Archive for the ‘Isaiah 43’ Tag

Devotion for Proper 17, Year A (Humes)   1 comment

Above:  The Blind and Mute Man Possessed by Devils, by James Tissot

Image in the Public Domain

Good and Bad Fruit

SEPTEMBER 1, 2019

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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 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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Genesis 39:1-21 or Isaiah 43:16-25

Psalm 20

1 Corinthians 8

Matthew 12:22-37

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The timeless principle behind St. Paul the Apostle’s advice regarding food sacrificed to false gods in 1 Corinthians 8 is that Christian believers must conduct themselves so as to glorify God and distinguish themselves from unbelievers.  This need not devolve into Puritanical-Pietistic serial contrariness, such as that regarding “worldly amusements,” but does entail drawing people to God, who ended the Babylonian Exile.

Our Lord and Savior’s critics in Matthew 12:22-37 could not deny his miracles, some of which they had witnessed.  They sought to discredit Jesus, though.  They accused him of performing miracles via the power of Satan, prompting Christ to announce the one unpardonable sin:  blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is actually quite simple to grasp.  When one cannot distinguish between good and evil, one has placed oneself outside the grasp of forgiveness.  One has rejected God.  One bears bad fruit.

There can be a fine line between telling the truth and committing the sin of judging others falsely.  One must be aware of one’s sinful nature, and therefore proceed cautiously and humbly.  Nevertheless, one has a duty to issue moral statements at times.  One simply must not pretend to know everything or more than one does, at least.

Ego and social conditioning can warp one’s perspective.  I know this from harrowing historical-theological reading, such as theological defenses of chattel slavery then Jim Crow laws.  (I refer to primary sources.)  The desire to preserve one’s self-image has long led to perfidy, active and passive.

I am not immune from the negative influences of ego and social conditioning, the latter of which is not inherently all bad.  I too must pray for forgiveness for my moral blind spots.  I do so while seeking to recognize the image of God in others, especially those quite different from me.  I do so while acknowledging the obvious:  the Bible orders us hundreds of times to care for strangers.  I do so while seeking to define my ethics according to the standard of the Golden Rule.  In doing so I find that I must call violations of the Golden Rule what they are.  Therefore, people who support those violations of the Golden Rule are on the wrong side of it.  Yet they need not be.

May we bear good fruit for the glory of God.  May we, like Joseph in Genesis 39, do what is correct, especially when that is difficult and has negative consequences–in the case, incarceration.  May we bear good fruit for the glory of God, in all circumstances, by grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 27, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THOMAS GALLAUDET AND HENRY WINTER SYLE, EPISCOPAL PRIESTS AND EDUCATORS OF THE DEAF

THE FEAST OF SAINT AMADEUS OF CLERMONT, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK; AND HIS SON, SAINT AMADEUS OF LAUSANNE, FRENCH-SWISS ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT DOMINIC BARBERI, ROMAN CATHOLIC APOSTLE TO ENGLAND

THE FEAST OF HENRIETTE LUISE VAN HAYN, GERMAN MORAVIAN HYMN WRITER

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2018/08/27/good-and-bad-fruit-part-iii/

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Devotion for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday After Proper 15, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Star of David

Above:  The Star of David

Image in the Public Domain

The Gifts of the Jews

AUGUST 21, 22, and 23, 2017

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The Collect:

God of all peoples, your arms reach out to embrace all those who call upon you.

Teach us as disciples of your Son to love the world with compassion and constancy,

that your name may be known throughout all the earth,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 45

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The Assigned Readings:

2 Kings 5:1-14 (Monday)

Isaiah 43:8-13 (Tuesday)

Isaiah 66:18-23 (Wednesday)

Psalm 87 (All Days)

Acts 15:1-21 (Monday)

Romans 11:13-29 (Tuesday)

Matthew 8:1-13 (Wednesday)

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Glorious things of thee are spoken,

Zion, city of our God;

He whose word cannot be broken

Formed thee for His own abode:

On the Rock of Ages founded,

What can shake thy sure repose?

With salvation’s walls surrounded,

Thou mayst smile at all thy foes.

–John Newton, 1779, quoted in The Hymnal (1895), Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.

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That magnificent hymn, keyed to Psalm 87, fits well with the assigned Isaiah readings, which speak of the Jews as playing a pivotal role in the salvation of the Gentiles.  And the cure of an enemy general’s skin disease comes via a Hebrew servant girl in 2 Kings 5.  In the time of Christ many Gentiles recognized the superiority of the Jewish faith to pagan mythology.  Our Lord and Savior acknowledged the faith of some of them and the early Church decided not to require Gentiles to become Jews before becoming Christians formally.

These were difficult issues because they were matters of identity, something which takes a negative form much of the time.  “I am not…” is a bad yet commonplace starting point for individual and collective identity.  “We are not Gentiles; we are the Chosen People” is as objectionable an identity as is “We are not Jews; we are Christians, who have a faith superior to theirs.”  Examples and rejections of both errors exist in the pages of the Bible.  My encounters with Jews have been positive, I am glad to say, but I have heard the second error repeatedly.

The question in Acts 15 was whether Gentiles had to become Jews to join the Church, thus it concerned male circumcision, a matter of Jewish identity and strong emotions then and now.  The early Church and St. Paul the Apostle, who never ceased being Jewish, favored not placing obstacles in the way of faithful people.  They favored a generous, inclusive policy which, ironically, functioned as an example of excessive leniency in the minds of conservative thinkers.  How much tradition should the nascent Church–still a small Jewish act at the time–retain?  Who was a Jew and who was not?  Keeping laws and traditions was vital, many people argued.  Had not being unobservant led to national collapse and exiles centuries before?

Unfortunately, Anti-Semitism has been a repeating pattern in Christian history.  The writing of the four canonical Gospels occurred in the context of Jewish-Christian tensions, a fact which, I am sure, shaped the telling of the first four books of the New Testament.  Jesus engaged in controversies with religious leaders, I affirm, but how could the conflicts of early Christianity not influence the telling of those stories?  Sometimes I read these accounts and recognize that misreading of them has had devastating effects on uncounted numbers of people over nearly two thousand years and sit in silence and absolute sadness.  On other occasions I focus on other aspects of these accounts.

St. Paul the Apostle offered sage advice.  Gentiles are a branch grafted onto a tree, he wrote.  That branch ought not to consider itself superior to the other branches.  As for the tree itself, I have only respect for the Jews and Judaism, for salvation is of the Jews.  Besides, I, as a Gentile and a Christian, have much to learn from those whom Pope John Paul II called the elder brethren in faith.  To that end I read and study as I thank God for all the gifts of the Jews.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 15, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF RUTH, ANCESTOR OF KING DAVID

THE FEAST OF SAINT BONAVENTURE, THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT SWITHUN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF WINCHESTER

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/07/20/the-gifts-of-the-jews/

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Proper 2, Year B   10 comments

Above:  A 300s Depiction of Jesus with a Beard

God’s “Yes”

The Sunday Closest to May 18

NOT OBSERVED THIS YEAR

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Isaiah 43:18-25 (New Revised Standard Version):

Do not remember the former things,

or consider the things of old.

I am about to do a new thing;

now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?

I will make a way in the wilderness

and rivers in the desert.

The wild animals will honor me,

the jackals and the ostriches;

for I give water in the wilderness,

rivers in the desert,

to give drink to my chosen people,

the people whom I formed for myself

so that they might declare my praise.

Yet you did not call upon me, O Jacob;

but you have been weary of me, O Israel!

You have not brought me your sheep for burnt offerings,

or honored me with your sacrifices.

I have not burdened you with offerings,

or wearied you with frankincense.

You have not bought me the sweet cane with money,

or satisfied me with the fat of your sacrifices.

But you have burdened me with your sins;

you have wearied me with your iniquities.

I , I am He

who blots out your transgressions for my own sake,

and I will not remember your sins.

Psalm 41 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  Happy are they who consider the poor and the needy!

the LORD will deliver them in the time of trouble.

2  The LORD preserves them and keeps them alive,

so that they may be happy in the land;

he does not hand them over to the will of their enemies.

3  The LORD sustains them on their sickbed

and ministers to them in their illness.

4  I said, ” LORD, be merciful to me;

heal me, for I have sinned against you.”

5  My enemies are saying wicked things about me;

“When will he die, and his name perish?”

6  For if they come to see me, they speak empty words;

their heart collects false rumors;

they go outside and spread them.

7  All my enemies whisper together about me

and devise evil against me.

8  ”A deadly thing,” they say, “has fastened on him;

he has taken to his bed and will never get up again.”

9  Even my best friend, whom I trusted,

who broke bread with me,

has lifted up his heel and turned against me.

10  But you, O LORD, be merciful to me and raise me up,

and I shall repay them.

11  By this I know you are pleased with me,

that my enemy does not triumph over me.

12  In my integrity you hold me fast,

and shall set me before your face for ever.

13  Blessed be the LORD God of Israel,

from age to age.  Amen.  Amen.

2 Corinthians 1:18-22 (New Revised Standard Version):

As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been

Yes and No.

For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not

Yes and No;

but in him it is always

Yes.

For in him every one of God’s promises is a

Yes.

For this reason it is through him that we say the

Amen

to the glory of God.  But it is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us, by putting his seal on us and giving us his Spirit in our hearts as a first installment.

Mark 2:1-12 (New Revised Standard Version):

When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home.  So many gathered around that house that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door; and he was speaking the word to them.  Then some people came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them.  And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay.  When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic,

Son, your sins are forgiven.

Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts,

Why does this fellow speak in this way?  It is blasphemy!  Who can forgive sins but God alone?

At once Jesus perceived in his spirit that they were discussing these questions among themselves and he said to them,

Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven,” or to say, “Stand up and take your mat and walk”?  But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins

–he said to the paralytic–

I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.

And he stood up, and immediately took the mat and went out before all of them; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying,

We have never seen anything like this!

The Collect:

O Lord, you have taught us that without love whatever we do is worth nothing: Send your Holy Spirit and pour into our hearts your greatest gift, which is love, the true bond of peace and of all virtue, without which whoever lives is accounted dead before you. Grant this for the sake of your only Son Jesus Christ, 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 2, Year A:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/11/13/proper-2-year-a/

Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/seventh-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-a/

Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/28/seventh-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-b/

Mark 2:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/19/week-of-1-epiphany-friday-year-1/

Luke 5 (Parallel to Mark 2):

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/ninth-day-of-advent/

Matthew 9 (Parallel to Mark 2):

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/15/proper-8-year-a/

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The readings for the Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B, concern the faithfulness and mercy of God.  Let us take them, each in turn, and relate them to each other.

The lesson from Isaiah 43 exists in context of the end of the Babylonian Exile.  God, via Deutero-Isaiah, declares what is about to happen then asks, in so many words, “How have you treated me?”  The answer is, in so many words, “with little regard.”  ”But,” God says in so many words, “I will forgive you anyway.”  Simply put, God is faithful, and this fact becomes quite plain when we are not faithful.

The faithfulness of God is Paul’s theme in the excerpt from 2 Corinthians.  Paul writes that he, in his dealings with the Corinthian church, has not vacillated.  Neither does God vacillate, Paul writes.  Christ, he says, is God’s “yes,” for the answer to all God’s promises is “yes” through Jesus.

Speaking of Jesus (a good thing to do), he says yes to paralyzed man with four very good friends.   A merely decent human being watching the healing would rejoice for the formerly paralyzed man, at least.  Such an observer might also wonder at the power of God he or she had just witnessed, and therefore give thanks and glory to God.  So why were the scribes grumpy and obsessed with notions of blasphemy?  Jesus, by being and acting like himself, contradicted what they had grown up to believe.  And the reality of his power belied these men’s livelihoods and raison d’etres.  This scared them.

Their only hope was that God overlooked their sin.  And our only hope is that God will choose to ignore ours.

KRT

Published in a nearly identical form as Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B, at ADVENT, CHRISTMAS, AND EPIPHANY DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on June 28, 2011