Archive for the ‘Amos 5’ Tag

Devotion for the Fourth Sunday After the Epiphany, Year D (Humes)   1 comment

Above:  The Marriage at Cana, by Paolo Veronese

Image in the Public Domain

Deeds and Creeds

JANUARY 30, 2022

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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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Amos 5:18-24 or Proverbs 3:5-18

Psalm 117

1 Timothy 3:1-13

John 2:1-12

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Rituals are part of religion.  The Law of Moses specifies elements of ritualism, down to priestly vestments and certain details of sacred spaces.  May we human beings shun Puritanical and Pietistic excesses as we focus on the point of Amos 5:18-24.  That point is that sacred rituals are not talismans.  They do not shield people from the consequences of a lack of righteousness–in this case, manifested in the exploitation of the vulnerable and in corruption.

Divine judgment and mercy exist in balance.  We may praise God for having merciful love (as in Psalm 117), but divine justice is catastrophic for the habitually unrighteous (as in Amos 5).  Therefore, blessed and happy are those who find wisdom (as in Proverbs 3).

1 Timothy 3, somewhat bound by cultural context, does contain a timeless element, too.  Ecclesiastical leaders have a duty to lead by example.  They must have fine character.  Their deeds must not belie the sacred truth.

Hypocrisy offends, does it not?  I recall a news story from years ago.  A minister had preached against gambling.  Then someone caught him gambling in a casino.

Deeds reveal creeds.  Words may deceive, but deeds to not lie.  In Jewish theology, God is like what God has done and is doing.  The same principle applies to human beings.

In the Gospel of John, Christ’s first miracle was turning water into wine at Cana.  This was no mere parlor trick.  Yes, Jesus saved his host from embarrassment.  Christ also pointed to his glory, that is, God’s presence in him.  Jesus pointed to God.

Divine grace is extravagant.  It saves us from sins and from ourselves.  Sometimes it may save us from embarrassment.  Do we accept that grace and point to God?  Do we accept that grace and love our neighbors as we love ourselves?  Or do we reject that grace?

Our deeds will reveal our creeds.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 30, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE SIXTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FEAST OF ALLEN EASTMAN CROSS, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN MAIN, ANGLO-CANADIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MONK

THE FEAST OF FRANCES JOSEPH-GAUDET, AFRICAN-AMERICAN EDUCATOR, PRISON REFORMER, AND SOCIAL WORKER

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM ADAMS BROWN, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, THEOLOGIAN, AND SOCIAL REFORMER

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2020/12/30/deeds-and-creeds-iv/

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Devotion for the Third Sunday After the Epiphany, Year D (Humes)   1 comment

Above:  Saint Bartholomew, by Antonio Veneziano

Image in the Public Domain

Salvation and Damnation

JANUARY 23, 2022

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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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Amos 5:6-15 or Proverbs 1:20-33

Psalm 115:12-18

1 Timothy 2:1-15

John 1:43-51

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Without getting lost on a side trip through cultural context in 1 Timothy 2, I focus on the core, unifying theme this week:  We reap what we sow.

Now they must eat the fruit of their own way,

and with their own devices be glutted.

For the self-will of the simple kills them,

the smugness of fools destroys them.

But he who obeys me dwells in security,

in peace, without fear of harm.

–Proverbs 1:33, The New American Bible (1991)

The crucifixion of Jesus, the blood of the martyrs, and the suffering of the righteous contradicts the last two lines.  O, well.  The Book of Proverbs is excessively optimistic sometimes.  The Book of Ecclesiastes corrects that excessive optimism.

Righteousness is no guarantee against suffering in this life.  Nevertheless, we will reap what we sow.  Some of the reaping must wait until the afterlife, though.

The New Testament readings point to Jesus, as they should.  1 Timothy gets into some cultural details that do not reflect the reality of Athens, Georgia, in December 2020.  I denounce the male chauvinism evident in 1 Timothy 1:9-15.  That sexism is of its time and place.  I focus instead on God desiring that people find salvation.  They do not, of course.  Many of them are like the disobedient people in Amos 5 and Proverbs 1.

The divine mandate of economic justice present in Amos 5 remains relevant.  It is a mandate consistent with the teachings of Jesus and the ethos of Second Temple Judaism.  That divine mandate, built into the Law of Moses, is crucial in Covenantal Nomism.  According to Covenantal Nomism, salvation is via grace–birth into the covenant.  One drops out of the covenant by consistently and willfully neglecting the ethical demands of the covenant.

In other words, damnation is via works and salvation is via grace.

The reading from John 1 requires some attempt at an explanation.  The parts of John 1:35-43 that need to be clear are clear.  But, after consulting learned commentaries, I still have no idea what amazed St. Bartholomew/Nathanael the Apostle about Jesus seeing him under a fig tree.  I recall having read very educated guesses, though.  The crucial aspect of that story is the call to follow Jesus.  Also, John 1:43 links Jacob’s Ladder/Staircase/Ramp (Genesis 28:10-17) to the crucifixion (“lifting up”) of Jesus.  The Johannine theme of the exaltation of Christ being his crucifixion occurs in Chapter 1, too.  The crucifixion of Jesus was the gate of Heaven, according to John 1:43.

That gate is sufficiently narrow to exclude those who exclude themselves.  Those who carry with them the luggage of bribery cannot enter.  Those who haul along the bags of exploitation of the poor cannot pass.  No, those who exclude themselves have done injustice to God and Jesus while exploiting “the least of these.”  Those who have excluded themselves must eat the fruit of their own way.

C. S. Lewis wrote that the doors to Hell are locked from the inside.  

Think about that, O reader.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 29, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FIFTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FEAST OF THE HOLY INNOCENTS (TRANSFERRED)

THE FEAST OF JOHN BURNETT MORRIS, SR., EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND WITNESS FOR CIVIL RIGHTS

THE FEAST OF PHILIPP HEINRICH MOLTHER, GERMAN MORAVIAN MINISTER, BISHOP, COMPOSER, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT THOMAS BECKET, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY, AND MARTYR, 1170

THE FEAST OF THOMAS COTTERRILL ENGLISH PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND LITURGIST

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2020/12/29/salvation-and-damnation-part-ii/

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Tenth Day of Advent   19 comments

Above:  Sheep

The Enduring Love and Justice of God

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2021 (YEAR C)

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FIRST READING (YEARS A AND C):  Isaiah 40:1-11 (Revised English Bible):

Comfort my people; bring comfort to them,

says your God;

speak kindly to Jerusalem

and proclaim to her

that her term of bondage is served,

her penalty is paid;

for she has received at the LORD’s hand

double measure for all her sins.

A voice cries:

Clear a road through the wilderness for the LORD,

prepare a highway across the desert for our God.

Let every valley be raised,

every mountain and hill be brought low,

uneven ground be made smooth,

and steep places become level.

Then will the glory of the LORD be revealed

and all mankind together will see it.

The LORD himself has spoken.

A voice says,

Proclaim!

and I asked,

What shall I proclaim?

All mortals are like grass,

they last no longer than a wild flower of the field.

The grass withers, the flower fades,

when the blast of the LORD blows on them.

Surely the people are grass!

The grass may wither, the flower fade,

but the word of our God will endure for ever.

Climb to a mountaintop,

you that bring good news to Zion;

raise your voice and shout aloud,

you that carry good news to Jerusalem,

raise it fearlessly;

say to the cities of Judah,

Your God is here!

Here is the Lord GOD; he is coming in might,

coming to rule with powerful arm.

His reward is with him,

his recompense before him.

Like a shepherd he will tend his flock together;

he will carry the lambs in his bosom

and lead his ewes to water.

FIRST READING FOR YEAR B:  Amos 5:18-24 (Revised English Bible):

Woe betide those who long for the day of the LORD!

What will the day of the LORD mean for you?

It will be darkness, not light;

It will be as when someone runs from a lion,

only to be confronted by a bear,

or as when he enters his house

and leans with his hand on the wall,

only to be bitten by a snake.

The day of the LORD is indeed darkness, not light,

a day of gloom without a ray of brightness.

I spurn with loathing your pilgrim-feasts;

I take no pleasure in your sacred ceremonies.

When you bring me your whole-offerings and your grain-offerings

I shall not accept them,

nor pay head to your shared-offerings or stall-fed beasts.

Spare me the sound of your songs;

I shall not listen to the strumming of your lutes.

Instead let justice flow on like a river

and righteousness like a never-failing torrent.

PSALM FOR YEARS A AND C:  Psalm 96 (Revised English Bible):

Sing a new song to the LORD.

Sing to the LORD, all the earth.

Sing to the LORD and bless his name;

day by day proclaim his victory.

Declare his glory among the nations,

his marvellous deeds to every people.

Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;

he is more to be feared than all gods.

For the gods of the nations are idols every one;

but the LORD made the heavens.

Majesty and splendour attend him,

might and beauty are in his sanctuary.

Ascribe to the LORD, you families of nations,

ascribe to the LORD glory and might;

ascribe to the LORD the glory due to his name.

Bring an offering and enter his courts;

in holy attire worship the LORD;

tremble before him, all the earth.

Declare among the nations,

The LORD is King;

the world is established imovably;

he will judge the peoples with equity.

Let the heavens rejoice and the earth be glad,

let the sea resound and everything in it,

let the fields exult and all that is in them;

let all the trees of the forest shout for joy

before the LORD when he comes,

when he comes to judge the earth.

He will judge the world with justice

and the peoples by his faithfulness.

PSALM FOR YEAR B:  Psalm 50:7-15 (Revised English Bible):

Listen, my people, and I shall speak;

I shall bear witness against you, Israel:

I am God, your God.

Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you,

your whole offerings always before me;

I need take no young bull from your farmstead,

no he-goat from your folds;

for all the living creatures of the forest are mine

and the animals in their thousands on my hills.

I know every bird on those mountains;

the teeming life of the plains is my care.

If I were hungry, I would not tell you,

for the world and all that is in it are mine.

Do I eat the flesh of bulls

or drink the blood of he-goats?

Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving

and fulfill your vows to the Most High;

then if you call to me in time of trouble,

I shall come to your rescue, and you will honour me.

Matthew 18:12-14 (Revised English Bible):

[Jesus said,]

What do you think?  Suppose someone has a hundred sheep, and one of them strays, does he not leave the other ninety-nine on the hillside and go in search of the one that strayed?  Truly I tell you:  if he should find it, he is more delighted over the sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not stray.  In the same way, it is not your heavenly Father’s will that one of these little ones should be lost.

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.

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Divine judgment and mercy are two sides of one coin; one goes where the other does.  The Hebrew Scriptures  and the New Testament condemn economic and judicial injustice repeatedly.  So it follows naturally that divine mercy for the exploited entails judgment on the exploiters.  This is as matters should be.

So we read on this day of Advent about grazing animals–and not even the brightest crayons in that box.  We read that God desires righteousness and social justice, not the sacrifice of animals or grains, and that all these creatures are precious to God.  In fact, we have a parable in which Jesus likens us to lost sheep in great peril.  The shepherd will seek and locate such a sheep then rejoice.  Jesus is the Good Shepherd, of course.  This is an unexpected analogy for a figure of exaltation, for shepherds were smelly and toward the bottom of the totem pole.  Furthermore, they depended on the sheep for their livelihood, much as the animals depended on the shepherds for their safety.  So, as I reflect on this parable, I conclude that it says that God needs us, just as we need God.  And, when I bring in the other readings, I see that God’s shepherding of us entails a degree of discipline–not for vindictive punishment, but for instruction.  Tough love requires some pain at times, but the alternative is worse for us.

KRT

Written on May 31, 2010

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/11/12/the-enduring-love-and-justice-of-god/