Archive for the ‘Psalm 145’ Tag

Devotion for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday Before Proper 12, Year B (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Elisha

Above:   The Prophet Elisha

Image in the Public Domain

The Will of God and Morality

JULY 22-24, 2021

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The Collect:

Gracious God, you have placed within the hearts of all your children

a longing for your word and a hunger for your truth.

Grant that we may know your Son to be the true bread of heaven

and share this bread with all the world,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 43

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The Assigned Readings:

1 Kings 19:19-21 (Thursday)

2 Kings 3:4-20 (Friday)

2 Kings 4:38-41 (Saturday)

Psalm 145:10-18 (All Days)

Colossians 1:9-14 (Thursday)

Colossians 3:12-17 (Friday)

John 4:31-38 (Saturday)

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All you have made will confess you, LORD,

those devoted to you will give you thanks.

They will speak of your royal glory

and tell of your mighty deeds,

Making known to all mankind your mighty deeds,

your majestic royal glory.

–Psalm 145:10-12, Harry Mowvley, The Psalms Introduced and Newly Translated for Today’s Readers (1989)

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Certain stories of Elisha resemble those of his mentor, Elijah, as an observant reader of the Books of Kings knows.  And, as an observant reader of the Gospels and the Books of Kings knows, some of the miracle stories of Jesus echo certain accounts of incidents from the lives of Elijah and Elisha.  Examples of these include raising people from the dead and feeding a multitude with a small amount of food.  Those stories indicate, among other things, that the heroes were close to God and were able to meet the needs of people.

The Elisha stories for these days have him leave home, participate in helping his kingdom win a war against Moab, and render dangerous food safe.  They portray him as an agent of the will of God.

The “will of God” is a phrase many people use improperly, even callously.  I, as a student of history, know that various individuals have utilized it to justify the murder of priests of Baal (by the order of Elijah, in 1 Kings 18:40), blame innocent victims of natural disasters exasperated by human shortsightedness (such as God allegedly sending Hurricane Katrina to New Orleans or a devastating earthquake to Haiti, supposedly to smite evildoers in those places), et cetera.  These misuses of the concept of the will of God offend my morality and make God seem like a thug at best.

We ought to exercise great caution using the phrase “the will of God,” for we might speak or write falsely of God and drive or keep people away from a Christian pilgrimage.  This is a topic to approach seriously, not lightly.  Among the most thoughtful treatments is Leslie D. Weatherhead’s The Will of God (1944), which speaks of three wills of God:  intentional, circumstantial, and ultimate.  That is deeper than some professing Christians want to delve into the issue, however.

I do not pretend to be an expert on the will of God, but I do attempt to be an intellectually honest Christian.  I, as a Christian, claim to follow Jesus.  To ask what he would do or would not do, therefore, is a relevant question when pondering issues of morality and the will of God.  The four canonical Gospels are useful for these and other purposes.  I conclude, therefore, that Jesus would not have ordered the deaths of priests of Baal or resorted to homophobia to explain the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.  And I cannot conceive of Jesus agreeing with George Zimmerman that the death of Trayvon Martin was part of God’s plan and that wishing that Martin were alive is almost blasphemous.  Zimmerman is a bad theologian.

Living according to compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, and love, per Colossians 3:12-14, is the best way to proceed.  Doing so increases the probability that one will live as an agent of the will of God, whose love we see epitomized in Jesus.  It is better to live rightly than to seek to be right in one’s opinion of oneself.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 5, 2015 COMMON ERA

EASTER SUNDAY, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF MILNER BALL, PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, LAW PROFESSOR, WITNESS FOR CIVIL RIGHTS, AND HUMANITARIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT NOKTER BALBULUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2015/04/05/the-will-of-god-and-morality/

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Devotion for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday Before Proper 20, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Neo-Assyrian Empire Map

Above:  Map of the Neo-Assyrian Empire

Image in the Public Domain

Warnings and Judgments

SEPTEMBER 17-19, 2020

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The Collect:

Almighty and eternal God, you show perpetual lovingkindness to us your servants.

Because we cannot rely on our own abilities,

grant us your merciful judgment,

and train us to embody the generosity of your Son,

Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 48

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The Assigned Readings:

Nahum 1:1, 14-2:2 (Thursday)

Nahum 2:3-13 (Friday)

Zephaniah 2:13-15 (Saturday)

Psalm 145:1-8 (All Days)

2 Corinthians 13:1-4 (Thursday)

2 Corinthians 13:5-10 (Friday)

Matthew 19:23-30 (Saturday)

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The LORD is gracious and full of compassion,

slow to anger and of great kindness.

–Psalm 145:8, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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Death, desolation and destruction.

–Nahum 2:10a, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

Those four words summarize the Old Testament readings for these days.  The (Neo-)Assyrian Empire, notorious for its violence, had fallen.  The Chaldeans/Neo-Babylonians, who had conquered them, were almost as bad, but two Biblical authors rejoiced at the fall of Assyria and declared that event to be God’s judgment.

Warnings precede judgments much of the time, especially in the Bible.  2 Corinthians 13, for example, contains a warning (verse 2) and calls for repentance.  The Corinthian congregation was a notoriously troublesome assembly.  Indeed, it remained so for decades (at least).  You, O reader, might wish to consult the (First) Letter to the Corinthians (circa 100 C.E.) of St. Clement I of Rome (died circa 101 C.E.), which is authentic, for evidence of continued difficulties.  A major problem was factionalism, one variety of attachment.

Attachments are of the essence in this post.  The Assyrian rulers were attached to violence.  One man in Matthew 20 was attached to money and possessions.  Others were attached to relationships.  No attachment should interfere with recognizing one’s total dependence on God and one’s reliance on other human beings and responsibilities to them.

These texts, among others, function as warnings to us today.  Will we heed the notice and amend our ways as necessary and proper?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 16. 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN DIEFENBAKER AND LESTER PEARSON, PRIME MINISTERS OF CANADA; AND TOMMY DOUGLAS, FEDERAL LEADER OF THE NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY

THE FEAST OF JOHN JONES OF TALYSARN, WELSH CALVINISTIC METHODIST MINISTER AND HYMN TUNE COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF BROTHER ROGER OF TAIZE, FOUNDER OF THE TAIZE COMMUNITY

THE FEAST OF THE HOLY WOMEN OF THE NEW TESTAMENT

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/08/17/warnings-and-judgments/

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Devotion for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday Before Proper 13, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Martin Luther

Above:  Martin Luther

Image in the Public Domain

The Surprises and Faithfulness of God

JULY 30-AUGUST 1, 2020

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The Collect:

Glorious God, your generosity waters the world with goodness,

and you cover creation with abundance.

Awaken in us a hunger for the food that satisfies both body and spirit,

and with this food fill all the starving world,

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

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 43

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The Assigned Readings:

Proverbs 10:1-5 (Thursday)

Isaiah 51:17-23 (Friday)

Isaiah 44:1-5 (Saturday)

Psalm 145:8-9, 14-21 (All Days)

Philippians 4:10-15 (Thursday)

Romans 9:6-13 (Friday)

Matthew 7:7-11 (Saturday)

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The LORD is faithful in all his words

and merciful in his deeds.

–Psalm 145:14, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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The faithfulness of God was among the theological emphases of Martin Luther.  That point, an excellent one, unifies the assigned readings for these days.

God is full of surprises from human perspectives.  God works outside of human traditions–such as primogeniture–much of the time.  Even repentant prostitutes and collaborators with the Roman Empire preceded certain respectable religious people into Heaven, according to Jesus.  We desire cheap grace, that forgives our sins yet requires nothing of us.  Yet we receive free grace, that which we cannot buy yet which requires much of us.  It is therefore free yet costly.  It cost St. Paul the Apostle a life of comfort inside the religious establishment then cost him his life.  This grace, which does not remove the temporal consequences of sin, waits for us nevertheless at the end of punishment.

Sometimes we mere mortals are God’s chosen channels and vehicles of grace.  May we be the best and most faithful such channels and vehicles possible, by grace.  (Everything seems to come back to grace.)  If we fail in this function, the consequences to others can be severe.  Proverbs 10:4 (The New Revised Standard Version, 1989) reads:

A slack hand causes poverty,

but the hand of the diligent makes rich.

This is not always true.  Had the author of that verse not heard of the working poor and the idle rich?  Most people in Palestine in antiquity were peasants, but not lazy individuals.  The masses were poor, the upper class constituted a minority, and the middle class was scarce or absent.  Structural barriers to upward mobility remain in our world.  They are, fortunately, not as intense in some places as in others, but their continued existence is sinful.

How will God surprise us next?  The divine call to all of us will differ in details.  Some of us ought to oppose social structures of injustice as our primary vocation, functioning as thorns in the sides of powerful and dangerous people.  St. Paul thought that Jesus would return within his lifetime, so he left reforming society to God.  That was about two thousand years ago, so I propose that this work is a legitimate calling from God.  Others of us will have different assignments to complete.  There is plenty to do.  May each of us listen attentively for our instructions then obey them.  When we do that, what potential might God unlock in us and in those around us, those to whom God sends us, and those whom God sends to us?  May we discover the answer to that question, by grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 14, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BASIL THE GREAT, FATHER OF EASTERN MONASTICISM

THE FEAST OF DOROTHY FRANCES BLOMFIELD GURNEY, ENGLISH POET AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT METHODIUS I OF CONSTANTINOPLE, PATRIARCH

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This is Post #600 of ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS.

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/06/15/the-surprises-and-faithfulness-of-god/

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Devotion for Saturday Before Proper 9, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Snapshot_20140603

Above:  One of My Favorite Books

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Significance and Insignificance

JULY 4, 2020

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The Collect:

You are great, O God, and greatly to be praised.

You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.

Grant that we may believe in you, call upon you, know you, and serve you,

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

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 41

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The Assigned Readings:

Zechariah 4:1-7

Psalm 145:8-14

Luke 10:21-24

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The LORD is faithful in all his words

and merciful in his deeds.

–Psalm 145:14, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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At that moment Jesus exulted in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the wise, and reveal them to the simple.  Yes, Father, such was your choice.”

–Luke 10:21, The Revised English Bible (1989)

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Those Hebrews who returned to their ancestral homeland to rebuild their society, Jerusalem, and the Temple during the Persian period had to contend with major obstacles.  These included people who plotted, lied, and otherwise obstructed plans.  And Persian kings and/or certain underlings were not always sympathetic to the Hebrews.  Within this context First Zechariah received a message from God for Zerubbabel, the governor of Davidic descent:

Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the LORD of hosts.

–Zechariah 4:6b, The Revised English Bible (1989)

Often that divine spirit falls not upon the prominent and the powerful, but upon the marginalized and other powerless people.  This segue brings me to our Lord and Savior’s prayer in Luke 10:21.  What are we to make of it?

Reinhold Niebuhr, one of the greatest and most influential theologians of the twentieth century, reflected on that prayer in the intellectual autobiography he wrote for the Library of Living Theology volume about his thought (New York:  Macmillan Company, 1961).  He wrote of two dying elderly women who were parishioners at the Bethel Evangelical Church, Detroit, Michigan, which he served fresh out of seminary.  (“Evangelical” here was in the German sense of word, that is Protestant, in this case, a Lutheran-Reformed hybrid.)  The first lady was filled with anxiety and resentment, not serenity, during the illness which took her life.  This woman, Niebuhr wrote,

was too preoccupied with self.

–page 6

The second woman had experienced much difficulty during her life.  She had functioned as both breadwinner and homemaker for her two daughters because her husband, prone to insanity, could not provide for the family.  At the end of the lady’s life, when she was dying of cancer, she was serene and filled with gratitude to God for mercies and her daughters, however.  This contrast, Niebuhr wrote, taught him the meaning of Christ’s prayer.

The major difference between the two women seems to have been the way each approached death and dying.  In that context Niebuhr wrote that

the ultimate problem of human existence is the peril of sin and death in the way that these two perils are so curiously compounded; for we fall into sin by trying to evade or to conquer death  or our own insignificance, of which death is the ultimate symbol.  The Christian faith holds out the hope that our fragmentary lives will be completed in a total and larger plan than any which we control or comprehend, and that a part of the completion is forgiveness of sins, that is the forgiveness of the evils into which we fall by our frantic efforts to complete our own lives or to endow them with significance.

–pages 6 and 7

Then Niebuhr wrote that

we in the churches ought to admit more humbly than is our wont that there is a mystery of grace which no one can fathom.

–page 7

That mystery was available to our Lord and Savior’s Apostles and other disciples, whom N. T. Wright described as

the diverse and motley group

Luke for Everyone (Louisville, KY:  Westminster John Knox Press, 2004), page 125

with whom he had chosen to associate.

May we recognize that our significance resides in God alone and that the greatest in the Kingdom of God is the servant of all.  Then may we, by grace, act on that reality and succeed.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 2, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF MARGARET E. SANGSTER, HYMN WRITER, NOVELIST, AND DEVOTIONAL WRITER

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF LYONS (A.K.A. SAINT BLANDINA AND HER COMPANIONS)

THE FEAST OF REINHOLD NIEBUHR, UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT STEPHEN OF SWEDEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC THEOLOGIAN, BISHOP, AND MARTYR

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/06/15/significance-and-insignificance/

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Devotion for Thursday and Friday Before Proper 9, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Candle Flame

Above:  Candle Flame

Image in the Public Domain

Lights in the Darkness

JULY 2 and 3, 2020

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The Collect:

You are great, O God, and greatly to be praised.

You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.

Grant that we may believe in you, call upon you, know you, and serve you,

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

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 41

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The Assigned Readings:

Zechariah 1:1-6 (Thursday)

Zechariah 2:6-13 (Friday)

Psalm 145:8-14 (Both Days)

Romans 7:1-6 (Thursday)

Romans 7:7-20 (Friday)

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All your works praise you, O LORD,

and your faithful servants bless you.

They make known the glory of your kingdom

and speak of your power;

That the peoples may know of your power

and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.

–Psalm 145:10-12, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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The readings from First Zechariah encourage societal repentance.  The remnant of the Hebrews consisted of descendants of members of a society which had rebelled against God–to the extent of engaging in ritual child sacrifice–and paid terribly for its actions.  The repentance to which God called the Hebrews was not for their sake alone.  No, they were to become a light to the nations; that was their calling.

Each of us, likewise, has a vocation to function as an instrument of God in the midst of those around us at any given moment.  This point brings me to Romans 7.  The law, St. Paul the Apostle reminds us, provides labels for and convicts us of our sins.  We ought to do better, but we cannot succeed on our own power.  As the best part of the chapter, which our lections omit, tells us:

I discover this principle, then:  that when I want to do right, only wrong is within my reach.  In my inmost self, I delight in the law of God, but I perceive in my outward actions a different law that my mind that my mind approves, and making me a prisoner under the law of sin which controls my conduct.  Wretched creature that I am, who is there to rescue me from this state of death?  Who but God?  Thanks be to him through Jesus Christ our Lord!  To sum up then:  left to myself I serve God’s law with my mind, but with my unspiritual nature I serve the law of sin.

–Romans 7:21-25, The Revised English Bible (1989)

And, since society is just people, this principle applies on the societal level also.  As A Brief Statement of Belief (1962) of the former Presbyterian Church in the United States (1861-1983), the old “Southern Presbyterian Church,” summarizes total depravity so well, with a Neo-Orthodox twist:

Sin permeates and corrupts our entire being and burdens us more and more with fear, hostility, guilt, and misery.  Sin operates not only within individuals but also within society as a deceptive and oppressive power so that even men of good will are unconsciously and unwillingly involved in the sins of society.  Man cannot destroy the tyranny of sin in himself or in his world; his only hope is to be delivered from it by God.

The Confession of Faith of The Presbyterian Church in the United States (Richmond, VA:  Board of Christian Education, 1973), page 332

That quote summarizes many social problems past and present well, does it not?

As for me, I read St. Paul’s words about not doing what he wants to do and doing what he does not want to do and identify with them.  I have, for example, known that God has called me to forgive certain people.  I have wanted to obey that command, but I have been unable to do so on my own power.  I have, in fact, been of two minds on the subject.  But at least I have wanted to obey God; that has been a fine start.  And God has empowered me to do the rest.  So thanks to God, I have found the freedom of forgiveness, which only one who has struggled to forgive can know.

Our duty is to respond favorably to God, who will empower us to do the rest.  Our free will, by which we can say “yes” to God is itself evidence of grace, so we live in the midst of divine graciousness.  May we therefore say with the author of Psalm 145:

The LORD is gracious and full of compassion,

slow to anger and of great kindness.

–Verse 8, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

Then may we endeavor to act graciously, compassionately, and kindly, becoming be grace beacons of the light of God, seeking to change unjust social and political structures (in which many of us are unwittingly complicit) and inspiring others to do the same.  Hebrew prophets would certainly approve.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 2, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF MARGARET E. SANGSTER, HYMN WRITER, NOVELIST, AND DEVOTIONAL WRITER

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF LYONS (A.K.A. SAINT BLANDINA AND HER COMPANIONS)

THE FEAST OF REINHOLD NIEBUHR, UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT STEPHEN OF SWEDEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY, BISHOP, AND MARTYR

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/06/15/lights-in-the-darkness/

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Proper 27, Year C   5 comments

11634v

Above:  Salonica, Greece, Between 1910 and 1915

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ggbain-11634

Image Created by the Bain News Service

Vindication by God

The Sunday Closest to November 9

Twenty-Seventh Sunday After Pentecost

NOVEMBER 10, 2019

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The Assigned Readings:

Haggai 1:15b-29 and Psalm 145:1-5, 18-22 or Psalm 98

or 

Job 19:23-27a and Psalm 17:1-9

then 

2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17

Luke 20:27-38

The Collect:

O God, whose blessed Son came into the world that he might destroy the works of the devil and make us children of God and heirs of eternal life: Grant that, having this hope, we may purify ourselves as he is pure; that, when he comes again with power and great glory, we may be made like him in his eternal and glorious kingdom; where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

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

Prayer of Dedication:

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

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I know that I have a living Defender

and that he will rise up last, on the dust of the earth.

After my awakening, he will set me close to him,

and from my flesh I shall look on God.

–Job 19:25-26, The New Jerusalem Bible

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The root word for “redeem” descends from the Latin verb meaning “to buy.”  Thus, if Christ has redeemed us, he has bought us.

The root word for “vindicate” descends from the Latin word meaning “avenger.”  One definition of “vindicate,” according to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 3d. Ed. (1996), is:

To justify or prove the worth of, especially in the light of later developments.

Job, in the book, which bears his name, had confidence in God’s vindication of him.  The author of Psalm 17 wrote in a similar line of thought.

Sometimes we want God to do for us more than we want to do for God’s glory.  Thus we might neglect a task (such as rebuilding the Temple in Haggai 1).  No surviving Jew about 2500 years ago recalled the splendor of Solomon’s Temple.  It was a splendor created by high taxes and forced labor, but those facts did not occur in writing in Haggai 1.  Nevertheless, the call for a Second Temple remained.  And the Sadducees in the reading from Luke asked an insincere and irrelevant question about levirate marriage and the afterlife.  They sought to vindicate themselves, not find and answer to a query.

Knowing sound teaching can prove difficult.  How much is flawed tradition and how much is sound tradition?  I have been adding many of the sermon outlines of George Washington Barrett (1873-1956), my great-grandfather, at TAYLOR FAMILY POEMS AND FAMILY HISTORY WRITINGS (http://taylorfamilypoems.wordpress.com/).  According to him, my fondness for rituals detracts from true spirituality, the fact that my Rector is female constitutes a heresy, and even my rare alcoholic drink is sinful.  I label his positions on these matters as of his time and subculture, not of God.  I am myself, not my great-grandfather.  Yet certain basics remain indispensable.  The lordship of Christ is among them.

Cultural and subcultural biases aside, may we cling securely to Jesus, our Redeemer, Defender, and Vindicator, whose Advent we anticipate liturgically and otherwise.  May we want more to do things for his glory than we want him to do for us.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 3, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MORAND OF CLUNY, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK AND MISSIONARY

THE FEAST OF SAINTS LIPHARDUS OF ORLEANS AND URBICIUS OF MEUNG, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOTS

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF UGANDA

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/06/06/vindication-by-god-2/

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Week of Proper 25: Wednesday, Year 2, and Week of Proper 25: Thursday, Year 2   5 comments

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

Slavery

OCTOBER 28 and 29, 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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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 17: Saturday, Year 2   5 comments

Above:  Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Died in 1945)

Who Am I?

SEPTEMBER 5, 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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1 Corinthians 4:6-15 (The Jerusalem Bible):

Now in everything I have said here, brothers, I have taken Apollos and myself as an example (remember the maxim:  “Keep to what is written”); it is not for you, so full of your own importance, to go taking sides for one man against another.  In any case, brother, has anybody given you some special right?  What do you have that was not given to you?  And if it was given, how can you boast as though it were not?  Is it that you have everything you want–that you are rich already, in possession of your kingdom, with us left outside?  Indeed I wish you were really kings, and we could be kings with you!  But instead, it seems to me, God has put us apostles at the end of his parade, with the men sentenced to death; it is true–we have put on show in front of the whole universe, angels as well as men.  Here we are, fools for the sake of Christ, while you are the learned men in Christ; we have no power, but you are influential; you are celebrities, we are nobodies.  To this day, we go without food and drink and clothes; we are beaten and have no homes; we work for our living with our own hands.  When we are cursed, we answer with a blessing; when we are hounded, we put with it; we are insulted and we answer politely.  We are treated as the offal of the world, still to this day, the scum of the earth.

I am saying this not just to make you ashamed but to bring you, as my dearest children, to your senses.  You might have thousands of guardians in Christ, but not more than one father and it was I who begot you in Christ Jesus by preaching the Good News.

Psalm 145:14-22 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

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.

20 He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;

he hears their cry and helps them.

21 The LORD preserves all those who love him,

but he destroys all the wicked.

22 My mouth shall speak the praise of the LORD;

let all flesh bless his holy Name for ever and ever.

Luke 6:1-5 (The Jerusalem Bible):

Now one sabbath he happened to be taking a walk through the cornfields, and his disciples were picking ears of corn, rubbing them in their hands and eating them.  Some of the Pharisees said,

“Why are you doing something that is forbidden on the sabbath day?”

Jesus answered them,

So you have not read what David did when he and his followers were hungry–how we went into the house of God, took the loaves which only the priests are allowed to eat?

And he said to them,

The Son of Man is master of the sabbath.

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The Collect:

Lord of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things: Graft in our hearts the love of your Name; increase in us true religion; nourish us with all goodness; and bring forth in us the fruit of good works; 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:

To Be Crafted By Christ:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/17/to-be-crafted-by-christ/

Be Thou My Vision:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/08/03/be-thou-my-vision/

My Faith Looks Up to Thee:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/08/16/my-faith-looks-up-to-thee-by-ray-palmer/

Take My Life and Let It Be Consecrated, Lord, to Thee:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/09/13/take-my-life-and-let-it-be-consecrated-lord-to-thee/

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Paul has an argument with certain Corinthian Christians.  Yes, he was nice in Chapter 1, but now he has removed his gloves.  He is even sarcastic.  Through it all, Paul reminds the hearers of the true costs of discipleship–in his case, suffering.  Following Jesus is about serving others, not seeking glory.  And the disciple is not above his master.  Consider what happened to Jesus; why should we expect to reign with him without suffering first?

The point of Paul’s tirade was not to tear down the hearers, but to correct their misapprehensions.  This was tough love mixed with disappointment.  Paul had sacrificed much for his Lord, so he took certain offenses personally.  If he erred in his sarcasm, it was understandable.  I take it, however, as entirely justifiable.  Some people had it coming.

Paul was, among other things, a man of passionate convictions.  This comes across clearly in his epistles.  He was brilliant, devout, and prone to outbursts of anger and sarcasm.  Ego struggles marked his spiritual development, so passages about humility meant quite a bit, coming from him.  Paul could be a tempestuous person–on whom I am glad channeled his passions, arguments, and tempests for God.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, while a prisoner of Nazi Germany (until the Nazis hanged him), wrote a famous poem called Who Am I?  In it he wrestled with his own contradictions and doubts.  Then he arrived at this conclusion:

Who am I?  They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.

Whoever I am, thou knowest, O God, I am thine.

(Source = Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison, Enlarged Edition, Edited by Eberhard Bethge, Touchstone, 1971, page 348)

Bonhoeffer was Christ’s.  So was Paul.  They were great men and martyrs.  I am also Christ’s, although I do not presume to be worthy of the company of such great men.  Yet I seek to bring all my contradictions to God and to glorify God.  I will succeed by grace.  May you, O reader, join me on this quest, if you have not done so already.  Or maybe I have joined you on the journey.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/10/14/who-am-i/

Week of Proper 17: Tuesday, Year 2, and Week of Proper 17: Wednesday, Year 2   3 comments

Above:  The Old Main Building at Andrew College, Cuthbert, Georgia

Image Source = Robbie Honerkamp

Jealousy and Wrangling

SEPTEMBER 1 and 2, 2020

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NOTE:

Andrew College takes its name from Bishop James Osgood Andrew, a slaveholder.  His case triggered the 1844-1845 schism in the Methodist Episcopal Church and the 1845 formation of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, which allowed its bishops to own slaves, at least until 1865 and the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  The Southern denomination reunited with its parent body in 1939, however, and both groups are predecessor bodies of The United Methodist Church (1968-present).

I grew up United Methodist, steeped in that denomination’s history.

KRT

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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 TUESDAY:

1 Corinthians 2:10-16 (The Jerusalem Bible):

These are the very things that God has revealed to us through the Spirit, for the Spirit reaches the depths of everything, even the depths of God.  After all, the depths of a man can only be known by his own spirit, not by any other man, and in the same way the depths of God can only be known by the Spirit of God.  Now instead of the spirit of the world, we have received the Spirit that comes from God, to teach us to understand the gifts that he has given us.  Therefore we teach, not in the way which philosophy is taught, but in the way that the Spirit teaches us:  we teach spiritual things spiritually.  An unspiritual person is one who does not accept anything of the Spirit of God:  he sees it all as nonsense; it is beyond his understanding because it can only be understood by means of the Spirit.  A spiritual man, on the other hand, is able to judge the value of everything, and his own value is not to be judged by other men.  As scripture says:

Who can know the mind of the Lord, so who can teach him?

But we are those who have the mind of Christ.

FIRST READING FOR WEDNESDAY

1 Corinthians 3:1-9 (The Jerusalem Bible):

Brothers, I myself was unable to speak to you as people of the Spirit:  I treated you as sensual men, still infants in Christ.  What I fed you with was milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it; and indeed, you are still not ready for it since you are still unspiritual.  Isn’t that obvious from all the jealousy and wranglin that there is among you, from the way that you go on behaving like ordinary people?  What could be more unspiritual than your slogans,

I am for Paul

and

I am for Apollos?

After all, what is Apollos and what is Paul?  They are servants who brought the faith to you.  Even the difficult ways in which they brought it were assigned to them by the Lord.  I did the planting, Apollos did the watering, but God made things grow.  Neither the planter nor the waterer matters:  only God, who makes things grow.  It is all one who does the planting and who does the watering, and each will duly be paid according to his share in the work.  We are fellow workers with God; you are God’s farm, God’s building.

RESPONSE FOR TUESDAY

Psalm 145:8-15 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

The LORD is gracious and full of compassion,

slow to anger and of great kindness.

The LORD is loving to everyone

and his compassion is over all his works.

10  All your works praise you, O LORD,

and your faithful servants bless you.

11 “Hear, O daughter; consider and listen closely;

forget your people and your father’s house.

12 The king will have pleasure in your beauty;

he is your master; therefore do him honor.

13 The people of Tyre are here with a gift,

the rich among the people seek your favor.”

14 All glorious is the princess as she enters;

her gown is cloth-of-gold.

15 In embroidered apparel she is brought to the king;

after her the bridesmaids follow in procession.

RESPONSE FOR WEDNESDAY

Psalm 62 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  For God alone my soul in silence waits;

from him comes my salvation.

2  He alone is my rock and my salvation,

my stronghold, so that I shall not be greatly shaken.

3  How long will you assail me to crush me,

all of you together,

as if you were a leaning fence, a toppling wall?

4  They seek only to bring me down from my place of honor;

lies are their chief delight.

5  They bless with their lips,

but in their hearts they curse.

6  For God alone my soul in silence waits;

truly, my hope is in him.

7  He alone is my rock and my salvation,

my stronghold, so that I shall not be shaken.

8  In God is my safety and my honor;

God is my strong rock and my refuge.

9  Put your trust in him always, O people,

pour out your hearts before him, for God is our refuge.

10  Those of high degree are but a fleeting breath,

even those of low estate cannot be trusted.

11  On the scales they are lighter than a breath,

all of them together.

12  Put no trust in extortion;

in robbery take no empty pride;

though wealth increases, set not your heart upon it.

13  God has spoken once, twice have I heard it,

that power belongs to God.

14  Steadfast love is yours, O Lord,

for you repay everyone according to his deeds.

GOSPEL READING FOR TUESDAY

Luke 4:31-37 (The Jerusalem Bible):

He [Jesus] went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath.  And his teaching made a deep impression on them because he spoke with authority.

In the synagogue there was a man who was possessed by the spirit of an unclean devil, and it shouted at the top of its voice,

Ha!  What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth?  Have you come to destroy us?  I know who you are:  the Holy One of God.

But Jesus said sharply,

Be quiet!  Come out of him!

And the devil, throwing the man in front of everyone, went out of him without hurting him at all.  Astonishment seized them and they were all saying to one another,

What teaching!  He gives orders to unclean spirits with authority and power and they come out.

And reports of him went all through the surrounding countryside.

GOSPEL READING FOR WEDNESDAY

Luke 4:38-44 (The Jerusalem Bible):

Leaving the synagogue he went to Simon’s house.  Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever and they asked him to do something for her.  Leaning over her he rebuked the fever and it left her.  And she immediately got up and began to wait on them.

At sunset  all those who had friends suffering from diseases of one kind or another brought them to him, and laying his hands on each he cured them.  Devils too came out of many people, howling,

You are the Son of God.

But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak because they knew that he was the Christ.

When daylight came he left the house and made his way to a lonely place.  The crowds went to look for him, and when they had caught up with him they wanted to prevent him leaving them, but he answered,

I must proclaim the Good News of the kingdom of God to the other towns too, because that is what I was sent to do.

And he continued his preaching in the synagogues of Judaea.

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The Collect:

Lord of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things: Graft in our hearts the love of your Name; increase in us true religion; nourish us with all goodness; and bring forth in us the fruit of good works; 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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\The Corinthian church suffered from factionalism.  This, Paul wrote, was unspiritual.  Factionalism persists, as the existence of denominations and “non-denominational” traditions persists.  I belong to a denomination–one I have chosen–and I am satisfied with my choice.  As an Episcopalian, I notice the lack of a well-developed liturgy and the too-infrequent celebration of the Holy Eucharist in many congregations of other traditions.  So, although I am an ecumenist–breaking bread gladly with other types of Christians, I retain my affiliation affirmatively.  I do all of this I know that my coreligionists and I have more in common than not.  Yes, I belong to a tribe, but that does not lead me to pursue intertribal warfare.  So, when I recognize deceased Christians as saints on my calendar of saints’s days and holy days at SUNDRY THOUGHTS OF KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR, the blog from which I spun this one off, I have Baptists, Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Lutherans, Anglicans, Methodists, Calvinists, Moravians, Anabaptists, and even a few Unitarians sharing the calendar year.

Often the arguments do seem to concern major and spiritual points, at least from the point of view of partisans.  Consider the following examples.:

  1. Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, and other Christians in the U.S. South formed regional denominations in support of slavery from 1845 to 1861.  (The Methodists reunited in 1939 and the Presbyterians in 1983, by the way.  The Southern Baptist Convention, formed in 1845 on the proposition that slaveholders should be able to serve as missionaries, apologized in 1995, at the urging of Billy Graham.  The probability of a Baptist reunion is nihl.)
  2. In the 1700s, Presbyterians argued about the theological validity of hymns–not any given hymns–but hymns themselves, in lieu of settings of psalms.  (This is mostly a non-issue these days.)
  3. The Oxford Movement within Anglicanism won in the 1800s and 1900s, but not before some opponents of it went so far as to consider it of the Devil.

As time passes, one might wonder how anyone could defend slavery from the Bible, argue against hymns themselves, or object to lighting a few more candles, but people did–vehemently.  I wonder how time will shape reflections on our current spats, hissy fits, and schisms.  Not favorably, I predict.

All of us who claim the label “Christian” should focus on Christ first and other religious leaders second, and therefore be genuine.  We need to have the mind of Christ, which is available only via God.  “Jealousy and wrangling” (1 Corinthians 2:3) do not bring glory to God and attract people to Jesus.  Those through whom we have come to God and deepened our spiritual development have played their parts; may we likewise play ours.  This work can take many forms; all of them, if of God, are valid.  May we remember that and act accordingly, supporting and encouraging one another in our spiritual vocations and eschewing “jealousy and wrangling.”

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/10/14/jealousy-and-wrangling/

Week of Proper 16: Thursday, Year 2   5 comments

Above:  Second Coming Icon

Great Expectations

AUGUST 27, 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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1 Corinthians 1:1-9 (The Jerusalem Bible):

I, Paul, appointed by God to be an apostle, together with brother Sosthenes, send greetings to the church of God in Corinth, to the holy people of Jesus Christ, who are called to take their place among the saints everywhere who pray to our Lord Jesus Christ; for he is their Lord no less than ours.  May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ send you grace and peace.

I never stop thanking God for all the graces you have received through Jesus Christ.  I thank him that you have been enriched in so many ways, especially in your teachers and preachers; the witness to Christ has indeed been strong among you so that you will not be without any of the gifts of the Spirit while you are waiting for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed; and he will keep you steady and without blame until the last day, the day of our Lord Jesus Christ, because God by calling you has joined you to his Son, Jesus Christ; and God is faithful.

Psalm 145:1-7 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

I will exalt you, O God my King,

and bless your Name for ever and ever.

Every day I will bless you

and praise your Name for ever and ever.

3 Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised;

there is no end to his greatness.

4 One generation shall praise your works to another

and shall declare your power.

I will ponder the glorious splendor of your majesty

and all your marvelous works.

They shall speak of the might of your wondrous acts,

and I will tell of your greatness.

They shall publish the remembrance of your great goodness;

they shall sing of your righteous deeds.

Matthew 24:42-51 (The Jerusalem Bible):

[Jesus continued,]

So stay awake, because you do not know the day when your master is coming.  You may be quite sure of this that if the householder had known at what time of the night the burglar would come, he would have stayed awake and would not have allowed anyone to break through the wall of his house.  Therefore, you too must stand ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

What kind of servant, then, is faithful and wise enough for the master to place him over his household to give him their food at the proper time?  Happy that servant if his master’s arrival finds him at this employment.  I tell you solemnly, he will place him over everything he owns. But as for the dishonest servant who says to himself, “My master is taking his time,” and sets about beating his fellow servants and drinking with drunkards, his master will come on a day he does not expect and at an hour he does not know.  The master will cut him off and send him to the same fate as hypocrites, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.

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The Collect:

Grant, O merciful God, that your Church, being gathered together in unity by your Holy Spirit, may show forth your power among all peoples, to the glory of your Name; 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:

O Lord, You Gave Your Servant John:

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

Where Cross the Crowded Ways of Life:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/06/26/where-cross-the-crowded-ways-of-life/

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The sources I have consulted date the composition of 1 Corinthians to Fall 53-Winter 54 C.E.  Paul and many other early Christians expected that Jesus would return very shortly–probably within their lifetimes.  This fact functions as invaluable context for much of the Pauline tradition.  Why did Paul not advocate the abolition of slavery, for example?  Maybe it was because of the expectation that God would take care of such details quite soon.

Paul did, however, advocate remaining active in communal life (1 Thessalonians 5:14) while living in watchfulness for the parousia of Jesus.  Furthermore, as we read in the introduction to 1 Corinthians, Paul encouraged his fellow Christians to be “steady and without blame until the last day, the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Jesus had not returned by 85 C.E.  The first generation of Christians was almost entirely dead, the Temple at Jerusalem was gone, and the Roman Empire was firmly in control.  Old expectations had not predicted the new reality.  In that context, “Matthew” told his congregation that

the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

So one ought not, “Matthew” says, mistake the Lord’s perceived tardiness as an excuse to shirk one’s duty.

As I write these words in late 2011, expect to die (whenever that will happen) without witnessing the parousia.  It has been almost two thousand years since the original expectations.  Yet the advice from Paul and “Matthew” remain germane to me:  I have work to do–skills and talents to use for the common good and  a life to live for the glory of God.  There are people to whom I ought to reach out.  God will attend to matters of prophesy; I have people to love int he name of God.  This is the work of all of us who claim the label “Christian.”  May we never shirk that duty.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/10/10/great-expectations/