Archive for the ‘YHWH’ Tag

Week of Proper 12: Tuesday, Year 2   Leave a comment

Above:  Jeremiah, from the Sistine Chapel Paintings by Michelangelo Buonarroti

What We Need to Hear

JULY 28, 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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Jeremiah 14:17-22 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

And do you speak to them thus:

Let my eyes run with tears,

Day and night let them not cease,

for my hapless people has suffered

A grievous injury, a very painful wound.

If I go out to the country–

Lo, the slain of the sword.

If I enter the city–

Lo, those who are sick with famine.

Both priest and prophet roam the land,

They know not where.

Have You, then, rejected Judah?

Have You spurned Zion?

Why have you smitten us

So that there we hope for happiness,

But find no good;

For a time of healing,

And meet terror instead?

We acknowledge our wickedness, O LORD–

The iniquity of our fathers–

For we have sinned against You.

For Your name’s sake, do not disown us;

Do not dishonor Your glorious throne.

Remember, do not annul Your covenant with us.

Can any of the false gods of the nations give rain?

Can the skies of themselves give showers?

So we hope in You,

For only You made all these things.

Psalm 79:17-22 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Help us, O God our Savior, for the glory of your Name;

deliver us and forgive us our sins, for your Name’s sake.

10 Why should the heathen say, “Where is their God?”

Let it be known among the heathen and in our sight

that you avenge the shedding of your servant’s blood.

11 Let the sorrowful sighing of the prisoners come before you,

and by your great might spare those who are condemned to die.

12 May the revilings with which they reviled you, O Lord,

return seven-fold into their bosoms.

13 For we are your people and the sheep of your pasture;

we will give you thanks for ever

and show forth your praise from age to age.

Matthew 13:36-43 (J. B. Phillips, 1972):

Later, he left the crowds and went indoors, where his disciples came and said,

Please explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.

Jesus replied,

The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man.  The field is the whole world.  The good seed?  That is the sons of the kingdom, while the weeds are sons of the evil one of this world.  The enemy who sowed them is the devil.  The harvest is the end of this world.  The reapers are angels.

Just as weeds are gathered up and burned in the fire so will it happen at the end of the world.  The Son of Man will send out his angels and they will uproot from the kingdom everything that is spoiling it, and all those who live in defiance of its laws, and will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be tears and bitter regret.  Then the good will shine out like the sun in their Father’s kingdom.  The man who has ears should use them!

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The Collect:

O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal; 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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A Related Post:

Week of Proper 12:  Tuesday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/01/12/week-of-proper-12-tuesday-year-1/

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Jeremiah prophesied in the context of many false prophets who claimed that the Babylonians would not conquer Judah.  Maybe they quoted the Book of Isaiah and interpreted the defeat of the Assyrians as the fulfillment of certain prophesies.  Maybe they understood the Book of Isaiah in that way; perhaps they interpreted it so in public while being insincere.  Regardless of their motivations, however, they were mistaken, as history tells us.

There is a basic psychological explanation for people’s preference for the false prophets instead of Jeremiah:  Good news is more appealing than bad news.  Yet sometimes the bearers of bad news tell us what we need to hear, not what we want to hear.  By grace, may we distinguish between genuine good news and false prophesy, between warnings we ought to heed and unreliable cries that the sky is falling.  The stakes are so high and the costs of making a mistake are severe.

KRT

Week of Proper 9: Thursday, Year 2, and Week of Proper 9: Friday, Year 2   4 comments

The Return of the Prodigal Son

Image Source = FranzMayerstainedglass

Divine Love

JULY 9 and 10, 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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I have decided to combine the posts for Thursday and Friday, Year 2, of the Week of Proper 9 because, upon reading and considering the texts for Friday, I have concluded that I have nothing new to say about them.  The biblical themes keep repeating themselves.

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THE FIRST READING:  THURSDAY

Hosea 11:1-11 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

I fell in love with Israel

When he was still a child;

And I have called [him] My son

Ever since Egypt.

Thus were they called,

But they went their own way;

They sacrifice to Baalim

And offer to carved images.

I have pampered Ephraim,

Taking them in My arms;

But they have ignored

My healing care.

I drew them with human ties,

With cords of love;

But I seemed to them as one

Who imposed a yoke on their jaws,

Though I was offering them food.

No!

They return to the land of Egypt,

And Assyria is their king.

Because they refuse to repent,

A sword shall descend upon their towns

And consume their limbs

And devour [them] because of their designs.

For My people persists

In its defection from Me;

When it is summoned upward,

It does not rise at all.

How can I give you up, O Ephraim?

How surrender you, O Israel?

How can I make you like Admah,

Render you like Zeboiim?

I have had a change of heart,

All My tenderness is stirred.

I will not act on My wrath,

Will not turn to destroy Ephraim.

For I am God, not man,

The Holy One in your midst:

I will not come in fury.

The LORD will roar like a lion,

And they shall march behind Him;

When he roars, His children shall come

Fluttering out of the west.

They shall flutter from Egypt like sparrows,

From the land of Assyria like doves;

And I will settle them in their homes

–declares the LORD.

THE FIRST READING:  FRIDAY

Hosea 14:2-10 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God,

For you have fallen because of your sin.

Take words with you

And return to the LORD.

Say to Him:

Forgive all guilt

And accept what is good;

Instead of bulls we will pay

[The offering of] our lips.

Assyria shall not save us,

No more will we ride on steeds,

Nor ever again will we call

Our handiwork our god,

Since in You alone orphans find pity!

I will heal their affliction,

Generously will I take them back in love;

For My anger has turned away from them.

I will be to Israel like dew;

He shall blossom like the lily,

He shall strike root like a Lebanon tree.

His boughs shall spread out far,

His beauty shall be like the olive tree’s,

His fragrance like that of Lebanon.

They who sit in his shade shall be revived:

They shall bring to life new grain,

They shall blossom like the vine;

His scent shall be like the wine of Lebanon.

Ephraim [shall say]:

What more have I to do with idols?

When I respond and look to Him,

I become like a verdant cyprus.

Your fruit is provided by Me.

He who is wise will consider these words,

He who is prudent will take note of them.

For the paths of the LORD are smooth;

The righteous can walk on them,

While sinners stumble on them.

THE RESPONSE:  THURSDAY

Psalm 80:1-7 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  Hear, O Shepherd of Israel, leading Joseph like a flock;

shine forth, you that are enthroned upon the cherubim.

2  In the presence of Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh,

stir up your strength and come to help us.

3  Restore us, O God of hosts;

show us the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.

4  O LORD God of hosts,

how long will you be angered

despite the prayers of your people?

5  You have fed them with the bread of tears;

you have given them bowls of tears to drink.

6 You have made us the derision of our neighbors,

and our enemies laugh us to scorn.

7  Restore us, O God of hosts;

show us the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.

THE RESPONSE:  FRIDAY

Psalm 51:1-12 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your loving-kindness;

in your great compassion blot out my offenses.

2 Wash me through and through from my wickedness

and cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I know my transgressions,

and my sin is ever before me.

4 Against you only have I sinned

and done what is evil in your sight.

5 And so you are justified when you speak

and upright in your judgment.

Indeed, I have been wicked from my birth,

a sinner from my mother’s womb.

7 For behold, you look for truth deep within me,

and will make me understand wisdom secretly.

Purge me from my sin, and I shall be pure;

wash me, and I shall be clean indeed.

Make me hear of joy and gladness,

that the body you have broken may rejoice.

10 Hide your face from my sins

and blot out all my iniquities.

11 Create in me a clean heart, O God,

and renew a right spirit within me.

12 Cast me not away from your presence

and take not your holy Spirit from me.

THE GOSPEL READING

Matthew 10:7-23 (An American Translation):

[Jesus said to his disciples,]

And as you go about, preach and say, “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!”  Cure the sick, raise the dead, heal lepers, drive out demons.  Give without payment, just as you received without payment.  Do not take gold or silver or copper money in your purses, and do not take a bag for your journey, nor two shirts, nor shoes, nor a staff, for the workman deserves his food!  Whatever town or village you come to, inquire for some suitable person, and stay with him till you leave the place.  And as you go into his house, wish it well.  If the house deserves it, the peace you wish it will come over it, but if it does not deserve it, let your blessing come back upon yourselves.  And where no one will welcome you, or listen to you, leave that house or town and shake off its very dust from your feet.  I tell you, the land of Sodom and Gomorrah will fare better on the Day of Judgment than that town.

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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Some Related Posts:

Week of Proper 9:  Thursday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/23/week-of-proper-9-thursday-year-1/

Week of Proper 9:  Friday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/24/week-of-proper-9-friday-year-1/

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In Hosea we have another metaphor for the relationship between God and the rebellious people:  parent and child.  Despite the ingratitude on one side and anger on the other, divine love remains.  Elsewhere in Hosea we read of God as the jilted husband.  The constant factor, however, is divine love.

So the rebellious people must face the consequences of their actions yet will not face annihilation.  This stands in contrast to other groups, which perished utterly.  As a Christian, I accept that God loved them also.  Yes, the violent depictions of God in the Bible disturb me; I will neither excuse nor ignore them.  My understanding of God comes from the person of Jesus, who said to love one’s enemies and to pray for one’s persecutors.

Nevertheless the main point remains the love of God (expressed via various metaphors) for us.  May we reciprocate.  May we love the image of God in our fellow human beings. This is often difficult, for anger is a powerful emotion.  Yet love is more powerful, not to mention much healthier.

I can think of a few people I need to contemplate in compassionate and loving ways, not with wrath and indignation.  You, O reader, can probably do the same within your context.  Empowered by grace, may we love not only God and those we like, but also those we dislike, perhaps intensely.  God is also their parent.

I think also of the Prodigal Son’s father.  The father, a stand-in for God, permits the foolish son to make his mistakes then to come home.  The father watches for his son, whom he welcomes back into the fold.  Then the other son, the dutiful one who stayed home, did not welcome his brother back, however.  Who are you in this story?  Are you resentful, not greeting those who have amended their ways?  Or have you come to your senses and corrected your ways?  Maybe the parental role fits better.

Divine love does not prevent us from making mistakes or suffering certain consequences of our misdeeds, but it does welcome us home.  May we, who have benefited from such love, extend it to others.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/09/06/reading-and-pondering-hosea-part-four/

Week of Proper 9: Wednesday, Year 2   1 comment

Gallery of the Apostles, Temmenhausen Nikolauskirche

Teachers of Righteousness

JULY 8, 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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Hosea 10:1-15 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

Israel is a ravaged vine

And its fruit is like it.

When his fruit was plentiful,

He made altars aplenty;

When his land was bountiful,

Cult pillars abounded.

Now that his boughs are broken up,

He feels his guilt;

He himself pulls apart his altars,

Smashes his pillars.

Truly, now they say,

We have no king;

For, since we do not fear the LORD,

What can a king do to us?

So they conclude agreements and make covenants

With false oaths,

And justice degenerates into poison weeds,

Breaking out on the furrows of the fields.

The inhabitants of Samaria fear

For the calf of Beth-aven;

Indeed, its people and priestlings,

Whose joy it once was,

Mourn over it for the glory

That is departed from it.

It too shall be brought to Assyria

As tribute to a patron king;

Ephraim shall be chagrined,

Israel shall be dismayed

Because of his plans.

Samaria’s monarchy is vanishing

Like foam upon water,

Ruined shall be the shrines of [Beth-]aven,

That sin of Israel.

Thorns and thistles

Shall grow on their altars.

They shall call to the mountains,

Bury us!

To the hills,

Fall on us!

You have sinned more, O Isreal,

Than in the days of Gibeah.

They shall stand [as] at Gibeah!

Shall not they be overtaken

By a war upon scoundrels

As peoples gather against them?

When I chose [them], I broke them in,

Harnessing them for two furrows.

Ephraim became a trained heifer,

But preferred to thresh;

I placed a yoke

Upon her sleek neck.

I will make Ephraim do advance plowing;

Judah shall do [main] plowing!

Jacob shall do final plowing!

Sow righteousness for yourselves;

Reap the fruits of goodness;

Break for yourselves betimes fresh ground

Of seeking the LORD,

So that you may obtain a teacher of righteousness.

You have plowed wickedness,

You have reaped iniquity–

[And] you shall eat the fruits of treachery–

Because you relied on your way,

On your host of warriors.

But the din of war shall arise in your own people,

And all your fortresses shall be ravaged

As Beth-arbel was ravaged by Shalman

On a day of battle,

When mourners and babes were dashed to death together.

This is what Bethel has done to you

For your horrible wickedness:

At dawn shall Israel’s monarch

Utterly perish.

Psalm 105:1-7 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Give thanks to the LORD and call upon his Name;

make known his deeds among the peoples.

2 Sing to him, sing praises to him,

and speak of his marvelous works.

Glory in his holy Name;

let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.

Search for the LORD and his strength;

continually seek his face.

Remember the marvels he has done;

his wonders and the judgments of his mouth,

O offspring of Abraham his servant,

O childrenof Jacob his chosen.

He is the LORD our God;

his judgments prevail in all the world.

Matthew 10:1-7 (An American Translation):

Then he [Jesus] called his twelve disciples to him, and gave them power over the foul spirits so that they could drive them out, and so that they could heal any disease or illness.

These are the names of the twelve apostles:  first, Simon, who was called Peter, and his brother Andrew, and James the son of Zebedee and his brother John, Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew the tax-collector, James the son of Alpheus and Thaddeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot who afterward betrayed him.

James sent these twelve out, after giving them these directions:

Do not go among the heathen, or to any Samaritan town, but proceed instead to the lost sheep of Israel’s house.  As you go about, preach and say, “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!”

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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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A Related Post:

Week of Proper 9:  Wednesday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/22/week-of-proper-9-wednesday-year-1/

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The pronouncements of judgment continue in Hosea.  Much of the content is familiar and repetitive to a student of the Hebrew Scriptures, so I will not rehash it here.

I am, however, following a lectionary, one which pairs this reading with Matthew 10,  which tells of Jesus empowering his twelve Apostles and sending them out on a mission.  The Apostles were diverse, including two cousins of Jesus, a former Roman tax collector, and a violent revolutionary against the Roman occupation.

Hosea 10:12, in TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures, commands people to sow righteousness for themselves, to reap the fruits of goodness, and break the fallow ground of seeking YHWH “So that you may obtain a teacher of righteousness.”  This is apparently a passage which lends itself to various translations, so that, in the New Revised Standard Version, the command concludes with “that he [YHWH] may come and rain righteousness upon you.”

Teachers of righteousness can come in various shapes and sizes and from various backgrounds. And, when God comes to rain righteousness upon us, the divine methodology might surprise us.  Do we dare even to attempt to look past our preconceived notions and to recognize the methods of God and the identities of teachers of righteousness?

Righteousness is far from an abstract idea.  It is lived, as is orthodoxy.  Theology of a certain variety tells me that orthodoxy is right belief and that orthopraxy is right practice.  But, if Paul was correct regarding faith, faith is active, not just intellectual, and is therefore lived.  Ergo the proper situation is for orthopraxy and orthodoxy to be one and the same.  Do I love my neighbor?  My actions will tell, will they not?  After all, we will know a tree by its fruits.

So, where do we find teachers of righteousness to lead us down the orthodoxy-orthopraxy trail?  The union of these is righteousness.  This righteousness is not individualistic, so that we can feel good and holy while the world around us goes to hell in a handbasket.  No, this righteousness is socially transformative.

Our mission as Christians is to be salt and light–the best salt and the brightest light we can be by grace.  What one person does affects others, and we are God’s, not our own.  May we leave our corner of creation better than we found them.  May we work in the corners of creation God has assigned to each of us.  And may we be teachers of righteousness by words and deeds.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/09/06/reading-and-pondering-hosea-part-three/

Week of Proper 9: Tuesday, Year 2   3 comments

Christ Pantocrator

A Moral Form of Divestiture

JULY 7, 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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Hosea 8:3-14 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

Israel rejects what is good;

An enemy shall pursue him.

They have made kings,

But not with My sanction;

They have made officers,

But not of My choice.

Of their silver and gold

They have made themselves images,

To their own undoing.

He rejects your calf, Samaria!

I am furious with them!

Will they never be capable of purity?

For it was Israel’s doing;

It was only made by a joiner,

It was not a god.

No, the calf of Samaria shall be

Reduced to splinters!

They sow wind,

And they shall reap the whirlwind–

Standing stalks devoid of ears

And yielding no flour.

If they do yield any,

Strangers shall devour it.

Israel is bewildered;

They have now become among the nations

Like an unwanted vessel,

[like] a lonely wild ass.

For they have gone up to Assyria,

Ephraim has courted friendship.

And while they are courting among the nations,

There I will hold them fast;

And they shall begin to diminish in number

From the burden of king [and] officers.

For Ephraim has multiplied altars–for guilt;

His altars have redounded to his guilt:

The many teachings I wrote for him

Have been treated as something alien.

When they present sacrifices to Me,

It is but flesh for them to eat:

The LORD has not accepted them.

Behold, He remembers their iniquity,

He will punish their sins:

Back to Egypt with them!

Israel has ignored his Maker

And built temples

(And Judah has fortified many cities).

So I will set fire to his cities,

And it shall consume their fortresses.

Psalm 115:1-10 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  Not to us, O LORD, not to us,

but to your Name give glory;

because of your love and because of your faithfulness.

2  Why should the heathen say,

“Where then is their God?”

3  Our God is in heaven;

whatever he wills to do he does.

4  Their idols are silver and gold,

the work of human hands.

5  They have mouths, but they cannot speak;

eyes have they, but they cannot see;

6  They have ears, but they cannot hear;

noses, but they cannot smell;

7  They have hands, but they cannot feel;

feet, but they cannot walk;

they make no sound with their throat.

8  Those who make them are like them,

and so are all who put their trust in them.

9  O Israel, trust in the LORD;

he is their help and their shield.

10  O house of Aaron, trust in the LORD;

he is their help and their shield.

Matthew 9:32-38 (An American Translation):

But just as they were going out, some people brought to him a dumb man who was possessed by a demon, and as soon as the demon was driven out, the dumb man was able to speak.  And the crowds were amazed, and said,

Nothing like this was ever seen in Israel!

But the Pharisees said,

It is by the prince of demons that he drives them out.

Jesus went round among all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness.

But the sight of the crowds of people filled him with pity for them, because they were bewildered and dejected, like sheep that have no shepherd.  Then he said to his disciples,

The harvest is abundant enough, but the reapers are few.  So pray to the owner of the harvest to send reapers to gather it.

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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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Some Related Posts:

Week of Proper 9:  Tuesday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/21/week-of-proper-9-tuesday-year-1/

Be Thou My Vision:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/08/03/be-thou-my-vision/

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This is an unhappy reading from Hosea.  Corruption, dishonesty, idolatry, and murder were commonplace in the northern Kingdom of Israel.  Official corruption was especially ubiquitous.  King Jeroboam II, who made alliances with dangerous foreign nations and therefore weakened the nation, was not a legitimate king, according to Hosea.  The House of David continued to rule in the south, but Israel had a series of dynasties, most of them established by means of palace coups.

The Book of Hosea moves back and forth between judgment and mercy.  The YHWH of Hosea is a passionate deity seeking the love of a faithless people whose ancestors he had rescued from slavery and led to freedom.

We read in Matthew 9:32-38 of the faithlessness of certain Pharisees, members of just one sect of First Century Palestinian Judaism.  Yet Jesus, the rejected one, helped, cured, and healed many people, on whom he had pity.  Why was Jesus the rejected one?  Would not nearly anyone in the region want to follow such a great man?  The answer, I think, is that simple goodness threatens many people with certain vested interests.  Most people might say that “Love your neighbor as you love yourself” is an excellent ethic, yet how many of them might condemn someone who obeys this great commandment in a politically unpopular way?

We need to divest ourselves or all which causes us to hate or otherwise fear or despise those who are different from us and whose existence prompts us to nurture the dark side of our nature.  God loves all of us–the exploiters and the exploited, the murderers and the murdered, the cheaters and the cheated, the corrupt and the honest.  Where there is love there do not cease to exist the consequences of our actions, which flow from attitudes.

May we value people more than power, status, honor, and wealth.  May we love God more than these things, which can become idols if we treat them as such.  Power, status, honor (which is socially defined), and wealth are transitory, but God is forever.  And people die in time, but human relationships are much more valuable than anything material.

This lesson is timeless, but successive generations of human beings have contained many people who have not acted consistently in accordance with it.  So, unfortunately, we need reminders.

It is no wonder that we read of God’s anger in books such as Hosea.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/09/06/reading-and-pondering-hosea-part-two/

Week of Proper 7: Saturday, Year 2   1 comment

Above:  Jeremiah Lamenting Over the Destruction of Jerusalem, by Rembrandt van Rijn

Lamentations

JUNE 27, 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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Lamentations 2:2, 10-19 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

The Lord has laid waste without pity

All the inhabitants of Jacob;

He has raised in His anger

Fair Judah’s strongholds.

He has brought low in dishonor

The kingdom and its leaders.

Silent sit on the ground

The elders of Fair Zion;

They have strewn dust on their heads

And girded themselves with sackcloth;

The maidens of Jerusalem have bowed

Their heads to the ground.

My eyes are spent with tears,

My heart is in tumult,

My being melts away

Over the ruin of my poor people,

As babes and sucklings languish

In the squares of the city.

They keep asking their mothers,

Where is bread and wine?

As they languish like battle-wounded

In the squares of the town,

As their life runs out

In their mothers’ bosoms.

What can I take as witness or liken

To you, O Fair Jerusalem?

What can I match with you to console you,

O Fair Maiden Zion?

For your ruin is vast as the sea;

Who can heal you?

Your seers prophesied to you

Delusion and folly.

They did not expose your iniquity

So as to restore your fortunes,

But prophesied to you oracles

Of delusion and deception.

All who pass your way

Clap their hands at you;

They hiss and wag their head

At Fair Jerusalem:

Is that the city that was called

Perfect in Beauty,

Joy of All the Earth?

All your enemies

Jeer at you;

They hiss and gnash their teeth,

And cry:

We’ve ruined her!

Ah, this is the day we hoped for;

We have lived to see it!

The LORD has done what He purposed,

Has carried out the decree

That he ordained long ago;

He has torn down without pity.

He has let the foe rejoice over you,

Has exalted the might of your enemies.

Their heart cried out to the Lord.

O wall of Fair Zion,

Shed tears like a torrent

Day and night!

Give yourself no respite,

Your eyes no rest.

Arise, cry out in the night

At the beginning of the watches,

Pour out your heart like water

In the presence of the Lord!

Lift up your hands to Him

For the life of your infants,

Who faint for hunger

At every street corner.

Psalm 74:1-8, 17-20 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  O God, why have you utterly cast us off?

why is your wrath so hot against the sheep of your pasture?

2  Remember your congregation that your purchased long ago,

the tribe you redeemed to be your inheritance,

and Mount Zion where you dwell.

3  Turn your steps toward the endless ruins;

the enemy has laid waste everything in your sanctuary.

4  Your adversaries roared in your holy place;

they set up their banners as tokens of victory.

5  They were like men coming up with axes to a grove of trees;

they broke down all your carved work with hatchets and hammers.

6  They set fire to your holy place;

they defiled the dwelling-place of your Name

and razed it to the ground.

7  They said to themselves, “Let us destroy them altogether.”

They burned down all the meeting-places of God in the land.

8  There are no signs for us to see;

there is no prophet left;

there is not one among us who knows how long.

17  Remember, O LORD, how the enemy scoffed,

how a foolish people despised your Name.

18  Do not hand over the life of your dove to wild beasts;

never forget the lives of your poor.

19  Look upon your covenant;

the dark places of the earth are haunts of violence.

20  Let not the oppressed turn away ashamed;

let the poor and needy praise your Name.

Matthew 8:5-17 (An American Translation):

When he [Jesus] got back to Capernaum, a Roman captain came up and appealed to him,

My servant, sir, is lying sick with paralysis at my house, in great distress.

He said to him,

I will come and cure him.

But the captain answered,

I am not a suitable person,sir, to have you come under my roof, but simply say the word, and my servant will be cured.  For I am myself under the orders of others and I have soldiers under me, and I tell one to go, and he comes, and my slave to do something, and he does it.

When Jesus heard this he was astonished, and said to his followers,

I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such faith as this.  And I tell you, many will come from the east and from the west and take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the Kingdom of of Heaven, while the heirs to the kingdom will be driven into the darkness outside, there to weep and grind their teeth!

Then Jesus said to the captain,

Go!  You shall find it just as you believe!

And the servant was immediately cured.

Jesus went into Peter’s house, and there he found Peter’s mother-in-law sick in bed with fever.  And he touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and waited on him.

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The Collect:

O Lord, make us have perpetual love and reverence for your holy Name, for you never fail to help and govern those whom you have set upon the sure foundation of your loving-kindness; 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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A Related Post:

Week of Proper 7:  Saturday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/14/week-of-proper-7-saturday-year-1/

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At this point I have been exploring much of 2 Kings.  Recently I have written of so many aspects of that text that I recognize many of them in Lamentations 2.  I have nothing new to say or write about them.  So I choose to be quite brief in my remarks for this post.  If you, O reader, are of such a mind, reread the preceding Monday-Saturday posts, beginning with “Week of Proper 5:  Monday, Year 2” (https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/08/04/week-of-proper-5-monday-year-2/).  Pay very close attention to the recurring sin of idolatry.

Other than that, read Lamentations (preferably all of it) aloud.  Most people who have experienced the Bible over time have done so orally; either they have read it aloud or someone has read it to them.  One approaches a text differently when one hears it than when one reads it silently off a page.  So read Lamentations aloud.  Let it wash over you and through you.  Listen to God speaking to you through it.

I also recommend listening to the Thomas Tallis settings of Lamentations.  In fact, I have been listening to YouTube recordings of those settings while typing this post.  Listen–really listen–to the music.  The words are Latin, but the English words are not hard to find; begin with Chapter 1, verse 1.  The music, from the 1500s, captures the essence of the biblical author’s grief.  You, O reader, might even choose to read the text aloud while playing the Tallis music.

May the peace of the Lord be with you today and always.

KRT

Week of Proper 7: Thursday, Year 2   1 comment

Above:  King Zedekiah

What’s in a Name?

JUNE 25, 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 Kings 24:8-17 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem; his mother’s name was Nehushta daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem.  He did what was displeasing to the LORD, just as his father had done.  At that time, the troops of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon marched against Jerusalem, and the city came under siege.  King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon advanced against the city while his troops  were besieging it.  Thereupon King Jehoiachin of Judah, along with his mother, courtiers, commanders, and officers, surrendered to the king of Babylon.  The king of Babylon took him captive in the eighth year of his reign.  He carried off from Jerusalem all the treasures of the House of the LORD and the treasures of the royal palace; he stripped off all the golden decorations in the Temple of the LORD–which King Solomon of Israel had made–as the LORD had warned.  He exiled all of Jerusalem; all the commanders and all the warriors–ten thousand exiles–as well as the craftsmen and smiths; only the poorest people in the land were left.  He deported Jehoiachin to Babylon; and the king’s wives and officers and the notables of the land were brought as exiles from Jerusalem to Babylon.  All the able men, to the number of seven thousand–all of them warriors, trained for battle–and a thousand craftsmen and smiths were brought to Babylon as exiles by the king of Babylon.  And the king of Babylon appointed Mattaniah, Jehoiachin’s uncle, king in his place, changing his name to Zedekiah.

Psalm 79 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  O God, the heathen here come into your inheritance;

they have profaned your holy temple;

they have made Jerusalem a heap of rubble.

2  They have given the bodies of your servants as food for the birds of the air,

and the flesh of your faithful ones to the beasts of the field.

3  They have shed their blood like water on every side of Jerusalem,

and there was no one to bury them.

4  We have become a reproach to our neighbors,

an object of scorn and derision to those around us.

5  How long will you be angry, O LORD?

will your fury blaze like fire for ever?

6  Pour out your wrath upon the heathen who have not known you

and upon kingdoms that have not called upon your Name.

7  For they have devoured Jacob

and made his dwelling a ruin.

Remember not our past sins;

let your compassion be swift to meet us;

for we have been brought very low.

Help us, O God our Savior, for the glory of your Name;

deliver us and forgive us our sins, for your Name’s sake.

10 Why should the heathen say, “Where is their God?”

Let it be known among the heathen and in our sight

that you avenge the shedding of your servant’s blood.

11 Let the sorrowful sighing of the prisoners come before you,

and by your great might spare those who are condemned to die.

12 May the revilings with which they reviled you, O Lord,

return seven-fold into their bosoms.

13 For we are your people and the sheep of your pasture;

we will give you thanks for ever

and show forth your praise from age to age.

Matthew 7:21-29 (An American Translation):

[Jesus continued,]

It is not everyone who says to me, “Lord! Lord!” who will get into the Kingdom of Heaven, but only those who do the will of my Father in heaven.  Many will say to me on that Day, “Lord! Lord!  Was it not in your name that we prophesied, and by your name that we drove out demons, and by your name that we did many mighty acts?”  Then I will say to them plainly, “I never knew you!  Go away from me, you who do wrong!”

Everyone, therefore, who listens to this teaching of mine and acts upon it, will be like a sensible man who built his house on rock.  And the rain fell, and the rivers rose, and the winds blew, and beat about that house, and it did not go down, for its foundations were on rock.  And anyone who listens to this teaching of mine and does not act upon it, will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand.  And the rain fell, and the rivers rose, and the winds blew and beat down that house, and it went down, and its downfall was complete.

When Jesus had finished this discourse, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them like one who had authority and not like their scribes.

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The Collect:

O Lord, make us have perpetual love and reverence for your holy Name, for you never fail to help and govern those whom you have set upon the sure foundation of your loving-kindness; 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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A Related Post:

Week of Proper 7:  Thursday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/13/week-of-proper-7-thursday-year-1/

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Since we left off in 2 Kings…

Jehoahaz/Shallum, son of Josiah, reigned for three months in 609 B.C.E.  The text tells us that he displeased God.  Pharaoh Neco, who had killed Josiah, deposed and imprisoned Jehoahaz/Shallum and forced Judah to pay an indemnity.

Eliakim became the vassal King of Judah as Jehoiakim.  He reigned for eleven years (608-598 B.C.E.).  The vassal king served not only Egypt but Babylon.

Then, in today’s reading, Jehoiachin/Jeconiah reigned for three months before King Nebuchadnezzar captured him, installed uncle Mattaniah as King Zedekiah, and began the process of exiling selected subjects of Judah.  Zedekiah’s eleven-year reign (597-586 B.C.E.) was quite difficult.

There had been a long period of sunshine during the reign of Josiah.  But he died at the hand of Pharaoh Neco, so the final stage of national decline began.  There were four more kings in 23 years.  Foreign powers chose three of those monarchs and rename two of them.  Darkness had fallen.

When a foreign power dictates a royal name, the sovereign carries a daily reminder of his subjugation to that power.

What’s in a name?  It carries the meaning we humans attach to it.  My parents chose to give me a distinguished name, one which works well in adulthood.  “Kenneth ” is a Gaelic name meaning “born of fire.”  (Make of that, O reader, what you will.)  I have identified three Scottish kings, one Scottish saint, and a Welsh saint named “Kenneth.”  It is a good name.  “Randolph” is my uncle’s first name.  As a young child, I dreaded the moment during each grade level when the teacher read my full name aloud, for my secret was out and many of my classmates mocked me by singing “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”  They were idiots.

There are various venerable traditions for naming a child.  To name a child after a saint is a Roman Catholic custom.  Or one might name a child after one or more family members or after a historical figure.  My paternal great-grandfather was George Washington Barrett.  My favorite example of deriving a name from the past is Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar.

Among monarchs and pontiffs there is a tradition of regnal names.   Hence Joseph Ratzinger is also Pope Benedict XVI.   And King Haakon VII of Norway (reigned 1905-1957), one of my favorite historical figures, was born in Denmark as Christian Frederik Carl Georg Valdemar Axel Oldenburg, or Prince Carl for short.

Identity is precious.  Who defines us? Do our enemies define us and our names?  If they do, they have power over us.  Most of us do not choose or change our names but, if we are fortunate, those who named us did so very well.  Regardless of who named us, may we own our names and know that we do not even own ourselves, for we all belong to God.  And the divine name for each of us is “beloved.”

KRT

Week of Proper 7: Tuesday, Year 2   2 comments

Above:  King Hezekiah and the Prophet Isaiah

A Time for Introspection

JUNE 23, 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 Kings 19:9-36 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

But the [king of Assyria] learned that king Tirhakah of Nubia had come out to fight him; so he again sent messengers to Hezekiah, saying,

Tell this to King Hezekiah of Judah:  Do not let your God, on whom you are relying, mislead you into thinking that Jerusalem will not be delivered into the hands of the king of Assyria.  You yourself have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the lands, how they have annihilated them; and can you escape?  Were the nations that my predecessors destroyed–Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, and the Bethedenites in Telassar–saved by their gods?  where is the king of Hamath?  And the king of Arpad?  And the kings of Lair, Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah?

Hezekiah took the letter from the messengers and read it.  Hezekiah then went up to the House of the LORD and spread out before the LORD.  And Hezekiah prayed to the LORD and said,

O LORD of Hosts, Enthroned on the Cherubim!  You alone are God of all the kingdoms of the earth.  You made the heavens and the earth.  O LORD, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see.  Hear the words that Sennacherib has sent to blaspheme the living God!  True, O LORD, the kings of Assyria have annihilated the nations and their lands, and have committed their gods to the flames and have destroyed them; for they are not gods, but man’s handiwork of wood and stone.  But now, O LORD our God, deliver us from his hands, and let all the kingdoms of the earth know that You alone, O LORD, are God.

Then Isaiah son of Amoz sent this message to Hezekiah:

Thus said the LORD, the God of Israel:  I have heard the prayer you have offered to Me concerning King Sennacherib of Assyria.  This is what the word of the LORD has spoken concerning him:

Fair Maiden Zion despises you,

She mocks at you;

Fair Jerusalem shakes

Her head at you.

Whom have you blasphemed and reviled?

Against whom made loud your voice

And haughtily raised your eyes?

Against the Holy One of Israel!

Through your envoys you have blasphemed my Lord.

Because you thought,

“Thanks to my vast chariotry,

It is I who have climbed the highest mountain,

To the remotest parts of Lebanon,

And have cut down its loftiest cedars,

Its choicest cypresses,

And have reached its remotest lodge,

Its densest forest.”

It is I who have drawn and drunk the waters of strangers;

I have dried up with the soles of my feet

All the streams of Egypt.

Have you not heard? Of old

I planned that very thing,

I designed it long ago,

And now I have fulfilled it.

And it has come to pass,

Laying waste fortified towns

In desolate heaps.

Their inhabitants are helpless,

Dismayed and shamed.

They were but grass of the field

And green herbage,

Grass of the roofs that is blasted

Before the standing grain.

I know your stayings

And your goings and comings,

And how you raged against Me.

Because you have raged against Me,

And your tumult has reached My ears,

I will place My hook in your nose

And My bit between your jaws;

And I will make you go back by the road

By which you came.

And this is the sign for you:  This year you eat what grows of itself, and the next year what springs from that; and in the third year, sow and reap, and plant vineyards and eat their fruit.  And the survivors of the House of Judah that have escaped shall regenerate its stock below and produce boughs from above.

For a remnant shall come forth from Jerusalem,

Survivors from Mount Zion.

The zeal of the LORD of Hosts

Shall bring this to pass.

Assuredly, thus said the said the LORD concerning the king of Assyria:

He shall not enter this city;

He shall not shoot an arrow at it,

Or advance upon it with a shield,

Or pile up a siege mound against it.

He shall go back

By the way he came;

He shall not enter this city

–declares the LORD.

I shall protect and save this city for My sake,

And for the sake of My servant David.

That night an angel of the LORD went out and struck down one hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp, and the following morning they were all dead corpses.

So King Sennacherib of Assyria broke camp and retreated, and stayed in Nineveh.  While he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisroch, his sons Adrammelech and Sarezer struck him down with the sword.  They fled to the land of Ararat, and his son Esarhaddon succeeded him as king.

Psalm 48 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised;

in the city of our God is his holy hill.

2 Beautiful and lofty, the joy of all the earth, is the hill of Zion,

the very center of the world and the city of the great King.

God is in her citadels;

he is known to be her sure refuge.

Behold, the kings of the earth assembled

and marched forward together.

5 They looked and were astonished;

they retreated and fled in terror.

Trembling seized them there;

they writhed like a woman in childbirth,

like ships of the sea when the east wind shatters them.

As we have heard, so have we seen,

in the city of the LORD of hosts, in the city of our God;

God has established her for ever.

8 We have waited in silence on your loving-kindness, O God,

in the midst of your temple.

Your praise, like your Name, O God, reaches to the world’s end;

your right hand is full of justice.

10 Let Mount Zion be glad

in the cities of Judah rejoice,

because of your judgments.

11 Make the circuit of Zion;

walk round about her;

count the number of her towers.

12 Consider well her bulwarks;

examine her strongholds;

that you may tell those who come after.

13 This God is our God for ever and ever;

he shall be our guide for ever more.

Matthew 7:6, 12-14 (An American Translation):

[Jesus continued,]

Do not give what is sacred to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, or they will trample them under their feet and turn and tear you in pieces….Therefore you must always treat other people as you would like them to have them treat you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

Go in at the narrow gate.  For the road that leads to destruction is broad and spacious, and there are many who go in by it.  But the gate is narrow the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few that find it.

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The Collect:

O Lord, make us have perpetual love and reverence for your holy Name, for you never fail to help and govern those whom you have set upon the sure foundation of your loving-kindness; 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 7:  Tuesday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/08/week-of-proper-7-tuesday-year-1/

The Remnant:

http://taylorfamilypoems.wordpress.com/2011/08/09/the-remnant/

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The Canadian Anglican Lectionary has skipped ahead.  So here is a summary of what you, O reader, have missed:

2 Kings 17 continues by condemning Judah.

The Assyrians resettled Israel, where religious syncretism became commonplace.

King Hezekiah (reigned 727/715-698/687 B.C.E. according to The Jewish Study Bible–dates are uncertain), son of Ahaz, reigned for 29 years.  He abolished shrines and smashed pillars.  The text tells us that

He trusted only in the LORD, the God of Israel; there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those before him. (18:5)

That catches us up to the point of Chapter 19, in which God delivers Judah from an Assyrian invasion.  It is a happy ending for Hezekiah and his kingdom, yet we readers know that, later in 2 Kings, Babylonians will destroy the city.

The books of Samuel and Kings are not primarily historical, and their authors did not pretend that they were.  Indeed, my academic study of history has taught me that objective history is like the Loch Ness Monster; one hears much about it yet hard evidence does not exist.  Two historians can write about the same topic, agree factually, and arrive at different conclusions.  I can think of a few examples of this quite quickly.

The books of Samuel and Kings are theological works using the past to demonstrate certain points.  Among those points is this:  Draw near to God, and God will draw near to you.  We ought not overgeneralize, for the fact of national collapse does not necessarily indicate divine judgment any more than national success indicates divine approval.

But the editors of the final version of Samuel-Kings worked in the context of return from the exile of Judah.  They, like historians at any time, understood the past in the context of their present day.  These editors applied spiritual retrospection to their cultural and national past.

You, O reader, might wonder, “What is the devotional value of this day’s reading from 2 Kings?”  Here is my answer:  Each of us needs, as an individual, to reflect on our relationship with God over time.  What has been right with it?  What has been wrong with it?  And we also need to do the same collectively.  The collective might be a family, a couple, a book group, a Bible study group, or a religious congregation or commune.  After all, the focus in these readings has been collective, not individual, except when the narrator has been discussing monarchs and prophets.  And, when we have prayerfully identified our weak spots, what is the best way to strengthen them?

KRT