Archive for the ‘Malachi 3’ Tag

Devotion for the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, Years A, B, C, and D (Humes)   1 comment

Above:  Anna at the Presentation of Jesus, by Giotto

Image in the Public Domain

Recognizing the Savior

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2020

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The Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Temple falls on February 2, forty days after Christmas.  The origins of the Feast of the Presentation date to the 300s, in Jerusalem, where the original date was February 14-forty days after January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany.  In the English Prayer Book tradition the Feast of the Presentation has been the Feast of the Purification of Saint Mary the Virgin, per the beginning of Leviticus 12, hinted at in Luke 2:22-23.

The readings from Malachi 3 and Psalm 24, along with Luke 2:22-40, convey a sense of awe and wonder.  They tell us to take notice, for God, or a messenger thereof, has arrived.  Where better to be than in the Temple?  This is an event that has changed the world, after all.  When we read of the divine arrival in Luke 2 and Hebrews 2, we read of the Incarnation as an infant, not a conquering hero in armor.  Via living as a human being, one fully human as well as fully divine, Christ can identify with our suffering and help those enduring tests, we read in Hebrews 2:18.

It would have been easy to fail to recognize the infant Jesus for who he was, but Simeon and Anna knew who he was.  They spread their wisdom in their time and place.  Certainly some who heard them considered that message ridiculous, as it must have seemed to have been.

Fortunately, we can, via hindsight and the Bible, recognize the wisdom of Simeon and Anna, as well as the true identity of that infant boy.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 20, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SEBASTIAN CASTELLIO, PROPHET OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

THE FEAST OF CHRISTOPHER WORDSWORTH, HYMN WRITER AND ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LINCOLN

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARIA JOSEFA SANCHO DE GUERRA, FOUNDRESS OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE SERVANTS OF JESUS

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL RODIGAST, GERMAN LUTHERAN ACADEMIC AND HYMN WRITER

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Almighty and everlasting God, we humbly pray that,

as your only-begotten Son was this day presented in the Temple,

so may we be presented to you with pure and clean hearts

by Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you

and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 239

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Blessed are you, O Lord our God, for you have sent us your salvation.

Inspire us by your Holy Spirit to see with our own eyes him who is

the glory of Israel and the light for all nations, your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), page 32

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Malachi 3:1-4

Psalm 84 or 24:7-10

Hebrews 2:14-18

Luke 2:22-40

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2018/03/20/recognizing-the-savior/

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Devotion for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday Before the Second Sunday of Advent, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

True Grit

Above:  Mattie Ross on Blackie, Her Fine Horse, in True Grit (2010)

A Screen Capture via PowerDVD and a legal DVD

The Faithfulness and Generosity of God, Part I

DECEMBER 6, 7, and 8, 2018

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The Collect:

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

By his coming give to all the world knowledge of your salvation;

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:

Malachi 3:5-12 (Thursday)

Malachi 3:13-18 (Friday)

Malachi 3:19-24/4:1-6 (Saturday)

Luke 1:68-79 (All Days)

Philippians 1:12-18a (Thursday)

Philippians 1:18b-26 (Friday)

Luke 9:1-6 (Saturday)

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NOTE REGARDING VERSIFICATION:

Malachi 4:1-6 in Protestant Bibles = Malachi 3:19-24 in Jewish, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox Bibles.

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Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil.  The author of all things watches over me, and I have a fine horse.

–Mattie Ross in True Grit (2010)

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A person who remembers the ending of that movie should understand that Mattie’s fine horse did not prevent her from losing part of one arm.  One might also recognize the irony of the last sentence.

The author of all things watches over me

seems to indicate trust in God, but

I have a fine horse

constitutes a contradictory thought.

The instructions of Jesus to his twelve Apostles emphasize complete dependence on God, who provides via people much of the time.  In Mark 6:8 each man may carry a staff, but Matthew 10:10 and Luke 9:3 forbid that item.  The Apostles’ mission was an urgent one for which packing lightly and depending upon the hospitality of strangers were essential.  Such light packing also emphasized solidarity with the poor, who were most likely to be the ones extending hospitality, given the fact that they lived on the edges of towns.  The Apostles were to announce the Kingdom of God, not to press the issue where they were unwelcome.

The ethic of trusting God, especially during difficult times, exists in the readings from Malachi and Philippians.  Locusts (in Malachi) and incarceration (in Philippians) were the background hardships.  Yet trust in the generosity of God, the prophet wrote.  St. Paul the Apostle noted that his period of incarceration (wherever and whenever it was; scholars debate that point) aided the spread the gospel of Jesus.

Zechariah prophesied that his son, St. John the Baptist, would be the forerunner of the Messiah.  Both John and Jesus suffered and died at the hands of authorities, which we remember in their context.  Officialdom was powerless to prevent the spread of the good news of Jesus in those cases and in the case of Paul.  Mortal means can prove useful, but they pass away in time.  The faithfulness and generosity of God, however, are everlasting.  To live confidently in the latter is a wise course of action.

Of all the illusions to abandon, one of the most difficult to leave behind is the idea that one must be in control.  The illusion of control might boost one’s self-esteem, but so what?  Control remains an illusion.  On the other hand, recognizing that God is in control is liberating.  It frees one up to live as one ought to live–

in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ

–according to Philippians 1:27b (The New Revised Standard Version, 1989).

I know this struggle well.  The idol of the illusion of control was precious to me.  Then circumstances forced me to learn the reality of my powerlessness and to trust God, for I had no feasible alternative.  Sometimes dire events prove to be necessary for spiritual awakening to occur.

God has given each of us important tasks to complete.  May we lay aside all illusions and other incumbrances, pack lightly, and labor faithfully to the glory of God and for the benefit of those to whom God sends us and to those whom God sends to us.  May we trust in the faithfulness and generosity of God, not in ourselves.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 11, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT GREGORY THAUMATURGUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF NEOCAESAREA; AND SAINT ALEXANDER OF COMANA “THE CHARCOAL BURNER,” ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR AND BISHOP OF COMANA, PONTUS

THE FEAST OF AUGUSTUS MONTAGUE TOPLADY, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT CLARE OF ASSISI, FOUNDER OF THE POOR CLARES

THE FEAST OF MATTHIAS LOY, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER, EDUCATOR, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR; AND CONRAD HERMANN LOUIS SCHUETTE, GERMAN-AMERICAN LUTHERAN MINISTER, EDUCATOR, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2015/08/12/the-faithfulness-and-generosity-of-god-part-i/

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

Elijah

Above:  Icon of Elijah

Image in the Public Domain

Arrogant People and Evildoers

DECEMBER 20, 2017

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The Collect:

Stir up the wills of your faithful people, Lord God,

and open our ears to the words of your prophets,

that, anointed by your Spirit, we may testify to your light;

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:

Malachi 3:16-4:16

Psalm 125

Mark 9:9-13

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Show your goodness, O LORD, to those who are good

and to those who are true of heart.

As for those who turn aside to crooked ways,

the LORD will lead them away with evildoers;

but peace be upon Israel.

–Psalm 125:4-5, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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Malachi 3:16-4:6 (as Protestant versification labels it), or 3:16-21 (as Jewish, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox versification calls it), speaks of divine judgment and mercy–the former for evildoers and the latter for the righteous.  The evildoers, back in Malachi 3:14-15, had said:

It is useless to serve God.  What have we gained by keeping His charge and walking in abject awe of the LORD of Hosts?  And so, we account the arrogant happy:  they have indeed dared God and escaped.

TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

Certain forces of wickedness attempted to kill the prophet Elijah.  Some of their successors succeeded in executing St. John the Baptist then Jesus.  Yet, as Malachi wrote:

All the arrogant ones and those doing evil will become straw.

–4:1b/3:19b, Common English Bible (2008).

Jesus died, but the Resurrection followed.  Elijah went to Heaven directly.  St. John the Baptist remained dead, but his legacy has survived to today.  Executing a person is easier than killing an idea.  Arrogant people and evildoers have been slow to learn this lesson.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 27, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ARTHUR CAMPBELL AINGER, ENGLISH EDUCATOR, SCHOLAR, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT AEDESIUS, PRIEST AND MISSIONARY; AND SAINT FRUDENTIUS, FIRST BISHOP OF AXUM AND ABUNA OF THE ETHIOPIAN ORTHODOX TEWAHEDO CHURCH

THE FEAST OF THE VICTIMS OF THE SALEM WITCH TRIALS

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/10/28/arrogant-people-and-evildoers/

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

Zechariah and St. John the Baptist

Above:  A Fresco of Sts. Zechariah and John the Baptist

Image in the Public Domain

Broods of Vipers

DECEMBER 13, 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:

Malachi 2:10-3:1

Psalm 27

Luke 1:5-17

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Hearken to my voice, O LORD, when I call;

have mercy on me and answer me.

You speak in my heart and say, “Seek my face.”

Your face, LORD, will I seek.

–Psalm 27:10-11, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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The lesson from Malachi contains a strong condemnation of people who treat others cruelly then use sacred rituals as talismans.  The objection in the text is to the hypocrisy, not the rites.  The condemnation of economic injustice remains potent.

One interpretation of Malachi 3:1 is that it refers to St. John the Baptist.  That, I suppose, is the justification for pairing the Malachi pericope with Luke 1:5-17, the annunciation of the great forerunner’s birth.  Certainly St. John the Baptist had a strong sense of the exploitative and corrupt nature of the Temple system.  His condemnations of economic injustice and advice to cease and desist from committing it (Luke 3:10-14) also remain applicable.  Specific “broods of vipers” (Luke 3:7) have come and gone, but some of them always seem to be present.

The Bible says more about money and the uses thereof than about sexual behavior.  Yet the latter receives more attention than the former in many pulpits.  That is an example of misplaced priorities and warped morality.

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/broods-of-vipers/

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

Brueghel_l'Ancien_-_La_Prédication_de_Saint_Jean-Baptiste

Above:  The Preaching of Saint John the Baptist, by Pieter Brueghel the Elder

Image Source = Yelkrokoyade

Humility Before God and the Reality of Unexpected Suffering

FEBRUARY 22, 2020

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The Collect:

O God, in the transfiguration of your Son you confirmed the

mysteries of the faith by the witness of Moses and Elijah,

and in the voice from the bright cloud declaring Jesus your beloved Son,

you foreshadowed our adoption as your children.

Make us heirs with Christ of your glory, and bring us to enjoy its fullness,

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 25

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The Assigned Readings:

1 Kings 21:20-29

Psalm 2

Mark 9:9-13

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Now therefore be wise, O kings;

be prudent, you judges of the earth.

–Psalm 2:10, Common Worship (2000)

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Of those who are sleeping in the Land of Dust, many will awaken, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting disgrace.  Those who are wise will shine as brightly as the expanse of the heavens, and those who have instructed many in uprightness, as bright as stars for all eternity.

–Daniel 12:2-3, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

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Look, I shall send you the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of the LORD comes.  He will reconcile parents to their children and children to their parents, lest I come and put the land under a ban to destroy it.

–Malachi 4:4-6, The Revised English Bible (1989)

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“It is quite true,” he told them, “that Elijah does come first, and begins the restoration of all things.  But what does the scripture say about the Son of Man?  This:  that he must go through much suffering and be treated with contempt.  I tell you that not only has Elijah come already but they have done to him exactly what they wanted–just as the scripture says of him.”

–Mark 9:12-13, J. B. Phillips, The New Testament in Modern English, Revised Edition (1972)

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There is much happening in the background of the Gospel lection for today:

  1. The resurrection of the dead is associated with the Day of the Lord in Daniel 12:2-3.
  2. In Malachi 3:23-24/4:5-6 (depending on which versification system one follows), Elijah will return before judgment day and function as an agent of reconciliation.
  3. Jesus identifies the late St. John the Baptist as Elijah in Mark 9:13.
  4. Yet is not the expectation in Malachi that Elijah will prevent suffering?

The account in Mark overturns old assumptions.  For that matter, the entire Gospel of Mark argues against a certain understanding of Messiahship.  In the earliest canonical Gospel, the crucifixion of Jesus makes his status as the Messiah unmistakable.  That has become a common reading of Messiahship since the first century of Christianity yet was once a radical notion.  The same rule applies to St. John the Baptist as “Elijah.”  Our Lord and Savior’s cousin was also his forerunner in suffering and death.

If humbling oneself before God postpones punishments (at least in some cases), the fact remains that the consequences of misdeeds and sins of omission will fall in time–perhaps upon the next generation, as unfair as that might seem.  But that is how reality works, is it not?  Yet the fact remains that one generation leaves legacies–positive and negative–which affect people into the future.  However the Atonement works (I side with the Eastern Orthodox, who argue against the Western Christian tendency to explain away certain mysteries), I like to think that it leaves a positive legacy of negating much of the negative which would have come down to us otherwise.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 22, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK PRATT GREEN, BRITISH METHODIST MINISTER, POET, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF BARTHOLOMEW ZOUBERBUHLER, ANGLICAN PRIEST

THE FEAST OF PAUL TILLICH, LUTHERAN THEOLOGIAN

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/humility-before-god-and-the-reality-of-unexpected-suffering/

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Eighth Day of Advent: Second Sunday of Advent, Year C   11 comments

Above:  St. John the Baptist

Hope Under Occupation

DECEMBER 9, 2018

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FIRST READING:  OPTIONS

Baruch 5:1-9 (New Revised Standard Version):

Take off the garment of your sorrow and affliction, O Jerusalem,

and put on forever the beauty of the glory from God.

Put on the robe of righteousness that comes from God;

put on your head the diadem of the glory of the Everlasting;

for God will show your splendor everywhere under heaven.

For God will give you evermore the name,

Righteous Peace, Godly Glory.

Arise, O Jerusalem, stand upon the height;

look toward the east,

and see your children gathered from west and east at the word of the Holy One,

rejoicing that God has remembered them.

For they went out from you on foot,

led away by their enemies;

but God will bring them back to you,

carried in glory, as on a royal throne.

For God has ordered that every high mountain and the everlasting hills be made low

and the valleys filled up, to make level ground,

so that Israel may walk safely in the glory of God.

The woods and every fragrant tree

have shaded Israel at God’s command.

For God will lead Israel with joy,

in the light of his glory,

with the mercy and righteousness that come from him.

Malachi 3:1-4 (Revised English Bible):

I am about to send my messenger to clear a path before me.  Suddenly the Lord whom you seek will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight is here, here already, says the LORD of Hosts.  Who can endure the day of his coming?  Who can stand firm when he appears?  He is like a refiner’s fire, like a fuller’s soap; he will take his seat, testing and purifying; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver, and so they will be fit to bring offerings to the LORD.  Thus the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as they were in former days, in days long past.

RESPONSE

Canticle 16 (The Book of Common Prayer, 1979)

Luke 1:68-79 plus the Trinitarian formula

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel;

he has come to his people and set them free.

He has raised up for us a mighty savior,

born of the house of his servant David.

Through his holy prophets he promised of old,

that he would save us from our enemies,

from the hands of all who hate us.

He promised to show mercy to our fathers

and to remember his holy covenant.

This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham,

to set us free from the hands of our enemies,

Free to worship him without fear,

holy and righteous in his sight

all the days of our life.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:

as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever.  Amen.

SECOND READING

Philippians 1:3-11 (Revised English Bible):

I thank my God every time I think of you; whenever I pray for you, my prayers are always joyful, because of the part you have taken in the work of the gospel from the first day until now.  Of this I am confident, that he who who started the good work in you will bring it to completion by the day of Christ Jesus.  It is only natural that I should feel like this about you, because I have great affection for you, knowing that, both while I am kept in prison and when I am called on to defend the truth of the gospel, you all share in this privilege of mine.  God knows how I long for you with the deep yearning of Christ Jesus himself.  And this is my prayer, that your love may grow ever richer in knowledge and insight of every kind, enabling you to learn by experience what things really matter.  Then on the day of Christ you will be flawless and without blame, yielding the full harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

GOSPEL READING

Luke 3:1-6 (New Revised Standard Version):

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Iturea and Trachonitis, and Lysanius ruler of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness.  He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the words of the prophet Isaiah,

The voice of one crying in the wilderness:

“Prepare the way of the Lord,

make his paths straight.

Every valley shall be filled,

and every mountain and hill shall be made low,

and the crooked shall be made straight,

and the rough ways made smooth;

and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”

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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Some Related Posts:

On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s Cry Announces That the Lord is Nigh:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/12/10/on-jordans-bank-the-baptists-cry-announces-that-the-lord-is-nigh/

O Day of Peace That Dimly Shines:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/11/28/o-day-of-peace-that-dimly-shines/

Prepare the Way, O Zion!:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/11/28/prepare-the-way-o-zion/

Advent Prayers of Dedication:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/09/10/advent-prayers-of-dedication/

Advent Prayers of Praise and Adoration:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/09/10/advent-prayers-of-praise-and-adoration/

Our Valleys Are Deep:  Prayer of Confession for the Second Sunday of Advent:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/08/24/our-valleys-are-deep/

An Advent Prayer:  Expectant God:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/an-advent-prayer-expectant-god/

An Advent Prayer:  Divine Light:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/an-advent-prayer-divine-light/

An Advent Prayer:  The Word of God is Near:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/an-advent-prayer-the-word-of-god-is-near/

An Advent Prayer of Confession:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/an-advent-prayer-of-confession/

Advent Prayers of Thanksgiving:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/advent-prayers-of-thanksgiving/

An Advent Blessing:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/an-advent-blessing/

An Advent Prayer:  Expectant Hearts:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/an-advent-prayer-expectant-hearts/

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St. John the Baptist was the forerunner of Jesus in more way than one.  Not only did John pave the way for Jesus’s ministry, he also functioned as a forerunner by dying.

The Book of Baruch, written in the name of the Prophet Jeremiah’s scribe, dates to a later time, the reign of Seleucid monarch Antiochus IV Epiphanes, circa 168 BCE.  Antiochus had captured and desecrated the Jerusalem Temple and launched a campaign of forced Hellenization and persecution of observant Jews.  The author of Baruch drew from Babylonian Exile-era imagery to make sense of his contemporary situation.  Circumstances will improve, for God will intervene, the author of Baruch said.

Judea/Palestine was occupied territory at the time of Jesus and St. John the Baptist.  Hellenized Romans were firmly in charge.  The imagery from Isaiah and Baruch proved germane:  God would intervene.  But the Messiah was not the national liberator many people expected.  One must, for the sake of accuracy, avoid stereotyping the Judaism of first century CE Judea/Palestine, for there were Judaisms there.  Some Jews sought a national liberator, but others looked for a more spiritual leader.

God intervenes in a violent world where prophets face the death penalty, empires occupy foreign (to them) territories, and enforce peace at the points of weapons.  In the midst of all this, however, hope remains.  God is acting; do we perceive it?  And, if prophets face the death penalty and tyrants rule, we humans bear responsibility for those realities.  We have free will.  In the words of a poster of which I heard years ago, we cannot not decide.  The social, economic, and political realities are human creations.  So we are responsible.  What will we do about that?

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/hope-under-occupation/

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Advent Devotion for December 23   12 comments

Above:  Zechariah

The Importance of a Name

DECEMBER 23, 2019

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Malachi 3:1-5 (Revised English Bible):

I am about to send my messenger to clear a path before me.  Suddenly the Lord whom you seek will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight is here, here already, says the LORD of Hosts.  Who can endure the day of his coming?  Who can stand firm when he appears?  He is like a refiner’s fire, like a fuller’s soap; he will take his seat, testing and purifying; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver, and so they will be fit to bring offerings to the LORD.  Thus the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as they were in former days, in days long past.  I shall appear before you in court, quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers, and perjurers, against those who cheat the hired labourer of his wages, who wrong the widow and the fatherless, who thrust the alien aside and do not fear me, says the LORD of Hosts.

Psalm 25:1-15 (Revised English Bible):

LORD my God, to you I lift my heart.

In you I trust: do not let me be put to shame,

do not let my enemies exult over me.

No one whose hope is in you is put to shame;

but shame comes to all who break faith without cause.

Make your paths known to me, LORD;

teach me your ways.

Lead me by your faithfulness and teach me,

for you are God my saviour;

in you I put my hope all day long.

Remember, LORD, your tender care and love unfailing,

for they are from of old.

Do not remember the sins and offences of my youth,

but remember me in your unfailing love,

in accordance with your goodness, LORD.

The LORD is good and upright;

therefore he teaches sinners the way they should go.

He guides the humble in right conduct,

and teaches them his way.

All the paths of the LORD are loving and sure

to those who keep his covenant and his solemn charge.

LORD, for the honour of your name

forgive my wickedness, great though it is.

Whoever fears the LORD

will be shown the path he should choose.

He will enjoy lasting prosperity,

and his descendants will inherit the land.

The LORD confides his purposes to those who fear him;

his covenant is for their instruction.

My eyes are ever on the LORD,

who alone can free my feet from the net.

Luke 1:57-66 (Revised English Bible):

When the time came for Elizabeth’s child to be born, she gave birth to a son.  Her neighbours and relatives heard what great kindness the Lord had shown her, and they shared her delight.  On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father, but his mother spoke up:

No!

she said,

He is to be called John.

They said,

But there is nobody in your family who has that name.

Then inquired of his father by signs what he would like him to be called.  He asked for a writing tablet and to everybody’s astonishment wrote,

His name is John.

Immediately his lips and tongue were freed and he began to speak, praising God.  All the neighbours were overcome with awe, and throughout the uplands of Judaea the whole story became common talk.  All who heard it were deeply impressed and said, “What will this child become?”  For indeed the hand of the Lord was upon him.

The Collect:

Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The countdown to Christmas Day draws very near to its end with this day in Advent.  Yet let us give each remaining day before December 25 its due.

The day had come for the circumcision and naming of the son of Elizabeth and Zechariah, the latter of which was still mute.  The ceremony was a community event, and custom contained a preference for naming a son after his father or grandfather, usually the grandfather.  Yet this child’s name was unique in his family tree.  The child was to be named John, or, in Hebrew, Jehohanan, which means, “God’s gracious gift.”

As British scholar G. B. Caird wrote in Saint Luke (Pelikan Books then Penguin Books, 1963, with reprints), a child’s name “was closely related to the character and nature of the bearer” and reflected his or her parents’ faith and aspirations for him or her in the Jewish culture of Judea in the late First Century B.C.E.  And while we ponder names, think about these facts:  Zechariah means “the LORD has recalled” and Elizabeth means “oath of God.”  I detect a congruency in these names coming together.

I am grateful to my parents for, among other things, giving me a name I have been able to carry well into adulthood.  That was a great kindness.  And it helps that “Kenneth” is the name of at least two saints–one of Scotland, the other of Wales.  Indeed, I have heard of some truly unfortunate names that have the effect of making it impossible for one to get a job interview, for, when pronounced, they sound like curse words.  (I am not referring to foreign names transliterated into English.)

It is common in some religious orders, when one joins, to receive a new name.  This is symbolic of becoming a new person.  And some indigenous cultures in North America change a person’s name after childhood, to reflect who this individual has become.  A name, I think, ought to be something noble, something into which to strive to grow then to continue to honor.  It is, after all, what we call ourselves and others call us.

“What is this child to become?” the neighbors asked themselves about the young John.  That child was literally “God’s gracious gift,” a statement I hope is true of all of us, for the benefit of others and the glory of God.

KRT

Written on June 4, 2010

Revised on May 19, 2011

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/11/18/the-importance-of-a-name/

Posted September 15, 2010 by neatnik2009 in 2019-2020, December 23, Episcopal Church Lectionary

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