Archive for the ‘Isaiah 29’ Tag

Devotion for Friday and Saturday Before the Fifth Sunday After Epiphany, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   2 comments

Cuci_tangan_pakai_sabun

Above:  Washing Hands With Soap

Image Source = Serenity

Deeds and Rituals

FEBRUARY 7 and 8, 2020

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The Collect:

Lord God, with endless mercy you receive

the prayers of all who call upon you.

By your Spirit show us the things we ought to do,

and give us the grace and power to do them,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 22

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 29:1-12 (Friday)

Isaiah 29:13-16 (Saturday)

Psalm 112:1-9 [10] (both days)

James 3:13-18 (Friday)

Mark 7:1-8 (Saturday)

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Light shines in the darkness for the upright;

the righteous are merciful and full of compassion.

It is good for them to be generous in lending

and to manage their affairs with justice.

–Psalm 112:4-5, Book of Common Worship (1993)

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Ritualism, in and of itself, is positive.  It, paired with lived faith in God–the kind of faith which finds expression in, among other things, an active concern for what James 3:18 (The New Jerusalem Bible) calls

a harvest of justice,

is consistent with the witness of Hebrew prophets who decried judicial and political corruption and economic exploitation.  In fact, the instructions for the house of worship in the Law of Moses indicate a space designed for ritualism.  But the Law of Moses (when it does not call for stoning people or reflect a negative view of female biology) speaks of lived holiness for the community.

Many activities are positive.  Among these is washing one’s hands before eating–certainly a sanitary action.  Yet sanitation was not the concern Jesus addressed in Mark 7.  No, our Lord and Savior discussed tradition for its own sake and the sake of making some people appear holier than others.  He knew that washing hands could not purify one’s self-righteous attitude.  So rituals ought not to function as totems, which people imagine vainly will protect them from the wrath of God or merely from the consequences of their bad deeds and sins of omission.

May each of us engage in good deeds and rituals.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 10, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN LEONARDI, FOUNDER OF THE CLERKS REGULAR OF THE MOTHER OF GOD; AND SAINT JOSEPH CALASANCTIUS, FOUNDER OF THE CLERKS REGULAR OF RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAULINUS OF YORK, ARCHBISHOP

THE FEAST OF VIDA DUTTON SCUDDER, WRITER

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/10/18/deeds-and-rituals/

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Devotion for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday After the Third Sunday of Advent, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   4 comments

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Above:  Design Drawing for a Stained-Glass Memorial Window with St. Peter’s Mother-in-Law for Sacred Heart Chapel in Carville, Lousiana

Created by J. & R. Lamb Studios

Image Source = Library of Congress

Grace and Restoration

DECEMBER 16-18, 2019

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The Collect:

Stir up the wills of all who look to you, Lord God,

and strengthen then our faith in your coming, that,

transformed by grace, we may walk in your way;

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 29:17-24 (Monday)

Ezekiel 47:1-12 (Tuesday)

Zechariah 8:1-17 (Wednesday)

Psalm 42 (all days)

Acts 5:12-16 (Monday)

Jude 17-25 (Tuesday)

Matthew 8:14-17, 28-34 (Wednesday)

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Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul,

and why are you so disquieted within me?

O put your trust in God;

for I will yet give him thanks,

who is the help of my countenance, and my God.

–Psalm 42:6-7, The Book of Common Prayer (2004)

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The theme of restoration unites all these readings.

National restoration is one thread running through some of the lections.  The Babylonian Exile will come.  Before that Jerusalem will survive an Assyrian siege.  But Jerusalem will fall one day.  And restoration will follow.  As Gordon Matties wrote in the introduction to Ezekiel in The New Interpreter’s Study Bible (2003), God will deal with evil decisively, destroy the Temple and purify the land

polluted by Israel’s economic injustice, violence, and idolatry,

and only then

take residence again among the people.  (page 1154)

Thus restoration will be to a condition better than the previous one.  The strong arm of God will accomplish this.  And such extravagant grace will impose certain responsibilities upon the redeemed; they are to be a light to the nations, living for God’s glory and the benefit of others, not their own selfish desires.

Speaking of the glory of God and the benefit of others…..

Healings in the Bible restored the healed to wholeness in society.  The ritually unclean were pure again, the economically marginalized could cease from begging or avoid slavery, etc.  Yet sometimes the community, which defined itself in opposition to the marginalized, disapproved of the healing of the marginalized.  Who were they now that the marginalized person was in his right mind?  Pure compassion disrupted the status quo ante.  Such people should have heeded timeless advice (not yet written in these words at the time of the incident):

…keep yourselves in the love of God…..

–Jude 21a, The New Revised Standard Version

That advice merely rephrased an already ancient ethos.  That advice owed much to the Law of Moses, with its myriad rules regarding compassion for members of one’s community.  For how we think and treat those whom we can see indicates much about how we think of and behave toward God.  Those around us are the least of our Lord and Savior’s brothers and sisters; as we treat them, we do to him.

Those are challenging words, for we humans tend to like to think of ourselves as good people who do good things, especially when we are plotting or committing bad deeds.  A villain probably does not see a villain when he or she looks into a mirror.  Yet reality remains unchanged by human delusions.

Advent is about preparing for God to act.  When God acts God might overturn our apple cart and/or neutralize the pattern according to which we define ourselves.  Yes, grace can prove very upsetting and disturbing sometimes.  Every time it does so, that fact speaks ill of those who take offense, does it not?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 3, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HENRY THOMAS SMART, ENGLISH ORGANIST AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF ELIZABETH FERRARD, ANGLICAN DEACONESS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ELIZABETH OF PORTUGAL, QUEEN

THE FEAST OF JOHN CENNICK, BRITISH MORAVIAN EVANGELIST AND HYMN WRITER

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/07/06/grace-and-restoration/

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Devotion for December 13 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   9 comments

Above:  The Reverend Will Dexter, from Babylon 5:  And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place (1996)

Image Source = A Screen Capture Via PowerDVD and a Legal DVD

When God Comes Knocking

DECEMBER 13, 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 29:15-30:14

Psalm 18:1-20 (Morning)

Psalm 126 and 62 (Evening)

Revelation 1:1-20

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A Related Post:

Babylon 5:  And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place:

http://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/07/29/babylon-5-and-the-rock-cried-out-no-hiding-place-1996/

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The reading from Isaiah condemns haughtiness before God, the commission of evil and exploitative deeds, the quest for a diplomatic agreement with an ancient foe (who once enslaved the Israelites), and the preference for comforting words over true ones.  Judah was rife with legal and economic exploitation.  Judah also made diplomatic overtures to Egypt.  Many workers of malicious deeds acted as if God were not watching them.  They were mistaken.  Isaiah and John of Patmos said that there would be a reckoning, that God will mete out justice.  Those who destroy will face destruction; those suffering from injustice will exult.

I remember an episode of one of my favorite science fiction series, Babylon 5.  Our hero, the stressed-out Captain John Sheridan, had a conversation with a visiting Baptist minister, the Reverend Will Dexter.  Sheridan, not in the mood for spiritual counsel, asked mockingly if he should take all his problems to God.  Dexter replied that Sheridan would not need anyone to tell him when God comes knocking.

When God comes knocking the meek will triumph and the haughty will stumble.  When God comes knocking there will be good news and there will be bad news.  It will be the same news.  Whether it will be good or bad depends on us, does it not?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 31, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE SEVENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FEAST OF JOHN WYCLIFFE, BIBLE TRANSLATOR

NEW YEAR’S EVE

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/08/05/when-god-comes-knocking/

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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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Sixth Day of Advent   14 comments

Above:  “Shalom” in Hebrew

Wholeness in God

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 6, 2019

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Isaiah 29:17-24 (Revised English Bible):

In but a very short time

Lebanon will return to garden land

and the garden land will be reckoned

as common as scrub.

On that day the deaf will hear

when a book is read,

and the eyes of the blind will see

out of inpenetrable darkness.

The lowly will once again rejoice in the LORD,

and the poor exult in the Holy One of Israel.

The ruthless will be no more,

the arrogant will cease to exist;

those who are quick to find mischief,

those who impute sins to others,

or lay traps for him who brings the wrongdoer into court,

or by falsehood deny justice to the innocent–

all these will be cut down.

Therefore these are the words of the LORD, the deliverer of Abraham, about the house of Jacob:

This is no time for Jacob to be shamed,

no time for his face to grow pale;

for his descendants will hallow my name

when they see what I have done in their midst.

They will hold sacred the Holy One of Jacob

and regard Israel’s God with awe;

they confused will gain understanding,

and the obstinate accept instruction.

Psalm 27:1-4, 13-14 (Revised English Bible):

The LORD is my light and my salvation;

whom should I fear?

The LORD is the stronghold of my life;

of whom then I should go in dread?

When evildoers close in on me to devour me,

it is my adversaries, my enemies,

who stumble and fall.

Should an army encamp against me,

my heart would have no fear;

if armed men should fall upon me,

even then I would be undismayed.

One thing I ask of the LORD,

it is the one thing I seek;

that I may dwell in the house of the LORD

all the days of  my life,

to gaze on the beauty of the LORD

and to seek him in his temple.

Well I know that I shall see the goodness of the LORD

in the land of the living.

Wait for the LORD; be strong and brave,

and put your hope in the LORD.

Matthew 9:27-31 (Revised English Bible):

As he went on from there Jesus was followed by two blind men, shouting,

Have mercy on us, Son of David!

When he had gone indoors they came to him, and Jesus asked,

Do you believe that I have the power to do what you want?

They said,

We do.

Then he touched their eyes, and said,

As you have believed, so let it be;

and their sight was restored.  Jesus told them sternly,

See that no one hears about this.

But as soon as they had gone out they talked about him all over the region.

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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As I typed the lessons I remembered part of Richard Elliott Friedman’s introduction of Genesis, from his Commentary on the Torah.  Consider the following, from page 4 of that book:

There is also a theological point:  this was a new say to conceive of a God.  The difference between the Torah’s conception of God and the pagan world’s conception is not merely arithmetic: one versus many.  The pagan deities were known through their functions in nature: The sun god, Shamash, was the sun.  If one wanted to know the essence of Shamash, the thing to do was to contemplate the sun.  If you wanted to know the essence of the grain deity Dagon, you contemplated wheat.  To know Yamm, contemplate the sea.  But the God of the Torah was different, creating all of nature–and therefore not knowable or identifiable through any one element of nature.  One could learn no more about this God by contemplating the sea than by contemplating grain, sky, or anything else.  The essence of this God remains hidden.  One does not know God through nature but by the divine acts in history.  One never finds out what God is, but rather what God does–and what God says.  This conception, which informs all of biblical narrative, did not necessarily have to be developed at the very beginning of the story, but it was.  Parashat Bereshit establishes this by beginning with accounts of creation an by then following through the first ten generations of humankind.  (Those “begat” lists are thus more important than people generally think.)

The Torah’s theology is thus inseparable from its history and from its literary qualities.  Ultimately, there is no such thing as the “The Bible as Literature” or “The Bible as History” or “The Bible as…anything.”  There is: the Bible.

Taking a cue from Dr. Friedman, I focus on what God said and did in Isaiah and what Jesus said and did in Matthew.  Jesus, of course, was the incarnate form of God.  So what he said and did reflects God without depriving us of the glorious mystery which is divine nature.  This day’s readings tell of God restoring those who are not whole to a state of wholeness, or to taking them to that condition for the first time.  From this I conclude that God wants us to be whole.  How God defines wholeness, of course, might not conform to our standards.  And that is fine.

Yet one should not treat God (or Jesus) merely as a miracle worker or cosmic bellboy.  It is crucial to move beyond merely self-serving attitudes when approaching God.  This, I suspect, helps explain why Jesus preferred that many people not tell of his miracles; his words and life mattered, too.  And when one reads many of the healing stories in the canonical Gospels one should notice that someone (not necessarily the one healed) has faith at a successful healing event.  Coming to wholeness entails a human element, too.

And why does God makes us whole? First, God loves us and wants the best for us.  Yet there is another reason:  we exist for each other and to glorify God. Human life at its fullest is in community and for the common good.  In this context efforts to help one self at the expense of others has no place.  Neither does exploitation in any form.  And, as the Westminster catechisms remind us in the first question and answer, the chief end of human beings is to glorify and enjoy God.  May we do both habitually.

KRT

Written on May 31, 2010

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/11/12/wholeness-in-god/

Posted September 14, 2010 by neatnik2009 in 2019-2020, December 6, Episcopal Church Lectionary

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