Archive for the ‘Hebrews’ Category

Judgment and Mercy, Part XI   Leave a comment

Above:  Joshua and the Israelite People

Image in the Public Domain

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

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Lord of all power and might, who art the author and giver of good things:

graft in our hearts the love of thy name, increase in us true religion,

nourish us with all goodness, and by thy great mercy keep us in the same;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Common Worship–Provisional Services (1966), 125

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Joshua 24:14-24

Colossians 1:24-29

John 17:20-26

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Due to thematic similarity between the readings for this post and the previous one, I could slip into excessive repetitiveness easily.  Nevertheless, I have tried not to do so.

Different Biblical authors had divergent opinions about how forgiving God is.  God was unforgiving of apostasy and apostates in Deuteronomy 29 and Hebrews 10:26-31, for example.  In Luke 9:62, Jesus, after listening to excuses for not following him, said,

No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.

The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

Yet God was forgiving in Deuteronomy 30.  This forgiving attitude did not indicate the absence of negative consequences of sins, though.

Heaven and Hell, which I understand to be realities, not places with geography and coordinates, are real.  God predestines some people to Heaven, but nobody to Hell.  God damns no person, but people damn themselves.  God, in my theology, extends successive opportunities to repent.

Judgment and mercy exist in balance throughout the Bible.  I do not pretend to know where one ends and the other begins.  Yet I understand that we ought to take faithful response to God seriously.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 9, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE EIGHTH DAY OF ADVENT:  THE SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF KARL BARTH, SWISS REFORMED MINISTER, THEOLOGIAN, AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR; AND HIS SON, MARKUS BARTH, SWISS LUTHERAN MINISTER AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF GEORG FRIEDRICH HELLSTROM, DUTCH-GERMAN MORAVIAN MUSICIAN, COMPOSER, AND EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT PETER FOURIER, “THE GOOD PRIEST OF MATTAINCOURT;” AND SAINT ALIX LE CLERC, FOUNDRESS OF THE CONGREGATION OF NOTRE DAME OF CANONESSES REGULAR OF SAINT AUGUSTINE

THE FEAST OF WALTER CISZEK, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY PRIEST AND POLITICAL PRISONER

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The Cross and Glorification, Part V   Leave a comment

Above:   Icon of the Crucifixion, by Andrei Rublev

Image in the Public Domain

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

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O Savior of the world, who by thy cross and precious blood hast redeemed us:

save us, and help us, we humbly beseech thee, O Lord.  Amen.

or

Merciful Father, who gave thy Son Jesus to suffer the shame of the cross:

save us from hardness of heart, that, seeing him who died for us,

we may repent, confess our sins, and receive the outpouring of thy love;

through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Common Worship–Provisional Services (1966), 122

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Merciful Father:  you gave your Son to suffer the shame of the cross.

Save us from hardness of heart, so that, seeing him who died for us,

we may repent, confess our sin, and receive our overflowing love in Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

or

How great is your love, O God, for sending Jesus to take up a cross and lay down his life for the world.

Work in us such true remorse that we may cast out sin, welcome mercy, and live in wonder,

praising the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ the Savior.  Amen.

The Worshipbook–Services and Hymns (1972), 147

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Hebrews 10:4-18

John 19:17-42

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In this post stunned near-silence compels me to write little, for the assigned readings speak for themselves.

In The Episcopal Church we read the Passion narratives as congregational plays, complete with large and small parts.  The reading of Passion narratives on Palm/Passion Sunday and Good Friday is powerful–more effective than a bookcase full of commentaries.  The service for Good Friday, according to The Book of Common Prayer (1979), ends in silence, as it should.  That is a moving silence, replete with grief and reverence.

My advice is to permit Jesus to be liturgically dead until Easter.  Permit the stunned silence to have its full effect.  Easter will, after all, arrive on schedule; do not hurry it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 13, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HENRY MARTYN DEXTER, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HISTORIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT ABBO OF FLEURY, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINT BRICE OF TOURS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICHOLAS TAVELIC AND HIS COMPANIONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

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Posted November 13, 2018 by neatnik2009 in Episcopal Church, Hebrews 10, John 19

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The Cross and Glorification, Part IV   4 comments

Above:   Icon of the Crucifixion

Image in the Public Domain

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For Holy/Maundy Thursday, Year 1, according to the U.S. Presbyterian lectionary of 1966-1970

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O Christ, who washed the feet of the disciples on the night of thy betrayal:

wash from us the stains of our sin, that we may not fail thee in the hour of danger,

but follow thee through every trial and confess thee to the world; for thine own sake.  Amen.

The Book of Common Worship–Provisional Services (1966), 122

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O God:  your love lived in Jesus Christ, who washed disciples’ feet on the night of his betrayal.

Wash from us the stain of sin, so that, in hours of danger,

we may not fail, but follow your Son through every trial,

and praise him to the world as Lord and Christ, to whom be glory now and forever.  Amen.

The Worshipbook–Services and Hymns (1972), 146

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Hebrews 8:1-6

John 13:1-17

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Often the Bible repeats themes.  Here is one of those:  the way to true greatness is the path of humble service, not the quest for self-glorification.  Jesus is a role model.

The difficulty in writing this post is in not being too repetitive.  My writing schedule on Saturday, October 27, 2018 (the day I drafted this post), being what it is, this is the seventh consecutive post I have drafted.  By now the theme of service and the caution against seeking greatness via ego is familiar content from the previous six posts alone.

So, without becoming excessively redundant, here is a challenge appropriate for any day, but especially Maundy Thursday:  value being compassionate more highly than being right, according to your self-image, O reader.  I need to pursue that challenge, too.

Let us be concerned for each other, to stir a response in love and good works.

–Hebrews 10:24, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

That will glorify God, will it not?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 13, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HENRY MARTYN DEXTER, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HISTORIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT ABBO OF FLEURY, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINT BRICE OF TOURS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICHOLAS TAVELIC AND HIS COMPANIONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

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Posted November 13, 2018 by neatnik2009 in Hebrews 8, John 13

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The Cross and Glorification, Part III   Leave a comment

Above:   A Crucifix

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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

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Everlasting God, who delivered the Children of Israel from cruel captivity:

may we be delivered from sin and death by your mighty power,

and celebrate the hope of life eternal within your promised kingdom;

through Jesus Christ our Savior.  Amen.

The Worshipbook–Services and Hymns (1972), 145

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Hebrews 5:5-10

Luke 22:24-34

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The author of the misnamed Epistle to the Hebrews (neither an epistle nor to Hebrews), whoever he was (Origen said that only God knew who wrote it) did not read the Gospel of John.  The most probable reason for this was that the “Epistle to the Hebrews” predated the Fourth Gospel.

The reading from Hebrews 5 may mystify a Christian shaped by the Johannine Gospel.  What does it mean that Christ learned obedience via his sufferings?  And what about Christ being perfected?  The divine passive in the latter case indicates that God was the actor, the one who perfected Christ.  But was not Jesus already perfect–always perfect?  The confusion does not cease even when one realizes the particular meaning of perfection in this case–suitability to be the ultimate sacrifice.

None of this inconsistency constitutes a difficulty for me, for I am not a fundamentalist.  I acknowledge the obvious fact–that the New Testament contains mutually exclusive points of view presented and authoritatively.  I prefer the Johannine perspective to that of the author of the “Epistle to the Hebrews” when the two contradict each other.

Both readings (Luke 22 and Hebrews 5) agree on the priority of obeying God.  The ethic of service (from Luke 22) fits hand-in-glove with the obedience of Jesus (Hebrews 5).  One may also ponder John 12:26 (from the previous post‘s readings), about following Jesus, who loved us all the way to an ignominious execution–his execution, in the Gospel of John.

Robert C. Wright, the Episcopal Bishop of Atlanta, likes to say,

Love like Jesus.

When one considers that statement in the full context of Christ’s life, one realizes that this is no feel-good slogan, but a challenge to discipleship, to cross-bearing.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 13, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HENRY MARTYN DEXTER, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HISTORIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT ABBO OF FLEURY, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINT BRICE OF TOURS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICHOLAS TAVELIC AND HIS COMPANIONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

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The Cross and Glorification, Part I   1 comment

Above:   A Crucifix

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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

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Great God:  cleanse your church of fake piety,

overturn our greed, and let us be a holy people,

repentant, prayerful, and ready to worship you in spirit and in truth;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Worshipbook–Services and Hymns (1972), 144-145

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Hebrews 9:11-15

John 12:1-23

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In the Johannine Gospel the glorification of Jesus was his crucifixion, an essential part of the process of atonement.  Resurrection completed the process.

Public execution for a crime of which one is innocent as the method of one’s glorification is certainly counter-intuitive.  Yet that is the theology of the assigned portion of John 12.  Now, however, the cross has become a symbol of divine love and triumph.

Where is the wise man?  Where is the scribe?  Where is the debater of this age?  Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

–1 Corinthians 1:20, Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition (2002)

How else should we explain the transformation of the cross from a symbol of Roman imperial power and of the execution of the most notorious enemies thereof into a symbol of the power of God to reverse death and nullify the power of the imperium?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 13, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HENRY MARTYN DEXTER, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HISTORIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT ABBO OF FLEURY, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINT BRICE OF TOURS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICHOLAS TAVELIC AND HIS COMPANIONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

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Posted November 13, 2018 by neatnik2009 in 1 Corinthians 1, Hebrews 9, John 12

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Dependence on God, Part II   Leave a comment

Above:   Alpine Clouds

Image in the Public Domain

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For the Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year 1, according to the U.S. Presbyterian lectionary of 1966-1970

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O Lord Jesus, who set thy face steadfastly to go to Jerusalem:

deliver us from timid minds that shrink from the harder paths of duty;

and prepare us to welcome thy command to take up our cross and follow thee,

who art the Author and Finisher of our faith.  Amen.

The Book of Common Worship–Provisional Services (1966), 121

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Deuteronomy 8:1-10

Hebrews 9:11-14

John 12:20-33

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One of the ubiquitous idols in my Western culture is the illusion of self-sufficiency.  Many individuals think of themselves as self-made people and consider being a self-made man or woman a virtue, especially in politics.  Yet, as Deuteronomy reminds us, we depend on God.  No person is actually self-made, and there is no room for pride in the presence of God.

The readings from John and Hebrews reflect the temporal proximity of the Fifth Sunday in Lent to Palm Sunday–one week–and therefore to the rest of Holy Week.  In John 12 the anointing of Jesus by St. Mary of Bethany foreshadows the anointing of his corpse at the end of the week.  Likewise, the reading from Hebrews 9 would fit well on Good Friday.

We (individually and collectively) rely entirely on God–from material needs to atonement.  May we refrain from laboring under any illusion to the contrary, and respond faithfully and gratefully to God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 13, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HENRY MARTYN DEXTER, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HISTORIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT ABBO OF FLEURY, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINT BRICE OF TOURS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICHOLAS TAVELIC AND HIS COMPANIONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

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Posted November 13, 2018 by neatnik2009 in Deuteronomy 8, Hebrews 9, John 12

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The Communion of Saints, Part III   1 comment

Above:  All Saints

Image in the Public Domain

THE FEAST OF ALL SAINTS (NOVEMBER 1)

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Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in the mystical body of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord:

Give us grace to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living,

that we may come to those ineffable joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit

lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting.  Amen.

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2006), 663; also Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 59

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Daniel 7:1-3, 15-18

Psalm 34:1-10, 22

1 John 3:1-3

Matthew 5:1-12

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The Episcopal Church has seven Principal Feasts:  Easter Day, Ascension Day, the Day of Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, All Saints’ Day, Christmas Day, and the Epiphany.

The Feast of All Saints, with the date of November 1, seems to have originated in Ireland in the 700s, then spread to England, then to Europe proper.  November 1 became the date of the feast throughout Western Europe in 835.  There had been a competing date (May 13) in Rome starting in 609 or 610.  Anglican tradition retained the date of November 1, starting with The Book of Common Prayer (1549).  Many North American Lutherans first observed All Saints’ Day with the Common Service Book (1917).  The feast was already present in The Lutheran Hymnary (Norwegian-American, 1913).  The Lutheran Hymnal (Missouri Synod, et al, 1941) also included the feast.  O the less formal front, prayers for All Saints’ Day were present in the U.S. Presbyterian Book of Common Worship (Revised) (1932), the U.S. Methodist Book of Worship for Church and Home (1945), and their successors.

The Feast of All Saints reminds us that we, as Christians, belong to a large family stretching back to the time of Christ.  If one follows the Lutheran custom of commemorating certain key figures from the Hebrew Bible, the family faith lineage predates the conception of Jesus of Nazareth.

At Christ Episcopal Church, Valdosta, Georgia, where I was a member from 1993 to 1996, I participated in a lectionary discussion group during the Sunday School hour.  Icons decorated the walls of the room in which we met.  The teacher of the class called the saints depicted “the family.”

“The family” surrounds us.  It is so numerous that it is “a great cloud of witnesses,” to quote Hebrews 12:1.  May we who follow Jesus do so consistently, by grace, and eventually join that great cloud.

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Gendered language does not bother me.  Gender is, after all, a reality of human life.  Besides, neutering language frequently blurs the divide between the singular and the plural, hence my objections to the singular “they,” “them,” “their” and “themselves.”  One can–and should–be inclusive linguistically in such a way as to respect the difference between the singular and the plural.  I do understand the issue of clarity, however.  I know that how members of one generation, in a particular cultural context, perceive a gendered term, such as “sons,” differs greatly from how others elsewhere, at another time, do.  Certain modern English translations of the Bible, in an admirable attempt to be inclusive, obscure subleties of gendered terms sometimes.  However, translating a text literally does not make those subtleties clear, either.  Commentaries are necessary for that.

Consider, for example, Romans 8:14-17, O reader.  In that passage the Greek for “sons of God” often comes across in modern English as “children of God.”  Likewise, we read “children” when the Greek word means “sons.”  The cultural context, in which sons, but not daughters, inherited, is vital to understanding that portion of scripture, in which Christians, whether they are biologically sons or daughters, inherit, via Jesus.  Thus “sons of God” includes daughters.  None of that is superficially evident, however.

In contrast, “children,” as in “children of God, as opposed to “children of Satan,” in 1 John 3:1 and 3:10 is a literal translation from the Greek; the Greek word is not gender-specific.  That fact is not superficially evident, however, given the recent tendency to gloss over gendered language.  A commentary is necessary to understand that aspect of 1 John 3:1 and 3:10.

Our societies condition us in ways that frequently do not apply to the cultural contexts that informed ancient texts.

In 1929 Lesbia Scott wrote:

They lived not only in ages past,

There are hundreds of thousands still,

The world is bright with the joyous saints

Who love to do Jesus’ will.

You can meet them in school, or in lanes, or at sea,

In church, or in trains, or in shops, or at tea,

For the saints of God are just folk like me,

And I mean to be one too.

The apocalyptic hope present in Daniel 7, the community focus of Psalm 34, and the counter-cultural values of the Beatitudes should encourage us to persist is fidelity to God, to do so in faith community, and without resorting to serial contrariness, to lead lives that reject those cultural values contrary to the message of the Beatitudes.  We must do this for the glory of God and the benefit of people near, far away, and not yet born.  And, when our earthly pilgrimage ends, others will take up the cause we join what Hebrews 12:1 calls

a great cloud of witnesses.

Members of that great cloud of witnesses are sons and daughters of God–inheritors of the promise, by the grace of God.  Certain cultures restrict inheritance rights according to gender, but God does not.  Each of us, by grace and faith, can be among the sons of God and the children of the light.

And I mean to be one, too.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 17, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JUTTA OF DISIBODENBERG, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBESS; AND HER STUDENT, SAINT HILDEGARD OF BINGEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBESS AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF GERARD MOULTRIE, ANGLICAN PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND TRANSLATOR OF HYMNS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ZYGMUNT SZCESNY FELINSKI, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF WARSAW, TITULAR BISHOP OF TARSUS, AND FOUNDER OF RECOVERY FOR THE POOR AND THE CONGREGATION OF THE FRANCISCAN SISTERS OF THE FAMILY OF MARY

THE FEAST OF SAINT ZYGMUNT SAJNA, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1940

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2018/09/17/devotion-for-the-feast-of-all-saints-years-a-b-c-and-d-humes/

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