Archive for the ‘2 Samuel 7’ Category

The Beginning of the Hasmonean Rebellion   1 comment

Above:  Mattathias and the Apostate, by Gustave Doré

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 1, 2 AND 4 MACCABEES

PART XV

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1 Maccabees 2:1-70

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How much is too much to tolerate?  When must one, in good conscience, resist authority?  The First and Second Books of the Maccabees are books about resistance to tyranny and about the political restoration of Israel (Judea).  These are not books that teach submission to all human governmental authority, no matter what.  The heroes include men who killed imperial officials, as well as Jews who ate pork–

death over a ham sandwich,

as a student of mine said years ago.

Mattathias was a Jewish priest zealous for the Law of Moses.  He and his five sons started the Hasmonean Rebellion after the desecration of the Temple in Jerusalem by King Antiochus IV Epiphanes in 167 B.C.E.  Mattathias, having refused an offer to become on the Friends of the King, launched the rebellion.  (Friend of the King was an official position.  Also, there were four ranks of Friends:  Friends (entry-level), Honored Friends, First Friends, and Preferred Friends.)  The sons of Mattathias were:

  1. John Gaddi–“fortunate,” literally;
  2. Simon Thassis–“burning,” literally;
  3. Judas Maccabeus–“designated by Yahweh” or “the hammerer,” literally;
  4. Eleazar Avaran–“awake,” literally; and
  5. Jonathan Apphus–“favorite,” literally.

The rebellion, under Mattathias, was against Hellenism.  Under Judas Maccabeus, the rebellion became a war for independence.

Mattathias died in 166 B.C.E.

The farewell speech in 2:49-70 contains references to the the following parts of the Hebrew Bible:

  1. Genesis 22 (Abraham; see Ecclesiasticus/Sirach 44:19-21, also);
  2. Genesis 39 (Joseph);
  3. Numbers 25 (Phinehas; see Ecclesiasticus/Sirach 45:23-26, also);
  4. Joshua 1 (Joshua; see Ecclesiasticus/Sirach 46:1-10, also); 
  5. Numbers 13 and 14 (Caleb; see Ecclesiasticus/Sirach 46:7-10, also);
  6. 2 Samuel 7 (David; see Ecclesiasticus/Sirach 47:2-12, also);
  7. 1 Kings 17 and 2 Kings 2 (Elijah; see Ecclesiasticus/Sirach 47:25-12, also); 
  8. Daniel 3 (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego); and
  9. Daniel 6 (Daniel).

The point is to remain faithful to God during difficult times.  I support that.  On the other hand, killing some people and forcibly circumcising others is wrong.  If I condemn Hellenists for committing violence, I must also condemn Hasmoneans for doing the same.

The text intends for us, the readers, to contrast the death of Mattathias with the death of Alexander the Great (1:5-6).  We read:

[Alexander’s] generals took over the government, each in his own province, and, when Alexander died, they all assumed royal crowns, and for many years the succession passed to their descendants.  They brought untold miseries on the world.

–1 Maccabees 1:8-9, The Revised English Bible (1989)

The agenda of 1 Maccabees includes the belief that renewal of Jewish traditions followed the death of Mattathias , however.

I have a habit of arguing with scripture, off-and-on.  I may recognize a text as being canonical yet disagree with part of it.  Arguing with God is part of my patrimony, inherited from Judaism.  Sometimes I seek to adore and thank God.  Arguing with God (as in Judaism) contrasts with submitting to God (as in Islam).  Perhaps the combination of my Protestant upbringing and my inherent rebelliousness keeps showing itself.  If so, so be it; I offer no apology in this matter.

As much as I engage in 1 and 2 Maccabees and find them interesting, even canonical–Deuterocanonical, actually–they disturb me.  Violence in the name of God appalls me, regardless of whether an army, a mob, or a lone civilian commits it.  I may recognize a given cause as being just.  I may, objectively, recognize the historical importance of certain violent acts, including those of certain violent acts, including those of rebellious slaves and of John Brown.  I may admit, objectively, that such violence may have been the only feasible option sometimes, given the circumstances oppressors had created or maintained.   Yet, deep down in my soul, I wish I could be a pacifist.

So, the sacred violence in 1 and 2 Maccabees disturbs me.  I understand the distinction between civilians and combatants.  The violence against civilians in 1 and 2 Maccabees really offends me morally.  These two books are not the only places in the Old Testament I read of violence against civilians.  It is present in much of the Hebrew Bible proper, too.  I object to such violence there, also.

Jennifer Wright Knust, a seminary professor and an an ordained minister in the American Baptist Churches USA, wrote Unprotected Texts:  The Bible’s Surprising Contradictions About Sex and Desire (2011).  She said in an interview on Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) radio that she has detected a disturbing pattern in many of her students.  Knust has said that many of her pupils think they must hold positions they would otherwise regard as morally repugnant.  They believe this, she has explained, because they interpret the Bible as supporting these positions.

As Mark Noll (a historian, a University of Notre Dame professor, and a conservative Presbyterian) has written, the U.S. Civil War was a theological crisis.  The authority of scripture was a major part of proslavery arguments that quoted the Bible, chapter and verse.  The counterargument was, therefore, allegedly heretical.  That argument rested mainly on a few verses–the Golden Rule, mainly.  And the abolitionist argument was morally superior.

I encourage you, O reader, to go all-in on the Golden Rule.  Questions of orthodoxy or heresy be damned.  Just follow the Golden Rule.  Leave the rest to God.  Do not twist the authority of scripture into an obstacle to obeying the Golden Rule.  I do not believe that God will ever condemn any of us for doing to others as would have them to do to us.

I offer one other thought from this chapter.  Read verses 29-38, O reader.  Notice that even those zealous for keeping the Law of Moses fought a battle on the Sabbath, instead of resting on the day of rest.  Know that, if they had rested, they may have lost the battle.  Know, also, that relativizing commandments within the Law of Moses was a Jewish practice.  (Remember that, so not to stereotype Judaism, as in stories in which Jesus healed on the Sabbath then faced criticism for having done so.)  Ideals clash with reality sometimes.

To return to Knust’s point, one need not believe something one would otherwise consider repugnant.  One need not do so, even if one interprets the Bible to support that repugnant belief.  The recognition of the reality on the ground takes one out of the realm of the theoretical and into the realm of the practical.  May we–you, O reader, and I–properly balance the moral demands (real or imagined) of the theoretical with those (also real or imagined) of the practical.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 9, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF DANNY THOMAS, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC ENTERTAINER AND HUMANITARIAN; FOUNDER OF SAINT JUDE’S CHILDREN’S RESEARCH HOSPITAL

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALTO TO ALTOMUNSTER, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT

THE FEAST OF BRUCE M. METZGER, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, BIBLICAL SCHOLAR, AND BIBLICAL TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN TIETJEN, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER, ECUMENIST, AND BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT PORFIRIO, MARTYR, 203

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Judith Before Holofernes   Leave a comment

Above:  Holofernes

Image in the Public Domain

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READING JUDITH

PART VI

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Judith 10:1-12:20

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Holofernes was like his master, King Nebuchadnezzar II.  He was vain, boastful, and quick to accept flattery.  The general also consumed lies as easily and in great quantities as easily as he drank too much wine.

Judith played the role of the seductress well.  She understood male nature, which she exploited.  In doing so, Judith placed herself in much danger.  She was even sleeping in the tent of Holofernes.  Her undercover (pardon the pun) mission was always perilous.

A few aspects of these three chapters are especially worthy of explanation and elaboration.  

  1. Judith lied when she said her people were so desperate they were about to violate the food laws in the Law of Moses.  She referenced Leviticus 17:10-16 and Numbers 18:8-32.  Yet, at the time of the composition of the Book of Judith, any violation of the Law of Moses for the purpose of preserving human life was acceptable, according to one school of Jewish thought (1 Maccabees 2:29-41).
  2. Ironically, Holofernes told the truth, at least partially.  He said that Judith was renowned throughout the world (11:20-23).  The Book of Judith has long provided inspiration for artists.
  3. Judith was in extreme sexual danger (12:5).  So was Sarah in Genesis 12:10-20 and 20:17.
  4. Judith established her routine of leaving the Assyrian army camp unchallenged each night (12:6-9).  This strategy paid off in 13:11.
  5. Judith had to work quickly.  She had only five days to deliver her people (7:29-32; 8:32-35).
  6. Judith obeyed kosher food laws, even in the Assyrian army camp.  (One may think of Daniel and his friends in Daniel 1, too.)
  7. Judith’s unnamed female maid/servant was loyal and essential.  Judith’s servant was intelligent, unlike the gullible Bagoas, servant of Holofernes. 
  8. In 11:19-23, Judith used language laced with allusions to the prophets and the Book of Psalms.  Verses 19 and 20, for example, echoed Isaiah 40:3-4; 35:8-10; 42:16; 51:11; 56:10-11;; as well as 2 Samuel 7:13; Psalm 89:4; Ezekiel 34:8; Zechariah 10:2 and 13:7.
  9. Ironically, the wisdom at which Holofernes marveled was deception.
  10. The words of Holofernes, “…your God will be my God…” (11:22), an echo of Ruth 1:16, are vague.  Perhaps the character had no idea what he was saying.
  11. Holofernes lusted after Judith (11:16).
  12. The texts depict Judith as a great beauty.  They also describe Assyrian soldiers as drooling over her.  Therein resided part of Judith’s power, which she used to the full extent necessary.

The Book of Judith contains elements of satire and comedy.  The text is rich with irony in many places.  For example, even a boastful fool accidentally tells the truth sometimes.  The intoxicated Holofernes also imagines himself to be in control of the situation.  He has no idea how wrong he is.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 11, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE THIRTEENTH DAY OF ADVENT

THE FEAST OF LUKE OF PRAGUE AND JOHN AUGUSTA, MORAVIAN BISHOPS AND HYMN WRITERS

THE FEAST OF SAINT KAZIMIERZ TOMASZ SYKULSKI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1942

THE FEAST OF LARS OLSEN SKREFSRUD, HANS PETER BOERRESEN, AND PAUL OLAF BODDING, LUTHERAN MISSIONARIES IN INDIA

THE FEAST OF MARYRS OF EL MOZOTE, EL SALVADOR, DECEMBER 11-12, 1981

THE FEAST OF SAINT SEVERIN OTT, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

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Planning for the Temple   Leave a comment

Above:  David’s Love for God’s House

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART L

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1 Chronicles 22:2-26:32

1 Chronicles 28:1-21

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The LORD is the strength of his people,

a safe refuge for his anointed.

Save your people and bless your inheritance;

shepherd them and carry them for ever.

–Psalm 28:10-11, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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This long reading relates thematically to the end of 2 Samuel 24, in which King David built an altar to the LORD on a threshing floor the monarch purchased from Araunah.  This threshing floor became the site of the First Temple.  In the version from 1 Chronicles 21, Ornan owned the threshing floor.  Even if one accepts that Araunah and Ornan were the same man, one cannot reconcile the differing monetary amounts in 2 Samuel 24 and 1 Chronicles 21:  50 shekels of silver (2 Samuel 24) versus 600 shekels of gold (1 Chronicles 21).

The account from 1 Chronicles also overlaps with 1 Kings 1:1-2:12.  I will return to 1 Chronicles 22:1-23:2; 28:1-21 shortly.

King David, of course, was not to oversee the construction of the First Temple. (Read 2 Samuel 7, O reader. )  That task fell to Solomon, né Yedediah.  Yet David played some role in making plans for the Temple.

Nothing was too good for the Temple.  No price was too high for the threshing floor. Only the best materials were suitable for the Temple.  Only the most devout service was acceptable from the priests, Levites, singers, gatekeepers, treasurers, and magistrates.

God deserves our best in everything, individually and collectively.  We ought to love God most of all.  Our love for our fellow human beings flows from our love for God.  Our love for the natural world flows from our love for God.  Our attention to liturgical details flows from our love for God.  That is why it should be.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 15, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT TERESA OF AVILA, SPANISH ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN, MYSTIC, AND REFORMER

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King David, the Temple, and the Dynasty   1 comment

Above:  Icon of Kings David and Solomon with the Madonna and Child

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART XXXIV

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2 Samuel 7:1-29

1 Chronicles 17:1-27

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The LORD has sworn an oath to David,

in truth, he will not break it:

“A son, the fruit of your body,

will I set upon your throne.

If your children keep my covenant

and my testimonies that I shall teach them,

their children will sit upon your throne for evermore.”

–Psalm 132:11-13, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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This is a familiar story.  When reading a familiar story, one ought to read it closely, for one may not know it as well as one imagines.

I like wordplay, for I am a notorious punster.  Imagine my delight, O reader, in the wordplay regarding bayit, or house.  We read that King David dwelt in a bayit (palace), but God had no bayit (temple).  Extremely attentive readers of the Hebrew Bible may recall the references to the House of the LORD in 1 Samuel 1.  Nevertheless, 2 Samuel 7:6 has God deny ever having had a house.  This is a minor matter, but one worth mentioning, for the sake of thoroughness.  A note in The Jewish Study Bible points out that God had a house as well as a tent (Joshua 18:1; 1 Samuel 2:22), the tent indicating that

the LORD is not restricted to one fixed place.

The wordplay with bayit continues with God establishing a covenant and making David the founder of a house (dynasty).  The texts allude to King Solomon presiding over the construction and dedication of the first Temple (See 1 Kings 6:1-8:66; 1 Chronicles 28:1-29:9; 2 Chronicles 2:1-7:22).  One ought to know that hindsight is the lens through which people recall the past.

God changes the divine mind sometimes, according to scripture.  One example is 1 Samuel 2:30-31.  Keep the divine tendency to change the divine mind in your mind, O reader, when reading David’s prayer (2 Samuel 7:25-29; 1 Chronicles 17:23-27).

What am I, O Lord GOD, and what is my family, that You have brought me this far?

–2 Samuel 7:18b, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

Covenants are not contracts.  Covenants do not entail quid pro quos.  Covenants do entail grace, which, in turn, imposes obligations.  Many people are comfortable with quid pro quos and uncomfortable with grace.  Perhaps grace reminds them of this unworthiness.  Perhaps they prefer to have earned something.  Perhaps the obligations that accompany grace put them ill at ease.  Grace is free, not cheap.

I, having read the rest of the story of David and his dynasty, cannot reread these two versions of this portion of the narrative without feeling sadness over the wasted potential.  I know the rest of the story.  I know of the abuses of David and Solomon.  I know that scripture gives most of their successors negative reviews.  I know about the division of the kingdom and the fall of both successor kingdoms.  I know that David’s lineage continued, but that the dynasty ended.  And I, as a Christian, link this portion of the narrative (in two versions) with Jesus, not Just Solomon and the other Davidic kings.

We are all unworthy.  Grace is our only hope.  This realization may threaten our egos.  On the other hand, this realization may prompt us to live gratefully and to seek to honor God in our own lives, as we relate to God and other human beings.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 30, 2020 COMMON ERA

PROPER 17:  THE THIRTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINT JEANNE JUGAN, FOUNDRESS OF THE LITTLE SISTERS OF THE POOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN LEARY, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC SOCIAL ACTIVIST AND ADVOCATE FOR THE POOR AND THE MARGINALIZED

THE FEAST OF KARL OTTO EBERHARDT, GERMAN MORAVIAN ORGANIST, MUSIC, EDUCATOR, AND COMPOSER

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Divine Abundance, Part II   Leave a comment

Above:  Traditional Site of the Feeding of the Five Thousand

Image Source = Library of Congress

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For the Tenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year 2, according to the U.S. Presbyterian lectionary of 1966-1970

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O God, who hast summoned us to be doers of the Word:

grant us strength to fulfill thy commandments;

to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thee;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Common Worship–Provisional Services (1966), 125

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2 Samuel 7:1-7

Acts 13:1-12

Mark 6:30-44

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The emphasis in the three assigned readings is how God acts through people and what God either does to or for others.  The punitive blindness of Elymas is similar in a crucial manner to other accounts of blindness (usually healing stories) in Luke-Acts; it doubles as a commentary on spiritual blindness.  Miracles serve to fill physical needs (such as healing and feeding) and spiritual needs, sometimes leading to conversion.

Given the emphasis on divine actions, we need to cease telling ourselves that our talents and abilities are not worth offering to God.  Yes, they are inadequate apart from God, but, in the hands of God, they are more than adequate.  God is the God of abundance, of plentiful leftovers.  We should thank God for the privilege of being part of that abundance.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 23, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BRIDGET OF SWEDEN, FOUNDRESS OF THE ORDER OF THE MOST HIGH SAVIOR; AND HER DAUGHTER, SAINT CATHERINE OF SWEDEN, SUPERIOR OF THE ORDER OF THE MOST HIGH SAVIOR

THE FEAST OF ADELAIDE TEAGUE CASE, PROFESSOR OF RELIGIOUS EDUCATION

THE FEAST OF SAINTS PHILIP EVANS AND JOHN LLOYD, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF THEODOR LILEY CLEMENS, ENGLISH MORAVIAN MINISTER, MISSIONARY, AND COMPOSER

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The Individual and the Collective II   1 comment

Above:  Jesus Exorcising the Gerasene Demoniac

Image in the Public Domain

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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Exodus 3:1-15 or 2 Samuel 7:1-16

Psalm 50:10-15

2 Corinthians 4:7-18

Mark 5:1-20

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Judgement, mercy, and responsibility are both individual and collective.  My Western culture traditionally favors the individual over the collective.  My culture is more comfortable with discussing individual responsibility than collective guilt and punishment.  Yet, O reader, consult some of today’s assigned readings.

  1. Mercy on enslaved Hebrews entailed punishment of Egyptians who, despite not being directly involved in slavery, benefited from it.
  2. Divine judgment of King David, as it played out after 2 Samuel 7, affected innocent subjects adversely.
  3. The owners of the swine herd paid a high economic price for the healing of the Gerasene demoniac (regardless of what psychiatric label we would assign to him today).
  4. Likewise, benefits of grace have also been collective.  We human beings have always influenced each other.  Grace in one life has led to grace in other lives.  Light in the darkness has shed light on people who were merely present.

Those who read the Bible in languages with different forms of second-person pronouns for the singular and the plural have an advantage over those of us for whom “you” and “your” are both singular and plural.  [I live in the U.S. South, where many people say “y’all,” the contraction of “you all.”  The plural form is “all y’all.”  For the purposes of this post, however, I focus on formal linguistic forms.]  The Bible is replete with the plural “you” and “your,” as I note when I consult a passage in the Nouvelle Version Segond Révisée (1978), with tu, ta, ton, vous, votre, vos, and tes.  Think, O reader, about prophets addressing populations, Jesus speaking to crowds and small groups, and authors of epistles writing to congregations.  May we cast off our cultural blinders and digest the Bible as it is.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 22, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARY MAGDALENE, EQUAL TO THE APOSTLES

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2019/07/22/devotion-for-proper-10-year-b-humes/

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A Faithful Response, Part XIII   2 comments

Above:  The Virgin with David and Solomon

Image in the Public Domain

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For the Ninth Sunday after Pentecost, Year 1, according to the U.S. Presbyterian lectionary of 1966-1970

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O God, creator of heaven and earth:

we humbly beseech thee to put away from us all hurtful things,

and to give us those things which are good for us;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Common Worship–Provisional Services (1966), 125

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2 Samuel 7:1-17

2 Corinthians 8:1-7

Matthew 12:46-50

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Grace, which is free, not cheap, requires a faithful response.  As in 2 Samuel 7:1-17, the desire to respond faithfully and gratefully to God may lead one to seek to respond in a way God does not desire.  Such a way may be positive, at least theoretically, but if God does not want it, so be it.

The example of Macedonian congregations, giving generously out of their poverty, is one that echoes down the corridors of time, long after the deaths of St. Paul the Apostle and the quarrelsome members of the Corinthian church.  The lesson that all who follow Jesus have a sort of fictive kinship with each other is also timeless.  It resonates especially with those who have become estranged from their genetic family because of faith.

God seeks to bless us.  God adopts us, making us heirs, or makes the offer, at least.  Such generosity properly inspires profound gratitude and prompts transformation.  Even when those closest to us reject us and fail to understand us, God loves and understands us.  That is indeed good news.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 10, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE NINTH DAY OF ADVENT, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF PAUL EBER, GERMAN LUTHERAN THEOLOGIAN AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF HOWELL ELVET LEWIS, WELSH CONGREGATIONALIST CLERGYMAN AND POET

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN ROBERTS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF ROBERT MURRAY, CANADIAN PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

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Posted December 10, 2018 by neatnik2009 in 2 Corinthians 8, 2 Samuel 7, Matthew 12

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Extravagant Grace   Leave a comment

Above:  The Temple of Solomon

Image Scanned by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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FOR THE FOURTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, ACCORDING TO A LECTIONARY FOR PUBLIC WORSHIP IN THE BOOK OF WORSHIP FOR CHURCH AND HOME (1965)

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Keep, we ask you, O Lord, your Church with your perpetual mercy;

and because without you human frailty cannot but fall,

keep us ever by your help from all things hurtful,

and lead us to all things profitable to our salvation;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

–Modernized from The Book of Worship for Church and Home (1965), page 140

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2 Chronicles 6:1, 18-21

Psalm 24

Ephesians 4:1-8

John 2:1-11

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2 Chronicles 6 follows directly from 1 Chronicles 28 (last week’s First Reading) thematically and fits neatly with 2 Samuel 7.  Nevertheless, nothing of human origin can contain God.  No explanation of the Holy Trinity is ever sufficient.  God, whose nature is above our pay grades, so to speak, lives everywhere.

What are we supposed to do with that conclusion?  We are always in the presence of God.  Sometimes that reality should terrify us.  The rest of the time it should fill us with joy, awe, and humility.  We should, to use slang, bring our A-game, in the knowledge that it is insufficient compared to God’s A-game.  Anyhow, living humbly, gently, and patiently is a fine goal at any time and place, in the presence of God.

Speaking of bringing one’s A-game, the miracle at the wedding at Cana was far more than a parlor trick.  It did more than spare a host great embarrassment and cause embarrassment to subsequent generations of prohibitionists.  In the rich, textured literary and theological universe of the Johannine Gospel it signified the reality that Jesus was of a superior vintage to what preceded him.  The miracle also indicated the extravagance of divine grace.

We would do well to ask ourselves how God is calling and equipping us to function as vehicles of such grace.  May we welcome these opportunities.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 5, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE TWELFTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN NEPOMUCENE NEUMANN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF PHILADELPHIA

THE FEAST OF ANTONIO LOTTI, ROMAN CATHOLIC MUSICIAN AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF SAINT GENOVEVA TORRES MORALES, FOUNDRESS OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS AND THE HOLY ANGELS

THE FEAST OF MARGARET MACKAY, SCOTTISH HYMN WRITER

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The Sin of Selfishness   1 comment

abraham-and-lot-divided-the-land

Above:  Abraham and Lot Divided the Land

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Genesis 13:1-18 or 2 Samuel 7:18-29

Psalm 38

John 7:40-52

Galatians 3:1-22 (23-29) or James 3:1-18

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Abram and Lot had to separate their families and herds.  Abram (God’s covenant with whom is a topic in Galatians 3, Genesis 15, and Genesis 17) was generous in giving Lot the first choice of land.  It might have seemed like a good choice at the moment, but it was a selfish and short-sighted decision that placed him in the proximity of bad company and set up unfortunate events in Genesis 19.

David’s character flaws had begun to become obvious by the time of 2 Samuel 7.  Nevertheless, there was much good about him.  God’s covenant with him was a matter of pure grace, for not even the best of us has ever been worthy of such favor.  David became a great historical figure and, in the minds of many throughout subsequent centuries, a legendary figure.  Our Lord and Savior’s descent from him was a messianic credential.

Among David’s better qualities was a sense of honesty regarding his character, at least some of the time (2 Samuel 11 and 12).  He was a mere mortal, complete with moral blind spots and the tendency to sin.  Psalm 38, attributed to David, typifies this honesty at a time of distress.  This is a situation with which many people have identified.

Liberation in Christ is a theme of the Letter to the Galatians.  This is freedom to enjoy and glorify God.  This is freedom to build up others.  This is freedom to become the people we ought to be.  According to mythology God spoke the world into existence.  With our words, whether spoken or written, we have the power to bless people or to inflict harm upon them.  We have the power to build them up or to libel and/or slander them.  We have the power to help them become the people they ought to be or to commit character assassination.  We have the power to inform accurately or to mislead.  We have the power to heal or to soothe feelings or to hurt them.  We have the power to act out of consideration or out of a lack thereof.  We have the power to be defenders or bullies.  We have the power to create peace or conflict.  We have the power to work for justice or injustice.

The peace shown by peacemakers brings a harvest of justice.

–James 3:18, The New Jerusalem Bible (1989)

May we approach God humbly, avoid making selfish decisions, build up others, and generally function as vehicles of grace.  May our thoughts, words, and deeds glorify God and create a world better than the one we found.  May we recognize that pursuing selfish gain hurts us as well as others.  We might gain in the short term, but we hurt ourselves in the long term.  Our best and highest interest is that which builds up community, nation, and world.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 9, 2016 COMMON ERA

PROPER 21:  THE TWENTY-FIRST SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF SAINT DENIS, BISHOP OF PARIS, AND HIS COMPANIONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF SAINT LUIS BERTRAN, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY PRIEST

THE FEAST OF ROBERT GROSSETESTE, SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF WILHELM WEXELS, NORWEGIAN LUTHERAN MINISTER, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR; HIS NIECE, MARIE WEXELSEN, NORWEGIAN LUTHERAN NOVELIST AND HYMN WRITER; LUDWIG LINDEMAN, NORWEGIAN ORGANIST AND MUSICOLOGIST; AND MAGNUS LANDSTAD, NORWEGIAN LUTHERAN MINISTER, FOLKLORIST, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMNAL EDITOR

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Adapted from this post:

https://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2016/10/09/devotion-for-the-third-sunday-in-lent-year-d/

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Washing Our Robes and Bearing Spiritual Fruits   1 comment

King David as a Byzantine Emperor

Above:  King David as a Byzantine Emperor

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come.

By your merciful protection alert us to the threatening dangers of our sins,

and redeem us for your life of justice,

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

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 18

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The Assigned Readings:

2 Samuel 7:18-29

Psalm 90

Revelation 22:12-16

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So teach us to number our days

that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.

–Psalm 90:12, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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Earlier in 2 Samuel 7 God had said to David via the prophet Nathan not to build a magnificent temple, contrary to divine wishes.  No, God said, God would make David the founder of a great dynasty.  David would not build a literal house for the Ark of the Covenant, but God would make a metaphorical house of David.  The monarch was overcome with gratitude.

That was all well and good, but the Davidic Dynasty became an instrument of exploitation of the people.  The monarchy became the definition of national identity.  The former model, in which God was the national sovereign, was no more.  One reason for the change of the narrative and its opinion of monarchy was political.  The Biblical authors, who were myriad, disagreed with each other frequently.  Thus, for example, the prophet Samuel’s warning against monarchy came to coexist with texts affirming monarchy.

Nevertheless, the consistent witness of the Old and New Testaments for social justice–frequently in the economic realm–resounds down the corridors of time and reminds us that we do not live in the fully realized Kingdom of God.  Society is not an abstraction.  No, it is simply people.  We make society what it is, so we can change it.  May we improve it, respecting the image of God in others and ourselves.  May we love our fellow human beings–especially those who differ from us–as we love ourselves.  May noble intentions lead to positive results for the benefit of people, the common good of society, and the glory of God.  As I mentioned in the previous post, abundant grace is available to empower us to accomplish the purpose of having a proper, respectful, and awe-filled relationship with God and bearing the related spiritual fruits.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 10, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM WALSHAM HOW, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF WAKEFIELD AND HYMN WRITER; AND HIS SISTER, FRANCES JANE DOUGLAS(S), HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF EUNICE SHRIVER KENNEDY, FOUNDER OF THE SPECIAL OLYMPICS

THE FEAST OF SAINT LAURENCE OF ROME, ROMAN CATHOLIC DEACON AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SHERMAN BOOTH, ABOLITIONIST

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Adapted from this post:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2015/08/10/devotion-for-tuesday-after-the-first-sunday-of-advent-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

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