Archive for the ‘Psalm 33’ Tag

Devotion for March 5 in Epiphany/Ordinary Time (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   10 comments

Above:  Triumphal Entry Into Jerusalem

Job and John, Part XXII:  Illusions and Reality

TUESDAY, MARCH 5, 2019

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

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

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

The Assigned Readings:

Job 37:1-24

Psalm 89:1-18 (Morning)

Psalms 1 and 33 (Evening)

John 12:1-19

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

John 12:1-11 provides a version of the story of a woman anointing Jesus.  This time it is Mary of Bethany performing the act at her house.  (For the other versions of the story, follow the links I have provided.)  In this setting the story prefigures the anointing of our Lord’s corpse after his crucifixion.  And the raising of Lazarus in the previous chapter leads to our Lord’s death and prefigures his resurrection.  Even Lazarus is under a death threat from the same people who want to kill Jesus.  The clouds are gathering in John 12.

Job 37 continues Elihu’s speech, which anticipates parts of God’s speech, which follows in the Book of Job.  I discussed my discomfort with Elihu in this post: link.

One should feel uneasy after reading the assigned readings for today.  One who is usually a fool agrees with God.  Lazarus, recently dead then raised to life again, lives under a death threat.  Jesus, who has been living under a death threat, is about to die.  As much as I would like for life to be full of nothing except happiness and kittens, it is not.  That is the mixed bag called reality.  Any honest and faithful response must proceed from that basis, for illusions are useless.

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

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

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/11/06/job-and-john-part-xxii-illusions-and-reality/

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

Devotion for February 26 in Epiphany/Ordinary Time (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   6 comments

Above:  Unhappy Jesus

Job and John, Part XVIII:  Impatience

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2019

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

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

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

The Assigned Readings:

Job 21:1-21

Psalm 33 (Morning)

Psalms 85 and 91 (Evening)

John 8:39-59

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

Why should I not lose my patience?

–Job speaking in Job 21:46, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

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

As I have written more than once already–including in this series of Job and John posts, anyone who speaks of “the patience of Job” as if Job were patient fails to understand the Book of Job correctly.  In fact, Job is quite impatient in Chapter 21.

Likewise, Jesus is far from the embodiment of patience in John 8:39-59.  People accuse him of being possessed.  He also states that his accusers are children of Satan, not of God.  And, at the end, he says,

In all truth I tell you,

before Abraham was,

I am.

–8:58, The New Jerusalem Bible

“I am” is the same in Greek as “I AM” in Hebrew.

I read this part of the Johannine Gospel and recognize that the strained relations between the community of “John” and their fellow Jews at the end of the first century CE shaped the narrative.  How could they not?  We humans tell the past in the context of the present and the recent past.  That is how historical memory works.  Yet I know that relations between Jesus and Palestinian Jewish leaders were frosty at best and hostile at worst.  His crucifixion attests to that reality.  And I take comfort in the fact that the concerted efforts to silence Jesus failed.  Who can kill I AM after he has refused to stay dead?

The portrayal of Jesus in much material intended for children is sanitized.  He almost always nice, at least according to the art in children’s Bibles I have examined.  And our Lord is usually patient and serene.  Why would anyone seek to execute such a nice man?  But read the Gospels.  Jesus was nice to many people yet confrontational toward others.  And he was sometimes impatient and even quite angry.  He made powerful enemies.  Jesus was much more interesting than the serene Savior presented to many children (and adults).  The real Jesus was–and is–a worthy Lord.  The serene Savior is a safe and sanitized fiction.  I am impatient with it.

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

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

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/11/06/job-and-john-part-xviii-impatience/

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

Devotion for February 6 in Epiphany/Ordinary Time (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   2 comments

Above:  The Sea of Galilee, August 15, 2009

Image Source = Jet Propulsion Library, NASA

Job and John, Part III:  Strife

FEBRUARY 6, 2021

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

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

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

The Assigned Readings:

Job 3:11-26

Psalm 89:1-18 (Morning)

Psalms 1 and 33 (Evening)

John 1:35-51

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

Some Related Posts:

The Feast of St. Bartholomew, Apostle and Martyr (August 24):

http://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/06/13/feast-of-st-bartholomew-apostle-and-martyr-august-24/

The Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles and Martyrs (June 29):

http://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/06/12/feast-of-sts-peter-and-paul-apostles-and-martyrs-june-29/

The Feast of Sts. Philip and James, Son of Alpheus, Apostles and Martyrs (May 1):

http://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/06/12/feast-of-st-philip-and-st-james-son-of-alpheus-apostles-and-martyrs-may-1/

The Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle and Martyr (November 30):

http://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/06/10/feast-of-st-andrew-apostle-and-martyr-november-30/

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

Job, early in his suffering, lamented that he had not only been born but survived the day of his birth.  This was understandable, given the circumstances.  (I grasp that the Book of Job is a drama and a work of fiction, yet I write of the scenes in their context.)

In John 1:35-51 Jesus calls his first disciples:  Andrew and Simon Peter, brothers; Philip; and Nathanael/Bartholomew.  All of them died as martyrs.  The moment they began to follow Jesus was the moment they started their journeys toward suffering and death.

I think of a hymn:

They cast their nets in Galilee,

just of the hills of brown;

such happy, simple fisherfolk,

before the Lord came down.

=====

Contented, peaceful fishermen,

before they ever knew

the peace of God that filled their hearts

brimful, and broke them too.

=====

Young John who trimmed the flapping sail,

homeless in Patmos died.

Peter, who hauled the teeming net,

headdown was crucified.

=====

The peace of God, it is no peace,

but strife closed in the sod.

Yet let us pray for but one thing–

the marvelous peace of God.

The Hymnal 1982, of The Episcopal Church, Hymn #661

I do not pretend to have answers I lack.  Yet I do know that I prefer to keep Gods’ company in times of suffering and during times without it.

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

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

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/11/05/job-and-john-part-iii-strife/

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

Devotion for January 9 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   2 comments

Above:  A U-Turn

Image Source = Smurrayinchester

Constructive Criticism

JANUARY 9, 2021

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

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

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

The Assigned Readings:

Ezekiel 3:12-27

Psalm 89:1-18 (Morning)

Psalms 1 and 33 (Evening)

Romans 2:1-16

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

Some Related Posts:

Confession of Sin, 1662:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/01/20/confession-of-sin-1662/

Yom Kippur Litany of Confession:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/09/14/yom-kippur-litany-of-confession/

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

For the ones that God will justify are not those who have heard the Law but those who have kept the Law.

–Romans 2:13, The New Jerusalem Bible

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

In the same way faith, if good deeds do not go with it, is quite dead….You see now that it is by deeds, not only by believing that someone is justified.

–James 2:17, 24, The New Jerusalem Bible

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

The mission of Ezekiel involved dispensing constructive criticism for the purpose of granting one an opportunity to repair one’s ways.  That is repentance–turning around, changing one’s mind.  Often I hear and read examples of people misusing and misunderstanding that word, and I tire of having to define it properly.  This should not be necessary for clarity!  But it is, sadly.

Repentance and the opportunity to engage in it indicates hope.  If one is already condemned irreversibly, there is no point in making that offer.  And the theme of repentance occurs in Romans 2:1-16.  God is abundantly good.  Such generosity calls for human gratitude, not rejection.  Love ought to lead to more love in response.

Then Peter addressed them, “I now really understand, ” he said, “that God has no favourites, but that anybody of any nationality who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.”

–Acts 10:34-35, The New Jerusalem Bible

Paul, like Peter, came to recognize that God spoke to Jews and Gentiles.  Certain Gentiles, Paul indicated, did a better job of obeying parts of the Law than did some Jews.  Those disobedient Jews had no excuse, for it was their Law.  And the Gentiles did not know of the Law, other than the one “engraved on their hearts” (Romans 2:15).

Consider the scandal of this:  Alleged heathens can outmatch some of God’s chosen people in holiness.  As a Gentile, I like the thought.  Yet, as a churchy person, I wonder if I am among the chosen when I analyze the situation to today.  Faith was inherently active for Paul and mainly intellectual for Jams, but both of them agreed that deeds were crucial.  Many times I have struggled to commit good deeds or have avoided them out of selfish motives.  Sometimes I read a passage of scripture and find constructive criticism.  Then I know that I need to repent.

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

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

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/constructive-criticism/

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

Devotion for December 18 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   2 comments

Above:  The Seven Seals

Disturbing Imagery

DECEMBER 18, 2020

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

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

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

The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 34:1-2, 8-35:10

Psalm 33 (Morning)

Psalms 85 and 91 (Evening)

Revelation 6:1-17

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

Isaiah 34 tells the destruction of Edom, a traditional foe of Judah.  Then, in Isaiah 35, we read of the return of exiles from Judah.  There is bad news for some, but it is good news for others.

The reading from Revelation contains part of a vision in progress.  To read the chapter in isolation is to miss what precedes and succeeds it.  The Lamb (Jesus), worthy to break the seals on the scroll, does so.  War, pestilence, and death dominate much of the world.  The martyrs wonder when God will avenge their deaths.  And nature itself seems to come apart.

The imagery, which is disturbing, draws heavily from the Hebrew Scriptures and recent (for the initial audience) events.  The eruption of Mount Vesuvius might have informed the chapter, for example.  And pestilence and death were contemporary in the Roman Empire.  Revolutions erupted in Roman Palestine from time to time, so violence was a recent memory.

How do we interpret disturbing recent events?  Often we seek to see divine wrath in them.  Sometimes we are correct; at other times we are imagining things or adding two and two, arriving at the sum of five.  Yet some timeless lessons persist.  Among them are:

  1. God is in charge, and
  2. Perpetual disobedience to God will not go unpunished.

Especially violent imagery might appeal most to those experiencing oppression, for such imagery tells them that God will avenge them.  That analysis applies to the readings from Isaiah and Revelation.  Yet there is more.  All we need to do to find it is to continue reading.  May we do so.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 1, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE EIGHTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FIRST SUNDAY AFTER CHRISTMAS, YEAR B

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

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/08/09/disturbing-imagery/

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

Devotion for December 11 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   6 comments

Above:  Cross and Crown

Victorious Faith

 DECEMBER 11, 2020

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

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

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

The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 28:14-29

Psalm 33 (Morning)

Psalms 85 and 91 (Evening)

1 John 5:1-21

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

The Johannine tradition, in opposition to Gnosticism, emphasizes the centrality of the Incarnation; Jesus is essential.  He was far more than a wise teacher; he was, in time and space, the incarnation of God.  The author of 1 John has spent preceding chapters writing of the centrality of detachment from the world in opposed to God, of sound Christology, and of active love.  The author is not content with theological abstractions.

Whenever I read the word “faith” in the Bible, I want to know what it means in that particular context.  Authors used that term to in at least three different ways.  So, if I am going to grasp a particular text accurately, I must know what it says in all germane contexts.  The commentaries I have consulted agree that faith, as in 1 John 5:4, is intellectual.  This understanding of faith seems closely related to that one finds in James; faith must be joined with actions.  Therein lies salvation.  That, by the way, is Roman Catholic theology.

I must also write about verse 18, which says that no child of God sins.  A child of God, as established in verse 1, is anyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ.  The translations on verse 18 vary, of course, but the passage, read in contexts of 1 John 5 and the rest of the Bible, means that no child of God is a slave to sin.  We might be children of God, but we are still prone to sin.

Isaiah 24:14-29 condemns treaties the leaders of Judah made with their Assyrian and Egyptian counterparts, hardly trustworthy partners.  Such treaties are in vain, the prophet, quoting God, said.  And Isaiah was correct.  Then, at the end of the passage, we read metaphors for the fate of the northern kingdom (Israel) and the preservation of a remnant of the southern kingdom (Judah).  These are the words of Yahweh, of whom the text says:

His counsel is unfathomable,

His wisdom marvelous.

–Isaiah 28:29, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

Why should one kingdom end for all time and its neighbor survive as a remnant?  And why did God come among us as one of us, beginning as a helpless child?  These are questions one can answer only in God, who has unfathomable counsel and marvelous wisdom.  There is one in whom we can and should believe both intellectually and actively, in whom we can and should have faith, both active and intellectual.  Despite the different uses of “faith” in the Bible, a consensus emerges from the texts:  Faith, essential in the context of a lack of evidence for against a proposition, such as that Jesus in the Christ of God, begins intellectually yet must find expression in works.  There is, in other words, a difference between having faith and agreeing that a proposition is true but not acting on it.  The former makes us victorious.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 11, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF OCTAVIUS HADFIELD, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF WINCHESTER

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

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/08/05/victorious-faith/

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

Devotion for December 4 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   2 comments

Above:  Assyrian Empire

Self-Imposed Exile

DECEMBER 4, 2020

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

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

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

The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 10:12-27, 32b-34

Psalm 33 (Morning)

Psalms 85 and 91 (Evening)

2 Peter 1:1-21

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

A Related Post:

The Remnant:

http://taylorfamilypoems.wordpress.com/2011/08/09/the-remnant/

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

You have been gracious to your land, O LORD,

you have restored the good fortune of Jacob.

You have forgiven the iniquity of your people

and blotted out all their sins.

You have withdrawn all your wrathful indignation.

Restore us then, O God our Savior;

let your anger depart from us.

Will you be displeased with us forever?

will you prolong your anger from age to age?

Will you not give us life again,

that your people may rejoice in you?

–Psalm 85:1-6, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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

For very soon My wrath will have spent itself, and My anger that was bent on wasting them.

–Isaiah 10:25, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

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

But without [goodness, understanding, self-control, perseverance, devotion, and kindness to brothers with love], a person is blind or short-sighted, forgetting how the sins of the past were washed away.

–2 Peter 1:9, The New Jerusalem Bible

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

God will destroy the Assyrian Empire, Isaiah told his audience.  Not only that, a remnant of Judah will return and God’s anger will run its course.  One might flip forward to Isaiah 40 and read:

Comfort, oh comfort, My people,

Says your God.

Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,

And declare to her

That her term of service is over,

That her iniquity is expiated,

For she has received at the hand of the LORD

Double for all her sins.

–Isaiah 40:1-2, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

Divine anger which led to the destruction of Assyria will end.  Divine anger which led to the Assyrian and Babylonian Exiles will run its course.  But Assyria did not rise again.  In contrast, exiles from Judah did return to their ancestral homeland.

The author of 2 Peter told his audience to lie in goodness, understanding, self-control, perseverance, and devotion, and to be kind to one’s Christian brothers (and sisters) in love.  By so doing, he wrote, the knowledge of Jesus Christ would be neither ineffectual nor unproductive.  Yet without them, one forgets that God has washed our sins away.

If we live as if God has not forgiven certain sins, we go about our lives entrapped in our ignorance and illusions.  We become prisoners of a lie, or at least a misunderstanding.  We live in a self-imposed exile.  This is most unfortunate.  What might we do for God if we were living as the free people we are?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 9, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE HOLY MEN OF THE OLD TESTAMENT

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

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/08/05/self-imposed-exile/

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

Devotion for November 27 in Advent (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   12 comments

Above:  Christ Pantocrator

Living Faith Versus Insincere Rituals and Ossified Doctrine

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 27, 2016

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

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 eternal 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

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

The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 1:1-28

Psalm 33 (Morning)

Psalms 85 and 91 (Evening)

1 Peter 1:1-12

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

A Prayer for Proper Priorities:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/09/22/a-prayer-for-proper-priorities/

O Lord, You Gave Your Servant John:

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

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

Wash yourselves clean;

Put your evil things

Away from My sight.

Cease to do evil;

Learn to do good.

Devote yourselves to justice;

Aid the wronged.

Uphold the rights of the orphan;

Defend the cause of the widow.

–Isaiah 1:16-17a, TANAKH:   The Holy Scriptures

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

For the word of the LORD is right,

and all his judgments are sure.

He loves righteousness and justice;

the loving-kindness of the LORD fills the whole earth.

–Psalm 33:4-5, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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

This is a great joy to you, even though for a short time yet you must bear all sorts of trials; so that the worth of your faith, more valuable than gold, which is perishable even if it has been tested by fire, may be proved–to your praise and glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.  You have not seen him, yet you love him, and still without seeing him you believe in him and so are already filled with a joy so glorious that it cannot be described; and you are sure of the goal of your faith, that is, the salvation of your souls.

–1 Peter 1:6-9, The New Jerusalem Bible

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

Rituals can have great value and convey great meaning.  Yet a ritual without sincerity is like a special effect without a relevant plot point; it is meaningless and distracting.  And what constitutes sincerity in this setting?  Isaiah tells us that holiness is the essential element, and that the standard for holiness is objective:  love of one’s fellow human beings and pursuit of social justice.  After all, as we read in Genesis 1, each person bears the image of God.  Faith, when it is what it ought to be, in inherently active.  So Christian faith, rooted in following the example of Jesus, must entail reaching out to the marginalized, as our Lord did.

This devotion is for a fixed date, one which can fall in either Advent or the Season after Pentecost, depending on the day of the week on which December 25 falls. The readings work well on both sides of the seasonal boundary line.  An old name for the Season after Pentecost or the latter part thereof is Kingdomtide, with an emphasis on demonstrated righteousness.  And Advent, as a preparatory season for Christmas, contains a penitential element.

The take-away for today is this:  Are you, O reader, keeping rituals yet mocking God by not even trying to uphold human dignity?  If so, what will you do about that?  The Incarnation of Jesus affirms the dignity of human nature, does it not?  Faith ought to be about lived orthodoxy, not adherence to fossilized and ossified doctrine consisting mostly or entirely of words.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 1, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST FROM NICHOLAS FERRAR, ANGLICAN DEACON

THE FEAST OF SAINT CHARLES DE FOUCAULD, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT

THE FEAST OF SAINT EDMUND CAMPION, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT ELIGIUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

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

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/07/16/living-faith-versus-insincere-rituals-and-ossified-doctrine/

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

Week of 8 Epiphany: Thursday, Year 1   10 comments

Above:  Jesus Healing the Blind Man (circa 1625-1650), by Eustache Le Sueur

The Creative Power of Words

NOT OBSERVED IN 2019

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

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.

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

Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 42:15-25 (Revised English Bible):

How shall I call to mind the works of the Lord

and describe what I have seen,

his works which by his word were made.

As everything is illumined by the rays of the sun,

so the works of the Lord are full of his glory.

Even to the angels the Lord has not given the power

to tell the full tale of the marvels

accomplished by the Lord Almighty,

so that the universe may stand firm in his glory.

He fathoms both the abyss and the human heart,

he is versed in their intricacies;

for the Most High possesses all knowledge,

and the signs of the times are under his eye.

He discloses both past and future,

and lays bare the traces of secret things.

No thought escapes his notice,

and not a single word is hidden from him.

He has set in order the masterpieces of his wisdom,

he who is One from eternity to eternity;

nothing is added, nothing taken away,

and he needs none to give him counsel.

How pleasing is all that he has made,

even the smallest spark the eye can see!

His works endure, all of them active for ever

and all responsive to their several functions.

All things go in pairs, one counterpart of the other;

he has made nothing incomplete.

One thing supplements the virtues of another.

Of his glory who can ever see too much?

Psalm 33:1-9 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 Rejoice in the LORD, you righteous;

it is good for the just to sing praises.

2 Praise the LORD with the harp;

play to him upon the psaltery and lyre.

3 sing for him a new song;

sound a fanfare with all your skill upon the trumpet.

4 For the word of the LORD is right,

and all of his works are sure.

5 He loves righteousness and justice;

the loving-kindness of the LORD fills the whole earth.

6 By the word of the LORD were the heavens made,

by the breath of his mouth all the heavenly hosts.

7 He gathers up the waters of the ocean as in a water-skin

and stores up the depths of the sea.

8 Let all the earth fear the LORD;

let all who dwell in the world stand in awe of him.

9 For he spoke, and it came to pass;

he commanded, and it stood fast.

Mark 10:46-52 (Revised English Bible):

They came to Jericho; and as he was leaving the town, with his disciples and a large crowd, Bartimaeus (that is, son of Timaeus), a blind beggar, was seated at the roadside.  Hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout,

Son of David, Jesus, have pity on me!

Many of the people told him to hold his tongue; but he shouted all the more,

Son of David, have pity on me.

Jesus stopped and said,

Call him;

so they called the blind man:

Take heart;

they said.

Get up; he is calling you.

At that he threw off his cloak, jumped to his feet, and came to Jesus.  Jesus said to him,

What do you want me to do for you?

The blind man answered,

Rabbi, I want my sight back.

Jesus said to him,

Go; your faith as healed you.

At once he recovered his sight and followed him on the road.

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

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.

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

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.

The old saying I have quoted above is a lie.  Many of us know this from experience, do we not?  My point is this:  words have the power to create a new reality.

According the Jewish mythology incorporated into the Christian Bible, God spoke the universe into existence.  And, as the psalmist and Ben Sira remind us, the created order spoken into existence is majestic, beautiful, and abounding in divine wisdom. I am sufficiently panentheistic (without falling into anti-scientific notions such as creationism) to perceive God in nature, from a sunset to cricket chirps.  Nature is especially beautiful when one regards it as an expression of the sacred.  One does not exploit what one regards as sacred, and environmental stewardship becomes a religious duty, not just a biological imperative.  No, one stands in awe in the presence of what one regards as sacred, and one seeks and finds the words of God there.   Maybe the crickets chirp them.  One does not know for sure until one listens closely enough for long enough.

Speaking of the presence of the sacred, we have the story of Jesus, en route to Jerusalem for Passover, healing blind Bartimaeus.  This is a good time to point out where we are in the Markan narrative.  The book has sixteen chapters; we are at the end of Chapter 10.  Jesus is traveling to Jerusalem for his last celebration of the Passover.  He will die very soon.  He is a man with quite a bit on his mind, but not too much to help this blind man others are trying to keep quiet.

Bartimaeus, the author of the Gospel of Mark tells us, was a blind beggar.  He had little, and his disability rendered him marginal in his society.  Ancient blindness had a variety of causes, ranging from being born that way to having a diet lacking sufficient vitamins to experiencing eye diseases to suffering the effects of bird droppings.  There was a common cultural belief in First Century C.E. Palestine that blindness and other physical ailments resulted from sin; this point arises more than once in the canonical gospels.  So here we have Bartimaeus, who cannot earn a living because he is blind, and whom others regard as unusually sinful.

He hears that Jesus is passing by.  So Bartimaeus seizes his opportunity and calls out to Jesus.  Our Lord and Savior hears these persistent pleas and answers them.  With words Bartimaeus helps create his new reality (one of sight), and with words Jesus completes the process.  And what does Bartimaeus do next?  He follows Jesus on the road to Jerusalem.

I think that the end of this story contains a deeper level of meaning.  Of course Bartimaeus follows Jesus for the remaining fifteen miles to Jerusalem for Passover.  But he follows Jesus in a non-literal way, too.  Bartimaeus follows Jesus for the rest of his life, however long or short that may be.  His ending might not be pleasant, assuming the full meaning of the metaphor.   Yet what time he has left is dedicated to following Jesus, and that is a high calling indeed.

And it began with a simple, persistent plea for mercy.  It started with words.

Ben Sira asks a profound question:

Of his glory who can ever see too much?

I suspect that, had someone asked Bartimaeus this question over a week after the healing, he would have said that nobody can ever see too much divine glory.  He saw more than he expected he would on that day when Jesus passed by, and everything he witnessed changed his life.

Words have the power to create.  What will the results of your words be?

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/01/19/the-creative-power-of-words/

Week of 6 Epiphany: Friday, Year 1   9 comments

Above:  Plan for Versailles Palace and Its Grounds, 1746

Monuments to Human Egos

FEBRUARY 22, 2019

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

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.

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

Genesis 11:1-9 (Revised English Bible):

There was a time when all the world spoke a single language and used the same words.  As people journeyed in the east, they came upon a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there.  They said to one another,

Come, let us make bricks and bake them hard;

they used bricks for stone and bitumen for mortar.  Then they said,

Let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens and make a name for ourselves, or we shall be dispersed over the face of the earth.

The LORD came down to see the city and tower which they had built, and he said,

Here they are, one people with a single language, and now they have started to do this; from now on nothing they have a mind to do will be beyond their reach.  Come, let us go down there and confuse their language, so that they will not understand what they say to one another.

So the LORD dispersed them from there all over the earth, and they left off building the city.  That is why it is called Babel, because there the LORD made a babble  of the language of the whole world.   It was from that place the LORD scattered people over the face of the earth.

Psalm 33:6-18 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

6 By the word of the LORD were the heavens made,

by the breath of his mouth all the heavenly hosts,

7 He gathers up the waters of the ocean as in a water-skin,

and stores up the depths of the sea.

8 Let all the earth fear the LORD;

let all who dwell in the world stand in awe of him.

9 For he spoke, and it came to pass;

he commanded, and it stood fast.

10 The LORD brings the will of the nations to naught;

he thwarts the designs of the peoples.

11 But the LORD’s will stands fast for ever,

and the designs of his heart from age to age.

12 Happy is the nation whose God is the LORD!

happy the people he has chosen to be his own!

13 The LORD looks down from heaven,

and beholds all the people in the world.

14 From where he sits enthroned he turns his gaze

on all who dwell on the earth.

15 He fashions all the hearts of them

and understands all their works.

16 There is no king that can be saved by a mighty army;

a strong man is not delivered by his great strength.

17 The horse is a vain hope for deliverance;

for all its strength it cannot save.

18 Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon those who fear him,

on those who wait upon his love,

19 To pluck their lives from death,

and to feed them in time of famine.

20 Our soul waits for the LORD;

he is our help and our shield.

21 Indeed, our heart rejoices in him,

for in his holy Name we put our trust.

22 Let your loving-kindness, O LORD, be upon us,

as we have put our trust in you.

Mark 8:34-9:1 (Revised English Bible):

Then he called the people to him, as well as his disciples, and said to them,

Anyone who wants to be a follower of mine must renounce self; he must take up his cross and follow me.  Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and for the gospel’s will save it.  What does anyone gain by winning the whole world at the cost of his life?  What can he give to buy his life back?  If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this wicked and godless age, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him, when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

He said to them,

Truly I tell you:  there are some of those standing here who will not taste death before they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.

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

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.

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

Versailles Palace, outside Paris, France, is a tourist attraction and an art museum today.  Yet it began as a hunting lodge for King Louis XIII (reigned 1610-1643).  It was certainly a very nice hunting lodge, but it was not a palace.  Louis XIV, the “Sun King” (reigned 1643-1715) began the process of expanding the hunting lodge into a palace, and made it the seat of his court and the architectural symbol of his absolutist rule.  Versailles Palace was a monument to the royal ego.

We students of history know what happened to that royal line, do we not? Hint:  The French Revolution.  Afterward, three kings governed France, and two of those died in exile.  The last king had to evacuate his throne in 1848.

Monuments to human egos outlast the people who build them.

Let us turn now from history to mythology, whereby the Book of Genesis provides a fictional account of the origin of languages.  (Study linguistics for the actual account.)  The people in the city in this myth seek to disobey the divine command to spread out across the planet.  So they establish a building program, one goal of which is to establish their name.  This is about ego.  So God gives them no choice but to obey his command.  The actual meaning of the name “Babylon” is “Gate of God,” which the city in the myth does not become.

Jesus points away from ego and disobedience.  He says to renounce self, take up a cross, and follow him.  Therein lies spiritual life, which no mere mortal can take away from us.  This is life as the worshipers of ego do not recognize it, and it is superior to their concept.  Our glory is in God, not ourselves.

You might have noticed, O reader, Mark 9:1, in which Jesus says:

Truly I tell you:  there are some of those standing here who will not taste death before they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.

This text begs one overriding question:  What is the Kingdom of God in this saying?  Let us use textual context.  Consider Mark 1:14-15 (Revised English Bible):

After John had been arrested, Jesus came into Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God:  “The time has arrived; the kingdom of God is upon you. Repent, and believe the Gospel.”

The ministry of Jesus inaugurated the Kingdom of God.

Mark 9:2 begins an account of the Transfiguration of Jesus.  Let us distinguish between the Kingdom of God coming in power and people seeing the Kingdom of God coming in power.  At this point (9:1)  in Mark, the Kingdom of God has come in power, that is, the power working through Jesus.  People will realize this very shortly, Jesus is saying.  The Transfiguration reveals this fact to Apostles, and the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus render the Messianic Secret no longer a secret.  Furthermore, the surviving eleven Apostles, as history tells us, spread the Good News of Jesus far abroad.

The definition of the Kingdom of God is ambiguous here, but it pertains to the authority of Jesus.  Evil continues to exist, of course, but (to get jump ahead in the story) the resurrection of Jesus demonstrates the superior power of God in Jesus.  This is one theological understanding of the Atonement present in the writings of Church Fathers.

I posit that since Jesus inaugurated the Kingdom of God almost two thousand years ago, it is still here on the earth.  Appearances might seem to indicate otherwise, but consider this:  The presence of Jesus on earth did not mark the end of the Roman domination of Judea and terminate injustice.  Recall that part of the message of the Gospel of Mark is to argue against the idea of conqueror Messiah.  (See the devotional for the Week of 6 Epiphany:  Thursday, Year 1.)  So why, if we are paying attention, should we expect the continued presence of the Kingdom of God among the faithful to accomplish anything similar in our time and place?

But let us follow Jesus, sacrificing that which God commands us to sacrifice, obediently.  There is justice with God, and the schedule for that is beyond human comprehension.  So be it.  May we seek to become what we can in God, and not to strike out in foolish directions.  God will handle the rest.

KRT