Archive for December 2011

Authoritative Jesus   2 comments

Above:  A Remnant of a Mosaic from Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

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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 2:5-13 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking.  It has been testified somewhere,

What is man that you are mindful of him,

or the son of man, that you care for him?

You have made him a little lower than the angels,

you have crowned him with glory and honor,

putting everything in subjection under his feet.

Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control.  As it is, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him.  But we see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

For it was fitting that he, for whom and to whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through suffering.  For he who sanctifies those who are sanctified have all one origin.  That is why he is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying,

I will proclaim your name to my brethren,

in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.

And again,

I will put my trust in him.

And again,

Here am I, and the children God has given me.

Psalm 8 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 O LORD our Governor,

how exalted is your Name in all the world!

2 Out of the mouths of infants and children,

your majesty is praised above the heavens.

You have set up a stronghold against your adversaries,

to quell the enemy and the avenger.

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,

the moon and the stars you have set in their courses,

What is man that you should be mindful of him?

the son of man that you should seek him out?

You have made him but little lower than the angels;

you adorn him with glory and honor;

You give him mastery over the works of your hands;

you put all things under his feet;

All sheep and oxen,

even the wild beasts of the field,

The birds of the air, the fish of the sea,

and whatsoever walks in the paths of the sea.

10 O LORD our Governor,

how exalted is your Name in all the world!

Below:  Nebula NGC 1999

Mark 1:21-28 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

And they went into Capernaum; and immediately on the sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught.  And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.  And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out,

What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth ?  Have you come to destroy us?  I know what you are, the Holy One of God.

But Jesus rebuked him, saying,

Be silent and come out of him!

And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him.  And they were all amazed, saying,

What is this?  A new teaching!  With authority he commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.

And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.

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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 Bible stories sound odd to many of us for whom the Scientific Revolution of the 1600s remains influential.  The Hellenistic world of Jesus and his Apostles was one in which one could claim that demonic possession causes epilepsy or schizophrenia or some other ailment and almost nobody would disagree.  Those who wrote the Gospels did not disagree with that assessment.  Yet I have a different mindset.   Nevertheless, I choose not to permit this point to distract me from the major lesson in the reading from Mark.

The Gospel According to Mark portrays Jesus as a powerful and mysterious figure.  He knows who he is.  Unclean spirits know who he is, and so does Satan.  Yet Jesus’ closest associates fail to understand him until his crucifixion and resurrection, which reveal his true nature.  This is the Messianic Secret, which our Lord’s crucifixion and resurrection reveal:  the Messiah has come to die and rise again.  This is a different understanding of Messiah than many had at the time and many continue to harbor; Jesus was not the conquering hero;  he came to die and rise again.

And, unlike other teachers of the Jewish faith, he did not use constant verbal citations to what a great scholar had said.  No, he taught with authority.  More importantly, Jesus acted with authority, and this gave his words more authority than they would have had otherwise.

The Incarnation affirms human nature.  We are wretches, of course, but we also bear the image of God.  Both are true, and we need to balance the two sides well.  What are we that God is mindful of us?  We are children of the living God, bearers of the divine image.  God has walked among us, healed us, taught us, and looked like us.  God has taken on our sins and died for us.  God as risen from the dead for us.

I am not a parent, nor I desire that role.  But I am a child, and I know that my parents love me actively and sacrificially.  The parental metaphor, therefore, is a beautiful way of understanding God’s relationship with each of us.

Who are we that God is mindful of us?  We are the apples of God’s eyes.  May we, by grace, be the best apples, for the sake of each other and the glory of God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 16, 2010 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT LUDMILLA, DUCHESS OF BOHEMIA

THE FEAST OF SAINT NINIAN, BISHOP OF GALLOWAY

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Adapted from this post:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/16/week-of-1-epiphany-tuesday-year-1/

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Posted December 31, 2011 by neatnik2009 in Hebrews 2, Mark 1, Psalm 8

“How Many Apostles Are There?”   1 comment

Above:  The Twelve Apostles

Image Source = Stanp

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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 1:1-6 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir to all things, through whom also he 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.

For to what angel did God ever say,

You are my Son,

today have I begotten you?

Or again,

I will be to him a father,

and he shall be to me a Son?

And again, when he brings the first-born into the world he says,

Let all God’s angels worship him.

Psalm 97 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 The LORD is King;

let the earth rejoice;

let the multitude of the isles be glad.

2 Clouds and darkness are round about him,

righteousness and justice are the foundations of his throne.

A fire goes before him

and burns up his enemies on every side.

4 His lightnings light up the world;

the earth sees it and is afraid.

The mountains melt like wax at the presence of the LORD,

at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.

The heavens declare his righteousness,

and all the peoples see his glory.

Confounded be all who worship carved images

and delight in false gods!

Bow down before him, all you gods.

Zion hears and is glad, and the cities of Judah rejoice,

because of your judgments, O LORD.

For you are the LORD,

most high over all the earth;

you are exalted far above all gods.

10 The LORD loves those who hate evil;

he preserves the lives of the saints

and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.

11 Light has sprung up for the righteous,

and joyful gladness for those who are truehearted.

12 Rejoice in the LORD, you righteous,

and give thanks to his holy Name.

Mark 1:14-20 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying,

The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.

And passing along by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen.  And Jesus said to them,

Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men.

And immediately they left their nets and followed him.  And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets.  And immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and followed him.

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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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I admit it.  I like both really good movies (you know, the kind with great acting, a well-written script, and lovely cinematography) as well as bad ones.  There is a time and a season for Citizen Kane, as well as Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.  (Did you ever imagine those two sharing the same thought or sentence?)  Among my favorite bad movies is …And God Spoke (The Making of).  This is a mockumentary about two utterly incompetent and biblically illiterate filmmakers filming a Bible movie.  In one scene, they have too few actors to play the Twelve Apostles because they do not know how many apostles there were.

Indeed, this is a more difficult question than one might suspect at first.  We begin with the twelve who formed Jesus’ inner circle.  Then we add Matthias, plucked briefly from obscurity among the 70 (or 72) of our Lord and Savior’s outer circle to take the place of Judas.  And we consider Paul of Tarsus an apostle.  Our Eastern Orthodox brethren consider Mary of Magdala an equal of the Twelve Apostles.  That, I suppose, makes her an apostle.

Furthermore, the ranks of the saints include others called apostles, for example the “Apostle of Ireland” (St. Patrick).  This is consistent with one definition of apostle, according to the Encarta World English Dictionary:  “a prominent Christian missionary, especially one who is responsible for converting a nation.”

Becoming an apostle (generic term) or Apostle (one the inner circle of Jesus) entailed great personal risks.  Excluding Judas and including Matthias, eleven of the Twelve became martyrs.   John was just fortunate, I suppose.  These men converted nations and laid the foundations upon which succeeding Christian leaders built.  I, as a Christian, owe them much gratitude.  Paul died as a martyr, too, but not before taking Christianity to the Gentiles, among whose company I count myself.  Mary Magadalene is a much misunderstood figure, for Papal tradition (that of Pope Gregory I, to be precise), not the Bible, associates her as having been a prostitute.  Yet another tradition says that she took the Gospel to southern Gaul, now France.  She probably did.

How many apostles are there?  They are still being born.

Thanks be to God!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 16, 2010 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT LUDMILLA, DUCHESS OF BOHEMIA

THE FEAST OF SAINT NINIAN, BISHOP OF GALLOWAY

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Adapted from this post:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/16/week-of-1-epiphany-monday-year-1/

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Posted December 31, 2011 by neatnik2009 in Hebrews 1, Mark 1, Psalm 97

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The Waters of Life   1 comment

Above:  Ubari Oasis in Libya

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Genesis 1:1-5 (New Revised Standard Version):

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.  Then God said,

Let there be light;

and there was light.  And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.  God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.  And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

Psalm 29 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Ascribe to the LORD, you gods,

ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.

Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;

worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.

3 The voice of the LORD is upon the waters;

the God of glory thunders;

the LORD is mighty upon the waters.

4 The voice of the LORD is a powerful voice;

the voice of the LORD is a voice of splendor.

The voice of the LORD breaks the cedar trees;

the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon;

6 He makes Lebanon skip like a calf,

and Mount Hermon like a young wild ox.

The voice of the LORD splits the flames of fire;

the voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness;

the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.

The voice of the LORD makes the oak trees writhe

and strips the forest bare.

9 And in the temple of the LORD

all are crying, “Glory!”

10 The LORD sits enthroned above the flood;

the LORD sits enthroned as King for evermore.

11 The LORD shall give strength to his people;

the LORD shall give his people the blessing of peace.

Acts 19:1-7 (New Revised Standard Version):

While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul passed through the interior regions and came to Ephesus, where he found some disciples.  He said to them,

Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?

They replied,

No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.

Then he said,

Into what then were you baptized?

They answered,

Into John’s baptism.

Paul said,

John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus.

On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.  When Paul had laid his hands on them, they spoke in tongues and prophesied–altogether there were about twelve of them.

Mark 1:4-11 (New Revised Standard Version):

John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of forgiveness of sins.  And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.  Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.  He proclaimed,

The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals.  I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.

In those days Jesus came down from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.  And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him.  And a voice came from heaven,

You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.

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:

First Sunday after the Epiphany:  The Baptism of Our Lord, Year A:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/first-sunday-after-the-epiphany-the-baptism-of-our-lord-year-a/

Apollos:

http://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/01/22/feast-of-aquila-priscilla-and-apollos-february-13/

Genesis 1:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/09/week-of-5-epiphany-monday-year-1/

Mark 1:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/03/eighth-day-of-advent-second-sunday-of-advent-year-b/

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Water carries much symbolic meaning in the Bible.  The beautiful opening mythology in Genesis assumes that the Earth is founded upon the waters and that waters occupy the space on the other side of the dome of the sky.  So it is that, early in Genesis 1, a wind–the Spirit–from God moves across the face of the primordial waters.  Later, in Exodus, the Hebrew nations is born when it crosses the Sea of Reeds out of Egypt and into the wilderness of the Sinai Peninsula.  Indeed, water was especially precious to those Biblical people who lived in or near the desert; water was essential for life.  This comes across in Psalm 1:3, for example:

They [“they who have not walked in the counsel of the wicked, nor lingered in the way of sinners, nor sat in the seats of the scornful”] are like trees planted by streams of water,

bearing fruit in due season, with leaves that do not wither;

everything they do shall prosper.

(1979 Book of Common Prayer, page 585)

A survival techniques website I have consulted says that one, depending on circumstances, for months without any food.  Yet one’s body requires water daily; indeed, one can survive on just a few quarts of water for days or weeks in some environments.  So there are excellent reasons for the association of water with spiritual life.

Many people think of baptism as something we do.   Yes, we perform the sacramental rite baptism, but it is a sacrament.  As the catechism in the 1979Book of Common Prayer says regarding the sacraments,

The sacraments are outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace, given by Christ as sure and certain means by which we receive that grace.

Grace, in turn, is

God’s favor towards us, unearned and undeserved; by grace God forgives our sins, enlightens our minds, stirs our hearts, and strengthens our wills.

(This material comes from pages 857 and 858 of the Prayer Book.)

Baptism is something God does, and the ritual we perform is a rite of Christian initiation, a ceremony of formal admission to the family of God.  Baptism is properly communal, not individual, in nature.  This is why the gathered congregation takes part in the baptism of a person.

God became human in the form of Jesus of Nazareth, who sought the baptism of John the Baptist.  Hence Jesus identified with us.  It is proper, then, that we identify with him.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 5, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ROBERT FRANCIS KENNEDY, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL AND SENATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT BONIFACE OF MAINZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

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Adapted from this post:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/05/first-sunday-after-the-epiphany-the-baptism-of-our-lord-year-b/

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Jesus: God Incarnate, Identifying With Us   1 comment

Above:  Bathabra, Israel:  Traditional Site of the Baptism of Jesus

Image Source = Producer

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bethany_(5).JPG)

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Isaiah 42:1-9 (New Revised Standard Version):

Here is my servant, whom I uphold,

my chosen, in whom my soul delights;

I have put my spirit upon him;

he will bring forth justice to the nations.

He will not cry or lift up his voice,

or make it heard in the street;

a bruised reed he will not break,

and a dimly burning wick he will not quench;

he will faithfully bring forth justice.

He will not grow faint or be crushed

until he has established justice in the earth;

and the coastlands wait for his teaching.

Thus says God, the LORD,

who created the heavens and stretched them out,

who spread out the earth and what comes from it,

who gives breath to the people upon it

and spirit to those who walk in it.

I am the LORD, I have called you in righteousness,

I have taken you by the hand and kept you;

I have given you as a covenant to the people,

a light to the nations,

to open the eyes that are blind,

to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,

from the prison those who sit in darkness.

I am the LORD, that is my name;

my glory I give to no other,

nor my praise to idols.

See, the former things have come to pass,

and new things I now declare;

before they spring forth,

I tell you of them.

Psalm 29 (New Revised Standard Version):

Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings,

ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.

Ascribe to the LORD the glory of his name;

worship the LORD in holy splendor.

The voice of the LORD is over the waters;

the God of glory thunders,

the LORD, over mighty waters.

The voice of the LORD is powerful;

the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.

The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars;

the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon.

He makes Lebanon skip like a calf,

and Sirion like a young wild ox.

The voice of the LORD flashes both flames of fire.

The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness;

the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.

The voice of the LORD causes the oaks to whirl,

and strips the forest bare;

and in his temple all say, “Glory!”

The LORD sits enthroned over the flood;

the LORD sits enthroned as king forever.

May the LORD give strength to his people!

May the LORD bless his people with peace!

Acts 10:34-43 (New Revised Standard Version):

Then Peter began to speak to them:

I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ–he is Lord of all. That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.

Matthew 3:13-17 (New Revised Standard Version):

Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying,

I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?

But Jesus answered him,

Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.

Then he consented. And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said,

This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.

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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Christian theology holds that Jesus was sinless.  (I accept this proposition as an article of faith.)  Considering that the baptism John the Baptist offered was an outward sign of repentance, and that sinless Jesus had no reason to repent, why did he insist on baptism?

Jesus identified with mere mortals.

The Incarnation signaled this, and Jesus’ baptism continued the theme.  Jesus, who had no sin, came to take all sin onto himself–to become sin near the end of the narrative of his earthly life.  But first he had identify with us in repentance.  There is a certain parallelism at work here.  And sinlessness did not lead to aloofness from sinful human beings.

This is the person we Christians understand to be the Son of God, our Lord and Savior.  He is worthy, indeed.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 8, 2010 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ROLAND ALLEN, ANGLICAN MISSIONARY

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Adapted from this post:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/first-sunday-after-the-epiphany-the-baptism-of-our-lord-year-a/

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Jesus Must Grow Greater; I Must Grow Less   1 comment

Above:  Titian’s Painting of John the Baptist

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1 John 5:13-20 (New Jerusalem Bible):

I have written this to you

who believe in the name of the Son of God

so that you may know that you have eternal life.

Our fearlessness towards him consists in this,

that if we ask anything in accordance with his will

he hears us.

And if we know that he listens to whatever we ask him,

we know that we already possess whatever we have asked of him.

If anyone sees his brother commit a sin

that is not a deadly sin,

has only to pray, and God will give life to this brother

–provided that it is not a deadly sin.

There is a sin that leads to death

and I am not sat saying that you must pray about that.

Every kind of wickedness is sin,

but not all sin leads to death.

We are well aware that no one who is a child of God sins,

because he who was born from God protects him,

and the Evil One has no hold over him.

We are well aware that we are from God,

and the whole world is in the power of the Evil One.

We are well aware also that the Son of God has come,

and has given us understanding

so that we may know the One who is true.

We are in the One who is true

as we are in his Son, Jesus Christ.

He is the true God

and this is eternal life.

Children, be on your guard against false gods.

Psalm 149 (New Jerusalem Bible):

Sing a new song to Yahweh:

his praise in the assembly of the faithful!

Israel shall rejoice in its Maker,

the children of Zion delight in their king;

they shall dance in praise of his name,

play to him on tambourines and harp!

For Yahweh loves his people,

he will crown the humble with salvation.

The faithful exult in glory,

shout for joy as they worship him,

praising God to the heights with their voices,

a two-edged sword in their hands,

to wreak vengeance on the nations,

punishment on the peoples,

to load their kings with chains

and their nobles with iron fetters,

to execute on the the judgment passed–

to the honour of all his faithful.

John 3:22-36 (New Jerusalem Bible):

After this, Jesus went with his disciples into the Judaean countryside and stayed with them there and baptized.  John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, where there was plenty of water, and people were going there and were being baptized.  For John had not yet been put in prison.

Now a discussion arose between some of John’s disciples and a Jew about purification, so they went to John and said,

Rabbi, the man who was with you on the far side of the Jordan, the man to whom he bore witness, is baptizing now, and everyone is going to him.

John replied:

No one can have anything

except what is given him from heaven.

You yourselves can bear me out.  I said, “I am not the Christ; I am the one who has been sent to go in front of him.”

It is the bridegroom who has the bride;

and yet the bridegroom’s friend

who stands there and listens to him,

is filled with joy at the bridegroom’s voice.

This is the joy I feel, and it is complete.

He must grow greater,

I must grow less.

He who comes from above

is above all others;

he who is of the earth

is earthly himself and speaks in an earthly way.

He who comes from heaven

bears witness to the things he has seen and heard,

but his testimony is not accepted by anybody;

though anyone does not accept his testimony

is attesting that God is true,

since he whom God has sent

speaks God’s own words,

for God gives him the Spirit without reserve.

The Father loves the Son

and has entrusted everything to his hands.

Anyone who believes in the Son has eternal life,

but anyone who refuses to believe in the Son will never see life:

God’s retribution hangs over him.

The Collect:

O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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From misplaced priorities (such as inflated egos) flow terrible results.  Most wars have been preventable and unnecessary, flowing from misunderstandings and wounded pride.  These have been, to borrow an explanation of the Falklands Islands War, like two bald men fighting over a comb.  Yet the proverbial bald men in question have done this out of national pride or the ego of the leader.

Often we humans seek poor substitutes for the God-shaped hole in the soul.  Out of this quest flow addictions, dependencies, preventable interpersonal conflicts, violent crimes, property crimes, and other social ills.  It would be better to seek God, assuming the humble attitude of St. John the Baptist, stating and living according the principle that Jesus must be increase but that we must decrease.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 9, 2010 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT COLUMBA OF IONA, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY AND ABBOT

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Adapted from this post:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/16/seventh-day-of-epiphany/

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Posted December 28, 2011 by neatnik2009 in 1 John 5, John 3, Psalm 149

Tagged with ,

The Imperative of Prayer   1 comment

Above:  The Praying Hands, by Albrecht Durer

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1 John 5:5-12 (New Jerusalem Bible):

Who can overcome the world

but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

He it is who came by water and blood,

Jesus Christ,

not with water alone,

but with water and blood,

and it is the Spirit that bears witness,

for the Spirit is Truth.

So there are three witnesses,

the Spirit, water and blood;

and the three of them coincide.

If we accept the testimony of human witnesses,

God’s testimony is greater,

for this is God’s testimony

which he gave about his Son.

Whoever believes in the Son of God

has this testimony within him,

and whoever does not believe

is making God a liar,

because he has not believed

the testimony God has given about his Son.

This is the testimony:

God has given us eternal life,

and this life is in his Son.

Whoever has the Son has life,

and whoever has not the Son of God has not life.

I have written this to you

who believe in the name of the Son of God

so that you may know that you have eternal life.

Psalm 147:12-20 (New Jerusalem Bible):

Praise Yahweh, Jerusalem,

Zion, praise your God.

For he gives strength to the bars of your gates,

he blesses your children within you,

he maintains the peace of your frontiers,

gives you your fill of finest wheat.

He sends his word to the earth,

his command runs quickly,

he spreads the snow like flax,

strews hoarfrost like ashes,

he sends ice-crystals like breadcrumbs,

and who can withstand that cold?

When he sends his word it thaws them,

when he makes his wind blow, the waters are unstopped.

He reveals his word to Jacob,

his statutes and judgments to Israel.

For no other nation has done this,

no other has known his judgments.

Luke 5:12-16 (New Jerusalem Bible):

Now it happened that Jesus was in one of the towns when suddenly a man appeared, covered with a skin-disease.  Seeing Jesus he fell on his face and implored him saying,

Sir, if you are willing you can cleanse me.

He stretched out his hand, and touched him saying

I am willing.  Be cleansed.

At once the skin-disease left him.  He ordered him to tell no one,

But go and show yourself to the priest and make the offering of your cleansing just as Moses prescribed, as evidence to them.

But the news of him kept spreading, and large crowds would gather to hear him and have their illnesses cured, but he would go off to some deserted place and pray.

The Collect:

O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Jesus needed to find solitude and to pray.  If this was a requirement for him, much more do we need to do this, too?

I have lived without cable television voluntarily for years.  This was partially a financial decision:  Why should I pay a bill for a service I barely use and really do not want or need?  Yet it was a spiritual choice, too.  I have chosen to read more books, listen to more Canadian radio online, and play more classical music and jazz.  And I have discs when I want to watch something.  What I watch then is probably better and more interesting than what I could find on cable TV at the time.  And I have thrown myself into blogging, of course.  To think that what I do in private can help others whom I will never meet is gratifying.

Yet I can still distract myself from the imperative of prayer.  I am no spiritual giant.

Prayer can assume many forms, the greatest of which (I am convinced) are non-verbal.  Ultimately prayer is a state of being in which we crave to be conscious of the presence of God and in which the desire for more of this oozes from our pores, so to speak.  Frequently this entails solitude and silence, or at least a suitable environment we create with music.  I have encountered God in silence, classical music, and John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, for example.

We are always in the presence of God.  May we become increasingly conscious of this reality, and recharge our spiritual batteries so that we may serve God better.  In so doing we will realize that we have eternal life–knowing God via Jesus–in the here and now.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 9, 2010 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT COLUMBA OF IONA, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY AND ABBOT

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Adapted from this post:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/16/sixth-day-of-epiphany/

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Posted December 28, 2011 by neatnik2009 in 1 John 5, Luke 5, Psalm 147

Tagged with

Whom Should I Love? Everybody!   2 comments

Above:  Colored Waiting Room Sign, Georgia, 1943

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1 John 4:19-5:4 (New Jerusalem Bible):

Let us love, then,

because he first loved us.

Anyone who says

I love God

and hates his brother,

is a liar,

since no one who fails to love the brother whom he can see

can love God whom he has not seen.

Indeed this is the commandment we have received from him,

that whoever loves God, must also love his brother.

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ

is a child of God,

and whoever loves the father

loves the son.

In this way we know that we love God’s children,

when we love God and keep his commandments.

This is what the love of God is:

keeping his commandments.

Neither are his commandments burdensome,

because every child of God

overcomes the world.

And this is the victory that has overcome the world–

our faith.

Psalm 72:1-2, 14-19 (New Jerusalem Bible):

God, endow the king with your own fair judgment,

the son of the king with your own saving justice,

that he may rule your people with justice,

and your poor with fair judgment.

From oppression and violence he redeems our lives,

their blood is precious in his sight.

(Long may he live; may the gold of Sheba be given him!)

Prayer will be offered for him constantly,

and blessings invoked on him all day.

May wheat abound in the land,

waving on the heights of the hills,

like Lebanon with its fruits and flowers at their best,

like the grasses of the earth.

May his name be blessed for ever,

and endure in the sight of the sun.

In him shall be blessed every race in the world,

and all nations call him blessed.

Blessed be Yahweh, the God of Israel,

who alone works wonders;

blessed for ever his gracious name.

May the whole world be filled with his glory!

Amen! Amen!

Luke 4:14-22 (New Jerusalem Bible):

Jesus, with the power of the Spirit in him, returned to Galilee; and his reputation spread throughout the countryside.  He taught in their synagogues and everyone glorified him.

He came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day as he usually did.  He stood up to read, and they handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah.  Unrolling the scroll he found the place where it is written:

The spirit of the Lord is upon me,

for he has anointed me

to bring the good news to the afflicted.

He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives,

sight to the blind,

to let the oppressed go free,

to proclaim a year of favour from the Lord.

Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the assistant and sat down.  And all eyes in the synagogue were fixed on him.  Then he began to speak to them,

The text is being fulfilled today even while you are listening.

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

The Collect:

O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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The reading from 1 John reminds us of a great spiritual truth:  we cannot love God and hate each other.  It is easy to give lip service to this statement, but acting on it can entail controversy and social transformation, which make many people very uncomfortable and sometimes violent.

The excerpt from Luke seems to have a happy ending, but reading for a few more verses reveals that Jesus’ former neighbors turned on him, becoming enraged and hustling him out of Nazareth, intending to throw him off a cliff.  These were people who, very shortly before, had been in synagogue!  This incident reminds me of a true story from a Methodist revival meeting in a Virginia barn in the late 1700s.  Thomas Coke, one of the original bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church (1784-1939; now The United Methodist Church) was preaching.  He turned to the topic of slavery, the abolition of which he supported.  On the spot a woman in the congregation offered to hire someone to murder Coke.  The bishop fled the barn, and the revival ended.  Bishop Coke lived for years, fortunately.

I write this post in June 2010.  One hundred years ago de jure segregation was the law of the land in the United States.  In 1896 the Supreme Court had held in Plessy v. Ferguson that racial segregation was constitutional so long as the separate facilities were equal.  Yet these facilities were not equal.  So the Court reversed itself in Brown v. Board of Education (1954), with Chief Justice Earl Warren (one of my heroes, and my favorite Chief Justice) writing that separate is inherently unequal.  In 2010 it is difficult to find a person in the political mainstream who will question the major civil rights milestones–Supreme Court rulings and acts of Congress–although one can locate a few now and again.  Theoretical arguments about the nature of Federalism might seem respectable and concerned with Constitutional imperatives, but they cannot mask racism, insensitivity to injustice, or the errors of hyper-Libertarianism, which opposes federal actions to correct injustices, such as de jure segregation.

We have received a command to love each other actively.  Thus we need to ask some hard questions and perhaps to jettison some assumptions.  No political -ism is immune from error in matters of loving others, hating others, or loving others insufficiently.  I propose, for example, that this command requires not to think of abortion as a casual matter or to excuse bombing civilian populations during wartime.  (During World War II the Allies bombed cities in Axis nations.)  I own a shirt which asks “Who Would Jesus Bomb?”  I know that the first word should be “whom,” but question remains a good one.  Gospel imperatives can be challenging, indeed.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 9, 2010 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT COLUMBA OF IONA, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY AND ABBOT

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Adapted from this post:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/fifth-day-of-epiphany/

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