Archive for the ‘Isaiah 26’ Tag

Devotion for the Second Sunday After the Epiphany (Year D)   1 comment

Rode

Above:  Christ Heals a Man Paralyzed by the Gout, by Bernhard Rode

Image in the Public Domain

Building Communities of Shalom

JANUARY 19, 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 26:7-27:1

Psalm 109

Matthew 8:1-4; 9:1-8 or Luke 5:12-26

Hebrews 10:1-4 (10-14) 26-39

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May my accusers be clothed with dishonor;

may they be wrapped in their own shame as in a mantle.

–Psalm 109:29, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

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Justice, according to Psalm 109 and Isaiah 26, is for God to deliver the faithful and to smite the evildoers.  I understand the sentiment well, just as I also grasp the reality that prolonged anger can easily become a spiritual toxin.  In small doses and for brief periods of time it might help one make the proper decisions, but its toxicity becomes apparent quickly.  One does better to pray for one’s persecutors, that they may repent, and leave the rest to God.  Not all will repent, unfortunately, and those who persist in perfidy will bring their fates upon themselves.

Lo, I have it all put away,

Sealed up in My storehouses,

To be My vengeance and recompense,

At the time that their foot falters.

Yea, their day of disaster is near,

And destiny rushes upon them.

For the LORD will vindicate His people

And take revenge for His servants,

When He sees that their might is gone,

And neither bond nor free is left….

O nations, acclaim His people!

For He’ll avenge the blood of His servants,

Wreak vengeance on His foes,

And cleanse the land of His people.

–Deuteronomy 32:34-36, 43, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

In the Lukan account of the healing of the paralyzed man he glorifies God immediately, and witnesses become filled with amazement because of the miracle.  It is easy to maintain faith in God during good times, but a different matter during difficult times.  That is part of the reason for the existence of the Letter to the Hebrews, with its encouragement of perseverance and warning against committing apostasy, of falling away from God.

I have learned via living that faith in God is essential to getting through dark chapters in life as well as possible.  I have also learned that the light of God seems to burn brightest in the darkness and that grace seems most evident during times of distress.  The faithful do not walk exclusively in paths of pleasantness.  Neither do they walk alone.  They trusting in God, can focus on the positive and seek to build communities of shalom.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 4, 2016 COMMON ERA

PROPER 18:  THE SIXTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF ALL CHRISTIAN PEACEMAKERS AND PEACE ACTIVISTS

THE FEAST OF PAUL JONES, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF UTAH AND PEACE ACTIVIST; AND HIS COLLEAGUE, JOHN NEVIN SAYRE, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND PEACE ACTIVIST

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2016/09/04/building-communities-of-shalom/

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Devotion for Monday After the Second Sunday of Advent, Year B (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Gray Thursday, Walmart

Above:  Shoppers at Walmart, Klamath Falls, Oregon, Gray Thursday (Thanksgiving Day), 2013

Image Source = bobjgalindo

This Corrupt Generation

DECEMBER 11, 2017

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The Collect:

Stir up our hearts, Lord God, to prepare the way of your only Son.

By his coming strengthen us to serve you with purified lives;

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 19

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 26:7-15

Psalm 27

Acts 2:37-42

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When evildoers came upon me to eat up my flesh,

it was they, my foes and my adversaries, who stumbled and fell.

–Psalm 27:2, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.

–Acts 2:40b, New Revised Standard Version (1989)

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We read of evildoers.  They receive grace yet continue to deal unjustly and to fail to recognize the majesty of God.  They practice and/or condone unnecessary violence.  They exploit the poor and act without compassion.  They are corrupt.

Human nature is, for better and for worse, constant.  Thus every generation is “this corrupt generation.”  I survey my North American dominant culture and find reasons for both optimism and pessimism.  On one hand, for example, women can vote, Jim Crow laws are dead, and homosexuals have more rights than they once did.  On the other hand, racism continues to permeate sections of society, homophobia survives, income inequality is becoming worse, and certain big-box retailers with dodgy ethical reputations as public citizens begin to display Christmas items before Halloween.  I have, without resorting to perpetual grumpiness, escaped to a man cave with many books, compact discs, and DVDs.  I subscribe to no television, satellite, or similar service, so I am functionally popular culturally illiterate.  Yet I know much about history, theology, liturgy, and classical music.  Mine is the better lot, complete with Christmas shopping at thrift stores.  In some ways I never dropped in,  In other ways I have dropped out.  So be it.

One challenge of being a Christian is to transform the world for the better.  God will save it, but we mere mortals can at least leave it better than we found it.  We cannot transform the world either  by condemning it from afar or by becoming indistinguishable from it.  Those who retreat from the world can also play a vital role, for convents and monasteries have preserved knowledge, sheltered orphans and abandoned children, provided medical care, et cetera.  So may nobody criticize monastics unjustly.  We need more of them, in fact.

How is God calling you, O reader, to make this corrupt generation better?  May you fulfill that vocation well.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 26, 2014 COMMON ERA

PROPER 25:  THE TWENTIETH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALFRED THE GREAT, KING OF THE WEST SAXONS

THE FEAST OF SAINT CEDD, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF LONDON

THE FEAST OF DMITRY BORTNIANSKY, COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF PHILLIP NICOLAI, JOHANN HEERMANN, AND PAUL GERHARDT, HYMN WRITERS

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/10/28/this-corrupt-generation/

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Devotion for Thursday and Friday Before the Eighth Sunday After Epiphany, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   3 comments

Philippi_Daumet_Direkler

Above:  Ruins of Philippi, 1861

Artist = H. Daumet

Image in the Public Domain

Seeking the Interests of Christ

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:

Proverbs 12:22-28 (Thursday)

Isaiah 26:1-6 (Friday)

Psalm 131 (Both Days)

Philippians 2:19-24 (Thursday)

Philippians 2:25-30 (Friday)

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Some Related Posts:

O Israel, trust in the Lord,

from this time forth for evermore.

–Psalm 131:4, Common Worship (2000)

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The church at Philippi contained some serious divisions, the precise nature of which have not survived in the historical record.  (Authors of epistles did not explain certain details for the benefit of readers thousands of years later, understandably.)  Apparently, not all of the people–leaders, especially–involved in this divisiveness were of sincere and good will.  Even those who were of sincere and good will acted in such a way as to harm the congregation’s witness to Christ.  (I am trying to write out of generosity of spirit.)  In the text from Philippians the exhortation to seek the interests of Christ set the tone.

Seeking the interests of Christ–more broadly, of God–is a topic of which we read in Proverbs and Isaiah.  Their witness–along with that of other portions of the Bible–is to trust in God and to behave properly toward our fellow human beings.  Those two relate to each other.  Indeed, one cannot love God, whom one cannot see, if one does not love people, whom one can see.  I am convinced that much inexcusable treatment of our fellow human beings flows from our insecurities regarding our own future.  We want to pile up and/or safeguard resources and/or security for ourselves, so we justify in our own minds the evil we commit toward others.  We steal from them.  We condone theft from them.  We deny people opportunities.  We discriminate against them.  We condone violence against against them.  We commit violence against them.  We do this while pursuing what we misconstrue as our self-interests.

In reality, however, our self-interests are those of our fellow human beings.  All of us are bound up in the reality of community, with mutual responsibilities.  So we harm ourselves when we injure others, who are our neighbors.

Trusting that God will provide our necessities opens the door to behaving generously and kindly toward others.  If lacking that trust leads to the opposite result, the previous statement makes sense, does it not?  Such trust can prove difficult, of course.  Yet I have learned that God does provide–often via unexpected methods.

May we trust God and care for each other, always seeking the interests of Christ.

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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This is post #350 of ADVENT, CHRISTMAS, AND EPIPHANY DEVOTIONS.

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/seeking-the-interests-of-christ/

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Devotion for December 29 and 30, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   7 comments

Guido_Reni_-_Massacre_of_the_Innocents

Above:  The Massacre of the Innocents, by Guido Reni

Difficult Questions of Suffering

DECEMBER 29 and 30, 2019

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The Collect:

O Lord God, you know that we cannot place our trust in our own powers.

As you protected the infant Jesus, so defend us and all the needy from harm and adversity,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 20

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The Assigned Readings:

Jeremiah 31:15-22 (December 29)

Isaiah 26:1-9 (December 30)

Psalm 20 (both days)

Luke 19:41-44 (December 29)

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (December 30)

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From God’s holy place may you receive help;

may God strengthen you out of Zion.

–Psalm 20:2, Book of Common Worship (1993)

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In the Jeremiah reading God comforts the Israelite nation.  They have sinned, yes, and the negative consequences of persistently bad actions will ensue.  But exiles will also return in time.  In the midst of punishment grace speaks.  The beginning of the passage reappears in Matthew 2:18, in the context of Herod the Great’s massacre of the Holy Innocents.  The Collect from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006) reminds us that God spared the life of young Jesus.  Yet others died in his place.

The readings for these two days combine to constitute a certain tension.  God is faithful and will be merciful after either allowing punishment to occur or after meting out punishments.  Yet the latter God does not do happily.  Nevertheless, innocent people suffer because they were at the wrong place at the wrong time.  The readings from December 26 tell us that this does not indicate that God has been negligent in divine duties.  2 Corinthians 4:16-18 joins the chorus of affirming voices:

So we do not lose heart.  Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.  For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.

The New Revised Standard Version

Theodicy is a risky endeavor.  God is best qualified to justify self to human questions, of course.  And our ideas (or at least some of them) might prove false.  But, if God is truly the one and only deity–as I affirm–then God is in the dock.  I, as an honest Monotheist, cannot blame one deity for bad events and credit another for negative ones.  But one of my favorite spiritual inheritances from the Jews, my elder siblings in faith, is the right to argue with God faithfully.  I want answers to issues such as the suffering of the innocent.  Until or unless I get them, however, I still have a healthy relationship with God.  And I intend to continue to have one for the rest of my days and afterward.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 19, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT POEMEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AND SAINTS JOHN THE DWARF AND ARSENIUS THE GREAT, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONKS

THE FEAST OF SAINT AMBROSE AUTPERT, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

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

THE FEAST OF SAINT MACRINA THE YOUNGER, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/07/24/difficult-questions-of-suffering/

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Devotion for December 10 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   2 comments

Above:  A U-Turn

Image Source = Smurrayinchester

Judgment and Repentance

DECEMBER 10, 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 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 26:20-27:13

Psalm 122 (Morning)

Psalms 40 and 67 (Evening)

1 John 4:1-21

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Assuredly, by this alone

Shall Jacob’s sin be purged away;

This is the only price

For removing his guilt:

That he make all the altar-stones

Like shattered blocks of chalk–

With no sacred post left standing,

Nor any incense altar.

–Isaiah 27:9, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

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Love comes to its perfection in us

when we can face the Day of Judgement fearlessly,

because even in this world

we have become as he is.

–1 John 4:17, The New Jerusalem Bible

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Someday, a long time in the future, on the Day of Judgment, Isaiah wrote, the meaning of divine punishment of the chosen people would become clear.  Those who repented–turned around and changed their minds–would not face destruction.  The Day of Judgment figures prominently in 1 Peter 4.

God is love,

we read in verse 8.  God loved us first, expiating our sins, and we ought to love one another.  Loving each other indicates that we are of God, and so we will face the Day of Judgment without fear if we love God and each other.

Too much of practical Christianity focuses on hellfire and damnation.  Yes, judgment is real, but so are love, grace, and forgiveness.  If one’s goal is to encourage others to have a healthy relationship with God via Jesus, one ought to focus on the positive.  A healthy relationship is one based on love and respect, not terror.  Trying to draw people to God by scaring the Hell (literally) out of them is far from the best way to build and encourage healthy faith.

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/judgment-and-repentance/

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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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Fifth Day of Advent   18 comments

Above:  Bedrock at Caithness, Scotland

Image Source = Mike Norton

Jesus, Our Rock

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 5, 2019

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Isaiah 26:1-6 (Revised English Bible):

On that day this song will be sung in Judah:

We have a strong city

with walls and ramparts built for our safety.

Open the gates!  Let a righteous nation enter,

a nation that keeps faith!

LORD, you keep those of firm purpose

untroubled because of their trust in you.

Trust in the LORD for ever,

for he is an eternal rock.

He has brought low

all who dwell high in a towering city;

he levels it to the ground

and lays it in the dust,

so that the oppressed and the poor

may tread it underfoot.

Psalm 118:19-24 (Revised English Bible):

Open to me the gates of victory;

I shall go in by them and praise the LORD.

This is the gate of the LORD;

the victors will enter through it.

I shall praise you, for you have answered me

and have become my deliverer.

The stone which the builders rejected

has become the main corner-stone.

This is the LORD’s doing;

it is wonderful in our eyes.

This is the day on which the LORD has acted,

a day for us to exult and rejoice.

Matthew 7:21-27 (Revised English Bible):

[Jesus said,]

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but only those who do the will of my heavenly Father.  When the day comes, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, when did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name perform many miracles?’  Then I will say to them plainly, ‘I never knew you.  Out of sight; your deeds are evil!’

So whoever hears these words of mine and acts on them is like a man who had the sense to build his house on rock.  The rain came down, the floods rose, and winds blew, and beat upon that house; but it did not fall, because its foundations were on rock.  And whoever hears these words of mine and does not act on them is like a man who was foolish enough to build his house on sand.  The rain came down, the floods rose, the winds blew and battered against that house; and it fell with a great crash.

When Jesus had finished this discourse the people were amazed at his teaching; unlike their scribes he taught them with a note of authority.

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.

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Certain childhood memories tarry.  For me one of these is the collection of Arch Books I had.  Arch Books were small paperback volumes from the Concordia Press.  Each book told one Bible story, mostly with illustrations, as is the style of most volumes for young children.  The Arch Book which I remember most vividly after the passage of time is The House on the Rock.  To this day I recall illustrations depicting the sober-minded man who took enough time to build a house on a rock, as well as a party at the house built on sand.  Alas, the latter gentleman engaged in short-term thinking alone, and his joy was short-lived.

Anyhow, the meaning of the parable is clear:  Jesus is the rock.  We who call ourselves Christians, if we are intellectually honest, build our spiritual houses on the life, teachings, and person of Jesus of Nazareth, maturing in faith over time.  We will not get every detail correct, of course, for we are mere mortals.  Yet we can trust in God, whose grace will empower us to succeed in this endeavor.

One more detail of the Gospel reading stands out in my mind.  Jesus taught with authority.  The usual pattern was for religious teachers to refer to other authorities, such as deceased and revered rabbis.  Yet Jesus taught with authority, and this fact amazed people.  Indeed, he is a worthy rock.

KRT

Written on May 31, 2010

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/11/12/jesus-our-rock/

Posted September 14, 2010 by neatnik2009 in 2019-2020, December 5, Episcopal Church Lectionary

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