Archive for the ‘Psalm 87’ Tag

Devotion for Proper 29 (Year D)   1 comment

christ-pantocrator-icon

Above:  Icon of Christ Pantocrator

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Christ the King

NOVEMBER 22, 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:

Obadiah 1-21

Psalms 87 and 117

John 12:17-19, 37-50

1 Corinthians 15:27-34 (35-38) 39-41 (42-58)

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The resurrection of Jesus overlaps with Christ the King Sunday in Year D.  I like that liturgical year.

The power of God, in whom we need to rely, is a theme present in the assigned readings.  This power is evident in Jesus; that is no surprise.  Furthermore, all temporal substitutes for God–geography, international alliances, et cetera–are woefully inadequate.

The fear of certain Pharisees in John 12:19b is

Look, the world has gone after him!

The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

If only that were true!  I am not oblivious to reality; I do not mistake superficial observance for discipleship.  I also know that, overall, the rate of discipleship in the Western world is declining.  An accurate reading of U.S. history reveals the fact that a substantial proportion of the population has always been non-observant.  Nevertheless, the current situation is not a return to historical patterns.  One can make similar generalizations about other parts of the Western world.  Nevertheless, I am optimistic; God is in charge and no human resistance or indifference can halt the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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/christ-the-king-2/

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Devotion for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday After Proper 15, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Star of David

Above:  The Star of David

Image in the Public Domain

The Gifts of the Jews

AUGUST 17-19, 2020

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The Collect:

God of all peoples, your arms reach out to embrace all those who call upon you.

Teach us as disciples of your Son to love the world with compassion and constancy,

that your name may be known throughout all the earth,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 45

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The Assigned Readings:

2 Kings 5:1-14 (Monday)

Isaiah 43:8-13 (Tuesday)

Isaiah 66:18-23 (Wednesday)

Psalm 87 (All Days)

Acts 15:1-21 (Monday)

Romans 11:13-29 (Tuesday)

Matthew 8:1-13 (Wednesday)

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Glorious things of thee are spoken,

Zion, city of our God;

He whose word cannot be broken

Formed thee for His own abode:

On the Rock of Ages founded,

What can shake thy sure repose?

With salvation’s walls surrounded,

Thou mayst smile at all thy foes.

–John Newton, 1779, quoted in The Hymnal (1895), Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.

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That magnificent hymn, keyed to Psalm 87, fits well with the assigned Isaiah readings, which speak of the Jews as playing a pivotal role in the salvation of the Gentiles.  And the cure of an enemy general’s skin disease comes via a Hebrew servant girl in 2 Kings 5.  In the time of Christ many Gentiles recognized the superiority of the Jewish faith to pagan mythology.  Our Lord and Savior acknowledged the faith of some of them and the early Church decided not to require Gentiles to become Jews before becoming Christians formally.

These were difficult issues because they were matters of identity, something which takes a negative form much of the time.  “I am not…” is a bad yet commonplace starting point for individual and collective identity.  “We are not Gentiles; we are the Chosen People” is as objectionable an identity as is “We are not Jews; we are Christians, who have a faith superior to theirs.”  Examples and rejections of both errors exist in the pages of the Bible.  My encounters with Jews have been positive, I am glad to say, but I have heard the second error repeatedly.

The question in Acts 15 was whether Gentiles had to become Jews to join the Church, thus it concerned male circumcision, a matter of Jewish identity and strong emotions then and now.  The early Church and St. Paul the Apostle, who never ceased being Jewish, favored not placing obstacles in the way of faithful people.  They favored a generous, inclusive policy which, ironically, functioned as an example of excessive leniency in the minds of conservative thinkers.  How much tradition should the nascent Church–still a small Jewish act at the time–retain?  Who was a Jew and who was not?  Keeping laws and traditions was vital, many people argued.  Had not being unobservant led to national collapse and exiles centuries before?

Unfortunately, Anti-Semitism has been a repeating pattern in Christian history.  The writing of the four canonical Gospels occurred in the context of Jewish-Christian tensions, a fact which, I am sure, shaped the telling of the first four books of the New Testament.  Jesus engaged in controversies with religious leaders, I affirm, but how could the conflicts of early Christianity not influence the telling of those stories?  Sometimes I read these accounts and recognize that misreading of them has had devastating effects on uncounted numbers of people over nearly two thousand years and sit in silence and absolute sadness.  On other occasions I focus on other aspects of these accounts.

St. Paul the Apostle offered sage advice.  Gentiles are a branch grafted onto a tree, he wrote.  That branch ought not to consider itself superior to the other branches.  As for the tree itself, I have only respect for the Jews and Judaism, for salvation is of the Jews.  Besides, I, as a Gentile and a Christian, have much to learn from those whom Pope John Paul II called the elder brethren in faith.  To that end I read and study as I thank God for all the gifts of the Jews.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 15, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF RUTH, ANCESTOR OF KING DAVID

THE FEAST OF SAINT BONAVENTURE, THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT SWITHUN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF WINCHESTER

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/07/20/the-gifts-of-the-jews/

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Week of Proper 21: Tuesday, Year 1   11 comments

Above:  Map of Galilee

Image in the Public Domain

Leaving Judgment to God

OCTOBER 1, 2019

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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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Zechariah 8:20-23 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

Thus said the LORD of Hosts:

Peoples and the inhabitants of many cities shall yet come–the inhabitants of one shall go to the other and say, “Let us go and entreat the favor the LORD, let us seek the LORD of Hosts; I will go, too.”  The many peoples and the multitude of nations shall come to seek the LORD of Hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the LORD.

Thus said the LORD of Hosts:

In those days, ten men from nations of every tongue will take hold–they will take hold of every Jew by a corner of his cloak and say, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”

Psalm 87 (1979 Book of Common Prayer): 

1  On the holy mountain stands the city he has founded;

the LORD loves the gates of Zion

more than all the dwellings of Jacob.

2  Glorious things are spoken of you,

O city of our God.

3  I count Egypt and Babylon among those who know me;

behold Philistia, Tyre, and Ethiopia:

in Zion were they born.

4  Of Zion it shall be said, “Everyone was born in her,

and the Most High himself shall sustain her.”

5  The LORD will record as he enrolls the peoples,

“These also were born there.”

6  The singers and the dancers will say,

“All my fresh springs are in you.”

Luke 9:51-56 (The Jerusalem Bible):

Now as the time drew near to be taken up to heaven, he resolutely took the road for Jerusalem and sent messengers ahead of him.  These set out, and they went into a Samaritan village to make preparations for him, but the people would not receive him because he was making for Jerusalem.  Seeing this, the disciples James and John said,

Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to burn them up?

But he turned and rebuked them, and they went off to another village.

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The Collect:

O God, you declare your almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity: Grant us the fullness of your grace, that we, running to obtain your promises, may become partakers of your heavenly treasure; 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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Jerusalem figures prominently in all this day’s readings.  Psalm 87 speaks of God sustaining Jerusalem, a city, which, according to Zechariah 8, will become a magnet for international pilgrims. Then there is Jesus in Luke 9:51.  The standard English translation of that verse says that he set his face toward Jerusalem.  William Barclay renders that verse to say that Jesus “fixed his face firmly to go to Jerusalem,” while The Jerusalem Bible says that our Lord “resolutely took the road for Jerusalem.”  He and his Apostles were pilgrims, too, but their journey was no mere pilgrimage.  (I write these words on Monday in Holy Week 2011, so the culmination is very much on my mind.)

As Jesus and company set out they face immediate opposition from Samaritans.  Members of a previous generation of Samaritans obstructed the construction of the Second Temple, a fact of which many observant Jews in Jesus’ time were aware.  In fact, many Jews of our Lord’s time and place despised Samaritans, and many Samaritans reciprocated.  Jesus, however, spoke once of a Good Samaritan.  On another occasion he healed a Samaritan leper.  In the Gospel of John our Lord spoke at length to a Samaritan woman.  If he had a problem with Samaritans, he kept it to himself.

As Jesus  set out from Galilee and passed through Samaria en route to Jerusalem, he took a direct route to that holy city.  And he kept moving along when he and his Apostles faced rejection by some local Samaritans.   His actions are consistent with his instructions in Luke 10:11-12:  When a town does not welcome one of his disciples, that disciple ought to depart that town and leave judgment to God.

The Gospels record instances of Jesus condemning holier-than-thou religious figures and speaking ill of Roman puppet leaders.  Yet they also include a multitude of stories of our Lord associating with social outcasts and forgiving repentant sinners.  His mission was one primarily one of restoring people to wholeness (including in their community settings) rather than condemnation.  We who claim the label “Christian” need to keep this lesson in mind and to act accordingly.

So may we go about the business God has given us while leaving judgment to God.  There is much work to do, and there are many people forgive and help lead to wholeness.  We can stand up for what is right and good without uttering a harsh word.  I think of Father Joe, by Tony Hendra.  The eponynomous Catholic priest in that book never excused that of which he disapproved, but neither did he utter any derogatory words while expressing himself, at least in Hendra’s presence.

Jesus calls us to be positive influences where and when we are.  You might know or know of someone who self-identifies as Christian but who is prone to eruptions of spiritual negativity laced with presumptions of know-it-allism.  I do.  Without questioning the sincerity of these individuals, I propose that they, in their attitudes, hurt the cause they seek to advance.

I do not know what God’s judgment upon the residents of that Samaritan village was, but that is none of my business.  Nor was not the proper concern of James and John.  It is the proper concern of God, who is also prone to extravagant and scandalous mercy.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/10/25/leaving-judgment-to-god/