Archive for the ‘Psalm 33’ Tag

Devotion for Proper 25 (Year D)   1 comment

christ-and-pilate-by-nicholas-ge

Above:  Christ and Pilate, by Nicholas Ge

Image in the Public Domain

The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Part VII

OCTOBER 25, 2020

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The Collect:

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

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

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

Nahum 1:1-8

Psalm 33:(1-12) 13-22

Matthew 27:3-31a or Mark 15:2-20a or Luke 23:2-25 or John 18:29-19:16

Romans 10:14, 16-21 or Romans 11:2b-28 (29-32) 33-36

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Judgment and mercy relate to each other in the readings for this Sunday.  Divine judgment and mercy coexist in Nahum 1, with judgment falling on the Neo-Assyrian Empire.  The two factors also coexist in Psalm 33, but with the emphasis on mercy.  Psalm 33, in the context of the readings from the Gospels and Romans 10 and 11, seems ironic, for rejection of Jesus does not fit with

Happy is the nation whose God is the LORD!

happy is the people he has chosen to be his own.

–Psalm 33:12, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

The options for the Gospel reading bring us to the verge of the crucifixion of Jesus, who was, of course, innocent of any offense (in the eyes of God), especially one that any Roman imperial official would consider worthy of crucifixion.  To kill a person that way was to make an example of him, to extinguish him, and to convince (via fear) anyone from doing what he had done or had allegedly done.  It was a form of execution usually reserved for criminals such as insurrectionists.  The fact of the crucifixion of Jesus actually reveals much about the perception of Jesus by certain people.

Jesus was a threat to the religious establishment at a place and in a time when the separation of religion and state did not exist.  He was not an insurrectionist, however.  He was a revolutionary though.  He was a revolutionary who continues to threaten human institutions and social norms by calling their morality into question.

Attempts to domesticate Jesus are nothing new.  We can, however, access the undomesticated Jesus via the Gospels.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 20, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE TWENTY-FOURTH DAY OF ADVENT

THE FEAST OF SAINT DOMINIC OF SILOS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF ARCHIBALD CAMPBELL TAIT, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

THE FEAST OF SAINT PETER CANISIUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM JOHN BLEW, ENGLISH PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2016/12/20/the-passion-of-our-lord-jesus-christ-part-vii/

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Devotion for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday Before Proper 14, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Abraham

Above:  Icon of Abraham

Image in the Public Domain

Waiting for God, Part I

AUGUST 8, 2019

AUGUST 9, 2019

AUGUST 10, 2019

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The Collect:

Almighty God, you sent your Holy Spirit to be the life and light of your church.

Open our hearts to the riches of your grace,

that we may be ready to receive you wherever you appear,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 44

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The Assigned Readings:

Job 21:1-16 (Thursday)

Ecclesiastes 6:1-6 (Friday)

Genesis 11:27-32 (Saturday)

Psalm 33:12-22 (All Days)

Romans 9:1-9 (Thursday)

Acts 7:1-8 (Friday)

Matthew 6:19-24 (Saturday)

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We are waiting for Yahweh;

he is our help and our shield,

for in him our heart rejoices,

in his holy name we trust.

Yahweh, let your faithful love rest on us,

as our hope has rested in you.

–Psalm 33:20-22, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

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Sometimes the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer.  This reality has frustrated many for ages and contradicted incarnations of Prosperity Theology (a heresy that does not die) since antiquity.  In the Book of Job the titular character’s alleged friends insisted that he must have done something to deserve his suffering.  The text, with all of its layers of authorship, explains in Chapters 1 and 2 why Job suffered; God allowed it.  Job was a pawn in a heavenly wager.

We who follow God wait for God, but, if we are realistic, we will not expect that doing so will lead to life on Easy Street.  Sometimes, in fact, it will lead to suffering for the sake of righteousness.  On other occasions suffering will just happen, seemingly for no reason.  Suffering is a part of life, I have become convinced.

Yet we need not suffer alone.  In Christ Jesus God suffered in human flesh, after all.  The divine promise is not that a proper relationship with God will be present during suffering.  This has been my experience.  We are members of God’s household via grace, not lineage, and the pilgrimage of faith begins with one step.  In God we find intangible and eternal (in the Johannine sense of that word, that is, “of God,” see 17:3) treasures, the variety that outlasts and is vastly superior to the most appealing temporal prizes.

Of course we should love God for selfless reasons; the rewards will come.  I recall a story about a woman who walked around carrying a torch and a bucket of water.  The torch, she said, was to burn up heaven and the water was to extinguish the flames of hell so that nobody would seek to follow God to enter heaven or to avoid hell.  Yet we humans seem to have mixed motivations much of the time, do we not?  Certain evangelists emphasize the possibility of damnation to frighten people into salvation.  Although I affirm the existence of both heaven and hell, I argue that terror is not a basis for a mature relationship with God, whom many Jews and Christians describe as loving and compassionate.

May we wait for Yahweh, who is our loving and compassionate help and shield, in whom our hearts rejoice.  May we wait for God in times of prosperity and of scarcity, of suffering and of ease, of pain and of pleasure.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 23, 2016 COMMON ERA

WEDNESDAY IN HOLY WEEK

THE FEAST OF GEORGE RUNDLE PRYNNE, ANGLICAN PRIEST, POET, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT GREGORY THE ILLUMINATOR, PATRIARCH OF ARMENIA

THE FEAST OF HEINRICH VON LAUFENBERG, GERMAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT TURIBIUS OF MOGROVEJO, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF LIMA

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2016/03/23/waiting-for-god-part-i/

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Devotion for November 27 in Ordinary Time (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   2 comments

Christ Pantocrator

Above:  Christ Pantocrator

Image in the Public Domain

Living Faith Versus Insincere Rituals and Ossified Doctrine

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 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 eternal 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:

Isaiah 1:1-28

Psalm 96 (Morning)

Psalms 132 and 134 (Evening)

1 Peter 1:1-12

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Wash yourselves clean;

Put your evil things

Away from My sight.

Cease to do evil;

Learn to do good.

Devote yourselves to justice;

Aid the wronged.

Uphold the rights of the orphan;

Defend the cause of the widow.

–Isaiah 1:16-17a, TANAKH:   The Holy Scriptures

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For the word of the LORD is right,

and all his judgments are sure.

He loves righteousness and justice;

the loving-kindness of the LORD fills the whole earth.

–Psalm 33:4-5, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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This is a great joy to you, even though for a short time yet you must bear all sorts of trials; so that the worth of your faith, more valuable than gold, which is perishable even if it has been tested by fire, may be proved–to your praise and glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.  You have not seen him, yet you love him, and still without seeing him you believe in him and so are already filled with a joy so glorious that it cannot be described; and you are sure of the goal of your faith, that is, the salvation of your souls.

–1 Peter 1:6-9, The New Jerusalem Bible

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Rituals can have great value and convey great meaning.  Yet a ritual without sincerity is like a special effect without a relevant plot point; it is meaningless and distracting.  And what constitutes sincerity in this setting?  Isaiah tells us that holiness is the essential element, and that the standard for holiness is objective:  love of one’s fellow human beings and pursuit of social justice.  After all, as we read in Genesis 1, each person bears the image of God.  Faith, when it is what it ought to be, in inherently active.  So Christian faith, rooted in following the example of Jesus, must entail reaching out to the marginalized, as our Lord did.

This devotion is for a fixed date, one which can fall in either Advent or the Season after Pentecost, depending on the day of the week on which December 25 falls. The readings work well on both sides of the seasonal boundary line.  An old name for the Season after Pentecost or the latter part thereof is Kingdomtide, with an emphasis on demonstrated righteousness.  And Advent, as a preparatory season for Christmas, contains a penitential element.

The take-away for today is this:  Are you, O reader, keeping rituals yet mocking God by not even trying to uphold human dignity?  If so, what will you do about that?  The Incarnation of Jesus affirms the dignity of human nature, does it not?  Faith ought to be about lived orthodoxy, not adherence to fossilized and ossified doctrine consisting mostly or entirely of words.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 1, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST FROM NICHOLAS FERRAR, ANGLICAN DEACON

THE FEAST OF SAINT CHARLES DE FOUCAULD, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT

THE FEAST OF SAINT EDMUND CAMPION, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT ELIGIUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

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Devotion for November 6 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Brooklyn_Museum_-_Woe_unto_You,_Scribes_and_Pharisees_(Malheur_à_vous,_scribes_et_pharisiens)_-_James_Tissot

Above:  Woe Unto You, Scribes and Pharisees, by James Tissot

Image in the Public Domain

Jeremiah and Matthew, Part V:  Hope Amid Judgment

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 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 8:18-9:12

Psalm 89:1-18 (Morning)

Psalms 1 and 33 (Evening)

Matthew 23:13-39

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Why is the land in ruins,

Laid waste like a wilderness,

with none passing through?

The LORD replied, Because they forsook the teaching I had set before them.  They did not obey Me and they did not follow it, but followed their own heart and followed the Baalim, as their fathers had taught them.  Assuredly thus says says the LORD of Hosts, he God of Israel:  I am going to feed that people wormwood and make them drink a bitter draft.  I will scatter them among nations which their fathers never knew; and I will dispatch the sword after them until I have consumed them.

–Jeremiah 9:11b-15, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

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The assigned Psalms speak of God as the defender of the righteous.  They also, like the lections from Jeremiah and Matthew, mention God’s destructive side.  One ethic–obey God’s rules and stay on the good side of God or disobey them and suffer the consequences–unites these readings.  There is suffering for righteous deeds sometimes, of course, as the examples of Jesus and uncounted martyrs attest, but it is better to suffer for being on God’s side.

We need to avoid false generalizations, such as those found in Prosperity Theology.  There is no metaphysical righteousness machine whereby one inserts the coins of holiness and receives an automatic reward, a sort of quid pro quo.  We cannot buy grace.  If we could do so, it would not be grace.  Also, bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people.  The strong element of human free will, applied for nefarious ends, has warped societies, cultures, and subcultures.

But nothing so warped lasts forever.  The readings from Jeremiah and Matthew come from cultures which ceased to exist a long time ago.  And people have changed, altering their societies, cultures, and subcultures with them.  The modern Civil Rights Movement in the United States of America comes to mind immediately.  Yes, many attitudes are slow to change in some circumstances, but hope for repentance remains.  From that fact I derive much hope.

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/jeremiah-and-matthew-part-v-hope-amid-judgment/

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Devotion for October 7, 8, and 9 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   3 comments

John_Martin_-_Sodom_and_Gomorrah

Above:  The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, by John Martin

Image in the Public Domain

Deuteronomy and Matthew, Part IX:  God’s Wrath

WEDNESDAY-FRIDAY, OCTOBER 7, 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 6:10-25 (October 7)

Deuteronomy 7:1-19 (October 8)

Deuteronomy 8:1-20 (October 9)

Psalm 5 (Morning–October 7)

Psalm 42 (Morning–October 8)

Psalm 89:1-18 (Morning–October 9)

Psalms 84 and 29 (Evening–October 7)

Psalms 102 and 133 (Evening–October 8)

Psalms 1 and 33 (Evening–October 9)

Matthew 9:18-38 (October 7)

Matthew 10:1-23 (October 8)

Matthew 10:24-42 (October 9)

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The God of Deuteronomy 6-8 is a fearsome warrior, one who tells people in stern tones to obey–OR ELSE.  And, to complicate matters further, genocide (allegedly approved of by God) is part of the mix.  So destruction for godless ways is a prominent theme there.  I choose not to repeat my detailed disapproval of such material as being inconsistent with the Golden Rule, for I have written of it many times.

Jesus, in Matthew 9:18-10:42, heals people, raises a girl from the dead, sends his twelve Apostles on a mission (with detailed instructions), and tells them to leave unbelievers to God’s wrath.  I notice that they are not do anything to those who reject them.  And I cannot escape mention of God’s wrath in the material for these days.

Jesus,as I think of him automatically, was a generally jolly fellow who used humor to cope with great stresses and sorrows.  He was fully human, I affirm, and we humans need humor.  So I imagine him and his Apostles sharing jokes, perhaps the following one among them:

Q:  How many Pharisees does it take to change oil lamp?

A:  One one, but he never does it on the Sabbath.

Yet I know that the darker, more serious side of the Gospel message was always there.  I affirm this also, without the genocide and with more forgiveness than in Deuteronomy 6-8.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 2, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT SIGISMUND OF BURGUNDY, KING; SAINT CLOTILDA, FRANKISH QUEEN; AND SAINT CLODOALD, FRANKISH PRINCE AND ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINT ATHANASIUS OF ALEXANDRIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF JAMES LEWIS MILLIGAN, HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCULF OF NANTEUIL, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/deuteronomy-and-matthew-part-ix-gods-wrath/

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Devotion for September 11 and 12 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Crucifix

Above:  A Crucifix

Image Source = Benutzer HoKaff

Hatred and Violence

FRIDAY AND SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 11 AND 12, 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:

2 Chronicles 29:1-24 (September 11)

2 Chronicles 31:1-21 (September 12)

Psalm 89:1-18 (Morning–September 11)

Psalm 97 (Morning–September 12)

Psalms 1 and 33 (Evening–September 11)

Psalms 16 and 62 (Evening–September 12)

Philippians 3:1-21 (September 11)

Philippians 4:1-23 (September 12)

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The 2006 Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod Daily Lectionary has led me through Philippians for a few posts, ending with this one.  Thus time the other main readings come from 2 Chronicles.  I have combined these lections because

  1. They seem repetitive to me, and
  2. They abound with mind-numbing details which seem meaningless to me in the context of the cross of Christ.

As much as I reject the idea that God smote nations for idolatry and sent them into exile, I also reject Penal Substitutionary Atonement.  I reject both for the same reason:  They make God look like a thug.  I do not worship a thug.

Yet turning back to God is always positive.  That was what King Hezekiah did.  And that was what Paul encouraged, even if he did resort to invective, calling advocates of circumcision “dogs” in Philippians 3:2.

The God of my faith is the one who, in the Resurrection of Jesus, demonstrated the power to thwart evil plans.  The God of my faith is the one who hears prayer requests and who

will supply all your needs out of the magnificence of his riches in Christ Jesus.

–Philippians 4:19, Revised English Bible

The God of my faith is the one whose servant St. Paul the Apostle urged his friends at Philippi to focus on

…all that is true, all that is noble, all that is just and pure, all that is lovable and attractive, whatever is excellent and admirable….

–Philippians 4:8, Revised English Bible

That is excellent advice everyday, but especially on and around September 11, now the anniversary of a date which will live in infamy. Violence in the name of God is not sacred, for the love of God is incompatible with “sacred” violence.  Yes, self-defense is necessary sometimes, but let us never mistake such a sad and imposed duty for a sacred task.  What will it profit a person to return hatred for hatred?  He or she will lose his or her soul and not bring glory the executed and resurrected Lord and Savior, who overcame hatred and violence with divine power and love.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 3, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF NICHOLAS KASATKIN, ORTHODOX ARCHBISHOP OF ALL JAPAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANSKAR, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF HAMBURG-BREMEN

THE FEAST OF GIOVANNI PIERLUIGI DA PALESTRINA, COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF MILLARD FULLER, FOUNDER OF HABITAT FOR HUMANITY

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/hatred-and-violence/

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Devotion for August 13 and 14 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   2 comments

Above:  Mountains of Gilboa

Image Source = Library of Congress

1 Samuel and 1 Corinthians, Part VI:  Self-Control

2 Samuel and 1 Corinthians, Part I:  Self-Control

THURSDAY AND FRIDAY, AUGUST 13 AND 14, 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 31:1-13 (August 13)

2 Samuel 1:1-27 (August 14)

Psalm 42 (Morning–August 13)

Psalm 89:1-18 (Morning–August 14)

Psalms 102 and 133 (Evening–August 13)

Psalms 1 and 33 (Evening–August 14)

1 Corinthians 7:1-24 (August 13)

1 Corinthians 7:25-40 (August 14)

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Paul expected Jesus to return quite soon.   So, regarding marriage and sexuality, he advised people to remain as they were–single or married–and to place matters of God above those of the desires of one’s spouse or body.  He advised self-control while acknowledging the goodness of sexuality.  But even a good thing, not controlled, can become a distraction.

Along the way Paul wrote a number of statements one will not hear at a wedding ceremony.

To the unmarried and to widows I say this:  it is a good thing if like me they stay as they are; but if they lack self-control, they should marry.  It is better to be married than to burn with desire.

–Verses 8-9, Revised English Bible

In other words,

Marriage:  At least it is not fornication.

And we read at the end of the chapter:

Thus he who marries his betrothed does well, and he who does not marry does better.

–Verse 38, Revised English Bible

The main idea, that one must not become and/or remain distracted from God’s call on one’s life, unites the chapter.  And sexuality is a powerful human drive; it does ensure the continuation of the species and provide much pleasure.  But it, like so much else, can become a distraction from one’s divine vocation(s).

The theme of self-control continues in 1 and 2 Samuel.  Saul had tried more than once to kill David.  And the monarch had ordered the killing of people who had helped the former shepherd.  Yet David had refused to kill Saul when he had opportunities to do so.  He even lamented not only his friend, Jonathan, but Saul, after they died.  David’s self-control relative to Saul was remarkable.  It is a model to emulate.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 22, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK PRATT GREEN, BRITISH METHODIST MINISTER, POET, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF BARTHOLOMEW ZOUBERBUHLER, ANGLICAN PRIEST

THE FEAST OF PAUL TILLICH, LUTHERAN THEOLOGIAN

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/05/27/1-samuel-and-1-corinthians-part-vi2-samuel-and-1-corinthians-part-i-self-control/

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Proper 14, Year C   12 comments

Above:  The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., 1964

Photograph by Dick DeMarsico, World Telegraph and Sun

Image Source = Library of Congress

Active, Abrahamic Faith

The Sunday Closest to August 10

Ninth Sunday After Pentecost

AUGUST 11, 2019

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 1:1, 10-20 and Psalm 50:1-8, 23-24

or 

Genesis 15:1-6 and Psalm 33:12-22

then 

Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16

Luke 12:32-40

The Collect:

Grant to us, Lord, we pray, the spirit to think and do always those things that are right, that we, who cannot exist without you, may by you be enabled to live according to your will; 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:

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/21/prayer-of-praise-and-adoration-for-the-twelfth-sunday-after-pentecost/

Prayer of Confession:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/21/prayer-of-confession-for-the-twelfth-sunday-after-pentecost/

Prayer of Dedication:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/21/prayer-of-dedication-for-the-twelfth-sunday-after-pentecost/

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We human beings use the same word in different ways, with a variety of meanings.  Consider, O reader, the word “day,” for example.  People say,

In my day…

and

Back in the day…,

as well as

There is a new day coming.

Or “day” might apply literally, as in when today separates yesterday from tomorrow.

The same principle applies to “faith” in the New Testament.  The Apostle Paul, in Romans, used it to mean something inherently active, which leads to works.  A Pauline formula is that as a person thinks, so he or she is.  The Letter of James contains a different definition, that of intellectual assent to a proposition or set of propositions.  So, according to that definition, faith without works is dead.  Both epistles agree on the imperative of active faith, so one need not imagine a discrepancy between their conclusions.

And there is the definition of faith from Hebrews 11:1-3:

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  Indeed, by faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is was made from things that are not visible.

New Revised Standard Version

In other words, faith applies in circumstances in which one can neither prove nor disprove a proposition according to scientific methods or documentary evidence.  That is an anachronistic definition, I know, but it works well.  Science can tell us much; I respect it and reject all anti-scientific sentiments and statements.  God gave us brains; may we use them as fully and critically as possible.  And documents form the basis of the study of history as I practice it.  Objective historical accuracy and the best scientific data available ought to override dogma, superstition, and bad theology.  So, no matter what the Gospels say, demon possession does not cause epilepsy, for example.  Yet there does exist truth which these twin standards of modernism (as opposed to postmodernism) cannot measure.  Such truth is good theology, which one can grasp by faith.

We read in Hebrews of the faithful example of Abram/Abraham (and by implication, of Sarai/Sarah), which harkens back to Genesis.  Theirs is a fantastical story, one which challenges understandings of biology.  But that is not the point.  The point is that God does unexpected things, and that the people of God should accept this reality.  And whether a certain unexpected thing is good news or bad news depends upon one’s spiritual state, as in Luke 12.

The reading from Isaiah 1 caught and held my attention most of all.  I, as an observant Episcopalian, am an unrepentant ritualist.  The text does not condemn ritualism itself.  No, the text damns insincere ritualism mixed with the neglect of vulnerable members of society:

Wash yourselves clean;

Put your evil things

Away from my sight.

Cease to do evil;

Learn to do good.

Devote yourselves to justice;

Aid the wronged.

Uphold the rights of the orphan;

Defend the cause of the widow.

–Isaiah 1:16-17, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

Do it or else, the text says.  This is a call to society; Enlightenment notions of individualism do not apply here.  The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1967, called for

…a true revolution of values

from a society focused on things to one which places the priority on people.  In the same speech, the one in which he opposed the Vietnam War without equivocation, he said:

A nation that continues to spend year after year more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

A Testament of Hope:  The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr.  (Edited by James M. Washington, 1986), page 241

The Prophet Isaiah would  have agreed.

Eternal God, heavenly Father,

you have graciously accepted us as living members

of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ,

and you have fed us with spiritual food

in the sacrament of his Body and Blood.

Send us now into the world in peace,

and grant us strength and courage

to love and serve you

with gladness and singleness of heart;

through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 365

Do we have the Abrahamic faith to do that?  And how much better will our societies be for all their members if we do?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 16, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ALL CHRISTIAN MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS

THE FEAST OF HUGH LATIMER, NICHOLAS RIDLEY, AND THOMAS CRANMER, ANGLICAN MARTYRS

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/05/27/active-abrahamic-faith/

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Devotion for July 17 and 18 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   11 comments

Above:  Hannah Presenting Her Son Samuel to the Priest Eli, by Gerbrand van den Eeckhout

Image in the Public Domain

Building Each Other Up

JULY 17 and 18, 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:

1 Samuel 1:1-20 (July 17)

1 Samuel 1:21-2:17 (July 18)

Psalm 89:1-18 (Morning–July 17)

Psalm 97 (Morning–July 18)

Psalms 1 and 33 (Evening–July 17)

Psalms 16 and 62 (Evening–July 18)

Galatians 5:1-26 (July 17)

Galatians 6:1-18 (July 18)

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Hannah’s worth as a human being and as a woman had nothing to do with her reproductive system.  Yet at least one other person (Peninnah) thought that it did, and the stress of the situation affected Hannah negatively.  That spiritual crisis was real.  That emotional pain was real.  And God relieved both.

My brief summary of Galatians 5 and 6 follows:

Christian liberty carries with it the obligation to love one’s neighbor as one loves oneself:  to think of others more than oneself (without harming oneself needlessly), to seek the common good, to help others shoulder their burdens, to relieve others of other burdens, to practice to fruit of the Holy Spirit, which The New Jerusalem Bible, in 5:22-23, lists as “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

I prefer to focus on the positive (the “you shall” list) rather than on the negative (the “you shall not” list) for three reasons:

  1. Listing what is forbidden does not necessarily indicate what is allowed;
  2. Focusing on the negative portrays morality in a bad light; and
  3. Focusing on the positive fills one’s time with good attitudes and deeds.

The positive deeds we are free to do entail building each other up, not tearing each other down.  In contrast, Peninnah tore Hannah down.  Then God built her up.

Sometimes it is easier to say that one ought to be gentle than it is to be gentle, for some human beings (often unintentionally) make that difficult.  I have faced this challenge and not always done as well as I should.  Yet I remain mindful of the goal, toward which I continue to press, by grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 7, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT VICTRICIUS OF ROUEN, ROMAN CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR AND ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT SIXTUS II, BISHOP OF ROME, AND HIS COMPANIONS, MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF JOHN MASON NEALE, FOUNDER OF THE SISTERHOOD OF SAINT MARGARET

THE FEAST OF MARION HATCHETT, LITURGIST AND EPISCOPAL PRIEST

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/05/03/building-each-other-up/

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Devotion for June 18, 19, and 20 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   3 comments

Above:  First Phonograph

Image Source = Library of Congress

Proverbs and John, Part VII:  Like a Broken Record

JUNE 18-20, 2021

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

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

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

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Proverbs 20:5-25 (June 18)

Proverbs 22:1-21 (June 19)

Proverbs 22:22-23:12 (June 20)

Psalm 42 (Morning–June 18)

Psalm 89:1-18 (Morning–June 19)

Psalm 97 (Morning–June 20)

Psalms 102 and 133 (Evening–June 18)

Psalms 1 and 33 (Evening–June 19)

Psalms 16 and 62 (Evening–June 20)

John 17:1-26 (June 18)

John 18:1-14 (June 19)

John 18:15-40 (June 20)

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I am tiring rapidly of the Book of Proverbs.  Of course I have dipped into it over the years.  And, years ago, I read it from beginning to end as part of a project to read all 78 books of the Slavonic Bible.  Yet the Slavonic Bible project was in the 1990s.  Now, as a daily lectionary takes me through Proverbs again, this time in conjunction with the Gospel of John, I find myself agreeing with the Fourth Gospel and arguing with Proverbs quite often.  Proverbs tends to flit about from topic to topic, saying things like

Put your trust in the LORD and he will deliver you.

–20:22b, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

I reply,

Tell that to Jesus.

The next verse in Proverbs is true, however:

False weights are an abomination to the LORD;

Dishonest scales are not right.

–20:23, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

Today I find myself repeating myself yet again:  Proverbs is excessively optimistic and the Gospel of John subverts certain traditional notions of sin, suffering, and shame, including many in Proverbs.

I will be glad when the lectionary leaves Proverbs behind.  Maybe I will sound less like a broken record…record…record…record…record….record…record…..

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 16, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF RUFUS JONES, QUAKER THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN FRANCIS REGIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH BUTLER, ANGLICAN BISHOP

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/04/24/proverbs-and-john-part-vii-like-a-broken-record/

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