Archive for the ‘Luke 19’ Tag

Devotion for Wednesday After Proper 26, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment


Above:   Archelaus

Image in the Public Domain

Deeds and Creeds

NOVEMBER 6, 2019


The Collect:

Merciful God, gracious and benevolent,

through your Son you invite all the world to a meal of mercy.

Grant that we may eagerly follow this call,

and bring us with all your saints into your life of justice and joy,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 52


The Assigned Readings:

Amos 5:12-14

Psalm 50

Luke 19:11-27


“Consider this well, you who forget God,

lest I rend you and there be none to deliver you.

Whoever offers me the sacrifice of thanksgiving honors me;

but to those who keep in my way will I show the salvation of God.”

–Psalm 50:23-24, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)


The traditional title for the pericope from Luke 19 is the Parable of the Pounds.  That reading is superficially similar to the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), which teaches the imperative of diligence in the work of God.  In the case of Luke 19:11-27, however, the real point is quite different.

Textual context matters.  Immediately prior to the parable we read of our Lord and Savior’s encounter with Zacchaeus, a man who worked as a tax collector for the Roman Empire.  He was a literal tax thief, although, as we read, he changed his ways and made more restitution than the Law of Moses required.  Immediately after the parable Jesus enters Jerusalem at the beginning of that fateful Holy Week.  The story of Zacchaeus explains verse 11a (“As they were listening to this”); the context of the impending Triumphal Entry is crucial to understanding the pericope which Volume IX (1995) of The New Interpreter’s Bible calls “The Parable of the Greedy and Vengeful King.”

The nobleman in the parable resembles members of the Herodian Dynasty, especially Archelaus (reigned 4 B.C.E.-6 C.E.), son of Herod the Great (reigned 47-4 B.C.E.), Governor of Galilee then the client king of the Jews.  Herod the Great, who traveled to Rome to seek the title of king, reigned as one because the Roman Republic then Empire granted him that title.  He was also a cruel man.  Biblical and extra-Biblical sources agree on this point, constituting a collection of stories of his tyranny and cruelty.  In Matthew 2 he ordered the Massacre of the Innocents, for example.  Archelaus, a son of Herod the Great, ruled as the Roman-appointed ethnarch of Idumea, Judea, and Samaria, after traveling to Rome.  Archelaus sought the title of King, which the Emperor Augustus denied him after meeting with a delegation of Jews.  Archelaus, mentioned by name in Matthew 2:22, was also cruel and tyrannical, victimizing Jews and Samaritans alike.  On one day alone he ordered the massacre of 3000 people at the Temple precinct in Jerusalem.  Eventually Augustus deposed him.  Herod Antipas, full brother of Archelaus, ruled on behalf of the Roman Empire as the tetrarch of Galilee and Perea from 4 B.C.E. to 39 C.E., when he sought the title of King and found himself banished to Gaul instead.  Antipas, a chip off the old block, ordered the execution of St. John the Baptist (Matthew 14:3-10) and sought to kill Jesus, who called the tetrarch “that fox” (Luke 13:32).

A trope in the interpretation of parables of Jesus is that one of the characters represents God.  That does not apply accurately to the parable in Luke 19:11-27.  In fact, the unnamed nobleman, who orders the execution of his political opponents, is an antitype of Jesus, who enters Jerusalem triumphantly in the next pericope and dies on the cross a few days later, at the hands of Roman officials.  The Kingdom of God is quite different from the Roman Empire, built on violence and exploitation.  The kingship of Jesus is quite different from the model that the Roman Empire offers.

Amos 5 condemns those in the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah who profess to follow Yahweh, yet oppose the establishment of justice, especially for the needy.  There is nothing wrong with religious rituals themselves, but engaging in them while perpetuating injustice makes a mockery of them.  God is unimpressed, we read.

God, in Psalm 50, addresses those who recite divine statutes yet do not keep them, who think wrongly that God is like them.  They will not find deliverance in God, we read.  That Psalm fits well with Amos 5, of course.  Then there are the evildoers who do not even pretend to honor God and do not change their ways.  Their path is doomed in the long run also.

One must reject the false dichotomy of deeds versus creeds.  In actuality, I argue, deeds reveal creeds.  One might detect a dichotomy between deeds and words, but, barring accidents, no dichotomy between deeds and creeds exists.

What do your deeds reveal about your creeds, O reader?










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

Christ Cleansing the Temple--Bernardino Mei

Above:  Christ Cleansing the Temple, by Bernardino Mei

Image in the Public Domain

False Prophets and False Profits

AUGUST 19, 2019

AUGUST 20, 2019

AUGUST 21, 2019


The Collect:

O God, judge eternal, you love justice and hate oppression,

and you call us to share your zeal for truth.

Give us courage to take our stand with all victims of bloodshed and greed,

and, following your servants and prophets, to look to the pioneer and perfecter of our faith,

your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 45


The Assigned Readings:

Jeremiah 23:30-40 (Monday)

Jeremiah 25:15-29 (Tuesday)

Jeremiah 25:30-38 (Wednesday)

Psalm 32 (All Days)

1 John 4:1-6 (Monday)

Acts 7:44-53 (Tuesday)

Luke 19:45-48 (Wednesday)


How blessed are those whose offence is forgiven,

whose sin blotted out.

How blessed are those to whom Yahweh imputes no guilt,

Whose spirit harbours no deceit.

–Psalm 32:1-2, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)


One must, however, avoid falling into the traps of false prophets and false profits.

In the Book of Jeremiah false prophets stated that doom would not come upon the Kingdom of Judah.  God and Jeremiah said otherwise.

In the context of early Christianity we read of false prophets in the New Testament.  The standard of truth, according to 1 John 4, is Christology.  Rejecting Christ, as in Acts 7, places one in the category of “false.”  And, in Luke 19, we read of people Jesus rejected.  The money changers at the Temple converted Roman currency (bearing the image of Emperor Tiberius) into non-idolatrous money, which pilgrims used to purchase sacrificial animals.  Unfortunately, some of the Temple authorities benefited financially from this arrangement.  These were the false profits I mentioned in the opening sentence.

Piety should never become a vehicle for the funding of an impious person’s corruption, just as those who claim to speak for God ought to do what they say they do.  The first part of that proposition is easier to make reality than the second part.  The difficulty is that we humans frequently mistake an internal monologue for a dialogue with God.  Each of us who has claimed that God told him or her something had fallen into this trap at least once.  May we, by grace, avoid it as often as possible.












Proper 26, Year C   5 comments


Above:  Sycamore Grove, Glen El Capitan, California, June 1899

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-D43-T01-1370

Photograph by William Henry Jackson (1843-1942)

Grace, Hope, Free Will, and Doom

The Sunday Closest to November 2

Twenty-First Sunday After Pentecost

NOVEMBER 3, 2019


The Assigned Readings:

Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:14 and Psalm 119:137-144


Isaiah 1:10-18 and Psalm 32:1-8


2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12

Luke 19:1-10

The Collect:

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


Some Related Posts:

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

Prayer of Confession:

Prayer of Dedication:


Oppressors afflict the godly and the merely innocent.  Courts are corrupt, kings and emperors are insensitive, and/or the homeland is occupied.  This is an unjust reality.  And what will God do about it?

The omitted portion of 1 Thessalonians 1 gives one answer:  God will repay the oppressors with affliction.  Sometimes this is the merciful answer to the pleas of the afflicted, for many oppressors will not cease from oppressing otherwise.  I with that this were not true.  I wish that more people would recognize the error of their ways and amend them—repent.  But I am realist.

Many pains are in store for the wicked:

but whoever trusts in the Lord is surrounded by steadfast love.

–Psalm 32:11, A New Zealand Prayer Book (1989)

But others will repent.  Zacchaeus, once a tax thief for the Roman Empire, did just that.  Leviticus 6:1-5 required Zacchaeus to repay the principal amount of the fraud plus twenty percent.  Instead he repaid four times the principal amount of the fraud.  That action was consistent with Exodus 22:1, which required replacing one stolen then slaughtered sheep with four sheep.  Zacchaeus did more than the Law of Moses required of him.  Yes, he had less money afterward, but he regained something much more valuable—his reputation in the community.  He was restored to society.  And it happened because he was willing and Jesus sought him out.  We humans need to be willing to do the right thing.  Grace can finish what free will begins.

Sometimes I think that God wants to see evidence of good will and initiative from us and that these are enough to satisfy God.  We are weak, distracted easily, and fooled with little effort, but God can make much out of a little good will and even the slightest bit of initiative.  They are at least positive indications—sparks from which fires can grow.  But they depend upon a proper sense of right and wrong—morality.  An immoral act is one which a person commits even though he or she knows it is wrong.  An amoral act is one which a person with no sense of morality commits.  Zaccheaeus was immoral (mostly) until he decided to become moral (mostly).  And grace met him where he was.

There is hope for many of the people we might consider beyond the scope of redemption and restoration.  God is present to extend such hope, and you, O reader, might be an agent of such hope to someone.  If you are or are to be so, please be that—for the sake of that one and those whom he or she will affect.  Unfortunately, some will, by free will, refuse that hope.  That is one element of the dark side of free will.









Week of Proper 28: Friday, Year 2, and Week of Proper 28: Saturday, Year 2   14 comments

Above:  The Expulsion of the Money Changers from the Temple, by Giotto di Bondone

Divine Judgment and Human Discomfort

NOVEMBER 20 and 21, 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.



Revelation 10:8-11 (Revised English Bible):

The voice which I had heard from heaven began speaking to me again; it said,

Go and take the scroll which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and the land.

I went to the angel and asked him to give me the little scroll.  He answered,

Take it, and eat it.  It will turn your stomach sour, but in your mouth it will taste as sweet as honey.

I took the scroll from the angel’s hand and ate it, and in my mouth it did taste as sweet as honey, but when I swallowed it my stomach turned sour.

Then I was told,

Once again you must utter prophecies over many nations, races, languages, and kings.


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

I was given a long cane to use as a measuring rod, and was told:

Go and measure the temple of God and the altar, and count the worshippers.  But leave the outer court of the temple out of your measurements; it has been given over to the Gentiles, and for forth-two months they will trample the Holy City underfoot.  I will give my two witnesses authority to prophesy, dressed in sackcloth, for those twelve hundred and sixty days.

They are the two olive trees and the two lamps that stand in the presence of the Lord of the earth.  If anyone tries to injure them, fire issues from their mouths and consumes their enemies; so shall anyone die who tries to do them injury.  These two have the power to shut up the sky, so that no rain falls during the time of their prophesying; and they have power to turn water into blood and to afflict the earth with every kind of plague whenever they like.  But when they have completed their testimony, the beast that comes up from the abyss will wage war on them and will overcome and kill them.  Their bodies will lie in the street of the great city, whose name in prophetic language is Sodom, or Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified.  For three and a half days people from every nation and tribe, language, and race, gaze on their corpses and refuse them burial.  The earth’s inhabitants gloat over them; they celebrate and exchange presents, for these two prophets were a torrent to them.  But at the end of the three and a half days the breath of life of God came into their bodies, and they rose to their feet, to the terror of those who saw them.  A loud voice from heaven was heard saying to them,

Come up here!

and they ascended to heaven in a cloud, in full view of their enemies.  At that moment there was a silent earthquake, and a tenth of the city collapsed.  Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake; the rest, filled with fear, did homage to the God of heaven.

The second woe has now passed; but the third is soon to come.


Psalm 119:65-72 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

65  O LORD, you have dealt graciously with your servant,

according to your word.

66  Teach me discernment and knowledge,

for I have believed in your commandments.

67  Before I was afflicted I went astray,

but now I keep your word.

68  You are good and you bring forth good;

instruct me in your statutes.

69  The proud have smeared me with lies,

but I will keep your commandments with my whole heart.

70  Their heart is gross and fat,

but my delight is in your law.

71  It is good for me that I have been afflicted,

that I might learn your statutes.

72  The law of your mouth is dearer to me

than thousands in gold and silver.


Psalm 144:1-10 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  Blessed be the LORD my rock!

who trains my hands to fight and my fingers to battle;

2  My help and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer,

my shield in whom I trust,

who subdues the peoples under me.

3  O LORD, what are we that you should care for us?

mere mortals that you should think of us?

4  We are like a puff of wind;

our days like a passing shadow.

5  Bow your heavens, O LORD, and come down;

touch the mountains, and they shall smoke.

6  Hurl the lightning and scatter them;

shoot out your arrows and rout them.

7  Stretch out your hand from on high;

rescue me and deliver me from the great waters,

from the hand of foreign peoples,

8  Whose mouths speak deceitfully

and whose right hand is raised in falsehood.

9  O God, I will sing to you a new song;

I will play to you on a ten-stringed lyre.

10  You give victory to kings

and have rescued David your servant.


Luke 19:45-48 (Revised English Bible):

(Set shortly after the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem; the Last Supper occurs in Chapter 22)

Then Jesus went into the temple and began driving out the traders, with these words:

Scriptures says, “My house shall be a house of prayer;” but you have made it a bandits’ cave.

Day by day he taught in the temple.  The chief priests and scribes, with the support of the leading citizens, wanted to bring about his death, but found that they were helpless, because the people all hung on his words.


Luke 20:27-40 (Revised English Bible):

Then some Sadducees, who deny that there is a resurrection, came forward and asked:

Teacher, Moses, laid it down for us that if there are brothers, and one dies leaving a wife but not child, then the next should marry the widow and provide an heir for his brother.  Now there seven brothers:  the first took a wife and died childless, then the second married her, then the third.  In this way the seven of them died leaving no children.  Last of all the woman also died. At the resurrection, whose wife is she to be, since all seven had married her?

Jesus said to them,

The men and women of this world marry; but those who have been judged who have been judged worthy of a place in the other world, and of the resurrection from the dead, do not marry, for they are no longer subject to death.  They are like angels; they are children of God, because they share in his resurrection.  That the dead are raised to life again is shown by Moses himself in the story of the burning bush, when he calls the Lord “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.”  God is not the God of the living; in his sight all are alive.

At this some of the scribes said,

Well spoken, Teacher.

And nobody dared put any further question to him.


The Collect:

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Some Related Posts:

Week of Proper 28:  Friday, Year 1:

Week of Proper 28:  Saturday, Year 1:

The Church’s One Foundation:


As I have written already in at least one blog post, there is a difference between a negotiation and a rescue operation.  There is justice, which mercy serves sometimes.  Other times, however, punishment must fall.  That is the context for Revelation 7-10, which, in vivid imagery, describes God, whose power reaches from the land to the sea to the waterways to the stars, sheltering the martyrs and inflicting punishment on the wicked.  The sense of doom upon the wicked is palpable in the symbolic language, the details of which I will not unpack here.  Rather, I choose to focus on the main idea, which I have stated already.

We read of John of Patmos eating a scroll containing words of judgment.  (This is similar to Ezekiel 2:8-3:3–follow this link.  John agrees with doom upon the Roman Empire yet regrets the fact that Christians will continue to suffer.  Speaking of suffering, the two witnesses in Revelation 11 indicate the continuation of martyrdom.  (I suspect, by the way, that memories of the First Jewish War and the Roman destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple influenced Revelation 11.)

Jesus, in Luke’s Gospel confronts the money changers, who used religious sensibilities to create opportunities to enrich themselves at the expense of the poor.  He used words and force.  Nevertheless, I support that money changers were not absent for long.

Why do the good suffer?  Why does God not prevent it?  Why does not God not stop all economic exploitation?  Ask God, not me.  But John of Patmos offers some comfort:  The wicked will suffer the consequences of their actions in time.  Furthermore, God will hear the cry of those who suffer.

I write hagiographies.  My most recent one tells the story of St. James Intercisus, who became a martyr circa 421 C.E. because he confessed his faith to the Persian monarch.  The king’s men tortured, dismembered, and killed the saint slowly and painfully, hence his posthumous surname, Intercisus, or “cut into pieces.  His death was unnecessary; the king could have decided differently.

Ultimate judgment belongs to God.  May we mere mortals acknowledge this reality, accept it, and act accordingly.


Week of Proper 28: Thursday, Year 2   11 comments

Above:  The Logo of the Moravian Church

Image Source = JJackman

The Worthy Lamb

NOVEMBER 19, 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.


Revelation 5:1-14 (Revised English Bible):

I saw in the right hand of the One who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides, and sealed with seven seals.  And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice,

Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?

But there was no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth able to open the scroll to look inside it.  And because no one was found worthy to open the scroll and look inside, I wept bitterly.  One of the elders said do me:

Do not weep; the Lion from the tribe of Judah, the shoot growing from David’s stock, has won the right to open the scroll and its seven seals.

Then I saw a Lamb with the marks of sacrifice on him, standing with the four living creatures between the throne and the elders.  He has seven horns and seven eyes, the eyes which are the seven spirits of God sent to every part of the world.  The Lamb came and received the scroll from the right hand of the One who sat on the throne.  As he did so, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders prostrated themselves before the Lamb.  Each of the elders had a harp; they held golden bowls full of incense, the prayers of God’s people, and they were singing a new song:

You are worthy to receive the scroll and break its seals, for you were slain and by your blood you bought for God people of every tribe and language, nation and race.  You have made them a royal house of priests for our God, and they shall reign on earth.

As I looked I heard, all round the throne of the living creatures and the elders, the voices of many angels, thousands on thousands, myriads on myriads.  They proclaimed with loud voices:

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth, wisdom and might, honour and glory and praise!

Then I heard all created things, in heaven, on earth, under the earth, and in the sea, crying:

Praise and honour, glory and might, to him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb for ever!

The four living creatures said,


and the elders prostrated themselves in worship.

Psalm 149:1-5 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 Hallelujah!

Sing to the LORD a new song;

sing his praise in the congregation of the faithful.

Let Israel rejoice in his Maker;

let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.

Let them praise his Name in the dance;

let them sing praise to him with timbrel and harp.

For the LORD takes pleasure in his people

and adorns the poor with victory.

5 Let the faithful rejoice in triumph;

let them be joyful on their beds.

Luke 19:41-44 (Revised English Bible):

When Jesus came in sight of Jerusalem, he wept over it ans aid,

If only you had known this day the way that leads to peace!  But no; it is hidden from your sight.  For a time will come upon you, when your enemies will set up siege-works against you; they will encircle you and hem you in at every point; they will bring you to the ground, you and your children within your walls, and not leave you one stone standing on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s visitation.


The Collect:

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Some Related Posts:

Week of Proper 28:  Thursday, Year 1:

This is My Father’s World:

At the Lamb’s High Feast We Sing:

Agnus Dei:


Who is worthy to pronounce the destiny of the earth and all who live on it?  John of Patmos tells us that only one is.  That one is Jesus, the incarnate Second Person of the Trinity, the victorious sacrificial lamb with complete power (seven horns) and omniscience (seven eyes).  Agents of the Roman Empire killed Jesus, but he did not remain dead for long.

The reading from Luke comes from that part of Chapter 19 set immediately after the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem.  I read the text again and wonder to what extent memories of the First Jewish War and the Roman destruction of the city in 70 C.E. influenced the writing of those words in Greek.  The devastation must have seemed as bad as the end of the world to many people.  So, at the end of the First Century C.E., the Romans were firmly in power, in charge of what Tacitus referred to as a “desert called peace.”  Yet, John of Patmos said, God was firmly in control and the slain Jesus was very much alive, victorious, and powerful–and beyond the range of human-inflicted harm.

As the Reverend Maltbie Davenport Babcock wrote,

God is the ruler yet.

And, as the Moravians say,

Our lamb has conquered; let us follow him.



Week of Proper 28: Wednesday, Year 2   5 comments

Above:  The Vision of John on Patmos

The King Who Endures

NOVEMBER 18, 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.


Revelation 4:1-11 (Revised English Bible):

After this I had a vision:  a door stood open in heaven, and the voice that I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said,

Come up here, and I will show you what must take place hereafter.

At once the Spirit came upon me.  There in heaven stood a throne.  On it sat One whose appearance was like jasper or cornelian, and round it was a rainbow, bright as emerald.  In a circle about this throne were twenty-four other thrones, and on them were seated twenty-four elders, robed in white an wearing gold thrones.  From the throne came flashes of lightning and peals of thunder.  Burning before the throne were seven flaming torches, the seven spirits of God, and in front of it stretched what looked a sea of glass or a sheet of ice.

In the centre, round the throne itself, were four living creatures, covered with eyes in front and behind.  The first creature was like a lion, the second like an ox, the third had a human face, and the fourth was like an eagle in flight.  Each of the four living creatures had six wings, and eyes all round and inside them.  Day and night unceasingly they sing:

Holy, holy, holy is God the sovereign of all, who was, and is, and is to come!

Whenever the living creatures give glory and honour and thanks to the One who sits on the throne, who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders prostrate themselves before the One who sits on the throne and they worship him who lives for ever and ever.  As they lay their crowns before the throne they cry:

You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honour and power, because you created all things; by your will they were created and have their being!

Psalm 150 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):


Praise God in his holy temple;

praise him in the firmament of his power.

Praise him for his mighty acts;

praise him for his excellent greatness.

Praise him with the blast of the ram’s-horn;

Praise him with lyre and harp.

Praise him with timbrel and dance;

praise him with strings and pipe.

Praise him with resounding cymbals;

praise him with loud-clanging cymbals.

Let everything that has breath

praise the LORD.


Luke 19:11-28 (Revised English Bible):

While they were listening to this, Jesus went on to tell them a parable, because he was now close to Jerusalem and they [the crowd who disapproved of him eating with Zacchaeus] thought the kingdom of God might dawn at any moment.  He said,

A man of noble birth went on a long journey abroad, to have himself appointed king and then return.  But first he called then of his servants and gave each a sum of money, saying, “Trade with this while I am away.”  His fellow-citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, “We do not want this man as our king.”  He returned however as king, and sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, to find out what profit each had made.  The first came and said, “Your money, sir, has increased tenfold.”  ”Well done,” he replied, “you are a good servant, trustworthy in a very small matter, you shall have charge of ten cities.”  The second came and said, “Here is your money, sir; I kept it wrapped up in a handkerchief.  I was afraid of you because you are a hard man:  you draw out what you do not put in and reap what you do not sow.”  ”You scoundrel!”  he replied.  ”I will condemn you out of your own mouth.  You knew me to be a hard man, did you, drawing out what I never put in, and reaping what I did not sow?  Then why did you not put my money on deposit, and I could have claimed it with interest when I came back?”  Turning to his attendants he said, “Take the money from him and give it to the man with the most.”  ”But sir,” they replied, “he has ten times as much already.”  ”I tell you,” he said, “everyone one has will be given more; but whoever has nothing will forfeit even what he has.  But as for those enemies of mine who did not want me for their king, bring them here and slaughter them in my presence.”


The Collect:

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Some Related Posts:

Week of Proper 28:  Wednesday, Year 1:

Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise:

Not Far Beyond the Sea:

O God, Our Help in Ages Past:

We Sing for All the Unsung Saints:

Let Saints on Earth in Concert Sing:

A Prayer for the Dead:

Our Father, By Whose Servants:

For All the Saints:

Now the Laborer’s Task is O’er:


The first three chapters of Revelation are relatively straight-forward, given that the book is an apocalypse, and therefore told in symbolic language.  Now, however, in Chapter 4, we begin to encounter denser symbolism.  I opened up commentaries and tried to sort out the symbols.  Along the way I learned three or four ways to interpret some of the same symbols.  In such cases, I have chosen to follow one interpretation.  For the sake of succinctness, we read of God, enthroned in glory and majesty in Heaven.  The martyrs are there, as is the Holy Spirit in its completeness.  The four living creatures, imagery borrowed from ancient sources and elsewhere in the Bible, see everything.  The living creature like a lion represents the power of the Son of God.  The one like an ox indicates the sacrificial nature of the Son of God.  The living creature with a human face represents the incarnation of the Son of God.  And the one like an eagle in flight symbolizes the gift of the Holy Spirit.  God, the center of attention, is sovereign.

We turn now to the reading from Luke.  Archelaus and two brothers inherited parts the “kingdom” of their father, Herod the Great, when he died in 4 B.C.E.  But Archelaus, in order to claim his inheritance, had to visit his overlord, the Emperor Augustus.  He was the figure on whom Jesus based the king in Luke 19.  The setting for the Parable of the Pounds (similar to the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30) is after our Lord’s visit with Zacchaeus at Jericho but prior to his Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem.  So the standard interpretation of the parable is, “Choose Jesus, or else!”  Yet I cannot bring myself to identify the king in the parable with God.

The lectionary readings for this day present us with conflicting types of kingship:  omnipotent and benevolent (in Revelation) and cruel and subject to higher human authority (in Luke).  The former is forever, but the latter is temporal.  Archelaus, despite the power he wielded, died.  His position in life depended on the identity of his father and the favor of the Roman Emperor, two factors he could not determine.  He was a glorified governor or procurator.  And, as far as I can tell, he is mostly forgotten these days; I, an eager student of history, had to look him up.

God endures.  Thanks be to God!


Week of Proper 28: Tuesday, Year 2   3 comments

Above:  Fire

Tested in the Fire

NOVEMBER 17, 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.


Revelation 3:1-6, 14-22 (Revised English Bible):

To the angel of the church at Sardis write:

These are the words of the One who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars:  I know what you are doing; people say you are alive, but in fact you are dead.  Wake up, and put some strength into what you still have, because otherwise it must die!  For I have not found any work of yours brought to completion in the sight of my God.  Remember therefore the teaching you received; observe it, and repent.  If you do not wake up, I will come upon you like a thief, and you will not know the moment of my coming.  Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not polluted their clothing, and they will walk with me in white, for so they deserve.  Anyone who is victorious will be robed in white like them, and I shall never strike his name off the roll of the living; in the presence of my Father and his angels I shall acknowledge him as mine.  You have ears, so hear what the Spirit says to the churches!

To the angel of the church at Laodicea write:

These are the words of the Amen, the faithful of God’s creation:  I know what you are doing; you are neither cold nor hot.  How I wish you were either cold or hot!  Because you are neither one nor the other, but just lukewarm, I will spit you out of my mouth.  You say, “How rich I am!  What a fortune I have made!  I have everything I want.”  In fact, though you do not realize it, you are a pitiful wretch, poor, blind, and naked.  I advise you to buy from me gold refined in the fire to make you truly rich, and white robes to put on to hide the shame of your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so that you may see.  All whom I love I reprove and discipline.  Be wholehearted therefore in your repentance.  Here I stand knocking at the door; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and he and I will eat together.  To anyone who is victorious I will grant a place beside me on my throne, as I myself was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.  You have ears, so hear what the Spirit says to the churches!

Psalm 15 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 LORD, who may dwell in your tabernacle?

who may abide upon your holy hill?

Whoever leads a blameless life and does what is right,

who speaks the truth from his heart.

3 There is no guile upon his tongue;

he does no evil to his friend;

he does not heap contempt upon his neighbor.

In his sight the wicked is rejected,

but he honors those who fear the LORD.

5 He has sworn to do no wrong

and does not take back his word.

6 He does not give his money in hope of gain,

nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.

Whoever does these things

shall never be overthrown.

Luke 19:1-10 (Revised English Bible):

Entering Jericho Jesus made his way through the city.  There was a man there named Zacchaeus; he was superintendent of taxes and very rich.  He was eager to see what Jesus looked like; but, being  a little man, he could not see him for the crowd.  So he ran on ahead and climbed a sycomore tree in order to see him, for he was to pass that way.  When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said,

Zacchaeus, be quick to come down, for I must stay at your house today.

He climbed down as quickly as he could and welcomed him gladly.  At this time there was a general murmur of disapproval.

He has gone in to be the guest of a sinner,

they said.  But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord,

Here and now, sir, I give half my possessions to charity; and if I have defrauded anyone, I will repay him four times over.

Jesus said to him,

Today  salvation has come to this house–for this man too is a son of Abraham.  The Son of Man has come to seek and to save what is lost.


The Collect:

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Some Related Posts:

Week of Proper 28:  Tuesday, Year 1 (More About Zacchaeus):

Lord, Help Us Walk Your Servant Way:


My Son, if you aspire to be a servant of the LORD,

prepare yourself for testing….

Bear every hardship that is sent you,

and whenever humiliation comes, be patient;

for gold is assayed in the fire,

and the chosen ones in the furnace of humiliation.

–Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 2:1, 4-5, Revised English Bible

The church at Laodicea  was lukewarm and overconfident in its wealth.  It was really nothing but a chapel of complacency.  But the church is not supposed to function as a chapel for the complacent.  At least the church at Sardis tried to so something.  Unfortunately, it did not finish anything.  Zacchaeus, in contrast, committed to a course of action, one which exceeded the minimum qualifications under the Law of Moses.

There is frequently a cross-fertilization between religion and culture.  Sometimes culture dilutes excellent religious principles.  Consider racism, for example.  One of the classics is H. Shelton Smith’s In His Image, But…, a book about racism in Southern U.S. religion.  That title summarizes the hypocrisy of racism in religion, does it not?  And Philip Yancey, in Soul Survivor:  How My Faith Survived the Church (2001), beginning on page, 11, writes about recovering from the racism he learned in church and culture in the Deep South of the 1950s and 1960s.  He writes:

As a child I did not question the system we lived under because no one around me questioned it.  (page 13)

Bigotry of any form has no legitimate place in Christianity.  It might be acceptable within one’s culture or subculture, but ought never find approval within the church.  When religion soaks up the worst of culture, religion has ceased to be salt in the world.

So, embracing love for our fellow human beings and devotion to Jesus, may we follow him.  We will stick out when we do this, and may we do so positively.  And may we complete what we have begun, regardless of the humiliation and other hardship we may face because of our actions for God.  Then we will be true to the crucified one.