Archive for the ‘John 20’ Category

The Nature and Character of God   1 comment

Above:  Pentecost Dove

Image Scanned from a Church Bulletin

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According to the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship (ILCW) Lectionary (1973), as contained in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and Lutheran Worship (1982)

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Joel 2:28-29

Psalm 104:25-34 or Veni Creator Spiritus

Acts 2:1-21

John 20:19-23

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God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

as you sent upon the disciples the promised gift of the Holy Spirit,

look upon your Church and open our hearts to the power of the Spirit. 

Kindle in us the fire of your love,

and strengthen our lives for service in your kingdom;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

OR

God our creator, earth has many languages,

but your Gospel announces your love

to all nations in one heavenly speech. 

Make us messengers of the good news that,

through the power of your Spirit,

everyone everywhere may unite in one song of praise;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 23

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O God, on this day you once taught the hearts of your faithful people

by sending them the light of your Holy Spirit. 

Grant us in our day the same Spirit

to have a right understanding in all things

and evermore to rejoice in his holy consolation;

through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you in communion with the Holy Spirit,

now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 59

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VENI CREATOR SPIRITUS

Come, Holy Spirit; 

send down from heaven’s heigh

your radiant light.

Come, lamp of every heart,

come, parent of the poor,

all gifts ar yours.

Comforter beyond all comforting,

sweet unexpected guest,

sweetly refresh.

Rest in hard labour;

coolness in heavy heat,

hurt souls’ relief.

Refill the secret hearts 

of your faithful,

O most blessed light.

Without your holy power

nothing can bear your light,

nothing is free from sin.

Wash all that is filthy,

water all that is parched,

heal what is hurt within.

Bend all that is rigid,

warm all that has frozen hard,

lead back the lost.

Give to your faithful ones,

who come in simple trust,

your sevenfold mystery.

Give virtue its reward,

give, in the end, salvation

and joy that has no end.

–Original Latin text by Rabanus Maurus, 800s C.E.; translation courtesy of The Church of England, Common Worship:  Daily Prayer (2005), 642

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Pentecost is the fiftieth and last day of the season of Easter.  The baptismal connection to this feast is strong.  The alternative name, Whitsunday (White Sunday) refers to the white garments of the newly baptized.

The divine nature exceeds human comprehension.  Orthodox theology offers partial answers, the best we mere mortals can receive.  Receiving those answers does not guarantee comprehending them, though.  So be it.  Christianity is not Gnosticism; salvation depends on grace, not knowledge.  With all this in mind, we can still utilize useful language, much of which may be theological poetry, not theological prose.  God is with us.  God empowers us.  Christian language for this truth is “the Holy Spirit.”

However, I seek to avoid committing modalism, an ancient Trinitarian heresy.  This heresy denies the permanent existence of the members of the Holy Trinity and focuses on allegedly transitory distinctions, defined by functions.  Know, O reader, that I am not a modalist.  I merely acknowledge that the full nature of God is too much for a human mind to grasp and that we mere mortals experience God in certain ways.

I like the Jewish way of explaining the divine nature and character, as much as doing so is possible.  That method is recalling what God has done.  This method pervades the Hebrew Bible.  Think, O reader, what God has done that you have noticed.  Ask yourself what these divine actions tell you about the nature and character of God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 26, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM COWPER, ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT ADELARD OF CORBIE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK AND ABBOT; AND HIS PROTÉGÉ, SAINT PASCAHSIUS RADBERTUS, FRANKISH ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, ABBOT, AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF ROBERT HUNT, FIRST ANGLICAN CHAPLAIN AT JAMESTOWN, VIRGINIA

THE FEAST OF RUGH BYLLESBY, EPISCOPAL DEACONESS IN GEORGIA

THE FEAST OF SAINT STANISLAW KUBITSA, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1940; AND SAINT WLADYSLAW GORAL, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP AND MARTYR, 1945

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM STRINGFELLOW, EPISCOPAL ATTORNEY, THEOLOGIAN, AND SOCIAL ACTIVIST

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Adapted from this post

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A Daring Dance with God   1 comment

Above:  Tango Postcard, 1920

Image in the Public Domain

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According to the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship (ILCW) Lectionary (1973), as contained in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and Lutheran Worship (1982)

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Acts 2:14a, 22-32

Psalm 105:1-7

1 Peter 1:3-9

John 20:19-31

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Almighty God, we have celebrated with joy

the festival of our Lord’s resurrection. 

Graciously help us to show the power of the resurrection

in all that we say and do;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 21

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Grant, almighty God,

that we who have celebrated the mystery of the Lord’s resurrection

may by the help of your grace bring forth

the fruits thereof in our life and conduct;

through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 50

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Given that I have written lectionary-based devotions for more than a decade, I choose not to use this post to focus on a passage that may not seem like the obvious bullseye.

John 20:30-31 is probably the original conclusion to the Fourth Gospel.  That conclusion ends:

…that through this belief [that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God] you may have life in his name.

The New American Bible–Revised Edition (2011)

This theme, present also in the readings from Acts and 1 Peter, is where I dwell today, instead of defending St. Thomas the Apostle again.  Two words attract my attention:

  1. Belief, in the full, Biblical sense, is trust.  Whenever someone asks me if I believe in God, I ask what that person means.  In vernacular English, “believe” indicates acceptance of a preposition.  In the English-language vernacular, to believe in God is to affirm the existence of God.  I always affirm the existence of God.  I usually trust in God.  Likewise, to believe that Jesus is the Messiah and the Son of God is to trust that he is both of those.
  2. Life” refers to eternal life.  In Johannine theology, eternal life is knowing God via Jesus.  Logically, beginning with Johannine theological assumptions, to trust that Jesus is the Messiah and the Son of God leads to eternal life.  If x, then y.

These are articles of faith; we have no evidence for them or against them.  When trust in God is required, the quest for certainty constitutes idolatry.  Certainty feels comforting.  We can be certain of much, either by proving or disproving propositions.  Yet much falls into the gray zone of faith; we have it or lack it.  That uncertainty may unnerve us.  Fundamentalism undercuts trust in God by offering the crutch of false certainty.

Somewhere, years ago, I heard an intriguing spiritual metaphor–performing a daring dance with God.  That daring dance is the dance of trust, of faith.  It is daring from a human perspective.  May God have this dance?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 18, 2022 COMMON ERA

MONDAY IN EASTER WEEK

THE FEAST OF ROGER WILLIAMS, FOUNDER OF RHODE ISLAND; AND ANNE HUTCHINSON, REBELLIOUS PURITAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT CORNELIA CONNELLY, FOUNDER OF THE SOCIETY OF THE HOLY CHILD JESUS

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARY ANNA BLONDIN, FOUNDER OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE SISTERS OF SAINT ANNE

THE FEAST OF MARY C. COLLINS, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MISSIONARY AND MINISTER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MURIN OF FAHAN, LASERIAN OF LEIGHLIN, GOBAN OF PICARDIE, FOILLAN OF FOSSES, AND ULTAN OF PERONNE, ABBOTS; SAINTS FURSEY OF PERONNE AND BLITHARIOUS OF SEGANNE, MONKS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROMAN ARCHUTOWSKI, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1943

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Adapted from this post

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Happy Easter!   1 comment

Above:  Easter Celtic Cross

Image Scanned from a Church Bulletin

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According to the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship (ILCW) Lectionary (1973), as contained in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and Lutheran Worship (1982)

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Acts 10:34-43

Psalm 118:1-2, 15-24

Colossians 3:1-4

John 20:1-9 (10-18) or Matthew 28:1-10

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O God, you gave your only Son

to suffer death on the cross for our redemption,

and by his glorious resurrection

you delivered us from the power of death. 

Make us die every day to sin,

so that we may live with him forever in the joy of the resurrection;

through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 20-21

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Almighty God the Father, through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ,

you have overcome death and opened the gate of everlasting life to us. 

Grant that we,

who celebrate with joy the day of our Lord’s resurrection,

may be raised from the death of sin by your life-giving Spirit;

through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 47

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I have been writing lectionary-based devotions for more than a decade.  In that time, I have exhausted what I can write for the main service of Easter Day.

So be it.  Trying to explain the resurrection is pointless.  (I have heard people debate the mechanics of it, pointlessly.)  One may read an attempt by St. Clement I of Rome, circa 96 C.E., in his Epistle to the Corinthians (1 Clement).  That attempt is pious yet inadequate.  No explanation is adequate.

Therefore, O reader, I refer you to the assigned readings (especially from the New Testament) and wish you a happy Easter–all fifty days of it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 16, 2022 COMMON ERA

HOLY SATURDAY

THE FEAST OF SAINT BERNADETTE OF LOURDES, ROMAN CATHOLIC VISIONARY

THE FEAST OF CALVIN WEISS LAUFER, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMNODIST

THE FEAST OF ISABELLA GILMORE, ANGLICAN DEACONESS

THE FEAST OF MIKAEL SUMA, ALBANIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, FRIAR, AND MARTYR, 1950

THE FEAST OF PETER WILLIAMS CASSEY, AFRICAN-AMERICAN EPISCOPAL DEACON; AND HIS WIFE, ANNIE BESANT CASSEY, AFRICAN-AMERICAN EPISCOPAL EDUCATOR

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Adapted from this post

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Cultural Blinders   1 comment

Above:  Paul and Barnabas at Lystra, by Jacob Pynas

Image in the Public Domain

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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:

Acts 14:8-20

Psalm 1

2 Thessalonians 1:1-12

John 20:19-31

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Culture conditions human perceptions.  One may see, for example, a man (such as St. Paul the Apostle) heal a man by the power of God.  Then one may perceive that agent of divine healing as a deity.  Being devout, by some definition, does not guarantee accurate perception of the divine.  One can misunderstand and be lost, therefore.

I, having defended the skeptical St. Thomas the Apostle (my favorite saint and Biblical character) many times, let my defense of him stand as I move along from the reading from John 20.  Some people see and perceive accurately.  Then they act accordingly.  They are like the man (yes, “man,” in the Hebrew text of Psalm 1.  They are like a tree planted beside streams of water.  They bear fruit in season.  Their foliage never fades.

How good are you, O reader, at seeing past your cultural blinder?  How good am I at that?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 10, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FIRST SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN THE GOOD, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF MILAN

THE FEAST OF ALLEN WILLIAM CHATFIELD, ANGLICAN PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF IGNATIOUS SPENCER, ANGLICAN THE  ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND APOSTLE OF ECUMENICAL PRAYER; AND HIS PROTEGÉE, ELIZABETH PROUT, FOUNDRESS OF THE SISTERS OF THE CROSS AND PASSION

THE FEAST OF MARY LUNDIE DUNCAN, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM GAY BALLANTINE, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, EDUCATOR, SCHOLAR, POET, AND HYMN WRITER

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Adapted from this post:

https://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2021/01/10/devotion-for-the-second-sunday-of-easter-year-d-humes/

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The Resurrection of Christ and Our Atonement   1 comment

Above:  Icon of the Resurrection

Image in the Public Domain

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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:

Acts 10:34-43 or Job 19:7-27c

Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24

1 Corinthians 15:35-50

John 20:1-18

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I am usually at a loss for many words at Easter.  In this case, the readings are mostly self-explanatory.  For my comments on Job 19:7-17c, however, read the germane posts at this weblog.

Whenever I hear someone go on and on about the crucifixion of Jesus, especially regarding the Atonement, I have a critique.  That critique is to keep going.  Do not stop at the death of Jesus.  Dead Jesus cannot save anyone from anything.  No, the Resurrection completed the Atonement.

Christ is alive!  It’s true!  It’s true!

Happy Easter!  Enjoy all 50 days of the season.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 10, 2021

THE FIRST SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN THE GOOD, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF MILAN

THE FEAST OF ALLEN WILLIAM CHATFIELD, ANGLICAN PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF IGNATIOUS SPENCER, ANGLICAN THE  ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND APOSTLE OF ECUMENICAL PRAYER; AND HIS PROTEGÉE, ELIZABETH PROUT, FOUNDRESS OF THE SISTERS OF THE CROSS AND PASSION

THE FEAST OF MARY LUNDIE DUNCAN, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM GAY BALLANTINE, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, EDUCATOR, SCHOLAR, POET, AND HYMN WRITER

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Adapted from this post:

https://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2021/01/10/devotion-for-easter-sunday-year-d-humes/

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Regarding Faith and Reason II   2 comments

Above:  Icon of the Resurrection

Image in the Public Domain

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For Easter Sunday, Year 1

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Lectionary from A Book of Worship for Free Churches (The General Council of the Congregational Christian Churches in the United States, 1948)

Collect from The Book of Worship (Evangelical and Reformed Church, 1947)

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Almighty God, who through the resurrection of thine only begotten Son Jesus Christ,

hast overcome death and opened unto us the gate of everlasting life;

assist and support us, we beseech thee, the aspirations of thy heavenly grace,

that dying unto sin always, and living unto righteousness,

we may at last triumph over death and the grave, in the full image of our risen Lord:

to whom, with thee and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, world without end.  Amen.

The Book of Worship (1947), 163

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Isaiah 25:1-9

Psalm 118:14-29

1 Corinthians 15:12-28

John 20:1-10

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If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied.  But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

–1 Corinthians 15:19-20, Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition (2002)

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I am, to a great extent, a product of the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment.  I make no apologies for this; I value science, evidence, objective reality, liberty of conscience, constitutional government, human reason, the separation of powers, and the freedoms of speech, press, assembly, and dissent.  Call me a radical, if you wish, O reader.  I call myself an Episcopalian.  I get to believe in Jesus and accept fossil records, rock layers, geological time, dinosaurs, and evolution.  I am a modernist in both the Enlightenment and late nineteenth-century meanings of that word.

I do not pretend, however, that my intellectual categories are sufficient for all circumstances.  My scientific, Enlightenment, and historical categories prove helpful most of the time.  As I age, however, I find, much to my surprise, that mysticism is becoming a more prominent component of my spirituality.

I also understand the difference between faith and proof.  I need no faith to accept that which I can prove.  I can also disprove many subjective claims by citing objective evidence.  Faith his how believes that which is true yet one can neither prove nor disprove.

I know that human nature is corrupted (despite what certain Enlightenment philosophers argued) because I study the past and have something of a grasp of current events.  I have as much of a grasp of current events as I can without crossing the line into my spiritual and psychological detriment.  I have as much of a grasp of current events as possible without risking turning into General George Patton’s ideal man–one who can swear profanely for three minutes consistently without repeating any word.  Human depravity is a certainty–a fact–for me; it is not an article of faith for me.  On the other hand, I accept the existence of God on faith.  In fact the I reject the possibility of proving the existence of God logically.

Likewise, I believe (trust, literally) in the resurrection of Jesus.  I do so by faith.  I do not know that the resurrection is true; I believe (trust) that it is.  I stake everything on it being true.  I know that Jesus was a historical figure, but I believe that he was the incarnate Son of God, crucified and resurrected.

The resurrection of Jesus is one of the relatively few Christian doctrines one must accept to be a Christian.  The Virgin Birth is an optional doctrine, for example, but the Incarnation is not.  One may also choose to accept or reject the Immaculate Conception of St. Mary of Nazareth and be a Christian either way.  (Yes, I understand the difference between the Immaculate Conception and the Virgin Birth.  The first sets the stage for the second.)  As I was writing, the resurrection of Jesus, like the Incarnation, is mandatory for inclusion in the Christian faith.  Without the resurrection, we have a dead Jesus, who cannot save anyone from any sins and their consequences.  The resurrection completes the atonement, according to the Classic Theory of the Atonement, or Christus Victor.

The resurrection also contradicts and violates most of my intellectual categories.  So be it.

Happy Easter!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 4, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BENEDICT THE AFRICAN, FRANCISCAN FRIAR AND HERMIT

THE FEAST OF ALFRED C. MARBLE, JR., EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF MISSISSIPPI THEN ASSISTING BISHOP OF NORTH CAROLINA

THE FEAST OF ERNEST W. SHURTLEFF, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., U.S. CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER, AND MARTYR, 1968

THE FEAST OF SIDNEY LOVETT, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND CHAPLAIN OF YALE UNIVERSITY

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Seeing and Believing   Leave a comment

Above:   The Miraculous Draft of Fishes, by Konrad Witz

Image in the Public Domain

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

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Grant, we pray thee, O God, that we who have celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

may demonstrate his victory in our daily conduct and face the future unafraid;

through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

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

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Exodus 15:1-13

1 Corinthians 15:12-20

John 20:19-31

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I choose to focus on the New Testament readings, with a brief analysis of Exodus 15:1-13 before I start in earnest.  The foreshadowing of subsequent grumbling and punishment is not accidental, given that the editors know how the story ended.  The necessity of responding faithfully to (free) grace is a timeless principle.

St. Clement I of Rome, writing to the church in Corinth circa 100 C.E., argued against doubting the resurrection of Jesus.  He cited natural cycles and the myth of the phoenix (which he apparently thought was real) to support his position.

I understand why many of the close associates of Jesus doubted the resurrection at first; how often does something like that happen?  I also read that they they encountered him again.  I do not have the luxury of meeting Jesus in the flesh.  I must, therefore, have faith to affirm the resurrection.

Encountering Jesus again dramatically proved insufficient for some of the Apostles.  After the encounter in John 20, some of them tried to return to fishing in Chapter 21.  They had seen him again yet acted that way just a few days later.

We are not so different from those Apostles as we may imagine.  Do we tell ourselves that seeing is believing?  And, when we see something much less dramatic than Jesus walking through a locked door, do we really believe?

Martin Luther was correct; we must and can rely on the faithfulness of God, for human behavior frequently indicates a lack of fidelity.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 27, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CORNELIUS HILL, ONEIDA CHIEF AND EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF HUGH THOMSON KERR, SR., U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND LITURGIST; AND HIS SON, HUGH THOMSON KERR, JR., U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, SCHOLAR, AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF JAMES MOFFATT, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, SCHOLAR, AND BIBLE TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN THE GEORGIAN, ABBOT; AND SAINTS EUTHYMIUS OF ATHOS AND GEORGE OF THE BLACK MOUNTAIN, ABBOTS AND TRANSLATORS

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Astounding News from God   Leave a comment

Above:   Manna

Image in the Public Domain

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

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Mighty God, who raised up Jesus from the dead:

give us such trust in thee, that all our days we may rejoice,

looking to that perfect day when we shall feast in paradise with Christ our Lord,

to whom be praise and glory evermore.  Amen.

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

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Exodus 16:4-17

Revelation 1:1-8

John 20:1018

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These three readings tell of astounding news.

God always provides enough, often through mundane and natural methods.  Manna and quail, for example, occur naturally.  Perhaps the technical description of manna (crystalized insect excrement) disgusts one, but the substance is not harmful.  People still consume it safely, in fact.

Manna was not miraculous, but it was astounding at the time.  The resurrection of Jesus was both astounding and miraculous, though.  Doubts in real time were understandable.

The Christ of Revelation 1:1-8 is the risen, ascended, and glorified figure descending to a mixed reaction.  Judgment and mercy come mixed in that description.  Yet one may recall Christ’s intercession–his prayer from the cross that God forgive those who did not know what they were doing.  That intercession seems at first to conflict with Revelation 1:1-8.  The two do not conflict, though; God condemns nobody, but people condemn themselves.

How do we respond to the astounding news from God daily?  Do we grumble or do we rejoice?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 26, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ISABEL FLORENCE HAPGOOD, U.S. JOURNALIST, TRANSLATOR, AND ECUMENIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANDRA GIACINTO LONGHIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF TREVISO

THE FEAST OF PHILIP DODDRIDGE, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF VIRGIL MICHEL, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, ACADEMIC, AND PIONEER OF LITURGICAL RENEWAL

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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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Vindication, Part III   Leave a comment

Above:  The Incredulity of Saint Thomas, by Caravaggio

Image in the Public Domain

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FOR THE FIRST SUNDAY AFTER EASTER, ACCORDING TO A LECTIONARY FOR PUBLIC WORSHIP IN THE BOOK OF WORSHIP FOR CHURCH AND HOME (1965)

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O God, who through the resurrection of Jesus Christ has freed us

from the power of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of your love:

Grant, we ask you that, as by his death he has recalled us into life,

so by his abiding presence he may bring us to the joys eternal;

through him who for our sakes died and rose again, and is ever with us in power,

the same your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

–Modernized from The Book of Worship for Church and Home (1965), page 119

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Job 19:1, 23-27

Psalm 43

1 Corinthians 15:12-22

John 20:19-31

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I am not one given to complex theological purity tests, for I almost always fail them.  That is fine, for I have never sought to please those who have written and applied these purity tests.

I do, however, assert that the following passage is crucial to Christianity:

…and of Christ has not been raised, the our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain.

–1 Corinthians 15:14, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

One must affirm the resurrection of Jesus to be a Christian.  To work through doubts is fine, for doubt is a feasible route to knowledge.  Besides, St. Thomas the Apostle is my favorite Biblical character.  I harbor strong suspicions that people who never doubt never think deeply.

Vindication is a theme uniting Psalm 43 and Psalm 19.  In the latter reading the titular character, in TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985), expresses confidence that his Vindicator (verse 25) lives.  Job means that he will see his Vindicator during his (Job’s) lifetime, not in the afterlife.  One might think of George Frederick Handel‘s Messiah, which uses the text (as “I Know That My Redeemer Liveth” in reference to Jesus, consistent with much of Christian tradition.  Job understands his Vindicator to be one, probably a relative, who will defend his (Job’s) rights.  The author of Psalm 43 identifies God as his Vindicator.  If we apply this theme to Jesus, we arrive at the ultimate vindication of Jesus and ourselves–his resurrection.

I like to ponder stories the Biblical authors chose not to tell or could not tell.  For example, news of the resurrection reached Temple authorities.  How could it not have done so?  I wonder what Caiaphas and company say in meetings?  Perhaps they sent spies out to observe Jesus.  What did these religious authorities make of the reality of Christ’s restoration to life?

What do we make of it?  More importantly, what do we and will we do with it?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 18, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE SIXTEENTH DAY OF ADVENT

THE FEAST OF MARC BOEGNER, ECUMENIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT GIULIA VALLE, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN

THE FEAST OF SAINT ISAAC HECKER, FOUNDER OF THE MISSIONARY SOCIETY OF SAINT PAUL THE APOSTLE

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