Archive for the ‘Revelation 4’ Tag

Devotion for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday After Proper 29, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Icon of the Apocalypse of John

Above:   Icon of the Apocalypse of John

Image in the Public Domain

God is the Ruler Yet

NOVEMBER 25, 2019

NOVEMBER 26, 2019

NOVEMBER 27, 2019

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The Collect:

O God, our true life, to serve you is freedom, and to know you is unending joy.

We worship you, we glorify you, we give thanks to you for your great glory.

Abide with us, reign in us, and make this world into a fit habitation for your divine majesty,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who reigns with you

and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 53

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The Assigned Readings:

Jeremiah 46:18-28 (Monday)

Isaiah 33:17-22 (Tuesday)

Isaiah 60:8-16 (Wednesday)

Psalm 24 (All Days)

Revelation 21:5-27 (Monday)

Revelation 22:8-21 (Tuesday)

Luke 1:1-4 (Wednesday)

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Lift up your heads, O gates;

lift them high, O everlasting doors;

and the King of glory shall come in.

“Who is this King of glory?”

“The LORD, strong and mighty,

the LORD, mighty in battle.”

Lift up your heads, O gates;

lift them high, O everlasting doors;

and the King of glory shall come in.

“Who is this King of glory?”

“The Lord of hosts,

he is the King of glory.”

–Psalm 24:7-10, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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Here are some thoughts for the time between Proper 29 (Christ the King Sunday) and the First Sunday of Advent.

God wins in the end.  Conquerors fall to other conquerors, who fall to other conquerors.  The faithful who persevere will receive their reward.  Some of them will live long enough to witness the triumph of God in the flesh.  The story of Jesus of Nazareth, attested to by eyewitnesses, contains suffering, death, and resurrection.  The victory of God in that case is one of love and power, not the smiting of enemies, for whom Christ interceded (Luke 23:34).

The Book of Revelation tells of divine creative destruction from Chapters 4 to 20.  Then, in Revelation 21 and 22, God inaugurates the new order.  There is smiting of enemies here, for the deliverance of the oppressed is frequently bad news for unrepentant oppressors.  The new, divine world order, however, contains no oppression.

That divine order has not become reality yet, of course.  Nevertheless, as the Reverend Maltbie Davenport Babcock (1858-1901) wrote:

This is my Father’s world,

O let my ne’er forget

That though the wrong

Seems oft so strong,

God is the ruler yet.

This is my Father’s world:

The battle is not done;

Jesus who died

Shall be satisfied,

And earth and heaven be one.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 7, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK LUCIAN HOSMER, U.S. UNITARIAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANTHONY MARY GIANELLI, FOUNDER OF THE MISSIONARIES OF SAINT ALPHONSUS LIGUORI AND THE SISTERS OF MARY DELL’ORTO

THE FEAST OF CHARLES AUGUSTUS BRIGGS, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN PASTOR THEN EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROBERT OF NEWMINSTER, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND PRIEST

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2016/06/07/god-is-the-ruler-yet/

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Devotion for Saturday Before Proper 28, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Temple at Jerusalem

Above:   The Temple at Jerusalem

Image in the Public Domain

Optimism and Pessimism

NOVEMBER 16, 2019

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The Collect:

O God, the protector of all who trust in you,

without you nothing is strong, nothing is holy.

Embrace us with your mercy, that with you as our ruler and guide,

we may live through what is temporary without losing what is eternal,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 53

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The Assigned Readings:

Ezekiel 10:1-19

Psalm 98

Luke 17:20-37

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Sing to the LORD a new song,

for he has done marvelous things.

–Psalm 98:1, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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Psalm 98 is the most optimistic reading for this day.  In Ezekiel 10 (carried over into Chapter 11) the Presence of Yahweh departs from Jerusalem, leaving it open to invasion and destruction by foreigners.  The divine Presence remains absent until Ezekiel 43.  In Luke 17:21 the Kingdom of God is present yet persecution and generally dark, eschatological times are en route.  On the other hand, in Luke 18, Jesus encourages his followers to continue praying and never to lose heart.  There is a way through the difficult times while living or dead, and always faithful to God.

The tone of these readings, taken together, fits the time of the church year well.  In the Revised Common Lectionary and several other lectionaries the selected portions of scripture become increasingly apocalyptic during the last few weeks before Advent and into that season.  Some Confessional Lutheran bodies even go so far as to label the last four Sundays of the Season after Pentecost the End Time Season.

May we remember that out of the creative destruction in Revelation 4-20 comes a new creation in Chapters 21 and 22.  Hope in God is real and well-founded, for God will win in the end.

That is a reason for optimism.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 6, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF FRANKLIN CLARK FRY, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED LUTHERAN CHURCH IN AMERICA AND THE LUTHERAN CHURCH IN AMERICA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CLAUDE OF BESANCON, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, MONK, ABBOT, AND BISHOP

THE FEAST OF HENRY JAMES BUCKOLL, AUTHOR AND TRANSLATOR OF HYMNS

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM KETHE, PRESBYTERIAN HYMN WRITER

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2016/06/06/optimism-and-pessimism/

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Devotion for Monday and Tuesday After Trinity Sunday, Year B (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Holy Trinity Icon--Andrei Rublev

Above:  Icon of the Holy Trinity, by Andrei Rublev

Image in the Public Domain

Discipleship and the Mystery of God

MAY 28 and 29, 2018

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The Collect:

God of heaven and earth,

before the foundation of the universe and the beginning of time

you are the triune God:

Author of creation, eternal Word of creation, life-giving Spirit of wisdom.

Guide us to all truth by your Spirit,

that we may proclaim all that Christ has revealed

and rejoice in the glory he shares with us.

Glory and praise to you,

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 37

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The Assigned Readings:

Numbers 9:15-23 (Monday)

Exodus 25:1-22 (Tuesday)

Psalm 20 (Both Days)

Revelation 4:1-8 (Monday)

1 Corinthians 2:1-10 (Tuesday)

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Some put their trust in chariots and some in horses,

but we will call upon the Name of the LORD our God.

They will collapse and fall down,

but we will arise and stand upright.

–Psalm 20:7-8, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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The doctrine of the Holy Trinity contains much mystery, as it should.  No single passage of scripture teaches the entirety of the doctrine, which theologians cobbled together from verses and interpreted (with much argument) long ago.  Some details remain contentious.  For example, does the Holy Spirit proceed from the Father and the Son or just from the Father?  (This is a difference between Eastern Orthodoxy and most of Western Christianity.)  The answer to that question is irrelevant to me.  Nevertheless, my muscle memory directs me, when reciting the Nicene Creed (even when the ecumenical text omits “and the Son”, to say, “and the Son.”  I am, at least for the purpose of habit, a filioque man.

Perhaps the main purpose of the doctrine of the Trinity (the closest human thought can come to explaining the nature of God) is to discourage explanations.  Maybe the proper response to the doctrine is to accept the mystery inherent in it and to admit that we will never comprehend God fully or anything close to it.

That sense of the mystery of God exists in most of these days’ pericopes.  Although Abraham and God were on a first-name basis in Genesis, according to that book, the depiction of God changed later in the Torah.  In the Book of Exodus God was remote and the holiness of God was lethal to people, according to that text.  We read of God appearing as a cloud and as a pillar of fire.  The Ark of the Covenant, which a pseudo-documentary on the History Channel argued without proof was probably a nuclear reactor, was, according Hebrews scriptures, deadly to anyone who touched it.  And the mystery of God is a topic appropriate for the Apocalypse of John, with its plethora of symbolic language from the beginning to the end.

Jesus, the incarnate form of the Second Person of the Trinity (however the mechanics of that worked; I am preserving the mystery), was approachable, interacting with people and dining in homes.  There was nothing secret about that.  There remains nothing secret about that.  Yet the wisdom of God, manifested in Jesus, remains a secret to many.  Furthermore, many people, including a host of professing Christians, misunderstand that wisdom frequently.  The main reason for this reality, I suspect, is that we humans often see what we want or expect to see, and that God frequently works in ways contrary to our expectations.  The fault is with us, of course, not with God.  Also, the radical message of Jesus, inflammatory nearly 2000 years ago, remains so.  It challenges political, economic, social, and military system.  Many professing Christians are found of these systems and depend upon them.  Following Jesus can be costly, then.

We can know something about the nature of God, but mostly we must embrace the mystery, or else fall into Trinity-related heresies.  Much more important than attempting to explain God is trying to follow God and to act properly in relation to our fellow human beings.  Throughout the pages of the Bible we can find commandments to care for the vulnerable, refrain from exploiting each other, welcome the strangers, love our neighbors as we love ourselves, et cetera.  How human societies would look if more people pursued that agenda is at least as great a mystery as is the Trinity.  We are more likely, however, to find an answer to the former than to the latter in this life.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 14, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MATHILDA, QUEEN OF GERMANY

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2015/03/17/discipleship-and-the-mystery-of-god/

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Week of Proper 28: Wednesday, Year 2   5 comments

Above:  The Vision of John on Patmos

The King Who Endures

NOVEMBER 18, 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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Revelation 4:1-11 (Revised English Bible):

After this I had a vision:  a door stood open in heaven, and the voice that I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said,

Come up here, and I will show you what must take place hereafter.

At once the Spirit came upon me.  There in heaven stood a throne.  On it sat One whose appearance was like jasper or cornelian, and round it was a rainbow, bright as emerald.  In a circle about this throne were twenty-four other thrones, and on them were seated twenty-four elders, robed in white an wearing gold thrones.  From the throne came flashes of lightning and peals of thunder.  Burning before the throne were seven flaming torches, the seven spirits of God, and in front of it stretched what looked a sea of glass or a sheet of ice.

In the centre, round the throne itself, were four living creatures, covered with eyes in front and behind.  The first creature was like a lion, the second like an ox, the third had a human face, and the fourth was like an eagle in flight.  Each of the four living creatures had six wings, and eyes all round and inside them.  Day and night unceasingly they sing:

Holy, holy, holy is God the sovereign of all, who was, and is, and is to come!

Whenever the living creatures give glory and honour and thanks to the One who sits on the throne, who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders prostrate themselves before the One who sits on the throne and they worship him who lives for ever and ever.  As they lay their crowns before the throne they cry:

You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honour and power, because you created all things; by your will they were created and have their being!

Psalm 150 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Hallelujah!

Praise God in his holy temple;

praise him in the firmament of his power.

Praise him for his mighty acts;

praise him for his excellent greatness.

Praise him with the blast of the ram’s-horn;

Praise him with lyre and harp.

Praise him with timbrel and dance;

praise him with strings and pipe.

Praise him with resounding cymbals;

praise him with loud-clanging cymbals.

Let everything that has breath

praise the LORD.

Hallelujah!

Luke 19:11-28 (Revised English Bible):

While they were listening to this, Jesus went on to tell them a parable, because he was now close to Jerusalem and they [the crowd who disapproved of him eating with Zacchaeus] thought the kingdom of God might dawn at any moment.  He said,

A man of noble birth went on a long journey abroad, to have himself appointed king and then return.  But first he called then of his servants and gave each a sum of money, saying, “Trade with this while I am away.”  His fellow-citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, “We do not want this man as our king.”  He returned however as king, and sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, to find out what profit each had made.  The first came and said, “Your money, sir, has increased tenfold.”  ”Well done,” he replied, “you are a good servant, trustworthy in a very small matter, you shall have charge of ten cities.”  The second came and said, “Here is your money, sir; I kept it wrapped up in a handkerchief.  I was afraid of you because you are a hard man:  you draw out what you do not put in and reap what you do not sow.”  ”You scoundrel!”  he replied.  ”I will condemn you out of your own mouth.  You knew me to be a hard man, did you, drawing out what I never put in, and reaping what I did not sow?  Then why did you not put my money on deposit, and I could have claimed it with interest when I came back?”  Turning to his attendants he said, “Take the money from him and give it to the man with the most.”  ”But sir,” they replied, “he has ten times as much already.”  ”I tell you,” he said, “everyone one has will be given more; but whoever has nothing will forfeit even what he has.  But as for those enemies of mine who did not want me for their king, bring them here and slaughter them in my presence.”

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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 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.

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Some Related Posts:

Week of Proper 28:  Wednesday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/26/week-of-proper-28-wednesday-year-1/

Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/09/13/immortal-invisible-god-only-wise/

Not Far Beyond the Sea:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/10/03/not-far-beyond-the-sea/

O God, Our Help in Ages Past:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/07/30/our-god-our-help-in-ages-past/

We Sing for All the Unsung Saints:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/01/27/we-sing-for-all-the-unsung-saints/

Let Saints on Earth in Concert Sing:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/11/09/let-saints-on-earth-in-concert-sing/

A Prayer for the Dead:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/10/15/a-prayer-for-the-dead/

Our Father, By Whose Servants:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/08/11/our-father-by-whose-servants-by-george-wallace-briggs/

For All the Saints:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/08/11/for-all-the-saints-by-william-walsham-how/

Now the Laborer’s Task is O’er:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/09/26/now-the-laborers-task-is-oer/

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The first three chapters of Revelation are relatively straight-forward, given that the book is an apocalypse, and therefore told in symbolic language.  Now, however, in Chapter 4, we begin to encounter denser symbolism.  I opened up commentaries and tried to sort out the symbols.  Along the way I learned three or four ways to interpret some of the same symbols.  In such cases, I have chosen to follow one interpretation.  For the sake of succinctness, we read of God, enthroned in glory and majesty in Heaven.  The martyrs are there, as is the Holy Spirit in its completeness.  The four living creatures, imagery borrowed from ancient sources and elsewhere in the Bible, see everything.  The living creature like a lion represents the power of the Son of God.  The one like an ox indicates the sacrificial nature of the Son of God.  The living creature with a human face represents the incarnation of the Son of God.  And the one like an eagle in flight symbolizes the gift of the Holy Spirit.  God, the center of attention, is sovereign.

We turn now to the reading from Luke.  Archelaus and two brothers inherited parts the “kingdom” of their father, Herod the Great, when he died in 4 B.C.E.  But Archelaus, in order to claim his inheritance, had to visit his overlord, the Emperor Augustus.  He was the figure on whom Jesus based the king in Luke 19.  The setting for the Parable of the Pounds (similar to the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30) is after our Lord’s visit with Zacchaeus at Jericho but prior to his Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem.  So the standard interpretation of the parable is, “Choose Jesus, or else!”  Yet I cannot bring myself to identify the king in the parable with God.

The lectionary readings for this day present us with conflicting types of kingship:  omnipotent and benevolent (in Revelation) and cruel and subject to higher human authority (in Luke).  The former is forever, but the latter is temporal.  Archelaus, despite the power he wielded, died.  His position in life depended on the identity of his father and the favor of the Roman Emperor, two factors he could not determine.  He was a glorified governor or procurator.  And, as far as I can tell, he is mostly forgotten these days; I, an eager student of history, had to look him up.

God endures.  Thanks be to God!

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/05/10/the-king-who-endures/