Archive for the ‘Psalm 89’ Tag

Week of 3 Epiphany: Monday, Year 2   7 comments

Above:  An Orthodox Icon of David

Honesty about Heroes

JANUARY 24, 2022

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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 5:1-7, 10 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

(About two years after the events 2 Samuel 1; in the meantime Ish-bosheth, son of Saul, reigns then dies due to an assassination.  Then David orders the execution of the assassins.)

Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron, and said,

Behold, we are your bone and flesh.  In times past, when Saul was king over us, it was you that led out and brought in Israel; and the Lord said of you, “You shall be shepherd of my people Israel, and you shall be prince over Israel.”

So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron; and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the LORD, and they anointed David king over Israel.  David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years.  At Hebron he reigned seven years and six months; and at Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years.

And the king and his men went to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, who said to David,

You will not come in here, but the blind and the lame will ward you off

–thinking,

David cannot come in here.

Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion, that is, the city of David.

And David became greater and greater, for the LORD, the God of hosts, was with him.

Psalm 89:19-29 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

19  You spoke once in a vision and said to your faithful people:

“I have set the crown upon a warrior

and have exalted one chosen out of the people.

20  I have found David my servant;

with my holy oil have I anointed him.

21  My hand will hold him fast

and my arm will make him strong.

22  No enemy shall deceive him,

nor any wicked man bring him down.

23  I will crush his foes before him

and strike down those who hate him.

24  My faithfulness and love shall be with him,

and he shall be victorious through my Name.

25  I shall make his dominion extend

from the Great Sea to the River.

26  He will say to you, ‘You are my Father,

my God, and the rock of my salvation.’

27  I will make him my firstborn

and higher than the kings of the earth.

28  I will keep my love for him for ever,

and my covenant will stand firm for him.

29  I will establish his line for ever

and his throne as the days of heaven.”

Mark 3:19b-30 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

Then he went home, and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat.  And when his friends heard it, they went out to seize him, for they said,

He is beside himself.

And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said,

He is possessed by Beelzebul, and by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.

And he called to him and said to them in parables,

How can Satan cast out Satan?  If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.  And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end.  But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man; then indeed he may plunder his house.

Truly I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin

-–for they had said,

He has an unclean spirit.

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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:  Monday, Year 1:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/30/week-of-3-epiphany-monday-year-1/

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This day’s reading from 2 Samuel 5 culminates the material from 1 Samuel 16 to 2 Samuel 4, which chronicles David’s rise to power.  Speaking of chronicles, compare 1 Samuel 31-2 Samuel 4 with 1 Chronicles 10 and 11.  The account in 1 Chronicles rushes, bypassing Ish-bosheth and going directly from the death of Saul to the reign of David and the capture of Jerusalem.  O well, so much for inerrancy and infallibility.

The books of Samuel and Kings are quite honest, especially about David.  There we read about how he ordered an Amalekite, who claimed to have Saul but, as it turns out, did not, executed.  In 2 Samuel we read about David ordering the execution of King Ish-bosheth’s assassins the mutilation of their corpses.  In these books we read of David’s infidelity with Bathsheba and David’s arranged murder of her husband.  Yet this is the man the narrative extols.  Nevertheless, it depicts him fully, warts and all.

David was such an illustrious person that Biblical writers referred back to him centuries later, especially as his successors, members of his dynasty, failed to measure up to him.  The reign of David became the ancient “good old days.”  The problem with nostalgia, of course, is that the old days were never quite as good as many people think they were.  Have you, O reader, ever noticed that Golden Ages seem always to be in the past?  Yet even then, in the alleged Golden Ages, people looked to the past for their Golden Ages.

At least the authors and editor of the books we now call 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, and 1 Kings were honest about their hero, for heroism does not mean perfection.  May we likewise be honest about ours, neither excusing the inexcusable nor giving short shrift to the virtues of these men and women.

KRT

Week of 2 Epiphany: Tuesday, Year 2   12 comments

Above:  Samuel Anoints David

Seemingly Unlikely Qualifications in Dangerous Times

JANUARY 18, 2022

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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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1 Samuel 16:1-13 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

The LORD said to Samuel,

How long will you grieve over Saul, seeing I have rejected him from being king over Israel?  Fill your horn with oil, and go; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.

And Samuel said,

How can I go?  If Saul hears it, he will kill me.

And the LORD said,

Take a heifer with you, and say, “I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.”  And invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for me him whom I will name to you.

Samuel did what the LORD commanded, and came to Bethlehem.  The elders of the city came to meet him trembling, and said,

Do you come peaceably?

And he said,

Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the LORD; consecrate yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice.

And he sacrificed Jesse and his sons, and invited them to the sacrifice.

When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought,

Surely the LORD’s anointed is before him.

But the LORD said to Samuel,

Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the LORD sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.

Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel.  And he said,

Neither has the LORD chosen this one.

Then Jesse made Shammah pass by.  And he said,

Neither has the LORD chosen this one.

And Jesse made seven of this sons pass before Samuel.  And Samuel said to Jesse,

The LORD has not chosen these.

And Samuel said to Jesse,

Are all your sons here?

And he said,

There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep.

And Samuel said to Jesse,

Send and fetch him; for we will not sit down till he comes here.

And he sent, and brought him in.  Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome.  And the LORD said,

Arise, anoint him; for this is he.

Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon David from that day forward.  And Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah.

Psalm 89:19-27 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

19 You spoke once in a vision and said to your faithful people:

“I have set the crown upon a warrior

and have exalted the one chosen out of the people.

20 I have found David my servant;

with my holy oil I have anointed him.

21 My hand will hold him fast

and my arm will make him strong.

22 No enemy shall deceive him,

nor any wicked man bring him down.

23 I will crush his foes before him

and strike down those who hate him.

24 My faithfulness and love shall be with him,

and he shall be victorious through my Name.

25 I shall make his dominion extend

from the Great from the Great Sea to the River.

26 He will say to me, ‘You are my Father,

my God, and the rock of my salvation,’

27 I will make him my firstborn

and higher than the kings of the earth.

Mark 2:23-28 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

One sabbath he was going through the grainfields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain.  And the Pharisees said to him,

Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?

And he said to them,

Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him; how he entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the showbread, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?

And he said to them,

The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath; so the Son of man is lord even of the sabbath.

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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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Some Related Links:

Week of 2 Epiphany:  Tuesday, Year 1:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/23/week-of-2-epiphany-tuesday-year-1/

Matthew 12 (Parallel to Mark 2):

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/29/week-of-proper-10-friday-year-1/

Luke 6 (Parallel to Mark 2):

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/11/week-of-proper-17-saturday-year-1/

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It was a dangerous time for Samuel.  He was on a mission to find Saul’s replacement, but Saul was not going to vacate the throne for years, as events played out.  From a certain point of view Samuel was on a treasonous mission, hence the necessity of the plausible cover story about making a sacrifice to God.

This is how 1 Samuel 9:2b-3 describes Saul shortly before he became king:

…a handsome young man.  There was not a man among the sons of Israel more handsome than he; from his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people.

Now reread the account from 1 Samuel 16:1-13.  God tells Samuel not to focus on outward appearances.  David was the Anti-Saul.  Both were handsome, according to the texts, but David was “ruddy.”  Outwardly he did not seem qualified to govern a kingdom, but the shepherd became the founder of a dynasty.

David did find himself in great danger for the next few years, given the political threat he posed to Saul.  There was even a civil war, but David won in the end.  The rest is history.

As a student of history, especially the U.S. Presidency, I am well aware of the fact that one’s resume can be of limited value in evaluating whether a candidate will be a good leader.  For example, James Buchanan (in office 1857-1861) had a long and distinguished resume, yet was a terrible president.  And Herbert Hoover (in office 1929-1933) was a great humanitarian, a man who had overseen food rationing at home during World War I then fed much of Europe.  To “Hooverize” something was to do it well, right up until the Great Depression.  On the other hand, Abraham Lincoln had a much shorter political resume than did Buchanan before become President of the United States in 1861.  And Harry Truman, before making his name in the Senate during World War II, owed his federal career to patronage from a corrupt man.

Perhaps we ought to reevaluate our concepts of qualifications for certain posts sometimes.  It is vital not to fall into the grave error of anti-intellectualism when doing this, for anti-intellectualism leads to other mistakes.   The impulse to favor “people like me” while eschewing alleged eggheads and others who have studied crucial issues of the day closely for years is politically unwise.  But the lesson to focus too much on outward appearances–today we would say one’s image on television–remains timeless.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/01/04/seemingly-unlikely-qualifications-in-dangerous-times/

Week of 1 Epiphany: Friday, Year 2   12 comments

Above:  Crown of King Christian IV of Denmark

Image Source = Ikiwaner

The Destructive Allure of Conformity

JANUARY 14, 2022

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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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1 Samuel 8:4-22a (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him,

Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint for us a king to govern us like all the nations.

But the thing displeased Samuel when they said,

Give us a king to govern us.

And Samuel prayed to the LORD.  And the LORD said to Samuel,

Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.  According to all the deeds they have done for me, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you.  Now then, listen to their voice; only, you shall solemnly warn them, and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.

So Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking a king from him.  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 also 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 maidservants, 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.

But the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel; and they said,

No! but we will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight our battles.

And when Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the ears of the LORD.  And the LORD said to Samuel,

Listen to their voice, and make them a king.

Psalm 89:15-18 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

15  Happy are the people who know the festal shout!

they walk, O LORD, in the light of your presence.

16  They rejoice daily in your Name;

they are jubilant in your righteousness.

17  For you are the glory of their strength,

and by your favor our might is exalted.

18  Truly, the LORD is our ruler;

the Holy One of Israel is our King.

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

And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home.  And many were gathered together , so that there was no longer room for them, not even about the door; and he was preaching the word to them.  And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men.  And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and when they had made an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic lay.  And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic,

Child, your sins are forgiven.

Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts,

Why does this man speak like this?  It is blasphemy!  Who can forgive sins but God alone?

And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit what they questioned like this within themselves, said to them,

Why do you question like this in your hearts?  Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven,” or to say, “Rise, take up your pallet, and walk”?  But that you too may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins

–he said to the paralytic–

I say to you, rise, take up your pallet, and go home.

And he rose, and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying,

We never saw anything like this!

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The Collect:

Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit: Grant that all who are baptized into his Name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Week of 1 Epiphany:  Friday, Year 1:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/19/week-of-1-epiphany-friday-year-1/

Matthew 9 (Parallel to Mark 2):

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/17/week-of-proper-8-thursday-year-1/

Luke 5 (Parallel to Mark 2):

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/ninth-day-of-advent/

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God was supposed to be the King of Israel.  Judges governed, each in his or her own time, but there was supposed to be only one king.  In the ancient world, however, monarchy was most common form of government.  Being different can be very difficult, especially in a social species, such as Homo sapiens sapiens.  The rest is history, culminating in the Pharonic reign of King Solomon, after which the kingdom ruptured.

The wrath of God is not so much God afflicting us actively as it is God backing off and doing nothing as the chickens come home to roost.  But at least God gives a warning far in advance.

Sometimes I am a conscious contrarian.  One of the most effective ways to persuade me not to do something, such as see a certain movie or read a specific book, is to point out how popular it is.  The “join the bandwagon” appeal backfires with me much of the time.  If other people are trying act like others, I try to do the opposite, within my sense of self.  Other times I act without regard to what others think, but I just happen to emerge as one with very different tastes.  Either way, peer pressure has a limited effect on me.

So being different makes great sense to me.  It does, of course, limit my social mixing.  It has done so for most of my life, and deep introversion has become my default mode.  I am not quite the death of the party, but I am far from its life.  I recall that, when I grew up, many of members of my age peer group made my life difficult because of these tendencies.  They succeeded in violating the Golden Rule and in driving me deeper into myself.  Why would I want to emulate those who taunted me?  I hypothesize, by the way, that my childhood experiences in school contributed to my dislike for children, and therefore have informed my choice to remain childless.  I also suspect that my staunch nonconformity with regard to certain conventions (namely social and cultural history, given my preference for old-style institutional and Great Man history) in the study of history contributed to the premature demise of my doctoral program at The University of Georgia.  But this was a matter of principle; whatever I did academically, I was determined to do it with respect for my intellectual integrity.  By the way, sometimes the cost of maintaining one’s integrity is painful and high, but the price for prostituting one’s soul and mind is higher.

This above all:  to thine ownself be true,

And it it must follow, as the night the day,

Thou canst not be false to any man.

–William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act I, Scene III, lines 78-80

Anyhow, the desire of the people in 1 Samuel 8 to be like their neighbor nations makes no sense to me; I stand with God and Samuel.  But, as the text says, “the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel.”  They wanted to conform to the example of those around them.

Of all the words in the English language, the most profane ones, in my opinion, are “conform” and “conformity.”  God, you see, has granted each of us gifts to share with others.  Consenting to conformity stifles the unique blessings we can bring to the table and extinguishes the light we are to be to the nations, or at least to those in our vicinity.

May we never fear to be properly different, for the glory of God.

KRT

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2018/03/20/uga-and-me/

Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year B   33 comments

Above:  The Annunciation, by El Greco

Nothing is Impossible with God

DECEMBER 20, 2020

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THE FIRST READING

2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16 (New Revised Standard Version):

Now when the king [David] was settled in his house, and the LORD had given him rest from all his enemies around him, the king said to the prophet Nathan,

See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.

Nathan said to the king,

Go, do all that you have in mind; for the LORD is with you.

But that same night the word of the LORD came to Nathan:

Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the LORD: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?” Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the LORD of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel; and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house. Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever.

THE TWO OPTIONS FOR THE RESPONSE

Canticle 15 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

(The Magnificat plus the Trinitarian formula)

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,

my spirit rejoices in God my Savior;

for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.

From this day all generations will call me blessed:

the Almighty has done great things for me,

and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him

in every generation.

He has shown the strength of his arm,

he has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,

and has lifted up the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things,

and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of his servant Israel,

for he has remembered his promise of mercy,

The promise he made to our fathers,

to Abraham and his children for ever.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:

as it was in the beginning is now, and will be for ever.  Amen.

Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Your love, O LORD, for ever will I sing;

from age to age my mouth will proclaim your faithfulness.

For I am persuaded that your love is established for ever;

you have set your faithfulness firmly in the heavens.

“I have made a covenant with my chosen one;

I have sworn an oath to David my servant;

‘I will establish your line for ever,

and preserve your throne for all generations.’”

19  You spoke once in a vision and said to your faithful people:

“I have set the crown upon a warrior

and have exalted one chosen out of the people.

20  I have found David my servant;

with my holy oil have I anointed him.

21  My hand will hold him fast

and my arm will make him strong.

22  No enemy shall deceive him,

nor any wicked man bring him down.

23  I will crush his foes before him

and strike down those who hate him.

24  My faithfulness and love shall be with him,

and he shall be victorious through my Name.

25  I shall make his dominion extend

from the Great Sea to the River.

26  He will say to you, ‘You are my Father,

my God, and the rock of my salvation.’

THE SECOND READING

Romans 16:25-27 (New Revised Standard Version):

Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith– to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever! Amen.

THE GOSPEL READING

Luke 1:26-38 (New Revised Standard Version):

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said,

Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.

But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her,

Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.

Mary said to the angel,

How can this be, since I am a virgin?

The angel said to her,

The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.

Then Mary said,

Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.

Then the angel departed from her.

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.

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What is really going on here?

That was the question a spiritual mentor of mine in the early-middle 1990s asked himself when he approached any passage from the Bible.  Let us apply it to the readings for the Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year B.

Nothing is impossible with God.

We read this in the Gospel lesson.  How does an obscure young woman become the mother not only of the Messiah, but of God incarnate?  And how does a shepherd, the runt of his family, become a great king and the founder of a dynasty?  God makes such things happen.  Let us appreciate the mystery, not quarrel about divine tactics.

Nothing is impossible with God.

When we examine our own lives and those of the people closest to us, do we believe that nothing is impossible with God?  Have we become so jaded that we have lost hope that God can and will act wondrously and beyond our expectations?  I hope not.

To what spectacular wonders is God preparing to give birth in you and in others?  Time will tell.  By faith and grace, may we look forward to the blessed events.

KRT

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/11/18/nothing-is-impossible-with-god/

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Week of 3 Epiphany: Saturday, Year 1   15 comments

Above:  The Storm on the Sea of Galilee, by Rembrandt van Rijn, 1632

The Power of Faith

JANUARY 30, 2021

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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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Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  For by it men of old received divine approval.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where to go.  By faith he sojourned  in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise.  For he looked forward to the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.  By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who promised.  Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.

These all died in faith, not having received what was promised, but having seen it and greeted it from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.  For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.  If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return.  But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one.  Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was ready to offer up his only-begotten son, of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your descendants be named.”

THEN

Canticle 16 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel;

he has come to his people and set them free.

He has raised up for us a mighty savior,

born of the house of his servant David.

Through his holy prophets he promised of old,

that he would save us from our enemies,

from the hands of all who hate us.

He promised to show mercy to our fathers

and to remember his holy covenant.

This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham,

to set us free from the hands of our enemies,

Free to worship him without fear,

holy and righteous in his sight

all the days of our life.

(The Song of Zechariah, Luke 1:68-79)

OR

Psalm 89:19-29 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

19 You spoke once in a vision and said to your faithful people:

“I have set the crown upon a warrior

and have exalted the one chosen out of the people.

20 I have found David my servant;

with my holy oil I have anointed him.

21 My hand will hold him fast

and my arm will make him strong.

22 No enemy shall deceive him,

nor any wicked man bring him down.

23 I will crush his foes before him

and strike down those who hate him.

24 My faithfulness and love shall be with him,

and he shall be victorious through my Name.

25 I shall make his dominion extend

from the Great from the Great Sea to the River.

26 He will say to me, ‘You are my Father,

my God, and the rock of my salvation,’

27 I will make him my firstborn

and higher than the kings of the earth.

28 I will keep my love for him forever,

and my covenant will stand firm for him.

29 I will establish his line for ever,

and his throne as the days of heaven.”

THEN

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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I am a product of the Scientific Revolution of the 1600s.  Thus I understand the natural world in a way First Century C.E. inhabitants of Judea could not have done.  For them, the world was spirit-haunted, and evil spirits caused everything from epilepsy to wind storms on the Sea of Galilee.  It was a pre-scientific way of grasping the natural world.   Note that Jesus calmed the storm with language nearly identical to that he used when addressing a demoniac (or mentally ill person) in Mark 1:25.  In each case he allegedly demonstrated his power over evil spirits and certainly established calm for someone.

Faith, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews tells us, entails setting out and not knowing where one is going.  What was a literal journey for Abraham can be a spiritual journey for each of us.  At any given era of history there are always people experiencing varieties of difficulty.  But at this time, the hangover of financial excesses, this reality is more obvious to many of us.  I hope that responsible leaders in all nations will take the proper measures necessary to prevent a repeat, but I choose to focus now on personal, spiritual lessons and amendment of life.  Many of us do not know where we are going or what we will do when we get there.  For that matter, many of us do not know what we will do where we are.  Doubt and uncertainty can trouble us, but I propose embracing them and trusting in God.  God knows, and we do not; and that is okay.  May we seek divine guidance and take this opportunity to reorder priorities for the longterm.  Confident in God’s love and providence, may we find calm in the midst of fear, doubt, and uncertainty.  There is one certainty that matters; this certainty is God.  And that should be enough.

The power of faith is the ability, in the midst of a storm, literal or metaphorical, to rest calmly in the love of God.  May all of us seek and find that faith, if he have not found it already.

KRT

Advent Devotion for December 24   16 comments

Above:  John the Baptist, by Titian, 1542

Here Ends Our Advent Journey

DECEMBER 24, 2021

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2 Samuel 7:1-16 (Revised English Bible):

Once the king was established in his palace and the LORD had given him security from his enemies on all sides, he said to Nathan the prophet,

Here I am living in a house of cedar, while the Ark of God is housed in a tent.

Nathan answered,

Do whatever you have in mind, for the LORD is with you.

But that same night the word of the LORD came to Nathan:

Go and say to David my servant, This is the word of the LORD:  Are you to build me a house to dwell in?  Down to this day I have never dwelt in a house since I brought Israel up from Egypt; I lived in a tent and a tabernacle.  Wherever I journeyed with Israel, did I ever ask any of the judges whom I appointed shepherds of my people Israel why they had not built me a cedar house?

Then say this to my servant David:  This is the word of the LORD of Hosts:  I took you from the pastures and from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel.  I have been with you wherever you have gone, and have destroyed all enemies in your path.  I shall bring you fame like the fame of the great ones of the earth.  I shall assign a place for my people Israel; there I shall plant them to dwell in their own land.  They will be disturbed no more; never again will the wicked oppress them as they did in the past, from the day when I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I shall give you peace from all your enemies.

The LORD has told you that he would built up your royal house.  When your life ends and you rest with your forefathers, I shall set up one of your family, one of your own children, to succeed you, and I shall establish his kingdom.  It is he who is to build a house in honour of my name; and I shall establish his royal throne for all time.  I shall be a father to him, and he will be my son.  When he does wrong, I shall punish him as a father might, and not spare the rod.  But my love will never be withdrawn from him as I withdrew it from Saul, whom I removed from your path.  Your family and your kingdom will be established for ever in my sight; your throne will endure for all time.”

Psalm 89:1-4, 19-29 (Revised English Bible):

I shall sing always of the loving deeds of the LORD;

throughout every generation I shall proclaim your faithfulness.

I said:  Your love will stand firm for ever;

in the heavens you have established your faithfulness.

I have made a covenant with the one I have chosen,

I have sworn an oath to my servant David:

I shall establish your line for ever,

I shall make your throne endure for all generations.

A time came when you spoke in a vision,

declaring to your faithful servant:

I have granted help to a warrior;

I have exalted one chosen from the people.

I have found David my servant

and anointed him with my sacred oil.

My hand will be ready to help him,

my arm to give him strength.

No enemy will outwit him,

no wicked person will oppress him;

I shall crush his adversaries before him

and strike down those who are hostile to him.

My faithfulness and love will be with him

and through my name he will hold his head high.

I shall establish his rule over the sea,

his dominion over the rivers.

He will say tome,

You are my father,

my God, my rock where I find safety.

I shall give him the rank of the firstborn,

highest among the kings of the earth.

I shall maintain my love for him for ever

and be faithful in my covenant with him.

I shall establish his line for ever

and his throne as long as the heavens endure.

Luke 1:67-79 (Revised English Bible):

And Zechariah his [John’s] father was filled with the Holy Spirit and uttered this prophecy:

Praise to the Lord, the God of Israel!

For he has turned to his people and set them free.

He has raised for us a strong deliverer

from the House of his servant David.

So he promised: age to age he proclaimed

by the lips of his holy prophets,

that he would deliver us from our enemies,

out of the hands of all who hate us;

that, calling to mind his solemn covenant,

he would deal mercifully with our fathers.

This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham,

to rescue us from enemy hands and set us free from fear,

so that we might worship in his presence

in holiness and righteousness our whole life long.

And you, my child, will be called Prophet of the Most High,

for you will be the Lord’s forerunner, to prepare his way

and lead his people to a knowledge of salvation

through the forgiveness of their sins:

for in the tender compassion of our God

the dawn from heaven will break upon us,

to shine on those who live in darkness, under the shadow of death,

and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

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.

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Saint John the Baptist (or Baptizer or Immerser) was the forerunner of Jesus, Son of God, Son of Man, and heir to the House of David.  John identified Jesus, baptized him, and died before Jesus did.

As I have typed these texts and pondered them I have played a recording of the Christmas Oratorio of Johann Sebastian Bach.  It is a glorious work, a product of Bach’s deep Lutheran faith.  One fact about it stands out in mind:  The Christmas Oratorio contains the music to which I am used to singing the great Good Friday hymn, “O Sacred Head, Sore Wounded.”  The liner notes to the two-CD set give the following English translation to the German text of the chorale:

How can I fitly greet Thee,

how rightly Thee extol?

Of Man the best Beloved,

thou treasure of my soul!

O Lord, I pray Thee carry

the torch to light my way,

that I may know thy treasure

and serve Thee day by day!

That is an appropriate attitude for any day, especially that time when Advent transitions into Christmas.  Like John, may you decrease as Jesus increases.

Merry Christmas!

KRT

Written on June 4, 2010

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/11/18/here-ends-our-advent-journey/