Archive for the ‘Acts 25’ Tag

Devotion for Thursday Before Proper 4, Year B (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

St. Paul

Above:  St. Paul the Apostle, According to a Bible Salesman’s Book from the 1800s

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Violence and the Profaning of the Sabbath

MAY 31, 2018

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The Collect:

Almighty and ever-living God,

throughout time you free the oppressed,

heal the sick,

and make whole all that you have made.

Look with compassion on the world wounded by sin,

and by your power restore us to wholeness of life,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 38

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The Assigned Readings:

Exodus 31:12-18

Psalm 81:1-10

Acts 25:1-12

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For this is a statute of Israel,

a law of the God of Jacob,

The charge he laid on the people of Joseph,

when they came out of the land of Egypt.

–Psalm 81:4-5, Common Worship (2000)

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Many provisions of the Law of Moses carried the death penalty.  For example, committing blasphemy and adultery came with the risk of execution.  (This remains true in some cultures, and civilized people condemn these penalties rightly.)  Offenses against the holiness of God also led to the risk of death.  Thus committing religious rituals improperly led to a bad end.  And, in Exodus 31, profaning the Sabbath led to execution, for not keeping the Sabbath holy endangered the definition of Israel, indicated self-reliance (not dependence on God), and hearkened back to the Sabbathless work schedule of Hebrew slaves in Egypt.  And, as St. Paul the Apostle knew well, the mere accusation of having violated the Law of Moses led to the risk of death.  Ironically, his accusers were allies of the Roman Empire, a government at least as oppressive as the Pharaonic regime in Egypt.

I refuse to justify the fetish the Law of Moses had for the death penalty.  In fact, I refuse to make excuses for capital punishment, for I see a moral equivalence between an individual taking a life deliberately and a government doing so.  I also recognize disapprovingly the fondness many religious people and institutions have manifested and continue to manifest for political, social, and economic systems built on enforced inequality, on violence, and on artificial scarcity.

Exodus 31:12-17 also reminds us of holy time, something we ought never to neglect (yet ignore frequently).  We should live as free people dependent on God, not as slaves or cogs in exploitative and violent institutions and systems.  We also need time to reflect, relax, “recharge our batteries,” and just be.  Human dignity needs to assume a more prominent place in our societies, for people should matter more than wealth, property, and commodities.  That ethic–the image of God–ought to inform how we think of others, transforming our attitudes regarding those quite different from us and those whom we dislike and with whom we disagree strongly.  This is, I admit, a challenging spiritual vocation.  It is one with which I struggle, but I continue to try, with mixed results.

As for killing, it is unavoidable sometimes, sadly.  We live in an obviously imperfect world in which people, from time to time, permit circumstances to escalate to the point that death will constitute some part of the resolution one way or another.  I wish that this were not true, but it is the reality too often, “too often” meaning at least once.  Much of the time, however, killing is avoidable yet becomes the reality nevertheless.  I propose that, when one profanes the Sabbath (however one defines the Sabbath in the calendar), killing the profaner is wrong and avoidable.  Whom would Jesus execute?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 12, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT GREGORY I “THE GREAT,” BISHOP OF ROME

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2015/03/17/violence-and-profaning-the-sabbath/

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Devotion for July 31, August 1, and August 2 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   5 comments

Above:  David and Goliath, by Gustave Dore

Image in the Public Domain

1 Samuel and Acts, Part VII:  The Triumph of Faith Over Physical Strength

FRIDAY-SUNDAY, JULY 31-AUGUST 2, 2020

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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 Samuel 16:1-23 (July 31)

1 Samuel 17:1-19 (August 1)

1 Samuel 17:20-47 (August 2)

Psalm 65 (Morning–July 31)

Psalm 143 (Morning–August 1)

Psalm 86 (Morning–August 2)

Psalms 125 and 4 (Evening–July 31)

Psalms 81 and 116 (Evening–August 1)

Psalms 6 and 19 (Evening–August 2)

Acts 25:13-27 (July 31)

Acts 26:1-23 (August 1)

Acts 26:24-27:8 (August 2)

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I was small among my brothers,

and the youngest in my father’s house;

I tended my father’s sheep.

My hands made a harp;

my fingers fashioned a lyre.

And who will tell my Lord?

The Lord himself; it is he who hears.

It was he who sent his messenger

and took me from my father’s sheep,

and anointed me with his anointing oil.

My brothers were handsome and tall,

but the Lord was not pleased with them.

I went out to meet the Philistine,

and he cursed me by his idols.

But I drew my own sword;

I beheaded him, and took away

disgrace from the people of Israel.

–Psalm 151, New Revised Standard Version

Saul knows David at the end of 1 Samuel 16 yet has not met him at the beginning of Chapter 17.  This is a major narrative discrepancy, evidence of the weaving together of different documents.  That is a scholarly matter, and I like such things.  But this is a devotional blog, so I focus my attentions in that direction.

A note on page 592 of The Jewish Study Bible (2004) begins

The story of David and Goliath demonstrates the triumph of faith over physical strength.

That excellent sentence provides a means for understanding not only 1 Samuel 17 but the life of St. Paul as a Christian.  One man proved crucial to Christian and world history.  The might of the Roman Empire, which executed him, proved powerless to quash Christianity.

As for St. Paul in Acts 25:13-26:32, he stood before Herod Agrippa II, the last of the Herodian Dynasty and a client ruler for the Roman Empire.  Herod Agrippa II’s realm shifted according to Roman imperial decisions, but he did reign from 50 to 100 CE.  He, considered a religious leader, appointed the High Priest yet carried on an incestuous relationship with Bernice, his sister.  Yet this was the man who noted that St. Paul, if he had not appealed to the Emperor, could have gone free.  Unfortunately, the Emperor was Nero.

Yet, as Psalm 125:3 (The New Jerusalem Bible) reads,

The sceptre of the wicked will not come to rest

over the heritage of the upright….

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 5, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE SAINTS AND MARTYRS OF ASIA

THE FEAST OF HARRY EMERSON FOSDICK, NORTHERN BAPTIST PASTOR

THE FEAST OF THE INAUGURATION OF THE UNITED REFORMED CHURCH, 1972 

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/05/03/1-samuel-and-acts-part-vii-the-triumph-of-faith-over-physical-strength/

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Devotion for July 28, 29, and 30 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   3 comments

Above:  Antonius Felix

1 Samuel and Acts, Part VI:  Rejection and Violence

Image in the Public Domain

TUESDAY-THURSDAY, JULY 28-30, 2020

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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 Samuel 13:1-18 (July 28)

1 Samuel 14:47-15:9 (July 29)

1 Samuel 15:10-35 (July 30)

Psalm 67 (Morning–July 28)

Psalm 51 (Morning–July 29)

Psalm 54 (Morning–July 30)

Psalms 46 and 93 (Evening–July 28)

Psalms 85 and 47 (Evening–July 29)

Psalms 28 and 99 (Evening–July 30)

Acts 23:12-35 (July 28)

Acts 24:1-23 (July 29)

Acts 24:24-25:12 (July 30)

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In 1 Samuel we read two accounts of how Samuel and Saul fell out with each other. (These things happen in parts of the Hebrew Scriptures due to the editing together of different sources.)  The first story tells of Saul making an offering Samuel should have performed.  The other version entails Samuel and his soldiers not killing enough people and livestock.  How making an offering or not killing more people and livestock is supposed to offend God eludes me beyond a purely historical-literary critical level of understanding texts and traditions, for I am a liberal Christian and a generally peaceful person.  Violence offends me and ritual sacrifices are foreign to me.

But the rejection of Saul by God occupies the readings from 1 Samuel.  The story of Saul, which ended badly, began with Samuel warning the people that they really did not want a monarch.  Saul’s reign seems to have proven Samuel’s case.  And the reigns of subsequent kings did likewise.

Rejection and violence also figure prominently in the Acts lessons.  Paul evaded plots on his life yet remained in custody for two years.  His offense was, as The New Jerusalem Bible translates part of 24:5, being

a perfect pest.

That did not justify such extreme measures, though.

Rejection and violence unify the sets of readings.  The God of these lessons is, in the words of Psalm 99:4 (The New Jerusalem Bible), one who

loves justice

and has

established honesty, justice and uprightness.

I recognize that description in Acts 23-25 but not in 1 Samuel 13-15.  That does not indicate a fault within me.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 5, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE SAINTS AND MARTYRS OF ASIA

THE FEAST OF HARRY EMERSON FOSDICK, NORTHERN BAPTIST PASTOR

THE FEAST OF THE INAUGURATION OF THE UNITED REFORMED CHURCH, 1972 

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/05/03/1-samuel-and-acts-part-vi-rejection-and-violence/

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