Archive for the ‘Zechariah 8’ Category

Eschatological Ethics I: Living in Exile at Home   Leave a comment

Above:  The Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

Image in the Public Domain

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

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O God, whose throne is set eternal in the heavens:

make ready for thy gracious rule the kingdoms of this world, and come with haste, and save us;

that violence and crying may be no more, and righteousness and peace may less thy children;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with thee and the Holy Spirit, ever one God.  Amen.

The Book of Common Worship–Provisional Services (1966), 117

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Zechariah 10:6-12

Romans 13:8-10

Matthew 21:1-13

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Reading of our Lord and Savior’s Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem at the beginning of Advent may seem odd to some, but not to many members of the Moravian Church.  That denomination has a tradition of using the same liturgy for Palm Sunday and the First Sunday of Advent.  The theme of the arrival of the Messiah unites the two occasions.

The theme of being in exile at home unites Zechariah 10:6-12 and Matthew 21:1-13.  In this matter I acknowledge the influence of N. T. Wright, author of Jesus and the Victory of God (1996) on my thinking.

Zechariah is a book in two separate sections:  First Zechariah (Chapters 1-8) and Second Zechariah (Chapters 9-14).  First Zechariah is historically related to and concurrent with Haggai (both chapters of it), and dates, in its current state, from no later than 515 B.C.E.  Second Zechariah, from the late Persian period, dates, in its current state, from the middle 400s B.C.E.

The Persian Empire of that period was hardly an onerous taskmaster of Jews living within its borders.  There were ups and downs, of course, but Persians were, overall, much better to live under than the Assyrians and the Chaldeans/Neo-Babylonians.  Nevertheless, in the context of the militarization of the western satrapies during the Greco-Persian wars and the slow economic recovery in the Jewish homeland, many Jews dwelling in their homeland must have felt as if they were in a sort of exile.  Where was the promised Davidic monarch prophets had predicted?

And where was the promised Davidic monarch in the first century C.E., when the Roman Empire ruled the Jewish homeland and a Roman fortress was next door to the Second Temple?  Roman occupation must have felt like a sort of exile to many Jews living in their homeland.

And where was the promised Kingdom of God/Heaven in 85 C.E. and later, after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman Empire in 70 C.E.?  The Kingdom of God was simultaneously of the present and the future–a partially realized reign and realm of God on Earth, but the Kingdom of Heaven was the promised fully realized reign and realm of God on Earth.  (I refer you, O reader, to Jonathan Pennington‘s dismantling of the Dalman consensus, or the ubiquitous argument that, in the Gospel of Matthew, “Kingdom of Heaven” is a reverential circumlocution.)

For that matter, where is the promised Kingdom of Heaven today?  We of 2018 live in exile while at home.  Only God can usher in the Kingdom of Heaven.

We can, however, live ethically, both collectively and individually.  Love, after all, is the fulfillment of the Law.  May we, therefore, strive to live (both collectively and individually) according to the Golden Rule, and not make a mockery of that commandment by citing doctrine and dogma to excuse violations of it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 22, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK PRATT GREEN, BRITISH METHODIST MINISTER, POET, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF BARTHOLOMEW ZOUBERBUHLER, ANGLICAN PRIEST

THE FEAST OF EMILY HUNTINGTON MILLER, U.S. METHODIST AUTHOR AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF KATHARINA VON SCHLEGAL, GERMAN LUTHERAN HYMN WRITER

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Prelude to the Passion, Part III   1 comment

Moses

Above:  Moses

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:

Numbers 11:1-30 or Isaiah 45:14-25 or Jeremiah 4:19-31 or Zechariah 8:1-23

Psalm 68:11-31 (32-35) or Psalm 120 or Psalm 82

John 10:19-21 (22-30) 31-42

1 Corinthians 14:1-40

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The assigned readings, taken together, present a balanced picture of divine judgment and mercy.  Sometimes God’s judgment on one group is in the service of mercy on another group.  And, as much as God is angry with the Israelites in Numbers 11, He still provides manna to them and advises Moses to share his burden with 70 elders.  Judgment is dominant in Jeremiah 4, but mercy rules in Zechariah 8.

1 Corinthians 14, sexism aside, offers the timeless principle that all people do in the context of worship should build up the faith community.

As for the “Prelude to the Passion” part of this post, we turn to John 10.  Jesus survives an attempt to arrest (then execute) him for committing blasphemy, per Leviticus 24:10-16.  He was innocent of the charge, of course.  The story, however, does establish that Jesus kept avoiding death traps prior to Holy Week.

A point worth pondering is that the accusers of Jesus in John 10 were most likely sincere.  This should prompt us who read the account today to ask ourselves how often we are sincerely wrong while attempting to follow the laws of God.  Those who oppose God and agents thereof are not always consciously so.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 18, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT:  THE TWENTY-SECOND DAY OF ADVENT

THE FEAST OF MARC BOEGNER, ECUMENIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT GIULIA VALLE, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN

THE FEAST OF SAINT ISAAC HECKER, FOUNDER OF THE MISSIONARY SOCIETY OF SAINT PAUL THE APOSTLE

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2016/12/18/devotion-for-proper-17-year-d/

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Fear Versus Loving Our Neighbors   1 comment

Zechariah

Above:  The Prophet Zechariah, from the Sistine Chapel

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

Generous God, your Son gave his life

that we might come to peace with you.

Give us a share of your Spirit,

and in all we do empower us to bear the name of

Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 48

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The Assigned Readings:

Zechariah 6:9-15 (Monday)

Zechariah 8:18-23 (Tuesday)

Zechariah 10:1-12 (Wednesday)

Psalm 5 (All Days)

1 Peter 1:3-9 (Monday)

1 John 2:18-25 (Tuesday)

Matthew 18:6-9 (Wednesday)

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Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness,

because of those who lie in wait for me;

make your way straight before me.

–Psalm 5:8, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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The pericopes for these three days indicate perilous uncertain circumstances.  Either the Persian Empire, the Seleucid Empire, or the Roman Empire is in charge.  The most optimistic hopes for the time after the Babylonian Exile have not come to fruition.  Nevertheless, calls for hope in God and faithfulness to God resound.

The historical record indicates that the Kingdom of God has yet to arrive in its fullness, and that Jesus did not return in the first century C.E.  Yet calls for hope in God and faithfulness to God remain valid, necessary, and proper.  Dashed expectations of the creation of paradise on Earth should lead one to question certain human predictions, not the fidelity of God to divine promises.  God and religion are different from each other, so disappointment with the latter ought not to lead to disillusionment with and/or rejection of the former.

As for human fidelity to God, the hyperbolic language of Matthew 18:6-9 agrees with the social ethics of Zechariah 8:18-23.  Just as Matthew 18:6-9 is not an order to maim and mutilate oneself, Zechariah’s message to have no fear (8:15) and to treat each other properly is timeless.

Have no fear!  These are the things you are to do:  Speak the truth to one another, render true and perfect justice in your gates.  And do not contrive evil against one another, and do not love perjury, because all those are things that I hate–declares the LORD….you must love honesty and integrity.

–Zechariah 8:15b-17, 19b, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

Often we human beings abuse, oppress, and/or exploit some among us out of fear.  Perhaps we fear that there will be too little of some commodity to provide for all sufficiently, so some of us protect the interests of “me and mine” at the expense of others.  Or maybe we fear for our safety and that of those dear to us, so we deprive strangers of security or approve of policies to do so.  Perhaps we merely fail to understand the “others,” so we fear those we do not comprehend.  Fear requires little effort to transform into hatred, and hatred expresses itself actively and passively.

Some fear is healthy.  I fear touching a hot oven, for example.  Fear of consequences of actions has prevented me from committing many sins when moral courage has failed.  I affirm well-placed fear which leads to good decision-making while rejecting fear which leads to actions harmful to innocent parties.

May love of our neighbors guide our decisions and actions relative to others.  May we act for their benefit, not their detriment, for that which we do to others, we do to ourselves.  May the joys of others cause us to rejoice and the sorrows of others prompt us to mourn.  May we remember that, in God’s economy, there is no scarcity, artificial or otherwise.  The mercantilist assumption that wealth is a zero-sum game does not apply to blessings, which God bestows generously.  May we–especially we who claim to follow God, or at least to attempt to do so–never assume that blessings are part of a zero-sum game.  May we therefore be generous of spirit when dealing with our fellow human beings.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 1, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PAULI MURRAY, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY AND EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF CATHERINE WINKWORTH, TRANSLATOR OF HYMNS

THE FEAST OF HARRIET BEECHER STOWE, ABOLITIONIST

THE FEAST OF JOHN CHANDLER, ANGLICAN PRIEST, SCHOLAR, AND TRANSLATOR OF HYMNS

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2015/07/01/devotion-for-monday-tuesday-and-wednesday-after-proper-21-year-b-elca-daily-lectionary/

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Restoration IV: Grace and Restoration   1 comment

08033v

Above:  Design Drawing for a Stained-Glass Memorial Window with St. Peter’s Mother-in-Law for Sacred Heart Chapel in Carville, Lousiana

Created by J. & R. Lamb Studios

Image Source = Library of Congress

(http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/LAMB2006001918/)

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The Collect:

Stir up the wills of all who look to you, Lord God,

and strengthen then our faith in your coming, that,

transformed by grace, we may walk in your way;

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 19

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 29:17-24 (Monday)

Ezekiel 47:1-12 (Tuesday)

Zechariah 8:1-17 (Wednesday)

Psalm 42 (all days)

Acts 5:12-16 (Monday)

Jude 17-25 (Tuesday)

Matthew 8:14-17, 28-34 (Wednesday)

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Some Related Posts:

Isaiah 29:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/14/sixth-day-of-advent/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/devotion-for-december-13-lcms-daily-lectionary/

Ezekiel 47:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/03/30/devotion-for-january-20-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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

Zechariah 8:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/04/11/devotion-for-january-29-lcms-daily-lectionary/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/04/16/week-of-proper-21-monday-year-1/

Acts 5:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/eleventh-day-of-easter/

Jude:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/07/18/week-of-8-epiphany-saturday-year-2/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/devotion-for-december-12-lcms-daily-lectionary/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/07/18/week-of-proper-3-saturday-year-2/

Matthew 8:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/14/week-of-proper-7-saturday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/16/week-of-proper-8-wednesday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/05/01/devotion-for-october-4-lcms-daily-lectionary/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/05/01/devotion-for-october-5-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul,

and why are you so disquieted within me?

O put your trust in God;

for I will yet give him thanks,

who is the help of my countenance, and my God.

–Psalm 42:6-7, The Book of Common Prayer (2004)

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The theme of restoration unites all these readings.

National restoration is one thread running through some of the lections.  The Babylonian Exile will come.  Before that Jerusalem will survive an Assyrian siege.  But Jerusalem will fall one day.  And restoration will follow.  As Gordon Matties wrote in the introduction to Ezekiel in The New Interpreter’s Study Bible (2003), God will deal with evil decisively, destroy the Temple and purify the land

polluted by Israel’s economic injustice, violence, and idolatry,

and only then

take residence again among the people.  (page 1154)

Thus restoration will be to a condition better than the previous one.  The strong arm of God will accomplish this.  And such extravagant grace will impose certain responsibilities upon the redeemed; they are to be a light to the nations, living for God’s glory and the benefit of others, not their own selfish desires.

Speaking of the glory of God and the benefit of others…..

Healings in the Bible restored the healed to wholeness in society.  The ritually unclean were pure again, the economically marginalized could cease from begging or avoid slavery, etc.  Yet sometimes the community, which defined itself in opposition to the marginalized, disapproved of the healing of the marginalized.  Who were they now that the marginalized person was in his right mind?  Pure compassion disrupted the status quo ante.  Such people should have heeded timeless advice (not yet written in these words at the time of the incident):

…keep yourselves in the love of God…..

–Jude 21a, The New Revised Standard Version

That advice merely rephrased an already ancient ethos.  That advice owed much to the Law of Moses, with its myriad rules regarding compassion for members of one’s community.  For how we think and treat those whom we can see indicates much about how we think of and behave toward God.  Those around us are the least of our Lord and Savior’s brothers and sisters; as we treat them, we do to him.

Those are challenging words, for we humans tend to like to think of ourselves as good people who do good things, especially when we are plotting or committing bad deeds.  A villain probably does not see a villain when he or she looks into a mirror.  Yet reality remains unchanged by human delusions.

Advent is about preparing for God to act.  When God acts God might overturn our apple cart and/or neutralize the pattern according to which we define ourselves.  Yes, grace can prove very upsetting and disturbing sometimes.  Every time it does so, that fact speaks ill of those who take offense, does it not?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 3, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HENRY THOMAS SMART, ENGLISH ORGANIST AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF ELIZABETH FERRARD, ANGLICAN DEACONESS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ELIZABETH OF PORTUGAL, QUEEN

THE FEAST OF JOHN CENNICK, BRITISH MORAVIAN EVANGELIST AND HYMN WRITER

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Adapted from this post:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2013/07/03/devotion-for-monday-tuesday-and-wednesday-after-the-third-sunday-of-advent-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

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Victory Over Shame   1 comment

Above:  A Crucifix

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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:

Zechariah 8:1-23

Psalm 13 (Morning)

Psalms 36 and 5 (Evening)

2 Timothy 1:1-18

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Some Related Posts:

Zechariah 8:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/04/16/week-of-proper-21-monday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/04/18/week-of-proper-21-tuesday-year-1/

2 Timothy 1:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/08/02/week-of-proper-4-wednesday-year-2/

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Have no fear; take courage!

–Zechariah 8:13b, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

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God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but the Spirit of love and self-control.

2 Timothy 1:7, The New Jerusalem Bible

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With this day the Lutheran daily lectionary I am following departs Romans and skips to 2 Timothy, an epistle of doubtful authorship.  It reads as if it comes from Paul during one of his imprisonments.  Yet sober scholarship raises questions about that traditional understanding.  I have no reason to doubt such sober scholarship.  Yet this weblog is more Benedictine in approach than not.  The Benedictine approach to scripture is to read it for formation.  As much as I respect academic analysis–especially of the Bible–I am a devotional writer, not a biblical scholar.

So we have Paul–or someone writing as Paul–addressing Timothy, a younger associate–indeed, an important figure in nascent Christianity.  Timothy was young, and his faith owed much to his mother and grandmother.  As I read the lection from 2 Timothy, the word “ashamed” attracted most of my attention.  Timothy was not supposed to be ashamed of his witness for God or of Paul, a prisoner.  And “Paul” was not ashamed of his incarceration, suffering, and witness for God.  And why not?

…because I know in whom I have put my trust, and I have no doubt at all that he is able to safeguard until that Day what I have entrusted to him.

–2 Timothy 1:12b, The New Jerusalem Bible

Shame and honor are social constructions.  One has shame or honor because others say so.  And often we humans, as social creatures, internalize these standards.  But Jesus overturned these standards by his life, death, and resurrection.  He associated with social outcasts, earned the enmity of many religious elites, and died as a criminal.  Then he did not remain dead.  This demonstrated that, among other things, he was beyond the power of those who had attempted to shame him.

The exiles whom Zechariah addressed knew shame.  Yet they would become a blessing to the nations.  Thus they were to take courage and have no fear because of what God would do.  This was not cheap grace.  No, the people were, among other things, to

Speak the truth to one another, render true and perfect justice in your gates.  And do not contrive evil against one one another, and do not love perjury…..

–Zechariah 8:16-17a, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

Divine grace requires us to become vehicles thereof.  We cannot do this as long as we live fearfully and bound by human concepts of shame and honor.  We are at our worst when we are fearful.  At such times selfishness and cruelty are most prominent in us.  And the cross of Christ was scandalous by Jewish and Roman standards.  One who died on a tree was cursed, the Law of Moses said.  And crucifixion was a Foucaultian (to use an anachronistic adjective) method of execution designed to make an example of one and to cause shame and humiliation.  Yet the cross has become the main Christian symbol, a sign of victory.

By grace and free will (mostly grace, thanks to which we have free will), may our lives reflect this victory.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 11, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT DIONYSIUS OF CORINTH, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANTHONY NEYROT, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR

THE FEAST OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SELWYN, ANGLICAN PRIMATE OF NEW ZEALAND

THE FEAST OF SAINT STANISLAUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF KRAKOW

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Adapted from this post:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/04/11/devotion-for-january-29-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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Posted October 6, 2012 by neatnik2009 in 2 Timothy 1, Psalm 13, Psalm 36, Psalm 5, Zechariah 8

Tagged with

Leaving Judgment to God, Part I   1 comment

Above:  Map of Galilee

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Zechariah 8:20-23 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

Thus said the LORD of Hosts:

Peoples and the inhabitants of many cities shall yet come–the inhabitants of one shall go to the other and say, “Let us go and entreat the favor the LORD, let us seek the LORD of Hosts; I will go, too.”  The many peoples and the multitude of nations shall come to seek the LORD of Hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the LORD.

Thus said the LORD of Hosts:

In those days, ten men from nations of every tongue will take hold–they will take hold of every Jew by a corner of his cloak and say, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”

Psalm 87 (1979 Book of Common Prayer): 

1  On the holy mountain stands the city he has founded;

the LORD loves the gates of Zion

more than all the dwellings of Jacob.

2  Glorious things are spoken of you,

O city of our God.

3  I count Egypt and Babylon among those who know me;

behold Philistia, Tyre, and Ethiopia:

in Zion were they born.

4  Of Zion it shall be said, “Everyone was born in her,

and the Most High himself shall sustain her.”

5  The LORD will record as he enrolls the peoples,

“These also were born there.”

6  The singers and the dancers will say,

“All my fresh springs are in you.”

Luke 9:51-56 (The Jerusalem Bible):

Now as the time drew near to be taken up to heaven, he resolutely took the road for Jerusalem and sent messengers ahead of him.  These set out, and they went into a Samaritan village to make preparations for him, but the people would not receive him because he was making for Jerusalem.  Seeing this, the disciples James and John said,

Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to burn them up?

But he turned and rebuked them, and they went off to another village.

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The Collect:

O God, you declare your almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity: Grant us the fullness of your grace, that we, running to obtain your promises, may become partakers of your heavenly treasure; 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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Jerusalem figures prominently in all this day’s readings.  Psalm 87 speaks of God sustaining Jerusalem, a city, which, according to Zechariah 8, will become a magnet for international pilgrims. Then there is Jesus in Luke 9:51.  The standard English translation of that verse says that he set his face toward Jerusalem.  William Barclay renders that verse to say that Jesus

fixed his face firmly to go to Jerusalem,

while The Jerusalem Bible says that our Lord

resolutely took the road for Jerusalem.

He and his Apostles were pilgrims, too, but their journey was no mere pilgrimage.  (I write these words on Monday in Holy Week 2011, so the culmination is very much on my mind.)

As Jesus and company set out they face immediate opposition from Samaritans.  Members of a previous generation of Samaritans obstructed the construction of the Second Temple, a fact of which many observant Jews in Jesus’ time were aware.  In fact, many Jews of our Lord’s time and place despised Samaritans, and many Samaritans reciprocated.  Jesus, however, spoke once of a Good Samaritan.  On another occasion he healed a Samaritan leper.  In the Gospel of John our Lord spoke at length to a Samaritan woman.  If he had a problem with Samaritans, he kept it to himself.

As Jesus  set out from Galilee and passed through Samaria en route to Jerusalem, he took a direct route to that holy city.  And he kept moving along when he and his Apostles faced rejection by some local Samaritans.   His actions are consistent with his instructions in Luke 10:11-12:  When a town does not welcome one of his disciples, that disciple ought to depart that town and leave judgment to God.

The Gospels record instances of Jesus condemning holier-than-thou religious figures and speaking ill of Roman puppet leaders.  Yet they also include a multitude of stories of our Lord associating with social outcasts and forgiving repentant sinners.  His mission was one primarily one of restoring people to wholeness (including in their community settings) rather than condemnation.  We who claim the label “Christian” need to keep this lesson in mind and to act accordingly.

So may we go about the business God has given us while leaving judgment to God.  There is much work to do, and there are many people forgive and help lead to wholeness.  We can stand up for what is right and good without uttering a harsh word.  I think of Father Joe, by Tony Hendra.  The eponynomous Catholic priest in that book never excused that of which he disapproved, but neither did he utter any derogatory words while expressing himself, at least in Hendra’s presence.

Jesus calls us to be positive influences where and when we are.  You might know or know of someone who self-identifies as Christian but who is prone to eruptions of spiritual negativity laced with presumptions of know-it-allism.  I do.  Without questioning the sincerity of these individuals, I propose that they, in their attitudes, hurt the cause they seek to advance.

I do not know what God’s judgment upon the residents of that Samaritan village was, but that is none of my business.  Nor was not the proper concern of James and John.  It is the proper concern of God, who is also prone to extravagant and scandalous mercy.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 18, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ROGER WILLIAMS, FOUNDER OF RHODE ISLAND

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Published originally at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on April 18, 2011

Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/04/18/week-of-proper-21-tuesday-year-1/

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Posted October 25, 2011 by neatnik2009 in Luke 9, Psalm 87, Zechariah 8

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Having Hope When That is Difficult   1 comment

Above:  President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (In Office 1933-1945)

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Zechariah 8:1-8 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

The word of the LORD of Hosts came [to me]:

Thus said the LORD of Hosts:

I am very jealous for Zion; I am fiercely jealous for her.

Thus said the LORD:

I have returned to Zion, and I will dwell in Jerusalem.  Jerusalem will be called the city of Faithfulness, and the mount of the LORD of Hosts the Holy Mount.

Thus said the LORD of Hosts:

There shall yet be of old men and women in the squares of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of their great age.  And the squares of the city shall be crowded with boys and girls playing in the squares.

Thus said the LORD of Hosts:

Though it will seem impossible to the remnant of this people in those days, shall it also be impossible to Me?

–declares the LORD of Hosts.

Thus said the LORD of Hosts:

I will rescue My people from the lands of the east and from the lands of the west, and I will bring them home to dwell in Jerusalem.  They shall be My people, and I will be their God–in truth and sincerity.

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Franklin Delano Roosevelt, former Assistant Secretary of the Navy and Democratic nominee for Vice President of the United States in the 1920 election, came down with polio in 1921.  The disease carried a great stigma in those days, so FDR’s career seemed over.  Surely he would spend the rest of his days as a wealthy and paralyzed person.  But his future held the following events:

  • Election as Governor of New York in 1928
  • Re-election in 1930
  • Election as President of the United States in 1932
  • Re-election in 1936, 1940, and 1944
  • Leadership of the nation during the Great Depression and almost all of World War II

All of this was the lot of a man who could not pick himself off the floor when he fell out of his wheelchair.  Yet none of it would have occurred if he had not pursued higher office and others, especially his wife, Eleanor, had not supported him.

Sometimes it is difficult to have hope, for the darkness seems overwhelming.  (I know this fact from a time in my life, albeit a period far less dramatic than 1921-1928 for FDR.)  But there is always hope, if we will grasp it.  And we are not alone; we have God and fellow human beings to help us.  We are not lone wolves and we need not pull ourselves up by our bootstraps.  Rather, we need to do the best we can and rely on our support systems for the rest.  The dependence is mutual, for we lean on others, who, in turn, rely on us.

The reading from Zechariah and the matching portion of Psalm 102 speak of future hope.  Nothing is impossible with God, Zechariah tells us.  In the meantime, the process of restoration, aided by Persian kings and their agents, had begun.  There was a long way yet to go, but at least the process had begun.  So the imperative was to be patient and remain faithful, confident that members of a subsequent generation would witness the fulfillment of the prophecy.

This ethic requires one to think past the desire for instant gratification and the quick fix.  There is no quick fix in this situation, Zechariah says, but there is a fix.  It is in God’s hands, so people ought to leave it there.

Franklin Roosevelt never walked on his own power again, but he helped the United States survive the Great Depression without a revolution.  He gave hope to many people, thereby enabling them to keep going during difficult times.  Hope is a valuable commodity, and hopelessness is devastating.  The latter is, in fact, a major cause of suicide.

Of course, I write these words in a condition of relative comfort.  This sentiment of hopefulness is easy for me to espouse, some might say.  And it is, but I have known very dark times and suicidal feelings, on which I was too terrified to act.  By grace, including human support, I have emerged from the darkness.  My time in darkness strengthened my faith and reminded me that life is a precious gift.  There is always hope, I have learned; all I need to do is grasp it while trusting in God and following this hope in community.

This hope, channeled via people, comes from God, in whom those society considers the least are the greatest.  This hope comes from God, who disregards distinctions to which we gravitate and according to which we define ourselves.  So this hope threatens many people.  This fact indicates the presence of a sin and impels the necessity of repentance–the act of turning around and changing one’s mind.

This hope, however, appeals to those who need it most and who do not hold on to erroneously-based identifications.  It appeals to those who cling to God, who is the only acceptable crutch.

Yes, there is always hope, but we cannot carry our illusions when we walk with the aid of the crutch that is God.  We must lighten our loads during our pilgrimages of faith.  May we do so.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 16, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BERNADETTE OF LOURDES, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN

THE FEAST OF ISABELLA GILMORE, ANGLICAN DEACONESS

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Published originally at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on April 16, 2011 

Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/04/16/week-of-proper-21-monday-year-1/

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Posted October 25, 2011 by neatnik2009 in Zechariah 8

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