Archive for the ‘Compassion’ 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 12 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   6 comments

Above:  The Good Samaritan, by Rembrandt van Rijn

The Universal Standard

DECEMBER 12, 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,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 29:1-14

Psalm 50 (Morning)

Psalms 14 and 16 (Evening)

Jude 1-25

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A Related Post:

A Prayer for Compassion:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/09/24/a-prayer-for-compassion/

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We read in Isaiah 29 that there is deliverance from judgment sometimes.  One of the poems seems to describe the deliverance of Jerusalem during the reign of King Hezekiah (2 Kings 18-19).  Yet the same city has faced destruction more than once since then.

Destruction was also on Jude’s mind.  This time it was spiritual and personal doom for those who refused to trust God and obey divine commandments.  This destruction could also be communal if the community did not remain faithful.

My sense of history prompts me to become uneasy with regard to those who would go to any extreme to rid the community of alleged heretics and false teachers.  I recall reading and hearing of instances of heretics burned at the stake or tortured into recanting.  Inquisitions are not Christlike.  And those who disagree with us are not wrong because they disagree with us; we are not necessarily correct in all our opinions.  Many of our standards of right and wrong are culturally-conditioned, so slavery in the Antebellum United States was acceptable in the theology of many professing Christians.  That reality functioned as an indictment of such theologies.

There is one universal standard.  That is love, as God has demonstrated it.  New Testament authors wrote of the Law of Love, an idea they found in the Old Testament.  Maintaining correct Christology, essential to Christianity, must occur in the context of living compassionately.  We ought not proclaim the love of Christ with our words and belie it with our deeds.  Part of avoiding rank hypocrisy is surrendering ourselves to the mystery that is God and leaving judgment there. May we do so.

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-universal-standard/

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Devotion for December 7 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   6 comments

Above:  Christ Pantocrator, Looking Unhappy

The Imperative of Acting Compassionately

DECEMBER 7, 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,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 24:1-13

Psalm 102 (Morning)

Psalms 130 and 16 (Evening)

1 John 1:-2:14

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A Related Post:

A Prayer for Compassion:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/09/24/a-prayer-for-compassion/

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In this way we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.

–1 John 2:3, The New Jerusalem Bible

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What is the test of holiness?

Isaiah 24 speaks of an undated, future doom people will bring upon themselves by violating the Law of Moses.  1 John places obedience and disobedience in the context of Jesus, who has fulfilled the Law.  If we love Jesus, we will keep his commandments.  The summary of his teachings and lived example is compassion.  We must identify with others as best we can and seek their good.  Any economic or legal system which bases one person’s improvement upon the detriment of another or others is inherently sinful.  And such systems thrive today.

I know what Jesus would say about them.

Any religious system which teaches hatred instead of compassion as a virtue in inherently sinful.  One need not restrict the list of examples to jihads, Crusades, and excuses for racism.  Such religious systems thrive today.

I know what Jesus would say about them.

For that matter, I know what St. John the Baptist would say about them:

You brood of vipers!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 10, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN ROBERTS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF KARL BARTH, SWISS REFORMED THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF THOMAS MERTON, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MONK

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/08/05/the-imperative-of-acting-compassionately/

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Devotion for December 5 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   5 comments

Above:  Tree of Jesse from St. Peters’ Cathedral, Worms, Germany

The Ideal Kingdom

DECEMBER 5, 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,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 11:1-12:6

Psalm 50 (Morning)

Psalms 14 and 16 (Evening)

2 Peter 2:1-22

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All this shows that the Lord is well able to rescue the good from their trials, and hold the wicked for their punishment until the Day of Judgement.

–2 Peter 2:9, The New Jerusalem Bible

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Some Related Posts:

A Prayer for Compassion:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/09/24/a-prayer-for-compassion/

The Remnant:

http://taylorfamilypoems.wordpress.com/2011/08/09/the-remnant/

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The lovely and familiar reading from Isaiah flows immediately from the end of Chapter 10.  God will topple mighty cedars of Lebanon (poetic stand-ins for Assyria),

But a shoot shall grow out of the stump of Jesse,

A twig shall sprout from his stock.

–Isaiah 11:1, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

The twig will be the ideal king who will mete out justice, punish the wicked, and raise up the downtrodden.  God’s peace will reign and exiles will return.

The state of affairs was not nearly as rosy when exiles did return; read Ezra and Nehemiah for details.  What, then, are we supposed to make of this prediction?  That time has yet to come; this is my proposed answer.

We read in Isaiah 11:1-12:6 of what God will do.  By the time of 2 Peter 2, Jesus had come and gone, having fulfilled his mission.  That was another thing God had done.  Yet the Roman Empire remained firmly in control.  The ideal kingdom was still in the future tense.  The author of 2 Peter reminded his audience of some more of God’s past deeds, namely sparing Noah and family as well as destroying the equal-opportunity would-be rapists (heterosexual and homosexual) of Sodom of Gomorrah.  God had rescued the just then; God would do it again.

So we continue to wait for the ideal kingdom of God.  The evil still oppress the good.  Those who act righteously still suffer because of unintended consequences of well-intentioned laws and of flaws in legal systems.  Many people who think that they are righteous actually oppress the righteous.  Maybe even we have committed evil unwittingly while trying to perform good deeds.

The most basic good deed I know is one consistent with compassion and measured objectively according to results.  We can know a tree by its fruits.  This is a matter of results, not ideology, which is often oblivious to evidence.

So, as we do our best to act compassionately, may we not lose hope that divine promises of deliverance of the good are reliable.  God’s timing, after all, is not ours.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 10, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN ROBERTS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF KARL BARTH, SWISS REFORMED THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF THOMAS MERTON, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MONK

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/08/05/the-ideal-kingdom/

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