Archive for the ‘St. Barnabas’ Tag

Devotion for Monday and Tuesday After the Fifth Sunday After the Epiphany, Year B (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Elisha and the Shunamite Woman

Above:  Elisha and the Shumanite Woman, by Gerbrand van den Eeckhout

Image in the Public Domain

Grace, Outsiders, and Theological Humility

FEBRUARY 5, 2018, and FEBRUARY 6, 2018

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The Collect:

Everlasting God, you give strength to the weak and power to the faint.

Make us agents of your healing and wholeness,

that your good may be made known to the ends your creation,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 24

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The Assigned Readings:

2 Kings 4:8-17, 32-37 (Monday)

2 Kings 8:1-6 (Tuesday)

Psalm 102:12-28 (Both Days)

Acts 14:1-7 (Monday)

Acts 15:36-41 (Tuesday)

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He will look with favor on the prayer of the homeless;

he will not despise their plea.

–Psalm 102:17, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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A childless woman bore shame during the time in which Elisha lived.  This was, of course, wrong, but it was her reality.  The story of one such woman, as we find it in 2 Kings 4 and 8, was one of repeated graces–a successful pregnancy, the raising of her dead son, advice to flee ahead of a seven-year-long drought, and, as a widow, restoration of property and income.  Her end, without help, would have been unfortunate.  For example, a widow was especially vulnerable in the Hebrew society of the time.

Widows and barren women were marginalized figures.  So were Gentiles, according to many Jews at the time of St. Paul the Apostle, who was always a Jew.  Christianity began as a Jewish sect.  Indeed, the separation from Judaism was incomplete until 135 C.E., during the Second Jewish War.  The parting of the ways was in progress by the late 60s and early-to-middle 70s C.E., the timeframe for the writing of the Gospel of Mark, the earliest of the four canonical Gospels.  (Thus those religious politics influenced the telling of the stories of Jesus and the twelve Apostles.)  The inclusion of Gentiles and the terms of how that happened caused much controversy within Judaism, Christian and otherwise.  The pericope from Acts 15:36-41 glosses over a fact which St. Paul mentioned in Galatians 2:11-14:  St. Barnabas sided with those who insisted that Gentile converts become Jews first.  Such a position, St. Paul wrote, nullified the grace of God (Galatians 2:21).

Today we read accounts of help for the marginalized.  These people were among the marginalized because other people defined them as such.  This definition labeled people as either insiders or outsiders, for the benefit of the alleged insiders.  I suspect, however, that God’s definition of “insider” is broader than many human understandings have held and do hold.  We humans continue to label others as outsiders for the benefit of the “insiders,” as they define themselves.  Grace remains scandalous, does it not?  And, as Luke Timothy Johnson has said, the Gospel of Mark suggests that many of those who think of themselves as insiders are really outsiders.

I reject Universalism on the side of too-radical inclusion and a range of narrow definitions of who is pure on the opposite side.  The decision about who is inside and who is outside, of who is pure and who is impure, is one for God alone.  We mere mortals have partial answers regarding that question, for we are not totally lacking in received wisdom.  Yet we tend to use the matter as a way of making ourselves feel better about ourselves much of the time.  Often we lapse into a version of the Donatist heresy, in fact.  We ought to live more graciously and with theological humility instead, for we are all broken, weak, and inconstant.  Each of us depends entirely upon grace.  So who are we to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to do?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 2, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE THIRD DAY OF ADVENT, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF SAINT BRIOC, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AND SAINT TUDWAL, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND BISHOP

THE FEAST OF CHANNING MOORE WILLIAMS, EPISCOPAL BISHOP IN CHINA AND JAPAN

THE FEAST OF JOHN BROWN, ABOLITIONIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT OSMUND OF SALISBURY, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/12/06/grace-outsiders-and-theological-humility/

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Devotion for Friday Before the Second Sunday of Advent, Year B (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Antioch Hippodrome

Above:  Remains of the Hippodrome at Antioch, Turkey, Between 1934 and 1939

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-matpc-16684

Jeremiah and Barnabas

DECEMBER 8, 2017

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The Collect:

Stir up our hearts, Lord God, to prepare the way of your only Son.

By his coming strengthen us to serve you with purified lives;

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

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

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 19

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The Assigned Readings:

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 85:8-13

Acts 11:19-26

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Show us your mercy, O LORD,

and grand us your salvation.

I will listen to what the LORD God is saying,

for he is speaking peace to his faithful people

and to those who turn their hears to him.

–Psalm 85:7-8, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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Jeremiah had a difficult vocation:  to prophesy to people who ignored his message at best and tried to kill him at worst.  The prophets’ youth was a serious problem, from his initial perspective.  Yet the power of God proved sufficient, as it always does.  Those whom God calls, God qualifies.  And why should youth function as a handicap when many foolish elders walk the earth?

Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, played a pivotal role in the early Christian Church.  He accompanied St. Paul of Tarsus to a meeting with the Apostles at Jerusalem and spoke on behalf of the former persecutor.  Joseph settled at Antioch, where people called him “Barnabas,” or “son of encouragement” or “son of consolation.”  There he encouraged and consoled Jewish and Gentile Christians alike.  He also traveled to Tarsus to retrieve St. Paul, with whom he traveled later.  St. Paul would not have become the great figure he became without St. (Joseph) Barnabas, properly an Apostle also.

Sometimes I read of allegedly self-made people.  The truth, however, is that we depend on God and each other.  Everything comes from God, of course.  And we rely on each other from the womb to the tomb.  St. Paul needed St. (Joseph) Barnabas, with whom he argued sometimes.  And we modern Christians owe a great debt of gratitude to both of these great men.  The prophet Jeremiah came to understand that he depended on God for his life.  He argued with God frequently, but theirs was an honest relationship.  (I have no problem with arguing faithfully with God.  In fact, I think that Jeremiah made some valid points.)

Jeremiah was the weeping prophet and St. (Joseph) Barnabas was the son of encouragement or consolation.  Jeremiah preached a harsh yet necessary message, but St. (Joseph) Barnabas declared an inclusive and positive Gospel.  Both men suffered for their faithful actions.  Jeremiah died in exile;  St. (Joseph) Barnabas became a martyr.  Yet the book of Jeremiah survives in Bibles, as do accounts of St. (Joseph) Barnabas, encourager of St. Paul and many other Christians.  Both men bequeathed living legacies to the human race.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 20, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF MARY A. LATHBURY, U.S. METHODIST HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT BERTILLA BOSCARDIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN AND NURSE

THE FEAST OF JOHN HARRIS BURT, EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF TARORE OF WAHAORA, ANGLICAN MARTYR

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/10/28/jeremiah-and-barnabas/

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