Archive for the ‘Acts of the Apostles 10’ Category

The Corporeal and the Spiritual   2 comments

Jesus Bookmark

Above:  A Jesus Bookmark

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor


The Collect:

Almighty and eternal God,

the strength of those who believe and the hope of those who doubt,

may we, who have not seen,

have faith in you and receive the fullness of Christ’s blessing,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 32


The Assigned Readings:

Song of Songs 2:8-15 (5th Day)

Song of Songs 5:9-6:3 (6th Day)

Song of Songs 8:6-7 (7th Day)

Psalm 16 (All Days)

Colossians 4:2-5 (5th Day)

1 Corinthians 15:1-11 (6th Day)

John 20:11-20 (7th Day)


Some Related Posts:

Song of Songs:

Colossians 4:

1 Corinthians 15:

John 20:


My heart, therefore, is glad, and my spirit rejoices;

my body also shall not rest in hope.

–Psalm 16:9, Book of Common Worship (1993)


The Song of Songs, I heard growing up, is about the relationship between Christ and the Church.  Balderdash!  There is also a Jewish allegorical interpretation which claims that the book is about the relationship between God and Israel.  I do not accept that either.  No, the Song of Songs is exactly what it appears to be–a series of poetic texts about a love affair between a man and a woman who may or may not be married to each other but who are in danger because of their love.

Hence the Song of Songs is about human erotic relationships.  And it belongs in the Canon of Jewish and Christian Scripture.  As J. Coert Rylaardsdam writes in Volume 10 (1964) of The Layman’s Bible Commentary:

Its [the Song of Songs’] respect for life is expressed in the savoring of it; and it is this that makes it a very important commentary on the meaning of the confession that God is the Creator of all things.  The presence of the Song in Scripture is a most forceful reminder that to confess God as Creator of all things visible and invisible is to deny that anything is “common” (see Acts 10:9-16) or, to use the cliché of today, “secular.”  This book teaches that all life is holy, not because we, as Christians, make it so, but because it is made and used by the living God.

–page 140

If that analysis seems odd to one, that fact indicates a different worldview than the Song’s authors had.  As Rylaardsdam writes on page 138:

The people who wrote the Bible had no equivalent of our notion of the “secular”; they did not separate the natural from the sacred as we often do, for they took very seriously the confession of God as Creator of all.

As Dr. Amy-Jill Levine says in her 2001 Teaching Company Course, The Old Testament, much of what was normative in biblical times has ceased to be so.  That is certainly true for those of us in the global West, shaped by the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment.  Modernity differs greatly from antiquity, in ways both good and bad.

Much of the Christian tradition–including the legacy of St. Paul the Apostle, a great evangelist who suffered much, to the point of martyrdom–contains discomfort with the corporeal.  Human bodies can be messy and otherwise unpleasant, to be sure, but their potential for temptation has attracted much attention.  Much of Christian tradition has obsessed about the latter fact excessively, even encouraging a universal, false dichotomy between the flesh and the spirit–a dichotomy absent from the Song of Songs.

That frequent and erroneous distrust of the flesh has influenced the Christology of many people negatively, leading them to commit heresy.  To say that Jesus was fully human and fully divine is easy.  To deal with the “fully divine” aspect of that formulation can prove relatively uncontroversial.  Yet to unpack the “fully human” aspect holds the potential–often realized–to upset people.  In the early 1990s, for example, my father said in a sermon in southern Georgia, U.S.A., that Jesus had a sense of humor.  One lady, a longtime member of the congregation, took offense, claiming that he had insulted her Jesus.

Yet the Incarnation is about both the corporeal and the spiritual.  And the resurrected Jesus was no phantom, for he had a physical form.  The Incarnation means several things simultaneously.  Among them is an affirmation of the goodness of creation, including human physicality.  If that physicality makes us uncomfortable–if we perceive it as antithetical to spiritual well-being–we have a spiritual problem, one of erroneous categories and at least on false dichotomy.








Adapted from this post:


Including the Faithful Others   1 comment


Above:  Bethel, Between 1898 and 1914

Image Source = Library of Congress


Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-matpc-11380


The Collect:

O God our Father, at the baptism of Jesus you proclaimed him your beloved Son

and anointed him with the Holy Spirit.

Make all who are baptized into Christ faithful to their calling

to be your daughters and sons,

and empower us with your Spirit,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 22


The Assigned Readings:

Genesis 35:1-15

Psalm 89:5-37

Acts 10:44-48


A Related Post:

Genesis 35:

Acts 10:


Happy are the people who know the shout of triumph:

they walk, O Lord, in the light of your countenance.

In your name they rejoice all the day long

and are exalted in your righteousness.

For you are the glory of their strength,

and in your favour you lift up our heads.

Truly the Lord is our shield;

the Holy One of Israel is our king.

–Psalm 89:13-18, The Book of Common Prayer (2004)


Faithfulness to God does not depend upon one’s cultural or ethnic heritage.  In the Bible alone many Gentiles proved faithful and a host of Hebrews did not, just as many Hebrews proved faithful and a plethora of Gentiles did not.  Sometimes the faithless and the faithful were the same people.

The Book of Genesis, being composed of sources edited together, contains a number of doublets.  There are, for example, two sets of instructions regarding the number of animals to take aboard Noah’s Ark, two creation stories, and two versions of how Jacob became Israel.  The more famous one–the wrestling match—occurs in Chapter 32.  In Chapter 35, however, Jacob becomes Israel after he erects an altar to God at Bethel and buries the idols of the members of his household.  Jacob had been a trickster whom others had tricked.  Yet he became a great instrument of God.

One of the major issues in the New Testament is the proper relationship of the Law of Moses to Gentiles.  St. Paul the Apostle dealt with it.  And so did St. Simon Peter, through whom the household of St. Cornelius the Centurion came to God.  This major issue was one of identity for Jews and Gentiles alike.  My position is that one ought never to maintain one’s identity by excluding others whom one should include.

This is a devotional post for early in the Season after Epiphany, a time to think about the proclamation of the Incarnation of God to the Gentiles.  I am a Gentile, so I owe much gratitude to St. Simon Peter, St. Paul the Apostle, and those who followed in their footsteps.  Yet I face my own spiritual challenge–to welcome those whom, out of misplaced piety, I might exclude improperly.  May you, O reader, and I follow where our spiritual forebears have trod faithfully.








Adapted from this post:


God’s Big Circles   1 comment


Above:  The Adoration of the Magi, by Giuseppe Niccolo Vicentino

Woodcut Created Between 1540 and 1560

Image Source = Library of Congress


Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsca-18662


The Collect:

Almighty and ever-living God, you revealed the incarnation

of your Son by the brilliant shining of a star.

Shine the light of your justice always in our hearts and over all lands,

and accept our lives as the treasure we offer in your praise and for your service,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

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

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 21


The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 60:1-6

Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14

Ephesians 3:1-12

Matthew 2:1-12


Some Related Posts:

Isaiah 60:

Ephesians 3:

Matthew 2:


Give your king your justice, O God:

and your righteousness to a king’s son,

that he may judge your people rightly:

and uphold the poor with justice.

Let the mountains bring forth peace for the people:

and the hills prosperity with justice.

May the king defend the cause of the poor among the people:

save the children of the needy and crush the oppressor.

May he live as long as the sun endures:

as long as the moon from age to age.

May he come down like rain upon the grass:

like showers that water the earth.

In his days may righteousness flourish:

And abundance of peace till the moon is no more.

May the kings of Tarshish and of the isles pay tribute:

the kings of of Sheba and Seba bring their gifts.

May all the kings fall prostrate before him:

and all the nations render him service.

He shall deliver the needy when they cry:

and the poor who have no helper.

He shall have pity on the weak and the needy:

and save the lives of the poor.

He shall rescue them from oppression and violence:

and their blood shall be precious in his sight.

–Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14, A New Zealand Prayer Book (1989)


Psalm 72 is a coronation prayer.  The king is responsible for assuring the physical safety and well-being of his people.  This mandate includes economic justice and deliverance from violence.  Such an accomplishment will earn the monarch international respect.

But who is the king in each reading?  He is probably Solomon in Psalm 72.  The king delivering the exiles in Isaiah 60 is Yahweh via a human monarch, Cyrus II of the Persians and the Medes.  There are two kings in Matthew 2.  One is Herod the Great, a client ruler for the Roman Empire, a violent man, and a mentally unstable person.  The other king is young Jesus, who receives visitors–Persian scholar-astrologers who have put their lives on hold for a long time to undertake the perilous journey.  They do not understand much about the boy, but they know more than others do and act affirmatively toward him.

God’s wisdom, Ephesians 3:10 (The New Jerusalem Bible) tells us, is


That passage, in The Revised English Bible, speaks of

the wisdom of God in its infinite variety.

The New Revised Standard Version mentions

the rich variety

of divine wisdom.  And the Common English Bible speaks of

the many different varieties

of God’s wisdom through the church.  This wisdom God makes known to people via the church.

This many-sided divine wisdom which exists in rich, infinite variety is for all people, although not everyone will embrace it.  And one need not understand completely to receive and accept such wisdom, for nobody can grasp it fully.  There are spiritual mysteries too great for human minds to comprehend ; so be it.  Such mystery comforts me, for it reminds me that there is much in the exclusive purview of God.

And this multi-faceted divine wisdom is for people are are like us and for those who are very different from us.  God loves us all, even when we do not love ourselves, much less each other.  God moves well beyond our comfort zones.  If that bothers us, the fault lies with us, not God.

Each of us carries prejudices, probably learned from friends, relatives, and classmates.  We like to draw a small circle of acceptability, being sure to include ourselves and those like us inside it.  But egocentric “purity” is a huge lie and a spiritual detriment.  God seems to prefer larger circles–even those which include some Zoroastrian Persian astrologers, a heroic Canaanite prostitute, a Moabite woman, and many Samaritans.  How scandalous this is to self-righteous purists!  As St. Simon Peter told the household of St. Cornelius the Centurion in Acts 10:34-35:

I now understand that God has no favourites, but that anybody of any nationality who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.

The New Jerusalem Bible

If you, O reader, arrive in heaven, whom might you be surprised to encounter there?  That question gets to the heart of the meaning of the Feast of the Epiphany.






Adapted from this post:


Joshua and Acts, Part IV: God, Love, Violence, and Moral Responsibility   1 comment


Above:  Jericho, 1925-1946

Image Source = Library of Congress



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 everlasting 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


The Assigned Readings:

Joshua 5:1-6:5 (June 30)

Joshua 6:6-27 (July 1)

Joshua 7:1-26 (July 2)

Psalm 67 (Morning–June 30)

Psalm 51 (Morning–July 1)

Psalm 54 (Morning–July 2)

Psalms 46 and 93 (Evening–June 30)

Psalms 85 and 47 (Evening–July 1)

Psalms 28 and 99 (Evening–July 2)

Acts 10:1-17 (June 30)

Acts 10:18-33 (July 1)

Acts 10:34-48 (July 2)


Some Related Posts:

Acts 10:


Much of the Old Testament wearies me with its persistent violence.  The God of Joshua 5-7 is the warrior deity.  Excepting Rahab and her family,

They exterminated everything in the city with the sword:  man and woman, young and old, ox and sheep and ass.

–6:21, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

Yet, according to the story, Achan, one soldier, took some souvenirs for himself, thereby bringing down divine wrath on the nation and causing about thirty-six men to die.  Everyone was responsible for one man’s fault.

Huh?  And, to my previous point,

Whom would Jesus exterminate?

The cases of Rahab and her family and of Cornelius the Centurion and his household point to one great lesson:  Acceptability in God’s sight has nothing to do with nationality.  Rahab had acknowledged YHWH in Joshua 2, thus the Israelites spared her and her family.  Cornelius was a Roman officer–a centurion–in command of 100 men.  He was also a Gentile.  And, according to tradition, he became host to a house church and the first Bishop of Caesarea.  I wonder what would have happened had St. Simon Peter not received and accepted his new understanding (Acts 10:34-43).

Although the decision of others affect us, we are morally responsible for ourselves unless a severe brain problem renders us incapable of acting responsibly.  Christ calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves and to serve one another, not to exterminate each other in the name of God.  And, in Christ, one spiritual brethren come from a wide variety of backgrounds, some of them surprising to us.  Perfect love casts out fear and violence; may we never forget that great lesson.





Adapted from this post:


Our Spiritual Resurrections   1 comment


Above:  St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Rome, Georgia, April 8, 2012 (Easter Sunday)

Image Source = Bill Monk, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta



The Assigned Readings for This Sunday:

Acts 10:34-43 or Jeremiah 31

Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24

Colossians 3:1-4 or Acts 10:34-43

John 20:1-18 or Matthew 28:1-10

The Collect:

Almighty God, who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of the Lord’s resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by your life-giving Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.


Some Related Posts:

Great Vigil of Easter, Year C:

First Day of Easter:  Easter Sunday, Year A–Principal Service:

First Sunday of Easter:  Easter Sunday, Year B–Principal Service:

First Day of Easter:  Easter Sunday, Years A, B, and C–Evening Service:

On This Day, the First of Days:

Thine is the Glory:

Now the Green Blade Rises:

Come Away to the Skies, My Beloved:

The Strife is O’er, the Battle Done:

Good Christians All, Rejoice and Sing:

That Easter Day with Joy Was Bright:

Alleluia! Alleluia! Hearts and Voices Heavenward Raise:

Alleluia! Alleluia! Give Thanks to the Risen Lord:

Hail Thee, Festival Day! (Easter):

At the Lamb’s High Feast We Sing:

Alleluia, Song of Gladness:

Hymn of Promise:

Prayers of Thanksgiving:

Prayers of Confession:

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

Prayer of Dedication:


Welcome, Thou Victor in the Strife:


Rise, heart; thy Lord is risen.  Sing his praise

Without delays,

Who takes thee by the hand, that thou likewise

With him may’st rise;

That, as his death calcined thee to dust,

His life may make thee gold, and much more, Just.

–George Herbert


St. Paul the Apostle understood the Resurrection of Jesus as a literal event.  (He was correct.)  He also used it as material for a metaphor:  Just as Jesus died and rose again, we must die to our sins and rise again spiritually.

So the Resurrection of Jesus affects us today.  It calls us to live for a purpose higher than satisfying appetites, not that all appetites are negative.  But we are more than biological creatures; we are also spiritual ones.   This higher calling has more than one aspect to it.  Evangelism is one element.  Another is treating each other properly, as fellow bearers of the image of God.  The Baptismal Covenant (found on pages 304 and 305 of The Book of Common Prayer, 1979, of The Episcopal Church) summarizes this ethic well.

That is our challenge as Christians, then.  We must, as we read in Colossians 3:5-17, put away the negative and replace it with the positive, which includes

compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience

(3:12, New Revised Standard Version)

plus forgiveness and love (3:13-14).  May we do this in the name of our Resurrected Lord and Savior, who lives inside us. Being can make more converts and better disciples than preaching can, for the former is what one is.  The latter, however, is what one says, and deeds can belie words.







Adapted from this post:


Misguided Possessiveness and Factionalism are Unwise   1 comment

Above:  Wisdom, by Robert Lewis Reed (1896), at the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.


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.


Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 4:11-19 (Revised English Bible):

Wisdom raises her sons to greatness

and gives help to those who seek her.

To love her is to love life;

those who rise early to greet her will be filled with joy.

He who holds fast to her will gain honour;

the Lord’s blessing rests on the house she enters.

To serve her is to serve the Holy One,

and the Lord loves those who love her.

He who is obedient to her will give true judgement,

and, because he listens to her, his home will be secure.

If he trusts her, he will possess her

and bequeath her to his descendants.

At first she will lead him by torturous ways,

filling him with craven fears.

Her discipline will be a torment to him,

and her decrees a hard test,

until he trusts her with all his heart;

then she will come straight back to him,

bringing gladness and revealing to him her secrets.

But if he strays, she will abandon him

and leave him to his fate.

Psalm 119:161-168 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

161 Rulers have persecuted me without a cause,

but my heart stands in awe of your word.

162 I am as glad because of your promise

as one who finds great spoils.

163 As for lies, I hate and abhor them,

but your law is my love.

164 Seven times a day do I praise you,

because of your righteous judgments.

165 Great peace have they who love your law;

for them there is no stumbling block.

166 I have hoped for your salvation, O LORD,

and I have fulfilled your commandments.

167 I have kept your decrees

and I have loved them deeply.

168 I have kept your commandments and decrees,

for all my ways are before you.

Mark 9:38-41 (Revised English Bible):

John said to him,

Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and as he was not one of us, we tried to stop him.

Jesus said,

Do not stop him, for no one who performs a miracle in my name will be able the next moment to speak evil of me.  He is not against us is on our side.  Truly I tell you:  whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you are followers of the Messiah will certainly not go unrewarded.


The Collect:

O Lord, you have taught us that without love whatever we do is worth nothing: Send your Holy Spirit and pour into our hearts your greatest gift, which is love, the true bond of peace and of all virtue, without which whoever lives is accounted dead before you. Grant this for the sake of your only Son Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this wicked and godless age, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him, when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

–Jesus in Mark 8:38 (Revised English Bible)

and this:

I now understand how true it is that God has no favourites, but that in every nation those who are god-fearing and do what is right are acceptable to him.

–Simon Peter in Acts 10:34-35 (Revised English Bible)

God works through and speaks to and through a wide variety of people.  Many of them are unlike you, O reader, or me.  Yet they are of God, too.  So, how will we respond to them.  I know how we should respond; we should welcome them and give thanks for them.  We might even be able to collaborate with some of them now and again.  But will we exhibit a positive response or attempt to shut them down, as the Apostles did?

Ben Sira explains that divine wisdom, personified as female, is both comforting and challenging, delightful and capable of tough love.  (The psalmist agrees.)  This writing comes from a place of lived and mature spirituality; it recognizes that discipline is part of God’s love for us.  If we persist faithfully, however, we will learn the lessons God has in mind for us.

The Apostles needed to learn such lessons.  They reported discouraging a successful exorcist who was not of their religious opinion in Mark 9:38.  Yet, in Mark 9:18, they failed in their attempts at exorcism.  Were they protecting their turf and criticizing unjustly one who could do what they could not?  This other fellow’s success did not trouble Jesus, though

He who is not against us is on our side.

Our Lord and Savior did not pay undue attention to divisive labels and artificial categories.  Neither should we.

Human thoughts do not limit divine wisdom.  This is a challenging realization, one that acting upon can lead to scorn, if not persecution.  But, as Jesus said,

Blessed are you when people hate you and ostracize you, when they insult you and slander your very name, because of the Son of Man.  On that day exult and dance for joy, for you have a rich reward in heaven; that is how their fathers treated the prophets.

–Luke 6:22-23 (Revised English Bible)

So be it.





Adapted from this post:


Jesus: God Incarnate, Identifying With Us   1 comment

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

Image Source = Producer



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.


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.





Adapted from this post:


The Universality of God, Part I   1 comment

Above: The Earth in 1972, Courtesy of Apollo 17


Isaiah 56:1-8 (Revised English Bible):

These are the words of the LORD:

Maintain justice, and do what is right;

for my deliverance is close at hand,

and my victory will soon be revealed.

Happy is the person who follows these precepts

and holds fast to them,

who keeps the sabbath unprofaned,

who keeps his hand from all wrongdoing!

The foreigner who has given his allegiance to the LORD must not say,

The LORD will exclude me from his people.

The eunuch must not say,

I am naught but a barren tree.

These are the words of the LORD:

The eunuchs who keep my sabbaths,

who choose to do my will

and hold fast to my covenant,

will receive from me something better than sons and daughters,

a memorial and a name in my own house and within my walls;

I shall give them everlasting renown,

an imperishable name.

So too with the foreigners who give their allegiance to me,

to minister to me and love my name

and become my servants,

all who keep the sabbath unprofaned

and hold fast to my covenant:

these I shall bring to my holy hill

and give them joy in my house of prayer.

Their offerings and sacrifices

will be acceptable on my altar;

for my house will be called

a house of prayer for all nations.

This is the word of the Lord GOD,

who gathers those driven out of Israel:

I shall add to those who have already been gathered.

Psalm 67 (Revised English Bible):

May God be gracious to us and bless us,

may he cause his face to shine on us,

that your purpose may be known on earth,

your saving power among all nations.

Let the peoples praise you, God;

let all peoples praise you.

Let nations rejoice and shout in triumph;

for you judge the peoples with equity

and guide the nations of the earth.

Let all the peoples praise you, God;

let all the peoples praise you.

The earth has yielded its harvest.

May God, our God, bless us.

God grant us his blessing,

that all the ends of the earth may fear him.

John 5:33-36 (Revised English Bible):

[Jesus said,]

You [certain Jews] sent messengers to John and he has testified to the truth.  Not that I rely on human testimony, but I remind you of it for your salvation.  John was a brightly burning lamp, and for a time you were ready to exult in his light.  But I rely on a testimony higher than John’s: the work my Father has given me to do and to finish, the very work I have in hand, testifies that the Father has sent me.

The Collect:

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.


Peter began:  “I now understand how true it is that God has no favourites, but that in every nation those who are god-fearing and do what is right are acceptable to him.”–Acts 10:34-35 (Revised English Bible)

This quote from the Apostle Peter fits nicely with the designated readings for this day.  We read that God welcomes righteousness from anyone, not just members of a select population.  So the message of God is for all people, but not all accept it, of course.  Nevertheless, all whose lives reveal godliness are acceptable to God.  In God there are no outsiders.  To borrow a line from a hymn, “In Christ there is no east or west.”  In Christ there is no longer male or female, Jew or Gentile, domestic or foreign, citizen or alien, heterosexual or homosexual, “White” or African descent or First Nations, et cetera.

Yet we mortals insist on making such distinctions, often out of good intentions (yet sometimes out of prejudice).  Yet with God the standard is different:  it is active love of God, others, and self, manifested in one’s life.  And that rule excludes prejudices.






Adapted from this post: