Archive for the ‘Micah 7’ Category

Judgment and Mercy, Part XVII   Leave a comment

Above:  Ocean Waves

Image in the Public Domain

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For the Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity, Year 1

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Lectionary from A Book of Worship for Free Churches (The General Council of the Congregational Christian Churches in the United States, 1948)

Collect from The Book of Worship (Evangelical and Reformed Church, 1947)

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Almighty and Everlasting God, give unto us the increase of faith, hope, and charity;

and that we may obtain that which thou dost promise,

make us to love that which thou dost command;

through Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Worship (1947), 208

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Micah 7

Psalm 73

Galatians 3:15-22

Matthew 7:7-14

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For the umpteenth time, divine judgment and mercy exist in balance.  This theme exists in all four readings for today.  I cannot, in good conscience, agree with the Psalmist toward the end of Psalm 73.

Annihilate everyone who deserts you.

–Verse 27b, Mitchell J. Dahood (1968)

No, I pray that they will return to God and remain.  Yet I know that not all will.  Not all people will find the hard road that leads to life, having departed from it, return to it.

Galatians 3:15-22 exists in the immediate textual context of Galatians 3:14:

The purpose of this was that the blessing of Abraham should in Jesus Christ be extended to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

The Revised English Bible (1989)

Trust in God, we read in Micah 7.  Trust in God as the Kingdom of Judah crumbles and one’s society falls apart.  Trust in God while suffering the consequences of one’s sins.  Trust in God, whose forgiveness and graciousness last longer than wrath.  The poetic image of God hurling sins into the depths of the sea is quite comforting.

After all, annihilation need not be inevitable.  God seeks all people, but not all people seek God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 24, 2020 COMMON ERA

GENOCIDE REMEMBRANCE

THE FEAST OF SAINT EGBERT OF LINDISFARNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK; AND SAINT ADALBERT OF EGMONT, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY

THE FEAST OF SAINT FIDELIS OF SIGMARINGEN, CAPUCHIN FRIAR AND MARTYR, 1622

THE FEAST OF JOHANN WALTER, “FIRST CANTOR OF THE LUTHERAN CHURCH”

THE FEAST OF SAINT MELLITUS, BISHOP OF LONDON, AND ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

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Friendship IV   3 comments

Above:  Micah

Image in the Public Domain

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

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O Lord, Heavenly Father, in whom is the fullness of light and wisdom:

enlighten our minds by thy Holy Spirit, and give us grace to receive thy Word

with reverence and humility, without which no man can understand thy truth.

Grant this for the sake of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

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

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Micah 7:1-7

Hebrews 13:1-8

Luke 22:24-34

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I am sufficiently pedantic to notice the first line of the reading from Micah 7:

Woe is me!

I am sufficiently pedantic to note that

Woe is I!

is technically correct, given that “I” is a subject and “me” is an object.

The main idea of that passage is not pedantry, of course.  No, Micah 7:1-7 describes a crumbling society.  Courts are corrupt, “friends” betray each other frequently, close relatives are not trustworthy, and evil is ubiquitous and dominant.

Yet I will look to the LORD,

I will wait for the God who saves me,

My God will hear me.

–Micah 7:7, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

There is a Gospel hymn, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” One verse reads, in part:

Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?

If so, they are enemies, not friends.  A friend is one who behaves as a friend.

Behaving as a friend does not entail prioritizing one’s ego.  Behaving as a friend does entail practicing hospitality.  Behaving as a friend can constitute part of one’s lived faith–practicing the Golden Rule.  Behaving as a friend entails seeking the best for others.

The question du jour, O reader, is,

How good a friend am I?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 12, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE ELEVENTH DAY OF ADVENT, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF SAINT JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL, FOUNDRESS OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE VISITATION

THE FEAST OF ALICIA DOMON AND HER COMPANIONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS IN ARGENTINA

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

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

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Posted December 12, 2018 by neatnik2009 in Hebrews 13, Luke 22, Micah 7

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Judgment, Mercy, and Anger   Leave a comment

Above:  Ocean

Image in the Public Domain

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

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

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

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

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

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Micah 7:18-20

Ephesians 3:1-12

Matthew 2:1-12

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Micah 7:19 contains a wonderful word picture–God hurling the sins of the remnant of the Kingdom of Judah into the sea.  That verbal image belies a familiar stereotype about the Bible.  One can hear easily that the Old Testament is about judgment, doom, and gloom, but that God is suddenly merciful in the New Testament.  Perhaps one thinks of a certain routine by the comedian Lewis Black, in which he repeated that stereotype and said that God changed after having a son.  It is a funny joke, but a rank heresy.  It also indicates a superficial reading of the Old and New Testaments; there is a balance of judgment and mercy in both.  In Micah 7, for example, collective forgiveness follows collective punishment for sins.

The readings from Ephesians 3 and Matthew 2 indicate the expansion of the definition of “Chosen People,” whose sins God figuratively throws into the depths of the sea.  However, if one continues to read Matthew 2, one reads of the lack of mercy of Herod the Great.

A principle present in the Old and New Testaments, as in Matthew 7:1-5, is that God applies to us the standards we apply to others.  In the Law of Moses the penalty for perjury, to convict an innocent person, is to suffer the penalty one would have had the falsely accused person endure.  This is an inverse cousin of the Golden Rule.

Anger is understandable.  Sometimes it is even morally justifiable.  Often, however, it is self-destructive.  Do we define ourselves by how often we forgive and love another or by how often we hate one another and nurse grudges?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 27, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HARRY WEBB FARRINGTON, U.S. METHODIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT AEDESIUS, PRIEST AND MISSIONARY; AND SAINT FRUMENTIUS, FIRST BISHOP OF AXUM AND ABUNA OF THE ETHIOPIAN ORTHODOX TEWAHEDO CHURCH

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Dependence on God, Part I   1 comment

Above:  The Dream of Nebuchadnezzar

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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Daniel 2:24, 31-49

Psalm 38:15-22

Revelation 3:14-22

Mark 11:12-14, 20-25

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For in you, O LORD, have I fixed my hope;

you will answer me, O Lord my God.

For I said, “Do not let them rejoice at my expense,

those who gloat over me when my foot slips.

Truly, I am on the verge of falling,

and my pain is always with me.

I will confess my iniquity

and be sorry for my sin.

Those who are my enemies without cause are mighty,

and many in number are those who wrongfully hate me.

Those who repay evil for good slander me,

because I follow the course that is right.

O LORD, do not forsake me;

be not far from me, O my God.

Make haste to help me,

O Lord of my salvation.

–Psalm 38:15-22, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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At first glance the readings David Ackerman has appointed for the First Sunday of Advent do not fit well together.  However, upon further reflection, one might realize that they do.  The message is that we–individuals, institutions, societies–ought to rely on God, not on our own devices.

In David 2 we have an interpretation of a dream.  There are four successive empires–traditionally Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian, Median, Persian, and Macedonian–of declining value.  The fifth in the sequence is the divided empire of the late Alexander the Great.  At the end of that sequence, according to Daniel 2, God’s reign on earth will commence.

O, if only it had!

The Roman Empire is the power in Mark 11.  Jesus curses a fig tree for producing no figs.  The text notes that this happened outside of fig season.  The story, however, is symbolic.  It follows directly from the Triumphal Entry of Jesus and wraps around the cleansing of the Temple.  The fig tree relates to the Temple.  Just as the fig tree is producing just leaves and not small green figs (as it ought to do), the Temple is barren of anything of spiritual worth.  The fig tree is also a recurring Biblical symbol of Israel itself, as in Jeremiah 8:13, Hosea 9:10, Joel 1:7, and Micah 7:1.  One can therefore reasonably read the cursing of the fig tree as a scathing critique of the religious life of Israel.

When we turn to the Church at Laodicea in Revelation 3 we find another scathing critique.  The congregation relies on its wealth, not on God, who literally vomits (although many translations render the verb “spits”) that church out.  The church has succumbed to the temptation to convert material wealth into an idol.

The text from Psalm 38 explains itself.

In Beyond the Lectionary (2013) Ackerman emphasizes

the importance of awakening the insights that God provides

(page 8).

Those insights tell us both individually and collectively not to trust in military forces, in governments, in wealth, or in imagined righteousness when we ought to acknowledge our complete dependence on God.  To do anything other than to rely completely on God is to commit idolatry.  That is a difficult and strong statement, I know.  I also acknowledge that I have long been guilty of this idolatry and continue to be so.  I confess this sin here, in this post, readily.  Fortunately, grace abounds, so all of us have hope.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 28, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT PETER CHANEL, PROTOMARTYR OF OCEANIA

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Adapted from this post:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2017/04/28/devotion-for-the-first-sunday-of-advent-ackerman/

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The Apocalyptic Discourse, Part II   1 comment

testament-and-death-of-moses

Above:  The Testament and Death of Moses, by Luca Signorelli

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:(1-22) 23-29 or Micah 7:1-7 or Daniel (11:40-45) 12:1-13

Psalm 54

Matthew 10:17-22a; 24:9-14 or Mark 13:9-13

1 Corinthians 9:1-15

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Human nature is corrupt, we read in Deuteronomy 31 and Micah 7.  We do not require these or any other texts to grasp that truth, do we?  All we need to do is to understand ourselves and follow current events and study the past if we are to be aware of our flawed nature.  As St. Paul the Apostle reminds us down the corridors of time, our only proper basis is in God–Christ Jesus, to be precise.  God will ultimately destroy the corrupt human order, founded on violence and exploitation, and replace it with a just social, economic, and political order.  Certainly we are incapable of accomplishing that goal.

As much as we might seek divine destruction of our enemies, we must be careful not to fall into the trap of living as vengeful people.  As we read in 2 John 5b-6, love is supposed to be our rule of life.  Even during times of persecution love is properly the rule of life.  This is a lofty spiritual goal–one which requires us to resist our nature and to rely on divine grace.  How can we be God’s salt and light in the world if we do otherwise?  We are free in Christ Jesus to glorify God wherever we are, and no matter under what circumstances we live.  May we, in all circumstances, to quote my bishop, love like Jesus, by grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 17, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE TWENTY-FIRST DAY OF ADVENT

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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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2016/12/17/devotion-for-proper-11-year-d/

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The Universal and Timeless Love of God   1 comment

Micah

Above:  Icon of the Prophet Micah

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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Ecclesiastes 7:15-29 or Micah 7:1-20

Psalm 44

Matthew 10:9-23 or Luke 12:1-12

Romans 3:1-22a

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Rouse yourself!  Why do you sleep, O Lord?

Awake, do not cast us off forever!

Why do you hide your face?

Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?

For we sink down to the dust;

our bodies cling to the ground.

Rise up, come to our help.

Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love.

–Psalm 44:23-26, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

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The readings for this occasion present a realistic appraisal of the world, not only in antiquity or today, but during all the times in between.  Certain powerful empires conquer weaker neighbors.  Wicked people flourish.  Good people perish.  Persecution of people of God occurs.  Nevertheless, one should avoid committing the theological error of assuming or otherwise concluding that the existence of God, of whom caring is an essential property, precludes the reality of suffering for many righteous people.  At this point one might point to the Book of Job and the crucifixion of Jesus as Exhibits A and B in that case.

Although suffering (for righteousness, sin, and simply having a pulse) occurs, that fact does not negate or contradict the mercy of God.  That mercy is available regardless of ethnic and cultural factors and boundaries.  That love is evident in the form of baby Jesus, born into a place and time at which his life was in danger.  That love is and always has been evident in many ways.  That love is worth pondering every day, but especially on Christmas Day.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 23, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MARTIN DE PORRES AND JUAN MACIAS, HUMANITARIANS AND DOMINICAN LAY BROTHERS; SAINT ROSE OF LIMA, HUMANITARIAN AND DOMINICAN SISTER; AND SAINT TURIBIUS OF MOGROVEJO, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF LIMA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM JOHN COPELAND, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

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Adapted from this post:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2016/08/23/devotion-for-christmas-morning-year-d/

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Shepherds, Part II   1 comment

Good Shepherd, Roman Catacombs

Above:  Good Shepherd, Roman Catacombs

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

O Lord Christ, good shepherd of the sheep,

you seek the lost and guide us into your fold.

Feed us, and we shall be satisfied;

heal us, and we shall be whole.

Make us one with you, for you live and reign with the Father

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

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 33

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The Assigned Readings:

1 Samuel 16:1-13 (Monday)

1 Chronicles 11:1-9 (Tuesday)

Micah 7:8-20 (Wednesday)

Psalm 95 (All Days)

1 Peter 5:1-5 (Monday)

Revelation 7:13-17 (Tuesday)

Mark 14:26-31 (Wednesday)

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Come, let us bow down and kneel,

bend the knee before the LORD our maker,

for He is our God,

and we are the people He tends, the flock in His care.

–Psalm 95:6-7a, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

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The pericopes for these three days combine happy and somber thoughts.  Certainly the martyrs would not have become martyrs had their human “shepherds” been good ones.  Also, the prayer to God to shepherd the people (in Micah 7) came from a time of national peril.  The glory days of King David, whom the author of 1 Chronicles whitewashed, were not as wonderful as many people claimed, but they were better than the times of Micah.

Zechariah 13:7, in the literary context of the Day of the Lord and in the historical context of the Maccabean wars, reads:

This is the word of the LORD of Hosts:

Sword, awake against my shepherd,

against him who works with me.

Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered,

and I shall turn my hand against the lambs.

The Revised English Bible (1989)

This shepherd’s suffering will open the way for the purification and survival of one-third of his flock; the other two-thirds will perish.  Mark 14:27 has Jesus quote part of this passage in reference to himself in the context of the climactic Passover week.  The quote works mostly well that way, except for the perishing of two-thirds of the flock.  Nevertheless, this use of Zechariah 13:7 fits well with our Lord and Savior’s saying that the good shepherd would lay down his life for his sheep.

I try to be a grateful sheep of his flock.  My success rate is mixed, but I hope that it is improving, by grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 18, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF MARC BOEGNER, ECUMENIST

THE FEAST OF DOROTHY SAYERS, NOVELIST

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Adapted from this post:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2014/12/18/devotion-for-monday-tuesday-and-wednesday-after-the-fourth-sunday-of-easter-year-b-elca-daily-lectionary/

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Faith in Time of Adversity   2 comments

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Above:  Marble Street, Ruins of Ephesus, in Turkey, Between 1950 and 1960

Photographer = Osmo Visuri

Image Source = Library of Congress

(http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/mpc2010000483/pp/)

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-matpc-23105

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The Collect:

Teach us, good Lord God, to serve you as you deserve,

to give and not to count the cost,

to fight and not to heed the wounds,

to toil and not to seek for rest,

to labor and not to ask for reward,

except that of knowing that we do your will,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 40

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The Assigned Readings:

Micah 7:1-17 (Monday)

Jeremiah 26:1-12 (Tuesday)

Psalm 6 (Both Days)

Revelation 2:1-7 (Monday)

Revelation 2:8-11 (Tuesday)

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Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am weak;

Lord, heal me, for my bones are racked.

–Psalm 6:2, Common Worship (2000)

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Faith under pressure can waver, but may it hold until the end.

The assigned readings for these days come from places of difficulty. The audience of the Book of Revelation consisted of persecuted Christians and Christians about to endure persecution. Perhaps the faith of the persecuted Christians at Ephesus had begun to waver. Maybe that was what Revelation 2:4 meant. The prophet Jeremiah faced persecution for prophesying against the officult cult in a vassal kingdom which lacked the separation of religion and state. And the prophet Micah wrote that

The faithful have vanished from the land….

–Micah 7:2a, The Revised English Bible (1989)

then catalogued a variety of offenses, such as murder, corruption, and general dishonesty. Then he continued:

But I shall watch for the LORD,

I shall wait for God my saviour;

my God will hear me.

My enemies, do not exult over me.

Though I have fallen, I shall rise again;

though I live in darkness, the LORD is my light.

Because I have sinned against the LORD,

I must bear his anger, until he champions my cause

and gives judgement for me,

until he brings me into the light,

and with gladness I see his justice.

–Micah 7:7-9, The Revised English Bible (1989)

I understand why faith wavers in the context of great adversity. That is when keeping faith can prove especially difficult. After all, many of us have a certain false notion in our minds. If we do what is right, we will be safe, if not prosperous, we think—perhaps even if we know better. Good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people, we tell ourselves—perhaps even if we know better. When adversity befalls us we might ask what wrong we have done—even when we know better. Reality challenges false assumptions.

But, as I have learned the hard way, faith can also become stronger in times of adversity and enable one to survive them intact, even stronger spiritually. I have alternated between wavering and becoming stronger spiritually during a certain very difficult time in my life, but I emerged stronger—singed, but stronger.

May you, O reader, find adversity—when it comes—a time of spiritual growth overall.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 23, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT DESIDERIUS/DIDIER OF VIENNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT GUIBERT OF GORZE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN BAPTIST ROSSI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF NICOLAUS COPERNICUS, SCIENTIST

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Amended from This Post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2014/05/23/devotion-for-monday-and-tuesday-after-proper-7-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

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A Great Mutuality of Blessing   1 comment

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Above:  The Dogma of the Redemption, by John Singer Sargent (1856-1925)

Image Source = Library of Congress

(http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2003689379/)

Reproduction Number = LC-USZ62-133671

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The Collect:

O God, our leader and guide, in the waters of baptism

you bring us to new birth to live as your children.

Strengthen our faith in your promises, that by your

Spirit we may lift your life to all the world 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 27

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The Assigned Readings:

Micah 7:18-20 (9th Day)

Isaiah 51:4-8 (10th Day)

Psalm 121 (Both Days)

Romans 3:21-31 (9th Day)

Luke 7:1-10 (10th Day)

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Some Related Posts:

Micah 7:

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

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/09/20/week-of-proper-11-tuesday-year-2/

Isaiah 51:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/devotion-for-december-26-lcms-daily-lectionary/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2013/09/03/devotion-for-tuesday-and-wednesday-after-the-first-sunday-after-epiphany-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/02/26/proper-16-year-a/

Romans 3:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/03/15/devotion-for-january-11-and-12-lcms-daily-lectionary/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/11/15/proper-4-year-a/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/05/week-of-proper-23-thursday-year-1/

Luke 7:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/06/09/devotion-for-the-sixteenth-and-seventeenth-days-of-easter-lcms-daily-lectionary/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/24/week-of-proper-19-monday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2012/07/04/proper-4-year-c/

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I lift up my eyes to the hills;

from where is my help to come?

My help comes from the LORD,

the maker of heaven and earth.

–Psalm 121:1-2, Book of Common Worship (1993)

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Recently I finished watching Professor Phillip Cary’s Teaching Company DVD series, Luther:  Gospel, Law, and Reformation (2004).  He is a well-informed scholar who has no qualms about stating his opinions plainly, therefore not feigning a disinterested objectivity.  His stance is one of academic hospitality while standing his ground.  Thus one learns, for example, how John Calvin’s theology differed from that of Martin Luther and where Cary comes down on those issues.  That is fair.

A point Cary made in one lecture applies to the readings for these two days.  Everyone, he said, receives his or her blessing from someone else.  God blesses the Jews, the Chosen People.  They benefit, yes, but so do Gentiles, through whom other blessings flow to Jews.  There is a great mutuality of blessing.  This principle remains true in other, smaller settings–communities, families, congregations, et cetera.  I can think of examples of it in my life.  And perhaps you, O reader, can do likewise.

Blessings–such as forgiveness of sin  via God–especially Jesus–are wonderful.  They are for the benefit of the forgiven, of course, but they also serve a greater purpose.  With great blessings come great responsibilities to function as conduits of grace for others.  The reality of God does nothing to detract from the human need for physical means of grace, such as other people and the sacraments.  Blessing others can range from a simple task to a more involved one and prove perilous to oneself.  Sometimes the latter is what love requires of one.  Yet whatever grace demands of us, may we respond affirmatively.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 25, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SQUANTO, COMPASSIONATE HUMAN BEING

THE FEAST OF JAMES OTIS SARGENT HUNTINGTON, FOUNDER OF THE ORDER OF THE HOLY CROSS

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Adapted from this post:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2013/11/25/devotion-for-the-ninth-and-tenth-days-of-lent-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

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Posted January 14, 2014 by neatnik2009 in Isaiah 51, Luke 7, Micah 7, Psalm 121, Romans 3

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Lost and Found, Part I   1 comment

Above:  The Return of the Prodigal Son, by Leonello Spada (1576-1622)

Collect and lections from the Episcopal Lesser Feasts and Fasts Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints

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Follow the assigned readings with me this Lent….

Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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Micah 7:14-15, 18-20 (Revised English Bible):

Shepherd your people with your crook,

the flock that is your own,

that lives apart on a moor with meadows all around;

let them graze in Bashan and Gilead as in days gone by.

Show us miracles as in the days when you came out of Egypt.

Who is god like you?  You take away guilt,

you forgive the sins of the remnant of your people.

You do not let your anger rage for ever,

for to be merciful is your true delight.

Once more you will show us compassion and wash away our guilt,

casting all our sins into the depths of the sea.

You show faithfulness to Jacob, unfailing mercy to Abraham,

as you swore to our forefathers in days gone by.

Psalm 103:1-14 (Revised English Bible):

Bless the LORD, O my soul;

with all my being I bless his holy name.

Bless the LORD, my soul,

and forget none of his benefits.

He pardons all my wrongdoing and heals all my ills.

He rescues me from death’s pit and crowns me with love and compassion.

He satisfies me with all good in the prime of life,

and my youth is renewed like an eagle’s.

The LORD is righteous in all he does;

he brings justice to all who have been wronged.

He revealed his ways to Moses,

his mighty deeds to the Israelites.

The LORD is compassionate and gracious,

long-suffering and ever faithful;

he will not always accuse or nurse his anger forever.

He has not treated us as our sins deserve

or repaid us according to our misdeeds.

As the heavens tower high over the earth,

so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.

As far as east is from west,

so far from us has he put away our offences.

As a father has compassion on his children,

so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;

for he knows how we are made,

he remembers that we are but dust.

Luke 15:11-32 (Revised English Bible):

Again he [Jesus] said:

There was once a man who had two sons; and the younger said to the father, ‘Father, give me my share of the property.’  So he divided his estate between them.  A few days later the younger son turned the whole of his share into cash and left for a distant country, where he squandered it in dissolute living.  He had spent it all, when a famine fell upon that country and he began to be in need.  So he went and attached himself to one of the local landowners, who sent him on to his farm to mind the pigs.  He would have been glad to fill his belly with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.  Then he came to his senses: ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more food than they can eat,’ he said, ‘and here I am, starving to death!  I will go at once to my father, and say to him, “Father, I have sinned against God and against you; I am no longer fit to be called your son; treat me as one your hired servants.”‘ So he set out for his father’s house.  But while he was still a long way off his father saw him, and his heart went out to him; he ran to meet him, flung his round him, and kissed him.  The son said, ‘Father, I have sinned against God and against you; I am no longer fit to be called your son.’  But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Fetch a robe, the best we have, and put it on him; put a ring on his finger, and sandals on his feet.  Bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us celebrate with a feast.  For this son of mine was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and is found.’ And the festivities began.

Now the elder son had been out on the farm; and on his way back, as he approached the house, he heard music and dancing.  He called one of the servants and asked what it meant.  The servant told him, ‘Your brother has come home, and your father has killed the fatted calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ But when he was angry and refused to go in.  His father came out and pleaded with him; but he retorted, ‘You know how I have slaved for you all these years; I have never once disobeyed your orders; yet you never gave me so much as a kid, to celebrate with my friends.  But now that this son of yours turns up, after running through your money with women, you kill the fatted calf for him.’

‘My boy,’ said the father, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.’ How could we fail to celebrate this happy day?  Your brother here was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and has been found.’

The Collect:

Grant, most merciful Lord, to your faithful people pardon and peace, that they may be cleansed from all their sins, and serve you with a quiet mind; 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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Luke 15 contains three parables about being lost and found.  First, a shepherd tending a hundred sheep sought out one lost member of his flock the rejoiced.  Next, a woman sought and found a valuable coin in her home.  Then she rejoiced.  Finally, a patient father looked and waited for the return of wasteful son who had turned his back on his family.  When the son returned, the father rejoiced.

The Encarta World English Dictionary defines “prodigal” (as an adjective) to mean:

  1. EXTRAVAGANTLY WASTEFUL spendthrift or extravagant to a degree bordering on recklessness
  2. PRODUCING GENEROUS AMOUNTS giving or producing something in large amounts
  3. WASTING PARENTAL MONEY BUT STILL LOVED spending parental money wastefully, but returning home to a warm welcome

The third definition derives from this day’s parable.  The first meaning applies to the younger son, and the second definition applies to the father, a stand-in for God.

Tradition calls this day’s parable “the Prodigal Son.”  This is a misnomer.  It is really a parable about a loving father, as wasteful younger son who comes to his senses and repents, and a resentful older son who stays home dutifully.  The father loves his sons, both of whom disappoint him.  Yet the younger son repents.  And what about the older son?  His part of the story contains the climax of the parable.  He does not join in his father’s joy and extravagant grace.

Grace scandalizes us sometimes, especially if we are more like the older son than the younger one.  Grace means that someone does not receive what he or she deserves.  Yet none of us deserves grace, so who are we to criticize?  And can we not be merely decent human beings who rejoice in God’s extravagant, scandalous, even prodigal (according to definition #2) love?

Think of the reading from Micah.  To show mercy is God’s true delight.  And consult the psalm.  God knows that we are dust, is compassionate and gracious, and loves as a father (and mother, too) loves a child.  Previous readings this Lent have informed us that we should love God completely and be compassionate and merciful, as God is compassionate and merciful.  Let us connect the dots.  Let us love ourselves, one another, and God.  And if this causes scandal, so be it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 24, 2010 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MATTHIAS THE APOSTLE, MARTYR

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Adapted from this post:

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

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Posted February 10, 2012 by neatnik2009 in Luke 15, Micah 7, Psalm 103

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