Archive for the ‘Psalm 102’ Tag

Devotion for Wednesday After the Fifth Sunday After the Epiphany, Year B (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Crucifix I July 15, 2014

Above:  One of My Crucifixes, July 15, 2014

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Burden-Bearing Community

FEBRUARY 10, 2021

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The Collect:

Everlasting God, you give strength to the weak and power to the faint.

Make us agents of your healing and wholeness,

that your good may be made known to the ends your creation,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 24

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The Assigned Readings:

Job 6:1-13

Psalm 102:12-28

Mark 3:7-12

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The days of my life are like a lengthening shadow:

though I am withering away like grass

You remain, LORD, for ever:

succeeding generations will be reminded of you.

–Psalm 102:12-13, The Psalms Introduced and Newly Translated for Today’s Readers, Harry Mowvley (1989)

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Today we have readings about two men–one fictional, the other real–who suffered, but not for any sin they had committed.

The titular character of the Book of Job was righteous.  He suffered because God permitted it as a test of loyalty.  Job’s alleged friends defended their orthodoxy, which held that Job must be suffering for a sin or sins he had committed, for God, being just, would never let an innocent person suffer.  They blamed a victim and even gloated as he suffered.  After Eliphaz the Temanite stated that a righteous person’s merit can shield him or her from harm, Job said:

…What strength have I, that I should endure?

How long have I to live, that I should be patient?

–6:11, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

Jesus had made deadly enemies as early as Mark 3:6.  (His offense had been to heal on the Sabbath.)  Throngs of people seeking healing pursued him, pressed upon him, and caused him great physical stress.  At least Jesus had Apostles to prepare a getaway boat.  But he still died at the hands of powerful political enemies.  Fortunately, there was also the Resurrection.

A few weeks ago I heard a new (to me, anyway) take on the statement that God will never give us more to bear than we can handle.  An individualistic understanding of that statement is erroneous, for we exist in spiritual community.  Thus God will not impose a burden too heavy for the community to bear.  This is about “we,” not “me.”  May we support each other and not be like Job’s alleged friends.  And there is more:  we have the merits of Christ.  That merit is sufficient, although it has not protected martyrs from harm.  The message I take away from that fact is that safety is not necessarily part of God’s promise to the faithful.  God will, however, be present with them.  How is that for burden-sharing community?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 2, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE THIRD DAY OF ADVENT, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF SAINT BRIOC, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AND SAINT TUDWAL, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND BISHOP

THE FEAST OF CHANNING MOORE WILLIAMS, EPISCOPAL BISHOP IN CHINA AND JAPAN

THE FEAST OF JOHN BROWN, ABOLITIONIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT OSMUND OF SALISBURY, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/12/06/burden-bearing-community/

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Devotion for Monday and Tuesday After the Fifth Sunday After the Epiphany, Year B (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Elisha and the Shunamite Woman

Above:  Elisha and the Shumanite Woman, by Gerbrand van den Eeckhout

Image in the Public Domain

Grace, Outsiders, and Theological Humility

FEBRUARY 8 and 9, 2021

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The Collect:

Everlasting God, you give strength to the weak and power to the faint.

Make us agents of your healing and wholeness,

that your good may be made known to the ends your creation,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 24

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The Assigned Readings:

2 Kings 4:8-17, 32-37 (Monday)

2 Kings 8:1-6 (Tuesday)

Psalm 102:12-28 (Both Days)

Acts 14:1-7 (Monday)

Acts 15:36-41 (Tuesday)

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He will look with favor on the prayer of the homeless;

he will not despise their plea.

–Psalm 102:17, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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A childless woman bore shame during the time in which Elisha lived.  This was, of course, wrong, but it was her reality.  The story of one such woman, as we find it in 2 Kings 4 and 8, was one of repeated graces–a successful pregnancy, the raising of her dead son, advice to flee ahead of a seven-year-long drought, and, as a widow, restoration of property and income.  Her end, without help, would have been unfortunate.  For example, a widow was especially vulnerable in the Hebrew society of the time.

Widows and barren women were marginalized figures.  So were Gentiles, according to many Jews at the time of St. Paul the Apostle, who was always a Jew.  Christianity began as a Jewish sect.  Indeed, the separation from Judaism was incomplete until 135 C.E., during the Second Jewish War.  The parting of the ways was in progress by the late 60s and early-to-middle 70s C.E., the timeframe for the writing of the Gospel of Mark, the earliest of the four canonical Gospels.  (Thus those religious politics influenced the telling of the stories of Jesus and the twelve Apostles.)  The inclusion of Gentiles and the terms of how that happened caused much controversy within Judaism, Christian and otherwise.  The pericope from Acts 15:36-41 glosses over a fact which St. Paul mentioned in Galatians 2:11-14:  St. Barnabas sided with those who insisted that Gentile converts become Jews first.  Such a position, St. Paul wrote, nullified the grace of God (Galatians 2:21).

Today we read accounts of help for the marginalized.  These people were among the marginalized because other people defined them as such.  This definition labeled people as either insiders or outsiders, for the benefit of the alleged insiders.  I suspect, however, that God’s definition of “insider” is broader than many human understandings have held and do hold.  We humans continue to label others as outsiders for the benefit of the “insiders,” as they define themselves.  Grace remains scandalous, does it not?  And, as Luke Timothy Johnson has said, the Gospel of Mark suggests that many of those who think of themselves as insiders are really outsiders.

I reject Universalism on the side of too-radical inclusion and a range of narrow definitions of who is pure on the opposite side.  The decision about who is inside and who is outside, of who is pure and who is impure, is one for God alone.  We mere mortals have partial answers regarding that question, for we are not totally lacking in received wisdom.  Yet we tend to use the matter as a way of making ourselves feel better about ourselves much of the time.  Often we lapse into a version of the Donatist heresy, in fact.  We ought to live more graciously and with theological humility instead, for we are all broken, weak, and inconstant.  Each of us depends entirely upon grace.  So who are we to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to do?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 2, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE THIRD DAY OF ADVENT, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF SAINT BRIOC, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AND SAINT TUDWAL, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND BISHOP

THE FEAST OF CHANNING MOORE WILLIAMS, EPISCOPAL BISHOP IN CHINA AND JAPAN

THE FEAST OF JOHN BROWN, ABOLITIONIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT OSMUND OF SALISBURY, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/12/06/grace-outsiders-and-theological-humility/

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Devotion for March 2, 3, and 4 in Epiphany/Ordinary Time (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   4 comments

Above:  Jacob Wrestling with the Angel, by Gustave Dore

Job and John, Part XXI:  Wrestling with Texts

SATURDAY, MARCH 2, 2019

SUNDAY, MARCH 3, 2019

MONDAY, MARCH 4, 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:

Job 33:19-34:9 (March 2)

Job 34:10-33 (March 3)

Job 36:1-21 (March 4)

Psalm 103 (Morning–March 2)

Psalm 5 (Morning–March 3)

Psalm 43 (Morning–March 4)

Psalms 117 and 139 (Evening–March 2)

Psalms 84 and 29 (Evening–March 3)

Psalms 102 and 133 (Evening–March 4)

John 11:1-16 (March 2)

John 11:17-37 (March 3)

John 11:38-57 (March 4)

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I have difficulty with the Book of Job for several reasons.  One is my conviction that the titular character, according to the book itself, was innocent.  So his complaints were justified.  Yet Elihu–otherwise a redundant idiot–and God both accuse Job of impugning divine justice.  (See Job 36:5 forward and 40:7 forward.)  The Book of Job provides no satisfactory answer to the causes of suffering of the innocent.  That is my second reason for difficulty with the text.  And, being a good Episcopalian, I embrace the ambiguity and refuse to surrender my doubts.  Jesus took away my sins, not my mind.  Dismissing Elihu is impossible for me because of the reasons I have explained.  I would like to dismiss him; take my word for that, O reader.  So I wrestle with the texts; sometimes that is the most faithful response.

Meanwhile, in John 11, Jesus raises his friend Lazarus from the dead.  This sets in motion a plot among Pharisees to scapegoat him for fear of what the Romans will do to the nation otherwise.  Authorities did scapegoat Jesus.  And, a generation later, the Romans destroyed Jerusalem during a revolt.  There is no ambiguity about those facts.  The scapegoating of Jesus did not solve any problem.  It killed an innocent man, but he did not remain dead for long.  And the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem stands as evidence of what the Roman forces did to the Temple in 70 CE.

The desire to eliminate Jesus was a fear reaction, not a reasoned response.  Does God frighten me?  Sometimes, yes.  Do certain depictions of God in the Bible scare and discomfort me?  Yes!  But I recognize my need to approach God with theological humility.  Perhaps my God concept is too small.  It almost certainly is.  Dismissing or rationalizing away that which brings this reality to my attention will not alter the facts.  So I wrestle with the texts faithfully.

Until the next segment of our journey….

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 27, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORGE WASHINGTON DOANE, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF NEW JERSEY

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ANTONY AND THEODOSIUS OF KIEV, FOUNDERS OF RUSSIAN ORTHODOX MONASTICISM; SAINT BARLAAM OF KIEV, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX ABBOT; AND SAINT STEPHEN OF KIEV, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX ABBOT AND BISHOP

THE FEAST OF THE EARLY ABBOTS OF CLUNY

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH WARRILOW, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/11/06/job-and-john-part-xxi-wrestling-with-texts/

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Devotion for February 5 in Epiphany/Ordinary Time (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   4 comments

Above:  Saint John in the Wilderness, by Thomas Cole

Job and John, Part II:  Integrity

FEBRUARY 5, 2021

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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:

Job 2:1-3:10

Psalm 42 (Morning)

Psalms 102 and 133 (Evening)

John 1:19-34

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Job could have cursed God, with some justification.  The Book of Job does tell us that God sanctioned Job’s sufferings.  Yet Job cursed the day of his birth.  And John the Baptist could have identified himself as the Chosen One of God.  Many people would not have known the difference between such a claim and the truth.  Yet each figure acted according to an internalized sense of integrity.

How we behave when few others would know truth from fiction or nobody is watching indicates much about our integrity.  This principle extends far beyond individualistic issues; it applies to questions such as how our actions affect the environment.  (Environmental stewardship is a biblical mandate.)  And the problems of others are also ours, as ours are theirs.  We human beings are social creatures, thus what one person does affects others.  Simply striving to treat others as people who bear the image of God (which they are) can lead one to violate social conventions and cause trouble for one.  As a student of civil rights history, I know that segregation was the social order in the South.  Thus resisting it could be risky, to state the case mildly.

The highest state of morality is following internalized morality instead of the consensus.  May you, O reader, demonstrate integrity and morality of the highest order.

Until the next segment of our journey….

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 13, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT HERMENEGILD, VISIGOTHIC PRINCE AND ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT HUGH OF ROUEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP, ABBOT, AND MONK

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARTIN I, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF MIKAEL AGRICOLA, FINNISH LUTHERAN BISHOP OF TALLINN

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/11/05/job-and-john-part-ii-integrity/

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Devotion for January 8 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   4 comments

Above:  The Prophet Ezekiel

Whether They Listen Or Not

 JANUARY 8, 2021

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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:

Ezekiel 2:1-3:11

Psalm 42 (Morning)

Psalms 102 and 133 (Evening)

Romans 1:18-32

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One of the surest ways to misread a text–especially one from the Bible–is to read anachronistic assumptions into it.  The modern psychiatric category of homosexual orientation is modern, so it could not have been an issue for Paul.  So, what was “unnatural” sexual  behavior?  One aspect could have been the impossibility of conceiving a child.  If we accept this explanation, what about the sexual lives of older couples?  And, if we read the text from Romans as referring to homosexual acts yet not orientation, then those acts are unnatural for the people involved.

I chose to address that aspect of Romans 1 first because I wanted to get it out of the way and move my focus to the main idea which links the Romans and Ezekiel lessons.  God commanded the prophet to speak divine pronouncements regardless of  whether people listened or not, “for they are rebellious” (Ezekiel 2:7).  And, in Romans, those who have rejected God behave in ways (mostly non-sexual; read the list) destructive of themselves and others.  Their rebellious deeds flowed from their rejection of God; those deeds did not separate them from God.

Nothing can separate us from the love of God.  Sometimes divine love becomes tough love, but is love nevertheless.  My prayer for you, O reader, and for myself is that we–you and I–will not try the love of God very often.  May we reciprocate instead.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 14, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MATHILDA, QUEEN OF GERMANY

THE FEAST OF KEREOPA AND MANIHERA OF TARANAKI, ANGLICAN MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF PAVEL CHESNOKOV, COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF PETER GRAVES, ACTOR

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/08/14/whether-they-listen-or-not/

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Devotion for December 21 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   6 comments

Above:  Locusts on a Car Wheel, 1930

Image Source = Library of Congress

Vindication by God

DECEMBER 21, 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 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 42:1-25

Psalm 102 (Morning)

Psalms 130 and 16 (Evening)

Revelation 9:1-12

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The LORD desires His [servant’s] vindication,

That he may magnify and glorify [His] Teaching….

–Isaiah 42:21, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

Isaiah 42 opens with a familiar Servant Song, a text many Christian interpreters have applied to Jesus.  But read the rest of the chapter.  The servant is the exiled nation of Judah.  It is blind and deaf to God.  It deserves punishment, which it has received.  And God is preparing to vindicate the servant.  This was good news for the exiles yet bad news for the Babylonian leadership.

Empire is of the essence in this day’s readings.  The empire is Babylon in Isaiah 42 and Rome in Revelation 9.  John of Patmos personifies the Roman Empire as a swarm of satanic destructive locusts.  God would vindicate his servants, the sealed ones, according to Revelation 8.  But as for the rest….

The victory will be God’s, not ours.  The vindication will be ours.  May we trust God and leave the battles in divine hands.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 3, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE TENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FEAST OF EDWARD CASWALL, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF EDWARD PERRONET, BRITISH METHODIST PREACHER

THE FEAST OF SAINT GENEVIEVE, PROPHET

THE FEAST OF GLADYS AYLWARD, ANGLICAN MISSIONARY TO CHINA

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/08/09/vindication-by-god/

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Devotion for December 14 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   4 comments

Above:  A Trappist Monk at Prayer

Image Source = Daniel Tibi

“But You Refused.”

DECEMBER 14, 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 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 30:15-26

Psalm 102 (Morning)

Psalms 130 and 16 (Evening)

Revelation 2:1-29

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Some Related Posts:

In the Stillness of Night:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/08/03/in-the-stillness-of-night/

Prayers of Forgiveness, Mercy, and Trust:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/prayers-for-forgiveness-mercy-and-trust/

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For thus said my Lord GOD,

The Holy One of Israel,

“You shall triumph by stillness and quiet;

Your victory shall come about

Through calm and confidence.”

But you refused.

–Isaiah 30:15, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

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The reading from Isaiah flows immediately from the verses which precede it.  So correct understanding a firm grasp of the context of them.  Judah, the southern kingdom, was engaged in idolatry.  The leaders sought national security through Egypt, with which the Hebrews had a difficult history, including centuries of slavery.  In times contemporary to Isaiah, however, the threat was different; the Pharaoh deposed a king (after the time of Isaiah 30) and named the next one.  Such a nation was hardly a reliable treaty partner.  And economic and legal exploitation were commonplace.

Seek security in me,

Yahweh said via Isaiah.

Be still and quiet, calm and confident.

And, in various places, we read the commandment not to exploit people.  That runs throughout both Testaments and is prominent in the writings of the Prophets.

In Revelation 2 we read messages for four churches, each in a different city with its own circumstances.  I have read about all four; that information is hardly obscure.  My synthesis of the lessons from the messages follows:  Be both orthodox and loving, refrain from participating from the idolatry rampant in society (no easy task in some cases), hold firmly to the Christian faith despite difficulties and ordeals, and repent of errors. There is judgment and there is mercy.

Back in Isaiah, after the pronouncement of judgment in 30:15-17, we arrive at verse 18:

Truly, the LORD is waiting to show you grace,

Truly He will arise to pardon you.

For the LORD is a God of justice;

Happy are all who wait for Him.

TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

The cautions in Isaiah 30 and Revelation 2 existed because of a hope that the people for whom they were intended would heed them.  Thus the fact that these pronouncements went forth indicated mercy.  We can read them today and learn from them.  And we can begin by being still and quiet, calm and confident in God.

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/2012/08/09/but-you-refused/

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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, 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 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 November 30 in Advent (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   4 comments

Above:  Christ with Beard

Subversive Compassion

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 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 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 6:1-7:9

Psalm 102 (Morning)

Psalms 130 and 16 (Evening)

1 Peter 2:13-25

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Some Related Posts:

Isaiah 6-7:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/09/07/week-of-proper-9-saturday-year-2/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/09/15/week-of-proper-10-tuesday-year-2/

A Prayer for Compassion:

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

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I have covered the reading from Isaiah already, so I refer you, O reader, to the labeled links for them.  At this time and place I choose to say the following:  A pressing question for many Christians in the latter portion of the first century C.E. was whether one could be both a good Christian and a good Roman.  Also, the author of 1 Peter assumed that Jesus would be back quite soon to sort out the world order.  As I write these words, our Lord has not returned. The world order is what we have made it; may we exercise our agency responsibly to improve it.  This does involve resisting authority sometimes, as in the case of tyrannical governments.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer plotted to assassinate Adolf Hitler.  Many faithful Christians–Protestants and Roman Catholics–sheltered Jews and resisted the Third Reich.  And, throughout church history, bishops have called monarchs to account.

We who read and interpret the Bible must be careful to read it as a whole, not to fixate so much on certain passages that we ignore inconvenient ones and distort the composite meaning of the texts.  There is something called confirmation bias, which means that we tend to pay attention to evidence which supports our opinions and ignore or dismiss that which does not.  I look for this in myself and try to safeguard against prooftexting, the confirmation bias method of misreading the Bible.

I keep returning to the example Jesus set.  (I am a professing Christian, literally a “partisan of Christ.”)  He violated many religious customs, some of them from the Law of Moses itself.  He seems to have favored compassion over any other factor when they came into conflict.  And he taught this ethic with his words.  So we have in our Lord the union of words and deeds favoring compassion above all else in guiding our actions toward others.  Compassion trumps all else.

As much as I disagree with those aspects of Christian traditions which deal favorably with tyrants and dictators, justify servitude, and smile upon gender inequality, I find Jesus to be the strong counterpoint to them.  Somewhere–very soon after our Lord’s time on the planet ended–the church began to accommodate itself–frequently in ways inconsistent with Christ–to the Roman Empire.  Jesus was a subversive.  I mean this as a compliment.  I follow the subversive, or at least I try to do so.  If I am to be an honest Christian, this is what I must do.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 3, 2011 COMMON ERA

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

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

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/07/17/subversive-compassion/

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Week of 6 Epiphany: Thursday, Year 1   19 comments

Above:  Saint Peter

Messiah 101

FEBRUARY 21, 2019

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Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.

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Genesis 9:1-17 (Revised English Bible):

God blessed Noah and his sons; he said to them,

Be fruitful and increase in numbers, and fill the earth.  Fear and dread of you will come on all the animals on earth, on all the birds of the air, on everything that moves on the ground, and on all fish in the sea; they are made subject to you.  Every creature that lives and moves will be food for you; I give them all to you, as I have given you every green plant.  But you must never eat flesh with its life still in it, that is the blood.  And further, for your life-blood I shall demand satisfaction; from every animal I shall require it, and from human beings also I shall require satisfaction for the death of their fellows.

“Anyone who sheds human blood,

for that human being his blood will be shed;

because in the image of God

has God made human beings.”

Be fruitful, then, and increase in number; people the earth and rule over it.

God said to Noah and his sons:

I am now establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, all birds and cattle, all the animals with you on earth, all that have come out of the ark.  I shall sustain my covenant with you:  never again will all living creatures be destroyed by the waters of a flood, never again will there be a flood to lay waste the earth.

God said,

For all generations to come, this is the sign which I am giving of the covenant between myself and you and all living creatures with you:

my bow I set in the clouds

to be a sign of the covenant

between myself and the earth.

When I bring clouds over the earth,

the rainbow will appear in the clouds.

Then I shall remember the covenant which I have made with you and all living creatures, and never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all creation.  Whenever the bow appears in the cloud, I shall see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and living creatures of every kind on earth.

So God said to Noah,

This is the sign of the covenant which I have established with all that lives on earth.

Psalm 102:15-22 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

15 The nations shall fear your Name, O LORD,

and all the kings of the earth your glory.

16 For the LORD will build up Zion,

and his glory will appear.

17 He will look with favor on the prayer of the homeless;

he will not despise their plea.

18 Let this be written for a future generation,

so that a people yet unborn may praise the LORD.

19 For the LORD looked down from his holy place on high;

from the heavens he beheld the earth;

20 That he might hear the groan of the captive

and set free those condemned to die;

21 That they may declare in Zion the Name of the LORD,

and his praise in Jerusalem;

22 When the peoples are gathered together,

and the kingdoms also, to serve the LORD.

Mark 8:27-33 (Revised English Bible):

Jesus and his disciples set out for the villages of Caesarea Philippi, and on the way he asked his disciples,

Who do people say that I am?

They answered,

Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, others one of the prophets.

He asked,

And you, who do you say that I am?

Peter replied,

You are the Messiah.

Then he gave them strict orders not to tell anyone about him; and he began to teach them that the Son of Man had to endure great suffering, and to be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes; to be put to death, and to rise again three days afterwards.  He spoke about it plainly.  At this Peter took hold of him and began to rebuke him.  But Jesus, turning and looking at his disciples, rebuked Peter.

Out of my sight, Satan!

he said.

You think as men think, not as God thinks.

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The Collect:

O  God, the strength of all who put their trust in you: Mercifully accept our prayers; and because in our weakness we can do nothing good without you, give us the help of your grace, that in keeping your commandments we may please you both in will and deed; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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In the Southern United States, my native region, we have a saying:  “God bless him (or her).”  I apply this to Simon Peter.  “God bless him.”

The author of the Gospel of Mark states of Jesus that “He spoke about it plainly.”  “It” refers to his impending arrest, torture, execution, and resurrection.  Recall that Jesus had spoken of another matter in metaphors just a few verses before, and the Apostles did understand then.  Now, that our Lord and Savior has laid metaphors aside and begun to use plain Aramaic, the Apostles are just as dense.  They hear his words, but they do not like them.  “Surely Jesus cannot mean this, can he?  No, this cannot be.”  This is my paraphrase of what Apostles, namely Peter, must have thought.

The prevailing concept of Messiahship was that the Messiah would be the conquering hero who would expel the Roman occupiers.  This is understandable; who likes to live in his or her home, under foreign domination?  One of the messages in the Gospel of Mark is this:  The role of the Messiah is not to conquer, but to suffer, die, and rise again.  This is Messiah 101.

God does not think as we do, so attempting to follow God carries the risk of getting it wrong.  This was Peter’s situation, “God bless him.”  Yet consider what he became.  How is that for grace?

God is gracious, as the reading from Genesis makes plain.  God establishes a covenant with people and does not require anything of us; this is about what God will do and will not do.  God will be gracious to us, and the symbol (because we like visuals) is a rainbow.  Professor Richard Elliott Friedman quotes Rabbi Martin Lawson regarding this sign:  The rainbow symbolizes the covenant with Noah because it is “a bow pointed away from the earth.”  The origin of the name rainbow in English and Hebrew derives from the fact that the rainbow has the same shape as a bow used to shoot arrows.  The arrows are pointed away from earth.

The presence of Jesus on the earth is likewise an indication of grace.  God is on our side.  Are we on God’s side? (God bless us.)

KRT