Archive for the ‘Psalm 148’ Tag

Devotion for the First Sunday After Christmas, Years A, B, C, and D (Humes)   1 comment

Above:  Icon of the Life of Christ

Image in the Public Domain

Divine Judgment and Mercy

DECEMBER 29, 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 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 63:7-9

Psalm 148

Philippians 2:12-18

Luke 2:21-40 or Matthew 2:13-23

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Judgment and mercy exist in balance in the Bible.  An act of mercy for the Hebrews (as in Isaiah 63) is judgment upon the Edomites (as in Isaiah 63:1-6).  Divine mercy exists not because of imagined human fidelity among a given population (such as the Hebrews), but as pure grace.  So, as Psalm 148 reminds us, all of creation should praise God.

Divine graciousness creates the obligation of faithful response–manifested in devotion, not the impossible standard of moral perfection.  We cannot be morally perfect, but we can do better, by grace–and as faithful response.  Many will respond favorably to divine graciousness.  Many others, however, will be indifferent.  Still others will be violently hostile, for their own perfidious reasons.

Divine graciousness certainly has the power to offend.  That fact makes a negative point about those who find such graciousness offensive.  Taking offense wrongly is one error; becoming violent about it is a related and subsequent one.  How we respond individually to divine graciousness is our responsibility.  If we get this wrong, we will harm others as well as ourselves.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 17, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT PATRICK, APOSTLE OF IRELAND

THE FEAST OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT, “THE CORN LAW RHYMER”

THE FEAST OF ELIZA SIBBALD ALDERSON, POET AND HYMN WRITER; AND JOHN BACCHUS DYKES, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF HENRY SCOTT HOLLAND, ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER AND PRIEST

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2018/03/17/divine-judgment-and-mercy-part-iii/

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Devotion for December 28, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

New Jerusalem

Above:  The New Jerusalem

Image in the Public Domain

The Kingdom of God

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 28, 2018

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The Collect:

Almighty God, you gave us your only Son

to take on our human nature and to illumine the world with your light.

By your grace adopt us as your children and enlighten us with your Spirit,

through Jesus Christ, our Redeemer and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 20

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 54:1-13

Psalm 148

Revelation 21:1-7

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Kings of the earth and all peoples,

princes and all rulers of the world;

Young men and maidens,

old and young together.

Let them praise the Name of the LORD,

for his splendor is over earth and heaven.

He has raised up strength for his people

and praise for all his loyal servants,

the children of Israel, a people who are near him.

Hallelujah!

–Psalm 148, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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God will dwell among mortals, we read in Revelation 21:3.  The context of that statement is a prediction of the fully realized Kingdom of God.  The partially evident Kingdom of God has been present on the planet since at least the time of Jesus, who was God dwelling among mortals.  That is one of many reasons to praise the LORD.

The existence and love of God do not indicate the absence of suffering and judgment.  In the pericope from Isaiah 54,  for example, divine grace follows divine judgment.  Sometimes we mere mortals must suffer the temporal consequences of our sins.  God still loves us, though.  Do we learn from our errors and love God?

As one thinks, so one is.  Only God can usher in the fully realized Kingdom of God, but we can, by grace, love God fully and love our neighbors as we love ourselves.  We can, by grace, make (more) evident the partially realized Kingdom of God in our midst.  And we can, with regard to our communities, societies, nation-states, and planet, by grace, pass the “leave it better than you found it” test.

December 28 is the Feast of the Holy Innocents.  They because King Herod the Great was mean, afraid, and paranoid, and because they were at the wrong place at the wrong time.  Unfortunately, the planet has never lacked murderous tyrants during all of recorded history.  The existence of such bad people points to the partial realization of the Kingdom of God.  We do, however, have a realistic hope of the fully realized Kingdom of God in the future.  Will we cling to that hope?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 23, 2015 COMMON ERA

PROPER 16:  THE THIRTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM JOHN COPELAND, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2015/08/23/the-kingdom-of-god-3/

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Devotion for December 27, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

St. Peter

Above:  Mosaic of St. Peter

Image Source = Jose Luiz

Following Jesus and Loving God

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 27, 2018

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The Collect:

Almighty God, you gave us your only Son

to take on our human nature and to illumine the world with your light.

By your grace adopt us as your children and enlighten us with your Spirit,

through Jesus Christ, our Redeemer and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 20

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The Assigned Readings:

Proverbs 8:32-36

Psalm 148

John 21:19b-24

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Kings of the earth and all peoples,

princes and all rulers of the world;

Young men and maidens,

old and young together.

Let them praise the Name of the LORD,

for his splendor is over earth and heaven.

He has raised up strength for his people

and praise for all his loyal servants,

the children of Israel, a people who are near him.

Hallelujah!

–Psalm 148, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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If you love me you will obey my commandments; and I will ask the Father, and he will give you another to be your advocate, who will be with you for ever–the Spirit of truth.

–John 14:15-17a, The Revised English Bible (1989)

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“Follow me,” Jesus says in John 21.  Lady Wisdom (“Sophia” in Greek), some of whose characteristics overlap with those of the Word (the Logos) of God in John 1, offers life-giving wisdom in Proverbs 8.  The awe of God is the beginning of wisdom in a person of wisdom in a person (Sirach/Ecclesiasaticus 1:14).  Sophia, in the context of Proverbs 8, is the female personification of divine wisdom.  Divine strength has male personification.  The combination of these metaphors points to a genderless figure we call God.  Nevertheless, the use of gendered metaphors relative to God proves useful in human cultural contexts, so who am I to object?  As long as know we are using metaphors, we will avoid certain theological excesses and errors.

Sometimes the best way to relate to God is via metaphors.  In private prayer I address God simply as “you,” but maybe even that is too anthropomorphic to be literally true.  I must say something, though.  I have chosen to embrace the mystery of God, use metaphors, and stand in awe of God, who is so far beyond me as to exceed my capacity for comprehension.  I have chosen to follow to Jesus day after day, even though I know I will never understand the mechanics of the incarnation.  Salvation, however, is not a matter of knowledge.

One can love another without understanding the other.  One can embrace a sacred mystery and strive to love one’s neighbor as one loves oneself.  One can love God fully without passing a canonical examination.  There is much none of us will comprehend.  That is fine.  But do we love God, who loves us?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 22, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN DRYDEN, ENGLISH PURITAN THEN ANGLICAN THEN ROMAN CATHOLIC POET, PLAYWRIGHT, AND TRANSLATOR

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2015/08/22/following-jesus-and-loving-god/

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Devotion for December 26, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Murder of Zechariah

Above:  The Murder of Zechariah, by William Brassey Hole

Image in the Public Domain

Two Stonings

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 26, 2018

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The Collect:

Almighty God, you gave us your only Son

to take on our human nature and to illumine the world with your light.

By your grace adopt us as your children and enlighten us with your Spirit,

through Jesus Christ, our Redeemer and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 20

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The Assigned Readings:

2 Chronicles 4:17-24

Psalm 148

Acts 6:1-7; 7:51-60

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Psalm 148 is a song of praise to God, especially in nature.  The text begins with references to the created order then moves along to people in social and political contexts.  Finally we read:

[The LORD] has exalted his people in the pride of power

and crowned with praise his loyal servants,

Israel, a people close to him.

Praise the LORD.

–Verse 15, The Revised English Bible (1989)

In the context of this day’s pericopes Psalm 148 functions as a counterpoint to the other readings.  In them holy men of God died for the sake of righteousness.  Zechariah, a priest and the son of Jehoida, also a priest, died because of his condemnation of idolatry.  Zechariah said:

Thus God said:  Why do you transgress the commandments of the LORD when you cannot succeed?  Since you have forsaken the LORD, He has forsaken you.

–2 Chronicles 24:20b, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

His punishment was execution by stoning at the Temple in Jerusalem.

Similar in tone and content is the story of St. Stephen, one of the first seven Christian deacons and the first Christian martyr.  The diaconate came to exist because it was necessary.  Apostles perceived the need to divide labor:

It is not right that we should neglect the word of God in order to wait on tables.

–Acts 6:2b, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

So the deacons fed the hungry widows.  St. Stephen died by stoning not because of his participation in an ancient Means on Wheels program but because of his preaching.  He, like Zechariah son of Jehoida, accused his audience of having abandoned God.

These two stories end differently, though.  The dying words of Zechariah son of Jehoida were:

May the LORD see this and exact the penalty.

–2 Chronicles 24:22b, The Revised English Bible (1989)

The interpretation of subsequent events in that book is that God avenged the priest (24:24).  King Jehoash/Joash of Israel (reigned 836-798 B.C.E.) died after becoming wounded in a devastating Aramean invasion.  His servants murdered him on his bed.

In contrast, St. Stephen prayed for his killers:

Lord, do not hold this sin against them.

–Acts 7:60b, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

The text does not indicate what effects, if any, that had on any of his executioners.  We do know, however, that Saul of Tarsus, who approved of the execution, went on to become St. Paul the Apostle.  One need not stray from the proverbial path of reasonableness to say that St. Paul, pondering his past and God’s grace, to say that he regretted having ever approved of St. Stephen’s death.

The use of violence to rid oneself of an inconvenient person is sinful.  To commit violence for this purpose in the name of God, presumably to affirm one’s righteousness in the process, is ironic, for that violence belies the claim of righteousness.  Furthermore, there are only victims in violent acts.  The person who commits violence harms himself or herself, at least spiritually, if in no other way.  Violence might be necessary or preferable to any alternative sometimes, but nobody should ever celebrate it or turn to it as a first resort.

Whatever we do to others, we do to ourselves.  May we pursue peace, forgiveness, and reconciliation, not revenge.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 22, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN DRYDEN, ENGLISH PURITAN THEN ANGLICAN THEN ROMAN CATHOLIC POET, PLAYWRIGHT, AND TRANSLATOR

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2015/08/22/two-stonings/

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Devotion for January 2, Year B (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

PAT_2008

Above:  Malachi House, St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church, Dunwoody, Georgia, November 19, 2013

Image Source = Bill Monk, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

A Call to Live Compassionately

TUESDAY, JANUARY 2, 2018

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The Collect:

All-powerful and unseen God, the coming of your light

into our world has brightened weary hearts with peace.

Call us out of darkness, and empower us to proclaim the birth of your Son,

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 20

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The Assigned Readings:

Proverbs 1:1-7

Psalm 148

James 3:13-18

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Kings of the earth and all peoples,

princes and all rulers of the world;

Young men and women,

old and young together;

let them praise the name of the Lord.

–Psalm 148:11-12, Common Worship (2000)

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The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;

Fools despise wisdom and discipline.

–Proverbs 1:7, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

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Peace is the seed-bed of righteousness, and the peacemakers will reap its harvest.

–James 3:18, Revised English Bible (1989)

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The main two readings for today summarize nicely material I have been covering during the last few posts in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America daily lectionary for Year B.  Therefore this post seems like an appropriate place to take stock and pull threads together, for the lectionary will look toward the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6) starting with the readings for January 3.  Since December 26 we have covered the following material:

  1. Violent authority figures and suffering innocents,
  2. Peril for young Jesus,
  3. Peril for other faithful people,
  4. The divine commandment to live compassionately,
  5. Mutual responsibility in societies,
  6. The divine commandment to lead disciplined lives, and
  7. Economic exploitation.

To that list James adds putting away jealousy, rivalry, and their evil offspring, some of which the list enumerates.

As I have written many times, fear brings out the worst in people often.  We humans tend to justify violence toward and exploitation of others in the name of taking care of ourselves and those near us and similar to us.  For the same reason we also tend to justify denying others basic civil rights and liberties.  When we do so we hurt ourselves, for we rely on others as much as we bear responsibility for them.  Each of us in our brothers’ and sisters’ keeper.  That which we do others we do to ourselves, but often we do not recognize that reality.

May the new year be a time to focus on compassionate living, which requires one to get outside of oneself and think about the best interests of others.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 9, 2014 COMMON ERA

PROPER 27:  THE TWENTY-SECOND SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF MARTIN CHEMNITZ, GERMAN LUTHERAN THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF BARTON STONE, COFOUNDER OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH (DISCIPLES OF CHRIST)

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/11/10/a-call-to-live-compassionately/

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Devotion for December 31, Year B (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Child Miners 1912

Above:  Juvenile Coal Miners, United States of America, 1908-1912

Photographer = Lewis Hine

Image in the Public Domain

Exploitation

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 31, 2017

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The Collect:

All-powerful and unseen God, the coming of your light

into our world has brightened weary hearts with peace.

Call us out of darkness, and empower us to proclaim the birth of your Son,

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 20

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The Assigned Readings:

1 Kings 3:5-14

Psalm 148

John 8:12-19

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Kings of the earth and all peoples,

princes and all rulers of the world;

Young men and women,

old and young together;

let them praise the name of the Lord.

–Psalm 148:11-12, Common Worship (2000)

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The Old Testament texts are of two minds regarding monarchy, for there are layers of composition in the Hebrew Scriptures.  The prophet Samuel warned people that they did not really want a king, who would raise their taxes, take their daughters, and send their sons to war.  Yet much of the Old Testament tradition has led to faithful people reading of how God chose David the shepherd to become a great, although flawed, monarch.  Much of that good press continued during the reign of King Solomon, who, according to 1 Kings, began his time on the throne with much promise.  Nevertheless, the mixed perspective remained evident, for a post-accession purge preceded the gift of wisdom.  And Solomon used forced labor and other economically exploitative policies, which led to the division of the realm after he died.

The Pharisees of John 8:12-19 also depended on economically exploitative policies for their status and finances.  They also collaborated with the violent Roman Empire, which occupied Judea.  Pharisaic piety depended on wealth, for nobody who was poor and therefore had to work hard for mere survival could satisfy that code.  Thus the words of Jesus made sense:

You do not know me or my Father; if you knew me, you would know my Father too.

–John 8:19, Revised English Bible (1989)

Unfortunately, exploitation seems to be part of human economic and political systems.  Judicial systems favor the wealthy often.  Governments find ways to criminalize poverty and homelessness.  Certain self-identified advocates of capitalism endorse the destructive race toward lower wages, thereby shrinking the middle class and undercutting the economy.  Many employees in developed countries lose their jobs due to globalization and the fact that workers in Third World countries earn less money and often lack even basic protections of their rights, such as to a safe workplace.  Often these Third World workers become disposable employees who place themselves in great peril just to survive.  And why?  The rest of us demand more inexpensive items and corporations desire larger profit margins.

Do we know Jesus and the Father?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 9, 2014 COMMON ERA

PROPER 27:  THE TWENTY-SECOND SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF MARTIN CHEMNITZ, GERMAN LUTHERAN THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF BARTON STONE, COFOUNDER OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH (DISCIPLES OF CHRIST)

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/11/10/exploitation/

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Devotion for December 30, Year B (ELCA Daily Devotion)   1 comment

Charles Finney

Above:  Charles Finney (1792-1866), Who Considered Eating Meat, Drinking Tea, and Reading Secular Novels to Be Self-Indulgent Activities Which No Christian Should Commit

Image in the Public Domain

Two Banquets

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 30, 2017

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The Collect:

All-powerful and unseen God, the coming of your light

into our world has brightened weary hearts with peace.

Call us out of darkness, and empower us to proclaim the birth of your Son,

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 20

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The Assigned Readings:

Proverbs 9:1-12

Psalm 148

2 Peter 3:8-13

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Kings of the earth and all peoples,

princes and all rulers of the world;

Young men and women,

old and young together;

let them praise the name of the Lord.

–Psalm 148:11-12, Common Worship (2000)

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As I read the pericope from Proverbs 9 closely, I noticed two issues regarding it:

  1. Verses 7-12 do not flow naturally from verses 1-6, and
  2. Verses 1-6 and 13-18 constitute a contrast.

One should in fact, read verses 1-6 and 13-18 together.  To do so is to read descriptions of two very different banquets.  One is public, but the other is private.  The first leads to spiritual life, but the second leads to spiritual death.

Divine wisdom, which wisdom literature personifies as a woman, prepares and hosts a banquet for the benefit of the simple.  A banquet is a recurring theme throughout the Bible.  Often the feast functions as a metaphor for the eschaton, as in canonical gospels.  I, a serious student of the Bible, recognize eschatological passages as containing both divine judgment and mercy.

Eschatology is in the foreground in 2 Peter 3:8-13.  The author is arguing against scoffers.  Proverbs 9:7 says that he was calling down abuse on himself, but the author of 2 Peter 3:8-13 was encouraging the faithful to lead good, disciplined lives.  God will establish justice, but that constitutes no excuse for us to become discouraged and lapse in our spiritual discipline, he writes.  Yes, we Christians ought to lead disciplined, not self-indulgent, lives, but that mandate is no reason for us to fall into other errors.  I have read of overly strict Christians (often from the nineteenth century) condemning activities such as reading secular novels, eating meat, drinking tea, and playing chess as self-indulgent and therefore sinful.  These critics needed to relax.  There is, fortunately, a sensible middle ground safely distant from both legalism and an “anything goes” attitude.

Each of us should, of course, enjoy many pleasures sensibly, without idolizing any of them.  And all people have responsibilities to God and others.  We humans are responsible to and for each other.  We are responsible for the ways we treat the environment.  God has given us free will with the responsibility to use it wisely.  May we attend the proper banquet.  May we enjoy and glorify God forever.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 8, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHANN VON STAUPITZ, MARTIN LUTHER’S SPIRITUAL MENTOR

THE FEAST OF JAMES THEODORE HOLLY, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF HAITI

THE FEAST OF JOHN MILTON, POET AND ANGLICAN PRIEST

THE FEAST OF THE SAINTS AND MARTYRS OF THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/11/10/two-banquets/

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