Archive for the ‘Jonah 4’ Category

The Sins of the Fathers, Part II   1 comment

Above:  Effects of Acid Rain on a Forest in the Czech Republic, 2006

Photographer = Lovecz

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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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Exodus 34:1-10 or 1 Kings 22:29-43

Psalm 62:1-8, 11-12

Hebrews 5:12-6:12

Mark 9:30-37

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The key mark of discipleship is servanthood.

St. Gregory of Nyssa (335-394)

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Some themes recur in the readings for this week:

  1. God is faithful.
  2. Trust in God.
  3. Do not commit apostasy.
  4. People reap what they sow.
  5. Christ is the exemplar of the type of service that defines greatness.

Genesis 34:7 requires unpacking.  The principle that God punishes or forgives members of subsequent generations based on the sins of an ancestor exists also in 1 Kings 21:29, Nehemiah 9:17, Deuteronomy 5:9, Numbers 14:18, Psalm 103:8, Joel 2:13, and Jonah 4:2.  Yet we read the opposite view–individual moral responsibility–in Ezekiel 18 and Jeremiah 31:29-30.  The Bible contradicts itself sometimes.

The best explanation for the opinion we read in Exodus 34:7 comes from Professor Richard Elliot Friedman:  effects of one’s actions are apparent generations later.  I recognize ways in which actions of two of my paternal great-grandfathers influence me indirectly.  This is one example of something, that, from a certain point of view, looks like intergenerational punishment and reward by God.

The decisions of others influence us.  Some of them even restrict our options.  We may suffer because of the decisions of those who have preceded us; we may suffer because of their sins.  This is the way of the world.  Yet we are morally responsible for ourselves and each other, not those who have died.  No, they are responsible for their sins, just as we are responsible for ours.

May we–individually and collectively–refrain from visiting the consequences of our sins on those who will succeed us.  We owe them that much, do we not?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 25, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES BAR-ZEBEDEE, APOSTLE AND MARTYR

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2019/07/25/devotion-for-proper-22-year-b-humes/

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Reconciliation, Part III   Leave a comment

Above:  An Israeli Stamp of Jonah

Image in the Public Domain

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For the Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year 2, 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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Jonah 3:1-4:11

Ephesians 4:25-32

Matthew 9:1-13

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…let your words be for the improvement of others, as occasion offers, and do good to your listeners….

–Ephesians 4:29b, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

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Jonah (a fool and a fictitious prophet, the story of whom continues to indict individuals and groups) and the critics of Jesus in Matthew 9:1-13 were unlike the ideal person in Ephesians 4:25-32.  Jonah, a reluctant prophet who learned the hard way that he could not flee from God, became bitterly disappointed when he successfully helped to effect the repentance of enemies.  Divine mercy has long been scandalous and objectionable to many people.

If God loved only people similar to ourselves, would we feel better?  Would our egos be more secure?  Perhaps.  We do well, that not withstanding, to know that, if we do not desire the destruction of, not the repentance of a population, some people, somewhere, wish the destruction of the population to which we belong.  The story of Jonah always indicts some individuals and populations.  Mutual animosity cannot work toward the common good.  Besides, we should, logically, be glad when an enemy ceases to be a foe.  It is better for us, is it not?  But do we know that?

May the love of God define our egos and our attitudes toward other people, especially those different from us.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 24, 2019 COMMON ERA

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

THE FEAST OF JOHN NEWTON, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

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

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

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The Inner Jonah, Part IV   1 comment

Above:  A Stamp Depicting Jonah

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:

Jonah 4

Psalm 130

Philippians 4:1-14, 19-23

Matthew 26:69-75

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Be known to everyone for your consideration of others.

–Philippians 4:5a, The Revised English Bible (1989)

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That sentence puts Jonah in his place.

My studies of the Book of Job have provided a lesson applicable to the Book of Jonah.  Job and his alleged friends committed the same error:  they presumed to know how God does and should act.  That, at least, was a lesson of one layer of the authorship of the Book of Job; the prose epilogue threw a wrench into the supposed sin of Job–supposing to know how God does and should act, for God agreed with Job in that epilogue.

When Yahweh had said all this to Job, he turned to Eliphaz of Teman.  “I burn with anger against you and your two friends,” he said, “for not speaking truthfully about me as my servant Job has done.  So now find seven bullocks and seven rams, and take them back to my servant Job and offer a holocaust for yourselves, while Job, my servant, offers prayers for you.  I will listen to him with favor and excuse your folly in not speaking of me properly as my servant Job has done.”  Eliphaz of Teman, Bildad of Shuah and Zophar of Naamath went away to do as Yahweh had ordered, and Yahweh listened to Job with favor.

–Job 42:7-9, The Jerusalem Bible (1966)

Jonah, anyway, supposed to know how God does and should act.  When God extended mercy to Jonah’s national enemy, the reluctant prophet–“that clown,” as a Roman Catholic priest once described him in writing–became disappointed with God.  Yet Jonah depended on divine mercy as much as the people of Nineveh did.

If you, O LORD, should make iniquities,

Lord, who could stand?

But there is forgiveness with you,

so that you may be revered.

–Psalm 130:3-4, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

The Book of Jonah ends on an ambiguous note.  God and the prophet have an unresolved theological confrontation.  The text, concluding thusly, invites us to consider who we are more like in the story.

Each of us has an inner Jonah.  We object to the scandal of grace on occasion.  We tell ourselves that we want justice when we actually seek retribution.  We want God to draw the circle tightly around us and people similar to ourselves, not to draw it wide and call even our foes to repentance.  Yet there are also those who want God to exclude us.

I do not pretend to know the mind of God; that is a glorious mystery too great for me.  I do, however, study scripture, read theology, and recognize patterns.  One of these patters is that we are not God.  Another pattern is that no theological box defines God.  Judgment and mercy exist side-by-side throughout the Bible.  Where one ends and the other begins resides in the purview of God, as it should.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 25, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BEDE OF JARROW, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND FATHER OF ENGLISH HISTORY

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALDHELM OF SHERBORNE, POET, LITERARY SCHOLAR, ABBOT OF MALMESBURY, AND BISHOP OF SHERBORNE

THE FEAST OF SAINT MADELEINE-SOPHIE BARAT, FOUNDRESS OF THE SOCIETY OF THE SACRED HEART; AND ROSE PHILIPPINE DUCHESNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN AND MISSIONARY

THE FEAST OF SAINT MYKOLA TSEHELSKYI, UKRAINIAN GREEK CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

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Adapted from this post:

https://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2018/05/25/devotion-for-the-fifth-sunday-in-lent-year-a-humes/

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Enemies and Repentance I   Leave a comment

Above:  The (United) Kingdom of Israel and the Divided Monarchy

Scanned from Hammond’s World Atlas–Classics Edition (1957)

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

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Lord, we ask you to keep your household the Church in continual godliness,

that through your protection it may be free from all adversities,

and devoutly given to serve you in good works, to the glory of your name;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

–Modernized from The Book of Worship for Church and Home (1965), page 154

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Obadiah 1-4, 15-17a, 21

Psalm 35

Colossians 3:1-15

Matthew 7:15-23

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The readings for this week remind us of the importance of words and deeds.  The perfidy of the Moabites as well as the faithless Israelites dooms them in Obadiah.  The author of Psalm 35 asks God to destroy his (the author’s enemies).  The counterpoint that comes to my mind immediately is the Book of Jonah, in which God grants enemies of the Israelites an opportunity to repent, and therefore to avert destruction, but Jonah objects.  No, he has the attitude of the author of Psalm 35.  We read in Colossians 3 that we have an obligation to put away, among other things,

human anger, hot temper, malice, abusive language, and dirty talk.

–Verse 8, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

Our grand tour of scripture ends in Matthew 7, where we read that (1) one will know a tree by its fruits and (2) not all who think they do the will of God actually do so.  Words and deeds cannot save us, but they can condemn us.

Should we not be better than our foes?  Should we not rejoice when they repent?  Should we not want them to be peaceable, godly people?  The issue is not them but us.  What kind of people are we?  And what kind of people are we becoming?  After all, divine judgment and mercy are even-handed.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 6, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE EPIPHANY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST

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Agents of Reconciliation   Leave a comment

Above:  Isaiah

Image in the Public Domain

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

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O almighty and most merciful God, of your bountiful goodness keep us,

we pray, from all things that may hurt us;

that we, being ready both in body and soul,

may cheerfully accomplish those things which you command;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

–Modernized from The Book of Worship of Church and Home (1965), page 153

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Isaiah 6:1-8

Psalm 33

2 Corinthians 5:17-6:2

Mark 10:28-31

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In Genesis 11:1-9, the story of the Tower of Babel, people are impressed with themselves and their collective accomplishment.  That accomplishment is a tower that God, looking down from Heaven, can barely see because of its relative smallness.  Our accomplishments and might are puny compared to God, as Psalm 33 reminds us.  May we have proper perspective, that is, humility before God.

Humility before God would certainly be easy for one to have if one were in the position of Isaiah, eyewitness to a glorious vision.  Accepting the call of God, as continued in subsequent verses in Isaiah 6, is perhaps a greater challenge.  The consequences can be dire, even to the point of death.  Certainly obeying that call will make one a new creation.  Change–even of the positive variety–frequently scares many people, for it endangers their comfort zones.  God calls us away from complacency and into the unknown.  Sometimes, as in the cases of some Hebrew prophets, God calls us to enter the realm of the scandalous.  Ultimately, though, the result should be the reconciliation of people separated from God with God.

This goal offends many people, including some of the professing faithful.  One might think of the great satire that is the Book of Jonah, a criticism of post-Babylonian Exile excesses.  One lesson from the text is that God loves everyone and wants all people to repent.  God sends the reluctant Jonah on a mission.  The prophet succeeds, much to his dismay.  We have enemies, by whom we define our identities.  If they cease to be enemies, who are we?  The possibility of such drastic change frightens us, does it not?

Will we stand humbly before God and serve as willing agents of reconciliation?  Or will we remain in our comfort zones and function as agents of obstruction?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 6, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE EPIPHANY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST

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The Scandal of Grace II: Enemies   Leave a comment

Above:  Jacob’s Ladder, by William Blake

Image in the Public Domain

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

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O Lord, we ask you mercifully to hear us;

and grant that we, to whom you have given a hearty desire to pray,

may by your mighty aid be defended and comforted in all dangers and adversities;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

–Modernized from The Book of Worship for Church and Home (1965), page 138

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Genesis 28:10-22

Psalm 3

Acts 9:22, 26-31

John 3:4-17

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One might have enemies for various reasons.  If one is like Jacob, a schemer and a trickster, one antagonizes others easily.  However, if one is like St. Paul the Apostle, one might antagonize via one’s occasional brusqueness as well as one’s obedience to God.

The scandal of grace is also evident.  Why else would Jacob become an agent of the divine covenant?  Why else would God choose Saul of Tarsus?  And why else would the Second Person of the Trinity incarnate, live, die, and resurrect, for the benefit of the human race?

We humans seem to like the scandal of grace when it benefits us and those similar to us yet to resent it when it works to the benefit of those we do not like.  That is sinful.  Should we not rejoice that God is so generous?  One might think of the satirical character of Jonah, from the book that bears his name.  One of the points of the Book of Jonah is not to be like Jonah, after all.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

THE ELEVENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FEAST OF FELIX MANZ, FIRST ANABAPTIST MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT ELIZABETH ANN SETON, FOUNDRESS OF THE AMERICAN SISTERS OF CHARITY

THE FEAST OF SAINTS GREGORY OF LANGRES, TERTICUS OF LANGRES, GALLUS OF CLERMONT, GREGORY OF TOURS, AVITUS I OF CLERMONT, MAGNERICUS OF TRIER, AND GAUGERICUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS

THE FEAST OF JOHANN LUDWIG FREYDT, GERMAN MORAVIAN COMPOSER AND EDUCATOR

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Spiritual Discipline   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of Jonah

Image in the Public Domain

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FOR ASH WEDNESDAY, ACCORDING TO A LECTIONARY FOR PUBLIC WORSHIP IN THE BOOK OF WORSHIP FOR CHURCH AND HOME (1965)

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Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made,

and you forgive the sins of those who are penitent:

Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we,

truly lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wickedness,

may obtain from you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

–Modernized from The Book of Worship for Church and Home (1965), page 90

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Joel 2:12, 15-17

Psalm 11

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Matthew 6:16-21

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The reading from Joel occurs in the context of a military campaign against Judah.  “Yet even now,” God says, return and repent–turn around, literally.  In the rest of the book of Joel God forgives Judah and judges the enemies of Judah.  Judgment on one’s enemies is, incidentally, one of the requests in Psalm 11.

Spiritual discipline is the unifying theme of all the readings.  Taken together, they teach us that, the evidence of our discipline will be obvious without us being showy, and we must not brag.  We are supposed to glorify God, not ourselves, after all.

Without ignoring the reality that unrepentant evildoers exist and will, without our involvement, suffer the negative consequences of their actions, is it not better to pray for our enemies, that they might turn to God also?  Would that not be Christ-like?  Would not that not require much spiritual discipline?

Whenever you, O reader, are reading this post, may you strive, by grace, to become more Christ-like, capable of doing the difficult spiritual tasks, such as forgiving your enemies and seeking their repentance, not their destruction.  It is better to be Christ-like than Jonah-like, is it not?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 17, 2017 COMMON ERA

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

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

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

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

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

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