Archive for the ‘Zephaniah 3’ Tag

Devotion for December 22 and 23, Year B (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Christ Pantocrator

Above:  Christ Pantocrator

Image in the Public Domain

The Kingdom of God

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 22, 2017, and SATURDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2017

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The Collect:

Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come.

With your abundant grace and might,

free us from the sin that would obstruct your mercy,

that willingly we may bear your redeeming love to all the world,

for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever. Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 19

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The Assigned Readings:

Zephaniah 3:8-13 (December 22)

Zephaniah 3:14-20 (December 23)

Psalm 96 (Both Days)

Romans 10:5-13 (December 22)

Romans 13:11-14 (December 23)

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He will judge the world with righteousness

and the peoples with his truth.

–Psalm 96:13, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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The language of the Kingdom of God functions on more than one level.  It describes the following, with some germane scriptural passages favoring one definition above the other two:

  1. an earthly future when God’s order has replaced corrupt, violent, and exploitative human systems;
  2. an earthly place where God’s order has replaced corrupt, violent, and exploitative human systems; and
  3. Heaven.

There is also a sense of the Kingdom of God being partially manifest in the present; the Regnum Dei has arrived, yet there is more to come.  In a political sense, the Kingdom of God functions as a criticism of violent, corrupt, and economically exploitative human systems.  Thus, for example, any way in which the Judean monarchy or the Roman imperium differed from the Kingdom of God was a way in which it missed the mark–sinned.

One function of divine judgment in the Bible is to prompt repentance.  Judgment has a purifying function, as in Zephaniah 3:8-20, a vision of a righteous time and place.  The restored, purified remnant of Judah will live faithfully in the presence of God.  Furthermore, the passage says, justice will prevail and shame will be absent and unnecessary.

Those who have benefitted from the mercies of God ought to live accordingly, thanking God with their lives, as grace enables them to do so.  The love of God is universal, so the previous sentence applies to everyone.  To respond to perfect love with as close to that as humanly possible does not constitute symmetry, but God accepts it graciously.  The Kingdom of God, the Gospels tell us, is inside us and around us.  It has arrived partially; its fullness will come in time.  May our lives, by grace, indicate something of that part of the Kingdom of God which is present.

As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, whom the Roman Empire executed, may we remember that he entered a violent world in which he was a target from the beginning of this incarnated life.  Yet:

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

–John 1:5, New Revised Standard Version (1989)

The darkness remains, but so does the light.  And God is the King, despite appearances to the contrary.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 27, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ARTHUR CAMPBELL AINGER, ENGLISH EDUCATOR, SCHOLAR, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT AEDESIUS, PRIEST AND MISSIONARY; AND SAINT FRUDENTIUS, FIRST BISHOP OF AXUM AND ABUNA OF THE ETHIOPIAN ORTHODOX TEWAHEDO CHURCH

THE FEAST OF THE VICTIMS OF THE SALEM WITCH TRIALS

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/10/28/the-kingdom-of-god-2/

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Fifteenth Day of Advent: Third Sunday of Advent, Year C   13 comments

Above:  Zephaniah

Do Not Be Afraid

DECEMBER 16, 2018

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Zephaniah 3:14-20 (Revised English Bible):

Zion, cry out for joy;

raise the shout of triumph, Israel;

be glad, rejoice with all your heart,

daughter of Jerusalem!

The LORD has averted your punishment,

has swept away your foes.

Israel, the LORD is among you as king;

never again need you fear disaster.

On that day this must be the message to Jerusalem:

Fear not, Zion, let not your hands hang limp.

The LORD your God is in your midst,

a warrior who will keep you safe.

He will rejoice over you and be glad;

he will show you his love once more;

he will exult over you with a shout of joy

as on a festal day.

I shall take away your cries of woe

and you will no longer endure reproach.

When that time comes;

I shall deal with all who oppress you;

I shall rescue the lost and gather the dispersed.

I shall win for my people praise and renown

throughout the whole world.

When that time comes I shall gather you

and bring you home.

I shall win you renown and praise

among all the peoples of the earth,

when I restore your fortunes before your eyes.

It is the LORD who speaks.

Canticle 9, from The Book of Common Prayer, page 86:

(Isaiah 12:2-6)

Surely, it is God who saves me;

I will trust in him and not be afraid.

For the Lord is my stronghold and my sure defense,

and he will be my Savior.

Therefore you shall draw water with rejoicing

from the springs of salvation.

On that day you shall say,

Give thanks to the Lord and call upon his Name;

Make his deeds known among the peoples;

see that they remember that his Name is exalted.

Sing the praises of the Lord, for he has done great things,

and this is known in all the world.

Cry aloud, inhabitants of Zion, ring out your joy,

for the great one in the midst of you is the Holy One of Israel.

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.

Philippians 4:4-7 (New Revised Standard Version):

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Luke 3:7-18 (New Revised Standard Version):

John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him,

You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

And the crowds asked him,

What then should we do?

In reply he said to them,

Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.

Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him,

Teacher, what should we do?

He said to them,

Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.

Soldiers also asked him,

And we, what should we do?

He said to them,

Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.

As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying,

I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.

So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.

The Collect:

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s Cry Announces that the Lord is Nigh:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/12/10/on-jordans-bank-the-baptists-cry-announces-that-the-lord-is-nigh/

Advent Prayers of Dedication:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/09/10/advent-prayers-of-dedication/

Advent Prayers of Praise and Adoration:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/09/10/advent-prayers-of-praise-and-adoration/

An Advent Prayer:  Expectant God:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/an-advent-prayer-expectant-god/

An Advent Prayer:  Divine Light:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/an-advent-prayer-divine-light/

An Advent Prayer:  The Word of God is Near:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/an-advent-prayer-the-word-of-god-is-near/

An Advent Prayer of Confession:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/an-advent-prayer-of-confession/

Advent Prayers of Thanksgiving:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/advent-prayers-of-thanksgiving/

An Advent Blessing:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/an-advent-blessing/

An Advent Prayer:  Expectant Hearts:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/an-advent-prayer-expectant-hearts/

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If anyone had a good reason to fear, an exile living in the territory of a foreign power infamous for its cruelty did.  If anyone had a good reason to fear, someone living under foreign occupation did.  If anyone had a good reason to fear, someone likely to suffer and perhaps die for merely being a Christian did.  Yet the words of Zephaniah were comforting ones; a remnant would return one day.  They did, thanks to God and the Persians.  And Paul, who advised the Philippians not to worry, had suffered for his faith and became a martyr in time.

Sometimes, when we fear, we act foolishly, even cruelly, toward each other.  We seek our self interests at the expense of others.  We exploit each other and condone the exploitation others commit.  We act as if the Golden Rule is

He who has the gold makes the rules.

All who act accordingly need to repent–to turn around, to change one’s mind.

The confidence of love is vastly superior to the uncertainty of fear and the perfidious deeds which flow from it.  Yes, the world is dark and evil runs rampant.  But God is doing a new thing; a great light is about to shine upon us.  The world into which that light was born was one in which a tyrant killed innocents as part of an effort to murder one perceived threat.  Light confronts darkness, so darkness cannot tolerate it.  But, in the end, light scatters the darkness.

So may we, confident in God, act toward each other in love and compassion.  It is what Jesus did.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 1, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE EIGHTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FIRST SUNDAY AFTER CHRISTMAS, YEAR B

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/08/09/do-not-be-afraid-2/

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Advent Devotion for December 21   15 comments

Above: Visitation, by Jacques Daret, Circa 1435

The Mother of My Lord

DECEMBER 21, 2019 (YEAR A)

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FIRST READING FOR YEARS A AND B:  Zephaniah 3:14-18a (Revised English Bible):

Zion, cry out for joy;

raise the shout of triumph, Israel;

be glad, rejoice with all your heart,

daughter of Jerusalem!

The LORD has averted your punishment,

has swept away your foes.

Israel, the LORD is among you as king;

never again need you fear disaster.

On that day this must be the message to Jerusalem:

Fear not, Zion, let not your hands hang limp.

The LORD your God is in your midst,

a warrior who will keep you safe.

He will rejoice over you and be glad;

he will show you his love once more;

he will exult over you with a shout of joy

as on a festal day.

FIRST READING FOR YEAR C:  Song of Songs 2:8-14 (Revised English Bible):

Bride

Hark!  My beloved!  Here he comes, bounding over mountains, leaping over the hills.

My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag.

There he stands outside the wall, peering in at the windows, gazing through the lattice.

My beloved spoke, saying to me:

Rise up my darling; my fair one, come away.

For see, the winter is past!  The rains are over and gone;

the flowers appear in the countryside; the season of birdsong is come,

and the turtle-dove’s cooing is heard in our land;

the green figs ripen on the fig trees and the vine blossoms give forth their fragrance.

Rise up, my darling; my fair one, come away.

RESPONSE:  Psalm 33:1-5, 20-22 (Revised English Bible):

Shout for joy in the LORD, you that are righteous;

praise comes well from the upright.

Give thanks to the LORD on the lyre;

make music to him on the ten-stringed harp.

Sing to him a new song;

strike up with all your skill and shout in triumph,

for the word of the LORD holds true,

and all his work endures.

He is a lover of righteousness and justice;

the earth is filled with the LORD’s unfailing love.

We have waited eagerly for the LORD;

he is our help and our shield.

In him our hearts are glad,

because we have trusted in his holy name.

LORD, let your unfailing love rest on us,

as we have put our hope in you.

GOSPEL:  Luke 1:39-45 (Revised English Bible):

Soon afterwards Mary set out and hurried away to a town in the uplands of Judah.  She went into Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth.  And when Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby stirred in her womb.  Then Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed in a loud voice,

God’s blessing is on you above all women, and his blessing is on the fruit of your womb.  Who am I, that the mother of my Lord should visit me?  I tell you, when your greeting sounded in my ears, the baby in my womb leapt for joy.  Happy is she who has faith that the Lord’s promise to her would be fulfilled!

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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This day’s readings consist of a combination of verse and prose poetry.  Sometimes the most appropriate contemplation of a wondrous event entails poetry.

I have spent the last few minutes typing the readings from a hardcover Bible and contemplating them along the way.  At this moment my contemplations take me to a spiritual place where words are woefully inadequate.  This, I think, is a healthy sign.  So I encourage you to ponder these lessons and let them take you to a profound spiritual place beyond words, and to exist there for a while.

May the peace of the incarnated God be with you now and always.

KRT

Written on June 3, 2010

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/11/18/the-mother-of-my-lord/

Third Week of Advent: Tuesday   8 comments

Above: Grapes (as in the father’s vineyard from the Gospel reading)

Hearing and Doing

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2019

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Zephaniah 3:1-13 (Revised English Bible):

Woe betide the tyrant city,

filthy and foul!

She heeded no warning voice,

took no rebuke to heart;

she did not put her trust in the LORD,

nor did she draw near to her God.

The leaders within her were roaring lions,

her rulers wolves of the plain

that left nothing over till morning.

Her prophets were reckless and perfidious;

her priests profaned the sanctuary

and did violence to the law.

But the LORD in her midst is just;

he does no wrong;

morning after morning he gives his judgment,

every day without fail;

yet the wrongdoer knows no shame.

I have wiped out this arrogant people;

their bastions are demolished.

I have destroyed their streets;

no one walks among them.

Their cities are laid waste,

abandoned and unpeopled.

I said,

Surely she will fear me;

and will take my instruction to heart,

all the commands I laid on her

that her dwelling-place might escape destruction.

But they hastened all the more

to perform their evil deeds.

Therefore wait for me, says the LORD,

wait for the day when I stand up to accuse you;

I have decided to gather nations

and assemble kingdoms,

in order to pour my wrath on them,

all my burning anger;

the whole earth will be consumed

by the fire of my jealousy.

Then I shall restore pure lips to all peoples,

that they may invoke the LORD by name

and serve him with one accord.

My worshipers, dispersed beyond the rivers of Cush,

will bring offerings to me.

On that day, Jerusalem,

you will not be put to shame for any of the deeds

by which you have rebelled against me,

because I shall rid you then

of your proud and arrogant citizens,

and never again will you flaunt your pride

on my holy mountain.

I shall leave a remnant in you,

lowly and poor people.

The survivors in Israel will find refuge in the LORD’s name.

They will do no wrong, nor speak lies;

no words of deceit will pass their lips;

they will feed and lie down

with no one to terrify them.

Psalm 34:1-8 (Revised English Bible):

I shall bless the LORD at all times;

his praise will be ever on my lips.

In the LORD I shall glory;

the humble will hear and be glad.

Glorify the LORD with me;

let us exult his name together.

I sought the LORD’s help; he answered me

and set me free from all my fears.

They who look to him are radiant with joy;

they will never be put out of countenance.

Here is the one who cried out in his affliction;

the LORD heard him and saved him from all his troubles.

The angel of the LORD is on guard

round those who fear him, and he rescues them.

Taste and see that the LORD is good.

Happy are those who find refuge in him!

Matthew 21:28-32 (Revised English Bible):

[Jesus said,]

But what do you think about this?  There was a man who had two sons.  He went to the first, and said, ‘My son, go and work today in the vineyard.’  ‘I will, sir,’ the boy replied; but he did not go.  The father came to the second and said the same.  ‘I will not,’ he replied; but afterwards he changed his mind and went.  Which of the two did what the father wanted?

They [chief priests and elders of the nation] replied,

The second.

Then Jesus said,

Truly I tell you: tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.  For when John came to show you the right way to live, and you did not believe him, but the tax-collectors and the prostitutes did; and even when you had seen that, you did not change your minds and believe him.

The Collect:

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

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It is not enough to hear what God.  No, one must listen in that way which leads to action.

I suspect that much disobedience to God flows from misunderstanding, not purposeful evasion.  In the name of God people have embarked on Crusades, Inquisitions, and religious wars.  In the name of God people continue to slaughter others and/or lay heavy and needless burdens on their fellow human beings, not recognizing the equality which flows from the image of God each of us bears and from the Holy Spirit, which respects no human-defined boundaries.  Often many of we mere mortals accept as proper the reality in which we socialize.

Yet the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

Actually, deeds reveal creeds.  Talk is cheap, but actions tell the truth.  So repentant tax collectors (Roman collaborators and tax thieves) and prostitutes were better off spiritually than certain members of the religious respectable class.

As the prophet Samuel said when he anointed the young David, God looks inward; people look at the outside.

KRT

Written on June 1, 2010

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/11/18/hearing-and-doing/