Archive for the ‘Psalm 131’ Tag

Devotion for Saturday Before the Eighth Sunday After Epiphany, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

08508v

Above:  The Pool of Hezekiah, Jerusalem, Palestine, Between 1898 and 1946

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reference Number = LC-DIG-matpc-08508

Turning Toward the False and Illusory

NOT OBSERVED IN 2017

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The Collect:

God of tender care, like a mother, like a father,

you never forget your children, and you know already what we need.

In our anxiety give us trusting and faithful hearts,

that in confidence we may embody the peace and justice

of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 25

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 31:1-9

Psalm 131 (Both Days)

Luke 11:14-23

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O Israel, trust in the Lord,

from this time forth and for evermore.

–Psalm 131:4, Common Worship (2000)

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The Interpreter’s Bible, Volume V (1956), page 338 on Isaiah 31:1-3:

This oracle is a companion piece to 30:1-7, with its references to the Judean embassy seeking Egyptian help, to the illusory strength of Egypt, to the wisdom and the spirit of God, and to the inevitable discomfiture of a plan to seek foreign aid rather than to rely on God.  The propensity of human beings in time of danger to grasp for material support at whatever moral cost, and to neglect the priority of spiritual realities because they are intangible, is here vividly set out.  The grandiose dreams of the Judean leaders will come to nothing; instead, they will invoke the nemesis of history.  For this the prophet gives two reasons:  (a) their policy flouts the wise purpose of Yahweh, which alone governs the course of events; and (b) they are putting their trust in something as weak and transitory as themselves, which will perish with them.

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King Hezekiah, seeking defense against Assyria, had entered into an alliance with Egypt, whose leadership, as Volume V (1956) of The Interpreter’s Bible stated on page 330, made grand promises yet could do nothing more than talk.  For this talking the Pharaoh received tribute from Judah.  There was no security to find in that alliance.

A common belief in the Hellenistic Mediterranean world was that demonic possession caused a variety of conditions.  Today we call them a range of terms, from stress to mental illness.  In those days, however, the term for treating those conditions was exorcism.  Some of our Lord and Savior’s opponents accused him of exorcising via a league with Satan.  Even inside the cultural milieu the logic failed immediately.

The unifying theme this day is turning away from God and toward that which is false, illusory, and incapable of meeting the needs of the moment.  We humans do this often.  Related to this pattern is a constant–human nature, with its strengths and weaknesses.  The weaknesses share the central seat with divine fidelity in this post.

Whenever we seek substitutes for God, whether they be sports, drugs, bad religion, or other idols, we attempt to force square pegs into round holes.  We set off upon foolish and doomed errands.  May we cease to do that, by grace and for the glory of God, the benefit of our fellow human beings, and the best interests of ourselves.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 20, 2013 COMMON ERA

PROPER 24–THE TWENTY-SECOND SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

THE FEAST OF MARY A. LATHBURY, U.S. METHODIST HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT BERTILLA BOSCARDIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN AND NURSE

THE FEAST OF JOHN HARRIS BURT, EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF TARORE OF WAHOARA, ANGLICAN MISSIONARY

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/turning-toward-the-false-and-illusory/

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

Philippi_Daumet_Direkler

Above:  Ruins of Philippi, 1861

Artist = H. Daumet

Image in the Public Domain

Seeking the Interests of Christ

NOT OBSERVED IN 2017

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The Collect:

God of tender care, like a mother, like a father,

you never forget your children, and you know already what we need.

In our anxiety give us trusting and faithful hearts,

that in confidence we may embody the peace and justice

of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 25

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The Assigned Readings:

Proverbs 12:22-28 (Thursday)

Isaiah 26:1-6 (Friday)

Psalm 131 (Both Days)

Philippians 2:19-24 (Thursday)

Philippians 2:25-30 (Friday)

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Some Related Posts:

O Israel, trust in the Lord,

from this time forth for evermore.

–Psalm 131:4, Common Worship (2000)

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

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

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

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

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

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 20, 2013 COMMON ERA

PROPER 24–THE TWENTY-SECOND SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

THE FEAST OF MARY A. LATHBURY, U.S. METHODIST HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT BERTILLA BOSCARDIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN AND NURSE

THE FEAST OF JOHN HARRIS BURT, EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF TARORE OF WAHOARA, ANGLICAN MISSIONARY

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

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

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Eighth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A   18 comments

Above:  Mother and Baby

(Image from here: http://www.crmcwy.org/services/women_children.aspx?id=1982)

Each of Us is a Child of God’s Womb

(See the Isaiah reading.)

NOT OBSERVED IN 2014

NOT OBSERVED IN 2017

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Isaiah 49:8-16a (New Revised Standard Version):

Thus says the LORD:

In a time of favor I have answered you,

on a day of salvation I have helped you;

I have kept you and given you

as a covenant to the people,

to establish the land,

to apportion the desolate heritages;

saying to the prisoners,

Come out,

to those who are in darkness,

Show yourselves.

They shall feed along the ways,

on all the bare heights shall be their pasture;

they shall not hunger or thirst,

neither scorching wind nor sun shall strike them down,

for he who has pity on them will lead them,

and by springs of water will guide them.

And I will turn all my mountains into a road,

and my highways shall be raised up.

Lo, these shall come from far away,

and lo, these from the north and from the west,

and these from the land of Syene.

Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth;

break forth, O mountains, into singing!

For the LORD has comforted his people,

and will have compassion on all his suffering ones.

But Zion said,

The LORD has forsaken me,

my LORD has forgotten me.

Can a woman forget her nursing child,

or show no compassion for the child of her womb?

Even these may forget,

yet I will not forget you.

See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands.

Psalm 131 (New Revised Standard Version):

O LORD, my heart is not lifted up,

my eyes are not raised too high;

I do not occupy myself with things

too great and too marvelous for me.

But I have calmed and quieted my soul,

like a weaned child with its mother;

my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.

O Israel, hope in the LORD

from this time on and forevermore.

1 Corinthians 4:1-5 (New Revised Standard Version):

Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive commendation from God.

Matthew 6:24-34 (New Revised Standard Version):

Jesus said,

No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you– you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear?” For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

The Collect:

Most loving Father, whose will it is for us to give thanks for all things, to fear nothing but the loss of you, and to cast all our care on you who care for us: Preserve us from faithless fears and worldly anxieties, that no clouds of this mortal life may hide from us the light of that love which is immortal, and which you have manifested to us in your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Did you notice the incongruity between the collect and the first reading?  The dominant gender image for God in the first reading is feminine, but the collect addresses God the Father.  These are just metaphors, so let us not become distracted by them, reifiying them and transforming them into idols.  Instead, may we look through them to the substance behind them.

Yahweh/God the Father is far removed from traditional concepts of the Mother Goddess, but the Judeo-Christian Bible contains images of God as mother.  And let us not forget the personification of divine wisdom as feminine.  Deity exists beyond gendered bounds, containing characteristics we humans associate with both males and females, with fathers and mothers.  So God is our parental figure, and we are as helpless as infants.  (This is not how many of us like to think of ourselves.)

And the truly excellent news is that God is better than any human mother or father, as the reading from Isaiah reminds us.  God is love, and love seeks reciprocation.  Love gives of itself to the point of self-sacrifice.  This describes the God I see in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.

Today has enough worries of its own.  I did not ponder this statement until early 2007, when the floor of my life fell out from under me.  I learned then that worrying was truly worthless, especially when life was more difficult than usual.  Instead, I crawled to God, acknowledged the obvious (my helplessness), and did not pretend to be any more than I was.  God, my mother, comforted me with maternal love and rocked me to sleep.  God, my father, extended paternal care.  Jesus, my brother, put his arm around me and supported me emotionally.  All the metaphors came into play.  And I survived another day, at which point the process started over again.

KRT

Written for SUNDRY THOUGHTS OF KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on June 16, 2010