Archive for the ‘Exodus 33’ Category

The Glory of the Lord, Part I   1 comment

Christ Pantocrator Icon

Above:  Icon of Christ Pantocrator

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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The Collect:

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

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

that, amid all changes of this world, our hearts

may be fixed where true joy is found,

Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you

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

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 35

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The Assigned Readings:

Exodus 33:12-17 (Friday)

Exodus 33:18-23 (Saturday)

Psalm 97 (Both Days)

Revelation 22:6-9 (Friday)

John 1:14-18 (Saturday)

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The mountains melt like wax at the presence of the LORD,

at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.

The heavens declare his righteousness,

and all the peoples see his glory.

–Psalm 97:5-16. The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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Psalm 97 is consistent with the concept of divine glory in the Hebrew Bible.  God is invisible, but evidence of divine mighty acts is visible.  YHWH is an active player on the stage of human history.

Moses, interceding on behalf of the Israelites between the infamous Golden Calf (Golden Bull, really) incident (Exodus 32) and the restoration of the covenant (Exodus 34), asked not only to know what God wanted him to do but to see God’s Presence, or, as some versions translate the Hebrew word, glory (33:18).  God consented to the first request and to a partial view of the divine Presence/glory, for a full view would be fatal to humans.  The connection to Exodus 32 was that the Golden Calf/Bull was, for those who adored it, a physical stand-in for God, who became angry yet held back from destroying such a stiff-necked people (33:3).

In the Gospel of John Jesus was the physical embodiment of divine Presence/glory, which was evident in his deeds as well as in his resurrection.  Even though Moses had a close relationship with God, Jesus was more intimate with YHWH.  And many people saw, met, and interacted with Jesus.  They saw God, but many of them did realize that.

Often we seek God and settle for substitutes, which can only prove inadequate.  John of Patmos reported a vision in which he fell down to worship an angel, who rebuffed the effort immediately:

You must not do that!  I am a fellow servant with you and your comrades the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book.

–Revelation 22:9b, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

Among the themes in the Gospel of John is that Jesus, the physical embodiment of the divine Presence/glory, came into the world and encountered much rejection.  Many people preferred an inadequate glory instead.

Many people still do.  How many of them know this about themselves?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 7, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF FRANCOIS FENELON, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF CAMBRAI

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALDRIC OF LE MANS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT LUCIAN OF ANTIOCH, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR

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Adapted from this post:

https://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2016/01/07/devotion-for-friday-and-saturday-before-the-seventh-sunday-of-easter-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

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The Tangible Presence of God   1 comment

Golden Calf

Above:  The Golden Calf

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

God of the covenant, in the mystery of the cross

you promise everlasting life to the world.

Gather all peoples into your arms, and shelter us with your mercy,

that we may rejoice in the life we share in your Son,

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 27

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The Assigned Readings:

Exodus 33:1-6

Psalm 105:1-15 [16-41] 42

Romans 4:1-12

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Search for the LORD and the strength of the LORD;

continually seek the face of God.

–Psalm 105:4, Book of Common Worship (1993)

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The reading from Exodus 33 follows on the heels of chapter 32, in which Israelites had created a golden bull (although the traditional term is golden calf) as a tangible sign of God’s presence while Moses was away on Mount Sinai/Horeb with God briefly.  God, we read, was most unhappy:

If I were to go in your midst for one moment, I would destroy you.

–Exodus 33:5b, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

Moses talks God down, fortunately for the Israelites.

Faith, for St. Paul the Apostle, was inherently active.  Hence the Pauline definition of faith was that, in the absence of proof for or against a proposition, one trusts that it is true and acts accordingly.  This contradicts the definition of faith in the Letter of James, whose author wrote that faith (for him merely intellectual) is insufficient for justification with God.  No, in the Letter of James justification comes via works.  Both writers agreed that works are essential for justification with God, but St. Paul understood works to be part and parcel of faith.  These are the kinds of nuances many people overlook in the Bible.

To have an active faith in God, who is invisible, is not to go through life without tangible signs of the divine presence.  Actually, tangible indicators of God’s presence surround us.  We have no need to manufacture any such indicator, for nature is replete with them.  We need merely to open our minds, attune them to spiritual matters, and observe.  The Reverend Maltbie Davenport Babcock (1858-1901), Presbyterian minister, humanitarian, poet, and admirer of nature, summarized the point well:

This is my Father’s world,

And to my listening ears,

All nature sings, and round me rings

The music of the spheres.

This is my Father’s world:

I rest me in the thought

Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;

His hand the wonders wrought.

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This is my Father’s world,

The birds their carols raise,

The morning light, the lily white,

Declare their Maker’s praise.

This is my Father’s world:

He shines in all that’s fair;

In the rustling grass I hear Him pass,

He speaks to me everywhere.

The full text of the poem begins on page 180 of this book.

The presence of God is tangible indeed.  In my darkest hours, my happiest moments, and the times between those two extremes I have encountered God via people and animals as well as directly, without mortals as vehicles of grace.  You, O reader, might understand well what I mean because of your experiences.  If you do not, are you willing to perceive the tangible presence of God?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 15, 2015 COMMON ERA

PROPER 28:  THE TWENTY-FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALBERT THE GREAT, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF REGENSBURG

THE FEAST OF JOHANN GOTTLOB KLEMM, INSTRUMENT MAKER; DAVID TANNENBERG, SR., GERMAN-AMERICAN MORAVIAN ORGAN BUILDER; JOHANN PHILIP BACHMANN, GERMAN-AMERICAN MORAVIAN INSTRUMENT MAKER; JOSEPH FERDINAND BULITSCHEK, BOHEMIAN-AMERICAN ORGAN BUILDER; AND TOBIAS FRIEDRICH, GERMAN MORAVIAN COMPOSER AND MUSICIAN

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Adapted from this post:

https://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2015/11/15/devotion-for-monday-after-the-second-sunday-in-lent-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

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God With Us   1 comment

Madonna and Child

Above:  Madonna and Child

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

All-powerful and unseen God, the coming of your light

into our world has brightened weary hearts with peace.

Call us out of darkness, and empower us to proclaim the birth of your Son,

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 20

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The Assigned Readings:

Exodus 33:18-23

Psalm 148

1 John 1:1-9

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Praise the LORD.

Praise the LORD from the heavens;

praise him in the heights above.

Praise him, all his angels;

praise him, all his hosts.

Praise him, sun and moon;

praise him, all you shining stars;

praise him, you highest heavens,

and you waters above the heavens.

Let them praise the name of the LORD,

by his command they were created;

he established them for ever and ever

by an ordinance which shall never pass away.

–Psalm 148:1-6, Revised English Bible (1989)

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Psalm 148:1-6 uses mythological language to praise God, the Creator.  (One cannot be an intellectually honest Creationist unless one thinks that the world is a flat, with water below, a dome above, and water above that, for such is the description of the world in Genesis 1:1-2:4a.)  The majesty of that deity is evident also in Exodus 33:18-23, where nobody may see God’s face and live.  Yet, as 1 John 1:1-9 reminds us, God (the Second Person of the Trinity, actually) took human form and became fully human.

We repeat, we really saw and heard what we are now writing to you about.   We want you to be with us in this–in this fellowship with the Father, and Jesus Christ his Son.  We write and tell you about it, so that our joy may be complete.

–1 John 1:3-4, J. B. Phillips, The New Testament in Modern English–Revised Edition (1972)

I have concluded that the first important statement about Jesus of Nazareth is that he lived among people, had contact with them, and ate and drank with them.  He was no Gnostic phantom.  Many of the Christian claims about Jesus echo statements about other supposed saviors of the world.  Those alleged saviors, however, never existed.  A figment of human imaginations cannot save anyone from anything.  The physical reality of Christ helps provide credibility to other vital statements about him.

December 27 is the third day of Christmas, a celebration of our Lord and Savior’s physicality.  As 1 John 1:1 says, people had opportunities to observe and hold in their hands “something of the Word of life”–J. B. Phillips, The New Testament in Modern English–Revised Edition (1972).  God has drawn near to us.  May we draw nearer to God and remain there.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 6, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM TEMPLE, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

THE FEAST OF TE WHITI O RONGOMAI, MAORI PROPHET

THE FEAST OF THEOPHANE VENARD, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, MISSIONARY, AND MARTYR IN VIETNAM

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Adapted from this post:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2014/11/06/devotion-for-december-27-year-b-elca-daily-lectionary/

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Posted November 6, 2014 by neatnik2009 in 1 John 1, Exodus 33, Genesis 1, Genesis 2, Psalm 148

Tagged with ,

Missing the Obvious   1 comment

elijah-in-the-wilderness-washington-allston

Above:  Elijah in the Wilderness, by Washington Allston

(Image in the Public Domain)

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The Collect:

O God, in the transfiguration of your Son you confirmed the

mysteries of the faith by the witness of Moses and Elijah,

and in the voice from the bright cloud declaring Jesus your beloved Son,

you foreshadowed our adoption as your children.

Make us heirs with Christ of your glory, and bring us to enjoy its fullness,

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 25

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The Assigned Readings:

Exodus 33:7-23 (Monday)

1 Kings 19:9-18 (Tuesday)

Psalm 78:17-20, 52-55 (Both Days)

Acts 7:30-34 (Monday)

Romans 11:1-6 (Tuesday)

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Some Related Posts:

Exodus 33:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/06/09/devotion-for-the-sixteenth-and-seventeenth-days-of-easter-lcms-daily-lectionary/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/01/12/week-of-proper-12-tuesday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/07/proper-24-year-a/

1 Kings 19:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/01/31/proper-14-year-a/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/08/06/week-of-proper-5-friday-year-2/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2012/07/17/proper-8-year-c/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/01/04/devotion-for-september-1-2-and-3-lcms-daily-lectionary/

Romans 11:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/03/31/devotion-for-january-21-and-22-lcms-daily-lectionary/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2013/10/10/devotion-for-monday-and-tuesday-after-the-fifth-sunday-after-epiphany-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/13/week-of-proper-25-saturday-year-1/

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They tested God in their hearts

and demanded food for their craving.

They spoke against God and said,

“Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?

He struck the rock indeed,

so that the waters gushed out and the streams overflowed,

but can he give bread or provide meat for his people?”

–Psalm 78:18-20, Common Worship (2000)

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God had delivered the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt.  The Book of Exodus, having attempted a natural explanation for the parting of the waters, regarded freedom as the miracle.  And freedom was the miracle.  Yet the slave mentality persisted, so the next generation (not raised as slaves) entered the Promised Land.

God had revealed Baal to be imaginary.  The only real deity, quite different from false gods, spoke in silence, not noise.

God–I AM–had done so much publicly.  Why was it not enough for many people?  We human beings seem to have a reluctance to change our minds about the major issues much of the time.  This is partially an evolutionary adaption–a survival technique in the wilderness.  If, for example, gatherers thought that a certain variety of mushroom was poisonous due to passed-down folklore, they were slow to reverse that assumption–probably for a good cause.  Yet this evolutionary adaptation, combined with the frailties of ego, leads to

don’t confuse me with the facts

religion, theology, and politics.

I am cautious to avoid being excessively certain about divine attributes out of a desire to avoid heresy as God defines it.  Yet I make the following statement confidently:  God, in the Bible, has a track record of doing unexpected (from a human perspective) things.  Thus we move in Scripture from the mysterious encounters of Moses with God to the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity as Jesus of Nazareth, whereby many people saw the face of God.  And I wonder what God is doing that I see without recognition because I do not expect it or I do not want facts to upset my conclusions.  It is a question worth applying to self, is it not, O reader?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 22, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK PRATT GREEN, BRITISH METHODIST MINISTER, POET, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF BARTHOLOMEW ZOUBERBUHLER, ANGLICAN PRIEST

THE FEAST OF PAUL TILLICH, LUTHERAN THEOLOGIAN

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Adapted from this post:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2013/10/22/devotion-for-monday-and-tuesday-after-the-last-sunday-after-epiphany-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

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Deuteronomy and Matthew, Part XXI: Moses and Jesus   1 comment

christ-pantocrator

Above:  Christ Pantocrator

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

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

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

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The Assigned Readings:

Deuteronomy 34:1-12

Psalm 85 (Morning)

Psalms 25 and 40 (Evening)

Matthew 21:1-22

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Some Related Posts:

Deuteronomy 34:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/02/06/week-of-proper-14-wednesday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/11/proper-25-year-a/

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Let none who look to you be put to shame,

but let the treacherous be shamed and frustrated.

–Psalm 25:2, The Book of Common Prayer (2004)

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For all those who hope in you shall not be ashamed:

but only those who wantonly break faith.

–Psalm 25:2, New Zealand Prayer Book (1989)

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Deuteronomy 34:10-12 tells me that

Never again did there arise in Israel a prophet like Moses—whom the LORD singled out, face to face, for the various signs and portents that the LORD sent him to display in the land of Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his courtiers, and his whole country, and for all the great might and awesome power that Moses displayed before all Israel.–TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

Okay, Exodus 33:20-23 states that Moses did not see God face-to-face, but that minor quibble does not pertain to my point here today.

Greater than Moses was Jesus.  Those who saw the face of the latter saw the face to God incarnate.  And, in today’s reading from Matthew 21, Jesus entered Jerusalem at the beginning of his last Passover week, cleansed the Temple, and confronted a corrupt political-religious system.  It was no accident that such an incident led to his crucifixion within a few days.  There were older contributing factors, of course, but it added to the pile.  And may we never forget that the Roman Empire—a Pharaonic system of a sort—killed Jesus.  Then divine power resurrected him.  But I am getting ahead of the narrative.

Empires rise and fall, but God remains forever.  And so does the memory of Moses.  Christ, of course, continues to live in another realm, having fulfilled and expanded the Law of Moses.  The household of faith has its foundation (God) then various levels then a roof.  After Jesus, all else is elaboration, for his was the fullest revelation of God, one which transformed shame into glory and defeat into everlasting victory.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 9, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE FEAST OF THOMAS TOKE LYNCH, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF ANNA LAETITIA WARING, HUMANITARIAN AND HYMN WRITER; AND HER UNCLE, SAMUEL MILLER WARING, HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT GREGORY OF NAZIANZUS, BISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE

THE FEAST OF SAINTS WILLIBALD OF EICHSTATT AND LULLUS OF MAINZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; SAINT WALBURGA OF HEIDENHELM, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBESS; SAINTS PETRONAX OF MONTE CASSINO, WINNEBALD OF HEIDENHELM, WIGBERT OF FRITZLAR, AND STURMIUS OF FULDA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOTS; AND SAINT SEBALDUS OF VINCENZA, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT AND MISSIONARY

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Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/05/09/devotion-for-november-1-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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Exodus and Luke, Part VIII: Damaged Relationships   1 comment

epitaph-of-a-roman-centurion

Above:  Epitaph of a Centurion

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

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

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

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The Assigned Readings:

Exodus 33:1-23 (16th Dayof Easter)

Exodus 34:1-28 (17th Day of Easter)

Psalm 97 (Morning–16th Day of Easter)

Psalm 98 (Morning–17th Day of Easter)

Psalms 124 and 115 (Evening–16th Day of Easter)

Psalms 66 and 116 (Evening–17th Day of Easter)

Luke 7:1-17 (16th Day of Easter)

Luke 7:18-35 (17th Day of Easter)

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Some Related Posts:

Exodus 33-34:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/01/12/week-of-proper-12-tuesday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/07/proper-24-year-a/

Luke 7:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/third-week-of-advent-wednesday/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/third-week-of-advent-thursday/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/24/week-of-proper-19-monday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/24/week-of-proper-19-tuesday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/24/week-of-proper-19-wednesday-year-1/

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The LORD said to Moses, “Say to the Israelite people, ‘You are a stiffnecked people.  If I were to go in your midst for one moment, I would destroy you.  Now, then, leave off your finery, and I will consider what to do to you.’”

–Exodus 33:5, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

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I detect several consistent patterns in my life.  One of them pertains to what happens after I fall out with an institution.  I return after some time, but never with the same enthusiasm.  The water might be under the bridge, but I cannot forget the flood.  So the breach remains in my memory.  Things can be better, but not as they were before.  Perhaps this is a spiritual failing.  (Relationships with individuals are a different matter; I have reverted to a pre-falling out state with them.  Institutions are frequently impersonal by nature, however.)   I offer neither a defense nor a condemnation of myself relative to this reality relative to institutions; no, I am content at the moment to make an objectively accurate statement.

The relationship between God and the Israelites was damaged, not broken, in Exodus 33.  Moses functioned as an intermediary, for there was a distance between God and the people.  The narrative would have us believe that the people were entirely to blame, but I argue that God, as the narrative presents God, shared in the blame.  Were the people supposed to love and follow a deity who sent away those who had not adored the Golden Calf as punishment for the adoration of that idol?

The relationship between Jesus and the religious authorities (eventually broken) in the Gospel of Luke.  And, in Luke 7, our Lord found a Gentile–a Roman officer, no less–whose great faithfulness impressed him.  This spoke well for the Centurion but not of those religious authorities.

To tie everything together in a big theological bow, God did come among many of our forebears, and they did not perish. The Incarnation of God in Jesus constituted God among us, with us, and for us.  It was how God bridged the gap.  Things would not be as they were before.  No, they would be better.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 9, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT COLUMBA OF IONA, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY AND ABBOT

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Adapted from this post:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/06/09/devotion-for-the-sixteenth-and-seventeenth-days-of-easter-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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There Is No Other   1 comment

Above:  Christ Pantocrator

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FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #1

Exodus 33:12-23 (New Revised Standard Version):

Moses said to the LORD,

See, you have said to me,”Bring up this people’; but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’ Now if I have found favor in your sight, show me your ways, so that I may know you and find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.”

He said,

My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.

And he said to him,

If your presence will not go, do not carry us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people, unless you go with us? In this way, we shall be distinct, I and your people, from every people on the face of the earth.

The LORD said to Moses,

I will do the very thing that you have asked; for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.

Moses said,

Show me your glory, I pray.

And he said,

I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you the name, ‘The LORD’; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,

he said,

you cannot see my face; for no one shall see me and live.

And the LORD continued,

See, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock; and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by; then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen.

Psalm 99 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

The LORD is King;

let the people tremble;

he is enthroned upon the cherubim;

let the earth shake.

The LORD is great in Zion;

he is high above all peoples.

3 Let them confess his Name, which is great and awesome;

he is the Holy One.

4 “O mighty King, lover of justice,

you have established equity;

you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob.”

Proclaim the greatness of the LORD our God

and fall down before his footstool;

he is the Holy One.

Moses and Aaron among his priests,

and Samuel among those who call upon his Name,

they called upon the LORD, and he answered them.

He spoke to them out of the pillar of cloud;

they kept his testimonies and the decree that he gave them.

8 “O LORD our God, you answered them indeed;

you were a God who forgave them,

yet punished them for their evil deeds.”

9 Proclaim the greatness of the LORD our God

and worship him upon his holy hill;

for the LORD our God is the Holy One.

FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #2

Isaiah 45:1-7 (New Revised Standard Version):

Thus says the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus,

whose right hand I have grasped

to subdue nations before him

and strip kings of their robes,

to open doors before him–

and the gates shall not be closed:

I will go before you

and level the mountains,

I will break in pieces the doors of bronze

and cut through the bars of iron,

I will give you the treasures of darkness

and riches hidden in secret places,

so that you may know that it is I, the LORD,

the God of Israel, who call you by name.

For the sake of my servant Jacob,

and Israel my chosen,

I call you by your name,

I surname you, though you do not know me.

I am the LORD, and there is no other;

besides me there is no god.

I arm you, though you do not know me,

so that they may know, from the rising of the sun

and from the west, that there is no one besides me;

I am the LORD, and there is no other.

I form light and create darkness,

I make weal and create woe;

I the LORD do all these things.

Psalm 96:1-13 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Sing to the LORD a new song;

sing to the LORD, all the whole earth.

2 Sing to the LORD and bless his Name;

proclaim the good news of his salvation from day to day.

3 Declare his glory among the nations

and his wonders among all peoples.

4 For great is the LORD and greatly to be praised;

he is more to be feared than all gods.

5 As for the gods of the nations, they are but idols;

but it is the LORD who made the heavens.

Oh, the majesty and magnificence of his presence!

Oh, the power and the splendor of his sanctuary!

7 Ascribe to the LORD, you families of the peoples;

ascribe to the LORD honor and power.

Ascribe to the LORD the honor due his Name;

bring offerings and come into his courts.

Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness;

let the whole earth tremble before him.

10 Tell it out among the nations:  ”The LORD is King!

he has made the world so firm that it cannot be moved;

he will judge the peoples with equity.”

11 Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad;

let the sea thunder and all that is in it;

let the field be joyful and all that is therein.

12 Then shall all the trees of the wood shout for joy

before the LORD when he comes,

when he comes to judge the earth.

13 He will judge the world with righteousness

and the peoples with his truth.

SECOND READING

1 Thessalonians 1:1-10 (New Revised Standard Version):

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:

Grace to you and peace.

We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers and sisters beloved by God, that he has chosen you, because our message of the gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of persons we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for in spite of persecution you received the word with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place your faith in God has become known, so that we have no need to speak about it. For the people of those regions report about us what kind of welcome we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead– Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath that is coming.

GOSPEL READING

Matthew 22:15-22 (New Revised Standard Version):

The Pharisees went and plotted to entrap Jesus in what he said. So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying,

Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?

But Jesus, aware of their malice, said,

Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin used for the tax.

And they brought him a denarius. Then he said to them,

Whose head is this, and whose title?

They answered,

The emperor’s.

Then he said to them,

Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.

When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away.

The Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God, in Christ you have revealed your glory among the nations: Preserve the works of your mercy, that your Church throughout the world may persevere with steadfast faith in the confession of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

1 Thessalonians 1:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/02/28/week-of-proper-16-monday-year-1/

Mark 12 (Parallel to Matthew 22):

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/11/09/week-of-last-epiphany-tuesday-year-1-shrove-tuesday/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/11/15/week-of-proper-4-tuesday-year-1/

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If I were to compile a list of historical hints and send them back through time, one of them would be not to try to trap Jesus in a question.  The man knew how to evade the snare, and those who asked such questions came across looking like what they were.

As YHWH/Adonai says via Deutero-Isaiah in Isaiah 45, there is no other God, regardless of what others, including some instruments of God, might think.  Cyrus II of Persia was a Zoroastrian, for example.  He worshiped a pantheon, but he was a tool of YHWH/Adonai in ending the Babylonian Exile.  Cyrus was a generally benevolent overlord.

Tiberius, Emperor of Rome, was not.  The Roman Empire imposed a poll tax on Jews.

This was not a major source of imperial revenue, but it did remind the Jews living under occupation in their homeland who was in charge, at least in the temporal realm.  This poll tax was payable in a coin bearing the image of the emperor and a written reminder of the official line, which was he was the “Divine Caesar.”  Such a coin was a purposeful affront to Jewish sensibilities.  The tax was in the amount a denarius, or one day’s wage, and men aged 14-65 years and women aged 12-65 had to pay it.  This was a despised tax, and the Romans were rubbing the Jews’ noses in it.

This was a dicey political situation for Jesus.  If he said, “No, this is unjust taxation,” he would be in trouble with the Romans.  And many soldiers were in town during the days leading up to the Passover, the annual commemoration of God’s deliverance of the Jews from slavery in Egypt.  Some of them could arrest Jesus at a moment’s notice.  But if he said,

Yes, Tiberius is our emperor, and he deserves our respect too,

Jesus would lose much public support.   Our Lord and Savior, being perceptive and intelligent, delivered a faultless answer:  The coin belongs to Tiberius; pay it.  But give to God what is due to God.  And what is due to God?  We owe God the pattern of our daily living.

There is only one God, and Jesus of Nazareth was the incarnate form of that deity in human history.  Tiberius died and was buried.  He stayed dead.  But Jesus died, was buried, and rose again.  He has conquered death; may we follow him in life.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 7, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT DOMITIAN OF HUY, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP

THE FEAST OF HARRIET STARR CANNON, COFOUNDER OF THE COMMUNITY OF SAINT MARY

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROSE VENERINI, FOUNDER OF THE VENERINI SISTERS

THE FEAST OF SAINT THEODARD OF NARBONNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP; AND SAINTS JUSTUS AND PASTOR, MARTYRS

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Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/07/proper-24-year-a/

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