Archive for the ‘Psalm 2’ Category

Psalms 1-5   Leave a comment

Above:  Oasis, the Sahara, Between 1910 and 1915

Image Publisher = Bain News Service

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ggbain-10739

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POST I OF LX

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The Book of Common Prayer (1979) includes a plan for reading the Book of Psalms in morning and evening installments for 30 days.  I am therefore blogging through the Psalms in 60 posts.

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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 226

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Perhaps no word in the English language is more loaded than “God,” distinct from “god.”  My understanding of “God,” O reader, is certainly not exactly what yours is.  I know an Episcopal priest who has a good way of dealing with people who tell him they do not believe in God.  Father asks that person to describe God, in whom he or she does believe.  Inevitably Father does not believe in that God either.  He is, however, definitely a theist and a Christian.

So much for the word “God.”  What about the word “believe”?

To believe in, in full theological meaning, is to trust in.  As I have explained in person to the one person who has asked me to my face whether I believe in God, my answer depends on the meaning of the question.  If one is asking if I affirm the existence of God, my answer is “Yes, always.”  If, however, one wants to know if I trust in God, the answer is “Yes, most of the time.”  I would be less than honest if I were to indicate otherwise.

So, since trust in God is the real issue, how do we understand God, in whom we are supposed to trust?  Am I supposed to trust that God is the sort of figure who will, in the words of Psalm 3, strike my enemies across the face and break the teeth of the wicked?  Should I even desire that result?  If I do, that fact reflects negatively upon me.  Yes, I affirm that judgment and mercy coexist in the character of God, and that, when oppressors insist upon continuing to oppress and refrain from repenting, the deliverance of the victims is inherently bad news for their oppressors.  Yet I understand that my spiritual character ought to direct me to pray for the repentance, not the destruction, of oppressors.  Therefore I affirm that the recognition that, in the words of Psalm 5, evil cannot exist within God, is inconsistent with the portrayal of God as one who responds affirmatively to prayers for revenge.

Part of the difficulty of pondering the balance of divine judgment and mercy is not minimizing one of the two.  God is God; we are not.  Even the most powerful potentate (per Psalm 2) is insignificant compared to God.  God is neither a warm fuzzy nor a bastard.  We should avoid both extremes scrupulously.

Psalm 1 is, as the late Father Mitchell J. Dahood points out in his analysis of the text, the summary of the Book of Psalms.  The wicked might prosper and be powerful and influential in the meantime, but they will eventually perish; they will reap what they sow and be victims of themselves.  On the other hand, those who avoid the council and counsel (both words are accurate translations from the Hebrew text) of the wicked and refuse to join the company of the scoffers of God are still in the desert, albeit adjacent to sources of water.  They still depend upon God for everything and recognize that reality.  Life might not be easy or prosperous for them, but they have and will have eternal life–life in God, life of enjoying and glorifying God forever.  That is enough.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 28, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF FLORA MACDONALD, CANADIAN STATESWOMAN AND HUMANITARIAN

THE FEAST OF NANCY BYRD TURNER, POET, EDITOR, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF THE PIONEERING FEMALE EPISCOPAL PRIESTS, 1974 AND 1975

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Beloved of God: Worship Supplement 2000   8 comments

Worship Supplement 2000 Spine

Above:  The Spine of Worship Supplement 2000

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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U.S. LUTHERAN LITURGY, PART XXII

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Beloved of God:  Let us draw near with a true heart, and confess our sins to God our Father, asking Him, in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to grant us forgiveness.

Worship Supplement 2000, page 1

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I.  PREFACE

In July 2013 I wrote twenty-one posts in the U.S. Lutheran Liturgy series here at BLOGA THEOLOGICA.  Now, almost two years later, I return to that series with this entry, in which I turn to the Church of the Lutheran Confession (CLC).  Some historical background is essential to placing this denomination within the context of U.S. Lutheranism.

I recall an expression I heard while growing up in United Methodism in southern Georgia, U.S.A.

There are Baptists then there are Baptists,

I learned.  The same principle applies to Confessional Lutherans.  The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS) is conservative, but the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS), with German immigrant origins, and the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS), with Norwegian immigrant roots, stand to its right.  To their right one finds the Church of the Lutheran Confession.

The LCMS has experienced occasional schisms, mostly to its right.  (Most denominational schisms have occurred to the right, not the left, for they have usually happened in the name of purity, not breadth, of doctrine.)  The Orthodox Lutheran Conference (OLC) broke away from the LCMS in 1951, citing doctrinal drift in the form of the first part of the Common Confession (1950) with The American Lutheran Church (1930-1960).  The OLC experienced subsequent division, reorganizing as the Concordia Lutheran Conference in 1956.  Some congregations became independent, others defected to the WELS in 1963, and others joined the Lutheran Churches of the Reformation, another LCMS breakaway group, in 1964.

The Evangelical Lutheran Synodical Conference of North America (1872-1967, although inactive from 1966 to 1967), was an umbrella organization of Confessional Lutheran denominations.  It member synods varied over time, with some denominations leaving it due to doctrinal differences, but it consisted of four synods toward the end.  Those were the LCMS, the ELS, the WELS, and the Synod of Evangelical Lutheran Churches (SELC).  The WELS and the ELS departed in 1963, after years of condemning the LCMS of consorting with heretical Lutheran denominations, such as the 1930-1960 and 1960-1987 incarnations of The American Lutheran Church.  The SELC merged into the LCMS, becoming the SELC District thereof, in 1971.

The Church of the Lutheran Confession, formed in 1960, attracted members from the LCMS, the Concordia Lutheran Conference, the ELS, and primarily from the WELS.  Its raison d’etre was to oppose unionism, or ecumenism with alleged heretics, and to stand for pure doctrine, as it understood it.  That purpose continues, as the official website of the denomination attests.

II. OFFICIAL BOOKS OF WORSHIP

Although some CLC pastors have prepared liturgies, the two official service book-hymnals of the denomination are The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) and Worship Supplement 2000.  The Lutheran Hymnal (1941), a product of the former Synodical Conference, remains one of the most influential hymnals in U.S. Lutheranism.  The denominations which authorized it have published official successors to it–the LCMS (with its SELC District) in 1982 and 2006, the WELS in 1993, and the ELS in 1996.  Nevertheless, The Lutheran Hymnal remains in use in some congregations of those bodies as well as in the CLC.

Worship Supplement 2000 Cover

Above:  The Cover of Worship Supplement 2000

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Language and hymnody move along, however, hence the existence of Worship Supplement 2000.  The volume contains three services, a small selection of Psalms, and 100 hymns.  The book itself is a sturdy hardback measuring 23.4 x 15.5 x 1.8 centimeters, making it taller, wider, and thinner than my copy of The Lutheran Hymnal.  The paper is thick, of high quality, and the fonts are attractive and clear.

TLH and WS2000

Above:  My Copies of The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) and Worship Supplement 2000

Photograph by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Worship Supplement 2000:  Services

The three services are Service of Word and Sacrament (Settings 1 and 2) and the Service of the Word.  The two Services of Word and Sacrament follow the same pattern:

  • Preparation for Worship–Entrance Hymn, Invocation, and Confession and Absolution;
  • The Service of the Word–Kyrie, Gloria in Excelsis, Prayer of the Day, First Lesson, Psalm of the Day, Second Lesson, Creed (Nicene or Apostles’), Hymn of the Day, Sermon, Offertory, Offerings, Prayer of the Church, and the Lord’s Prayer (traditional or contemporary language); and
  • The Service of the Sacrament (except for the last two parts, optional most Sundays)–Sanctus, Words of Institution, Agnus Dei, Distribution, Thanksgiving, Hymn and Benediction.

Setting 1 is an updated version of the basic service from The Lutheran Hymnal.  Setting 2 is a more recent rite with different language.

A Service of the Word follows a similar pattern, minus the Holy Communion, of course:

  • Hymn
  • Invocation
  • Confession and Absolution
  • First Lesson
  • Second Lesson
  • Apostles’ Creed
  • Hymn of the Day
  • Sermon, Homily, or Bible Study
  • Prayers
  • Lords Prayer
  • Hymn
  • Benediction

As with other Confessional Lutheran worship resources, the church is “Christian,” not “catholic,” in the Creeds.

The Eucharistic rites, consistent with most Confessional Lutheran practice, lack the Canon, present in Roman Catholic and Anglican liturgies.

The theology of absolution of sin in Worship Supplement 2000 interests me.  I, as an Episcopalian of a certain stripe, accept the language “I absolve you” easily.  As with my fellow Episcopalians, there is a range of opinion regarding this matter among Lutherans.  Worship Supplement 2000 contains both the “I absolve you” form and the mere announcement of divine forgiveness.  This practice is consistent with the usage of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod in its Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary (1996) and with The Lutheran Hymnal (1941).  The two forms of absolution continues in most subsequent LCMS resources, although the Hymnal Supplement 98 (1998) provides only one absolution:

Upon this your confession, I, by virtue of my office as a called and ordained servant of the Word, announce the grace of God to all of you, and in the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

–Page 6

Historic practice in most of the denominations which merged over time in phases to constitute the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) was for the presiding minister to announce God’s forgiveness of sin.  With the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), however, the option of the minister forgiving sins entered the liturgy.  It has remained.  James Gerhardt Sucha’s unofficial supplement to the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), The Service Hymnal:  A Lutheran Homecoming (2001) lacks the “I forgive you” language.

The practice in the WELS, however, is to use only the “I forgive you” form of the absolution.

Worship Supplement 2000:  Psalms

Portions of Psalms arranged topically fill pages 25-42 of the book.  The presentation of these texts is such that a congregation may either read, sing, or chant them.  The texts come from, in order, Psalms 24, 96, 81, 51, 118, 2, 51, 45, 91, 30, 100, 23, 66, 84, 38, 85, 146, and 121.

Worship Supplement 2000:  Hymns

Worship Supplement contains 100 hymns, #701-800.  The arrangement of these begins with the church year (#701-740) then moves to topics (frequently doctrines):

  • Worship and Praise (#741-748)
  • Baptism (#749-753)
  • Lord’s Supper (#754-755)
  • Redeemer (#756-763)
  • Church (#764-768)
  • Evangelism (#769-773)
  • Word of God (#774-775)
  • Justification (#776-779)
  • Ministry (#780-781)
  • Trust (#782-785)
  • Consecration (#786)
  • Morning (#787)
  • Stewardship (#788-789)
  • Marriage (#790-791)
  • Thanksgiving (#792-793)
  • Christ’s Return (#794-795)
  • Evening (#796)
  • Hymns of the Liturgy (#797-800)

Many of the hymns are absent from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) for various reasons, including chronology.  Thus some Brian Wren texts appear in Worship Supplement 2000.  However, certain hymns which were old in 1941 and absent from The Lutheran Hymnal are present.  So are some hymns which are present in The Lutheran Hymnal.  Their versions from 2000 contain updated translations and modernized pronouns.  I commend the editor for avoiding “seven-eleven” songs, which come from the shallow end of the theological gene pool and are popular with devotees of contemporary worship.

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty TLH 1941

Above:  “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty,” from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941)

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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Praise to the Lord, the Almighty WS2000

Above:  The First Page of “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty,” from Worship Supplement 2000

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Notice the updated language and the altered tune.

Worship Supplement 2000:  Acknowledgments and Indices

Worship Supplement 2000 ends with copyright acknowledgments and with indices.  There are two indices–first lines and hymn tunes.

III.  CONCLUSION

Worship Supplement 2000, as a book, has much to commend it.  This statement applies to the quality of the binding, the thickness of the paper, and the readability of the fonts as much as to the contents.  I write this despite the fact that, according the Church of the Lutheran Confession, I am probably going to Hell.  (And I think of myself as an observant Christian!)  The matters of my salvation, however, reside in the purview of God, not any denomination.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 9, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF DIETRICH BONHOEFFER, MARTYR AND GERMAN LUTHERAN THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK ARTHUR GORE OUSELEY, ANGLICAN PRIEST, COMPOSER, AND MUSICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF JAY THOMAS STOCKING, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN SAMUEL BEWLEY MONSELL, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND POET; AND RICHARD MANT, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF DOWN, CONNOR, AND DROMORE

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I have provided some documentation via hyperlinks.  A list of books I have used to prepare this post follows.

American Lutheran Hymnal.  Columbus, OH:  Lutheran Book Concern, 1930.

Christian Worship:  A Lutheran Hymnal.  Milwaukee, WI:  Northwestern Publishing House, 1993.

Christian Worship:  Supplement.  Milwaukee, WI:  Northwestern Publishing House, 2008.

Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church.  Philadelphia, PA:  Board of Publication of the United Lutheran Church in America, 1918.

Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary.  St. Louis, MO:  MorningStar Music Publishers, Inc., 1996.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship.  Minneapolis, MN:  Augsburg Fortress, 2006.

Hymnal for Church and Home.  Third Edition.  Blair, NE:  Danish Lutheran Publishing House, 1938.

Hymnal Supplement 98.  St. Louis, MO:  Concordia Publishing House, 1998.

Lutheran Book of Worship.  Minneapolis, MO:  Augsburg Publishing House, 1978.  Reprint, 1990.

The Lutheran Hymnal.  St. Louis, MO:  Concordia Publishing House, 1941.

The Lutheran Hymnary.  Minneapolis, MN:  Augsburg Publishing House.  1935.

Lutheran Service Book.  St. Louis, MO:  Concordia Publishing House, 2006.

Lutheran Worship.  St. Louis, MO:  Concordia Publishing House, 1982.  Reprint, 1986.

Service Book and Hymnal.  Minneapolis, MN:  Augsburg Publishing House, 1958.  Reprint, 1961,

The Service Hymnal:  A Lutheran Homecoming.  Edited by James Gerhardt Sucha.  Boulder, CO:  Voice of the Rockies Publishing, 2001.

With One Voice:  A Lutheran Resource for Worship.  Minneapolis, MO:  Augsburg Fortress, 1995.

Worship Supplement.  St. Louis, MO:  Concordia Publishing House, 1969.

Worship Supplement 2000.  Compiled and Edited by John C. Reim.  Eau Claire, WI:  Church of the Lutheran Confession, 2000.  Reprint, 2007.

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The Distress and Suffering of the Innocent   1 comment

Above:  Massacre of the Innocents, by Matteo di Giovanni

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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:

Isaiah 52:13-54:10

Psalm 2 (Morning)

Psalms 110 and 111 (Evening)

Matthew 2:13-23

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Some Related Posts:

Matthew 2:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/fourth-day-of-christmas-feast-of-the-holy-innocents-december-28/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/second-sunday-after-christmas-years-a-b-and-c/

Isaiah 52-54:

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

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/11/06/proper-24-year-b/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/thirty-ninth-day-of-lent-good-friday/

Prayers for Those Who Suffer:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/prayers-for-those-who-suffer/

A Prayer for Those Who Are Desperate:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/a-prayer-for-those-who-are-desperate/

A Prayer for the Healing of Minds:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/a-prayer-for-the-healing-of-minds/

A Franciscan Blessing:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/17/a-franciscan-blessing/

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Whom did the author of Isaiah 52:13-54:10 have in mind?  Perhaps the Jewish people themselves were the despised and suffering servant.  Or maybe a pious Jewish minority was the servant.  Another interpretation of the text is that it speaks of an in individual, perhaps Jeremiah.  This last option is plausible.  The text, unfortunately, does not say for sure.  And, of course, there is a Christian interpretation which applies the text to Jesus.  The imagery fits poetically, if not chronologically.

This is an interesting passage to read along with the Matthew account of the killing of the Holy Innocents.  The servant, in Isaiah 53:5, suffers for the sins of others.  This applies to the unfortunate young boys whom Herod the Great had killed.  Terrible fates fell upon these who had done nothing.  Terrible fates fell upon them because of the sins of one man and those who obeyed him.

Such violence continues to the present day, unfortunately.  The existence of a just God does not prevent them, obviously.  And the joyful tone of Isaiah 54:1-10 leaves many grieving and otherwise distressed people cold.  This is understandable; I do not condemn.  In fact, I have at least as many questions as do other people.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 20, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS, ABOLITIONIST

THE FEAST OF HENRY JUDAH MIKELL, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF ATLANTA

THE FEAST OF THE SAINTS AND MARTYRS OF AFRICA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM GRANT BROUGHTON, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF SYDNEY

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/devotion-for-december-28-lcms-daily-lectionary/

Seeming Paradoxes   1 comment

Above:  Adoration of the Shepherds, by James Tissot

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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:

Isaiah 49:1-18

Psalm 2 (Morning)

Psalms 98 and 96 (Evening)

Matthew 1:1-17

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Some Related Posts:

Isaiah 49:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/20/second-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-a/

 http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/11/04/eighth-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-a/

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

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/thirty-sixth-day-of-lent-tuesday-in-holy-week/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/11/14/proper-3-year-a/

Matthew 1:

 http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/advent-devotion-for-december-17/

O Blessed Mother:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/17/o-blessed-mother/

A Christmas Prayer:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/a-christmas-prayer/

Blessing of a Nativity Scene:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/blessing-of-a-nativity-scene/

A Christmas Prayer:  God of History:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/a-christmas-prayer-god-of-history/

A Christmas Prayer:  Immanuel:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/a-christmas-prayer-immanuel/

Christmas Blessings:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/christmas-blessings/

A Christmas Prayer of Thanksgiving:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/a-christmas-prayer-of-thanksgiving/

The Hail Mary:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/25/the-hail-mary/

O Little Town of Bethlehem:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/12/09/o-little-town-of-bethlehem/

Joy to the World:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/12/15/joy-to-the-world/

Christmas Prayers of Praise and Adoration:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/12/20/christmas-prayers-of-praise-and-adoration/

Christmas Prayers of Dedication:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/12/20/christmas-prayers-of-dedication/

A Prayer of Thanksgiving for Christmas:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/12/22/a-prayer-of-thanksgiving-for-christmas/

How Can I Fitly Greet Thee:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/12/06/how-can-i-fitly-greet-thee/

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Divine agency binds the Isaiah and Matthew readings.  The Servant Song from Isaiah 49, set prior to the opportunity for exiles of Judah to return to their ancestral homeland, makes clear the theme that God is orchestrating events.  Furthermore, God’s love for Judah exceeds that of a mother for a child (verses 15-16).  We know that some mothers, especially drug-addicted ones, are inattentive sometimes.  So yes, a woman can disown the child of her womb; some have.  But God would not disown disobedient and punished Judah.

As for Matthew, we have a family tree for Jesus.  Most names are male, but notice the four women mentioned.  Rahab was a prostitute, Ruth was a foreigner, Bathsheba was so scandalous that the texts lists her as “Uriah’s wife” and does not use her name, and there were rumors regarding Mary.  There were, of course, unnamed and unmentioned women involved in all this reproduction, but the text points out only four, one of whom was a Gentile and three of which had justly or unjustly checkered sexual reputations.  If I were fabricating a story designed to make Jesus look as good as possible, I would not write the story this way.

The meaning I draw from the Matthew genealogy of Jesus today is that God works through us, regardless of our socially defined categories and stigmas, to work grace in the world.  Grace overpowers scandal, stigma, and scorn.  The “other” we despise might be an instrument of grace.  This is how God, whose love exceeds that of a mother, works among us; the first will be last and the last will be first.  Redemption arrives as a vulnerable baby.

It is a great mystery; may we embrace it.  Merry Christmas!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 15, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THOMAS BRAY, ANGLICAN PRIEST

THE FEAST OF ALEXANDER VIETS GRISWOLD, PRESIDING BISHOP OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH

THE FEAST OF MICHAEL PRAETORIUS, COMPOSER

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/devotion-for-december-25-lcms-daily-lectionary/

Posted August 9, 2012 by neatnik2009 in Isaiah 49, Matthew 1, Psalm 2, Psalm 96, Psalm 98

Tagged with ,

Gratitude and Ingratitude   1 comment

Image Source = Infrogmation of New Orleans

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:GuadalupeNOLA15Oct07Thanks.jpg)

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Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.

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Wisdom of Solomon 6:1-11 (Revised English Bible):

Hear then, you kings, take this to heart; lords of the wide world, learn this lesson; give ear, you rulers of the multitude, who take pride in myriads of your people.  Your authority was bestowed on you by the Lord, your power comes from the Most High.  He will probe your actions and scrutinize your intentions.  Though you are servants appointed by the King, you have not been upright judges; you have not maintained the law or guided your steps by the will of God.  Swiftly and terribly he will descend on you, for judgement falls relentlessly on those in high places.  The lowest may find pity and forgiveness, but those in power will be called powerfully to account; for he who is Master of all is obsequious to none, and shows no deference to greatness.  Small and great alike are of his making, and all are under his providence equally; but it is for those who wield authority that he reserves the sternest inquisition.  To you, then, who have absolute power I speak, in hope that you may learn wisdom and not go astray; those who in holiness have kept a holy course will be accounted holy, and those who have learnt that lesson will be able to make their defence.  Therefore be eager to hear me; long for my teaching, and you will learn.

Psalm 2 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  Why are the nations in an uproar?

Why do the peoples mutter empty threats?

2  Why do the kings of the earth rise up in revolt,

and the princes plot together,

against the LORD and against his Anointed?

3  ”Let us break their yoke,” they say;

“let us cast off their bonds from us.”

4  He whose throne is in heaven is laughing;

the LORD has them in derision.

5  Then he speaks to them in his wrath,

and his rage fills them with terror.

6  ”I myself have set my king

upon my holy hill of Zion.”

7  Let me announce the decree of the LORD:

he said to me, “You are my Son;

this day I have begotten you.

8  Ask of me, and I will give you the nations for your inheritance

and the ends of the earth for your possession.

9  You shall crush them with an iron rod

and shatter them like a piece of pottery.

10  And now, you kings, be wise;

be warned, you rulers of the earth.

11  Submit to the LORD with fear,

and with trembling bow before him;

12  Lest he be angry and you perish;

for his wrath is quickly kindled.

13  Happy are they all

who take refuge in him!

Luke 17:11-19 (Revised English Bible):

In the course of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem he was travelling through the borderlands of Samaria and Galilee.  As he was entering a village he was met by ten men with leprosy.  They stood some way off, and called out to him,

Jesus, Master, take pity on us.

When he saw them he said,

Go and show yourselves to the priests;

and while they were on the way, they were made clean.  One of them, finding himself cured, turned back with shouts of praise to God.  He threw himself down at Jesus’ feet and thanked him.  And he was a Samaritan.  At this Jesus said:

Were not all then made clean?  The other nine, where are they?  Was  no one found returning to give praise to God except this foreigner?

And he said to the man,

Stand up and go on your way; your faith has cured you.

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The Collect:

O God, whose blessed Son came into the world that he might destroy the works of the devil and make us children of God and heirs of eternal life: Grant that, having this hope, we may purify ourselves as he is pure; that, when he comes again with power and great glory, we may be made like him in his eternal and glorious kingdom; where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Leprosy, in the Bible, is a very broad term referring to a variety of skin diseases and to Hanson’s Disease.  I mention this for the sake of accuracy, with one caveat:  that is not germane to my main point.  Biblical leprosy, whatever we might call it today in medical terms, made one an outcast.  So, aside from the medical condition, there were serious emotional, spiritual, and psychological to consider.  It is difficult to be an outcast, given that we humans are inherently social beings.  To be cut off from one’s relatives, friends, and acquaintances because of a condition over which one has no control is a reality many people have had to face over time.

So Jesus, when he cured the ten lepers, did far more than heal them physically; he restored them to society.  This was a tremendous gift, so why did only one–and a Samaritan at that–return to render verbal thanks?  I propose that the other nine were so overjoyed that they were in a hurry to return to their homes, relatives, and friends.

The text does not state explicitly that the other nine lepers were Jews, but it does make a point of the one who said “thank you” being a Samaritan.  There had long been bad blood between Samaritans and Jews.  Samaritans were of mixed Hebrew-Assyrian ancestry, dating back centuries, when the Assyrian Empire conquered the northern kingdom, Israel.  The Samaritans used (and still use) a truncated Bible, the Torah, in fact.  And they prayed (and still do) on Mount Gerizim, not the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.  Samaritans had opposed actively the construction of the Second Temple after the Persian Empire permitted exiled Jews to return to their ancestral homeland.

The original audience for the Gospel of Luke consisted of Gentiles, so it is no accident that an account favorable to a Samaritan is so prominent in that book.   The message is plain:  Whether one is a Jew, a Samaritan, or a member of a different group is irrelevant; what matters is how we respond to Jesus.  And we can start by saying “thank you.”  Then actions must follow.  They will vary according to who, when, and where we are, as well as the talents and skills we bring to our circumstances, which are not entirely under our control.  But God will have assignments for us; may we obey them.

Speaking of assignments…

There used to be a prominent political theory according to which kings ruled as demigods.  ”I am related to the god or goddess (insert name here),” they said; “obey me.”  Think of the Pharaohs of Egypt, many of the Roman Emperors, the Merovingian Dynasty in France, for example.  The Merovingians had an especially audacious claim; they said they were descended from Jesus.  Then there was the Divine Right of Kings, by which monarchs asserted that God had given them power, with the same consequence:  ”Obey me, or sin.  Do not try to overthrow the system.”  As an American, I am a happy heir to the Enlightenment understanding of political authority which John Locke explained after the Glorious Revolution of 1688:  The right to govern flows from the consent of the governed.

The author of the Wisdom of Solomon lived and died a very long time before the Enlightenment, so I do not expect to find a democratic treatise in his work.  Yet his basic point is timeless:  With great power comes great responsibility.  Wielding authority carries the duty to govern wisely, for the common good, and to work for social justice.  The kings of which the author of the Wisdom of Solomon writes have failed on all these counts.  The grateful action God requires of them is to govern well, and they have not done so.  God will therefore call them to account.

The author of the Wisdom of Solomon reminds us:

Small and great alike are of his [God’s] making, and all are under his providence equally.

Again and again in the Bible God becomes quite angry about mistreatment of the poor, the marginal, and other vulnerable people.  One way of responding to God out of gratitude is obeying the divine command to treat others as one would them to treat one’s self.  Or, as Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.”

I maintain my devotional blogs for several reasons.  Among them is this:  to contribute something, no matter how relatively small, positive and uplifting to the Internet.  God has blessed me in many ways, including my education, my intellect, and my spiritual inclinations.  They merge inside my brain and demand an outlet.  Yes, I tell God “thank you” often in private.  And, again and again, I return to my self-imposed devotional writing schedule.  I grow from the exercise and hope and pray that you, O reader, derive positive benefit, too.

Here is your takeaway:  What will gratitude require of you?  May you perceive God’s answer to that question and follow the instructions.

Pax vobiscum.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 19, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANDREW BOBOLA, JESUIT MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT DUNSTAN OF CANTERBURY, ARCHBISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT IVO OF CHARTRES, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT IVO OF KERMARTIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND ADVOCATE FOR THE POOR

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Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/19/week-of-proper-27-wednesday-year-1/

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“Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled….”   1 comment

Above:  Jesus, the Bread of Life

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Acts 13:26-33 (Revised English Bible):

[Paul continued,]

My brothers, who came of Abraham’s stock, and others among you who worship God, we are the people to whom this message of salvation has been sent.  The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize Jesus, or understand the words of the prophets which are read sabbath by sabbath; indeed, they fulfilled them by condemning him.  Though they failed to find grounds for the sentence of death, they asked Pilate to have him executed.  When they had carried out all that the scriptures said about him, they took him down from the gibbet and laid him in a tomb.  But God raised him from the dead; and over a period of many days he appeared to those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, and they are now his witnesses before our people.

We are here to give you the good news that God, who made the promise to the fathers, has fulfilled it for the children by raising Jesus from the dead, as indeed it stands written in the second Psalm:  ‘You are my son, this day I have begotten you.’

Psalm 2 (Revised English Bible):

Why are the nations in turmoil?

Why do the peoples hatch their futile plots?

Kings of the earth stand ready,

and princes conspire together

against the LORD and his anointed king.

Let us break their fetters,

they cry,

let us throw off their chains!

He who sits enthroned in the heavens laughs,

the Lord derides them;

then angrily he rebukes them,

threatening them in his wrath.

I myself have enthroned my king,

he says,

on Zion, my holy mountain.

I shall announce the decree of the LORD:

You are my son,

he said to me;

this day I have become your father,

Ask of me what you will:

I shall give you nations as your domain,

the earth to its farthest ends as your possession.

You will break them with a rod of iron,

shatter them like an earthen pot.

Be mindful, then, you kings;

take warning, you earthly rulers:

worship the LORD with reverence;

tremble, and pay glad homage to the king,

for fear the LORD may become angry

and you may be struck down in mid-course;

for his anger flares up in a moment.

Happy are all who find refuge in him!

John 14:1-6 (Anchor Bible):

[On the evening the Last Supper Jesus spoke to this apostles, saying,]

Do not let your hearts be troubled.  You have faith in God; have faith, then, in me.  There are many dwelling places in my father’s house; otherwise I would have warned you.  I am going off to prepare a place for you; and when I do go and prepare a place for you I am coming back to take you along with me, so that where I am, you may also be.  And you know the way to where I am going.

Thomas said,

Lord, we don’t know where you are going.  So how can we know the way?

Jesus told him,

I am the way and the truth and the life; no one comes to Father except through me.

The Collect:

Hear our prayers, O Lord, and, as we confess that Christ, the Savior of the world, lives with you in glory, grant that, as he himself has promised, we may perceive him present among us also, to the end of the ages; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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The Authorized Version of the Bible translates “dwelling places” from John 14:2 as “mansions.”  This is a poor translation, for, depending on the scholar one consults, the reference in Greek can have three possible meanings:

1.  There are “many rooms” (as the New International Version renders the text).  The location of one’s room in the afterlife depends on one’s life:  good for good and evil for evil.  Some Jewish literature of the time contained this idea.

2.  There is a series of roadside rooms where a traveler sleeps overnight before rising the next morning and going on his or her way.  So there are stages of one’s spiritual journey, even in Heaven.

3.  There are many rooms in God’s house, with plenty of room for everybody.

I like #2.  But who knows, really?  The main idea we should remember that Jesus is central to this afterlife.

Let us remember, too, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”  Given the literary context within the Johannine Gospel, Jesus had many reasons to be troubled.  And yet he said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”  And Paul the Apostle endured his share of difficulties after become a Christian and evangelist.  Yet the epistles he wrote and dictated reflect a deep and abiding faith, great determination, and moments of frustration and pique, but not a greatly troubled heart.

I was a student at Valdosta State University and a member of Christ Episcopal Church, Valdosta, Georgia, from 1993 to 1996.  One day I attended the funeral for Deacon Stella Clark’s son.  I arrived at the church just before the funeral, for I chose not to skip a class meeting.  The church was full, so I had to sit in the Parish Hall and listen to the service on a speaker.  I recall Stella reading the Gospel, which began “Do not let your hearts be troubled…,” her voice breaking.  That was great faith indeed.  During that service she administered communion, the bread of life, to me.

Life contains the good and the bad, the joyous and the excruciating, and all degrees in the middle.  Through it all we are not alone, no matter how much we feel that way.  Experience has taught me that grace is most noticeable when the need for it is greatest.  So I carry meaningful memories related to traumatic times.  I rejoice in the great joy during those troubled times and thank God for the spiritual growth which has flowed from them, but take no delight in those times themselves.  And I have learned more deeply the truth of “Do not let your hearts be troubled….”  This is a lesson one can learn only by living.

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/twenty-seventh-day-of-easter/

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Jesus, Consistent With the Law and the Prophets   1 comment

Above:  Mount Tabor, Traditional Site of the Transfiguration

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Exodus 24:12-18 (New Revised Standard Version):

The LORD said to Moses,

Come up to me on the mountain, and wait there; and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.

So Moses set out with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God. To the elders he had said,

Wait here for us, until we come to you again; for Aaron and Hur are with you; whoever has a dispute may go to them.

Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. The glory of the LORD settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the cloud. Now the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. Moses entered the cloud, and went up on the mountain. Moses was on the mountain for forty days and forty nights.

THEN THIS PSALM

Psalm 2 (New Revised Standard Version):

Why do the the nations conspire,

and the peoples plot in vain?

The kings of the earth set themselves,

and the rulers take counsel together,

against the LORD and his anointed, saying,

Let us burst their bonds asunder,

and cast their cords from us.

He who sits in the heavens laughs;

the LORD has them in derision.

Then he will speak to them in his wrath,

and terrify them in his fury, saying,

I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill.

I will tell of the decree of the LORD:

He said to me,

You are my son;

today I have begotten you.

Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,

and the ends of the earth your possession.

You shall break them with a rod of iron,

and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.

Now therefore, O kings, be wise;

be warned, O rulers of the earth.

Serve the LORD with fear,

with trembling kiss his feet,

or he will be angry, and you will perish in the way;

for his wrath is quickly kindled.

Happy are all who take refuge in him.

OR THIS PSALM

Psalm 99 (New Revised Standard Version):

The LORD is king; let the peoples tremble!

He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!

The LORD is great in Zion;

he is exalted over all the peoples.

Let them praise your great and awesome name.

Holy is he!

Mighty King, lover of justice,

you have established equity;

you have executed justice

and righteousness in Jacob.

Extol the LORD our God;

worship at his footstool.

Holy is he!

Moses and Aaron were among his priests,

Samuel also was among those who called on his name.

They cried to the LORD, and he answered them.

He spoke to them in the pillar of cloud;

they kept his decrees,

and the statutes that he gave them.

O LORD our God, you answered them;

you were a forgiving God to them,

but an avenger of their wrongdoings.

Extol the LORD our God,

and worship at his holy mountain;

for the LORD our God is holy.

THEN THE EPISTLE READING

2 Peter 1:16-21 (New Revised Standard Version):

We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying,

This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.

We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain.

So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

THEN THE GOSPEL READING

Matthew 17:1-9 (New Revised Standard Version):

Six days after Peter had acknowledged Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus,

Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.

While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said,

This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!

When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying,

Get up and do not be afraid.

And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.

As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them,

Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.

The Collect:

O God, who before the passion of your only­begotten Son revealed his glory upon the holy mountain: Grant to us that we, beholding by faith the light of his countenance, may be strengthened to bear our cross, and be changed into his likeness from glory to glory; 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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When I read about events such as the Ascension and the Transfiguration I suspect that more happened than I read in texts.  I do not doubt the veracity of the accounts, but I suspect that words were inadequate to the full scope of events in question.  One just had to be there to get the full effect, and I am about 2,000 years too late for that.

The Transfiguration was a revelatory experience for the accompanying apostles.  They glimpsed the true nature of Jesus, which entails being consistent with the Law (Moses) and the Prophets (Elijah).  [A true story:  Recently Beth Long, my Rector, repeated a question a child in the parish asked.  How, this young person queried, did the apostles recognize Moses and Elijah?  Beth replied that she did not know.  Indeed, that is an intriguing question and a plot hole, but it does not distract me from the point of having Jesus, Moses, and Elijah together briefly.]  Yet Peter–”God bless him,” as we say in the U.S. South–wanted to remain in the moment and institutionalize it.  This reaction, although well-intentioned, was misguided, for Jesus and the apostles needed to move along.

They were headed for Jerusalem, where the Passion Narrative would unfold. The Gospel of Luke contains another account of the Transfiguration. Just a few verses after that passage, Jesus “turned his face toward Jerusalem,” and his impending death. (Luke 9:51) This is an important turning point in the Gospel of Luke, and one should read verses before it and after it in its context.  With that in mind, I propose that the Transfiguration was also a “booster shot” for Jesus, who was about the embark on a difficult, yet necessary, course.

When pondering the calendar of the Christian Church, one needs to remember that the earliest feast Christians observed was Easter.  Even Christmas (the observance of which developed later) exists in the shadow of Easter.  And the Transfiguration does, also.

The placement of the Transfiguration on this Sunday is appropriate because the next season in the Christian year is Lent, and the next Sunday will be the First Sunday in Lent.  At the end of that 40-days season is Holy Week.  So we Christians need to set our faces toward Jerusalem, too.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 16, 2010 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF RUFUS JONES, QUAKER THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN FRANCIS REGIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH BUTLER, ANGLICAN BISHOP

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Adapted from this post:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/11/07/last-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-a/

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