Archive for the ‘2 Corinthians 12’ Tag

Devotion for Trinity Sunday (Year D)   1 comment

ancient-corinth

Above:  Ancient Corinth

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-matpc-07406

Building Each Other Up in Christ

JUNE 16, 2019

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The Collect:

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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The Assigned Readings:

1 Kings 9:1-9, 11:1-13 or Ecclesiastes 8:1-17

Psalm 35

John 15:18-25 (26-27); 16:1-4a

2 Corinthians 12:11-21; 13:1-10 (11-13)

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One might suffer for any of a number of reasons.  One might, as did Solomon, suffer for one’s sins; actions do have consequences, after all.  Or one might suffer because of the sins of at least one other person.  This is one reason one might suffer for the sake of righteousness.  Or perhaps one might suffer for merely being at the wrong place at the wrong time.  On other occasions there might be no apparent reason for one’s suffering.

This is a devotion for Trinity Sunday.  Many attempts to explain the mystery of the Holy Trinity have resulted in heresy.  I have resolved to cease trying to explain it and to revel in the glorious mystery instead.  God is greater and more glorious than I can imagine; thanks be to God!

I do feel comfortable in making some comments, however.  For example, Jesus of Nazareth (the historical figure) was the incarnated form of the Second Person of the Trinity, God the Son.  I do not pretend to grasp the mechanics of the Godhead, but so be it.  Jesus suffered and died, but not because of any sin of his; he committed none.  God suffered due to human sinfulness and made something wondrous out of something brutal and base.

That extravagant grace imposes certain obligations on those who benefit from it.  Among these obligations is building each other up.  St. Paul the Apostle’s words on that topic remain as applicable today as they were in Corinth nearly 2000 years ago.  Christ Jesus is in me.  He is also in you, O reader.  He is also in those around us.  How will we treat them?  We have Jesus, a role model, to emulate.  Where would the human race be without him?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 16, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE TWENTIETH DAY OF ADVENT

THE FEAST OF GUSTAF AULEN, SWEDISH LUTHERAN THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT FILIP SIPHONG ONPHITHAKT, ROMAN CATHOLIC CATECHIST AND MARTYR IN THAILAND

THE FEAST OF MAUDE DOMINICA PETRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MODERNIST THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF RALPH ADAMS CRAM AND RICHARD UPJOHN, ARCHITECTS; AND JOHN LAFARGE, SR., PAINTER AND STAINED GLASS MAKER

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2016/12/16/building-up-each-other-in-christ/

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Devotion for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday Before Proper 8, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Fire

Above:  Fire

Image in the Public Domain

A Consuming Fire

JUNE 27, 2019

JUNE 28, 2019

JUNE 29, 2019

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The Collect:

Sovereign God, ruler of all hearts,

you call us to obey you, and you favor us with true freedom.

Keep us faithful to the ways of your Son, that,

leaving behind all that hinders us,

we may steadfastly follow your paths,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 41

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The Assigned Readings:

Leviticus 9:22-10:11 (Thursday)

2 Kings 1:1-16 (Friday)

Deuteronomy 32:15-27, 39-43 (Saturday)

Psalm 16 (All Days)

2 Corinthians 13:5-10 (Thursday)

Galatians 4:8-20 (Friday)

Luke 9:21-27 (Saturday)

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To Yahweh I say, “You are my Lord,

my happiness is in none of the sacred spirits of the earth.”

–Psalm 16:2-3a, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

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St. Paul the Apostle was perplexed with the Galatian Church.  Many members of it had reverted to idolatry or to the Law of Moses, both of which he considered to be forms of spiritual slavery.  As he instructed the Corinthian Church, the proper course of action was to pass the test and remember that they carried Jesus Christ inside them.  In Christ, according to St. Paul, was liberation, although not to engage in negative activities, but to build up the faith community, and to pursue virtue (2 Corinthians 12:19-21).

The theme of rebelling against God unites these days’ readings.  Nadab and Abihu, sons of Aaron, laid incense upon their fire pans in violation of divine instructions.  This constituted sacrilege and an attempt to control God.

Further, the sin of the two brothers was not simply that they went too far in their super-piety.  Rather, they acted in utter disregard for the deity.  God intended that the manifestation of His Presence would ignite the altar fire, marking His acceptance of His people’s devotion.  Their intent was for the divine fire to ignite their own pans; that is, they were attempting to arrogate control of the deity for themselves.

The Jewish Study Bible, Second Edition (2014), page 216

Divine fire consumed the two priests.

Disregard for God was present in the population as a whole.  Idolatry and arrogance were difficult habits to break.  This was true in Biblical times, as in the days of Elisha.  It was true in the time that Jesus of Nazareth walked the face of the earth.

It remains true today, for human nature is a constant factor.

God is a consuming fire.  Fire is a destructive force, reducing much to ashes.  Yet destruction is frequently part of a creative process, as in the renewal of ecosystems in forests.  Divine fire destroys the corrupt and idolatrous, and arrogant so that seeds of fidelity, justice, and humility may germinate.

Jesus faced a difficult decision, and he resolved to take up his cross.  His challenge to the Apostles to do likewise has applied to members of generations for nearly 2000 years.  Will we be faithful or will we seek the easy way out?  Will we turn away from the truth, or will we act as people with Jesus Christ in them?  Will we follow the fire of the Holy Spirit or will we risk the fire of divine punishment?

The choice is ours.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 8, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CHARLOTTE ELLIOTT, JULIA ANNE ELLIOTT, AND EMILY ELLIOTT, ANGLICAN HYMN WRITERS

THE FEAST OF SAINT HUMPHREY OF PRUM, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF THEROUANNE

THE FEAST OF JOHN HAMPDEN GURNEY, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN OF GOD, FOUNDER OF THE BROTHERS HOSPITALLERS OF SAINT JOHN OF GOD

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2016/03/08/a-consuming-fire-2/

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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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Devotion for Thursday and Friday Before Proper 18, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Corinth

Above:  Ruins of Ancient Corinth, Between 1898 and 1946

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-matpc-07406

Hope for Transformation

SEPTEMBER 7 and 8, 2017

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The Collect:

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

Without your help, we mortals will fail;

remove far from us everything that is harmful,

and lead us toward all that gives life and salvation,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 46

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The Assigned Readings:

Ezekiel 24:1-14 (Thursday)

Ezekiel 24:15-27 (Friday)

Psalm 119:33-40 (Both Days)

2 Corinthians 12:11-21 (Thursday)

Romans 10:15b-21 (Friday)

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Turn away the reporach which I dread,

because your judgments are good.

Behold, I long for your commandmetns;

in your righteousness preserve my life.

–Psalm 119:39-40, Book of Common Worship (1993)

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The assigned readings from Ezekiel are quite vivid and disturbing. We read an allegory of divine punishment for human sins, such as economic injustice, judicial corruption, and the exploitation of human beings, and the practice of idolatry. And the prophet, as a sign to others, is not even supposed to mourn his wife’s passing. The meaning of this second allegroy is to accept as just the divine punishment and admit complicity in evil deeds. Then transformation will follow and the next phase will ensue.

The yet-unrealized hope of transformation from a bad situation (often of one’s own creation, at least partially) occupies the readings from Romans and 2 Cornithians. God had been stretching out divine hands to

a disobedient and defiant people

–Romans 10:20, The Revised English Bible (1989)

and the Corinthian church had continued to be a troublesome congregation in the lessons, but St. Paul the Apostle persisted in hope of transformation.

May we refrain from abandoning that hope in relation to others and ourselves.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 14, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM CROFT, ANGLICAN ORGANIST AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF JONATHAN MYRICK DANIELS, EPISCOPAL SEMINARIAN AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF MATTHIAS CLAUDIUS, GERMAN LUTHERAN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAXIMILIAN KOLBE, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

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Bloga Theologica version

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Proper 9, Year B   16 comments

Above:  St. Joseph’s Church, Nazareth, Israel

Rejecting and Insulting Prophets

The Sunday Closest to July 6

The Seventh Sunday After Pentecost

JULY 8, 2018

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FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #1

2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10 (New Revised Standard Version):

All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron, and said,

Look, we are your bone and flesh. For some time, while Saul was king over us, it was you who led out Israel and brought it in. The LORD said to you: It is you who shall be shepherd of my people Israel, you who shall be ruler over Israel.

So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron; and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the LORD, and they anointed David king over Israel. David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years. At Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months; and at Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years.

David occupied the stronghold, and named it the city of David. David built the city all around from the Millo inward. And David became greater and greater, for the LORD, the God of hosts, was with him.

Psalm 48 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised;

in the city of our God is his holy hill.

2 Beautiful and lofty, the joy of all the earth, is the hill of Zion,

the very center of the world and the city of the great King.

God is in her citadels;

he is known to be her sure refuge.

Behold, the kings of the earth assembled

and marched forward together.

5 They looked and were astonished;

they retreated and fled in terror.

Trembling seized them there;

they writhed like a woman in childbirth,

like ships of the sea when the east wind shatters them.

As we have heard, so have we seen,

in the city of the LORD of hosts, in the city of our God;

God has established her for ever.

8 We have waited in silence on your loving-kindness, O God,

in the midst of your temple.

Your praise, like your Name, O God, reaches to the world’s end;

your right hand is full of justice.

10 Let Mount Zion be glad

in the cities of Judah rejoice,

because of your judgments.

11 Make the circuit of Zion;

walk round about her;

count the number of her towers.

12 Consider well her bulwarks;

examine her strongholds;

that you may tell those who come after.

13 This God is our God for ever and ever;

he shall be our guide for ever more.

FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #2

Ezekiel 2:1-5 (New Revised Standard Version):

The Lord said to me:

O mortal, stand up on your feet, and I will speak with you.

And when he spoke to me, a spirit entered into me and set me on my feet; and I heard him speaking to me. He said to me,

Mortal, I am sending you to the people of Israel, to a nation of rebels who have rebelled against me; they and their ancestors have transgressed against me to this very day. The descendants are impudent and stubborn. I am sending you to them, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD.’ Whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house), they shall know that there has been a prophet among them.

Psalm 123 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 To you I lift up my eyes,

to you enthroned in the heavens.

As the eyes of the servants look to the hand of their masters,

and the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress,

3 So our eyes look to the LORD our God,

until he show us his mercy.

Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy,

for we have had more than enough of contempt,

5 Too much of the scorn of the indolent rich,

and of the derision of the proud.

SECOND READING

2 Corinthians 2:1-5 (New Revised Standard Version):

I know a person in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven– whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows. And I know that such a person– whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows– was caught up into Paradise and heard things that are not to be told, that no mortal is permitted to repeat. On behalf of such a one I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses. But if I wish to boast, I will not be a fool, for I will be speaking the truth. But I refrain from it, so that no one may think better of me than what is seen in me or heard from me, even considering the exceptional character of the revelations. Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.

GOSPEL READING

Mark 6:1-13 (New Revised Standard Version):

Jesus left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said,

Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?

And they took offense at him. Then Jesus said to them,

Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.

And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.

Then he went about among the villages teaching. He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. He said to them,

Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.

So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

 The Collect:

O God, you have taught us to keep all your commandments by loving you and our neighbor: Grant us the grace of your Holy Spirit, that we may be devoted to you with our whole heart, and united to one another with pure affection; 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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Some Related Posts:

Proper 9, Year A:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/18/proper-9-year-a/

2 Samuel 5:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/11/week-of-3-epiphany-monday-year-2/

2 Corinthians 12:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/05/week-of-proper-6-saturday-year-1/

Mark 6:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/07/week-of-4-epiphany-wednesday-year-1/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/07/week-of-4-epiphany-thursday-year-1/

Matthew 13 (Parallel to Mark 6):

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/01/13/week-of-proper-12-friday-year-1/

Luke 9 (Parallel to Mark 6):

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/04/05/week-of-proper-20-wednesday-year-1/

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We read from 2 Samuel about David victorious.  His rival, Saul’s son Ishbaal dead, David became sole monarch in Israel and made Jerusalem the seat of his power.  The rebellion ended with the rebel leader leading the nation.

That, alas, is the happiest of the readings for this Sunday.  In Ezekiel 2, for example, God commissioned Ezekiel to be a prophet yet warns him that the people have a rebellious past.  But at least they will know that a prophet has been among them.  Jesus, a prophet and more than a prophet, was among the residents of his hometown when they rejected him.  They even raised questions about his paternity and Mary’s sexual history.  Later in the lesson, Jesus sent out his Apostles on a preaching mission with instructions to, among other things, simply leave places where they faced rejection.  This advice reflected what he did at Nazareth.

We read in the Gospels that Jesus moved away from Nazareth and settled in Capernaum.  Maybe one reason for this relocation was to get away such rumors in so small a place.  Jesus was, after all, fully human as well as fully divine.  We like to focus on the fully divine side, do we not?  But may we not minimize or ignore the fully human aspect.  Such rumors (certainly not recent in relation to the events of the Gospel story) and rejection had to hurt him emotionally.  Who wants to hear malicious rumors about one’s parents?  (Joseph did raise Jesus.  That, for me, makes Joseph our Lord’s father in the way which matters most.)

Paul, in his famous excerpt from 2 Corinthians, reported (evasively at first) about a mystical experience.  This is a somewhat amusing reading; I like how Paul began by writing of a man he knew then admitted that he was that man.  Whatever he saw and heard, and whatever caused it, it made quite an impression on him.  But, he wrote, he came away from it with an unidentified affliction.  “A thorn in my side” is the standard English translation from the original Greek.  J. B. Phillips (1972), however, refers to a “stabbing pain.”  Whatever it was, it prevented Paul from becoming too elated.

Yet, Paul learned, divine grace is sufficient and made perfect in weakness, or, as J. B. Phillips (1972) renders one line, “where there is weakness, [God’s] power is shown more completely.”  That power is always present, as is the grace, in some measure.  Yet we notice God’s grace more easily when we are in weakened states.  I know this fact well from experience; you, O reader, might also know it from experience.

The bottom line is this:  Independence and self-reliance, as spiritual values, are false gods and illusions.  To pursue them is to chase after empty shadows and to commit idolatry.  Everyone depends on the grace and power of God.  Prophets have walked among us.  Do we recognize them? Prophets might even have grown up among us.  Do we recognize them, or do we reject and insult them?  How we respond to God and the prophets of God informs how God responds to us.  May God show mercy, as is the divine prerogative.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/09/05/rejecting-and-insulting-prophets/

Week of Proper 6: Saturday, Year 1   8 comments

Above:  Tall Wild Grass

Sufficient Grace

JUNE 22, 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 12:1-10 (An American Translation):

I have to boast.  There is nothing to be gained by it, but I will go on to visions and revelations given to me by the Lord.  I know of a man fourteen years ago–whether in the body or out of it, I do not know, God knows–being actually caught up into the third heaven.  And I know that this man–I do not know whether it was in the body or out of it, God knows–was caught up into Paradise, and heard things that must not be told, which no human being can repeat.  On this man’s account I am ready to boast, but about myself I will boast only of my weaknesses.  Thought if I do choose to boast, I will not be such a fool, for I will only be telling the truth.  But I will refrain from it, for I do not want anyone to be influenced by the wonderful character of these revelations to think more of me than is justified by my words or conduct.  So to keep me from being too much elated a bitter physical affliction was sent to me, a very messenger of Satan, to harass me, to keep me from being too much elated.  Three times I have prayed to the Lord about this, begging that it might leave me, and he said to me,

My favor is enough for you, for only where there is weakness is perfect strength developed.

So I am perfectly willing to boast of all my weakness, so that the strength of Christ may shelter me.  That is why I am pleased with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties, when they are endured for Christ’s sake, for it is when I am weak that I am strong.

Psalm 34:7-14 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

7 The angel of the LORD encompasses all those who fear him,

and he will deliver them.

8 Taste and see that the LORD is good;

happy are they who trust in him!

9 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.

Matthew 6:24-34 (An American Translation):

[Jesus continued,]

No slave can serve two masters, for he will either hate the one and love the other, or stand by the one and make light of the other.  You cannot serve God and money.  Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, wondering what you will have to eat or drink, or about your body, wondering what you will have to wear.  Is not life more important than food, and the body than clothes.  Look at the wild birds.  They do not sow or reap, or store their food in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more account than they?  But which of you with all his worry can add a single hour to his life?  Why should you worry about clothing?  See how the wild flowers grow.  They do not toil or spin, and yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his splendor was never dressed like one of them.  But if God so beautifully dresses the wild grass, which is alive today and is thrown into the furnace tomorrow, will he not much more surely clothe you, you who have so little faith?  So do not worry and say, ‘What shall we have to eat?’ or ‘What shall we have to drink?’ or ‘What shall we have to wear?’ For these are all things the heathen are in pursuit of, and your heavenly Father knows well that you need all this.  But you must make his kingdom, and uprightness before him, you greatest care, and you will have all these other things besides.  So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries of its own.  Let each be day be content with its own ills.

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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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Following lectionaries on this devotional blog and its two companion blogs, I notice repetition in certain readings and themes.  The excerpt from Matthew has come up before, and I have addressed it at least once prior to this post.  Some of the content of this post will therefore be repetitive, but so is the Bible.

Edgar J. Goodspeed’s An American Translation (complete in 1939) avoids many of the phrases familiar to those of us reared in the Authorized/King James-Revised Standard-New Revised Standard Version tradition.  So “My grace is sufficient for you” becomes “My favor is enough for you,” and the thorn in Paul’s  side becomes “a bitter physical affliction.”  Not being a traditionalist, much less a knee-jerk one, I welcome a good alternative rendering of familiar phrases, terms, and passages, for familiarity with one translation can obscure its meaning sometimes.  Paul, displaying humility, boasts in his weaknesses and writes of a man he knows.  This man, who was actually Paul, experienced mystical visions fourteen years prior to the writing of the epistle.  (I hope that Paul was acquainted with himself.)  Paul received not just these ecstatic visions, but also an unidentified physical affliction, from God.  No matter how much Paul prayed for the removal of this figurative thorn in his side, God did not answer in the affirmative.  But God did say that grace (that is, unearned favor) is sufficient for Paul.  So Paul understood that he was strong in God when he was weak in himself.

The reading from Matthew follows directly that for the Week of Proper 6:  Friday, Year 1.  (By the way, the best way to read these devotions is in sequence, for reasons such as this one.)  We read in the previous Matthew lection that one’s proper treasure does not consist of earthly wealth.

Continuing, Jesus says that nobody can serve both God and money, that we ought not to worry about basic needs, and that God will make these necessities available to us.  Worrying does lead to finding solutions to problems.  As far as I can tell, it does increase stress and blood pressure, decrease the quality of life, make one very bad company, shorten one’s lifespan, and distract one from finding a solution to a real problem.  So, of course, we should not worry.  Neither should we confuse needs and wants.  I suspect that we need much less than we might suspect.  I write from the United States, the home of progressively larger food portions since the Nixon Administration.  This context frames my understanding of hunger.  But how much do we really need?

And recall Acts 4:32-36.  Christians shared their bounty with each other, so that nobody had too much or too little.  We humans are supposed to help each other; God uses us (that is, when we cooperate with God) to supply necessities to each other.  Furthermore, we need to make good decisions, as well, for sometimes our bad fortunes flow from our bad decision making.  All of these statements are true.

So, will we cherish each other and ourselves enough to cooperate with God?  One truth I know is this one:  The social ethic of the self-made man or woman is a lie.  You see, we are all dependent on God and each other.

I have owned, at different times, two tee-shirts bearing the words “GRACE HAPPENS.”  It does, indeed, and it is much better than the implied alternative.  (For those of you not familiar with certain English-language expressions, we say that manure happens, although we use a four-letter word for manure.  I try to maintain a certain positive tone and linguistic standard on this blog, however, so I will stick with “manure.”)  Grace is everywhere, and it is God’s answer to our manure.  We are adept at messing up the world, each other, and ourselves, but only God, by grace, can clean up our messes and work through them to work deeds of mercy.  May we be instruments of that mercy for each other.  Together, in the midst of the muck, grime, and manure, may we witness God’s goodness and sing, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”

KRT