Archive for the ‘Acts of the Apostles 6’ Category

St. Paul’s Third Missionary Journey   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of St. Paul the Apostle

Image in the Public Domain

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READING LUKE-ACTS, PART LXX

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Acts 18:24-21:16

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The material for this post opens with St. Paul the Apostle back in Antioch in Syria, at the end of the Second Missionary Journey.

Meanwhile, we readers meet St. Apollos, a Jewish Christian recently arrived in Ephesus then in Corinth.  We read that Sts. Priscilla and Aquila (from Corinth) catechized him.  We also read that St. Apollos, who spoke boldly for Christ, had only experienced the baptism of St. John the Baptist.

Related to that point, St. Paul, en route overland back to Ephesus (where he had been recently in 18:19-21), encountered about twelve Christians who had never heard of the Holy Spirit.  This was not surprising; the religion was young, Trinitarian theology was in its infancy, and one could not purchase a catechism in a bookstore yet.

I know what I mean by “Holy Spirit,” but my understanding emerges from Roman Catholic tradition.  I even use the filoque clause, unlike the Eastern Orthodox.  Definitions of the Holy Spirit vary within Christianity.

I have read sufficiently deeply to know that St. Paul used “Jesus” and “Holy Spirit” interchangeably sometimes.  I posit that elements of St. Paul’s Trinitarian theology were heterodox, relative to the conclusions of subsequent, major ecumenical councils.  So be it.  Trying to explain more of the nature of God than we mere mortals can grasp (most of it) is a foolish undertaking.  Who am I to blame St. Paul for dying about two and a half centuries prior to the First Council of Nicaea?

St. Paul, who spent years in Ephesus, made powerful religious and economic enemies.  The growth of Christianity threatened the commerce related to the goddess Diana.  The town clerk (another good Roman official) talked down the rioting silversmiths, but St. Paul had to leave.

A few months later, at Troas, St. Paul and his entourage spent about a week.  One Eutychus, sitting in a window, fell asleep and feel three stories to his death.  St. Paul, like Jesus before him, restored the young man to life.

Sleep, in this case, represented moral laxity and spiritual dullness, as well as indicating a physical state.  Culturally, story legitimized Lord’s Day worship, in contrast to “nocturnal assemblies and associated immoralities” (to quote Charles H. Talbert).  These nighttime meetings were commonplace in the cultural setting.  St. Justin Martyr wrote of the pagan misapprehension that Christians at worship “extinguished the lights and indulged in unbridled sensuality.”  St. Luke took pains to mention that the room was well-lit (20:8).  St. Luke also used this story in 20:7-12 to refute allegations that Christians practiced child sacrifice.

Many ancient pagans harbored false notions regarding Christians and Christianity.  Frequently, correcting these misunderstandings would have required a minimum of effort.  The stubbornness of people in holding objectively inaccurate ideas has not ceased to be an element of human nature, sadly.

St. Paul, hurrying back to Jerusalem in time for Pentecost, bid farewell to the Ephesian elders in Miletus.  His farewell speech, reminiscent of Christ’s predictions of the Passion, included excellent advice and interesting historical information.

Presbyters (elders) and overseers (bishops) were interchangeable at the time.  Mutuality defined the farewell address.  And the Lucan motif of the Holy Spirit was present.

St. Paul and his entourage evangelized on the way to Jerusalem.  They visited St. Philip the Evangelist (Acts 6:5; 8:4-8, 26-40) and his four daughters, prophets, in Caesarea.  More predictions of St. Paul’s fate occurred, but the Apostle kept going to Jerusalem.  Like Jesus in Luke 9:51, St. Paul set his face toward Jerusalem.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 1, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF SAINTS PHILIP AND JAMES, APOSTLES AND MARTYRS

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Hesed, Part V   3 comments

Above:  Good Shepherd

Image in the Public Domain

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

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Acts 6:1-9; 7:2a, 51-60

Psalm 23

1 Peter 2:19-25

John 10:1-10

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God of all power,

you called from death our Lord Jesus Christ,

the great shepherd of the sheep. 

Send us as shepherds to rescue the lost,

to heal the injured,

and to feed one another with knowledge and understanding;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

OR

Almighty God,

you show the light of your truth to those in darkness,

to lead them into the way of righteousness. 

Give strength to all who are joined in the family of the Church,

so that they will resolutely reject what erodes their faith

and firmly follow what faith requires;

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

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Almighty God, merciful Father,

since you have wakened from death the Shepherd of your sheep,

grant us your Holy Spirit that we may know the voice of our Shepherd

and follow him that sin and death may never pluck us out of your hand;

through Jesus Christ, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 52

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The lectionary wisely omits 1 Peter 2:18:

Slaves, accept the authority of your masters with all deference, not only those who are kind and gentle but also those who are harsh.

The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

I realize that the First Epistle of Peter dates to a time and comes from a cultural setting in which the Church was young, small, and not influential.  Nevertheless, I reject any defense that these circumstances excused not denouncing the indefensible.

This is Good Shepherd Sunday.  “Good Shepherd” is a metaphor originally applied to YHWH (Psalm 23; Ezekiel 34) then to Jesus.  Instead of going over shepherds again, I choose to focus on competing translations of one line in Psalm 23.  Divine goodness and mercy may either pursue or attend/accompany one.  Enemies cannot catch up.  After leading many lectionary discussions and comparing translations of Psalms, I have become accustomed to competing, feasible translations of text and lines.  I do not know if I should prefer divine goodness and mercy pursuing me or walking beside me.  Perhaps that does not matter.  Either way, the metaphor provides comfort.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 20, 2022 COMMON ERA

WEDNESDAY IN EASTER WEEK

THE FEAST OF JOHANNES BUGENHAGEN, GERMAN LUTHERAN THEOLOGIAN, MINISTER, MINISTER, LITURGIST, AND “PASTOR OF THE REFORMATION”

THE FEAST OF SAINTS AMATOR OF AUXERRE AND GERMANUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; SAINT MAMERTINUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AND SAINT MARCIAN OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN X, KING OF DENMARK AND ICELAND; AND HAAKON VII, KING OF NORWAY

THE FEAST OF MARION MACDONALD KELLERAN, EPISCOPAL SEMINARY PROFESSOR AND LAY LEADER

THE FEAST OF ROBERT SEYMOUR BRIDGES, ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

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Adapted from this post

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St. Philip the Deacon, Evangelist   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch

Image in the Public Domain

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READING LUKE-ACTS, PART LXI

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Acts 8:4-8, 26-40

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We know little about St. Philip the Deacon.  We first read his name in Acts 6:5.  We read that he fed widows and preached the Gospel, but, unlike St. Stephen, lived to continue evangelizing in the midst of persecution.  And we read that St. Philip the Deacon went to where God sent him.

Acts 8:26-40, being part of lectionaries, is a portion of scripture I have written about a few times already.  I have, therefore, decided to let those posts stand, to refer you, O reader, to them, and to choose another point to emphasize in this post.

Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?”  He replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?”

–Acts 9:30-31a, The New American Bible–Revised Edition (2011)

This explains why I have two tall bookcases full of Bibles, commentaries, and related reference works.  I am a serious student of the Bible, as well as an adult Christian educator.  I was a licensed catechist in the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia before I moved to the Diocese of Atlanta.  Now that I have returned to the Diocese of Georgia, I do not know if I am a licensed catechist again.  (How does that work?)  I know from experience that what I learned about the Bible growing up is not necessarily so.  My adult Christian faith is quite different from my childhood Christian faith.  My adult Christian faith, as of today, differs from my adult Christian faith five years ago.

And I am one of the churchiest people around!  I am an in-utero product of the Church.  I cannot conceive of how people new to the Bible must feel.

In a way, they have an advantage I lack.  I have had to unlearn most of my childhood religion.  The version of the Gospel in my head is a composite that easily glosses over many distinctive characteristics of each of the four canonical Gospels.  I continue to strive to get past my blind spots.  Those who come new to the Gospels lack these blind spots.  Those who are new to the faith help me to see my faith and the Bible with fresh eyes.

How can I understand [what I am reading], unless someone instructs me?

I pray that I am a good teacher of the faith, in my weblogs and in other ways.  I pray this not so much for my sake, but for the glory of God, the sake of Jesus, and the benefit of other people.

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

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St. Stephen, the First Christian Martyr   Leave a comment

Above:  Saint Stephen, by Luis de Morales

Image in the Public Domain

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READING LUKE-ACTS, PART LX

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Acts 6:8-8:3

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…but they could not withstand the wisdom and the spirit with which he spoke.

–Acts 6:10, The New American Bible–Revised Edition (2011)

St. Stephen, one of the original seven deacons (Acts 6:1-7), had a simple job–to provide social services in the name of Christ.  Simply put, he, as a deacon, was supposed to provide the ancient equivalent of Meals on Wheels (Acts 6:2).  He died for his preaching, though.

Rather than focus on the reported contents of that fateful sermon, or on the politics of it circa 85 C.E. (when St. Luke composed the Acts of the Apostles), I choose other emphases:

  1. St. Stephen’s martyrdom resembles the crucifixion of Jesus.  The servant is not greater than the master, after all.
  2. We meet Saul of Tarsus, still a persecutor of the nascent Church.
  3. We read of sacred violence, one the most egregious oxymorons.

Those who behave violently toward the nonviolent do not impress me.  I understand that violence is sometimes the lesser evil; I am a realist.  Yet I contend that violence is usually unnecessary.  Violence in defense of another person, other human beings, and oneself is necessary at times, sadly.  yet violence against the nonviolent is never morally justifiable.

Nevertheless, violence in the name of God, especially against the nonviolent, is a repeating theme in history.  I, as a Christian, regret that violence in the name of Jesus, crucified despite being innocent of the charges against him, is a dark stain in Christian history.  And I, as a citizen of the United States of America, know that my nation-state, not exempt from human nature, has a record of incarcerating and martyring pacifists during wartime.  My Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days (available at SUNDRY THOUGHTS) includes some of these martyrs.  I also know about the four Quakers the Puritan government of the Massachusetts Bay Colony executed for merely being Quakers.  My Ecumenical Calendar also lists these four martyrs.

The variety of theological certainty that, in one’s imagination, justifies violence against the nonviolent is morally unjustifiable.  Consider the Lucan presentation of the execution of Jesus, O reader.  Remember that the Lucan account emphasizes the innocence of Jesus, hence the injustice of his death.  We have a similar murder here, in Acts 7:54-60.

I, as a Christian, have an obligation to follow Jesus.  I do not recall the verse in which he called for smiting the heretics and evildoers.  That verse does not exist.  I do recall reading about Jesus dying for the heretics and evildoers, though.  And I remember reading about Jesus praying that God would forgive them.

As for pacifists, they are harmless at worst and beneficial at best.  If one disagrees with them, one has the right to do so.  Yet nobody has the moral right to harm them, to seek to harm them, or to consent to their harm.  Why not permit them to lead their nonviolent lives without harassment and persecution?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 15, 2022 COMMON ERA

GOOD FRIDAY

THE FEAST OF SAINT OLGA OF KIEV, REGENT OF KIEVAN RUSSIA; SAINT ADALBERT OF MAGDEBURG, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP; SAINT ADALBERT OF PRAGUE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP AND MARTYR, 997; AND SAINTS BENEDICT AND GAUDENTIUS OF POMERANIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS, 997

THE FEAST OF SAINTS DAMIEN AND MARIANNE OF MOLOKAI, WORKERS AMONG LEPERS

THE FEAST OF SAINT FLAVIA DOMITILLA, ROMAN CHRISTIAN NOBLEWOMAN; AND SAINTS MARO, EUTYCHES, AND VICTORINUS OF ROME, PRIESTS AND MARTYRS, CIRCA 99

THE FEAST OF SAINT HUNNA OF ALSACE, THE “HOLY WASHERWOMAN”

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The First Seven Deacons   Leave a comment

Above:  Saint Simon Peter Consecrates the First Seven Deacons (Fra Angelico)

Image in the Public Domain

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READING LUKE-ACTS, PART LIX

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Acts 6:1-7

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For those of us who belong to denominations that maintain the historic diaconate, the pattern in Acts 6:1-7 may be familiar.  Deacons are members of the clergy who focus on ministry beyond the walls of church buildings.

Acts 6:1-7 also provides a window onto the young Church in Jerusalem.  We read of a faith community coming to terms with how best to fulfill all its necessary functions in the community.  We read of the division of labor, for nobody can do everything well.  We read of the Church in Jerusalem evolving its orders of ministry.  The three-tier structure of bishops-priests-deacons had yet to develop, so we read of two tiers in Acts 6:1-7.  (The separation of priests [presbyters] and bishops [overseers] had not occurred yet.)

Within faith community, the variety of gifts is essential if the faith community is to become and remain its best possible self in Christ.  I have the gift of adult Christian education, for example.  Yet I lack the gift of pastoral counseling. Therefore, I leave pastoral counseling to those who have that gift, as I strive to excel in my calling.  I also have an obsessive nature that equips me to organize projects and schedule people.  Properly-directed obsessiveness is an essential gift in the Church.  In my new parish, I exercise this gift as the librarian.

How may you, O reader, most effectively serve within your faith community, to build up both it and your wider community?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 14, 2022 COMMON ERA

HOLY/MAUNDY THURSDAY

THE FEAST OF EDWARD THOMAS DEMBY AND HENRY BEARD DELANY, EPISCOPAL SUFFRAGAN BISHOPS FOR COLORED WORK

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ANTHONY, JOHN, AND EUSTATHIUS OF VILNIUS, MARTYRS IN LITHUANIA, 1347

THE FEAST OF SAINT WANDREGISILUS OF NORMANDY, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AND SAINT LAMBERT OF LYONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT ZENAIDA OF TARSUS AND HER SISTER, SAINT PHILONELLA OF TARSUS; AND SAINT HERMIONE OF EPHESUS; UNMERCENARY PHYSICIANS

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Posted April 14, 2022 by neatnik2009 in Acts of the Apostles 6

Introduction to Luke-Acts   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of St. Luke the Evangelist

Image in the Public Domain

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READING LUKE-ACTS, PART I

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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

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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

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Salt and Light, Part II   Leave a comment

Above:  A Salt Shaker

Image in the Public Domain

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For the Fourth Sunday after Trinity, Year 2

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Lectionary from A Book of Worship for Free Churches (The General Council of the Congregational Christian Churches in the United States, 1948)

Collect from The Book of Worship (Evangelical and Reformed Church, 1947)

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Grant, O Lord, we beseech thee, that the course of this world

may be so peaceably ordered by thy governance,

that thy Church may joyfully serve thee in all godly quietness;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Worship (1947), 190

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1 Samuel 3:1-9

Psalm 75

Acts 6:1-15; 7:54-60

Matthew 5:13-16

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But I shall confess him for ever;

I shall sing praises to the God of Jacob.

He will break down the strength of the wicked,

but the strength of the righteous will be raised high.

–Psalm 75:9-10, The Revised English Bible (1989)

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Yes, but martyrdom remains possible.  Ask St. Stephen the Deacon, Christian protomartyr.

Samuel,  of course, grew up and became one of the great religious leaders of the people of Israel had.  People did not always heed his advice, though.  Yet Samuel did his best to be salt and light where and when he was.

Salt is interesting.  An insufficient quantity of it is negative.  So is an excessive quantity.  Likewise, light pollution is real; just as too much darkness is negative.  However, enough salt and light are positive.  Equilibrium, then, is essential.

The Christian Church has a calling to be salt and light in the world.  Each member of the Church as the same mandate, too.  Christian history is a mixed bag, though.  Stains on the record of the Church include Anti-Semitism, Inquisitions, Crusades, and witch hunts.  These and other examples of sins committed in the name of Christ testify to severe blind spots in the minds of institutions and individuals.  These and other examples are evidence of darkness, not light.

By grace, may we–collectively and individually–shed more light and less darkness.  May God shine through us.  And may we add the flavor of God where it is lacking.  But may our zeal not manifest itself in ways that work against our purpose.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 13, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT HILARY OF POITIERS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF POITIERS, “ATHANASIUS OF THE WEST,” AND HYMN WRITER; AND HIS PROTÉGÉ, SAINT MARTIN OF TOURS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF TOURS

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN KEIMANN, GERMAN LUTHERAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF GEORGE FOX, FOUNDER OF THE RELIGIOUS SOCIETY OF FRIENDS

THE FEAST OF MARY SLESSOR, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN MISSIONARY IN WEST AFRICA

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL PREISWERK, SWISS REFORMED MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

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Reconciliation, Part II   Leave a comment

Above:  The Tomb of Rabbi Hillel

Image in the Public Domain

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

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Holy God, who sent thy Son Jesus Christ to fulfill the Law:

mercifully grant that by our actions we may show forth his perfect love;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Common Worship–Provisional Services (1966), 124

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Deuteronomy 30:11-20

Acts 6:1-7

Matthew 5:17-26

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The Law of God is permanent (Matthew 5:17f), according to Jesus, agreeing with Deuteronomy 30:11f.

How, then, are we supposed to interpret the Law-related conflicts between religious authorities and our Lord and Savior?  He interpreted the Law more inwardly and rigorously.  For example, he taught reconciliation, a principle at work in Acts 6:1-7.

Reconciliation, by definition, must involve more than one party.  If I seek to reconcile with John Q. Public, that desire speaks well of me.  If Mr. Public agrees to reconcile, we accomplish reconciliation.  Yet if Mr. Public rejects my offer of reconciliation, he continues to carry his burden; I carry no burden, for I have laid it down.  That result is positive for me, but reconciliation would be preferable.

Christ’s interpretation of the Law refuses to honor the letter of the Law while violating the spirit of the Law.  Internalize the ethos of the Law, Jesus says, then act accordingly.  This is an old teaching in 2019, as I type these words.

It was not unique to Jesus, though.  Rabbi Hillel, who died when Jesus was a minor, quoted the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-5) when he summarized the Torah.  He continued,

The rest is commentary.  Go and learn it.

The wisdom of Hillel and Jesus continues to instruct those who pay attention.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 18, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF BARTHOLOMÉ DE LAS CASAS, “APOSTLE TO THE INDIANS”

THE FEAST OF ARTHUR PENRHYN STANLEY, ANGLICAN DEAN OF WESTMINSTER, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF EDWARD WILLIAM LEINBACH, U.S. MORAVIAN MUSICIAN AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF ELIZABETH FERARD, FIRST DEACONESS IN THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND

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Martyrdom   1 comment

Above:  Stoning of St. Stephen, by Giovanni Battista Lucini

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

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

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

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

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

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

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Acts 6:1-15

Psalm 133

2 Peter 1:1-12

Mark 16:9-20

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The solution to the lack of fraternal unity (see Psalm 133) in the church at Jerusalem was the creation of the diaconate.  St. Stephen was one of the first deacons.  His diaconal duties did lead to his martyrdom, though.  No, his preaching (see Mark 16:16) did.

The martyrdom of St. Stephen occurred soon after the crucifixion of Jesus.  The death of St. Stephen was the first Christian martyrdom.  The martyrdom of Christians has continued into the present day, unfortunately.  Many who have caused a host of these martyrdoms have done so in the name of God.  A plethora of Christians have gone to their martyrdoms at the hands of other Christians.

One can correctly derive more than one valid lesson from the death and resurrection of Jesus.  One of these lessons is never to take life in the name of God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 27, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CORNELIUS HILL, ONEIDA CHIEF AND EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF HUGH THOMSON KERR, SR., U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND LITURGIST; AND HIS SON, HUGH THOMSON KERR, JR., U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, SCHOLAR, AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF JAMES MOFFATT, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, SCHOLAR, AND BIBLE TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN THE GEORGIAN, ABBOT; AND SAINTS EUTHYMIUS OF ATHOS AND GEORGE OF THE BLACK MOUNTAIN, ABBOTS AND TRANSLATORS

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Adapted from this post:

https://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2019/06/27/devotion-for-the-second-sunday-of-easter-year-b-humes/

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Posted June 27, 2019 by neatnik2009 in 2 Peter 1, Acts of the Apostles 6, Mark 16, Psalm 133

Tagged with ,

The First Christian Martyr   1 comment

Above:  St. Stephen, by Luis de Morales

Image in the Public Domain

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The readings for the Feast of St. Stephen remind us of the grim reality that suffering for the sake of righteousness is frequently a risk.  We read of one of the many difficulties of the faithful prophet Jeremiah, a man who spoke truth to power when that power was dependent upon hostile foreigners.  The historical record tells us that the Pharaoh of Egypt chose both the King of Judah and his regnal name, Jehoiakim.  Matthew 23, set in the Passion Narrative, reminds us of some of the prophets and teachers, whom God had sent and authorities at Jerusalem had martyred.  Contrary to the wishes of the author of Psalm 31, God does not always deliver the faithful from enemy hands.

St. Stephen, one of the original seven deacons, was probably a Hellenized Jew.  As a deacon, his job in the Church was, in the words of Acts 6:2,

to wait on tables.

The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

The deacons were to provide social services while the Apostles preached and taught.  St. Stephen also debated and preached, however.  His speech to the Sanhedrin (Acts 7:1-53) led to his execution (without a trial) by stoning.  St. Stephen, like Jesus before him, prayed for God to forgive his executioners (Acts 7:60), who, in their minds, were correct to execute him for blasphemy, a capital offense in the Law of Moses.  Saul of Tarsus, the future St. Paul the Apostle, was prominent in the killing of St. Stephen.  The Apostle recalled the death of St. Stephen and his role in it in Acts 22:20.

Religion, by itself, is generally morally neutral; one can be a moral atheist just as easily as one can be a moral or immoral adherent.  Good religion and bad religion certainly exist.  The test, in moral terms, yet not theological ones, is what kind of adherents they create and nurture.  Regardless of the name of a religion or the content of its tenets, does the reality of living it make one a loving, merciful human being or a judgmental person who might be quick to execute dissenters or consent to that?  This question is always a relevant one.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 17, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT PATRICK, APOSTLE OF IRELAND

THE FEAST OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT, “THE CORN LAW RHYMER”

THE FEAST OF ELIZA SIBBALD ALDERSON, POET AND HYMN WRITER; AND JOHN BACCHUS DYKES, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF HENRY SCOTT HOLLAND, ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER AND PRIEST

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We give you thanks, O Lord of glory, for the example of the first martyr Stephen,

who looked up to heaven and prayed for his persecutors to your Son Jesus Christ,

who stands at your right hand; where he lives and reigns with

you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting.  Amen.

Jeremiah 26:1-9, 12-15

Psalm 31 or 31:1-15

Acts 6:8-7:2a; 51c-60

Matthew 23:34-39

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 139

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Adapted from this post:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2018/03/17/second-day-of-christmas-feast-of-st-stephen-deacon-and-martyr-december-26/

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