Archive for the ‘Desmond Tutu’ Tag

Devotion for Thursday After Proper 18, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   3 comments

Paul the Apostle

Above:  St. Paul, by Lucas van Leyden

Image in the Public Domain

In Honor of Epaphroditus

SEPTEMBER 5, 2019

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The Collect:

Direct us, O Lord God, in all our doings by your continual help,

that all our works, begun, continued, and ended in you,

may glorify your holy name; and finally, by your mercy,

bring us to everlasting life, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 47

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The Assigned Readings:

Genesis 39:1-23

Psalm 1

Philippians 2:25-30

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Happy are they who have not walked in the counsel of the wicked,

nor lingered in the seat of sinners,

nor sat in the seats of the scornful.

–Psalm 1:1, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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Psalm 1 is overly optimistic, for it says of the righteous in verse 3 that

everything they do shall prosper.

St. Paul the Apostle spent much time in prison and died as a martyr.  Joseph son of Jacob was in prison for a crime he did not commit.  As other portions of scripture (including certain psalms) indicate, sometimes the righteous suffer and the wicked prosper.

I think of a story Archbishop Desmond Tutu told.  During the Holocaust a Nazi guard was taunting a Jew who had to clean especially disgusting toilets.

Where is your God now?

the guard taunted the Jew, who replied,

Right here, beside me in the muck.

God was beside Joseph in the Egyptian prison and St. Paul in the prison (wherever it was) when Epaphroditus, sent by the church at Philippi, was there to tend to the Apostle’s needs.  Epaphroditus almost died performing that duty.  God was present with St. Paul directly and indirectly.

I have learned via experience that grace seems more evident during times of crisis than during good times.  Perhaps grace is in greater supply during the dark times; perhaps not.  That is a matter for God to know and for me to ponder.  What I know for sure is that grace seems more evident in difficult times, much as a light is more obvious in a dark room than in a well-lit one.  Like Joseph and St. Paul, I have experienced grace directly and indirectly (via people) during dark times.  I have also rejoiced and felt worthy simultaneously.

Has God called you, O reader, to be Epaphroditus to someone experiencing great hardship, for the sake of righteousness or another reason?  Or has someone been Epahproditus to you?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 18, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF MALTBIE DAVENPORT BABCOCK, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN I, BISHOP OF ROME

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2016/05/18/in-honor-of-epaphroditus/

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Devotion for Saturday Before Proper 11, Year B (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Christ Giving Sight to Bartimaeus--Blake

Above:  Christ Giving Sight to Bartimaeus, by William Blake

Image in the Public Domain

God, Beside Us in Suffering

JULY 21, 2018

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The Collect:

O God, powerful and compassionate,

you shepherd your people, faithfully feeding and protecting us.

Heal each of us, and make us a whole people,

that we may embody the justice and peace of your Son,

Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 42

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The Assigned Readings:

Jeremiah 12:1-13

Psalm 23

Luke 18:35-43

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The LORD is my shepherd;

there is nothing I lack.

In green pastures he makes me lie down;

to still waters he leads me;

he restores my soul.

He guides me along the right paths

for the sake of his name.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil, for you are with me;

your rod and your staff comfort me.

You set a table before me

in front of my enemies;

You anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows.

Indeed, goodness and mercy will pursue me

all the days of my life;

I will dwell in the house of the LORD

for endless days.

–Psalm 23, The New American Bible–Revised Edition (2010)

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Jeremiah lamented the fact that the wicked (many of them, anyway) prosper and that the righteous (many of them, anyway) suffer.  He also prayed for divine wrath against the wicked.  That was a predictable and understandable attitude, one which many people have shared.  May we be honest, O reader?  Have you and I not rejoiced to learn that some scoundrel got his just desserts?

I perceive, however, that Jesus never rejoiced in that.  Yes, he became angry with and confronted people who acted in certain ways and harbored certain attitudes, but I sense that he would have preferred that they repent and follow him.  He did not even seem confrontational with the wealthy man in Luke 18:18-30, just a few verses before healing a blind man near Jericho.  Later our Lord and Savior prayed for those who executed him and consented to his execution.

Blessed are you when people hate you and ostracize you, when they insult you and slander your very name, because of the Son of Man.  On that day exult and dance for joy, for you have a rich reward in heaven; that is how their fathers treated the prophets.

–Luke 6:22-23, The Revised English Bible (1989)

The same God who sets a table for us in the presence of our enemies abides with us during difficult times.  I have known that presence during my darkest hours.  I treasure the blessing of that presence without possessing any nostalgia for the context thereof.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu told a story about a Jew during the Holocaust.  A Nazi guard was forcing him to perform an especially dirty, degrading, disgusting, and unpleasant cleaning job.

Where is your God now?,

the guard asked sarcastically.  The Jew replied,

Beside me, here in the muck.

Here ends the lesson.

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/god-beside-us-in-suffering/

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Week of Proper 20: Saturday, Year 2   3 comments

Above:  An Elderly Woman

Photograph by Chalmers Butterfield

Never Alone

SEPTEMBER 26, 2020

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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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Ecclesiastes 11:9-12:8 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

O youth, enjoy yourself while you are young!  Let your heart lead you to enjoyment in the days of your youth.  Follow the desires of your heart and the glances of your eyes–but know well that God will call you to account for all such things–and banish care from your mind, and pluck sorrow out of your flesh!  For youth and black hair are fleeting.

So appreciate your vigor in the days of your youth, before those days of sorrow come and those years arrive of which you will say,

I have no pleasure in them;

before sun and light and moon and stars grow dark, and the clouds come back again after the rain:

When the guards of the house become shaky,

And the men of valor are bent,

And the maids that grind, grown few, are idle,

And the ladies that peer through the windows grow dim,

And the doors to the street are shut–

With the noise of the hand mill growing fainter,

And the song of the bird growing feebler,

And all the strains of music dying down;

When one is afraid of heights

And there is terror on the road.–

For the almost tree may blossom,

The grasshopper be be burdened,

And the caper bush may bud again;

But man sets out for his eternal abode,

With mourners all around in the street.–

Before the silver cord snaps

And the golden bowl crashes,

The jar is shattered at the spring,

And the jug is smashed at the cistern.

And the dust returns to the ground

As it was,

And the lifebreath returns to God

Who bestowed it.

Utter futility–said Koheleth–

All is futile!

Psalm 90:1-2, 12-17 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

 Lord, you have been our refuge

from one generation to another.

 Before the mountains were brought forth,

or the land and the earth were born,

from age to age you are God.

12 So teach us to number our days

that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.

13 Return, O LORD; how long will you tarry?

be gracious to your servants.

14 Satisfy us by your loving-kindness in the morning;

so shall we rejoice and be glad all the days of our life.

15 Make us glad by the measure of the days that you afflicted us

and the years in which we suffered adversity.

16 Show your servants your works

and your splendor to their children.

17 May the graciousness of the LORD our God be upon us;

prosper the work of our hands;

prosper our handiwork.

Luke 9:43b-45 (The Jerusalem Bible):

At a time when everyone was full of admiration for all he [Jesus] did, he said to his disciples,

For your part, you must have these words constantly in your mind:  The Son of Man is going to be handed over into the power of men.

But they did not understand him when he said this; it was hidden from them so that they should not see the meaning of it, and they were afraid to ask him about what he had just said.

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The Collect:

Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure; 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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This day’s readings pertain to death.  Youth, Koheleth tells us, is fleeting, old age is full of terrors, and death will come for everyone.  Life is transitory; we are born, we live, and we die.  All of this plays out in the context of the sovereignty of God.  The world will continue without us, and we will fade anonymously into the past in time.  Some of us will fade anonymously into the past sooner than others will, but the ravages of time and ignorance will erase memories of even the most famous.

The reading from Luke contains another prediction of the suffering and execution of Jesus.  The text does not tell us of our Lord’s state of mind.  I suspect that the text cannot fill in that blank, not that this absence of information detracts from the text.  Yet I do suspect that Jesus might have had a disquieted tone of voice.  Why not?  It was troubling news.

There is no inherent fault in having a disquieted spirit.  Much of life consists of disturbing events, so inappropriate joy and apathy are legitimate reasons for concern.  And aging is not for the faint of heart, as many people know directly or indirectly.  I wonder how specialists in geriatrics can handle their work and maintain their mental health.

Difficult times are when our faith lives meet perhaps their stiffest tests.  A story (recounted by Archbishop Desmond Tutu) comes to mind.  A Nazi guard forced a Jew to clean an especially nasty toilet.  He taunted the prisoner,

Where is your God now?

The Jew replied,

Here, beside me in the muck.

That God is beside us through our terrors and travails is a wonderful truth.  For some people at certain times, it might be their only comfort.  I have known this feeling, and it did not negate the bad situation I was in.  But at least I was never alone.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/10/25/never-alone/