Archive for the ‘Isaiah 41’ Category

Trusting in God, Part IX   Leave a comment

Above:  One of My Crucifixes

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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For the Fifth Sunday of the Season of God the Father, Year 1, according to the U.S. Presbyterian lectionary of 1966-1970

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O Lord Jesus, good shepherd of the sheep, who came to seek and to save the lost:

so lead thy church that we may show thy compassion to the helpless,

rescue those in peril, and bring home the wanderers in safety to thee.  Amen.

The Book of Common Worship–Provisional Services (1966), 127

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Isaiah 41:8-13

1 Peter 4:12-19

Matthew 6:25-34

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Worry is negative, but concern can be positive.  Worry can lead only to bad results, but concern can compel one to take necessary and proper actions.  Worry indicates a lack of trust in God, but concern can work well in the context of faith.

Whether one suffers for the sake of righteousness, as the consequences of one’s sin(s), the consequences of the sins of another or others, or another reason (perhaps not a discernible one), one need not imagine that one suffers in isolation.  One need not worry; God is present.  God may permit the negative consequences of one’s actions to afflict one, but one does well to remember that mercy frequently follows judgment in the Bible.  One does well to learn spiritual lessons from one’s mistakes.  One does well to manifest proper concern not to repeat those mistakes.

Trusting in God can prove difficult.  We human beings tend to prefer that which is tangible.  “Yes,” you, O reader, may reply, “but what about the Incarnation?”  I reply, “You are correct, but the historical figure of Jesus lived on earth about 2000 years ago.”  God remains invisible, but not remote.  God is all around us.  We live in the Presence of God, evident in everything from rocks and trees to people.  God is intangible, but infuses our environs.

Trusting in God can prove difficult.  Indeed, I experience problems in this regard frequently.  Yet I persist in faith.  When you, O reader, struggle likewise, I advise you to persist in faith.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 14, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE THIRTEENTH DAY OF ADVENT, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF SAINT VENANTIUS HONORIUS CLEMENTIUS FORTUNATUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF POITIERS

THE FEAST OF DOROTHY ANN THRUPP, ENGLISH HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN OF THE CROSS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MYSTIC

THE FEAST OF ROBERT MCDONALD, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND MISSIONARY

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Posted December 14, 2018 by neatnik2009 in 1 Peter 4, Isaiah 41, Matthew 6

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Exile, Grief, and Faith   1 comment

Crown of Thorns

Above: Crown of Thorns

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

Holy God, creator of light and giver of goodness, your voice moves over the waters.

Immerse us in your grace, and transform us by your Spirit,

that we may follow after 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 22

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 41:14-20

Psalm 69:1-5, 30-36

John 1:29-34

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As for me, I am afflicted and in pain;

your help, O God, will lift me up on high.

–Psalm 69:31, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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Many Jews lived in exile in the Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian Empire at the time of Isaiah 41.  Texts from that time tended to look forwward to the post-Exilic era and describe as being better than it turned out to be.  The land was never as verdant as the economy was never as good as the prophesies promised.  And  most of that post-Exilic era was one of foreign occupation.  Thus, at the time of Jesus, many Palestinian Jews had a sense of living as exiles in their homeland.

Exile is a state many people know.  It might be a literal, geographical reality or a spiritual one.  Nevertheless, the sense of not being at home (at least fully) is difficult.  I have been a spiritual exile, for example.  If I ever have to live in some places, I will become one again.  I wish only the best for those dealing with exile in any form.  They have my sympathy at least; others have my empathy.

Fortunately, all of us can call upon Jesus, the Lamb of God, who can empathize with us.  He is kinder than many of our fellow human beings, including a host of those who claim to follow him.  So I invite you, O reader, not to permit the failings of Christians to detract you from following Christ, who has borne griefs, suffered, and emerged triumphant.  I have no easy answers about failed prophesies and persistent grief, so I offer none.  If I did have them, they would be worthless anyway.  Yet I embrace the lack of a firm answer I can grasp as I seek to follow Jesus.  Maybe I will ask the difficult questions of God in the afterlife.

My conclusion, O reader, is that knowledge dies not bring anyone salvation.  If it did, the Gnostics would be correct.  No, what we do not know outweighs what we know and can know.  Will we trust God enough to follow Jesus through the wilderness of our ignorance, doubts, and grief?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 17, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHANN CHRISTIAN TILL, U.S. MORAVIAN ORGANIST, COMPOSER, AND PIANO BUILDER; AND HIS SON, JACOB CHRISTIAN TILL, U.S. MORAVIAN PIANO BUILDER

THE FEAST OF SAINT HUGH OF LINCOLN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROQUE GONZALEZ DE SANTA CRUZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROSE-PHILIPPINE DUCHESNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC CONTEMPLATIVE

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A Franciscan Blessing:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/17/a-franciscan-blessing/

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Adapted from this post:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2014/11/17/devotion-for-wednesday-after-the-first-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-b-elca-daily-lectionary/

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Posted November 21, 2014 by neatnik2009 in Isaiah 41, Psalm 69

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God, the Primary Actor   1 comment

Jesus Blesssing Children

Above:  Jesus Blessing Children

Image Source = Father Lawrence G. Lovasik, S.V.D., New Catholic Picture Bible:  Popular Stories from the Old and New Testaments (New York:  Catholic Book Publishing Company, 1955, 1960)

Image Scanned by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

God, the Primary Actor

SEPTEMBER 24, 2014

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The Collect:

Almighty and eternal God, you show perpetual lovingkindness to us your servants.

Because we cannot rely on our own abilities,

grant us your merciful judgment,

and train us to embody the generosity of your Son,

Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 48

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 41:1-13

Psalm 106:1-12

Matthew 18:1-5

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Hallelujah!

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,

for his mercy endures for ever.

Who can declare the mighty acts of the LORD

or show forth all his praise?

–Psalm 106:1-2, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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A child, at the time and place of the Gospels’ setting, was powerless and vulnerable.  Yet, according to Matthew 18:3, anyone who enters the Kingdom of Heaven/God must do so like a child.  Anyone who humbles himself accordingly and enters the Kingdom will be the greatest there, for the last will be first and the first will be last.

Other vulnerable and powerless people were exiles, such as those God was preparing to liberate in Isaiah 41.

God is the primary actor in the divine-human relationship.  Grace precedes us, walks beside us, carries us when necessary, and succeeds us.  How we respond to God matters greatly, of course, affecting not only us but those around us.  To recognize our complete dependence on God and our reliance on each other–to surrender the illusion of independence and abandon the lie of the ultimate importance of social status–is to embark on a healthy spiritual path, one which entails numerous and varied expressions of gratitude to God, who has done, is doing, and will do infinitely more than we can imagine.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 17, 2014 COMMON ERA

PROPER 15:  TENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF TIMOTHY CUTLER AND THOMAS BRADBURY CHANDLER, ANGLICAN PRIESTS

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Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2014/08/17/devotion-for-wednesday-after-proper-20-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

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Idols and Icons, Part II   1 comment

Crucifix December 6, 2013

Above:  The Crucifix I Wear to Church

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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The Collect:

Faithful God, most merciful judge,

you care for your children with firmness and compassion.

By your Spirit nurture us who live in your kingdom,

that we may be rooted in the way of your Son,

 Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 43

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 41:21-29 (Thursday)

Isaiah 44:9-17 (Friday)

Isaiah 44:18-20 (Saturday)

Psalm 86:11-17 (All Days)

Hebrews 2:1-9 (Thursday)

Hebrews 6:13-20 (Friday)

Hebrews 7:15-20 (Saturday)

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Teach me your way, O LORD,

and I will walk in your truth;

knit my heart to you that I may fear your Name.

I will thank you, O LORD my God, with all my heart,

and glorify your Name for evermore.

–Psalm 86:11-12, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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The readings from Jeremiah speak of idolatry.  Idols are abominations, their works are nothing, and their images are empty wind the lessons (especially 41:21-29) tell us.  Jesus warns against false religious teachers, wolves in sheep’s clothing, in Matthew 7:15-20.  These false teachers, like idols, distract people from God.  And the author of Hebrews points to Christ, through whom we have redemption.

Snapshot_20140603_2

Above:  Part of My Liturgical Library, Decorated by Crucifixes, June 2014

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

I perceive the need to distinguish between icons and idols.  Icons, whether two-dimensional (as in Eastern Orthodoxy) or three-dimensional (as in Roman Catholicism), are objects of reverence through which we see God.  We are, after all, visually oriented creatures.  I have a collection of Madonnas and crucifixes, as well as an Eastern Orthodox-style image of Jesus.  Some would label these idols, but those individuals would be mistaken.  Icons can also be habits, activities, and other objects.  The Bible, for example, is properly an icon.

Idols are whatever stand between one and God.  If one fixates on something–an object, a habit, an activity, et cetera–instead of God, it is, for that person, an idol.  Unfortunately, the Bible functions as an idol in the lies of many people.  This, I am confident, is not what God intends.

May each of us examine self spiritually and, by grace, succeed in identifying all of one’s idols.  And may all of us succeed, also by grace, in resisting the temptation to commit idolatry any longer.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 13, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANTONY OF PADUA, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

THE FEAST OF G. K. (GILBERT KEITH) CHESTERTON, AUTHOR

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Adapted from This Post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2014/06/13/devotion-for-thursday-friday-and-saturday-before-proper-11-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

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The Paradoxical Power and Glory of God   1 comment

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Above:  But with Her Babe Upon Her Knee, by Florence Edith Storer

Published in 1912

Image Source = Library of Congress

(http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2010718385/)

Reproduction Number = LC-USZC4-2669

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The Collect:

Stir up your power, Lord God, to prepare the way of your only Son.

By his coming nurture our growth as people of repentance and peace;

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 18

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 41:14-20

Psalm 21

Romans 15:14-21

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Some Related Posts:

Isaiah 41:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/twelfth-day-of-advent/

Romans 15:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/04/10/devotion-for-january-27-lcms-daily-lectionary/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/18/week-of-proper-26-friday-year-1/

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The readings from Isaiah 41 and Romans 15 remind us of the glory and might of God and of the powerlessness of we mere mortals to work anything more than what Lutheran confessions of faith call “civic righteousness.”  It is laudable that we perform good deeds and refrain from committing bad ones as often as we do, but that fact cannot save us from ourselves, from our sin.

Being sure not to detract from divine glory is a recurring theme in the Bible, especially in the Hebrew Bible.  That explains the Tower of Babel, Gideon’s army,et cetera.  Divine glory seems to shine brightly in both grand gestures and in small, unlikely packages.  Such glory is most concentrated in Jesus of Nazareth, the incarnated form of the Second Person of the Trinity.  Among the meanings of the Incarnation is that one should look for divine glory in many places, some of them unpredictable, even mundane.  The paradox of the Incarnation is multifaceted.  One facet is that God, mighty and powerful, assumed the form of a defenseless infant.

So, as we Western Christians prepare for the liturgical celebration of that birth, may we seek and find the glory of God around us, in places expected and otherwise.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 26, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JEREMIAH, BIBLICAL PROPHET

THE FEAST OF ISABEL FLORENCE HAPGOOD, ECUMENIST

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Adapted from this post:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2013/06/26/devotion-for-tuesday-after-the-second-sunday-of-advent-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

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Posted July 6, 2013 by neatnik2009 in Isaiah 41, Psalm 21, Romans 15

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Idols and Icons, Part I   1 comment

Above:  Baal

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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 40:18-41:10

Psalm 18:1-20 (Morning)

Psalms 126 and 62 (Evening)

Revelation 8:1-13

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Some Related Posts:

Isaiah 40-41:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/eleventh-day-of-advent/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/19/fifth-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-b/

A Prayer for Proper Priorities:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/09/22/a-prayer-for-proper-priorities/

A Prayer to Relinquish the Illusion of Control:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/17/a-prayer-to-relinquish-the-illusion-of-control/

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John of Patmos interpreted natural disasters as calls to repentance.  As I tire of writing repeatedly yet think I must do anyway, repentance is changing one’s mind or turning around.  It is active.  Apologizing is part of repentance much of the time, yet let us never mistake it for all of repentance.

Back to my main thread….

John of Patmos interpreted natural disasters as calls to repentance.  As I wrote in the December 18 devotional post in this series, sometimes we interpret disturbing events (natural or otherwise)  correctly; at other times we add two and two, arriving at a sum of five.  But let us remain focused on the main point:   God desires that we repent.  This indicates that God has not given up on us.  Otherwise there would be just destruction.

God’s self-description in Isaiah 40-41 repudiates idols.  An idol is anything which distracts us from God. We all have a collection of them.  We might not call them statues of Baal or another ancient imaginary deity, but we might have an excessive habit of watching television or playing video games.  For many people the Bible itself is an idol because they treat it as one.

An icon, in contrast, is something through which we see (or hear) God. An icon can be religious artwork, a loved one, or the Bible, for example.  The Bible, in fact, is properly an icon.

May we repent of our idolatry and replace our idols with icons.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 2, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE NINTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FEAST OF THE HOLY NAME OF JESUS (TRANSFERRED)

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/devotion-for-december-20-lcms-daily-lectionary/

“The Old Eternal Rocks”   2 comments

Above:  Great Smoky Mountains

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Isaiah 41:13-20 (Revised English Bible):

For I, the LORD your God,

take you by the right hand

and say to you, Have no fear;

it is I who help you.

Have no fear, Jacob you worm and Israel you maggot.

It is I who help you, declares the LORD;

your redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.

See, I shall make of you a sharp threshing-sledge,

new and studded with teeth;

you will thresh mountains and crush them to dust

and reduce the hills to chaff;

you will winnow them; the wind will carry them away

and a gale will scatter them.

Then you will rejoice in the LORD

and glory in the Holy One of Israel.

The poor and the needy look for water and find none;

their tongues are parched with thirst.

But the LORD shall provide for their wants;

I, the God of Israel, shall not forsake them.

I shall open rivers on the arid heights,

and wells in the valleys;

I shall turn the desert into pools

and dry land into springs of water;

I shall plant cedars in the wilderness,

acacias, myrtles, and wild olives;

I shall grow pines on the barren heath

side by side with fir and box tree,

that everyone may see and know,

may once and for all observe and understand

that the LORD himself has done this:

it is the creation of the Holy One of Israel.

Psalm 145:1-4, 8-13 (Revised English Bible):

I shall extol you, my God and King,

and bless your name for ever and ever.

Every day I shall bless you

and praise your name for ever and ever.

Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;

his greatness is beyond all searching out.

One generation will commend your works to the next

and set forth your mighty deeds.

The LORD is gracious and compassionate,

long-suffering and ever faithful.

The LORD is good to all;

his compassion rests upon all his creatures.

All your creatures praise you, LORD,

and your loyal servants bless you.

They talk of the glory of your kingdom

and tell of your might,

to make known to mankind your mighty deeds,

the glorious majesty of your kingdom.

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,

and your dominion endures throughout all generations.

Matthew 11:7-15 (Revised English Bible):

(This reading occurs after Jesus has received envoys from the imprisoned John the Baptist, who experienced doubts that Jesus was what John had claimed him to be.)

When the messengers were on their way back, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John:  “What was the spectacle that drew you to the wilderness?  A reed swaying in the wind?  No?  Then what did you go out to see?  A man dressed in finery?  Fine clothes are to be found in palaces.  But why did you go out?  To see a prophet?  Yes indeed, and far more than a prophet.  He is the man of whom scripture says,

Here is my herald, whom I send ahead of you,

and he will prepare your way before you.

Truly I tell you:  among all who have ever been born, no one has been greater than John the Baptist, and yet the least in the kingdom of Heaven is greater than he.

Since the time of John the Baptist the kingdom of God has been subjected to violence and violent men are taking it by force.  For until John, all the prophets and the law foretold things to come; and John is the destined Elijah, if you will but accept it.  If you have ears, then hear.”

The Collect:

Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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When I was a United Methodist “preacher’s kid”  growing up within the South Georgia Annual Conference my family had contact with a missionary organization called Lifeline Ministries.  I recall their yellow signs printed on heavy paper suitable for placing on desks or on refrigerator doors.  These signs features their motto, “GOD IS GREATER THAN ANY PROBLEM I HAVE.”

Our problems are real; let us never question that reality.  Doubts arise and we experience stress, but God answers our questions when we ask them.  And God is greater than any problem we have.  So let us take comfort, have well-placed faith in God, listen to and obey God, and avoid worrying.  To worry is to engage in total waste, for this exercise will bring us no closer to resolving our genuine issues.  No, it is better to focus on finding, identifying, and executing solutions.

When I became an Episcopalian I learned a new hymnody, one superior to that with which I grew up in Southern rural United Methodism.  Among the greatest hymns I learned after converting is “I Bind Unto Myself Today,” with words by Saint Patrick.  Reading this day’s lections while I typed them called two verses of that hymn to mind:

I bind unto myself today

the virtues of the starlit heaven

the glorious sun’s life-giving ray,

the whiteness of the moon at even,

the flashing of the lightning free,

the whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,

the stable earth, the deep salt sea,

around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today

the power of God to hold and lead,

his eye to watch, his might to stay,

his ear to hearken to my need;

the wisdom of my God to teach,

his hand to guide, his shield to ward;

the word of God to give me speech,

his heavenly host to be my guard.

Indeed.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 31, 2010 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE VISITATION OF MARY TO ELIZABETH

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Adapted from this post:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/twelfth-day-of-advent/

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