Archive for the ‘Psalm 28’ Tag

Devotion for Proper 21, Year A (Humes)   1 comment

Above:  St. Peter Paying the Temple Tax

Image in the Public Domain

Living in Community

SEPTEMBER 29, 2019

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

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

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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Genesis 43:1-15, 26-30 or Isaiah 55:1-13

Psalm 28

1 Corinthians 10:19-33

Matthew 17:22-18:5

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We have obligations to each other.  Even what we do (or do not do) in private affects other people.  We should, for example, want scoundrels and wicked people to repent (as in Isaiah 55:7), not give up on them (as in Psalm 28:4).  We should seek reconciliation, as Joseph was preparing to instigate, in Genesis 43.  We should not abuse our freedom to the detriment of others.  In Christ we are free to become our best selves.

The story in Matthew 17:24-27 requires unpacking.

The tax in question was the Temple tax of one didrachmon–a half-shekel.  Every Jewish male was to pay it annually, although enforcement was not rigorous.  The scriptural basis of the Temple tax was Exodus 30:13.  It was a controversial tax for more than one reason.  For the poor the tax–two days’ wages of a laborer–was a burden.  Essenes argued that the tax was properly a once-in-a-lifetime payment.  Sadducees thought that the tax should be voluntary.  Jesus, who seemed to have a low opinion of taxation (see also Matthew 22:15-22), nevertheless decided not to cause offense.

I have no difficulty accepting this story as genuine.  Yet it, like so many stories, carries more than one meaning, depending on the time of the reading or hearing of it.  Consider, O reader, the year of the composition of the Gospel of Matthew–85 C.E. or so.

There was no more Temple yet a version of tax remained.  Roman forces had destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 C.E.  A two-drachma tribute to Rome was due annually, and Roman authorities enforced tax laws.  In the Christian context giving to the church was properly voluntary.  For Jewish Christians, marginal within Judaism, their identity remained Jewish; they did not seek to offend.

In my cultural-political setting–North America in 2018–the culture is moving in more than one direction simultaneously.  On one hand politics and culture are coarsening.  On the other hand efforts to avoid causing offense are become more prominent, sometimes to ridiculous extremes.  Meanwhile, people from various points on the spectrum have become more likely to take offense.  “Snowflakes” come in various political stripes.  Everything is controversial; there is probably nothing that does not offend somebody, somewhere.

I, as a human being, have responsibilities to my fellow human beings, who have responsibilities to me.  I, for example, have no moral right to spout racial and ethnic slurs and/or stereotypes, not that I would ever do that.  Quoting them in certain contexts, in which one’s disapproval is plain, is justifiable, however.  I have a responsibility to consider the sensibilities of others–to a reasonable point.  Yet I know that, whatever I do, I will offend someone, for somebody will be of a mind to take offense.  I am responsible for doing my best to be respectful.  I am also responsible to others not to be ridiculously sensitive, thereby doing nothing or too little.

Where should one draw the line separating responsible self-restraint in the name of not offending the consciences of others from overdoing it and still failing in not causing offense because some people are snowflakes?  The answer to that question varies according to circumstances.  One, relying on grace, should do one’s best.  If one needs to do better, one can do that, by grace.  One is not responsible for the thin skins of others.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 28, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF AMBROSE OF MILAN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP; SAINT MONICA OF HIPPO, MOTHER IF SAINT AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO; AND SAINT AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF HIPPO REGIUS

THE FEAST OF DENIS WORTMAN, U.S. DUTCH REFORMED MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF LAURA S. COPERHAVER, U.S. LUTHERAN HYMN WRITER AND MISSIONARY LEADER

THE FEAST OF SAINT MOSES THE BLACK, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, ABBOT, AND MARTYR

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2018/08/28/living-in-community-part-iii/

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Devotion for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday After Proper 21, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Paul Writing His Epistles

Above:  Paul Writing His Epistles, by Valentin de Boulogne

Image in the Public Domain

Propagating the Gospel

SEPTEMBER 28-30, 2020

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The Collect:

God of love, giver of life, you know our frailties and failings.

Give us your grace to overcome them,

keep us from those things that harm us,

and guide us in the way of salvation,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 48

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The Assigned Readings:

Judges 14:1-20 (Monday)

Judges 16:1-22 (Tuesday)

Judges 16:23-31 (Wednesday)

Psalm 28 (All Days)

Philippians 1:3-14 (Monday)

Philippians 1:15-21 (Tuesday)

Mathew 9:2-8 (Wednesday)

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A thoroughly unoriginal statement tells us that great responsibility accompanies great blessings.  Grace, although free, is not cheap.  It cost Jesus his life.  It led to multiple imprisonments of St. Paul the Apostle and finally his execution by beheading.  Jesus healed people, proclaimed the good news, and aroused much opposition.  Paul preached Christ crucified and got into much trouble also.  Through them and many others the Gospel has prospered, however.

The story of Samson is a cautionary tale.  He was intellectually dense and prone to revenge.  Samson also had poor judgment, especially regarding women.  His actions and bad judgment created needless and difficult circumstances, such as the one in which he died.  And his last act, not quite triumphant, was one of revenge.  Samson ruined his life.

How one spends life matters.  May we spend it creating a legacy of love, kindness, and reconciliation.  (This is possible only via grace, of course.)  May we succeed in that which is eternal–of God (per John 17:2)–and help the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  May we abet this propagation of the Gospel as a matter of goal and consequence, not, as many have, in spite of themselves, while attempting to suppress it.  The fact that those who oppose the Gospel wind up becoming vehicles of its spread comforts me, but is not seeking to propagate it then succeeding better?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 21, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORGIA HARKNESS, UNITED METHODIST THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT KENNETH OF WALES, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/08/21/propagating-the-gospel/

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Devotion for November 18 and 19 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Miguel_Angel_Crucifixion_La_Redonda_Logrono_Spain

Above:  The Crucifixion, by Michelangelo

Image in the Public Domain

Jeremiah and Matthew, Part XIII:  Sins of Omission

WEDNESDAY AND THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 18 AND 19, 2020

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Jeremiah 37:1-21 (November 18)

Jeremiah 38:1-28 (November 19)

Psalm 51 (Morning–November 18)

Psalm 54 (Morning–November 19)

Psalms 85 and 47 (Evening–November 18)

Psalms 28 and 99 (Evening–November 19)

Matthew 27:33-56 (November 18)

Matthew 27:57-66 (November 19)

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Zedekiah (reigned 597-586 BCE) was not the legitimate King of Judah.  That office fell properly upon his nephew, Jehoiachin (reigned 597 BCE), per 2 Kings 24:17.  Zedekiah, as the Chaldean-appointed regent, had a title but little power.  He could not even protect Jeremiah fully.  But Zedekiah, to his credit, did consult the prophet.  Nevertheless, the time to save Judah from destruction had passed; the kingdom’s fate was sealed, as was that of Zedekiah, who disregarded much of Jeremiah’s advice.

Our Lord’s fate seemed to be sealed.  He was dead–made a great and terrible, very public example of by the forces of the Roman Empire.  The charge, as in the case of Jeremiah, was false–treason.

Frequently good people (Jesus being the best person) became caught up in the perfidious schemes of others.  But God is with the persecuted righteous people, even when they die, have to go into exile, or must suffer another cruel fate–without resurrection in all but one case.  The fact that good people find themselves in these difficult situations reflects badly on those who can prevent or could have prevented such situations.  Oppressors cannot oppress by themselves.  No, they have the passive aid of those who look the other way, who say or do nothing when they can confront.  It is safer (for some) to be or remain passive.  But such passivity hurts many more people.

May we confess our sins of omission, trusting God to complete the list with those we have forgotten and those we have never recognized.  Then may we change our ways–repent–and perform a greater number of good deeds, thereby preventing even more injustice and reducing the amount thereof already extant.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 4, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT FRANCIS CARACCIOLO, COFOUNDER OF THE MINOR CLERKS REGULAR

THE FEAST OF JOHN XXIII, BISHOP OF ROME

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/06/06/jeremiah-and-matthew-part-xiii-sins-of-omission/

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

stations-123

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

Image Source = Bill Monk, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

Deuteronomy and Matthew, Part XVI:  Serving Others for God

THURSDAY AND FRIDAY, OCTOBER 22 AND 23, 2020

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Deuteronomy 21:1-23 (October 22)

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

Psalm 54 (Morning–October 22)

Psalm 65 (Morning–October 23)

Psalms 28 and 99 (Evening–October 22)

Psalms 125 and 91 (Evening–October 23)

Matthew 16:1-12 (October 22)

Matthew 16:13-28 (October 23)

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

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

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

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 8, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BENEDICT II, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF DAME JULIAN OF NORWICH, SPIRITUAL WRITER

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

THE FEAST OF SAINT PETER OF TARENTAISE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP

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

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Devotion for September 22, 23, and 24 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   6 comments

Esdras-Ezra

Above:  Ezra

Image in the Public Domain

Nehemiah and 1 Timothy, Part IV:  Performing Good Deeds at Every Opportunity

TUESDAY-THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 22-24, 2020

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Nehemiah 7:1-4 (September 22)

Nehemiah 8:1-18 (September 22)

Nehemiah 9:1-21 (September 23)

Nehemiah 9:22-38 (September 24–Protestant Versification)

Nehemiah 9:22-10:1 (Jewish, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox Versification)

Psalm 67 (Morning–September 22)

Psalm 51 (Morning–September 23)

Psalm 54 (Morning–September 24)

Psalms 46 and 93 (Evening–September 22)

Psalms 85 and 47 (Evening–September 23)

Psalms 28 and 99 (Evening–September 24)

1 Timothy 5:1-16 (September 22)

1 Timothy 5:17-6:2 (September 23)

1 Timothy 6:3-21 (September 24)

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The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit;

a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

–Psalm 51:18, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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These days’ readings speak of lamenting sins and of vowing to reform errant ways.  They also offer culturally specific advice as to how to do the latter.  I, as a Christian, do not follow the Law of Moses, for Jesus has fulfilled the Law.  And I read 1 Timothy 5-6, my jaw dropping because of the sexism and the failure to condemn slavery.  I, when pondering Old and New Testament moral advice, find the following statements helpful:

Identifying general principles is important because the real purpose of the Law is to inculcate general principles and values and to apply them in specific instances.  This is done by stating general principles and by illustrating, with specific examples, how general principles can be applied in specific cases.

–Richard Bauckham, The Bible in Politics:  How to Read the Bible Politically, 2d. Ed. (Louisville, KY:  Westminster/John Knox Press, 2011, pages 24-25)

The best moral advice I have located in these days’ readings is to preform good deeds

at every opportunity.

–1 Timothy 5:10d, The Revised English Bible

What that looks like depends on the opportunities.  May we focus on that principle and not become bogged down in legalistic details.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 17, 2013 COMMON ERA

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

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

THE FEAST OF PARDITA MARY RAMABAI, SOCIAL REFORMER IN INDIA

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

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/nehemiah-and-1-timothy-part-iv-performing-good-deeds-at-every-opportunity/

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Devotion for August 27 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   3 comments

3g05226v

Above:  The Meeting of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba

Artwork from 1899

Reproduction Number = LC-USZC4-5226

Copyright by The U.S. Printing Co.

Image Source = Library of Congress

1 Kings and 2 Corinthians, Part IV: Decisions and Their Consequences

THURSDAY, AUGUST 27, 2020

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

1 Kings 9:1-9; 10:1-13

Psalm 54 (Morning)

Psalms 28 and 99 (Evening)

2 Corinthians 5:1-21

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The story of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba reaches its peak in 1 Kings 9-10.  God talks to him, the monarch is fabulously wealthy, and the Queen of Sheba visits.  1 Kings 9:1-9 provides foreboding foreshadowing:  Disobedience to God will lad to national disaster.  One needs to be careful here, lest one blame natural disasters frustrated by foolish human decisions (often regarding infrastructure or where to live) on homosexuality, not on the climate and what we humans are doing to change it.  But 1 Kings 9:1-9 addressed political forces, not natural ones.  Those verses date from a time after which people had experienced national collapse and exile, so they constitute hindsight also.  They come from a place of loss and introspection, of being humble before God and of grieving over losses.

Yet, as Paul reminds us, our life is in God.  Our only proper boasts are in God–in Jesus, specifically.  (That part about Jesus did not apply in the BCE years, of course.)  And our confidence is properly in God, in whom we have reconciliation not only to God but to each other.  So there is always hope in God, who seeks us by a variety of means over time.

Our decisions matter.  Although nobody is the captain of his or her soul, our decisions matter greatly.  How we respond to God is important.  Here I take my cues from Hebrew Prophets:  Will we commit idolatry?  Will we condone and/or practice economic exploitation?  Will we condone and/or condone corruption?  Will we become so enamored of ourselves and our institutions that we will fall into hubris?  Or will we recognize the Image of God in each other and serve God by serving each other?  Society is concrete, not abstract; it is merely people.  Societies can and do change.  So the choice is ours.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 14, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT VENANTIUS HONORIUS CLEMENTIUS FORTUNATUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF POITIERS

THE FEAST OF CARL PHILIPP EMANUEL BACH, COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN OF THE CROSS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MYSTIC

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/1-kings-and-2-corinthians-part-iv-decisions-and-their-consequences/

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Devotion for July 28, 29, and 30 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   3 comments

Above:  Antonius Felix

1 Samuel and Acts, Part VI:  Rejection and Violence

Image in the Public Domain

TUESDAY-THURSDAY, JULY 28-30, 2020

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

1 Samuel 13:1-18 (July 28)

1 Samuel 14:47-15:9 (July 29)

1 Samuel 15:10-35 (July 30)

Psalm 67 (Morning–July 28)

Psalm 51 (Morning–July 29)

Psalm 54 (Morning–July 30)

Psalms 46 and 93 (Evening–July 28)

Psalms 85 and 47 (Evening–July 29)

Psalms 28 and 99 (Evening–July 30)

Acts 23:12-35 (July 28)

Acts 24:1-23 (July 29)

Acts 24:24-25:12 (July 30)

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In 1 Samuel we read two accounts of how Samuel and Saul fell out with each other. (These things happen in parts of the Hebrew Scriptures due to the editing together of different sources.)  The first story tells of Saul making an offering Samuel should have performed.  The other version entails Samuel and his soldiers not killing enough people and livestock.  How making an offering or not killing more people and livestock is supposed to offend God eludes me beyond a purely historical-literary critical level of understanding texts and traditions, for I am a liberal Christian and a generally peaceful person.  Violence offends me and ritual sacrifices are foreign to me.

But the rejection of Saul by God occupies the readings from 1 Samuel.  The story of Saul, which ended badly, began with Samuel warning the people that they really did not want a monarch.  Saul’s reign seems to have proven Samuel’s case.  And the reigns of subsequent kings did likewise.

Rejection and violence also figure prominently in the Acts lessons.  Paul evaded plots on his life yet remained in custody for two years.  His offense was, as The New Jerusalem Bible translates part of 24:5, being

a perfect pest.

That did not justify such extreme measures, though.

Rejection and violence unify the sets of readings.  The God of these lessons is, in the words of Psalm 99:4 (The New Jerusalem Bible), one who

loves justice

and has

established honesty, justice and uprightness.

I recognize that description in Acts 23-25 but not in 1 Samuel 13-15.  That does not indicate a fault within me.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 5, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE SAINTS AND MARTYRS OF ASIA

THE FEAST OF HARRY EMERSON FOSDICK, NORTHERN BAPTIST PASTOR

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

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/05/03/1-samuel-and-acts-part-vi-rejection-and-violence/

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Devotion for June 30, July 1, and July 2 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   3 comments

Above:  Jericho, 1925-1946

Image Source = Library of Congress

Joshua and Acts, Part IV:  God, Love, Violence, and Moral Responsibility

JUNE 30-JULY 2, 2021

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Joshua 5:1-6:5 (June 30)

Joshua 6:6-27 (July 1)

Joshua 7:1-26 (July 2)

Psalm 67 (Morning–June 30)

Psalm 51 (Morning–July 1)

Psalm 54 (Morning–July 2)

Psalms 46 and 93 (Evening–June 30)

Psalms 85 and 47 (Evening–July 1)

Psalms 28 and 99 (Evening–July 2)

Acts 10:1-17 (June 30)

Acts 10:18-33 (July 1)

Acts 10:34-48 (July 2)

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Much of the Old Testament wearies me with its persistent violence.  The God of Joshua 5-7 is the warrior deity.  Excepting Rahab and her family,

They exterminated everything in the city with the sword:  man and woman, young and old, ox and sheep and ass.

–6:21, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

Yet, according to the story, Achan, one soldier, took some souvenirs for himself, thereby bringing down divine wrath on the nation and causing about thirty-six men to die.  Everyone was responsible for one man’s fault.

Huh?  And, to my previous point,

Whom would Jesus exterminate?

The cases of Rahab and her family and of Cornelius the Centurion and his household point to one great lesson:  Acceptability in God’s sight has nothing to do with nationality.  Rahab had acknowledged YHWH in Joshua 2, thus the Israelites spared her and her family.  Cornelius was a Roman officer–a centurion–in command of 100 men.  He was also a Gentile.  And, according to tradition, he became host to a house church and the first Bishop of Caesarea.  I wonder what would have happened had St. Simon Peter not received and accepted his new understanding (Acts 10:34-43).

Although the decision of others affect us, we are morally responsible for ourselves unless a severe brain problem renders us incapable of acting responsibly.  Christ calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves and to serve one another, not to exterminate each other in the name of God.  And, in Christ, one spiritual brethren come from a wide variety of backgrounds, some of them surprising to us.  Perfect love casts out fear and violence; may we never forget that great lesson.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 18, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF BARTOLOME DE LAS CASAS, WITNESS FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/05/03/joshua-and-acts-part-iv-god-love-violence-and-moral-responsibility/

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Devotion for June 4 in Ordinary Time (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Above:  Church of Lazarus, Bethany, Palestine, 1940-1946

Image Source = Library of Congress

Ecclesiastes and John, Part VIII:  Embracing Life Instead of Fleeing Death

JUNE 4, 2021

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Ecclesiastes 12:1-14

Psalm 54 (Morning)

Psalms 28 and 99 (Evening)

John 11:1-16

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As we have read elsewhere in Ecclesiastes, everybody will die.  This has a negative connotation in that text, as if death is not a desirable life transition.  For many people it is not one, but I have a different opinion.  Yes, the manner of one’s exit can be unpleasant and fearsome.  Consider the case of Jesus, en route to Jerusalem in John 11; he was a few days away from a crucifixion.

As for Lazarus, he had died.  He was indisputably dead.  Mary and Martha, his sisters, cared very much about his fact.  Yet, as the rest of Chapter 11 tells us, it was not an irreversible state in his case.  The man would die again, but not before his raising showed Christ’s power.

It is one thing to fear being dead and other to fear dying.  I fear certain ways of dying yet have no fear of being dead.  I have approached death’s door a few times.  These experiences have liberated me from my fear of death itself and enabled me to embrace life itself.  Life is far more than the opposite of death.  To love life for what it is, not what it is not, is appropriate.  And to do this is one way to express Christ’s power in us and to testify to it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 6, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS VINCENTIA GEROSA AND BARTHOLOMEA CAPITANIO, COFOUNDERS OF THE SISTERS OF CHARITY OF LOVERE

THE FEAST OF ISAIAH, BIBLICAL PROPHET

THE FEAST OF JAN HUS, PROTO-PROTESTANT MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT PALLADIUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/04/23/ecclesiastes-and-john-part-viii-embracing-life-instead-of-fleeing-death/

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Week of Proper 19: Monday, Year 1   17 comments

Above:  Rosary Beads

Image in the Public Domain

Proper Attitudes in Prayer

SEPTEMBER 13, 2021

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Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.

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1 Timothy 2:1-8 (The Jerusalem Bible):

My advice is that, first of all, there should be prayers offered for everyone–petitions, intercessions, and thanksgiving–and especially for kings and others in authority, so that we may be able to live religious an reverent lives in peace and quiet.  To do this is right, and will please God our saviour; he wants everyone to be saved and reach full knowledge of the truth.  For there is only one God, and there is only one mediator between God and mankind, himself a man, Christ Jesus, who sacrificed himself as a ransom for them all.  He is the evidence of this, sent at the appointed time, and I have been named a herald and apostle of it and–I am telling the truth and no lie–a teacher of the faith and the truth to the pagans.

In every place, then, I want the men to lift their hands up reverently in prayer, with no anger or argument.

Psalm 28 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 O LORD, I call to you;

my Rock, do not be deaf to my cry;

lest, if you do not hear me,

I become like those who go down to the Pit.

2 Hear the voice of my prayer when I cry to you,

when I lift up my hands to your holy of holies.

3 Do not snatch me away with the wicked or with the evildoers,

who speak peaceably with their neighbors,

while strife is in their hearts.

4 Repay them according to their deeds,

and according to the wickedness of their actions.

5 According to the work of their hands repay them,

and give them their just deserts.

6 They have no understanding of the LORD’s doings

nor of the works of his hands;

therefore he will break them down and not build them up.

7 Blessed is the LORD!

for he has heard the voice of my prayer.

8 The LORD is my strength and my shield;

my heart trusts in him, and I have been helped;

9 Therefore my heart dances for joy;

and in my song I will praise him.

10 The LORD is the strength of his people,

a safe refuge for his anointed.

11 Save your people and bless your inheritance;

shepherd them and carry them for ever.

Luke 7:1-10 (The Jerusalem Bible):

When he [Jesus] had come to the end of all he wanted the people to hear, he went into Capernaum.  A centurion there had a servant, a favourite of his, who was sick and near death.  Having heard  about Jesus he sent some Jewish elders to ask him to come and heal his servant.  When they came to Jesus they pleaded earnestly with him.

He deserves this of you,

they said,

because he is friendly towards our people; in fact, he is the one who built the synagogue.

So Jesus went with them, and was not very far from the house when the centurion sent word to him by some friends:

Sir,

he said,

do not put yourself to trouble; because I am not worthy to have you under my roof; and for this same reason I did not presume to come to you myself; but give the word and let my servant be cured.  For I am under authority myself, and have soldiers under me; and I say to one man:  Go, and he goes; to another:  Come here, and he comes; to my servant:  Do this, and he does it.

When Jesus heard these words he was astonished at him and, turning around, said to the crowds following him,

I tell you, not even in Israel have I found faith like this.

And when the messengers got to the house they found the servant in perfect health.

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The Collect:

O God, because without you we are not able to please you mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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A comparison of the reading from Luke and its counterpart in Matthew is interesting.  The author of Luke-Acts includes details his Matthew counterpart omits.  The Lukan account tells us that the Roman centurion was friendly to the Jews, going so far as to supervise the construction of the synagogue at Capernaum.  Yet in both versions of the story the centurion is a good man who displays care for his servant and humility with regard to Jesus.  There is one difference:  In Matthew the centurion asks Jesus to heal his servant.  But in Luke he sends some Jewish elders to make the request.  This might bother a scriptural literalist, which I am not.  Yet the canonical Gospels are not documentaries; they are documents which speak of the Good News of Jesus.  And they do this well.

The author of 1 Timothy writes that one ought to pray reverently, “with no anger or argument.”  Certainly the Roman centurion was reverent toward Jesus, but the author of Psalm 28 disobeyed the rule regarding “anger or argument.”  I know angry prayer well; I have said many of them over the years.  They constituted an emotional release for me, but I doubt that they were a good use of prayer time.  They were not worthy of the standard of Jesus, who prayed for the forgiveness of those who executed him.  If my choice of the label “Christian” is to mean what it should, I need to become more like the Lord I claim to follow.  This includes backing away from the desire for God to punish my enemies or just people I dislike.

And what about praying for those in authority?  The author of 1 Timothy does not say to pray for only those authority figures one likes.  This makes sense, for we ought to pray for those in authority because they are in authority.  What we think of them is irrelevant to whether we ought to pray for them.  What kind of people they are has no bearing on whether we should pray for them.  We need to be careful to pray for them, not about them.  We ought to pray for them without judging them, for our Lord has commanded us to leave judgment to God, with whom the sole right of vengeance resides.  But this is the same God who extends lavish and scandalous grace, too.

So, what is prayer?  Growing up, the most frequent definition I heard was “talking to God.”  That is part of it, certainly.  But there is far more to it than that.  The Catechism from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer defines prayer as “responding to God, by thought and by deeds, with or without words,” and Christian prayer as “response to God the Father, through Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit.”  (page 856)

When, with or without words, we pray for–not about–another person, we open the door for God to change how we think about that individual.  We open ourselves up to perceive him or her in a more positive, sympathetic way than we do already.  We might even end up identifying with this person and understanding that he or she is not as different from us than we once thought.  If praying honestly and non-judgmentally does nothing else, it makes us better than we were before.   Besides, we need grace as much as anyone else.  Do we understand this–really?

If we do not, may we embark on the prayer journey to that realization.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/10/21/proper-attitudes-in-prayer/