Archive for the ‘Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Lectionary Year C’ Category

Devotion for the Epiphany of Our Lord, Years A, B, and C (ILCW Lectionary)   1 comment

Above:  Adoration of the Magi Stamp from Latvia, 1992

Image in the Public Domain

Extending the Borders

JANUARY 6, 2023

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According to the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship (ILCW) Lectionary (1973), as contained in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and Lutheran Worship (1982)

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Isaiah 60:1-6

Psalm 72

Ephesians 3:2-12

Matthew 2:1-12

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Lord God, on this day you revealed your Son

to the nations by the leading of a star. 

Lead us now by faith to know your presence in our lives,

and bring us at last to the full vision of your glory,

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 15

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O God, by the leading of a star you once made known

to all nations your only-begotten Son;

now lead us, who know you by faith,

to know in heaven the fullness of your divine goodness;

through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Lutheran Worship (1982), 20

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Third Isaiah, in Isaiah 60, applied motifs of the Davidic Dynasty, not to the Messiah, but to the Israelite nation as a whole.  (The “you” in Isaiah 60:1-6 is plural.)  There is no Messiah in Third Isaiah, which teaches that in the future, God will rule directly on Earth.

Yet we have this assigned reading on the Feast of the Epiphany, about Jesus, the Messiah.

Psalm 72, originally for a coronation, describes the ideal Davidic monarch.  He will govern justly, defend the oppressed, crush the extortioners, and revere God, we read.  His renown spreads far and wide, we read.  These sentences describe few of the Davidic monarchs.  They do not even describe King David.  The Christian tradition of reading Jesus into every nook and cranny of the Hebrew Bible interprets Jesus as the ultimate fulfillment of the text, though.

Call me a heretic if you wish, O reader, but I resist the tendency to read Jesus into every nook and cranny of the Hebrew Bible.  Call me a heretic if you wish; I will accept the label with pride.  I even own a t-shirt that reads:

HERETIC.

Father Raymond E. Brown, whom I admire and some of whose books I own, argued against the historicity of the birth narratives in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.  I take this point while disagreeing with another one:  Brown considered the account in the Gospel of Luke closer to reality than the one in the Gospel of Matthew.  I reverse that.  I posit that there may have been a natural phenomenon (poetically, a star) that attracted the attention of some Persian astrologers.  This scenario seems plausible.

I, being a detail-oriented person, as well as a self-identified heretic, also wince at the depictions of the shepherds and the Magi together at Bethlehem.  Even if one mistakes the germane accounts in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke for historical stories, one may notice that up to two years separated the stories.  St. Dionysius Exiguus, for all his piety, counted badly.  Herod the Great died in 4 B.C.E.  If one accepts the Massacre of the (Holy) Innocents as being plausible (as I do), then one may wish to notice that the Roman client king ordered the deaths of boys two years old and younger at Bethlehem.  This story, therefore, places the birth of Jesus circa 6 B.C.E.  Either way, St. Dionysius Exiguus still place the birth of Jesus “Before Christ.”  (This is why I use B.C.E. and C.E.)

Whoever wrote or dictated the Epistle to the Ephesians, I am grateful to St. Paul the Apostle, the great evangelist to the Gentiles.  I, as a Gentile, am happy to be in the club of Christ.  I also acknowledge that I, as a Christian, stand on the shoulders of Judaism, a faith I refuse to malign.

The Epiphany–set on the old Eastern date of Christmas–reminds us that God seeks to attract as many followers as possible.  We Gentiles, grafted onto the tree of faith, need to remember that we are a branch, not the trunk, of that tree.  The limits of divine mercy exist, but I do not know where the borders are.  I assume that Judaism and Christianity are the two true faiths.  Yet I do not presume to know who God’s “secret friends”–secret to me–are.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 17, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANTONY OF EGYPT, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND FATHER OF WESTERN MONASTICISM

THE FEAST OF SAINTS DEICOLA AND GALL, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONKS; AND SAINT OTHMAR, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AT SAINT GALLEN

THE FEAST OF JAMES WOODROW, SOUTHERN PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, NATURALIST, AND ALLEGED HERETIC

THE FEAST OF SAINT PACHOMIUS THE GREAT, FOUNDER OF CHRISTIAN COMMUNAL MONASTICISM

THE FEAST OF RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

THE FEAST OF THOMAS A. DOOLEY, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC PHYSICIAN AND HUMANITARIAN

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Link to the corresponding post at BLOGA THEOLOGICA

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Devotion for the Second Sunday After Christmas, Years A, B, and C (ILCW Lectionary)   1 comment

Above:  The Tabernacle

Image in the Public Domain

Precious to God

NOT OBSERVED IN 2023

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According to the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship (ILCW) Lectionary (1973), as contained in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and Lutheran Worship (1982)

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Isaiah 61:10-62:3

Psalm 147:13-21 (LBW) or Psalm 147:12-20 (LW)

Ephesians 1:3-6, 15-18

John 1:1-18

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Almighty God, you have filled us with the

new light of the Word who became flesh and lived among us. 

Let the light of our faith shine in all that we do;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns

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

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 15

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O God, our Maker and Redeemer,

who wonderfully created and in the incarnation of your Son

yet more wondrously restored our human nature,

grant that we may ever be alive in him who made himself to be like us;

through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Lutheran Worship (1982), 19

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The people of God are precious to God.  All people are precious to God, of course.  I focus on the people of God in this post because that is the axis of the through line in the assigned readings.

The readings from Isaiah and the Psalms, in the context of the Babylonian Exile, speak of the vindication of the Jewish exiles.  Reading the first portion of Psalm 147 augments this theme.

Ephesians 1:5 refers to God having predestined certain people through Jesus Christ “for adoption toward him.”  Adopted children of God receive an inheritance.  The audience in the Epistle to the Ephesians was Gentile Christians.

John 1:14, in the Greek text (not necessarily in most English translations) speaks of the Word (Logos) of God–Jesus–pitching a tent in humankind.  This tent is the Tent of the Tabernacle (Exodus 25:8-9).  John 1:14 contains echoes of Joel 3:7; Zechariah 2:10; Ezekiel 43:7; Sirach 24:8; and other passages.

When the Prologue proclaims that the Word made his dwelling among men, we are being told that the flesh of Jesus Christ is the new localization of the ancient Tabernacle.  The Gospel will present Jesus as the replacement of the Temple (ii.19-22), which is a variation of the same theme.

Raymond E. Brown, The Gospel According to John I-XII (1966), 33

The verb meaning “to pitch a tent” or “to dwell” occurs also in Revelation 7:15 (to refer to God’s presence in Heaven) and in Revelation 21:3:

He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people.

God is present among us.  Do we notice?  God may seem thoroughly camouflaged, given the way the world is.  Yet God, who has long been present, will not depart.  People are precious to God.  Do we notice?  Do we consider others precious to God?  Do we think of ourselves as precious to God?

How we think of ourselves and others dictates how we treat others.  This underpins the Golden Rule.  This also underpins mutuality, a Biblical virtue.

So, how do we think of ourselves and others?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 16, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE SECOND SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROBERTO DE NOBOLI, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY IN INDIA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BERARD AND HIS COMPANIONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS IN MOROCCO, 1220

THE FEAST OF EDMUND HAMILTON SEARS, U.S. UNITARIAN MINISTER, HYMN WRITER, AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF EDWARD BUNNETT, ANGLICAN ORGANIST AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF SAINT JUANA MARIA CONDESA LLUCH, FOUNDER OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE HANDMAIDS OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION, PROTECTRESS OF WORKERS

THE FEAST OF TIMOTHY RICHARD MATTHEWS, ANGLICAN PRIEST, ORGANIST, AND HYMN TUNE COMPOSER

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Link to the corresponding post at BLOGA THEOLOGICA

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Devotion for the Nativity of Our Lord, Years A, B, and C (ILCW Lectionary)   1 comment

Above:  Annunciation to the Shepherds, by Rembrandt van Rijn

Image in the Public Domain

Divine Audacity

DECEMBER 24-25, 2022

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According to the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship (ILCW) Lectionary (1973), as contained in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and Lutheran Worship (1982)

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First Service (Christmas Eve)

Isaiah 9:2-7

Psalm 96

Titus 2:11-14

Luke 2:1-20

Second Service (Christmas Dawn)

Isaiah 52:7-10

Psalm 97 (LBW) or Psalm 2 (LW)

Hebrews 1:1-9

John 1:1-14

Third Service (Christmas Day)

Isaiah 62:10-12

Psalm 98

Titus 3:4-7

Luke 2:1-20

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Almighty God, you made this holy night shine with the brightness of the true Light.

Grant that here on earth we may walk in the light of Jesus’ presence

and in the last day wake to the brightness of his glory;

through your only Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns

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

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 14

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Almighty God, you have made yourself known in your Son, Jesus, redeemer of the world.

We pray that his birth as a human child will set us free from the old slavery of our sin;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 14

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O God, as you make us glad by the yearly festival of the birth of your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ,

grant that we, who joyfully receive him as our Redeemer,

may with sure confidence behold him when he comes to be our judge;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 16

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The Christian observance of Christmas began in the West, in the 300s.  At Rome, by 336, December 25 had become the beginning of the church year.  Pope St. Gregory I “the Great” (d. 604) wrote of three Christmas Masses–at St. Mary Major, at midnight; at St. Anastasia’s Church, at dawn; and at St. Peter’s, during the day.

Luke 2:1-20 is not historical.  I, as a student of history, cannot refute the evidence for this conclusion.  However, I embrace the prose poetry of Luke 2:1-20, for it speaks of a great truth:  Jesus, not the Emperor Augustus, was the Son of God and the savior of the world, regardless of what the Roman government and coinage claimed.

I have the sources and background to parce all the assigned readings.  Yet I choose not to do so in this post.  Instead, O reader, I invite you to frolic in divine audacity, evident in the incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity as a baby (however that worked).  I invite you, O reader, to frolic in divine audacity, which continues to influence lives and societies for the better.  I also invite you, O reader, to frolic in the mystery of divine love, to feel comfortable leaving the mystery mysterious, and to respond favorably to God daily, in gratitude.

Merry Christmas!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 9, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FIRST SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY:  THE BAPTISM OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF JULIA CHESTER EMERY, UPHOLDER OF MISSIONS

THE FEAST OF EMILY GREENE BALCH, U.S. QUAKER SOCIOLOGIST, ECONOMIST, AND PEACE ACTIVIST

THE FEAST OF GENE M. TUCKER, UNITED METHODIST MINISTER AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF JOHANN JOZEF IGNAZ VON DÖLLINGER, DISSDENT AND EXCOMMUNICATED GERMAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, THEOLOGIAN, AND HISTORIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT PHILIP II OF MOSCOW, METROPOLITAN OF MOSCOW AND ALL RUSSIA, AND MARTYR, 1569

THE FEAST OF THOMAS CURTIS CLARK, U.S. DISCIPLES OF CHRIST EVANGELIST, POET, AND HYMN WRITER

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Link to the corresponding post at BLOGA THEOLOGICA

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Devotion for Monday and Tuesday After the Last Sunday After the Epiphany, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Peter's Vision of the Sheet with Animals

Above:  Peter’s Vision of the Sheet with Animals

Image in the Public Domain

The Clean and the Unclean

FEBRUARY 28, 2022

MARCH 1, 2022

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The Collect:

Holy God, mighty and immortal, you are beyond our knowing,

yet we see your glory in the face of Jesus Christ.

Transform us into the likeness of your Son,

who renewed our humanity so that we may share in his divinity,

Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you

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

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 26

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The Assigned Readings:

Exodus 35:1-29 (Monday)

Ezekiel 1:1-2:1 (Tuesday)

Psalm 35:11-28 (Both Days)

Acts 10:9-23a (Monday)

Acts 10:23b-33 (Tuesday)

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[Jesus] said to [his Apostles], “Even you–don’t you understand?  Can’t you see that nothing that goes into someone from the outside can make that person unclean, because it goes not int the heart but into the stomach and passes into the sewer?” (Thus he pronounced all foods clean.)  And he went on, “It is what comes out of someone that makes that person unclean.  For it is from within, from the heart, that evil intentions emerge:  fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, malice, deceit, indecency, envy, slander, pride, folly.  All these evil things come from within and make a person unclean.

–Mark 7:18-23, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

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Ritual purity has long been a religious concern.  Separating oneself from the world (not always a negative activity) has informed overly strict Sabbath rules and practices.  (Executing a person for working on the Sabbath, per Exodus 35:2b, seems excessive to me.  I am biased, of course, for I have violated that law, which does not apply to me.)  Nevertheless, the Sabbath marked the freedom of the people, for slaves got no day off.  Ezekiel, living in exile in an allegedly unclean land, the territory of the Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian Empire, experienced a vision of the grandeur of God before God commissioned him a prophet.  Perhaps Ezekiel had, suffering under oppression, prayed in the words of Psalm 35:23,

Awake, arise to my cause!

to my defense, my God and my Lord!

The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

Those who took Judeans into exile and kept them there were unclean and not because they were Gentiles but because of their spiritual ills, on which they acted.  As St. Simon Peter learned centuries later, there is no unclean food and many people he had assumed to be unclean were not really so.

The drawing of figurative lines to separate the allegedly pure from the allegedly impure succeeds in comforting the former, fostering more self-righteousness in them, and doing injustice to the latter.  May nobody call unclean one whom God labels clean.  May no one mark as an outsider one whom God calls beloved.  This is a devotion for the last two days of the Season after the Epiphany.  The next season will be Lent.  Perhaps repenting of the sins I have listed above constitutes the agenda you, O reader, should follow this Lent.  I know that it is one I ought to follow.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 29, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PAUL MANZ, DEAN OF LUTHERAN CHURCH MUSIC

THE FEAST OF JOHN BUCKMAN WALTHOUR, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF ATLANTA

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2015/10/29/the-clean-and-the-unclean/

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Devotion for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday Before the Last Sunday After the Epiphany, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Vision of Cornelius the Centurion

Above:  The Vision of Cornelius the Centurion, by Gerbrand van den Eeckhout

Image in the Public Domain

God’s Surprises

FEBRUARY 24-26, 2022

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The Collect:

Holy God, mighty and immortal, you are beyond our knowing,

yet we see your glory in the face of Jesus Christ.

Transform us into the likeness of your Son,

who renewed our humanity so that we may share in his divinity,

Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you

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

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 26

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The Assigned Readings:

Deuteronomy 9:1-5 (Thursday)

Deuteronomy 9:6-14 (Friday)

Deuteronomy 9:15-24 (Saturday)

Psalm 99 (All Days)

Acts 3:11-16 (Thursday)

Acts 10:1-8 (Friday)

Luke 10:21-24 (Saturday)

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The LORD is King;

let the people tremble;

he is enthroned upon the cherubim;

let the earth shake.

–Psalm 99:1, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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The ways in which God works frequently surprise many people.  Declaring the Hebrews, who rebelled against God repeatedly, to be the Chosen People was one example.  Working through St. Simon Peter, an impetuous man, and St. Cornelius the Centurion, a Roman soldier, were two more examples.  The Incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity as Jesus of Nazareth was unique.  And what about hiding wonders

from the learned and the clever and revealing them to little children?

–Luke 10:21b, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

God chooses to work in ways, many of which surprise or scandalize many mere mortals.  Certain heroic figures in the Hebrew Bible were also scoundrels.  Oblivious Apostles in the Gospels became great leaders of nascent Christianity.  The circumstances of our Lord and Savior’s conception and birth led to decades of whispering behind his back and to his face.  Some Gentiles were closer to God than certain prominent Jews.  Standard labels might not apply when God is acting.  If we have spiritual and/or emotional difficulty with that reality, we need to confess that sin to God, to apologize, and to repent, by grace.

Simply put, if one is St. Simon Peter in an analogy, who is the St. Cornelius whose invitation will lead to an epiphany.  And is one willing to have an epiphany?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 28, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS SIMON AND JUDE, APOSTLES AND MARTYRS

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2015/10/28/gods-surprises-2/

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Devotion for Wednesday After the Eighth Sunday After the Epiphany, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Salt

Above:  A Container of Salt, October 28, 2015

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Salt

NOT OBSERVED IN 2019

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The Collect:

O God our rock, your word brings life to the whole creation from

and salvation from sin and death.

Nourish our faith in your promises, and ground us in your strength,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 25

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The Assigned Readings:

Proverbs 5:1-23

Psalm 1

Luke 14:34-35

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Happy are they who have not walked in the counsel of then wicked,

nor lingered in the way of sinners,

nor sat in the seats of the scornful!

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

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[Jesus said,] “Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored?  It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; they throw it away.  Let anyone with ears listen!”

–Luke 14:34-35, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

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Proverbs 5:1-23 is a straight-forward set of advice about why a man should remain infatuated with and faithful to his wife.  The pericope concludes:

For a man’s ways are before the eyes of God;

He surveys his entire course.

The wicked man will be trapped in his iniquities;

He will be caught up in the ropes of his sin.

He will die for lack of discipline,

Infatuated by his great folly.

–Proverbs 5:21-23, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

That fits well with Psalm 1.

Salt both preserves food and adds flavor to it.  Too little salt is bad for a person, as is an excessive amount of it.  Our Lord and Savior’s saying about salt follows a discourse on the cost of discipleship in Luke 14.  The cost of discipleship is to take up one’s cross and follow Jesus.  Discipleship entails laying aside anything which distracts one from God.  Certainly improper desires distract one from God.  Nothing can separate us from the love of God, but much can distract us from God, if we permit that to happen.

Interestingly, the parables in Luke 15 depict God as not being distracted from us.  Rather, God is concerned about us.  God seeks us actively and waits for us to return when we stray.  Divine rejoicing upon finding one who was lost is extravagant.  Does not such love merit reciprocation.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 28, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS SIMON AND JUDE, APOSTLES AND MARTYRS

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2015/10/28/salt/

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Devotion for Monday and Tuesday After the Eighth Sunday After the Epiphany, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Sycamore Figs

Above:  Sycamore Figs, 1900

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-matpc-00721

Good Figs

NOT OBSERVED IN 2019

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The Collect:

O God our rock, your word brings life to the whole creation from

and salvation from sin and death.

Nourish our faith in your promises, and ground us in your strength,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 25

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The Assigned Readings:

Jeremiah 24:1-10 (Monday)

Jeremiah 29:10-19 (Tuesday)

Psalm 1 (Both Days)

1 Corinthians 16:1-12 (Monday)

1 Corinthians 16:13-24 (Tuesday)

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Happy are they who have not walked in the counsel of then wicked,

nor lingered in the way of sinners,

nor sat in the seats of the scornful!

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

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In the readings from Jeremiah the national and religious existence of Judah would continue via faithful elites.  The motif of

I will send the sword, famine, and pestilence against them

applies to Judeans left in Judah after to the fall of the Kingdom, to King Zedekiah, and to his officials in Chapters 24 and 29.  The prophet, channeling God, likens faithful exiles to good figs and the latter group to bad figs.  Good figs turn back to God.  Bad figs face annihilation.

St. Paul the Apostle spent 1 Corinthians 16, the final chapter of that epistle, on personal, not heavy-duty theological matters.  There was a collection to help the Christians of Jerusalem.  The Apostle discussed travel plans and commended certain co-workers.  He emphasized the point that he wrote with his own hand; nobody took dictation this time.  And he wrote the following:

Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong.  Let all that you do be done in love.

–Verses 13 and 14, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

That sounds like a description of what one must do to be a good fig.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 28, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS SIMON AND JUDE, APOSTLES AND MARTYRS

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2015/10/28/good-figs/

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Devotion for Saturday Before the Eighth Sunday After the Epiphany, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Hezekiah

Above:  Hezekiah

Image in the Public Domain

The Mind of God

NOT OBSERVED IN 2019

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The Collect:

O God our rock, your word brings life to the whole creation from

and salvation from sin and death.

Nourish our faith in your promises, and ground us in your strength,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 25

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 30:8-17

Psalm 92:1-4, 12-15

John 16:1-4a

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During the reign of King Hezekiah of Judah, probably in 714 or 701 B.C.E., the monarch made diplomatic overtures to Egypt.  He was seeking to make Egypt.  He was seeking to make Egypt an ally, for the Assyrian Empire was threatening Judah.  First Isaiah opposed this geopolitical strategy.  His prophecy argued that an alliance with Egypt would create disgrace for Judah.  Later in Chapter 30, the prophet recorded a prophecy from God.  Depending on human strength is folly, it said, but Judah had chosen that path.  The kingdom would, so to speak, lie down in the bed it had made.

Far be it from me to read the mind of Hezekiah, who died a long time ago.  Perhaps he thought that he was doing the right thing.  I have read historical accounts of U.S. Presidents supporting regimes which victimized their own people, frequently during the Cold War.  But at least the military dictatorships which disappeared peaceful dissidents were not Communist, the State Department insisted.  Morally questionable choices frequently seem like the good–if not the least bad–options in real time.  Yet do not good intentions pave the road to Hell?

John 16:1-4a reflects the experiences of many early Jewish Christians.  Those who expelled Jewish Christians from synagogues did so in the name of God.  Often we mere mortals think that we know the mind of God–even if just slightly–but really have no idea.  We have mistaken human judgment for divine opinions.  The errors skew to the left, to the right, and to points between those two poles.  I make no pretenses of having mastered the divine mind–not even slightly–but I am confident in writing that, if God seems to agree with one all of the time, one is carrying on an internal dialogue with oneself.

The faithful and upright God of Psalm 92 disagrees with many people, especially those who are not righteous.  This does not mean, however, that a righteous person will agree with God all the time.  A righteous person is on the right path, however.  That counts for quite a lot.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 28, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS SIMON AND JUDE, APOSTLES AND MARTYRS

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2015/10/28/the-mind-of-god/

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Devotion for Friday Before the Eighth Sunday After the Epiphany, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Salonica

Above:  Salonica, Greece, 1913

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-USZ62-66142

God, Faithful to Divine Promises

NOT OBSERVED IN 2019

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The Collect:

O God our rock, your word brings life to the whole creation from

and salvation from sin and death.

Nourish our faith in your promises, and ground us in your strength,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 25

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The Assigned Readings:

Proverbs 15:1-9

Psalm 92:1-4, 12-15

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

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1 Thessalonians, which dates to about the year 50 C.E., or as many people knew it at the time, 803 A.U.C. (From the Founding of the City, the city being Rome), is the oldest extant example of Christian literature.  (The Gospels span from the late 60s to the 90s C.E.)  The audience at Thessalonica consisted of first-generation Christians.  A common expectation at the time was that Jesus might return at any moment.  He had not come back yet, however, and members of the Christian community at Thessalonica (as in Christian communities elsewhere) had begun to die.  These realities caused a spiritual crisis for many surviving Christians.  St. Paul the Apostle assured the Thessalonian church that those who had died would live with Jesus.  Among the themes in the theology of the great Apostle to the Gentiles was the faithfulness of God to divine promises.

Psalm 92 mentions divine faithfulness and loving-kindness.  One of the themes in Proverbs 15:1-9 is that God loves those who pursue righteousness and observes the good and the bad.  The prospect of God observing the good and the bad might comfort the good and disturb the bad.  Nevertheless, the truth that we can never avoid God remains.

I prefer to take comfort in this.  The God of my theology is not a figure who seeks to entrap anyone.  No, we mere mortals fall into traps on our own.  Often we ensnare ourselves, not just each other.  The God of my theology is faithful to divine promises.  Furthermore, in the metaphor of a trial, the Holy Spirit is my defense attorney.  God, I am convinced, sends nobody to Hell, although many people have demonstrated the ability to send themselves there.  I am no Christian universalist, but neither do I imagine God as Jonathan Edwards did–holding people over the flames of Hell.  The God of my theology says,

Follow me; I love you and have sacrificed much to redeem you.  But I will not force you to love me.  I will pursue you, but I will not force you to love me.

I have chosen to reciprocate, not to refuse.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 27, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ARTHUR CAMPBELL AINGER, ENGLISH EDUCATOR, SCHOLAR, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT AEDESIUS, PRIEST AND MISSIONARY; AND SAINT FRUDENTIUS, FIRST BISHOP OF AXUM AND ABUNA OF THE ETHIOPIAN ORTHODOX TEWAHEDO CHURCH

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH GRIGG, ENGLISH PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2015/10/27/god-faithful-to-divine-promises/

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Devotion for Thursday Before the Eighth Sunday After the Epiphany, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Cedars of Lebanon

Above:  Cedars of Lebanon, Between 1898 and 1946

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-matpc-11738

Grace Abounds

NOT OBSERVED IN 2019

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The Collect:

O God our rock, your word brings life to the whole creation from

and salvation from sin and death.

Nourish our faith in your promises, and ground us in your strength,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 25

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The Assigned Readings:

Proverbs 13:1-12

Psalm 92:1-4, 12-15

Romans 5:12-6:2

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The readings from Proverbs and Romans share the motif of contrasts.  In Proverbs 13:1-12 there is an A-B pattern, with the first line standing in contrast to the second yet not in contradiction to it.  Sometimes the text is overly optimistic.  For example:

A lazy man craves, but has nothing;

The diligent shall feast on rich fare.

–Proverbs 3:4, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

Some of the laziest people live off inherited wealth, and some of the hardest working people live in poverty.  (One might also read that excessive optimism into Psalm 92.)  Nevertheless, Proverbs 3:1-12 indicates a generally firm grasp of human nature, with some exceptions.

Grace abounds in Psalm 92 and Romans 5-6.  After a well-developed contrasts  between Adam (as a type representing sinful humanity) and Christ (as a type representing obedience and grace), in which we read that, through Jesus, something new has happened, we learn of the supremacy of grace over sin.  Grace abounds because sin does, but not in proportion to it.  No, grace is more abundant than sin.  One might imagine St. Paul the Apostle quoting a certain psalmist:

It is a good thing to give thanks to the LORD,

and to sing praises to your Name, O Most High;

To tell of your loving-kindness early in the morning

and of your faithfulness in the night season;

On the psaltery, and on the lyre,

and to the melody of the harp.

For you have made me glad by your acts, O LORD;

and I shout for joy because of the works of your hands.

–Psalm 92:1-4, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

I like that grace abounds, because of or in spite of what we do.  Sometimes we might have the finest of intentions and the best of deeds by which we become vehicles of grace.  That is wonderful.  On many other occasions, however, grace abounds despite our intentions and deeds.  The logic of St. Paul the Apostle was that sin existed prior to the Law of Moses, the Law increased and provoked sin, and grace abounded.  Everything leads to grace.  Much leads to the opposite of grace also, but grace still results.  Divine favor for those who obey God remains undefeated.

That message encourages, does it not?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 27, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ARTHUR CAMPBELL AINGER, ENGLISH EDUCATOR, SCHOLAR, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT AEDESIUS, PRIEST AND MISSIONARY; AND SAINT FRUDENTIUS, FIRST BISHOP OF AXUM AND ABUNA OF THE ETHIOPIAN ORTHODOX TEWAHEDO CHURCH

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH GRIGG, ENGLISH PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2015/10/27/grace-abounds/

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