Archive for the ‘Psalm 51’ Tag

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

Wise and Foolish Virgins

Above: The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins, by William Blake

Image in the Public Domain

Disobedience to God, Part II

JANUARY 16, 2021

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The Collect:

Thanks be to you, Lord Jesus Christ, most merciful redeemer,

for the countless blessings and benefits you give.

May we know you more clearly,

love you more dearly,

and follow you more nearly,

day by day praising you, with the Father and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever. Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 22

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The Assigned Readings:

1 Samuel 2:21-21-25

Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18

Matthew 25:1-13

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Yahweh, you examine me and know me,

you know when I sit, when I rise,

you understand my thoughts from afar.

You watch me when I walk or lie down,

you know every detail of my conduct.

–Psalm 139:1-3, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

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Almighty God,

to whom all hearts are open,

all desires known,

and from whom no secrets are hidden:

cleanse the thoughts of our hearts

by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,

that we may perfectly love you,

and worthily magnify your holy name;

through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Common Worship (2000)

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The roots of the Anglican Collect for Purity, a contemporary version of which I have quoted immediately above, reach back to the 1200s C.E., although the echoes of Psalms, especially Psalm 51, take its history back much further.  The theology of the collect fits today’s devotion well.  The first question of the Larger (Westminster) Catechism asks:

What is the chief and highest end of man?

The answer is:

Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him forever.

–Quoted in Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), The Book of Confessions (1996), page 201

Fulfilling that high spiritual calling requires grace as well as a positive human response to God.  Grace marks that affirmative response possible.  Thus we exist in the midst of grace.  But what will we do with it?  There is, after all, the matter of free will.

The readings for today contain cautionary tales.  Eli was the priest prior to Samuel.  Eli’s sons were notorious and unrepentant sinners.  Their father rebuked them, but not as often and as sternly as he should have done.  Even if he had rebuked them properly, he could not have forced them to amend their attitudes and actions, for which they paid the penalty.  Eli’s successor became someone outside his family; that was the price he paid.  As for the foolish bridesmaids, they did not maintain their supply of lamp oil, as was their responsibility.

Some spiritual tasks we must perform for ourselves.  We cannot perform them for others, nor can others perform them for us.  Others can encourage us, assist us, and point us in the right direction, but only we can attend to certain tasks in our spiritual garden.  Will we do this or not?

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KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 19, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHANN HERMANN SCHEIN, GERMAN LUTHERAN COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF SAINT ELIZABETH OF HUNGARY, PRINCESS

THE FEAST OF F. BLAND TUCKER, EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF FRANZ SCHUBERT, COMPOSER

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/11/21/disobedience-to-god-part-ii/

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Devotion for March 6 and 7 in Epiphany/Ordinary Time (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   7 comments

Above:  Christ Pantocrator

Job and John, Part XXIII:  Overturning Expectations

NOT OBSERVED IN 2019

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Job 38:1-18 (March 6)

Job 40:1-24 (March 7)

Psalm 97 (Morning–March 6)

Psalm 51 (Morning–March 7)

Psalms 16 and 62 (Evening–March 6)

Psalms 142 and 65 (Evening–March 7)

John 12:30-36a (March 6)

John 12:36b-50 (March 7)

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The glorification of Jesus in the Gospel of John is his crucifixion.  This is an unlikely glorification, for crucifixion was a humiliating and protracted form of execution.  And, according to the Law of Moses, one who died on a tree was cursed.  Yet Jesus was not cursed.  He was, in the Johannine Gospel, the Passover Lamb, for he died on the cross on the same day that sacrificial animals met their fates at the Temple.

Overturning expectations seems to be one of the things God does.  This is both comforting and disturbing.  I would prefer that God apologize to Job, but that is not how the Book of Job reads.  That disturbs me.  Yet I derive comfort from God transmuting shame into honor and glory, as in the case of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.  As for my doubts, questions, and causes for discomfort, I take them to God.

Until the next segment of our journey….

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 27, 2012 COMMON ERA

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

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

THE FEAST OF THE EARLY ABBOTS OF CLUNY

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH WARRILOW, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/11/06/job-and-john-part-xxiii-overturning-expectations/

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Devotion for February 18 and 19 in Epiphany/Ordinary Time (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   6 comments

Above:  Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, Covington, Georgia, August 28, 2011

Image Source = Bill Monk, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

Job and John, Part XII:  Taking Offense at God

FEBRUARY 18 and 19, 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 13:13-28 (February 18)

Job 14:1-22 (February 19)

Psalm 51 (Morning–February 18)

Psalm 54 (Morning–February 19)

Psalms 85 and 47 (Evening–February 18)

Psalms 28 and 99 (Evening–February 19)

John 6:22-40 (February 18)

John 6:41-59 (February 19)

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Job argued that God was omnipotent and was, in his case, abusing power.  His alleged friends agreed with him that God was omnipotent yet insisted that there was no abuse of power, for Job must have deserved such grave suffering.  Jesus, in John 6, spoke of his flesh as being

the living bread which has come down from heaven…for the life of the world (verse 51, The New Jerusalem Bible)

This comparison ran afoul of Jewish sensibilities.  God does offend us from time to time.

Job was correct; he did not deserve such grave suffering.  That reality “did not compute” with his alleged friends.  I argue that Job was correct to take offense at God, given the narrative the Book of Job provides for me to read and ponder.  As for sensibilities surrounding flesh and blood, the language in John 6 does seem similar to cannibalism, does it not?  But I affirm Transubstantiation, so I trust that I take the body and blood of Jesus into my body each week.  I have learned not to take offense.

Taking offense at God is a difficult situation.  When is it excusable or appropriate?  This, I suppose, is a question one needs to address on a case-by-case basis.  Usually, however, I propose that it is inappropriate.

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-xii-taking-offense-at-god/

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Devotion for February 7 and 8 in Epiphany/Ordinary Time (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   2 comments

Above:  Job and His Alleged Friends

Job and John, Part IV:  Ideology

FEBRUARY 7 and 8, 2021

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Job 4:1-21 (February 7)

Job 5:1-27 (February 8)

Psalm 97 (Morning–February 7)

Psalm 51 (Morning–February 8)

Psalms 16 and 62 (Evening–February 7)

Psalms 142 and 65 (Evening–February 8)

John 2:1-12 (February 7)

John 2:13-25 (February 8)

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I have combined the readings for February 7 and 8 to keep Eliphaz the Temanite material together.  Doing this has another effect:  keeping miracle at Cana and the Johannine account of the cleansing of the Temple together.  Shall we proceed?

Job had bad excuses for friends.  Exhibit A is Eliphaz the Temanite, who defended his concept of God by insisting that Job must have done something to warrant suffering.  After all, in Eliphaz’s view, the good prospered and the bad suffered.  This was demonstrably false theology.  Just look around:  Truly bad people prosper and morally sound people suffer.  The Gospel of John, like all canonical Gospels, written from a post-Resurrection perspective, places a prediction of our Lord’s suffering at the beginning of our Lord’s suffering at the beginning of the text.  If Eliphaz was correct, Jesus should not have suffered.  But he did.  So Eliphaz was incorrect.

There is more to John 2:1-25.  The story of the miracle at Cana speaks of extravagance.  In Jesus, it tells us, was something new–well, old really–but new relative to the perspective of the people at the time–and unstinting.  This was not a rejection of Judaism; rather it emerged from Judaism.  Jesus was, after all, a practicing Jew.  Yet the cleansing of the Temple–placed at the beginning of our Lord’s ministry in John, in contrast to the Synoptic chronology–did indicate a rejection of the Temple system, which placed undue burdens on those who could least afford them.  Money changers profited from the religious imperative to exchange idolatrous Roman currency before buying a sacrificial animal.  But Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice in time.

The character of Eliphaz the Temanite experienced cognitive dissonance over Job’s sufferings.  Eliphaz resolved that dissonance by doubling down on his ideology, even though evidence contradicted it.  The emergence of Jesus pointed to a new (to humans) approach to God.  In each case predictable conservatism clung to the old ways of thinking.  But the dogmas of the past were inadequate to the demands of the then-current reality.  Conservatism is not inherently bad; it is just not appropriate at all times and in all places.  The question concerns what one seeks to conserve.  Sometimes a revolutionary is just what God ordered.

May our assumptions–especially those so deeply embedded that we do not think of them as assumptions–not prevent us from recognizing God’s ways of working.  And may these assumptions not blind us to our own errors.

Until the next segment of our journey….

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 13, 2012 COMMON ERA

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

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

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARTIN I, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF MIKAEL AGRICOLA, FINNISH LUTHERAN BISHOP OF TALLINN

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/11/05/job-and-john-part-iv-ideology/

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Devotion for January 21 and 22 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   9 comments

Above:  The Prophet Joel

Stereotypes of God

JANUARY 21 and 22, 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:

Joel 1:1-20 (January 21)

Joel 2:1-17 (January 22)

Psalm 51 (Morning–January 21)

Psalm 54 (Morning–January 22)

Psalms 85 and 47 (Evening–January 21)

Psalms 28 and 99 (Evening–January 17)

Romans 10:1-21 (January 21)

Romans 11:1-24 (January 22)

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Rend your hearts

Rather than your garment,

And turn back to the LORD, your God.

For He is gracious and compassionate,

slow to anger, abounding in kindness,

And renouncing punishment.

Who knows but He may turn and relent,

And leave a blessing behind

For meal offering and drink offering

To the LORD your God?

–Joel 2:13-14, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

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Now suppose that some branches were broken off, and you are wild olive, grafted among the rest to share with the others the rich sap of the olive tree….

–Romans 11:17, The New Jerusalem Bible

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Sometimes a lectionary is too choppy.  At such occasions extended readings are appropriate.  Such is the case with the readings for January 21 and 22 on the daily lectionary from the Lutheran Service Book (2006).

The Book of Joel, from the Persian period (539-332 B.C.E.) of Jewish history, opens with frightening images.  Read the first chapter, O reader of this post, for full effect.  Locusts, flames, and other forces have devastated the land.  And, as Chapter 2 opens, the terrifying Day of the LORD approaches.  The earth trembles, the sky shakes, and stars go dark.  Yet even then there is the possibility of forgiveness, assuming repentance, or turning around.

Paul spends Romans 10 and 11 dealing with the question of Jews who have rejected Jesus.  In this context he likens Gentiles to branches grafted onto the tree of Judaism.  Gentiles, he advises, ought not to become proud and dismissive.  As much as there is divine mercy, there is also divine judgment–for Jews and Gentiles alike.

There is an often repeated misunderstanding about God as He comes across in the Hebrew Scriptures.  The God of the Old Testament, we hear, is mean, violent, and vengeful.  This is a gross oversimplification–read Joel 2 for evidence of that statement.  I am convinced that some of the violent imagery and some of the stories containing it result from humans projecting their erroneous assumptions upon God.  Yet I refuse to say that all–or even most–of such incidents flow from that practice.  I seek, O reader, to avoid any stereotype–frightful or cuddly–about God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 31, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARIA SKOBTSOVA, ORTHODOX MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT BENJAMIN, ORTHODOX DEACON AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF FRANCIS ASBURY, U.S. METHODIST BISHOP

THE FEAST OF JOHN DONNE, POET AND ANGLICAN PRIEST

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/10/05/stereotypes-of-god/

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Devotion for January 11 and 12 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   10 comments

 

Above:  A Shepherd

Who Are Our Shepherds?

JANUARY 11 and 12, 2021

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Ezekiel 33:1-20 (January 11)

Ezekiel 34:1-24 (January 12)

Psalm 51 (Morning–January 11)

Psalm 104 (Morning–January 12)

Psalms 142 and 65 (Evening–January 11)

Psalms 118 and 111 (Evening–January 12)

Romans 3:1-18 (January 11)

Romans 3:19-31 (January 12)

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Some Related Posts:

O Thou Who Art the Shepherd:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/10/20/o-thou-who-art-the-shepherd/

Shepherd of Tender Youth:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/10/19/shepherd-of-tender-youth/

Very Bread, Good Shepherd, Tend Us:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/09/27/very-bread-good-shepherd-tend-us/

Shepherd of Souls:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/09/07/shepherd-of-souls-by-james-montgomery/

The King of Love My Shepherd Is:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/08/01/the-king-of-love-my-shepherd-is/

Litany of the Good Shepherd:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/17/litany-of-the-good-shepherd/

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God’s saving justice was witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, but now it has been revealed altogether apart from law:  God’s saving justice given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.

–Romans 3:21-22, The New Jerusalem Bible

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I Myself will graze my flock, and I Myself will let them lie down–declares the Lord GOD.  I will look for the lost, and I will bandage the injured, and I will sustain the weak; and the fat and the healthy ones I will destroy, and I will tend them rightly.

–Ezekiel 34:15-16, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

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I have written one post to cover material for two days because, after having written many devotional blog entries, I do not know what else to say about the January 11 content.  The texts, I think, make their points succinctly.  Yet the January 12 content does lend itself to my comments.

Pauline theology holds that the Law of Moses served its purpose in its time.  Yet now that Jesus has arrived on the scene, a new stage of salvation history has begun.  That is a simplification, but hopefully not an excessive one.  Linking Romans 3:19-31 with Ezekiel 34:1-24  works well, for the prophet, channeling God, condemned false and bad shepherds, such as certain kings.  A good and divine shepherd, identified as God, would step in, set matters right, and find the stray sheep.  And, of course, the Good Shepherd is an image for Jesus in the Gospels.

We modern readers, especially those not in frequent contact with sheep or shepherds, need to recall that shepherds were not highly respected people in the times of Ezekiel, Jesus, and Paul.  Shepherds were necessary, but they were not respectable.  They were, in fact, smelly.  Yet this profession provided imagery for God (Yahweh/Adonai) and Jesus.  One might draw several useful points from this fact, but I focus on one here.  Channeling an attitude from Ezekiel 34, we ought not to look down upon those among us who perform necessary work we might deem undesirable.  The job titles vary from place to place.  In Georgia, my home, the “shepherds” are Latin American migrants who work mostly on farms.  These individuals merit our respect, not our disdain.

Each of us bears the image of God; may we think of and treat each other accordingly.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 15, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ZACHARY, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF EDMUND MUSKIE, UNITED STATES SENATOR AND SECRETARY OF STATE

THE FEAST OF SAINT LOUISE DE MARILLAC, COFOUNDER OF THE DAUGHTERS OF CHARITY

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/who-are-our-shepherds/

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Week of 7 Epiphany: Tuesday, Year 2   13 comments

Above:  Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Image Source = Turelio

True Greatness = Serving Others

NOT OBSERVED THIS YEAR

FEBRUARY 25, 2014

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

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James 4:1-12 (Revised English Bible):

What causes fighting and quarrels among you?  Is not their origin the appetites that war in your bodies?  You want what you cannot have, so you murder; you are envious, and cannot attain your ambition, so you quarrel and fight.  You do not get what you want, because you pray from the wrong motives, in order to squander what you get on your pleasures.  Unfaithful creatures!  Surely you know that love of the world means enmity to God?  Whoever chooses to be the world’s friend makes himself God’s enemy.  Or do you suppose that scripture has not point when it says that the spirit which God implanted in us is filled with envious longings?  But the grace he gives is stronger; thus scriptures says,

God opposes the arrogant and gives grace to the humble.

Submit then to God.  Stand up to the devil, and he will turn and run.  Come close to God, and he will draw close to you.  Sinners, make your hands clean; you whose motives are mixed, see that your hearts are pure.  Be sorrowful, mourn, and weep.  Turn your laughter into mourning and your gaiety into gloom.  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

Friends, you must never speak ill of one another.  He who speaks ill of a brother or passes judgement on him speaks ill of the law and judges the law.  But if you judge the law, you are not keeping it but sitting in judgment upon it.  There is only one lawgiver and judge:  he who is able to save life or destroy it.  So who are you to judge your neighbour?

Psalm 51:1-18 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

11 Create in me a clean heart, O God,

and renew a right spirit within me.

12 Cast me not away from your presence

and take not your holy Spirit from me.

13 Give me the joy of your saving help again

and sustain me with your bountiful Spirit.

14 I shall teach your ways to the wicked,

and sinners shall return to you.

15 Deliver me from death, O God,

and my tongue shall sing of your righteousness,

O God of my salvation.

16 Open my lips, O Lord,

and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.

17  Had you desired it, I would have offered sacrifice,

but you take no pleasure in burnt-offerings.

18  The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit;

a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Mark 9:30-37 (Revised English Bible):

They left that district and made their way through Galilee.  Jesus did not want anyone to know, because he was teaching his disciples, and telling them,

The Son of Man is now to be handed over into the power of men, and they will kill him; and three days after being killed he will rise again.

But they did not understand what he said, and were afraid to ask.

So they came to Capernaum; and when he had gone indoors, he asked them,

What were you arguing about on the way?

They were silent, because on the way they had been discussing which one of them was the greatest.  So he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them,

If anyone wants to be first, he must make himself the last of all and servant of all.

Then he took a child, set him in front of them, and put his arm round him.

Whoever receives a child like this in my name,

he said,

receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.

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The Collect:

O Lord, you have taught us that without love whatever we do is worth nothing: Send your Holy Spirit and pour into our hearts your greatest gift, which is love, the true bond of peace and of all virtue, without which whoever lives is accounted dead before you. Grant this for the sake of your only Son Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Week of 7 Epiphany:  Tuesday, Year 1:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/11/01/week-of-7-epiphany-tuesday-year-1/

Matthew 17 and 18 (Parallel to Mark 9):

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/02/03/week-of-proper-14-monday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/02/04/week-of-proper-14-tuesday-year-1/

Luke 9 (Parallel to Mark 9):

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/04/14/week-of-proper-20-saturday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/04/16/week-of-proper-21-monday-year-1/

A Germane Hymn Text:

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

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Humility is a topic I have covered in other devotional posts, for many passages of scripture address it.  So most of what I write here duplicates the essence of what I have written elsewhere.

True greatness comes in service to others.  Jesus modeled this behavior, and some of the Apostles did not learn the lesson immediately.  But the life of Mother Teresa of Calcutta exemplified the principle of service which our Lord taught by his words and deeds.  Not everyone has a vocation to help the poor of Calcutta, but every person does have a calling to help others as able.  Given the variety of needs, there is a wide range of ways to help others.

Sometimes we judge others, claiming that they do not do enough.  But we have limited knowledge of the circumstances they must face and the resources they have at their disposal.  And maybe they are doing certain good works anonymously.  Furthermore, God knows better than we do how others ought to help.

Mother Teresa said at least once that God calls us to be faithful, not successful.  Of all the messages contained in these readings and this devotional, that might be the most counter-cultural, the one we need to hear the most.  In faithfulness we will find true greatness, that is, greatness as God defines it.  May we succeed in that, by grace.

KRT

Week of 3 Epiphany: Saturday, Year 2   13 comments

Above:  Nathan and King David

Contrition and Consequences

FEBRUARY 1, 2020

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

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2 Samuel 12:1-25 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

And the LORD sent Nathan to David.  He came to him, and said to him,

There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor.  The rich man had very man flocks and herds; but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought.  And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children; it used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup, and lie in his bosom, and it was like a daughter to him.  Now there was a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb, and prepared it for the man who had come to him.

Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan,

As the LORD lives, the man who has done this deserves to die; and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.

Nathan said to David,

You are the man.  Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, “I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul; and I gave you your master’s house, and your master’s wives into your bosom, and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah; and if this were too little, I would add to you as much more.  Why have you despised the word of the LORD, to do what is evil in his sight?  You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and have taken his wife to be your wife, and have slain him with the sword of the Ammonites.  Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.”  Thus says the LORD, “Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes, and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives int he sight of this sun.  For you did it secretly; but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.”

David said to Nathan,

I have sinned against the LORD.

And Nathan said to David,

The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die.  Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the LORD, the child that is born to you shall die.

Then Nathan went to his house.

And the LORD struck the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and it became sick.  David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in lay all night upon the ground.  And the elders of his house stood beside him, to raise him from the ground; but he would not, nor did he eat food with them.  On the seventh day the child died.  And the servants of David feared to tel him that the child was dead; for they said,

Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spoke to him, and did not listen to us; how then can we say to him the child is dead?  He may do himself some harm.

But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David perceived that the child was dead; and David said to his servants,

Is the child dead?

They said,

He is dead.

Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he went into the house of the LORD, and worshiped; he then went to his own house; and when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate.  Then his servants said to him,

What is this thing that you have done?  You fasted and wept for the child while it was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.

He said,

While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, “Who knows whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?”  But now he is dead; why should I fast?  Can I bring him back again?  I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.

Then David comforted his wife, Bathsheba, and went in to her, and lay with her; and she bore a son, and he called his name Solomon.  And the LORD loved him, and sent a message by Nathan the prophet; so he called his name Jedidiah, because of the LORD.

Psalm 51:11-18 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

11 Create in me a clean heart, O God,

and renew a right spirit within me.

12 Cast me not away from your presence

and take not your holy Spirit from me.

13 Give me the joy of your saving help again

and sustain me with your bountiful Spirit.

14 I shall teach your ways to the wicked,

and sinners shall return to you.

15 Deliver me from death, O God,

and my tongue shall sing of your righteousness,

O God of my salvation.

16 Open my lips, O Lord,

and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.

17  Had you desired it, I would have offered sacrifice,

but you take no pleasure in burnt-offerings.

18  The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit;

a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Mark 4:35-41 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them,

Let us go across to the other side.

And leaving the crowd, they took him with them, just as he was, in the boat.  And the other boats were with him.  And a great storm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already filling.  But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him and said to him,

Teacher, do you not care if we perish?

And he awoke and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea,

Peace!  Be still!

And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.  He said to them,

Why are you afraid?  Have you no faith?

And they were filled with awe, and said to one another,

Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?

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The Collect:

Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory, that he may be known, worshipped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

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A Related Post:

Week of 3 Epiphany:  Saturday, Year 1:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/05/week-of-3-epiphany-saturday-year-1/

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The prophet Nathan confronted David, and the King, much to his credit, expressed honest contrition.  Yet this did not prevent the chickens from coming home to roost.  For initial details, begin with the next chapter in 2 Samuel.  Read it for yourself; immerse yourself in the narrative.

Now I explore certain aspects of this day’s reading from 2 Samuel 12.  First, David is familiar with the religious laws, some of which he has violated.  For example, Nathan uses a story about the stealing and killing of a sheep to get David’s attention, and the king says that the thief-killer ought to make fourfold restitution.  This is consistent with Exodus 22:1.  I choose to send you to a text (if you choose to read it), rather than reproduce it here.  Besides, the verses following 22:1 are quite interesting, and sometimes disturbing.

As for the child’s death being the result of his parents’ sins…

This reflects an understanding the origin of suffering which Jesus rejected in more than one passage.  The first example which comes to my mind is Luke 13:1-5 (I am so grateful to own an unabridged concordance!).  For more details, follow this link.  I think also of the story of a man who was born blind.  John 9 speaks of him, and of how some people wondered whose sin had caused his blindness.  For more details, follow this link.  As I heard Donald Armentrout, a Lutheran who helps train Episcopal priests for a living, say about a decade ago, the best way to read the Bible is with “Gospel glasses.”  So Jesus overrides some of the theology in 2 Samuel 12.

That said, expressing regret for one’s sins and changing one’s ways does not negate the consequences of one’s sins.  In other words, one cannot unscramble an egg.  This rule applies beyond sin, applying, for example, to merely bad judgment.  I can think of examples of this in my life, and maybe you, O reader, can identify with this statement.

While we condemn the sin of David recorded in 2 Samuel 11, may we applaud the king for accepting Nathan’s justified and harsh words.  A lesser man would have had Nathan killed.  There was still hope for David.

Some stories haunt me; this is one of them.  I find that sometimes, when trying to make good decisions, I do the opposite, and so I pay for my mistake for years.  It is maddening.  And that speaks of blowback from good intentions, which David did not have in 2 Samuel 11.  I have learned, however, that grace does not erase all consequences of sin, but it does enable one to survive the storm one has stirred up, whether out of ignorance or foolishness or perfidy.

A wise person does learn the correct lessons from the mistakes of others, so may we, as often as possible, avoid duplicating the errors others have committed and stirring up needless whirlwinds.

KRT

Week of 3 Epiphany: Friday, Year 2   8 comments

Above:  David and Uriah the Hittite

Perfidy

JANUARY 31, 2020

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

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2 Samuel 11:1-17 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

(In Chapters 8-10, David fights wars and shows kindness to Jonathan’s son.)

In the spring of the year, the time when the kings go forth to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they ravaged the Ammonites, and besieged Rabbah.  But David remained at Jerusalem.

It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking upon the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful.  And David sent and inquired about the woman.  And one said,

Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?

So David sent messengers, and took her; and she came to him, and he lay with her.  (Now she was purifying herself form her uncleanness.)  Then she returned to her house.  And the woman conceived; and she sent and told David,

I am with child.

So David sent word to Joab.

Send me Uriah the Hittite.

When Uriah came to him, David asked how Joab was doing, and how the people fared, and how the war prospered.  Then David said to Uriah,

Go down to your house, and wash your feet.

And Uriah went out of the king’s house, and there followed him a present from the king.  But Uriah slept  at the door of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and did not go down to his house.  When they told David,

Uriah did not go down to his house,

David said to Uriah,

Have you not come from a journey?  Why did you not go down to your house?

Uriah said to David,

The ark and Israel and Judah dwell in booths; and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field; shall I then go to my house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife?  As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do this thing.

Then David said to Uriah,

Remain here today also, and tomorrow I will let you depart.

So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day, and the next.  And David invited him, and he ate in his presence and drank, so that he made him drunk; and in the evening he went out to lie on his couch with the servants of his lord, but did not go down to his house.

In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah.  In the letter he wrote,

Set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting, and then draw back from him, that he may be struck down, and die.

And as Joab was besieging the city, he assigned Uriah to the place where he knew there were valiant men.  And men of the city came out and fought with Joab; and some of the servants of David among the people fell.  Uriah the Hittite was slain also.

Psalm 51:1-10 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your loving-kindness;

in your great compassion blot out my offenses.

2 Wash me through and through from my wickedness

and cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I know my transgressions,

and my sin is ever before me.

4 Against you only have I sinned

and done what is evil in your sight.

5 And so you are justified when you speak

and upright in your judgment.

Indeed, I have been wicked from my birth,

a sinner from my mother’s womb.

7 For behold, you look for truth deep within me,

and will make me understand wisdom secretly.

Purge me from my sin, and I shall be pure;

wash me, and I shall be clean indeed.

Make me hear of joy and gladness,

that the body you have broken may rejoice.

10 Hide your face from my sins

and blot out all my iniquities.

Mark 4:26-34 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

And he said,

The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed upon the ground, and should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he knows not how.  The earth produces of itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.  But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.

And he said,

With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it?  It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.

With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.

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The Collect:

Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory, that he may be known, worshipped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

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A Related Post:

Week of 3 Epiphany:  Friday, Year 1:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/05/week-of-3-epiphany-friday-year-1/

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The text from 2 Samuel 11 contains a euphemism.  To “wash one’s feet” was to have sexual relations.  In fact, there are other Old Testament euphemisms which speak outwardly of feet but refer really to genitals.  This information proves useful in understanding the story.

Quite simply, King David lusted after another man’s wife, Bathsheba, and got her pregnant.  The other man was Uriah the Hittite, a soldier deployed to the front lines of the current war.  David tried to cover up his sin by recalling Uriah and ordering him to have sexual relations with Bathsheba.  That way the birth of a baby would not create suspicion.  But Uriah obeyed a convention by which a soldier at war abstained from sexual intercourse.  The combination of Uriah’s nobility and David’s perfidy led to a battlefield murder of the soldier.

My mind casts back to 1 Samuel 8, when Samuel tells people that they really do not want a king to govern them.  Beginning in verse 11, he said:

These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you:  he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen, and to run before his chariots; and he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots.  He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers.  He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants.  He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants.  He will take your menservants and maid servants, and the best of your cattle, and your donkeys, and put them to his work.  He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves.  And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the LORD will not answer you in that day.

And that king will have the power to seduce a married woman, impregnate her, and order the killing of her husband, who, out of a sense of military nobility and loyalty to his fellow soldiers, does not play his part in the attempted royal cover-up.

Let that sink in.

This, however, is only part of the story.  For the next portion, read the post for Week of 3 Epiphany:  Saturday, Year 2.

For now, however, mourn Uriah the Hittite and all other innocent victims of violence, those who have died because they were inconvenient.  And, as opportunities present themselves to you, act nonviolently to aid such people, as you are able.

KRT