Archive for March 2022

Holy Week Begins II   1 comment

Above:  The Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

Image in the Public Domain

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According to the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship (ILCW) Lectionary (1973), as contained in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and Lutheran Worship (1982)

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Isaiah 50:4-9a

Psalm 31:1-5, 9-16 (LBW) or Psalm 92 (LW)

Philippians 2:5-11

Matthew 26:1-27:66 or Matthew 27:11-54

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Almighty God, you sent your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ,

to take our flesh upon him and to suffer death on the cross. 

Grant that we may share in his obedience to your will

and in the glorious victory of his resurrection;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 19

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Almighty and everlasting God the Father,

who sent your Son to take our nature upon him

and to suffer death on the cross

that all mankind should follow the example of his great humility,

mercifully grant that we may both follow

the example of our Savior Jesus Christ in his patience

and also have our portion in his resurrection;

through Jesus Christ, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 39

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In context, Isaiah 50:4-9a is an odd lection to read on this Sunday.  The speaker–the prophet/servant (Second Isaiah)–is pious yet merely human, therefore, sinful.  He believes that the suffering of the exiles during the Babylonian Exile has been justified.  Yet he also anticipates the divine vindication of that exiled population, for the glory of God.  Applying this reading to sinless Jesus (who suffered an unjust execution as an innocent man) requires astounding theological gymnastics.

The hymn St. Paul the Apostle quoted back to the Philippian Christians in the 50s C.E. indicates something about the development of Christology by that time.  One may wonder how old the human was when St. Paul quoted it.  One may keep wondering, for one has no way of knowing.  Yet one may know that the time from which it originated was at or near the dawn of Christianity.

Palm Sunday functions as the Reader’s Digest version of Holy Week through Good Friday in many churches.  It does on the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship lectionary.  So be it.  With that in mind, I invite you, O reader, to ponder the injustice of what Jesus suffered during Holy Week.  I also encourage you to place yourself inside the narrative and to ask yourself who you would have been in the story.  Depending on your honest answer, you may have uncovered a sin (or sins) of which to repent.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 29, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CHARLES VILLERS SANFORD, COMPOSER, ORGANIST, AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF DORA GREENWELL, POET AND DEVOTIONAL WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN KEBLE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND POET

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JONAS AND BARACHISIUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS, 327

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Adapted from this post

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Pentecost: The Birth of the Church   Leave a comment

Above:  Pentecost Dove

Image Scanned from a Bulletin

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READING LUKE-ACTS, PART LV

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Acts 2:1-47

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Historically, Christian communities in the United States of America that have emulated the young Jerusalem church have received much scorn and suspicion from other Christians.  Cold War politics heightened this scorn and suspicion.  What kind of weirdos would live in community and share their possessions?  Were they communists?  No, they were Christians who had paid close attention to the Acts of the Apostles.

I suspect that Acts 2 includes prose poetry.  That is fine; poetry is the best method of expressing the truth sometimes.  At the Feast of Weeks, a harvest festival associated with the giving of the Law of Moses, God reversed the curse from the mythical story of the Tower of Babel.  The multiplicity of languages was not a barrier to communication.  And St. Simon Peter, who had denied Jesus three times, proclaimed him fearlessly.

Consistent with Lucan themes, Jews and Gentiles alike were welcome.

I strive to write clearly, O reader.  I do not mistake serial contrariness in the name of Jesus for Christian discipleship.  The reflexive rejection of “the world” overlooks that which “the world” gets right.  Yet Luke-Acts presents the dichotomy between the prevalent human order of the time and the fully-realized Kingdom of God.

The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., was correct in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail (April 16, 1963):  The Church was powerful when its members rejoiced to suffer for what they believed.  The Church was powerful when it was disturbing the peace of the unjust social order.  The Church was powerful when it agitated for justice.  The Church was powerful when it was not

an arch-supporter of the status quo.

Christendom was not a golden age of the Church.  I have detected no reason to feel nostalgic for the long age of Christendom, of Constantinian Christianity.

In these days when “none” is the fastest-growing religious affiliation in my society, I recognize that many people have abandoned the Church, which has frequently betrayed its foundational principles and become a powerful voice for injustice and varieties of hatred.  I recognize an opportunity for ecclesiastical leaders and members to wake up from the slumber of the unjust status quo and to reclaim the pre-Constantinian Church’s power of witness.

Note:  I borrowed “Constantinian Christianity” from Dr. Cornel West.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 29, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CHARLES VILLERS SANFORD, COMPOSER, ORGANIST, AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF DORA GREENWELL, POET AND DEVOTIONAL WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN KEBLE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND POET

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JONAS AND BARACHISIUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS, 327

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Metaphorical Resurrections   2 comments

Above:  Icon of the Raising of Lazarus

Image in the Public Domain

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According to the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship (ILCW) Lectionary (1973), as contained in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and Lutheran Worship (1982)

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Ezekiel 37:1-3 (4-10) 11-14

Psalm 116:1-9

Romans 8:11-19

John 11:1-53 or John 11:47-53

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Almighty God, our redeemer, in our weakness we have failed

to be your messengers of forgiveness and hope in the world. 

Renew us by your Holy Spirit, that we may follow your commands

and proclaim your reign of love;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 19

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Almighty and eternal God, because it was your will that your Son

should bear the pains of the cross for us

and thus remove from us the power of the adversary,

help us so to remember and give thanks for our Lord’s Passion

that we may receive remission of our sins

and redemption from everlasting death;

through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 38

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Life and death are themes in three of the four readings.

  1. We read a portion of Psalm 116, by someone grateful to have recovered from a serious illness.
  2. We read Romans 8:11-19, in which the relationship of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus enables our adoption as “sons” (literally, in verse 14) of God.  (Verses 16 and 17, in the Greek text, do use the neuter “children,” however.)  Through the Son of God, each Christian is a son of God, therefore, an heir.  That metaphor from the Hellenistic culture, in which sons, not daughters, inherited, may require explanation in 2022.
  3. We read a portion of John 11, in restores his beloved friend, St. Lazarus of Bethany, to life.  The Fourth Gospel presents this event as the proverbial last straw that led to the crucifixion of Christ.

Ezekiel 37:1-14 is the odd reading out.  It is about the restoration of Judah, defeated and scattered, after the end of the Babylonian Exile.  Ezekiel 37:1-14 is not about the resurrection of the dead; the language is visionary and poetic.

In a poetic way, however, the four readings fit together well.  Individuals, communities, societies, congregations, institutions, et cetera, need metaphorical resurrection.  They need restoration to a better state in God.  I know this about myself.

The current version of myself is one of many who have existed.  The current version is not as happy and well-adjusted as the one who existed before Bonny, ma chèrie, died violently.  I need a resurrection and a restoration.

Perhaps you, O reader, relate to that analysis.  Maybe you resemble that remark.  Fortunately, hope for all of us exists in God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 28, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JAMES SOLOMON RUSSELL, EPISCOPAL PRIEST, EDUCATOR, AND ADVOCATE FOR RACIAL EQUALITY

THE FEAST OF ELIZABETH RUNDLE CHARLES, ANGLICAN WRITER, HYMN TRANSLATOR, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT GUNTRAM OF BURGUNDY, KING

THE FEAST OF KATHARINE LEE BATES, U.S. EDUCATOR, POET, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF RICHARD CHEVNIX TRENCH, ANGLICAN ARCHBISHOP OF DUBLIN

THE FEAST OF SAINT TUTILO, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK AND COMPOSER

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Adapted from this post

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Restoring the Apostolic Community   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of Christ and the Twelve Apostles

Image in the Public Domain

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READING LUKE-ACTS, PART LIV

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Acts 1:12-26

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The Twelve had become the Eleven after the death of Judas Iscariot.  The Eleven had plenty of company, though; they belonged to a community of about one hundred twenty people–enough to constitute a new Sanhedrin.  And both men and women counted.

The account of the death of Judas Iscariot in Matthew 27:3-10 contradicts the version in Acts 1:16-20.  The Judas Iscariot of Matthew 27 was a penitent who committed suicide while overcome with guilt.  In contrast, the Judas Iscariot of Acts 1:16-20 was an unapologetic man who died when his bowels burst out.  The manner of Judas Iscariot’s death in Acts 1:16-20 echoed stories of the deaths of wicked people (2 Samuel 20:4-13; 2 Maccabees 9:5-6).  Another nuance may relate to the bowels metaphorically being the seat of emotions.  In Greek, “bowels” is splanchnon; “pity” or “compassion’ is splanchnizomai.  In Luke 10:33, the Good Samaritan, “moved by pity,” helped the man by the side of the road.  In Luke 15:20, the father of the Prodigal Son, “filled with compassion,” welcomed his son home.  Another implication, then, may be that Judas Iscariot lacked pity/compassion.

The metaphor of the bowels as the seat of emotions persisted in English for a long time.  In 1742, Charles Wesley wrote a hymn, “Come, O Thou Traveler Unknown.”  Two lines, in the original form, were:

To me, to all, thy bowels move,

Thy nature, and thy name is love.

Since 1893, however, God’s mercies have moved instead.

(Thanks to Brian Wren, Praying Twice:  The Music and Words of Congregational Song, 2000, for bringing this to my attention.)

Echoes of the metaphor remain in English.  We still have “gut feelings,” for example.

Restoring the Twelve had symbolic importance.  The candidates were some of the Seventy (or Seventy-Two).  St. Matthias won the election.  Symbolically, twelve (the number of tribes) indicated the restoration of Israel.  This restoration of the Twelve occurred shortly before God did something astounding.

May we never underestimate the value of symbols.  A symbol carries the meaning(s) people assign to it.  Symbols are, therefore, powerful.  Objectively, a flag is merely a piece of cloth.  Symbolically, however, people infuse flags with meanings, for example.  Symbols are tangible signs of that which is intangible.

Consider the symbols of the sacraments, O reader.  Something intangible is at work in a sacrament.  Yet we hear words in a ritual.  We see the water of baptism and the laying on of hands at an ordination.  We receive bread and wine at Eucharist.  All these are symbols and signs.  They are tangible; grace is intangible.  In the case of bread and wine, of course, the symbols become what they symbolize.  I leave the mystery as it is and thank God for it.

What symbols indicate grace for you, O reader?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 28, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JAMES SOLOMON RUSSELL, EPISCOPAL PRIEST, EDUCATOR, AND ADVOCATE FOR RACIAL EQUALITY

THE FEAST OF ELIZABETH RUNDLE CHARLES, ANGLICAN WRITER, HYMN TRANSLATOR, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT GUNTRAM OF BURGUNDY, KING

THE FEAST OF KATHARINE LEE BATES, U.S. EDUCATOR, POET, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF RICHARD CHEVNIX TRENCH, ANGLICAN ARCHBISHOP OF DUBLIN

THE FEAST OF SAINT TUTILO, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK AND COMPOSER

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Sincere, Selfless Faith   1 comment

Above:  Hosea

Image in the Public Domain

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According to the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship (ILCW) Lectionary (1973), as contained in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and Lutheran Worship (1982)

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Hosea 5:15-6:2

Psalm 43 (LBW) or Psalm 138 (LW)

Romans 8:1-10

Matthew 20:17-28

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God of all mercy, by your power to hear and to forgive,

graciously cleanse us from all sin and make us strong;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 18

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Almighty God, our heavenly Father,

your mercies are new every morning,

and though we have in no way deserved your goodness,

you still abundantly provide for all our wants of body and soul. 

Give us, we pray, your Holy Spirit

that we may heartily acknowledge your merciful goodness toward us,

give thanks for all your benefits,

and serve you in willing obedience;

through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 37

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The selection of verses for the First Reading is odd.  These three verses, out of context, sound pious.  In textual context, however, one reads that the people in Hosea 6:1-2 were insincere, and that God knew it.  One realizes that the people in Hosea 6:1-2 were self-serving.

Sts. James and John, via their mother, St. Mary Salome, a maternal aunt of Jesus, were self-serving, too.  They sought positions of honor, not service and sacrifice.  Jesus modeled the opposite of being self-serving.  St. James and John eventually followed his example, though.

The authors of Psalms 43 and 138 offered honest faith, fortunately.  So did St. Paul the Apostle, who had a better life (by conventional standards) as Saul of Tarsus, persecutor of early Christianity.  As St. Paul, he suffered beatings, incarceration, and finally, martyrdom.

I do not pretend to have a completely selfless faith.  I know I am not a spiritual giant.  Yet I try to grow spiritually in Christ daily.  I aspire to be the best possible version of myself in Christ daily, with mixed results.  The effort is essential; God can work with it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 2, 2022 COMMON ERA

ASH WEDNESDAY

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Adapted from this post

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The Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of the Ascension, by Andrei Rublev

Image in the Public Domain

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READING LUKE-ACTS, PART LIII

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Luke 24:50-53

Acts 1:1-11

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Given that I have written numerous blog posts about the Ascension, and given that they are available at this weblog, I do not seek to replicate them in this post.

As I continue through Luke-Acts, I notice a narrative contradiction.  Luke 24:50-53, read within the narrative context of chapter 24, dates the Ascension to Easter Day.  Yet Acts 1:3 dates the Ascension to forty days after Easter Day.  Interpretations of this discrepancy include:

  1. “Forty days” is symbolic,
  2. The forty days fill out the calendar, and
  3. Acts 1:3 corrects Luke 24 after St. Luke the Evangelist uncovered more information than he had when he wrote the Gospel of Luke.

I am not a fundamentalist.  Biblical inerrancy and infallibility are utter nonsense.  If St. Luke changed his mind, so be it.  If “forty days” is symbolic, so be it.  I do not know which interpretation is corect.

Forty is frequently a symbolic number in the Bible.  One may recall that the reign of King David lasted for about forty years, that the Hebrews wandered in the desert for forty years, that Jesus spent forty days in the desert, and that the mythical Great Flood lasted for forty days and forty nights.  Forty is a sacred number in the Bible.  It, therefore, recurs in the Bible for many more examples than i have cited.  Forty, symbolically, is a round number that designates a fairly long time in terms of human existence or endurance.

So, even if the forty days (Acts 1:3) are symbolic, they still contradict Luke 24, with Jesus’s resurrection and the Ascension occurring on the same day.

Anyway, “ascension” may not be the most accurate word for Jesus’ departure.  “Assumption” may be better.  Christ’s departure resembles the assumptions of Elijah (2 Kings 2:9-11; Sirach 48:9) and Enoch (Genesis 5:23-24; Sirach 49:14b), with apocalyptic imagery added.

The priestly gestures and blessings of Jesus before his departure, followed by worship, close the Gospel of Luke fittingly.  Recall Luke 1:20-23, O reader:  the priest Zechariah could not pronounce a blessing.

The Lukan accounts of the Ascension of Jesus also draw from Sirach 50:1-21, about the high priest Simon II.  The account of Simon II depicts him as the culmination of Israel’s history, at the point of the composition of that book.  Luke-Acts, which postdates Sirach, depicts Jesus as the culmination of Israel’s history.

In Luke 24, the Ascension is the fitting end of the story of Jesus.  In Acts 1, however, the Ascension is the beginning of the story of the mission of the Church.  Placing the two Lukan interpretations side-by-side provides the full picture.

I also detect one of St. Luke’s organizing principles in Luke 24 and Acts 1.  Luke-Acts finishes focusing on one story before focusing on another one, although the stories may overlap.  Consider the focus on St. John the Baptist (Luke 3) before the focus on Jesus (Luke  4-24), O reader.  Then we come to a different focus, starting in Acts 1.

The story of the mission of the Church, empowered by the Holy Spirit, follows.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 2, 2022 COMMON ERA

ASH WEDNESDAY

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The Empty Tomb, with Post-Resurrection Appearances of Jesus   Leave a comment

Above:  Supper at Emmaus, by Caravaggio

Image in the Public Domain

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READING LUKE-ACTS, PART LII

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Luke 24:1-49

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When I begin to read Luke 24, I recall the conclusion of chapter 23.  That ending includes:

All [Jesus’s] friends stood at a distance; so also did the women who had accompanied him from Galilee and saw all this happen.

–Luke 23:49, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

We also read:

Meanwhile the women who had come from Gailee with Jesus were following behind.  They took note of the tomb and how the body had been laid.

Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments.  And on the Sabbath day they rested, as the Law required.

–Luke 23:55-56, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

Immediately, at the beginning of chapter 24, we find these women at the tomb.

The Gospel of Luke depicts women as the first ones to understand salvific events.  Recall, O reader, Sts. Mary of Nazareth and Elizabeth in Luke 1.  We read in Luke 24 that women were the first witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus.  We also read that women were the first evangelists after the resurrection.

The quest for certainty is idolatrous when faith is required.  I refer to circumstances in which evidence for or against a proposition does not exist.  When one has proof either way, one does not need faith.  The resurrection of Jesus falls into the article of faith.  No historical evidence can logically prove or disprove it.  One may rationally deem the resurrection of Jesus improbable.  If so, one must also admit that improbable events sometimes occur.  I affirm the resurrection of Jesus as I disregard all pious attempts to prove it, thereby trying to remove the necessity of faith regarding this matter.

Attempts to harmonize the post-resurrection stories in the canonical Gospels into a chronology have failed.  So be it.  The Gospels are not journalism.  No, they are good news, literally.

And women continue to proclaim this good news.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 1, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANNA OF OXENHALL AND HER FAITHFUL DESCENDANTS, SAINTS WENNA THE QUEEN, NON, SAMSON OF DOL, CYBI, AND DAVID OF WALES

THE FEAST OF EDWIN HODDER, ENGLISH BIOGRAPHER, DEVOTIONAL WRITER, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF GEORGE WISHART, SCOTTISH CALVINIST REFORMER AND MARTYR, 1546; AND WALGER MILNE, SCOTTISH PROTESTANT MARTYR, 1558

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROGER LEFORT, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF BOURGES

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Posted March 1, 2022 by neatnik2009 in Luke 1, Luke 23, Luke 24

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