Archive for the ‘Luke 12’ Category

Judas Iscariot   1 comment

Above:  Judas Iscariot, by James Tissot

Image in the Public Domain

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Isaiah 50:4-9a

Psalm 70:1-2 4-6 (LBW) or Psalm 18:21-30 (LW)

Romans 5:6-11

Matthew 26:14-25

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Almighty God, your Son our Savior suffered at the hands of men

and endured the shame of the cross. 

Grant that we may walk in the way of his cross

and find it the way of life and peace;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 20

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Merciful and everlasting God the Father,

who did not spare your only Son

but delivered him up for us all that he might bear our sins on the cross;

grant that our hearts may be so fixed with steadfast faith in our Savior

that we may not fear the power of any adversaries;

through Jesus Christ, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 43

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

In context, Isaiah 50:4-9a is an odd lection to read on this Sunday.  The speaker–the prophet/servant (Second Isaiah)–is pious yet merely human, therefore, sinful.  He believes that the suffering of the exiles during the Babylonian Exile has been justified.  Yet he also anticipates the divine vindication of that exiled population, for the glory of God.  Applying this reading to sinless Jesus (who suffered an unjust execution as an innocent man) requires astounding theological gymnastics.

Judas Iscariot played an essential role in a divine plan.  The writers of the four canonical Gospels portrayed him negatively, for one major obvious reason.  The Gospel of John added that Judas was an embezzler (John 12:6).  Despite all this, Judas was not outside the mercy of God.  And he had not committed the unpardonable sin–blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:32; Mark 3:28; Luke 12:10).  Judas may have thought that he knew what he was doing, but he did not.  Recall Luke 23:24, O reader:

Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”

The New American Bible–Revised Edition (2011)

I do not pretend to know the ultimate fate of Judas Iscariot.  I am not God.  I do, however, repeat my position that the only people in Hell are those who have condemned themselves.  God sends nobody to Hell.  Divine mercy and judgment exist in a balance I cannot grasp, for I am not God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 12, 2022 COMMON ERA

HOLY TUESDAY

THE FEAST OF HENRY SLOANE COFFIN, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, THEOLOGIAN, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR; AND HIS NEPHEW, WILLIAM SLOANE COFFIN, JR., U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND SOCIAL ACTIVIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT DAVID URIBE-VELASCO, MEXICAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1927

THE FEAST OF SAINT JULIUS I, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF SAINT ZENO OF VERONA, BISHOP

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Adapted from this post

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of the Ascension, by Andrei Rublev

Image in the Public Domain

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

READING LUKE-ACTS, PART LIII

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Luke 24:50-53

Acts 1:1-11

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Given that I have written numerous blog posts about the Ascension, and given that they are available at this weblog, I do not seek to replicate them in this post.

As I continue through Luke-Acts, I notice a narrative contradiction.  Luke 24:50-53, read within the narrative context of chapter 24, dates the Ascension to Easter Day.  Yet Acts 1:3 dates the Ascension to forty days after Easter Day.  Interpretations of this discrepancy include:

  1. “Forty days” is symbolic,
  2. The forty days fill out the calendar, and
  3. Acts 1:3 corrects Luke 24 after St. Luke the Evangelist uncovered more information than he had when he wrote the Gospel of Luke.

I am not a fundamentalist.  Biblical inerrancy and infallibility are utter nonsense.  If St. Luke changed his mind, so be it.  If “forty days” is symbolic, so be it.  I do not know which interpretation is corect.

Forty is frequently a symbolic number in the Bible.  One may recall that the reign of King David lasted for about forty years, that the Hebrews wandered in the desert for forty years, that Jesus spent forty days in the desert, and that the mythical Great Flood lasted for forty days and forty nights.  Forty is a sacred number in the Bible.  It, therefore, recurs in the Bible for many more examples than i have cited.  Forty, symbolically, is a round number that designates a fairly long time in terms of human existence or endurance.

So, even if the forty days (Acts 1:3) are symbolic, they still contradict Luke 24, with Jesus’s resurrection and the Ascension occurring on the same day.

Anyway, “ascension” may not be the most accurate word for Jesus’ departure.  “Assumption” may be better.  Christ’s departure resembles the assumptions of Elijah (2 Kings 2:9-11; Sirach 48:9) and Enoch (Genesis 5:23-24; Sirach 49:14b), with apocalyptic imagery added.

The priestly gestures and blessings of Jesus before his departure, followed by worship, close the Gospel of Luke fittingly.  Recall Luke 1:20-23, O reader:  the priest Zechariah could not pronounce a blessing.

The Lukan accounts of the Ascension of Jesus also draw from Sirach 50:1-21, about the high priest Simon II.  The account of Simon II depicts him as the culmination of Israel’s history, at the point of the composition of that book.  Luke-Acts, which postdates Sirach, depicts Jesus as the culmination of Israel’s history.

In Luke 24, the Ascension is the fitting end of the story of Jesus.  In Acts 1, however, the Ascension is the beginning of the story of the mission of the Church.  Placing the two Lukan interpretations side-by-side provides the full picture.

I also detect one of St. Luke’s organizing principles in Luke 24 and Acts 1.  Luke-Acts finishes focusing on one story before focusing on another one, although the stories may overlap.  Consider the focus on St. John the Baptist (Luke 3) before the focus on Jesus (Luke  4-24), O reader.  Then we come to a different focus, starting in Acts 1.

The story of the mission of the Church, empowered by the Holy Spirit, follows.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 2, 2022 COMMON ERA

ASH WEDNESDAY

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Parables of the Mustard Seed and the Yeast   Leave a comment

Above: The Parable of the Mustard Seed, by Jan Luyken

Image in the Public Domain

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

READING LUKE-ACTS, PART XXXIV

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Luke 13:18-21

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Parable of the Mustard Seed exists also in Matthew 13:31-32 and Mark 4:30-32.  Given that this is a series about Luke-Acts, I focus on the version in Luke 13:18-19.  This version of the parable omits any reference to the size of a mustard seed and focuses on the mustard plant providing shelter for the birds of the air.

A mustard plant is a large weed between eight and nine feet tall.  Yet between 725 to 760 mustard seeds make a gram.  Yet Luke 13:18-19 dos not comment on the relative sizes of a mustard seed and a mustard plant.

The mustard plant seems like an improbable image for the Kingdom of God.  A Cedar of Lebanon–majestic and beautiful–seems more likely.  Yet we have a mustard plant instead.  The mustard seed stands for the ministry of Jesus.  The mustard plant symbolizes the final manifestation of the Kingdom of God.

The reference to birds nesting calls back to Daniel 4:12, 21 and Ezekiel 17:22-23.  Yet, in those passages, the birds nest in a great tree, not a tall weed.  A weed is an unwanted plant.  The Church seems like a weed much of the time, does it not?  The birds of the air in the parable include Gentiles, the audience for the Gospel of Luke.

Think about your neighbors in God, O reader.  Many–or most–of them may differ substantially from you.  The identity of your neighbors in God may surprise you.  The surprise may be mutual.

++++++++++++++++++++++++

Yeast (or leaven) usually symbolizes moral corruption in the Bible.  From earlier in the Gospel of Luke, we may recall Jesus denouncing the leaven of the Pharisees–hypocrisy (12:1).  Yet in 13:20-21, the Kingdom of God is like a woman and the leaven carries a positive connotation.  The leaven, mixed into the dough, produces large loaves of bread.

++++++++++++++++++++++++

Putting the two parables together, we read that the Kingdom of God goes where it will.  It may be welcome or unwelcome, but nobody can stop.  This comforts me at a time when church membership and attendance are declining and unbelief is rising in my society.

Nevertheless, may we avoid two errors (among others).  May we not confuse the Church for the Kingdom of God.  And may we not mistake all non-practicing people for pagans.  The Church, supposed to be a hospital for sinners, frequently shoots the wounded and drives them out instead of welcoming them.  To refer to another parable of Jesus, the Church includes both darnel and wheat, and both look alike at a certain stage.  I recall having some of my most fulfilling theological conversations with non-churchgoers and some of my most unpleasant and least productive theological discussions with defensive, closed-minded Christians.  Perhaps you, O reader, recall similar experiences.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979) includes a petition germane to this point:

For all who have died in the communion of your Church, and those whose faith is known to you alone, that, with all the saints, they may have rest in that place where there is no pain or grief, but life eternal, we pray to you, O Lord.

–391

The Church would do well to cease shooting the spiritually wounded.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 9, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FIRST SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY:  THE BAPTISM OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF JULIA CHESTER EMERY, UPHOLDER OF MISSIONS

THE FEAST OF EMILY GREENE BALCH, U.S. QUAKER SOCIOLOGIST, ECONOMIST, AND PEACE ACTIVIST

THE FEAST OF GENE M. TUCKER, UNITED METHODIST MINISTER AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF JOHANN JOZEF IGNAZ VON DÖLLINGER, DISSDENT AND EXCOMMUNICATED GERMAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, THEOLOGIAN, AND HISTORIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT PHILIP II OF MOSCOW, METROPOLITAN OF MOSCOW AND ALL RUSSIA, AND MARTYR, 1569

THE FEAST OF THOMAS CURTIS CLARK, U.S. DISCIPLES OF CHRIST EVANGELIST, POET, AND HYMN WRITER

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Eschatological Ethics XIV   Leave a comment

Above: Icon of the Second Coming

Image in the Public Domain

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

READING LUKE-ACTS, PART XXXII

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Luke 12:35-59

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The parable contains disturbing content–one disobedient slave cut into two pieces, and two other slaves beaten.  One of the beaten slaves, we read, did not know he was doing anything wrong when he erred.  The vivid and disturbing parable–surely not the topic of any children’s sermon–underscores the importance of living in a consistent moral and obedient way relative to God.  We all sin daily; we can also repent daily.  God understands that we are “but dust,” so we can take comfort in that detail.  Knowledge of one’s sinfulness ought to lead one to treat other sinners compassionately and empathetically.

Have utmost devotion to Jesus.  That is the theme of the parable.  Maintain this devotion until (a) death, or (b) the Second Coming.  And divine judgement and mercy remain in balance.  The most severe punishment falls on those who should have known better.  Lighter punishment falls on those who did not know what God expected of them.  On the other hand, Jesus and the Holy Spirit advocate for us.  We derive comfort from this factor, too.

Attempting to predict the timing of the Second Coming is a fool’s game.  I do not play this game.  I do not even say that the Second Coming is nearer now than it was circa 85 C.E., for I cannot know that.  Fixating on the Second Coming is alien to my theology.  Obeying the moral mandates of Christ’s teachings is superior to studying alleged prophecies in Daniel and Revelation.  (I have blogged through those books at this weblog, by the way.)  Instead of vainly linking recent and current events to books are are not (and never were intended to be) predictors of the future, why not do something constructive?  Why not, for example, volunteer at a soup kitchen, work for social justice, or purchase groceries for a food bank?  Whatever good you do, O reader, do it in the name of Jesus.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 8, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT THORFINN OF HAMAR, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF A. J. MUSTE, DUTCH-AMERICAN MINISTER, LABOR ACTIVIST, AND PACIFIST

THE FEAST OF ARCANGELO CORELLI, ITALIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC MUSICIAN AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF NICOLAUS COPERNICUS AND GALILEO GALILEI, SCIENTISTS

THE FEAST OF HARRIET BEDELL, EPISCOPAL DEACONESS AND MISSIONARY

THE FEAST OF SAINT PEPIN OF LANDEN, SAINT ITTA OF METZ, THEIR RELATIONS, AND SAINTS AMAND, AUSTREGISILUS, AND SULPICIUS II OF BOURGES, FAITHFUL CHRISTIANS ACROSS GENERATIONAL LINES

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Posted January 8, 2022 by neatnik2009 in Luke 12

Tagged with , ,

Trust in God, Part IV   Leave a comment

Above: From My Study, January 7, 2022

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

READING LUKE-ACTS, PART XXXI

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Luke 12:13-34

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

In the context of Jesus’s society, the rich man’s conduct was especially egregious.  Most people were poor.  A relative few were wealthy, and the middle class was small.  Hoarding crops kept food away from people who needed it.

In whom or what do we trust?  If we trust in anyone or anything else more than we trust in God, we commit idolatry.  If we trust in money and possessions, we trust in ephemera.

Another issue regarding possessions is that they occupy space.

I moved from Athens, Georgia, to Americus, Georgia, last October.  I rented an enclosed trailer to haul behind my truck.  I had some space in the truck cab, too. I knew better than to haul anything in the truck bed.  As I prepared to move, I obsessed over how much space I had.  This obsession led me to downsize more than I had already.  I downsized well; I used the available space well.

When one downsizes, one may realize that one has not used x, y, and z for a long time.  One, therefore, may not miss them.

That which matters most is intangible.  Relationships with other human beings and God matter most and are related to each other.  One may realize this after a loved one has died and one is cleaning out the deceased person’s abode.  A life does not consist of possessions.

Anxiety and worry cannot improve one’s life.  However, proper concern may spur appropriate actions to resolve problems.  If one is anxious because one lacks, one may still remain anxious after coming into a fortune.  Such a person may become anxious about safeguarding wealth.  Scarcity is a human creation; there is always plenty with God.  God calls us to take care of each other, to ease each other’s anxiety, and to ensure that everybody has enough.  How to accomplish this goal most effectively within a given context is a legitimate topic for discussion.  The underlying commandment is not up for debate, however.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 7, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF FRANÇOIS FÉNELON, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF CAMBRAI

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALDRIC OF LE MANS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF LE MANS

THE FEAST OF JEAN KENYON MACKENZIE, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MISSIONARY IN WEST AFRICA

THE FEAST OF LANZA DEL VASTO, FOUNDER OF THE COMMUNITY OF THE ARK

THE FEAST OF SAINT LUCIAN OF ANTIOCH, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR, 312

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM JONES, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND MUSICIAN

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Posted January 7, 2022 by neatnik2009 in Luke 12

Tagged with ,

The Unpardonable Sin and the Leaven of the Pharisees   Leave a comment

Above:  Woe Unto You, Scribes and Pharisees, by James Tissot

Image in the Public Domain

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

READING LUKE-ACTS, PART XXX

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Luke 12:1-12

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Leaven usually has a negative connotation in the Bible; leaven frequently symbolizes corruption.  The connotation is negative in Luke 12:1, where leaven represents hypocrisy.

As I feel the need to repeat ad nauseam, due to the pervasive nature of stereotypes, I have no interest in lambasting long-dead Pharisees and feeling morally smug.  Moral hypocrisy is a leaven that corrupts all of us.  Do not beat up on the Pharisees, O reader; look in the mirror instead.  I recall the late Henry Irving Louttit, Jr., when he was the Rector of Christ Episcopal Church, Valdosta, Georgia, describing the Pharisees as the good, churchgoing people of their time.  We conventionally pious people may be more similar to the Pharisees than we like to imagine.

12:2-9 describe fearless confession of faith, different from hypocrisy.  Verses 2 and 1 may seem truer in the age of smartphones and the internet than the recent past, much less antiquity.

I read 12:2-9 and wonder how those verses must have resounded with listeners and readers circa 85 C.E., when the Gospel of Luke was new.  I ponder the context of sporadic, regional persecution, the reality at the time.  This section of the Gospel of Luke resonates differently with me than it does with those who suffer persecution for their faith.  Many people have a persecution complex; I guess it makes them feel especially holy.  Many other people, however, know the experience of persecution.

The top priority of following Jesus, then en route to die, repeats.

The Lucan version of the unpardonable sin occurs in 12:10, divorced from certain critics accusing him of being in league with Satan (Luke 11:14-22; Matthew 12:25-32; Mark 3:23-30).  In the context of the Gospels of Mark and Matthew, the unpardonable sin–blasphemy against the Holy Spirit–is not being able to distinguish between good and evil.  The unpardonable sin, in the context of the Gospel of Luke, is apostasy and moral corruption.  In these contexts, taken together, the unpardonable sin is not being open to God’s truth.  God does not condemn one for committing the unpardonable sin.  No, one condemns oneself by committing it.

This point brings me back to the beginning of this post.  Grace is free, not cheap; it makes demands of its recipients.  For many Christians, that price has included persecution and/or martyrdom.  Hypocrisy and moral corruption may lead to committing the unpardonable sin.  Grace seeks us.  It pursues us.  May we welcome it and accept its demands.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 6, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE EPIPHANY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Introduction to Luke-Acts   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of St. Luke the Evangelist

Image in the Public Domain

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

READING LUKE-ACTS, PART I

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The whole of Luke’s gospel is about the way in which the living God has planted, in Jesus, the seed of that long-awaited hope in the world.

–N. T. Wright, Lent for Everyone:  Luke, Year C–A Daily Devotional (2009), 2

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Gospel of Luke is the first volume of a larger work.  The Acts of the Apostles is the second volume.  One can read either volume spiritually profitably in isolation from the other one.  However, one derives more benefit from reading Luke-Acts as the two-volume work it is.

Each of the four canonical Gospels bears the name of its traditional author.  The Gospel of Luke is the only case in which I take this traditional authorship seriously as a matter of history.  One may recall that St. Luke was a well-educated Gentile physician and a traveling companion of St. Paul the Apostle.

Luke-Acts dates to circa 85 C.E.,. “give or take five to ten years,” as Raymond E. Brown (1928-1998) wrote in his magisterial An Introduction to the New Testament (1997).  Luke-Acts, having a Gentile author, includes evidence that the audience consisted of Gentiles, too.  The text makes numerous references to the inclusion of Gentiles, for example.  Two of the major themes in Luke-Acts are (a) reversal of fortune, and (b) the conflict between the Roman Empire and the Kingdom of God.  The smoldering ruins of Jerusalem and the Second Temple in 70 C.E. inform the present tense of the story-telling.

Many North American Christians minimize or ignore the imperial politics in the New Testament.  In doing so, they overlook essential historical and cultural contexts.  Luke-Acts, in particular, performs an intriguing political dance with the Roman Empire.  The two-volume work unambiguously proclaims Jesus over the Emperor–a treasonous message, by Roman imperial standards.  Luke-Acts makes clear that the Roman Empire was on the wrong side of God, that its values were opposite those of the Kingdom of God.  Yet the two-volume work goes out of its way to mention honorable imperial officials.

Know six essential facts about me, O reader:

  1. This weblog is contains other blog posts covering Luke-Acts, but in the context of lectionaries.  I refer you to those posts.  And I will not attempt to replicate those other posts in the new posts.  Finding those posts is easy; check the category for the book and chapter, such as Luke 1 or Acts 28.
  2. I know far more about the four canonical Gospels, especially in relation to each other, than I will mention in the succeeding posts.  I tell you this not to boast, but to try to head off anyone who may chime in with a rejoinder irrelevant to my purpose in any given post.  My strategy will be to remain on topic.
  3. My purpose will be to analyze the material in a way that is intellectually honest and applicable in real life.  I respect Biblical scholarship that goes deep into the woods, spending ten pages on three lines.  I consult works of such scholarship.  However, I leave that work to people with Ph.Ds in germane fields and who write commentaries.
  4. I am a student of the Bible, not a scholar thereof.
  5. I am a left-of-center Episcopalian who places a high value on human reason and intellect.  I value history and science.  I reject both the inerrancy and the infallibility of scripture for these reasons.  Fundamentalists think I am going to Hell for asking too many questions.  I try please God, not fundamentalists. I know too much to affirm certain theological statements.
  6. I am a sui generis mix of Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and Anglican theological influences.  I consider St. Mary of Nazareth to be the Theotokos (the Bearer of God) and the Mater Dei (the Mother of God).  I also reject the Virgin Birth and the Immaculate Conception with it.

Make of all this whatever you will, O reader.

Shall we begin our journey through Luke-Acts?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 20, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE TWENTY-THIRD DAY OF ADVENT

THE FEAST OF SAINT DOMINIC OF SILOS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF BATES GILBERT BURT, EPISCOPAL PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF BENJAMIN TUCKER TANNER, AFRICAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL BISHOP AND RENEWER OF SOCIETY

THE FEAST OF D. ELTON TRUEBLOOD, U.S. QUAKER THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF JOHANN CHRISTOPH SCHWEDLER, GERMAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT MICHAL PIASCZYNSKI,POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1940

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Unpacking Habakkuk 2:4–Sayings About Tyrants   Leave a comment

Above:  Habakkuk

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

READING HABAKKUK, PART IV

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Habakkuk 2:5-20

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Denunciations of tyrants and tyranny remain germane, unfortunately.

Habakkuk 2:5-20 unpacks 2:4, the text on which I fixated in the previous post in this series.  Certain aspects of 2:5-20 do not translate well into English; others do.

First, the commandment to trust in God, not in wealth, pervades the Old and New Testaments.  We read it in Habakkuk 2:5f.  The issue is attachment to wealth, not wealth itself.  This point is also prominent in Luke 12:15; Mark 10:17-27; and 1 Timothy 6:10.  In Habakkuk 2:7, the same Hebrew word means both “debtors” and “creditors.”  Debtor nations can become creditor nations, and the other way around.

Second, the theology of divine retribution, prominent in the Bible (notably in Nahum, which I recently finished reading) informs Habakkuk 2:8f.  What comes around, goes around.  Through divine retribution, something beautiful happens:

But the earth shall be filled

with the knowledge of the LORD’s glory,

just as the water covers the sea.

–Habakkuk 2:14, The New American Bible–Revised Edition (2011)

This divine glory contrasts with the corrupt, sinful human glory of the Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian Empire and other earthly powers (2:16).  God is sovereign.  Idolatry, in all its forms, is foolish.

In the original context, Habakkuk 2:5-20 applied to the Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian Empire.  Reinterpretation of these verses probably commenced immediately after the fall of that empire to the Persians and the Medes in 539 B.C.E.

Tyrants succeed because other people empower them.  Tyrants fail because of insufficient support.  The fully-realized Kingdom of God is antithetical to tyranny.  Yet the history of the Christian Church is replete with official ecclesiastical support for tyrants and would-be tyrants.  One may recognize support for fascist dictators, military juntas, and those who who seek to subvert representative government from the ancient past to the present day.  And the condemnations Habakkuk 2:5-20 leveled against the Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian Empire apply to certain governments, public officials, and private citizens in 2021.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 6, 2021 COMMON ERA

PROPER 5:  THE SECOND SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF FRANKLIN CLARK FRY, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED LUTHERAN CHURCH IN AMERICA AND THE LUTHERAN CHURCH IN AMERICA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CLAUDE OF BESANÇON, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, MONK, ABBOT, AND BISHOP

THE FEAST OF HENRY JAMES BUCKOLL, AUTHOR AND TRANSLATOR OF HYMNS

THE FEAST OF JOHANN FRIEDRICH HERTZOG, GERMAN LUTHERAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM KETHE, PRESBYTERIAN HYMN WRITER

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Posted June 6, 2021 by neatnik2009 in 1 Timothy 6, Habakkuk 2, Luke 12, Mark 10

Tagged with , ,

Eschatological Ethics IX   Leave a comment

Above:  Thessaloniki (Formerly Thessalonica), Greece

Image Source = Google Earth

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

For the Sunday Next Before Advent, Year 2

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Absolve, we beseech thee, O Lord, thy people from their offenses;

that from the bonds of our sins which, by reason of our frailty,

we have brought upon us, we may be delivered by thy bountiful goodness;

through Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with

thee and the Holy Spirit, ever One God, world without end.  Amen.

The Book of Worship (1947), 236

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Isaiah 35:3-10

Psalm 148

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

Luke 12:35-43

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The two primary themes of the Hebrew Bible are exile and exodus.  Both themes are present in Isaiah 35:3-10.  The exile is the Babylonian Exile.  The exodus is the return from the Babylonian Exile.  Placing this reading at the end of the church year makes sense, for the language transitions neatly into texts for Advent.

Psalm 148 is a beautiful hymn.  It reads like reality after God has finally vanquished evil.

Speaking of eschatology, the background of St. Paul the Apostle’s First Letter to the Thessalonians includes the realization that Jesus may not be returning as soon as many people expected.  The question in Chapter 5, then, is how to live while waiting.  The answer is to continue to live according to the Golden Rule, both collectively and individually.  Build each other up.  Repay evil with good.  Support one another.  Do not become discouraged in behaving properly.  The reading from Luke 12:35-43 agrees.

Even when dashed eschatological expectations are not a factor, many people may become discouraged.  For example, compassion fatigue is a real and labeled phenomenon in the context of serial appeals for assistance in the wake of disasters.  Having compassion and behaving compassionately can be emotionally exhausting.

The readings tell us not to give up, however.  However eschatology shakes out, may God find us living righteously, both collectively and individually, at any given moment.  We–as communities and individuals–have vocations from God.  We have work to do.  May we complete it well and faithfully, by grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 3, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ANSKAR AND RIMBERT, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOPS OF HAMBURG-BREMEN

THE FEAST OF ADELAIDE ANNE PROCTER, ENGLISH POET AND FEMINIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALFRED DELP, GERMAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1945

THE FEAST OF JEMIMA THOMPSON LUKE, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST HYMN WRITER; AND JAMES EDMESTON, ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL DAVIES, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Objecting to Jesus   Leave a comment

Above:  Near the Salem Witch Trials Memorial, Salem, Massachusetts

Image Source = Google Earth

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

For the Twenty-Third Sunday after Trinity, Year 1

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Absolve, we beseech thee, O Lord, thy people from their offenses;

that from the bonds of our sins which, by reason of our frailty,

we have brought upon us, we may be delivered by thy bountiful goodness;

through Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth

with thee and the Holy Spirit, ever One God, world without end  Amen.

The Book of Worship (1947), 228

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Hosea 10:12-11:12

Psalm 146

Philippians 3:7-21

Luke 12:49-59

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

We read of the imperative of following God’s way, not our way.  Our way leads to, in words from Hosea 10:13, reaping iniquity and eating the fruits of treachery, having plowed wickedness.  Rather, we ought to sow righteousness and reap the fruits of goodness (Hosea 10:12).  In concrete terms, sowing righteousness means emulating YHWH.  In Psalm 146, YHWH keeps faith with the wronged, defends the cause of the oppressed, feeds the hungry, liberates prisoners, opens the eyes of the blind, uplifts those bend double, loves the just, protects the strangers, reassures the fatherless and the widows, and overturns the domination of the wicked.  Those sound like make many enemies, often among the conventionally religious, who should know better.

Jesus made enemies every time he healed on the Sabbath.  He made enemies every time he woke up after a good night’s sleep.  Christ made enemies because he had a pulse.

We Christians, who profess to follow Jesus, tread the way of the cross, if we really are doing what we should.  We, like St. Paul the Apostle, will make enemies by pursuing righteousness.  Ironically, many of these foes may identify themselves as Christians.  Intra-Christian persecution is a shameful and indefensible tradition.  Other persecution may originate from outside the Christian faith.  Either way, persecutors may imagine that they are positive figures doing what is necessary for the greater good.  Villains frequently think they are heroes.

Christ, functionally, is a cause of dissension.  This reality is as old as the ministry of Jesus and as recent as the present day.  This reality reflects negatively on those who object to Jesus, not on him.

One may also recall other words from the Gospel of Luke:

Blessed are you when people hate you, abuse you, denounce your name as criminal, on account of the Son of man.  Rejoice when that day comes and dance for joy, look!–your reward will be great in heaven.  This was the way their ancestors treated the prophets….Alas for you when everyone speaks well of you!  This was the way their ancestors treated the false prophets.

–Luke 6:22-23, 26, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

May we never take offense at Jesus and think of him as a proper cause of dissension.  After all, many distinctions properly cease to exist or matter in Christ.  Therefore, Jesus should be a means of unity.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 2, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALEXANDER OF ALEXANDRIA, PATRIARCH; AND SAINT ATHANASIUS OF ALEXANDRIA, PATRIARCH AND “FATHER OF ORTHODOXY”

THE FEAST OF CHARLES SILVESTER HORNE, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF CHARLES FRIEDRICH HASSE, GERMAN-BRITISH MORAVIAN COMPOSER AND EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF JULIA BULKLEY CADY CORY, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT SIGISMUND OF BURGUNDY, KING; SAINT CLOTILDA, FRANKISH QUEEN; AND SAINT CLODOALD, FRANKISH PRINCE AND ABBOT

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++