Archive for the ‘Hezekiah’ Tag

Devotions for Christmas Eve, Years A, B, C, and D (Humes)   3 comments

Nativity of Christ

Above:  Nativity of Christ

Image in the Public Domain

With Equity and Justice for All

DECEMBER 24, 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 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 9:2-7

Psalm 96

Titus 2:11-14

Luke 2:1-20

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Christmas and Easter remind me of graduation in a way; orations at each of these events are usually rehashes of old material.  That is not necessarily negative, of course.  Ministers, of all people, must be keenly aware that they are delivering Christmas or Easter sermon #9, frequently repeated.  How can reality be otherwise?

Isaiah 9:2-7 (or 9:1-6, if one is Jewish, Roman Catholic, or Eastern Orthodox) is a familiar passage.  Like so many familiar passages, it contains subtexts one might easily ignore when going on autopilot.  Depending on how one reads Hebrew verb tenses, the ideal king described is most likely Hezekiah (reigned 727/715-698/687 B.C.E.), son of Ahaz.  One can read of Hezekiah in 2 Kings 18-20 and 2 Chronicles 29-32.  One finds, however, that Hezekiah, although pious, was a deeply flawed man.  The ideal king of the Davidic Dynasty, then, remains a hoped-for figure for many.  Christian tradition identifies this prophecy with Jesus, born in Luke 2.

God is the King of the Earth, and salvation is available to all people, we read.  Yet we know that many people refuse and will reject that offer.  We also know that grace, although free to us, is never cheap to us, if it is to be effective.  Divine generosity to us imposes certain moral obligations upon us.  We have mandates, for example, to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.  That high calling leads to legal jeopardy sometimes, especially when the “king,” regardless of title, does not strive to be an ideal ruler and certainly falls far short of that standard.

Amid the reigns of wicked potentates and exploitative economic-judicial-educational systems I write

Merry Christmas!

to all of you.  Remember that God is in charge and will judge people with equity and justice.  That is good news for some and terrifying news for others.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 16, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ADALBALD OF OSTEVANT, RICTRUDIS OF MARCHIENNES, AND THEIR RELATIONS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ABRAHAM KUDUNAIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT; AND SAINT MARY OF EDESSA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ANCHORESS

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN CACCIAFRONTE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, ABBOT, BISHOP, AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MEGINGAUD OF WURZBURG, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK AND BISHOP

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2018/03/16/with-equity-and-justice-for-all/

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Devotion for Saturday Before the Eighth Sunday After the Epiphany, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Hezekiah

Above:  Hezekiah

Image in the Public Domain

The Mind of God

NOT OBSERVED IN 2019

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The Collect:

O God our rock, your word brings life to the whole creation from

and salvation from sin and death.

Nourish our faith in your promises, and ground us in your strength,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 25

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 30:8-17

Psalm 92:1-4, 12-15

John 16:1-4a

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During the reign of King Hezekiah of Judah, probably in 714 or 701 B.C.E., the monarch made diplomatic overtures to Egypt.  He was seeking to make Egypt.  He was seeking to make Egypt an ally, for the Assyrian Empire was threatening Judah.  First Isaiah opposed this geopolitical strategy.  His prophecy argued that an alliance with Egypt would create disgrace for Judah.  Later in Chapter 30, the prophet recorded a prophecy from God.  Depending on human strength is folly, it said, but Judah had chosen that path.  The kingdom would, so to speak, lie down in the bed it had made.

Far be it from me to read the mind of Hezekiah, who died a long time ago.  Perhaps he thought that he was doing the right thing.  I have read historical accounts of U.S. Presidents supporting regimes which victimized their own people, frequently during the Cold War.  But at least the military dictatorships which disappeared peaceful dissidents were not Communist, the State Department insisted.  Morally questionable choices frequently seem like the good–if not the least bad–options in real time.  Yet do not good intentions pave the road to Hell?

John 16:1-4a reflects the experiences of many early Jewish Christians.  Those who expelled Jewish Christians from synagogues did so in the name of God.  Often we mere mortals think that we know the mind of God–even if just slightly–but really have no idea.  We have mistaken human judgment for divine opinions.  The errors skew to the left, to the right, and to points between those two poles.  I make no pretenses of having mastered the divine mind–not even slightly–but I am confident in writing that, if God seems to agree with one all of the time, one is carrying on an internal dialogue with oneself.

The faithful and upright God of Psalm 92 disagrees with many people, especially those who are not righteous.  This does not mean, however, that a righteous person will agree with God all the time.  A righteous person is on the right path, however.  That counts for quite a lot.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 28, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS SIMON AND JUDE, APOSTLES AND MARTYRS

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2015/10/28/the-mind-of-god/

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

Hezekiah

Above:  King Hezekiah

Image in the Public Domain

Short-Term Thinking

NOT OBSERVED IN 2015

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The Collect:

Almighty God, in signs and wonders your Son revealed the greatness of your saving love.

Renew us with your grace, and sustain us by your power,

that we may stand in the glory of your name,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 25

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 38:1-8 (Friday)

Isaiah 39:1-8 (Saturday)

Psalm 41 (Both Days)

Hebrews 12:7-13 (Friday)

Luke 4:38-41 (Saturday)

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By this I know that you are pleased with me;

because my enemy has not triumphed over me.

But you have upheld me because of my integrity,

and set me in your presence forever.

–Psalm 41:11-12, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

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That text functions as a counterpart to the story of King Hezekiah of Judah, as we read it in Isaiah 38-39 and 2 Kings 20.

In the lectionary we read of two main healings–one of King Hezekiah and the other of St. Simon Peter’s mother-in-law.  The former seemed not to have improved spiritually.  In fact, he acted recklessly, showing off for a Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian envoy seeking an ally against Assyria.  This happened about a century (maybe a little more than, perhaps slightly less than) before that would-be ally ended the existence of the Kingdom of Judah.  The monarch took comfort that he would be dead by then.  St. Simon Peter’s mother-in-law, however, extended hospitality to her house guests.

As Hebrews 12:7-13 reminds us, God disciplines people for their own good.  Healing and holiness follow in that divine plan.  Some people are oblivious, however; Hezekiah comes to mind immediately.

Hezekiah answered, “The word of the LORD which you have spoken is good,” for he was thinking to himself that peace and security would last out his lifetime.

–2 Kings 20:19, The Revised English Bible (1989)

Such self-interest does not indicate proper concern for others, especially those of the future.  This kind of short-term thinking is what damages the planet and ravages ecosystems.  Future generations and members of other species will pay the high price for a lack of concern and imagination and for the quest for convenience and immediate gratification in the present day.  But we, unlike Hezekiah, will pay part of the price for our folly also.  Are we not supposed to be stewards of blessings, including the Earth?  Should we not extend hospitality to those around us and those not yet born?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 3, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FOURTH DAY OF ADVENT, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARUTHAS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF MAYPHERKAT AND MISSIONARY TO PERSIA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BERNARD OF PARMA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT FRANCIS XAVIER, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY TO ASIA

THE FEAST OF JOHN OWEN SMITH, UNITED METHODIST BISHOP IN GEORGIA

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/12/06/short-term-thinking/

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Devotion for Saturday Before the Eighth Sunday After Epiphany, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

08508v

Above:  The Pool of Hezekiah, Jerusalem, Palestine, Between 1898 and 1946

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reference Number = LC-DIG-matpc-08508

Turning Toward the False and Illusory

NOT OBSERVED IN 2017

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The Collect:

God of tender care, like a mother, like a father,

you never forget your children, and you know already what we need.

In our anxiety give us trusting and faithful hearts,

that in confidence we may embody the peace and justice

of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 25

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 31:1-9

Psalm 131 (Both Days)

Luke 11:14-23

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O Israel, trust in the Lord,

from this time forth and for evermore.

–Psalm 131:4, Common Worship (2000)

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The Interpreter’s Bible, Volume V (1956), page 338 on Isaiah 31:1-3:

This oracle is a companion piece to 30:1-7, with its references to the Judean embassy seeking Egyptian help, to the illusory strength of Egypt, to the wisdom and the spirit of God, and to the inevitable discomfiture of a plan to seek foreign aid rather than to rely on God.  The propensity of human beings in time of danger to grasp for material support at whatever moral cost, and to neglect the priority of spiritual realities because they are intangible, is here vividly set out.  The grandiose dreams of the Judean leaders will come to nothing; instead, they will invoke the nemesis of history.  For this the prophet gives two reasons:  (a) their policy flouts the wise purpose of Yahweh, which alone governs the course of events; and (b) they are putting their trust in something as weak and transitory as themselves, which will perish with them.

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King Hezekiah, seeking defense against Assyria, had entered into an alliance with Egypt, whose leadership, as Volume V (1956) of The Interpreter’s Bible stated on page 330, made grand promises yet could do nothing more than talk.  For this talking the Pharaoh received tribute from Judah.  There was no security to find in that alliance.

A common belief in the Hellenistic Mediterranean world was that demonic possession caused a variety of conditions.  Today we call them a range of terms, from stress to mental illness.  In those days, however, the term for treating those conditions was exorcism.  Some of our Lord and Savior’s opponents accused him of exorcising via a league with Satan.  Even inside the cultural milieu the logic failed immediately.

The unifying theme this day is turning away from God and toward that which is false, illusory, and incapable of meeting the needs of the moment.  We humans do this often.  Related to this pattern is a constant–human nature, with its strengths and weaknesses.  The weaknesses share the central seat with divine fidelity in this post.

Whenever we seek substitutes for God, whether they be sports, drugs, bad religion, or other idols, we attempt to force square pegs into round holes.  We set off upon foolish and doomed errands.  May we cease to do that, by grace and for the glory of God, the benefit of our fellow human beings, and the best interests of ourselves.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 20, 2013 COMMON ERA

PROPER 24–THE TWENTY-SECOND SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

THE FEAST OF MARY A. LATHBURY, U.S. METHODIST HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT BERTILLA BOSCARDIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN AND NURSE

THE FEAST OF JOHN HARRIS BURT, EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF TARORE OF WAHOARA, ANGLICAN MISSIONARY

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/turning-toward-the-false-and-illusory/

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