Archive for the ‘Colossians 3’ Category

With God There Are Leftovers, Part III   Leave a comment

Above:  Labor Day, by Samuel D. Ehrhart, 1909

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsca-26406

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FOR LABOR SUNDAY (THE FIRST SUNDAY IN SEPTEMBER), ACCORDING TO A LECTIONARY FOR PUBLIC WORSHIP IN THE BOOK OF WORSHIP FOR CHURCH AND HOME (1965)

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O Lord and heavenly Father, we commend to your care and protection the men and women

of this land who are suffering distress and anxiety through lack of work.

Strengthen and support them, and so prepare the counsels of those who govern our industries

that your people may be set free from want and fear to work in peace and security,

for the relief of their necessities, and the well-being of this realm;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

–Modernized from The Book of Worship for Church and Home (1965), pages 156-157

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Amos 5:11-15

Psalms 2 and 71

Colossians 3:23-25

John 6:5-14, 26-27

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Economic justice is one of the themes in the Book of Amos.  More to the point the lack and moral imperative of economic justice is a theme in the Book of Amos.  This emphasis is consistent with the Law of Moses, much of which rests on the following principles:

  1. We depend completely on God.
  2. We depend on each other.
  3. We are responsible to each other.
  4. We are responsible for each other.
  5. We have no right to exploit one another.

Yet, of course, people do exploit one another.  Thus there are always people who implore God, in the words of Psalm 71, to rescue them

from the clutches of the wicked,

from the grasp of the rogue and the ruthless.

–Psalm 71:4b, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

One lesson from the Feeding of the Five Thousand, present in each of the four canonical Gospels, is that scarcity is a component of human, not divine economy.  With God there are leftovers.  This reality shines a critical light on human economic systems.

Work can be drudgery, but it need not be that.  Work at its best, is vocation–the intersection of one’s greatest joys and the world’s deepest needs.  Work, when it is what it should be, is a way to meet needs–not just one’s necessities, but those of others also.  It can be a way of exercising one’s responsibilities to and for other people in the divine economy, where a little bit goes a long way and there are always leftovers.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 15, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER AND MARTYR

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Enemies and Repentance   Leave a comment

Above:  The (United) Kingdom of Israel and the Divided Monarchy

Scanned from Hammond’s World Atlas–Classics Edition (1957)

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FOR THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF KINGDOMTIDE, ACCORDING TO A LECTIONARY FOR PUBLIC WORSHIP IN THE BOOK OF WORSHIP FOR CHURCH AND HOME (1965)

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Lord, we ask you to keep your household the Church in continual godliness,

that through your protection it may be free from all adversities,

and devoutly given to serve you in good works, to the glory of your name;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

–Modernized from The Book of Worship for Church and Home (1965), page 154

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Obadiah 1-4, 15-17a, 21

Psalm 35

Colossians 3:1-15

Matthew 7:15-23

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The readings for this week remind us of the importance of words and deeds.  The perfidy of the Moabites as well as the faithless Israelites dooms them in Obadiah.  The author of Psalm 35 asks God to destroy his (the author’s enemies).  The counterpoint that comes to my mind immediately is the Book of Jonah, in which God grants enemies of the Israelites an opportunity to repent, and therefore to avert destruction, but Jonah objects.  No, he has the attitude of the author of Psalm 35.  We read in Colossians 3 that we have an obligation to put away, among other things,

human anger, hot temper, malice, abusive language, and dirty talk.

–Verse 8, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

Our grand tour of scripture ends in Matthew 7, where we read that (1) one will know a tree by its fruits and (2) not all who think they do the will of God actually do so.  Words and deeds cannot save us, but they can condemn us.

Should we not be better than our foes?  Should we not rejoice when they repent?  Should we not want them to be peaceable, godly people?  The issue is not them but us.  What kind of people are we?  And what kind of people are we becoming?  After all, divine judgment and mercy are even-handed.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 6, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE EPIPHANY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST

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The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Part IV   1 comment

temple-of-solomon

Above:  The First Temple at Jerusalem

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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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:

2 Chronicles 7:1-22 or Haggai 1:15b-29

Psalm 41

Matthew 26:20-35 or Mark 14:17-31 or Luke 22:14-38

Colossians 3:18-4:18 or 1 Peter 2:1, 11-18 (19-25); 3:1-12

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The First Temple at Jerusalem–when it was new and after it had become ruins–occupies the focus in the two options for the First Reading.  God–in the Ark of the Covenant–was present there, faith affirmed.  With that faith came the obligation to, in the words of Psalm 41, consider the poor and the needy.  This was part of the covenant most of the population disregarded, to its detriment.  Consistent with that ethic of caring for the poor and the needy was the example of Jesus, who modeled the teaching that the way to true greatness is servanthood.

As for the readings from the epistles, I must make some critical (in the highest sense of that word) comments about them.  They do contain some sexism, but not as much as some think.  The texts do speak of the responsibilities of husbands toward their wives, after all.  The overall portrait is one of a high degree of mutuality.  Also, the failure to condemn slavery disturbs me.  That failure is a recurring theme in Christian history, from the first century to at least the nineteenth century.  Christianity need not mean default contrariness, for not everything in society is wrong, but the Christian Gospel ought to lead one to oppose servitude and sexism.  The Gospel is, after all, about liberation–freedom to serve God without the societal constraints foreign to God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 20, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE TWENTY-FOURTH DAY OF ADVENT

THE FEAST OF SAINT DOMINIC OF SILOS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF ARCHIBALD CAMPBELL TAIT, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

THE FEAST OF SAINT PETER CANISIUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM JOHN BLEW, ENGLISH PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2016/12/20/devotion-for-proper-22-year-d/

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Gracious Speech Seasoned With Salt   1 comment

Salt Shaker

Above:  A Salt Shaker

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

Benevolent God, you are the source, the guide, and the goal of our lives.

Teach us to love what is worth loving,

to reject what is offensive to you,

and to treasure what is precious in your sight,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 44

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The Assigned Readings:

Ecclesiastes 2:1-17 (Monday)

Ecclesiastes 3:16-4:8 (Tuesday)

Psalm 127 (Both Days)

Colossians 3:18-4:1 (Monday)

Colossians 4:2-6 (Tuesday)

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If Yahweh does not build a house

in vain do its builders toil.

If Yahweh does not guard a city

in vain does its guard keep watch.

–Psalm 127:1, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

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The key word from the readings from Ecclesiastes is “futility.”  The quest for wealth is futile.  Seeking happiness in wealth is futile.  At least one can obtain some enjoyment from possessions, not that one can take them along for the journey after death.

Colossians 3:18-4:6 offers some uncomfortable material.  First we encounter the verse about wives being subject to their husbands.  The next verse mitigates it somewhat by speaking of a husband’s obligation to love his wife and never to be harsh with her.  At least in Ephesians 5, when these topics arise, they do so in the context of

Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.

–5:21, Revised Standard Version–Second Edition (1971)

The next difficult topic is slavery, which the New Testament condemns nowhere.  Slavery in the Roman Empire was different from race-based chattel slavery, of courrse, but I posit that all forms of slavery are wrong at all times and at all places.  The expectation that Jesus would return soon and inaugurate social justice informed the absence of a condemnation of slavery, but (A) that was nearly 2000 years ago, (B) Jesus did not return, and (C) the mandate to love one’s neighbor as one loves oneself applies in all places an at all times.  At least the text noted that there is no partiality with God.

The parting advice from Colossians 4 is timeless:

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer every one.

4:6, Revised Standard Version–Second Edition (1971)

Graciousness flows from and imparts grace.  Salt preserves and amplifies flavor.  Contrary to the term “salty language,” gracious speech seasoned with salt builds up others.  It edifies them; it does not insult them.  And it is not futile.

May your speech, O reader, be gracious and seasoned with salt more often that it is already.  May mine be likewise.  May we glorify God, not ourselves.  May we function as effective agents of grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 18, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT LEONIDES OF ALEXANDRIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR; ORIGEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC THEOLOGIAN; SAINT DEMETRIUS OF ALEXANDRIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP; AND SAINT ALEXANDER OF JERUSALEM, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANSELM II OF LUCCA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT CYRIL OF JERUSALEM, BISHOP, THEOLOGIAN, AND LITURGIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAUL OF CYPRUS, EASTERN ORTHODOX MARTYR

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2016/03/18/devotion-for-monday-and-tuesday-after-proper-13-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

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Esther V: Courage   1 comment

Esther Before Ahasuerus

Above:  Esther Before Ahasuerus, by Tintoretto

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

Almighty and ever-living God, you are always more ready than we are to pray,

and you gladly give more than we either desire or deserve.

Pour upon us your abundant mercy.

Forgive us those things that weigh on our conscience,

and give us those good things that come only through your Son,

Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 43

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The Assigned Readings:

Esther 5:1-14

Psalm 55:16-23

Colossians 2:16-3:1

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They attack those at peace with them,

going back on their oaths;

though their mouth is smoother than butter,

enmity is in their hearts;

their words more soothing than oil,

yet sharpened like swords.

–Psalm 55:20-21, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

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Our journey through the Book of Esther picks up with Chapter D (as The New American Bible labels it), which embellishes upon and replaces 5:1-2.  Queen Esther enters the presence of King Ahasuerus.  Perhaps she is manipulative in showing great deference to him, as to win his favor, but we can forgive her that, given the circumstances, which is to say, the possibility of execution.  The monarch is tender toward her and grants her whatever she wishes, which is a banquet the next day with Haman present.  Haman, meanwhile, continues to plot against Mordecai and has an impaling stake (for Mordecai’s execution) erected.  Haman is indeed one who, in the words of Psalm 55, has enmity in his heart.

The advice from Colossians to seek “the things that are above” is always appropriate.  Certainly placing one’s life at risk for the benefit of others falls into that category.  It is a courageous act, one that requires selfless love.  There is no higher love than to lay down one’s life for another or for others (John 15:13).  To risk doing that is close enough to that standard for that category, at least in my thinking.

I read the story of Esther in Chapters D and 5 then ask myself what I might have done in her situation.  I might have chosen the easy way out and laid low.  After all, who wants to die by being impaled on a stake?  The story convicts the great mass of us of our moral cowardice.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 17, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT PATRICK, BISHOP OF ARMAGH

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2016/03/17/devotion-for-monday-after-proper-12-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

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Obeying Divine Instructions   1 comment

Jeroboam I

Above:  King Jeroboam I of Israel

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

O God, through suffering and rejection you bring forth our salvation,

and by the glory of the cross you transform our lives.

Grant that for the sake of the gospel we may turn from the lure of evil,

take up our cross, and follow your Son,

Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 47

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The Assigned Readings:

1 Kings 13:1-10 (Monday)

1 Kings 13:11-25 (Tuesday)

Psalm 119:169-176 (Both Days)

Romans 3:9-20 (Monday)

Colossians 3:1-11 (Tuesday)

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Let my cry come before you, O LORD;

give me understanding, according to your word

–Psalm 119:169, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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The anonymous man of God in 1 Kings 13 did well for a while.  He denounced King Jeroboam I of Israel to his face for erecting an altar at Bethel as an alternative to the Temple at Jerusalem.  The man of God also refused offers to eat and drink before returning to Judah.  Then he accepted and offer to do so.  The prediction that the altar at Bethel would become unsuitable for use came true, however.

One lesson of that story is the importance of obeying divine instructions.  Speaking of divine instructions, let us return to the law, which defines our actions and inactions as right and wrong.  The law convicts us of our sins.  Even Gentiles, who are outside the Law of Moses, have done much that is laudable and much that is worthy of condemnation.  Thus all people stand together under wrath.  The way out is via Jesus:

In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all.

–Colossians 3:11, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

That is a profound statement, one which I suspect is deeper than any human being knows.  I dare not attempt to define the limits of divine mercy and judgment, or where the former ends and the latter begins.  I do affirm, however, that my measuring stick when I seek to determine whether something is holy is Jesus, whom I attempt to follow, with mixed results.  I trust in his faithfulness, not my own.  That is how I try to obey divine instructions.

JUNE 6, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HENRY JAMES BUCKOLL, AUTHOR AND TRANSLATOR OF HYMNS

THE FEAST OF SAINT CLAUDE OF BESANCON, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, MONK, ABBOT, AND BISHOP

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM KETHE, PRESBYTERIAN HYMN WRITER

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2015/06/06/devotion-for-monday-and-tuesday-after-proper-19-year-b-elca-daily-lectionary/

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The Will of God and Morality   1 comment

Elisha

Above:   The Prophet Elisha

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

Gracious God, you have placed within the hearts of all your children

a longing for your word and a hunger for your truth.

Grant that we may know your Son to be the true bread of heaven

and share this bread with all the world,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 43

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The Assigned Readings:

1 Kings 19:19-21 (Thursday)

2 Kings 3:4-20 (Friday)

2 Kings 4:38-41 (Saturday)

Psalm 145:10-18 (All Days)

Colossians 1:9-14 (Thursday)

Colossians 3:12-17 (Friday)

John 4:31-38 (Saturday)

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All you have made will confess you, LORD,

those devoted to you will give you thanks.

They will speak of your royal glory

and tell of your mighty deeds,

Making known to all mankind your mighty deeds,

your majestic royal glory.

–Psalm 145:10-12, Harry Mowvley, The Psalms Introduced and Newly Translated for Today’s Readers (1989)

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Certain stories of Elisha resemble those of his mentor, Elijah, as an observant reader of the Books of Kings knows.  And, as an observant reader of the Gospels and the Books of Kings knows, some of the miracle stories of Jesus echo certain accounts of incidents from the lives of Elijah and Elisha.  Examples of these include raising people from the dead and feeding a multitude with a small amount of food.  Those stories indicate, among other things, that the heroes were close to God and were able to meet the needs of people.

The Elisha stories for these days have him leave home, participate in helping his kingdom win a war against Moab, and render dangerous food safe.  They portray him as an agent of the will of God.

The “will of God” is a phrase many people use improperly, even callously.  I, as a student of history, know that various individuals have utilized it to justify the murder of priests of Baal (by the order of Elijah, in 1 Kings 18:40), blame innocent victims of natural disasters exasperated by human shortsightedness (such as God allegedly sending Hurricane Katrina to New Orleans or a devastating earthquake to Haiti, supposedly to smite evildoers in those places), et cetera.  These misuses of the concept of the will of God offend my morality and make God seem like a thug at best.

We ought to exercise great caution using the phrase “the will of God,” for we might speak or write falsely of God and drive or keep people away from a Christian pilgrimage.  This is a topic to approach seriously, not lightly.  Among the most thoughtful treatments is Leslie D. Weatherhead’s The Will of God (1944), which speaks of three wills of God:  intentional, circumstantial, and ultimate.  That is deeper than some professing Christians want to delve into the issue, however.

I do not pretend to be an expert on the will of God, but I do attempt to be an intellectually honest Christian.  I, as a Christian, claim to follow Jesus.  To ask what he would do or would not do, therefore, is a relevant question when pondering issues of morality and the will of God.  The four canonical Gospels are useful for these and other purposes.  I conclude, therefore, that Jesus would not have ordered the deaths of priests of Baal or resorted to homophobia to explain the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.  And I cannot conceive of Jesus agreeing with George Zimmerman that the death of Trayvon Martin was part of God’s plan and that wishing that Martin were alive is almost blasphemous.  Zimmerman is a bad theologian.

Living according to compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, and love, per Colossians 3:12-14, is the best way to proceed.  Doing so increases the probability that one will live as an agent of the will of God, whose love we see epitomized in Jesus.  It is better to live rightly than to seek to be right in one’s opinion of oneself.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 5, 2015 COMMON ERA

EASTER SUNDAY, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF MILNER BALL, PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, LAW PROFESSOR, WITNESS FOR CIVIL RIGHTS, AND HUMANITARIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT NOKTER BALBULUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2015/04/05/devotion-for-thursday-friday-and-saturday-before-proper-12-year-b-elca-daily-lectionary/

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