Archive for the ‘Advent’ Category

Guide to Advent Devotions for 2017   1 comment

Above:  The Cathedral of St. Philip, Atlanta, Georgia, December 11, 2016

Image Source = Bill Monk, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

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FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR B:  DECEMBER 3, 2017:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/02/first-day-of-advent-first-sunday-of-advent-year-b/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2016/08/19/devotion-for-the-first-sunday-of-advent-year-d/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2017/04/28/devotion-for-the-first-sunday-of-advent-ackerman/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/devotion-for-december-3-lcms-daily-lectionary/

Second Day of Advent:  December 4:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2014/10/20/devotion-for-monday-and-tuesday-after-the-first-sunday-of-advent-year-b-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/devotion-for-december-4-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/14/second-day-of-advent/

Third Day of Advent:  December 5:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2014/10/20/devotion-for-monday-and-tuesday-after-the-first-sunday-of-advent-year-b-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/devotion-for-december-5-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/14/third-day-of-advent/

Fourth Day of Advent:  December 6:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2014/10/20/devotion-for-wednesday-after-the-first-sunday-of-advent-year-b-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/devotion-for-december-6-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/14/fourth-day-of-advent/

Fifth Day of Advent:  December 7:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2014/10/20/devotion-for-thursday-before-the-second-sunday-of-advent-year-b-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/devotion-for-december-7-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/14/fifth-day-of-advent/

Sixth Day of Advent:  December 8:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2014/10/20/devotion-for-friday-before-the-second-sunday-of-advent-year-b-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/devotion-for-december-8-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/14/sixth-day-of-advent/

Seventh Day of Advent:  December 9:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2014/10/25/devotion-for-saturday-before-the-second-sunday-of-advent-year-b-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/devotion-for-december-9-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/14/seventh-day-of-advent/

SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT:  DECEMBER 10, 2017:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/03/eighth-day-of-advent-second-sunday-of-advent-year-b/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2016/08/20/devotion-for-the-second-sunday-of-advent-year-d/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2017/04/29/devotion-for-the-second-sunday-of-advent-ackerman/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/devotion-for-december-10-lcms-daily-lectionary/

Ninth Day of Advent:  December 11:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2014/10/26/devotion-for-monday-after-the-second-sunday-of-advent-year-b-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/devotion-for-december-11-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/ninth-day-of-advent/

Tenth Day of Advent:  December 12:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2014/10/26/devotion-for-tuesday-after-the-second-sunday-of-advent-year-b-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/devotion-for-december-12-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/tenth-day-of-advent/

Eleventh Day of Advent:  December 13:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2014/10/26/devotion-for-wednesday-after-the-second-sunday-of-advent-year-b-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/devotion-for-december-13-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/eleventh-day-of-advent/

Twelfth Day of Advent:  December 14:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2014/10/26/devotion-for-thursday-friday-and-saturday-before-the-third-sunday-of-advent-year-b-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/devotion-for-december-14-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/twelfth-day-of-advent/

Thirteenth Day of Advent:  December 15:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2014/10/26/devotion-for-thursday-friday-and-saturday-before-the-third-sunday-of-advent-year-b-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/devotion-for-december-15-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/thirteenth-day-of-advent/

Fourteenth Day of Advent:  December 16:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2014/10/26/devotion-for-thursday-friday-and-saturday-before-the-third-sunday-of-advent-year-b-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/devotion-for-december-16-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/fourteenth-day-of-advent/

THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT:  DECEMBER 17, 2017:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/04/fifteenth-day-of-advent-third-sunday-of-advent-year-b/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2016/08/21/devotion-for-the-third-sunday-of-advent-year-d/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2017/04/29/devotion-for-the-third-sunday-of-advent-ackerman/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/devotion-for-december-17-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/advent-devotion-for-december-17/

Sixteenth Day of Advent:  December 18:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2014/10/26/devotion-for-monday-and-tuesday-after-the-third-sunday-of-advent-year-b-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/devotion-for-december-18-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/third-week-of-advent-monday/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/advent-devotion-for-december-18/

Seventeenth Day of Advent:  December 19:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2014/10/26/devotion-for-monday-and-tuesday-after-the-third-sunday-of-advent-year-b-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/devotion-for-december-19-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/third-week-of-advent-tuesday/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/advent-devotion-for-december-19/

Eighteenth Day of Advent:  December 20:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2014/10/27/devotion-for-wednesday-after-the-third-sunday-of-advent-year-b-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/devotion-for-december-20-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/third-week-of-advent-wednesday/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/advent-devotion-for-december-20/

Nineteenth Day of Advent:  December 21:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2014/10/27/devotion-for-thursday-and-friday-before-the-fourth-sunday-of-advent-year-b-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/devotion-for-december-21-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/third-week-of-advent-thursday/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/advent-devotion-for-december-21/

Feast of Saint Thomas the Apostle, Martyr (December 21):

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/feast-of-st-thomas-apostle-and-martyr-december-21/

Twentieth Day of Advent:  December 22:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2014/10/27/devotion-for-december-22-and-23-year-b-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2014/10/27/devotion-for-thursday-and-friday-before-the-fourth-sunday-of-advent-year-b-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/devotion-for-december-22-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/third-week-of-advent-friday/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/advent-devotion-for-december-22/

Twenty-First Day of Advent:  December 23:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2014/10/27/devotion-for-december-22-and-23-year-b-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2014/10/27/devotion-for-saturday-before-the-fourth-sunday-of-advent-year-b-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/devotion-for-december-23-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/advent-devotion-for-december-23/

FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT:  DECEMBER 24, 2017:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/05/fourth-sunday-of-advent-year-b/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2016/08/22/devotion-for-the-fourth-sunday-of-advent-year-d/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2016/08/22/devotion-for-christmas-eve-year-d/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2017/04/29/devotion-for-the-fourth-sunday-of-advent-ackerman/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2017/04/29/devotion-for-christmas-eve-ackerman/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2013/07/05/devotion-for-december-24-years-a-b-and-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/devotion-for-december-24-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/advent-devotion-for-december-24/

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Devotion for Christmas Eve (Ackerman)   1 comment

Above:  Madonna and Child

Image in the Public Domain

Sharing the Distress of Others

DECEMBER 24, 2017

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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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Habakkuk 3:17-19

Isaiah 54:1-10

Philippians 4:10-14

Luke 2:1-20

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The readings from Habakkuk 3 and Isaiah 54 exist in the context of exile.  They also teach the wisdom of trusting God, even when the darkness seems darkest and hope seems lost.  God is faithful, these scriptures tell us.

For the mountains may move

And the hills be shaken,

But my loyalty shall never move from you,

Nor My covenant of friendship be shaken

–said the LORD, who takes you back in love.

–Isaiah 54:10, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

In Philippians 4 St. Paul the Apostle writes of his contentment in a variety of circumstances, from hardship to ease.  This is an inner freedom and a great spiritual gift.  St. Paul can do all things with God’s help, we read.

In any case, it was kind of you to share my distress.

–Philippians 4:14, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

Was that not what God did via the Incarnation?  Did not God share our distress?

Does not God call on us to be agents of divine kindness by sharing the distress of others?  To be a Christian is to follow Christ, who suffered and died for our benefit.  The author of Hebrews, in 10:24, writing in the context of persecution and of faith community, challenges us to

consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds.

The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

You, O reader, and I are supposed to be ambassadors for Christ.  What we do might bring someone to faith, turn someone off from God, deepen his or her faith, or damage it.  One way to be an agent of Christ to someone is to share in that person’s distress and offer compassion, not judgment.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 29, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS BOSA OF YORK, JOHN OF BEVERLEY, WILFRID THE YOUNGER, AND ACCA OF HEXHAM, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS

THE FEAST OF SAINT CATHERINE OF SIENA, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN

THE FEAST OF TIMOTHY REES, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LLANDAFF

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2017/04/29/sharing-the-distress-of-others/

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Devotion for the Fourth Sunday of Advent (Ackerman)   1 comment

Above:  Woe Unto You, Scribes and Pharisees, by James Tissot

Image in the Public Domain

Blind Fools

DECEMBER 24, 2017

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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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Daniel 6:16-27

Psalm 108:1-5

Revelation 18:1-3

Matthew 23:13-26

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My heart is firmly fixed, O God, my heart is fixed;

I will sing and make melody.

Wake up, my spirit;

awake, lute and harp;

I myself will waken the dawn.

I will confess you among the peoples, O LORD;

I will sing praises to you among the nations.

For your loving-kindness is greater than the heavens,

and your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.

Exalt yourself above the heavens, O God,

and your glory over all the earth.

–Psalm 108:1-5, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

[Psalms 57 and 108 do seem somewhat similar, do they not?]

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The chronology of the Book of Daniel is frankly a mess impossible to reconcile with the rest of the Bible and with ancient history.  The Book of Daniel is a collection of folktales, not history, so one ought not to mistake it for a factually reliable source of knowledge of past events.  Those folktales do contain much truth and wisdom, however.  We ought to interpret the Book of Daniel based on what it is, not what it is not.

Our story from the Book of Daniel affirms the wisdom of trusting God.  That is a strong thematic link to last Sunday’s readings, which are generally gloomier than the pericopes for this Sunday.  In fact, much of what I would like to write, based on the assigned readings, would prove redundant, compared to what I have written in the previous post in this series.  Ackerman crafted his lectionary that well and tightly.

I prefer, therefore, to focus on Matthew 23:13-26.

Those much-maligned scribes and Pharisees were not mustache-twirling villains.  Yes, some of them had spiritual issues pertaining to power and the illusion of control.  And yes, they collaborated with Roman authorities.  But no, they were not mustache-twirling villains.  They were, as Henry Irving Louttit, Jr., the retired Episcopal Bishop of Georgia, said, the good, church-going people of their time.  Many–perhaps most–of them sought to honor God by keeping divine commandments, as they understood them.  Yet they were, in the words of Christ, “blind fools.”

How many of us are “blind fools” and do not know it?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 29, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS BOSA OF YORK, JOHN OF BEVERLEY, WILFRID THE YOUNGER, AND ACCA OF HEXHAM, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS

THE FEAST OF SAINT CATHERINE OF SIENA, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN

THE FEAST OF TIMOTHY REES, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LLANDAFF

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2017/04/29/blind-fools/

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Devotion for the Third Sunday of Advent (Ackerman)   2 comments

Above:  Belshazzar’s Feast, by John Martin

Image in the Public Domain

Waiting for Divine Deliverance

DECEMBER 17, 2017

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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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Daniel 5:1-7, 17, 25-28

Psalm 62:1-2

Revelation 15:2-4

Matthew 24:15-22

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For God alone my soul in silence waits;

from him comes my salvation.

He alone is my rock and my salvation,

my stronghold, so that I shall not be greatly shaken.

–Psalm 62:1-2, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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The readings for this Sunday contain grim material.  Indeed, the theme of judgment is strong, but so is the theme of divine deliverance after waiting for it.

Two main thoughts come to mind:

  1. Deliverance for the oppressed is frequently condemnation for the oppressors.  In a real sense, both the oppressors and the those they oppress are both oppressed populations, for whatever we do to others, we do to ourselves.  If we seek to benefit ourselves at the expense of others, we harm ourselves.  If we seek the common good, be work for the best interests of others as well as ourselves.  Furthermore, when we insist on oppressing others, we set ourselves up to be on the bad side of God when the deity initiates deliverance.
  2. Waiting for God can prove to be quite difficult.  I do not pretend to have mastered this discipline.  The reality that God’s schedule is not ours does frustrate us often, does it not?  The fault is with mere mortals, not God.

Waiting for divine deliverance can be frustrating.  May that deliverance, when it comes, be good news, not a catastrophe.  Whether one will welcome it or find it catastrophic is up to one, is it not?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 29, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS BOSA OF YORK, JOHN OF BEVERLEY, WILFRID THE YOUNGER, AND ACCA OF HEXHAM, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS

THE FEAST OF SAINT CATHERINE OF SIENA, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN

THE FEAST OF TIMOTHY REES, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LLANDAFF

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2017/04/29/waiting-for-divine-deliverance/

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Devotion for the Second Sunday of Advent (Ackerman)   2 comments

Above:  The Fiery Furnace

Image in the Public Domain

Proclaiming God Among the Peoples

DECEMBER 10, 2017

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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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Daniel 3:19-30

Psalm 57:8-11

Revelation 11:15-19

Luke 1:5-20, 57-66

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Wake up, my spirit;

awake, lute and harp;

I myself will waken the dawn.

I will confess you among the peoples, O LORD;

I will sing praise to you among the nations.

For your loving-kindness is greater than the heavens,

and your faithfulness reaches the clouds.

Exalt yourself above the heavens, O God,

and your glory over all the earth.

–Psalm 57:8-11, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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In Revelation 11 we read the announcement that

Sovereignty over the world has passed to our Lord and his Christ, and he shall reign for ever.

–Verse 15b, The Revised English Bible (1989)

Nevertheless, we must wait until Chapter 21 for that sovereignty to become apparent.

The sovereignty of God is indeed a challenging concept.  In the Gospels the Kingdom of God is already partially present.  The Roman Empire and its agents, one of whom goes on to order the execution of St. John the Baptist, born in Luke 1, is fully present.

Truly bad people who wield authority always seem to present somewhere.  Nebuchadnezzar II, hardly a nice man, is a figure of ridicule in the Book of Daniel.  He is fickle and seems unaware of the extent of his authority at times.  He is willing to send people to die for refusing to serve the gods, so how nice can he be? He, as monarch, can change the law, too.  Later in the Book of Daniel (Chapter 4) he goes insane.  Also troubled and in one of the readings (sort of) is King Saul, a disturbed and mentally unwell man.  The not attached to Psalm 57 contextualizes the text in 1 Samuel 22-24 and 26, with David leading a group of outlaws while on the run from Saul.  In the story David saves the life of the man trying to kill him.  (Aside:  Chapters 24 and 26 seem to be variations on the same story.  The Sources Hypothesis explains the duplication of material.)

One might detect a certain thread common to three of the readings:  The lives of the faithful are at risk.  That theme is implicit in Luke 1.  God will not always deliver the faithful, hence the martyrs in Revelation 14.  The sovereignty of God will not always be obvious.  But we who claim to follow Christ can do so, by grace, and proclaim God among the peoples in a variety of circumstances.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 29, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS BOSA OF YORK, JOHN OF BEVERLEY, WILFRID THE YOUNGER, AND ACCA OF HEXHAM, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS

THE FEAST OF SAINT CATHERINE OF SIENA, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN

THE FEAST OF TIMOTHY REES, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LLANDAFF

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2017/04/29/proclaiming-god-among-the-peoples/

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Devotion for the First Sunday of Advent (Ackerman)   2 comments

Above:  The Dream of Nebuchadnezzar

Image in the Public Domain

Acknowledging One’s Complete Dependence on God

DECEMBER 3, 2017

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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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Daniel 2:24, 31-49

Psalm 38:15-22

Revelation 3:14-22

Mark 11:12-14, 20-25

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For in you, O LORD, have I fixed my hope;

you will answer me, O Lord my God.

For I said, “Do not let them rejoice at my expense,

those who gloat over me when my foot slips.

Truly, I am on the verge of falling,

and my pain is always with me.

I will confess my iniquity

and be sorry for my sin.

Those who are my enemies without cause are mighty,

and many in number are those who wrongfully hate me.

Those who repay evil for good slander me,

because I follow the course that is right.

O LORD, do not forsake me;

be not far from me, O my God.

Make haste to help me,

O Lord of my salvation.

–Psalm 38:15-22, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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At first glance the readings David Ackerman has appointed for the First Sunday of Advent do not fit well together.  However, upon further reflection, one might realize that they do.  The message is that we–individuals, institutions, societies–ought to rely on God, not on our own devices.

In David 2 we have an interpretation of a dream.  There are four successive empires–traditionally Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian, Median, Persian, and Macedonian–of declining value.  The fifth in the sequence is the divided empire of the late Alexander the Great.  At the end of that sequence, according to Daniel 2, God’s reign on earth will commence.

O, if only it had!

The Roman Empire is the power in Mark 11.  Jesus curses a fig tree for producing no figs.  The text notes that this happened outside of fig season.  The story, however, is symbolic.  It follows directly from the Triumphal Entry of Jesus and wraps around the cleansing of the Temple.  The fig tree relates to the Temple.  Just as the fig tree is producing just leaves and not small green figs (as it ought to do), the Temple is barren of anything of spiritual worth.  The fig tree is also a recurring Biblical symbol of Israel itself, as in Jeremiah 8:13, Hosea 9:10, Joel 1:7, and Micah 7:1.  One can therefore reasonably read the cursing of the fig tree as a scathing critique of the religious life of Israel.

When we turn to the Church at Laodicea in Revelation 3 we find another scathing critique.  The congregation relies on its wealth, not on God, who literally vomits (although many translations render the verb “spits”) that church out.  The church has succumbed to the temptation to convert material wealth into an idol.

The text from Psalm 38 explains itself.

In Beyond the Lectionary (2013) Ackerman emphasizes

the importance of awakening the insights that God provides

(page 8).

Those insights tell us both individually and collectively not to trust in military forces, in governments, in wealth, or in imagined righteousness when we ought to acknowledge our complete dependence on God.  To do anything other than to rely completely on God is to commit idolatry.  That is a difficult and strong statement, I know.  I also acknowledge that I have long been guilty of this idolatry and continue to be so.  I confess this sin here, in this post, readily.  Fortunately, grace abounds, so all of us have hope.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 28, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT PETER CHANEL, PROTOMARTYR OF OCEANIA

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2017/04/28/acknowledging-ones-complete-dependence-on-god/

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Devotion for Christmas Eve (Year D)   1 comment

Madonna and Child

Above:  Icon of Mary and Jesus

Image in the Public Domain

In Jesus’s Name

DECEMBER 24, 2017

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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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Ecclesiastes 5:1-20 or 7:1-14 or Ezekiel 33:23-33

Psalm 21

Philippians 3:1-4a; 4:10-21 or James 1:17-27

Matthew 12:22-50 or Luke 11:14-54

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Be exalted, O LORD, in your strength!

We will sing and praise your power.

–Psalm 21:13, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

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Sincere praise of God is a virtue and insincere spiritual speech is an affront to God.  Often such insincere speech, externally pious, disguises willful and/or institutionalized social injustice, especially that of the economic variety.  The mercy and judgment of God coexist.  Often we prefer to hear of the mercy yet not of the judgment.  That is at least as bad an error as committing the opposite fallacy.

That is a concise summary of several of the elements of the lections for Christmas Eve (Year D).  One might recognize my summary as being accurate while wondering what it has to do with Christmas Eve, however.  That is a legitimate question.  Timothy Matthew Slemmons, in Year D (2012), acknowledges the challenge of selecting germane and neglected texts for December 24 and 25.  He explains that his suggested readings contain relevant themes, such as the universality of sin.

The world that the Second Person of the Trinity, incarnated as Jesus, entered was dangerous and corrupt.  That description still applies to the world, does it not?  Jesus continues to come to us in the guise of the poor, the lame, the exploited, the young, the middle-aged, and the elderly.  Do we content ourselves with pious platitudes while we do little or nothing to help them (as we are able, of course) and/or to justify systems that harm them?  And, as we enjoy hearing about divine mercy, do we give proper attention to God’s judgment on those who exploit the vulnerable?

The celebration of the birth of Jesus, linked to his death and resurrection, is more than a time to celebrate.  It is also an occasion for us to commit or recommit ourselves to living according to the incarnational principle.  God is present all around us intangibly in tangible elements of creation.  These tangible elements include the defenseless and the exploited.  May we commit or recommit ourselves to recognizing the image of God in them and to acting accordingly, in Jesus’s name.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 22, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JACK LAYTON, CANADIAN ACTIVIST AND FEDERAL LEADER OF THE NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY

THE FEAST OF JOHN DRYDEN, ENGLISH PURITAN THEN ANGLICAN THEN ROMAN CATHOLIC POET, PLAYWRIGHT, AND TRANSLATOR

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2016/08/22/in-jesuss-name/

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