Archive for the ‘Psalm 125’ Tag

Devotion for Labor Day (U.S.A.)   Leave a comment

Above:  Labor Day, by Samuel D. Ehrhart

Published in Puck Magazine, September 1, 1909

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsca-26406

Affirming the Dignity of Work in Words and Deeds

SEPTEMBER 6, 2020

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The Book of Common Prayer (1979) contains a collect and assigned readings for Labor Day.

Interdependence is a cardinal virtue in the Law of Moses.  Interdependence is also obvious, or should be.  Somehow, especially in the global West, the idea of rugged individualism persists.  Yet, no matter how hard or well one works, one drives on roads other people built, relies on technology other people invented or maintain, and depends on many other people might guess at first thought.  Anyone who can read this post with comprehension relies on hosts of educators, for example.

As I affirm that I depend on the work of others, just as others depend on my work, I also affirm the dignity of work.  Therefore, I argue for certain propositions:

  1. Nobody should have to work in a death trap or a sweatshop;
  2. All wages should be living wages;
  3. People should work to live, not live to work;
  4. Union organizing and collective bargaining should be inviolable rights; and
  5. Access to affordable, quality health care is an inalienable right.

Nobody has a moral right to exploit anyone else.  No institution has a moral right to exploit any person.  After all, people should be more important than profits.

Furthermore, all work should benefit societies or communities.  By this standard most jobs pass the test.  We need plumbers and bus drivers, for example, but we also need actors, poets, and novelists.  In a just world teachers, librarians, police officers, and fire fighters would be some of the best paid professionals, but that is not the world in which we live, unfortunately.  It can be, however.  A society is what its members make it.  Sufficient force of public opinion, applied well, changes policies.  The major obstacle to positive social change is resignation to the current reality.

Furthermore, the best kind of work is also indistinguishable from play.  Work ought not only to provide financial support for one but also fulfill intangible needs.  Work, at its best, is something one who performs it enjoys.  Work should improve, not detract from, one’s quality of life.

Work does, of course, assume many forms, at home and out like the home.  One should never forget that a stay-at-home parent is a working parent.  One should never forget that one who leaves the labor force to become a caregiver for a relative is still working, just without wages.  One should acknowledge that those who, for various reasons, cannot join the labor force, are valuable members of society, and that many of them can contribute greatly to society, if others will permit them to do so.  Whenever a society holds back any of its members, it prevents itself from achieving its potential.

May we remember also that, as valuable as work is, rest and leisure are vital also.  Ideally one will balance the three properly.  We know that the brain requires a certain amount of sleep–especially REM sleep–to function properly.  We know that the correct amount of rest is necessary for the body to function properly.  We know that leisure makes for better employees.

Work, at its best, is a gift from God.  It is a gift for divine glory and the meeting of human needs.  Work, at its best, builds up (sometimes literally, sometimes figuratively) individuals, families, communities, societies, nation-states, and the world.  One’s work, at its best, is a vocation from God; it occupies the intersection of one’s greatest joys and the world’s deepest needs.

May you, O reader, find your work fulfilling in every way.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 1, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOSEPH OF ARIMATHEA, DISCIPLE OF JESUS

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Almighty God, you have so linked our lives with one another

that all we do affects, for good or ill, all other lives:

So guide us in the work we do, that we may do it not for self alone, but for the common good;

and, as we seek a proper return for our own labor,

make us mindful of the rightful aspirations of other workers,

and arouse our concern for those who are out of work;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Ecclesiasticus/Wisdom of Sirach 38:27-32

Psalm 107:1-9 or 90:1-2, 16-17

1 Corinthians 3:10-14

Matthew 6:19-24

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), 261, 932

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We invoke thy grace and wisdom, O Lord, upon all men of good will

who employ and control the labor of men.

Amid the numberless irritations and anxieties of their position,

help them to keep a quite and patient temper,

and to rule firmly and wisely, without harshness and anger.

Since they hold power over the bread, the safety, and the hopes of the workers,

may they wield their power justly and with love,

as older brothers and leaders in the great fellowship of labor.

Suffer not the heavenly light of compassion for the weak and the old to be quenched in their hearts.

When they are tempted to sacrifice human health and life for profit,

do thou strengthen their will in the hour of need,

and bring to nought the counsels of the heartless.

May they not sin against thee by using the bodies and souls of men as mere tools to make things.

Raise up among us employers who shall be makers of men as well as of goods.

Give us men of faith who will look beyond the strife of the present,

and catch a vision of a nobler organization of our work,

when all shall still follow the leadership of the ablest,

no longer in fear, but by the glad will of all,

and when all shall stand side by side in a strong and righteous brotherhood of work;

according to thy will in Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

–Evangelical and Reformed Church, Book of Worship (1947) 382-383

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Ecclesiasticus/Wisdom of Sirach 38:24-34 or Nehemiah 2:1-18

Psalms 124 and 125 or 147

2 Timothy 2:1-15 or Matthew 7:15-27

–General Council of the Congregational Christian Churches in the United States, A Book of Worship for Free Churches (1948), 409

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Originally published at SUNDRY THOUGHTS

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Devotion for November 20 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   3 comments

Christ Pantocrator

Above:  Christ Pantocrator

Image in the Public Domain

Religious Identity

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 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:

Daniel 1:1-21

Psalm 65 (Morning)

Psalms 125 and 91 (Evening)

Matthew 28:1-20

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Daniel 1 contains some historical inaccuracies and depicts Nebuchadnezzar (Nebuchadrezzar) II (reigned 605-562 BCE) in a more positive light at the end than one might expect at the beginning.  These might prove to be difficulties for biblical literalists yet not for me.

The real meat, so to speak, of the chapters is kosher food laws.  Keeping them constituted one way in which many exiled Jews maintained their identity.  So this is a story about maintaining religious identity.

I wonder about the sense of identity of those who concocted a cover story for the Resurrection of Jesus.  Who did they see when they saw a reflection?  How dud they understand themselves when they were honest with themselves?

My religious identity is in Christ.  In him I recognize the only one to follow to the end, whenever and however that will happen.  In him I see victory over evil and death.  In him I recognize atonement for sin.  In him I see the Incarnation of God.  In him I recognize ultimate wisdom.  These matters are primary for me.  The others (many of them still quite important) are secondary.

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/religious-identity/

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Devotion for October 22 and 23 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   5 comments

stations-123

Above:  The Right Reverend Robert C. Wright, Bishop of Atlanta, Participating in the Stations of the Cross, Atlanta, Georgia, Good Friday, March 29, 2013

Image Source = Bill Monk, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

Deuteronomy and Matthew, Part XVI:  Serving Others for God

THURSDAY AND FRIDAY, OCTOBER 22 AND 23, 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 21:1-23 (October 22)

Deuteronomy 24:10-25:10 (October 23)

Psalm 54 (Morning–October 22)

Psalm 65 (Morning–October 23)

Psalms 28 and 99 (Evening–October 22)

Psalms 125 and 91 (Evening–October 23)

Matthew 16:1-12 (October 22)

Matthew 16:13-28 (October 23)

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Deuteronomy 21:1-23 and 24:10-25:10 contain the usual unpleasantness, such as when to stone people (see 21:18-21, for example, then contrast it with Luke 15:11-32, the Parable of the Prodigal Son) yet also many practical rules about helping the less fortunate and the vulnerable.  Thus, for example, even female captives have rights, as do wives, and laborers of various national origins.  Furthermore, childless widows can find security via levirate marriage.  There was an ethic that all Israelites were slaves of God, so they each had obligations to his or her fellow human beings; therein resided the formula for a stable and just society.

Jesus, in Matthew 16, offered a model of service and self-sacrifice in contrast to the teachings of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

In serving one another we find true freedom to become what we ought to be:  those who recognize the image of God in each other and act accordingly.  The details of how to that properly and effectively vary according to time and place, but the principle is everlasting and constant.  So may each of us take up his or her cross and follow Jesus, who came to serve, not to be served.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 8, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BENEDICT II, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF DAME JULIAN OF NORWICH, SPIRITUAL WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAGDALENA OF CANOSSA, FOUNDER OF THE DAUGHTERS OF CHARITY AND THE SONS OF CHARITY

THE FEAST OF SAINT PETER OF TARENTAISE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/deuteronomy-and-matthew-part-xvi-serving-others-for-god/

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Devotion for September 25 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Baptism_of_Christ_by_Tiffany

Above:  Baptism of Christ, by Louis Comfort Tiffany

Image Source = James G. Howes

Original text : © by James G. Howes, July 26, 2007.

Malachi and Matthew, Part I:  Proper Attitudes Toward God

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 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 1:1-14

Psalm 65 (Morning)

Psalms 125 and 91 (Evening)

Matthew 3:1-17

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We read of substandard, scornfully offered sacrifices at the Second Temple in Malachi 1.  These anger God, who, speaking through a messenger, accuses people of degrading the table to the Lord with blind animals and other indications of misplaced priorities.  I notice the Lamb of God (not called that in Matthew 3) in the Gospel lection and the deferential attitude of St. John the Baptist.  His was a proper mindset.

I do not have Jesus standing in front of me or the Temple to visit in Jerusalem, but I do see people as I drive, walk, and look around.  The Temple of God is within each of them and me, for all of us bear the image of God.   Therefore how I think of other people and act toward them indicates my spiritual state.  Those are forms of ritual sacrifice, in a way.  Sometimes I offer unblemished animals.  Yet I have offered blind ones too.  And I do not always see Jesus in those around me.  I do not always recognize the image of God in them.

There is grace, fortunately, so we can improve.  May we want to do so and behave accordingly.  Sometimes altering one’s actions changes one’s mind.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 17, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF DANIEL SYLVESTER TUTTLE, PRESIDING BISHOP OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARY EUPHRASIA PELLETIER, FOUNDER OF THE CONTEMPLATIVES OF THE GOOD SHEPHERD

THE FEAST OF PARDITA MARY RAMABAI, SOCIAL REFORMER IN INDIA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROBERT OF CHAISE DIEU, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/malachi-and-matthew-part-i-proper-attitudes-toward-god/

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Devotion for August 28 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   3 comments

Oxen

Above:  Yoked Oxen, 1860-1900

Image Source = Library of Congress

1 Kings and 2 Corinthians, Part V: Proper Companions

FRIDAY, AUGUST 28, 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:

1 Kings 11:1-26

Psalm 65 (Morning)

Psalms 125 and 91 (Evening)

2 Corinthians 6:1-18

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Do not harness yourselves in an uneven team with unbelievers; how can uprightness and law-breaking  be partners, or what can light and darkness have in common?

–2 Corinthians 6:14, The New Jerusalem Bible

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Solomon loved many foreign women in addition to Pharaoh’s daughter–Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Phoenician, and Hittite women, from the nations of which the LORD had said to the Israelites, “None of you shall join them and none of them shall join you, lest they turn your heart away to follow their gods.”  Such Solomon clung to and loved.  He had seven hundred royal wives and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned his heart away.

–1 Kings 11:1-3, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

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Those who study 2 Corinthians closely and honestly–critically, in the highest sense of that word–know that its arrangement is odd; someone or some people cut and pasted at least two epistles and perhaps former parts of 1 Corinthians.  Indeed, 2 Corinthians 6:11-18 is a fine example of this practice, given what precedes and succeeds it.  In fact, those verses fit neatly with 1 Corinthians 7.  A plea for open hearts precedes and follows 2 Corinthians 6:11-18, so this passage seems especially out-of-place.  This matter of cutting and pasting is a worthy matter of academic study of 2 Corinthians.  But this is a devotional blog, not one focused on academic analysis.  I mention this academic matter to indicate that I know of it and accept objective reality.  Now I move along to my main point.

As I plan these devotions, I read the assigned texts and ask one question:

What theme unites these lections?

The answer today is foolish partnerships.  Solomon’s kingdom, in one part of the narrative, of 1 Kings, began to crumble because of his faithlessness, which flowed partially from the influences of pagan, foreign women.  (May we not ignore Solomon’s weaknesses.)  The Hebrew Bible spoke elsewhere of foreign women in favorable terms.  Ruth, for example, adopted the Hebrew religion and became an ancestor of David, Solomon, and Jesus.  But Solomon’s women retained their ways and influenced him negatively.  That was one type of uneven partnership mentioned in 2 Corinthians 6.

Now I will state something obvious:  We human beings influence each other.  We are role models.  We will be role models.  But will we be good or bad ones?  Children influence each other in school.  Coworkers influence each other in offices, et cetera.  Sociologists know that there are some things people are more likely to do in a group context than alone.  The pressure to conform can be very strong, especially at certain ages and upon people with certain personality types.  Many of those who choose to resist these pressures risk bullying by insensitive conformists.

And, in the realm of romance (in which I have limited experience), people certainly influence each other.  One of the key ingredients of a healthy relationship is shared values.  I have paid close attention to relationship advice for long-term married people; they make that point.

We humans are social creatures; may we choose our companions well, so far as we have the power to decide.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 15, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM PROXMIRE, UNITED STATES SENATOR

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/1-kings-and-2-corinthians-part-v-proper-companions/

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Devotion for July 31, August 1, and August 2 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   5 comments

Above:  David and Goliath, by Gustave Dore

Image in the Public Domain

1 Samuel and Acts, Part VII:  The Triumph of Faith Over Physical Strength

FRIDAY-SUNDAY, JULY 31-AUGUST 2, 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:

1 Samuel 16:1-23 (July 31)

1 Samuel 17:1-19 (August 1)

1 Samuel 17:20-47 (August 2)

Psalm 65 (Morning–July 31)

Psalm 143 (Morning–August 1)

Psalm 86 (Morning–August 2)

Psalms 125 and 4 (Evening–July 31)

Psalms 81 and 116 (Evening–August 1)

Psalms 6 and 19 (Evening–August 2)

Acts 25:13-27 (July 31)

Acts 26:1-23 (August 1)

Acts 26:24-27:8 (August 2)

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I was small among my brothers,

and the youngest in my father’s house;

I tended my father’s sheep.

My hands made a harp;

my fingers fashioned a lyre.

And who will tell my Lord?

The Lord himself; it is he who hears.

It was he who sent his messenger

and took me from my father’s sheep,

and anointed me with his anointing oil.

My brothers were handsome and tall,

but the Lord was not pleased with them.

I went out to meet the Philistine,

and he cursed me by his idols.

But I drew my own sword;

I beheaded him, and took away

disgrace from the people of Israel.

–Psalm 151, New Revised Standard Version

Saul knows David at the end of 1 Samuel 16 yet has not met him at the beginning of Chapter 17.  This is a major narrative discrepancy, evidence of the weaving together of different documents.  That is a scholarly matter, and I like such things.  But this is a devotional blog, so I focus my attentions in that direction.

A note on page 592 of The Jewish Study Bible (2004) begins

The story of David and Goliath demonstrates the triumph of faith over physical strength.

That excellent sentence provides a means for understanding not only 1 Samuel 17 but the life of St. Paul as a Christian.  One man proved crucial to Christian and world history.  The might of the Roman Empire, which executed him, proved powerless to quash Christianity.

As for St. Paul in Acts 25:13-26:32, he stood before Herod Agrippa II, the last of the Herodian Dynasty and a client ruler for the Roman Empire.  Herod Agrippa II’s realm shifted according to Roman imperial decisions, but he did reign from 50 to 100 CE.  He, considered a religious leader, appointed the High Priest yet carried on an incestuous relationship with Bernice, his sister.  Yet this was the man who noted that St. Paul, if he had not appealed to the Emperor, could have gone free.  Unfortunately, the Emperor was Nero.

Yet, as Psalm 125:3 (The New Jerusalem Bible) reads,

The sceptre of the wicked will not come to rest

over the heritage of the upright….

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 5, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE SAINTS AND MARTYRS OF ASIA

THE FEAST OF HARRY EMERSON FOSDICK, NORTHERN BAPTIST PASTOR

THE FEAST OF THE INAUGURATION OF THE UNITED REFORMED CHURCH, 1972 

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/05/03/1-samuel-and-acts-part-vii-the-triumph-of-faith-over-physical-strength/

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Devotion for July 3 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Above:  Joshua Burns the Town of Ai, by Gustave Dore

Image in the Public Domain

Joshua and Acts, Part V:  Traditions and Questions

JULY 3, 2021

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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:

Joshua 8:1-28

Psalm 65 (Morning)

Psalms 125 and 91 (Evening)

Acts 11:1-18

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I have heard professing Christians cite the conquest of Canaan, complete with the deaths of civilian populations, as if God had ordered it.  Have these coreligionists thought deeply about how that portrays God?  Or have they affirmed notions of biblical inerrancy and/or infallibility blindly?  Religious training has proven to be quite powerful, but so has rational thought.

I, as a Christian, identify Jesus as the standard.  How many thousands of men and women would he have ordered killed?  And how many kings would he have impaled?

Speaking of standards, the prohibition against eating with Gentiles was traditional.  So why was Peter violating it?  Inquiring minds wanted to know, and he had a good answer:  God had spoken to him.  The Holy Spirit brought, among other things, equality.

“Ai” means “the ruin.”  This fact leads me to think that “Ai” is a name which later generations applied to that city.  This becomes fodder for a metaphor:  We who claim the name of Jesus ought to leave the tribal warrior deity theology behind, in the past, like a ruin.  And we ought, like those who listened to Peter in Acts 11, be open to possibilities (in God) which we might not have considered otherwise because they reside outside our tradition.  This is easy for me to say, for I like exploring questions academically.  This tendency has gotten me into arguments with those who lacked this inclination.  Certain styles of religion prefer answers to questions or tend to reject most questions in favor of canned answers.  Those are unfortunate realities.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 21, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ALBERT JOHN LUTHULI, WITNESS FOR CIVIL RIGHTS IN SOUTH AFRICA

THE FEAST OF J. B. PHILLIPS, BIBLE TRANSLATOR AND ANGLICAN PRIEST

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/05/03/joshua-and-acts-part-v-traditions-and-questions/

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Devotion for June 5 and 6 in Ordinary Time (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   3 comments

Above:  The Resurrection of Lazarus, by Vincent Van Gogh

Proverbs and John, Part I:  Excessive Optimism

JUNE 5 AND 6, 2021

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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:

Proverbs 1:8-33 (June 5)

Proverbs 3:5-24 (June 6)

Psalm 65 (Morning–June 5)

Psalm 143 (Morning–June 6)

Psalms 125 and 91 (Evening–June 5)

Psalms 81 and 116 (Evening–June 6)

John 11:17-37 (June 5)

John 11:38-57 (June 6)

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The readings from Proverbs offer useful advice, including counsel not to join a violent gang.  Yet Proverbs 3 is overly optimistic; following divine wisdom does not always lead to safety.  Consider John 11, for example; Jesus was in real peril, and he would die violently a few days later.

Varying perspectives within the Bible constitute old news.  The Torah emphasizes divine revelation yet Proverbs places great trust in human reason.  Ecclesiastes contradicts the optimistic tone of much of Proverbs.  And Ecclesiastes disagrees with itself as to whether a woman is, for a man, a legitimate source of pleasure or a gateway to sin.  None of this troubles me, for I know that the Bible comes from a variety of voices and sources.  The inspiration of Scripture does not indicate internal and universal consistency, for it is an anthology with a strong human element.

Yet the Gospels override when an inconsistency occurs.  The example of Jesus overrules the optimism of Proverbs 3.  I am a Christian–a follower of Jesus Christ, after all.  What else am I supposed to affirm?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 8, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF BETTY FORD, U.S. FIRST LADY AND ADVOCATE FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE

THE FEAST OF ALBERT RHETT STUART, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF GEORGIA

THE FEAST OF BROOKE FOSS WESTCOTT, ANGLICAN BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT GRIMWALD, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/04/24/proverbs-and-john-part-i-excessive-optimism/

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Proper 18, Year B   15 comments

Above:  The Logo of Lehman Brothers, a Firm Defunct Since 2008

God, Avenger and Hope of the Poor

The Sunday Closest to September 7

The Fifteenth Sunday After Pentecost

SEPTEMBER 5, 2021

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FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #1

Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23 (New Revised Standard Version):

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,

and favor is better than silver or gold.

The rich and the poor have this in common:

the LORD is the maker of them all….

Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity,

and the rod of anger will fail.

Those who are generous are blessed,

for they share their bread with the poor….

Do not rob the poor because they are poor,

or crush the afflicted at the gate;

for the LORD pleads their cause

and despoils of life those who despoil them.

Psalm 125 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion,

which cannot be moved, but stands fast for ever.

2  The hills stand about Jerusalem;

so does the LORD stand round about his people,

from this time forth for evermore.

3  The scepter of the wicked shall not hold sway over the land allotted to the just,

so that the just shall not put their hands to evil.

4  Show your goodness, O LORD, to those who are good

and to those who are true of heart.

5  As for those who turn aside to crooked ways,

the LORD will lead them away with the evildoers;

but peace be upon Israel.

FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #2

Isaiah 35:4-7a (New Revised Standard Version):

Say to those who are of a fearful heart,

Be strong, do not fear!

Here is your God.

He will come with vengeance,

with terrible recompense.

He will come and save you.

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,

and the ears of the deaf unstopped:

then the lame shall leap like a deer,

and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.

For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,

and streams in the desert;

the burning sand shall become a pool,

and the thirsty ground springs of water….

Psalm 146 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Hallelujah!

Praise the LORD, O my soul!

I will praise the LORD as long as I live;

I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.

2 Put not your trust in rulers, nor in any child of earth,

for there is not help in them.

When they breathe their last, they return to earth,

and in that day their thoughts perish.

Happy are they who have the God of Jacob for their help!

whose hope is in the LORD their God;

Who made heaven and earth, the seas, and all that is in them;

who keeps his promise for ever.

Who gives justice to those who are oppressed,

and food to those who hunger.

The LORD sets the prisoner free;

the LORD opens the eyes of the blind;

the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down.

8 The LORD loves the righteous;

the LORD cares for the stranger;

he sustains the orphan and the widow,

but frustrates the way of the wicked!

The LORD shall reign for ever,

your God, O Zion, throughout all generations.

Hallelujah!

SECOND READING

James 2:1-17 (Revised English Bible):

My friends, you believe in our Lord Jesus Christ who reigns in glory and you must always be impartial.  For instance, two visitors may enter your meeting, one a well-dressed man with gold rings, and the other a poor man in grimy clothes.  Suppose you pay special attention to the well-dressed man and say to him,

Please take this seat,

while to the poor man you say,

You stand over there, or sit here on the floor by my footstool,

do you not see that you are discriminating among your members and judging by wrong standards?  Listen, my dear friends:  has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to possess the kingdom he has promised to those who love him?  And yet you have humiliated the poor man.  Moreover, are not the rich your oppressors?  Is it not they who drag you into court and pour contempt on the honoured name by which God has claimed you?

If, however, you are observing the sovereign law laid down in scripture,

Love your neighbor as you love yourself,

that is excellent.  But if you show partiality, you are committing a sin and you stand convicted by the law as offenders.   For if a man breaks just one commandment and keeps all the others, he is guilty of breaking all of them.  For he who said,

You shall not commit adultery,

said also,

You shall not commit murder.

If you commit murder you are a breaker of the law, even if you do not commit adultery as well.  Always speak and act as men who are to be judged under a law which makes them free.  In that judgement there will be no mercy  for the man who has shown none.  Mercy triumphs over judgement.

What good is it, my friends, for someone to say he has faith when his actions do nothing to show it?  Suppose a fellow-Christian, whether man or woman, is in rags with not enough food for the day, and one of you says,

Goodbye, keep warm, and have a good meal,

but does nothing to supply their bodily needs, what good is that?  So with faith; if it does not lead by action, it is by itself a lifeless thing.

GOSPEL READING

Mark 7:24-37 (J. B. Phillips, 1972):

Then he got up and left that place and went off to the neighbourhood of Tyre.  There we went into a house and wanted no one  to know where he was.  But it proved impossible to remain hidden.  For no sooner had he got there, than a woman who had heard about him, and who had a daughter possessed by an evil spirit, arrived and prostrated herself before him.  She was a Greek, a Syrophoenician by birth, and she asked him to drive the evil spirit out of her daughter.  Jesus said to her,

You must let the children have all they want first.  It is not right, you know, to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.

But she replied,

Yes, Lord, I know, but even the dogs under the table eat the scraps that the children leave.

Jesus said to her,

If you can answer like that, you can go home!  The evil spirit has left your daughter.

And she went back to her home and found the child lying quietly on her bed, and the evil spirit gone.

Once more Jesus left the neighbourhood of Tyre and passed through Sidon towards the Lake of Galilee, and crossed the Ten Towns territory.  They brought to him a man who was deaf and unable to speak intelligibly, and they implored him to put his hand upon him.  Jesus took him away from the crowd by himself. He put his fingers in the man’s ears and touched his tongue with his saliva.  Then, looking up to Heaven, he gave a deep  sigh and said to him in Aramaic,

Open!

And his ears were opened and immediately whatever had tied his tongue came loose and he spoke quite plainly.  Jesus gave instructions that they should tell no one about this happening, but the more he told them, the more they broadcast the news.  People were absolutely amazed, and kept saying,

How wonderfully he has done everything!  He even makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak.

The Collect:

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

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Some Related Posts:

Proper 18, Year A:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/12/proper-18-year-a/

Isaiah 35:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/ninth-day-of-advent/

James 2:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/25/week-of-6-epiphany-thursday-year-2/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/26/week-of-6-epiphany-friday-year-2/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/06/25/week-of-proper-1-thursday-year-2/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/06/26/week-of-proper-1-friday-year-2/

Mark 7:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/15/week-of-5-epiphany-thursday-year-1/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/19/week-of-5-epiphany-friday-year-1/

Matthew 15 (Parallel to Mark 7):

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/01/24/week-of-proper-13-wednesday-year-1/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/02/11/proper-15-year-a/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/02/week-of-proper-13-wednesday-year-2-and-week-of-proper-13-thursday-year-2/

Arise, O King of Grace:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/07/30/arise-o-king-of-grace/

For the Right Use of Possessions:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/05/04/for-the-right-use-of-possessions-i/

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/05/04/for-the-right-use-of-possessions-ii/

In Remembrance of Me:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/01/27/in-remembrance-of-me/

Yom Kippur Litany of Confession:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/09/14/yom-kippur-litany-of-confession/

The Greater Our Greed Becomes:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/08/23/the-greater-our-greed-becomes/

O Lord, You Gave Your Servant John:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/08/06/o-lord-you-gave-your-servant-john/

Prayers for Inclusion:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/prayers-for-inclusion/

For Social Righteousness:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/08/06/for-social-righteousness/

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As I type these words, the first draft of which I wrote in pencil a few days ago, I am in the third year of following various lectionaries and blogging about daily readings.  I started doing this at SUNDRY THOUGHTS, from which I spun off the three devotional blogs.  Some of the content at ADVENT, CHRISTMAS, AND EPIPHANY DEVOTIONS and LENTEN AND EASTER DEVOTIONS in particular was originally at SUNDRY THOUGHTS.  I have covered much content so far, and even repeated myself more times than I have kept count.  I do endeavor not to be overly redundant, so I will be concise in this post and refer you, O reader, to the “Some Related Posts” section, where I have provided links.  If you want to know more about part of a reading I have not discussed here, check those links.  I might have covered that material at one of those posts.

Now I need to get down to some class warfare.  Many people (often among the wealthy and apologists for corporate excesses) condemn class warfare as something bad.  It is bad when they engage in it, but they damn those who resist their exploitative practices.  In the Bible we read that excessive interest is sinful.  And Jesus was certainly a class warrior in part.  If it was good enough for Jesus….  If I am to treat the Bible as having any authority, I must acknowledge this aspect of that sacred anthology.

The rich and the poor have this in common:

the LORD is the maker of them all.

–Proverbs 22:2, New Revised Standard Version

The rich foul up, and the poor pay the greatest price.  Greek pensioners lose most–up to 2/3–of their money.  In Spain, some towns have not paid their entire police force for months.  In many nations, many job seekers cannot find employment and real wages have been stagnant for years at best and are falling at worst.  Government austerity measures hurt the economy because less government spending means fewer government jobs and lower government wages.  Unemployment increases, taxable income decreases, and many people have less money to buy goods, thus affecting the private sector.  Demand at soup kitchens and food pantries increases, and the hope of the long-term unemployed and underemployed fades.  These circumstances lead to increased rates of psychological depression and corresponding public health problems.

Yet

Whoever sows calamity will reap calamity….–Proverbs 22:8

and

…the LORD pleads [the cause of the poor]

and despoils of life those who despoil them.  (Proverbs 22:23)

How should we understand the Biblical depiction of God as the avenger of the poor and the mistreated?  Some claim that such violent imagery is unseemly, yet I have no problem with the “God as avenger” metaphor.  Often the oppressors will not stop unless a stronger power forces them to do so.  And there is a difference between a rescue operation and a negotiation.  So God coming in vengeance, as in Isaiah 34:4, comforts me.  And I read in James 2:13 and in the Gospels that God will judge us according to the standards we apply to others.  So, if we have acted mercifully, that bodes well for us.  But if we have not….

There must be justice in this life or the next one.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/10/16/god-avenger-and-hope-of-the-poor/