Archive for the ‘Psalm 150’ Tag

Devotion for Thanksgiving Day (U.S.A.), Year A (Humes)   1 comment

Above:  The Healing of Ten Lepers, by James Tissot

Image in the Public Domain


NOVEMBER 23, 2023


Almighty and gracious Father, we give you thanks for the fruits of the earth in their season,

and for the labors of those who harvest them.

Make us, we pray, faithful stewards of your great bounty,

for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need,

to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 701


Joel 2:21-27

Psalm 150

1 Timothy 2:1-7

Matthew 6:25-33


Since antiquity and in cultures from many parts of the Earth harvest festivals have been occasions of thanksgiving.  In the United States of America, where the first national observance of Thanksgiving occurred in 1863, the November date has related to the harvest feast in Plymouth in 1621.  Prior to 1863 some U.S. states had an annual thanksgiving holiday, and there was a movement for the national holiday.  Liturgically the occasion has remained tied to harvest festivals, although the meaning of the holiday has been broader since 1863.  The Episcopal Church has observed its first Book of Common Prayer in 1789.  Nationwide Thanksgiving Day has become part of U.S. civil religion and an element of commercialism, which might actually be the primary sect of civil religion in the United States.  The Almighty Dollar attracts many devotees.

Too easily and often this holiday deteriorates into an occasion to gather with relatives while trying (often in vain) to avoid shouting matches about politics and/or religion, or to watch television, or to be in some other awkward situation.  The holiday means little to me; I find it inherently awkward.  This state of affairs is the result of my youth, when my family and I, without relatives nearby, witnessed many of our neighbors hold family reunions on the holiday.  Thanksgiving Day, therefore, reminds me of my lifelong relative isolation.

Nevertheless, I cannot argue with the existence of occasions to focus on gratitude to God.  The Bible teaches us in both Testaments that we depend entirely on God, depend on each other, are responsible to and for each other, and have no right to exploit each other.  The key word is mutuality, not individualism.  I embrace the focus on this ethos.

A spiritual practice I find helpful is to thank God throughout each day, from the time I awake to the time I go to bed.  Doing so helps one recognize how fortunate one is.  The electrical service is reliable.  The breeze is pleasant.  The sunset is beautiful.  Reading is a great pleasure.  The list is so long that one can never reach the end of it, but reaching the end of that list is not the goal anyway.  No, the goal is to be thankful and to live thankfully.

Too often we forget to be grateful.  Too often we are like the nine lepers in Luke 17:11-19 who neglected to thank Jesus for healing them.  Too seldom we are like the sole former leper who expressed gratitude to Jesus.

I refrain from reducing piety to more good manners, but good manners, expressed to God, are healthy spiritual practices.  Certainly thanking God throughout each day will improve one’s life in God.









Week of Proper 28: Wednesday, Year 2   5 comments

Above:  The Vision of John on Patmos

The King Who Endures

NOVEMBER 16, 2022


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.


Revelation 4:1-11 (Revised English Bible):

After this I had a vision:  a door stood open in heaven, and the voice that I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said,

Come up here, and I will show you what must take place hereafter.

At once the Spirit came upon me.  There in heaven stood a throne.  On it sat One whose appearance was like jasper or cornelian, and round it was a rainbow, bright as emerald.  In a circle about this throne were twenty-four other thrones, and on them were seated twenty-four elders, robed in white an wearing gold thrones.  From the throne came flashes of lightning and peals of thunder.  Burning before the throne were seven flaming torches, the seven spirits of God, and in front of it stretched what looked a sea of glass or a sheet of ice.

In the centre, round the throne itself, were four living creatures, covered with eyes in front and behind.  The first creature was like a lion, the second like an ox, the third had a human face, and the fourth was like an eagle in flight.  Each of the four living creatures had six wings, and eyes all round and inside them.  Day and night unceasingly they sing:

Holy, holy, holy is God the sovereign of all, who was, and is, and is to come!

Whenever the living creatures give glory and honour and thanks to the One who sits on the throne, who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders prostrate themselves before the One who sits on the throne and they worship him who lives for ever and ever.  As they lay their crowns before the throne they cry:

You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honour and power, because you created all things; by your will they were created and have their being!

Psalm 150 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):


Praise God in his holy temple;

praise him in the firmament of his power.

Praise him for his mighty acts;

praise him for his excellent greatness.

Praise him with the blast of the ram’s-horn;

Praise him with lyre and harp.

Praise him with timbrel and dance;

praise him with strings and pipe.

Praise him with resounding cymbals;

praise him with loud-clanging cymbals.

Let everything that has breath

praise the LORD.


Luke 19:11-28 (Revised English Bible):

While they were listening to this, Jesus went on to tell them a parable, because he was now close to Jerusalem and they [the crowd who disapproved of him eating with Zacchaeus] thought the kingdom of God might dawn at any moment.  He said,

A man of noble birth went on a long journey abroad, to have himself appointed king and then return.  But first he called then of his servants and gave each a sum of money, saying, “Trade with this while I am away.”  His fellow-citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, “We do not want this man as our king.”  He returned however as king, and sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, to find out what profit each had made.  The first came and said, “Your money, sir, has increased tenfold.”  ”Well done,” he replied, “you are a good servant, trustworthy in a very small matter, you shall have charge of ten cities.”  The second came and said, “Here is your money, sir; I kept it wrapped up in a handkerchief.  I was afraid of you because you are a hard man:  you draw out what you do not put in and reap what you do not sow.”  ”You scoundrel!”  he replied.  ”I will condemn you out of your own mouth.  You knew me to be a hard man, did you, drawing out what I never put in, and reaping what I did not sow?  Then why did you not put my money on deposit, and I could have claimed it with interest when I came back?”  Turning to his attendants he said, “Take the money from him and give it to the man with the most.”  ”But sir,” they replied, “he has ten times as much already.”  ”I tell you,” he said, “everyone one has will be given more; but whoever has nothing will forfeit even what he has.  But as for those enemies of mine who did not want me for their king, bring them here and slaughter them in my presence.”


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.


Some Related Posts:

Week of Proper 28:  Wednesday, Year 1:

Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise:

Not Far Beyond the Sea:

O God, Our Help in Ages Past:

We Sing for All the Unsung Saints:

Let Saints on Earth in Concert Sing:

A Prayer for the Dead:

Our Father, By Whose Servants:

For All the Saints:

Now the Laborer’s Task is O’er:


The first three chapters of Revelation are relatively straight-forward, given that the book is an apocalypse, and therefore told in symbolic language.  Now, however, in Chapter 4, we begin to encounter denser symbolism.  I opened up commentaries and tried to sort out the symbols.  Along the way I learned three or four ways to interpret some of the same symbols.  In such cases, I have chosen to follow one interpretation.  For the sake of succinctness, we read of God, enthroned in glory and majesty in Heaven.  The martyrs are there, as is the Holy Spirit in its completeness.  The four living creatures, imagery borrowed from ancient sources and elsewhere in the Bible, see everything.  The living creature like a lion represents the power of the Son of God.  The one like an ox indicates the sacrificial nature of the Son of God.  The living creature with a human face represents the incarnation of the Son of God.  And the one like an eagle in flight symbolizes the gift of the Holy Spirit.  God, the center of attention, is sovereign.

We turn now to the reading from Luke.  Archelaus and two brothers inherited parts the “kingdom” of their father, Herod the Great, when he died in 4 B.C.E.  But Archelaus, in order to claim his inheritance, had to visit his overlord, the Emperor Augustus.  He was the figure on whom Jesus based the king in Luke 19.  The setting for the Parable of the Pounds (similar to the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30) is after our Lord’s visit with Zacchaeus at Jericho but prior to his Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem.  So the standard interpretation of the parable is, “Choose Jesus, or else!”  Yet I cannot bring myself to identify the king in the parable with God.

The lectionary readings for this day present us with conflicting types of kingship:  omnipotent and benevolent (in Revelation) and cruel and subject to higher human authority (in Luke).  The former is forever, but the latter is temporal.  Archelaus, despite the power he wielded, died.  His position in life depended on the identity of his father and the favor of the Roman Emperor, two factors he could not determine.  He was a glorified governor or procurator.  And, as far as I can tell, he is mostly forgotten these days; I, an eager student of history, had to look him up.

God endures.  Thanks be to God!


Week of Proper 18: Thursday, Year 1   13 comments

Above:  Archbishop Desmond Tutu Breaking Down at a Hearing of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, April 1996

Image Source = Sunday Times

Love and Forgiveness, Whether Mutual or Not

SEPTEMBER 14, 2023


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.


Colossians 3:12-17 (The Jerusalem Bible):

You are God’s chosen race, his saints; he loves you, and you should be clothed in sincere compassion, in kindness and humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with one another; forgive each other as soon as a quarrel begins.  The Lord has forgiven you; now must do the same.  Over all these clothes, to keep them together and complete them, put on love.  And may the peace of Christ reign in your hearts, because it is for this that you were called together as parts of one body.  Always be thankful.

Let the message of Christ, in all its riches, find a home with you.  Teach each other, and advise each other, in all wisdom.  With gratitude in your hearts sing psalms and hymns and inspired songs to God; and never say or do anything except in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Psalm 150 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 Hallelujah!

Praise God in his holy temple;

praise him in the firmament of his power.

2 Praise him for his mighty acts;

praise him for his excellent greatness.

3 Praise him with the blast of the ram’s-horn;

Praise him with lyre and harp.

4 Praise him with timbrel and dance;

praise him with strings and pipe.

5 Praise him with resounding cymbals;

praise him with loud-clanging cymbals.

6 Let everything that has breath

praise the LORD.


Luke 6:27-38 (The Jerusalem Bible):

[Jesus continued,]

But I say this to you who are listening:  Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who treat you badly.  To the man who slaps you on one cheek, present the other cheek too; to the man who takes your cloak from you, do not refuse your tunic.  Give to everyone who asks you, and do not ask for your property back from the man who robs you.  Treat others as you would like them to treat you.  If you love those who love you, what thanks can you expect?  Even sinners love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who do good to you, what thanks can you expect?  For even sinners do that much.  And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what thanks can you expect?  Even sinners lend to sinners to get back the same amount.  Instead, love your enemies and do good, and lend without any hope of return.  You will have a great reward, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.

Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate.  Do not judge, and you will not be judged yourselves; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned yourselves; grant pardon, and you will be pardoned.  Give, and there will be gifts for you:  a full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be poured into your lap; because the amount you measure out is the amount you will be given back.


The Collect:

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


The excerpts from Luke and Colossians fit together well.  Both teach the Golden Rule.  This is an oft-quoted maxim.  Many people confess it with their lips then do not try to honor it with their lives.  And many of us who praise the Golden Rule with our words and try to live it discover quickly how difficult the follow-through can be.  We need to confess our failure to God, who is ready to forgive us.  Then we need to forgive ourselves for our weaknesses and others for theirs.  Together, ever striving to do better and trusting in God, we need to support each other in our struggles to do to others as we want them to treat us.

Sometimes this love and this compassion are mutual.  This was the vision of Jesus and Paul.  But human nature being what it is, such love and compassion are frequently one-sided.  When this is true, the person who does more than law and convention require does so as a free man or woman.  When there is dishonor, it belongs not to the inconvenienced and and wronged party, but to the one who inconveniences and wrongs.  Doing the right thing for the right reason places one on the moral high ground.

Consider examples of nonviolent action.  In my nation, the United States, in the 1960s, many civil rights activists engaged in sit-ins at segregated establishments.  They faced verbal and physical abuse, but did not resist.  In so doing, they denied their attackers any semblance of an excuse or justification.  What kind of person beats up a man or woman who refuses to fight back?  And what must the assaulter think about him or herself, assuming he or she has a conscience?  Furthermore, Mohandas K. Gandhi employed nonviolent tactics and buckets full of shame to liberate India from the British Empire.  He was a moral giant.

And what about forgiveness?  The Apartheid regime of South Africa perpetrated atrocities against dissidents.  But the Mandela Administration began a process of reconciliation, dependent on the telling of truth, of course.  It was a difficult process, but it helped to begin the healing process.  Jesus would approve, based on passages such as those from Luke for this day.

A fight grows larger, longer, and worse when more parties consent to it.  But what happens when someone opts out?  This principle informs my self-discipline.  Thus I prefer to avoid many arguments, especially when the other person is shouting at me.  I refuse to shout back or to react physically.  This prevents the situation from becoming worse.  Besides, two people yelling at each other is worse than one person shouting at the one who is silent.  Self-discipline is the wisest choice in such an occasion.   Often it angers the other person, but that is not my intention; it is merely an unintended consequence over which I have no control.  I am responsible for control of my own emotions, not those of another person.

This post marks my departure from Colossians for now.  The lectionary moves along to 1 Timothy, a very good book, too.  So a summary of the highlights of Colossians 3:18-4:18 follows:

  • 3:18-4:1 is a frequently proof-texted passage.  Wives and husbands, parents, and children, slaves and masters have obligations to each other.  Reading one verse, say 3:18 but not 3:19 distorts the meaning 3:18.  In 3:18-4:1 Paul does not recognizes anyone’s right to lord it over anyone.  Mutual respect is the overarching principle here.
  • Paul recognized the existence of slavery but did not challenge it.  He thought that he was living in the End Times, so social reform took a backseat to personal holiness in anticipation of the Second Coming of Jesus.  But the Golden Rule requires some social reform, does it not?  I side with Jesus, not Paul, in this regard.
  • Those who believe differently than I do are not my enemies because they disagree with me.  But what Paul writes about how to deal with them is consistent with our Lord’s command to love one’s enemies.  Consider Colossians 3:5-6:  “Be tactful with those who are not Christians and be sure you make the best of your time with them.  Talk to them agreeably and with a flavour of wit, and try to fit your answers to the needs of each one.”

Love, whether mutual or one-sided, is always better than hatred.  Antipathy enslaves us in resentment, but love liberates us to live compassionately.  What others think is of little consequence relative to what God commands.  God is love, and Jesus is the greatest indication of this truth.  So may we walk in love, with God’s help.