Archive for the ‘Luke 4’ Category

Sin and Individual Responsibility   2 comments

Above:  The Temptations of Jesus

Image in the Public Domain

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For the First Sunday in Lent, 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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We beseech thee, O Lord, by the mystery of our Savior’s fasting and temptation,

to arm us with the same mind that was in him toward all evil and sin;

and give us grace to keep our bodies in such holy discipline,

that our minds may be always ready to resist temptation,

and obey the direction of thy Holy Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Worship (1947), 146

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Genesis 3:1-24

Psalm 51:1-17

2 Corinthians 1:1-20

Luke 4:1-13

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The mythology in Genesis 3 does not identify the snake with Satan, but subsequent tradition does.  There are traditions and there are traditions.  Some are trustworthy; others are not.  Anyhow, I suppose the framers of the old lectionary I am following in this series of posts sought to encourage reading the pericopes from Genesis 3 and Luke 4 as counterpoints.

Some points are worth noticing.

  1. Eve misquoted God (from Genesis 2:17) in 3:3.  Misquoting God creates an opening evil can exploit.
  2. Adam (unlike the author of Psalm 51, as well as St. Paul the Apostle) did not accept individual responsibility he rightfully owned.  No, he blamed Eve.  Many who misinterpret Genesis 3 still blame Eve.

Responsibility is both individual and collective.  Ignoring or minimizing one of the varieties of responsibility is not a virtue.  Neither is passing the buck.

I have written about the temptations of Jesus so much that I have nothing new to contribute.  Follow the appropriate tag, O reader, and read, if you desire to do so.  I do ask you, however, some germane questions:

  1. How many of us would, in the same weakened physical state, exasperated by hunger, resist the temptation to acquire food in a way we should not?
  2. How many of us, with our egos, would resist the temptation to glorify ourselves?
  3. How many of us would (if we have not done so already) serve anyone other than God, in hope of a reward in this life?

Each of us has the responsibility to resist temptations, by grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 23, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS GREGORY THE ILLUMINATOR AND ISAAC THE GREAT, PATRIARCHS OF ARMENIA

THE FEAST OF MEISTER ECKHART, ROMAN CATHOLIC THEOLOGIAN AND MYSTIC

THE FEAST OF SAINT METODEJ DOMINICK TRCKA, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1959

THE FEAST OF SAINT VICTORIAN OF HADRUMETUM, MARTYR AT CARTHAGE, 484

THE FEAST OF SAINT WALTER OF PONTOISE, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND ECCLESIASTICAL REFORMER

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Pleasing God   Leave a comment

Above:  Nazareth, 1875

Image Publisher = L. Prang and Company

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-pga-14154

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For the Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, 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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O Lord, we beseech Thee to keep Thy Church and Household continually in Thy true religion;

that they who do lean only upon the hope of Thy heavenly grace

may evermore be defended by Thy mighty power

through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Worship (1947), 132

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Jeremiah 18:1-10

Psalm 119:17-32

Romans 8:1-9

Luke 4:16-32

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One of the definitions of irony is that we, as readers of a story, know something some characters do not or one character does not know.  Consider the reading from Luke, for example, O reader.

The assembled residents of Nazareth did not recognize Jesus as the Son of God.  They lacked sufficient understanding, so they rejected Christ and his message.  They were conventionally pious, but they missed a major point.

I propose that conventional piety can be, in many contexts, a hall wall separating many people from divine truth.  I recall that support for slavery was part of Southern (U.S.) White Christian orthodoxy prior to, during, and after the Civil War, for example.  I also know that, unfortunately, abuses and misuses of scripture to justify chattel slavery occurred elsewhere in the United States, too.  Furthermore, I know that many postbellum White Christians recycled pro-slavery theology to justify White Supremacy and racial segregation.

Much of what we think we know is false.  If we pursue what we think is true yet is actually false, how can we please God?  Perhaps a thought from Thomas Merton (1915-1968) will help.

My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.

And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,

though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though
I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

I also hope that human efforts to please God do please God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 18, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT LEONIDES OF ALEXANDRIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR, 202; ORIGEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC THEOLOGIAN; SAINT DEMETRIUS OF ALEXANDRIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP; AND SAINT ALEXANDER OF JERUSALEM, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT CYRIL OF JERUSALEM, BISHOP, THEOLOGIAN, AND LITURGIST

THE FEAST OF ELIZA SIBBALD ALDERSON, POET AND HYMN WRITER; AND JOHN BACCHUS DYKES, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAUL OF CYPRUS, EASTERN ORTHODOX MARTYR, 760

THE FEAST OF ROBERT WALMSLEY, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST HYMN WRITER

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God’s Ways and Thoughts   2 comments

Above:  The Exorcism at the Synagogue in Capernaum

Image in the Public Domain

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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2 Chronicles 21:5-20 or Joshua 4:19-5:12

Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20

Ephesians 2:1, 11-22

Luke 4:31-44

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We human beings like barriers, literal and metaphorical.  We like walls, categories, and other ways of establishing who is an outsider and who is an insider.  Usually, of course, we define “insider” to mean “like ourselves.”

God’s categories are not ours.  God’s ways and thoughts differ from our ways and thoughts.  We may seek to keep blessings for ourselves and those similar to ourselves, but we err in doing so.  We will still suffer if we are faithful to God; I should not have to write that.  Yet even when we suffer because of faithlessness, we do not suffer in the absence of God.

In my individualistic culture, collective suffering is frequently a difficult topic.  In 2 Chronicles 21 we read of a kingdom (innocent subjects) suffering because of royal decisions and actions.  Fewer kings populate the Earth in 2020, but the principle that a leader’s decisions and actions have consequences for many other people remains relevant.  It seems unfair.  It may be unfair.  Yet it is reality, the way of the world.

God’s ways and thoughts are not our ways and thoughts.  If our ways and thoughts were more similar to those of God, the world would be a much better place.  We can, at least, marvel at God and admit how far we fall from that high standard.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 17, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT PATRICK, APOSTLE OF IRELAND

THE FEAST OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT, “THE CORN LAW RHYMER”

THE FEAST OF HENRY SCOTT HOLLAND, ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER AND PRIEST

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAN SARKANDER, SILESIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND “MARTYR OF THE CONFESSIONAL,” 1620

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARIA BARBARA MAIX, FOUNDRESS OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE SISTERS OF THE IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY

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Adapted from this post:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2020/03/17/devotion-for-the-fourth-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-c-humes/

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The Scandal of Grace VII   1 comment

Above:  The Ark Passes Over the Jordan, by James Tissot

Image in the Public Domain

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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2 Chronicles 12:1-14 or Joshua 3:7-17

Psalm 76

Ephesians 1:11-23

Luke 4:13-30

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Divine judgment and mercy come packaged together.  When the oppressed go free, what price do the oppressors pay?  We humans frequently judge ourselves and select our punishments.  Furthermore, as in 2 Chronicles 12, deliverance is partial sometimes.  To quote a cliché, God sometimes makes us lie down in the bed we have made.  Another example of the mixture of divine judgment and mercy comes from Joshua 3.  We read of the crossing of the Israelites into the Promised Land.  If we know the narrative well, we are aware that the generation that left slavery in Egypt did not enter the Promised Land.

May we be meek before God.  May we embrace the love of God for all people–including those quite different from us.  May we, unlike former neighbors of Jesus in Nazareth, never seek a claim to divine blessings just for ourselves and those similar to us.  May we celebrate the scandal of grace and the responsibilities grace imposes upon its recipients.  After all, grace is free, but not cheap.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 17, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT PATRICK, APOSTLE OF IRELAND

THE FEAST OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT, “THE CORN LAW RHYMER”

THE FEAST OF HENRY SCOTT HOLLAND, ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER AND PRIEST

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAN SARKANDER, SILESIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND “MARTYR OF THE CONFESSIONAL,” 1620

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARIA BARBARA MAIX, FOUNDRESS OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE SISTERS OF THE IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY

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Adapted from this post:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2020/03/17/devotion-for-the-third-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-c-humes/

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Pretenses of Knowledge   5 comments

Above:  Jesus Tempted in the Wilderness, by James Tissot

Image in the Public Domain

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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2 Chronicles 10:1-11, 19 or Joshua 2

Psalm 75

Ephesians 1:1-14

Luke 4:1-13

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The Gospel reading for today is one account of the temptation of Jesus.  I have written of those temptations and their implications for people and institutions today in other blog posts.  (Just follow the germane tags, O reader.)  I am not included to repeat myself today–at least not regarding that point.

Perhaps the main temptation I face is to pretend to know more than I do.  This is an error of King Rehoboam of Israel/Judah in 2 Chronicles 10.  We read of the disastrous consequences for his realm in that chapter.  Perhaps one would judge a prostitute harshly.  Yet Joshua praises Rahab, who saved the lives of Israelite spies and won a place in Israelite society for herself and her family (Joshua 6:22-25).  We even read of her place in the family tree of Jesus (Matthew 1:5).

In God, in Christ, our pretenses prove to be worthless.  That which we know is inadequate, and we do not know as much as we imagine.  Besides, salvation is not a matter of knowledge.  If it were, learning would constitute a saving work.  God is sovereign.  God knows much more than we do.  If we approach God with humility, we will learn more than we can imagine.  We will certainly learn how little we know.  Perhaps this humility will lead us to become more cautious about judging others.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 15, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE THIRD SUNDAY IN LENT, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINT ZACHARY OF ROME, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JAN ADALBERT BALICKI AND LADISLAUS FINDYSZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS IN POLAND

THE FEAST OF OZORA STEARNS DAVIS, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, THEOLOGIAN, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF VETHAPPAN SOLOMON, APOSTLE TO THE NICOBAR ISLANDS

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Adapted from this post:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2020/03/15/devotion-for-the-second-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-c-humes/

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Our Father’s Business   2 comments

Above:  Christ Among the Doctors, by Albrecht Dürer

Image in the Public Domain

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

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O Lord God, who hast promised to hear the prayers of thy people when they call upon thee:

guide us, we pray, that we may know what things we ought to do,

and receive the power to do them; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Common Worship–Provisional Services (1966), 119

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Isaiah 61:1-3

1 John 1:1-2:2

Luke 2:41-52

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Third Isaiah speaks in Isaiah 61.  The Spirit of Yahweh is upon him, he tells us, to be

a herald of joy to the humble,

To bind up the wounded of heart,

To proclaim release to the captives,

Liberation to the imprisoned,

To proclaim a year of the Lord’s favor

And a day of vindication by our God;

To comfort all who mourn–

To provide for the mourners in Zion —

To give them a turban instead of ashes,

The festive ointment instead of morning,

A garment of splendor and majesty instead of a drooping spirit.

–Verses 1b-3b, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

In Luke 4:16-30 Jesus quoted part of that passage in reference to his mission.  The backlash in his hometown was immediate.  Those closest to Jesus did not always understand him best (see Luke 2:41-52).

Good news in God is abundant.  God, in whom there is only light, loves us and has work for us to do.  God even equips us for that work.  Will we seek to discern what that work is then go about our father’s business?

Wanting to discern and discerning are different, of course; you probably know that well, O reader.  I can only write for myself, which is what I do here.  I know the frustration of denied vocations.  I know that the world needs X and that I excel at doing X, so I apply to do X yet never receive the opportunity to do X.  Am I failing to discern the work God has for me.  Perhaps.

Perhaps you, O reader, also know that frustration or are acquainted with someone who does or did.

May we human beings support each other in our vocations from God.  May we, by grace, recognize those vocations in each other and in ourselves.  And may we, helping each other, be about our father’s business, in all its varieties.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 11, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BARNABAS, COWORKER OF SAINT PAUL THE APOSTLE

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Thoughts and Questions About the Temptations of Jesus   2 comments

Above:  The Temptations of Jesus

Image in the Public Domain

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For St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia

Lent 2019

 

Texts:  Mark 1:12-13; Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13

Reading the Bible for spiritual formation is an ancient Benedictine practice.  My primary purpose in writing this short piece is to ask, how do the accounts (mainly the Lukan and Matthean ones) of the temptations of Jesus challenge us, both as individuals and a parish, to follow Jesus better than we do.

The Temptation to Turn Stones into Bread

Bread was especially precious in ancient Palestine, with relatively little arable land.

We are blessed to be able to purchase our bread inexpensively at stores.  Bread is abundant in our context, so we probably take it for granted more often than not.  We can, however, think of some tangible needs related to scarcity.

One challenge is not to permit tangible needs to overtake intangible necessities.  We all depend entirely on God and dwell within a web of mutual responsibility and dependence.  According to the late Henri Nouwen, this temptation is the temptation to be relevant.  Relevance is not necessarily bad; in fact, it is frequently positive.  However, maintaining the proper balance of tangible and intangible needs is essential.  Furthermore, Christ’s refusal to cave into the temptation to use his power to make bread—to cease to depend on God—ought to remind us never to imagine that we do not depend entirely on God.

Questions

  1. Do we permit tangible needs to distract us from intangible necessities?  If so, how?
  2. Do we manifest the vain idea that we do not depend entirely on God?  If so, how?

The Temptation to Jump from the Pinnacle of the Temple

Many scholars of the New Testament have proposed what the pinnacle of the Temple was.

That matter aside, this temptation is, according to Nouwen, the temptation to be spectacular.  It is also the temptation to attempt to manipulate God by trying to force God to intervene in a miraculous way.  That effort, like turning stones into bread, would indicate a lack of faith.

We humans frequently like the spectacular, do we not?  We tell ourselves and others that, if only God would do something spectacular, we will believe.  We are like those who, in the Gospels, only wanted Jesus to do something for them, and not to learn from him.

Questions

  1. Does our attraction to the spectacular distract us from the still, small voice of God?  If so, how?
  2. Does our attraction to the spectacular reveal our lack of faith?  If so, how?
  3. Does our attraction to the spectacular unmask our selfishness?  If so, how?

The Temptation to Worship Satan in Exchange for Earthly Authority

Many Palestinian Jews at the time of Christ thought of Satan as the power behind the Roman Empire and of the Roman pantheon as a collection of demons.  Jesus affirmed God the Father as the only source of his identity.

This temptation is about idolatry, power, and morally untenable compromises.

Many well-intentioned people—ministers, politicians, and appointed office holders, for example—have, in the name of doing good, become corrupt and sacrificed their suitability to do good.  They have sacrificed their moral integrity on the altar of amoral realism.

Some compromises are necessary, of course.  As Reinhold Niebuhr reminded us, we cannot help but commit some evil while trying to do good, for human depravity has corrupted social systems and institutions.

Questions

  1. Have we established our identity apart from God?  If so, how?
  2. How have we, with good intentions, committed or condoned evil?
  3. Have we made morally untenable compromises?  If so, how?

The Good News

The good news is both collective and individual.

I discover the principle, then:  that when I want to do right, only wrong is within my reach.  In my inmost self I delight in the law of God, but I perceive in my outward actions a different law, fighting against the law that my mind approves, and making me a prisoner under the law of sin which controls my conduct.  Wretched creature that I am, who is there to rescue me from this state of death?  Who but God?  Thanks be to him through Jesus Christ our Lord!  To sum up then:  left to myself I serve God’s law with my mind, but with my unspiritual nature I serve the law of sin.

–Romans 7:21-25, The Revised English Bible (1989)

Jesus has modeled the way to resist temptation—to trust God and to understand scripture.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 10, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FIRST SUNDAY IN LENT, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF MARIE-JOSEPH LAGRANGE, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF SAINT AGRIPINNUS OF AUTUN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP; SAINT GERMANUS OF PARIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP; AND SAINT DROCTOVEUS OF AUTUN, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN OGLIVIE, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MACARIUS OF JERUSALEM, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

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https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2019/03/10/thoughts-and-questions-about-the-temptations-of-jesus/

https://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2019/03/10/thoughts-and-questions-about-the-temptations-of-jesus/

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