Archive for the ‘Psalm 144’ Tag

Devotion for Proper 28 (Ackerman)   2 comments

Above:   Icon of St. Paul the Apostle

Image in the Public Domain

Revere God and Observe His Commandments

NOVEMBER 18, 2018

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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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Ecclesiastes 12

Psalm 144:1-8

Acts 27:39-28:10

John 12:44-50

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The sum of the matter, when all is said and done:  Revere God and observe His commandments!  For this applies to all mankind:  that God will call every creature to account for everything unknown, be it good or bad.

–Ecclesiastes 12:13-14a, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

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God is everlasting; we are not.  God’s purpose will become reality, regardless of whether we cooperate with them.  We do have a responsibility to be servants, not enemies, of God, or even to be disinterested parties.  We are inconsequential relative to God, but what we do and do not do matters.

Divine judgment is a theme in the reading from Ecclesiastes.  The other half of the equation, of course, is mercy–in the Christian context, via Jesus.  One context in which to read scripture is other scripture.  We read of the coming of the Holy Spirit, in its role as the Advocate–literally, defense attorney–in John 14:15.  God is on our side.  Are we on God’s side?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 21, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALOYSIUS GONZAGA, JESUIT

THE FEAST OF CARL BERNHARD GARVE, GERMAN MORAVIAN MINISTER, LITURGIST, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JOHN JONES AND JOHN RIGBY, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2017/06/21/revere-god-and-observe-his-commandments/

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Devotion for Wednesday After Proper 22, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   2 comments

Candle Flame

Above:  A Candle Flame

Image in the Public Domain

Unquenchable Love

OCTOBER 11, 2017

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The Collect:

Beloved God, from you come all things that are good.

Lead us by the inspiration of your Spirit to know those things that are right,

and by your merciful guidance, help us to do them,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 49

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The Assigned Readings:

Song of Songs/Song of Solomon 8:5-14

Psalm 144

John 11:45-57

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Rescue me from the hurtful sword

and deliver me from the hand of foreign peoples,

Whose mouths speak deceitfully

and whose right hand is raised in falsehood.

–Psalm 144:11-12, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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The Song of Songs/Song of Solomon/Canticle of Canticles is a composite love poem.  The main characters are two lovers of unmentioned marital status.  Their love has placed them at great physical risk, for some seek to commit violence to end the relationship.  Nevertheless, as we read in 8:7 (The New Revised Standard Version, 1989):

Many waters cannot quench love,

neither can floods drown it.

If one offered for love

all the wealth of one’s house,

it would be utterly scorned.

We read of great physical risk in John 11 also.  In that lesson some Temple officials plot to kill Jesus and to scapegoat him for the nation.  They succeeded in killing him, of course, but God resurrected him.  And the scapegoating proved ineffective, as it tends to do time after time.  Some people not only scorned divine love incarnate but tried to quench it.  The flame of love, however, proved to be unquenchable.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

–John 1:5, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

One way to experience the love of God is via our human beings–friends, neighbors, church members, relatives, spouses, et cetera.  May we extend and receive such divine gifts when God provides the opportunities to do so.  Everyone involved will be better off for it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 25, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF MICHAEL FARADAY, SCIENTIST

THE FEAST OF BAYARD RUSTIN, WITNESS FOR CIVIL RIGHTS

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/unquenchable-love/

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Devotion for Monday and Tuesday After Proper 22, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   2 comments

JMD_7589

Above:  In Memory of Jonathan Myrick Daniels, Who Gave His Life for Another Human Being Near Selma, Alabama, in 1965

Image Source = Bill Monk, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

Reconciliation

OCTOBER 9 and 10, 2017

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The Collect:

Beloved God, from you come all things that are good.

Lead us by the inspiration of your Spirit to know those things that are right,

and by your merciful guidance, help us to do them,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 49

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The Assigned Readings:

Ezekiel 19:10-14 (Monday)

Isaiah 27:1-6 (Tuesday)

Psalm 144 (Both Days)

1 Peter 2:4-10 (Monday)

2 Corinthians 5:17-21 (Tuesday)

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May there be no breaching of the walls, no going into exile,

no wailing in the public squares.

Happy are the people of whom this is so!

happy are the people whose God is the LORD!

–Psalm 144:15-16, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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The Old Testament readings use the imagery of vineyards to describe the people of God.  In Ezekiel 19 this is the meaning of that metaphor, with the Kingdom of Judah as a vine therein and the ill-fated King Zedekiah as a stem.  Exile came, of course.   And we read in Isaiah 27 that the future vineyard will be a glorious and Godly one, that redemption will come.  Yet the consequences of sin will stay play out.

Redemption via Christ Jesus is the topic in the readings from 1 Peter 2 and 2 Corinthians 5.  Christ reconciles us to God.  Jesus is the innocent Lamb of God, the cornerstone of faith for Christians and a stumbling block for others.  Our spiritual tasks as the redeemed include functioning as agents of divine reconciliation.  Grace is free, but not cheap.  As I consider the honor roll of reconcilers in the name of Jesus I notice the names of many martyrs and other persecuted people. Jesus is there, of course, as is St. Paul the Apostle.  In recent decades martyred reconcilers have included Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador (died in 1980) and Jonathan Myrick Daniels (died in 1965) and the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. (died in 1968), of the United States.  Others, such as Nelson Mandela (died in 2013) spent long terms in prison then did much to heal the wounds of their societies.

Judgment and mercy coexist in the Bible.  The first comes then the second follows; that is a recurring pattern in the Old and New Testaments.  Reconciling, not seeking revenge, is the way to break the cycle of violence and to start the cycle of love and peace.  Relinquishing our bloodlusts can prove difficult, but the price of not doing so is both avoidable and terrible.

May we reconcile with God and, as much as possible, with each other.  The latter will prove impossible sometimes, due to conditions such as the death, inability, or unwillingness of the other party or parties.  In such cases at least one person can surrender the grudge; that is progress, at least.  And grace enables not only that but reconciliation in other cases.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 25, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF MICHAEL FARADAY, SCIENTIST

THE FEAST OF BAYARD RUSTIN, WITNESS FOR CIVIL RIGHTS

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/reconciliation/

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Week of Proper 28: Friday, Year 2, and Week of Proper 28: Saturday, Year 2   15 comments

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

Divine Judgment and Human Discomfort

NOVEMBER 23 and 24, 2018

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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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FIRST READING FOR FRIDAY

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then I was told,

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

FIRST READING FOR SATURDAY

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

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

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

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

Come up here!

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

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

RESPONSE FOR FRIDAY

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

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

according to your word.

66  Teach me discernment and knowledge,

for I have believed in your commandments.

67  Before I was afflicted I went astray,

but now I keep your word.

68  You are good and you bring forth good;

instruct me in your statutes.

69  The proud have smeared me with lies,

but I will keep your commandments with my whole heart.

70  Their heart is gross and fat,

but my delight is in your law.

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

that I might learn your statutes.

72  The law of your mouth is dearer to me

than thousands in gold and silver.

RESPONSE FOR SATURDAY

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

1  Blessed be the LORD my rock!

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

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

my shield in whom I trust,

who subdues the peoples under me.

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

mere mortals that you should think of us?

4  We are like a puff of wind;

our days like a passing shadow.

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

touch the mountains, and they shall smoke.

6  Hurl the lightning and scatter them;

shoot out your arrows and rout them.

7  Stretch out your hand from on high;

rescue me and deliver me from the great waters,

from the hand of foreign peoples,

8  Whose mouths speak deceitfully

and whose right hand is raised in falsehood.

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

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

10  You give victory to kings

and have rescued David your servant.

GOSPEL READING FOR FRIDAY

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

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

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

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

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

GOSPEL READING FOR SATURDAY

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

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

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

Jesus said to them,

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

At this some of the scribes said,

Well spoken, Teacher.

And nobody dared put any further question to him.

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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 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 Posts:

Week of Proper 28:  Friday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/28/week-of-proper-28-friday-year-1/

Week of Proper 28:  Saturday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/29/week-of-proper-28-saturday-year-1/

The Church’s One Foundation:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/06/26/the-churchs-one-foundation/

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

We read of John of Patmos eating a scroll containing words of judgment.  (This is similar to Ezekiel 2:8-3:3–follow this link:  https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/04/week-of-proper-14-tuesday-year-2/.  John agrees with doom upon the Roman Empire yet regrets the fact that Christians will continue to suffer.  Speaking of suffering, the two witnesses in Revelation 11 indicate the continuation of martyrdom.  (I suspect, by the way, that memories of the First Jewish War and the Roman destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple influenced Revelation 11.)

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

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

I write hagiographies.  My most recent one tells the story of St. James Intercisus, who became a martyr circa 421 C.E. because he confessed his faith to the Persian monarch.  The king’s men tortured, dismembered, and killed the saint slowly and painfully, hence his posthumous surname, Intercisus, or “cut into pieces.  (Follow this link:  http://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2011/11/16/feast-of-st-james-intercisus-november-27/)  His death was unnecessary; the king could have decided differently.

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

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/05/10/divine-judgment-and-human-discomfort/

Week of Proper 25: Wednesday, Year 2, and Week of Proper 25: Thursday, Year 2   7 comments

Above:  Frederick Douglass (1817-1895), U.S. Abolitionist and Former Slave

Slavery

OCTOBER 31, 2018

NOVEMBER 1, 2018

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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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COMPOSITE FIRST READING

Ephesians 6:1-24 (Revised English Bible):

Children, obey your parents; for it is only right that you should.  Honour your father and your mother is the first commandment to carry a promise with it:

that it may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth.

Fathers, do not goad your children to resentment, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Slaves, give single-minded obedience to your earthly masters with fear and trembling, as if to Christ.  Do it not merely to catch their eye or curry favour with them, but as slaves of Christ do the will of God wholeheartedly.  Give cheerful service, as slaves of the Lord rather than of men.  You know that whatever good anyone may do, slave or free, will be repaid by the Lord.

Masters, treat your slaves in the same spirit:  give up using threats, and remember that you both have the same Master in heaven; there is no favouritism with him.

Finally, find your strength in the Lord, in his mighty power.  Put on the full armour provided by God, so that you may be able to stand firm against the stratagems of the devil.  For our struggle is not against human foes, but against cosmic powers, against the authorities and potentates of this dark age,  against the superhuman forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore, take up the armour of God; then you will be able to withstand them on the evil day and, after doing your utmost, to stand your ground.  Stand fast, I say.  Fasten on the belt of truth; for a breastplate put on integrity; let the shoes on your feet be the gospel of peace, to give you firm footing; and, with all these, take up the great shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the burning arrows of the evil one.  Accept salvation as your helmet, and the sword which the Spirit gives you, the word of God.  Constantly ask God’s help in prayer, and pray always in the power of the Spirit.  To this end keep watch and persevere, always interceding for all God’s people.  Pray also for me, that I may be granted the right words when I speak, and may boldly and freely make known the hidden purpose of the gospel, for which I am am ambassador–in chains.  Pray that I may speak of it boldly, as is my duty.

You will want to know how I am and what I am doing; Tychicus will give you all the news.  He is our dear brother and trustworthy helper in the Lord’s work.  I am sending him to you on purpose to let you have news of us and put fresh heart into you.

Peace to the community and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  God’s grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with undying love.

RESPONSE FOR WEDNESDAY

Psalm 145:10-19 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

10 All your works praise you, O LORD,

and all your faithful servants bless you.

11 They make known the glory of your kingdom

and speak of your power;

12 That the peoples may know of your power

and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.

13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom;

your dominion endures throughout all ages.

14 The LORD is faithful in all his words

and merciful in all his deeds.

15 The LORD upholds all those who fall;

he lifts up those who are bowed down.

16 The eyes of all wait upon you, O LORD,

and you give them their food in due season.

17 You open wide your hand

and satisfy the needs of every living creature.

18 The LORD is righteous in all his ways

and loving in all his works.

19 The LORD is near to those who call upon him,

to all who call upon him faithfully.

RESPONSE FOR THURSDAY

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

1  Blessed be the LORD my rock!

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

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

my shield in whom I trust,

who subdues the peoples under me.

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

mere mortals that you should think of us?

4  We are like a puff of wind;

our days like a passing shadow.

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

touch the mountains, and they shall smoke.

6  Hurl the lightning and scatter them;

shoot out your arrows and rout them.

7  Stretch out your hand from on high;

rescue me and deliver me from the great waters,

from the hand of foreign peoples,

8  Whose mouths speak deceitfully

and whose right hand is raised in falsehood.

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

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

10  You give victory to kings

and have rescued David your servant.

COMPOSITE GOSPEL READING

Luke 13:22-35 (Revised English Bible):

He [Jesus] continued his journey through towns and villages, teaching as he made his way towards Jerusalem.  Someone asked him,

Sir, are only a few saved?

His answer was:

Make every effort to enter through the narrow door; for I tell you that many will try to enter but will not succeed.

When once the master of the house has got up and locked the door, you may stand outside and knock and say, “Sir let us in!” but he will answer, “I do not know where you come from.”  Then you will protest, “We used to eat and drink with you, and you taught in our streets.”  But he will repeat, “I tell you, I do not know where you come from.  Out of my sight, all of you, you and your wicked ways!”  There will be wailing and grinding of teeth there, when you see prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves are driven away.  From east and west, from north and south, people will come and take their places at the banquet in the kingdom of God.  Yes, and some are now last who will be first, and some who are first will be last.

At that time a number of  Pharisees came and warned him [Jesus],

Leave this place and be on your way; Herod wants to kill you.

He replied,

Go and tell that fox, “Listen:  today and tomorrow I shall be driving out demons and working cures; However, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the next day, because it is unthinkable for a prophet to meet his death anywhere but in Jerusalem.”

[He continued,]

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, city that murders the prophets and stones the messengers sent to her!  How often have I longed to gather your children, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings; but you would not let me.  Look!  There is your temple, forsaken by God.  I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, “Blessings on him who comes in the name of the Lord!”

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The Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Week of Proper 25:  Wednesday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/12/week-of-proper-25-wednesday-year-1/

Week of Proper 25:  Thursday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/12/week-of-proper-25-thursday-year-1/

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Antebellum U.S. defenders of chattel slavery used Ephesians 6:5-9 (mostly 6:5-8, actually; 9 was sometimes inconvenient) to justify the Peculiar Institution.  This interpretation was faulty for a few reasons.  First, slavery in the Roman Empire was not chattel slavery.  Beyond that, the Pauline assumption about the Second Coming of Jesus was that it was imminent, a matter of the very near future–the medium term if not the short term.  So reforming society was not a priority; God, the assumption held, would take care of that part soon.  Preparing oneself for the parousia was immediately important.  Jesus had not returned by the 1800s, so social reform was legitimately on the table.  The Abolitionists (many of them Evangelicals) understood the link between the Golden Rule and imperative to destroy slavery, and many White Southern Evangelicals did not.  As I tell my students, look beyond stereotypes, in this case, Evangelicalism.  It exists on a spectrum and defies easy definition.

The lack of a condemnation of slavery mars the Pauline tradition for me.  Galatians 3:28 tells us that the labels free and slave lose their meaning in Christ, but Paul should have taken the matter to its logical and ethical conclusion:  insistence on radical equality in society.  Alas, egalitarianism upsets many a societal apple cart, for people seem to like privileges which come with rank.

Ephesians 6 continues with a description of metaphorical Christian armor for a battle against evil.  This makes for tacky and cheap toys one can buy from certain Christian bookstores.  And the less we say about Bibleman merchandise, the better.  Kitsch does not become the Bible or religious retail; I suspect that it embarrasses Jesus.  I imagine him now, in Heaven, shaking his head and saying,

I did not suffer and die so that children can play with cheap plastic shields of faith.

No, it is better to be serious about resisting evil in all its forms.  I live slightly northwest of Atlanta, Georgia, one of the centers of human trafficking, i.e., slavery.  Modern slavery assumes many forms and exists in many places.  These days is most often economic and/or sexual.  A foreign worker lured on false pretenses and held against her will is a slave.  A woman forced to work as a prostitute is a slave.  Slavery, unfortunately, is alive and well all over the world.  This spiritual battle continues, and people of good will need to win it, with God’s help.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/11/07/slavery/

Week of Proper 20: Friday, Year 2   4 comments

Above:  Christ and Pilate, by Nikolai Ge

Sovereignty of God

SEPTEMBER 28, 2018

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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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Ecclesiastes 3:1-13 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

A season is set for everything, a time for every experience under heaven:

A time for being born and a time for dying,

A time for planting and a time for uprooting the planted;

A time for slaying and a time for a time for healing,

A time for tearing down and a time for building up;

A time for weeping and a time for laughing,

A time for wailing and a time for dancing;

A time for throwing stones and a time for gathering stones,

A time for embracing and a time for shunning embraces;

A time for seeking and a time for losing,

A time for keeping and a time for discarding;

A time for ripping and a time for sewing,

A time for silence and a time for speaking;

A time for loving and a time for hating;

A time for war and a time for peace.

What value, then, can the man of affairs get from what he earns?  I have observed the business that God gave man to be concerned with:  He brings everything to pass precisely at its time; He also puts eternity in their mind, but without man ever guessing, from first to last, all the things that God brings to pass.  Thus I realized that the only worthwhile thing there is for them is to enjoy themselves and do what is good in their lifetime; also, that whenever a man does eat and drink and get enjoyment out of all his wealth, it is a gift of God.

Psalm 144:1-4 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  Blessed be the LORD my rock!

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

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

my shield in whom I trust,

who subdues the peoples under me.

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

mere mortals that you should think of us?

4  We are like a puff of wind;

our days like a passing shadow.

Luke 9:18-22 (The Jerusalem Bible):

Now one day when he [Jesus] was praying alone in presence of his disciples he put this question to them,

Who do the crowds say I am?

And they answered,

John the Baptist; others Elijah; and others say one of the ancient prophets come back to life.

He said,

But you, who do you say I am?

It was Peter who spoke up.

The Christ of God,

he said.  But he [Jesus] gave them strict orders not to tell anyone anything about this.

The Son of Man

he said

is destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and scribes and to be put to death, and to be raised up on the third day.

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The Collect:

Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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I feel confident in writing that Ecclesiastes is far from the most optimistic book in the Bible.  This fact does not negate the text, which contains profound truths.  Among those truths is this one:  God is in control.  Koheleth tells me that human actions cancel each other out, so we cannot reap real advantage from our deeds.  Yet we can, by grace, at least enjoy our actions.

The other reading in this day’s lectionary assignment is part of one of the Synoptic account of St. Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Messiah.  In it our Lord predicts his fate.  If we read Luke 9:18-22 with the main idea of Ecclesiastes 3:1-13 in mind, we discover congruency.  God is in charge.  The authorities will do their worst (Let us never minimize the severity of it.), but God will reverse the execution.  Those who plotted the judicial murder of Jesus will not have long to think that they have succeeded.

Neither lection is especially cheerful, but at least the underlying sovereignty of God ought to comfort us.  It will not do so if we are control freaks, but control is more illusion than not.  It is better to live in a state of liberation from illusions, so that we will embrace reality instead.  If we accept that God is sovereign, we will not burden ourselves needlessly with vain and futile pursuits of control.  And what further joys might we discover then?

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/10/25/sovereignty-of-god/