Archive for the ‘Psalm 71’ Tag

Devotion for Proper 26, Year B (Humes)   1 comment

Above:  Christ Giving Sight to Bartimaeus, by William Blake

Image in the Public Domain

Spiritual Blindness

NOVEMBER 1, 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 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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Numbers 13:1-2, 17-32 or 2 Kings 5:1-17

Psalm 71:1-12

Hebrews 11

Mark 10:46-52

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Proper faith is optimistic, not foolish.  It acknowledges difficulties and trusts in God.  Proper faith casts out improper fear.

The story of blind Bartimaeus (Son of Timaeus, literally) is instructive.  In the context of the Gospel of Mark, it immediately precedes the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem (Mark 11).  One may state that Bartimaeus to follow Jesus at a very difficult time.  The character’s physical blindness functions as a commentary on the spiritual blindness of the Apostles earlier in Chapter 10.  One may conclude that, for Jesus, healing physical blindness was easier than healing the spiritual blindness of people around him.

The most basic commandment of Jesus to take one’s cross and follow him.  The details of that order vary person to person, depending on who, where, and when one is.  The principle is timeless, though.

May God forgive all of us for our spiritual blindness and heal us, so that we may follow him as well as possible.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 26, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ANNE AND JOACHIM, PARENTS OF SAINT MARY OF NAZARETH

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2019/07/26/spiritual-blindness-part-iv/

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This is post #950 of ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS.

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Devotion for Proper 27 (Year D)   1 comment

icon-of-the-crucifixion

Above:  Icon of the Crucifixion

Image in the Public Domain

The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Part IX

NOVEMBER 10, 2019

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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 2:1-13 or Isaiah 48:1-22

Psalm 71:15-24

Matthew 27:31b-56 or Mark 15:20b-44 or Luke 23:33-49 or John 19:17-30

Romans 13:1-7; 14:13-23

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Romans 13:1-7 is a troublesome passage.  Should one always submit to government?  Some of my heroes from the past include those who helped slaves escape to freedom in violation of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 and sheltered Jews or helped them escape in defiance of the Third Reich.  Besides, merely obeying law is what Kohlberg called Conventional Morality, which is not the highest form of morality on that scale, nor should it be.

Anyhow, reading Romans 13:1-7 on the same day with the crucifixion of Jesus seems ironic.

The readings, taken together, point toward mercy.  Even the judgment of God, as in Nahum 2:1-13, exists in the context of mercy for the rescued.  The mighty acts of God also testify to mercy.  And the death of Jesus does too.  One should, of course, complete that story with the resurrection, or else one will have a dead Jesus perpetually.  Sometimes mercy requires defiance of civil authority; so be it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 21, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE TWENTY-FIFTH DAY OF ADVENT

THE FEAST OF SAINT THOMAS THE APOSTLE, MARTYR

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2016/12/21/the-passion-of-our-lord-jesus-christ-part-ix/

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Proper 16, Year C   9 comments

Bonfire

Above:  A Bonfire

Image Source = Fir0002

A Consuming Fire

The Sunday Closest to August 24

Eleventh Sunday After Pentecost

AUGUST 25, 2019

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The Assigned Readings:

Jeremiah 1:4-10 and Psalm 71:1-6

or 

Isaiah 58:9b-14 and Psalm 103:1-8

then 

Hebrews 12:18-29

Luke 13:10-17

The Collect:

Grant, O merciful God, that your Church, being gathered together in unity by your Holy Spirit, may show forth your power among all peoples, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/23/prayer-of-praise-and-adoration-for-the-fourteenth-sunday-after-pentecost/

Prayer of Confession:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/23/prayer-of-confession-for-the-fourteenth-sunday-after-pentecost/

Prayer of Dedication:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/23/prayer-of-dedication-for-the-fourteenth-sunday-after-pentecost/

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Many passages in the Bible speak of the imperative of obeying God.  Among them is Hebrews 12:18-29, which includes the promise of destruction for disobedience and concludes with

For our God is a consuming fire.

–12:29, The New Jerusalem Bible

That is scary, is it  not?

The Law of Moses is clear:  Anyone who works on the Sabbath day has earned a death sentence:

And the Lord said to Moses:  Speak to the Israelite people and say:  Nevertheless you must keep My sabbaths, for this is a sign between Me and you throughout the ages, that you may know that I the LORD have consecrated you.  You shall keep the sabbath, for it is holy for you.  He who profanes it shall be put to death:  whoever does work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his kin.  Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be a sabbath of complete rest, holy to the LORD:  whoever does work on the sabbath day shall be put to death.  The Israelite people shall keep the sabbath, observing the sabbath throughout the ages as a covenant between Me and the people of Israel.

–Exodus 31:12-17a, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures 

(Fortunately this law does not apply to me, a Christian.  As I understand theology, the cultural details of the Law of Moses are not universal principles for all time.)

Jesus, a Jew, lived under occupation in his homeland.  One way the Jews of the time, a minority in the Roman Empire, retained and asserted their identity was to keep religious laws.  But there were Jewish sects, some of which disagreed with each other strongly, and therefore there was a multiplicity of interpretations of religious laws.  So, did Jesus violate the Sabbath laws when he healed on that day?  He did not think so, and I side with him:  Every day of the week is a good day to commit good deeds.

The readings for this Sunday speak of the imperative of repenting, literally turning around.  The prophets Jeremiah and Isaiah (all the Isaiahs) decried a variety of sins, from committing idolatry to exploiting the poor economically.  Observing holy rituals did not fool God into thinking that perpetrators of these perfidious acts were righteous, the prophets said correctly.  The Temple system at the time of Jesus was corrupt, demanding offerings from those who could not spare the money.  Jesus, of course, opposed that system.

Another there running through these readings is one which becomes clearer after one reads the lections in their literary contexts:  Many of those who consider themselves religious insiders, people close to God, are fooling themselves.  And many of the alleged outsiders are really insiders.

The God of these readings is the deity who cares for the widows and the orphans, executes judgment for the oppressed peoples, and whose kingdom is like a large, uncontrollable, and frequently unwanted pest of a plant that gives shelter to a variety of species, not all of whom like each other.  This is the God who defines “insider” and “outsider” differently than many people do.  This is the God whose Gospel comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable.  This is the God I recognize in Jesus, who ate with notorious sinners, causing scandal.  This is the God each of us is called to follow.

A New Zealand Prayer Book (1989) offers a fitting conclusion to this post.  In the Eucharistic rite, just after a reading from Scripture, the lector says

Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church.

The congregation replies,

Thanks be to God.

With that in mind, I say

Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church or just to one who reads this post.

Whether or not one who reads this post answers

Thanks be to God

sincerely reveals much about that person’s spiritual state.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 3, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARUTHAS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF MAYPHERKAT AND MISSIONARY TO PERSIA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BERNARD OF PARMA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT FRANCIS XAVIER, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY IN ASIA

THE FEAST OF JOHN OWEN SMITH, UNITED METHODIST BISHOP IN GEORGIA

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/05/27/a-consuming-fire/

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Week of Proper 11: Wednesday, Year 2   10 comments

Above:  The Prophet Jeremiah, According to Michelangelo Buonarroti

A Bearer of Bad News

JULY 22, 2020

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Jeremiah 1:1-10 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

The words of Jeremiah, son of Hilkiah, one of the priests at Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin.  The word of the LORD came to him in the days of King Josiah son of Amon of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign, and throughout the days of Jehoiakim son of Josiah of Judah, and until the end of the eleventh year of King Zedekiah son of Josiah son of Judah, when Jerusalem went into exile in the fifth month.

The word of the LORD came to me:

Before I created you in the womb, I selected you;

Before you were born, I consecrated you;

I appointed you a prophet concerning the nations.

I replied:

Ah, Lord GOD!

I don’t know how to speak,

For I am still a boy.

And the LORD said to me:

Do not say, “I am still a boy,”

But go wherever I send you

And speak whatever I command you.

Have no fear of them,

For I am with you to deliver them

–declares the LORD.

The LORD put out His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me:

Herewith I put My words into your mouth.

See, I appoint you this day

Over nations and kingdoms:

To uproot and to pull down,

To destroy and to overthrow,

To build and to plant.

Psalm 71:1-6, 15-17 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  In you, O LORD, have I taken refuge;

let me never be ashamed.

2  In your righteousness, deliver me and set me free;

incline your ear to me and save me.

3  Be my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe;

you are my crag and my stronghold.

4  Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked,

from the clutches of the evildoer and the oppressor.

5  For you are my hope, O Lord GOD,

my confidence since I was young.

6  I have been sustained by you ever since I was born;

from my mother’s womb you have been my strength;

my praise shall be always of you.

15  My mouth shall recount your mighty acts

and saving deeds all the day long;

though I cannot know the number of them.

16  I will begin with the mighty works of the Lord GOD;

I will recall your righteousness, yours alone.

17  O God, you have taught me since I was young,

and to this day I tell of your wonderful works.

Matthew 13:1-9 (An American Translation):

That same day Jesus went out of his house and was sitting on the seashore.  And such great crowds gathered about him that he got into a boat and sat down in it, while all the people stood on the shore.  And he told them many things in figures, and said to them,

A sower went to sow, and as he was sowing, some of the seed fell by the path and the birds came and ate it up, and some fell on rocky ground where there was not much soil and it sprang up at once, because the soil was not deep, but when the sun came up it was scorched and withered up, because it had no root.  And some of it fell among the thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it out.  And some fell on good soil, and yielded some a hundred, some sixty, and some thirty-fold.  Let him who has ears listen!

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The Collect:

Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have compassion on our weakness, and mercifully give us those things which for our unworthiness we dare not, and for our blindness we cannot ask; through the worthiness of your Son 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 Related Post:

Week of Proper 11:  Wednesday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/01/04/week-of-proper-11-wednesday-year-1/

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Jeremiah was the anti-Moses.  Moses led his people out of bondage in Egypt, into the wilderness, and toward the Promised Land.  Yet Jeremiah proclaimed that very soon there would occur an exile from that Promised Land.  And he had to flee to Egypt, where he most likely died.  Like Moses, Jeremiah protested that he was unqualified.  In each case God overrode that claim with an assurance of the divine presence.  No, Jeremiah was not qualified.  Neither was Moses.  One could make the same case for Isaiah.  But God does not call the qualified; God qualifies the called.

In Jeremiah’s case, God qualified him to utter some foreboding decrees.  This was difficult, dangerous, and unpopular work.  The call of God took quite a toll on the weeping prophet.  Sometimes suffering results from obedience, not disobedience to God.

This post is the first in which I will follow the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah via the adapted Canadian Anglican lectionary in the U.S. Episcopal Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints.  I invite you, O reader, to join me in this journey.  There will be much uncomfortable content to consider.  One lesson I have learned over years of reading, studying, and pondering the Bible is this:  There is a plethora of uncomfortable material there.

There is an old, perhaps apocryphal story about a woman who spent much of her time on the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) lecture circuit before the ratification of the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  She visited one town, where she delivered her standard speech abut the evils of alcohol.  God wants us to avoid alcoholic beverages completely, she said.  After the speaker had completed her prepared remarks, she asked if anyone had any questions. A young man, who had listened quietly and politely, raised his hand.  She called on him.

If what you say is true,

he asked,

how do you explain Jesus turning water into wine?

The speaker replied,

I would like him better if he had not done that.

One might have the same feeling about God in subsequent chapters of Jeremiah.  If so, I ask you, O reader, to confront that discomfort head-on, not to dismiss it flippantly.  Turn that discomfort into an opportunity to deepen your spirituality.

KRT

Week of Proper 4: Saturday, Year 2   12 comments

Above:  The Apostle Paul, by Rembrandt van Rijn

Sacrifices

JUNE 6, 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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2 Timothy 4:1-8 (Revised English Bible):

Before God, and before Christ Jesus who is to judge the living and the dead, I charge you solemnly by his coming appearance and his reign, proclaim the message, press it home in season and out of season, use argument, reproof, and appeal, with all the patience that teaching requires.  For the time will come when people will not stand sound teaching, but each will follow his own whim and gather a crowd of teachers to tickle his fancy.  They will stop their ears to the truth and turn to fables.  But you must keep your head whatever happens; put up with hardship, work to spread the gospel, discharge all the duties of your calling.

As for me, my life is already being poured out on the altar, and the hour for my departure is upon me.  I have run the great race, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.  And now there awaits me the garland of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on the great day, and not to me alone, but to all who have set their hearts on his coming appearance.

Psalm 71:8-17 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

8  Let my mouth be full of your praise

and your glory all the day long.

9  Do not cast me off in my old age;

forsake me not when my strength fails.

10  For my enemies are talking against me,

and those who lie in wait for my life take counsel together.

11  They say, “God has forsaken him;

go after him and seize him;

because there is none who will save.”

12  O God, be not far from me;

come quickly to help me, O my God.

13  Let those who set themselves against me to put to shame and be disgraced;

let those who seek to do me evil be covered with scorn and reproach.

14  But I shall always wait in patience,

and shall praise you more and more.

15  My mouth shall recount your mighty acts

and saving deeds all the day long;

though I cannot know the number of them.

16  I will begin with the mighty works of the Lord GOD;

I will recall your righteousness, yours alone.

17  O God, you have taught me since I was young,

and to this day I tell of your wonderful works.

Mark 12:38-44 (Revised English Bible):

There was a large crowd listening eagerly.  As he taught them, he said,

Beware of the scribes, who love to walk up and down in long robes and be greeted respectfully in the street, and to have the chief seats  in synagogues and places of honour at feasts.  Those who eat up the property of widows, while for appearance’s sake they say long prayers, will receive a sentence all the more severe.

As he was sitting opposite the temple treasury, he watched the people dropping their money into the chest.  Many rich people were putting in large amounts.  Presently there came a poor widow who dropped in two tiny coins, together worth a penny.  He called his disciples to him and said,

Truly I tell you:  this poor widow has given more than all those giving to the treasury; for the others who have given had more than enough, but she, with less than enough, has given all that she had to live on.

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The Collect:

O God, your never-failing providence sets in order all things both in heaven and earth:  Put away from us, we entreat you, all hurtful things, and give us those things which are profitable for us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Week of Proper 4:  Saturday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/11/19/week-of-proper-4-saturday-year-1/

 Luke 21 (Parallel to Mark 12): 

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/30/week-of-proper-29-monday-year-1/

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/04/17/when-i-survey-the-wondrous-cross/

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Paul could have had a comfortable life until the end.  He had that kind of life when he persecuted the nascent Jesus movement.  But, when he changed the direction of his life after God intervened, he embarked on a path which entailed spending time in and out of various jails and prisons.   The end came via beheading.

The widow made a great sacrifice of a different sort.  Was her sacrifice necessary?  No.  Did Jesus praise or lament her offering?  As I discuss in the post on the Lukan parallel, I think that he lamented it.  But at least the widow was faithful.

Out of faithfulness people make sacrifices.  So those who tell them to do so have the obligation not to exploit the less fortunate and the the less educated.  Yet the piety of those who make these sacrifices is at least honest, which is more than I can say about the motivation of those who tell them that these sacrifices are necessary and proper.

As for martyrdom, this is the logical result of the combination of certain circumstances and faithful people.  Given the Roman imperial politics of the 60s C.E., Paul’s life could not have ended any other way.  Nero was seeking scapegoats, which he found in the form of Christians.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Father (now Saint) Maximilian Kolbe, by virtue of their active faith , were bound to run afoul of the Nazis in the 1940s.  Jonathan Myrick Daniels, an Episcopal seminarian taking a break from his studies to work for civil rights in Alabama in 1965, took a bullet and gave his life for an African-American young woman he did not know.  His love of God and his neighbors dictated nothing less in that circumstance.

Then there is the example of Jesus, who died on a cross.  “Take up your cross and follow me,” he said.  That was what Paul, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Father (Saint) Maximilian Kolbe, and Jonathan Myrick Daniels did.  It is what God calls us to do, each in the way(s) appropriate to our circumstances, to do.  Grace is free to us, but not cheap.

KRT