This Is Really Hard….   1 comment

Above:  The Reconciliation Statue in the Nave of old Coventry Cathedral, Coventry, England, United Kingdom

Image Source = Rebecca Kennison

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:UK_Coventry_Statue-of-Reconcilliation.jpg)

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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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Romans 12:1-17a (Revised English Bible):

Therefore, my friends, I implore you by God’s mercy to offer your very selves to him:   a living sacrifice dedicated and fit for his acceptance, the worship offered by mind and heart.  Conform no longer to the pattern of the present world, but be transformed by the renewal of your minds.  Then you will be able to discern the will of God, and to know what is good, acceptable, and perfect.

By authority of the grace God has given me I say to everyone among you:  do not think too highly of yourself , but form a sober estimate on the measure of faith that God has dealt to each of you.  For just as in a single human body there are many limbs and organs, all with different functions, so we who are united with Christ, though many, form one body, and belong to one another as its limbs and organs.

Let us use the different gifts allotted to each of us by God’s grace:  the gift of inspired utterance, for example, let us use in proportion to our faith; the gift of administration to administer, the gift of teaching to teach, the gift of counselling to counsel.  If you give to charity, give without grudging; if you are a leader, lead with enthusiasm; if you help others in distress, do it cheerfully.

Love in all sincerity , loathing evil and holding fast to the good.  Let love of the Christian community show itself in mutual affection.  Esteem others more highly than yourself.

With unflagging zeal, aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord.  Let hope keep you joyful; in trouble stand firm; persist in prayer; contribute to the needs of God’s people, and practise hospitality.  Call down blessings on your persecutors–blessings not curses.  Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.  Live in agreement with one another.  Do not be proud, but be ready to mix with humble people.  Do not keep thinking how wise you are.

Never pay back evil for evil.

Psalm 131 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

O LORD, I am not proud;

I have no haughty looks.

I do not occupy myself with great matters,

or with things that are too hard for me.

But I still my soul and make it quiet,

like a child upon its mother’s breast;

my soul is quieted within me.

O Israel, wait upon the LORD,

from this time forth for evermore.

Luke 14:15-24 (Revised English Bible):

(Still at the great dinner party at which Jesus was teaching…)

Hearing this one of the company said to Jesus,

Happy are those who sit at the feast in the kingdom of God!

Jesus answered,

A man was giving a big dinner party and had sent out many invitations.  At dinner-time he sent his servant to tell his guests, “Come please, everything is now ready.”   One after another they all sent excuses. The first said, “I have bought a piece of land, and I must go and inspect it; please accept my apologies.”  The second said, “I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am on my way to try them out; please accept my apologies.”  The next said, “I cannot come; I have just got married.”  When the servant came back he reported this to his master.  The master of the house was furious and said to him, “Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town, and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.”  When the servant informed him that his orders had been carried out and there was still room, his master replied, “Go out on the highways and compel them to come in; I want my house full. I tell you, not one of those who were invited shall taste my banquet.”

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The Collect:

Almighty and merciful God, it is only by your gift that your faithful people offer you true and laudable service: Grant that we may run without stumbling to obtain your heavenly promises; 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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Some Related Posts:

Romans 12:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/02/26/proper-16-year-a/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/08/proper-17-year-a/

Matthew 22 (Parallel to Luke 14):

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/02/18/week-of-proper-15-thursday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/02/proper-23-year-a/

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The passage that draws my attention is that from Romans.  The lectionary specifies Romans 12:1-16, but I have extended it by a half-verse, for how could I exclude 17a?  ”Never pay back evil for evil,” it reads.  Try preaching that and count the seconds until someone accuses you of being soft on defense, terrorists, et cetera.  But, as Paul wrote, we ought not to be conformed to the pattern of this world any longer.  So what is still wrong with us, that we find excuses not to practice the Golden Rule and seek the best for each other, that we justify economic and other forms of injustice, and seek ways to legitimate discrimination?  Why do we not recognize and draw out the gifts each has to enrich and ennoble the whole?

The answer is quite simple, and in more than one part:

  1. The current pattern of the world benefits many of us.
  2. We do not want to surrender our ill-gotten gains.
  3. We have accepted the prejudices of those around us.
  4. We are quite sinful.
  5. We are very weak.

One piece of Pauline advice stands out in my mind.

Call down blessings on your persecutors–blessings, not curses.  (12:14)

I had a persecutor (some would say a prosecutor) on my back once.  It was an unjust charge–one dropped, fortunately.  Yet that persecutor (prosecutor, some would say) put me through four months of emotional hell on earth first.  Did I call down blessings, not curses, on him.  What do you think?  Do I call down curses on him now?  No.  Do I call down blessings on him now?  No.

The gospel points out many of my shortcomings, and I struggle with them.  This struggle does indicate something positive, though, for I might not recognize my sin.  If I struggle with it, at least I acknowledge its existence.  It is not a perfect or ideal state, but it is better than embracing it.  On the other hand, I should not have a struggle, for the sin should not exist in the first place.  But this is where I am now.  It is a better place than where I have been, and, by grace, an even better spiritual state awaits me.

So, O reader, here is my challenge for you:    Read the advice in Romans 12:1-17a and seek your own shortcomings.  Then take them to Jesus and seek his help in winning the struggle with them.  We need not be perfect; indeed, our Lord knows that we will stumble often.  We do need, however, to go to him, and to keep going back.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 17, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT PASCHAL BAYLON, FRANCISCAN

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM CROSWELL DOANE, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF ALBANY

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM HOBART HARE, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF SOUTH DAKOTA

THE FEAST OF WIREMU TE TAURI, ANGLICAN MISSIONARY

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Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/17/week-of-proper-26-tuesday-year-1/

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Posted May 9, 2012 by neatnik2009 in Psalms IV: 90-150, Romans 12

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One response to “This Is Really Hard….

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  1. Pingback: Week of Proper 26: Tuesday, Year 1 « ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

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