Archive for the ‘Isaiah 9’ Category

With Equity and Justice for All   1 comment

Above:  Nativity of Christ

Image in the Public Domain

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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 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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Isaiah 9:2-7

Psalm 96

Titus 2:11-14

Luke 2:1-20

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Christmas and Easter remind me of graduation in a way; orations at each of these events are usually rehashes of old material.  That is not necessarily negative, of course.  Ministers, of all people, must be keenly aware that they are delivering Christmas or Easter sermon #9, frequently repeated.  How can reality be otherwise?

Isaiah 9:2-7 (or 9:1-6, if one is Jewish, Roman Catholic, or Eastern Orthodox) is a familiar passage.  Like so many familiar passages, it contains subtexts one might easily ignore when going on autopilot.  Depending on how one reads Hebrew verb tenses, the ideal king described is most likely Hezekiah (reigned 727/715-698/687 B.C.E.), son of Ahaz.  One can read of Hezekiah in 2 Kings 18-20 and 2 Chronicles 29-32.  One finds, however, that Hezekiah, although pious, was a deeply flawed man.  The ideal king of the Davidic Dynasty, then, remains a hoped-for figure for many.  Christian tradition identifies this prophecy with Jesus, born in Luke 2.

God is the King of the Earth, and salvation is available to all people, we read.  Yet we know that many people refuse and will reject that offer.  We also know that grace, although free to us, is never cheap to us, if it is to be effective.  Divine generosity to us imposes certain moral obligations upon us.  We have mandates, for example, to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.  That high calling leads to legal jeopardy sometimes, especially when the “king,” regardless of title, does not strive to be an ideal ruler and certainly falls far short of that standard.

Amid the reigns of wicked potentates and exploitative economic-judicial-educational systems I write

Merry Christmas!

to all of you.  Remember that God is in charge and will judge people with equity and justice.  That is good news for some and terrifying news for others.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 16, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ADALBALD OF OSTEVANT, RICTRUDIS OF MARCHIENNES, AND THEIR RELATIONS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ABRAHAM KUDUNAIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT; AND SAINT MARY OF EDESSA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ANCHORESS

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN CACCIAFRONTE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, ABBOT, BISHOP, AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MEGINGAUD OF WURZBURG, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK AND BISHOP

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Adapted from this post:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2018/03/16/devotions-for-christmas-eve-years-a-b-c-and-d-humes/

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The Scandal of Grace at Christmas   1 comment

Above:  Angels Announcing Christ’s Birth to the Shepherds, by Govert Flinck

Image in the Public Domain

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FOR CHRISTMAS DAY, ACCORDING TO A LECTIONARY FOR PUBLIC WORSHIP IN  THE BOOK OF WORSHIP FOR CHURCH AND HOME (1965)

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God, you make us glad with the yearly remembrance of the birth of your only Son Jesus Christ.

Grant that we may joyfully receive him as our Redeemer,

so we may with sure confidence behold him when comes to be our judge,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

–Modernized from The Book of Worship for Church and Home (1965), page 76

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Isaiah 9:2, 6-7 (Protestant)/Isaiah 9:1, 5-6 (Jewish, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox)

Psalm 5

Galatians 4:1-7

Luke 2:1-20

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The setting of Luke 2 is troublesome within itself.  There was no such imperial census, we know from historical records, but there was a regional census in Judea (not in the Galilee) in 6 and 7 C.E., written records tell us.  Father Raymond E. Brown, in his magisterial Introduction to the New Testament, states that Luke’s account gets historical details wrong.  Brown also argues that Luke-Acts speaks of a divine plan set inside the Roman Empire.  The text of Luke-Acts contextualizes the birth of Jesus in the reign of the Emperor Augustus (Luke 2) and concludes with the arrival of St. Paul the Apostle in Rome (Acts 28).  Brown writes of the song of the angels to the shepherds.  That song, he insists, is similar to an imperial proclamation in an empire that labeled Augustus the savior of the world.  The point is plain:  Christ is greater than Augustus.

In Psalm 5 the beleaguered author (allegedly David) seeks divine deliverance from his enemies.  He, referring to the Temple, writes,

But I can enter your house

because of your great love.

–Verse 8a, The New American Bible

In Christ we have the Temple in the flesh.  This is the Temple that became flesh out of great love.

The reading from Isaiah 9 is a description of the ideal Davidic king.  One probably thinks most intensely about the ideal ruler when one’s ruler falls far short of the ideal and does not try to live up to that ideal.  Otherwise one might extol the virtues of one’s ruler instead.  In this case the ideal Davidic king, according to the standard, traditional English-language translations is, as The New Revised Standard Version (1989) states:

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

–Verse 6c

Perhaps the familiar language obscures the meaning of the Hebrew text.  Consider then, O reader, the translation from TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985):

The Mighty God is planning grace;

The Eternal Father, a peaceable ruler.

–Verse 5c

This version cuts to the chase nicely; God is planning grace.  We find another example of that grace in Galatians 3 and 4.  At the end of Galatians 3 we read in a glorious and duly famous passage that, through Jesus, Gentile believers join the ranks of Jews as “sons of God,” a term that indicates being the Chosen People, as in Deuteronomy 14:1-2.  With grace, such as that which makes people “sons of God,” also comes responsibility to shed the light of God brightly.  That is fair.  Grace is free yet certainly not cheap, for it requires much of its recipients.  That is fair.

Traditional categories, such as Jews, Greeks, slaves, free people, males, and females do not divide “sons of God,” all of whom are heirs of God.  That is wonderful news!  Why, then, do so many of us maintain, magnify, and create categories for the purpose of defining ourselves as the in-crowd and other “sons of God” as outsiders?  All who do so demonstrate that they prefer psychological comfort to the scandal of grace.

Grace is scandalous.  By means of it we receive more than we deserve; so do people we dislike strongly.  We, like the author of Psalm 5, want better than we deserve yet desire the worst for our foes.  By means of grace a defenseless newborn boy is greater than Augustus Caesar.  Much is possible via grace.

Merry Christmas!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 29, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE BEHEADING OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST

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Good News for the Nations   1 comment

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Above:  Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem, Palestine, 1945

Image Created by Matson Photo Service

Image Source = Library of Congress

(http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/mpc2005009058/PP/)

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-matpc-12613

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The Collect:

Almighty God, you made this holy night shine with the brightness of the true Light.

Grant that here on earth we may walk in the light of Jesus’ presence

and in the last day wake to the brightness of his glory;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 20

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 9:2-7

Psalm 96

Luke 2:1-14 [15-20]

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Some Related Posts:

Isaiah 9:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/first-day-of-christmas-christmas-day/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/29/third-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-a/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/devotion-for-december-2-in-advent-lcms-daily-lectionary/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/devotion-for-december-3-lcms-daily-lectionary/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/06/05/devotion-for-december-2-in-ordinary-time-lcms-daily-lectionary/

Luke 2:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/first-day-of-christmas-christmas-day/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/devotion-for-january-2-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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Isaiah 9:2-7, originally a coronation text for an Israelite king, has taken on a long-term meaning, one outside politics.  That is fitting.  Besides, a text can mean more than one thing legitimately.  The text’s long-term meaning reached out even to smelly shepherds–people essential to the economy yet of low socio-economic status.  That long-term meaning reaches to today.  So may we say with Psalm 96:

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.

–Verse 11, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

And may we live spiritually-disciplined lives which glorify God and benefit others.

Merry Christmas!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 5, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANTHONY MARY ZACCARIA, FOUNDER OF THE BARNABIES AND THE ANGELIC SISTERS OF SAINT PAUL

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ADALBERO AND ULRIC OF AUGSBURG, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS

THE FEAST OF H. RICHARD NIEBUHR, UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF WILLEM A. VISSER ‘T HOOFT, ECUMENIST

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Adapted from this post:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2013/07/05/devotion-for-december-24-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

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Posted July 6, 2013 by neatnik2009 in Isaiah 9, Luke 2, Psalm 96

Tagged with ,

The Web of Humanity   1 comment

Above:  Credit Mobilier Scandal Editorial Cartoon from 1873

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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:

Isaiah 9:7/8-10:11 (depending on versification)

Psalm 122 (Morning)

Psalms 40 and 67 (Evening)

1 Peter 5:1-14

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Some Related Posts:

Isaiah 9-10:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/09/15/week-of-proper-10-wednesday-year-2/

1 Peter 5:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/forty-third-day-of-easter-seventh-sunday-of-easter-year-a/

Where Cross the Crowded Ways of Life:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/06/26/where-cross-the-crowded-ways-of-life/

Jerusalem:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/08/01/jerusalem-by-william-blake/

O Lord, You Gave Your Servant John:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/08/06/o-lord-you-gave-your-servant-john/

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Ha!

Those who write out evil writs

And compose iniquitous documents,

To subvert the cause of the poor,

To rob of their rights the needy of My people;

That widows may be their spoil,

And fatherless children their booty!

What will you do on the day of punishment,

when the calamity comes from afar?

To whom will you flee for help,

And how will you save your carcasses

From collapsing under [fellow] prisoners,

From falling beneath the slain?

Yet His anger has not turned back,

And his arm is outstretched still.

–Isaiah 10:1-4, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

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Humility towards one another must be the garment you all wear constantly, because God opposes the proud but accords his favour to the humble.  Bow down, then, before the power of God now, so that he may raise you up in due time; unload all your burdens on him, since he is concerned about you.

–1 Peter 5:5b-7, The New Jerusalem Bible

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The reading from Isaiah spells out doom for Israel (the northern kingdom), Judah (the southern kingdom), and the Assyrian Empire.  Embedded among that gloomy news is yet another condemnation of economic injustice.  If I seem to beat this drum often in my devotional posts, I do; so do the texts from which I write many devotions.  The repetition of this theme ought to tell us to pay attention, correct our ways, and reform our legal, economic, and political systems accordingly.

Each of us bears the image of God.  This, I am convinced, constitutes the best basis of equality and mutual respect and humility.  God cares for all of us, so we ought to care for each other, not to use each other for selfish goals.  As the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., reminded us,

…injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere.

What happens to my brother or sister affects me, for my brother or sister and I, although physically distinct, are not as separate as we might seem.  We are all connected to others, so what affects one person has consequences for others.

May we, by grace, make them positive effects.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 3, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN OWEN SMITH, UNITED METHODIST BISHOP IN GEORGIA

THE FEAST OF SAINT FRANCIS XAVIER, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY IN ASIA

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Adapted from this post:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/devotion-for-december-3-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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Light in the Darkness, Part I   1 comment

Above:  A Candle Stump

Image Source = J. Samuel Burner

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Candle_stump_on_holder.jpg)

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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, 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:

Isaiah 8:9-9:6/7 (depending on versification)

Psalm 24 (Morning)

Psalms 25 and 110 (Evening)

1 Peter 4:1-9

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Some Related Posts:

Isaiah 8-9:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/29/third-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-a/

1 Peter 4:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/07/16/week-of-8-epiphany-friday-year-2/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/forty-third-day-of-easter-seventh-sunday-of-easter-year-a/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/fortieth-day-of-lent-holy-saturday/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/07/16/week-of-proper-3-friday-year-2/

Hope of the World:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/08/02/hope-of-the-world/

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There will be grave trouble for Judah one day, Isaiah said.  It might not happen soon, but that day will come.  And it did.  Yet, in the midst of that gloomy prediction, there was a second, happy one:  There will be a ruler through whom God will deliver the people.  Scholars debate what the vague references meant, and the reading assumes a certain character if one reads it outside of Christological interpretations, but none of that is germane to my purpose here, today.  My point is this:  There is hope in the darkest darkness, thanks to God.

Speaking of difficult times, the audience of 1 Peter knew suffering for the faith (4:12-19).  Yet God was with them, not only spiritually via the Holy Spirit, but also through each other.  We human beings ought to help each other to, in the words of 1 Peter 4:8,

preserve an intense love for each other (The New Jerusalem Bible)

and use our gifts from God for the common good.  What does Jesus look like?  Hopefully, he looks like you, O reader, like me, and like many other people.  As we prepare, to celebrate the arrival of Christ nearly two thousand years ago, may we first recognize those through whom Christ is present with us today.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 3, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN OWEN SMITH, UNITED METHODIST BISHOP IN GEORGIA

THE FEAST OF SAINT FRANCIS XAVIER, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY IN ASIA

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Adapted from this post:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/devotion-for-december-2-in-advent-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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Posted July 28, 2012 by neatnik2009 in 1 Peter 4, Isaiah 9, Isaiah I: 1-11, Psalm 110, Psalm 24, Psalm 25

Tagged with ,

Love Descended   2 comments

Above:  The Traditional Site of the Birth of Jesus, at the Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem, Israel

DECEMBER 25:  CHRISTMAS DAY IN THE WESTERN CHURCH

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The Collect:

O God, you make us glad by the yearly festival of the birth of your only Son Jesus Christ: Grant that we, who joyfully receive him as our Redeemer, may with sure confidence behold him when he comes to be our Judge; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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The Revised Common Lectionary lists three sets of readings for Christmas Day.

Set One:

Isaiah 9:2-7

Psalm 96

Titus 2:11-14

Luke 2:1-14, (15-20)

Set Two:

Isaiah 62:6-12

Psalm 97

Titus 3:4-7

Luke 2:(1-7), 8-20

Set Three:

Isaiah 52:7-10

Psalm 98

Hebrews 1:1-4, (5-12)

John 1:1-14

I choose to list the scriptural citations for Christmas Day and proceed to my thoughts.

Part One:

December 25 is the first day of Christmas; January 5 is the last.  There are twelve days of Christmas.  So I encourage everyone to think in terms of this sacred time, not commercial time.  I live in North America, where many retailers put out their Christmas displays before Halloween.  History tells me that many Evangelicals over time have either ignored Christmas (as too Roman Catholic) or preferred it as a secular, commercial celebration of the family, or complained about excessive commercialization.  (They have correct in this matter only in the last example.  For more details, follow this link.

So I hope you, O reader, will keep a sacred Christmas season without falling into crankiness about crass commercialism.  Life is too short to be habitually irritated.  Let us enjoy God instead.

I refer you also to this post.

Part Two:

We bore the image of God yet disregarded God, gave God inadequate attention, mistreated each other, institutionalized injustice, and misunderstood divine demands.

So God spoke through the Prophets.

Yet we persisted in our misguided ways.

So Love descended, became one of us (yet much more), and demonstrated righteousness.

We murdered Love.

Yet God raised Love from the dead.

We persist in our misguided ways.

And God is still speaking.

Are we listening?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 4, 2010 (THE FEAST OF JOHN XXIII, BISHOP OF ROME)

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Adapted from this post:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/first-day-of-christmas-christmas-day/

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