Archive for the ‘Revised Common Lectionary Year B’ Category

Fifteenth Day of Advent: Third Sunday of Advent, Year B   32 comments

Above:  The Visitation, with the Magnificat in Latin

God-Bearers

DECEMBER 13, 2020

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

THE FIRST READING

Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11 (New Revised Standard Version):

The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,

because the LORD has anointed me;

he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,

to bind up the brokenhearted,

to proclaim liberty to the captives,

and release to the prisoners;

to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor,

and the day of vengeance of our God;

to comfort all who mourn;

to provide for those who mourn in Zion–

to give them a garland instead of ashes,

the oil of gladness instead of mourning,

the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.

They will be called oaks of righteousness,

the planting of the LORD, to display his glory.

They shall build up the ancient ruins,

they shall raise up the former devastations;

they shall repair the ruined cities,

the devastations of many generations.

For I the LORD love justice,

I hate robbery and wrongdoing;

I will faithfully give them their recompense,

and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.

Their descendants shall be known among the nations,

and their offspring among the peoples;

all who see them shall acknowledge

that they are a people whom the LORD has blessed.

I will greatly rejoice in the LORD,

my whole being shall exult in my God;

for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation,

he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,

as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,

as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

For as the earth brings forth its shoots,

and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,

so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise

to spring up before the nations.

THE TWO OPTIONS FOR THE RESPONSE

Psalm 126 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,

then were we like those who dream.

2 Then was our mouth filled with laughter,

and our tongue with shouts of joy.

3 Then they said among the nations,

“The LORD has done great things for them.”

The LORD has done great things for us,

and we are glad indeed.

5 Restore our fortunes, O LORD,

like the watercourses of the Negev.

6 Those who sowed with tears

will reap with songs of joy.

7 Those who go out weeping, carrying the seed,

will come again with joy, shouldering their sheaves.

Canticle 15 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

(The Magnificat plus the Trinitarian formula)

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,

my spirit rejoices in God my Savior;

for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.

From this day all generations will call me blessed:

the Almighty has done great things for me,

and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him

in every generation.

He has shown the strength of his arm,

he has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,

and has lifted up the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things,

and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of his servant Israel,

for he has remembered his promise of mercy,

The promise he made to our fathers,

to Abraham and his children for ever.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:

as it was in the beginning is now, and will be for ever.  Amen.

THE SECOND READING

1 Thessalonians 5 (New Revised Standard Version):

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil.

May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.

THE GOSPEL READING

John 1:6-8, 19-28 (New Revised Standard Version):

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.

This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him,

Who are you?

He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed,

I am not the Messiah.

And they asked him,

What then? Are you Elijah?

He said,

I am not.

[They asked,]

Are you the prophet?

He answered,

No.

Then they said to him,

Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?

He said,

I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, “Make straight the way of the Lord,” as the prophet Isaiah said.

Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him,

Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?

John answered them,

I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.

This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.

The Collect:

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

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

There is a cliche:  The Lord moves in mysterious ways.  Many statements become cliched because they are true, as is the case for this one.  In these readings we read of the divine mandate for us to establish justice, especially that of the economic variety.  We read also of the humility of John the Baptist, forerunner of our Lord, and of Mary, who became Mother of God.  (Follow the logic:  Jesus was God incarnate.  Mary was his mother.  Therefore she was the Mother of God.)

My Eastern Orthodox brethren refer to Mary of Nazareth as the Theotokos, or God-bearer.  That she was, indeed.  Through her God chose to become incarnate, to become one of us, and therefore to set into motion redemptive plans while affirming human dignity.  It is a great mystery, one I choose to savor, not try to explain away or dismiss.

So I invite you, O reader, to echo the words of the Magnificat and to say the Hail Mary.  And, I hope that, regardless of the state of your mariology (assuming that you have one) , that you will recognize yourself and all other human beings as God-bearers, then treat yourself and all others accordingly.  Much justice will flow from that attitude.

KRT

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

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/11/18/god-bearers/

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

Eighth Day of Advent: Second Sunday of Advent, Year B   42 comments

Above:  The Roman Colosseum in Early Morning

It is neither dark nor light; the light will come.

Image Source = Diliff

We Wait…

DECEMBER 6, 2020

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

Isaiah 40:1-11 (New Revised Standard Version):

Comfort, O comfort my people,

says your God.

Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,

and cry to her

that she has served her term,

that her penalty is paid,

that she has received from the LORD’s hand

double for all her sins.

A voice cries out:

In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD,

make straight in desert a highway for our God.

Every valley shall be lifted up,

and every mountain and hill be made low;

the uneven ground shall become level,

and the rough places a plain.

Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,

and all people shall see it together,

for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

A voice says,

Cry out!

And I said,

What shall I cry?

All people are grass,

their consistency is like the flower of the field.

The grass withers, the flower fades,

when the breath of the LORD blows upon it;

surely the people are grass.

The grass withers, the flower fades;

but the word of our God will stand for ever.

Get up to a high mountain,

O Zion, herald of great tidings;

lift up your voice with strength,

O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings,

lift it up, do not fear;

say to the cities of Judah,

Here is your God!

See, the LORD God comes with might,

and his arm rules for him;

his reward is with him,

and his recompense before him.

He will feed his flock like a shepherd;

he will gather the lambs in his arms,

and carry them in his bosom,

and gently lead the mother sheep.

Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  You have been gracious to your land, O LORD,

you have restored the good fortune of Jacob.

2  You have forgiven the iniquity of your people

and blotted out all their sins.

8  I will listen to what the LORD God is saying,

for he is speaking peace to his faithful people

and to those who turn their hearts to him.

9  Truly, his salvation is very near to those fear him,

that his glory may dwell in our land.

10  Mercy and truth have met together;

righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

11  Truth shall spring up from the earth,

and righteousness shall look down from heaven.

12  The LORD will indeed grant prosperity,

and our land will yield its increase.

13  Righteousness shall go before him,

and peace shall be a pathway for his feet.

2 Peter 3:8-15a (New Revised Standard Version):

But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day.  The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.  But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed.

Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire?  But, in accordance with his promise, we waiting for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.

Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation.

Mark 1:1-8 (New Revised Standard Version):

The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,

See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,

who will prepare the way;

the voice of one crying out in the wilderness;

“Prepare the way of the Lord,

make his paths straight.'”

John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.  Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.  He proclaimed,

The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals.  I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.

The Collect:

Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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

Waiting is hard.  I do not refer to pacing and foot-tapping while wondering what is taking somebody so long, although that is difficult.  No, I mean purposeful, patient waiting.  The conquered and exiled Jews living within the Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian Empire had to wait for the Persian army of Cyrus the Great.  These being Advent readings, however, most waiting is for the coming of the Messiah.  In the meantime, people near Jerusalem listened to an eccentric ascetic.  And, a few decades later, members of a nascent faith called Christianity awaited the return of Jesus, with advice to live at peace with God and each other.  Time, the author of 2 Peter writes, works differently for God than for us, so we ought not to become impatient.

Listen to a really good and chanted version of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”  The haunting  sense of longing will be evident there, as will confidence that Emmanuel will come, and God will indeed be with us in a different way than is true now.  Until then, we need to hang on.

This requires stillness.   But we cannot be still while rushing and flitting about from shopping trip to shopping trip and Christmas party (office, neighborhood, church group, etc.) to Christmas party.  December is a hectic time for many people.  Yet this is the time that the Church, in its wisdom, has set aside as Advent, a time of faithful preparation for Christmas.

I write these words in early June 2011, a very hot time in northern Georgia, U.S.A.  Slowing down long enough to type the readings and to ponder them, and hopefully to grasp the spirit of them, is a valuable exercise.  During this time I have played a variety of YouTube videos of Advent carols in the background, to get into the proper frame of mind.  Focusing on these readings has been a great blessing for me this day, and I hope that they are for you, too.

Dominus tecum.

KRT

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

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/11/12/we-wait/

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

First Day of Advent: First Sunday of Advent, Year B   35 comments

Above:  Saint Joseph with the Infant Jesus, by Guido Reni, Circa 1635

Expectations Versus Reality

NOVEMBER 29, 2020

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

Isaiah 64:1-9 (New Revised Standard Version):

O that you would tear open the heavens and come down,

so that the mountains would quake at your presence–

as when fire kindles brushwood

and the fire causes water to boil–

to make your name known to your adversaries,

so that the nations might tremble at your presence!

When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect,

you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.

From ages past no one has heard,

no ear has perceived,

no eye has seen any God besides you,

who works for those who wait for him.

You meet those who gladly do right,

those who remember you in your ways.

But you were angry, and we sinned;

because you hid yourself we transgressed.

We have all become like one who is unclean,

and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth.

We all fade like a leaf,

and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

There is no one who calls on your name,

or attempts to take hold of you;

for you have hidden your face from us,

and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity.

Yet, O LORD, you are our Father;

we are the clay, and you are our potter;

we are all the work of your hand.

Do not be exceedingly angry, O LORD,

and do not remember iniquity forever.

Now consider, we are your people.

Psalm 80:1-7, 16-18 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  Hear, O Shepherd of Israel, leading Joseph like a flock;

shine forth, you that are enthroned upon the cherubim.

2  In the presence of Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh,

stir up your strength and come to help us.

3  Restore us, O God of hosts;

show us the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.

4  O LORD God of hosts,

how long will you be angered

despite the prayers of your people?

5  You have fed them with the bread of tears;

you have given them bowls of tears to drink.

6 You have made us the derision of our neighbors,

and our enemies laugh us to scorn.

7  Restore us, O God of hosts;

show us the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.

16  Let your hand be upon the man of your right hand,

the son of man you have made so strong for yourself.

17  And so will we never turn away from you;

give us life, that we may call upon your Name.

18  Restore us, O LORD God of hosts;

show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.

1 Corinthians 1:3-9 (New Revised Standard Version):

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I give thanks to my God for you because of the grace of God that has been given to you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind–just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you–so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.  God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Mark 13:24-37 (New Revised Standard Version):

Jesus said to his disciples,

In those days, after that suffering,

the sun will be darkened,

and the moon will not give its light,

and the stars will be falling from heaven,

and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.

Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory. Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.

From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake– for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.

The Collect:

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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

Many science fiction movies and television shows depict human-like aliens who, oddly enough, speak Earth languages fluently.  This is, of course, a conceit made necessary for a long time due to limited special effects technology and budgets, the fact that actors are humans, and that many audience members dislike reading subtitles.  This also reflects the fact of our frame of reference when pondering extraterrestrial life; we seek life as we know it.  But what if life as we know it is rare and life as we do not know it is more plentiful?

Let us apply that principle to Messianic expectations.  It is natural to seek a spectacular display of divine power and presence, especially when one lives under foreign occupation or when the troubles of life seem too difficult to bear.  But what did we get?  The picture I placed at the top of this post says it all:  a baby.  He grew up, died, and rose again.  In fact, I write this post on the Feast of the Ascension in 2011.  With that departure came the promise of a Second Coming, but when?

Many of the earliest Christians, including St. Paul, thought that the Second Coming was soon.  That was, of course, nearly two thousand years ago.  After Paul, the canonical Gospels, written after the First Jewish War, reflected expectations that Jesus would be back any day now.  That was nearly two thousand years ago.  Over a century and a half ago, William Miller predicted more than one date for the Second Coming.  He was mistaken.  More recently, Colin Hoyle Deal, writing in the late 1970s, thought that Jesus would return by 1988.  He had 101 reasons for this.  (I have a copy of his book.)  Hal Lindsey, also writing in the 1970s, thought that Jesus would come back before 2000.  And Harold Camping has issued more than one faulty date for the end of times.

Jesus has not kept the schedules some people have calculated for him.

God will tend to the details of time quite well without our predictions; may we tend to our earthly vocations and not waste time getting in over our heads.  We are called to be agents of God and faces of Christ to those to whom God sends us.  This is our reality.  So I ask you, O reader, some questions:  Whom has God sent to you?  To whom has God sent you?  And how often did any of this not match your expectations?  What lessons have you learned from the discrepancy between your expectations and your reality?

KRT

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

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/11/12/expectations-versus-reality/

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

Second Sunday after Christmas, Years A, B, and C   15 comments

Above:  Diocesan Confirmation, Cathedral of St. Philip, Atlanta, Georgia, December 13, 2009

Image Source = Bill Monk, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

A Glorious Inheritance

JANUARY 2, 2022

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

Jeremiah 31:7-14 (New Revised Standard Version):

For thus says the LORD:

Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob,

and raise shouts for the chief of the nations;

proclaim, give praise, and say,

Save, O LORD, your people,

the remnant of Israel.

See, I am going to bring them from the land of the north,

and gather them from the farthest parts of the earth,

among them the blind and the lame,

those with child and those in labor, together;

a great company, they shall return here.

With weeping they shall come,

and with consolations I shall lead them back.

I will let them walk by brooks of water,

in a straight path in which they shall not stumble;

I have become a father to Israel,

and Ephraim is my firstborn.

Hear the word of the LORD, O nations,

and declare it in the coastlands far away;

say,

He who scattered Israel will gather him,

and will keep him as a shepherd a flock.

For the LORD has ransomed Jacob,

and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him.

They shall come and sing aloud on the heights of Zion,

and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the LORD,

over the grain, the wine, and the oil,

and over the young of the flock and the herd;

their life shall become like a watered garden,

and they shall never languish again.

Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance,

and the young men and the old shall be merry.

I will turn their mourning into joy,

I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.

I will give the priests their fill of fatness,

and my people shall be satisfied with my bounty, says the LORD.

Psalm 84 (New Revised Standard Version):

How lovely is your dwelling place,

O LORD of hosts!

My soul longs, indeed it faints

for the courts of the LORD;

my heart and my flesh sing for joy

to the living God.

Even the sparrow finds a home,

and the swallow a nest for herself,

where she may lay her young,

at your altars, O LORD of hosts,

my King and my God.

Happy are those who live in your house,

ever singing your praise.

Happy are those whose strength is in you,

in whose heart are the highways to Zion.

As they go through the valley of Baca

they make it a place of springs;

the early rain also covers it with pools.

They go from strength to strength;

the God of gods will be seen in Zion.

O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer;

give ear, O God of Jacob!

Behold our shield, O God;

look on the face of your anointed.

For a day in your courts is better

than a thousand elsewhere.

I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God

than live in the tents of wickedness.

For the LORD God is a sun and shield;

he bestows favor and honor.

No good thing does the LORD withhold

from those who walk uprightly.

O LORD of hosts,

happy is everyone who trusts in you.

Ephesians 1:3-6, 15-19a (New Revised Standard Version):

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe.

Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23 (New Revised Standard Version):

Now after the wise men had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,

Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.

Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet,

Out of Egypt I have called my son.

When Herod died, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said,

Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child’s life are dead.

Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And after being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee. There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled,

He will be called a Nazorean.

OR

Luke 2:41-52 (New Revised Standard Version):

Now the parents of Jesus went to Jerusalem every year for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him,

Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.

He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them. Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart.

And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.

OR

Matthew 2:1-12 (New Revised Standard Version):

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking,

Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.

When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him,

In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:

“And you, Bethlehem, in the Land of Judah,

are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;

for from you shall come a ruler

who is to shepherd my people Israel.”

Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying,

Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.

When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

The Collect:

O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature: Grant that we may share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity, your Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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

“What is your favorite psalm?”  Someone might have asked you this question.  Among the usual suspects are 23, 100, and 150, which excessive repetition have rendered cliche in my mind.  So, when I began to ponder the question of my favorite psalm, I considered other parts of that book of poetry.  Once Psalm 121 was my favorite, but 84 has taken that place.

Psalm 84 is a hymn of adoration to God which expresses a desire to become closer to God.  This is the one God who allowed the Babylonian Exile to occur, engineered the return of exiles, and arranged for the Incarnation, by which we have access to adoption into the family of God.  This grace is staggering, and worthy of praise in words and deeds.

The details of the Christian vocation vary from person to person, according to a variety of circumstances.  Yet the guiding principle is constant across the board:  we are called to enjoy and glorify God, to follow Jesus.  Following is active, not merely intellectual or emotional.  Jesus loved us with everything he was and had; we have a mandate to follow that example.  Too often certain people (from Crusaders to Ku Klux Klan members) have used the cross as a symbol of hate, but divine actions have transformed the cross into a symbol of ultimate love.  And what shows love more than self-sacrifice?

The beauty of holiness is both aesthetic and intangible.  May we seek and find both.

KRT

Written on June 7, 2010

Eighth Day of Christmas: The Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus (January 1)   11 comments

Above:  Variations of the Name Yeshua in Hebrew

At the Name of Jesus….

JANUARY 1, 2022

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

Numbers 6:22-27 (New Revised Standard Version):

The LORD spoke to Moses, saying:  Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying,

Thus you shall bless the Israelites.  You shall say to them,

“The LORD bless you and keep you;

the LORD make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you;

the LORD lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.

So they shall put my name on the Israelites, I will bless them.”

Psalm 8 (New Revised Standard Version):

O LORD, our Sovereign,

how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory above the heavens.

Out of the mouths of babes and infants

you have founded a bulwark because of your foes,

to silence the enemy and the avenger.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,

the moon and the stars that you have established;

what are human beings that you are mindful of them,

mortals that you care for them?

Yet you have made them a little lower than God,

and crowned them with glory and honor.

You have given them dominion over the works of your hands;

you have put all things under their feet,

all sheep and oxen,

and also the beasts of the field,

the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea,

whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

O LORD, our Sovereign,

how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Galatians 4:4-7 (New Revised Standard Version):

When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying,

Abba! Father!

So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.

OR

Philippians 2:5-11 (New Revised Standard Version):

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

who, though he was in the form of God,

did not regard equality with God

as something to be exploited,

but emptied himself,

taking the form of a slave,

being born in human likeness.

And being found in human form,

he humbled himself

and became obedient to the point of death–

even death on the cross.

Therefore God also highly exalted him

and gave him the name

that is above every name,

so that at the name of Jesus

every knee should bend,

in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

and every tongue should confess

that Jesus Christ is Lord,

to the glory of God the Father.

THEN

Luke 2:15-21 (New Revised Standard Version):

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another,

Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.

So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

The Collect:

Father, you gave to your incarnate Son the holy name of Jesus to be the sign of our salvation: Plant in every heart, we pray, the love of him who is the Savior of the world, our Lord Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

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

The Law of Moses required the circumcision of a male child eight days after his birth.  This event became a happy occasion, a time for friends and family members of the parents to gather and for the naming of the child.  Joseph and Mary obeyed this commandment.  And so it is no accident that the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus falls on the Eighth Day of Christmas.

In Western Christianity the observation of the Circumcision/Holy Name of Jesus dates to the early centuries of the faith, when Christianity competed with pagan festivities around New Year.  In 567 the Council of Tours established this feast for that purpose.

The Hebrew name “Yeshua,” which comes into English indirectly as Jesus, is literally Joshua, or “Yahweh is salvation.”  This confession lies at the heart of Christian faith, in which my parents raised me and in which I have chosen to remain.  I have made this confession at baptism, confirmation, and two reaffirmations, not to mention numerous baptismal liturgies for others.  And I repeat it here.

KRT

Written on June 6, 2010

First Sunday after Christmas, Years A, B, and C   23 comments

Above:  Christ the Sun Mosaic, the Vatican

The Logos of God

DECEMBER 26, 2021

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

Isaiah 61:10-62:3 (New Revised Standard Version):

I will greatly rejoice in the LORD,

my whole being shall exult in my God;

for he has clothed me with the garment of salvation,

has covered me with the robe of righteousness,

as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,

and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

For as the earth brings forth its shoots,

and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,

so the LORD God will cause righteousness and praise

to spring up before all nations.

For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,

and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest,

until her vindication shines out like the dawn,

and her salvation like a burning torch.

The nations shall see your vindication,

and all the kings your glory;

and you shall be called by a new name

that the mouth of the LORD will give.

You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD,

and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.

Psalm 147:12-20 (New Revised Standard Version):

Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem!

Praise your God, O Zion!

For he strengthens the bars of your gates;

he blesses your children within you.

He grants peace within your borders;

he fills you with the finest of wheat.

He sends out his command to the earth;

his word runs swiftly.

He gives snow like wool;

he scatters frost like ashes.

He hurls down hail like crumbs–

who can stand before his cold?

He sends out his word, and melts them;

he makes his wind blow, and the waters flow.

He declares his word to Jacob,

his statutes and ordinances to Israel.

He has not dealt thus with any other nation;

they do not know his ordinances.

Praise the LORD!

Galatians 3:23-25; 4:4-7 (New Revised Standard Version):

Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian.

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying,

Abba! Father!

So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.

John 1:1-18 (New Revised Standard Version):

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (John testified to him and cried out,

This was he of whom I said, “He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.”)

From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.

The Collect:

Almighty God, you have poured upon us the new light of your incarnate Word: Grant that this light, enkindled in our hearts, may shine forth in our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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

The prologue to the Gospel of John speaks (in Greek) of Jesus as the Logos (Word, in English) of God.  Embedded within this idea is that grace and nature are not separate.  Nature owes its existence to grace, and nature can be a means of grace.  Furthermore, nature is a form of grace.

The Enlightenment was a wonderful corrective to abuses and excesses of the ages preceding it.  So let nobody give short shrift to the Enlightenment.  Yet this era, like all epochs, contained certain excesses and errors of its own.  Among these was Deism, the idea that God is like a watchmaker.  The watchmaker puts the watch together and winds it up, then leaves it alone.  In contrast, the doctrine of the Logos indicates a God active in nature and our lives up to the present, and presumably well into the future.  These dealings are for purpose of helping us find our proper equilibrium relative to God, and therefore to enjoy and glorify God.  The love in this relationship should be mutual.  That, at least, is the ideal.  We, abusing or misusing our free will, however, make decisions which sabotage this plan.

So may we reciprocate the love God extends to us.

KRT

Written on June 5, 2010

First Day of Christmas: Christmas Day   27 comments

Above:  The Traditional Site of the Birth of Jesus, at the Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem, Israel

Love Descended

DECEMBER 25, 2021

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

The Collect:

O God, you make us glad by the yearly festival of the birth of your only 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, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

+++

The Revised Common Lectionary lists three sets of readings for Christmas Day.

Set One:

Isaiah 9:2-7

Psalm 96

Titus 2:11-14

Luke 2:1-14, (15-20)

Set Two:

Isaiah 62:6-12

Psalm 97

Titus 3:4-7

Luke 2:(1-7), 8-20

Set Three:

Isaiah 52:7-10

Psalm 98

Hebrews 1:1-4, (5-12)

John 1:1-14

I choose to list the scriptural citations for Christmas Day and proceed to my thoughts.

Part One:

December 25 is the first day of Christmas; January 5 is the last.  There are twelve days of Christmas.  So I encourage everyone to think in terms of this sacred time, not commercial time.  I live in North America, where many retailers put out their Christmas displays before Halloween.  History tells me that many Evangelicals over time have either ignored Christmas (as too Roman Catholic) or preferred it as a secular, commercial celebration of the family, or complained about excessive commercialization.  (They have correct in this matter only in the last example.  For more details, follow this link.

So I hope you, O reader, will keep a sacred Christmas season without falling into crankiness about crass commercialism.  Life is too short to be habitually irritated.  Let us enjoy God instead.

I refer you also to this post.

Part Two:

We bore the image of God yet disregarded God, gave God inadequate attention, mistreated each other, institutionalized injustice, and misunderstood divine demands.

So God spoke through the Prophets.

Yet we persisted in our misguided ways.

So Love descended, became one of us (yet much more), and demonstrated righteousness.

We murdered Love.

Yet God raised Love from the dead.

We persist in our misguided ways.

And God is still speaking.

Are we listening?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 4, 2010 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN XXIII, BISHOP OF ROME

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/11/26/love-descended/