Archive for the ‘Psalm 66’ Category

Deuteronomy and Matthew, Part XVIII: Forgiveness, Divine and Human   1 comment

domenico_fetti_001

Above:  Parable of the Wicked Servant, by Domenico Fetti

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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:

Deuteronomy 29:1-29

Psalm 110 (Morning)

Psalms 66 and 23 (Evening)

Matthew 18:21-35

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Some Related Posts:

Deuteronomy 29:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2012/07/27/proper-10-year-c/

Matthew 18:

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

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/02/07/week-of-proper-14-thursday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/20/proper-19-year-a/

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God demanded complete fidelity in Deuteronomy 29.  Hence there was no forgiveness for the sin of idolatry, turning away from the covenant.  If I understand the Hebrew Scriptures correctly, idolatry led to destruction, which mercy usually followed.  The consequences of actions played out; that constituted judgment.  Then God granted the surviving remnant another chance.  And, if I understand the New Testament correctly, the only unpardonable sin is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.  In textual context the unpardonable sin is the inability to distinguish good from evil.  Perhaps blasphemy against the Holy Spirit and the abandonment of the covenant are the same thing.

I, as a student of the Scriptures, detect recurring themes.  One of them is that God’s forgiveness of our sins depends partially on our forgiveness of those who have wronged us.  As God forgives us, we ought to forgive others.

Do not judge, and you will not be judged.  For as you judge others, so will you be judged, and whatever measure you deal out to others will be dealt to you.

–Matthew 7:1-2, The Revised English Bible

In the parable from Matthew 18 the forgiven servant had no way of repaying the enormous debt.  Yet he refused to forgive smaller debts owed to him.  So his former creditor, the king, did to him (the servant) what the servant had done to others.

Forgive us the wrong we have done,

as we have forgiven those who have wronged us.

–Matthew 6:12, The Revised English Bible

then

For, if you forgive others the wrongs they have done, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive the wrongs you have done.

–Matthew 6:14-15, The Revised English Bible

The paraphrase of the Lord’s Prayer from A New Zealand Prayer Book (1989) contains the following line:

In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.—page 181

I like the verb “absorb” in context.  We ought not to carry those hurts around like luggage.  Yes, they will inform us.  We might remember them for a long time, but they need not transform into grudges.

I have struggled with forgiving others.  I still do.  Yes, I have the free will (sometimes) to forgive those who have sinned against me, but letting go is oddly more difficult than hanging on to those grievances.  Yet letting go leads to a lighter spiritual load.

Fortunately, grace is present and abundant.  I feel like St. Paul the Apostle:

I discover this principle, then:  that when I want to do right, only wrong is within my reach.  In my inmost self I delight in the law of God, but I perceive in my outward actions a different law, fighting against the law that my mind approves, and making me a prisoner under the law of sin which controls my conduct.  Wretched creature that I am, who is there to rescue me from this state of death?  Who but God?  Thanks be to him through Jesus Christ our Lord!  To sum up then:  left to myself I serve God’s law with my mind, but with my unspiritual nature I serve the law of sin.

–Romans 7:21-25, The Revised English Bible

At least one who has that struggle is not committing the unpardonable sin.  Having a spiritual struggle is not necessarily negative; it might even be mostly positive, for it can lead to a stronger state.

I recall confessing a particular sin–inability to forgive despite my knowledge of the imperative of doing so—to my priest, Beth Long, once.  People—some perfidious—have wronged me.  Beth counseled me to forgive myself.  The trauma would wash out of my spiritual system in time and I would, by grace, find the ability to forgive.  Those men’s deeds were perfidious; forgiving them did not change what they did.  But it did change me.

We human beings are weak, but at least we do not need to rely on our strength to do what God has called us to do and to become what God has called us to become.  Thanks be to God!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 8, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BENEDICT II, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF DAME JULIAN OF NORWICH, SPIRITUAL WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAGDALENA OF CANOSSA, FOUNDER OF THE DAUGHTERS OF CHARITY AND THE SONS OF CHARITY

THE FEAST OF SAINT PETER OF TARENTAISE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP

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Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/05/08/devotion-for-october-27-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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Deuteronomy and Matthew, Part II: Acting Confidently in God   1 comment

03540v

Above: Design Drawing for Stained-Glass Window Showing the Sermon on the Mount

From J. & R. Lamb Studios, 1857-1999

Image Source = Library of Congress

(http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/LAMB2006000629/)

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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:

Deuteronomy 1:19-36

Psalm 110 (Morning)

Psalms 66 and 23 (Evening)

Matthew 5:21-48

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Some Related Posts:

Matthew 5:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/19/sixth-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-a/

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

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

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/11/12/proper-1-year-a/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/11/13/proper-2-year-a/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/11/25/week-of-proper-5-thursday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/11/25/week-of-proper-5-friday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/11/28/week-of-proper-5-saturday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/11/30/week-of-proper-6-monday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/01/week-of-proper-6-tuesday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/18/independence-day-u-s-a-july-4/

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But in truth God has heart me;

he has attended to the voice of my prayer.

–Psalm 66:17, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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Psalm 66:17 reflects confidence in God.  Yet Moses, speaking in Deuteronomy 1:19-36, notes instances of a lack of confidence in God.  The TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures translation refers to sulking and complaining, in fact.  These are not the responses of confident people.  No, they indicate fear.

Matthew 5:21-48, using culturally specific examples, encourages confident (in God) responses to others.  We can forgive others and not seek vengeance, for example, when he have confidence in God.  We can love our enemies when we leave divine justice to God, knowing that God might forgive, not avenge.  And we can treat others fairly and with their best interests in mind when we are confident of God’s provision for us.

When we act out of fear we are more likely to sin against God and each other, to behave cruelly or at least apathetically.  Then we harm ourselves also.  Then we injure the image of God not only in others but in ourselves.  And that is wrong.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 20, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS AMATOR OF AUXERRE AND GERMANUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; SAINT MAMERTINUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AND SAINT MARCIAN OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

THE FEAST OF JOHANNES BUGENHAGEN, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCELLINUS OF EMBRUN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF OLAVUS AND LAURENTIUS PETRI, RENEWERS OF THE CHURCH

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Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/04/20/devotion-for-september-29-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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Radical Inclusion in Christ   1 comment

christ-pantocrator

Above:  Christ Pantocrator

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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:

1 Kings 18:1-19 (September 1)

1 Kings 18:20-40 (September 2)

1 Kings 19:1-21 (September 3)

Psalm 110 (Morning–September 1)

Psalm 62 (Morning–September 2)

Psalm 13 (Morning–September 3)

Psalms 66 and 23 (Evening–September 1)

Psalms 73 and 8 (Evening–September 2)

Psalms 36 and 5 (Evening–September 3)

Ephesians 1:1-23 (September 1)

Ephesians 2:1-22 (September 2)

Ephesians 3:1-21 (September 3)

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Some Related Posts:

1 Kings 18-19:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/tag/1-kings-19/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/08/06/week-of-proper-5-wednesday-year-2/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/08/06/week-of-proper-5-thursday-year-2/

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

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/01/31/proper-14-year-a/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/06/23/week-of-proper-1-monday-year-2/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/08/06/week-of-proper-5-friday-year-2/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/08/06/week-of-proper-5-saturday-year-2/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/08/14/week-of-proper-6-wednesday-year-2/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/03/proper-14-year-b/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2012/07/16/proper-7-year-c/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2012/07/17/proper-8-year-c/

Ephesians 1-3:

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

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2011/07/26/fourth-sunday-in-lent-year-b/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/16/feast-of-all-saints-november-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/29/proper-29-year-a/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/09/07/proper-10-year-b/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/11/06/week-of-proper-23-thursday-friday-and-saturday-year-2/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/09/20/proper-11-year-b/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/11/06/week-of-proper-24-monday-year-2-and-week-of-proper-24-tuesday-year-2/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/09/25/proper-12-year-b/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/11/06/week-of-proper-24-wednesday-year-2-and-week-of-proper-24-thursday-year-2/

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What I have written briefly of this above will explain to you my knowledge of the mystery of Christ.  This secret was hidden to past, generations of mankind, but it has now, buy the Spirit, been made plain to God’s consecrated messengers and prophets.  It is simply this:  that the gentiles are  to be equal heirs with his chosen people, equal members and equal partners in God’s promise given by Christ Jesus through the gospel.

–Ephesians 3:4-6, J. B. Phillips, The New Testament in Modern English, Revised Edition (1972)

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The account from 1 Kings boils over with peril–for Obadiah, for Elijah, and for all those who worshiped Baal and other false gods.  The body count is staggering–four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal in 18:40 and an undisclosed number of idol worshipers in 19:18.  The underlying reason for hostility to  many Gentiles in the Old Testament was that many Hebrews succumbed to Gentile false gods and cultic practices, thereby ceasing to be a light to the nations.  But was a massacre the right way to shine positive light?  Of course not!

There were, of course, as I have written in other posts, faithful Gentiles.  Ruth comes to mind immediately.  She even became an ancestor of David and Jesus.  But she adopted the Hebrew religion.

That provides a nice segue into Ephesians.  Paul or someone writing as Paul or revising dictations of an imprisoned Paul wrote of unity in Christ.  In Christ God reconciled with people and brought about human unity.  The church was (and is) the chosen instrument of this unity.  In Christ, the great epistle says, all other divisions fall away.  All of us in Christ are children of God, so we will receive a great inheritance.

This is grand and lofty theology.  So why have we of organized Christianity turned on each other so often?  Why have we even slaughtered each other sometimes?  We do not understand.  Or, if we do understand, we reject the message.  We (broadly speaking) use God as a blunt weapon to marginalize those whom God has called “insiders”, so many who have thought of themselves as insiders have betrayed the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Inclusion in Christ  is too radical a notion for many people to accept, for hurdles to jump through make us confortable.  They provide labels which reassure many falsely.  These labels are idols, in fact.  But Jesus jumped through the hurdles and knocked them down; may we cease to re-erect them.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 4, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE ELEVENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FEAST OF MIEP GIES, RIGHTEOUS GENTILE

THE FEAST OF SAINT DAVID I, KING OF SCOTLAND

THE FEAST OF GEORGE FOX, QUAKER FOUNDER

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAULINUS OF AQUILEIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC PATRIARCH

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Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/01/04/devotion-for-september-1-2-and-3-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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The Universal God   1 comment

brooklyn_museum_-_the_healing_of_ten_lepers_guc3a9rison_de_dix_lc3a9preux_-_james_tissot_-_overall

Above:  The Healing of the Ten Lepers, by James Tissot

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The Assigned Readings:

Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7 and Psalm 66:1-11

or 

2 Kings 5:1-3, 7-15c and Psalm 111

then 

2 Timothy 2:8-15

Luke 17:11-19

The Collect:

Lord, we pray that your grace may always precede and follow us, that we may continually be given to good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Proper 23, Year A:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/02/proper-23-year-a/

Proper 23, Year B:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/11/02/proper-23-year-b/

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/25/prayer-of-praise-and-adoration-for-the-twenty-first-sunday-after-pentecost/

Prayer of Confession:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/08/23/hostility-fractures-the-body/

Prayer of Dedication:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/25/prayer-of-dedication-for-the-twenty-first-sunday-after-pentecost/

2 Kings 5:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/23/sixth-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-b/

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

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/06/23/proper-1-year-b/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2012/07/21/proper-9-year-c/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/02/03/devotion-for-september-8-lcms-daily-lectionary/

2 Timothy 2:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/04/11/devotion-for-january-30-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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

Luke 17:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/06/20/devotion-for-the-thirty-ninth-fortieth-and-forty-first-days-of-easter-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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

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Grace for outsiders is a potent and often politically unpopular theme.  Much of the time the outsiders are enemies, perhaps nationals of hostile realms.  Such was the case regarding Naaman.  And what about the Prophet Jeremiah’s advice to seek the welfare of the soon-to-be-conquering empire?  And, although Samaritans lived within the borders of the Roman Empire (as did Palestinian Jews), there was a long-standing hostile relationship between them and Jews.  A Samaritan receiving good press in the Gospels was scandalous indeed.

Yet the God of Judaism and Christianity is for all people, although far from all of them worship and revere God.  For all of them Christ died and with him all the potential (often unrealized) to live and reign.  For, as St. Simon Peter said at Caesarea,

…God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him does what is right is acceptable to him.

–Acts 10:34b-35, New Revised Standard Version

God has many sheep.  I belong to just one flock.  And I wonder how many other sheep and flocks there are as I hope that I will never mistake any of them for not being of God.  I interpret the “other sheep” to be Gentiles in the original context.  But who, other than God, knows what really goes on inside others spiritually?  Many of the officially observant are just putting up facades.  And many people have faith of which God alone knows.  What I do not know outweighs what I do know.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 2, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT SIGISMUND OF BURGUNDY, KING; SAINT CLOTILDA, FRANKISH QUEEN; AND SAINT CLODOALD, FRANKISH PRINCE AND ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINT ATHANASIUS OF ALEXANDRIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF JAMES LEWIS MILLIGAN, HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCULF OF NANTEUIL, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

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Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/05/02/proper-23-year-c/

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1 Samuel and Acts, Part IX: If God is For Us…..   1 comment

malta_ast_2001210_lrg

Above:  Malta, July 29, 2001

Image Source = Jet Propulsion Laboratory

(http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=4933)

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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:

1 Samuel 18:10-30 (August 4)

1 Samuel 19:1-24 (August 5)

1 Samuel 20:1-23 (August 6)

Psalm 110 (Morning–August 4)

Psalm 62 (Morning–August 5)

Psalm 13 (Morning–August 6)

Psalms 66 and 23 (Evening–August 4)

Psalms 73 and 8 (Evening–August 5)

Psalms 36 and 5 (Evening–August 6)

Acts 27:27-44 (August 4)

Acts 28:1-15 (August 5)

Acts 28:16-31 (August 6)

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Some Related Posts:

1 Samuel 19-20:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/09/week-of-2-epiphany-thursday-year-2/

Acts 27-28:

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

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The readings from 1 Samuel and the Acts of the Apostles emphasize the positive.  Yes, Saul tries to kill David, but the younger man escapes.  David falls in love; surely that is positive.  And Paul and his fellow prisoners survive a shipwreck.  The story of Luke-Acts ends  before Paul’s beheading; he is in Rome, teaching.

The unifying element in each narrative is that God was with the heroic figure.  Yet bad things do happen to faithful people.  Accounts of Christian martyrs confirm this fact.  And August 6 is the Feast of the Transfiguration.  After the Transfiguration our Lord and Savior traveled to Jerusalem for the fateful, final Passover week of his earthly life.  But he emerged victorious on the other side, did he not?

I will not resolve the problem of why bad things happen to good people in this blog post.  But I can make one definitive statement:  It is better to suffer while on God’s side than to do so while not on God’s side.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 14, 2012 COMMON ERA

PROPER 23:  THE TWENTIETH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF ALL CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL ISAAC JOSEPH SCHERESCHEWSKY, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF SHANGHAI

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Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2012/10/14/devotion-for-august-4-5-and-6-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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Judges and Acts, Part I: Identity and Tradition   1 comment

othneil

Above:  Othneil

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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:

Judges 2:6-23 (July 7)

Judges 3:7-31 (July 8)

Psalm 110 (Morning–July 7)

Psalm 62 (Morning–July 8)

Psalms 66 and 23 (Evening–July 7)

Psalms 73 and 8 (Evening–July 8)

Acts 13:13-41 (July 7)

Acts 13:42-52 (July 8)

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Some Related Posts:

Judges 2:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/02/13/week-of-proper-15-monday-year-1/

Acts 13:

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

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

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

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Many of the Israelites had habitually short memories , for they fell back into idolatry.  The prevention of the this was a major reason for repeating the stories of what God had done.  Yet the majority of the people fell into idolatry.  And, according to the Book of Judges, this led to Canaanite oppression of the Israelites. Periodically a judge–a chieftain–arose and delivered the people.  Then the cycle repeated.

Paul, in Acts 13, recounted what God had done.  In so doing he and his missionary companions converted many Jews and Gentiles.  Paul and company also made enemies, so they had to move along.  Those who opposed Paul and his partners probably considered themselves guardians of holy traditions, which their forebears had abandoned long before, in Judges 3.

Traditions can be tricky, for one should neither abandon a healthy tradition lightly nor ossify any tradition.  No, traditions are properly living things.  We human ought to adapt them to new circumstances and distinguish between what has outlived its usefulness and what ought to remain.

Paul challenged a version of Judaism which had adapted to a new reality while not embracing Hellenism.  The precise circumstances which were current when the Law of Moses was new had ceased to exist.  So, scholars asked, how ought Jews to live according to the Law of Moses in changed circumstances?  Paul did not object to adaptation per se; no his innovation was to add atonement and justification via Jesus to the list of God’s mighty acts.

But place yourself, O reader, in the seat of one who opposed Paul’s message.  What did Paul’s theology mean for Jewish identity–one based on remaining distinct–in the Hellenistic context?  In this way Paul’s opponents at Antioch in Pisidia were in tune with the theology of the Book of Judges.

Questions of identity strike at a vulnerable spot for many people, including me.  One can approach these questions positively or negatively, focusing on what and who one is rather than on what and who one is not.

I wonder how I would have responded to Paul and Barnabas had I been an observant Jew at Antioch in Pisidia.  I suspect that I might have sided with my tradition and rejected Paul’s message.  I would have been wrong in such a hypothetical situation.  Where might you, O reader, have stood in this hypothetical situation?  And where might your answer to this question lead you to go spiritually?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 27, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM REED HUNTINGTON, EPISCOPAL PRIEST

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Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2012/07/27/devotion-for-july-7-and-8-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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Proverbs and John, Part III: Wisdom and Jesus   1 comment

st-christophers-perry-january-29-2012

Above:  St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church, Perry, Georgia, January 29, 2012

Image Source = Bill Monk, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

(https://picasaweb.google.com/114749828757741527421/StChristopherSPerry#5703212892397805794)

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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:

Proverbs 8:1-21 (June 9)

Proverbs 8:22-38 (June 10)

Proverbs 9:1-18 (June 11)

Psalm 110 (Morning–June 9)

Psalm 62 (Morning–June 10)

Psalm 13 (Morning–June 11)

Psalms 66 and 23 (Evening–June 9)

Psalms 73 and 8 (Evening–June 10)

Psalms 36 and 5 (Evening–June 11)

John 12:36b-50 (June 9)

John 13:1-20 (June 10)

John 13:21-38 (June 11)

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Some Related Posts:

John 12-13:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/devotion-for-march-6-and-7-in-epiphanyordinary-time-lcms-daily-lectionary/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/devotion-for-march-8-and-9-in-epiphanyordinary-time-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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

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

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

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/thirty-eighth-day-of-lent-maundy-thursday/

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

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/06/15/twenty-ninth-day-of-easter-fifth-sunday-of-easteryear-c/

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I invite you, O reader, to compare and contrast the Proverbs readings to the prologue of the Gospel of John.  You might notice the imagery of divine wisdom (personified as feminine) and how it influenced the imagery of the Word (Logos) of God in the Gospel of John.  There is at least one major difference:  wisdom is a divine creation; the Logos is not.  (I am not an an Arian.)  Yet theological cross-fertilization is evident.

Wisdom raises her voice from the topmost height and calls to all people.  She encourages them to avoid folly and says,

For he who finds me finds life

And obtains favor from the LORD.

But he who misses me destroys himself;

All who hate me love death.

–Proverbs 8:35-36, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

And wisdom has st the table, offering food and wine.  She continues:

The beginning of wisdom is fear of the LORD,

And knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

–Proverbs 9:10, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

Meanwhile, in John 12 and 13, Jesus models and encourages an attitude of service to God and of help for each other.  I suspect that he did not intend to inspire an annoying song,

They’ll know we are Christians by our love,

with its few words repeated often, but at least the sentiment holds true.  And the caution in John 12:47-50 sounds very much like Wisdom speaking of those who reject her.

Jesus is about to set a table in the Gospel of John.  The Synoptic Gospels offer details about the Last Supper; the Gospel of John does not.  No, that meal comes and goes early in Chapter 13.  In the Synoptic Gospels the Last Supper is a Passover meal.  Yet, as well-informed students of the New Testament know, the barely-mentioned Last Supper in the Fourth Gospel occurs before Passover.  Jesus dies on Passover, so he is the Passover Lamb.  The food and wine he offers us are his body and blood.  I, as an Episcopalian, accept the language readily.

Wisdom raises her voice and invites all people to follow her precepts.  She also sets a table.  And Jesus offers himself to us and for us.  May we obey, eat, and drink.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 8, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF BETTY FORD, U.S. FIRST LADY AND ADVOCATE FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE

THE FEAST OF ALBERT RHETT STUART, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF GEORGIA

THE FEAST OF BROOKE FOSS WESTCOTT, ANGLICAN BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT GRIMWALD, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

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Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2012/07/08/devotion-for-june-9-10-and-11-in-ordinary-time-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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Humility, Judgment, Mercy, and Enemies   1 comment

house-of-naaman-damascus

Above:  House of Naaman, Damascus, 1900-1920

Image Source = Library of Congress

(http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/mpc2004001227/PP/)

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The Assigned Readings:

2 Kings 5:1-14 and Psalm 30

or 

Isaiah 66:10-14 and Psalm 66:1-8

then 

Galatians 6:(1-6), 7-16

Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

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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Some Related Posts:

Proper 9, Year A:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/18/proper-9-year-a/

Proper 9, Year B:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/09/05/proper-9-year-b/

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/08/prayer-of-praise-and-adoration-for-the-seventh-sunday-after-pentecost/

Prayer of Confession:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/08/25/seeds-of-destruction/

Prayer of Dedication:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/08/prayer-of-dedication-for-the-seventh-sunday-after-pentecost/

A Prayer for Our Enemies:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/04/26/for-our-enemies/

Prayers for Forgiveness, Mercy, and Trust:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/prayers-for-forgiveness-mercy-and-trust/

A Prayer for Proper Priorities:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/09/22/a-prayer-for-proper-priorities/

A Prayer to Embrace Love, Empathy, and Compassion, and to Eschew Hatred, Invective, and Willful Ignorance:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/08/03/a-prayer-to-embrace-love-empathy-and-compassion-and-to-eschew-hatred-invective-and-willful-ignorance/

A Prayer for Humility:

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

2 Kings 5:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/23/sixth-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-b/

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

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/06/23/proper-1-year-b/

Isaiah 66:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/devotion-for-january-6-lcms-daily-lectionary/

Galatians 6:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/11/05/week-of-proper-23-wednesday-year-2/

Luke 10:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/06/13/devotion-for-the-twenty-fifth-day-of-easter-lcms-daily-lectionary/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/week-of-proper-21-thursday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/04/24/week-of-proper-21-friday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/04/24/week-of-proper-21-saturday-year-1/

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I propose, O reader, a thought experiment:

Name two countries, A and B, with a recent history of warfare against each other and a current climate of mutual hostility.  Then imagine a general from B in search of a cure visiting a prominent religious figure from A.

The politics of the situation would be sensitive, would they not?    That is a partial summary of the Naaman and Elijah story.

The main intertwining threads I choose to follow today are:

  • humility (in 2 Kings 5, Galatians 6, and Luke 10),
  • judgment and mercy (in all four readings), and
  • enemies (in 2 Kings 5, Isaiah 66, and Luke 10).

Humility is having a realistic estimate of oneself; it recognizes both strengths and weaknesses.  This theme fits the Naaman story well, for he had to overcome his notions of self-importance and national pride, the latter of which informed the former, before God healed him.  In humility and a Christ-based identity we Christians are supposed to carry each other’s burdens and help each other through temptation and error; that is what Galatians 6 says.  And humility is part of curriculum for the disciples in Luke 10.

Judgment is for God.  The theme of judgment overlaps with that of enemies.  And who is an enemy of God?  I suspect that many, if not most, enemies of God think of themselves as disciples and friends of God.  Militant Islamists in western Africa are destroying allegedly un-Islamic buildings–architectural treasures–in the name of Allah.  Neither pluralism nor religious toleration are among the values of these individuals.  These militants think of themselves as faithful to God and of people such as me as not faithful to God.  I think that I am correct, obviously.

(Aside:  I have taught practicing Muslims and found them to be delightful human beings.  None have been militants.  Anyone who thinks that I condemn all Muslims when I criticize militant Islamists fails to grasp my meaning.)

Although judgment resides with God, so does mercy.  So Naaman became a follower.  Divine mercy extended even to enemies of Elisha’s people.  That is easy to say about the politics of antiquity, but what about today?  So I propose another thought experiment:

Name a hostile foreign government.  Can you, O reader, warm up to the idea that God loves agents of that regime?  Would you, in Christ, accept such agents as brothers and sisters in faith?

Mercy can prove difficult.  Often we prefer judgment for others–our enemies–and mercy for ourselves because this arrangement reinforces our egos.  Yet humility before God requires us, among other things, to move past those categories and our concepts of where we stand in relation to God.  That person whom we think of as an enemy might be a friend of God.  And we might not be as right with God as we imagine.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 21, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ALBERT JOHN LUTHULI, WITNESS FOR CIVIL RIGHTS IN SOUTH AFRICA

THE FEAST OF J. B. PHILLIPS, BIBLE TRANSLATOR AND ANGLICAN PRIEST

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Numbers and Luke, Part VI: Servant Leadership   1 comment

punishment-of-korah-and-the-stoning-of-moses-and-aaron-sandro-botticelli

Above:  The Punishment of Korah and the Stoning of Moses and Aaron, by Sandro Botticelli

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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:

Numbers 16:1-22 (45th Day of Easter)

Numbers 16:23-40/17:5 (46th Day of Easter)

Psalm 98 (Morning–45th Day of Easter)

Psalm 99 (Morning–46th Day of Easter)

Psalms 66 and 116 (Evening–45th Day of Easter)

Psalms 8 and 118 (Evening–46th Day of Easter)

Luke 19:11-28 (45th Day of Easter)

Luke 19:29-48 (46th Day of Easter)

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Some Related Posts:

Luke 19:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/05/29/sunday-of-the-passion-palm-sunday-year-c/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/11/15/week-of-proper-28-wednesday-year-2/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/11/15/week-of-proper-28-thursday-year-2/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/11/17/week-of-proper-28-friday-year-2-and-week-of-proper-28-saturday-year-2/

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TECHNICAL NOTE:

Numbers 16 has 35 verses in Jewish, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox versions of the Bible yet 50 verses in Protestant ones.  So Numbers 17:1-5 in Protestant Bibles = Numbers 16:36-50 in Jewish, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox ones.  And 17:1-5 (Jewish, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox) = 16:36-40 (Protestant).  Life would be simpler if there were just one system of versification in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, would it not?

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ARCHELAUS, received the kingdom of Judaea by the last will of his father, Herod the Great, though a previous will had bequeathed it to his brother Antipas.  He was proclaimed king by the army, but declined to assume the title until he had submitted his claims to Augustus.  Before setting out, he quelled with the utmost cruelty a sedition of the Pharisees, slaying nearly 3,000 of them.  At Rome he was opposed by Antipas and by many of the Jews, but Augustus allotted to him the greater part of the kingdom (Judaea, Samaria, Ituraea) with the title of Ethnarch.  He married Glaphyra, the widow of his brother Alexander, though his wife and her second husband, Juba, king of Mauretania, were alive.  This violation of the Mosaic Law and his continued cruelty roused the Jews, who complained to Augustus.  Archlaus was deposed (A.D. 7) and banished to Vienne.  The date of his death is unknown.  He is mentioned in Matt. ii. 22, and the parable of Luke xix. 11 seq. may refer to his journey to Rome.

Encyclopedia Britannica (1955), Volume 2, page 264

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What right did Moses have to rule?  And what was the proper basis of the Aaronic priesthood?  Korah and his confederates wanted to know.  So they challenged Moses and Aaron.  They also died trying.  Exuent those reels.  The basis for all that they opposed was God, the narrative tells us.

The Parable of the Pounds refers to Herod Archelaus, whose 1955 Encyclopedia Britannica entry I have typed verbatim.  The appointed king, like Archelaus, was a very bad man.  The placement of this parable immediately before our Lord’s Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem cannot be an accident.  Jesus is a king, but of a sort very different from any Roman puppet, such as Herod Antipas, who appears in Luke 23:8-12.  Antipas was Tetrarch of Galiille and Perea.  He had ordered the beheading of St. John the Baptist.  Ironically, the Tetrarch’s journey to Rome in search of the title “king” had an unexpected result.  The Emperor Caligula, convinced by Herod Agrippa I, brother-in-law of Antipas, that Antipas was conspiring against the Emperor , banished him (Antipas) to Lugdunum, Gaul, now Lyon, France, in 39 CE.

Seeking glory is a dangerous game and wielding authority is a great responsibility.  Power might grind down those who lack it, but it also consumes many people who desire it.  Moses did not seek the alleged glory of leading a mass of grumblers in the desert.  And going to the cross just a few days after the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem was the glorification of Jesus in the Gospel of John, albeit a painful and humiliating manner of attaining it.

You know that among the gentiles those they call their rulers lord it over them, and their great men make their authority felt.  Among you this is not to happen.  No; anyone who wants to become great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be slave to all.  For the Son of man himself came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

–Mark 10:42b-45, The New Jerusalem Bible

The context for that lesson from the Gospel of Mark is shortly before the Triumphal Entry and immediately after James and John, our Lord’s first cousins, ask for honored places in Heaven.  And it fits well here, in this post, with the assigned readings for these two days.

Every generation has its share of violent tyrants and petty dictators, unfortunately.  Yet every generation also has its servant leaders, men and women who struggle to do the right thing, to wield authority honorably, without losing their souls.  It is a difficult calling, one in which, I pray, they will succeed.

I pray also that the rest of us called to other pursuits will work effectively for the benefit of others, not our own aggrandizement, in all the ways in which God leads us.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 21, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ALL FAITHFUL MEMBERS OF THE CLERGY

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALOYSIUS GONZAGA, JESUIT

THE FEAST OF HENARE WIREMU TARATOA OF TE RANGA, COMPASSIONATE HUMAN BEING

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JOHN JONES AND JOHN RIGBY, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

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Adapted from this post:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/06/21/devotion-for-the-forty-fifth-and-forty-sixth-days-of-easter-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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Numbers and Luke, Part II: In It Together   1 comment

parable-of-the-unjust-steward

Above:  The Unjust Steward

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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:

Numbers 9:1-23

Psalm 98 (Morning)

Psalms 66 and 116 (Evening)

Luke 16:1-18

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Some Related Posts:

Luke 16:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/18/week-of-proper-26-friday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/18/week-of-proper-26-saturday-year-1/

Prayers for Cities, Neighborhoods, Communities, and Those Who Serve Them:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/prayers-for-cities-neighborhoods-communities-and-those-who-serve-them/

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Biblical nuances interest me.  In Exodus 12 we read regarding the Passover meal:

No foreigner shall eat of it.

–verse 43a, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

and

If a stranger, who dwells with you would offer the passover to the LORD, all his males must be circumcised; then he shall be as a citizen of the country.  But no uncircumcised person may eat of it.  There shall be one law for the citizen and for the stranger who dwells among you.

–verses 48-49, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

Then, in Numbers 9,  observing the Passover meal (the first one in the wilderness) is mandatory (delayed for reasons of ritual impurity).  Then we read:

And when a stranger who resides with you would offer a passover sacrifice to the LORD, he must offer it in accordance with the rules and rites of the passover sacrifice.  There shall be one law for you, whether stranger or citizen of the country.

–verse 14, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

Unfortunately, there was a death penalty attached to not obeying the mandate.  This is the Law of Moses, after all; there is a death penalty attached to many offenses.  On the other hand, however, resident aliens (as opposed to mere strangers) were equally subject with Israelites to the Law.  And why not?  The Israelites and the resident aliens were, as we say in North America,

in it together.

We humans are all

in it together,

are we not?  We do not have to like each other, socialize together, understand each other, or be similar to each other, but we must understand that what one person does affects others.  One main fault of extreme libertarianism is its excessive individualism, its failure to give due weight to mutual dependence, the actual state of the human race.  Sometimes I need to curtail my appetites for the benefit of others.  Yet the collective has no right practice the tyranny of the majority or of the vocal, screaming, hysterical, minority which might control some part of state machinery.  The individual and the collective need to exist in balance:  rights and liberties, in the light of natural law and the fact that the dissident might be correct, at least partially.  Mutual respect goes a long way toward preventing violations of civil liberties and rights.

The unjust steward of the parable knew that he needed others immediately and urgently.  So, for selfish reasons, he brought his master into compliance with the anti-usury parts of the Law of Moses.  His reasons did not matter to those he helped.  Money was a means to several ends, some of them righteous in spite of the person’s motivation.  And money was crucial to being able to afford a style of piety which Jesus condemned.  Poverty, Jesus said, ought not to mark one as incapable of living faithfully.  And those poor people (many of them, anyway) financed the lifestyles of the rich and overtly pious.  How just was that?

When Christ comes to be our judge, may he rule that we acted consistently to raise each other up, to bind up each other’s wounds, to bear each other’s  burdens as able and always and to avoid stomping on each other.  We do, after all, need each other, even if we do not know that fact.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 20, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BAIN OF FONTANELLE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP, MONK, MISSIONARY, AND ABBOT

THE FEAST OF ONESIMUS NESIB, TRANSLATOR AND LUTHERAN MISSIONARY

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Adapted from this post:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/06/20/devotion-for-the-thirty-eighth-day-of-easter-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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