Archive for the ‘Mark 1’ Category

Human Weaknesses and Divine Faithfulness   1 comment

Above:  Temptations of Jesus

Image in the Public Domain

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

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Almighty God, you see that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves:

Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls,

that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body,

and from all evil thoughts which may hurt the soul;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

–Modernized from The Book of Worship for Church and Home (1965), page 95

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Ezekiel 33:7-16

Psalm 18

1 John 2:1-3, 15-17

Mark 1:9-12

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A witty saying tells us,

I can resist anything except temptation.

Temptations are indeed strong and alluring, therefore, for lack of a better word, tempting.  We, although created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), are “but dust” (Psalm 103:14).  We are accountable for our sins (not those of our ancestors; read Ezekiel 18), although the sins of ancestors might affect ancestors for generations (hence Exodus 34:7).  We are far from hopeless, fortunately, for we have Christ (who knows temptation) and the Holy Spirit interceding for us (John 14:16 and 26; John 15:26).

But how will we respond to the reality of our responsibility and of divine love?  Even if we strive to accept our responsibility and to welcome divine love, we might behave badly.  We might be like St. Paul the Apostle in Romans 7, knowing what we ought to do yet being incapable of doing it.  Or we might not know precisely what we ought to do.  Principles might be plain enough, but their practical applications might prove mysterious to us.  Another problem might be the category of sins of omission, which can be more difficult to recognize than sins of commission.

Fortunately, God is faithful; we can rely on that.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 17, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FIFTEENTH DAY OF ADVENT:  THE THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR A

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

THE FEAST OF EGLANTYNE JEBB AND DOROTHY BUXTON, FOUNDERS OF SAVE THE CHILDREN

THE FEAST OF FRANK MASON NORTH, U.S. METHODIST MINISTER

THE FEAST OF MARY CORNELIA BISHOP GATES, U.S. DUTCH REFORMED HYMN WRITER

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The Mind of Christ   Leave a comment

Above:  Christ Pantocrator

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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

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God, you know that we are set amid so many and great dangers,

and that by reason of the frailty of our nature we cannot always stand upright.

Grant us to such strength and protection, as may support us in all dangers,

and carry us through all temptations;  through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

–Modernized from The Book of Worship for Church and Home (1965), page 86

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Proverbs 4:10-18

Psalm 3

1 Corinthians 2:1-16

Mark 1:14-22

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Two errors of the wicked are the assumptions that (A) they can rely on themselves alone and (B) that they must do so.  These errors lead to others, such as the exploitation of people.  In a dog-eat-dog world the wicked prefer to feast.  The righteous, however, seek God.

Unspiritual people, we read in 1 Corinthians 2, lack the mind of Christ, for they cannot grasp the Holy Spirit, which imparts the mind of Christ, which is superior to human wisdom.  The hidden wisdom of God is folly to the unspiritual.  Yet, throughout the Gospel of Mark (including in 1:23:28, which one should read after 1:22), we find that evil spirits (whatever that category translates into outside of the Hellenistic worldview of the time) recognized Jesus for what he was, unlike those closest to Christ.  Recognition does not necessarily lead to repentance, does it?

Whose authority do we acknowledge as being spiritually supreme?  Or do we recognize and accept any such authority?  To state that one follows God as the supreme authority is easy; to act on that is more difficult.  Furthermore, how does one tell the difference between what God commands and what one merely wants to hear?  We humans often create a concept of God that agrees with us.  How convenient for us, at least in the short term!  Not one of us is exempt from this trap all of the time.  Shall we be honest about that?

Good news is that we need not rely on our own power to deal effectively with this trap.  Nor can we do so anyway.  No, we need to rely on God, if we are to succeed in knowing the difference between divine dictates and human prejudices and other preferences.  I do not pretend to have mastered this matter.  I do, however, notice that the Golden Rule seems to be prominent.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 4, 2017 COMMON ERA

LABOR DAY (U.S.A.)

THE FEAST OF PAUL JONES, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF UTAH AND PEACE ACTIVIST; AND HIS COLLEAGUE, JOHN NEVIN SAYRE, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND PEACE ACTIVIST

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Posted September 4, 2017 by neatnik2009 in 1 Corinthians 2, Mark 1, Proverbs, Psalm 3

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Pointing to God, Not Ourselves   1 comment

Moses Striking the Rock in Horeb

Above:  Moses Strikes the Rock in Horeb, by Gustave Dore

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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Numbers 12:1-16 or 20:1-13 (14-21) 22-29

Psalm 106:(1) 7-18, 24-18 (43-48) or Psalm 95

Luke 1:(57) 58-67 (68-79) 80

Hebrews 3:1-19

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Many times he delivered them,

but they were rebellious in their purposes,

and were brought low through their iniquity.

Nevertheless he regarded their distress

when he heard their cry.

–Psalm 106:43-44, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

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Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,

as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,

when your ancestors tested me,

and put me to the proof, though you had seen my work.

–Psalm 95:8-9, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

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In most of the readings for this day we read of grumbling against God and/or Moses despite God’s proven track record, frequently in the presence of those who go on to grumble.  Miriam and Aaron question the authority of Moses in Numbers 12. Miriam becomes ritually unclean because of this (Do not question Moses!), but her brother intercedes for her.  People witness then seem to forget God’s mighty acts in Psalms 95 and 106, as well as in Hebrews 3.  And, in Numbers 20, Moses disobeys instructions from God.  He is supposed to speak to a rock to make water come out of it, but he strikes it instead.

By word and act Moses is thus appropriating to himself an act of God.  In doing this he is undoing the message that God and Moses himself have been conveying to the to the people up to this point.  The people have continuously directed their attention to Moses instead of to God….Until this episode Moses has repeatedly told the people, “It is not from my own heart,” and “You are congregating against YHWH,” but now his words and actions confirm the people’s own perception.

–Richard Elliott Friedman, Commentary on the Torah with a New English Translation and the Hebrew Text (2001), page 495

Moses was generally trustworthy in the sight of God, per the positive assessment of him in Hebrews 3.  At Meribah he gave into human weakness.  All of us have caved into our own weaknesses on multiple occasions, have we not?  Have we not, for example, sought our own glory instead of that of God?  Have we not yielded to the temptation to be spectacular, which Henri J. M. Nouwen identified in The Way of the Heart (1981) as one of Satan’s temptations of Jesus in Luke 4 and Matthew 4?   If we have lived long enough, yes, we have.

And you, my child, will be called Prophet of the Most High,

for you will be the Lord’s forerunner to prepare his way

and lead his people to a knowledge of salvation

through the forgiveness of sins:

for in the tender compassion of our God

the dawn of heaven will break upon us,

to shine on those who live in darkness, under the shadow of death,

and to guide our feet in the way of peace.

–St. Zechariah in Luke 1:76-79, The Revised English Bible (1989)

St. John the Baptist grew up and became one who admitted the truth that he was not the Messiah (Luke 3:15-17 and Mark 1:7-8).  He pointed to cousin Jesus instead (Matthew 3:13-14 and John 3:25-36).

The spiritual vocations of Christians vary in details, but the common threads run through those calls from God.  We who call ourselves Christians have, for example, a responsibility to glorify God, not ourselves, and to point to Jesus.  We also have an obligation to lead lives defined by gratitude to God, not rebellion against God.  We can succeed, by grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 20, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN BAJUS, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

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Adapted from this post:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2016/08/20/devotion-for-the-second-sunday-of-advent-year-d/

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Genesis and Mark, Part III: Intimacy With God   1 comment

new-jerusalem

Above:  The New Jerusalem

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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 everlasting 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:

Genesis 2:4-25

Psalm 22 (Morning)

Psalms 107 and 130 (Evening)

Mark 1:29-45

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Some Related Posts:

Genesis 2:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/14/week-of-5-epiphany-wednesday-year-1/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/27/first-sunday-in-lent-year-a/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/27/proper-22-year-b/

Mark 1:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/17/week-of-1-epiphany-wednesday-year-1/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/18/week-of-1-epiphany-thursday-year-1/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/19/fifth-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-b/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/23/sixth-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-b/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/06/23/proper-1-year-b/

Prayer:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/01/22/prayer-for-friday-after-ash-wednesday/

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As it was by one man that death came, so through one man has come the resurrection of the dead.  Just as all die in Adam, so in Christ all will be brought to life….

–1 Corinthians 15:21-22, The New Jerusalem Bible

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I saw the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride dressed for her husband.

–Revelation 21:2, The New Jerusalem Bible

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The Christian Bible–regardless of whether one reads the Protestant, Roman Catholic, or one of the several Orthodox canons thereof–opens with the Creation and Fall and ends with the restoration and new creation–a fresh start after a purging.  That which went awry because of human sin God sets right.  Thus the Apocalypse of John is the best way to end the New Testament.  Those who, many moons ago, established the New Testament Canon did an excellent job when they included Revelation.  It is an often abused, misused, and misunderstood text, but he Apocalypse is really quite a good read when one knows how to rad the symbolism in historical and theological context.

Almost all (4b forward) of the reading from Genesis for today comes from a source (J) other that  (P) which preceded it.  We have layers of tradition coexisting and intertwining in the Torah.  So one reads to creation myths, two sets of instructions regarding how many animals to take aboard Noah’s Ark, et cetera.  None of this is history (as I am trained in historical methods)  or science, but all of it is theology, which is more important.  I could write much about Genesis 2:4-25, for there is quite a bit there.  But, for now, I focus on one concept:  intimacy.  God and Adam are close.  Adam and Eve were close.  There is intimacy across the board.  There is no domination, subordination, or exploitation.  This changes after Chapter 2, unfortunately.

Meanwhile, in Mark 1, Jesus heals many people.  In fact, he is popular as a healer and an exorcist, not as a teacher.  He is so popular that he has to get away so that he can fulfill his mission, which is preach his message.  That message, as recorded in Mark 1:15, is

The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is close at hand.  Repent, and believe the gospel.  (The New Jerusalem Bible)

The “gospel” was the good news.  Here we have it in its original meaning, the message of Jesus.  The application of “gospel” to texts came with the writing of the Gospel of Mark.

People were supposed to follow Jesus around, but not just in search of miracles.  Back in Mark 1:17, Jesus called Andrew and Simon Peter to be Apostles by saying

Come after me…. (The New Jerusalem Bible)

That is the Christian definition of discipleship.  The people

crowding round the door (Mark 1:33, The New Jerusalem Bible)

were not seeking lessons in discipleship.

I recognize a great similarity between the readings for today.  God and Adam were close.  And how much closer to us could God get than via the Incarnation?  The call in both cases is the same:

Come after me….

God is persistent, to say the least.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 2, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT SIGISMUND OF BURBGUNDY, KING; SAINT CLOTILDA, FRANKISH QUEEN; AND SAINT CLODOALD, FRANKISH MONK AND ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINT ATHANASIUS OF ALEXANDRIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF JAMES LEWIS MILLIGAN, HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCULF OF NANTEUIL, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

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Adapted from this post:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/05/02/devotion-for-the-third-day-of-lent-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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Genesis and Mark, Part II: The Image of God   1 comment

 

fishing-on-the-sea-of-galilee

Above:  Fishing on the Sea of Galilee

Image Source = Library of Congress

(http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/ppmsca.05015/)

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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 everlasting 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:

Genesis 1:20-2:3

Psalm 38 (Morning)

Psalms 126 and 102 (Evening)

Mark 1:14-28

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Some Related Posts:

Genesis 1-2:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/11/week-of-5-epiphany-tuesday-year-1/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/devotion-for-november-27-in-advent-lcms-daily-lectionary/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/great-vigil-of-easter-year-a/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2011/07/28/great-vigil-of-easter-year-b/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/05/trinity-sunday-year-a/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/18/proper-9-year-a/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/11/12/week-of-proper-28-monday-year-2/

Mark 1:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/16/week-of-1-epiphany-monday-year-1/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/11/third-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-b/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/13/fourth-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-b/

Prayer:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/01/21/prayer-for-thursday-after-ash-wednesday/

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Certainly Jesus knew James and John, the sons of Zebedee, for Zebedee was our Lord’s uncle.  James and John were therefore first cousins of Jesus.  There was nothing inherently wrong with fishing; it was honest and socially useful work.  Yet our Lord had a higher purpose in mind for his cousins.

The concept of the image of God unites the readings from Genesis and Mark.  But what is the image of God?  It is not physical, for God is spirit.  Perhaps the best way to identify the image of God in human beings is to notice some contrasts with the rest of the Animal Kingdom.  We are almost genetically identical to chimpanzees, but they do not compose sonnets.  Elephants are quite intelligent and mourn their dead.  Who knows (other than God and whales) what whale songs mean?  I, along with some great Christian saints, assume that our fellow creatures of certain intelligence possess souls, but they members of these species have not forged civilizations as we know them.  Likewise, I adore cats.  Their bodies are perfectly evolved for their purposes in nature.  And I have no doubt that cats I have known well have had souls.  But I, as a human, have a spark which cats lack.

We humans have potential which other mammals lack.  And we ought to live up to higher standards.  We are animals biologically; evolutionary forces have shaped us physically.  But we are more than skin, meat, blood, and bones; we are souls who bear the image of God.

Thus we ought to act accordingly.  We should pursue our highest and greatest potential. We ought to help others pursue and achieve theirs.  We ought to love each other and ourselves as bearers of the divine image.  If we do this, we will cease to hate and kill one another.  We will cease to exploit each other and condone or turn a blind eye to exploitation.  We will cease to discriminate against each other.  We will do all this because we recognize the divine spark in each other and know that we are not so different from each other as we thought once.

I propose a Lenten discipline to continue afterward:  Looking for and finding the image of God in others then treating them with the great respect due a bearer of the divine image.  That is an excellent habit, one which will banish a host of bad ones.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 28, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE FIRST U.S. METHODIST BOOK OF WORSHIP, 1945

THE FEAST OF SAINT GUALFARDUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT

THE FEAST OF SAINT PETER CHANEL, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

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Adapted from this post:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/04/28/devotion-for-the-second-day-of-lent-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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Genesis and Mark, Part I: New Beginnings   1 comment

ash-wednesday

Above:  Ashen Cross

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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 everlasting 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:

Genesis 1:1-19

Psalm 5 (Morning)

Psalms 27 and 51 (Evening)

Mark 1:1-13

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Some Related Posts:

Genesis 1:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/09/week-of-5-epiphany-monday-year-1/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/05/first-sunday-after-the-epiphany-the-baptism-of-our-lord-year-b/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/great-vigil-of-easter-year-a/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2011/07/28/great-vigil-of-easter-year-b/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/05/trinity-sunday-year-a/

Mark 1:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/03/eighth-day-of-advent-second-sunday-of-advent-year-b/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2011/07/24/first-sunday-in-lent-year-b/

Prayer:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/01/20/prayer-for-ash-wednesday/

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The first (actually second written) myth of creation in Genesis, of which we read a part today, tells of the creation of order from chaos:

When God began to create heaven and earth–the earth being unformed and void, with darkness over the surface of the deep and a wind from God sweeping over the water….

–Genesis 1:1-2, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

Meanwhile, in the Gospel of Mark, the oldest of the canonical Gospels (written probably 67-70 CE), the narrative opens with

The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

–Mark 1:1, The New Jerusalem Bible

Subsequent verses assume certain knowledge.  For example, who was John the Baptist?  And what was his background?  For more details, read parts of Matthew and Luke, Gospels drew from Mark and expanded on it.

It is appropriate to read about new beginning on Ash Wednesday.  This is the first day of Lent, a season of somberness, spiritual self-examination, and preparation for Easter.  In churches we put away flowers and the word “alleluia.”  Lent is an excellent time to strive to cease a bad habit and to learn a good one to replace it.  It is an excellent time to focus on cooperating with God in converting chaos into a proper order.  Certainly each of us needs more internal order and less internal chaos.

And may we remember that Jesus, although new from a human perspective, was actually quite old.  (Read John 1:1-18.)  The form was new; the substance was ancient.  Sometimes God approaches us in new ways.  The message is old but the medium is new or more recent.

One might not restrict these spiritual exercises to Lent alone, of course.  Yet may one not dismiss the importance of the church year.  There is great value in having certain time set apart for different emphases.

May you, O reader, have a holy Lent.  And may God’s blessings on you bless others.  We are made to live in community after all, and what one person does affects others.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 27, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORGE WASHINGTON DOANE, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF NEW JERSEY

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ANTONY AND THEODOSIUS OF KIEV, FOUNDERS OF RUSSIAN ORTHODOX MONASTICISM; SAINT BARLAAM OF KIEV, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX ABBOT; AND SAINT STEPHEN OF KIEV, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX ABBOT AND BISHOP

THE FEAST OF THE EARLY ABBOTS OF CLUNY

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH WARRILOW, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

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Adapted from this post:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/devotion-for-ash-wednesday-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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Posted January 20, 2013 by neatnik2009 in Genesis 1, Mark 1, Psalm 27, Psalm 5, Psalm 51

Tagged with , ,

Holy Baptism   2 comments

Above:  Baptism of a Child

Image Source = Tom Adriaenssen

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Child_baptism_with_water.jpg)

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Genesis 9:8-17 (New Revised Standard Version):

God said to Noah and to his sons with him,

As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.

God said,

This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.

God said to Noah,

This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.

Psalm 25:1-9 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul;

my God, I put my trust in you;

let me not be humiliated,

nor let my enemies triumph over me.

2  Let none who look to you be put to shame;

let the treacherous be disappointed in their schemes.

3  Show me your ways, O LORD,

and teach me your paths.

4  Lead me in your truth and teach me,

for you are the God of my salvation;

in you have I trusted all the day long.

5  Remember, O LORD, your compassion and love,

for they are from everlasting.

6  Remember not the sins of my youth and my transgressions;

remember me according to your love

and for the sake of your goodness, O LORD.

7  Gracious and upright is the LORD;

therefore he teaches sinners in his way.

8  He guides the humble in doing right

and teaches his way to the lowly.

9  All the paths of the LORD are love and faithfulness

to those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.

1 Peter 3:18-22 (New Revised Standard Version):

Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you– not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.

Mark 1:9-15 (New Revised Standard Version):

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven,

You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.

And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying,

The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.

The Collect:

Almighty God, whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be tempted by Satan: Come quickly to help us who are assaulted by many temptations; and, as you know the weaknesses of each of us, let each one find you mighty to save; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

First Sunday in Lent, Year A:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/27/first-sunday-in-lent-year-a/

Take My Life, and Let It Be Consecrated, Lord, to Thee:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/09/13/take-my-life-and-let-it-be-consecrated-lord-to-thee/

Genesis 9:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/26/week-of-6-epiphany-thursday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/11/13/week-of-proper-1-thursday-year-1/

1 Peter 3:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/thirty-sixth-day-of-easter-sixth-sunday-of-easter-year-a/

Baptism of Christ:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/first-sunday-after-the-epiphany-the-baptism-of-our-lord-year-a/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/05/first-sunday-after-the-epiphany-the-baptism-of-our-lord-year-b/

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The theme of Baptism holds this Sunday’s readings together.

There is a link between Genesis 9:8-17, which tells of aftermath of the mythical Great Flood, and 1 Peter 3:18-22.  1 Peter tells us that the flood prefigured the baptism, something, the epistle tells us, saves us.  This was an odd prefiguring, for, even as 1 Peter admits, only eight people (plus animals) survived that deluge.  I notice these details, and they bother me; maybe that is why I felt out of place in some Sunday School classes while growing up.

The very concise lesson from Mark 1 covers the baptism of Jesus, his temptation in the wilderness, and the beginning of his ministry–all in a few verses.  The baptism of John the Baptist was a one-time ritual act demonstrating repentance.  Yet Jesus was perfect.  So why did he undergo this rite?  He identified with us, mere mortals.

It is also true that rituals play important parts in individual lives and in societies.  Rites mark the passage from one state to another.  We hope, for example, that two people who marry have already committed themselves to each other before their wedding day, and so are already married in the spiritual sense.  But the ceremony, aside from having legal, tax, and benefits consequences, marks the transition for those getting married and for those who look upon them afterward.  Likewise, our Lord’s baptism at the hands of John the Baptist marked the beginning of a new phase in his life.

Lent, in my tradition, is the forty days-long period of preparation for Easter.  As a historical matter, this was when people prepared for baptism at the Easter Vigil and when those severed from the church prepared to reconcile with and rejoin it.  It is also that season during the Church Year that we are not supposed to baptize–just prepare for it.  So the placement of baptism in the readings for the First Sunday in Lent is appropriate; it establishes a theme for the season.

Baptism, when it is what it ought to be, is a ceremony marking what God has done.  The modern Christian ceremony is one of initiation into the Christian community, in which we are responsible for each other.  If we are adults when baptized, the rite marks our response to what God has done; if not, it signifies the recognition of adults responsible for us of their responsibility to raise us to respond favorably to God.  In the case of the latter, confirmation will follow at an appropriate age.

May we take our commitments to God and each other seriously.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 24, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT THOMAS A KEMPIS, SPIRITUAL WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JOHN BOSTE, GEORGE SWALLOWELL, AND JOHN INGRAM, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

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Adapted from this post:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2011/07/24/first-sunday-in-lent-year-b/

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Posted February 7, 2012 by neatnik2009 in 1 Peter 3, Genesis 9, Mark 1, Psalm 25

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