Archive for the ‘Luke 15’ Category

Restoring the Apostolic Community   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of Christ and the Twelve Apostles

Image in the Public Domain

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READING LUKE-ACTS, PART LIV

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Acts 1:12-26

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The Twelve had become the Eleven after the death of Judas Iscariot.  The Eleven had plenty of company, though; they belonged to a community of about one hundred twenty people–enough to constitute a new Sanhedrin.  And both men and women counted.

The account of the death of Judas Iscariot in Matthew 27:3-10 contradicts the version in Acts 1:16-20.  The Judas Iscariot of Matthew 27 was a penitent who committed suicide while overcome with guilt.  In contrast, the Judas Iscariot of Acts 1:16-20 was an unapologetic man who died when his bowels burst out.  The manner of Judas Iscariot’s death in Acts 1:16-20 echoed stories of the deaths of wicked people (2 Samuel 20:4-13; 2 Maccabees 9:5-6).  Another nuance may relate to the bowels metaphorically being the seat of emotions.  In Greek, “bowels” is splanchnon; “pity” or “compassion’ is splanchnizomai.  In Luke 10:33, the Good Samaritan, “moved by pity,” helped the man by the side of the road.  In Luke 15:20, the father of the Prodigal Son, “filled with compassion,” welcomed his son home.  Another implication, then, may be that Judas Iscariot lacked pity/compassion.

The metaphor of the bowels as the seat of emotions persisted in English for a long time.  In 1742, Charles Wesley wrote a hymn, “Come, O Thou Traveler Unknown.”  Two lines, in the original form, were:

To me, to all, thy bowels move,

Thy nature, and thy name is love.

Since 1893, however, God’s mercies have moved instead.

(Thanks to Brian Wren, Praying Twice:  The Music and Words of Congregational Song, 2000, for bringing this to my attention.)

Echoes of the metaphor remain in English.  We still have “gut feelings,” for example.

Restoring the Twelve had symbolic importance.  The candidates were some of the Seventy (or Seventy-Two).  St. Matthias won the election.  Symbolically, twelve (the number of tribes) indicated the restoration of Israel.  This restoration of the Twelve occurred shortly before God did something astounding.

May we never underestimate the value of symbols.  A symbol carries the meaning(s) people assign to it.  Symbols are, therefore, powerful.  Objectively, a flag is merely a piece of cloth.  Symbolically, however, people infuse flags with meanings, for example.  Symbols are tangible signs of that which is intangible.

Consider the symbols of the sacraments, O reader.  Something intangible is at work in a sacrament.  Yet we hear words in a ritual.  We see the water of baptism and the laying on of hands at an ordination.  We receive bread and wine at Eucharist.  All these are symbols and signs.  They are tangible; grace is intangible.  In the case of bread and wine, of course, the symbols become what they symbolize.  I leave the mystery as it is and thank God for it.

What symbols indicate grace for you, O reader?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 28, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JAMES SOLOMON RUSSELL, EPISCOPAL PRIEST, EDUCATOR, AND ADVOCATE FOR RACIAL EQUALITY

THE FEAST OF ELIZABETH RUNDLE CHARLES, ANGLICAN WRITER, HYMN TRANSLATOR, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT GUNTRAM OF BURGUNDY, KING

THE FEAST OF KATHARINE LEE BATES, U.S. EDUCATOR, POET, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF RICHARD CHEVNIX TRENCH, ANGLICAN ARCHBISHOP OF DUBLIN

THE FEAST OF SAINT TUTILO, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK AND COMPOSER

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The Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of the Ascension, by Andrei Rublev

Image in the Public Domain

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READING LUKE-ACTS, PART LIII

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Luke 24:50-53

Acts 1:1-11

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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

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Lost and Found, Part V   Leave a comment

Above:  The Return of the Prodigal Son, by James Tissot

Image in the Public Domain

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READING LUKE-ACTS, PART XXXVIII

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Luke 15:1-32

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Given that I have already written about these three parables (the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and the Lost/Prodigal Son) at this weblog already, I make no attempt to repeat all that I have written regarding them.  I do, however, refer you, O reader, to those posts, tagged accordingly and in the “Luke 15” category.

In the Lucan narrative, chapter 15 flows directly from chapter 14.  Imagine the scene, O reader.  See it with your mind’s eye.  See Jesus, a dinner guest at the home of a leading Pharisee one Sabbath, criticizing his host and expounding on the cost of discipleship.  Imagine the scene as notorious sinners, including Roman tax thieves, crowded in to listen.  Imagine the scorn evident on the faces of Christ’s critics–perhaps including his host–as they condemned him for dining with the moral riffraff.

Then, in Luke 15, we read three parables.

Notice, O reader, that:

  1. The sheep, drachma, and son are precious to God,
  2. God seeks out the sheep and the drachma, and
  3. God waits for the errant son to return.

These are parables of human repentance and extravagant divine grace.  Rejoicing follows the finding in two parables and the return of the son in the third.  Yet the rejoicing is not unanimous.  We read of the resentful, older, dutiful brother, the father’s heir.

Some exegetes argue that the text does not portray the Prodigal Son as having repented, but as having made an economic decision to return home.  This is an overblown argument.  The parable tells us that the Prodigal (wasteful) Son did return home.  Repentance, by definition, is turning one’s back to one’s sins–some of them, at least.

The literal scene in Luke 15:11-32 is Jesus telling a parable in the home of a leading Pharisee, a prominent member of his society.  Given the content of chapters 14 and 15, one may suppose that this last parable may have stung Jesus’s host.

If you, O reader, have been reading this series of posts, you know that I have no interest in lambasting long-dead people and congratulating myself for my righteousness.  Let us–you, O reader, and I–be honest.  We may be prime candidates to be the older brother.  Yet we are precious to God, too.  May we act like it and rejoice with God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 18, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE CONFESSION OF SAINT PETER, APOSTLE

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Introduction to Luke-Acts   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of St. Luke the Evangelist

Image in the Public Domain

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READING LUKE-ACTS, PART I

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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

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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

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Lost and Found, Part IV   1 comment

Above:  The Parable of the Prodigal Son, by James Tissot

Image in the Public Domain

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For the Third Sunday in Lent, Year 2

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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 hast been the hope and confidence of thy people in all ages;

mercifully regard, we beseech thee, the prayer with which we cry unto thee out of the depths,

and stretch forth the right hand of thy majesty and defense;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Worship (1947), 150

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Jeremiah 26:1-22

Psalm 56

Ephesians 5:1-9

Luke 15:11-32

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The Gospel of Mark hits the audience over the head with the message that those who think they are insiders may be outsiders and that they really be insiders.  The Gospel of Matthew and Luke pick up that theme, too.  This message also permeates much of the Hebrew prophetic tradition.  Jeremiah, for example, was about as marginal as possible.  His death sentence in Chapter 26 reflected official displeasure with him.  The prophet had a human protector, at least.

Be among the children of light, we read in Ephesians 5.  One may think of oneself as a child of light, but one may be mistaken.  (See Matthew 25:31-46, O reader.)  Resentment is an obstacle to being in the light.  One may think, as the dutiful older brother in the Parable of the Prodigal Son (or whatever one calls that story).

Where is my party?  Don’t I deserve recognition for obeying the rules?

Positive feedback is pleasant.  So is rejoicing at the repentance of one sinner, in the style of Luke 15:7 and 10.  The parable in Luke 15:11-32 remains unresolved on the page.  This is deliberate.  The parable continues with each person who contemplates it.

Would you, O reader, attend the party for the recently returned younger brother and be happy to do so?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 7, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF FRANÇOIS FÉNELON, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF CAMBRAI

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

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANGELA OF FOLIGNO, PENITENT AND HUMANITARIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT GASPAR DEL BUFALO, FOUNDER OF THE MISSIONARIES OF THE PRECIOUS BLOOD

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

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Lost and Found, Part III   1 comment

Above:  Parable of the Lost Coin

Image in the Public Domain

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For the Second Sunday in Lent, Year 2

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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 seest the helpless misery of our fallen life;

vouchsafe unto us, we humbly beseech thee, both the outward and inward defense of thy guardian care;

that we may be shielded from the evils which assault the body,

and be kept pure from all thoughts that harm and pollute the soul;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Worship (1947), 148

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Exodus 14:13-31

Psalm 143

2 Corinthians 3:1-18

Luke 15:1-10

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2 Corinthians 3:5 reminds us that God qualifies the called, that God does not call the qualified.  God’s choices are an old topic in Jewish and Christian theology.  God’s choices favorable to any person or group are pure grace.  The covenant with the Jews is pure grace, as Judaism recognizes.  And the acceptance of grace requires ethical obligations, as Covenantal Nomism acknowledges.

People are precious to God.  Luke 15 contains parables about the lost and the found.  Livestock are financial assets in real life.  A small amount of money is extremely valuable to one who is poor.  The first two parables in Luke 15 conclude the same way:  God is rejoicing because of one sinner repenting.

One sinner is precious in the sight of God because God says so.  Repentance is cause for a party in Heaven because God says so.

People are precious in the sight of God.  All people are precious in the sight of God.  Are they precious in my sight?  Are they precious in your sightl O reader?  If not, there is another reason to repent.

To make my point more plainly, I move deeper into Luke 15.  The responsible, older brother did not consider his penitent young brother precious.  At the end of that parable, who was really lost?  We all have reasons to repent.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 6, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE EPIPHANY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST

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Building Up Each Other in Christ, Part IV   1 comment

Above:  Saint Paul and Saint Barnabas at Lystra, by Alessandro Salucci

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 13:14-16, 26-48

Psalm 114

1 Thessalonians 5:12-28

Luke 15:21-37

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We need to be careful not to read the text from Acts 123 in an anti-Semitic manner.

  1. To do so is sinful.
  2. Sts. Paul and Barnabas were Jewish.
  3. Many of their supporters were Jewish.
  4. “The Jews” refers to hostile Jews.

Also, Psalm 114 fits well with St. Paul’s full address, portions of which the lection from Acts 13 omits.

The Lukan apocalypse is one of the Synoptic apocalypses in the context of Holy Week.  The wrath of God will come and the new world order of God will replace the current world order.  All of this is solely in the divine domain.

In the meantime, we have a mandate to build up each other and to leave the world better than we found it.  We can start by never repaying evil with evil, and by refraining from every kind of evil.

Writing those words is easy, but living according to them can be difficult.  Even when we seek to live according to the Golden Rule, we may inadvertently commit evil.  Weakness and ignorance are formidable foes.

May we start by seeking to live according to the Golden Rule and by trusting in God to guide us in understanding what that means (in detail) in various circumstances.  The Golden Rule is a timeless principle, but the proper application of timeless principles varies according to context, including who, when, and where one is.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 10, 2020 COMMON ERA

GOOD FRIDAY

THE FEAST OF PIERRE TEILHARD DE CHARDIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, SCIENTIST, AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT FULBERT OF CHARTRES, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF HENRY VAN DYKE, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF HOWARD THURMAN, U.S. PROTESTANT THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM LAW, ANGLICAN PRIEST, MYSTIC, AND SPIRITUAL WRITER

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Adapted from this post:

https://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2020/04/10/devotion-for-the-seventh-sunday-of-easter-year-c-humes/

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The Scandal of Grace VIII   1 comment

Above:  The Return of the Prodigal Son, by James Tissot

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 13:1-12

Psalm 67

1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11

Luke 15:11-32

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Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, as indeed you do.

–1 Thessalonians 5:11, The New American Bible–Revised Edition (2011)

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That verse is a fitting counterpoint to the attitude of the elder brother in the story traditionally called the Parable of the Prodigal Son.  Or is it the Parable of the Resentful Older Brother?  Or is it the Parable of the Lost Son?  If so, which son was lost?  Or is the Parable of the Loving Father?  The text is too rich for one label to describe it adequately.  Psalm 67 begins, in the translation of Mitchell J. Dahood, S.J.:

May God have pity on us and bless us;

may he cause his face to shine,

may he come to us.

That fits well with the parable.  On the other hand, it does not mesh with the blinding of Elymar the sorcerer in Acts 13.

Back to the father with two sons, a formula for trouble since Cain and Abel…

Which son was really lost?  The younger one–the wastrel–came to his senses and acted accordingly.  The resentful, dutiful older son–a character easy with whom to identify–played by the rules and expected commensurate rewards.  Yet could he not have rejoiced that his brother had returned?  Perhaps the older brother was the lost one.

The parable ends with unresolved tension.  The ambiguous conclusion invites us to ask ourselves what we would do in the place of the older brother.

Grace is scandalous.  It does not seem fair, by our standards, much of the time.  It violates our definition of fairness frequently.  Grace may not be fair, but it is just.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 9, 2020 COMMON ERA

MAUNDY THURSDAY

THE FEAST OF DIETRICH BONHOEFFER, GERMAN LUTHERAN MARTYR, 1945

THE FEAST OF JOHANN CRUGER, GERMAN LUTHERAN ORGANIST, COMPOSER, AND HYMNAL EDITOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN SAMUEL BEWLEY MONSELL, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND POET; AND RICHARD MANT, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF DOWN, CONNOR, AND DROMORE

THE FEAST OF LYDIA EMILIE GRUCHY, FIRST FEMALE MINISTER IN THE UNITED CHURCH OF CANADA

THE FEAST OF MIKAEL AGRICOLA, FINNISH LUTHERAN LITURGIST, BISHOP OF TURKU, AND “FATHER OF FINNISH LITERARY LANGUAGE”

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Adapted from this post:

https://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2020/04/09/devotion-for-the-sixth-sunday-of-easter-year-c-humes/

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Jesus and the Lost   1 comment

Above:  The Lost Piece of Silver,by John Everett Millais

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 12:1-19

Psalm 148

1 Thessalonians 3:1-4:2

Luke 15:1-10

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The Gospel of Luke establishes the context for the Parables of the Lost Sheep/Good Shepherd and the Lost Coin:

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear [Jesus]. And the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

–Luke 15:1-2, Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition (2002)

Do you, O reader, identify with the Pharisees and scribes or with the tax collectors and sinners in that passage?  Should not anyone be glad that Jesus was spending time in the company of those who knew they needed him?  The best translation of the first beatitude (Matthew 5:3) is not,

Blessed are the poor in spirit…,

but

Blessed are those who know their need for God….

God desires us, fortunately for us.

Psalm 148 invites all of creation to praise God.  The text never qualifies that principle or says, “unless….”  Indeed, times of affliction (as in the readings from Acts and 1 Thessalonians) are times to praise God.

If that principle confused you, O reader, I understand your confusion.  Praising God in times of joy and plenty is relatively easy.  Yet difficult times cast the blessings of God in stark contrast to what surrounds them.  Blessings become easier to recognize.  Nevertheless, one is in difficult circumstances.  Anxiety, uncertainty, and grief erect high walls to praising God.  Yet God is with us in our doldrums.  God seeks us, for we are valuable because God says we are.

That is a reason to rejoice and to praise God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 8, 2020 COMMON ERA

WEDNESDAY IN HOLY WEEK

THE FEAST OF HENRY MELCHIOR MUHLENBERG, PATRIARCH OF AMERICAN LUTHERANISM; HIS GREAT-GRANDSON, WILLIAM AUGUSTUS MUHLENBERG, EPISCOPAL PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND LITURGICAL PIONEER; AND HIS COLLEAGUE, ANNE AYRES, FOUNDRESS OF THE SISTERHOOD OF THE HOLY COMMUNION

THE FEAST OF SAINT DIONYSIUS OF CORINTH, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT HUGH OF ROUEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP, ABBOT, AND MONK

THE FEAST OF SAINT JULIE BILLIART, FOUNDRESS OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE SISTERS OF NOTRE DAME

THE FEAST OF TIMOTHY LULL, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER, SCHOLAR, THEOLOGIAN, AND ECUMENIST

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Adapted from this post:

https://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2020/04/08/devotion-for-the-fifth-sunday-of-easter-year-c-humes/

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The Golden Rule, Part VII   Leave a comment

Above:  The Return of the Prodigal Son

Image in the Public Domain

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For Ash Wednesday, 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 and Everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made,

and dost forgive the sins of all those who are penitent;

create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we,

worthily lamenting our sins, and acknowledging our wretchedness,

may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Worship (1947), 144

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Isaiah 58:1-12

Psalm 37:1-11

Hebrews 12:1-14

Luke 15

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Sins and responsibilities are individual, collective, active, and passive.  Sins of omission are as real as sins of commission.  Personal peccadilloes are matters of legitimate moral concern, but obsessing on them to the extent of neglecting the moral imperative of moral, societal revolution in institutions is also sinful.  Giving to help the poor is good, but working to alter institutions that keep them poor is better.  Overemphasizing individual responsibility frequently leads to blaming victims and to overlooking systemic, baked-in inequality.  Challenging such systems is controversial, of course.

We–as individuals, towns, families, subcultures, societies, countries, et cetera–have a divine and moral mandate to combine piety and equality of opportunity.  We need to move beyond the obsession with salvation and address Biblical mandates related to judicial and economic justice.  Living according to the Golden Rule demands nothing less.

This post is a devotion for Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.  At this time of the ecclesiastical year we emphasize confession of sins, followed by repentance.  If we do not turn around when we ought to do so, we have at least one spiritual problem.  This Lent I invite you, O reader, to permit the radical call of the Golden Rule to change your attitudes and life.  May you correctly perceive the divine guidance as you do this.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 22, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FOURTH SUNDAY IN LENT, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINT DEOGRATIAS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF CARTHAGE

THE FEAST OF EMMANUEL MOURNIER, PERSONALIST PHILOSOPHER

THE FEAST OF JAMES DE KOVEN, EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF THOMAS HUGHES, BRITISH SOCIAL REFORMER AND MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM EDWARD HICKSON, ENGLISH MUSIC EDUCATOR AND SOCIAL REFORMER

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