Archive for the ‘James 4’ Tag

Devotion for Proper 26 (Ackerman)   2 comments

Above:   Churchyard, Christ Church, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1899

Image Source = Library of Congress

Image Publisher and Copyright Claimant = Detroit Publishing Company

Transient, Purposeful Lives

NOVEMBER 4, 2018

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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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Ecclesiastes 7:1-14

Psalm 119:161-168

James 4:11-17

John 11:55-57

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Life is transitory; may we spend it well–for the glory of God and the benefit of others.  May we build each other up, seek the common good, and remember that God is the judge of everyone.  And may we recall that, after we died, it will be as if we had never existed.  Nevertheless, while we are here we can make positive differences; may we do so.

Yet many people devote their lives to negative purposes, such as persecution and murder.  Koheleth extols the value of a good reputation (as opposed to a bad one) and of wisdom (as opposed to foolishness), but even wisdom and a good reputation are transitory.  Better than a good name among people is a positive reputation with God:  “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

This Sunday falls adjacent to the Feast of All Saints, so this is a fitting occasion to ponder those who have preceded us in Christian faith and on whose proverbial shoulders we stand.  The vast majority of them are anonymous to us yet their legacy lives on.  God knows who they are; that is enough.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 21, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALOYSIUS GONZAGA, JESUIT

THE FEAST OF CARL BERNHARD GARVE, GERMAN MORAVIAN MINISTER, LITURGIST, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JOHN JONES AND JOHN RIGBY, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2017/06/21/transient-purposeful-lives/

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Devotion for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday Before Proper 6, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   Leave a comment

Death of Absalom

Above:  The Death of Absalom

Image in the Public Domain

The Parental Love of God

JUNE 9, 2016

JUNE 10, 2016

JUNE 11, 2016

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The Collect:

O God, throughout the ages you judge your people with mercy,

and you inspire us to speak your truth.

By your Spirit, anoint us for lives of faith and service,

and bring all people into your forgiveness,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 39

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The Assigned Readings:

2 Samuel 13:23-39 (Thursday)

2 Samuel 15:1-12 (Friday)

2 Samuel 18:28-19:8 (Saturday)

Psalm 32 (All Days)

James 4:1-7 (Thursday)

Romans 11:1-10 (Friday)

Luke 5:17-26 (Saturday)

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Countless troubles are in store for the wicked,

but the one who trusts in Yahweh is enfolded in his faithful love.

–Psalm 32:10, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

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Absalom rejected his father, King David, who mourned for him after he died.  According to 2 Samuel, David brought the troubled life of his family upon himself via the incidents involving Bathsheba and Uriah the Hittite (2 Samuel 11 and 12).  Absalom also brought his death upon himself by means of his ambition, pride, and variety.  Nevertheless, the grief David felt upon losing another son was real.

People rejected God in the readings from the New Testament.  Rejecting Jesus–especially accusing him of committing blasphemy–was–and remains–a bad idea.  Those negative figures in the story from Luke 5 did not think of themselves as bete noires; they could not fit Jesus into their orthodoxy.  There were also questions regarding our Lord and Savior’s credentials, so the issue of pride came into play.  Attachment to tradition in such a way as to make no room for Jesus was also a relevant factor.

But, as the Letter of James reminds us, God opposes the proud and bestows grace upon the humble:

Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.  Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you men of double mind.  Be wretched and mourn and weep.  Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to dejection.  Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.

–James 4:8-10, Revised Standard Version–Second Edition (1971)

I propose that the grief of God over errant human beings is somewhat like that of David over Absalom.  God loves us selflessly and unconditionally.  Such love warrants reciprocation, but reality is frequently otherwise.  Consequences of that rejection of grace unfold as they will.  Yet abuses and misuses of free will, a gift of God, cannot override divine love, which permits us to decide how to respond to it.  Yes, Hell is real, but no, God sends nobody there.  Those in Hell sent themselves there.

May we not grieve God, who is our Father and our Mother, who, like the mother eagle in Deuteronomy, teaches us to fly and, like Jesus lamenting over Jerusalem, yearns to shelter us under henly wings.  May we succeed in rejoicing God’s proverbial heart, by grace and free will.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 4, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PAUL CUFFEE, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MISSIONARY TO THE SHINNECOCK NATION

THE FEAST OF SAINT CASIMIR OF POLAND, PRINCE

THE FEAST OF EMANUEL CRONENWETT, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MARINUS OF CAESAREA, ROMAN SOLDIER AND CHRISTIAN MARTYR, AND ASTERIUS, ROMAN SENATOR AND CHRISTIAN MARTYR

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2016/03/04/the-parental-love-of-god/

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Devotion for Monday and Tuesday After Proper 20, Year B (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   3 comments

House of Naaman, Damascus

Above:  House of Naaman, Damascus, 1900-1920

Image Source = Library of Congress

Humility Before God

SEPTEMBER 24 and 25, 2018

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The Collect:

O God, our teacher and guide,

you draw us to yourself and welcome us as beloved children.

Help us to lay aside all envy and selfish ambition,

that we may walk in your ways of wisdom and understanding

as servants of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 48

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The Assigned Readings:

2 Kings 5:1-14 (Monday)

2 Kings 11:21-12:16 (Tuesday)

Psalm 139:1-18 (Both Days)

James 4:8-17 (Monday)

James 5:1-6 (Tuesday)

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LORD, you have searched me out and known me;

you know my sitting down and my rising up;

you discern my thoughts from afar.

–Psalm 139:1, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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The Temple at Jerusalem was approximately 140 years old.  The Ark of the Covenant was there.  Repairing the structure of the Temple, which, like all buildings, required maintenance, should have been a priority long before King Jehoash made it one.  The lack of upkeep indicated an improper attitude toward God.

The proper attitude toward God includes humility.  God is God; none of us is God.  We depend entirely upon God (and rely upon each other), so any thought to the contrary is mistaken.  Our interdependence and mutual responsibility (to and for each other) leaves no room for sins such as oppression, exploitation, and gossiping.  Our total dependence on God leaves no room for excessive pride.

Naaman learned humility and monotheism.  Unfortunately, the narrative ended with the beginning of his journey back home.  I wonder how the experience at the River Jordan changed him and how that altered reality became manifest in his work and daily life.  I also wonder if that led to any negative consequences for him.

Martin Luther referred to James as an “epistle of straw.”  The letter’s emphasis on works (including justification by them) offended the reformer, who was reacting, not responding, to certain excesses and abuses of the Roman Catholic Church.  The epistle’s emphasis on works was–and remains–necessary, however.  The book’s condemnations of exploitation and hypocrisy have called proper attention to injustices and other sins for millennia.

I am not a wealthy landowner exploiting impoverished workers (James 5:1-6), but part of these days’ composite reading from the epistle speaks to me.  The condemnation of judging others (4:1-11) hits close to home.  My estimate is that judging others is the sin I commit most often.  If I am mistaken, judging others is one of the sins I commit most frequently.  I know better, of course, but like St. Paul the Apostle, I know well the struggle with sin and my total dependence upon God.  Knowing that one has a problem is the first step in the process of resolving it.

Caution against moral perfectionism is in order.  Public statements by relatives of victims of the White supremacist gunman who killed nine people at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Charleston, South Carolina, have been impressive.  The capacity for forgiveness has come quickly to some.  I rejoice that divine grace is so richly evident in their lives.  For some of us (including the author), however, the capacity to forgive those who have committed lesser offenses has arrived later rather than sooner.  For others it remains in transit.  In any circumstance may it arrive in God’s time.  May the rest of us refrain from judging those struggling with that (and other) issues.

The Didache, an essential Christian text from the second century of the Common Era, opens with an explanation of the Way of Life (filling a page and a half in my copy) and the Way of Death (just one paragraph–about one-third of a page).  The accent on the positive aspect of morality is laudable.  The section on the two Ways ends with two sentences:

Take care that nobody tempts you away from the path of this Teaching, for such a man’s tuition can have nothing to do with God.  If you can shoulder the Lord’s yoke in its entirety, then you will be perfect; but if that is too much for you, do as much as you can.

Early Christian Writings:  The Apostolic Fathers (Penguin Books, 1987), p. 193

We, to succeed, even partially, depend on grace.  Even so, I am still trying to do as much as I can, to borrow language from the Didache, for human efforts are not worthless.  I am imperfect; there is much room for improvement.  Much has improved already, by grace.  The potential for spiritual growth excites me.  The only justifiable boast will be in God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 30, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHANN OLAF WALLIN, ARCHBISHOP OF UPPSALA AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF ARTHUR JAMES MOORE, UNITED METHODIST BISHOP IN GEORGIA

THE FEAST OF HEINRICH LONAS, GERMAN MORAVIAN ORGANIST, COMPOSER, AND LITURGIST

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2015/06/30/humility-before-god/

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Devotion for Thursday and Friday Before Proper 23, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   2 comments

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Above:  Pool of Hezekiah, Jerusalem, Palestine, Between 1898 and 1946

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-matpc-08508

Good and Bad Priorities

OCTOBER 12 and 13, 2017

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The Collect:

Lord of the feast, you have prepared a table before all peoples

and poured out your life with abundance.

Call us again to your banquet.

Strengthen us by what is honorable, just, and pure,

and transform us into a people or righteousness and peace,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 49

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 22:1-8a (Thursday)

Isaiah 22:8b-14 (Friday)

Psalm 23 (Both Days)

1 Peter 5:1-5, 12-14 (Thursday)

James 4:4-10 (Friday)

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At first glance, from a certain point of view, the official actions in Isaiah 22 were reasonable.  Strengthening defenses and securing the water supply at a time of military threat were good ideas.  Yet, according to First Isaiah, they were insufficient:

You counted the houses of Jerusalem, and you broke down the houses to fortify the wall.  You made a reservoir between the two walls for the water of the old pool.  But you did not look to him who did it, or have regard for him who planned it long ago.

–Isaiah 22:10-11, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

And, as the New Testament readings remind us, we must behave toward God and each other humbly if we are to act properly.  This ethic is consistent with the Law of Moses, which teaches that people have responsibilities to and for each other, depend on each other, and rely completely on God.  Rugged individualism is a lie, despite its popularity in many political and cultural sectors.

Among the recurring condemnations of the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah in the Old Testament are:

  1. Idolatry,
  2. Overconfidence in human plans and actions,
  3. Failure to trust God,
  4. Official corruption, and
  5. Economic exploitation of the poor.

Those are timeless condemnations.   The identities of idols change, but idolatry seems to be a human pattern of thinking and acting.  We become enamored of ourselves and pay God too little attention.  Greed for wealth and power lead to corruption, one of the main causes of poverty and related social problems.  And many people either rig the system to create or perpetuate poverty or defend that system, criticizing critics as “Socialists” or other words meant to frighten and distract the oppressed from the real problem.  Yet there is no scarcity in the Kingdom of God, which indicts flawed systems of human origin.

Psalm 23 offers a vision of divine abundance and security.  Enemies are nearby, but safety and plenty are one’s reality:

Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,

and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

–Verse 6, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

More people would enjoy a reality closer to that in this life if more individuals had properly ordered priorities.  We human beings cannot save this world; only God can do that.  Yet we can leave the world a better place than we found it.  We have a responsibility to do that much.  And grace is available to empower us to fulfill our duties.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 29, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE BEHEADING OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST

THE FEAST OF JOHN BUNYAN, PROTESTANT SPIRITUAL WRITER

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/good-and-bad-priorities/

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Devotion for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday Before Proper 21, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Robinson's Arch

Above:  Robinson’s Arch, Jerusalem, Palestine, Ottoman Empire, Between 1898 and 1914

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-matpc-07504

Money, Status, and Ego

SEPTEMBER 28, 29, and 30, 2017

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The Collect:

God of love, giver of life, you know our frailties and failings.

Give us your grace to overcome them,

keep us from those things that harm us,

and guide us in the way of salvation,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 48

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The Assigned Readings:

Ezekiel 12:17-28 (Thursday)

Ezekiel 18:5-18 (Friday)

Ezekiel 18:19-24 (Saturday)

Psalm 25:1-9 (All Days)

James 4:11-16 (Thursday)

Acts 13:32-41 (Friday)

Mark 11:27-22 (Saturday)

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Gracious and upright is the LORD;

therefore he teaches sinners in his way.

He guides the humble in doing right

and teaches he way to the lowly.

All the paths of the LORD are love and faithfulness

to those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.

–Psalm 25:7-9, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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The readings for these days combine to form a tapestry about sin, righteousness, judgment (both human and divine), and forgiveness.  The lessons also overlap like circles in a Venn Diagram.  This richness of content from various sources explains why I have chosen to write from the Complementary Series of the daily lectionary attached to the (mostly Sunday) Revised Common Lectionary.  There is also a continuous reading track, but this one works better for me.

We humans make decisions every day.  As a poster I heard of years ago declares, “YOU CANNOT NOT DECIDE.”  We decide to take one course of action or another one.  Sometimes we decide to do nothing.  Thus, when we sin, we might do so via commission or omission.  There will be consequences of sins and sometimes even for proper deeds; one cannot evade their arrival forever.  No matter how much God approves or disapproves of certain deeds, some human beings will have a different opinion.  Thus divine judgment might seem to arrive late or not at all in some cases and those innocent of a great offense suffer for the sake of righteousness.

Ezekiel 18 makes clear the point that God evaluates us based on what we do and do not do, not on what any ancestor did (or has done) and did not do (or has not done.)  Yes, as I have mentioned in a recent post at this weblog, parts of the Torah either disagree with that point or seem to do so.  Why should the Bible not contradict itself in places, given the lengthy span on its composition?  To expect consistency on every point is to harbor unrealistic expectations.  This why we also need tradition and reason, not just scripture, when arriving at theological decisions.  Anyhow, Ezekiel 18 tells us God does not evaluate us based on what our grandparents did.  This is good news.  What they did might still affect us negatively and/or positively, however.  I can identity such influences reaching back to some of my great-grandparents, in fact.  But I am responsible for my sins, not theirs.  As James 4:17 (The Revised English Bible, 1989) tells us:

What it comes to is that anyone who knows the right thing to do and does not do it a sinner.

Sometimes we know right from wrong and choose the latter because it is easier than the former.  I think that this summary applies to our Lord’s questioners in Mark 11:27-33.  Jesus, already having entered Jerusalem triumphantly while looking like a victorious king en route to the peace negotiations after battle, had also scared the living daylights out of money changers exploiting the pious poor at the Temple.  Our Lord and Savior was challenging a religious system in league with the Roman Empire.  And he was doing so during the days leading up to the annual celebration of Passover, which was about God’s act of liberating the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt.  The man was not keeping a low profile.  He was doing the right things and his questioners were attempting to entrap him verbally.  I suspect that they knew that he was the genuine article and that they preferred to lie to themselves and to oppose him rather than to follow him.  They had matters of money, status, and ego to consider, after all.

Are they really quite different from many of us?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 21, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORGIA HARKNESS, UNITED METHODIST THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT KENNETH OF WALES, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/08/21/money-status-and-ego/

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Devotion for Thursday Before the First Sunday of Advent, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   2 comments

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Above:  Jerusalem, Between 1934 and 1939

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-matpc-04128

Intangible Possessions

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 2016

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The Collect:

Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come.

By your merciful protection awaken us to the threatening dangers of our sins,

and enlighten our walk in the way of your salvation,

for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 18

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The Assigned Readings:

Daniel 9:15-19

Psalm 122

James 4:1-10

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Some Related Posts:

James 4:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/07/01/week-of-7-epiphany-tuesday-year-2/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/06/09/twenty-second-day-of-easter-fourth-sunday-of-easter-year-c/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/01/24/week-of-proper-13-wednesday-year-1/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/07/01/week-of-proper-2-tuesday-year-2/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/24/proper-20-year-b/

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O pray for the peace of Jerusalem:

“May they prosper who love you.

Peace be within your walls

and tranquility within your palaces.”

–Psalm 122:6-7, The Book of Common Prayer (2004)

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The Persians had liberated the Jews from the Chaldeans. So now the Jews lived within the bounds of the Persian Empire.  The prayer attributed to Daniel reflects a major theological strand in the Hebrew Bible:  rampant long-term sin had led to the division of the united monarchy and the demise of both successor kingdoms.  Thus, in Daniel 9, Jerusalem was in ruins.

The two main readings for today insist upon the necessity of humility before God specifically, and, more broadly speaking, of having proper priorities.  Humility is having a realistic self-image–one neither too high nor too low.  It entails knowing that one is, in the context of God, lesser yet not pond scum.  We humans bear the Image of God, who made us slightly lower than the angels.  Yet we are like the transient grass.

The greatest possessions are intangible.  We might have more of them than we know.  So there is no need for us to covet, commit violence, and to engage in fraud and/or conflicts to acquire that which is of lesser value.  Our “stuff,” for lack of a better word, cannot fill the God-shaped hole, but it can bring about a plethora of woes if we approach  it (our “stuff”) with improper priorities.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 5, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ROBERT FRANCIS KENNEDY, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL AND SENATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT BONIFACE OF MAINZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/06/06/intangible-possessions/

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Proper 20, Year B   17 comments

Above:  A Crucifix

The Real Jesus

The Sunday Closest to September 21

The Eighteenth Sunday After Pentecost

SEPTEMBER 23, 2018

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Note:  I have omitted Proverbs 31:10-31, which has no bearing on the other readings.–KRT

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FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #1

Wisdom of Solomon 1:16-2:1, 12-24 (New Revised Standard Version):

But the ungodly by their words and deeds summoned death;

considering him a friend, they pined away

and made a covenant with him,

because they are fit to belong to his company.

For they reasoned unsoundly, saying to themselves,

Short and sorrowful is our life,

and there is no remedy when a life comes to its end,

and no one has been known to return from Hades….

Let us lie in wait for the righteous man,

because he is inconvenient to us and opposes our actions;

he reproaches us for sins against the law,

and accuses of us sins against our training.

He professes to have knowledge of God,

and calls himself a child of the Lord.

He became to us a reproof of our thoughts;

the very sight of him is a burden to us,

because his manner of life is unlike that of others,

and his ways are strange.

We are considered by him as something base,

and he avoids our ways as unclean;

he calls the last end of the righteous happy,

and boasts that God is his father.

Let us see if his words are true,

and let us test what will happen at the end of his life;

for if the righteous man is God’s child, he will help him,

and will deliver him from the hand of his adversaries.

Let us test him with insult and torture,

so that we may find out how gentle he is,

and make trial of his forbearance.

Let us condemn him to a shameful death,

for, according to to what he says, he will be protected.

Thus they reasoned , but they were led astray,

for their wickedness blinded them,

and they did not know the secret purposes of God,

nor hoped for the wages of holiness,

nor discerned the prize for blameless souls;

for God created us for incorruption,

and made us in the image of his own eternity,

but through the devil’s envy death entered the world,

and those who belong to his company experience it.

Psalm 91 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High,

abides under the shadow of the Almighty.

He shall say to the LORD,

“You are my refuge and my stronghold,

my God in whom I put my trust.”

He shall deliver you from the snare of the hunter,

and from the deadly pestilence.

4 He shall cover you with his pinions,

and you shall find refuge under his wings.

You shall not be afraid of any terror by night,

nor of the arrow that flies by day;

Of the plague that stalks in the darkness,

nor of the sickness that lays waste at mid-day.

7  A thousand shall fall at your side

and ten thousand at your right hand,

but it shall not come near you.

8  Your eyes have only to behold

to see the reward of the wicked.

9  Because you have made the LORD your refuge,

and the Most High your habitation,

10  There shall no evil happen to you,

neither shall any plague come near your dwelling.

11  For he shall give his angels charge over you,

to keep you in all your ways.

12  They shall bear you in their hands,

lest you dash your foot against a stone.

13  You shall tread upon the lion and adder;

you shall trample the young lion and the serpent under your feet.

14 Because he is bound to me in love,

therefore I will deliver him;

I will protect him, because he knows my name.

15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him;

I am with him in trouble;

I will rescue him and bring him to honor.

16 With long life will I satisfy him,

and show him my salvation.

FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #2

Jeremiah 11:18-20 (New Revised Standard Version):

It was the LORD who made it made known to me, and I knew;

then you showed me their evil deeds.

But I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter.

And I did not know it was against me that they devised schemes, saying,

Let us destroy the tree with its fruit,

let us cut him off from the land of the living,

so that his name will no longer be remembered!

But you, O LORD of hosts, who judge righteously,

who try the heart and the mind,

let me see your retribution upon them,

for to you I have committed my cause.

Psalm 54 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 Save me, O God, by your Name;

in your might, defend my cause.

Hear my prayer, O God;

give ear to the words of my mouth.

For the arrogant have risen up against me,

and the ruthless have sought my life,

those who have no regard for life.

Behold, God is my helper;

it is the Lord who sustains my life.

5 Render evil to those who spy on me;

in your faithfulness, destroy them.

6 I will offer you a freewill sacrifice

and praise your Name, O LORD, for it is good.

7 For you have rescued me from every trouble,

and my eye has seen the ruin of my foes.

SECOND READING

James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a (Revised English Bible):

Which of you is wise or learned? Let him give practical proof of it by his right conduct, with the modesty that comes of wisdom.  But if you are harbouring bitter jealousy or the spirit of rivalry in your hearts, stop making false claims in defiance of the truth.  This is not the wisdom that comes from above; it is earth-bound, sensual, demonic.  For with jealousy and rivalry come disorder and the practice of every kind of evil.  But the wisdom from above is in the first place pure; and then peace-loving, considerate and sincere, rich in compassion and in deeds of kindness that are its fruit.  Peace is the seed-bed of righteousness, and the peacemakers will reap its harvest.

What causes fighting and quarrels among you?  Is not their origin the appetites that war in your bodies?  You want what you cannot have, so you murder; you are envious, and cannot attain your ambition, so you quarrel and fight.  You do not get what you want, because you pray from the wrong motives, in order to squander what you get on your pleasures.

Submit then to God.  Stand up to the devil, and he will turn and run.  Come close to God, and he will draw close to you

GOSPEL READING

Mark 9:30-37 (Revised English Bible):

They left that district and made their way through Galilee.  Jesus did not want anyone to know, because he was teaching his disciples, and telling them,

The Son of Man is now to be handed over into the power of men, and they will kill him; and three days after being killed he will rise again.

But they did not understand what he said, and were afraid to ask.

So they came to Capernaum; and when he had gone indoors, he asked them,

What were you arguing about on the way?

They were silent, because on the way they had been discussing which one of them was the greatest.  So he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them,

If anyone wants to be first, he must make himself the last of all and servant of all.

Then he took a child, set him in front of them, and put his arm round him.

Whoever receives a child like this in my name,

he said,

receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.

The Collect:

Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Proper 20, Year A:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/29/proper-20-year-a/

Wisdom of Solomon 1-2:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/twenty-seventh-day-of-lent/

Jeremiah 11:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/twenty-eighth-day-of-lent/

James 3-4:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/07/01/week-of-7-epiphany-tuesday-year-2/

Mark 9:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/11/01/week-of-7-epiphany-tuesday-year-1/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/11/13/week-of-proper-2-tuesday-year-1/

Matthew 17-18 (Parallel to Mark 9):

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/02/03/week-of-proper-14-monday-year-1/

Luke 9 (Parallel to Mark 9):

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/04/14/week-of-proper-20-saturday-year-1/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/04/16/week-of-proper-21-monday-year-1/

A Prayer for Those Who Have Harmed Us:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/09/19/a-prayer-for-those-who-have-harmed-us/

O Young and Fearless Prophet:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/09/15/o-young-and-fearless-prophet/

For Our Enemies:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/04/26/for-our-enemies/

Ah, Holy Jesus, How Hast Thou Offended:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/04/17/ah-holy-jesus-how-hast-thou-offended/

A Prayer for Grace to Forgive:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/27/a-prayer-for-grace-to-forgive/

For the Cross:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/17/for-the-cross/

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You want something and cannot have it; so you commit murder.

–James 4:20, New Revised Standard Version

Jesus was a great man–and far more than that.  He, as a historical figure, obviously proved sufficiently threatening to the authorities of his time and place that the Roman Empire executed him via crucifixion, a method reserved for the allegedly worst of the worst.  This was execution as a means of making an example of someone; “Do not do what he did,” the Empire said by killing a man in this fashion in public.  Jeremiah also faced threats to his life due to his obedience to God; the prophet died in exile.  Jesus and Jeremiah were, in the words of the unrighteous in the Wisdom of Solomon, “inconvenient.”

I have little to write this time, for much commentary on the texts, which speak clearly for themselves, is superfluous.  I do have this to add, however:  The Jesus of my childhood Sunday School classes was a nice, smiling man whom animals depicted in posters and the Children’s Living Bible adored.  But being nice did not lead to his crucifixion.  I grew up with an inadequate, safe, domesticated, and acceptable Jesus–a Jesus who bore little resemblance to the actual figure.  The real Jesus was a dangerous man who associated with social outcasts, notorious sinners, and Roman collaborators.  He challenged the religious establishment and disturbed the peace.  He still challenges our comfort zones.  As a cliche tells us, the Gospel comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable.

Certain people in authority decided that Jesus had to die for the common good for for the sake of convenience–mostly for the latter.  So he became a scapegoat.  These men wanted the status quo ante, and Jesus not only rocked the boat but sank it.  So they killed him through a perversion of law.  It was judicial execution.

May we who claim the label “Christian” realize whom we follow.  Then may we, informed by our Lord’s example, rededicate ourselves to our spiritual vocations.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/10/24/the-real-jesus/