Archive for the ‘Luke 8’ Category

The Identity of Jesus   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of the Transfiguration

Image in the Public Domain

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READING LUKE-ACTS, PART XXIII

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Luke 9:1-36

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Who was Jesus?  That theme from Luke 8 continues in chapter 9.

St. Luke’s “orderly” account” is especially orderly in 9:1-36.  The question of Herod Antipas contrasts with the Confession of St. Peter and with the Transfiguration.  We read that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God, and consistent with the Law of Moses and the Hebrew prophetic tradition.  We read that Jesus was greater than Elijah.  We read that Jesus, who was the master of demons, gave mastery over them to his disciples.  We read that Jesus did feed people (see Luke 4:3-4).

Jesus is central.  The verses tell us of what he did and of what others did by the power of God.  However one may interpret feeding thousands of people with a small amount of food then having leftovers, the focus is on Jesus’s actions.  Attempts to rationalize these mass feedings by suggesting that people shared food they had brought with them shift the focus away from Jesus’s actions and miss the point.

A range of messianic interpretations existed within Second Temple Judaism.  (The Dead Sea Scrolls have discredited the old idea that one messianic interpretation was universal.  Nevertheless, that old idea has persisted, unfortunately.)  At the time of Christ, national deliverer was one of these hopes.  It was a common one, for understandable reasons.  The crucifixion was not part of most believers’ understanding of the Messiah’s role.  And the resurrection made sense only after the fact.

Taking up one’s cross–or having a cross to bear, alternatively–has become a trite statement.  “This must be my cross to bear,” one may say about an annoyance, for example.  In reality, though, taking up one’s cross indicates a reordering of priorities.  One should not seek self-fulfillment in indulging one’s ambitions and interests.  No, true fulfillment comes by loving self-sacrificially, as Jesus did.  How this plays out for each person may vary, according to circumstances.  If one is fortunate, one may not have to become a martyr.

Luke 8:27 makes sense if one interprets the Transfiguration (8:27-36) as fulfilling it, at least partially.  Otherwise, one must wrestle with objective reality.  Look around, O reader:  Do you see the fully-realized Kingdom of God around you?  I do not.  And I opt not to accept the easy answer.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 31, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE SEVENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

NEW YEAR’S EVE

THE FEAST OF SAINT GIUSEPPINA NICOLI, ITALIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN AND MINISTER TO THE POOR

THE FEAST OF HENRY IRVING LOUTTIT, JR., EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF GEORGIA

THE FEAST OF ROSSITER WORTHINGTON RAYMOND, U.S. NOVELIST, POET, HYMN WRITER, AND MINING ENGINEER

THE FEAST OF SAINT ZOTICUS OF CONSTANTINOPLE, PRIEST AND MARTYR, CIRCA 351

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The Calming of the Storm, the Exorcism of the Gerasene Demoniac, a Healing, and a Raising from the Dead   Leave a comment

Above:  The Exorcism of the Gerasene Demoniac

Image in the Public Domain

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READING LUKE-ACTS, PART XXII

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Luke 8:22-56

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The events of Luke 8:22-56 occur back-to-back in that Gospel’s chronology.  The three stories demonstrate Jesus’s power over nature, demons, illness, and death.

In ancient Near Eastern mythology, the deep represented chaos.  In Jewish theology, God created order from chaos in Genesis 1.  In Revelation 21:1, the heaven and the new earth had no sea.

However one interprets Luke 8:22-25, know, O reader, that St. Luke wanted people to know that Jesus was the master over storms and that the Twelve did not yet understand who Jesus really was.  The final detail, read in the context of Luke 8:19-21, does not flatter them.

Yet the Gerasene “demoniac” understood who Jesus really was.

I do not pretend to know what, in modern diagnostic categories, afflicted that Gerasene “demoniac.”  As I keep writing ad nauseum in this series, I, being educated in modern science, understand that certain conditions have organic, not demonic, causes.  In this respect, I know more than people did at the time of Jesus.  And I, having been in an ill-fated relationship with a mentally-ill woman for a about a decade, understand why those not educated in science mistook mental illness as evidence of possession.  These factors complicate my interpretation of Luke 8:26-39.  So be it.

I choose to focus on verses 38 and 39.

The man, healed of whatever had afflicted him, was grateful.  He begged to follow Jesus, who told him to return home and witness to what God had done.  Jesus’s instructions to would-be followers varied according to circumstances.  He told some to follow, others to go home, and one to divest himself of all wealth then to follow.  Yet Jesus had some wealthy followers whom he did not instruct to divest themselves of wealth.  And, oddly, in Luke 8:56, Jesus ordered the parents to keep an impossible secret.

What does Jesus tell you, O reader, to do?

Luke 8:40-56 weaves stories of two females–one a dead, young woman and the other a desperate woman with a hemorrhage.  The stories tell us of these figures, rendered ritually impure–one via corpse impurity and the other via genital discharge.  The corpse impurity also applied to everyone under Jairus’s roof.  We read of the holiness of Jesus destroying the causes of ritual impurity in the germane people.  We also read of Jesus restoring two females to their families and communities.

Who was Jesus?

That question continues as we keep reading the Gospel of Luke.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 31, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE SEVENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

NEW YEAR’S EVE

THE FEAST OF SAINT GIUSEPPINA NICOLI, ITALIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN AND MINISTER TO THE POOR

THE FEAST OF HENRY IRVING LOUTTIT, JR., EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF GEORGIA

THE FEAST OF ROSSITER WORTHINGTON RAYMOND, U.S. NOVELIST, POET, HYMN WRITER, AND MINING ENGINEER

THE FEAST OF SAINT ZOTICUS OF CONSTANTINOPLE, PRIEST AND MARTYR, CIRCA 351

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This is post #2650 of BLOGA THEOLOGICA.

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Posted December 31, 2021 by neatnik2009 in Genesis 1, Luke 8, Revelation of John 21

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Fidelity and Spiritual Community, Part II   Leave a comment

Above:  Jesus and His Apostles

Image in the Public Domain

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READING LUKE-ACTS, PART XXI

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Luke 8:16-21; 11:14-36

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In the Gospel of Luke, the Parable of the Lamp functions as an extension of the Parable of the Sower/the Four Soils.  Love and devotion to God accumulate within someone and draw others to God via that person.  The light shines.  Also, nobody has any secrets from God.

Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid:  Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), 355

The lamp in the parable had a spout, a cover, and a rounded body.  This was a small oil lamp.  It belonged on a lampstand, not under a bed or in a jar.  Theologically, a lamp stood for the light of God, shining in the darkness, in this parable.

The lamp is Jesus.  In other words, do not hide Jesus.

Luke 8:19-21, adapted from Mark 3:20-22, tones down the critique of Christ’s biological family.  In Mark 3, they think Jesus is out of his mind.  That, explicit in Mark 3, is absent in Luke 8.The Lucan version omits the relatives’ motive for seeking to speak with Jesus.  Therefore, the Lucan version presents them positively.  Nevertheless, the statement of fictive kinship carries over from the Marcan version.  The theme of hearing and doing, present in the Parables of the Sower/the Four Soils and the Lamp, continues here.  The biological family of Jesus functions as exemplars of hearing and doing in the Lucan version.

The Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox insistence on the perpetual virginity of St. Mary of Nazareth puzzles me.  Of course, given that I reject the Virgin Birth, perpetual virginity predictably puzzles me.  In the Greek language, brothers and sisters can also be cousins.  Or they can be brothers and sisters.

The Marcan version of the story fits well with that Gospel’s theme that supposed insiders are really outsiders, and vice versa.  The Lucan version of the story is consistent with that Gospel’s toning down of the Marcan theme, given that the Acts of the Apostles follows the Gospel of Luke.  So, the eleven apostles who survived the Gospel of Luke could not be dolts if their transformation in Acts was to be believable.  Furthermore, the depiction of the biological family of Jesus in Luke 8 flows from previous material, in which St. Mary knew who her (firstborn) son was, Luke 2:39-52 notwithstanding.

The challenge to we of today is to be members of Christ’s spiritual family, that is, to hear the word of God (what God says) and to keep it.

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“Master,” said John, “we saw a man who was casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him, because he was not following with us.”

But Jesus said, “Forbid him not, for he who is not with you is for you.”

–Luke 9:49-50, Helen Barrett Montgomery, The Centenary Translation of the New Testament (1924)

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“He who is not for me is against me, and he who is not gathering with me is scattering.”

–Luke 11:23, Helen Barrett Montgomery, The Centenary Translation of the New Testament (1924)

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Critics of Jesus did not understand that God was acting through Jesus.  The healings Jesus performed indicated the presence of the Kingdom of God, not evil. Judgment would come for those who slandered Jesus.

Likewise, when Jesus had removed evil from someone, that person needed to become filled with the word of God (what God said), or else evil would return in greater quantity than it had been when Christ had expelled it.

Luke 11:27 calls back to 8:19-21.  Regardless of how blessed and pious Christ’s biological family was, those who listened to and heard the word of God were blessed, too.  Loyalty to God, present in Jesus, takes precedence over family ties–no disrespect to relatives intended.  This is good news for the vast majority of us not of the family tree of Jesus.

Cutting through the symbolism and Biblical allusions in Luke 11:29-36, the message of these verses is:

  1. Repentance is crucial,
  2. The faith of many Gentiles contrasts with the faithlessness of many Jews,
  3. God seeks to attract all people, and
  4. The Christian life involves the whole body and all human action.

Seeking signs indicates a lack of trust in God.  Receiving a sign and not understanding it indicates obliviousness, at least.  Recall the Johannine version of the Feeding of the Five Thousand (John 6:1-14), O reader.  You and I may agree that it was an astounding sign.  Yet, recall the events of the next day, too.

Then they said to him:

“What sign, then, are you performing, so that we may see it and come to believe in you?  What work are you doing?  Our fathers ate manna in the wilderness, as it is written, ‘He gave them bread out of heaven to eat.'”  

–John 6:30-21, Helen Barrett Montgomery, The Centenary Translation of the New Testament (1924)

Those who asked that question had fined at the Feeding of the Five Thousand.

We need not seek signs; they are plentiful.  We need merely to pay proper attention, understand plainly, and behave and think accordingly, whoever we are.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 30, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE SIXTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FEAST OF ALLEN EASTMAN CROSS, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF GEORGE WALLACE BRIGGS, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN MAIN, ANGLO-CANADIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MONK

THE FEAST OF JOSIAH BOOTH, ENGLISH ORGANIST, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMN TUNE COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF FRANCES JOSEPH-GAUDET, AFRICAN-AMERICAN EDUCATOR, PRISON REFORMER, AND SOCIAL WORKER

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The Parable of the Sower/the Four Soils   2 comments

Above:  The Parable of the Sower

Image in the Public Domain

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READING LUKE-ACTS, PART XX

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Luke 8:4-15

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Christian tradition has assigned names to the parables of Jesus.  Some of these names have proven to be partial, at best.  Consider the Parable of the Prodigal Son, for example, O reader.  It could have as easily been the Parable of the Loving Father or the Parable of the Resentful Brother.  Think also of the Parable of the Sower.  Although Matthew 13:18 uses that label, Christ focused on the soils, not the sower, in the parable.

We are reading the Lucan version of the parable, of course.  Luke 8 does not refer to this parable as the Parable of the Sower.

Biblical scholarly consensus holds that, in the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke, the explanation of the parable is an addition to the text.  Explanations of parables are rare in the canonical Gospels.

To critique the sower’s technique is to miss the point.  (I have heard priests do this in sermons.)  The sower in the parable follows the standard practice of farmers at the time and place.

The word of God (what God says) is for everybody.  The sower sows these seeds everywhere, therefore.  But not everybody receives or welcomes this word.  Some of the seeds go to waste.  People may be distracted, rootless, or deceived.  Spiritually rootless people have shallow faith; it may die for the obvious reason.  The deceived mean well but follow the wrong master.  The distracted are too busy for God.  Yet the seeds that land in rich soil prosper spiritually.

The parable asks each of us, “What kind of soil are you?”

When God is the sower and we are the ground, we are called to be good ground.

–St. Augustine of Hippo

Some saints spoke and/or wrote of the importance of not only praying, but of becoming prayer.  They described the fourth category of soil in this parable.  They described the state of praying without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

So, I ask you, O reader, what kind of soil are you?  And what kind of soil do you aspire to become or remain, by grace?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 30, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE SIXTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FEAST OF ALLEN EASTMAN CROSS, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF GEORGE WALLACE BRIGGS, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN MAIN, ANGLO-CANADIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MONK

THE FEAST OF JOSIAH BOOTH, ENGLISH ORGANIST, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMN TUNE COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF FRANCES JOSEPH-GAUDET, AFRICAN-AMERICAN EDUCATOR, PRISON REFORMER, AND SOCIAL WORKER

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Jesus and Women   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of St. Mary Magdalene

Image in the Public Domain

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READING LUKE-ACTS, PART XIX

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Luke 7:36-8:3

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We may blame Pope St. Gregory I “the Great” (reigned 590-604) for starting a dubious tradition in Biblical scholarship.  St. Gregory I was a great man.  He functioned as a Roman (Byzantine) imperial statesman, albeit reluctantly.  (Somebody had to do it.)  St. Gregory I launched the Roman Catholic mission to England.  Yet he conflated the unnamed prostitute in Luke 7:36-50 with St. Mary Magdalene (8:2).  This false assumption has tainted the reputation of St. Mary Magdalene since and contributed to the term “Madonna-Whore Complex.”

Luke 8:2 tells us that St. Mary Magdalene supported Jesus’s ministry financially.  That verse also tells us that Jesus had exorcised seven demons from her.  Other passages from the canonical Gospels tell of her dedication to Christ, all the way to the empty tomb.

I do not think as people did in the first century C.E did.  I understand, for example, that epilepsy, various physical conditions, and mental illnesses do not result from demonic possession.  They have organic causes.  Neither do I reject the existence of the demonic.  Nevertheless, I do not know how to interpret Luke 8:2.  I conclude, however, that, whatever Jesus did to help St. Mary Magdalene, he won a disciple when he did it.  That may suffice.

Each of the canonical Gospels contains a story of a woman anointing Jesus, usually as foreshadowing of the anointing of his corpse.  In three of the four accounts, the texts do not name the woman.  She is St. Mary of Bethany in the Gospel of John.  The traditional confusion of mistaking Sts. Mary Magdalene and Mary of Bethany for the same woman results from a combination of misinterpretations of germane texts.  In some stories, the woman (sometimes a penitent sinner) anointed Jesus’ feet; in others, she anointed his head.  Biblical scholarly consensus has settled on two anointings having occurred, and the story in the Johannine Gospel containing elements of both.

Limitless gratitude is common to both the woman in Luke 7:36-50 and the women in Luke 8:1-3.  Limitless gratitude does not care if its expressions seem to be or are bizarre, suspicious, and undignified.  Limitless gratitude goes as far as it needs to go, regardless of the costs.  Limitless gratitude deserves recognition, not scorn.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 30, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE SIXTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FEAST OF ALLEN EASTMAN CROSS, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF GEORGE WALLACE BRIGGS, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN MAIN, ANGLO-CANADIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MONK

THE FEAST OF JOSIAH BOOTH, ENGLISH ORGANIST, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMN TUNE COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF FRANCES JOSEPH-GAUDET, AFRICAN-AMERICAN EDUCATOR, PRISON REFORMER, AND SOCIAL WORKER

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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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In Times of Distress   Leave a comment

Above:  Pearl of Grief, by Rembrandt Peale

Image in the Public Domain

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For the Second Sunday Before 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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O Lord God, who seest that we put not our trust in anything that we do;

mercifully grant that by thy power,

we may be defended against all adversity;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Worship (1947), 139

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Ecclesiastes 11:1-6

Psalm 71

2 Timothy 3:10-4:5

Luke 8:4-15

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These four readings include the unifying theme of perseverance in faith during times of misfortune.  Do we become stronger or weaker in faith during such times?

The bottom has fallen out of my life twice–in late 2006 and early 2007 then again on October 14, 2019.  I rebounded spiritually from the 2006-2007 collapse years ago.  I am still rebuilding spiritually from Bonny’s sudden, violent death on October 14, 2019.  The COVID-19 pandemic has added complications on top of my personal catastrophe.

I have grown the most spiritually during times of distress.  The light of God has seemed brighter in the darkness.  Perhaps that light was as bright as it had always been.  If so, the darkness around it magnified the light’s effectiveness.  I remain grateful for that spiritual growth without wanting to relive those experiences or anything similar to them.

Life is unfair.  It hurts horribly, sometimes.  If one relies on one’s own resources, one cannot move along from one moment to the next, let alone one day to the next.  If one relies on God, both directly and indirectly, however, one can do that.  Life will still hurt, but one will not feel alone in that hurt.  Jesus can identify with us, our temptations, and our pain.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 12, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FOURTEENTH DAY OF ADVENT

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM LLOYD GARRISON, ABOLITIONIST AND FEMINIST; AND MARIA STEWART, ABOLITIONIST, FEMINIST, AND EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINTS BARTHOLOMEW BUONPEDONI AND VIVALDUS, MINISTERS AMONG LEPERS

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM LOUIS POTEAT, PRESIDENT OF WAKE FOREST COLLEGE, AND BIOLOGIST; HIS BROTHER, EDWIN MCNEILL POTEAT, SR., SOUTHERN AND NORTHERN BAPTIST MINISTER, SCHOLAR, AND PRESIDENT OF FURMAN UNIVERSITY; HIS SON, EDWIN MCNEILL POTEAT, JR., SOUTHERN BAPTIST MINISTER, MISSIONARY, MUSICIAN, HYMN WRITER, AND SOCIAL REFORMER; HIS BROTHER, GORDON MCNEILL POTEAT, SOUTHERN AND NORTHERN BAPTIST AND CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND MISSIONARY; AND HIS COUSIN, HUBERT MCNEILL POTEAT, SOUTHERN BAPTIST ACADEMIC AND MUSICIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT LUDWIK BARTOSIK, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1941

THE FEAST OF THOMAS CANNING, U.S. COMPOSER AND MUSIC EDUCATOR

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Forgiveness, Part III   Leave a comment

Above:  Christ in the House of Simon, by Dieric Bouts

Image in the Public Domain

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

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O Lord Jesus, who art the same yesterday, today, and forever:

strengthen our weak resolve, that we may remain faithful in all the changes of this life

and, at the last, enter the joy of thy kingdom.  Amen.

The Book of Common Worship–Provisional Services (1966), 126

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Isaiah 55:1-13

1 John 2:1-17

Luke 7:36-50

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The readings from Isaiah 55 and 1 John 2 are consistent with St. Augustine of Hippo‘s definition of sin–disordered love.  To love something one should not love is a form of disordered love.  If, however, something is worthy of love, but one loves it too much, one manifests another form of disordered love, which takes love away from God, and, therefore, constitutes idolatry.

There was no question of the full love of the sinful woman in Luke 9:36-50.  She (not St. Mary Magdalene–named in Luke 8:2 in a positive light–despite centuries of erroneous tradition) loved Jesus so much she did not care how foolish she looked.  She loved him extravagantly.  She loved him so much she did not care about violating social conventions.  Her love for Jesus was not disordered.  Perhaps the main spiritual difference between her and Simon the Pharisee, the host of our Lord and Savior that day, was that she understood how much she needed forgiveness.  She was, therefore, grateful to receive it.

When one is experiencing spiritual darkness, the light of grace, always present, seems brighter than at other times.  The sense of God’s presence and grace can reduce one to tears as one feels one’s unworthiness powerfully.  I know this firsthand.  Perhaps you do, also, O reader.

My need for forgiveness is on my mind daily.  Sometimes I sin before I get out of bed.  On other occasions, I begin my daily sinning after getting out of bed.  I make no pretenses of being a spiritual giant or master, but I do try to refocus myself throughout each day.  The divine call to come to the water and drink beckons me.  Thanks be to God!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 24, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THOMAS À KEMPIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, PRIEST, AND SPIRITUAL WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN NEWTON, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF WALTER RAUSCHENBUSCH, U.S. BAPTIST MINISTER AND THEOLOGIAN OF THE SOCIAL GOSPEL

THE FEAST OF SAINTS VINCENTIA GEROSA AND BARTHOLOMEA CAPITANIO, COFOUNDERS OF THE SISTERS OF CHARITY OF LOVERE

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Being Good Soil, Part III   Leave a comment

Above:  The Parable of the Sower

Image in the Public Domain

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For the Eighth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year 1, according to the U.S. Presbyterian lectionary of 1966-1970

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Grant, we beseech thee, merciful God, that thy church,

being gathered together in unity by thy Holy Spirit,

may manifest thy power among all peoples, to the glory of thy name;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with thee and

the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.  Amen.

The Book of Common Worship–Provisional Services (1966), 120

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Amos 8:11-12

1 Peter 2:1-6

Luke 8:4-15

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Hell is real–a reality, not a place with geography and coordinates–I affirm.  I also argue that God sends nobody there.  No, people send themselves there.

The reading from Amos 8 is one of the more difficult passages of the Bible.  Divine punishment is in full strength, punishing collective disregard for God with divine silence.  The divine judgment consists of giving people in times of trouble what they desire in times of affluence and spiritual indifference.  In other words, be careful what you wish for; you may receive it.

The word of God (what God says) is readily available.  It is proverbial seed in the story usually called the Parable of the Sower yet properly the Parable of the Four Soils.  The sower sows seeds in the usual manner for that time and place.  The emphasis in the parable is on the types of soil and on the fate of the weeds cast upon them.  The story encourages us to be good soil, to be receptive to the words of God.

Being good soil entails focusing on God, not on distractions, or idols.  The definition of “idol” is functional; if an object, activity, or idea functions as an idol in one’s life, it is an idol for once.

Perhaps the major idol these days is apathy.  In much of the world the fastest-growing religious affiliation is “none.”  Atheism and its militant variation, antitheism (to use Reza Aslan’s word) are chic.  Ironically, many atheists and antitheists know more about certain religions and holy books than many adherents of those religions, with their corresponding sacred texts.  These atheists and antitheists also understand less simultaneously.

God remains in charge, though.  Whether that ultimately comforts or terrifies one depends on one.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 2, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ALL SOULS/THE COMMEMORATION OF ALL FAITHFUL DEPARTED

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Seeds of Faith   Leave a comment

Above:  Landscape with the Parable of the Sower, by Pieter Brueghel the Elder

Image in the Public Domain

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

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O God, your never-failing providence orders all things both in heaven and earth:

We humbly ask you to put away from us all hurtful things,

and to give us those things which are profitable for us;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

–Modernized from The Book of Worship for Church and Home (1965), page 139

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Joshua 24:1-15, 24

Psalm 12

Acts 17:21-31

Luke 8:4-15

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As Joshua 24 reminds us, we should revere God, who has done much for us out of graciousness.  Nevertheless, many of us do not, and not always out of ignorance.

The so-called Parable of the Sower is actually the Parable of the Four Soils.  The emphasis in the parable falls on the four types of soil.  The explanation of the parable in Luke 8:11-15 is clear; only one of the types of soil is good.  If we expect the spiritual path to be Easy Street, circumstances (and God) will disappoint us, but we will have only ourselves to blame.  If we are easily distractible people, that is also a problem.  If we yield to certain temptations, the seed of faith also fails to take root.

May we nourish the seed of faith and be good soil.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 5, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE TWELFTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN NEPOMUCENE NEUMANN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF PHILADELPHIA

THE FEAST OF ANTONIO LOTTI, ROMAN CATHOLIC MUSICIAN AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF SAINT GENOVEVA TORRES MORALES, FOUNDRESS OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS AND THE HOLY ANGELS

THE FEAST OF MARGARET MACKAY, SCOTTISH HYMN WRITER

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