Archive for the ‘Matthew 5’ Category

The Sixth Vision of First Zechariah   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of Zechariah

Image in the Public Domain

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

READING HAGGAI-FIRST ZECHARIAH, PART X

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Zechariah 5:1-4

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The contents of Zechariah 1:7-6:15 date to early February 519 B.C.E. (1:7).

The sixth vision (5:1-4) was of a flying scroll about 30 feet long and about 15 feet wide.  The scroll was about the size of the portico of the Great Hall of the First Temple (1 Kings 6:3).  The purpose of the curse on this remarkable scroll was to remove all crime–namely, theft and perjury–from the land.  There was no room such transgressions in the ideal society to come–in either Judah or the world, depending on the translation of 5:3.

Zechariah 5:1-4 get us, O reader, into the realm of curses.  I, as a modern person grounded in science, give them barely a thought, except to dismiss them as superstitions.  I do not think, therefore, as the authors of Zechariah 5:1-4; Judges 17:2; Numbers 5; and Deuteronomy 29:19 did.  The importance of a curse, Biblically, relates to that of an oath.  (See Leviticus 5:20-24; Proverbs 29:24; Exodus 22:9-11/22:8-10; Judges 11:29-40; Matthew 5:33-37; et cetera.)  The importance of curses also relates to that of blessings, as in Numbers 27:1-45; Numbers 22-24; et cetera.

The emphasis on maintaining the integrity of the community of Zechariah 5:1-4 is a timeless principle, though.  May more people act according to mutuality, one of the pillars of the Law of Moses.

The importance of blessings, curses, and oaths in the Bible points to another timeless principle:  words matter.  Notice the mention of perjury in Zechariah 5:1-4, O reader.  One may recall Daniel 13, the story of Susanna, in which perjury almost cost an innocent woman her life.  The penalty for perjury in the Law of Moses is:

If the witness is a false witness, and has falsely accused the other, you shall do to the false witness just as that false witness planned to do to the other.  Thus you shall purge evil from your midst.

–Deuteronomy 19:18b-19, The New American Bible–Revised Edition (2011)

For more commentary about the importance and power of words, read James 3:1-12.  That which the author of that epistle wrote goes double or triple in the age of social media.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 14, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JUSTIN DE JACOBIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY BISHOP IN ETHIOPIA; AND SAINT MICHAEL GHEBRE, ETHIOPIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT CAMILLUS DE LELLIS, ITALIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND FOUNDER OF THE MINISTERS OF THE SICK

THE FEAST OF LEON MCKINLEY ADKINS, U.S. METHODIST MINISTER, POET, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF MATTHEW BRIDGES, HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAMSON OCCUM, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MISSIONARY TO NATIVE AMERICANS

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Rise and Fall of Judah’s Political Leaders   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of Ezekiel

Image in the Public Domain

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

READING EZEKIEL, PART X

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Ezekiel 17:1-24

Ezekiel 19:1-14

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

For this post, O reader, we focus on two allegories.

Ezekiel 17 is the allegory of the eagles, the vine, and the cedar.  For background, read 2 Kings 24-25; Jeremiah 21:14; Jeremiah 22:1-8, 20-30; Jeremiah 27-29; Jeremiah 34; Jeremiah 52; 2 Chronicles 36; 1 Esdras 1:43-58;

The allegory, by definition, uses symbols.  The allegory tells the story of King Jehoiachin of Judah allying with Egypt against the Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian Empire, losing, and going into exile in 597 B.C.E.  The allegory continues to describe King Zedekiah‘s failed rebellion, and his fate.  The code of the allegory is as follows:

  1. The great eagle = King Nebuchadnezzar II of the Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian Empire (r. 605-562 B.C.E.) (v. 3).
  2. Lebanon = Jerusalem (v. 3).
  3. The topmost branch = Jehoiachin (r. 597 B.C.E.) (v. 3).
  4. The land of merchants = Babylon (v. 4).
  5. The native seed = Zedekiah (r. 597-586 B.C.E.) (v. 5).
  6. Another great eagle = Pharoah Psammetichus II (r. 595-589 B.C.E.) (v. 7).
  7. The vine = the Davidic Dynastry (vs. 7-8).

Ezekiel 17:18f and 2 Chronicles 36:13 argue that Zedekiah had violated his oath of vassalage by rebelling against King Nebuchadnezzar II, and thereby sinned against God.  These texts also argue that Zedekiah earned his punishment.  This position is consistent with the importance of oaths in the Bible (Genesis 24:7; Genesis 26:3, 28-31; Genesis 50:24; Exodus 13:5, 11; Exodus 20:7; Exodus 33:1; Leviticus 5:1-4; Leviticus 19:12; Numbers 5:17; Numbers 14:16, 30; Numbers 32:11; Deuteronomy 1:8, 35; Deuteronomy 6:10; Judges 11:11-40; 1 Kings 8:31-32; 1 Chronicles 12:19; 2 Chronicles 6:22-23; Psalm 16:4; Isaiah 62:8; Isaiah 144:8; Hosea 4:15; Amos 8:14; Matthew 5:36; et cetera).et cetera

Ezekiel 17 concludes on a note of future restoration (vs. 22-24).  One Jewish interpretation of the final three verses holds that the construction of the Second Temple, under the supervision of Zerubbabel, of the House of David, fulfilled this prophecy (Haggai 2:20-23).  That interpretation does not convince me.  The prophecy concerns the restoration of the Jewish nation.  My sense of the past tells me that one may not feasibly apply this prophecy to the events following 142 B.C.E. and 1948 B.C.E., given the absence of the Davidic Dynasty in Hasmonean Judea and modern Israel.

The emphasis on divine power and human weakness defines the end of Chapter 17.

Ezekiel 19, which uses the metaphors of the lion (the tribe of Judah; Genesis 49:9) and the vine (the nation of the Hebrews), is a lament for the fall of the Judean monarchy.  For Ezekiel, priests properly outrank kings (34:24; 45:7-8), so Kings of Judah are “princes.”  The first cub (v. 4) is King Jehoahaz of Judah (r. 609 B.C.E.).  The second cub may be either King Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, or Zedekiah of Judah.  The identity of the second cub is vague, but the prediction of the destruction of the monarchy of Judah is clear.

Leaders come and go.  Kingdoms, empires, and nation-states rise and fall.  All that is human is transitory.  But God lasts forever.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 28, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN GERARD, ENGLISH JESUIT PRIEST; AND MARY WARD, FOUNDRESS OF THE INSTITUTE OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

THE FEAST OF CLARA LOUISE MAASS, U.S. LUTHERAN NURSE AND MARTYR, 1901

THE FEAST OF SAINTS PLUTARCH, MARCELLA, POTANOMINAENA, AND BASILIDES OF ALEXANDRIA, MARTYRS, 202

THE FEAST OF SAINT TERESA MARIA MASTERS, FOUNDRESS OF THE INSTITUTE OF THE SISTERS OF THE HOLY FACE

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM AND JOHN MUNDY, ENGLISH COMPOSERS AND MUSICIANS

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

This is post #2550 of BLOGA THEOLOGICA.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Vibes of Translations: A Case Study Invoking John 1:14a   Leave a comment

Above:  The Hebrew Tabernacle in the Wilderness

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

A Biblical translation has its vibe.

Years ago, at the Episcopal Center at The University of Georgia, I was participating in a Bible study one night.  The passage was the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12).  The study method was the African Bible study, by which the group heard the same passage read aloud three times, each time in a different version, and asked a different question each time.  After Carrie read from The Living Bible (New Testament, 1969), all of us present sang,

I’d like to teach the world to sing

in perfect harmony.

I’d like to buy the world a Coke

and keep it company.

The Living Bible is of its time.  That is the most polite evaluation I can offer of it.  My opinion of The Living Bible is so low as to be subterranean.  If I were to represent my opinion of that version numerically, I would use a negative number on a scale.  But I would still rate The Living Bible higher than The Message.

To my main point now….

The Prologue (1:1-18) of the Gospel of John is one of the most profound sections in the Bible.  That Prologue is theologically rich, like the rest of that Gospel.  And John 1:1-18 is one of the portions of scripture I read when evaluating a translation.  If a translation botches the Prologue to the Gospel of John, I read no more in that version.  Literary quality and theological subtlety are standards I apply to that evaluation.

The Revised Standard Version (New Testament, 1946; plus Old Testament, 1952; Second Edition, 1971) provides the standard English translation of John 1:14a:

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth….

Two translation choices stand out in my mind.  First, “dwelt” is literal from the Greek, according to commentaries I have read.  Second, the Greek text reads, literally, “in,” not “among.”

Other versions offer similar readings.  For example, The Revised English Bible (1989) tells us:

So the Word became flesh; he made his home among us,….

The New American Bible–Revised Edition (2011) reads:

And the Word became flesh

and made his dwelling among us,….

And The New Jerusalem Bible (1985) tells us:

The Word became flesh,

he lived among us,….

Helen Barrett Montgomery (1861-1934) hit the proverbial nail on the head in her Centenary Translation of the New Testament (1924):

And the Word became flesh and tented with us…

William Barclay (1907-1978) also translated John 1:14a well:

So the word of God became a person, and took up his abode in our being….

Barclay picked up on the literal meaning of a particular Greek word meaning “in,” not “among.”  He also tied John 1:14a to the theme of indwelling that runs throughout the Fourth Gospel.  Jesus dwelt in YHWH, YHWH dwelt in Jesus, and followers of Jesus dwelt in him, and, therefore, in YHWH.

The reference to dwelling or tenting is to the tent of the Tabernacle, as in Exodus 25:8d.  Literally, in John 1:14, the Logos of God pitched a tent.   The Greek verb meaning “to tent” resembles the Hebrew root for “to dwell” and the Hebrew word from which the noun shekinah (divine presence) derives.

The meaning pertains to Realized Eschatology in the Johannine Gospel:  God was fully present among human beings in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.  Father Raymond E. Brown‘s extensive and extremely detailed and verbose commentary (1966) on the Gospel of John makes the connection between John 1:14 and Revelation 21:3:

“Behold the dwelling of God is with men….”

Revised Standard Version

According to Father Brown:

Thus, in dwelling among men, the Word anticipates the divine presence which according to Revelation will be visible to men in the last days.

The Gospel According to John (I-XII) (1966), 33

However extremely few merits Eugene Peterson’s The Message (2002) may have, literary grace is not one of them.  Consider this rendering of John 1:14a, O reader:

The Word became flesh and blood

and moved into the neighborhood.

Now I return to the question of the vibe of a translation.  “…Moved into the neighborhood,” in my North American context, carries a certain connotation.  I hear that phrasing and think of a scenario in which a prosperous, professional Latino or African-American family has moved into a conservative White suburb, and the White bigots have started fretting about the possibility of declining property values.  Peterson’s translation of John 1:14a leads my mind far away from what is really happening in that verse in the Fourth Gospel.  The unfortunate wording in The Message makes me think of White upper-class bigots bemoaning,

“There goes the neighborhood!”

Furthermore, Peterson’s translation of John 1:14a functions as another example of my main criticism of that version:  It commits the sin of being kitschy.  No Biblical translation should be kitschy.

I have decided to read Helen Barrett Montgomery’s Centenary Translation of the New Testament (1924).  She had the Word pitching a tent, consistent with the meaning of the Greek text.  I like the vibe of her translation.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 22, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HANS SCHOLL, SOPHIE SCHOLL, AND CHRISTOPH PROBST, ANTI-NAZI MARTYRS AT MUNICH, GERMANY, 1943

THE FEAST OF BERNHARDT SEVERIN INGEMANN, DANISH LUTHERAN AUTHOR AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF EDWARD HOPPER, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA, PENITENT AND FOUNDRESS OF THE POOR ONES

THE FEAST OF SAINT PRAETEXTATUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF ROUEN

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Salt and Light, Part II   Leave a comment

Above:  A Salt Shaker

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

For the Fourth Sunday after Trinity, Year 2

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Grant, O Lord, we beseech thee, that the course of this world

may be so peaceably ordered by thy governance,

that thy Church may joyfully serve thee in all godly quietness;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Worship (1947), 190

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

1 Samuel 3:1-9

Psalm 75

Acts 6:1-15; 7:54-60

Matthew 5:13-16

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

But I shall confess him for ever;

I shall sing praises to the God of Jacob.

He will break down the strength of the wicked,

but the strength of the righteous will be raised high.

–Psalm 75:9-10, The Revised English Bible (1989)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Yes, but martyrdom remains possible.  Ask St. Stephen the Deacon, Christian protomartyr.

Samuel,  of course, grew up and became one of the great religious leaders of the people of Israel had.  People did not always heed his advice, though.  Yet Samuel did his best to be salt and light where and when he was.

Salt is interesting.  An insufficient quantity of it is negative.  So is an excessive quantity.  Likewise, light pollution is real; just as too much darkness is negative.  However, enough salt and light are positive.  Equilibrium, then, is essential.

The Christian Church has a calling to be salt and light in the world.  Each member of the Church as the same mandate, too.  Christian history is a mixed bag, though.  Stains on the record of the Church include Anti-Semitism, Inquisitions, Crusades, and witch hunts.  These and other examples of sins committed in the name of Christ testify to severe blind spots in the minds of institutions and individuals.  These and other examples are evidence of darkness, not light.

By grace, may we–collectively and individually–shed more light and less darkness.  May God shine through us.  And may we add the flavor of God where it is lacking.  But may our zeal not manifest itself in ways that work against our purpose.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 13, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT HILARY OF POITIERS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF POITIERS, “ATHANASIUS OF THE WEST,” AND HYMN WRITER; AND HIS PROTÉGÉ, SAINT MARTIN OF TOURS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF TOURS

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN KEIMANN, GERMAN LUTHERAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF GEORGE FOX, FOUNDER OF THE RELIGIOUS SOCIETY OF FRIENDS

THE FEAST OF MARY SLESSOR, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN MISSIONARY IN WEST AFRICA

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL PREISWERK, SWISS REFORMED MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Divine Preference for the Poor, Part III   Leave a comment

Above:  The Parish Soup Kitchen, by George Elgar Hicks

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

For the Third Sunday Before Lent, Year 2

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

O Lord, we beseech thee favorably to hear the prayers of thy people;

that we, who are justly punished for our offenses,

may be mercifully delivered by thy goodness, for the glory of thy Name;

though Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord,

who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit,

ever one God, world without end.  Amen.

The Book of Worship (1947), 136

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Ezekiel 3:4-11

Psalm 86

1 Corinthians 11:17-34

Matthew 5:1-16

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Some people are hopelessly stubborn; they refuse to heed wisdom.  They persist in telling God and those who speak for God to go fly a kite, so to speak.  They persist in behavior that harms even members of their community and congregation.

Taking the Holy Eucharist improperly has long been a topic for theologians and denominations.  Many of them have resorted to an excessive, Donatistic emphasis on doctrine as the litmus test for partaking of that sacrament.  Some still do.  I, as an Episcopalian, am, according to some denominations with congregations in my town, one of the theologically and doctrinally impure.  Therefore, if I were, theoretically, to take communion in any of those denominations, I would violate the rule of closed communion.  I favor open communion.  That is how “impure” I am.

The issue in Corinth had a particular context.  The Eucharist was still a communal meal in a house church.  Members of the congregation came from a variety of economic backgrounds.  Poorer members depended partially on food wealthier members provided.  Denying those vulnerable members of the church what they needed was wrong.  So was mistaking the Eucharist for an opportunity to drink too much.

The lectionary committee’s choice to schedule the Beatitudes from Matthew 5 was odd.  The Beatitudes and Woes from Luke 6 would have been better.  “Blessed are you who are poor” would have fit better than “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”

The poor are always with us.  A combination of factors, from sound economic policy to good decisions, can raise many of them out of poverty.  Yet, even under the best of circumstances in the human order, the poor will always be with us.  Helping them is the wise, ethical course.  Blaming and scorning them is not.  Neither is criminalizing poverty, another matter of policy.

I write this post during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The economic damage of that virus is severe.  May governments and other institutions play their part in doing what they can–rebuilding systems and infrastructures so that the opportunities for the economically devastated to lead better lives will exist.  May the post-COVID-19 economic order be just.  And may we, as individuals, do what we can.  May we have proper attitudes, with actions to match.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 11, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE THIRTEENTH DAY OF ADVENT

THE FEAST OF LUKE OF PRAGUE AND JOHN AUGUSTA, MORAVIAN BISHOPS AND HYMN WRITERS

THE FEAST OF SAINT KAZIMIERZ TOMASZ SYKULSKI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1942

THE FEAST OF LARS OLSEN SKREFSRUD, HANS PETER BOERRESEN, AND PAUL OLAF BODDING, LUTHERAN MISSIONARIES IN INDIA

THE FEAST OF MARYRS OF EL MOZOTE, EL SALVADOR, DECEMBER 11-12, 1981

THE FEAST OF SAINT SEVERIN OTT, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Reaping What One Sows II   Leave a comment

Above:  Harvest

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

For the Ninth Sunday after Trinity, Year 1

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Let thy merciful ears, O Lord, be open to the prayers of thy humble servants:

and, that they may obtain their petitions,

make them to ask such things as shall please thee;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Worship (1947), 199

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Ezekiel 14:1-11

Psalm 44:1-6, 18-26

Galatians 6:1-10

Matthew 5:38-48

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

One reaps what one sows.  Galatians 6:7 provides the language.  The concept exists in Psalm 44 and Ezekiel 14:1-11.  Given that we reap what we sow, we should sow goodness, an ethic consistent with all four readings.

Ezekiel 14:1-11 contains a subtlety that does not translate into English, at least not well.  The text condemns idolatry, or, as TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985), renders the Hebrew word, “fetishes.”  The literal translation, however, is “dung balls.”  That gets to the point!

Let us never tire of doing good, for if we do not slacken our efforts, we shall in due season reap our harvest.

–Galatians 6:9, The Revised English Bible (1989)

Do we want to harvest goodness or dung balls?  What kind of people do we want to be?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 20, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHANNES BUGENHAGEN, GERMAN LUTHERAN THEOLOGIAN, MINISTER, LITURGIST, AND “PASTOR OF THE REFORMATION”

THE FEAST OF SAINTS AMATOR OF AUXERRE AND GERMANUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; SAINT MAMERTINUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AND SAINT MARCIAN OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN X, KING OF DENMARK AND ICELAND; AND HIS BROTHER, HAAKON VII, KING OF NORWAY

THE FEAST OF MARION MACDONALD KELLARAN, EPISCOPAL SEMINARY PROFESSOR AND LAY LEADER

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Mutuality in God III   Leave a comment

Above:  The Sermon of the Beatitudes, by James Tissot

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

For the Eighth Sunday after Trinity, Year 1

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

O God, whose never-failing Providence ordereth all things in heaven and earth;

we humbly beseech thee to put away from us all hurtful things,

and to give us those things which may be profitable for us;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Worship (1947), 196

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Jeremiah 23:16-32

Psalm 40:1-11

2 Corinthians 4:1-10

Matthew 5:27-37

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Mutuality is a value the Law of Moses teaches.  We depend entirely on God.  Self-sufficiency is a lie and a delusion.  In that context, we depend on each other, are responsible to each other, and are responsible for each other.  We have no right to exploit, victimize, or objectify one another.  We have no right to make a mockery of the spirit of the law while superficially satisfying its letter.

I choose to bypass the explanation of cultural contexts and to land on the main ideas in this post.  Cultural contexts come and go, but timeless principles last forever.  Mistaking a culturally-specific example of a timeless principle is a road to legalism, which misses the spirit of the Law.  Many false prophets (as in Jeremiah 23) may think they are genuine articles.  Many of them are legalists.  They are still on the way to destruction.

Jesus had a way with commandments; he made them more rigorous without falling into legalism.  He did not, of course, advocate for self-mutilation (Matthew 5:29-30).  Eyes and hands do not cause sins.  However, hyperbole is a legitimate rhetorical device.

Scripture is one context within which to read and interpret scripture.  Therefore, I propose that, if you, O reader, read this post and despair for yourself, that you need not do that for long.  Repentance is a daily spiritual task, and divine mercy exists.  To quote Psalm 103:3-4 (Mitchell J. Dahood, 1970):

If you should keep record of iniquities, Yah,

Lord, who could survive?

But with you there is forgiveness,

that you might be revered.

Amen.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 19, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALPHEGE, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY, AND MARTYR, 1012

THE FEAST OF DAVID BRAINERD, AMERICAN CONGREGATIONALIST THEN PRESBYTERIAN MISSIONARY AND MINISTER

THE FEAST OF SAINT EMMA OF LESUM, BENEFACTOR

THE FEAST OF MARY C. COLLINS, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MISSIONARY AND MINISTER

THE FEAST OF OLAVUS PETRI, SWEDISH LUTHERAN THEOLOGIAN, HISTORIAN, LITURGIST, MINISTER, HYMN WRITER, HYMN TRANSLATOR, AND “FATHER OF SWEDISH LITERATURE;” AND HIS BROTHER, LAURENTIUS PETRI, SWEDISH LUTHERAN ARCHBISHOP OF UPPSALA, BIBLE TRANSLATOR, AND “FATHER OF SWEDISH HYMNODY”

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Kingdom of Heaven   Leave a comment

Above:  Lion with Lamb

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

For the Fourth Sunday after Trinity, Year 1

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Grant, O Lord, we beseech thee, that the course of this world

may be so peaceably ordered by thy governance,

that thy Church may joyfully serve thee in all godly quietness;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Worship (1947), 190

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Isaiah 65:17-19, 24, 25

Psalms 20 and 21:1-7

Galatians 3:1-9

Matthew 5:7-12

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Isaiah 65 comes from Third Isaiah.  The text’s immediate context is the disllusionment of exiles who returned to their ancestral homeland and found a heap, not a paradise.  Isaiah 65 predicts the messianic age, when God will transform society and creation itself.  The familiar text, with the image of the wolf and the lamb grazing together, seems so wonderful as to be unrealistic, from a particular perspective.  Isaiah 65’s vision of an ideal world is consistent with the Kingdom of Heaven (the fully-realized Kingdom of God on earth) in Matthew.  The Beatitudes describe the new, renewed social order.

We still wait for that time.  Psalms 20 and 21 reflect the context of combat, inconsistent with the Kingdom of Heaven.  Combat remains a reality, of course.  And the foolishness of the Galatians has contemporary parallels.  We live in a broken world.  Social media amplify our brokenness and increase the number of opportunities to reveal our cruelty, stupidity, shallowness, and ignorance for many to witness.  The only things new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9) are circumstances.

I long for the day when the wolf and the lamb will graze together, the lion will eat straw like the ox, and the serpent will eat soil.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 15, 2020 COMMON ERA

WEDNESDAY IN EASTER WEEK

THE FEAST OF SAINT OLGA OF KIEV, REGENT OF KIEVAN RUSSIA; SAINT ADALBERT OF MAGDEBURG, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP; SAINT ADALBERT OF PRAGUE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF MARTYR, 997; AND SAINTS BENEDICT AND GAUDENTIUS OF POMERANIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS, 997

THE FEAST OF SAINTS DAMIEN AND MARIANNE OF MOLOKAI, WORKERS AMONG LEPERS

THE FEAST OF SAINT FLAVIA DOMITILLA, ROMAN CATHOLIC NOBLEWOMAN; AND SAINTS MARO, EUTYCHES, AND VICTORINUS OF ROME, PRIESTS AND MARTYS, CIRCA 99

THE FEAST OF SAINT HUNNA OF ALSACE, THE “HOLY WASHERWOMAN”

THE FEAST OF LUCY CRAFT LANEY, AFRICAN-AMERICAN PRESBYTERIAN EDUCATOR AND CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Character, Part I   3 comments

Above:  Jephthah

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Judges 11:1-8, 30-40 or Jeremiah 7:1-15

Psalm 90:1-10, 13-17

Romans 2:13-29

Luke 9:51-62

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Judges 11, in which we read of the judge Jephthah, is certainly absent from books of Bible stories for children.  I wonder if Jesus had the fate of Jephthah’s unnamed daughter in mind when he taught not to swear an oath, but to let yes be yes and no be no (Matthew 5:33-37).  Tammi J. Schneider is correct; in the story of Jephthah we read of a man who had

no qualities, no deeds, no crisis, no God.

We also read of a man who reaped what he sowed.  Unfortunately, we read that his daughter reaped it, too.

The Hebrew Bible describes the character of God mostly by recounting what God did and had done.  By the same logic, we are like what we do and have done.

What do we do?  Do we seek wisdom?  Do we practice idolatry?  Do we practice and/or condone economic injustice?  Do we oppress aliens?  Do we deal fairly with each other?  Do we make excuses for not following God?  Is the law of God written on our hearts?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 15, 2020 COMMON ERA

WEDNESDAY IN EASTER WEEK

THE FEAST OF SAINT OLGA OF KIEV, REGENT OF KIEVAN RUSSIA; SAINT ADALBERT OF MAGDEBURG, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP; SAINT ADALBERT OF PRAGUE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF MARTYR, 997; AND SAINTS BENEDICT AND GAUDENTIUS OF POMERANIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS, 997

THE FEAST OF SAINTS DAMIEN AND MARIANNE OF MOLOKAI, WORKERS AMONG LEPERS

THE FEAST OF SAINT FLAVIA DOMITILLA, ROMAN CATHOLIC NOBLEWOMAN; AND SAINTS MARO, EUTYCHES, AND VICTORINUS OF ROME, PRIESTS AND MARTYS, CIRCA 99

THE FEAST OF SAINT HUNNA OF ALSACE, THE “HOLY WASHERWOMAN”

THE FEAST OF LUCY CRAFT LANEY, AFRICAN-AMERICAN PRESBYTERIAN EDUCATOR AND CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2020/04/15/devotion-for-proper-11-year-c-humes/

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Good Shepherds, Part II   Leave a comment

Above:  Good Shepherd

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

For the Third Sunday after Trinity, Year 1

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

O God, the Protector of all that trust in thee,

without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy:

increase and multiply upon us thy mercy;

that thou being our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal,

that we finally lose not the things eternal;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Worship (1947), 188

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Joshua 24:14-27

Psalm 19

1 Peter 5:1-11

Matthew 5:1-6

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Joshua 24 and Psalm 19 remind us of the power and jawdropping, stunning awesomeness of the one deity, YHWH.  (“Fear of God” is a poor translation; “awe of God” is a good one.)  Joshua’s warning about idolatry remains germane.  The false gods may differ, however.  Human ego seems to be an evergreen idol, nevertheless.

The Good Shepherd is YHWH in the Hebrew Bible and Jesus in the New Testament.  The divine Good Shepherd has human good shepherds working under him in both Testaments.  As 1 Peter 5:1-11, set in the context of suffering, reminds us, good shepherds shepherd out of devotion, not compulsion.  They serve because they love.  They serve, not dominate to the detriment of the flock.

Blessed are the meek/gentle, we read in Matthew 5:4.  They will inherit the earth in the Kingdom of Heaven, the fully-realized Kingdom of God on earth.  They certainly will not inherit the earth in the dominant world order, in which the Golden Rule is to do unto others before they do unto you, or he who has the gold, makes the rules.

Indeed, blessed are the meek.  Blessed are the gentle.  Blessed are those who shepherd their flocks self-sacrificially and for the good of their flocks.  Blessed are they who take up their crosses and follow Christ.  Blessed are they who love like Jesus.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 14, 2020 COMMON ERA

TUESDAY IN EASTER WEEK

THE FEAST OF EDWARD THOMAS DEMBY AND HENRY BEARD DELANY, EPISCOPAL SUFFRAGAN BISHOPS FOR COLORED WORK

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ANTHONY, JOHN, AND EUSTATHIUS OF VILNIUS, MARTYRS IN LITHUANIA, 1347

THE FEAST OF GEORGE FREDERICK HANDEL, COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF SAINT WANDREGISILUS OF NORMANDY, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AND SAINT LAMBERT OF LYONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT ZENAIDA OF TARSUS AND HER SISTER, SAINT PHILONELLA OF TARSUS; AND SAINT HERMIONE OF EPHESUS; UNMERCENARY PHYSICIANS

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++