Archive for the ‘1 John 3’ Tag

Devotion for the Second Sunday After Christmas (Ackerman)   1 comment

Above:   A Checklist

Image in the Public Domain

Compassion, Not Checklists

JANUARY 5, 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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Isaiah 57:14-19

Psalm 106:47-48

1 John 3:11-14a; 4:1-6

Luke 1:1-4

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The assigned readings for this Sunday, taken together, speak of the importance of knowing God.  Those who love God keep divine commandments, or at least attempt to do so.  One can succeed by grace, fortunately.  The faithful who receive the crown of martyrdom are still more fortunate than those who trust in idols.

Discerning divine commandments does seem difficult sometimes.  As I read 1 John 3:14b-24, I find some guidance regarding that topic:

  1. Do not hate.
  2. Love each other so much as to be willing to die for each other.
  3. Help each other in financial and material ways.
  4. Do not mistake lip service for sincerity.

Those instructions are concrete, not abstract.  And, by acting accordingly, we demonstrate the presence of the Holy Spirit within ourselves.

I notice the emphasis on compassion, not checklists.  Legalism is a powerful temptation.  Indeed, many who fall into that trap do so out of the sincere desire to honor God.  Yet they wind up fixating on minor details and forgetting compassion frequently instead of remembering the big picture:  compassion, such as that of the variety that Jesus modeled all the way to the cross.

Living compassionately is far more rigorous a standard than is keeping a moral checklist.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 30, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF JAMES MONTGOMERY, HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN ROSS MACDUFF AND GEORGE MATHESON, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN MINISTERS AND AUTHORS

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2017/04/30/compassion-not-checklists/

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Devotion for December 9 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   8 comments

Above:  A Homeless Man in a Vienna Sewer, 1900

The Intersection of the Spiritual and the Physical

DECEMBER 9, 2019

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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,

for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 26:1-19

Psalm 24 (Morning)

Psalms 25 and 110 (Evening)

1 John 3:1-24

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Trust in the LORD for ever and ever,

For in Yah the LORD you have an everlasting Rock.

–Isaiah 26:4, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

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We are all aware that we have passed from death to life

because we love our brothers.

Whoever does not love, remains in death….

Children,

our love must be not just words or mere talk,

but something active and genuine.

–1 John 3:14, 18, The New Jerusalem Bible

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How much do we really need?  Perhaps not nearly as much as we think.  Yes, we want a great many things.  And we might be addicted to certain substances.  But our needs are far more basic than our desires.  And we are far better off without addictions than we are with them.

Our most basic spiritual need is for God–the only one who exists, the Judeo-Christian one.  For thousands of years monks and other ascetics have lived this fact.  We cannot take our physical possessions and our money with us when we die, so they, although important, are temporal.  We all need adequate food, shelter, clothing, and money in the here and the now.  To give mere lip service to this fact when one can do more is inadequate and sinful.

If anyone is well-off in worldly possessions,

and sees his brother in need

but closes his heart to him,

how can the love of God be remaining in him?

–1 John 3:17, The New Jerusalem Bible

Here we see the intersection of the physical and the spiritual.  Categories such as “physical” and “spiritual” are like circles in a Venn Diagram; they overlap.  Spiritual values–good or bad–will find expression in he realm of the physical.

This is the season of Advent, the time of preparation for Christmas.  “Thou didst leave thy throne,” a hymn says.  Christ risked and sacrificed much for us; how can we, if we are truly Christian, not to do the same for others?  How can we make excuses for unjust and economically exploitative systems?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 11, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF OCTAVIUS HADFIELD, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF WELLINGTON

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/08/05/the-intersection-of-the-spiritual-and-the-physical/

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Second Day of Epiphany   13 comments

Above:  A Mosaic of Jesus from the Former Church of Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Resisting the Kingdom of God

JANUARY 7, 2020

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1 John 3:18-4:6 (New Jerusalem Bible):

Children,

our love must not be just words or mere talk,

but something active and genuine.

This is the proof that we belong to the truth,

and it will convince us in his presence,

even if our own feelings condemn us,

that God is greater than our feelings and knows all things.

My dear friends,

if our own feelings do not condemn us,

we can be fearless before God,

and whatever we ask

we shall receive from him,

because we keep his commandments

and do what is acceptable to him.

His commandment is this,

that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ

and that we should love one another

as he commanded us.

Whoever keeps his commandments

remains in God, and God in him.

And this is the proof that he remains in us:

the Spirit that he has given us.

My dear friends,

not every spirit is to be trusted,

but test the spirits to see whether they are from God,

for many false prophets are at large in the world.

This is the proof of the spirit of God;

any spirit which acknowledges Jesus Christ, come in human nature,

is from God,

and no spirit which fails to acknowledge Jesus

is from God;

it is the spirit of Antichrist,

whose coming you have heard of;

he is already at large in the world.

They are from the world,

and therefore the world inspires what they say,

and listens to them.

We are from God;

whoever recognizes God listens to us;

anyone who is not from God refuses to listen to us.

This is how we can distinguish

the spirit of truth from the the spirit of falsehood.

Psalm 2 (New Jerusalem Bible):

Why this uproar among the nations,

the impotent muttering of the peoples?

Kings of the earth take up their position,

princes plot together

against Yahweh and his anointed,

Now let us break their fetters!

Now let us throw off their bonds!

He who is enthroned in the heavens laughs,

Yahweh makes a mockery of them,

then in his anger rebukes them,

in his rage he strikes them with terror.

I myself have anointed my king

on Zion my holy mountain.

I will proclaim the decree of Yahweh:

He said to me,

You are my son,

today I have fathered you.

Ask of me, and I shall give you the nations as your birthright,

the whole wide world as your possession.

With an iron sceptre you will break them,

shatter them like so many pots.

So now, you kings, come to your senses,

you earthly rulers, learn your lesson!

In fear be submissive to Yahweh;

with trembling kiss his feet,

lest he be angry and your way come to nothing,

for his fury flares up in a moment.

How blessed are all who take refuge in him!

Matthew 4:12-17, 23-25 (New Jerusalem Bible):

Hearing that John had been arrested he [Jesus] withdrew to Galilee, and leaving Nazareth he went and settled in Capernaum, beside the lake, on the borders of Zebulon and Naphtali.  This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah:

Land of Zebulon!  Land of Naphtali!

Way of the sea beyond Jordan.

Galilee of the nations!

The people that lived in darkness

have seen a great light;

on those who lived in a country of shadow dark as death

a light has dawned.

From then onwards Jesus began his proclamation with the message,

Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is close at hand.

He went round the whole of Galilee teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing all kinds of disease and illness among the people.  His fame spread throughout Syria, and those who were suffering from diseases and painful complaints of one kind or another, the possessed, epileptics, the paralyzed, were all brought to him, and he cured them.  Large crowds followed him coming from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judaea, and Transjordan.

The Collect:

O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Jesus, fully human and fully divine, ushered in the Kingdom of God, which is around us and inside of us.  Yet many of us do not see it.  The Kingdom of God was an apocalyptic vision of God’s rule on earth, as opposed to the Roman Empire.  Thus talk of the Kingdom of God was subversive until the early Church redefined the Kingdom as a spiritual reality.  But I prefer the subversive nature of the earlier understanding.

Authority figures resisted the Kingdom of God, crucifying Jesus and martyring many Christians.  They had great power, but God’s might was stronger and more impressive. Today the efforts continue, but God’s might remains stronger and more impressive.

Thomas Tallis, the great Sixteenth-Century English composer, wrote tunes for the church psalter of his time.  The Third Psalm Tune, which Ralph Vaughan Williams slowed down and transformed into a happier piece centuries later in the Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, fit these words, which I prefer to the familiar version (“Why do the nations so furiously rage together”) from the Authorized (King James) Version:

Why fum’th in sight the Gentiles spite, in fury raging stout?

Why tak’th in hand the people fond, vain things to bring about?

The kings arise, the Lords devise in counsels met thereto,

Against the Lord with false accord, against his Christ they go.

Let us, they say, break their ray of all their bonds and cords:

We will renounce that they pronounce their lores as stately lords.

But God of might in heav’n so bright shall laugh them all to scorn:

The Lord on high shall them defy, they shall be once forlorn.

With iron rod as might God all rebels shalt thou bruise,

And break them all in pieces small, as sherds the potters use.

Be wise therefore ye kings the more, receive ye wisdom’s lore;

Ye judges strong of right and wrong, advise you now before.

The Lord in fear your service bear, with dread to him rejoice;

Let rages be, resist not ye, him serve with joyful voice.

The sun kiss ye, lest wroth he be, lose not the way of rest;

For when his ire is set on fire, who trust in him be blest.

In the 500s Justinian the Great, the Byzantine Emperor, ordered the construction of the beautiful Church of Hagia Sophia, or Holy Wisdom, at Constantinople.  Almost a thousand years later the conquering Ottoman Turks converted the building into a mosque.  And today it is a museum.  But it should be a church.

Despite all appearances to the contrary, God will win, in time.  We need to be patient.

KRT

Written on June 8, 2010

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/12/28/resisting-the-kingdom-of-god/

Twelfth Day of Christmas   12 comments

Above:  Painting of St. Philip the Apostle, by Peter Paul Rubens

The Last Day of Christmas

JANUARY 5, 2020

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1 John 3:11-18 (New Jerusalem Bible):

This is the message

which you have heard from the beginning,

that we must love one another,

not to be like Cain, who was from the Evil One

and murdered his brother.

And why did he murder his brother?

Because his actions were evil and his brother’s upright.

Do not be surprised, brothers,

if the world hates you.

We are well aware that we have passed over from death to life

because we love our brothers.

Whoever does not love, remains in death.

Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer

has eternal life remaining in him.

This is the proof of love,

that he laid down his life for us,

and we too ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.

If anyone is well-off in worldly possessions

and sees his brother in need

but closes his heart to him,

how can the love of God be remaining in him?

Children,

our love must not be just words or mere talk,

but something active and genuine.

Psalm 100 (New Jerusalem Bible):

Acclaim Yahweh, all the earth,

serve Yahweh with gladness,

come into his presence with songs of joy!

Be sure that Yahweh is God,

he made us, we belong to him,

his people, the flock of his sheepfold.

Come within his gates giving thanks,

to his courts singing praise,

give thanks to him and bless his name!

For Yahweh is good,

his faithful love is everlasting,

his constancy from age to age.

John 1:43-51 (New Jerusalem Bible):

The next day, after Jesus had decided to leave for Galilee, he met Philip and said,

Follow me.

Philip came from the same town, Bethsaida, as Andrew and Peter.  Philip found Nathanael and said to him,

We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth.

Nathanael said to him,

From Nazareth?  Can anything good come from that place?

Philip replied,

Come and see.

When Jesus saw Nathanael coming he said of him,

There, truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deception.

Nathanael asked,

How do you know me?

Jesus replied,

Before Philip came to call you, I saw you under the fig tree.

Nathanael answered,

Rabbi, you are the king of Israel.

Jesus replied,

You believe that just because I said: I saw you under the fig tree.  You are going to see greater things than that.

And then he added,

In all truth I tell you, you will see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending over the Son of man.

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.

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The designated readings for the twelve days of Christmas cover much ground.  Some highlights follow:

  1. the birth of Jesus
  2. the circumcision and naming of Jesus
  3. the Massacre of the Innocents
  4. foreshadowing of the suffering and death of Jesus
  5. the ministry of St. John the Baptist
  6. the calling of the first apostles
  7. encouragement to “come and see” Jesus
  8. advice to follow Jesus

One of the basic formulas of logic is “If x, then y.”  If we accept that Jesus is God incarnate, how can we argue that we should not follow him actively?  The advice pertaining to active love in 1 John is timeless.  Yet I notice many people’s words about helping people belying their deeds when they have the opportunity to do something positive.  Yesterday, while listening to Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) radio online, I heard someone talk about an assignment at a seminary.  Some seminarians received the assignment to go a certain place across campus to preach on the Parable of the Good Samaritan at a certain time.  The professor arranged for individuals playing homeless people to intercept the seminarians, sometimes to delay them.  Many of the seminarians brushed off the strangers.

Our love for God and each other needs to be active.  God has demonstrated this love in the form of Jesus.  If we do not understand this message, we need to pay more attention.  That seems logical to me.

KRT

Written on June 7, 2010

Eleventh Day of Christmas   8 comments

Above:  An Eastern Orthodox Icon of the Twelve Apostles

Image Source = Stamp

What Do You Want?

JANUARY 4, 2020

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1 John 3:7-10 (New Jerusalem Bible):

Children, do not let anyone lead you astray.

Whoever acts uprightly is upright,

just as he is upright.

Whoever lives sinfully belongs to the devil,

since the devil has been a sinner from the beginning.

This was the purpose of the appearing of the Son of God,

to undo the work of the devil.

No one who is a child of God sins

because God’s seed remains in him.

Nor can he sin, because he is a child of God.

This is what distinguishes

the children of God from the children of the devil;

whoever does not live uprightly

and does not love his brother

is not from God.

Psalm 98:1, 7-9 (New Jerusalem Bible):

Sing a new song to Yahweh,

for he has performed wonders,

his saving power is in his right hand and his holy arm.

Let the sea thunder, and all that it holds,

the world and all who live in it.

Let the rivers clap their hands,

and the mountains shout for joy together,

at Yahweh’s coming, for he is coming

to judge the earth;

he will judge the world with saving justice

and the nations with fairness.

John 1:35-42 (New Jerusalem Bible):

The next day as John stood there again with two of his disciples, Jesus went past, and John said,

Look, there is the lamb of God.

And the two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus.  Jesus turned round, saw them following and said,

What do you want?

They answered,

Rabbi

–which means Teacher–

where do you live?

He replied,

Come and see;

so they went and saw where he lived, and stayed with him that day.  It was about the tenth hour.

One of these two who became followers of Jesus after hearing what John had said was Andrew, brother of Simon Peter.  The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother and say to him,

We have found the Messiah

–which means the Christ–and he took Simon to Jesus.  Jesus looked at him and said,

You are Simon son of John; you are to be called Cephas

–which means Rock.

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.

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What do we want from Jesus?

Do we seek validation for all our opinions or do we look for a challenge?  Do we seek a road to wealth via faith or do we look for one who reminds us of our responsibilities to the less fortunate?  Do we seek a martyr and hero or a Savior and Lord?

Jesus refuses to fit into our neat, theological boxes, which are vehicles of idolatry.  He is frequently not socially respectable, keeping company with those at the margins of society.  The maxim, “He who lies with dogs, rises with fleas” does not apply to Jesus.  Jesus is neither a mighty warrior nor a meek, mild-mannered person.  This is a figure who knows how to use a whip yet is deeply compassionate.  He challenges our preconceptions.

And that is how it should be.  Thanks be to God!

KRT

Written on June 7, 2010

Tenth Day of Christmas   10 comments

Above:  Adoration of the Shepherds, by Guido Reni, 1600s

(It is still Christmas.)

What Wondrous Love

JANUARY 3, 2020

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1 John 3:1-16 (New Jerusalem Bible):

You must see what great love the Father has lavished on us

by letting us be called God’s children–

which is what we are!

The reason why the world does not acknowledge us

is that it did not acknowledge him.

My dear friends, we are already God’s children,

but what we shall be in the future has not yet been revealed.

We are well aware that when he appears

we shall be like him,

because we shall see him as he really is.

Whoever treasures this hope of him

purifies himself, to be as pure as he is.

Whoever sins, acts wickedly,

because all sin is wickedness.

Now that you are well aware that he has appeared in order to take sins away,

and that in him there is no sin.

No one who remains in him sins,

and whoever sins

has neither seen him nor recognized him.

Psalm 98:1, 4-6 (New Jerusalem Bible):

Sing a new song to Yahweh,

for he has performed wonders,

his saving power is in his right hand and his holy arm.

Acclaim Yahweh, all the earth,

burst into shouts of joy!

Play to Yahweh on the harp,

to the sound of instruments;

to the sound of trumpet and horn,

acclaim the presence of the King.

John 1:29-34 (New Jerusalem Bible):

The next day, he [John the Baptist] saw Jesus coming towards him and said,

Look, there is the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.  It was of him I said, “Behind me comes one who has passed ahead of me because he existed before me.”  I did not know him myself, and yet my purpose in coming to baptize with water so that he might be revealed to Israel.

And John declared,

I saw the Spirit come down on him like a dove from heaven and rest on him.  I did not know him myself, but he who sent me to baptize with water had said to me, “The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and rest is the one who is to baptize with the Holy Spirit.”  I have seen and I testify that he is the Chosen One of God.

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.

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As I typed the assigned lessons from the Episcopal lectionary for Christmas, I knew that the best commentary and devotional based on them was a hymn, “What Wondrous Love.”  So I share the words of this 1835 hymn of U.S. origin with you, O reader.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

Written on June 7, 2010

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1.  What wondrous love is this,

O my soul, O my soul!

What wondrous love is this,

O my soul!

What wondrous love is this

that caused the  Lord of bliss

to lay aside his crown

for my soul, for my soul,

to lay aside his crown

for my soul.

2.  To God and to the Lamb,

I will sing, I will sing,

to God and to the Lamb,

I will sing.

To God and to the Lamb

who is the great I AM,

while millions join the theme,

I will sing, I will sing,

while millions join the theme

I will sing.

3.  And when from death I’m free,

I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on,

and when from death I’m free,

I’ll sing on.

And when from death I’m free

I’ll sing and joyful be,

and through eternity,

I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on,

and through eternity

I’ll sing on.