Archive for the ‘Matthew 17’ Category

Faithfulness and Faithlessness   1 comment

©Photo. R.M.N. / R.-G. OjŽda

©Photo. R.M.N. / R.-G. OjŽda

Above:  The Exorcism

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:

Deuteronomy 31:30-32:27 or Isaiah 5:8-17

Psalm 142

Matthew 17:9-20 or Mark 9:9-29 or Luke 9:18-27 (28-36) 37-45

Philippians 2:14-30

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A typically Jewish way of speaking and writing about God is to recall what God has done.  After all, God is like what God has done.  Furthermore, we are like what we have done, although we are far more than the worst deeds we have committed.  The relevant issue is the pattern of what we have done and of what we are doing.  Repentance is possible, after all, and the past is not necessarily accurate in predicting the future.

Consider with me, O reader, the assigned readings for this Sunday.  The two options for the First Reading proclaim divine judgment upon the faithless, for whom God has done much.  The faithless should know better.  Perhaps they do know better, but they are not acting as if they do.  The lection from Isaiah 5 follows the famous passage likening rebellious Israel to a well-tended vineyard that yields wild grapes.  God will judge that vineyard, we read.  Likewise, we read of faithless Israel in Deuteronomy.  If Richard Elliott Friedman is correct, lurking in the background of the text is a condemnation of polytheism.  God is, after all, insistent upon monotheism in the Hebrew Bible.  If Dr. Friedman is correct, faithlessness to YHWH entails turning to supposedly subordinate deities, members of the divine council–a concept Hebrew prophets opposed vigorously.

In contrast to those lections we read Psalm 142, the lament of a dying man whom other mortals have abandoned.  This man, contemplating the imminent unknown, turns to God alone.  One may assume safely that God is faithful to those who demonstrate fidelity.

The passage from Philippians belongs to a section of that epistle in which one finds advice regarding how to live faithfully in community.  People are to think about each other and model their lives after Jesus, whose humility and selflessness is certainly challenging to emulate.  In this context the customary verses about people with polysyllabic names take on more importance than they might otherwise; these verses model the attitudes and behaviors the preceding verses extol.  People are like what they do.

The three options for the Gospel reading are parallel versions of the same story, set immediately after the Transfiguration of Jesus.  One might fixate on the typically Hellenistic diagnosis of epilepsy as demonic possession, but to do so would be to miss the point.  In the narrative the Apostles have just learned of Christ’s true identity in all of its glory, yet they have not grasped this revelation, and were therefore ineffective.  The lesson for we who read these stories thousands of years later is to ponder whether we grasp who Jesus is and whether we are as effective as we can be in our discipleship.

Our challenge in this regard is to render proper thanksgiving to God in our lives.  We can do this only be grace, of course, but our desire to pursue this course of action is also essential.  Obstacles include laziness, fear, selfishness, cultural conditioning, the pressure to conform, and simple obliviousness.  If we are to grow into our full spiritual stature, however, we must seek to follow and honor God and to trust in divine grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 16, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE TWENTIETH DAY OF ADVENT

THE FEAST OF GUSTAF AULEN, SWEDISH LUTHERAN THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT FILIP SIPHONG ONPHITHAKT, ROMAN CATHOLIC CATECHIST AND MARTYR IN THAILAND

THE FEAST OF MAUDE DOMINICA PETRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MODERNIST THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF RALPH ADAMS CRAM AND RICHARD UPJOHN, ARCHITECTS; AND JOHN LAFARGE, SR., PAINTER AND STAINED GLASS MAKER

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2016/12/16/devotion-for-proper-4-year-d/

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Elijah and John the Baptist   1 comment

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Above:  Elijah and the Chariot of Fire

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

God our creator, the resurrection of your Son offers life to all the peoples of the earth.

By your Holy Spirit, kindle in us the fire of your love,

empowering our lives for service and our tongues for praise,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 36

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The Assigned Readings:

2 Kings 2:1-15a

Psalm 104:23-34, 35b

Luke 1:5-17

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May the glory of the LORD endure for ever;

may the LORD rejoice in all his works.

–Psalm 104:32, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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Elijah was a great prophet of God.  He departed this earth in 2 Kings 2:1-15a, not having died.  Expectations that he would return to prepare for the coming of the Messiah circulated for centuries.  In Luke 9, for example, some speculated that Jesus was the returned Elijah.  No, the chapter insisted, Jesus was greater than Elijah.  St. John the Baptist fulfilled Elijah’s function (Matthew 17:12-13) and Jesus was the Messiah.  Both Elijah and St. John the Baptist ran afoul of officialdom for the sake of righteousness.

The glory of the LORD endures forever.  It would do so even without the efforts of many faithful people, but such efforts are certainly laudable.  They are good works related to active faith in God.  Grace is free yet not cheap, for it makes demands on its recipients.  Sometimes the cost is one’s life.

Just as St. John the Baptist pointed to Jesus and, according to tradition, Elijah pointed to the Messiah, may each of us follow Christ, lead others to him, and seek his glory, not our own.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 8, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT THORFINN OF HAMAR, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF GALILEO GALILEI, SCIENTIST

THE FEAST OF HARRIET BEDELL, EPISCOPAL DEACONESS

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Adapted from this post:

https://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2016/01/08/devotion-for-saturday-before-pentecost-sunday-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

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Glorifying God, Not Ourselves   1 comment

©Photo. R.M.N. / R.-G. OjŽda

©Photo. R.M.N. / R.-G. OjŽda

Above:  Exorcising a Boy Possessed by a Demon

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

Gracious God, throughout the ages you transform

sickness into health and death into life.

Openness to the power of your presence,

and make us a people ready to proclaim your promises to the world,

through Jesus Christ, our healer and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 47

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The Assigned Readings:

Judges 15:9-20

Isaiah 38:10-20

Matthew 17:14-21

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The LORD is at hand to save me;

so let the music of our praises resound

all our life long in the house of the LORD.

–Isaiah 38:20, The Revised English Bible (1989)

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The story in Isaiah 38 is that God has extended the life of King Hezekiah of Judah by fifteen years.  The monarch, grateful that he is no longer at death’s door, writes a poem (the end of which I have quoted above).  Unfortunately, in the next chapter, he shows off to an emissary of the king of the Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian Empire (not yet a threat to Judah), prompting the ire of God and Isaiah:

Isaiah said to Hezekiah:  “Hear the word of the LORD of Hosts:  The time is coming, says the LORD, when everything is your palace, and all that your forefathers have amassed till the present day, will be carried away to Babylon; not a thing will be left.  And some of your sons, your own offspring, will be taken to serve as eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.”  Hezekiah answered, “The word of the LORD is good,” for he was thinking to himself that peace and security would last his lifetime.

–Isaiah 39:5-8, The Revised English Bible (1989)

The Book of Judges speaks of Samson’s connection to God.  The vivid translation in TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985) refers to the spirit of the LORD gripping him immediately prior to a feat of physical strength.  Such is the case in Judges 15:9-20.  The spirit of the LORD grips Samson in verse 14.  Samson kills a thousand Philistine men with the jawbone of an ass in verse 15.  In verse 16, however, Samson fails to give credit to God:

Then Samson said:

“With the jaw of an ass,

Mass upon mass!

With the jaw of an ass

I have slain a thousand men.”

TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

Samson was, as the Book of Judges presents him, a dolt who lived to satisfy his id.  Nevertheless, God worked through him, and he was aware of that reality.  Would giving credit to God when credit was due have been so difficult?

The pericope from Matthew 17 became more interesting the deeper I delved into its background.  The Gospel of Mark is the oldest of the canonical Gospels, dating to no earlier than 67 C.E.  It is one of the sources for the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, both of which contain the “Markan spine,” elaborate upon it, and add material from other sources.  Thus a version of a story from Mark is usually pithier than a version of the same story from Matthew or Luke.  That statement does not apply to Matthew 17:14-21, which is abbreviated from Mark 9:14-29.  It is as if the author of Matthew wanted to get to the point.  He has also changed the meaning of the story from a statement to Christology to the background for a pronouncement regarding the power of faith, faith meaning trust in divine power, in this case.

The pericope from Matthew 17 indicates that the Apostles could not heal the boy, whom the culture said was moonstruck, or afflicted by the moon goddess Selene, because they had insufficient trust in the power of God, which was available to them.  They could have done more, via divine power, of course, had they been more confident in God.

Martin Luther, a morally troublesome character in many ways, was correct much of the time.  For example, his advice when baptized people questioned their salvation was to trust in the faithfulness of God.  That counsel applies to other circumstances also.  And, as we trust in divine faithfulness, may we glorify God, not ourselves.

JUNE 6, 2015 COMMON ERA

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

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

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM KETHE, PRESBYTERIAN HYMN WRITER

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2015/06/06/devotion-for-wednesday-after-proper-18-year-b-elca-daily-lectionary/

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Divine Sovereignty   1 comment

Daniel's Answer to the King

Above:  Daniel’s Answer to the King, by Briton Riviere

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

Sovereign God, raise your throne in our hearts.

Created by you, let us live in your image;

created for you, let us act for your glory;

redeemed by you, let us give you what is yours,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 50

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The Assigned Readings:

Daniel 6:1-28

Psalm 98

Matthew 17:22-27

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In 539 B.C.E. King Cyrus II (reigned 559-530 B.C.E.) of the Persians and the Medes conquered the Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian Empire.  Yet the author of Daniel 6 wrote of one “Darius the Mede,” whom he listed as a king who reigned between the fall of Babylon and the time of Cyrus II.  As I wrote in the previous post, the chronology of the Book of Daniel makes no sense.  Evangelical-oriented resources in my Biblical studies library struggle to explain this historical discrepancy.  One even suggests that “Darius the Mede” might have been the regnal name of Cyrus II in the former Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian Empire, but Daniel 6 lists “Darius the Mede” and Cyrus II as separate people.  Yet I, unlike the author of those works, do not labor under the false notion of Biblical inerrancy or infallibility.  So “Darius the Mede,” most likely (at least partially) a backward projection of Darius I (reigned 522-486 B.C.E.), a successor of Cyrus II, never existed as the Book of Daniel presents him.  The application of Ockham’s Razor to this issue leads one to avoid needless intellectual gymnastics based on a false assumption.

Here is a summary of the story:  Daniel, who had worked for the Chaldeans, went to work for the Persians, the text tells us.  (He must have been really old!)  Daniel was loyal, but court intrigue led to a charge of treason, hence the lion’s den.  Our hero survived unscathed (as had Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego in Chapter 3), of course.  And, as in Chapter 3, the monarch changed his mind and recognized the power of Yahweh.

The main point of this story, I suppose, is to trust God, who is sovereign over nations, kingdoms, empires, and rulers.  That, at least, is the point of the tale of Daniel in the lions’ den shares with the pericope from Matthew 17.  There God provided the money for a tax payable to the Roman Empire.  The display of divine power in both stories was the unmistakable.

To trust God in mundane circumstances can prove difficult.  To do so in dire and extreme circumstances might seem impossible or nearly so.  Yet the latter context is when grace becomes more obvious.  Grace is always present, of course, but it is like a lamp in a room; the light is more obvious in the darkness.  That has been my experience.  Deliverance did not arrive immediately, but at least I had excellent company while I waited.  And that company, present before darkness fell, remained with me.  And I have been more conscious of it since then.  Trusting God has become much easier for me.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 1, 2014 COMMON ERA

LABOR DAY (U.S.A.)

THE FEAST OF SAINT FIACRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT

THE FEAST OF ARTHUR MACARTHUR, COFOUNDER OF THE UNITED REFORMED CHURCH

THE FEAST OF DAVID PENDLETON OAKERHATER, EPISCOPAL DEACON

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Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2014/09/01/devotion-for-wednesday-after-proper-24-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

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Deuteronomy and Matthew, Part XVII: Mutual Responsibility   1 comment

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Above:  Jesus Blessing Little Children

Created by Currier & Ives, Circa 1867

Image Source = Library of Congress

(http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2002707662/)

Reproduction Number = LC-USZC2-2693

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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:

Deuteronomy 25:17-26:19 (October 24)

Deuteronomy 27:1-26 (October 25)

Deuteronomy 28:1-22 (October 26)

Psalm 143 (Morning–October 24)

Psalm 86 (Morning–October 25)

Psalm 122 (Morning–October 26)

Psalms 81 and 116 (Evening–October 24)

Psalms 6 and 19 (Evening–October 25)

Psalms 141 and 90 (Evening–October 26)

Matthew 17:1-13 (October 24)

Matthew 17:14-27 (October 25)

Matthew 18:1-20 (October 26)

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Some Related Posts:

Deuteronomy 26:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/tenth-day-of-lent/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/05/07/first-sunday-in-lent-year-c/

Matthew 17:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/fourteenth-day-of-advent/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/11/07/last-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-a/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/01/28/week-of-proper-13-saturday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/02/03/week-of-proper-14-monday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/03/week-of-proper-13-friday-year-2-and-week-of-proper-13-saturday-year-2/

Matthew 18:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/tenth-day-of-advent/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/eighteenth-day-of-lent/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/02/04/week-of-proper-14-tuesday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/02/06/week-of-proper-14-wednesday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/12/proper-18-year-a/

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We are all responsible for each other.  And God will provide.  Both statements flow from the assigned readings from Deuteronomy and Matthew.  In some circumstances they merge into the following statement:  Sometimes God provides via human agents.  Thus there are blessings upon those who defend the rights of strangers, widows, and orphans, just as there are curses upon those who violate those rights.  Curses in Deuteronomy 28 include drought, unsuccessful enterprises, and epidemics of hemorrhoids.  Anyone who comes to God must do so without pretense—as a small child—and woe unto anyone who causes one to stumble!  What one person does affects others.

We are responsible for each other.  So may we put aside selfishness.  May our ambitions build others and ourselves up, not elevate ourselves to the detriment of others.  May we treat others as we want others to treat us.  May we act confidently, assured that God will provide, which is the point of Matthew 17:27.  May we recognize and treat others as bearers of the image of God and therefore worthy of respect and human dignity.  By helping them we aid ourselves.  By harming them we hurt ourselves.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 8, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BENEDICT II, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF DAME JULIAN OF NORWICH, SPIRITUAL WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAGDALENA OF CANOSSA, FOUNDER OF THE DAUGHTERS OF CHARITY AND THE SONS OF CHARITY

THE FEAST OF SAINT PETER OF TARENTAISE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP

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Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/05/08/devotion-for-october-24-25-and-26-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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Jesus, Consistent With the Law and the Prophets   1 comment

Above:  Mount Tabor, Traditional Site of the Transfiguration

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Exodus 24:12-18 (New Revised Standard Version):

The LORD said to Moses,

Come up to me on the mountain, and wait there; and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.

So Moses set out with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God. To the elders he had said,

Wait here for us, until we come to you again; for Aaron and Hur are with you; whoever has a dispute may go to them.

Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. The glory of the LORD settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the cloud. Now the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. Moses entered the cloud, and went up on the mountain. Moses was on the mountain for forty days and forty nights.

THEN THIS PSALM

Psalm 2 (New Revised Standard Version):

Why do the the nations conspire,

and the peoples plot in vain?

The kings of the earth set themselves,

and the rulers take counsel together,

against the LORD and his anointed, saying,

Let us burst their bonds asunder,

and cast their cords from us.

He who sits in the heavens laughs;

the LORD has them in derision.

Then he will speak to them in his wrath,

and terrify them in his fury, saying,

I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill.

I will tell of the decree of the LORD:

He said to me,

You are my son;

today I have begotten you.

Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,

and the ends of the earth your possession.

You shall break them with a rod of iron,

and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.

Now therefore, O kings, be wise;

be warned, O rulers of the earth.

Serve the LORD with fear,

with trembling kiss his feet,

or he will be angry, and you will perish in the way;

for his wrath is quickly kindled.

Happy are all who take refuge in him.

OR THIS PSALM

Psalm 99 (New Revised Standard Version):

The LORD is king; let the peoples tremble!

He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!

The LORD is great in Zion;

he is exalted over all the peoples.

Let them praise your great and awesome name.

Holy is he!

Mighty King, lover of justice,

you have established equity;

you have executed justice

and righteousness in Jacob.

Extol the LORD our God;

worship at his footstool.

Holy is he!

Moses and Aaron were among his priests,

Samuel also was among those who called on his name.

They cried to the LORD, and he answered them.

He spoke to them in the pillar of cloud;

they kept his decrees,

and the statutes that he gave them.

O LORD our God, you answered them;

you were a forgiving God to them,

but an avenger of their wrongdoings.

Extol the LORD our God,

and worship at his holy mountain;

for the LORD our God is holy.

THEN THE EPISTLE READING

2 Peter 1:16-21 (New Revised Standard Version):

We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying,

This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.

We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain.

So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

THEN THE GOSPEL READING

Matthew 17:1-9 (New Revised Standard Version):

Six days after Peter had acknowledged Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus,

Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.

While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said,

This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!

When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying,

Get up and do not be afraid.

And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.

As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them,

Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.

The Collect:

O God, who before the passion of your only­begotten Son revealed his glory upon the holy mountain: Grant to us that we, beholding by faith the light of his countenance, may be strengthened to bear our cross, and be changed into his likeness from glory to glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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When I read about events such as the Ascension and the Transfiguration I suspect that more happened than I read in texts.  I do not doubt the veracity of the accounts, but I suspect that words were inadequate to the full scope of events in question.  One just had to be there to get the full effect, and I am about 2,000 years too late for that.

The Transfiguration was a revelatory experience for the accompanying apostles.  They glimpsed the true nature of Jesus, which entails being consistent with the Law (Moses) and the Prophets (Elijah).  [A true story:  Recently Beth Long, my Rector, repeated a question a child in the parish asked.  How, this young person queried, did the apostles recognize Moses and Elijah?  Beth replied that she did not know.  Indeed, that is an intriguing question and a plot hole, but it does not distract me from the point of having Jesus, Moses, and Elijah together briefly.]  Yet Peter–”God bless him,” as we say in the U.S. South–wanted to remain in the moment and institutionalize it.  This reaction, although well-intentioned, was misguided, for Jesus and the apostles needed to move along.

They were headed for Jerusalem, where the Passion Narrative would unfold. The Gospel of Luke contains another account of the Transfiguration. Just a few verses after that passage, Jesus “turned his face toward Jerusalem,” and his impending death. (Luke 9:51) This is an important turning point in the Gospel of Luke, and one should read verses before it and after it in its context.  With that in mind, I propose that the Transfiguration was also a “booster shot” for Jesus, who was about the embark on a difficult, yet necessary, course.

When pondering the calendar of the Christian Church, one needs to remember that the earliest feast Christians observed was Easter.  Even Christmas (the observance of which developed later) exists in the shadow of Easter.  And the Transfiguration does, also.

The placement of the Transfiguration on this Sunday is appropriate because the next season in the Christian year is Lent, and the next Sunday will be the First Sunday in Lent.  At the end of that 40-days season is Holy Week.  So we Christians need to set our faces toward Jerusalem, too.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 16, 2010 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF RUFUS JONES, QUAKER THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN FRANCIS REGIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH BUTLER, ANGLICAN BISHOP

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Adapted from this post:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/11/07/last-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-a/

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Jesus: In Continuity with the Prophets   3 comments

Above:  The Prophet Elijah and the Widow of Zarapheth

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Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 48:1-11 (Revised English Bible):

Then there arose Elijah, a prophet like fire,

whose word blazed like a torch.

He brought famine on the people,

and in his zeal reduced them in number.

By the word of the Lord he shut up the sky,

and three times he called down fire from heaven.

How glorious you were, Elijah, in your miracles!

Who else can boast such deeds?

By the word of the Most High

you raised a corpse from death and the grave.

You sent kings and famous men

from their sick-beds down to destruction.

You heard a rebuke at Sinai,

a sentence of doom at Horeb.

You anointed kings for retribution,

and a prophet to succeed you.

You were taken up to heaven in a fiery whirlwind,

in a chariot drawn by horses of fire.

Scripture records that you are to come at the appointed time

to allay the divine wrath before it erupts in fury,

to reconcile father and son,

and to restore the tribes of Jacob.

Happy are those who see you,

happy those who have fallen asleep in love!

(For we also shall certainly live.)

Psalm 80:1-3, 14-19 (Revised English Bible):

Hear us, Shepherd of Israel,

leading Joseph like a flock.

Shine forth, as you sit enthroned on the cherubim,

Leading Ephraim, Benjamin, Manasseh,

rouse your might and come to our rescue.

God, restore us,

and make your face shine on us, that we may be saved.

God of hosts, turn to us, we pray;

look down from heaven and see.

Tend this vine,

this stock which your right hand has planted.

May those who set it on fire and cut it down

perish before your angry look.

Let your hand rest on the one at your right side,

the one whom you have made strong for your service.

Then we shall not turn back from you;

grant us new life, and we shall invoke you by name.

LORD God of Hosts, restore us,

and make your face shine on us, that we may be saved.

Matthew 17:9-13 (Revised English Bible):

(This reading is set immediately after the Transfiguration.)

On their way down the mountain, Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone of the vision until the Son of Man had been raised from the dead.  The disciples put a question to him:

Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?

He replied,

Elijah is to come and set everything right.  But I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they failed to recognize him, and did to him as they wanted; in the same way the Son of Man must suffer at their hands.

Then the disciples understood that he meant John the Baptist.

The Collect:

Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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I am a Christian.  By this simple statement I mean that I am a partisan of Christ, one who follows Jesus of Nazareth.  As such I affirm the humanity, divinity, life, death, resurrection, and teachings of the Lord and Savior.  Jesus is the incarnation of God, in line with the Prophets, the last of which was John the Baptist, and the ultimate expression of what a human life can be and can be worth.

I grew up in southern Georgia, the buckle of the Baptist Belt.  There the dominant church culture places great stress of verbal confessions of faith–too much, I think, often at the expense of a quieter, lived, non-verbal orthodoxy.  My faith runs deeply, but rarely in Baptist-style vocalizations.  So, for example, very little of my prayer life is oral, especially in public.  From time to time I have had negative encounters with earnest Baptists and other Protestants who have not understood my faith and approach to it.  And I felt no obligation to justify myself to them.  I still don’t.

Growing up in southern Georgia, I was a relative heretic.  (Not that anything is wrong with that, to borrow a phrase from a Seinfeld episode.)  Nevertheless, I am actually more orthodox than many people might suspect.  Seldom do I get into this with people, for God, not they, is my judge.

Anyway, I make these points at this time and in this place because they fit the readings.  I am writing these words on Memorial Day 2010, but the stated occasion is the Fourteenth Day of Advent, in December.  (I like to write ahead of time.) These readings indicate that Jesus stands in line with the Prophets of Yahweh while one of them foreshadows his death and resurrection.  In the midst of expectation we find a mention of the dark side of the narrative.

So, while the countdown to Christmas continues, let us remember the rest of the story.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 31, 2010 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE VISITATION OF MARY TO ELIZABETH

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Adapted from this post:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/fourteenth-day-of-advent/

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