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

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 8 and 9, 2016

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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 4, 5, and 6, 2016

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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 2016

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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 2016

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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 2016

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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 2016

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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 2016

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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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