Archive for the ‘Episcopal Church’ Tag

Devotion for Monday After Proper 29, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Ahaseurus and Haman at Esther's Feast

Above:  Ahasuerus and Haman at Esther’s Feast, by Rembrandt van Rijn

Image in the Public Domain

Two Kings

NOVEMBER 23, 2020

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The Collect:

God of power and might, your Son shows us the way of service,

and in him we inherit the riches of your grace.

Give us the wisdom to know what is right and

the strength to serve the world you have made,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 53

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The Assigned Readings:

Esther 2:1-18

Psalm 7

2 Timothy 2:8-13

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I will bear witness that the LORD is righteous;

I will praise the Name of the LORD Most High.

–Psalm 7:18, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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This is a devotion for the day after Christ the King Sunday.  Pope Pius XI created that festival in 1925, when dictators governed much of Europe, interwar tensions were rising, and the Holy Father perceived the need to issue a reminder that God is in control, despite appearances.  The original date was the last Sunday in October, opposite Reformation Sunday in many Protestant churches, but the Roman Catholic Church moved the date to the Sunday before Advent in 1969.  In the middle of the twentieth century many U.S. Protestants observed Christ the King Sunday on the last Sunday in August.  I have found evidence of this in the official materials of the reunited Methodist Church (1939-1968).  Today observance of Christ the King Sunday (on the Sunday before Advent) is common in many non-Roman Catholic communions.  I have detected in the Revised Common Lectionary and the Common Lectionary before that, as well as in official materials of Anglican/Episcopal, Methodist, Moravian, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Disciples of Christ, United Church of Christ, Cooperative Baptist, Evangelical Covenant, and other denominations.

In contrast to Christ the King we have the fictional Ahasuerus, a pompous figure whose courtiers manipulate him.  He and others figure in the Book of Esther, which the germane notes in The Jewish Study Bible (2004) refer to as a low comedy with burlesque elements, as well as a serious side.  (Comedy has a serious side much of the time.)  The Book of Esther pokes fun at authority figures, one of the oldest pastimes.  Ahasuerus, humiliated when Queen Vashti refuses his summons, decides angrily to replace her.  Before he can reverse that decision, his advisers intervene.  This opens the narrative door for Esther to become the secretly Jewish Queen of Persia just in time for Haman to plot to kill the Jews.  Esther might have been a tool of schemers initially, but she becomes an instrument of God.

St. Paul the Apostle might not have written 2 Timothy, but the letter is of the Pauline tradition.  Certainly the Apostle did suffer hardship due to his obedience to God and agreed, as the text says:

If we have died with [Christ Jesus], we will also live with him;

if we endure, we will also reign with him;

if we deny him, he will also deny us;

if we are faithless, he remains faithful–

for he cannot deny himself.

–2:11b-13, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

Regardless of the situations of our daily life and how they became our reality, may we obey God and do the right thing.  This might prove to be quite dangerous, leading even to death, but so did the path of Jesus, our Lord and Savior.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 8, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SHEPHERD KNAPP, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JOHN DUCKETT AND RALPH CORBY, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND MARTYRS IN ENGLAND

THE FEAST OF NIKOLAI GRUNDTVIG, HYMN WRITER

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/09/10/two-kings/

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Devotion for October 15, 16, and 17 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   3 comments

Pieter_Bruegel_d._Ä._030

Above:  Landscape with the Parable of the Sower, by Pieter Brueghel the Elder

Image in the Public Domain

Deuteronomy and Matthew, Part XIII:  Loyalty and Identity

THURSDAY-SATURDAY, OCTOBER 15-17, 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:

Deuteronomy 13:1-18 (October 15–Protestant Versification)

Deuteronomy 13:2-19 (October 15–Jewish, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox Versification)

Deuteronomy 14:1-2, 22-23; 14:28-15:15 (October 16)

Deuteronomy 15:19-16:22 (October 17)

Psalm 123 (Morning–October 15)

Psalm 15 (Morning–October 16)

Psalm 36 (Morning–October 17)

Psalms 30 and 86 (Evening–October 15)

Psalms 48 and 4 (Evening–October 16)

Psalms 80 and 27 (Evening–October 17)

Matthew 13:1-23 (October 15)

Matthew 13:24-43 (October 16)

Matthew 13:44-58 (October 17)

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Here is a summary of the contents of Deuteronomy 13:1-16:22:

  1. Execute any false prophet or dream-diviner.  (13:1-6/2-7)
  2. Execute anyone who entices another person to commit idolatry.  (13:6-11/7-12)
  3. Execute the inhabitants of idolatrous towns, burn those towns, and destroy all spoil.  Do not rebuild at any of those sites.  (13:12-18/13-19)
  4. Avoid mourning rituals associated with pagan peoples.  (14:1-2)
  5. Eat only ritually clean foods.  (14:3-21)
  6. Pay a tenth of your crops and livestock to God.  (14:22-26)
  7. Provide for the needy and the Levites.  (14:27-29)
  8. Provide debts and free slaves every seventh year.  (15:1-18)
  9. Sacrifice all male firstlings born into your flock to God, assuming that it is a proper physical specimen.  (15:19-23)
  10. Keep a detailed festival calendar and the accompanying instructions.  (16:1-17)
  11. Appoint magistrates who will govern honestly and justly, taking no bribes.  (16:18-20)
  12. Erect no posts, as in honor to Astarte.  (16:21-22)

I have mixed feelings about that material.  On one hand, I approve of the social justice imperative parts of it.  I find even the acceptance of any form of slavery offensive and the command to execute people intolerable.  I know that one theme of the Law of Moses is absolute loyalty to God, so idolatry equaled treason, but some commands seem barbaric to me.  So far as dietary laws are concerned, I note that I have never cared about them.  Proper refrigeration negates some health concerns, as does thorough cooking.  One analysis of the forbidden list says that those animals did not fit nearly into certain categories.  Assuming that the analysis is correct, what was the problem?  Besides, I like to eat ham and intend to continue to do so.

In Matthew 13 we read a series of mostly agricultural parables:  the sower and the seed, the darnel and the mustard seed, the treasure in the field, the merchant and the pearls, and the fish of mixed quality.  And, at the end of the chapter, people in Nazareth lack faith him.  Perhaps they know too much to realize even more.

From those parables I glean certain lessons:

  1. One should remain focused on God, not allowing anything or anyone to function as a distraction.
  2. The good and the bad will grow up together and come mixed together.  God will sort everything into the correct categories at the right time.  That task does not fall to us, mere mortals.
  3. Nothing is more important than seeking, finding, and keeping the Kingdom of God.

I detect much thematic overlap between that material and Deuteronomy 13:1-16:22, with the notable absence of commands about when to execute or destroy.  Yes, Matthew is more riveting reading than Deuteronomy.

I read the Law of Moses as a Gentile, specifically an Episcopalian who grew up a United Methodist.  The Law was like a household servant who raised children, St. Paul the Apostle tells us.  Now that Christ has arrived on the scene, I have only two commandments, not over 600.  So, as long as I am growing via grace into loving God fully and my neighbor as myself, that ham sandwich should not bother my conscience.  And I refuse to execute anyone, for I serve an executed and resurrected Lord and Savior.  To him I am loyal.  In him, not a law code, do I find my identity.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 7, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT DOMITIAN OF HUY, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP

THE FEAST OF HARRIET STARR CANNON, COFOUNDER OF THE COMMUNITYN OF SAINT MARY

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROSE VENERINI, FOUNDER OF THE VENERINI SISTERS

THE FEAST OF SAINT THEODARD OF NARBONNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP; AND SAINTS JUSTUS AND PASTOR, MARTYRS

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/deuteronomy-and-matthew-part-xiii-loyalty-and-identity/

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Devotion for September 30 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   3 comments

ArchUGA1

Above: The Arch, The University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia

Image Source = Josh Hallett

Deuteronomy and Matthew, Part III:  For the Benefit of Others

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 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:

Deuteronomy 1:37-2:15

Psalm 62 (Morning)

Psalms 73 and 8 (Evening)

Matthew 6:1-15

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Jesus, in Matthew 6:1-15, sets the tone with the first verse:

Be careful not to parade your religion before others; if you do, no reward awaits you with your Father in heaven.

The Revised English Bible

This does not mean that religion is or should be a purely private matter, for the truth remains that as one thinks, so one behaves.  The point pertains to motivation.

Aside:  Purely private religion is the opposite of theocracy, of which I am also very critical.  

Evangelicalism, as I have experienced it, is very extroverted.  I, on the other hand, am introverted.  So I have felt out of place around many Evangelicals  much of the time for this and other reasons, including rampant anti-intellectualism (not on my part) and discomfort (also not on my part) with the number and nature of theological questions I am fond of asking and exploring.  I am an Episcopalian, so I like to ask questions.  And I, as an introvert, am especially loathe to wear my religion on my sleeve, but am obviously not reluctant to be openly religious in public.  I do prefer, however, to be so in a generally quiet manner.  And I will not knock on doors as part of an effort to convert others, for I dislike it when others knock on my door for that purpose.  Besides, many people whom I have encountered do not know how to take “no” for an answer; their bad manners offend me.  (Certain Mormons have been especially guilty of such rudeness at my front door.)  That which I do not like others to do to me I try not to do them.  How is that for attempting to live according to the Golden Rule?

One problem of which we read in Deuteronomy 1:37-2:15 is flouting the commandments of God.  There was no public-private distinction in this case, for the the flouting was both public and private.

Doing good deeds in secret, for the benefit of another or others, not for one’s own glory, is righteous and selfless.  It is pure, or at least as close to pure as a human act of kindness can be.  Being sincere before God and not showing off one’s religiosity is honest.  And it does not constitute flouting the commandments of God.

I choose to write about one more aspect of the Matthew lection.  One command of God I have experienced great difficulty in not flouting is forgiving certain people.  It is easy to forgive some yet not others.  But my mandate is is not to make such distinctions.  This struggle continues for me, but spiritual progress has occurred, by grace.  I detect much room for further progress, but I take this opportunity to rejoice in that spiritual progress which has taken place.

It can be difficult to forgive those who have harmed us.  I have my own list of such people; it includes a small group of professors at the Department of History of The University of Georgia.  Their deeds were perfidious; I will not claim otherwise and nothing can change the reality of their perfidy.  But they have only as much power over me now, years after the fact, as I grant them.  And I grant them none.  I refuse to carry grudges against them, for the burdens have proved too heavy for me to shoulder.  I do hope and pray that these professors have, for their sake and those of others, abandoned their perfidious ways.  If they have not done so, that is a matter for God and others to address; my own issues fill my time.

As I think so I am.  As I think, so I behave.  As you think, O reader, so you are and behave.  May we, by grace, be and behave as God approves, for the benefit of others.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 20, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS AMATOR OF AUXERRE AND GERMANUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; SAINT MAMERTINUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AND SAINT MARCIAN OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

THE FEAST OF JOHANNES BUGENHAGEN, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCELLINUS OF EMBRUN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF OLAVUS AND LAURENTIUS PETRI, RENEWERS OF THE CHURCH

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/deuteronomy-and-matthew-part-iii-for-the-benefit-of-others/

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https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2018/03/20/uga-and-me/

Proper 4, Year C   14 comments

Above:  Design Drawing for Stained Glass for Memorial Window with Centurion for Church of the Good Shepherd in Raleigh, North Carolina

Image Source = Library of Congress

Divine Inclusion and Human Exclusion

The Sunday Closest to June 1

The Second Sunday after Pentecost

NOT OBSERVED IN 2019

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The Assigned Readings:

1 Kings 18:20-21 (22-29), 30-39 and Psalm 96

or 

1 Kings 8:22-23, 41-43 and Psalm 96:1-9

then 

Galatians 1:1-12

Luke 7:1-10

The Collect:

Almighty and merciful God, it is only by your gift that your faithful people offer you true and laudable service: Grant that we may run without stumbling to obtain your heavenly promises; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Proper 4, Year A:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/11/15/proper-4-year-a/

Proper 4, Year B:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/07/22/proper-4-year-b/

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/05/prayer-of-praise-and-adoration-for-the-second-sunday-after-pentecost/

Prayer of Confession:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/05/prayer-of-confession-for-the-second-sunday-after-pentecost/

Prayer of Dedication:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/05/prayer-of-dedication-for-the-second-sunday-after-pentecost/

Luke 7:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/06/09/devotion-for-the-sixteenth-and-seventeenth-days-of-easter-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/24/week-of-proper-19-monday-year-1/

Galatians 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/30/week-of-proper-22-monday-year-2-and-week-of-proper-22-tuesday-year-2/

1 Kings 8:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/09/proper-16-year-b/

1 Kings 18:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/08/06/week-of-proper-5-wednesday-year-2/

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A summary of the readings follows:  There is only one God, from whom people (including Elijah and Paul) have received revelations.  The message of God is for all people, who are supposed to revere the deity.  And sometimes one finds deep faith in unexpected quarters.

That last statement, a reference to the Gospel reading, appeals to me on one level and humbles me on another.  I have spent much of my life feeling like a heretic in the Bible Belt.  (I AM A HERETIC IN THE BIBLE BELT.)  Sometimes even Episcopal Church congregations–where I, one who enjoys asking probing questions, exploring possibilities, and becoming comfortable with uncertainty and ambiguity, should find a safe haven–have not always provided safe havens. And so I have been as the Roman centurion–a goy one way another.  Yet God accepts me, however heretical I might be.

Nevertheless I also find a reason for caution and humility.  Which populations do I mark unjustly (without knowing that I am doing this unjustly) as beyond the pale theologically?  Whom do I mistake as a member of a den of heretics?  I am clearly not a Universalist; there are theological lines which  God has established.  There is truth–revealed truth–and many people occupy the wrong side of it.  But do I know where those lines are?  How much do I really know, and how much do I just think I know?  And who will surprise me by being present in Heaven?

I tell myself to mind my own business, to be the best and most conscientious person I can be.  I tell myself to practice compassion and to leave judgment to God.  Sometimes I do.  And I know better the rest of the time.  Thus, aware of this failing of mine, I read Luke 7:1-10 with humility.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 4, 2012 COMMON ERA

INDEPENDENCE DAY (U.S.A.)

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/divine-inclusion-and-human-exclusion/

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Week of Proper 23: Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, Year 2   5 comments

Above:  A Baptismal Font

Image Source = Cadetgray

The Ministry of Lay Persons

OCTOBER 15-17, 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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My practice for this series of devotions based on the Letter to the Ephesians is to keep chapters unified.–KRT

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COMPOSITE FIRST READING

Ephesians 1:1-23 (Revised English Bible):

From Paul, by the will of God apostle of Christ Jesus, to God’s people at Ephesus, to the faithful, incorporate in Christ Jesus.

Grace to you and peace from our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has conferred on us in Christ every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms.  Before the foundation of the world he chose us in Christ to be his people, to be without blemish in his sight, to be full of love; and he predestined us to be adopted as his children through Jesus Christ.  This was his will and pleasure in order that the glory of his gracious gift, so graciously conferred on us in his Beloved, might redound to his praise.  In Christ our release is secured and our sins forgiven through the shedding of his blood.  In the richness of his grace God has lavished on us all wisdom and insight.  He has made known to us his secret purpose, in accordance with the plan which he determined beforehand in Christ, to be put into effect when the time was ripe; namely, that the universe, everything in heaven and on earth, might be brought into a unity in Christ.

In Christ indeed we have been given our share in the heritage, as was decreed in his design whose purpose is everywhere at work; for it was his will that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, should cause his glory to be praised.  And in Christ you also–once you had heard the message of the truth, the good news of your salvation, and had believed it–in him you were stamped with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; and that Spirit is a pledge of the inheritance which will be ours when God has redeemed what is his own, to his glory and praise.

Because of all this, now that I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and the love you bear towards all God’s people, I never cease to give thanks for you when I mention you in my prayers.  I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the all-glorious Father, may confer on you the spiritual gifts of wisdom and vision, with the knowledge of him that they bring.  I pray that your inward eyes may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope to which he calls you, how rich and glorious is the share he offers you among his people in their inheritance, and how vast are the resources of his power open to us who have faith.  His mighty strength was seen at work when he raised Christ from the dead, and enthroned him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all government and authority, all power and dominion, and any title of sovereignty that commands allegiance, not only in this age but also in the age to come.  He put all things in subjection beneath his feet, and gave him as head over all things to the church which is his body, the fullness of him who is filling the universe in all its parts.

RESPONSE FOR THURSDAY

Psalm 98 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 Sing to the LORD a new song,

for he has done marvelous things.

With his right hand and his holy arm

has he won for himself the victory.

3 The LORD has made known his victory;

his righteousness has he openly shown in the sight of the nations.

4 He remembers his mercy and faithfulness to the house of Israel,

and all the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.

Shout with joy to the LORD, all you lands;

lift up your voice, rejoice, and sing.

Sing to the LORD with the harp,

with the harp and the voice of song.

With trumpets and the sound of the horn

shout with joy before the King, the LORD.

8 Let the sea make a noise and all that is in it,

the lands and those who dwell therein.

9 Let the rivers clap their hands,

and the hills ring out with joy before the LORD,

when he comes to judge the earth.

10 In righteousness shall he judge the world

and the peoples with equity.

RESPONSE FOR FRIDAY

Psalm 33:1-12 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Rejoice in the LORD, you righteous;

it is good for the just to sing praises.

2 Praise the LORD with the harp;

play to him upon the psaltery and the lyre.

3 Sing for him a new song;

sound a fanfare with all your skill upon the trumpet.

For the word of the LORD is right,

and all his works are sure.

He loves righteousness and justice;

the loving-kindness of the LORD fills the whole earth.

By the word of the LORD were the heavens made,

by the breath of his mouth all the heavenly hosts.

7 He gathers up the waters of the ocean as in a water-skin

and stores up the depths of the sea.

8 Let all the earth fear the LORD;

let all who dwell in the world stand in awe of him.

9 For he spoke, and it came to pass;

he commanded, and it stood fast.

10 The LORD brings the will of the nations to naught;

he thwarts the designs of the peoples.

11 But the LORD’s will stands fast for ever,

and the designs of his heart from age to age.

12 Happy is the nation whose God is the LORD!

happy the people he has chosen to be his own!

RESPONSE FOR SATURDAY

Psalm 8 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 O LORD our Governor,

how exalted is your Name in all the world!

2 Out of the mouths of infants and children,

your majesty is praised above the heavens.

You have set up a stronghold against your adversaries,

to quell the enemy and the avenger.

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,

the moon and the stars you have set in their courses,

What is man that you should be mindful of him?

the son of man that you should seek him out?

You have made him but little lower than the angels;

you adorn him with glory and honor;

You give him mastery over the works of your hands;

you put all things under his feet;

All sheep and oxen,

even the wild beasts of the field,

The birds of the air, the fish of the sea,

and whatsoever walks in the paths of the sea.

10 O LORD our Governor,

how exalted is your Name in all the world!

COMPOSITE GOSPEL READING

Luke 11:47-12:12 (Revised English Bible):

[Jesus continued, rejoining one of the lawyers:]

Alas, you build monuments to the prophets whom your fathers murdered, and so testify that you approve of the deeds your fathers did; they committed the murders and you provide the monuments.

This is why the Wisdom of God said, “I will send them prophets and messengers; and some of these they will persecute and kill;’ so that this generation will have to answer for the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world; from the blood of Abel to the the blood of Zechariah who met his death between the altar and the sanctuary.  I tell you, this generation will have to answer for it all.

Alas for you lawyers!  You have taken away the key to knowledge.  You did not go in yourselves, and those who were trying to go in, you prevented.

After he had left the house, the scribes and Pharisees began to assail him fiercely and to ply him with a host of questions, laying snares to catch him with his own words.

Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, packed so close that they were trampling on one another, he [Jesus] began to speak first to his disciples:

Be on your guard against the leaven of the Pharisees–I mean their hypocrisy.  There is nothing covered up that will not be uncovered, nothing hidden that will not be made known.  Therefore everything you have said in the dark will be heard in broad daylight, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be shouted from the housetops.

To you who are my friends I say:  do not fear those who kill the body and after that have nothing more they can do.  I will show you whom to fear:  fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell.  Believe me, he is the one to fear.

Are not five sparrows sold for two-pence?  Yet not one of them is overlooked by God.  More than that, even the hairs of your head have all been counted.  Do not be afraid; you are worth more than any number of sparrows.

I tell you this:  whoever acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will acknowledge before the angels of God; but whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God.

Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but for him who slanders the Holy Spirit there will be no forgiveness.

When you are brought before synagogues and state authorities, do not worry about how you will conduct defence or what you will say.  When that time comes the Holy Spirit will instruct you what to say.

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The Collect:

Lord, we pray that your grace may always precede and follow us, that we may continually be given to good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Week of Proper 23:  Thursday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/05/week-of-proper-23-thursday-year-1/

Week of Proper 23:  Friday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/06/week-of-proper-23-friday-year-1/

Week of Proper 23:  Saturday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/07/week-of-proper-23-saturday-year-1/

Links to Baptism and Confirmation Prayers:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/10/31/baptism-and-confirmation/

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Inside my copy of the Revised English Bible, in the Letter to the Ephesians, I have a bookmark from the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta.  The front bears the words,

sealed…marked…forever.

next to an image of a dove.  The back bears the text,

You are sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked as Christ’s own forever.

These words come from the baptismal liturgy of The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 308, to be precise.  Those who prepared the Prayer Book derived the words from Ephesians 1:13.  As an old joke says, it is amazing how often the Bible quotes the Prayer Book.

The Prayer Book catechism, on page 855 of the Prayer Book, tells us:

The ministers of the Church are lay persons, bishops, priests, and deacons.

Furthermore, on the same page we read:

The ministry of lay persons is to represent Christ and his Church; to bear witness to him wherever they may be; and, according to the gifts given them, to carry on Christ’s work of reconciliation in the world; and to take their place in the life, worship, and governance of the Church.

The hope to which God calls us (to borrow language from Ephesians 1) requires something of us.  The grace is free but not cheap, for the price tag was Christ’s blood.  If we avoid martyrdom, we still must give up some things.  If we are to represent Christ and his Church effectively, we must avoid certain pursuits which would bring discredit to both in the minds of some who would associate them with us.  Yet it is also true that the most accurate and laudatory representation will not impress all people.  So may we be accurate so that, when one takes offense, we did not cause it.  Christ does offend many; we cannot change that fact.

So may we live, write, and speak the truth in love, proclaiming–with words when necessary–the redemptive power of God in the crucified and resurrected Jesus of Nazareth.  And may we bring reconciliation, by the power of God, where possible.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/11/06/the-ministry-of-lay-persons/

Week of Proper 23: Monday, Year 2   11 comments

Above:  A Chart of the Western Christian Year

Image Source = Patnac

Rituals and Their Value

OCTOBER 12, 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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Galatians 4:1-5:1 (Revised English Bible):

This is what I mean:  so long as the heir is a minor, he is no better off than a slave, even though the whole estate is his; he is subject to guardians and trustees until the date set by his father.  So it is with us:  during our minority we were slaves, subject to the elemental spirits of the universe, but when the appointed time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to buy freedom for those who were under the law, in order that we might attain the status of sons.

To prove that you are sons, God has sent into our hearts the Spirit of his Son, crying,

Abba, Father!

You are therefore no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, an heir by God’s own act.

Formerly, when you did not now God, you were slaves to gods to gods who are not gods at all.  But now that you do acknowledge God–or rather, now that he has acknowledged you–how can you turn back to those feeble and bankrupt elemental spirits?  Why do you propose to enter their service all over again?  You keep special days and months and seasons and years.  I am afraid that all my hard work on you may have been wasted.

Put yourselves in my place, my friends, I beg you, as I put myself in yours.  You never did me any wrong:  it was bodily illness, as you will remember, that originally led to my bringing you the gospel, and you resisted any temptation to show scorn or disgust at my physical condition; on the contrary you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as you might have welcomed Christ Jesus himself.  What has become of the happiness you felt then?  I believe you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me, had that been possible!  Have I now made myself your enemy by being frank with you?

Others are lavishing attention on you, but without sincerity:  what they really want is to isolate you so that you may lavish attention on them.  To be the object of sincere attentions is always good, and not just when I am with you.  You are my own children, and I am in labour with you all over again until you come to have the form of Christ.  How I wish I could be with you now, for then I could modify my tone; as it is, I am at my wits’ end with you.

Tell me now, you that are so anxious to be under the law, will you not listen to what the law says?  It is written there that Abraham had two sons, the one by a slave, the other by a free-born woman.  The slave’s son was born in ordinary course of nature, but the free woman’s through God’s promise.  This is an allegory:  the two women stand for two covenants.  The one covenant comes from Mount Sinai; that is Hagar, and her children are born into slavery.  Sinai is a mountain in Arabia and represents the Jerusalem of today, for she and her children are in slavery.  But the heavenly Jerusalem is a free woman; she is our mother.  For scripture says,

Rejoice, O barren woman who never bore a child; break into a shout of joy, you who have never been in labour; for the deserted wife will have more children than she who lives with her husband.

Now you, my friends, like Isaac, are children of God’s promise, but just as in those days the natural-born son persecuted the spiritual son, so it is today.  Yet what does the scripture say?

Drive out the slave and her son, for the son of the slave shall not share the inheritance with the son of the free woman.

You see, then, my friends, we are no slave’s children; our mother is the free woman.  It is for freedom that Christ set us free.  Stand firm, therefore, and refuse to submit to the yoke of slavery.

Psalm 138 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

I will give thanks to you, O LORD, with my whole heart;

before the gods I will sing your praise.

I will bow down toward your holy temple

and praise your Name,

because of your love and faithfulness;

3 For you have glorified your Name

and your word above all things.

4 When I called, you answered me;

you increased my strength within me.

All the kings of the earth will praise you, O LORD,

when they have heard the words of your mouth.

They will sing of the ways of the LORD,

that great is the glory of the LORD.

7 Though the LORD be high, he cares for the lowly;

he perceives the haughty from afar.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you keep me safe;

you stretch forth your hand against the fury of my enemies;

your right hand shall save me.

9 The LORD will make good his purpose for me;

O LORD, your love endures for ever;

do not abandon the works of your hands.

Luke 11:29-32 (Revised English Bible):

With the crowds swarming round him [Jesus] he went on to say:

This is a wicked generation.  It demands a sign, and the only sign that will be given it is the sign of Jonah.  For just as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man to this generation.  The queen of the south will appear in court when the men of this generation are on trial, and ensure their condemnation; for she came up from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and what is here is greater than Solomon.  The men of Nineveh will appear in court when this generation is on trial, and ensure its condemnation; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and what is here is greater than Jonah.

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Christian liberty is a theme which runs through the Letter to the Galatians.  This liberty frees us to fulfill our spiritual potential as heirs, not servants, and as children of God.  That is the context for Paul’s words which follow:

Your religion is beginning to be a matter of observing special days and months and seasons and years.–Galatians 4:10, The New Testament in Modern English, J. B. Phillips, 1972

Paul referred to the legalistic observance of Jewish fasts and feasts, as well as to certain Gentile (Pagan) celebrations.  The key word in the previous sentence is “legalistic.”  Many rituals are inherently neutral; the good or bad of them comes from those who observe them.

I am an Episcopalian and an unrepentant ritualist.  I remember a conversation from the early 1990s.  Some students from the Baptist Student Union at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, Tifton, Georgia, criticized formal worship, saying that it consisted of merely going through the motions.  The wording they used suggested that they understood the most sincere worship to be the simplist worship.  They did not grasp that one can go through the motions regardless of whether one has two or thirty-two of them.  And, as Father Peter Ingeman, Rector of Christ Episcopal Church, Valdosta, Georgia, has said correctly, a liturgy is simply an agreed-upon, regular, and predictable pattern of worship.  So anyone who attends a church with an agreed-upon, regular, and predictable pattern of worship goes to a liturgical church.

There is a story, which might be true.  The pastor of First Baptist Church in a county seat town in the U.S. South hosted a community Thanksgiving service.  The local Episcopal priest participated.  At the appointed time, the host pastor introduced the priest:

Now Father Jones from the Episcopal Church will say one of his…written prayers.

The priest walked to the pulpit and said,

Let us pray.  Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by thy name….

Paul did not write that Christians should no longer observe festivals and keep the Sabbath, although an inaccurate reading of the passage can point in that direction.  Indeed, the interpretation of Galatians 4:9-11 has led to the condemnation of the religious observance of Christmas and Easter.  A textbook example of one variety of Calvinist Jure Divino theology is the following resolution, which the 1899 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States, the old “Southern Presbyterian Church,” passed:

There is no warrant for the observance of Christmas and Easter as holy days, but rather contrary (see Galatians iv.9-11; Colossians ii.16-21), and such observance is contrary to the principles of the Reformed faith, conducive to will-worship, and not in harmony with the simplicity of the gospel in Jesus Christ.

The Journal of the General Assembly, 1899, page 430

Rituals mark time and transitions.  This time differs from that time, and a certain ritual divides them.  One can argue convincingly, for example, that a couple is (or ought to be) spiritually married prior to the marriage ceremony, but the ritual does define the moment they become married in the eyes of the church, the state, or both.  This is an important distinction in law and society.  And I had become a de facto Episcopalian prior to my confirmation, but now I have a date to observe every year.  (The anniversary of my confirmation is December 22.)  Rituals help with regard to social cohesion.  What separates boys from men, informal couples from married people, lay people from clergy, and students from graduates?  Rituals.  And what gives unique characters to the seasons of Advent, Christmas, the Season after Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and the Season after Pentecost?  Rituals.

Paul meant that one ought not observe certain days then think that one has fulfilled one’s duties.  Religion ought not to consist entirely of such occasions, but they can enrich it.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/11/03/rituals-and-their-value/

Week of Proper 22: Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, Year 2   13 comments

Above:  Hadrian’s Wall

No Outsiders in Jesus

OCTOBER 8-10, 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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I have chosen to preserve the unity of Galatians 3, instead of breaking it up into three parts, per the lectionary.–KRT

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COMPOSITE FIRST READING

Galatians 3:1-29 (Revised English Bible):

You stupid Galatians!  You must have been bewitched–you before whose eyes Jesus Christ was openly displayed on the cross!  Answer me one question:  did you receive the Spirit by keeping the law or by believing the gospel message?  Can you really be so stupid?  You started with the spiritual; do you now look to the material to make you perfect?  Is all you have experienced to come to nothing–surely not?  When God gives you the Spirit and works miracles among you, is it because you keep the law, or is it because you have faith in the gospel message?

Look at Abraham:  he put his faith in God, and that faith was counted to him as righteousness.  You may take it, then, that it is those who have faith who are Abraham’s sons.  And scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles through faith, declared the gospel to Abraham beforehand:

In you all nations shall find blessing.

Thus  it is those with faith who share the blessing with faithful Abraham.

On the other hand, those who rely on obedience to the law are under a curse; for scripture says,

Cursed is everyone who does not persevere in doing everything that is in the book of the law.

It is evident that no one is ever justified before God by means of the law, because we read,

He shall gain life who is justified through faith.

Now the law does not operate on the basis of faith, for we read,

He who does this shall gain life by what he does.

Christ brought us freedom from the curse of the law by coming under the curse for our sake; for scripture says,

Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a gibbet.

The purpose of this was that the blessing of Abraham should in Jesus Christ be extended to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

My friends, let me give you an illustration.  When a man’s will and testament has been duly executed, no one else can set it aside or add a codicil.  Now, the promises to pronounced to Abraham and his “issue.”  It does not say “issues” in the plural, but “your issue” in the singular; and by “issue” is meant Christ.  My point is this:  a testament, or covenant, has already been validated by God; a law made four hundred and thirty years later cannot invalidate it and so render its promises ineffective.  If the inheritance is by legal right, then it is not by promise; but it was by promise that God bestowed it as a free gift on Abraham.

Then what of the law?  It was added to make wrongdoing a legal offence; it was an interim measure pending the arrival of the “issue” to whom the promise was made.  It was promulgated through angels, and there was an intermediary; one party acting alone, and God is one.

Does the law, then, contradict the promises?  Of course not!  If a law had been given which had power to bestow life, then righteousness should indeed have come from keeping the law.  But scripture has declared the whole world to be prisoners in subjection to sin, so that faith in Jesus Christ should be the ground on which the promised blessing is given to those who believe.

Before this faith came, we were close prisoners in the custody of the law, pending the revelation of faith.  The law was thus put in charge of us until Christ should come, when we should be justified through faith; and now that faith has come, its charge is at an end.

It is through faith that you are all sons of God in union with Christ Jesus.  Baptized into union with him, you have all put on Christ like a garment.  There is no such thing as Jew and Greek, slave and freeman, male and female;  for you are all one person in Christ Jesus, you are the “issue” of Abraham and heirs by virtue of the promise.

RESPONSES FOR THURSDAY:  OPTIONS

Psalm 89:19-29 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

19  You spoke once in a vision and said to your faithful people:

“I have set the crown upon a warrior

and have exalted one chosen out of the people.

20  I have found David my servant;

with my holy oil have I anointed him.

21  My hand will hold him fast

and my arm will make him strong.

22  No enemy shall deceive him,

nor any wicked man bring him down.

23  I will crush his foes before him

and strike down those who hate him.

24  My faithfulness and love shall be with him,

and he shall be victorious through my Name.

25  I shall make his dominion extend

from the Great Sea to the River.

26  He will say to you, ‘You are my Father,

my God, and the rock of my salvation.’

27  I will make him my firstborn

and higher than the kings of the earth.

28  I will keep my love for him for ever,

and my covenant will stand firm for him.

29  I will establish his line for ever

and his throne as the days of heaven.

Canticle 16 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

The Song of Zechariah (Luke 1:68-79) plus the Trinitarian formula

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel;

he has come to his people and set them free.

He has raised up for us a mighty savior,

born of the house of his servant David.

Through his holy prophets he promised of old,

that he would save us from our enemies,

from the hands of all who hate us.

He promised to show mercy to our fathers

and to remember his holy covenant.

This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham,

to set us free from the hands of our enemies,

Free to worship him without fear,

holy and righteous in his sight

all he days of our life.

You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High,

for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way,

To give his people knowledge of salvation

by the forgiveness of their sins.

In the tender compassion of our God

the dawn from on high shall break upon us,

To shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death,

and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;

as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever.  Amen.

RESPONSE FOR FRIDAY

Psalm 111:4-10 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

4 He makes his marvelous works to be remembered;

the LORD is gracious and full of compassion.

He gives food to those who fear him;

he is ever mindful of his covenant.

6 He has shown his people the power of his works

in giving them the lands of the nations.

7 The works of his hands are faithfulness and justice;

all his commandments are sure.

8 They stand fast for ever and ever,

because they are done in truth and equity.

He sent redemption to his people;

he commanded his covenant for ever;

holy and awesome is his Name.

10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;

those who act accordingly have a good understanding;

his praise endures for ever.

RESPONSE FOR SATURDAY

Psalm 105:1-7 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Give thanks to the LORD and call upon his Name;

make known his deeds among the peoples.

2 Sing to him, sing praises to him,

and speak of his marvelous works.

Glory in his holy Name;

let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.

Search for the LORD and his strength;

continually seek his face.

Remember the marvels he has done;

his wonders and the judgments of his mouth,

O offspring of Abraham his servant,

O childrenof Jacob his chosen.

He is the LORD our God;

his judgments prevail in all the world.

COMPOSITE GOSPEL READING

Luke 11:5-28 (The Jerusalem Bible):

He [Jesus] also said to them,

Suppose one of you has a friend and goes to him in the middle of the night to say, ‘ My friend, lend me three loaves, because a friend of mine on his travels has just arrived at my house and I have nothing to offer him;’ and the man answers from inside the house, ‘Do not bother me.  The door is bolted now, and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up to give it you.’  I tell you, if the man does not get up and give it him for friendship’s sake, persistence will be enough to make him get up and give his friend all he wants.

So I say to you:  Ask and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you.  For the one who asks always receives; the one who searches always finds; the one who knocks will have the door opened to him.  What father among you would hand his son a stone when he asked for bread?  Or hand him a snake instead of a fish?  Or hand him a scorpion if he asked for an egg?  If you then, who are evil, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!

He [Jesus] was casting out a devil and it was dumb; but when the devil had gone out the dumb man spoke, and the people were amazed.  But some of them said,

It is through Beelzebul, the prince of devils, that he casts out devils.

Others asked him, as a test, for a sign from heaven; but, knowing what they were thinking, he said to them,

Every kingdom divided against itself is heading for ruin, and a household divided against itself collapses.  So too with Satan:  if he is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand?–Since you assert that it is through Beelzebul that I cast out devils.  Now if it is through Beelzebul that I cast out devils, through whom do your own experts cast them out?  Let them be your judges, then.  But if it is through the finger of God that I cast out devils, then know that the kingdom of God has overtaken you.  So long a a strong man fully armed guards his own palace, his goods are undisturbed; but when someone stronger than he is attacks and defeats him, the stronger man takes away all the weapons he relied on and shares out his spoil.

He who is not with me is against me; and he who does not gather with me scatters.

When an unclean spirit goes out of a man it wanders through waterless country looking for a place to rest, and not finding one it says, ‘I will go back to the home I came from.’  But on arrival, finding it swept and tidied, it then goes off and bring seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they god in an set up house there, so that the man ends up being worse than he was before.

Now as he [Jesus] was speaking, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said,

Happy is the womb that bore you and the breasts you sucked!

But he replied,

Still happier those who hear the word of God and keep it!

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The Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear than we to pray, and to give more than we either desire or deserve: Pour upon us the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask, except through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Savior; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Week of Proper 22:  Thursday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/04/30/week-of-proper-22-thursday-year-1/

Week of Proper 22:  Friday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/01/week-of-proper-22-friday-year-1/

Week of Proper 22:  Saturday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/01/week-of-proper-22-saturday-year-1/

Prayers for Inclusion:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/prayers-for-inclusion/

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Edmond Browning, a retired Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, advocated a church without outsiders.  He did not mean to expel the marginalized; rather, he spoke and wrote of expanding the margins.  Everyone in the church, he said, ought therefore to be an insider.  That was his inclusive vision of the church.  It was a vision consistent with Galatians 3:26-29:

It is through faith that you are all sons of God in union with Christ Jesus.  Baptized into union with him, you have all put on Christ like a garment.  There is no such thing as Jew and Greek, slave and freeman, male and female;  for you are all one person in Christ Jesus, you are the “issue” of Abraham and heirs by virtue of the promise.  (Revised English Bible)

In other words, to quote a great hymn:

In Christ there is no East or West,

in him no South or North,

but one great fellowship of love

throughout the whole wide earth.

–John Oxenham, 1913

This is radical grace and inclusion, the breaking down of barriers and erasing of separate identities, some of them quite old and revered, even comfortable.  So the removal of them quite old and revered, even comfortable.  So the removal of them makes many of us uncomfortable, even within the Christian Church.  So we fortify our walls and stand by our ramparts, so to speak.  Sometimes we even commit schism to maintain these barriers which grace tears down.  We like having a sense of who is an outsider (those other people) and who is an outsider (people like us).

I confess that I am not immune to this tendency.  I catch myself in it more often than my conscience likes.  So, when I condemn such exclusionary tendencies, I refer to mine as well as those of others.  May God deliver us from this sin.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/11/03/no-outsiders-in-jesus/