Archive for the ‘Matthew 11’ Tag

Devotion for the Feast of the Reformation (October 31)   2 comments

Above:  Wittenberg in 1540

Image in the Public Domain

Schism and Reconciliation

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The Feast of the Reformation, celebrated first in the Brunswick church order (1528), composed by Johannes Bugenhagen (1485-1558), died out in the 1500s.  Initially the dates of the commemoration varied according to various church orders, and not all Lutherans observed the festival.  Original dates included November 10 (the eve of Martin Luther‘s birthday), February 18 (the anniversary of Luther’s death), and the Sunday after June 25, the date of the delivery of the Augsburg Confession.  In 1667, after the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648), Elector of Saxony John George II ordered the revival of the commemoration, with the date of October 31.  Over time the commemoration spread, and commemorations frequently occurred on the Sunday closest to that date.

The feast used to function primarily as an occasion to express gratitude that one was not Roman Catholic.  However, since 1980, the 450th anniversary of the Augsburg Confession, the Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute (of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement) and the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau have favored observing the feast as a time of reconciliation and of acknowledging the necessity of the Reformation while not celebrating the schism.

This perspective is consistent with the position of Professor Phillip Cary in his Great Courses series of The History of Christian Theology (2008), in which he argues that Protestantism and Roman Catholicism need each other.

I, as an Episcopalian, stand within the Middle Way–Anglicanism.  I am convinced, in fact, that I am on this planet for, among other reasons, to be an Episcopalian; the affiliation fits me naturally.  I even hang an Episcopal Church flag in my home.  I, as an Episcopalian, am neither quite Protestant nor Roman Catholic; I borrow with reckless abandon from both sides–especially from Lutheranism in recent years.  I affirm Single Predestination (Anglican and Lutheran theology), Transubstantiation, a 73-book canon of scripture, and the Assumption of Mary (Roman Catholic theology), and reject both the Immaculate Conception of Mary and the Virgin Birth of Jesus.  My ever-shifting variety of Anglicanism is sui generis.

The scandal of schism, extant prior to 1517, but exasperated by the Protestant and English Reformations, grieves me.  Most of the differences among denominations similar to each other are minor, so overcoming denominational inertia with mutual forbearance would increase the rate of ecclesiastical unity.  Meanwhile, I, from my perch in The Episcopal Church, ponder whether organic union with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is feasible and wise.  It is a question worth exploring.  At least we are natural ecumenical partners.  We already have joint congregations, after all.  If there will be organic union, it will require mutual giving and taking on many issues, but we agree on most matters already.

Time will tell.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 13, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PETER OF CHELCIC, BOHEMIAN HUSSITE REFORMER; AND GREGORY THE PATRIARCH, FOUNDER OF THE MORAVIAN CHURCH

THE FEAST OF GODFREY THRING, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JANE CREWDSON, ENGLISH QUAKER POET AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF NARAYAN SESHADRI OF JALNI, INDIAN PRESBYTERIAN EVANGELIST AND “APOSTLE TO THE MANGS”

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Almighty God, gracious Lord, we thank you that your Holy Spirit renews the church in every age.

Pour out your Holy Spirit on your faithful people.

Keep them steadfast in your word, protect and comfort them in times of trial,

defend them against all enemies of the gospel,

and bestow on the church your saving peace,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 31:31-34

Psalm 46

Romans 3:19-28

John 8:31-36

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 58

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Revelation 14:6-7

Romans 3:19-28

John 8:31-36 or Matthew 11:12-19

Lutheran Service Book (2006), xxiii

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Originally published at SUNDRY THOUGHTS

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Devotion for Proper 15, Year A (Humes)   1 comment

Above:  Joseph Reveals His Dream to His Brethren, by James Tissot

Image in the Public Domain

Trusting in God, Part II

AUGUST 18, 2019

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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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Genesis 37:1-28 or Isaiah 30:15-25

Psalm 18:16-30

1 Corinthians 6:1-11

Matthew 11:2-19

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Patriarchs in Genesis had dysfunctional families.  Abraham tried to kill his son Isaac, on faith that God had told him to do so.  (Yes, I argue with that story.)  Isaac’s son Jacob, with the help of Jacob’s mother, fooled him and defrauded Esau.  Jacob seemed not to care about the rape of his daughter Dinah and, in a different context, acted in such a way as to foster tension among his sons, most of whom fooled him into thinking that his son Joseph was dead.  With family like that, who needs enemies?

The main idea in 1 Corinthians 6:1-11 is that believers ought to conduct themselves in ways that glorify God and distinguish them from unbelievers.  Yet even when holy people do that, they will still receive criticism, for some people thrive on finding faults, even if those faults are imaginary.  It is preferable that the criticisms be baseless; that way they show up the critics.

During the reign of King Hezekiah of Judah (reigned 727/715-698/687 B.C.E.), the kingdom entered into a military alliance with Egypt against Assyria.  This was an ill-advised alliance; Egypt was not trustworthy.  The author of Isaiah 30 argued that the alliance indicated a lack of trust in God, who was reliable.  After the announcement of divine wrath followed the prediction of mercy.

Trusting in God liberates one to do as one should and become the person one should be.  One can lay aside the desire for revenge, not to lead a life defined by anger, and value justice instead.  With confidence in God one can avoid foolish decisions that end badly.  One, trusting in God, can find the source of ultimate peace and strength.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 30, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CLARENCE JORDAN, SOUTHERN BAPTIST MINISTER AND WITNESS FOR CIVIL RIGHTS

THE FEAST OF SAINT PETER CHRYSOLOGUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF RAVENNA AND DEFENDER OF ORTHODOXY

THE FEAST OF SAINT VICENTA CHÁVEZ OROZCO, FOUNDRESS OF THE SERVANTS OF THE HOLY TRINITY AND THE POOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT WILLIAM PINCHON, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2018/07/30/trusting-in-god-part-viii/

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Devotion for Proper 14, Year A (Humes)   1 comment

Above:  The Seduction of Dinah, Daughter of Leah, by James Tissot

Image in the Public Domain

Trusting in God, Part I

AUGUST 11, 2019

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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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Genesis 34 or Isaiah 29:13-24

Psalm 18:1-15

1 Corinthians 5:1-13

Matthew 10:34-11:1

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We have some unpleasant content this week–rape, deceit, and murder in Genesis 34 and incest in 1 Corinthians 5.

The rape of Dinah is one of those stories that makes people squirm.  Dinah is the only completely sympathetic character.  Jacob, her father, is indifferent to her plight.  Her brothers Simeon and Levi are sympathetic until they entrap and massacre Canaanite men still recuperating from circumcision.  Shechem the rapist is not sympathetic at all; neither is his father Hamor.  Still, Simeon and Levi, avengers of their sister, are somewhat sympathetic characters.

At least they cared about what had happened to her, what was happening to her, and might happen to her.

As for Dinah, given the realities of her situation in a patriarchal culture that shamed raped women, her future seemed bleak.  Who would marry her now?  And marrying her rapist was not a good option either.  She almost dropped out of the narrative; her name recurred in the census in Genesis 46.  She had no descendants.

Her brothers’ vengeance brought them material gain and ego boosts, but wounded their souls and diminished them as human beings.  It made a bad situation worse.

Trust in God, most of the assigned readings tell us.  Trust in God when doing so is difficult.  Trust in God and live accordingly.  Trust in God, take up one’s cross, follow Jesus, and take care of each other.  Trust in God when one’s family abandons one.

Trusting in God can prove challenging during the best of times, especially if one insists on self-reliance.  Trusting in God when one is in dire straits can therefore be more difficult.  Yet I know from experience that trusting in God might be easier in times of dire straits if, for perhaps no other reason, one is acutely aware of one’s dependence on God and of God’s presence.  God is always with us.  If one likens God to a lamp turned on, one might understand my point.  One might notice the light during daylight, but the light is more noticeable at night.

Trusting in God also entails leaving desires for revenge unfulfilled.  Vengeance might prove satisfying in the short term, but it devours those who have committed it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 30, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CLARENCE JORDAN, SOUTHERN BAPTIST MINISTER AND WITNESS FOR CIVIL RIGHTS

THE FEAST OF SAINT PETER CHRYSOLOGUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF RAVENNA AND DEFENDER OF ORTHODOXY

THE FEAST OF SAINT VICENTA CHÁVEZ OROZCO, FOUNDRESS OF THE SERVANTS OF THE HOLY TRINITY AND THE POOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT WILLIAM PINCHON, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2018/07/30/trusting-in-god-part-vii/

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Devotion for Proper 4 (Ackerman)   1 comment

Above:   The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, by John Martin

Image in the Public Domain

False Teachers

NOT OBSERVED IN 2019

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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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Genesis 19:1-8, 15-26, 30-38

Psalm 11

2 Peter 2:4-10a

Matthew 11:20-24

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David Ackerman continues his grand tour of difficult passages of scripture.  The theme this time is judgment and mercy.

One should be careful to examine a passage of scripture closely.  In Genesis 19, for example, we read of (A) an equal-opportunity rape gang and (B) the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.  The gang members do not care if their conquests are male, female, or angelic.  Furthermore, Lot, while being hospitable to his house guests, offers his two daughters to the gang instead.  Fortunately for the daughters, the gang had become fixated on “fresh fish.”  One might reasonably surmise, however, that Lot knew the character of his neighbors.  One might also question the character of the daughters, who went on to get their father drunk, seduce him, and have children with him.  Lot and his family are a disturbing group of people in Genesis.

Elsewhere in the assigned lessons we read of divine judgment on false teachers and those who follow them.  This judgment falls on the unrepentant, whether Jewish or Gentile.  Yet there is also mercy for the repentant, whether Jewish or Gentile.

These readings contain much material to make one squirm.  I refer to what is there, not what we merely think is present.  Genesis 19 is partially an origin story of the Amorites and the Moabites, whose founders were the products of subterfuge, drunkenness, and incest.  It is also partially a cautionary tale about the lack of hospitality.  What could be more inhospitable than seeking to seeking to rape someone?

Divine judgment and mercy are real, as are human misinterpretation of Bible stories.  May we turn of the autopilot mode that prevents us from studying passages seriously and transform us into false teachers.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 15, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN ELLERTON, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER AND TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF CARL HEINRICH VON BOGATSKY, HUNGARIAN-GERMAN LUTHERAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS LANDELINUS OF VAUX, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AUBERT OF CAMBRAI, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP; URSMAR OF LOBBES, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND MISSIONARY BISHOP; AND DOMITIAN, HADELIN, AND DODO OF LOBBES, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONKS

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2017/06/15/false-teachers/

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Devotion for Wednesday After Proper 8, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

 

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Above:  Ruins of Capernaum, Between 1898 and 1946

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-matpc-10654

Active Love for God

JULY 1, 2020

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The Collect:

O God, you direct our lives by your grace,

and your words of justice and mercy reshape the world.

Mold us into a people who welcome your word and serve one another,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 40

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The Assigned Readings:

Jeremiah 18:1-11

Psalm 119:161-168

Matthew 11:20-24

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Lord, I have looked for your salvation

and I have fulfilled your commandments.

My soul has kept your testimonies

and greatly have I loved them.

I have kept your commandments and testimonies,

for all my ways are before you.

–Psalm 119:166-168, Common Worship (2000)

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The power and mercy of God can be frightening, for they challenge us to examine ourselves spiritually. They make abundantly clear the reality that we, most especially in the light of God, are wanting. We could admit this fact, embrace it, and welcome God’s act of reshaping us—or we could resist in stiff-necked fashion.

The reading for today are generally gloomy. The Psalm is affirmative, but the lections from Matthew and Jeremiah are darker. The Matthew lesson exists in a textual context of conflict. St. John the Baptist is imprisoned and about to die; can Jesus be far behind? A few verses later our Lord and Savior plucks grain and heals a man with a withered hand. Critics note that he does this on the Sabbath. Is Jesus supposed to have gone hungry and to have forgone committing a good deed? Later opponents accuse him of being in league with Satan. Our Lord and Savior’s healings were acts of power and mercy. Yet I read shortly after today’s Matthew lection that some people criticized him for committing such a powerful and merciful act on the Sabbath.

These are the kinds of negative responses to which Matthew 11:20 and 21 refer. The references to Tyre and Sidon reach back to Isaiah 23 and Ezekiel 27-28, where one reads condemnations of those wicked cities. And Jesus’ adopted hometown, Capernaum, is among the places where he experienced rejection. But, we read, even evil Tyre and Sidon will fare better on the day of judgment than will Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum.

He came to his own, and his own people would not accept him.

–John 1:11, The Revised English Bible (1989)

Why do we reject the love of God, which we see manifested around us via a variety of channels? And why do we quibble about when this love pours out generously, albeit inconvenient for us due to a fault within us? There are several reasons, but I choose to focus on one here: our preference for the status quo ante. We tend to prefer the predictable, so certain prompts prove to be threatening, not merely annoying. To acknowledge intellectually that God does not fit into our preferred theological box is one thing, but to experience that fact is another. And admitting error might call our identity into question. Furthermore, for those for whom religion is about certainty, one of the more popular idols, the element of uncertainty is profoundly disturbing.

May we—you and I, O reader—embrace the active love of God, permit it to reshape us, and not find such uncertainty disturbing. No, may we reject certainty in convenient lies and possess faith—active and living faith evident in attitudes, words, and deeds—in God, who refuses to fit into any theological box.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 24, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF IDA SCUDDER, REFORMED CHURCH IN AMERICA MEDICAL MISSIONARY IN INDIA

THE FEAST OF EDWARD KENNEDY “DUKE” ELLINGTON, COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF JACKSON KEMPER, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF WISCONSIN

THE FEAST OF MOTHER EDITH, FOUNDER OF THE COMMUNITY OF THE SACRED NAME

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/05/29/active-love-for-god/

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Devotion for October 10 and 11 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

GoldCalf

Above:  The Adoration of the Golden Calf, by Nicolas Poussin

Image in the Public Domain

Deuteronomy and Matthew, Part X:  Stiff-Necked People

SATURDAY AND SUNDAY, OCTOBER 10 AND 11, 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:

Deuteronomy 9:1-22 (October 10)

Deuteronomy 9:23-10:22 (October 11)

Psalm 97 (Morning–October 10)

Psalm 51 (Morning–October 11)

Psalms 16 and 62 (Evening–October 10)

Psalms 142 and 65 (Evening–October 11)

Matthew 11:1-19 (October 10)

Matthew 11:20-30 (October 11)

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Dark clouds surround the readings for these days.  In Deuteronomy 9:6 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures) Moses tells the Israelites:

Know then that it is not for any virtue that your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stiff-necked people.

Subsequently described events confirm that statement.  And only the intercessions of Moses, who suffered for the people, spare them from destruction by God.

Speaking of suffering intercessors, we have Jesus in Matthew 11.  He fasts and critics accuse him of excessive asceticism.  He eats and drinks and critics allege that he is a glutton and a drunkard.  What is a Son of God and Son of Man to do?  Whatever he does, someone criticizes him.  Yet he finds a more responsive audience among many Gentiles.  At least St. John the Baptist, distressed at the end of his life, had an honest question, not a predisposition to carping and to finding fault.

Many people are impossible to please.  Others are merely extremely difficult to please.  Still others are more persuadable via good evidence and are therefore less likely to prove unpleasant.  I hope that I fall into the last category, not either of the first two, in God’s estimation.  What more than that what God has done already must God do to persuade?  Was liberating the Israelites insufficient?  Was feeding them and providing water in the desert not enough?  Is the Incarnation not to our liking?  How stiff are our necks?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 2, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT SIGISMUND OF BURGUNDY, KING; SAINT CLOTILDA, FRANKISH QUEEN; AND SAINT CLODOALD, FRANKISH PRINCE AND ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINT ATHANASIUS OF ALEXANDRIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF JAMES LEWIS MILLIGAN, HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCULF OF NANTEUIL, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/deuteronomy-and-matthew-part-x-stiff-necked-people/

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Week of Proper 10: Thursday, Year 2   3 comments

Above:  The Mythical Phoenix

Rebirth After Disaster

JULY 16, 2020

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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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Isaiah 26:8-19 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

For Your just ways, O LORD, we look to You;

We long for the name by which You are called.

At night I yearn for You with all my being,

I seek You with all the spirit within me.

For when Your judgments are wrought on earth,

The inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.

But when the scoundrel is spared, he learns not righteousness;

In a place of integrity, he does wrong–

He ignores the majesty of the LORD.

O LORD!

They see not Your hand exalted.

Let them be shamed as they behold

Your zeal for Your people

And fire consuming Your adversaries.

O LORD!

May you appoint well-being for us,

Since you have also requited all our misdeeds.

O LORD our God!

Lords other than You possessed us,

But only Your name shall we utter.

They are dead, they can never live;

Shades, they can never rise;

Of a truth, You have dealt with them and wiped them out,

Have put an end to the mention of them.

When you added to the nation, O LORD,

When you added to the nation,

Extending all the boundaries of the land,

You were honored.

O LORD!  In their distress, they sought You;

Your chastisement reduced them

To anguished whispered prayer.

Like a woman with child

Approaching childbirth,

Writhing and screaming in her pangs,

So are we because of You, O LORD.

We were with child, we writhed–

It is as though we had given birth to wind;

We have won no victory on earth;

The inhabitants of the world have not come to life!

Oh, let Your dead revive!

Let corpses arise!

Awake and shout for joy,

You who dwell in the dust!–

For Your dew is like the dew on fresh growth;

You make the land of the shades come to life.

Psalm 102:12-22 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

11  My days pass away like a shadow,

and I wither like grass.

12  But you, O LORD, endure for ever,

and your Name from age to age.

13  You will arise and have compassion on Zion,

for it is time to have mercy upon her;

indeed, the appointed time has come.

14  For your servants love her very rubble,

and are moved to pity even for her dust.

15  The nations shall fear your Name, O LORD,

and all the kings of the earth your glory.

16  For the LORD will build up Zion,

and his glory will appear.

17  He will look with favor on the prayer of the homeless;

he will not despise their plea.

18  Let this be written for a future generation,

so that a people yet unborn may praise the LORD.

19  For the LORD looked down from his holy place on high;

from the heavens he beheld the earth;

20  That he might hear the groan of the captive

and set free those condemned to die;

21  That they may declare in Zion the Name of the LORD,

and his praise in Jerusalem;

22  When the peoples are gathered together,

and the kingdoms also, to serve the LORD.

Matthew 11:28-20 (An American Translation):

[Jesus continued,]

Come to me, all of you toil and learn from me, and I will let you rest.  Let my yoke be put upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble-minded, and your hearts can find rest, for the yoke I offer you is a kindly one, and the load I ask you to bear is light.

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The Collect:

O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you, and grant that they may know and understand what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Some Related Links:

Week of Proper 10:  Thursday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/28/week-of-proper-10-thursday-year-1/

A Prayer for Those Who Have Harmed Us:

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

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This day’s reading from Isaiah is part of a plea to God to destroy to destroy the wicked so that the redemption of the righteous may follow soon thereafter.  This projected sequence of events reflects an understanding that difficult times will come, but that circumstances will improve for the righteous afterward.  So, in the midst of impending violence, hope for a better future persists.  God will make this predicted hope a reality, and the children of Israel will weather the storm of exile.  That is the point of this day’s text.

They did weather that storm, of course, and return to their homeland, thanks to God and the Persian Empire.  That covers the historical particulars of this text.  Yet what about contemporary applications?

As I write these words, the global economy is shaky.  This is a time of globalization, so what affects one economy can become an international contagion.  For example, if Nation A in Europe is bankrupt and in need of a bailout, this fact affects the economies of other European nations, due in part to trade and also to the reality of the Euro.  And these effects are evident in international trade with the United States.  Furthermore, troubles in the U.S. economy have affected Europe.  It easy to assign blame, but I prefer that policy makers in various nations find the proper solutions first and foremost.

As for the rest of us, those of us not in the halls of governments, corporate headquarters, and central banks, we ought to look upon these troubled times as an opportunity to sort out our priorities.  How much do we really need?  What is most important?  We cannot take our money and material goods with us when we die; we know that much, do we not?  So, what matters most?  God matters most of all.  The test for loving God entails loving each other.  With that in mind, may we contemplate how God calls each of us to love one another in deeds.  May we build up our human communities, basing them on active compassion.  Social change occurs because enough people change their minds.  And, as we think, so we are; actions flow from attitudes.

This is an opportunity to participate in the remaking of the world, or of parts thereof.  This recreating and remolding is a continuous process.  By grace, may more compassion for each other and deeper, healthier spirituality result.  We can emerge stronger and better on the other side of difficulty.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/09/19/rebirth-after-disaster/

Week of Proper 10: Wednesday, Year 2   3 comments

Above:  A Map of the Neo-Assyrian Empire

Against “Majestic Pride and Overbearing Arrogance”

JULY 15, 2020

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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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Isaiah 10:5-16 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

Ha!

Assyria, rod of My anger,

In whose hand, as a staff, is My fury!

I send him against him an ungodly nation,

I charge him against a people that provokes Me,

To take its spoil and to seize its booty

And to make it a thing trampled

Like the mire of the streets.

But he has evil designs;

For he means to destroy,

To wipe out nations, not a few.

For he thinks,

After all, I have kings as my captains!

Was Calno any different from Carchemish?

Or Hamath from Arpad?

Or Samaria from Damascus?

Since I was able to seize

The insignificant kingdoms,

Whose images exceeded

Jerusalem’s and Samaria’s,

Shall I not do to Jerusalem and her images

What I did to Samaria and her idols?

But when my Lord has carried out all his purpose on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, He will punish the majestic pride and overbearing arrogance of the king of Assyria.  For he thought,

By the might of my hand I have wrought it,

By my skill, for I am clever:

I have erased the borders of peoples;

I have plundered their treasures,

And exiled their vast populations.

I was able to seize, like a nest,

The wealth of peoples;

As one gathers abandoned eggs,

So I gathered all the earth:

Nothing so much as flapped a wing

Or opened a mouth to peep.

Does an ax boast over him who hews with it,

Or a saw magnify itself above him who wields it?

As though the rod raised him who lifts it,

As though the staff lifted the man!

Psalm 94:5-15 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

5  They crush your people, O LORD,

and afflict your chosen nation.

6  They murder the widow and the stranger,

and put the orphans to death.

7  Yet they say, “The LORD does not see,

the God of Jacob takes no notice.”

8  Consider well, you dullards among the people;

when will you fools understand?

9  He that planted the ear, does he not hear?

he that formed the eye, does he not see?

10  He who admonishes the nations, will he not punish?

he who teaches all the world, has he no knowledge?

11 The LORD knows our human thoughts;

how like a puff of wind they are.

12  Happy are those whom you instruct, O Lord!

whom you teach out of your law;

13  To give them rest in evil days,

until a pit is dug for the wicked.

14  For the LORD will not abandon his people,

nor will he forsake his own.

15  For judgment will again be just,

and all the true of heart will follow it.

Matthew 11:25-27 (An American Translation):

At that time Jesus said,

I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for hiding all this from the learned and the intelligent and revealing it to children.  Yes, I thank you, Father, for choosing to have it so.  Everything has been handed over to me by my Father, and no one understands the Son but the Father, nor does anyone understand the Father but the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

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The Collect:

O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you, and grant that they may know and understand what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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A Related Post:

Week of Proper 10:  Wednesday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/27/week-of-proper-10-wednesday-year-1/

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The Assyrian Empire was brutal, a regime built on force, coercion, and violence.  There were, in fact, successive Assyrian Empires, so I must be precise in my language.  Mesopotamia has been home to neighboring civilizations and a succession of empires since ancient times.  Keeping track of them can be challenging.  The Assyrian Empire of this day’s text from Isaiah was the Neo-Assyrian Empire.  It had begun to expand its borders and influence by 856 B.C.E.  All of the hard work of conquering and oppressing people ended by 605 B.C.E., with the division of the empire between the Chaldeans/Neo-Babylonians, the next great empire in that region, and the Medes, who, along with their senior partners, the Persians, eventually conquered the Chaldeans/Neo-Babylonians and formed an even greater empire.

Empires rise and fall, but life goes on, as does the work of God.  And, for us, living daily should constitute far more than merely completing a succession of tasks, errands, and chores; it should be prayer and a series of acts of worship.  This thought has been on my mind recently, as I have watched the video Canadian politician Jack Layton’s funeral repeatedly.  Layton’s pastor quoted the late leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition as saying that he (Layton) considered how he spent each day as an act of worship.  Such living leaves no room for the ruthless violence for which the Assyrians were notorious.

The text does require some explanation.  First, Calno, Carchemish, Hamath, Arpad, Samaria, and Damascus were cities the Assyrians had conquered.  And there is a bilingual pun in the text.  (I adore plays on words!)  We read “I have kings as my captains!” in verse 8.  The note in The Jewish Study Bible explains:

Heb[rew] “sar” is cognate to the Akkadian word for king.  Vassal kings did serve the Assyrian king as military commanders or captains.

Double entendres aside, the point of the reading is that hubris led to the fall of Assyria.  Hubris, of course, is that which goes before the fall.  It puffs one up unduly and leads one to become and remain overconfident.  It is something to guard against in the life of any empire or nation-state.

We, as individuals, ought also to avoid hubris.  We all need God; if we are wise, we will acknowledge and accept this without hesitation.  Jesus went to those who were ready to accept him and to embrace his message.  Pride did not hold them back, so they benefited from him.  More could have done the same if they just surrendered their hubris.

Pride can be difficult to surrender.  Sometimes circumstances leave us no choice, but it is better to live simply, humbly, and in the light of God voluntarily.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/04/18/against-majestic-pride-and-overbearing-arrogance/

Week of Proper 10: Tuesday, Year 2   4 comments

Above:  King Ahaz of Judah

God With Us

JULY 14, 2020

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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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Isaiah 7:1-9 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

In the reign of King Ahaz son of Jotham son of Uzziah, king of Judah, King Rezin of Aram and King Pekah of Israel marched upon Jerusalem to attack it; but they were not able to attack it.

Now, when it was reported to the House of David that Aram had allied itself with Ephraim, their hearts and the hearts of the people trembled as trees of the forest sway before a wind.  But the LORD said to Isaiah,

Go out with your son Shear-jashub to meet Ahaz at the end of the conduit of the Upper Pool, by the road of the Fuller’s Field.  And say to him:  Be firm and be calm.  Do not be afraid and do not lose heart on account of those two smoking stubs of firebrands, on account of the raging of Rezin and his Arameans and the son of Remaliah.  Because the Arameans–with Ephraim and the son of Remaliah–have plotted against you, saying, “We will march against Judah and invade and conquer it, and we will set up as king in it the son of Tabeel,” thus says my Lord GOD:

It shall not succeed,

It shall not come to pass.

For the chief city of Aram is Damascus,

And the chief of Damascus is Rezin;

The chief city of Ephraim is Samaria,

And the chief of Samaria is the son of Remaliah.

And in another sixty-five years,

Ephraim shall be shattered as a people.

If you will not believe, for you cannot be trusted….

Psalm 48 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised;

in the city of our God is his holy hill.

2 Beautiful and lofty, the joy of all the earth, is the hill of Zion,

the very center of the world and the city of the great King.

God is in her citadels;

he is known to be her sure refuge.

Behold, the kings of the earth assembled

and marched forward together.

5 They looked and were astonished;

they retreated and fled in terror.

Trembling seized them there;

they writhed like a woman in childbirth,

like ships of the sea when the east wind shatters them.

As we have heard, so have we seen,

in the city of the LORD of hosts, in the city of our God;

God has established her for ever.

8 We have waited in silence on your loving-kindness, O God,

in the midst of your temple.

Your praise, like your Name, O God, reaches to the world’s end;

your right hand is full of justice.

10 Let Mount Zion be glad

in the cities of Judah rejoice,

because of your judgments.

11 Make the circuit of Zion;

walk round about her;

count the number of her towers.

12 Consider well her bulwarks;

examine her strongholds;

that you may tell those who come after.

13 This God is our God for ever and ever;

he shall be our guide for ever more.

Matthew 11:20-24 (An American Translation):

Then he [Jesus] began to reproach the towns in which most of his wonders had been done, because they did not repent.

Alas for you, Chorazin!  Alas for you, Bethsaida!  For if the wonders that have been done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented in sackcloth and ashes long ago!  But I tell you, Tyre and Sidon will fare better on the day of judgment than you will!  And you, Capernaum!  Are you to be exalted to the skies?  You will go down among the dead!  For if the wonders that have been done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have stood until today.  But I tell you that the land of Sodom will fare better than the Day of Judgment than you will!

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The Collect:

O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you, and grant that they may know and understand what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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A Related Post:

Week of Proper 10:  Tuesday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/26/week-of-proper-10-tuesday-year-1/

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2 Kings 16:1-20 tells of the reign of King Ahaz of Judah, which The Jewish Study Bible dates to 754/735-727/715 B.C.E.  Ahaz “did not do what was pleasing to the LORD his God, but followed the ways of the kings of Israel.”  We read in 16:4 that “He sacrificed and made offerings at the shrines, on the hills, and under every leafy tree” (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures).  We read also that King Rezin of Aram and King Pekah of Israel formed an alliance and attempted unsuccessfully to conquer Jerusalem and the Kingdom of Judah, and to install a compliant monarch not of the Davidic Dynasty.

This is the context for Isaiah 7.  As we keep reading past Isaiah 7:9, we find Ahaz putting on airs of holiness by refusing to ask YHWH for a sign of deliverance.  Yet the king received a sign anyway:  A young woman in the court would have a baby boy, to be called Immanuel, or “God with us.”  People would feast on curds and honey by the time young Immanuel could discern good from evil and choose the good.

This is the story as we have it in Isaiah 7.  Subsequent Christian tradition, embedded in the Gospel of Matthew, changes the meaning of this account.  And since the author of that Gospel quoted the Greek-language Septuagint, not the original Hebrew text, the almah, or young woman, not necessarily a virgin or even married, of marriageable age, became a virgin in Matthew’s Gospel.  Young Immanuel, of course, became Jesus of Nazareth.  “Matthew” understood the story of Jesus in the context of the Jewish Biblical narrative.  So he sought foreshadowing and prophesies of Jesus in the old texts.  Sometimes he imagined things.

Ahaz’s story continues in 2 Kings 16.  He allied himself with the Assyrian king, Tiglath-pilesar, after bribing him with “the gold and the silver that were on hand in the House of the LORD” and “the treasures of the royal palace.”  So the Assyrians rescued Ahaz from the Aramean and Israaelite forces, capturing Damascus, the capital of Aram.  There, at Assyrian-occupied Damascus, Ahaz saw a pagan altar, which he replicated in Jerusalem.  This was bad, but his public sacrifice at said replica altar compounded his error.  And Assyria demanded high tribute payments, which he paid in part by removing various Temple furnishings.

Judah was on the fast track to losing its sovereignty, something which Ahaz had compromised already.

I wonder how different the story would have been if Ahaz had trusted in YHWH, not Assyria.  God reaches out to us, even and especially after we have strayed from the righteous path.  The offer to come back remains open to us .  How do we answer?

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/04/18/god-with-us-2/

Week of Proper 10: Thursday, Year 1   17 comments

Above:  Moses and the Burning Bush, from St. Isaac’s Cathedral, St. Petersburg, Russia

Divine Power Revealed in Caring

JULY 15, 2021

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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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Exodus 3:13-20 (An American Translation):

But,

said Moses to God,

in case I go the Israelites and say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you,” and they say, “What is his name?” what am I to say to them?

God said to Moses,

I am who I am.

Then he said,

Thus you shall say to the Israelites:  ‘”I am” has sent me to you.’

God said further to Moses,

Thus you shall say to the Israelites:

“Yahweh [the LORD], the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, has sent me to you.” This has always been my name, and this shall remain my name throughout all the ages.  Go and assemble the elders of Israel, and say to them, “The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, “I have given careful heed to you and your treatment in Egypt, and I have resolved to bring you up out of your tribulation in Egypt to the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivvites, and Jebusites, to a land flowing with milk and honey.”‘  They will heed your appeal, and then you and the elders of Israel shall come to the king of Egypt and say to him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has paid us a visit; so now, let us make three days’ journey into the desert to offer sacrifices to the LORD our God.’  I know, however, that the king of Egypt will not let you go without the use of force; so I will stretch out my hand and smite Egypt with all the marvels that I shall perform in it; after that he will let you go.”

Psalm 105:1-15 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 Give thanks to the LORD and call upon his Name;

make known his deeds among the peoples.

2 Sing to him, sing praises to him,

and speak of all his marvelous works.

3 Glory in his holy Name;

let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.

4 Search for the LORD and his strength;

continually seek his face.

5 Remember the marvels he has done,

his wonders and the judgments of his mouth,

6 O offspring of Abraham his servant,

O children of Jacob his chosen.

7 He is the LORD our God;

his judgments prevail in all the world.

8 He has always been mindful of his covenant,

the promise he made for a thousand generations:

9 The covenant he made with Abraham,

the oath that he swore to Isaac,

10 Which he established as a statute for Jacob,

an everlasting covenant for Israel,

11 Saying, “To you will I give the land of Canaan

to be your allotted inheritance.”

12 When they were few in number,

of little account, and sojourners in the land,

13 Wandering from nation to nation

and from one kingdom to another,

14 He let no one oppress them

and rebuked kings for their sake,

15 Saying, “Do not touch my anointed

and do my prophets no harm.”

Matthew 11:28-30 (An American Translation):

[Jesus continued,]

Come to me, all of you toil and learn from me, and I will let you rest.  Let my yoke be put upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble-minded, and your hearts can find rest, for the yoke I offer you is a kindly one, and the load I ask you to bear is light.

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The Collect:

O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you, and grant that they may know and understand what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Moses said to God, “When I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?”  And God said to Moses, “Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh.”  He continued, “Thus shall you say to the Israelites, “Ehyeh sent me to you.'”

–Exodus 3:13-14, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

The account of what happened when Moses saw the burning bush at Midian continues in Exodus 3:13-20.  Moses asks an understandable and predictable question:  What is your name?  God answers “Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh” in Hebrew.  This is a fascinating reply that TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures transliterates.  A note from The Jewish Study Bible (Oxford University Press, 2004, page 111 explains:

Meaning of Heb. uncertain; variously translated: “I Am That I Am’; “I Am Who I Am”; “I Will Be What I Will Be”; etc.

In verse 15 God uses the name “YHWH,” or “Yahweh.”  Professor Richard Elliott Friedman writes in his Commentary on the Torah that this name is a verb whose imperfect tense is not limited to “a past, present, or future time.”  The closest translation, Friedman writes, is “He Causes To Be.”

There is a great mystery about all this, and that is as matters should be.  God refuses to fit into human categories, even temporal ones.  Translation:  God exists beyond human control and understanding.  May we stand in awe of the mysterious grandeur of God.

This God, self-identified as YHWH and Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh manifests concern for the oppressed Hebrews of Egypt and commands Moses to lead them out of slavery.  God will liberate the Hebrews, but there must be a human leader of the Exodus.  Most importantly, though, God cares and acts mightily in accordance with this attitude.

The benighted man thinks,

“God does not care.”

–Psalm 14:1 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures)

The standard English translation of Psalm 14:1 is that a foolish person thinks, “There is no God.”  (A nearly identical verse occurs in Psalm 10:4.)  But, as The Jewish Study Bible notes point out, some form of theism was a universal assumption at the time of the writing the psalms.  As I have written elsewhere, for God to exist is for God to care.  That is a God whose face and strength I can seek without reservation.

Jesus, in Matthew 11, summons people to come to him and take on a spiritual discipline.  We need rules to establish order and direct our energies.  We ought also to choose only the proper rules, of course.  There are negative rules, those which exclude people inappropriately while stroking the egos of insiders.  The best disciplines, however, are those which transform us into what we ought to be and are based on love–of God, others, and ourselves.

The existence of Jesus is itself an indicator of God’s care for people.  So why not take up Jesus on his invitation?  He has the bona fides.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/04/18/divine-power-revealed-in-caring/