Archive for the ‘Psalm 71’ Tag

Devotion for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday Before the Fourth Sunday After the Epiphany, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment


Above:  Josiah

Image in the Public Domain

Something Old, Something New

JANUARY 27-29, 2022


The Collect:

Almighty and ever-living God,

increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and love;

and that we may obtain what you promise,

make us love what you command,

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

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 23


The Assigned Readings:

2 Chronicles 34:1-7 (Thursday)

2 Chronicles 35:20-27 (Friday)

2 Chronicles 36:11-21 (Saturday)

Psalm 71:1-6 (All Days)

Acts 10:44-48 (Thursday)

Acts 19:1-10 (Friday)

John 1:43-51 (Saturday)


I find my security in you, LORD,

never let me be covered with shame.

You always do what is right,

so rescue me and set me free.

Listen attentively to me and save me.

Be my rock where I can find security,

be my fortress and save me;

indeed you are my rock and fortress.

My God, set me free from the power of the wicked,

from the grasp of unjust and cruel men.

For you alone give me hope, LORD,

I have trusted in you since my early days.

I have leaned on you since birth,

when you delivered me from my mother’s womb.

I praise you continually.

–Psalm 71:1-6, The Psalms Introduced and Newly Translated for Today’s Readers (1989), by Harry Mowvley


The story of King Josiah of Judah (reigned 640-609 B.C.E.) exists in two versions, each with its own chronology.  The account in 2 Chronicles 34:1-35:37 is more flattering than the version in 2 Kings 22:1-23:30.  Both accounts agree that Josiah was a strong king, a righteous man, and a religious reformer who pleased God, who postponed the fall of the Kingdom of Judah.  The decline of the kingdom after Josiah’s death was rapid, taking only about 23 years and four kings.

Josiah’s reforms met with opposition, as did Jesus and nascent Christianity.  The thorny question of how to treat Gentiles who desired to convert was one cause of difficulty.  The decision to accept Gentiles as they were–not to require them to become Jews first–caused emotional pain for many people attached to their Jewish identity amid a population of Gentiles.  There went one more boundary separating God’s chosen people from the others.  For Roman officialdom a religion was old, so a new faith could not be a legitimate religion.  Furthermore, given the commonplace assumption that Gentiles making offerings to the gods for the health of the empire was a civic, patriotic duty, increasing numbers of Gentiles refusing to make those offerings caused great concern.  If too many people refused to honor the gods, would the gods turn their backs on the empire?

Interestingly enough, the point of view of much of the Hebrew Bible is that the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah fell because of pervasive idolatry and related societal sinfulness.  The pagan Roman fears for their empire were similar.  How ironic!

The pericope from John 1 is interesting.  Jesus is gathering his core group of followers.  One Apostle recruits another until St. Nathanael (St. Bartholomew) puts up some opposition, expressing doubt that anything good can come out of Nazareth.  St. Philip tries to talk St. Nathanael out of that skepticism.  “Come and see,” he replies.  Jesus convinces that St. Nathanael by informing him that he (Jesus) saw him (St. Nathanael) sitting under a fig tree.  Father Raymond E. Brown spends a paragraph in the first of his two volumes on the Gospel of John listing a few suggestions (of many) about why that was so impressive and what it might have meant.  He concludes that all such suggestions are speculative.  The bottom line is, in the words of Gail R. O’Day and Susan E. Hylen, is the following:

The precise meaning of Jesus’ words about the fig tree is unclear, but their function in the story is to show that Jesus has insight that no one else has…because of Jesus’ relationship with God.

John (2006), page 33

Jesus was doing a new thing which was, at its heart, a call back to original principles.  Often that which seems new is really old–from Josiah to Jesus to liturgical renewal (including the revision of The Book of Common Prayer).  Along the way actually new developments arise.  Laying aside precious old ideas and embracing greater diversity in the name of God for the purpose of drawing the proverbial circle wider can be positive as well as difficult.    Yet it is often what God calls us to do–to welcome those whom God calls insiders while maintaining proper boundaries and definitions.  Discerning what God calls good and bad from one or one’s society calls good and bad can be quite difficult.  May we succeed by grace.










Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C   15 comments

Above:  The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr.

Image Source = Library of Congress

Rejecting Agape

JANUARY 30, 2022


Jeremiah 1:1-10 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

The words of Jeremiah, son of Hilkiah, one of the priests at Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin.  The word of the LORD came to him in the days of King Josiah son of Amon of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign, and throughout the days of Jehoiakim son of Josiah of Judah, and until the end of the eleventh year of King Zedekiah son of Josiah son of Judah, when Jerusalem went into exile in the fifth month.

The word of the LORD came to me:

Before I created you in the womb, I selected you;

Before you were born, I consecrated you;

I appointed you a prophet concerning the nations.

I replied:

Ah, Lord GOD!

I don’t know how to speak,

For I am still a boy.

And the LORD said to me:

Do not say, “I am still a boy,”

But go wherever I send you

And speak whatever I command you.

Have no fear of them,

For I am with you to deliver them

–declares the LORD.

The LORD put out His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me:

Herewith I put My words into your mouth.

See, I appoint you this day

Over nations and kingdoms:

To uproot and to pull down,

To destroy and to overthrow,

To build and to plant.

Psalm 71:1-6 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  In you, O LORD, have I taken refuge;

let me never be ashamed.

2  In your righteousness, deliver me and set me free;

incline your ear to me and save me.

3  Be my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe;

you are my crag and my stronghold.

4  Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked,

from the clutches of the evildoer and the oppressor.

5  For you are my hope, O Lord GOD,

my confidence since I was young.

6  I have been sustained by you ever since I was born;

from my mother’s womb you have been my strength;

my praise shall be always of you.

1 Corinthians 13:1-13 (New American Bible):

If I speak in human and angelic tongues, but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.  And if I have the gift of prophecy, and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith as to move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind.   It is not jealous, it is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails.  If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing.  For we know partially and we prophesy partially, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.  When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things.  At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face.  At present, I know partially; then I shall know fully as I am known.  So faith, hope, and love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Luke 4:21-30 (The Jerusalem Bible):

And he [Jesus] won the approval of all, and they were astonished by the gracious words that came from his lips.

They said,

This is Joseph’s son, surely?

But he replied,

No doubt you will quote the saying, “Physician, heal yourself” and tell me, “We have heard all that happened in Capernaum, do the same here in your own countryside.”

And he went on,

I tell you solemnly, no prophet is ever accepted in his own country.

There were many widows in Israel, I can assure you, in Elijah’s day, when heaven remained shut for three years and six months and a great famine raged throughout the land, but Elijah was not sent to any one of those; he was sent to a widow at Zarephath, a Sidonian town.  And in the prophet Elisha’s time there were many lepers in Israel, but none of these was cured, except the Syrian, Naaman.

When they heard this everyone in the synagogue was enraged.  They sprang to their feet and hustled him out of town; and they took him up to the brow of the hill their town was built on, intending to throw him down the cliff, but he slipped through the crowd and walked away.

The Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God, you govern all things both in heaven and on earth: Mercifully hear the supplications of your people, and in our time grant us your peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.


Some Related Posts:

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

Prayer of Confession:

Prayer of Dedication:


Love bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back,

Guilty of dust and sin.

But quickeyed Love, observing me grow slack

From my first entrance in,

Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,

If I lacked anything.


“A guest,” I answered, “worthy to be here.”

Love said, “You shall be he.”

“I the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,

I cannot look on thee.”

Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,

“Who made the eyes but I?”


“Truth, Lord, but I have marred them.  Let my shame

Go where it doth deserve.”

“And know you not,” says Love,  “who bore the blame?

My dear, then, I will serve.

You must sit down,” says Love, “and taste my meat.”

So I did sit and eat.

–George Herbert (1633)


The love in 1 Corinthians 13 is agape.  There are four types of love in the New Testament, with agape being the highest form.  For a description of agape I turn to Volume X (1953), page 167 of The Interpreter’s Bible:

Agape is another kind of love which roots in the undeserved goodness men have received in Christ.

Agape is a type of love which extends to one’s enemies, looks past mutual interests, and is not merely sentimental.  It is the love which God has for us.  Thus agape is crucial, greater even than faith and hope, which are also commendable and of God.

This was the love which qualified Jeremiah and kept him company on his difficult vocation, one fraught with rejection.  And this was the love which Jesus, also rejected, embodied in a unique way.  This was the love those who tried to kill him at Nazareth lacked.

Agape is hard for many people to practice, for we are flawed.  This statement applies to me.  But I like agape; I seek to come nearer to living it.  One poetic expression of the essence of agape is the George Herbert poem I have quoted in this post.  My choir at St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia, has sung the Ralph Vaughan Williams setting of it.  The text speaks to me of what I have received and continue to receive from God.  I can do better, by grace, and I am.  And I have much room for improvement.

Agape is also intolerable for many people.  They seek to destroy it.  The reason for this, I suppose, is that it reminds them of their shortcomings.  And, instead of admitting those failings, some people react defensively and fearfully.  Thus violent people have, throughout history and into the present day, persecuted pacifists, from Quakers to Anabaptists to Mohandas Gandhi to Martin Luther King, Jr.  New England Puritans hanged Quakers in colonial times.  Anabaptists in Europe and elsewhere have attracted a host of foes.  There was, for example, state-sanctioned persecution of Amish and Mennonite conscientious objectors in the United States during World War I.  And Gandhi and King became victims of assassins.  Before King’s death many of his self-identified conservative coreligionists condemned his stances on civil rights and the Vietnam War.  (I have notecards full of citations, quotes, and summaries from back issues of The Presbyterian Journal, which midwifed the Presbyterian Church in America in the early 1970s.  The Journal, publishing immediately after King’s death, continued to condemn him.)

Our human intolerance for agape has caused quite a body count to accumulate.  May God forgive us.










Advent Devotion for December 19   9 comments

Samson and John the Baptist

DECEMBER 19, 2023


Judges 13:2-7, 24-25 (Revised English Bible):

There was a certain man from Zorah of the tribe of Dan whose name was Manoah and whose wife was barren; she had no child.  The angel of the LORD appeared to her and said,

Though you are barren and have no child, you will conceive and give birth to a son.  Now be careful to drink no wine or strong drink, and to eat no forbidden food.  You will conceive and give birth to a son, and no razor must touch his head, for the boy is to be a Nazirite, consecrated to God from birth.  He will strike the first blow for Israel’s freedom from the power of the Philistines.

The woman went and told her husband,

A man of God came to me,

she said to him;

his appearance was that of an angel of God, most terrible to see.  I did not ask him where he came from, nor did he tell me his name, but he said to me, ‘You are going to conceive and give birth to a son.  From now on drink no wine or strong drink and eat no forbidden food, for the boy is to be a Nazirite, consecrated to God from his birth to the day of his death.’

The woman gave birth to a son and named him Samson.  The boy grew up in Mahaneh-dan between Zorah and Eshtaol, and the LORD blessed him, and the spirit of the LORD began to move him.

Psalm 71:1-8 (Revised English Bible):

In you, LORD, I have found refuge;

let me never be put to shame.

By your saving power rescue and deliver me;

hear me and save me!

Be to me a rock of refuge

to which at all times I may come;

you have decreed my deliverance,

for you are my rock and stronghold.

Keep me safe, my God, from the power of the wicked,

from the clutches of the pitiless and unjust.

You are my hope, Lord GOD,

my trust since my childhood.

On you I have leaned from birth;

you brought me from my mother’s womb;

to you I offer praise at all times.

I have become like a portent to many,

but you are my strong refuge.

My mouth will be full of your praises,

I shall tell of your splendour all day long.

Luke 1:5-25 (Revised English Bible):

In the reign of Herod king of Judaea there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of the priesthood called Abijah.  His wife, whose name was Elizabeth, was also of priestly descent.  Both of them were upright and devout, blamelessly observing all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord.  But they had no children, for Elizabeth was barren, and both were well on in years.

Once, when it was the turn of his division and he was there to take part in the temple service, he was chosen by lot, by priestly custom, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and to offer the incense; and at the hour of the offering the people were all assembled at prayer outside.  There appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing at the right of the altar of incense.  At this sight, Zechariah was startled and overcome by fear.  But the angel said to him,

Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard:  your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to name him John.  His birth will fill you with joy and delight, and will bring gladness to many; for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord.  He is never to touch wine or strong drink.  From this very birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit; and he will bring back many Israelites to the Lord their God.  He will go before him as a forerunner, possessed by the spirit and power of Elijah, to reconcile father and child, to convert the rebellious father and child, to convert the rebellious to the ways of the righteous, to prepare a people that shall be fit for the Lord.

Zechariah said to the angel,

How can I be sure of this?  I am an old man and my wife is well on in years.

They angel replied,

I am Gabriel; I stand in attendance on God, and I have been sent to speak to you and I have been sent to speak to you and bring you this good news.  But now, because you have not believed me, and you will lose all power of speech and remain silent until the day when these things take place; at their proper time my words will be proved true.

Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah, surprised that he was staying so long inside the sanctuary.  When he did come out he could not speak to them, and they realized that he had had a vision.  He stood there making signs to them, and remained dumb.

When his period of duty was completed Zechariah returned home.  His wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she lived in seclusion, thinking,

This is the Lord’s doing; now at last he has shown me favour and taken away from me the disgrace of childlessness.

The Collect:

Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


This series of Advent devotions is nearing its end and climax.  December 24 will be the last day of Advent, so the assigned readings (especially the Gospel readings), which span Luke 1:5 to Luke 1:79, bring us to the verge of Christmas Day.

This day’s readings tell of two men whose backstories were similar yet whose lives were different.  The stories of the births of Samson and John the Baptist contain an angel, a miracle, and a mission for the yet-unborn child.  Samson’s mission took a detour; he gave into his weakness for women, and one woman, a spy, in particular.  Yet John the Baptist remained true to his mission from beginning to end.

John chose the better path.  May we do likewise.


Written on June 3, 2010

Posted September 15, 2010 by neatnik2009 in 2023-2024, December 19, Episcopal Church Lectionary

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