Archive for the ‘February 4’ Category

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

Icon of Aaron

Above:  Icon of Aaron

Image in the Public Domain

Leadership

FEBRUARY 3 and 4, 2022

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Collect:

Most Holy God, the earth is filled with your glory,

and before you angels and saints stand in awe.

Enlarge our vision to see your power at work in the world,

and by your grace make us heralds of your Son,

Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 24

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Assigned Readings:

Numbers 20:22-29 (Thursday)

Numbers 27:12-23 (Friday)

Psalm 138 (Both Days)

Acts 9:19b-25 (Thursday)

Acts 9:26-31 (Friday)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The LORD will make good his purpose for me;

O LORD, your love endures for ever;

do not abandon the works of your hands.

–Psalm 138:9, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Moses and Aaron had been leaders of the Israelite community in the desert for decades.  Both of them had, however, rebelled against God.  Their penalty was never to enter the Promised Land.  Aaron died, and a son became the next priest.  Moses passed the torch of leadership to Joshua son of Nun before dying.  God’s work continued via different people.

Saul of Tarsus had also rebelled against God before God intervened directly and Saul became St. Paul the Apostle, one of the greatest and most influential Christian theologians and evangelists.  The Apostle’s life after his conversion was much more hazardous than it had been prior to his fateful journey to Damascus.  Apart from biography, perhaps the greatest difference between Moses and Aaron on one hand and St. Paul on the other hand was that Moses and Aaron rebelled against God while on duty for God.  St. Paul was a reformed rebel.  Richard Elliott Friedman wrote,

Leaders of a congregation cannot violate the very instruction that they uphold and teach to others.

Commentary on the Torah with a New English Translation and the Hebrew Text (2001), page 497

Or rather, they can violate that instruction yet may not do so.

A leader is one whom others follow.  If one thinks that one might be a leader, one should turn around and see if anybody is following one.  If no person is following one, one is merely walking.

With leadership comes the responsibility to lead well.  Among the best forms of leadership is setting a good example.  Hypocrisy creates scandal much of the time and weakens one’s ability to lead properly.  For example, one who condemns gambling (a good thing to criticize) yet frequents casinos or a casino and gets caught doing so justly loses credibility.

Are you a leader, O reader?  If so, may you lead well, as God directs you, for the glory of God and the benefit of those who follow you.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 9, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT DENIS, BISHOP OF PARIS, AND HIS COMPANIONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF SAINT LUIS BERTRAN, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY PRIEST

THE FEAST OF ROBERT GROSSETESTE, SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF WILHELM WEXELS, NORWEGIAN LUTHERAN MINISTER, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR; HIS NIECE, MARIE WEXELSEN, NORWEGIAN LUTHERAN NOVELIST AND HYMN WRITER; LUDWIG LINDEMAN, NORWEGIAN LUTHERAN ORGANIST AND MUSICOLOGIST; AND MAGNUS LANDSTAD, NORWEGIAN LUTHERAN MINISTER, FOLKLORIST, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMNAL EDITOR

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2015/10/09/leadership/

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Devotion for Thursday and Friday Before the Fifth Sunday After the Epiphany, Year B (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Icon of Job

Above:  Icon of Job

Image in the Public Domain

Free to Act Faithfully and Compassionately

FEBRUARY 4 and 5, 2021

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Collect:

Everlasting God, you give strength to the weak and power to the faint.

Make us agents of your healing and wholeness,

that your good may be made known to the ends your creation,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 24

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Assigned Readings:

Proverbs 12:10-21 (Thursday)

Job 36:1-23 (Friday)

Psalm 147:1-11, 20 (Both Days)

Galatians 5:2-15 (Thursday)

1 Corinthians 9:1-16 (Friday)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

He  heals the brokenhearted

and binds up their wounds.

–Psalm 147:3, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

One important task to perform while reading and inwardly digesting the Book of Job is to remember who is speaking at a given point.  Consider, O reader, Elihu.  He was an original part of the poem, and he rehashed arguments of the three main alleged friends, who also blamed the victim.  These four characters could not accept that the titular character had done nothing to deserve his circumstances of suffering.  They were correct some of the time regarding aspects of their cases, but they proceeded from a false assumption.

One is repaid in kind for one’s sinful deeds.

–Proverbs 12:14b, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

Yet the Book of Job tells us that Job did not suffer because of any sin.  No, the narrative tells us, God permitted the suffering as a test of loyalty.

Sometimes circumstances challenge our preconceptions and theological soundbites.  May we recall that we are free in God to love God and to care for each other, not to win theological arguments.  Alleged orthodoxy means far less than sound orthopraxy.

Here ends the lesson, O reader.  Go forth to love your neighbor as yourself, bearing his or her burdens, weeping with those who weep, and rejoicing with those who rejoice.  Be agents of divine grace to those to whom God sends you and whom God sends to you.

DECEMBER 1, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE SECOND DAY OF ADVENT, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF NICHOLAS FERRAR, ANGLICAN DEACON

THE FEAST OF SAINT CHARLES DE FOUCAULD, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT

THE FEAST OF SAINT EDMUND CAMPION, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT ELIGIUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/12/06/free-to-act-faithfully-and-compassionately/

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Devotion for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday After the Fourth Sunday After Epiphany, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   4 comments

Millet_Gleaners

Above:  The Gleaners, by Jean-Francois Millet

Image in the Public Domain

Mutual Responsibility and Faithful Actions

FEBRUARY 3-5, 2020

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Collect:

Holy God, you confound the world’s wisdom in giving your kingdom to the lowly and the pure in heart.

Give us such a hunger and thirst for justice, and perseverance in striving for peace,

that in our words and deeds we may see the life of your Son, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 23

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Assigned Readings:

Ruth 1:1-18 (Monday)

Ruth 2:1-16 (Tuesday)

Ruth 3:1-13; 4:13-22 (Wednesday)

Psalm 37:1-17 (all days)

Philemon 1-25 (Monday)

James 5:1-6 (Tuesday)

Luke 6:17-26 (Wednesday)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Be still before the Lord and wait for him;

do not fret over those that prosper as they follow their evil schemes.

Refrain from anger and abandon wrath;

do not fret let you be moved to do evil.

–Psalm 37:7-8, Common Worship (2000)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

And sometimes one ought to act faithfully, not just be still faithfully.  In the case of the Book of Ruth, for example, people were active, not passive.  There was more going on than children’s Sunday School lessons (and even many, if not most, adult Sunday School lessons) admit, for that activity entailed seduction before love became a reality.  As Jennifer Wright Knust writes in Unprotected Texts:

To the writer of Ruth, family can consist of an older woman and her beloved immigrant daughter-in-law, women can easily raise children on their own, and men can be seduced if it serves the interests of women.

–page 33

And, as Krust writes on page 35, the emotional bond and subsequent covenant between Ruth and Naomi helped both of them and Israel as a whole.  I add that it has helped many subsequent generations all over the world due its role in the genealogy of Jesus.

Family–not in the sense of marriage or ancestry–unites the readings for these three days.  The ethic of mutual responsibility (part of the Law of Moses) runs through the New Testament also.  The more fortunate, who ought not to depend on their wealth in lieu of God, have responsibilities to the less fortunate.  Philemon had responsibilities to Onesimus, who was not necessarily a slave or even a fugitive.  (A very close reading of the text–one passage in particular–in the Greek raises serious questions about the traditional understanding).

This notion of mutual responsibility and the opinion of wealth one finds in Luke and James are profoundly counter-cultural in my North American setting, where rugged individualism and the quest for wealth are accepted values.  Yet with mutual responsibility comes inderdependence.  And the quest for enough wealth for one’s present and future needs, although laudable, becomes insatiable greed for some people.  Such greed is socially destructive, denying others enough.  There is always enough for everyone in God’s economy; scarcity is a feature of human, sinful economic systems.

May we, by grace, act faithfully and effectively to reduce such sinfulness where we are.  And, if we have not fallen into greed, may we not do so.  If we have, may we confess and repent of it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 8, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILFRED THOMASON GRENFELL, MEDICAL MISSIONARY TO NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT BRIDGET OF SWEDEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN

THE FEAST OF ERIK ROUTLEY, HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM DWIGHT PORTER BLISS, EPISCOPAL PRIEST; AND RICHARD THEODORE ELY, ECONOMIST

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/10/18/mutual-responsibility-and-faithful-actions/

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Devotion for February 4 in Epiphany/Ordinary Time (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   4 comments

Above:  Tragic Mask

Image Source = Holger.Ellgaard

Job and John, Part I:  Suffering

FEBRUARY 4, 2022

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Assigned Readings:

Job 1:1-22

Psalm 5 (Morning)

Psalms 84 and 29 (Evening)

John 1:1-18

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Some Related Posts:

A Prayer for Those Who Are Tortured:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/05/28/a-prayer-for-those-who-are-tortured/

A Prayer for Those Who Inflict Torture:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/05/28/a-prayer-for-those-who-inflict-torture/

God Be In My Head:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/05/28/god-be-in-my-head/

Prayers for Those Who Suffer:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/prayers-for-those-who-suffer/

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

With this day the Lutheran daily lectionary takes a turn into two great books:  Job and the Gospel of John.  I have read these closely but never together.  So I look forward to that experience.  I wonder what parallels, contrasts, and connections will become apparent.

It is crucial to avoid reading the Book of Job anachronistically if one is to understand what is happening in its pages.  Satan is God’s employee in the text.  His job is to test the loyalty of people–in this case, Job.  The theology of Satan’s role relative to God did not make him a rebel until the Persian period in Jewish history, and the Book of Job, with all of its layers of composition (at least four, according to The Jewish Study Bible), is pre-Persian.  So Job, a good man, suffers because God permits it.  That is what the Book of Job says.

Turning to the the Johannine Gospel, we read the glorious prologue.  There is much to comment on there, but I focus on the thread of rejections, for that led to Christ’s suffering.

The Word was the real light

that gives light to everyone;

he was coming into the world.

He was in the world

that had come into being through him,

and the world did not recognise him.

He came to his own

and his own did not accept him.

–John 1:9-11, The New Jerusalem Bible

Job, a purely fictional figure, suffered not because of what he had done.  Jesus, who was real, also suffered not because of any sin or consequences thereof.  The question of suffering and its causes is vexing much of the time.  As Mayer Gruber, in his introduction to the Book of Job in The Jewish Study Bible, pointed out excellently, those who insist that suffering must result form one’s sins think that suffering must be deserved.  This argument, which the Book of Job contradicts, leads one to falsify the character of the one who suffers and that of God, whom such a one who makes the argument seeks to defend.  Yet, Gruber reminds his readers, God does not offer an explanation for suffering.

That is, in the LORD’s argument, the reasons for suffering–if there are any–are simply beyond human comprehension.  (page 1500)

The Book of Job ends without having explained in a satisfactory way why Job suffered.  Yes, God permitted it in Chapter 2, but who does that make God look?  And, in the Gospel of John, the incarnate Son of God finds his glory on the cross.  How is that for counter-intuitive?  Things are not always as they seem.

Until the next segment of our journey….

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 13, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT HERMENEGILD, VISIGOTHIC PRINCE AND ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT HUGH OF ROUEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP, ABBOT, AND MONK

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARTIN I, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF MIKAEL AGRICOLA, FINNISH LUTHERAN BISHOP OF TALLINN

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/11/05/job-and-john-part-i-suffering/

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Before a Bible Study   Leave a comment

Above:  An Old Family Bible

Image Source = David Ball

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

Tagged with

Week of 4 Epiphany: Friday, Year 2   4 comments

Above:  An Eastern Orthodox Icon of David

To Glorify God

FEBRUARY 4, 2022

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 47:2-11 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

As the fat is selected from the peace offering,

so David was selected from the sons of Israel.

He played with lions as with young goats,

and with bears as with lambs of the flock.

In his youth did he not kill a giant,

and take away reproach from the people,

when he lifted his hand with a stone in the sling

and struck down the boasting of Goliath?

He appealed to the Lord, the Most High,

and he gave him strength in his right hand

to slay a man mighty in war,

to exalt the power of his people.

So they glorified him for his ten thousands,

and praised him for the blessings of the Lord,

when the glorious diadem was bestowed upon him.

For he wiped out his enemies on every side,

and annihilated his adversaries the Philistines;

he crushed their power even to this day.

In all that he did he gave thanks

to the Holy One, the Most High, with ascriptions of glory;

he sang praise with all his heart,

and he loved his Maker.

He placed singers before the altar,

to make sweet melody with their voices.

He gave beauty to the feasts,

and arranged their times throughout the year,

while they praised God’s holy name,

and the sanctuary resounded from early morning.

The Lord took away his sins,

and exalted his power for ever;

he gave him the covenant of kings

and a throne of glory in Israel.

Psalm 18:31-33, 46-50 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

31  As for God, his ways are always perfect;

the words of the LORD are tried in the fire;

he is a shield to all who trust in him.

32  For who is God, but the LORD?

who is the Rock, except our God?

33  It is God who girds me about with strength

and makes my way secure.

46  The LORD lives!  Blessed is my Rock!

Exalted is the God of my salvation!

47  He is the God who gave me victory

and cast down the peoples beneath me.

48 You rescued me from the fury of my enemies;

you exalted me above those who rose against me;

you saved me from my deadly foe.

49 Therefore will I extol you among the nations, O LORD,

and sing praises to your Name.

50 He multiplies the victories of his king;

he knows loving-kindness to his anointed,

to David and his descendants for ever.

Mark 6:14-29 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known.  Some said,

John the Baptist has been raised from the dead; that is why these powers are at work in him.

But others said,

It is Elijah.

And others said,

It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.

But when Herod heard of it he said,

John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.

For Herod had sent and seized John, and bound him for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife.  And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him.  But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and kept him safe.  When he heard him, he was much perplexed; and yet he heard him gladly.  But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and the leading men of Galilee.  For when Herodias’ daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl,

Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will grant it.

And he vowed to her,

Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.

And she went out, and said to her mother,

What shall I ask?

And she said,

The head of John the Baptist.

And she came in immediately with haste to the king, and asked, saying,

I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.

And the king was exceedingly sorry; but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her.  And immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard and gave orders to bring his head.  He went and beheaded him in the prison, and brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother.  When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God, you govern all things both in heaven and on earth: Mercifully hear the supplications of your people, and in our time grant us your peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Some Related Posts:

Week of 4 Epiphany:  Friday, Year 1:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/08/week-of-4-epiphany-friday-year-1/

Matthew 14 (Parallel to Mark 6):

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/01/14/week-of-proper-12-saturday-year-1/

Luke 9 (Parallel to Mark 6):

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/04/07/week-of-proper-20-thursday-year-1/

Feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist (August 29):

http://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/06/13/feast-of-the-beheading-of-st-john-the-baptist-martyr-august-29/

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

One might add to the Canadian Anglican lectionary another response, an alternative to Psalm 18:31-33, 46-50.  Psalm 151 is part of the Greek Orthodox and Russian Orthodox traditions.

First I offer the New Revised Standard Version rendering:

1  I was small among my brothers,

and youngest in my father’s house;

I tended my father’s sheep.

2  My hands made a harp;

my fingers fashioned a lyre.

3  And who will tell my Lord?

The Lord himself; it is he who hears.

4  It was he who sent his messenger

and took me from my father’s sheep,

and anointed me with his anointing oil.

5  My brothers were handsome and tall,

but the Lord was not pleased with them.

6  I went out to meet the Philistine,

and he cursed me by his idols.

7  But I drew his own sword;

I beheaded him, and took away disgrace from the people of Israel.

And here is the translation of Psalm 151 from the St. Athanasius Academy Septuagint (2008):

1  I was small among my brothers

And the youngest in my father’s house;

I tended my father’s sheep.

2  My hands built a musical instrument;

My fingers tuned a lyre.

3  And who shall tell my Lord?

The Lord Himself, He Himself hears.

4  He sent forth His Angel

And took me from my father’s sheep;

5  My brothers were handsome and tall,

But the Lord took no pleasure in them.

6  I went out to meet the foreigner,

And he cursed me with his idols;

7  But I drew his own sword and beheaded him,

And removed disgrace from the children of Israel.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

What is the chief end of man?

Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

–The Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question #1, as contained in the Book of Confessions (1967), of The United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America

The lectionary readings pair two rulers and two beheadings with only the most superficial similarities.  The differences, however, are quite revealing.

Herod Antipas was a son of Herod the Great.  Antipas, like his father, was a cruel and devious man who held his position only because the Roman Empire said so.  Antipas had married Herodias, his late half-brother’s niece.  Let that sink in.  John the Baptist had called him out on this, so Antipas had him arrested and imprisoned.  Then, at a party, Antipas so enjoyed his wife’s/late half-brother’s niece’s daughter erotic dancing (Let that sink in.) that he made a hasty pledge, which culminated in the execution of the forerunner of the Messiah.  Antipas, by the way, died in exile in Gaul.

In contrast to Herod Antipas we have David, which, 1 and 2 Samuel tell us, was far from perfect.  But David comes across as a hero and a man who heeded criticism from prophets.  And from David came the lineage which included Jesus, who called Herod Antipas “that fox.”

The basic virtue of David was that he tried (much of the time, at least) to glorify God and defend his kingdom.  It is always a good thing for anyone to glorify God.  And, when a ruler faces a national security threat, it is good for him or her to defend his or her realm while obeying basic principles of human rights.  David, as the texts present him, believed in something greater than himself, but Herod Antipas seems to have been a mere opportunist.

David glorified God, and history and tradition have honored him justifiably.  May we glorify God in our own day and circumstances, for that is the right thing to do.

KRT

Week of 4 Epiphany: Thursday, Year 1   12 comments

Above:  Sunrise of Mount Sinai

The Approachable God

FEBRUARY 4, 2021

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Hebrews 12:18-24 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire, and darkness, and gloom, and a tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and a voice whose words made the hearers entreat that no further messages be spoken to them.  For they could not endure the order that was given,

If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.

Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said,

I tremble with fear.

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to a judge who is God of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks more graciously than the blood of Abel.

Psalm 48:1-3, 7-9 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised;

in the city of our God is his holy hill.

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

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

3 God is in her citadels;

he is known to be her sure refuge.

7 As we have heard, so have we seen,

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

God has established her for ever.

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

in the midst of your temple.

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

your right hand is full of justice.

Mark 6:7-13 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

And he called to him the Twelve, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits.  He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics.  And he said to them,

Where you enter a house, stay there until you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet for a testimony against them.

So they went out and preached that men should repent.  And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God, you govern all things both in heaven and on earth: Mercifully hear the supplications of your people, and in our time grant us your peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

An understanding of the reading from Hebrews requires a firm grasp of the Hebrew Scriptures.  Most of the images come from the accounts of the time during which Moses was on Mount Sinai, communing with God.  The emphasis on the majesty of God led to a sense of terror of a deity perceived as unapproachable.  And the reference to the blood of Abel is to the fact the shedding of his blood led to vengeance, but the shedding of the blood of Jesus leads to reconciliation.

In the reading from Mark Jesus sends out his Apostles.  They are to pack lightly and to trust God to provide their needs.   Not only did God provide the Apostles’ needs, God empowered these men to perform great deeds.

God is majestic, of course, but this reality need not distract us from the approachability of God.  Indeed, God, especially in the form of Jesus, has acted to make approachability plain.  The Incarnation demonstrates approachability in an impressive way.  And sending Apostles out to the people constitutes approachability of a different form.

Lest anyone think that divine approachability is absent from Jewish texts, I refer you to Psalm 121, just to choose a passage off the top of my head:

The LORD is your keeper;

the LORD is your shade

on your right hand.

(verse 5, Revised Standard Version, 1952)

God has approached us in love.  Have we responded?  If so, how?  If we have not done so already, may we respond in love and awe.  May this response be evident in how we think of and treat ourselves and others.  If we have done this already, may we continue to do so.

It is what Jesus would have us do.

KRT