Archive for the ‘Malachi 4’ Tag

Devotion for Proper 28, Year B (Humes)   1 comment

Above:  Caduceus

Image in the Public Domain

Judgment and Mercy

NOVEMBER 15, 2020

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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Numbers 21:4-9 or Malachi 3:19-24/4:1-6

Psalm 74:1-2, 10-17

Hebrews 13:1-16, 20-21

Mark 12:35-44

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The promise of divine punishment for evil and of divine deliverance of the oppressed and righteous on the great Day of the LORD is one example of judgment and mercy being like sides of a coin.  The deliverance of the oppressed is very bad news for the oppressors, who are, in a way, victims of themselves.

If we behave as we should–revere God, take care of each other, et cetera–we will not have to fear punishment from God for not doing so.  We may incur punishment from human authorities, as in Tobit 1, but God did not promise a peaceful life in exchange for righteousness.

Two stories require more attention.

The cure in Numbers, cited also in John 3:14-15, in the context of the crucifixion of Jesus, our Lord and Savior’s glorification, according to the Fourth Gospel, is a textbook case of sympathetic magic.  It is related to Egyptian imagery of kingship, divinity, and protection from cobra saliva.  A commonplace visual echo is the caduceus, the medical symbol.

Pay attention to what precedes and follows Mark 12:41-44.  Our Lord and Savior’s condemnation of those who, among other things,

eat up the property of widows,

precedes the account of the widow giving all she had to the Temple.  Immediately in Chapter 13, we read a prediction of the destruction of the Temple.  I conclude that Jesus found the widow’s faith laudable yet grieved her choice.

May our lives bring glory to God and lead others to faith and discipleship.  May we, in our zeal, not go off the deep end and embarrass God and/or accidentally drive people away from God or get in the way of evangelism.  And may we never mistake an internal monologue for a dialogue with God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 27, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF BROOKE FOSS WESTCOTT, ANGLICAN SCHOLAR, BIBLE TRANSLATOR, AND BISHOP OF DURHAM; AND FENTON JOHN ANTHONY HORT, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN HENRY BATEMAN, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHAN NORDAHL BRUN, NORWEGIAN LUTHERAN BISHOP, AUTHOR, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM REED HUNTINGTON, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND RENEWER OF THE CHURCH; AND HIS GRANDSON, WILLIAM REED HUNTINGTON, U.S. ARCHITECT AND QUAKER PEACE ACTIVIST

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2019/07/27/judgment-and-mercy-part-xiv/

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Devotion for Proper 8 (Year D)   1 comment

christ-and-the-two-blind-men

Above: Christ and the Two Blind Men, by Julius Schnorr

Image in the Public Domain

Love, the Rule of Life

JUNE 28, 2020

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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 life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

2 Kings 20:1-21 or Amos 4:1-13 or Malachi 3:5-18; 4:(1-2a) 2b-6

Psalm 56

Matthew 9:27-34 or John 5:31-47

1 Corinthians 3:12-15 (3:16-4:5) 4:6-21 or 2 John 1-13

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Do not think that I am sending a new command; I am recalling the one we have had from the beginning:  I ask that we love one another.  What love means is to live according t the commands of God.  This is the command that was given you from the beginning, to be your rule of life.

–2 John 5b-6, The Revised English Bible (1989)

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That rule of life includes commandments such as do not be haughty (2 Kings 20), swear falsely, commit adultery or sorcery, deny workers their proper wages, thrust aliens aside, oppress widows and orphans (Malachi 3), rob God (Malachi 4), oppress the poor and the needy (Amos 4), mistake good for evil (Matthew 9) or good for evil (Matthew 9) or become so legalistic as to complain about someone committing good works on the Sabbath, to the point of wanting to kill one who does that (John 5).  This is, of course, a woefully incomplete list.

Sometimes people who violate these and other commandments of God flourish and the righteous suffer.  One finds recognition of this reality in the Bible, which tells us that this might be true temporally, but the picture is more complex than that (see Malachi 4).

Vengeance is properly God’s alone.  Temporal justice, which is, when it is what it ought to be, is not revenge.  Life does not present us with morally complicated situations sometimes, but the commandment to make love the rule of life applies always.  May we, by grace, succeed in living accordingly, to the glory of God and the benefit of our fellow human beings, as well as ourselves.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 17, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE TWENTY-FIRST DAY OF ADVENT

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM LLOYD GARRISON, ABOLITIONIST AND FEMINIST; AND MARIA STEWART, ABOLITIONIST, FEMINIST, AND EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF EGLANTYNE JEBB AND DOROTHY BUXTON, FOUNDERS OF SAVE THE CHILDREN

THE FEAST OF FRANK MASON NORTH, U.S. METHODIST MINISTER

THE FEAST OF MARY CORNELIA BISHOP GATES, U.S. DUTCH REFORMED HYMN WRITER

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2016/12/17/love-the-rule-of-life/

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Proper 28, Year C   7 comments

Judgment Bus

Above:  Judgment Day May 21 Vehicle

Image Source = Bart Everson

Things to Come

The Sunday Closest to November 16

Twenty-Third Sunday After Pentecost

NOVEMBER 17, 2019

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 65:17-25 and Canticle 9 (Isaiah 12:2-6)

or 

Malachi 4:-1-2a and Psalm 98

then 

2 Thessalonians 3:6-13

Luke 21:5-19

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.

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Some Related Links:

Prayer of Praise and Thanksgiving:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/30/prayer-of-praise-and-adoration-for-the-twenty-sixth-sunday-after-pentecost/

Prayer of Confession:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/30/prayer-of-confession-for-the-twenty-sixth-sunday-after-pentecost/

Prayer of Dedication:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/30/prayer-of-dedication-for-the-twenty-sixth-sunday-after-pentecost/

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thingstocome_wells_onset

Above:  A Scene from Things to Come (1936)

Image Source = http://markbourne.blogspot.com/2010/11/things-to-come-1936-hg-wells-explains.html

H. G. Wells (1866-1946) wrote The Shape of Things to Come (1933), a story about the destruction of civilization in a long, global war and the rebirth of civilization afterward.  Three years later audiences had an opportunity to watch the film version, Things to Come, complete with allegedly futuristic costumes.  (Apparently fashions will be very bad in the future, according to many movies.)

Proper 28 is the penultimate Sunday of the Western Christian church year.  The next Sunday will be Christ the King Sunday, followed a week later by the First Sunday in Advent.  So it is appropriate that apocalyptic readings occupy part of our time this Sunday.  Before God can create the new heaven and the new earth (Isaiah 65:17f)–paradise on earth–God must destroy that which is in place already and works against the goodness which is waiting to dawn upon people.  That current darkness will not go gently into the good night, so those who follow God must prepare themselves to lead spiritually disciplined lives and to suffer persecution, although the latter is not universal; the former is a universal mandate, though.  And, when, God destroys the old and evil in favor of the new and the good, God will deliver the faithful.

These events have yet to occur.  Examples of failed predictions of their timing range from the first century CE to recent years.  Something about the End Times grabs holds of many imaginations, frequently with idiotic results.  One who predicts the Second Coming of Jesus by a certain time might acknowledge the previous failed prophecies yet think that he could not possibly join the ranks of false prophets–until he does.  My library contains a 1979 book and a thrift store find, Christ Returns By 1988, by Colin Hoyle Deal.  And how can I forget the failed prophecies of the late Harold Camping?  The passage of time has rendered its verdict on both men.

May we leave End Times to God alone and lead spiritually disciplined lives by which we affect each other positively.  May our spiritually discipline compel us to leave our portion of the world better than we found it.  May we live for God’s glory and the benefit of others first, for our Lord and Savior came to serve, not to be served.  May we follow Jesus while we have breath.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 4, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT FRANCIS CARACCIOLO, COFOUNDER OF THE MINOR CLERKS REGULAR

THE FEAST OF JOHN XXIII, BISHOP OF ROME

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/06/06/things-to-come/

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Devotion for September 26 and 27 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   4 comments

High Priest and Levite

Above:  A High Priest and a Levite

Image in the Public Domain

Malachi and Matthew, Part II:  Exploitative Priests

SATURDAY AND SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 26 AND 27, 2020

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of 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.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Malachi 2:1-3:5 (September 26)

Malachi 3:6-24 (September 27–Jewish, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox Versification)

Malachi 3:6-4:6 (September 27–Protestant Versification)

Psalm 143 (Morning–September 26)

Psalm 86 (Morning–September 27)

Psalms 81 and 116 (Evening–September 26)

Psalms 6 and 19 (Evening–September 27)

Matthew 4:1-11 (September 26)

Matthew 4:12-25 (September 27)

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Show me a sign of your favor,

so that those who hate me may see it and be ashamed,

because you, O LORD, have helped me and comforted me.

–Psalm 86:17, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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But you have turned away from the cause:  You have made many stumble through your rulings; you have corrupted the covenant of the Levites–said the LORD of Hosts.  And I, in turn, have made you despicable and vile in the eyes of all the people, because you disregard My ways and show partiality in your rulings.

–Malachi 2:8-9, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

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Malachi, speaking for God, condemned priests who abused their privileged positions by accepting unacceptable sacrifices from wealthy people and who ruled improperly against the less fortunate.  The imagery was quite vivid, for God would

strew dung

–2:3, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

upon the priests’ faces.  And God objected to other injustices, including cheating laborers, widows, orphans, and strangers.  These offenses concluded a thought which began with practicing sorcery, committing adultery, and swearing falsely.  (See 3:5.)

Malachi affirmed obeying the Law of Moses:

From the very days of your fathers you have turned from My laws and not observed them.  Turn back to Me and I will turn back to you–said the LORD of Hosts.

–3:6-7a, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

One important reality to grasp when pondering the Law of Moses is that modern Classical Liberal notions of individualism were

not the ancient Israelite’s experience of freedom…because the Israelite was not his own master, but God’s slave.  His acknowledgement of the divine kingship gave him responsibilities to his fellow Israelites.

–Richard Bauckham, The Bible in Politics:  How to Read the Bible Politically, 2d. ed.  (Louisville, KY:  Westminster/John Knox Press, 2011, page 107)

The most basic of these responsibilities was to care for others actively and effectively.

The temptations of Jesus, which I interpret as mythic, do reflect a refusal to, among other things, behave in self-aggrandizing ways.  In fact, I understand the reality of the Incarnation as the opposite of self-aggrandizement.  Our Lord and Savior’s model of service to others reinforces this theme.  His call to follow him echoes down to today.

Despite the protests of Malachi and the example of Jesus many self-identified Christian leaders have exploited others, not served them in the name God, and/or condoned such exploitation or neglect.  This reality continues to be true, unfortunately.  May this cease, by divine grace and human free will.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 19, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MURIN OF FAHAN, LASERIAN OF LEIGHLIN, GOBAN OF PICARDIE, FOILLAN OF FOSSES, AND ULTAN OF PERONNE, ABBOTTS; AND OF SAINTS FURSEY OF PERONNE AND BLITHARIUS OF SEGANNE, MONKS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALPHEGE OF CANTERBURY, ARCHBISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARY OF THE INCARNATION, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN

THE FEAST OF SAINT SIMEON BARSABAE, BISHOP; AND HIS COMPANIONS, MARTYRS

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/malachi-and-matthew-part-ii-exploitative-priests/

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Week of Proper 22: Thursday, Year 1   13 comments

Above:  Elijah in the Wilderness, by Washington Allston (1779-1843)

Image in the Public Domain

It’s Not Fair!

OCTOBER 10, 2019

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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.

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Malachi 3:13-20a (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

Versification in parts of the Hebrew Scriptures varies, according to whether one uses the Protestant system or the Jewish and Roman Catholic system.  So, for many of you, the versification is 3:13-4:2a.  The Book of Malachi has the same number of verses in Jewish and Catholic Bibles as in Protestant ones, but a fourth chapter and a shorter third chapter in Protestant versification.  

You have spoken hard words against Me

–said the LORD.

But you ask, “What have we been saying among ourselves against You?”  You have said, “It is useless to serve God.  What have we gained by keeping His charge and walking in abject awe of the LORD of Hosts?  And so, we account the arrogant happy; they have indeed dared God and escaped.”  In this vein have those who revere the LORD been talking to another.  The LORD has heard and noted it, and a scroll of remembrance has been written at His behest concerning those who revere the LORD and esteem His name.  And on the day that I am preparing,

said the LORD of Hosts,

they shall be My treasured possession; I will be tender toward them as a man is tender toward a son who ministers to him.  And you shall come to see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between him who has served God and him who has not served Him.

For lo!  That day is at hand, burning like an oven.  All the arrogant and all the doers of evil shall be straw, and the day that is coming

–said the LORD of Hosts–

shall burn them to ashes and leave them neither stock nor boughs.  But for you who revere My name a sun of victory shall rise to bring healing.

Psalm 1 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  Happy are they who have not walked in the counsel of the wicked;

nor lingered in the way of sinners,

nor sat in the seats of the scornful!

2  Their delight is in the law of the LORD,

and they meditate on his law day and night.

3  They are like trees planted by streams of water,

bearing fruit in due season, with leaves that do not wither;

everything they do shall prosper.

4  It is not so with the wicked;

they are like chaff which the wind blows away.

5  Therefore the wicked shall not stand upright when judgment comes,

nor the sinner in the council of the righteous.

6  For the LORD knows the way of the righteous,

but the way of the wicked is doomed.

Luke 11:5-13 (The Jerusalem Bible):

He [Jesus] also said to them,

Suppose one of you has a friend and goes to him in the middle of the night to say, ‘ My friend, lend me three loaves, because a friend of mine on his travels has just arrived at my house and I have nothing to offer him;’ and the man answers from inside the house, ‘Do not bother me.  The door is bolted now, and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up to give it you.’  I tell you, if the man does not get up and give it him for friendship’s sake, persistence will be enough to make him get up and give his friend all he wants.

So I say to you:  Ask and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you.  For the one who asks always receives; the one who searches always finds; the one who knocks will have the door opened to him.  What father among you would hand his son a stone when he asked for bread?  Or hand him a snake instead of a fish?  Or hand him a scorpion if he asked for an egg?  If you then, who are evil, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!

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The Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear than we to pray, and to give more than we either desire or deserve: Pour upon us the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask, except through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Savior; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Consider this:

Where do these wars and battles between yourselves first start?  Isn’t it precisely in the desires fighting inside your own selves?  You want something and you haven’t got it; so you are prepared to kill.  You have an ambition that you cannot satisfy; so you fight to get your way by force.  Why you don’t have what you want is because you don’t pray for it; when you do pray you don’t get it, it is because you have not prayed properly, you have prayed for something to indulge your own desires.  (James 4:1-3, The Jerusalem Bible)

and this:

“Happy are you when people hate you, drive you out, abuse you, denounce your name as criminal, on account of the Son of Man.  Rejoice when that day comes and dance for joy, for then your reward will be great in heaven.  This was the way their ancestors treated the prophets….Alas for you when the world speaks well of you!  This was the way their ancestors treated the false prophets.”  (Luke 6:22-23, 26, The Jerusalem Bible)

and this:

Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?

Take it to the Lord in prayer;

In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,

Thou wilt find a solace there.

(From verse 3 of “What a Friend We Have in Jesus, printed in The Cokesbury Worship Hymnal, 1938)

My first thought concerns “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”  If your “friends” despise and forsake one, they are not really friends.  A now-deceased member of a parish to which I used to belong made this point to me.  How many times had I sung this song growing up and never read the words.  I read the words to hymns now.

The question of why good things happen to bad people and bad things to good people, of why the evil and those indifferent to God prosper while the genuinely loving, kind, and faithful struggle and suffer, is an old one.  It was not an abstract question for Elijah, Jeremiah, John the Baptist, Jesus of Nazareth, or Paul of Tarsus; it was their lived experience.  It has been the lived experience of many faithful Christians who have since joined the Church Triumphant, and it is the lived experience of many Christians today.

The answer, from Malachi to Paul of Tarsus to John to Patmos, is that those who remain faithful to the end will find their deliverance.  As Paul wrote, if we suffer with Christ we will reign with him.

A few days ago a friend invited me to watch Of Gods and Men (2010), a moving movie about French Trappist monks living in Algeria in the middle 1990s.  The small community of monks forms the nucleus of the surrounding village, members of which depend of them for spiritual advice and medical care.  But militant fundamentalist terrorists, who, according to the local Muslims, have not read the Koran, at least closely, threaten the villagers and the monks.  The Trappists have the option to leave for a safe place, but, after struggling and praying, decide to stay.  “The servant is not above his master,” one monk says, quoting Jesus, when he explains his vote to remain and face the danger.  All but two monks in the community die at the end of the movie.  Those who died were martyrs, for their life of faith led to their deaths.  They died because they served God in their neighbors.

The movie, based on a true story, has occupied my thoughts for days.  What would I do in such a circumstance?  Would I act as the monks did, meditating on the sufferings of Christ and following him?  Or would I seek the easy way out?  Would I prefer an easy life (for whatever purpose, if any at all) or accept a difficult death for God?

In the end, Malachi and John of Patmos tell us, those who endure will receive their reward from God, and the unrepentant evildoers will receive their punishment.  This might be of little or no comfort at the present, while the good suffer, but it is the answer we have.  This is a valid question and a great theological problem (in the way that academics use the word “problem”).  Maybe I will get an answer from God in person one day.  Until then, this is the answer I have.

My response, for now, is to try to live faithfully, in love, not animosity and theological know-it-allism mixed with quick judgmentalism.  If I am wrong, may I be wrong in love.  If I am correct, may I be correct in love.  God is my judge; God is your judge; God is everybody’s judge.  And in him there is also mercy.  Much seems unfair; much is unfair.  Humble Trappists monks ought not to die at the hands of terrorists.  Elijah and Jeremiah should not have suffered for obeying God.  But they did.

Such is the world in which we live.  May the love of God, shining in and through us, shed light in it.  As for the rest, that is in God’s hands.  My call from God is to live faithfully, not with all knowledge.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/05/08/its-not-fair/