name echo through the universe!

The way of your justice be followed by the peoples of the world!

Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!

Your commonwealth of peace and freedom

sustain our hope and come on earth.

With the bread we need for today, feed us.

In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.

In times of temptation and test, strengthen us.

From trials too great to endure, spare us.

From the grip of all that is evil, free us.

For you reign in the glory of the power that is love,

now and forever.  Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer consists of three parts, in order:

  1. Giving glory to God
  2. Asking God to provide what we need
  3. Asking God for forgiveness of sins and for help in resisting temptation

At the heart of all this is love:  love for God and our fellow human beings.  If we love God, we want to glorify God, see others do likewise.  If we love each other, we want everyone to have what he or she needs each day.  If we love God, we want to resist temptation and we seek forgiveness for what we have done to offend God.

If we love God and each other, we will not act like those in the Corinthian church whom Paul criticized.

When we live in full knowledge of the “glory of the power that is love,” we will seek to live more deeply immersed in that love.  Negativity and hatred will find no place there.  And we will become perfect in the sense of the end of Matthew 5, that is, suited to the purpose for which we are on this planet.  That purpose, of course, is fully to enjoy and glorify God forever.  May we do so.

Amen.

KRT