Archive for the ‘Psalm 115’ Category

Leviticus and Luke, Part V: Like a Broken Record   1 comment

phonograph

Above:  A Long-Playing Record

Image Source = Tomasz Sienicki

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gramofon_1_ubt.jpeg)

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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:

Leviticus 20:1-16, 22-27 (29th Day of Easter)

Leviticus 21:1-24 (30th Day of Easter)

Leviticus 23:1-22 (31st Day of Easter)

Psalm 93 (Morning–29th Day of Easter)

Psalm 97 (Morning–30th Day of Easter)

Psalm 98 (Morning–31st Day of Easter)

Psalms 136 and 117 (Evening–29th Day of Easter)

Psalms 124 and 115 (Evening–30th Day of Easter)

Psalms 66 and 116 (Evening–31st Day of Easter)

Luke 11:37-54 (29th Day of Easter)

Luke 12:1-12 (30th Day of Easter)

Luke 12:13-34 (31st Day of Easter)

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Some Related Posts:

Leviticus 21-23:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/05/02/devotion-for-the-fourth-day-of-lent-lcms-daily-lectionary/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/11/07/proper-25-year-b/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/01/13/week-of-proper-12-friday-year-1/

Luke 11-12:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/04/week-of-proper-23-tuesday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/04/week-of-proper-23-wednesday-year-1/

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

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/06/week-of-proper-23-friday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/07/week-of-proper-23-saturday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/08/week-of-proper-24-monday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/09/week-of-proper-24-tuesday-year-1/

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/03/prayer-of-praise-and-adoration-for-the-fifth-sunday-of-easter/

Prayer of Dedication:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/03/prayer-of-dedication-for-the-fifth-sunday-of-easter/

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 I admit it; I sound like a broken record:  Loving people and seeking justice for them matters far more than does keeping an obscure element of the Law of Moses.  Speaking of that law code, shall we consider some provisions of it?  We read some sexual laws and an order to execute one for the offense of idolatry.  Then there is this law:

If anyone insults his father or his mother, he shall be put to death; he has insulted his father and his mother–his blood guilt is upon him.

–Leviticus 20:9, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

To insult is also to curse, the sort of activity the Prodigal Son committed in Luke 15.  Yet the father, the God figure in the parable, forgave the son.

We read in Leviticus 21:16 forward that physically handicapped or deformed Levites were forbidden to serve as priests.  It seems that such men were not supposed to serve God in that way because their physical imperfections reflected the divine form inadequately.  I am glad of progressive attitudes regarding physical differences in modern times; may these ideas flourish.

Then we read about what makes a sacrifice acceptable.  I do not care, for none of that has mattered since the first century CE.

Jesus criticized people who were meticulous about legalistic details while they ignored the imperative of social justice.  He advocated humility before God, trust in God, and active concern for the conditions and circumstances of others.  I think that he cared about blind and disabled Levites, who got to eat well yet were still second-class spiritual citizens.

Speaking of Levites, contact with a corpse made one unclean (Leviticus 22).  That concern played a role in the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37).  And who was the hero in that story?

People matter more than arcane laws.  Here ends the lesson, again.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 15, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT LANDELINUS OF VAUX, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; SAINT AUBERT OF CAMBRAI, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP; SAINT URSMAR OF LOBBES, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND MISSIONARY BISHOP; AND SAINTS DOMITIAN, HADELIN, AND DODO OF LOBBES, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONKS

THE FEAST OF EVELYN UNDERHILL, ANGLICAN MYSTIC

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Adapted from this post:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/06/15/devotion-for-the-twenty-ninth-thirtieth-and-thirty-first-days-of-easter-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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Leviticus and Luke, Part II: God Concepts   1 comment

sin-of-nadab-and-abihu

Above:  The Sin of Nadab and Abihu

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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:

Leviticus 9:1-14 (23rd Dayof Easter)

Leviticus 10:1-20 (24th Day of Easter)

Psalm 97 (Morning–23rd Day of Easter)

Psalm 98 (Morning–24th Day of Easter)

Psalms 124 and 115 (Evening–23rd Day of Easter)

Psalms 66 and 116 (Evening–24th Day of Easter)

Luke 9:18-36 (23rd Day of Easter)

Luke 9:37-62 (24th Day of Easter)

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Some Related Posts:

Luke 9:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/04/14/last-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-c/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/27/second-day-of-lent/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/05/14/second-sunday-in-lent-year-c/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/04/08/week-of-proper-20-friday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/04/14/week-of-proper-20-saturday-year-1/

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/

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

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/01/feast-of-the-transfiguration-august-6/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/25/week-of-proper-20-friday-year-2/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/25/week-of-proper-20-saturday-year-2/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/26/week-of-proper-21-monday-year-2/

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My point of reference is that of a modern, liberal, intellectual North American Christian.  God is love, I affirm, and the historical figure of Jesus of Nazareth was God incarnate.  So my God concept leads me to ask what Jesus would do.  Hence the God concept in Leviticus 10 is foreign to me.  The sacrifices in Leviticus 9 are likewise alien to me.  Parts of the Letter to the Hebrews played back in my head as I read these chapters from Leviticus.

Although I am a ritualist, I do not attach life or death stakes to performing a certain liturgical act just so.  What, I wonder, did Nadab and Abihu, sons of Aaron, do that was so bad that they died on what was supposed to be a joyous occasion?  I found the following note from the The Jewish Study Bible (Oxford University Press, 2004) helpful:

In biblical thought, however, ritual crimes are dire.  Further, the sin of the two brothers was not simply that they went too far in their misguided super-piety.  Rather, they acted in utter disregard for the deity.  God intended that the manifestations of His Presence would ignite the altar fire, marking His acceptance of His peoples’ devotion.  Their intent was for the divine fire to ignite their pans; that is, they were attempting to arrogate control of the deity to themselves.  (page 227)

Trying to control God is one sin; misunderstanding God can lead to others.  Consider Simon Peter, who grasped that Jesus was the Messiah but not what that entailed–suffering for the Messiah.  Then, at the Transfiguration, the Apostle would have institutionalized the event, not distinguishing among Jesus, Moses, or Elijah.  Our expectations and best attempts prove inadequate, do they not?

But, for a God concept, I still prefer Jesus to the Yahweh of Leviticus 10.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 13, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANTHONY OF PADUA  ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

THE FEAST OF GILBERT KEITH (G. K.) CHESTERTON, AUTHOR

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Adapted from this post:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/06/13/devotion-for-the-twenty-third-and-twenty-fourth-days-of-easter-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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Exodus and Luke, Part VIII: Damaged Relationships   1 comment

epitaph-of-a-roman-centurion

Above:  Epitaph of a Centurion

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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:

Exodus 33:1-23 (16th Dayof Easter)

Exodus 34:1-28 (17th Day of Easter)

Psalm 97 (Morning–16th Day of Easter)

Psalm 98 (Morning–17th Day of Easter)

Psalms 124 and 115 (Evening–16th Day of Easter)

Psalms 66 and 116 (Evening–17th Day of Easter)

Luke 7:1-17 (16th Day of Easter)

Luke 7:18-35 (17th Day of Easter)

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Some Related Posts:

Exodus 33-34:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/01/12/week-of-proper-12-tuesday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/07/proper-24-year-a/

Luke 7:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/third-week-of-advent-wednesday/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/third-week-of-advent-thursday/

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

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

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

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The LORD said to Moses, “Say to the Israelite people, ‘You are a stiffnecked people.  If I were to go in your midst for one moment, I would destroy you.  Now, then, leave off your finery, and I will consider what to do to you.’”

–Exodus 33:5, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

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I detect several consistent patterns in my life.  One of them pertains to what happens after I fall out with an institution.  I return after some time, but never with the same enthusiasm.  The water might be under the bridge, but I cannot forget the flood.  So the breach remains in my memory.  Things can be better, but not as they were before.  Perhaps this is a spiritual failing.  (Relationships with individuals are a different matter; I have reverted to a pre-falling out state with them.  Institutions are frequently impersonal by nature, however.)   I offer neither a defense nor a condemnation of myself relative to this reality relative to institutions; no, I am content at the moment to make an objectively accurate statement.

The relationship between God and the Israelites was damaged, not broken, in Exodus 33.  Moses functioned as an intermediary, for there was a distance between God and the people.  The narrative would have us believe that the people were entirely to blame, but I argue that God, as the narrative presents God, shared in the blame.  Were the people supposed to love and follow a deity who sent away those who had not adored the Golden Calf as punishment for the adoration of that idol?

The relationship between Jesus and the religious authorities (eventually broken) in the Gospel of Luke.  And, in Luke 7, our Lord found a Gentile–a Roman officer, no less–whose great faithfulness impressed him.  This spoke well for the Centurion but not of those religious authorities.

To tie everything together in a big theological bow, God did come among many of our forebears, and they did not perish. The Incarnation of God in Jesus constituted God among us, with us, and for us.  It was how God bridged the gap.  Things would not be as they were before.  No, they would be better.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 9, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT COLUMBA OF IONA, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY AND ABBOT

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Adapted from this post:

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

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Exodus and Luke, Part II: Together in Society   1 comment

migrant-worker-1935

Above:  A Migrant Worker in California, 1935

Image Source = Library of Congress

(http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/fsa1999000001/PP/)

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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:

Exodus 22:20-23:13

Psalm 97 (Morning)

Psalms 124 and 115 (Evening)

Luke 4:16-30

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Some Related Posts:

Exodus 21-23:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/01/10/week-of-proper-11-saturday-year-1/

Luke 4:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/fifth-day-of-epiphany/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/04/09/third-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-c/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/04/11/fourth-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-c/

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

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/05/14/devotion-for-the-second-sunday-in-lent-lcms-daily-lectionary/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/09/week-of-proper-17-monday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/14/week-of-proper-17-monday-year-2/

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I began my preparations for this post by reading Exodus 21:1-23:13 closely.  The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod lectionary skips Exodus 21:1-22:19.  This statement does not constitute a criticism, for one must skip around sometimes when creating a lectionary.  Yet I thought that the skipped-over verses might pertain to the assigned material.  I was correct.

Exodus 22:20 forward commands the Israelites to show kindness, mercy, and respect to strangers, widows, and orphans, to refrain from usury (a rule which credit card companies violate daily), to make good sacrifices to God, to return wandering livestock to its owner, to grant justice to the poor, to leave food in the fields for the hungry, and to honor the Sabbath.  The guiding principle is that what one person does affects others.  There is no room for careless individualism which harms the society.

But what does one find in Exodus 21:1-22:19?  Slaves (more like indentured servants in the U.S. historical context) have rights.  Women have many of the same rights as men.  One dies for a variety of offenses, from cursing or insulting one’s parents to committing murder.  One can sell one’ s daughter into slavery.  Retribution is in proportion to the offense.  For  many offenses restitution–not death–is the penalty.  An Israelite who offers a sacrifice to a deity other than Yahweh must die.  A reader can find other laws there; this is just a sampling.

Historical and cultural contexts matter.  There were traditional Semitic notions of family honor and parental authority.  Any offense which carried the death penalty was one deemed especially dangerous to society.  And the people were nomads in the desert.  Resources were precious, and there was no jail or prison.

I, of course, live in a settled society which draws influences from the Enlightenment.  Despite poverty not far from my front door (a few miles away, elsewhere in Athens, Georgia, a street separates university dormitories from public housing projects), there is an abundance of food and drink.   And the local jail is frequently overcrowded.  I wonder how a modern version of the Law of Moses would compare the biblical one.

In Luke 4:16-30 we read an account of our Lord’s rejection at Nazareth, his hometown.  Plotting to overthrow someone off a cliff, as some residents of Nazareth meant to do Jesus, was not nice.  Perhaps some people thought that it was consistent with the death penalty for blasphemy (Leviticus 24:16).  Or maybe it was just a case of homicidal rage.  If they had succeeded that day, would they not have been subject to death themselves (Exodus 21:14)?

One must, if one is to understand the Bible properly, consider it intelligently, taking into account all the germane contexts, avoiding the error of prooftexting, and not transforming the Bible into an idol.  May we use the Bible as an icon–through which we see God–not as an idol–which we see in lieu of God.  And may we remember that we are here on the planet together, so what one person does affects others.  And God expects us to avoid wronging or oppressing one another.  After all, we all bear the image of God; may we treat each other accordingly.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 7, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROBERT OF NEWMINSTER, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND PRIEST

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANTHONY MARY GIANELLI, FOUNDER OF THE MISSIONARIES OF SAINT ALPHONSUS LIGUORI AND THE SISTERS OF MARY DELL’ORTO

THE FEAST OF CHARLES AUGUSTUS BRIGGS, PRESBYTERIAN PASTOR AND EPISCOPAL PRIEST

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Adapted from this post:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/06/07/devotion-for-the-ninth-day-of-easter-lcms-daily-lectionay/

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Exodus and Hebrews, Part IX: Mighty Acts of God   1 comment

moses

Above:  Moses

Image Source = Billy Hathorn

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bust_of_Moses_at_Earl_Hall,_Columbia_University_IMG_0950.JPG)

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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:

Exodus 15:1-18

Psalm 97 (Morning)

Psalms 124 and 115 (Evening)

Hebrews 9:1-28

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Some Related Posts:

Hebrews 9:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/29/week-of-2-epiphany-saturday-year-1/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/30/week-of-3-epiphany-monday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/11/08/proper-26-year-b/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/11/10/proper-27-year-b/

Prayer:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/27/prayer-for-monday-of-easter-week/

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If the LORD had not been on our side….

–Psalm 124:1a, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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The reading from the Book of Exodus consists of the Song of Moses (and the Israelites) immediately after the Exodus.  They are very happy and filled with praise of God.  Enjoy this while it lasts, O reader, for the grumbling starts before the chapter ends.

In Hebrews we read a masterpiece of Platonist philosophy (via the concepts of heavenly forms and earthly shadows) applied to Christology.  We continue to read about Christ’s superiority to the Law of Moses.  The first tent preceded the second tent, the Holy of Holies, home of the Ark of the Covenant.  Entrance to the Holy of Holies was restricted, with only one priest going there one day–the Day of Atonement.  But, with Christ’s sacrifices completed, there is atonement.  That is one message of the text.

If the LORD had not been on the side of the Israelites, they would have remained slaves in Egypt.  If the LORD were not on our side, we would not have Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, who

has made appearance at the last age, to do away with sin by sacrificing himself.

–Hebrews 9:26c, The New Jerusalem Bible

Such mighty acts of God demand an affirmative response, do they not?  May we act accordingly, individually and collectively, by what we do and choose not to do.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 2, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT STEPHEN OF SWEDEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY, BISHOP, AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF LYONS (A.K.A. SAINT BLANDINA AND HER COMPANIONS)

THE FEAST OF REINHOLD NIEBUHR, UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST THEOLOGIAN

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Adapted from this post:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/06/02/devotion-for-the-second-day-of-easter-monday-in-easter-week-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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Posted March 1, 2013 by neatnik2009 in Exodus 15, Hebrews 9, Psalm 115, Psalm 124, Psalm 97

Tagged with ,

Breaking Bad Spiritual Habits   1 comment

The Sacrifice at Lystra, by Raphael (1515)

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Acts 14:1-18 (Revised English Bible):

At Iconium they [Paul and Barnabas] went together into the Jewish synagogue and spoke to such purpose that Jews and Greeks in large numbers became believers.  But the unconverted Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the Christians.  So Paul and Barnabas stayed on for some time, and spoke boldly and openly in reliance on the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to work signs and miracles.  The populace was divided, some siding with the Jews, others with the apostles.  A move was made by Gentiles and Jews together, with the connivance of the city authorities, to maltreat them and stone them, and when they became aware of this, they made their escape to the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe and the continuing country.  There they continued to spread the good news.

At Lystra a cripple, lame from birth, who had never walked in his life, sat listening to Paul as he spoke.  Paul fixed his eyes on him and, and seeing that he had the faith to be cured, said in a loud voice,

Stand up straight on your feet;

and he sprang up and began to walk.  When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they shouted, in their native Lycaonian,

The gods have come down to us in human form!

They called Barnabas Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes, because he was the spokesman.  The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, and he and the people were about to offer sacrifice.

But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their clothes and rushed into the crowd, shouting,

Men, why are you doing this?  We are human beings, just like you.  The good news we bring tells you to turn from these follies to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them.  In past ages he has allowed all nations to go their own way; and yet he has not left you without some clue to his nature, in the benefits he bestows: he sends you rain from heaven and the crops in their seasons, and gives you food in plenty and keeps you in good heart.

Even with these words they barely managed to prevent the crowd from offering sacrifice to them.

Psalm 115:1-13 (Revised English Bible):

Not to us, LORD, not to us,

but to your name give glory

for your love, for your faithfulness!

Why should the nations ask,

Where, then, is their God?

Our God is high in heaven;

he does whatever he wills.

Their idols are silver and gold,

made by human hands.

They have mouths, but cannot speak,

eyes, but cannot see;

they have ears, but cannot hear,

nostrils, but cannot smell;

with their hands they cannot feel,

and their feet they cannot walk,

and no sound comes from their throats.

Their makers become like them,

and so do all who put their trust in them.

But Israel trusts in the LORD:

he is their help and their shield.

The house of Aaron trusts in the LORD:

he is their help and their shield.

Those who fear the LORD trust in the LORD:

he is their help and their shield.

The LORD who has been mindful of us will bless us,

he will bless the house of Israel,

he will bless the house of Aaron.

The LORD will bless those who fear him,

both high and low.

John 14:15-26 (Anchor Bible):

[Jesus said,]

If you love me and keep my commandments, then at my request the Father will give you another Paraclete to be with you forever.  He is the Spirit of Truth whom the world cannot accept since it neither sees nor recognizes him; but you do recognize him since he remains with you and is within you.  I shall not leave you orphans; I am coming back to you.  In just a little while the world will not see me any more; but you will see me because I have life and you will have life.  On that day you will recognize that I am in the Father, and you are in me, and I in you.  Whoever keeps the commandments that he has from me is the man who loves me; and the man who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I shall love him and reveal myself to him.

Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said,

Lord, what can have happened that you are going to reveal yourself to us and not to the world?

Jesus answered,

If anyone loves me, we will keep my word.  Then my Father will love him, and we shall come to him and make our dwelling place with him.  Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word that you hear is not my own but comes from the Father who sent me.  I have said this to you while I am still with you.  But the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, that the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you [myself].

The Collect:

O Lord, you have given us the grace to know the resurrection of your Son:  Grant that the Holy Spirit, by his love, may raise us to newness of life; 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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We human beings, regardless of our cultural, religious, and educational backgrounds, regard and think of what we can see and cannot see in human terms.  That is our frame of reference.  This is not a spiritual problem if we recognize that we must think in metaphors, and that these metaphors point to a higher reality.  Thus we Christians have inherited theological language of God the Father and the God the Son, for example.  These metaphors are beautiful and meaningful, but they are merely metaphors.  I am not attached to them in any negative or positive way, preferring to refer to God only as “you” in private prayer, yet I do not object to praying corporately to “God the Father” and “God the Son.”  Also, inclusive language comes in two forms:  good and bad.  Bad inclusive language sounds eerily like a boring job description.

Whatever the ultimate nature of God is, human metaphors can describe it only partially.

To overcome learned religion can be difficult, as it was for those who thought Paul and Barnabas as Zeus and Hermes incarnate.  Polytheism is ancient, and practiced Monotheism is a relatively recent development.  The deification of aspects of nature and divinity as anthropomorphic figures has been a frequent practice, and remains commonplace in the world today.  To their credit, Paul and Barnabas gave glory to the one and only God, but their audience did not grasp their message.

The season of Easter lasts for fifty days.  Day Number Fifty is Pentecost, a foreshadowing of which we receive in this day’s reading from John.  Through the Holy Spirit we can understand great spiritual truths.  So, however we think of God metaphorically, we can relate on some level (only with divine help) to God.  Some basic spiritual lessons pertain to keeping the commandments of Jesus, maintaining good practices, ceasing bad practices, and understanding the differences between people and God.  These are not merely private and individual.   No, they have social implications.  (One major fault with certain varieties of Protestantism is focusing on individuals at the expense or to the exclusion of society.)

So, what is God saying to you?  What will God say to you?  And how will these messages change you and lead you to have an impact on your community and/or society?  Society is not an abstraction; it consists of individuals.  People can change it, and many have, for both good and ill.  So I challenge you to listen to God and leave society better than you found it.  And you can start by distinguishing between good habits and bad habits then resisting the bad and turning toward the good.  Only the one God, whose nature exceeds any metaphor, can guide us in this quest.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 6, 2010 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCELLINUS OF CARTHAGE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR

THE FEAST OF ALBRECHT DURER, MATTHIAS GRUNEWALD, AND LUCAS CRANACH THE ELDER, ARTISTS

THE FEAST OF DANIEL G. C. WU, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND MISSIONARY TO CHINESE AMERICANS

THE FEAST OF FREDERIC BARKER, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF SYDNEY

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Adapted from this post:

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

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Posted March 30, 2012 by neatnik2009 in Acts of the Apostles 14, John 14, Psalm 115

Tagged with

Reading and Pondering Hosea, Part Two   1 comment

Christ Pantocrator

A Moral Form of Divestiture

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Hosea 8:3-14 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

Israel rejects what is good;

An enemy shall pursue him.

They have made kings,

But not with My sanction;

They have made officers,

But not of My choice.

Of their silver and gold

They have made themselves images,

To their own undoing.

He rejects your calf, Samaria!

I am furious with them!

Will they never be capable of purity?

For it was Israel’s doing;

It was only made by a joiner,

It was not a god.

No, the calf of Samaria shall be

Reduced to splinters!

They sow wind,

And they shall reap the whirlwind–

Standing stalks devoid of ears

And yielding no flour.

If they do yield any,

Strangers shall devour it.

Israel is bewildered;

They have now become among the nations

Like an unwanted vessel,

[like] a lonely wild ass.

For they have gone up to Assyria,

Ephraim has courted friendship.

And while they are courting among the nations,

There I will hold them fast;

And they shall begin to diminish in number

From the burden of king [and] officers.

For Ephraim has multiplied altars–for guilt;

His altars have redounded to his guilt:

The many teachings I wrote for him

Have been treated as something alien.

When they present sacrifices to Me,

It is but flesh for them to eat:

The LORD has not accepted them.

Behold, He remembers their iniquity,

He will punish their sins:

Back to Egypt with them!

Israel has ignored his Maker

And built temples

(And Judah has fortified many cities).

So I will set fire to his cities,

And it shall consume their fortresses.

Psalm 115:1-10 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  Not to us, O LORD, not to us,

but to your Name give glory;

because of your love and because of your faithfulness.

2  Why should the heathen say,

“Where then is their God?”

3  Our God is in heaven;

whatever he wills to do he does.

4  Their idols are silver and gold,

the work of human hands.

5  They have mouths, but they cannot speak;

eyes have they, but they cannot see;

6  They have ears, but they cannot hear;

noses, but they cannot smell;

7  They have hands, but they cannot feel;

feet, but they cannot walk;

they make no sound with their throat.

8  Those who make them are like them,

and so are all who put their trust in them.

9  O Israel, trust in the LORD;

he is their help and their shield.

10  O house of Aaron, trust in the LORD;

he is their help and their shield.

Matthew 9:32-38 (An American Translation):

But just as they were going out, some people brought to him a dumb man who was possessed by a demon, and as soon as the demon was driven out, the dumb man was able to speak.  And the crowds were amazed, and said,

Nothing like this was ever seen in Israel!

But the Pharisees said,

It is by the prince of demons that he drives them out.

Jesus went round among all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness.

But the sight of the crowds of people filled him with pity for them, because they were bewildered and dejected, like sheep that have no shepherd.  Then he said to his disciples,

The harvest is abundant enough, but the reapers are few.  So pray to the owner of the harvest to send reapers to gather it.

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The Collect:

O God, you have taught us to keep all your commandments by loving you and our neighbor: Grant us the grace of your Holy Spirit, that we may be devoted to you with our whole heart, and united to one another with pure affection; 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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A Related Post:

Be Thou My Vision:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/08/03/be-thou-my-vision/

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This is an unhappy reading from Hosea.  Corruption, dishonesty, idolatry, and murder were commonplace in the northern Kingdom of Israel.  Official corruption was especially ubiquitous.  King Jeroboam II, who made alliances with dangerous foreign nations and therefore weakened the nation, was not a legitimate king, according to Hosea.  The House of David continued to rule in the south, but Israel had a series of dynasties, most of them established by means of palace coups.

The Book of Hosea moves back and forth between judgment and mercy.  The YHWH of Hosea is a passionate deity seeking the love of a faithless people whose ancestors he had rescued from slavery and led to freedom.

We read in Matthew 9:32-38 of the faithlessness of certain Pharisees, members of just one sect of First Century Palestinian Judaism.  Yet Jesus, the rejected one, helped, cured, and healed many people, on whom he had pity.  Why was Jesus the rejected one?  Would not nearly anyone in the region want to follow such a great man?  The answer, I think, is that simple goodness threatens many people with certain vested interests.  Most people might say that “Love your neighbor as you love yourself” is an excellent ethic, yet how many of them might condemn someone who obeys this great commandment in a politically unpopular way?

We need to divest ourselves or all which causes us to hate or otherwise fear or despise those who are different from us and whose existence prompts us to nurture the dark side of our nature.  God loves all of us–the exploiters and the exploited, the murderers and the murdered, the cheaters and the cheated, the corrupt and the honest.  Where there is love there do not cease to exist the consequences of our actions, which flow from attitudes.

May we value people more than power, status, honor, and wealth.  May we love God more than these things, which can become idols if we treat them as such.  Power, status, honor (which is socially defined), and wealth are transitory, but God is forever.  And people die in time, but human relationships are much more valuable than anything material.

This lesson is timeless, but successive generations of human beings have contained many people who have not acted consistently in accordance with it.  So, unfortunately, we need reminders.

It is no wonder that we read of God’s anger in books such as Hosea.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 6, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CHARLES ELLIOT FOX, ANGLICAN MISSIONARY

THE FEAST OF MADELEINE L’ENGLE, NOVELIST

THE FEAST OF PETER CLAVER, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

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Published originally at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/09/06/week-of-proper-9-tuesday-year-2/

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