Archive for the ‘James 4’ Tag

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

04128v

Above:  Jerusalem, Between 1934 and 1939

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-matpc-04128

Intangible Possessions

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2019

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Assigned Readings:

Daniel 9:15-19

Psalm 122

James 4:1-10

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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/

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Advertisements

Proper 20, Year B   16 comments

Above:  A Crucifix

The Real Jesus

The Sunday Closest to September 21

The Eighteenth Sunday After Pentecost

SEPTEMBER 23, 2018

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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/

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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/

Week of Proper 2: Wednesday, Year 2   2 comments

Above:  The Doctor (1901), by Samuel Luke Fildes

Lasting Treasure

MAY 23, 2018

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

James 4:13-17 (Revised English Bible):

Now a word with all who say,

Today or the next day we will go off to such and such a town and spend a year there trading and making money.

Yet you have no idea what tomorrow will bring.  What is your life after all?  You are no more than a mist, seen for a little while  and then disappearing.  What you ought to say is:

If it be the Lord’s will, we shall live to do so and so.

But instead, you boast and brag, and all such boasting is wrong.  What it comes to is that anyone who knows the right thing to do and does not do it is a sinner.

Psalm 49:1-9, 16-20 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Hear this, all you peoples;

hearken, all you who dwell in the world,

you of high degree and low, rich and poor together.

2 My mouth shall speak of wisdom,

and my heart shall meditate on understanding.

I will incline my ear to a proverb

and set forth my riddle upon the harp.

Why should I be afraid in evil days,

when the wickedness of those at my heels surrounds me,

5 The wickedness of those who put their trust in their goods,

and boast of their great riches?

6 We can never ransom ourselves,

or deliver to God the price of our life;

7 For the ransom of our life is so great,

that we should never have enough to pay it,

8 In order to live for ever and ever,

and never to see the grave.

9 For we see that the wise die also;

like the dull and the stupid they perish

and leave their wealth to those who come after them.

16  Do not be envious when some become rich,

or when the grandeur of their house increases;

17  For they will carry nothing away at their death,

nor will their grandeur follow them.

18  Though they thought highly of themselves while they lived,

and were praised for their success,

19  They shall join the company of their forebears,

who will never see the light again.

20  Those who are honored, but have no understanding,

are like the beasts that perish.

Mark 9:38-41 (Revised English Bible):

John said to him,

Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and as he was not one of us, we tried to stop him.

Jesus said,

Do not stop him, for no one who performs a miracle in my name will be able the next moment to speak evil of me.  He is not against us is on our side.  Truly I tell you:  whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you are followers of the Messiah will certainly not go unrewarded.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Some Related Posts:

Week of Proper 2:  Wednesday, Year 1:

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

Week of 7 Epiphany:  Wednesday, Year 1: 

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/11/02/week-of-7-epiphany-wednesday-year-1/

Week of 7 Epiphany:  Wednesday, Year 2:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/07/02/week-of-7-epiphany-wednesday-year-2/

Luke 9 (Parallel to Mark 9):

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

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

–Matthew 6:19-21, Revised Standard Version

Once, in Alapaha, Georgia, there lived a kindly elderly woman named Emily.  Her house was an unofficial museum of local history.  There one could find old maps and photographs, an antique telephone, et cetera.  Most impressive of all was her memory of the local past, though.  One day she told me a story about a doctor, a general practitioner who made house calls.  He kept track of who owed him how much.  The doctor died with people still owing him money, but they never had pay up because he destroyed those records.  His wife, he knew, would try to collect the money, and the patients probably could not pay.  The man had a good heart, and he acted accordingly.

He knew, as did St. Laurence of Rome, that people matter more than money.  The doctor also knew that, as Psalm 49 reminds us in eloquent words, we cannot take our earthly wealth with us when we die.

The biblical ethic concerning money is not anti-wealth.  It is, rather, opposed to the arrogance and presumption many wealthy people have.  We all depend on God for everything, but some people do not realize this because of their attitude toward their money and possessions.  Some people have dealt with this spiritual matter by shedding their wealth.  This an appropriate corrective action for many people.  Yet others can remain wealthy and have a proper attitude, with their philanthropy demonstrating their sincerity.  Proper attitude is essential in this spiritual matter, regardless of the action God calls one to take.

That proper attitude is recognition and acceptance of one’s total dependence on God for everything.  May this guide our actions toward ourselves, each other, and God.

KRT

Published originally in a nearly identical form as Week of 7 Epiphany:  Wednesday, Year 2, at ADVENT, CHRISTMAS, AND EPIPHANY DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on July 2, 2011

Week of Proper 2: Tuesday, Year 2   7 comments

Above:  Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Image Source = Turelio

True Greatness = Serving Others

MAY 22, 2018

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

James 4:1-12 (Revised English Bible):

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.  Unfaithful creatures!  Surely you know that love of the world means enmity to God?  Whoever chooses to be the world’s friend makes himself God’s enemy.  Or do you suppose that scripture has not point when it says that the spirit which God implanted in us is filled with envious longings?  But the grace he gives is stronger; thus scriptures says,

God opposes the arrogant and gives grace to the humble.

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.  Sinners, make your hands clean; you whose motives are mixed, see that your hearts are pure.  Be sorrowful, mourn, and weep.  Turn your laughter into mourning and your gaiety into gloom.  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

Friends, you must never speak ill of one another.  He who speaks ill of a brother or passes judgement on him speaks ill of the law and judges the law.  But if you judge the law, you are not keeping it but sitting in judgment upon it.  There is only one lawgiver and judge:  he who is able to save life or destroy it.  So who are you to judge your neighbour?

Psalm 51:11-18 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

11 Create in me a clean heart, O God,

and renew a right spirit within me.

12 Cast me not away from your presence

and take not your holy Spirit from me.

13 Give me the joy of your saving help again

and sustain me with your bountiful Spirit.

14 I shall teach your ways to the wicked,

and sinners shall return to you.

15 Deliver me from death, O God,

and my tongue shall sing of your righteousness,

O God of my salvation.

16 Open my lips, O Lord,

and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.

17  Had you desired it, I would have offered sacrifice,

but you take no pleasure in burnt-offerings.

18  The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit;

a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

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:

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.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Some Related Posts:

Week of Proper 2:  Tuesday, Year 1:

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

Week of 7 Epiphany:  Tuesday, Year 1:

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

Week of 7 Epiphany:  Tuesday, Year 2:

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

Matthew 17 and 18 (Parallel to Mark 9):

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

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/02/04/week-of-proper-14-tuesday-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 Germane Hymn Text:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/07/01/lord-help-us-walk-your-servant-way/

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Humility is a topic I have covered in other devotional posts, for many passages of scripture address it.  So most of what I write here duplicates the essence of what I have written elsewhere.

True greatness comes in service to others.  Jesus modeled this behavior, and some of the Apostles did not learn the lesson immediately.  But the life of Mother Teresa of Calcutta exemplified the principle of service which our Lord taught by his words and deeds.  Not everyone has a vocation to help the poor of Calcutta, but every person does have a calling to help others as able.  Given the variety of needs, there is a wide range of ways to help others.

Sometimes we judge others, claiming that they do not do enough.  But we have limited knowledge of the circumstances they must face and the resources they have at their disposal.  And maybe they are doing certain good works anonymously.  Furthermore, God knows better than we do how others ought to help.

Mother Teresa said at least once that God calls us to be faithful, not successful.  Of all the messages contained in these readings and this devotional, that might be the most counter-cultural, the one we need to hear the most.  In faithfulness we will find true greatness, that is, greatness as God defines it.  May we succeed in that, by grace.

KRT

Published originally in a nearly identical form as Week of 7 Epiphany:  Tuesday, Year 2, at ADVENT, CHRISTMAS, AND EPIPHANY DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on July 1, 2011

Week of Proper 13: Wednesday, Year 1   16 comments

Above:  The Sinai Peninsula (Gemini 11, 1966)

Image in the Public Domain

Consequences of a Slave Mentality

AUGUST 7, 2019

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Numbers 13:1-2, 25-14:1, 26-35 (Richard Elliott Friedman, 2001):

And YHWH spoke to Moses, saying,

Send men and let them scout the land of Canaan that I’m giving to the children of Israel.  You shall send one man for each tribe of his fathers, every one of them a chieftain.

And they came back from scouting the land at the end of forty days.  And they went and came to Moses and to Aaron and to all the congregation of the children of Israel, to the wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh; and they brought back word to them and all the congregation and showed them the land’s fruit.

And they told him and said,

We came to the land where you sent us, and also it’s flowing with milk and honey, and this is its fruit.  Nonetheless:  the people who live in the land are strong.  And the cities are fortified, very big.  And also we saw the offering of the giants there.  Amalek lives in the land of the Negeb, and the Hittite and the Jebusite and the Amorite live in the mountains, and the Canaanite lives by the sea and along the Jordan.

And Caleb quieted the people toward Moses and said,

Let’s go up, and we’ll take possession of it, because we’ll be able to handle it.

And the men who went up to him said,

We won’t be able to go up against the people, because they’re stronger than we are.

And they brought out a report of the land that they had scouted to the children of Israel, saying,

The land through which we passed to scout it:  it’s a land that eats those who live in it, and all the people whom we saw in it were people of size! And we saw the Nephilim there, sons of giants ffrom the Nephilim, and we were like grasshoppers in our eyes, and so we were in their eyes.

And all the congregation raised and let out their voices!  And the people wept that night.

And YHWH spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying,

How much farther for this bad congregation, that they’re complaining against me?  I’ve heard the complaints of the children of Israel that they’re making against me.  Say to them:  As I live–word of YHWH–what you have spoken in my ears, that is what I’ll do for you!  In this wilderness your carcasses will fall; and all of you who were counted, for all your number, from twenty years old and up, who complained against me, I swear that you won’t come to the land that I raised my hand to have you reside there–except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun.  And your infants, whom you said would become a spoil:  I’ll bring them, and they will know the land that you rejected!  And you:  your carcasses will fall in this wilderness.  And your children will be roving the wilderness forty years, and they’ll bear your whoring until the end of your carcasses in the wilderness.  For the number of days that you scouted the land, forty days, you shall bear your crimes a day for each year, forty years, and you shall know my frustratration!  I, YHWH, have spoken:  If I shall not do this to all the bad congregation who are gathered against me:  in this wilderness they shall end, and they shall die there!

Psalm 106:6-14, 21-23 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

6 We have sinned as our forefathers did;

we have done wrong and dealt wickedly.

7 In Egypt they did not consider your marvelous works,

not remember the abundance of your love;

they defied the Most High at the Red Sea.

8 But he saved them for his Name’s sake,

to make his power known.

9 He rebuked the Red Sea, and it dried up,

and he led them through the deep as through a desert.

10 He saved them from the hand of those who hated them

and redeemed them from the hand of the enemy.

11 The waters covered their oppressors;

not one on them was left.

12 Then they believed his words

and sang him songs of praise.

13 But they soon forgot his deeds

and did not wait for his counsel.

14 A craving seized them in the wilderness,

and they put God to the test in the desert.

21 They forgot God their Savior,

who had done great things in Egypt,

22 Wonderful deeds in the land of Ham,

and fearful things at the Red Sea.

23 So he would have destroyed them,

had not Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach,

to turn away his wrath from consuming them.

Matthew 15:21-28 (J. B. Phillips, 1972)

Jesus then left that place and retired into the Tyre and Sidon district.  There a Canaanite woman from those parts came to him crying at the top of her voice,

Lord, son of David, have pity on me!  My daughter is in a terrible state–a devil has got into her!

Jesus made no answer, and the disciples came up to him and said, “Do not send her away–she’s still following us and calling out.”

“I was only sent, ” replied Jesus, “to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

Then the woman came and knelt at his feet.

Lord, help me,

she said.

It is not right, you know,

Jesus replied,

to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.

The woman replied,

Yes, Lord, I know, but even the dogs live on the scraps that fall from their master’s table!

Jesus returned,

You certainly don’t lack faith; it shall be as you wish.

And at that moment her daughter was healed.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Collect:

Let your continual mercy, O Lord, cleanse and defend your Church; and, because it cannot continue in safety without your help, protect and govern it always by your goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Sometimes I wish that biblical authors had noted the tone of voice in which a person, such as Jesus, spoke, when writing about certain incidents.  The story of the conversation between Jesus and the Gentile woman is such a case.  But some details in the account provide fascinating clues.

Most importantly, Jesus was in the district of Tyre and Sidon, which was Gentile central.  And he went there voluntarily.  If he had a serious attitude problem regarding Gentiles, he would not have gone there voluntarily.  It is also vital to note that he granted the woman’s request to heal her daughter, even after his comment about throwing table scraps to dogs, who were allegedly impure and unclean animals, not beloved furry family members, as many North Americans think of domesticated canines.  But the woman expected our Lord’s mercy and made her case for it to his face.  She had faith and was persistent in it, and she went away satisfied.  She passed the test.

The Gentile woman did not have a slave mentality.  But the generation of Israelites that escaped from Egypt did.

Professor Richard Elliott Friedman makes the case for the existence of this slave mentality in his Commentary on the Torah.  Time after time the children of Israel had waxed nostalgic about Egyptian table scraps and complained about how God provided for them in the wilderness.  Mentally, they were still in Egypt, where they depended upon their overlords.  But YHWH offered them something far better–freedom.  Alas, they were not ready for it.  They were afraid of so much, mostly that they would die in the desert.  So they reacted fearfully.  Those actions had consequences, including their death in the wilderness.  Those who lacked a slave mentality were destined to reach the promised land.

This is what is really going on the the reading from Numbers.  The origin of the Nephilim is an interesting intellectual and mythological knot to attempt to untie, but it serves no useful devotional purpose for me today.  The Nephilim scared many Israelites; that is the important detail about them today.  The lack of faith and prevalence of fear in this matter constituted the last straw for YHWH in Numbers 14.  That is vital in this account.

At this time my mind turns to James 4:1-6.  It reads:

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 do not pray for it.  Or, if you do, your requests are not granted, because you pray from wrong motives, in order to squander what you get on your pleasures.  Unfaithful creatures!  Surely you know that love of the world means enmity to God?  Whoever chooses to be the world’s friend makes himself God’s enemy.  Or do you suppose that scripture has no point when it says that the spirit which God implanted in us is filled with envious longings?  But the grace he gives is stronger; thus scripture says, ‘God opposes the arrogant and gives grace to the humble.'”  (Revised English Bible, 1989)

Humility, contrary to a widespread misunderstanding, is not beating one’s breast and considering oneself a worthless excuse for a human being.  That is low self-esteem.  No, being humble is having a realistic self-image in relation to God.  So a healthy ego–one neither too small nor raging out of control–is part and parcel of humility.  We humans bear the image of God, and therefore have inherent dignity others are obligated to recognize and respect.  The Gentile woman knew that she and her daughter had inherent human dignity Jesus was obliged to recognize and respect.  She insisted on this, and Jesus granted her request.  She asked–properly–for a just cause, and she received what she requested.  She was humble.

On the other hand, those Israelites with a slave mentality were not humble.  And neither did they expect the best, which they did not receive.  It was a self-fulfilling prophecy.  They were responsible for what happened to them.

Which story more nearly describes you?  If the answer to that question is damning, you can rewrite the rest of your narrative.  The children of Israel had many such opportunities, and they wasted them.  Learn from these ancient accounts.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/04/20/consequences-of-a-slave-mentality/