Archive for the ‘Luke 14’ Tag

Devotion for Proper 9 (Ackerman)   1 comment

Above:   Christ Healing, by Rembrandt van Rijn

Image in the Public Domain

Compassion and the Sabbath

JULY 5, 2020


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


Numbers 12:1-15

Psalm 53

Acts 12:6-19

Luke 14:2-6


The standard English-language translation of the opening line of Psalms 14 and 53 is that a fool thinks that there is no God.   However, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985) has the benighted man thinking that God does not care.   This gets to the point of practical atheism, not the modern, widespread reality of theoretical atheism, rare in the ancient Middle East.  Indeed, God cares jealously in the Bible.  God objects strenuously whenever someone challenges Moses.  God also sends an angel to break St. Simon Peter out of prison.

The portion from Luke 14 exists within a larger narrative context–the eschatological banquet, symbolic of the Kingdom of God.  Jesus is at a banquet at the home of a leading Pharisee on the Sabbath.   In the reading assigned for today our Lord and Savior heals a man afflicted with dropsy, or severe retention of fluid.  The fact that he does this on the Sabbath becomes controversial immediately.  Jesus rebuts that even they rescue a child or an ox from a well on the Sabbath.  They cannot argue against him.

Father Raymond E. Brown, in his magisterial Introduction to the New Testament (1997), wrote the following:

Actually at Qumran there was a prohibition of pulling a newborn animal our of a pit on the Sabbath (CD 11:13-14).

–Page 248

Every day is a proper day to act out of compassion, according to Jesus, although not the community at Qumran.

In the great eschatological banquet the blind, the lame, the poor, and the crippled are welcome–even preferred guests.   One ought to invite them because it is the right thing to do.  One should commit good deeds out of compassion and piety, not the desire for reciprocal treatment.  Grace is not transactional.

The temptation to relate to God in transactional terms is a powerful one.  It is, among other things, a form of works-based righteousness, a major theological error.  Keeping the Covenant, at its best, is a matter of faithful response to God.  (“If you love me, keep my commandments.”–John 14:15)  However useful having a list of instructions can be, that list can easily become for one a checklist to manipulate, until one violates major tenets while honoring minor facets.  In the Jewish tradition one finds longstanding recognition of a summary of the Law of Moses:  Love God fully and one’s neighbor as oneself.

So healing a man on the Sabbath should not be controversial, should it?  (John 7:22-24)

But what about Sabbath laws?  There is a death penalty for working on the Sabbath (Numbers 15:32-36), except when there is not (Leviticus 12:3).  If the eighth day of a boy’s life falls on the Sabbath, the circumcision of the child must, according to the Law of Moses, occur on the Sabbath.  But do not dare to collect sticks on the Sabbath!   Removing part of a male on the Sabbath is permissible, so why not making someone whole?

Every day is a good day to act compassionately, according to Jesus.  God cares about the needs of people each day.  So should we.









Devotion for Wednesday After Proper 17, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Urban Traffic at Night

Above:  Urban Traffic at Night

Image in the Public Domain

Too Busy for God



The Collect:

O God, you resist those who are proud and give grace those who are humble.

Give us the humility of your Son, that we may embody

the generosity of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 46


The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 57:14-21

Psalm 119:65-72

Luke 14:15-24


You have been generous to your servant, Yahweh,

true to your promise.

–Psalm 119:65, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)


In Isaiah 57:14-21 we read of God, who revives the spirits of the lowly and the contrite and who removes all obstacles from the road of the people of God.  Thus God is laying out the welcome mat for everyone, but many people will refuse the invitation.

Luke 14:15-24 tells the story of a banquet, its host, those invited to attend it, and those who actually attended it.  When the time of the banquet nears, some of those who had accepted the invitation make excuses and stay away instead.  The annoyed host sends his servant to fill the empty places with

the poor and crippled and blind and lame.

–Verse 21c, J. B. Phillips, The New Testament in Modern English–Revised Edition (1972)

The servant does that, but empty places remain.  The host sends him out again to find more guests.

The heading of this passage in The New Testament in Modern English (1972) is

Men who are “too busy” for the kingdom of God.

That fits well and applies to my point.  God is the host in the parable.  He obviously has no qualms about violating social standards of propriety regarding socio-economic status.  The host is knocking down barriers, not erecting them.  Some of the invited guests construct barriers with regard to themselves, however.  The host seeks to include them yet they exclude themselves.

Many people drop out of church because they declare themselves atheists or agnostics.  Others, citing perceived doctrinal drift and alleged apostasy, leave some churches for other congregations.  Others drop out of church because they are too busy, they say.  They are not protesting any heresy, alleged or actual; they are simply distracted.  To be too busy for God is negative.  If one is too busy, one should remove something else from one’s schedule.  (Many people do lead overly programmed lives.)  After all, we all depend entirely on God.  Should we not respond to God faithfully and joyfully?






Devotion for Wednesday After Proper 3, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Salt Shaker

Above:   Salt Shaker

Image Source = Dubravko Sorić

Salt of the Earth

MAY 25, 2016


The Collect:

O God our rock, your word brings life to the whole creation

and salvation from sin and death.

Nourish our faith in your promises, and ground us in your strength,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 38


The Assigned Readings:

Proverbs 5:1-23

Psalm 1

Luke 14:35-35


The wicked man will be trapped in his iniquities;

He will be caught up in the ropes of his sin.

He will die for lack of discipline,

Infatuated by his great folly.

–Proverbs 5:22-23, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)


The brief lection from Luke 14 is about salt:

“Salt is good; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored?  It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; they throw it away.  Let anyone with ears to hear listen!”

–Verses 34-35, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

Salt is indeed good.  It is also bad in excess.  Likewise, too little salt proves harmful also.  Salt is a preservative and an agent for amplifying favor.  It is an appropriate choice of material for a parable about what people of God are supposed to be and do.  They are here on the planet to add flavor, neither to shirk their responsibilities nor to get in God’s way.  Doing too little and too much are both negative.

Making those assertions is easy.  Recognizing the difference between enough and too little on one hand and enough and too much on the other hand, however, is more difficult.  May we, by grace, know what to do in each circumstance.  May we know what to do, and when to do it.  May we know when to act as God’s instruments of healing in the world and when to back off and get out of God’s way.  May we lead spiritually disciplined lives that bring glory to God and benefit our fellow human beings.









Proper 18, Year C   9 comments


Above:  A Prospector and His Dog in Alaska, 1900-1930

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsc-01605

Image Source = Library of Congress

Packing and Unpacking for Discipleship

The Sunday Closest to September 7

Thirteenth Sunday After Pentecost



The Assigned Readings:

Jeremiah 18:1-11 and Psalm 139:105, 12-17


Deuteronomy 30:15-20 and Psalm 1


Philemon 1-21

Luke 14:25-33

The Collect:

Grant us, O Lord, to trust in you with all our hearts; for, as you always resist the proud who confide in their own strength, so you never forsake those who make their boast of your mercy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for everAmen.


Some Related Posts:

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

Prayer of Confession:

Prayer of Dedication:


I used to think that Onesimus was a runaway slave.  Authority figures in church told me that he was.  Commentaries and notes in study Bibles told me that he was.  Then, one day, I read another perspective, which prompted me to reread the short epistle again.  And it turns out that nowhere does Paul indicate why Onesimus and Philemon were in separate cities.  And the Greek text of verse 16 translates as

as if a slave,


as though a slave.

So the text itself does not indicate that Onesimus was a slave, much less a fugitive.  These close readings of the actual text–not the imagined one–prove to be useful reminders of the importance of reading what the Bible says, not what one thinks it says.

The definition of Christian discipleship is following Jesus.  One must pack lightly for that journey, leaving much behind.  (A partial list follows.)  One must leave behind misunderstandings and false preconceptions.  One must leave behind hatred, violence, grudges, and unfounded fears, which bring out the worst in human behavior.  One must leave behind the desire to scapegoat.  Jesus became a scapegoat and a victim of violence, but the Romans still destroyed Jerusalem in time.  And God reversed death, the major consequence of the violence which killed our Lord.  We must leave behind willful disobedience to God.  I refer you, O reader, to the rest of Jeremiah 18; that text speaks of willful disobedience, not ignorant sinning.  We must also leave behind ignorant sinning, which is also destructive.

Instead, may we pack, among other things, love and respect for God and each other.  Recently I reread Ephesians, a fine epistle which makes clear that how we treat others matters very much to God.  That letter encourages putting up with each other’s weaknesses and  not grieving the Holy Spirit, not committing violence against each other.  (See Chapters 4 and 5.)  May we pack the Golden Rule.  May we pack kindness.  May we pack the willingness to sacrifice self for another.  May we pack the awareness that what we do and do not do affects others.  May we pack compassion.  Our task demands no less of us.










Proper 17, Year C   9 comments

Christ Pantocrator Moody

Above:  Christ Pantocrator, Daphni, Greece

Duties to God and Each Other

The Sunday Closest to August 31

Twelfth Sunday After Pentecost



The Assigned Readings:

Jeremiah 2:4-13 and Psalm 81:1, 10-16


Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 10:12-18 or Proverbs 25:6-7 and Psalm 112


Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16

Luke 14:1, 7-14

The Collect:

Grant, O merciful God, that your Church, being gathered together in unity by your Holy Spirit, may show forth your power among all peoples, to the glory of your Name; 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:

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

Prayer of Confession:

Prayer of Dedication:


Let mutual love continue.

–Hebrews 13:1, New Revised Standard Version

Thus I find my theme for this post.  That theme unites the assigned readings for Proper 17, Year C.  The rest of the Hebrews lection speaks of our obligations to God and each other.  These duties exist in the context of mutual love.

I am, among other things, intellectually honest.  The readings from Jeremiah 2, Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 10, and Psalm 81 speak of divine judgment for faithlessness among people for God has done much.  These lections do not seem loving.  And Psalm 112 sounds too much like Prosperity Theology for my comfort.  I can think of parts of both Testaments which contradict it.  If you, O reader, expect me to provide simple answers to these, I will disappoint you.  I could provide such answers, but I would do so insincerely and they would be useless.

I write these words during Advent 2012.  (I like to write ahead of schedule.)  During this time the words attributed to Hannah in 1 Samuel 2 and Mary in Luke 1 ring in my head.

The LORD makes poor and makes rich,

he brings low, he also exalts.

He raises up the poor from the dust;

he lifts up the needy from the ash heap,

to make them sit with princes

and inherit a seat of great honor.

–1 Samuel 2:7-8a, New Revised Standard Version


He has routed the proud and all their schemes;

he has brought down monarchs from their thrones,

and raised high the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things,

and sent the rich empty away.

–Luke 1:51b-53, Revised English Bible

Those beloved passages are consistent with Jeremiah 2, Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 10, and Psalm 81.  Whether this reversal of fortune is good news depends on who one is.

The context for this reversal of fortune is faithlessness to God, who has done much for us.  It is polite to be grateful to one who delivers, is it not?  So attitudes occupy the heart of the matter.  And we cannot love God, whom we cannot see, unless we love people, whom we can see.  Our deeds will reveal our creeds.  That much I know for certain.  As for the rest, ask God.









Week of Proper 26: Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, Year 2   13 comments

Above:  St. James Episcopal Church, Cedartown, Georgia, May 1, 2011

Image Source = Bill Monk, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

“At the Name of Jesus….”

NOVEMBER 2-4, 2020


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.



Philippians 2:1-3:1a (Revised English Bible):

If then our common life in Christ yields anything to stir the heart, any consolation of love, any participation in the Spirit, any warmth of affection or compassion, fill up my cup of happiness by thinking and feeling alike, with the same love for one another and a common attitude of mind.  Leave no room for selfish ambition and vanity, but humbly reckon others better than yourselves.  Look to each other’s interests and not merely to your own.

Take to heart among yourselves what you find in Christ Jesus:

He was in the form of God; yet he laid no claim to equality with God, but made himself nothing, assuming the form of a slave.  Bearing the human likeness, sharing the human lot, he humbled himself, and was obedient, even to the point of death, death on a cross!  Therefore God raised him to the heights and bestowed on him the name above all names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow–in heaven, on earth, and in the depths–and on every tongue acclaim, “Jesus Christ is Lord,” the glory of God the Father.

So you too, my friends, must be obedient, as always; even more, now that I am absent, than when I was with you.  You must work out your own salvation in fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you, inspiring both the will and the deed, for his own chosen purpose.

Do everything without grumbling or argument.  Show yourselves innocent and above reproach, faultless children of God in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in a dark world and proffer the word of life.  Then you will be my pride on the day of Christ, proof that I did run my race in vain or labour in vain.  But if my lifeblood is to be poured out to complete  the sacrifice and offering up of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all.  You too must rejoice and share your joy with me.

I hope, in the Lord Jesus, to send Timothy to you soon; it will cheer me up to have news of you.  I have no one else here like him, who has a genuine concern for your affairs; they are all bent on their own interests, not on those of Christ Jesus.  But Timothy’s record is known to you:  You know that he has been at my side in the service of the gospel like a son working under his father.  So he is the one I mean to send as soon as I see how things go with me; and I am confident, in the Lord, that I shall be coming myself before long.

I have decided I must also send our brother Epaphroditus, my fellow-worker and comrade, whom you commissioned to attend to my needs.  He has been missing you all, and was upset because you heard he was ill.  Indeed he was dangerously ill, but God was merciful to him; and not only to him but to me, to spare me one sorrow on top of another.  For this reason I am all the more eager to send him and give you the happiness of seeing him again; that will relieve my anxiety as well.  Welcome him then in the fellowship of the Lord with wholehearted delight.  You should honour people like him; in Christ’s cause he came near to death, risking his life to render me the service you could not give.  And now, my friends, I wish you joy in the Lord.


Psalm 131 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

O LORD, I am not proud;

I have no haughty looks.

I do not occupy myself with great matters,

or with things that are too hard for me.

But I still my soul and make it quiet,

like a child upon its mother’s breast;

my soul is quieted within me.

O Israel, wait upon the LORD,

from this time forth for evermore.


Psalm 22:22-28 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

22 Praise the LORD, you that fear him;

stand in awe of him, O offspring of Israel;

all you of Jacob’s line, give glory.

23 For he does not despise nor abhor the poor in their poverty;

neither does he hide his face from them;

but when they cry to him he hears them.

24 My praise is of him in the great assembly;

I will perform my vows in the presence of those who worship him.

25 The poor shall eat and be satisfied,

and those who seek the LORD shall praise him:

“May your heart love for ever!”

26 All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD,

and all the families of the nations shall bow before him.

27 For kingship belongs to the LORD;

he rules over the nations.

28 To him alone who sleep in the earth bow down in worship;

all who go down to the dust fall before him.


Psalm 62:6-14 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

6  For God alone my soul in silence waits;

truly, my hope is in him.

7  He alone is my rock and my salvation,

my stronghold, so that I shall not be shaken.

8  In God is my safety and my honor;

God is my strong rock and my refuge.

9  Put your trust in him always, O people,

pour out your hearts before him, for God is our refuge.

10  Those of high degree are but a fleeting breath,

even those of low estate cannot be trusted.

11  On the scales they are lighter than a breath,

all of them together.

12  Put no trust in extortion;

in robbery take no empty pride;

though wealth increases, set not your heart upon it.

13  God has spoken once, twice have I heard it,

that power belongs to God.

14  Steadfast love is yours, O Lord,

for you repay everyone according to his deeds.


Luke 14:12-33 (Revised English Bible):

Then he [Jesus] said to his host,

When you are having guests for lunch or supper, do not invite your friends, your brothers or other relations, or your rich neighbours; they will only ask you back again and so you will be repaid.  But when you give a party, ask the poor, the cripples, the lame, and the blind.  That is the way to find happiness, because they have no means of repaying you.  You will be repaid on the day when the righteous rise from the dead.

Hearing this one of the company said to Jesus,

Happy are those who sit at the feast in the kingdom of God!

Jesus answered,

A man was giving a big dinner party and had sent out many invitations.  At dinner-time he sent his servant to tell his guests, “Come please, everything is now ready.”   One after another they all sent excuses. The first said, “I have bought a piece of land, and I must go and inspect it; please accept my apologies.”  The second said, “I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am on my way to try them out; please accept my apologies.”  The next said, “I cannot come; I have just got married.”  When the servant came back he reported this to his master.  The master of the house was furious and said to him, “Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town, and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.”  When the servant informed him that his orders had been carried out and there was still room, his master replied, “Go out on the highways and compel them to come in; I want my house full. I tell you, not one of those who were invited shall taste my banquet.”

Once when great crowds were accompanying Jesus, he turned to them and said:

If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, even his own life, he cannot be a disciple of mine.  No one who does not carry his cross and come with me can be a disciple of mine.  Would any of you think of building a tower without first sitting down and calculating the cost, to see whether he could afford to finish it?  Otherwise, if he has laid its foundation and then is unable to complete it, everyone who sees it will laugh at him.  ”There goes the man,” they will say, “who started to build and could not finish.”  Or what king will march to battle against another king, without first sitting down to consider whether with ten thousand men he can face an enemy coming to meet him with twenty thousand?  If he cannot, then, long before the enemy approaches, he sends envoys and asks for terms.  So also, if you are not prepared to leave all your possessions behind, you cannot be my disciples.


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.


Some Related Posts:

Week of Proper 26:  Monday, Year 1:

Week of Proper 26:  Tuesday, Year 1:

Week of Proper 26:  Wednesday, Year 1:


1.  At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow,

every tongue confess him King of glory now;

’tis the Father’s pleasure we should call him Lord,

who from the beginning was the mighty Word.

2.  Humbled for a season, to receive a name

from the lips of sinners unto whom he came,

faithfully he bore it, spotless to the last,

brought it back victorious when from death he passed.

3.  Bore it up triumphant with its human light,

through the ranks of creatures to the central height,

to the throne of Godhead, to the Father’s breast;

filled it with the glory of that perfect rest.

4.  In your hearts enthrone him; there let him subdue

all that is not holy, all that is not true.

Crown him as your captain in temptation’s hour;

let his will enfold you in its light and power.

–Caroline M. Noel, 1870

Philippians 2:5-11 forms the basis of the great 1870 hymn, “At the Name of Jesus.”  I do not recall ever singing it prior to attending an Episcopal church.  The 1965 Methodist Hymnal and the 1989 United Methodist Hymnal contain the hymn, so it was at least a hypothetical option in the rural United Methodist congregations I attended as a youth.  More importantly, however, this hymn was not in the Cokesbury Worship Hymnal, so I guess that “At the Name of Jesus” did not pass muster for that reason.  Some of the churches I had to attend when young had quite limited knowledge of hymns, restricted mostly to the Cokesbury Worship Hymnal.  At least I am in a better place now.

The words of the glorious hymn speak of the humility of Jesus.  This theme echoes in Philippians 2,  of course.  And, if one reads the composite lesson from Luke 14, one finds Jesus teaching about humility.  True humility is knowing who one is and being comfortable with that.  Love, like humility, does insist on its own way; it is considerate of others and leads to self-sacrifice.

Take up your cross and follow me,

Jesus says.  These words fit nicely with Paul’s description of Jesus in Philippians 2.  (I adore how lectionaries work very well much of the time!)

I notice also the concern for the Philippians in the epistle.  Epaphroditus, when quite ill, was more concerned about the Philippians’ fears for him than about the fact he was seriously ill.  And Paul sought news from that church, saying that the updates would delight him.  Based on these readings, I propose that the first sacrifices we ought to make to God are apathy and anger toward one another, so that we will have only concern for each other.  That would be a wonderful way to live and become a walking billboard for Jesus.

In your hearts enthrone him; let him there subdue

all that is not holy, all that is not true.

Crown him as your captain in temptation’s hour;

let his will enfold you in its light and power.


Week of Proper 25: Friday, Year 2, and Week of Proper 25: Saturday, Year 2   10 comments

Above:  Paul Writing His Epistles, a Painting from the 1500s

Words of Encouragement

OCTOBER 30 and 31, 2020


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.



Philippians 1:1-30 (Revised English Bible):

From Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all God’s people at Philippi, who are incorporate in Christ Jesus, with the bishops and deacons.

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

I thank my God every time I think of you; whenever I pray for you, my prayers are always joyful, because of the part you have taken in the work of the gospel from the first day until now.  Of this I am confident, that he who who started the good work in you will bring it to completion by the day of Christ Jesus.  It is only natural that I should feel like this about you, because I have great affection for you, knowing that, both while I am kept in prison and when I am called on to defend the truth of the gospel, you all share in this privilege of mine.  God knows how I long for you with the deep yearning of Christ Jesus himself.  And this is my prayer, that your love may grow ever richer in knowledge and insight of every kind, enabling you to learn by experience what things really matter.  Then on the day of Christ you will be flawless and without blame, yielding the full harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

My friends, I want you to understand that the progress of the gospel has actually been helped by what has happened to me.  It has become common knowledge throughout the imperial guard, and indeed among the public at large, that my imprisonment is in Christ’s cause; and my being in prison has given most of our fellow-Christians confidence to speak the word of God fearlessly and with extraordinary courage.

Some, it is true, proclaim Christ in a jealous and quarrelsome spirit, but some jealous and do it in goodwill.  These are moved by love, knowing that it is to defend the gospel that I am where I am; the others are moved by selfish ambition and present Christ from mixed motives, meaning to cause me distress as I lie in prison.  What does it matter?  One way or another, whether sincerely or not, Christ is proclaimed; and for that I rejoice.

Yes, and I shall go on rejoicing; for I know well that the issue will be my deliverance, because you are praying for me and the Spirit of Jesus Christ is given me for support.  It is my confident hope that nothing will daunt me or prevent me from speaking boldly; and that now as always Christ will display his greatness in me, whether the verdict be life or death.  For to me life is Christ, and death is gain.  If I am to go on living in the body there is fruitful work for me to do.  Which then am I to choose?  I cannot tell.  I am pulled two ways:   my own desire is to depart and be with Christ–that is better by far; but for your sake the greater need is for me to remain in the body.  This convinces me:  I am sure I shall remain, and stand by you all to ensure your progress and joy in the faith, so that on my account you may have even more cause for pride in Christ Jesus–through seeing me restored to you.

Whatever happens, let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether or not I come and see you for myself I may hear that you are standing firm, united in spirit and in mind, side by side in the struggle to advance the gospel faith, meeting your opponents without so much as a tremor.  This is a sure sign to them that destruction is in store for them and salvation for you, a sign from God himself; for you have been granted the privilege not only of believing in Christ but also of suffering for him.  Your conflict is the same as mine; once you saw me in it, and now you hear I am in it still.


Psalm 111 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):


I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart,

in the assembly of the upright, in the congregation.

Great are the deeds of the LORD!

they are studied by all who delight in them.

3 His work is full of majesty and splendor,

and his righteousness endures for ever.

He makes his marvelous works to be remembered;

the LORD is gracious and full of compassion.

5 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.

The works of his hands are faithfulness and justice;

all his commandments are sure.

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.


Psalm 42:2-6 (TANAKH: The Holy Scriptures):

Like a hind crying for water,

my soul cries for You, O God;

my soul thirsts for God, the living God;

O when will I come to appear before God!

My tears have been my food day and night;

I am ever tainted with, “Where is your God?”

When I think of this, I pour out my soul:

how I walked with the crowd, moved with them,

the festive throng, to the House of God

with joyous shouts of praise.

Why so downcast, my soul,

why disquieted within me?

Have hope in God;

I will yet praise Him

for his saving presence.


Luke 14:1-11 (Revised English Bible):

One sabbath he [Jesus] went to have a meal in the house of one of the leading Pharisees; and they were watching him closely.  There, in front of him, was a man suffering from dropsy, and Jesus asked the lawyers and the Pharisees:

Is it permitted to heal people on the sabbath or not?

They said nothing.  So he took the man, cured him, and sent him away.  Then he turned to them and said,

If one of you has a son or an ox that falls into a well, will he hesitate to pull him out on the sabbath day?

To this they could find no reply.

When he noticed how the guests were trying to secure the places of honour, he spoke to them in a parable:

When somebody asks you to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the place of honour.  It may be that some person more distinguished than yourself has been invited; and the host will come to say to you, “Give this man your seat.”  Then you will look foolish as you go to take the lowest place.  No, when you receive the invitation, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he will say, “Come up higher, my friend.”  Then all your fellow-guests will see the respect in which you are held.  For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled; and who ever humbles himself will be exalted.


The Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command; 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:

Week of Proper 25:  Friday, Year 1:

Week of Proper 25:  Saturday, Year 1:


Paul wrote the Letter to the Philippians; there is no reasonable doubt about that fact.  The date of composition was no earlier than 52 and no later than 62 C.E., and the setting of the writing was a prison.  Philippi was a major city in what is now Greece.  Located on a major east-west road, its site was strategic.  The church there faced some problems, notably persecution as well as dissention sown by Judaizers and proto-Gnostics.  Such lack of unity in the face of persecution was troublesome.

Some scholars think that this epistle might actually be two letters mashed up.  If so, this is not the only such case in Pauline literature, for scholars have detected the same issue in Corinthian epistles.  Indeed, St. Polycarp, the Bishop of Smyrna martyred in 156 C.E., wrote his own epistle to the Philippian church.  He referred to the Pauline letters to that community:

Not that I should be taking on myself to write to you in this way about the life of holiness, my brothers, if you yourselves had not invited me to do so.  For I am as far as anyone else of my sort from having the wisdom of our blessed and glorious Paul.  During his residence with you he gave the men of those days clear and sound instruction in the word of truth, while he was there in person among them; and even after his departure he still sent letters which, if you study them attentively, will enable you to make progress in the faith which was delivered to you.  Faith is the mother of us all; with Hope following in her train, and Love of God and Christ and neighbour leading the way.  Let a man’s mind be wholly bent on these, and he has fulfilled all the demands of holiness; for to possess Love is to be beyond the reach of sin.–Early Christian Writings:  The Apostolic Fathers, Translated by Maxwell Staniforth; Translation revised by Andrew Louth (Penguin Books, 1987), page 120

I have preserved the unity of Chapter 1.  The scope of the chapter becomes apparent this way but would be lost by breaking it into two sections, per the lectionary.  I have examined the whole chapter closely and fixated on Paul’s tone; he, although in prison, rejoices.  He suffers for Christ and considers this a privilege, one in which the Philippian Christians share.  Paul rejoices because he is in Christ.

Paul had come to occupy a spiritual plane I have yet to encounter.  Reading about saints and pouring over the writings of saints encourages me to persevere more and to whine less often.  Those great men and women of the faith have experienced hardships worse than mine and/or dealt successfully with struggles more daunting than mine.  If they can keep the faith, so can I.

Our journey through the Letter to the Philippians has begun.  I plan to type every word of the epistle, an exercise which will bring me into close contact with that text.  We will resume with Monday in the Week of Proper 26, Year 2.