Archive for the ‘Psalm 37’ Tag

Week of Proper 17: Thursday, Year 2, and Week of Proper 17: Friday, Year 2   3 comments

Above:  A Bullseye

Image Source = Alberto Barbati

A Different Standard

SEPTEMBER 3 and 4, 2020

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

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FIRST READING FOR THURSDAY

1 Corinthians 3:1-23 (The Jerusalem Bible):

Make no mistake about it:  if any one of you thinks of himself as wise, in the ordinary sense of the word, then he must learn to be a fool before he can be wise.  Why?  Because the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God.  As scripture says:

The Lord knows wise men’s thoughts:  he knows how useless they are;

or again:

God is not convinced by the arguments of the wise.

So there is nothing to boast about in anything human:  Paul, Apollos, Cephas, the world, life and death, the present and the future, are all your servants; but you belong to Christ and Christ belongs to God.

FIRST READING FOR FRIDAY

1 Corinthians 4:1-5 (The Jerusalem Bible):

People must think of themselves as Christ’s servants, stewards entrusted with the mysteries of God.  What is expected of stewards is that each one should be found worthy of his trust.  Not that it makes the slightest difference to me whether you, or indeed any human tribunal, find me worthy or not.  I will not even pass judgement on myself.  True, my conscience does not reproach me at all, but that does not prove that I am acquitted:  the Lord alone is my judge.  There must be no passing of premature judgement.  Leave that until the Lord comes:  he will light up all that is hidden in the dark and reveal the secret intentions of men’s hearts.  Then will be the time for each one to have whatever praise he deserves, from God.

RESPONSE FOR THURSDAY

Psalm 24:1-6 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 The earth is the LORD’s and all that is in it,

the world and all who dwell therein.

For it is who founded it upon the seas

and made it firm upon the rivers of the deep.

“Who can ascend the hill of the LORD?

and who can stand in his holy place?”

“Those who have clean hands and a pure heart,

who have not pledged themselves to falsehood,

nor sworn by what is a fraud.

They shall receive a blessing from the LORD

and a just reward from the God of their salvation.”

Such is the generation of those who seek him,

of those who seek your face, O God of Jacob.

RESPONSE FOR FRIDAY

Psalm 37:1-12 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Do not fret yourself because of evildoers;

do not be jealous of those who do no wrong.

2 For they shall soon wither like the grass,

and like the green grass they fade away.

3 Put your trust in the LORD and do good,

dwell in the land and feed on its riches.

Take delight in the LORD,

and he shall give you your heart’s desire.

Commit your way to the LORD and put your trust in him,

and he will bring it to pass.

He will make your righteousness as clear as the light

and your just dealing as the noonday.

Be still and wait for the LORD

and wait patiently for him.

8  Do not fret yourselves over the one who prospers,

the one who succeeds in evil schemes.

9  Refrain from anger, leave rage alone;

do not fret yourself; it leads only to evil.

10 For evildoers shall be cut off,

but those who wait upon the LORD shall possess the land.

11  In a little while the wicked shall be no more;

you shall search out their place, but they will not be there.

12  But the lowly shall possess the land;

they will delight in abundance of peace.

GOSPEL READING FOR THURSDAY

Luke 5:1-11 (The Jerusalem Bible):

Now he was standing one day by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the crowd pressing round him listening to the word of God, when he caught sight of two boats close to the bank.  The fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets.  He got into one of the boats–it was Simon’s–and asked him to put out a little from the shore.  Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.

When he had finished speaking he said to Simon,

Put out into deep water and pay out your nets for a catch.

Simon replied,

Master, we worked hard all night long and caught nothing, but if you say so, I will pay out the nets.

And when they had done this they netted such a huge number of fish that their nets began to tear, so they signalled to their companions in the other boat to come and help them; when these came, they filled the two boats to sinking point.

When Simon Peter saw this he fell at the knees of Jesus saying,

Leave me, Lord; I am a sinful man.

For he and all his companions were completely overcome by the catch they had made; so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were Simon’s partners;  But Jesus said to Simon,

Do not be afraid; from now on it is men you will catch.

Then, bringing their boats back to land, they left everything and followed him.

GOSPEL READING FOR FRIDAY

Luke 5:33-39 (The Jerusalem Bible):

Then they [the Pharisees and their scribes] said to him [Jesus],

John’s disciples are always fasting and the disciples of the Pharisees too, but yours go on eating and drinking.

Jesus replied,

Surely you cannot make the bridegroom’s attendants fast while the bridegroom is still with them?  But the time will come, the time for the bridegroom to be taken away from them; that will be the time when they will fast.

He also told them this parable,

No one tears a piece from a new cloak to put it on an old cloak; if he does, not only will he have torn the new one, but the piece taken from the new will not match the old.

And nobody puts new wine into old wineskins; if he does, the new wine will burst the skins and then run out, and the skins will be lost.  No; new wine must be put into fresh skins.  And nobody who has been drinking old wine wants new. “’The old is good” he says.

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The Collect:

Lord of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things: Graft in our hearts the love of your Name; increase in us true religion; nourish us with all goodness; and bring forth in us the fruit of good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.

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We human beings are social creatures.  So what others think of us affects us.  Some of us care about these matters more than others do, and I suspect that the person who does not care at all is rare.  If the opinions of certain of our fellow humans are sufficiently negative, we might face criminal sanctions, justifiably or not.  Paul, by 53-54 C.E., had arrived at a spiritual point at which he wrote a text which translates as the following in English:

…the Lord alone is my judge.–1 Corinthians 4:4c

He was still subject to earthly tribunals and penalties, of course, but God alone was the only judge which really mattered.

That is true for each of us, is it not?  If you, O reader, have read continuously in 1 Corinthians to the point of Paul’s line about having only for God for a judge, you should know that it flows naturally and logically from what precedes it.  Human “wisdom” is nothing compared to divine wisdom.  Even divine foolishness is superior to human “wisdom.”  The message of Christ crucified (and resurrected) is therefore either a portal to eternal life or a stumbling block to one, depending on whether one has the mind of Christ.  So yes, it is true that God is the only judge which really matters.

Each of us has secrets.  Each of us commits sins unawares.  Each of us mistakes some activities as being sinful.  Each of us mistakes certain activities as not being sinful.  Often our standards are grounded (at least partially) in our societies, cultures, and subcultures.  And often we miss the mark so much that we are not even close to the bullseye.  Yet with God there is mercy.  There is also judgment, of course.  May we, however, trust God, do the best we can by grace, follow the example of Jesus as best we can by grace, love our neighbors as we love ourselves, and leave the rest to God.

One of the advantages to following a lectionary is that it provides structure to my Bible study.  And one of the joys is that I reread passages I have not encountered in years.  Once, many moons ago, I read every book in the Jewish, Protestant, and Roman Catholic, and Russian Orthodox canons of scripture.  Yet I find myself reading passages now as if it were the first time.  This rediscovery of the Bible is an ongoing process, one which I hope will continue for a long time.  This day’s rediscovered gem comes from 1 Corinthians 4:3.

I will not even pass judgement on myself.

Too often I judge myself, probably more harshly than do many others.  Yet Paul invited the Corinthians to live in liberation from even that verdict.  The invitation stands for us today; dare we accept it?

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/05/04/a-different-standard/

Week of Proper 9: Friday, Year 1   3 comments

Above:  Christ in Majesty, from a Gospel Book, Circa 1220

Image in the Public Domain

God is With the Faithful

JULY 9, 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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Genesis 46:1-7, 28-30 (An American Translation):

So Israel set out with all that belonged to him.  On reaching Beersheba he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac.  In a vision by night God spoke to Israel.

Jacob! Jacob!

he said.

Here I am,

he said.

I am El, the God of your father,

he said;

do not be afraid to go down to Egypt; for there I will make you a great nation.  I will myself go down to Egypt with you–yes, and I will bring you up again, when Joseph’s hand shall close your eyes.

Then Jacob set out from Beersheba; and the sons of Israel conveyed their father Jacob, with their little ones and their wives, in wagons which Pharaoh had sent to convey him.  Taking their live stock and the property which they had acquired in the land of Canaan, Jacob and all his family migrated to Egypt; his sons and his grandsons accompanied him, as well as his grand-daughters; he brought all his family with him into Egpyt.

Israel sent Juday ahead of him to Joseph in Goshen, to appear before him.  On their arrival in the land of Goshen Joseph hitched the horses to his chariot, and went up to meet his father Israel in Goshen.  When he presented himself to him, he fell on his neck, weeping again and again on his neck.

Now at last I may die,

Israel said to Joseph,

after having seen from your very self that you are still alive.

Psalm 37:3-4, 19-20, 28-29, 41-42 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

3 Put your trust in the LORD and do good;

dwell in the land and feed on its riches.

4 Take delight in the LORD,

and he shall give you your heart’s desire.

19 The LORD cares for the lives of the godly,

and their inheritance shall last for ever.

20 They shall not be ashamed in bad times,

and in days of famine they shall have enough.

28 Turn from evil, and do good,

and dwell in the land for ever.

29 For the LORD loves justice;

he does not forsake his faithful ones.

41 But the deliverance of the righteous comes from the LORD;

he is their stronghold in time of trouble.

42 The LORD will help them and rescue them;

he will rescue them from the wicked and deliver them,

because they seek refuge in him.

Matthew 10:16-23 (An American Translation):

[Jesus continued to address his disciples,]

Here I am sending you out like sheep among wolves.  So you must be wise as serpents, and guileless like doves.  But be on your guard against men, for they will give you up to their courts, and have you flogged in their synagogues, and you will be brought before governors and kings on my account, to bear your testimony before them and the heathen.  But when they give you up, you must have no anxiety about how to speak or what to say, for you will be told at the very moment what you ought to say, for it is not you who will speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father that will speak through you.  One brother will give up another to death, and a father his child, and children will turn against their parents, and have them put to death.  You will be hated by everybody on my account, but the man who holds out to the very end will saved.  But when they persecute you in one town, make your escape to another, for I tell you, you will have not gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man arrives.

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The Collect:

O God, you have taught us to keep all your commandments by loving you and our neighbor: Grant us the grace of your Holy Spirit, that we may be devoted to you with our whole heart, and united to one another with pure affection; 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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God is with the faithful, a fact that does not mean bad things will not happen to them because of this faithfulness.  So fidelity to God is not the road to Easy Street.  Jesus died as a criminal.  Almost all of his Apostles died painfully, as martyrs.  St. Paul died of decapitation.  St. Stephen died of stoning.  And, throughout the generations since the time of Jesus, countless saints have entered heaven through the gates of martyrdom and persecution.  Those gates remain open today.

The Gospel of Matthew comes from a time and place of religious persecution.  So the words placed in the mouth of Jesus were as contemporary in 85-90 as they were before the crucifixion.  Most of these sayings are straight-forward and easy to understand, but one does require some explanation.  In Matthew 10:23, the author makes Jesus say, “…for I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man arrives.”

Compare this to Matthew 16:28, in which the author makes Jesus say that some standing in his presence will not die before the coming of the Son of Man in his Kingdom.  And consider Mark 9:1, which quotes Jesus as saying that some in his presence will not die before seeing the coming of the Kingdom of God with power.  Luke 9:27 is quite similar to Mark 9:1.  I write these devotions in a series, so I refer now to an entry from a few days ago:  The Gospel of Matthew establishes that the Kingdom of God/Kingdom of Heaven predates the beginning of the ministry of Jesus. By the time of the writing of the Gospels the Christian message had begun to take root.  So this was the Kingdom of God coming with power.  It is also true that many Christians of the first generation expected Jesus to return within their lifetimes; even the Apostle Paul did.  So the persecuted Church during the 85-90 timeframe grasped at this hope, and this is the best explanation as to why Matthew (or whoever wrote this gospel) quotes Jesus as he does.

Now, for the Hebrew Scriptures….

Joseph did not get into trouble because of his faithfulness, but the Joseph Epic tells of how God used the evil plans of most of his brothers to help Joseph, those brothers, the people of Egypt, and many people in neighboring lands.  The faithful person on whom I focus now is Jacob/Israel, who suffered for years under the lie that his son Joseph was dead.  So imagine his joy when he learned that Joseph was alive and when he met his long-lost son again.  This is an emotional and beautiful scene.

The Bible’s treatment of Gentiles varies from text to text.  Sometimes they are the undesirable people, and frequently persecutors of the Jews.  But many Gentiles receive favorable treatment in both Testaments.  Consider Cyrus the Great of Persia and Cornelius the Centurion, for example.  And think about the unnamed Pharaoh who welcomed Joseph’s family into Egypt, even sending the ancient equivalents of moving vans.

Sometimes Gentiles are allies of the Hebrews/Jews, and sometimes they are pagans and heathens.  By the way, the English words “pagan” and “heathen” have fascinating etymologies.  “Pagan” comes from the Latin word for villager.  And “heathen” is related to “heath,” or field.  So pagans lived in villages and heathens in the boondocks.  Nascent Christianity spread most rapidly in urban centers, and occupants of rural areas tended to cling to old religous ideas.  (Here ends the word history lesson.)

The ultimate good news to take away from these readings is that, through it all and despite how our ordeals end, God is ever-present.  We cannot escape from the presence of God.  So, are we on God’s side?  If we are, God will be on ours.  We will not suffer alone.

I write this devotion on Christmas Eve 2010, so the Navitity of Our Lord is very much on my mind.  This is a joyous occasion, but one not unmarred by foreshadowing of terrible events.  Christmas leads to Good Friday, which yields to Easter.  God was with Jesus, of course.  The Trinity defies human logic (perhaps one purpose of it), but Jesus was God.  (Just appreciate and enjoy the mystery.)  If fidelity to God were the road to Easy Street, the life of Jesus would have been quite different, not including an execution.  But God was with him, just as God was with Jacob/Israel and Joseph, his son.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/god-is-with-the-faithful/