Archive for the ‘February 16’ Category

Devotion for the Sixth Sunday After the Epiphany, Year B (Humes)   1 comment

Above:  The Calling of St. Matthew, by Hendrick ter Brugghen

Image in the Public Domain

The Power of Words

FEBRUARY 16, 2020

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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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Job 11:7-20 or Deuteronomy 15:7-11

Psalm 43

James 3:1-13

Mark 2:13-28

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Words matter.  They can inflict pain, even when one imagines oneself to be acting righteously, as in the case of Zophar the Naamathite, who proceeded from a false assumption while lecturing Job on repentance.  Words can call others to discipleship.  Words can remind one  of the divine mandate on individuals and societies to care for the less fortunate.  Words can reach the throne of God.

Words can create justice or injustice; they make the future.  May we, being mindful of the power of words, trust in God and strive to use these tools for the common good and the glory of God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 16, 2019 COMMON ERA

TRINITY SUNDAY, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF GEORGE BERKELEY, IRISH ANGLICAN BISHOP AND PHILOSOPHER; AND JOSEPH BUTLER, ANGLICAN BISHOP AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF JOHN FRANCIS REGIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF NORMAN MACLEOD, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER; AND HIS COUSIN, JOHN MACLEOD, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, LITURGIST, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF RUFUS JONES, U.S. QUAKER THEOLOGIAN AND COFOUNDER OF THE AMERICAN FRIENDS SERVICE COMMITTEE

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2019/06/16/words-matter-ii/

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

Flowering Herbs

Above:  Flowering Herbs, 1597

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-USZ62-71911

A Difficult Commandment

FEBRUARY 16, 2022

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The Collect:

Living God, in Christ you make all things new.

Transform the poverty of our nature by the riches of your grace,

and in the renewal of our lives make known your glory,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 24

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The Assigned Readings:

Jeremiah 22:11-17

Psalm 120

Luke 11:37-52

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Deliver me, O LORD, from lying lips

and from the deceitful tongue.

What shall be done to you, and what more besides,

O you deceitful tongue!

–Psalm 120:2-3, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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A callous heart is at least as bad as a deceitful tongue.

YHWH’s criticism of King Jehoahaz (a.k.a. Shallum) of Judah (reigned 609 B.C.E.) was that he cared about himself, not justice.  King Josiah (reigned 640-609 B.C.E.), of whom biblical authors approved, had died in battle against the forces of Pharoah Neco II of Egypt.  Shallum/Jehoahaz succeeded his esteemed father as King of Judah and reigned for about three months before the Pharaoh deposed him.  Shallum/Jehoahaz died in captivity in Egypt.  For full details, read 2 Kings 23:30-35 and 2 Chronicles 36:1-4, O reader.

More than once in the canonical Gospels Jesus condemns Pharisees for obsessing over minor regulations while neglecting commandments requiring social justice.  There is some repetition from one synoptic Gospel to another due to duplication of material, but the theme repeats inside each of the Gospels.  That theme is as germane today as it was when Jesus walked on the planet.  Keeping certain commandments, although difficult, is easier than obeying others.  The proverbial low-hanging fruit is easy to reach, but keeping other commandments proves to be inconvenient at best and threatening to one’s socio-economic standing at worst.  This is one reason, for example, for many socially conservative Christians having emphasized individual holiness while doing little or nothing to oppose racism, slavery, sexism, child labor, and other social ills in the history of the United States.  Yes, many Christians worked to end these problems, but many others accepted them or even used the Bible to justify them.  Yet, as the Bible testifies again and again, God desires holiness and social justice.

YHWH and Jesus call for proper priorities.  Love your neighbor as you love yourself, they command us.  That is a difficult order.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 14, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ALL CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL ISAAC JOSEPH SCHERESCHEWSKY, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF SHANGHAI

THE FEAST OF THOMAS HANSEN KINGO, DANISH LUTHERAN BISHOP, HYMN WRITER, AND “POET OF EASTERTIDE”

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2015/10/14/a-difficult-commandment/

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

Mt. Sinai

Above:  Mt. Sinai, Between 1898 and 1946

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-matpc-09625

Mountains, God, and Holiness

FEBRUARY 15 and 16, 2021

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The Collect:

Almighty God, the resplendent light of your truth

shines from the mountaintop into our hearts.

Transfigure us by your beloved Son,

and illumine the world with your image,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 26

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The Assigned Readings:

Exodus 19:7-25 (Monday)

Job 19:23-27 (Tuesday)

Psalm 110:1-4 (Both Days)

Hebrews 2:1-4 (Monday)

1 Timothy 3:14-16 (Tuesday)

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God seemed quite mysterious–even dangerous–in Exodus 19.  Anyone who touched Mt. Sinai would die, for the mountain was holy, and that made the geographical feature more hazardous than usual.  There was also a hazard in the peoples’ pledge to obey God’s commandments, due to the penalties for violating them.

God was also a threat in the mind of Job, who, in 19:23-27, looked forward to his Redeemer/Vindicator, a kinsman who would, in the words of a note on page 1529 of The Jewish Study Bible (2004),

vindicate him, will take revenge on God for what God has done to Job.

That is a desire many people have felt.  That interpretation is also far removed from a traditional Christian understanding of the text, not that there is anything wrong with that difference.

We find the friendly and scary faces of God in the New Testament readings.  Hebrews 2:1-4 reminds us of penalties for sins.  Yet 1 Timothy 3:14-16 brings us the mystery and the graces of God in the context of Jesus.  That example is far removed from Exodus 19:7-25, where divine holiness was fatal to people.  What could be closer to people–even in contact with them–and holy without being fatal to them than Jesus?

Mountains and the divine go together in the Bible.  Moses received the Law on one.  Jesus preached from mountains.  His Transfiguration occurred on one.  He “ascended” (whatever that means in literal, as opposed to theological terms) from a mountain.  The symbolism also works in our lives, as in our “mountaintop experiences.”

As we depart the Season after the Epiphany for Lent, may we seek and find, by grace, a closer walk with God, whose holiness gives us life and is not fatal to us.  May we internalize the lessons God wants us to internalize.  And, when we are angry with God, may we have enough faith to, in the style of Job, argue faithfully.  Communication cannot occur in the absence of messages.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 4, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FIFTH DAY OF ADVENT, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH MOHR, AUSTRIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT BARBARA, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS, HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN CALABRIA, FOUNDER OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE POOR SERVANTS AND THE POOR WOMEN SERVANTS OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/12/06/mountains-god-and-holiness/

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Devotion for Thursday and Friday Before the Last Sunday After Epiphany, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   4 comments

jmdp-56

Above:  Jonathan Myrick Daniels Memorial , August 9, 2013

Image Source = Bill Monk, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

Active, World-Changing Faith

FEBRUARY 16 and 17, 2023

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The Collect:

O God, in the transfiguration of your Son you confirmed the

mysteries of the faith by the witness of Moses and Elijah,

and in the voice from the bright cloud declaring Jesus your beloved Son,

you foreshadowed our adoption as your children.

Make us heirs with Christ of your glory, and bring us to enjoy its fullness,

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

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

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 25

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The Assigned Readings:

Exodus 6:2-9 (Thursday)

Exodus 19:9b-25 (Friday)

Psalm 2 (Both Days)

Hebrews 8:1-7 (Thursday)

Hebrews 11:23-28 (Friday)

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The kings of the earth rise up,

and the rulers take counsel together,

against the Lord and against his anointed:

“Let us break their bonds asunder

and cast away their cords from us.”

He who dwells in heaven shall laugh them to scorn;

the Lord shall have them in derision.

–Psalm 2:2-4, Common Worship (2000)

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But when Moses repeated those words to the Israelites, they would not listen to him, because of their cruel slavery, they had reached the depths of despair.

–Exodus 6:9, The Revised English Bible (1989)

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Active faith by which we follow God has changed the world for the better.  In the United States of America, for example, it fueled the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s.  Such active faith overturned Apartheid in the Republic of South Africa.  This continues to compel people to work for social justice all over the planet.

Yet passiveness born of resignation stymies progress.  Giving up on improving conditions in this world and seeking a better lot only in the afterlife does nothing to work for a just society on this plane of reality.  The Hebrew prophets condemned social injustice.  Our Lord and Savior did likewise.  Indeed, seeking to improve this reality is part and parcel of loving one’s neighbor and pursuing the great Jewish ethic of healing the world.

So may each of us never make peace with oppression.  May all of us take to heart and act on the following prayer:

O God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served, and to give his life for the life of the world.  Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom the world offers no comfort and little help.  Through us give hope to the hopeless, love to the unloved, peace to the troubled, and rest to the weary, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 22, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK PRATT GREEN, BRITISH METHODIST MINISTER, POET, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF BARTHOLOMEW ZOUBERBUHLER, ANGLICAN PRIEST

THE FEAST OF PAUL TILLICH, LUTHERAN THEOLOGIAN

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/active-world-changing-faith/

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Devotion for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday Before the Seventh Sunday After Epiphany, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   3 comments

Torfabrik_02

Above:  A Soccer Ball

Image Source = DerHans04

Freedom in God

FEBRUARY 16, 2017

FEBRUARY 17, 2017

FEBRUARY 18, 2017

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The Collect:

Holy God of compassion, you invite us into your way of forgiveness and peace.

Lead us to love our enemies, and transform our words and deeds

to be like his through whom we pray, Jesus Christ, our Savior.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 24

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The Assigned Readings:

Exodus 22:21-27 (Thursday)

Leviticus 6:1-7 (Friday)

Leviticus 24:10-23 (Saturday)

Psalm 119:33-40 (All Days)

1 Corinthians 10:23-11:1 (Thursday)

Galatians 5:2-6 (Friday)

Matthew 7:1-12 (Saturday)

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A Related Post:

Excesses and Errors of Pietism:

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/09/03/excesses-and-errors-of-pietism/

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Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes

and I shall keep it to the end.

–Psalm 119:33, Common Worship (2000)

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Freedom in God comes bundled with responsibilities to each other in community life.  Such liberty is not an ultra-libertarian fantasy.  But neither does it constitute individual-crushing conformity.  No, freedom comes with rules.  We ought not to harm others by our actions purposefully or otherwise.  When we do, we have an obligation to make restitution.  Sometimes, in the Law of Moses, one finds a rule which offends contemporary sensibilities.  Executing someone for blasphemy comes to mind immediately.  I know that such a charge contributed to the judicial murder of our Lord and Savior.  I know also that such a charge leads to the martyrdom of many of my fellow Christians in these days.  So I have my reasons for holding the opinion that I do.  Yet I know that this law came from the context of thinking about the welfare of the community.

We must avoid ridiculous extremes, which are relatively easy to identify.  I think of a secondhand story over a decade old.  Some very conservative Christians in Statesboro, Georgia, objected to soccer, calling it

too worldly.

I argue that one does not sin by playing soccer, no matter how much it might offend people with such an opinion.  If one chooses to offend nobody one sets oneself up for an impossible situation, for anything might offend somebody, somewhere.  And improper idleness, taking the place of righteous action, constitutes a sin.  So some people will just have to take offense and cope as best they can.  There is no right not to be offended.  Many things offend me, but I move on with life, minding my own business, which keeps me occupied.

On the other hand, we must think about the effects of our behaviors upon others if we are to behave toward them with proper respect.  And, since how we think drives how we act, a loving and respectful, not judgmental attitude, is the proper starting point.  May we choose noble or at least innocent pursuits in the knowledge that somebody, somewhere might misunderstand even these, but that we must do something positive despite that fact.  Perhaps we will have opportunities to correct such confusion.  Yet, even if we will not, we will have the chances to engage in good works, which are part of one’s set of responsibilities to others in the community.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 18, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT LUKE THE EVANGELIST, PHYSICIAN

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/10/18/freedom-in-god-2/

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An Invitation to Observe a Holy Epiphany and Season after Epiphany   Leave a comment

Above:  Episcopal Church of the Epiphany, Atlanta, Georgia, January 8, 2012

Image Source = Bill Monk, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

Liturgical time matters, for it sacramentalizes days, hours, and minutes, adding up to seasons on the church calendar.  Among the frequently overlooked seasons is the Season after Epiphany, the first part of Ordinary Time.  The Feast of the Epiphany always falls on January 6 in my tradition.  And Ash Wednesday always falls forty days (excluding Sundays) before Easter Sunday.  The Season after Epiphany falls between The Feast of the Epiphany and Ash Wednesday.  In 2013 the season will span January 7-February 12.

This season ought to be a holy time, one in which to be especially mindful of the imperative to take the good news of Jesus of Nazareth to others by a variety of means, including words when necessary.  Words are meaningless when our actions belie them, after all.  Among the themes of this season is that the Gospel is for all people, not just those we define as insiders.  No, the message is also for our “Gentiles,” those whom we define as outsiders.  So, with that thought in mind, I encourage you, O reader, to exclude nobody.  Do not define yourself as an insider to the detriment of others.  If you follow this advice, you will have a proper Epiphany spirit.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 9, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF MARTIN CHEMNITZ, GERMAN LUTHERAN THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF BARTON STONE, COFOUNDER OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH (DISCIPLES OF CHRIST)

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Devotion for February 16 in Epiphany/Ordinary Time (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   3 comments

Above:  A Crucifix

Job and John, Part X:  Questions of Divine Abuse

FEBRUARY 16, 2023

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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 everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Job 12:1-6, 12-25

Psalm 56 (Morning)

Psalms 100 and 62 (Evening)

John 5:30-47

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Job, in Chapter 12, accuses God of abusing power.  This is understandable when coming from that character in the context of the narrative.  And, given the contents of the first two chapters, it seems like a reasonable statement, from a certain point of view.

The abuse in John 5 is of human origin.  Rather, abuse will flow from human plotting and scheming against Jesus.  The refusal to accept Jesus, combined with the willingness to do or to commit or to sanction violence, will lead to our Lord’s death.  And, if if one really affirms Penal Substitutionary Atonement, the death of Jesus constitutes divine abuse.  The depiction of God in that theological formulation sounds to me like

I will not be satisfied until my Son is tortured then killed!

There are, fortunately, two other understandings of the mechanics of the atonement present in the writings of the Church Fathers.

I have more questions than answers regarding the abusiveness (alleged or actual) of divine actions.  My goal is to be faithful, not to attempt a vain theodicy.  If my explanations are wrong, so be it; I can accept that.  As the Book of Job will reveal, God had only brief words for the alleged friends but a speech for Job.  He who asked questions got a dialogue, if not satisfactory answers.

Until the next segment of our journey….

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 26, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS REMACLUS OF MAASTRICHT, THEODORE OF MAASTRICHT, LAMBERT OF MAASTRICHT, HUBERT OF MAASTRICHT AND LIEGE, AND FLORIBERT OF LIEGE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; LANDRADA OF MUNSTERBILSEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBESS; AND OTGER OF UTRECHT, PLECHELM OF GUELDERLAND, AND WIRO, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARIES

THE FEAST OF CHRISTINA ROSSETTI, POET

THE FEAST OF SAINT PASCHASIUS RADBERTUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF ROBERT HUNT, FIRST ANGLICAN CHAPLAIN AT JAMESTOWN, VIRGINIA

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/11/06/job-and-john-part-x-questions-of-divine-abuse/

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Before a Bible Study   Leave a comment

Above:  An Old Family Bible

Image Source = David Ball

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God of glory,

as we prepare to study the Bible,

may we approach the texts with our minds open,

our intellects engaged,

and our spirits receptive to your leading,

so that we will understand them correctly

and derive from them the appropriate lessons.

Then may we act on those lessons.

For the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ,

Amen.

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KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 7, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HENRY MELCHIOR MUHLENBERG, SHEPHERD OF LUTHERANISM IN THE AMERICAN COLONIES

THE FEAST OF FRED KAAN, HYMNWRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN WOOLMAN, ABOLITIONIST

Posted October 7, 2011 by neatnik2009 in December 1, December 10, December 11, December 12, December 13, December 14, December 15, December 16, December 17, December 18, December 19, December 2, December 20, December 21, December 22, December 23, December 24: Christmas Eve, December 25: First Day of Christmas, December 26: Second Day of Christmas/St. Stephen, December 27: Third Day of Christmas/St. John the Evangelist, December 28: Fourth Day of Christmas/Holy Innocents, December 29: Fifth Day of Christmas, December 3, December 30: Sixth Day of Christmas, December 31: Seventh Day of Christmas/New Year's Eve, December 4, December 5, December 6, December 7, December 8, December 9, February 1, February 10, February 11, February 12, February 13, February 14, February 15, February 16, February 17, February 18, February 19, February 2, February 20, February 21, February 22, February 23, February 24, February 25, February 26, February 27, February 28, February 29, February 3, February 4, February 5, February 6, February 7, February 8, February 9, January 10, January 11, January 12, January 13, January 14, January 15, January 16, January 17, January 18, January 19, January 1: Eighth Day of Christmas/Holy Name of Jesus/New Year's Day, January 20, January 21, January 22, January 23, January 24, January 25, January 26, January 27, January 28, January 29, January 2: Ninth Day of Christmas, January 30, January 31, January 3: Tenth Day of Christmas, January 4: Eleventh Day of Christmas, January 5: Twelfth Day of Christmas, January 6: Epiphany, January 7, January 8, January 9, March 1, March 2, March 3, March 4, March 5, March 6, March 7, March 8, March 9, November 27, November 28, November 29, November 30

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Week of 6 Epiphany: Wednesday, Year 2   6 comments

Above:  A Nurse with Orphaned Babies

Image Source = Michielvd

Pure and Faultless Worship

FEBRUARY 16, 2022

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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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James 1:19-27 (Revised English Bible):

Of that you may be certain, my dear friends.  But everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to be angry.  For human anger does not promote God’s justice.  Then discard everything sordid, and every wicked excess, and meekly accept the message planted in your hearts, with its power to save you.

Only be sure you act on the message, and do not merely listen and so deceive yourselves.  Anyone who does not act on it is like someone looking in a mirror at the face nature gave him; he glances at himself and forgets what he looked like.  But he who looks into the perfect law, the law that makes us free, and does not turn away, remembers what he hears; he acts on it, and by so acting he will find happiness.

If anyone thinks he is religious but does not bridle his tongue, he is deceiving himself; that man’s religion is futile.  A pure and faultless religion in the sight of God the Father is this:  to look after orphans and widows in trouble and to keep oneself untarnished by the world.

Psalm 15 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 LORD, who may dwell in your tabernacle?

who may abide upon your holy hill?

Whoever leads a blameless life and does what is right,

who speaks the truth from his heart.

3 There is no guile upon his tongue;

he does no evil to his friend;

he does not heap contempt upon his neighbor.

In his sight the wicked is rejected,

but he honors those who fear the LORD.

5 He has sworn to do no wrong

and does not take back his word.

6 He does not give his money in hope of gain,

nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.

Whoever does these things

shall never be overthrown.

Mark 8:22-26 (Revised English Bible):

They arrived at Bethsaida.  There the people brought a blind man to Jesus and begged him to touch him.  He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village.  Then he spat on his eyes, laid his eyes upon him, and asked if he could see anything.  The man’s sight began to come back, and he said,

I see people–they look like trees, but they are walking about.

Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; he looked hard, and now he was cured and could not see anything clearly.  Then Jesus sent him home, saying,

Do not even go into the village.

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The Collect:

O  God, the strength of all who put their trust in you: Mercifully accept our prayers; and because in our weakness we can do nothing good without you, give us the help of your grace, that in keeping your commandments we may please you both in will and deed; 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 6 Epiphany:  Wednesday, Year 1:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/25/week-of-6-epiphany-wednesday-year-1/

Faith in Romans vs. Faith in James:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/04/week-of-proper-23-tuesday-year-1/

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Be quick to listen,

but over your answer take time.

Give an answer if you know what to say,

but if not, hold your tongue.

Through speaking come both honour and dishonour,

and the tongue can be its owner’s downfall.

–Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 5:11-13, Revised English Bible

So much for the FOX News Channel, much of A.M. talk radio in the United States, and many comments on the Internet being positive influences.  Fortunately, I choose not to consume such content.  My life is better because of this lifestyle choice.

Faith, for James, is active.  This is as it should be.  And the level of activity goes deeper than the English translation indicates.  At the end of Chapter 1 we read about pure religion, but the Greek word indicates worship.  So, according to James 1:27,

Pure and faultless worship is this:  to look after orphans and widows in trouble, and to keep oneself untarnished by the world.

This is consistent with Jesus (Matthew 25:31-46) and the Hebrew prophets who condemned rampant corruption and economic injustice and stated that these made a mockery of religious rituals.  According to Jesus, the prophets, and James, we ought to act out of love and compassion, not anger, a preference for opinions over facts, and one upsmanship.  I am convinced that it is better not to participate in an argument than to win one by shouting the loudest the longest.  It is best, in fact, to do something good for another person.

Let’s get busy committing good deeds, with as many of them as possible being anonymous.  If we are doing these for the benefit of others and the glory of God, this is the best way to commit them.

KRT

Week of 6 Epiphany: Thursday, Year 1   19 comments

Above:  Saint Peter

Messiah 101

FEBRUARY 16, 2023

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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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Genesis 9:1-17 (Revised English Bible):

God blessed Noah and his sons; he said to them,

Be fruitful and increase in numbers, and fill the earth.  Fear and dread of you will come on all the animals on earth, on all the birds of the air, on everything that moves on the ground, and on all fish in the sea; they are made subject to you.  Every creature that lives and moves will be food for you; I give them all to you, as I have given you every green plant.  But you must never eat flesh with its life still in it, that is the blood.  And further, for your life-blood I shall demand satisfaction; from every animal I shall require it, and from human beings also I shall require satisfaction for the death of their fellows.

“Anyone who sheds human blood,

for that human being his blood will be shed;

because in the image of God

has God made human beings.”

Be fruitful, then, and increase in number; people the earth and rule over it.

God said to Noah and his sons:

I am now establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, all birds and cattle, all the animals with you on earth, all that have come out of the ark.  I shall sustain my covenant with you:  never again will all living creatures be destroyed by the waters of a flood, never again will there be a flood to lay waste the earth.

God said,

For all generations to come, this is the sign which I am giving of the covenant between myself and you and all living creatures with you:

my bow I set in the clouds

to be a sign of the covenant

between myself and the earth.

When I bring clouds over the earth,

the rainbow will appear in the clouds.

Then I shall remember the covenant which I have made with you and all living creatures, and never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all creation.  Whenever the bow appears in the cloud, I shall see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and living creatures of every kind on earth.

So God said to Noah,

This is the sign of the covenant which I have established with all that lives on earth.

Psalm 102:15-22 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

15 The nations shall fear your Name, O LORD,

and all the kings of the earth your glory.

16 For the LORD will build up Zion,

and his glory will appear.

17 He will look with favor on the prayer of the homeless;

he will not despise their plea.

18 Let this be written for a future generation,

so that a people yet unborn may praise the LORD.

19 For the LORD looked down from his holy place on high;

from the heavens he beheld the earth;

20 That he might hear the groan of the captive

and set free those condemned to die;

21 That they may declare in Zion the Name of the LORD,

and his praise in Jerusalem;

22 When the peoples are gathered together,

and the kingdoms also, to serve the LORD.

Mark 8:27-33 (Revised English Bible):

Jesus and his disciples set out for the villages of Caesarea Philippi, and on the way he asked his disciples,

Who do people say that I am?

They answered,

Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, others one of the prophets.

He asked,

And you, who do you say that I am?

Peter replied,

You are the Messiah.

Then he gave them strict orders not to tell anyone about him; and he began to teach them that the Son of Man had to endure great suffering, and to be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes; to be put to death, and to rise again three days afterwards.  He spoke about it plainly.  At this Peter took hold of him and began to rebuke him.  But Jesus, turning and looking at his disciples, rebuked Peter.

Out of my sight, Satan!

he said.

You think as men think, not as God thinks.

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The Collect:

O  God, the strength of all who put their trust in you: Mercifully accept our prayers; and because in our weakness we can do nothing good without you, give us the help of your grace, that in keeping your commandments we may please you both in will and deed; 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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In the Southern United States, my native region, we have a saying:  “God bless him (or her).”  I apply this to Simon Peter.  “God bless him.”

The author of the Gospel of Mark states of Jesus that “He spoke about it plainly.”  “It” refers to his impending arrest, torture, execution, and resurrection.  Recall that Jesus had spoken of another matter in metaphors just a few verses before, and the Apostles did understand then.  Now, that our Lord and Savior has laid metaphors aside and begun to use plain Aramaic, the Apostles are just as dense.  They hear his words, but they do not like them.  “Surely Jesus cannot mean this, can he?  No, this cannot be.”  This is my paraphrase of what Apostles, namely Peter, must have thought.

The prevailing concept of Messiahship was that the Messiah would be the conquering hero who would expel the Roman occupiers.  This is understandable; who likes to live in his or her home, under foreign domination?  One of the messages in the Gospel of Mark is this:  The role of the Messiah is not to conquer, but to suffer, die, and rise again.  This is Messiah 101.

God does not think as we do, so attempting to follow God carries the risk of getting it wrong.  This was Peter’s situation, “God bless him.”  Yet consider what he became.  How is that for grace?

God is gracious, as the reading from Genesis makes plain.  God establishes a covenant with people and does not require anything of us; this is about what God will do and will not do.  God will be gracious to us, and the symbol (because we like visuals) is a rainbow.  Professor Richard Elliott Friedman quotes Rabbi Martin Lawson regarding this sign:  The rainbow symbolizes the covenant with Noah because it is “a bow pointed away from the earth.”  The origin of the name rainbow in English and Hebrew derives from the fact that the rainbow has the same shape as a bow used to shoot arrows.  The arrows are pointed away from earth.

The presence of Jesus on the earth is likewise an indication of grace.  God is on our side.  Are we on God’s side? (God bless us.)

KRT