Archive for the ‘Acts of the Apostles 10’ Category

Eyes   1 comment

Above:   Eyes

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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Joshua 6:1-5, 15-25

Psalm 135:1-7

Acts 10:1-28

Luke 11:34-36

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Hallelujah!

Praise the Name of the LORD;

give praise, you servants of the LORD.

–Psalm 135:1, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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The themes of light and of the liberation of Gentile people, present in the post for the previous Sunday, are obvious her also.  Rahab and her family find deliverance.  Also, St. Cornelius the Centurion and his household join the Christian fold formally.  In the same story St. Simon Peter learns the difference between separatism and holiness.

The reading from Luke 11 requires some explanation.  The erroneous physiological assumption at work is one common at the time.  That assumption is that the eyes allow the light of the body to go out, hence

Your eyes are the lamp of your body.  If your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but if it is not healthy, your body is full of darkness.

–Luke 11:34, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

(Jesus was the Savior of the world.  He was not an optometrist.)

Nevertheless, the issue of inner spiritual light and darkness is a true and timeless one.  Gentiles can have light within them, just as Jews can have darkness within them.  (Read Luke 11:37-54.)  Indeed, each of us has both inner light and darkness.  The question is, which one is dominant?  Just as good people commit bad deeds, bad people commit good deeds too.

May God liberate us from our inner darkness and our inability and unwillingness to recognize the light in others, especially those different from ourselves.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 3, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARIE-LEONIE PARADIS, FOUNDER OF THE LITTLE SISTERS OF THE HOLY FAMILY

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM WHITING, HYMN WRITER

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Adapted from this post:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2017/05/03/devotion-for-the-fifth-sunday-after-the-epiphany-ackerman/

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Nationality and Discipleship   1 comment

World Map 1570

Above:   World Map 1570

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

Almighty and most merciful God, your bountiful goodness fills all creation.

Keep us safe from all that may hurt us,

that, whole and well in body and spirit,

we may with grateful hearts accomplish all that you would have us to do,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 50

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The Assigned Readings:

2 Kings 5:15-19a (Monday)

2 Kings 5:19b-27 (Tuesday)

2 Kings 15:1-7 (Wednesday)

Psalm 61 (All Days)

Acts 26:24-29 (Monday)

Ephesians 6:10-20 (Tuesday)

Matthew 10:5-15 (Wednesday)

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So I will always sing he praise of your Name,

and day by day I will fulfill your vows.

–Psalm 61:8, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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In the assigned readings for these three days we read of people accepting and recognizing God or doing the opposite.  Jews and Gentiles alike accept and recognize God.  Jews and Gentiles alike do the opposite.  The standard of acceptability before God has nothing to do with national identity.

This principle occurs elsewhere in scripture.  Off the top of my head, for example, I think of the Book of Ruth, in which a Moabite woman adopts the Hebrew faith and marries into a Hebrew family.  I recall also that Matthew 1:5 lists Ruth as an ancestor of Jesus.  That family tree also includes Rahab the prostitute (Joshua 2:1-21 and 6:22-25), who sheltered Hebrew spies in Jericho.  I think also of St. Simon Peter, who, at the home of St. Cornelius the Centurion, said:

The truth I have now come to realize is that God does not have favorites, but that anybody of any nationality who fears God and does what is right is acceptable to him.

–Acts 10:34-35, The Jerusalem Bible (1966)

Nationalism is inherently morally neutral.  What people do with it is not morally neutral, however.  These applications can be positive or negative.  Nationalism seems to be a human concern, not a divine one.  As we seek to build up our communities and nations may we not label those who are merely different as dangerous because of those differences.  Many of them might be people of God, after all.  Others might become followers of God.  Furthermore, many within our own ranks might not be devout.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 31, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE VISITATION OF MARY TO ELIZABETH

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2016/05/31/devotion-for-monday-tuesday-and-wednesday-after-proper-23-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

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The Clean and the Unclean   1 comment

Peter's Vision of the Sheet with Animals

Above:  Peter’s Vision of the Sheet with Animals

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

Holy God, mighty and immortal, you are beyond our knowing,

yet we see your glory in the face of Jesus Christ.

Transform us into the likeness of your Son,

who renewed our humanity so that we may share in his divinity,

Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you

and the Holy Spirit,one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 26

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The Assigned Readings:

Exodus 35:1-29 (Monday)

Ezekiel 1:1-2:1 (Tuesday)

Psalm 35:11-28 (Both Days)

Acts 10:9-23a (Monday)

Acts 10:23b-33 (Tuesday)

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[Jesus] said to [his Apostles], “Even you–don’t you understand?  Can’t you see that nothing that goes into someone from the outside can make that person unclean, because it goes not int the heart but into the stomach and passes into the sewer?” (Thus he pronounced all foods clean.)  And he went on, “It is what comes out of someone that makes that person unclean.  For it is from within, from the heart, that evil intentions emerge:  fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, malice, deceit, indecency, envy, slander, pride, folly.  All these evil things come from within and make a person unclean.

–Mark 7:18-23, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

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Ritual purity has long been a religious concern.  Separating oneself from the world (not always a negative activity) has informed overly strict Sabbath rules and practices.  (Executing a person for working on the Sabbath, per Exodus 35:2b, seems excessive to me.  I am biased, of course, for I have violated that law, which does not apply to me.)  Nevertheless, the Sabbath marked the freedom of the people, for slaves got no day off.  Ezekiel, living in exile in an allegedly unclean land, the territory of the Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian Empire, experienced a vision of the grandeur of God before God commissioned him a prophet.  Perhaps Ezekiel had, suffering under oppression, prayed in the words of Psalm 35:23,

Awake, arise to my cause!

to my defense, my God and my Lord!

The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

Those who took Judeans into exile and kept them there were unclean and not because they were Gentiles but because of their spiritual ills, on which they acted.  As St. Simon Peter learned centuries later, there is no unclean food and many people he had assumed to be unclean were not really so.

The drawing of figurative lines to separate the allegedly pure from the allegedly impure succeeds in comforting the former, fostering more self-righteousness in them, and doing injustice to the latter.  May nobody call unclean one whom God labels clean.  May no one mark as an outsider one whom God calls beloved.  This is a devotion for the last two days of the Season after the Epiphany.  The next season will be Lent.  Perhaps repenting of the sins I have listed above constitutes the agenda you, O reader, should follow this Lent.  I know that it is one I ought to follow.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 29, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PAUL MANZ, DEAN OF LUTHERAN CHURCH MUSIC

THE FEAST OF JOHN BUCKMAN WALTHOUR, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF ATLANTA

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Adapted from this post:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2015/10/29/devotion-for-monday-and-tuesday-after-the-last-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

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God’s Surprises   1 comment

Vision of Cornelius the Centurion

Above:  The Vision of Cornelius the Centurion, by Gerbrand van den Eeckhout

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

Holy God, mighty and immortal, you are beyond our knowing,

yet we see your glory in the face of Jesus Christ.

Transform us into the likeness of your Son,

who renewed our humanity so that we may share in his divinity,

Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you

and the Holy Spirit,one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 26

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The Assigned Readings:

Deuteronomy 9:1-5 (Thursday)

Deuteronomy 9:6-14 (Friday)

Deuteronomy 9:15-24 (Saturday)

Psalm 99 (All Days)

Acts 3:11-16 (Thursday)

Acts 10:1-8 (Friday)

Luke 10:21-24 (Saturday)

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The LORD is King;

let the people tremble;

he is enthroned upon the cherubim;

let the earth shake.

–Psalm 99:1, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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The ways in which God works frequently surprise many people.  Declaring the Hebrews, who rebelled against God repeatedly, to be the Chosen People was one example.  Working through St. Simon Peter, an impetuous man, and St. Cornelius the Centurion, a Roman soldier, were two more examples.  The Incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity as Jesus of Nazareth was unique.  And what about hiding wonders

from the learned and the clever and revealing them to little children?

–Luke 10:21b, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

God chooses to work in ways, many of which surprise or scandalize many mere mortals.  Certain heroic figures in the Hebrew Bible were also scoundrels.  Oblivious Apostles in the Gospels became great leaders of nascent Christianity.  The circumstances of our Lord and Savior’s conception and birth led to decades of whispering behind his back and to his face.  Some Gentiles were closer to God than certain prominent Jews.  Standard labels might not apply when God is acting.  If we have spiritual and/or emotional difficulty with that reality, we need to confess that sin to God, to apologize, and to repent, by grace.

Simply put, if one is St. Simon Peter in an analogy, who is the St. Cornelius whose invitation will lead to an epiphany.  And is one willing to have an epiphany?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 28, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS SIMON AND JUDE, APOSTLES AND MARTYRS

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Adapted from this post:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2015/10/28/devotion-for-thursday-friday-and-saturday-before-the-last-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

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Something Old, Something New   1 comment

Josiah

Above:  Josiah

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

Almighty and ever-living God,

increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and love;

and that we may obtain what you promise,

make us love what you command,

through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 23

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The Assigned Readings:

2 Chronicles 34:1-7 (Thursday)

2 Chronicles 35:20-27 (Friday)

2 Chronicles 36:11-21 (Saturday)

Psalm 71:1-6 (All Days)

Acts 10:44-48 (Thursday)

Acts 19:1-10 (Friday)

John 1:43-51 (Saturday)

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I find my security in you, LORD,

never let me be covered with shame.

You always do what is right,

so rescue me and set me free.

Listen attentively to me and save me.

Be my rock where I can find security,

be my fortress and save me;

indeed you are my rock and fortress.

My God, set me free from the power of the wicked,

from the grasp of unjust and cruel men.

For you alone give me hope, LORD,

I have trusted in you since my early days.

I have leaned on you since birth,

when you delivered me from my mother’s womb.

I praise you continually.

–Psalm 71:1-6, The Psalms Introduced and Newly Translated for Today’s Readers (1989), by Harry Mowvley

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The story of King Josiah of Judah (reigned 640-609 B.C.E.) exists in two versions, each with its own chronology.  The account in 2 Chronicles 34:1-35:37 is more flattering than the version in 2 Kings 22:1-23:30.  Both accounts agree that Josiah was a strong king, a righteous man, and a religious reformer who pleased God, who postponed the fall of the Kingdom of Judah.  The decline of the kingdom after Josiah’s death was rapid, taking only about 23 years and four kings.

Josiah’s reforms met with opposition, as did Jesus and nascent Christianity.  The thorny question of how to treat Gentiles who desired to convert was one cause of difficulty.  The decision to accept Gentiles as they were–not to require them to become Jews first–caused emotional pain for many people attached to their Jewish identity amid a population of Gentiles.  There went one more boundary separating God’s chosen people from the others.  For Roman officialdom a religion was old, so a new faith could not be a legitimate religion.  Furthermore, given the commonplace assumption that Gentiles making offerings to the gods for the health of the empire was a civic, patriotic duty, increasing numbers of Gentiles refusing to make those offerings caused great concern.  If too many people refused to honor the gods, would the gods turn their backs on the empire?

Interestingly enough, the point of view of much of the Hebrew Bible is that the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah fell because of pervasive idolatry and related societal sinfulness.  The pagan Roman fears for their empire were similar.  How ironic!

The pericope from John 1 is interesting.  Jesus is gathering his core group of followers.  One Apostle recruits another until St. Nathanael (St. Bartholomew) puts up some opposition, expressing doubt that anything good can come out of Nazareth.  St. Philip tries to talk St. Nathanael out of that skepticism.  “Come and see,” he replies.  Jesus convinces that St. Nathanael by informing him that he (Jesus) saw him (St. Nathanael) sitting under a fig tree.  Father Raymond E. Brown spends a paragraph in the first of his two volumes on the Gospel of John listing a few suggestions (of many) about why that was so impressive and what it might have meant.  He concludes that all such suggestions are speculative.  The bottom line is, in the words of Gail R. O’Day and Susan E. Hylen, is the following:

The precise meaning of Jesus’ words about the fig tree is unclear, but their function in the story is to show that Jesus has insight that no one else has…because of Jesus’ relationship with God.

John (2006), page 33

Jesus was doing a new thing which was, at its heart, a call back to original principles.  Often that which seems new is really old–from Josiah to Jesus to liturgical renewal (including the revision of The Book of Common Prayer).  Along the way actually new developments arise.  Laying aside precious old ideas and embracing greater diversity in the name of God for the purpose of drawing the proverbial circle wider can be positive as well as difficult.    Yet it is often what God calls us to do–to welcome those whom God calls insiders while maintaining proper boundaries and definitions.  Discerning what God calls good and bad from one or one’s society calls good and bad can be quite difficult.  May we succeed by grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 5, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF DAVID NITSCHMANN, SR., “FATHER NITSCHMANN,” MORAVIAN MISSIONARY; MELCHIOR NITSCHMANN, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND MARTYR; JOHANN NITSCHMANN, JR., MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND BISHOP; ANNA NITSCHMANN, MORAVIAN ELDRESS; AND DAVID NITSCHMANN, MISSIONARY AND FIRST BISHOP OF THE RENEWED MORAVIAN CHURCH

THE FEAST OF BRADFORD TORREY, U.S. ORNITHOLOGIST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF HARRY EMERSON FOSDICK, NORTHERN BAPTIST PASTOR AND OPPONENT OF FUNDAMENTALISM

THE FEAST OF THE INAUGURATION OF THE UNITED REFORMED CHURCH, 1972

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Adapted from this post:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2015/10/05/devotion-for-thursday-friday-and-saturday-before-the-fourth-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

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The Old and the New   1 comment

High Priest and Levite

Above:  A Jewish High Priest and a Levite

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

Almighty God, you have taught us in your Son that love fulfills the law.

Inspire us to love you with all our heart, our soul, our mind, and our strength,

and teach us how to love our neighbors as ourselves,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 51

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The Assigned Readings:

Exodus 22:1-15

Psalm 119:1-8

Hebrews 9:1-12

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Blessed are those whose way is blameless:

who walk in the law of the Lord.

Blessed are those who keep his commands:

and seek him with their whole heart;

those who do no wrong:

but walk in the ways of our God.

For you, Lord, have commanded us:

to persevere in all your precepts.

If only my ways were unerring:

towards the keeping of your statutes!

Then I should not be ashamed:

when I looked on all your commandments.

I will praise you with sincerity of heart:

as I learn your righteous judgements.

I will keep your statutes:

O forsake me not utterly.

–Psalm 119:1-8, The Alternative Service Book 1980

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The pericope from Exodus 22 comes from a section of the Law of Moses regarding offenses against property.  One reads of restitution again and again.  Unfortunately, women count as property, as they do in the Ten Commandments, just two chapters earlier.

The author of the Letter to the Hebrews argued that the new covenant in Jesus, simultaneously blameless victim and eternal high priest, is superior to the old system, with its animal sacrifices.  The new covenant, the author wrote, is available to Jews and Gentiles alike, for, as St. Simon Peter said in Acts 10:34b-35 (The New Revised Standard Version, 1989):

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.

Women are people, not property.  Jesus, simultaneously spotless victim and eternal high priest, does what mortal priests cannot do.  Sometimes the new is superior to the old.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 4, 2015 COMMON ERA

INDEPENDENCE DAY (U.S.A.)

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2015/07/04/devotion-for-thursday-before-proper-26-year-b-elca-daily-lectionary/

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A Light to the Nations II   1 comment

Candle Flame

Above:  Candle Flame

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

O God, you have prepared for those who love you joys beyond understanding.

Pour into our hearts such love for you that,

loving you above all things,

we may obtain your promises,

which exceed all we can desire,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 34

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 49:5-6 (Thursday)

Isaiah 42:5-9 (Friday)

Deuteronomy 32:44-47 (Saturday)

Psalm 98 (All Days)

Acts 10:1-34 (Thursday)

Acts 10:34-43 (Friday)

Mark 10:42-45 (Saturday)

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Shout with joy to the LORD, all you lands;

lift up your voice, rejoice, and sing….

In righteousness shall he judge the world

and the peoples with equity.

–Psalm 98:5, 10, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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A sense of having a covenant with and a special revelation from God ought not to lead one into spiritual and theological elitism, the religious equivalent of ethnocentrism, which is just as false as cultural relativism.  Of course I condemn legalism and spiritual and theological elitism wherever they rear their ugly heads, but more importantly I advocate a healthy sense of ecumenism.  I emphasize what I favor–loving one’s fellow human beings in the name of God and behaving toward them accordingly.

For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.

–Mark 10:45, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

I, as a professing Christian, claim to follow Jesus.  Thus, if I am to be an intellectually and spiritually honest Christian, I must serve others in the name of Christ, regardless of the human categories into which they fit.  I retain definitions of true religions (Judaism and Christianity), merely false religions, and predatory cults, for I am not a Universalist.  Yet my theology is ecumenical, drawing from Judaism and various Christian traditions.  Those Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons (members of merely false religions) who come to my front door and whom I fail to avoid sometimes, do not understand this, for they think that they have the ultimate revelation of God.  Meanwhile, I live in a home with crucifixes, a menorah, hymnals and service books from a range of denominations, and Bibles from Jewish, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant backgrounds.  I remain an observant Episcopalian, but other denominations fascinate me–some more than others.  Lutherans and Moravians are especially interesting.

There is God; no such beings as gods exist.  Thus all of us are children of God, although many do not know that.  To be an effective light to the nations one must, among other things, lay aside contempt for the people one hopes to convert.  The failure to do so has been among the most grievous faults of many missionaries for centuries.  They people who have set out to do something righteous have destroyed cultures and functioned as agents of imperial powers instead, for the shackles of ethnocentrism have chained them.  Fortunately, modern schools of missions are among the places where one may learn how to avoid following in those footsteps.

To be a light to the nations–or one’s community–is a great responsibility, one to approach with much reverence and humility.  It is a goal one can accomplish only by grace and which requires the acknowledgment that one does not have a complete understanding of God.  Nobody has such a grasp of the divine, but some of us have learned more of the truth than others.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 20, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE TWENTY-FIRST DAY OF ADVENT, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF SAINT DOMINIC OF SILOS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINT PETER CANISIUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF KATHARINA VON BORA LUTHER, WIFE OF MARTIN LUTHER

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Adapted from this post:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2014/12/20/devotion-for-thursday-friday-and-saturday-before-the-sixth-sunday-of-easter-year-b-elca-daily-lectionary/

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