Archive for the ‘Psalm 98’ Tag

Devotion for Christmas Day, Years A, B, C, and D (Humes)   1 comment

Above:  Nativity and Annunciation to the Shepherds

Image in the Public Domain

Reasons for Hope

DECEMBER 25, 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 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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Proper 2

Isaiah 62:6-12

Psalm 97

Titus 3:4-7

Luke 2:[1-7] 8-20

Proper 3

Isaiah 52:7-10

Psalm 98

Hebrews 1:1-12

John 1:1-14

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The Reverend Will Humes, consistent with the Roman Catholic tradition of the three masses of Christmas, provides Propers 1, 2, and 3 in his proposed lectionary.  Proper 1 is for Christmas Eve.  Propers 2 and 3 are for Christmas Day.

St. Gregory I “the Great,” Bishop of Rome (d. 604), provided the oldest surviving documentation of the three masses of Christmas.  The midnight mass was at the Church of St. Mary Major.  The second mass, at dawn, was at St. Anastasia’s Church.  The third mass of the day was at the Church of St. Peter.

Proper 2

The context of Isaiah 62 was the end of the Babylonian Exile.  The nations had witnessed the vindication of Israel in 61:10-62:2.  The best days of the returning exiles lay ahead.  The problem was that, according to all historical sources, those predictions of paradise on Earth did not come true.  Returning exiles lived in a poor, backwater satrapy of the Persian Empire.  Many people pushed those vaunted hopes into the future.

God is in charge.  This is good news for the righteous and bad news for those He consumes.  Justification by grace, which results from divine mercy, makes the justified heirs to eternal life, which is knowing God via Jesus (John 17:3).  Part of living faithfully, of responding favorably to God in response to divine mercy, is striving to live more patiently as one acknowledges God’s promises.  There is always hope, even though some of it has yet to arrive.

Regardless of the year you are reading this post, O reader, I guarantee that global news looks nothing like God’s full-blown reign on Earth.  This is a matter of human sinfulness and of divine scheduling.  Mustering patience can be difficult, I know, but we need not rely on our strength, which is insufficient anyhow.  Fortunately, God seems to smile upon even the effort to muster patience; at least the attempt is a sign of good faith.

Proper 3

The readings from Hebrews 1 and John 1 present the heavenly Jesus, who dwelt among people and met with both acceptance and rejection.  All the people of the Earth should rejoice because of the Incarnation, but most do not.  This is unfortunate.  It is also a matter for divine judgment and mercy; I will not presume to know more about the balance of those two factors than the very little I perceive.

The reading from Isaiah 52 is a prophecy of the restoration of Jerusalem.  The Presence of God will dwell with the people, as it did after the Exodus and before the crossing into Canaan, we read.  The full victory of God remains for the future, but the Incarnation constitutes a unique divine intervention into human events.  The Incarnation points toward intervention and tells us, among other things, that we who follow Christ have excellent reasons to hope for the future.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 17, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT PATRICK, APOSTLE OF IRELAND

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

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

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

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2018/03/17/reasons-for-hope/

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Devotion for December 25, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   4 comments

04039v

Above:  Interior, Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem, Palestine, Between 1934 and 1939

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-matpc-04039

The Incarnated Light

DECEMBER 25, 2019

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The Collects:

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

into our world has brightened weary hearts with peace.

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

Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you

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

and

Almighty God, you gave your only Son to take on our human nature

and to illumine the world with your light.

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

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

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

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 20

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The Assigned Readings:

Set One:

Isaiah 62:6-12

Psalm 97

Titus 3:4-7

Luke 2:[1-7] 8-20

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Set Two:

Isaiah 52:7-10

Psalm 98

Hebrews 1:1-4 [5-12]

John 1:1-14

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Some Related Posts:

O Blessed Mother:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/17/o-blessed-mother/

A Christmas Prayer:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/a-christmas-prayer/

Blessing of a Nativity Scene:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/blessing-of-a-nativity-scene/

A Christmas Prayer:  God of History:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/a-christmas-prayer-god-of-history/

A Christmas Prayer:  Immanuel:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/a-christmas-prayer-immanuel/

Christmas Blessings:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/christmas-blessings/

A Christmas Prayer of Thanksgiving:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/a-christmas-prayer-of-thanksgiving/

The Hail Mary:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/25/the-hail-mary/

O Little Town of Bethlehem:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/12/09/o-little-town-of-bethlehem/

Joy to the World:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/12/15/joy-to-the-world/

Christmas Prayers of Praise and Adoration:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/12/20/christmas-prayers-of-praise-and-adoration/

Christmas Prayers of Dedication:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/12/20/christmas-prayers-of-dedication/

A Prayer of Thanksgiving for Christmas:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/12/22/a-prayer-of-thanksgiving-for-christmas/

How Can I Fitly Greet Thee:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/12/06/how-can-i-fitly-greet-thee/

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Light has dawned for the righteous:

and joy for the upright in heart.

–Psalm 97:11, A New Zealand Prayer Book (1989)

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You have made known your victory:

you have displayed your saving power to all nations.

–Psalm 98:3, A New Zealand Prayer Book (1989)

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The readings for Christmas Day, the first day of Christmas, focus on the arrival of salvation.  In some ways this announcement constitutes old news, especially when reading the lessons from Isaiah.  And, as another text tells us:

In many and various ways God spoke to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom he also created the ages.  He reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature, upholding the universe by his word of power.  When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has obtained is more excellent than theirs.

–Hebrews 1:1-4, Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition

Salvation was–and remains–old news.  And the one new means of it is about 2,000 years old in human terms now.  Through Jesus we have access to

…the cleansing power of a new birth and the renewal of the Holy Spirit….The result is that we are acquitted by his [Christ’s] grace, and can look forward in hope to inheriting life eternal.

–Titus 3:5b and 7, J. B. Phillips, The New Testament in Modern English, Revised Edition (1972)

The Incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity in the form of Jesus of Nazareth, proclaimed to shepherds, is potentially good news for people of various socio-economic backgrounds and cultural origins.  Grace is good news, is it not?  Yet grace, although free, is costly, not cheap.  It demands much of us.  And there is potentially bad news from a certain point of view.  To follow Jesus–to be a disciple–might cost one more than one wants to pay.  It has cost many people their lives.

On this Christmas Day and on all other days may we accept the challenge to take up a cross and follow Jesus, the Word made flesh and the Light who shines in the darkness without the darkness overcoming it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 10, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHANN SCHEFFLER, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, POET, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF GEORG NEUMARK, GERMAN LUTHERAN POET AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN HINES, PRESIDING BISHOP OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/07/24/the-incarnated-light/

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Devotion for February 29 and March 1 in Epiphany/Ordinary Time (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   11 comments

Above:  Good Shepherd

Job and John, Part XX:  Suffering and Discipline

FRIDAY, MARCH 1, 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 32:1-22 (February 29)

Job 33:1-18 (March 1)

Psalm 85 (Morning–February 29)

Psalm 61 (Morning–March 1)

Psalms 25 and 40 (Evening–February 29)

Psalms 138 and 98 (Evening–March 1)

John 10:1-21 (February 29)

John 10:22-42 (March 1)

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Some Related Posts:

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/

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/

Litany of the Good Shepherd:

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

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Job 32-37 consists of the Elihu section of that book.  This is certainly a later addition to the Book of Job, for Elihu comes from nowhere and leaves without a trace.  His task is mainly to pester Job for a few chapters while uttering pious-sounding yet non-helpful sentiments the three alleged friends said before.  In point of fact, one can skip from Chapter 31 to Chapter 38 while missing mostly tedium.

Yet not everything Elihu says lacks scriptural parallel.  He tells Job, for example, that this suffering is a divine rebuke.  (It is not, according to the Book of Job.)  A note in The Jewish Study Bible refers me to Proverbs 3:11-12, which, in TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures, reads:

Do not reject the discipline of the LORD, my son;

Do not abhor His rebuke.

For whom the LORD loves, He rebukes,

as a father the son whom he favors.

There is such a thing as parental discipline for the good of the child; that is true.  But Elihu’s error was in applying this lesson in a circumstance where it did not apply.

Meanwhile, in John 10, Jesus calls himself the Good Shepherd, claims to be the Son of God, rejects the charge of blasphemy, and finds his life at risk.  The contrast between the God concepts of Elihu and Jesus interests me.  Elihu’s God dishes out abuse and Elihu, convinced of the need to commit theodicy, calls it discipline.  Yet the God of Jesus watches gives his sheep eternal life and sends a self-sacrificial shepherd for them.  That shepherd’s suffering is not a rebuke for his sins, for he is sinless.

Once again, Jesus provides an excellent counterpoint to a voice of alleged orthodoxy in the Book of Job and affirms that book’s message.

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-xx-suffering-and-discipline/

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Devotion for February 2 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   3 comments

Above:  Crete (July 22, 2011)

Image Source = Jet Propulsion Library, NASA

Discomfort with Scripture

FEBRUARY 2, 2022

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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:

Zechariah 12:1-13:9

Psalm 61 (Morning)

Psalms 138 and 98 (Evening)

Titus 1:1-2:6

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Sometimes I read texts and find inspiration.  Then there are Zechariah 12:1-13:9 and Titus 1:1-2:6.  One of the benefits of a lectionary is that it leads one who follows it to read uncomfortable passages.  One, in reading the Bible, ought not to focus only on one’s favorite passages and those with which one agrees.

The imagery in Zechariah is stark and the polemics in Titus are jarring.  If I were (A) a female, (B) a man from Crete, or (C) a woman from Crete, I would really take offense.  and Zechariah II’s imagery of divine wrath upon the enemies of Judah turning Jerusalem into

…a bowl of reeling…

do not comfort me.  I read that God will cause the people of Judah to feel compassion for the afflicted Gentiles, but the Gentiles are still slain.

For all my discomfort, I refuse to seek convenient ways to explain away passages.  Inadequate rationalizations will not suffice.  No, I own my discomfort, for I seek to be honest–and to take my discomfort to God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 11, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT DIONYSIUS OF CORINTH, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANTHONY NEYROT, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR

THE FEAST OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SELWYN, ANGLICAN PRIMATE OF NEW ZEALAND

THE FEAST OF SAINT STANISLAUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF KRAKOW

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/10/06/discomfort-with-scripture/

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Devotion for December 31 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   6 comments

Above:  Magnificat

The Presence of God

DECEMBER 31, 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:

Isaiah 60:1-22

Psalm 98 (Morning)

Psalms 45 and 96 (Evening)

Luke 1:39-56

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Some Related Posts:

O Blessed Mother:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/06/o-blessed-mother/

The Hail Mary:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/25/the-hail-mary/

Feast of Saint Mary of Nazareth, Mother of God:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/02/13/feast-of-st-mary-of-nazareth-mother-of-god-august-15/

Prayers for the New Year:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/10/31/new-year/

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The Lutheran daily lectionary is doing something I did not expect:  It is placing after December 25 material which other lectionaries place in Advent.  Consider the Visitation and the Magnificat, for example.  They are classical Advent material.

Yet a refresher course is appropriate.  Christmas does not end on December 25; it begins then.  And the light of God had dawned upon us.  As we stand at the threshold of a new calendar year, may we seek to see God in those around us and to treat our fellow human beings accordingly.  May the words of Third Isaiah be true for us and those among whom God will place us:

No longer shall you need the sun

For light by day,

Nor the shining of the moon

For radiance [by night];

For the LORD shall be your light everlasting,

Your God shall be your glory.

–Isaiah 60:19, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

Amen.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 22, 2012 COMMON ERA

ASH WEDNESDAY

THE FEAST OF ERIC LIDDELL, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN MISSIONARY TO CHINA

THE FEAST OF SAINT PRAETEXTATUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF ROUEN

THE FEAST OF RASMUS JENSEN, LUTHERAN MISSIONARY TO CANADA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS THALASSIUS, LIMNAEUS, AND MARON, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONKS

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/08/11/the-presence-of-god/

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Devotion for December 25 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   8 comments

Above:  Adoration of the Shepherds, by James Tissot

Seeming Paradoxes

DECEMBER 25, 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:

Isaiah 49:1-18

Psalm 2 (Morning)

Psalms 98 and 96 (Evening)

Matthew 1:1-17

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Some Related Posts:

O Blessed Mother:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/17/o-blessed-mother/

A Christmas Prayer:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/a-christmas-prayer/

Blessing of a Nativity Scene:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/blessing-of-a-nativity-scene/

A Christmas Prayer:  God of History:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/a-christmas-prayer-god-of-history/

A Christmas Prayer:  Immanuel:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/a-christmas-prayer-immanuel/

Christmas Blessings:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/christmas-blessings/

A Christmas Prayer of Thanksgiving:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/a-christmas-prayer-of-thanksgiving/

The Hail Mary:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/25/the-hail-mary/

O Little Town of Bethlehem:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/12/09/o-little-town-of-bethlehem/

Joy to the World:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/12/15/joy-to-the-world/

Christmas Prayers of Praise and Adoration:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/12/20/christmas-prayers-of-praise-and-adoration/

Christmas Prayers of Dedication:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/12/20/christmas-prayers-of-dedication/

A Prayer of Thanksgiving for Christmas:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/12/22/a-prayer-of-thanksgiving-for-christmas/

How Can I Fitly Greet Thee:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/12/06/how-can-i-fitly-greet-thee/

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Divine agency binds the Isaiah and Matthew readings.  The Servant Song from Isaiah 49, set prior to the opportunity for exiles of Judah to return to their ancestral homeland, makes clear the theme that God is orchestrating events.  Furthermore, God’s love for Judah exceeds that of a mother for a child (verses 15-16).  We know that some mothers, especially drug-addicted ones, are inattentive sometimes.  So yes, a woman can disown the child of her womb; some have.  But God would not disown disobedient and punished Judah.

As for Matthew, we have a family tree for Jesus.  Most names are male, but notice the four women mentioned.  Rahab was a prostitute, Ruth was a foreigner, Bathsheba was so scandalous that the texts lists her as “Uriah’s wife” and does not use her name, and there were rumors regarding Mary.  There were, of course, unnamed and unmentioned women involved in all this reproduction, but the text points out only four, one of whom was a Gentile and three of which had justly or unjustly checkered sexual reputations.  If I were fabricating a story designed to make Jesus look as good as possible, I would not write the story this way.

The meaning I draw from the Matthew genealogy of Jesus today is that God works through us, regardless of our socially defined categories and stigmas, to work grace in the world.  Grace overpowers scandal, stigma, and scorn.  The “other” we despise might be an instrument of grace.  This is how God, whose love exceeds that of a mother, works among us; the first will be last and the last will be first.  Redemption arrives as a vulnerable baby.

 It is a great mystery; may we embrace it.  Merry Christmas!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 15, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THOMAS BRAY, ANGLICAN PRIEST

THE FEAST OF ALEXANDER VIETS GRISWOLD, PRESIDING BISHOP OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH

THE FEAST OF MICHAEL PRAETORIUS, COMPOSER

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/08/09/seeming-paradoxes/

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Week of 8 Epiphany: Tuesday, Year 2   12 comments

Above:  The Good Samaritan, by Rembrandt van Rijn

Holiness

NOT OBSERVED THIS YEAR

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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 Peter 1:10-16 (Revised English Bible):

This salvation was the subject of intense search by the prophets who prophesied about the grace of God awaiting you.  They tried to find out the time and the circumstances to which the spirit of Christ in them pointed, when it foretold the sufferings in Christ’s cause and the glories to follow.  It was disclosed to them that these matters were not for their benefit but for years.  Now they have been openly announced to you through preachers who brought you the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven.  These are the things that angels long to glimpse.

Your minds must therefore be stripped for action and fully alert.  Fix your hopes on the grace which is to be yours when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Be obedient to God your Father, and do not let your characters be shaped any longer by the desires you cherished in your days of ignorance.  He who called you is holy; like him, be holy in all your conduct.  Does not scripture say, “You shall be holy, for I am holy”?

Psalm 98 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Sing to the LORD a new song,

for he has done marvelous things.

With his right hand and his holy arm

has he won for himself the victory.

The LORD has made known his victory;

his righteousness has he openly shown in the sight of the nations.

He remembers his mercy and faithfulness to the house of Israel,

and all the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.

Shout with joy to the LORD, all you lands;

lift up your voice, rejoice, and sing.

Sing to the LORD with the harp,

with the harp and the voice of song.

With trumpets and the sound of the horn

shout with joy before the King, the LORD.

Let the sea make a noise and all that is in it,

the lands and those who dwell therein.

Let the rivers clap their hands,

and let the hills ring out with joy before the LORD,

when he comes to judge the earth.

10 In righteousness shall he judge the world

and the peoples with equity.

Mark 10:28-31 (Revised English Bible):

What about us?

said Peter.

We have left everything to follow you.

Jesus said,

Truly I tell you:  there is no one who has given up home, brothers or sisters, mother, father, or children, or land, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive in this age a hundred times as much–houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and land–and persecutions besides; and in the age to come eternal life.  But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

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The Collect:

Most loving Father, whose will it is for us to give thanks for all things, to fear nothing but the loss of you, and to cast all our care on you who care for us: Preserve us from faithless fears and worldly anxieties, that no clouds of this mortal life may hide from us the light of that love which is immortal, and which you have manifested to us in your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Week of 8 Epiphany:  Tuesday, Year 1:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/11/05/week-of-8-epiphany-tuesday-year-1/

Matthew 5 (Related to 1 Peter 1):

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/tenth-day-of-lent/

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For I am the LORD your God; you are to make yourselves holy, because I am holy….I am the LORD who brought you up from Egypt to become your God.  You are to keep yourselves holy, because I am holy.

–Leviticus 11:44a, 45 (Revised English Bible)

We are imperfect beings; God knows this well.  No matter how ardently we strive to walk in the paths of righteousness, love, and metanoia, we will falter from time to time.  God knows this well.  What matters is that we, trusting in divine mercies, try, and, when we stray, return to the path.

As I typed the lesson from 1 Peter, the end of the reading stood out in my mind.  “…be holy in all your conduct,” it reads.  Holiness, in this context, cannot refer to moral perfectionism, for we humans are incapable of moral perfection.  We can, however, strive to be better and more moral, with morality, in my point of view, begin the same as loving God fully, loving one’s self in that context, and loving one’s neighbor as one’s self.  And, by grace, we can succeed more often than we fail.

There is a similar passage in Matthew 5:48.  Instead of holiness, though, the exhortation is one to be perfect, or devoted to the wholehearted service of God.  Another shade of meaning related to “perfection” is being a suitable sacrifice to God.  This is possible by grace.  This is about love, not judgmentalism and pietistic nitpicking.

The Revised English Bible, however, cuts to the chase nicely.  Instead of using the traditional English rendering, to be perfect, for God is perfect, the text says,

There must be no limit to your goodness, as your heavenly Father’s goodness knows no bounds.

That is a noble ambition, is it not?  That makes one a suitable sacrifice, does it not?  That is wholehearted devotion and service to God, is it not?

Sometimes I have acted in ways I thought were holy, but that were actually judgmental.  I am far from alone in this regard.  I might even be thinking in ways I think are holy but that are really judgmental as I type these words.  This is possible.  If I am to be spiritually honest, I must admit that possibility.  You see, O reader, I have far to go in spiritual matters, and I am not alone in this reality.  So, loving and accepting ourselves and each other, may we flawed human beings strive to do better, to be better, and to love more effectively and actively.  May we support each other in our journeys along the pathways of divine love and forgive ourselves and each other for our faults.  God does.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/01/19/holiness/

Week of 3 Epiphany: Monday, Year 1   16 comments

Above:  Bonfire

Image Source = Fir0002

Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit

JANUARY 25, 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 9:15, 24-28 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred which redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant.

For Christ has entered , not into a sanctuary made with hands, a copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.  Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the Holy Place yearly with blood not his own; for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world.  But as it is, he has appeared once for all for the end of the age to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.  And just as it is appointed for men to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly awaiting him.

Image Source = Raul654

Psalm 98 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 Sing to the LORD a new song,

for he has done marvelous things.

2 With his right hand and his holy arm

has he won for himself the victory.

3 The LORD has made known his victory;

his righteousness has he openly shown in the sight of the nations.

4 He remembers his mercy and faithfulness to the house of Israel,

and all the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.

5 Shout with joy to the LORD, all you lands;

lift up your voice, rejoice, and sing.

6 Sing to the LORD with the harp,

with the harp and the voice of song.

7 With trumpets and the sound of the horn

shout with joy before the King, the LORD.

8 Let the sea make a noise and all that is in it,

the lands and those who dwell therein.

9 Let the rivers clap their hands,

and let the hills ring out with joy before the LORD,

when he comes to judge the earth.

10 In righteousness shall he judge the world

and the peoples with equity.

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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We humans like to judge each other.  Yet we have partial knowledge, so our judgments are prone to error, often of a severe nature.  God is the ultimate judge, however, and judgment belongs there properly.   We ought to demonstrate enough humility to recognize the limits of our knowledge and wisdom, and to leave judgment to God.

The Bible uses many metaphors for God.  Among these is “a consuming fire,” an image similar to representations of the Holy Spirit as tongues of flame.  With these facts in mind, I selected a Wikipedia image of a bonfire for this post.  The metaphor works on another level, too:  The unpardonable sin is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, and unpardonable sin leads to Hell, depicted also with flames.

So, what is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit?  It is the inability to recognize goodness when a person sees it.  Thus one does not see one’s sin, and cannot ask pardon and repent of it.  So a person has erected a barrier between himself or herself and God.

Consider the context in Mark; scribes have attributed acts of God (and goodness) to Satan (and evil).  They were so spiritually blind that they could not bring themselves to recognize acts of mercy as such.  Perhaps they did this as psychological self-defense; often we humans see what we want to see and hear what we want to hear.  The possibility that we are wrong can prove devastating to our egos.  And, if we admit that we are wrong and act accordingly, we might endanger our livelihood and our social definition and standing.

But may we mere mortals refrain from proclaiming anyone as guilty of the unpardonable sin.  Such judgments reside properly within the purview of God alone.  Besides, I find that my own sins that I recognize as such keep me occupied; the sins of others are between them and God.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/01/05/blasphemy-against-the-holy-spirit/

Eleventh Day of Christmas   8 comments

Above:  An Eastern Orthodox Icon of the Twelve Apostles

Image Source = Stamp

What Do You Want?

JANUARY 4, 2022

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1 John 3:7-10 (New Jerusalem Bible):

Children, do not let anyone lead you astray.

Whoever acts uprightly is upright,

just as he is upright.

Whoever lives sinfully belongs to the devil,

since the devil has been a sinner from the beginning.

This was the purpose of the appearing of the Son of God,

to undo the work of the devil.

No one who is a child of God sins

because God’s seed remains in him.

Nor can he sin, because he is a child of God.

This is what distinguishes

the children of God from the children of the devil;

whoever does not live uprightly

and does not love his brother

is not from God.

Psalm 98:1, 7-9 (New Jerusalem Bible):

Sing a new song to Yahweh,

for he has performed wonders,

his saving power is in his right hand and his holy arm.

Let the sea thunder, and all that it holds,

the world and all who live in it.

Let the rivers clap their hands,

and the mountains shout for joy together,

at Yahweh’s coming, for he is coming

to judge the earth;

he will judge the world with saving justice

and the nations with fairness.

John 1:35-42 (New Jerusalem Bible):

The next day as John stood there again with two of his disciples, Jesus went past, and John said,

Look, there is the lamb of God.

And the two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus.  Jesus turned round, saw them following and said,

What do you want?

They answered,

Rabbi

–which means Teacher–

where do you live?

He replied,

Come and see;

so they went and saw where he lived, and stayed with him that day.  It was about the tenth hour.

One of these two who became followers of Jesus after hearing what John had said was Andrew, brother of Simon Peter.  The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother and say to him,

We have found the Messiah

–which means the Christ–and he took Simon to Jesus.  Jesus looked at him and said,

You are Simon son of John; you are to be called Cephas

–which means Rock.

The Collect:

O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature: Grant that we may share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity, your Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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What do we want from Jesus?

Do we seek validation for all our opinions or do we look for a challenge?  Do we seek a road to wealth via faith or do we look for one who reminds us of our responsibilities to the less fortunate?  Do we seek a martyr and hero or a Savior and Lord?

Jesus refuses to fit into our neat, theological boxes, which are vehicles of idolatry.  He is frequently not socially respectable, keeping company with those at the margins of society.  The maxim, “He who lies with dogs, rises with fleas” does not apply to Jesus.  Jesus is neither a mighty warrior nor a meek, mild-mannered person.  This is a figure who knows how to use a whip yet is deeply compassionate.  He challenges our preconceptions.

And that is how it should be.  Thanks be to God!

KRT

Written on June 7, 2010

Tenth Day of Christmas   10 comments

Above:  Adoration of the Shepherds, by Guido Reni, 1600s

(It is still Christmas.)

What Wondrous Love

JANUARY 3, 2022

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1 John 3:1-16 (New Jerusalem Bible):

You must see what great love the Father has lavished on us

by letting us be called God’s children–

which is what we are!

The reason why the world does not acknowledge us

is that it did not acknowledge him.

My dear friends, we are already God’s children,

but what we shall be in the future has not yet been revealed.

We are well aware that when he appears

we shall be like him,

because we shall see him as he really is.

Whoever treasures this hope of him

purifies himself, to be as pure as he is.

Whoever sins, acts wickedly,

because all sin is wickedness.

Now that you are well aware that he has appeared in order to take sins away,

and that in him there is no sin.

No one who remains in him sins,

and whoever sins

has neither seen him nor recognized him.

Psalm 98:1, 4-6 (New Jerusalem Bible):

Sing a new song to Yahweh,

for he has performed wonders,

his saving power is in his right hand and his holy arm.

Acclaim Yahweh, all the earth,

burst into shouts of joy!

Play to Yahweh on the harp,

to the sound of instruments;

to the sound of trumpet and horn,

acclaim the presence of the King.

John 1:29-34 (New Jerusalem Bible):

The next day, he [John the Baptist] saw Jesus coming towards him and said,

Look, there is the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.  It was of him I said, “Behind me comes one who has passed ahead of me because he existed before me.”  I did not know him myself, and yet my purpose in coming to baptize with water so that he might be revealed to Israel.

And John declared,

I saw the Spirit come down on him like a dove from heaven and rest on him.  I did not know him myself, but he who sent me to baptize with water had said to me, “The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and rest is the one who is to baptize with the Holy Spirit.”  I have seen and I testify that he is the Chosen One of God.

The Collect:

O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature: Grant that we may share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity, your Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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As I typed the assigned lessons from the Episcopal lectionary for Christmas, I knew that the best commentary and devotional based on them was a hymn, “What Wondrous Love.”  So I share the words of this 1835 hymn of U.S. origin with you, O reader.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

Written on June 7, 2010

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1.  What wondrous love is this,

O my soul, O my soul!

What wondrous love is this,

O my soul!

What wondrous love is this

that caused the  Lord of bliss

to lay aside his crown

for my soul, for my soul,

to lay aside his crown

for my soul.

2.  To God and to the Lamb,

I will sing, I will sing,

to God and to the Lamb,

I will sing.

To God and to the Lamb

who is the great I AM,

while millions join the theme,

I will sing, I will sing,

while millions join the theme

I will sing.

3.  And when from death I’m free,

I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on,

and when from death I’m free,

I’ll sing on.

And when from death I’m free

I’ll sing and joyful be,

and through eternity,

I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on,

and through eternity

I’ll sing on.