Archive for the ‘Acts of the Apostles 2’ Category

The Nature and Character of God   1 comment

Above:  Pentecost Dove

Image Scanned from a Church Bulletin

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Joel 2:28-29

Psalm 104:25-34 or Veni Creator Spiritus

Acts 2:1-21

John 20:19-23

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

as you sent upon the disciples the promised gift of the Holy Spirit,

look upon your Church and open our hearts to the power of the Spirit. 

Kindle in us the fire of your love,

and strengthen our lives for service in your kingdom;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

OR

God our creator, earth has many languages,

but your Gospel announces your love

to all nations in one heavenly speech. 

Make us messengers of the good news that,

through the power of your Spirit,

everyone everywhere may unite in one song of praise;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 23

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

O God, on this day you once taught the hearts of your faithful people

by sending them the light of your Holy Spirit. 

Grant us in our day the same Spirit

to have a right understanding in all things

and evermore to rejoice in his holy consolation;

through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you in communion with the Holy Spirit,

now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 59

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

VENI CREATOR SPIRITUS

Come, Holy Spirit; 

send down from heaven’s heigh

your radiant light.

Come, lamp of every heart,

come, parent of the poor,

all gifts ar yours.

Comforter beyond all comforting,

sweet unexpected guest,

sweetly refresh.

Rest in hard labour;

coolness in heavy heat,

hurt souls’ relief.

Refill the secret hearts 

of your faithful,

O most blessed light.

Without your holy power

nothing can bear your light,

nothing is free from sin.

Wash all that is filthy,

water all that is parched,

heal what is hurt within.

Bend all that is rigid,

warm all that has frozen hard,

lead back the lost.

Give to your faithful ones,

who come in simple trust,

your sevenfold mystery.

Give virtue its reward,

give, in the end, salvation

and joy that has no end.

–Original Latin text by Rabanus Maurus, 800s C.E.; translation courtesy of The Church of England, Common Worship:  Daily Prayer (2005), 642

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Pentecost is the fiftieth and last day of the season of Easter.  The baptismal connection to this feast is strong.  The alternative name, Whitsunday (White Sunday) refers to the white garments of the newly baptized.

The divine nature exceeds human comprehension.  Orthodox theology offers partial answers, the best we mere mortals can receive.  Receiving those answers does not guarantee comprehending them, though.  So be it.  Christianity is not Gnosticism; salvation depends on grace, not knowledge.  With all this in mind, we can still utilize useful language, much of which may be theological poetry, not theological prose.  God is with us.  God empowers us.  Christian language for this truth is “the Holy Spirit.”

However, I seek to avoid committing modalism, an ancient Trinitarian heresy.  This heresy denies the permanent existence of the members of the Holy Trinity and focuses on allegedly transitory distinctions, defined by functions.  Know, O reader, that I am not a modalist.  I merely acknowledge that the full nature of God is too much for a human mind to grasp and that we mere mortals experience God in certain ways.

I like the Jewish way of explaining the divine nature and character, as much as doing so is possible.  That method is recalling what God has done.  This method pervades the Hebrew Bible.  Think, O reader, what God has done that you have noticed.  Ask yourself what these divine actions tell you about the nature and character of God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 26, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM COWPER, ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT ADELARD OF CORBIE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK AND ABBOT; AND HIS PROTÉGÉ, SAINT PASCAHSIUS RADBERTUS, FRANKISH ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, ABBOT, AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF ROBERT HUNT, FIRST ANGLICAN CHAPLAIN AT JAMESTOWN, VIRGINIA

THE FEAST OF RUGH BYLLESBY, EPISCOPAL DEACONESS IN GEORGIA

THE FEAST OF SAINT STANISLAW KUBITSA, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1940; AND SAINT WLADYSLAW GORAL, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP AND MARTYR, 1945

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM STRINGFELLOW, EPISCOPAL ATTORNEY, THEOLOGIAN, AND SOCIAL ACTIVIST

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Adapted from this post

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Fulfillment of the Promise of Easter   1 comment

Above:  Pentecost Dove

Image Scanned from a Church Bulletin

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Exodus 19:1-9 or Acts 2:1-11

Psalm 33:12-22 (LBW) or Psalm 130 (LBW) or Psalm 98 (LW)

Romans 8:14-17, 22-27

John 7:37-39a

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Almighty and ever-living God,

you fulfilled the promise of Easter

by sending your Holy Spirit to unite the races and nations on earth

and thus to proclaim your glory. 

Look upon your people gathered in prayer,

open to receive the Spirit’s flame. 

May it come to rest in our hearts

and heal the divisions of word and tongue,

that with one voice and one song

we may praise your name in joy and thanksgiving;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 23

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

O God, on this day you once taught the hearts of your faithful people

by sending a right understanding in all things

and evermore to rejoice in his holy consolation;

through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you in communion with the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Episcopal, Lutheran, and Roman Catholic traditions provide for the Vigil of Pentecost, a service I have never had the opportunity to attend.  Page 227 of The Book of Common Prayer (1979) contains a rubric regarding the vigil.  The Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), Lutheran Worship (1982), and Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006) offer collects and readings for the Vigil of Easter.  The Lutheran Service Book (2006), which offers no collects in the pew edition, includes readings for this vigil.

The Vigil of Pentecost was popular during the Middle Ages.  It was one of the favored occasions for baptism.  Continental Protestant reformers rejected this vigil in the 1500s; they restored the liturgical primacy of Sunday.

Yet here we are, with Lutherans approving the celebration of the Vigil of Pentecost.  Liturgical renewal, blessed by thy name!

The theme of unity carries over from the readings for the preceding Sunday.  The faith community gathers in expectation of the fulfillment of divine promises, including the “promise of Easter,” to quote the collect from the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978).

God is the central actor, despite the anthropocentric tendencies of much of human theology.  That God is central should cause much thanksgiving and place human egos in proper context.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 26, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM COWPER, ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT ADELARD OF CORBIE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK AND ABBOT; AND HIS PROTÉGÉ, SAINT PASCAHSIUS RADBERTUS, FRANKISH ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, ABBOT, AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF ROBERT HUNT, FIRST ANGLICAN CHAPLAIN AT JAMESTOWN, VIRGINIA

THE FEAST OF RUGH BYLLESBY, EPISCOPAL DEACONESS IN GEORGIA

THE FEAST OF SAINT STANISLAW KUBITSA, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1940; AND SAINT WLADYSLAW GORAL, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP AND MARTYR, 1945

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM STRINGFELLOW, EPISCOPAL ATTORNEY, THEOLOGIAN, AND SOCIAL ACTIVIST

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Adapted from this post

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Herod Agrippa I’s Persecution of Christians   Leave a comment

Above:  Herod Agrippa I

Image in the Public Domain

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

READING LUKE-ACTS, PART LXVI

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Acts 12:1-25

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Herod Agrippa I was a Roman client king from 37 to 44 C.E.  We have another, more precise, dated detail–the martyrdom of St. James Bar-Zebedee (the brother of Saint John the Evangelist and a first cousin of Jesus–circa 44 C.E,

Herod Agrippa (10 B.C.E.-44 C.E.) was a grandson of Herod the Great, the brother of Herodias, the uncle of Salome, and a brother-in-law of Herod Antipas.  Herod Agrippa I, who lived extravagantly and in debt, found refuge courtesy of Herod Antipas, who appointed him the inspector of markets in Antipas’s new capital, Tiberias, circa 27 C.E.  Herod Agrippa I, a friend of Gaius Caligula, made a pro-Caligula remark in the presence of Emperor Tiberius in Rome six months prior to the death of Tiberius (d. 37 C.E.)  Therefore, Herod Agrippa I spent the last six months of Tiberius’s reign as a prisoner.  Caligula (reigned 37-41 C.E.) released Herod Agrippa I and appointed him a king in 37 C.E.  After Caligula died, Emperor Claudis (I) expanded Herod Agrippa I’s territory to include Judea and Samaria.  Herod Agrippa I, a supporter of Pharisaic Judaism, persecuted Christianity (Acts 2 and 12).  His death in Caesarea (Acts 12:22-23) was sudden.  The Biblical text wrote of his death so as to portray him as evil and unrepentant, in the infamous footsteps of Antiochus IV Epiphanes and Judas Iscariot.

Regardless of martyrdoms and persecution, the Christian movement remained unhindered.

Meanwhile, Sts. (Joseph) Barnabas and Paul the Apostle returned to Antioch from Jerusalem.  This relief mission complete, they brought St. (John) Mark to Antioch.

I feel sorry for the guards Herod Agrippa I ordered executed.  They did their job guarding St. Simon Peter.  On the other hand, I am glad St. Simon Peter escaped.

The rest of the story:  A series of Roman procurators succeeded Herod Agrippa I until 66 C.E.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 22, 2022 COMMON ERA

FRIDAY IN EASTER WEEK

THE FEAST OF GENE BRITTON, EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF DONALD S. ARMENTROUT, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF HADEWIJCH OF BRABERT, ROMAN CATHOLIC MYSTIC

THE FEAST OF KATHE KOLLWITZ, GERMAN LUTHERAN ARTIST AND PACIFIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT VITALIS OF GAZA, MONK, HERMIT, AND MARTYR, CIRCA 625

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Divine Mandate for Social Justice II   4 comments

Above:  Icon of the Ministry of the Apostles

Image in the Public Domain

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Acts 17:1-15

Psalm 33:1-11 (LBW) or Psalm 146 (LW)

1 Peter 2:4-10

John 14:1-12

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

O God, form the minds of your faithful people into a single will. 

Make us love what you command and desire what you promise,

that, amid, all the changes of this world,

our hearts may be fixed where true joy is found;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 22

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

O God, you make the minds of your faithful to be of one will;

therefore grant to your people that they may love what you command

and desire what you promise,

that among the manifold changes of this age our hearts

may ever be fixed where true joys are to be found;

through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 53

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

…the people who have been turning the whole world upside down have come here now….

–Acts 17:6b, The Revised New Jerusalem Bible (2019)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

One need not be evil to favor maintaining the status quo, even when it is exploitative and for overturning.  Good, morally defensible change can cause disorientation and discomfort, even among conventionally pious people.  The terms “revolutionary,” “liberal,” “conservative,” and “reactionary” are inherently relative to the center, the definition of which varies according to time and place.  These four labels are, in the abstract, morally neutral.  In circumstances, however, they are not.  Being conservative, for example, may be right or wrong, depending on what one hopes to conserve.  And, if one is not a revolutionary in certain circumstances, one is morally defective.

The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., called for a

moral revolution of values

on April 4, 1967, when he finally unambiguously and unapologetically opposed the Vietnam War.  That address, which he delivered at the Riverside Church, Manhattan, proved to be extremely controversial, mainly because of King’s position on the Vietnam War.  That controversy obscured much of the rest of the contents of the speech.  (King was correct to oppose the Vietnam War, by the way.)  The other content of that speech remains prophetic and germane.  The call for a society that values people more than property, for example, has not come to fruition, sadly.

Sometimes “turning the world upside down” is really turning it right side up, as in Psalm 146 and the Beatitudes.  Giving justice to the oppressed, feeding the hungry, caring for the strangers, sustaining the orphan and the widow, and frustrating the way of the wicked are examples of turning the world right side up, not upside down.  You, O reader, and I live in an upside-down world.

This is theologically orthodox.  False theological orthodoxy mistakes social justice for heresy and bolsters social injustice.  However, the Law of Moses, the Hebrew prophets, and the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth are consistent in holding that social injustice is a divine mandate.

So be it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 21, 2022 COMMON ERA

THURSDAY IN EASTER WEEK

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROMAN ADAME ROSALES, MEXICAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1927

THE FEAST OF SAINT CONRAD OF PARZHAM, CAPUCHIN FRIAR

THE FEAST OF DAVID BRAINERD, AMERICAN CONGREGATIONALIST THEN PRESBYTERIAN MISSIONARY AND MINISTER

THE FEAST OF GEORGE B. CAIRD, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST THEN UNITED REFORMED MINISTER, BIBLICAL SCHOLAR, AND HYMN WRITER AND TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF GEORGIA HARKNESS, U.S. METHODIST MINISTER, THEOLOGIAN, ETHICIST, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT SIMON BARSABAE, BISHOP; AND HIS COMPANIONS, MARTYRS, 341

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Adapted from this post

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Mutuality in God XIII   1 comment

Above:  Supper at Emmaus, by Caravaggio

Image in the Public Domain

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Acts 2:14a. 36-47

Psalm 16

1 Peter 1:17-21

Luke 24:13-35

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

O God, by the humiliation of your Son you lifted up this fallen world,

rescuing us from the hopelessness of death. 

Grant your faithful people a share in the joys that are eternal;

through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 21

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

O almighty and eternal God,

now that you have assured us of

the completion of our redemption

through the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ,

give us the will to show forth in our lives

what we profess with our lips;

through Jesus Christ, your Son our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 51

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The readings from the New Testament come from a time when the Church was young, small, and not influential.  This context frames Christian communalism in Acts 2.  Christian communalism remains a feasible option in many contemporary settings.

The global Western emphasis on individualism gives short shrift to the collective, mutual aspect of lived faith.  This is my most severe critique of my culture and its politics.  In Biblical terms, mutuality is a prominent theme.  People are responsible to and for each other.  This ethos exists in 1 Peter 1; “you” is plural.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 19, 2022 COMMON ERA

TUESDAY IN EASTER WEEK

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALPHEGE, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY, AND MARTYR, 1012

THE FEAST OF SAINT EMMA OF LESUM, BENEFACTOR

THE FEAST OF OLAVUS PETRI, SWEDISH LUTHERAN THEOLOGIAN, HISTORIAN, LITURGIST, MINISTER, HYMN WRITER, HYMN TRANSLATOR, AND “FATHER OF SWEDISH LITERATURE;” AND HIS BROTHER, LAURENTIUS PETRI, SWEDISH LUTHERAN ARCHBISHOP OF UPPSALA, BIBLE TRANSLATOR, AND “FATHER OF SWEDISH HYMNODY”

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Adapted from this post

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Posted April 19, 2022 by neatnik2009 in 1 Peter 1, Acts of the Apostles 2, Luke 24, Psalm 16

Tagged with ,

A Daring Dance with God   1 comment

Above:  Tango Postcard, 1920

Image in the Public Domain

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Acts 2:14a, 22-32

Psalm 105:1-7

1 Peter 1:3-9

John 20:19-31

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Almighty God, we have celebrated with joy

the festival of our Lord’s resurrection. 

Graciously help us to show the power of the resurrection

in all that we say and do;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 21

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Grant, almighty God,

that we who have celebrated the mystery of the Lord’s resurrection

may by the help of your grace bring forth

the fruits thereof in our life and conduct;

through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 50

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Given that I have written lectionary-based devotions for more than a decade, I choose not to use this post to focus on a passage that may not seem like the obvious bullseye.

John 20:30-31 is probably the original conclusion to the Fourth Gospel.  That conclusion ends:

…that through this belief [that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God] you may have life in his name.

The New American Bible–Revised Edition (2011)

This theme, present also in the readings from Acts and 1 Peter, is where I dwell today, instead of defending St. Thomas the Apostle again.  Two words attract my attention:

  1. Belief, in the full, Biblical sense, is trust.  Whenever someone asks me if I believe in God, I ask what that person means.  In vernacular English, “believe” indicates acceptance of a preposition.  In the English-language vernacular, to believe in God is to affirm the existence of God.  I always affirm the existence of God.  I usually trust in God.  Likewise, to believe that Jesus is the Messiah and the Son of God is to trust that he is both of those.
  2. Life” refers to eternal life.  In Johannine theology, eternal life is knowing God via Jesus.  Logically, beginning with Johannine theological assumptions, to trust that Jesus is the Messiah and the Son of God leads to eternal life.  If x, then y.

These are articles of faith; we have no evidence for them or against them.  When trust in God is required, the quest for certainty constitutes idolatry.  Certainty feels comforting.  We can be certain of much, either by proving or disproving propositions.  Yet much falls into the gray zone of faith; we have it or lack it.  That uncertainty may unnerve us.  Fundamentalism undercuts trust in God by offering the crutch of false certainty.

Somewhere, years ago, I heard an intriguing spiritual metaphor–performing a daring dance with God.  That daring dance is the dance of trust, of faith.  It is daring from a human perspective.  May God have this dance?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 18, 2022 COMMON ERA

MONDAY IN EASTER WEEK

THE FEAST OF ROGER WILLIAMS, FOUNDER OF RHODE ISLAND; AND ANNE HUTCHINSON, REBELLIOUS PURITAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT CORNELIA CONNELLY, FOUNDER OF THE SOCIETY OF THE HOLY CHILD JESUS

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARY ANNA BLONDIN, FOUNDER OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE SISTERS OF SAINT ANNE

THE FEAST OF MARY C. COLLINS, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MISSIONARY AND MINISTER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MURIN OF FAHAN, LASERIAN OF LEIGHLIN, GOBAN OF PICARDIE, FOILLAN OF FOSSES, AND ULTAN OF PERONNE, ABBOTS; SAINTS FURSEY OF PERONNE AND BLITHARIOUS OF SEGANNE, MONKS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROMAN ARCHUTOWSKI, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1943

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Adapted from this post

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Life in Christian Community in Jerusalem   Leave a comment

Above:  The Death of Ananias, by Raphael

Image in the Public Domain

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

READING LUKE-ACTS, PART LVII

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Acts 4:32-5:11

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Acts 2:42-47 relates to 4:32-5:11.

The portion of scripture for this post comes in two parts:  4:32-37 and 5:1-11.  4:32-37 bears the stronger similarity to 2:42-47.  The motif of members of Christian community in Jerusalem taking care of each other financially dominates in 4:32-37 and 2:42-47.

Also, we meet St. (Joseph) Barnabas in 4:36-37.

The famous story of Ananias and Sapphira is a cautionary tale.  Do not lie to the community, we learn.  One may be within one’s rights, legally, but do not lie.

What is done to the community is done to the Spirit of God.

–Dennis Hamm, in Daniel Durken, ed., The New Collegeville Bible Commentary:  New Testament (2009), 387

How we regard God and how we think of each other are related to each other.

According to that standard, how do you measure up, O reader?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 9, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF DIETRICH BONHOEFFEFR, GERMAN LUTHERAN MARTYR, 1945

THE FEAST OF JOHANN CRUGER, GERMAN LUTHERAN ORGANIST, COMPOSER, AND HYMNAL EDITOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN SAMUJEL BEWLEY MONSELL, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND POET; AND RICHARD MANT, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF DOWN, CONNOR, AND DROMORE

THE FEAST OF LYDIA EMILIE GRUCHY, FIRST FEMALE MINISTER IN THE UNITED CHURCH OF CANADA

THE FEAST OF MIKAEL AGRICOLA, FINNISH LUTHERAN LITURGIST, BISHOP OF TURKU, AND “FATHER OF FINNISH LITERARY LANGUAGE”

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM LAW, ANGLICAN PRIEST, MYSTIC, AND SPIRITUAL WRITER

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Pentecost: The Birth of the Church   Leave a comment

Above:  Pentecost Dove

Image Scanned from a Bulletin

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

READING LUKE-ACTS, PART LV

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Acts 2:1-47

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

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

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

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

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

an arch-supporter of the status quo.

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

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

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

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 29, 2022 COMMON ERA

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

THE FEAST OF DORA GREENWELL, POET AND DEVOTIONAL WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN KEBLE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND POET

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

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Baptism and Genealogy of Jesus   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of the Baptism of Christ

Image in the Public Domain

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

READING LUKE-ACTS, PART VII

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Luke 3:21-38

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Christological orthodoxy holds that Jesus was sinless.  I affirm this doctrine.  Consider also, O reader, that St. John the Baptist offered baptism for repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

Why, therefore, did Jesus get baptized by St. John the Baptist?  In the Gospel of Luke, the baptism of Christ functioned as a ritual of succession.  Jesus was the successor of St. John the Baptist.

Three major germane points interest me:

  1. The opening of heaven (a motif in apocalyptic literature) at the baptism of Jesus signaled that he was the Messiah and that he fulfillment of Israel’s eschatological expectations was at hand.
  2. The descent of the Holy Spirit in a physical form, like a dove, was crucial, too.  In ancient Near Eastern thought, doves symbolized virtue.  They, worthy of sacrificing to God, symbolized the divine presence in this story.
  3. The Holy Spirit descended in a similar form upon the Apostles at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4).

The genealogy of Jesus (Luke 3:23-38) traces Christ’s family tree back to the mythical Adam (and Eve).  The theological importance of this detail is two-fold:

  1. To point to the universality of the Gospel, and
  2. To affirm that Jesus was the Son of God.  The numbers are symbolic, not historical.  We read sequences of seven generations.  The new age begins with Jesus in Luke 3.

Theologically, the genealogy of Jesus is important, regardless of the difficulties one faces in establishing its historical accuracy….Jesus stands within the history of the covenant with Israel; yet, the story of his life has significance for all people.  Jesus is the Son of God who entered human history to declare the arrival of God’s reign in human history, to call together a new community and to redeem humanity.  Read in this way, the genealogy, like the birth narratives, is a gospel in miniature.

–R. Alan Culpepper, in The New Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. IX (1995), 95-96

Amen.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 24, 2021 COMMON ERA

CHRISTMAS EVE

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Introduction to Luke-Acts   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of St. Luke the Evangelist

Image in the Public Domain

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

READING LUKE-ACTS, PART I

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The whole of Luke’s gospel is about the way in which the living God has planted, in Jesus, the seed of that long-awaited hope in the world.

–N. T. Wright, Lent for Everyone:  Luke, Year C–A Daily Devotional (2009), 2

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Gospel of Luke is the first volume of a larger work.  The Acts of the Apostles is the second volume.  One can read either volume spiritually profitably in isolation from the other one.  However, one derives more benefit from reading Luke-Acts as the two-volume work it is.

Each of the four canonical Gospels bears the name of its traditional author.  The Gospel of Luke is the only case in which I take this traditional authorship seriously as a matter of history.  One may recall that St. Luke was a well-educated Gentile physician and a traveling companion of St. Paul the Apostle.

Luke-Acts dates to circa 85 C.E.,. “give or take five to ten years,” as Raymond E. Brown (1928-1998) wrote in his magisterial An Introduction to the New Testament (1997).  Luke-Acts, having a Gentile author, includes evidence that the audience consisted of Gentiles, too.  The text makes numerous references to the inclusion of Gentiles, for example.  Two of the major themes in Luke-Acts are (a) reversal of fortune, and (b) the conflict between the Roman Empire and the Kingdom of God.  The smoldering ruins of Jerusalem and the Second Temple in 70 C.E. inform the present tense of the story-telling.

Many North American Christians minimize or ignore the imperial politics in the New Testament.  In doing so, they overlook essential historical and cultural contexts.  Luke-Acts, in particular, performs an intriguing political dance with the Roman Empire.  The two-volume work unambiguously proclaims Jesus over the Emperor–a treasonous message, by Roman imperial standards.  Luke-Acts makes clear that the Roman Empire was on the wrong side of God, that its values were opposite those of the Kingdom of God.  Yet the two-volume work goes out of its way to mention honorable imperial officials.

Know six essential facts about me, O reader:

  1. This weblog is contains other blog posts covering Luke-Acts, but in the context of lectionaries.  I refer you to those posts.  And I will not attempt to replicate those other posts in the new posts.  Finding those posts is easy; check the category for the book and chapter, such as Luke 1 or Acts 28.
  2. I know far more about the four canonical Gospels, especially in relation to each other, than I will mention in the succeeding posts.  I tell you this not to boast, but to try to head off anyone who may chime in with a rejoinder irrelevant to my purpose in any given post.  My strategy will be to remain on topic.
  3. My purpose will be to analyze the material in a way that is intellectually honest and applicable in real life.  I respect Biblical scholarship that goes deep into the woods, spending ten pages on three lines.  I consult works of such scholarship.  However, I leave that work to people with Ph.Ds in germane fields and who write commentaries.
  4. I am a student of the Bible, not a scholar thereof.
  5. I am a left-of-center Episcopalian who places a high value on human reason and intellect.  I value history and science.  I reject both the inerrancy and the infallibility of scripture for these reasons.  Fundamentalists think I am going to Hell for asking too many questions.  I try please God, not fundamentalists. I know too much to affirm certain theological statements.
  6. I am a sui generis mix of Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and Anglican theological influences.  I consider St. Mary of Nazareth to be the Theotokos (the Bearer of God) and the Mater Dei (the Mother of God).  I also reject the Virgin Birth and the Immaculate Conception with it.

Make of all this whatever you will, O reader.

Shall we begin our journey through Luke-Acts?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 20, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE TWENTY-THIRD DAY OF ADVENT

THE FEAST OF SAINT DOMINIC OF SILOS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF BATES GILBERT BURT, EPISCOPAL PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF BENJAMIN TUCKER TANNER, AFRICAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL BISHOP AND RENEWER OF SOCIETY

THE FEAST OF D. ELTON TRUEBLOOD, U.S. QUAKER THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF JOHANN CHRISTOPH SCHWEDLER, GERMAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT MICHAL PIASCZYNSKI,POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1940

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++