Archive for the ‘Psalm 122’ Tag

Devotion for the First Sunday of Advent, Year A (Humes)   1 comment

Above:   Icon of the Second Coming

Image in the Public Domain

Preparation for the Second Coming

DECEMBER 2, 2018

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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 2:1-5

Psalm 122

Romans 13:11-14

Matthew 24:36-44

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The thematic unity of the pericopes is evident.  One reads mainly of the future, when God will engage in creative destruction then set the world right.  In the meantime, one reads, one has moral imperatives to follow.

The pairing of Isaiah 2:-15 and Psalm 122 works well.  In Isaiah 2, Gentiles make pilgrimage to Jerusalem in the future; they seek instruction.  In that future God also settles disputes nonviolently.  In Psalm 122 Jews make pilgrimage to Jerusalem in what was then their present.  If one continues to read Isaiah 2 after the fifth verse, one finds a text of divine judgment against the proud and the arrogant, against those who commit idolatry, against those who glorify humankind, not God.  It is a message as pertinent in 2018, when I write this post, as it was during the lifetime of First Isaiah.

We read in Matthew that nobody–not even Jesus–knows when the Second Coming will occur, but that one should, for one’s sake, remain alert and be prepared.  It is obvious from Romans 13 that St. Paul the Apostle, in 56-57 C.E., expected that event to occur sooner rather than later relative to his present day.   Not one of we mere mortals knows any more about the actual timing of the Second Coming than St. Paul did, but his advice to live honorably is always germane.

This is a devotion for the First Sunday of Advent, a season with eschatological overtones and concerned with preparation for the coming of Christ.  Given the fact that Advent precedes the season of Christmas, one might expect an emphasis on the First Coming.  There is some of that, yes.  Nevertheless, we ought never to forget the aspect of the preparation for the Second Coming, as is evident in this set of readings.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 14, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF FANNIE LOU HAMER, PROPHET OF FREEDOM

THE FEAST OF ALFRED LISTER PEACE, ORGANIST IN ENGLAND AND SCOTLAND

THE FEAST OF HARRIET KING OSGOOD MUNGER, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF NEHEMIAH GOREH, INDIAN ANGLICAN PRIEST AND THEOLOGIAN

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2018/03/14/preparation-for-the-second-coming/

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Devotion for February 23 in Epiphany/Ordinary Time (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   5 comments

Above:  A Candle

Image Source = SarThePhotographer

Job and John, Part XV:  Obedience and Suffering

FEBRUARY 23, 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:

Job 18:1-21

Psalm 122 (Morning)

Psalms 141 and 90 (Evening)

John 7:32-53

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A Related Post:

Lord, Help Us Walk Your Servant Way:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/07/01/lord-help-us-walk-your-servant-way/

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Bildad the Shuhite, in Job 18, implies that Job must be wicked.  Why else would Job suffer so much?  This is repetitive content.  It was just as bogus this time as it was the previous occasions.  The Lutheran lectionary, in its beauty, pairs Bildad’s speech with part of John 7, where people are plotting to do to Jesus things which Bildad describes as the fate of the wicked.  This is the most powerful argument I can muster against Bildad’s words.

I will be brief, today, for most of what I might write here I have stated in previous posts in this Job and John series.  Yet I do choose to make the following point here and now:  In the canonical Gospels suffering is part of the destiny of the Messiah.  Suffering indicates that one has been faithful to God.  Thus those who follow Jesus must be prepared to suffer.  And, in the Book of Tobit, the titular character suffers because he obeys God.  For nearly two thousand years Christian martyrs have suffered because of their obedience.  The darkness takes offense at the light shining in its midst yet can never extinguish all the candles and lamps.

Until the next segment of our journey….

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 26, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS REMACLUS OF MAASTRICHT, THEODORE OF MAASTRICHT, LAMBERT OF MAASTRICHT, HUBERT OF MAASTRICHT AND LIEGE, AND FLORIBERT OF LIEGE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; LANDRADA OF MUNSTERBILSEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBESS; AND OTGER OF UTRECHT, PLECHELM OF GUELDERLAND, AND WIRO, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARIES

THE FEAST OF CHRISTINA ROSSETTI, POET

THE FEAST OF SAINT PASCHASIUS RADBERTUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF ROBERT HUNT, FIRST ANGLICAN CHAPLAIN AT JAMESTOWN, VIRGINIA

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/11/06/job-and-john-part-xv-obedience-and-suffering/

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Devotion for January 26 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Above:  Palestinian Barrier

Image Source = Marc Venezia

Of Walls, God, and Men

JANUARY 26, 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:

Zechariah 2:1-3:10/2:5-3:10

Psalm 122 (Morning)

Psalms 141 and 90 (Evening)

Romans 15:1-13

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Jerusalem shall be peopled as a city without walls….

–Zechariah 2:8b, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

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TECHNICAL NOTE:

Zechariah 2:1 in Protesteant Bibles equals Zechariah 2:5 in Jewish, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox ones.

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A city’s walls were supposed to defend it.  Thus a Jerusalem without walls would seem to be defenseless.  Yet, in Zechariah, God will defend the city.  Walls, as defensive technology, have proven lacking throughout history.  Invaders breached the Great Wall of China.  Constantinople fell in 1453 despite its walls.  The walls of Jericho could not survive an earthquake.  So I am with Zechariah; God is preferable to any wall.

Walls also provide convenient boundaries.  The city is on one side of the wall.  East Berlin was over here and West Berlin was over there, from the East German perspective.  Over here, from the Israeli angle, is the Jewish side of the West Bank; the Palestinian side is over there.  The other is over there, away from here–with a wall to separate them.

Before I built a wall I’d ask to know

What I was walling in or walling out,

And to whom I was like to give offense.

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,

That wants it down.

–Robert Frost, Mending Wall

Paul encouraged his readers at Rome to

Accept one another for the sake of God’s glory, as Christ accepted you.

–Romans 15:7, The New Jerusalem Bible

Walls work against that purpose.  God is preferable to any wall.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 9, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF DIETRICH BONHOEFFER, MARTYR AND GERMAN LUTHERAN THEOLOGIAN

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/10/05/of-walls-god-and-men/

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Devotion for December 17 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   7 comments

Above:  The Great Day of His Wrath, by John Martin

The Violent Origin of Paradise

DECEMBER 17, 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 33:1-24

Psalm 122 (Morning)

Psalms 40 and 67 (Evening)

Revelation 5:1-14

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Revelation 5 continues the scene in the previous chapter.  The twenty-four elders are in Heaven, in the immediate presence of God.  Then John of Patmos sees a scroll with seven seals.  Only Jesus, the sacrificial lamb, is worthy to break the seven seals and to judge the earth, notably the Roman Empire.

Scholars of the Bible have interpreted the violent imagery of Revelation in various ways.  Some see a contradiction between the Jesus of the Gospels and the avenging Christ of Revelation.  This, I think, is an overstated case.  In the Bible we read of God establishing the new, holy order on Earth.  The founding of paradise begins with purging violence; the Day of the Lord is bad news for the wicked.  The end of exploitation does not mean comfort for the one exploiting.

If God is gracious to suffering people, the end of their suffering comes frequently via unpleasant fates for those who inflict said suffering.  Let us not embrace an illusion; good news for the death camp survivors was bad news for Nazis.  And we do not weep for Nazis; nor should we.

Judgment and mercy coexist within God; this message emerges from a multitude of Biblical texts.  So be it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 1, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE EIGHTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FIRST SUNDAY AFTER CHRISTMAS, YEAR B

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/08/09/the-violent-origin-of-paradise/

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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, 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 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 3 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   6 comments

Above:  Credit Mobilier Scandal Editorial Cartoon from 1873

The Web of Humanity

DECEMBER 3, 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 9:7/8-10:11 (depending on versification)

Psalm 122 (Morning)

Psalms 40 and 67 (Evening)

1 Peter 5:1-14

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Some Related Posts:

Where Cross the Crowded Ways of Life:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/06/26/where-cross-the-crowded-ways-of-life/

O Lord, You Gave Your Servant John:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/08/06/o-lord-you-gave-your-servant-john/

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Ha!

Those who write out evil writs

And compose iniquitous documents,

To subvert the cause of the poor,

To rob of their rights the needy of My people;

That widows may be their spoil,

And fatherless children their booty!

What will you do on the day of punishment,

when the calamity comes from afar?

To whom will you flee for help,

And how will you save your carcasses

From collapsing under [fellow] prisoners,

From falling beneath the slain?

Yet His anger has not turned back,

And his arm is outstretched still.

–Isaiah 10:1-4, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

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Humility towards one another must be the garment you all wear constantly, because God opposes the proud but accords his favour to the humble.  Bow down, then, before the power of God now, so that he may raise you up in due time; unload all your burdens on him, since he is concerned about you.

–1 Peter 5:5b-7, The New Jerusalem Bible

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The reading from Isaiah spells out doom for Israel (the northern kingdom), Judah (the southern kingdom), and the Assyrian Empire.  Embedded among that gloomy news is yet another condemnation of economic injustice.  If I seem to beat this drum often in my devotional posts, I do; so do the texts from which I write many devotions.  The repetition of this theme ought to tell us to pay attention, correct our ways, and reform our legal, economic, and political systems accordingly.

Each of us bears the image of God.  This, I am convinced, constitutes the best basis of equality and mutual respect and humility.  God cares for all of us, so we ought to care for each other, not to use each other for selfish goals.  As the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., reminded us,

…injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere.

What happens to my brother or sister affects me, for my brother or sister and I, although physically distinct, are not as separate as we might seem.  We are all connected to others, so what affects one person has consequences for others.

May we, by grace, make them positive effects.

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/2012/07/28/the-web-of-humanity/

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Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (January 18-25)   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Barnabas Episcopal-Lutheran Worshiping Community, Jefferson City, Tennessee

(Their website is here:  http://stbarnabas.etdiocese.net/)

Let Us Emphasize Our Common Ground and Build On It

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From Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), the hymnal of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:

Isaiah 2:2-4

Psalm 122

Ephesians 4:1-6

John 17:15-23

God our Father, your Son Jesus Christ prayed that his followers might be one.  Make all Christians one with him as he is one with you, so that in peace and concord we may carry to the world the message of your love, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

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Now, for my thoughts….

We Christians have divided ourselves into competing theological and liturgical tribes since the earliest decades of the Jesus movement.  For confirmation of this, read the New Testament epistles.  Sometimes these divisions are silly or based on ego gratification.  Other times, however, the matters are weightier.  Yet the tragedy of schism remains, even after stated issues which people used to justify the schism have become moot points or ceased to points of contention.  Inertia preserves a high degree of divisiveness within Christianity.

Sometimes schisms remain insurmountable.  Yet this fact should not prevent Christians of good will from reaching across boundaries to identify and build upon common ground, to do something positive and for the glory of God together.  I do not expect the Anabaptists and Roman Catholics to reconcile, but they can cooperate.  Last Sunday afternoon I listened to a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) radio interview with a Mennonite pastor who maintains a close faith-based relationship with nearby Catholic monks, often praying with them.

And I believe that when two or more denominations cease to have good reasons to remain separate they should open negotiations to unite organically.  But when issues, such as baptismal theology, prevent a merger, the groups can still cooperate on other matters.  We Christians have more in common with each other than not.  May we build on that.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 11, 2010

THE FEAST OF ST. BARNABAS THE APOSTLE

THE FEAST OF THE REVEREND VERNON JOHNS, U.S. CIVIL RIGHTS PIONEER

Advent Devotion for December 22   20 comments

Above: The Magnificat in Latin

Magnificat

DECEMBER 22, 2020

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FIRST READING:  1 Samuel 1:19-28 (Revised English Bible):

(From the story of Hannah and Elkanah, parents of the prophet Samuel)

Next morning they were up early, after prostrating themselves before the LORD, returned to their home at Ramah.  Elkanah had intercourse with his wife, Hannah, and the LORD remembered her; she conceived, and in due time bore a son, whom she named Samuel,

because,

she said,

I asked the LORD for him.

Elkanah with his whole household went up to make the annual sacrifice to the LORD and to keep his vow.  Hannah did not go; she said to her husband,

After the child is weaned I shall go up with him to present him before the LORD; then he is to stay there always.

Her husband Elkanah said to her,

Do what you think best; stay at home until you have weaned him.  Only, may the LORD indeed see your vow fulfilled.

So the woman stayed behind and nursed her son until she had weaned him.

When she had weaned him, she took him up with her.  She took also a bull three years old, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine, and she brought him, child as he was, into the house of the LORD at Shiloh.  When the bull had been slaughtered, Hannah brought the boy to Eli and said,

Sir, as sure as you live, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the LORD.  It was they boy that I prayed for and the LORD has granted what I asked.  Now I make him over to the LORD; for his whole life is lent to the LORD.

And they prostrated themselves there before the LORD.

RESPONSE, OPTION #1:  Canticle 9, from The Book of Common Prayer, page 86:

(Isaiah 12:2-6)

Surely, it is God who saves me;

I will trust in him and not be afraid.

For the Lord is my stronghold and my sure defense,

and he will be my Savior.

Therefore you shall draw water with rejoicing

from the springs of salvation.

On that day you shall say,

Give thanks to the Lord and call upon his Name;

Make his deeds known among the peoples;

see that they remember that his Name is exalted.

Sing the praises of the Lord, for he has done great things,

and this is known in all the world.

Cry aloud, inhabitants of Zion, ring out your joy,

for the great one in the midst of you is the Holy One of Israel.

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.

RESPONSE, OPTION #2:  Psalm 133 (Revised English Bible):

How good and pleasant it is

to live together as brothers in unity!

It is like fragrant oil poured on the head

and falling over the beard,

Aaron’s beard, when the oil runs down

over the collar of his vestments.

It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling

on the mountains of Zion.

There the LORD bestows his blessing,

life for evermore.

RESPONSE, OPTION #3:  Psalm 122 (Revised English Bible):

I rejoiced when they said to me,

Let us go to the house of the LORD.

Now we are standing

withing your gates, Jerusalem:

Jerusalem, a city built

compactly and solidly.

There the tribes went up, the tribes of the LORD,

to give thanks to the name of the LORD,

the duty laid on Israel.

For there the thrones of justice were set,

the thrones of the house of David.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:

May those who love you prosper;

peace be within your ramparts

and prosperity in your palaces.

For the sake of these my brothers and my friends,

I shall say,

Peace be within you.

For the sake of the house of the LORD our God

I shall pray for your well-being.

GOSPEL: Luke 1:46-56 (Revised English Bible):

And Mary said:

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,

my spirit has rejoiced in God my Saviour;

for he has looked with favour on his servant,

lowly as she is.

From this day forward

all generations will count me blessed,

for the Mighty God has done great things for me.

His name is holy,

his mercy sure from generation to generation

toward those who fear him.

He has shown the might of his arm,

he has routed the proud and all their schemes;

he has brought down monarchs and their thrones,

and raised on high the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things,

and sent the rich away empty.

He has come to the help of Israel his servant,

as he promised to our forefathers;

he has not forgotten to show mercy

to Abraham and his children’s children for ever.

Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then returned home.

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.

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While typing these readings and copying and pasting the collect I have been listening to Charles Gound’s glorious St. Cecilia Mass (1855).  To read and type the text of the Magnificat while listening to the “Sanctus” from that great choral work is quite an experience, and one I recommend for anyone.  Now I am in the “Benedictus,” and think that listening to Gounod’s St. Cecilia Mass while writing devotional blog entries is the best possible way to have spent this evening.

Intertwined threads run through readings for this day.  God grants a child, a mother consecrates said offspring to the service of God, and this child grows up to serve God until the end.  Samuel became a great prophet, anointing David as King of Israel.  And we all know how Jesus turned out, do we not?

Grace is wonderful, and we are correct to thank God for it in our prayers.  We need to thank God for it with our lives, too.  Samuel was the most precious person in Hannah’s life, and she gave him to God.  I hear that parenthood is never easy, but imagine being the Mother of God.  Mary gave her best, too.  God wants the best we have to offer, not our leftovers.  So let us offer the best we have, whether tangible or intangible.

Now I am still in Heaven on Earth, for the beautiful final movement, “Domine Salvum,” is playing.  I savor this moment and thank God for the musical talents of Charles Gounod, the conductor, orchestra members, choir members, and soloists.

KRT

Written on June 3, 2010

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/11/18/magnificat/

Second Day of Advent   13 comments

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Above:  Design Drawing for Stained-Glass Window with Centurion for Church of the Good Shepherd, Raleigh, North Carolina

Designed by J. & R. Lamb Studios

Image Source = Library of Congress

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Human Faith and Divine Mercy

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2020 (YEAR B)

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First Reading for Year A:  Isaiah 4:2-6 (Revised English Bible):

On that day the plant that the LORD has grown will become glorious in its beauty, and the fruit of the land will be pride and the splendour of the survivors of Israel.

Then those who are left in Zion, who remain in Jerusalem, every one whose survival in Jerusalem was decreed will be called holy.  When the Lord washes away the filth of the women of Zion and cleanses Jerusalem from bloodstains by a spirit of judgment burning like fire, he will create a cloud of smoke by day and a bright flame of fire by night over the whole building on Mount Zion and over all her assemblies; for his glory will be a canopy over all, a cover giving shade by day from the heat, a refuge and shelter from storm and rain.

First Reading for Years B and C:  Isaiah 2:1-5 (Revised English Bible):

This is the message which Isaiah son of Amon received in a vision, about Judah and Jerusalem.

In days to come

the mountain of the Lord’s house

will be set over all other mountains,

raised high above the hills.

All the nations will stream towards it,

and many peoples will go and say,

Let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,

to the house of the God of Jacob,

that he may teach us his ways

and that we may walk in his paths.

For instruction comes from Zion,

and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

He will judge between the nations

as arbiter among many peoples.

They will beat their swords into mattocks

and their spears into pruning-knives;

nation will not lift up sword against nation

nor ever again be trained for war.

Come, people of Jacob,

let us walk in the light of the LORD.

Psalm 122 (Revised English Bible):

I rejoiced when they said to me,

Let us go to the house of the LORD.

Now we are standing

within your gates, Jerusalem:

Jerusalem, a city built

compactly and solidly.

There the tribes went up, the tribes of the LORD,

the duty laid on Israel.

For there the thrones of justice were set,

the thrones of the house of David.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:

May those who love you prosper;

peace be within your ramparts

and prosperity in your palaces.

For the sake of these my brothers and my friends,

I shall say,

Peace be within you.

For the sake of the house of the LORD our God

I shall pray for your well-being.

Matthew 8:5-13 (Revised English Bible):

As Jesus entered Capernaum a centurion came up to ask his help.

Sir,

he said,

my servant is lying at home paralyzed and racked with pain.

Jesus said,

I will come and cure him.

But he centurion replied,

Sir, I am not worthy to have you under my roof.  You need only say the word, and my servant will be cured.  I know, for I am myself under orders, with soldiers under me.  I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; to another, ‘Come here,’ and he he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.’

Jesus heard him with astonishment, and said to the people who were following him,

Truly I tell you: nowhere in Israel have I found such faith.  Many, I tell you, will come from east to west to sit with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the banquet in the kingdom of Heaven.  But those who were born to the kingdom will be thrown out into the dark, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.

Then Jesus said to the centurion,

Go home, as you have believed, so let it be.

At that very moment the boy recovered.

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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The two Old Testament options speak of what God will establish on earth.  God, we read, will create peace and justice on the planet at an unspecified time.  Then, in the psalm, we find mention of peace in Jerusalem (That would be nice.) and human devotion toward God.  Yet such faith is not restricted to Hebrews, as the lection from Matthew makes clear.  The centurion was an officer of the Roman army, the military force occupying the Jewish homeland.  He was the face of the enemy, and he had more faith in Jesus than did many of Jesus’ countrymen.

During Advent we Christians are supposed to prepare for Christmas.  So may we let Jesus gestate liturgically until late December 24.  News of the approaching birth of the incarnate Word of God is joyous indeed, and it is for all–Jews and Gentiles alike–who have active faith in it.  Ethnicity and race do not matter; neither do social status nor national origin nor politics.  As I have written on this blog and will certainly write again, grace can be scandalous.  It is like the wind and the Holy Spirit; it goes where it will.

As we take these early steps in our Advent pilgrimage may we embrace the scandal of grace and extend it to others, as we have opportunity.

KRT

Written on May 31, 2010

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/11/12/human-faith-and-divine-mercy/

First Day of Advent: First Sunday of Advent, Year A   35 comments

Above:  The Swords into Plowshares Statue at the United Nations

Image Source = Melesse

God With Us

DECEMBER 1, 2019

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Isaiah 2:1-5 (New Revised Standard Version):

The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

In days to come

the mountain of the LORD’s house

shall be established as the highest of the mountains,

and shall be raised above the hills;

all the nations shall stream to it.

Many people shall come and say,

Come let us go up tot he mountain of the LORD,

to the house of the God of Jacob;

that he may teach us his paths.

For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,

and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

He shall judge between the nations,

and shall arbitrate for many peoples;

they shall beat their swords into plowshares,

and their spears into pruning hooks;

nation shall not lift up sword against nation,

neither shall they learn war any more.

O house of Jacob,

come, let us walk

in the light of the LORD!

AND

Psalm 122 (New Revised Standard Version):

I was glad when they said to me,

Let us go to the house of the LORD!

Our feet are standing

within your gates, O Jerusalem.

Jerusalem–built as a city

that is bound firmly together.

To it the tribes go up,

the tribes of the LORD,

as was decreed for Israel,

to give thanks for the name of the LORD.

For there the thrones of judgment were set up,

the thrones of the house of David.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:

May they prosper who love you.

Peace be within your walls,

and security within your towers.

For the sake of my relatives and friends

I will say,

Peace be within you.

For the sake of the house of the LORD our God,

I will seek your good.

AND

Romans 13:11-14 (New Revised Standard Version):

You know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

AND

Matthew 24:36-44 (New Revised Standard Version):

Jesus said to the disciples,

But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

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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Happy New Year!  The First Sunday of Advent opens the Western Christian Year.  (The Eastern Orthodox churches keep a different schedule.)  About four weeks from the First Sunday of Advent falls Christmas day.  So, in Western Christian sacred time, this is a time to begin preparing for Christmas, much as Lent is a time of preparation for Easter.  I encourage you, O reader, to give Advent its full due attention, not rushing to Christmas Day.  In fact, I prefer to hold off on “Merry Christmas” greetings until about December 24.  The rest of the time I wish people a “Holy Advent.”

The name “Emmanuel” means “God with us.”  This summarizes the readings for this day.  They speak of the God who is present with us, what this deity will do at some unspecified time, and the responsibilities the faithful must execute in this context.  These lessons tell us that God loves us, expects us to behave ourselves, and will establish justice on the earth in the future.

No mere mortal can predict the future with perfect accuracy.  Science fiction scenarios look dated with the passage of time.  Think about the computer technology in 2001:  A Space Odyssey (1968), for example.  The computers are SO BIG compared to what they were in 2001, much less 2010.  And since shortly after the time Jesus walked the earth people have predicted his return many times, often with specific dates.  One of my favorite thrift store finds is a small paperback book, Christ Returns by 1988:  101 Reasons Why, by Colin Hoyle Deal.  I feel safe in claiming that 1988 came and went without Jesus returning.

Let us not become so preoccupied with reading the news in hopes of identifying the Antichrist or other apocalyptic indicators that we give short shrift to or ignore signs of God’s actual  activity around us.  Alleged Antichrists have come and gone; they are ranged from Adolf Hitler to Joseph Stalin to Ronald Wilson Reagan–the latter for having three names, each with six letters–666.  All politics aside, I propose that to become caught up prophesy is a fool’s errand, and that we Christians need to focus on the present constructively.  God is active all around us; do we not see it.  If we look with spiritual eyes we will see Jesus in friends, strangers, and even in those we dislike.  We will witness divine activity in places we expect the least or do anticipate at all.  So we will know more deeply that God is with us and will remain with us, and that this fact makes certain demands upon us.

As for the rest, the details will be what they will be.  And any of us could be wrong about our predictions.  Sometimes a belief that Jesus’ Second Coming is near has become a reason not to seek social justice or not to conserve part of the natural world.  Yet we humans have a mandate to care for creation and to seek social justice.  So let us live faithfully in the present tense, leaving the future to God.

KRT

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P.S.: The Episcopal Church has adopted an Advent lectionary.  My practice regarding Advent is as follows:  I use the designated Year A readings, according to the Revised Common Lectionary and the lessons which are part of the Episcopal lectionary for Advent.  This lectionary designates Monday-Saturday lessons for the first two weeks of Advent, Monday-Friday readings for the Third Week of Advent, and dated lessons for December 24.  I will provide devotions for all of these, including Friday in the Third Week, which will fall on December 17 in 2010 and December 19, which will double as the Fourth Sunday of Advent this year.  My intention is that these devotions will roll over from year to year, adding Year B Sundays next year and Year C Sundays the year after that, and changing dates on blog posts as necessary each year.

So I invite you to accompany me on this faith journey.

Pax vobiscum,

KRT

Written on May 31, 2010

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/11/12/god-with-us/

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The previous post in this sequence:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/06/05/devotion-for-saturday-before-the-first-sunday-of-advent-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

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