Archive for the ‘Ezekiel 37’ Category

Resurrection of the Dead, Part II   1 comment

Above:  Resurrection of the Dead

Image in the Public Domain

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

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Help us, O Lord, to hold fast to the faith delivered to the apostles;

remove from our minds all unfounded and senseless belief,

and inspire us with such thoughts as are true, wise, and well-pleasing to thee;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Common Worship–Provisional Services (1966), 126

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Daniel 12:1-4

Romans 8:22-39

Matthew 22:23-33

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Ezekiel 37, from last week’s post, is about the restoration of Israel after the Babylonian Exile, not the resurrection of the dead.  Daniel 12, dating to the second century B.C.E., reflects the subsequent theological development of Judaism and does teach the resurrection of the dead.  The other assigned readings for this week are also about the resurrection of the dead.

Sadducees also rejected that doctrine.  As a children’s song explains, that’s why

they were sad, you see.

The ludicrous question about levirate marriage and the resurrection was, therefore, an insincere question and a trap.  Jesus evaded that trap.

The resurrection of the dead satisfies an understandable psychological need.  We recognize rampant injustice in this life, so we need reassurance that justice will define the next life.  We need to hear and read that judgment and mercy, in balance, will be present.

I do not know the resurrection of the dead as a fact, but I accept it on faith.  This doctrine helps me to accept that God is just when the past and current events indicate rampant injustice.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 25, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES BAR-ZEBEDEE, APOSTLE AND MARTYR

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The Confession of St. Martha of Bethany   1 comment

Above:  Icon of the Raising of Lazarus

Image in the Public Domain

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

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O God, forasmuch as without thee we are not able to please thee:

mercifully grant that thy Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Common Worship–Provisional Services (1966), 126

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Ezekiel 37:1-14

2 Corinthians 5:1-15

John 11:1-27

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Ezekiel 37, a favorite text at Easter Vigils, is about the restoration of Israel after the Babylonian Exile, not the resurrection of the dead.  However, the other two readings do address the resurrection of the dead.

I choose to leave metaphysical speculations alone and focus on the Confession of St. Martha of Bethany:

I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God who was to come into the world.

–John 11:27b, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

I wonder why the Church, which has established and maintained a feast day (January 18) for the Confession of St. Peter, has not done the same for the Confession of St. Martha of Bethany.

Many people have an unduly negative impression of St. Martha based on Luke 10:38-42.  John 11 should balance opinions of her, though.

Can we, in the depths of despair, maintain faith, as St. Martha did.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 25, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES BAR-ZEBEDEE, APOSTLE AND MARTYR

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Restoration, Resurrection, and Reconciliation   1 comment

Above:  Pentecost Dove

Scanned from a Church Bulletin by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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For the Day of Pentecost, Year 1, according to the U.S. Presbyterian lectionary of 1966-1970

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O Thou who sent the promised fire of thy Spirit to make saints of ordinary men:

grant that we, waiting and together now, may be enflamed with such love for thee

that we may speak out boldly in thy name; through Jesus Christ the Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Common Worship–Provisional Services (1966), 123

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Ezekiel 37:1-14

Acts 10:34-48

John 20:19-23

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The three assigned readings focus on restoration and resurrection.  The vision of the dry bones in Ezekiel 37 refers mt to the resurrection of the dead but to the resurrection of Israel after the Babylonian Exile.  The resurrection of Jesus, the context of John 20 and a reference in Acts 10, is one of the items in the catalog of literal events, albeit on historians can neither prove nor disprove.  No, the resurrection of Jesus resides in the realm of that which one either accepts by faith or rejects by the absence of faith.

Notice, O reader, that God is the primary actor in the readings.  God restores Israel.  God resurrects Jesus.  God, in the form of the Holy Spirit, arrives.  God is even active in the Greek divine passive voice, as in John 20:22-23, or at least the first part of verse 23:

After saying this he breathed on them, and said:

“Receive the Holy Spirit.

If you forgive anyone’s sins,

they are forgiven;

if you retain anyone’s sins,

they are retained.”

The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

“They,” in that passage, refers to sins.

Suppose, O reader, that I have sinned against you, another person, and God.  Suppose, furthermore, that I have realized my sin, confessed it to both people and to God, and asked for forgiveness from everyone involved.  Suppose that one person and God have forgiven me, but that the other person has refused to do so.

Who retains the sin?  The person who refuses forgiveness does.

It is to him [Jesus] that all the prophets testify, declaring that everyone who trusts in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.

–Acts 10:43, The Revised English Bible (1989)

Forgiveness can be a difficult spiritual practice, but it is an essential one.  It is crucial to restoration and resurrection of individuals, families, communities, and societies.  Forgiveness facilitates reconciliation.  Forgiveness enables on to lay grudges aside and to progress spiritually as one should.  Forgiveness is part of the mission of the church.

Decades ago, in the United States, a man burgled a church and stole audio equipment.  The police arrested him and the District Attorney prosecuted.  At the trial the pastor of the church testified on the thief’s behalf and asked for leniency.  The court rendered its verdict. The thief, a changed man, joined that church.

Extending forgiveness is crucial if the Church is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ as far and wide as possible, to facilitate faithful responses to the witness of the Holy Spirit.  Extending forgiveness is also a matter of faithful response.  Certainly we, who acknowledge that we receive forgiveness daily, have an obligation to forgive.  Grace is free yet not cheap, after all.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 30, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANDREW THE APOSTLE, MARTYR

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The Light of Christ, Part IV   1 comment

Above:  Icon of the Resurrection

Image Scanned 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:

At least three of the following sets:

Genesis 1:1-2:4a and Psalm 136:1-9, 23-26

Genesis 7:1-5, 11-18; 8:6-18; 9:8-13 and Psalm 46

Genesis 22:1-18 and Psalm 16

Exodus 14:10-31; 15:20-21 and Exodus 15:1b-13, 17-18

Isaiah 55:1-11 and Isaiah 12:2-6

Ezekiel 20:1-24 and Psalm 19

Ezekiel 36:24-28 and Psalms 42 and 43

Ezekiel 37:1-14 and Psalm 143

Zephaniah 3:14-20 and Psalm 98

Then:

Romans 6:3-11

Psalm 114

Matthew 28:1-10

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The history of the Great Vigil of Easter is interesting.  We do not know when the service began, but we do know that it was already well-established in the second century C.E.  We also know that the Great Vigil was originally a preparation for baptism.  Reading the history of the Easter Vigil reveals the elaboration of the rite during ensuing centuries, to the point that it lasted all night and was the Easter liturgy by the fourth century.  One can also read of the separation of the Easter Vigil and the Easter Sunday service in the sixth century.  As one continues to read, one learns of the vigil becoming a minor afternoon ritual in the Roman missal of 1570.  Then one learns of the revival of the Easter Vigil in Holy Mother Church in the 1950s then, in North America, in The Episcopal Church and mainline Lutheranism during the liturgical renewal of the 1960s and 1970s.  Furthermore, if one consults the U.S. Presbyterian Book of Common Worship (1993) and The United Methodist Book of Worship (1992), on finds the ritual for the Great Vigil of Easter in those volumes.

The early readings for the Easter Vigil trace the history of God’s salvific work, from creation to the end of the Babylonian Exile.  The two great Hebrew Biblical themes of exile and exodus are prominent.  Then the literal darkness ends, the lights come up, and the priest announces the resurrection of Jesus.  The eucharistic service continues and, if there are any candidates for baptism, that sacrament occurs.

One of the chants for the Easter Vigil is

The light of Christ,

to which the congregation chants in response,

Thanks be to God.

St. Paul the Apostle, writing in Romans, reminds us down the corridors of time that the light of Christ ought to shine in our lives.  May that light shine brightly through us, by grace, that we may glorify God every day we are on this side of Heaven.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 29, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PERCY DEARMER, ANGLICAN CANON AND TRANSLATOR AND AUTHOR OF HYMNS

THE FEAST OF SAINT BONA OF PISA, ROMAN CATHOLIC MYSTIC AND PILGRIM

THE FEAST OF JIRI TRANOVSKY, LUTHER OF THE SLAVS AND FOUNDER OF SLOVAK HYMNODY

THE FEAST OF JOACHIM NEANDER, GERMAN REFORMED MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

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Adapted from this post:

https://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2018/05/29/devotion-for-the-great-vigil-of-easter-years-a-b-c-and-d-humes/

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Yet Another Chance, Part III   Leave a comment

Above:  The Vision of the Valley of Dry Bones, by Gustave Dore

Image in the Public Domain

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

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Almighty God, our heavenly Father:

Guide the nations of the world into the way of justice and truth,

and establish among them that peace which is the fruit of righteousness,

that they may become the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen.

–Modernized from The Book of Worship for Church and Home (1965), pages 154 and 155

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Ezekiel 37:1-6, 11-14

Psalm 48

2 John 3-4, 6 and 3 John 1-11

John 8:1-11

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As we read in 2 John and 3 John, God commands us to love one another.  God loves us after all; we therefore have an order to love God fully and to love each other as we love ourselves.  The love of God surpasses human comprehension.  Via that love, we read in Ezekiel 37, a text assigned at Easter Vigils yet not really about the resurrection of the dead, exiles from Judah will return to their ancestral homeland one day.  (They did.)  The love of God is more powerful than any earthly empire.

John 7:53-8:11 is a pericope absent from the oldest extant copies of the Gospel of John.  The pericope is actually Lukan in style, and one can skip from John 7:52 to 8:12 without missing a beat.  Regardless of the literary context of the pericope its messages remain constant.  Certain opponents of Jesus violate to attempt to trap him with his words.  Then Jesus reverses the trap and ensnares them in their deeds.  Next Jesus forgives the woman–a pawn–caught in adultery with a man our Lord and Savior’s enemies never attempted to bring before him.  The woman literally has a new lease on life.  One might assume that she made the most of it and took Christ’s words to her to heart.

The love of God frees us to lead better lives in service to God–not as pawns or exiles, but as liberated human beings.  The love of God grants us yet another chance again and again.  May we make the most of them, for the glory of God and the benefit of our fellow human beings.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 11, 2018 COMMON ERA

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

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

THE FEAST OF MIEP GIES, RIGHTEOUS GENTILE

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAULINUS OF AQUILEIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC PATRIARCH

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Hope in God   1 comment

icon_second_coming

Above:  Icon of the Second Coming

In the Public Domain

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The Collect:

O God of peace, you brought again from the dead

our Lord Jesus Christ, the shepherd of the sheep.

By the blood of your eternal covenant, make us complete

in everything good that we may do your will,

and work among us all that is well-pleasing in your sight,

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 33

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The Assigned Readings:

Ezekiel 37:15-28

Psalm 100

Revelation 15:1-4

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Raise a shout for the LORD, all the earth;

worship the LORD in gladness;

come into His presence with shouts of joy.

Acknowledge that the LORD is God;

He made us and we are His,

His people, the flock He tends.

Enter His gates with praise,

His courts with acclamation.

Praise Him!

Bless His name!

For the LORD is good;

His steadfast love is eternal;

His faithfulness is for all generations.

–Psalm 100, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

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Ezekiel 37:15-28 and Revelation 15:1-4 point toward the future.  The reunion of the northern and southern kingdoms of Israel and Judah remains unrealized, for the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel reside in various places in the Old World and are rarely Jewish in the contemporary sense of that word.  Corrupt human systems govern the world; God has yet to destroy them and to replace them with justice.  Yet we are not foolish to hope for the best in times to come.

Opening the Christian Bible (in all of its competing canons) with Genesis and concluding it with Revelation makes sense.  The sacred anthology starts with the creation and corruption of paradise and ends with the restoration of it–from Eden to Eden.  The Bible comes full circle, ending with the restoration of the broken.  Much harrowing material coexists with comforting passages in the middle.

We who live in the in-between times, those bookended by the announcement of the promises in Ezekiel 37:15-28 and Revelation 15:1-4 and the fulfillment of them, are wise to remember, in the words of Psalm 100, that God is our shepherd and that we are God’s sheep.  Wandering off into danger is detrimental to us, just as we are important to our shepherd.  Do we honor our shepherd?  The answer to that questions is, under the best of circumstances, not nearly enough.  Fortunately, we can do much better, by grace.  May we do so.  And may we hold fast to the hope that what God has promised to do, God will do.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 31, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE SEVENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FEAST OF JOHN WYCLIFFE, BIBLE TRANSLATOR

NEW YEAR’S EVE

THE FEAST OF PHILIPP HEINRICH MOLTHER, GERMAN MORAVIAN MINISTER, BISHOP, COMPOSER, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF ROSSITER WORTHINGTON RAYMOND, U.S. NOVELIST, POET, HYMN WRITER, AND MINING ENGINEER

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Adapted from this post:

https://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2015/12/31/devotion-for-monday-after-the-fourth-sunday-of-easter-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

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Posted December 31, 2015 by neatnik2009 in Ezekiel 37, Psalm 100, Revelation of John 15

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Forgiving and Retaining Sins, Part II   1 comment

Confessional

Above:  The Confessional Booth, the Church of the Nativity, Menlo Park, California

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = HABS CAL,41-MENPA,2–15

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The Collect:

Mighty God, you breathe life into our bones,

and your Spirit brings truth to the world.

Send us this Spirit,

transform us by your truth,

and give us language to proclaim your gospel,

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 36

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The Assigned Readings:

Ezekiel 37:1-14

Psalm 104:24-34, 35b

John 20:19-23

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You send forth your Spirit, and they are created;

and so you renew the face of the earth.

–Psalm 104:31, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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Ezekiel 37:1-14, the Vision of the Dry Bones, is an allegory of the restoration of the people Israel.  Subsequent interpretations include a literal reading regarding the physical resurrection of the dead, hence the pairing with John 20:19-23, an account of a post-Resurrection appearance of Jesus to ten of the eleven surviving Apostles.  There our Lord and Savior says:

Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.

–John 20:22b-23, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

The use of the passive voice leaves room for ambiguity in that saying.  (The active voice is stronger and more definitive.)

If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them,…

is clear for the sentence identifies “them” as the forgiven party, but

…if you retain the sins of any, they are retained

is vague.  Who retains the unforgiven sins?  One might interpret the passage to mean that, via the Holy Spirit, the Church has the authority to forgive sins and to refuse to do so.  That might be accurate.  If so, the one who committed the sins retains them.  But what if refusing to forgive sins means that the one who refuses to forgive the sins retains them?

Forgiving can be quite difficult; I know this firsthand.  I also know that, according to the Gospels, there is a relationship between one’s willingness to forgive and God’s willingness to forgive one.  (The measure one gives will be the measure one gets.)  I am also aware that a grudge is too heavy a burden to carry.  It might not even lead to any harm of its target(s), but it injures the one who hauls it around like too much luggage.  I have retained the sins of others to my detriment, but letting those sins go has improved my life and been something I should have done much sooner.

According to an old story, two monks (Monk #1 and Monk #2, I call them) were traveling when they came to a river.  Waiting at the river was a prostitute, whom Monk #1 carried on his shoulders as he crossed the river.  On the other side of the river the monks and the prostitute parted company.  The monks continued their journey, during which Monk #2 complained repeatedly about Monk #1 having carried the woman.  Monk #1 replied,

I put her down at the river, but you are still carrying her.

Here ends the lesson.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 13, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS PLATO OF SYMBOLEON AND THEODORE STUDITES, EASTERN ORTHODOX ABBOTS; AND SAINT NICEPHORUS OF CONSTANTINOPLE, PATRIARCH

THE FEAST OF SAINT HELDRAD, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINTS RODERIC OF CABRA AND SOLOMON OF CORDOBA, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2015/03/13/devotion-for-wednesday-after-pentecost-sunday-year-b-elca-daily-lectionary/

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Posted March 17, 2015 by neatnik2009 in Ezekiel 37, John 20

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