Archive for the ‘Elisha’ Tag

Devotion for Tuesday and Wednesday After Proper 25, Year B (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Icon of Elisha 02

Above:  Icon of Elisha

Image in the Public Domain

Trusting in God

OCTOBER 26 and 27, 2021

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The Collect:

Eternal light, shine in our hearts.

Eternal wisdom, scatter the darkness of our ignorance.

Eternal compassion, have mercy on us.

Turn us to seek your face, and enable us to reflect your goodness,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 51

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The Assigned Readings:

2 Kings 6:8-23 (Tuesday)

Jeremiah 33:1-11 (Wednesday)

Psalm 119:17-24 (Both Days)

Acts 9:32-35 (Tuesday)

Matthew 20:29-34 (Wednesday)

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Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all.  If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.  Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”  No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.”  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good….Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves has fulfilled the law.

–Romans 12:17-21; 13:1, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

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This is an interesting set of readings.  The pericopes from the New Testament are stories of individual healing, the portion of Psalm 119 expresses respect for and delight in divine law, the lesson from Jeremiah 33 promises divine healing of the Hebrew people after divine punishment thereof, and the account in 2 Kings 6 is odd.  Somehow Elisha is a clairvoyant who has God’s ear, delivers a force of Aramean raiders into the hands of the King of Israel, and advises giving them food and drink before releasing them.  (There is an interesting military tactic.)

A few thoughts come to mind:

  1. The motif of healing, both individual and collective, is strong. Even individual healing has a collective component, for it restores one to wholeness in his or her family, community, network of friends, et cetera.
  2. The humane treatment of the Aramean raiders demonstrates strength and reduces tensions.  The equivalent of stuffing one’s adversaries with tea and crumpets (if I may be British) is certainly unexpected and provides no incentive for further violence, at least in the short-term future.  It is also consistent with the ethics of Romans 12:17-21.
  3. The balance of judgment and mercy in God is a mystery I cannot even begin to unravel, so I more along to matters not too great for me.
  4. One should have a healthy sense of awe of and gratitude to God.  One can be confident in the faithfulness of God and therefore act boldly and properly, not foolishly and out of fear.

Perhaps the theme which unites these lessons best begins with the faithfulness of God to divine promises.  We, assured of that fidelity, will, by grace, act out of confidence in and obedience to God, in whom exist both judgment and mercy.  We will reap what we sow, either positive or negative.  If we trust God, we will feel sufficiently secure to act righteously, even to extend kindness to our enemies.  That ethic is consistent with the following passage from 1 Peter 3:

Finally, be united, all of you, in thought and feeling; be full of brotherly affection, kindly, and humble.  Do not repay wrong with wrong, or abuse with abuse; on the contrary, respond with a blessing, for a blessing is what God intends you to receive.

–Verses 8-9, The Revised English Bible (1989)

We humans make many of our worst decisions out of fear.  Often we make bad situations worse in so doing.  This generalization holds true in individual and collective settings.  Yet proper confidence in the faithfulness of God strips away the misconception that we must do something when we ought to get out of God’s way.  Letting go and letting God when doing that is appropriate precludes making foolish, fear-based decisions which reveal our lack of trust.  Ignorance is frequently a complicating factor in making good decisions, for how are we to know when to be active and when to be passive?

May we decide wisely, by grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 4, 2015 COMMON ERA

INDEPENDENCE DAY (U.S.A.)

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2015/07/04/trusting-in-god-5/

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Devotion for Wednesday After Proper 12, Year B (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   3 comments

St. Edward's, Lawrenceville

Above:  St. Edward’s Episcopal Church, Lawrenceville, Georgia, October 19, 2014

Image Source = Bill Monk, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

Four Banquets

JULY 28, 2021

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The Collect:

Gracious God, you have placed within the hearts of all your children

a longing for your word and a hunger for your truth.

Grant that we may know your Son to be the true bread of heaven

and share this bread with all the world,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 43

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 25:6-10a

Psalm 111

Mark 6:35-44

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He has provided food for his worshippers;

he remembers his covenant for ever.

–Psalm 111:5, Harry Mowvley, The Psalms Introduced and Newly Translated for Today’s Readers (1989)

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This is a post about four banquets:  the divine coronation feast in Isaiah 25:6-10a, the sordid feast of Herod Antipas in Mark 6:14-29, the Feeding of the 5000 (Plus) in Mark 6:30-44, and the Holy Eucharist.

The reading from Isaiah 25 speaks of a time immediately after Yahweh has defeated pride, evil, and sorrow, and established the Kingdom of God, in its fullness, on the Earth.  This is a time in our future.  All people are welcome at Yahweh’s coronation feast, to take place on Mount Zion, in Jerusalem.  All is well, except for those whom God has vanquished, namely the Moabites (25:10).

Our next two banquets, which stand is stark contrast to each other, come from Mark 6.  The first is a sordid event, with Herod Antipas lusting after the seductive Salome (whose name and image come to us via archaeology, not the Bible) and making a hasty promise which leads to the execution of St. John the Baptist.  The Herodian family tree was complicated, for both Herodias and her daughter, Salome, were granddaughters of Herod the Great via different women.  Herod Antipas, a son of Herod the Great via a third woman, married Herodias, who had been the wife of a half-brother of Herod Antipas.  Thus Salome was the step-daughter and a cousin of Herod Antipas.

I will not attempt to explain the Feeding the 5000 (Plus) rationally, for doing that constitutes seeking an answer to the wrong question.  (And I am more of a rationalist than a mystic.)  Neither will I try to explain Jesus walking on water (next in Mark 6) logically, for the same reason.  No, I am interested in answering the question which compelled one of my spiritual mentors whenever he studied any passage of scripture:

What is really going on here?

The Markan account of the Feeding of the 5000 men (no word about the number of women and children) uses imagery from elsewhere in the Bible.  Jesus is the Good Shepherd feeding the flock.  His feeding of the multitude exceeds Elisha’s feeding of 100 men (2 Kings 4:42-44) and Elijah’s miracle of the refilling jug of oil (1 Kings 17:8-16).  The messianic banquet, an echo of Isaiah 25:6-10a, recurs in the wilderness motif in subsequent pseudipigraphal works, such as in 2 Baruch 29:4 and 4 Ezra 6:52.  Two main ideas stand out in my mind:

  1. Jesus is greater than Elijah and Elisha (see Mark 6:15, in which some people thought that Jesus was Elijah), and
  2. Nothing we bring to Jesus is inadequate in his capable hands.  There will be leftovers after he has finished working with it.  We are insufficient by ourselves yet more than sufficient in Christ.  That is what grace can effect.

The eucharistic imagery in Mark 6 points to the fourth banquet, which I, as an Episcopalian, celebrate at least once weekly.  The Holy Eucharist has constituted the core of my spiritual life since childhood.  One reason I left the United Methodism of my youth was to have the opportunities to partake of the sacrament more often.  In the Holy Eucharist I meet Jesus in the forms of bread and wine and swear loyalty to him again.  No, I am not worthy on my merit (such as it is) to do this, but I rely on his merits to make me worthy to do so.  The first step to becoming worthy is acknowledging one’s unworthiness.

The contrast between human systems built on the foundation of violence, exploitation, and oppression on one hand and the Kingdom of God on the other hand is clear.  Injustice and artificial scarcity characterize the former, but justice and abundance for all distinguish the latter.  We can experience a foretaste of the Kingdom of God, which is partially present already, but we await the fullness of the Kingdom.  Until then we can, at least, leave the world better off than we found it.  No effort toward this goal is too little in Christ’s capable hands.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 6, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCELLINUS OF CARTHAGE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR

THE FEAST OF DANIEL G. C. WU, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND MISSIONARY TO CHINESE AMERICANS

THE FEAST OF FREDERIC BARKER, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF SYDNEY

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2015/04/06/four-banquets/

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Devotion for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday Before Proper 12, Year B (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Elisha

Above:   The Prophet Elisha

Image in the Public Domain

The Will of God and Morality

JULY 22-24, 2021

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The Collect:

Gracious God, you have placed within the hearts of all your children

a longing for your word and a hunger for your truth.

Grant that we may know your Son to be the true bread of heaven

and share this bread with all the world,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 43

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The Assigned Readings:

1 Kings 19:19-21 (Thursday)

2 Kings 3:4-20 (Friday)

2 Kings 4:38-41 (Saturday)

Psalm 145:10-18 (All Days)

Colossians 1:9-14 (Thursday)

Colossians 3:12-17 (Friday)

John 4:31-38 (Saturday)

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All you have made will confess you, LORD,

those devoted to you will give you thanks.

They will speak of your royal glory

and tell of your mighty deeds,

Making known to all mankind your mighty deeds,

your majestic royal glory.

–Psalm 145:10-12, Harry Mowvley, The Psalms Introduced and Newly Translated for Today’s Readers (1989)

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Certain stories of Elisha resemble those of his mentor, Elijah, as an observant reader of the Books of Kings knows.  And, as an observant reader of the Gospels and the Books of Kings knows, some of the miracle stories of Jesus echo certain accounts of incidents from the lives of Elijah and Elisha.  Examples of these include raising people from the dead and feeding a multitude with a small amount of food.  Those stories indicate, among other things, that the heroes were close to God and were able to meet the needs of people.

The Elisha stories for these days have him leave home, participate in helping his kingdom win a war against Moab, and render dangerous food safe.  They portray him as an agent of the will of God.

The “will of God” is a phrase many people use improperly, even callously.  I, as a student of history, know that various individuals have utilized it to justify the murder of priests of Baal (by the order of Elijah, in 1 Kings 18:40), blame innocent victims of natural disasters exasperated by human shortsightedness (such as God allegedly sending Hurricane Katrina to New Orleans or a devastating earthquake to Haiti, supposedly to smite evildoers in those places), et cetera.  These misuses of the concept of the will of God offend my morality and make God seem like a thug at best.

We ought to exercise great caution using the phrase “the will of God,” for we might speak or write falsely of God and drive or keep people away from a Christian pilgrimage.  This is a topic to approach seriously, not lightly.  Among the most thoughtful treatments is Leslie D. Weatherhead’s The Will of God (1944), which speaks of three wills of God:  intentional, circumstantial, and ultimate.  That is deeper than some professing Christians want to delve into the issue, however.

I do not pretend to be an expert on the will of God, but I do attempt to be an intellectually honest Christian.  I, as a Christian, claim to follow Jesus.  To ask what he would do or would not do, therefore, is a relevant question when pondering issues of morality and the will of God.  The four canonical Gospels are useful for these and other purposes.  I conclude, therefore, that Jesus would not have ordered the deaths of priests of Baal or resorted to homophobia to explain the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.  And I cannot conceive of Jesus agreeing with George Zimmerman that the death of Trayvon Martin was part of God’s plan and that wishing that Martin were alive is almost blasphemous.  Zimmerman is a bad theologian.

Living according to compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, and love, per Colossians 3:12-14, is the best way to proceed.  Doing so increases the probability that one will live as an agent of the will of God, whose love we see epitomized in Jesus.  It is better to live rightly than to seek to be right in one’s opinion of oneself.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 5, 2015 COMMON ERA

EASTER SUNDAY, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF MILNER BALL, PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, LAW PROFESSOR, WITNESS FOR CIVIL RIGHTS, AND HUMANITARIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT NOKTER BALBULUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2015/04/05/the-will-of-god-and-morality/

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Devotion for September 9 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   7 comments

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Above:  An Ax

Image Source = b.gliwa

2 Kings and Philippians, Part II:  Conduct Worthy of the Gospel

WEDNEDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 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:

2 Kings 6:1-23

Psalm 5 (Morning)

Psalms 84 and 29 (Evening)

Philippians 1:21-2:11

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Whatever happens, let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ….

–Philippians 1:27, Revised English Bible

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The miracle stories regarding Elijah and Elisha violate the standards of credulity which I, as a product of the Enlightenment, accept.  But, when I look beneath the surface, I find timeless lessons.  For example, I read of Elijah making an iron ax head float then utilizing his clairvoyance and deceiving an invading force with the help of God via a blinding light.  But these texts from 2 Kings predate scientific thinking, so getting into the spirit of them unlocks meanings.

In learn, for example, that iron was precious–therefore expensive–and that most members of Elisha’s band of prophets were poor.  So the prophet who borrowed the ax head needed to recover it so that he could return it and avoid financial hardship.  We should help others as we are able.

And leading an enemy army into hostile territory then treating the members thereof to a banquet is one way of deterring war.  Loving one’s enemies is sound moral teaching.

I criticized Elisha for cruelty and insensitivity in the previous post in this series, but I have no such cause today  The verse from Philippians which I have highlighted summarizes Elisha’s behavior in 2 Kings 6 well if one substitutes Yahweh for Christ.  May we who call ourselves Christians behave consistently in ways which are worthy of the gospel of Christ, for we might be the most influential emissaries of Jesus some people will encounter.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 3, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF NICHOLAS KASATKIN, ORTHODOX ARCHBISHOP OF ALL JAPAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANSKAR, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF HAMBURG-BREMEN

THE FEAST OF GIOVANNI PIERLUIGI DA PALESTRINA, COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF MILLARD FULLER, FOUNDER OF HABITAT FOR HUMANITY

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/2-kings-and-philippians-part-ii-conduct-worthy-of-the-gospel/

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Devotion for September 8 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   8 comments

Elisha Refusing Gifts from Naaman

Above:  Elisha Refusing Gifts from Naaman, by Pieter de Grebber

Image in the Public Domain

2 Kings and Philippians, Part I:  For the Glory of God

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 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:

2 Kings 5:9-27

Psalm 103 (Morning)

Psalms 117 and 139 (Evening)

Philippians 1:1-20

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The story of Naaman continues in 2 Kings 5.  Yes, Naaman overcomes his prejudices, regains his health and status, and praises God.  That is positive.  But Elisha pronounces the scourge of leprosy upon Gehazi, the deceptive servant who had made him appear as one who required payment for healing.  That is a difficult passage to read.

Paul had founded the church at Philippi.  He was on friendly terms with that congregation, one which had to contend with difficulties from inside and outside.  The Apostle wrote from prison, so he knew of hardship for the sake of the Gospel.  Yet, as he observed, this incarceration had enabled the spread of Christianity in another place; God worked in many circumstances.  Even though being an Apostle did not enrich Paul or make his life easier–in fact it caused him much difficulty–he embraced his calling.

Each of us has a set of vocations from God.  All of these fall under the umbrella of enjoying and glorifying God yet are varied in their details.  That is appropriate, for I have gifts and opportunities in combinations others do not and visa versa.  May all of us work for God faithfully where we are, not seeking to exploit our vocations for our benefit.  And may we be kinder than Elisha was to Gehazi.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 3, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF NICHOLAS KASATKIN, ORTHODOX ARCHBISHOP OF ALL JAPAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANSKAR, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF HAMBURG-BREMEN

THE FEAST OF GIOVANNI PIERLUIGI DA PALESTRINA, COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF MILLARD FULLER, FOUNDER OF HABITAT FOR HUMANITY

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This is post #500 at this weblog.

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/2-kings-and-philippians-part-i-for-the-glory-of-god/

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Devotion for September 6 and 7 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   3 comments

Female Sign

Above:  Female Sign

Image in the Public Domain

2 Kings and Ephesians, Part III:  Building Each Other Up

SUNDAY AND MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 6 AND 7, 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:

2 Kings 4:8-22, 32-37 (September 6)

2 Kings 4:38-5:8 (September 7)

Psalm 85 (Morning–September 6)

Psalm 61 (Morning–September 7)

Psalms 25 and 40 (Evening–September 6)

Psalms 138 and 98 (Evening–September 7)

Ephesians 5:15-33 (September 6)

Ephesians 6:1-24 (September 7)

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Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.

–Ephesians 5:21, Revised English Bible

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That is the verse upon which Ephesians 5:22-6:9 hangs.  To read any portion thereof outside of the context of 5:21 is to distort the meaning of any of those verses.  A common Christian expectation at the time was that Jesus might return next week or next month or next year, so a revolution in social structure or economic realities was not on the table; preparing for the Second Coming took precedence.  Since Jesus has not returned by January 4, 2013, when I type these words, I propose that those are matters worthy of moral and theological consideration.  To do so is to honor the Golden Rule.

I have kept the Ephesians readings together.  In so doing, however, I have divided the story of Naaman.  So be it; I will deal with that story in the next post in this series.  But I have been able to pair advice from Ephesians with miracle stories involving Elisha.  Many of those tales echo Elijah miracle stories, by the way.

I did notice a common thread involving women.  The Shunammite woman needed her son for her financial security in her patriarchal society.  But the text from Ephesians advises the mutual submission of wives and husbands to each other and both of them to Christ.  Wives and husbands have sacred obligations to each other; they belong to each other.  This is a beautiful teaching, even if patriarchy does stain it.

The Letter to the Ephesians, as scholars have noted, displays great unity.  The end follows nicely from what precedes it:  Act for the common good; build each other up.  That was what Elijah did for the Shunammite woman.  That is what we are called to do for each other today, where we are.  The only situational aspect of this ethic is what the details will be.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 4, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE ELEVENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FEAST OF MIEP GIES, RIGHTEOUS GENTILE

THE FEAST OF SAINT DAVID I, KING OF SCOTLAND

THE FEAST OF GEORGE FOX, QUAKER FOUNDER

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAULINUS OF AQUILEIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC PATRIARCH

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/2-kings-and-ephesians-part-iii-building-each-other-up/

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Devotion for September 5 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   5 comments

Elisha

Above:  Elisha

Image in the Public Domain

2 Kings and Ephesians, Part II:  Respect and Edification

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 5, 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:

2 Kings 2:19-25; 4:1-7

Psalm 116 (Morning)

Psalms 26 and 130 (Evening)

Ephesians 4:25-5:14

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Sometimes, when I read assigned Scriptural passages, I find at least one nice and happy theme which ties the lessons together.  Other times, however, such as now, I find a contradiction instead.

The summary of Ephesians 4:25-5:14 is to behave constructively toward each other, building each other up, respecting each other, and not grieving the Holy Spirit.  All of that is a unit.  In contrast, bears maul–not kill, notes in The Jewish Study Bible tell me, as if that makes a difference–forty-two children who show great disrespect for Elisha by calling him bald.  That story does not edify, does it?  I will emphasize Ephesians 4:25-5:14, trying to live according to that standard instead.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 4, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE ELEVENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FEAST OF MIEP GIES, RIGHTEOUS GENTILE

THE FEAST OF SAINT DAVID I, KING OF SCOTLAND

THE FEAST OF GEORGE FOX, QUAKER FOUNDER

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAULINUS OF AQUILEIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC PATRIARCH

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/2-kings-and-ephesians-part-ii-respect-and-edification/

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Devotion for September 4 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   5 comments

Harrowing of Hades

Above:  The Harrowing of Hades

Image in the Public Domain

2 Kings and Ephesians, Part I:  The Empowering Spirit

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 4, 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:

2 Kings 2:1-18

Psalm 96 (Morning)

Psalms 132 and 134 (Evening)

Ephesians 4:1-24

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The readings assume that God and Heaven are above the surface of the Earth and that the realm of the dead is below the surface.  So, from that perspective, to go to God, one must ascend.  Hence readings say that Elijah and Jesus went up.  I read accounts of assumptions and ascensions and interpret them as poetic elements.  But, whatever really happened, somebody went to God; that mattered.

We read in Ephesians that Jesus descended before he ascended.  This explains a line from the Apostles’ Creed:

He descended to the dead.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 120

The implication is that those Jesus visited in the realm of death were not beyond hope.  If nobody who has died is beyond hope, neither are we who have pulses.  And what does God expect of us but to renew our minds and spirits, to be humble and gentle, and to put up with each other’s failings in a spirit of love?  (It is difficult, I know.)  We have work to do, and we need to help each other do it.  Elisha needed a double portion of Elijah’s spirit.  We have the Holy Spirit and each other.  Shall we proceed or continue?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 4, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE ELEVENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FEAST OF MIEP GIES, RIGHTEOUS GENTILE

THE FEAST OF SAINT DAVID I, KING OF SCOTLAND

THE FEAST OF GEORGE FOX, QUAKER FOUNDER

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAULINUS OF AQUILEIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC PATRIARCH

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/2-kings-and-ephesians-part-i-the-empowering-spirit/

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Week of Proper 6: Friday, Year 2   3 comments

Above:  King Joash (Jehoash) of Judah

Examples, Good and Bad

JUNE 19, 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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2 Kings 11:1-4, 9-20 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

When Athaliah, the mother of Ahaziah, learned that her son was dead, she promptly killed off all who were of royal stock.  But Jehosheba, daughter of King Joram and sister of Ahaziah, secretly took Ahaziah’s son Joash away from among the princes who were being slain, and [put] him and his nurse in a bedroom.  And they kept him hidden from Athalian so that he was not put to death.  He stayed with her for six years, hidden in the House of the LORD, while Athaliah reigned over the land.

The chiefs of hundreds did just as Jehoiada ordered:  Each took his men–those who were off duty that week–and they presented themselves to Jehoiada the priest.  The priest gave the chiefs of hundreds of King David’s spears and quivers that were kept in the House of the LORD.  The guards, each with his weapons at the ready, stationed themselves–from the south end of the House to the north end of the House, at the altar and the House–to guard the king on every side.  [Jehoiada] then brought out the king’s son, and placed upon him the crown and insignia.  They anointed him and proclaimed him king; they clapped their hands and shouted,

Long live the king!

When Athaliah heard the shouting of the guards [and] the people, she came out to the people in the House of the LORD.  She looked about and saw the king, standing by the pillar, as was the custom, the chiefs with their trumpets beside the king, and all the people of the land rejoicing and blowing trumpets.  Athaliah rent her garments and cried out,

Treason, treason!

Then the priest Jehoiada gave the command to the army officers, the chiefs of hundreds, and said to them,

Take her out between the ranks and, if anyone follows her, put her to the sword.

For the priest thought:

Let her not be put to death in the House of the LORD.

They cleared a passageway for her and she entered the royal palace  through the horses’ entrance; there she was put to death.

And Jehoiada solemnized the covenant between the LORD, on the one hand, and the king and the people, on the other–as well as between the king and the people–and they should be the people of the LORD.  Thereupon all the people of the land went up to the temple of Baal.  They tore it down and smashed its altars and images to bits, and they slew Mattan, the priest of Baal, in front of the altars.  [Jehoiada] the priest then placed guards over the House of the LORD.  He took the chiefs of hundreds, the Carites, the guards, and all the people of the land, and they escorted the king from the House of the LORD into the royal palace by the gate of the guards.  And he ascended the royal throne.  All the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was quiet.  As for Athaliah, she had been put to death in the royal palace.

Psalm 132:11-19 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

11  The LORD has sworn an oath to David;

in truth, he will not break it:

12  ”A son, the fruit of your body

will I set upon your throne.

13  If your children keep my covenant

and my testimonies that I shall teach them,

their children will sit upon your throne for evermore.”

14  For the LORD has chosen Zion;

he has desired her for his habitation:

15  ”This shall be my resting-place for ever;

here will I dwell, for I delight in her.

16  I will surely bless her provisions,

and satisfy her poor with bread.

17  I will clothe her priests with salvation,

and her faithful people will rejoice and sing.

18  There will I make the horn of David flourish;

I have prepared a lamp for my Anointed.

19  As for his enemies, I will clothe them with shame;

but as for him, his crown will shine.”

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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A Related Post:

Week of Proper 6:  Friday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/04/week-of-proper-6-friday-year-1/

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Since the Canadian Anglican lectionary skips eight chapters, I begin with a summary of them:

  1. Elisha worked wonders.
  2. Elisha anointed Jehu as King of Israel, thereby completing a task God had assigned to Elijah.
  3. Jehu overthrew King Ahaziah, son of Ahab.  Ahaziah of Israel died.  Jezebel died.  Many other members of that dynasty died.  Jehu ordered the killing of many followers of Baal and the destruction of the temple of Baal in his kingdom.  Yet, according to the text, he did not go far enough in combating idolatry.  Jehu died after reigning for 28 years.  His son Jehoahaz succeeded him as king in 814 B.C.E.
  4. In the Kingdom of Judah King Jehoram (Joram) reigned from 851 to 843 B.C.E.  He married Athaliah, a sister of King Ahab of Israel.  The text says that Jehoram (Joram) “followed the practices of the kings of Israel” and displeased God.  Judah also lost territory during the reign of Jehoram (Joram).
  5. His son Ahaziah (Jehoahaz) reigned for one year, ending with his death.

That brings us to the reading in 2 Kings 11, set in 842-836 B.C.E.

The authors of 1-2 Samuel and 1-2 Kings did not envision a multicultural western liberal democracy with freedom of religion.  I, of  course, support the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.  Yet I understand that it is a product of political thought subsequent to the time of the biblical writers.

History demonstrates that theocracy is detrimental to the alleged heretics.  Certain post-Constantinian Roman emperors persecuted the adherents of schools of Christian theology they considered heretical.  Later, in Europe, some Protestant potentates persecuted Roman Catholics, many Roman Catholic potentates did the same to Protestants, and both despised the Anabaptists actively.  And, in Puritan New England, authorities hanged Quakers and exiled other dissenters, notably Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson.

The Bible is many things, but not an authoritative treatise on political science.  The Kings of Judah and Israel (except for the few who were puppets of foreign powers) were absolute monarchs. They lived in a pre-Enlightenment world, one which had not enshrined the principle of liberty of conscience.  So we ought not to apply the worldview of the authors from the Old Testament times to today, for to so is to advocate theocracy, the murder or execution of religious dissidents, the suppression of alleged heresy, and the union of church and state.

Books such as 1-2 Kings did not exist in their current form until centuries after the events they describe.  The final editing of these texts occurred in the wake of the Babylonian Exile and the return from it.  Those who produced the final drafts believed that idolatry had been the downfall of the Jewish kingdoms.  So it is no wonder that 1-2 Kings, originally one book, tell the story this way.

I propose that the failing of many of these monarchs with regard to idolatry was to encourage it.  They were not solely responsible for the worship of other deities, a practice embedded deeply in the culture.  They could have, however, modeled good behavior and sound practice.

As for we commoners today, we can, each in his or her own setting, model good behavior and sound practice.  May we do so.  If we are already doing this, may we continue to do so.

KRT

Week of Proper 6: Thursday, Year 2   1 comment

Above:  Elisha

“Your Kingdom Come!”

JUNE 18, 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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Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 48:1-14 (An American Translation):

Then the prophet Elijah arose like fire,

And his word burned like a torch;

He brought a famine upon them,

And made them few by his zeal,

By the word of the Lord he shut up heaven;

In the same way, he brought down fire three times.

How glorified you were, Elijah, in your wonderful acts,

And who can glory like you?

You who raised one who was dead, from death,

And from Hades, by the word of the Most High;

Who brought kings down to destruction,

And distinguished men from their beds.

Who heard rebukes at Sinai,

And judgments of vengeance at Horeb;

Who anointed kings to exact retribution,

And prophets to succeed him;

Who were taken up in a whirlwind of fire,

In a chariot with fiery horses;

Who, it is written, is to come in rebuke at the appointed time,

To quiet anger before it becomes wrath,

To turn the heart of the father to his son,

And to reform the tribes of Jacob.

Happy are those who saw you,

And those who fell asleep in love;

For we will surely live.

When Elijah was sheltered by the whirlwind,

Elisha was filled with his spirit.

In all his days he was not shaken by any ruler

And no one overmastered him.

Nothing was too wonderful for him,

And when he had fallen asleep, his body prophesied.

In life he did signs,

And after his death he worked wonders.

Psalm 97 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 The LORD is King;

let the earth rejoice;

let the multitude of the isles be glad.

2 Clouds and darkness are round about him,

righteousness and justice are the foundations of his throne.

A fire goes before him

and burns up his enemies on every side.

4 His lightnings light up the world;

the earth sees it and is afraid.

The mountains melt like wax at the presence of the LORD,

at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.

The heavens declare his righteousness,

and all the peoples see his glory.

Confounded be all who worship carved images

and delight in false gods!

Bow down before him, all you gods.

Zion hears and is glad, and the cities of Judah rejoice,

because of your judgments, O LORD.

For you are the LORD,

most high over all the earth;

you are exalted far above all gods.

10 The LORD loves those who hate evil;

he preserves the lives of the saints

and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.

11 Light has sprung up for the righteous,

and joyful gladness for those who are truehearted.

12 Rejoice in the LORD, you righteous,

and give thanks to his holy Name.

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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A Related Post:

Week of Proper 6:  Thursday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/03/week-of-proper-6-thursday-year-1/

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There is a famous roll call of faith in the Epistle to the Hebrews.  Many of my coreligionists might not know, however, that Sirach/Ecclesiasticus offers a more extensive and an older honor roll of the righteous, beginning in Chapter 44 and terminating in Chapter 50.  There we read summaries of the careers of Elijah and Elisha, praised for bringing glory to God, even though idolatry persisted in the land.  That, however, was not their fault.

I have found this recent line of Old Testament lessons increasingly tedious.  “More Baal worshipers are dead?  This is old news.  Same song, fifth verse!” I exclaim to myself within my cranium.  The only way I can make any spiritually helpful sense of all this is focusing now on this day’s reading from Sirach/Ecclesiasticus and connecting it to Matthew 6:9:

Our Father in heaven,

Your name be revered!

Your kingdom come!

Elijah and Elisha had their faults, as all of us do.  Yet they served YHWH, the only deity.  They sought, albeit unsuccessfully, to end the worship of other gods so that people in the Kingdom of Israel would worship only YHWH.  We must not bow down to idols and imaginary gods, which distract us from God.  May anyone who takes note of us say that we worship God alone, love God fully, and love our neighbors as ourselves.  That is a difficult calling, one we can accomplish by grace.

KRT