Archive for the ‘Psalm 68’ Category

Numbers and Luke, Part III: The Kingdom of God   1 comment

lazarus-and-dives

Above:  Lazarus and Dives

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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 10:11-36 (39th Day of Easter)

Numbers 11:1-23, 31-35 (40th Dayof Easter)

Numbers 11:24-29; 12:1-16 (41st Day of Easter)

Psalm 99 (Morning–39th Day of Easter)

Psalm 47 (Morning–40th Day of Easter)

Psalm 96 (Morning–41st Day of Easter)

Psalms 8 and 118 (Evening–39th Day of Easter)

Psalms 68 and 113 (Evening–40th Day of Easter)

Psalms 96 and 138 (Evening–41st Day of Easter)

Luke 16:19-31 (39th Day of Easter)

Luke 17:1-19 (40th Day of Easter)

Luke 17:20-37 (41st Day of Easter)

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Some Related Posts:

Numbers 10-12:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/01/17/week-of-proper-13-monday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/25/proper-21-year-b/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/01/21/week-of-proper-13-tuesday-year-1/

Luke 16-17:

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

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Numbers 10:11-12:16 constitutes a unit in that book.  The narrative tells how the Israelites moved to the desert of Paran. they moved in a particular order but not without grumbling.  Manna could not compare with Egyptian food, apparently.  And even Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses.  The narrative says that God afflicted the people with fire or their murmuring until Moses convinced God to stop, and that God afflicted Miriam with a skin disease which rendered her ritually unclean for a week.

If I were to decide whether to stand in awe or terror of such a deity, I would choose the latter option.  That terror would also be appropriate in Luke 17:22-37.  And Dives, the rich man in the parable in Luke 16:19-31, should have learned terror of God in the afterlife, yet did not.  He still thought that the could order Lazarus, the poor man, around.

The Kingdom of God is among us.  In one sense it has always been present, for it is where God is.  Yet the Incarnation inaugurated the Kingdom of God via Jesus.  That Kingdom has not gone away since the time of the historical Jesus any more than it went away after the Crucifixion or the Ascension.  The full reign of God has yet to arrive on the planet, of course, but the Kingdom of God remains present via the Holy Spirit and the people of God, regardless of national, ethnic, or racial origin.

The Kingdom of God remains present in many ways.  It remains present anywhere the people of God work for the benefit of their fellow human beings.  It remains present anywhere one person corrects a fellow or sister human being in Godly love.  It remains present wherever people forgive and/or reconcile.  (Reconciliation is a mutual process, but one person can forgive another in absentia.)  It remains present wherever a person of God chooses not to hold a grudge.  It remains present wherever people of God care actively and effectively for the less fortunate.

May we remember that the shape of a society, culture, or subculture is what people have made it.  So, where injustice exists and persists, we humans are responsible.  May we, with God’s help, correct injustice and forge better societies, cultures, and subcultures.  This will not constitute God’s full reign following the apocalypse, but it will be an improvement on the present arrangements.

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-ninth-fortieth-and-forty-first-days-of-easter-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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Leviticus and Luke, Part VII: Blasphemy and Repentance   1 comment

st-stephens-gate-jerusalem-1920-1920

Above:  St. Stephen’s Gate, Jerusalem, Ottoman Empire, 1900-1920

Image Source = Library of Congress

(http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/mpc2005003384/PP/)

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Leviticus 24:1-23

Psalm 47 (Morning)

Psalms 68 and 113 (Evening)

Luke 12:54-13:17

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Some Related Posts:

Leviticus 24:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/19/week-of-1-epiphany-friday-year-1/

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

Luke 12-13:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/05/18/third-sunday-in-lent-year-c/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/10/week-of-proper-24-friday-year-1/

Feast of Shabbaz Bhatti and Other Christian Martyrs of the Islamic World (March 2):

http://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2011/12/09/feast-of-shabbaz-bhatti-and-other-christian-martyrs-of-the-islamic-world-march-2/

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Slightly edited versions of definitions from The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition (1996) follow.  For full entries, consult the dictionary.

blaspheme.  1.  To speak of (God or a sacred entity) in an irreverent, impious manner.  2.  To revile; execrate.

blasphemous.  Impiously irreverent.

blasphemy.  1.a.  A contemptuous or profane act, utterance, or writing concerning God or a sacred entity.  b.  The act of claiming for oneself the attributes and rights of God.  2.  An irreverent or impious act, attitude, or utterance in regard to something considered inviolable or sacrosanct.

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Today, when one one from my perspective (the Western world, complete with secular government, not theocracy) hears or reads about someone (often a Christian in mainly Islamic parts of the world) being sentenced to death and/or imprisonment for committing blasphemy, the response is negative.  It should be.  Blasphemy, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder; one person’s pious opinion is another’s blasphemy too much of the time.  I am glad that I live in the United States, not Pakistan or a similar nation, for much of what I say and write from my Christian perspective would trigger a blasphemy charge in Pakistan or a similar place.

The blasphemer in Leviticus 24 had cursed God.  His offense was not to have pronounced the divine name; no, it was to have reviled God.  The blasphemer’s penalty according the narrative was one which God had commanded:  death by stoning.

Such rampant violence in the Torah and elsewhere in the Hebrew Scriptures disturbs me.  I know; my proverbial tapes are running.  People tried to stone Jesus on the charge of blasphemy in the Gospel of John.  St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, died by stoning per the charge of blasphemy.  As I wrote, blasphemy is in the eye of the beholder.

The blasphemer in Leviticus 24 had a bad attitude toward God.  Our Lord’s critics in Luke 13:10-17 had a bad attitude toward him.  He had just committed a good deed, and people criticized him for doing it on the Sabbath.  (There is no wrong day to commit a good deed.) They needed to change their minds.  I wonder what would have happened if the blasphemer in Leviticus 24 had changed his mind.

As for punishments for blasphemy, real or imagined, may we leave that matter to God alone to enforce.  It would be wrong to commit murder.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 16, 2012 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://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/06/16/devotion-for-the-thirty-third-day-of-easter-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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Leviticus and Luke, Part IV: Legalism and Compassion   1 comment

vegetable-garden

Above:  A Vegetable Garden Which Violates the Law of Moses

(But I am not legalistic, so I do not care.)

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Leviticus 17:1-16 (26th Dayof Easter)

Leviticus 18:-7, 20-19:8 (27th Day of Easter)

Leviticus 19:9-18, 26-37 (28th Day of Easter)

Psalm 47 (Morning–26th Day of Easter)

Psalm 96 (Morning–27th Day of Easter)

Psalm 92 (Morning–28th Day of Easter)

Psalms 68 and 113 (Evening–26th Day of Easter)

Psalms 50 and 138 (Evening–27th Day of Easter)

Psalms 23 and 114 (Evening–28th Day of Easter)

Luke 10:23-42 (26th Day of Easter)

Luke 11:1-13 (27th Day of Easter)

Luke 11:14-36 (28th Day of Easter)

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Some Related Posts:

Leviticus 17-19:

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

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/seventh-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-a/

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

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

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/11/proper-25-year-a/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/31/week-of-proper-22-wednesday-year-2/

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

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

Luke 10-11:

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

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

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/04/25/week-of-proper-22-monday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/04/27/week-of-proper-22-tuesday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/30/week-of-proper-22-monday-year-2-and-week-of-proper-22-tuesday-year-2/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/04/27/week-of-proper-22-wednesday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/04/30/week-of-proper-22-thursday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/01/week-of-proper-22-friday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/01/week-of-proper-22-saturday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/02/week-of-proper-23-monday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/31/week-of-proper-22-wednesday-year-2/

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The laws in Leviticus 18-19 are a mixed bag.  They concern, among other things, sexual relations, clothing, proper conduct toward the poor, and what to do when someone sheds animal blood improperly.  I look in amazement at the hypocrisy of self-professed biblical literalists who quote 18:22 (the ban on homosexual intercourse) yet commit fraud (in violation of 19:13) or do not think twice about wearing polyester garments (in violation of 19:19).

Context is crucial.  In regard to the question of homosexuality, the concept of homosexual orientation did not exist at the time, so such intercourse was considered unnatural.  Also, it could never lead to procreation.  But neither can sexual relations between a husband and his post-menopausal wife.  So, is that also wrong?

Priests could wear garments made of two or more types of cloth–and they did (Exodus 28:6 and 39:29).  So lay people were not supposed to do so, except at the fringes of garments, according to Numbers 15:37-40.  Nevertheless, an allegedly unnatural mixture of people or cloth or even cattle or seeds (Leviticus 19:19) was taboo, except when it was not.  How many of you, my readers, have a vegetable garden with more than one type of plant growing in it?  Are you thereby sinning?  Are your polyester garments–certainly unnatural mixtures–sinful?

I avoid such hypocrisy by not being a biblical literalist or claiming to be one.  So I quote science, consider historical contexts, and throw out some laws while retaining others for use in the twenty-first century Common Era.  Defrauding people is bad.  Forcing’s one’s daughter into prostitution is clearly wrong.  And one should respect one’s elders.  But are vegetable gardens and polyester suits sinful?

As I ponder the readings from the Gospel of Luke I notice the thread of the importance of caring for each other.  The stranger is my neighbor, and the person I might despise due to his group identity might be a hero or heroine.  We must forgive each other.  If this proves difficult, we must take that issue to God, who can empower us to forgive.  People matter more than rules about cloth combinations or animal blood.

Do I pick and choose what to affirm in the Bible?  Of course I do!  Does not the Letter to the Hebrews override much of the Law of Moses?  Did not Jesus countermand parts of the letter of that law code?  As a Christian, I have the New Testament and the Old one.  And, as a thinking human being, I have access to scientific, psychological, psychiatric, and sociological knowledge which did not exist in biblical times.  So read about Jesus exorcising demons and interpret it as him curing epilepsy or some other illness with organic causes.  While doing this I focus on principles more than on details.  One of these principles is that Jesus taught compassion, not legalism.  So, if I am to follow him, I must live accordingly.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 14, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BASIL THE GREAT, FATHER OF EASTERN MONASTICISM

THE FEAST OF SAINT METHODIUS I, PATRIARCH OF CONSTANTINOPLE

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Adapted from this post:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/06/14/devotion-for-the-twenty-sixth-twenty-seventh-and-twenty-eighth-days-of-easter-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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Exodus and Luke, Part X: Just as the LORD Had Commanded   1 comment

tabernacle

Above:  The Tabernacle

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Exodus 38:21-39:8, 22-23, 27-31 (19th Dayof Easter)

Exodus 39:32-40:16 (20th Day of Easter)

Exodus 40:17-38 (21st Day of Easter)

Psalm 47 (Morning–19th Day of Easter)

Psalm 96 (Morning–20th Day of Easter)

Psalm 92 (Morning–21st Day of Easter)

Psalms 68 and 113 (Evening–19th Day of Easter)

Psalms 50 and 138 (Evening–20th Day of Easter)

Psalms 23 and 114 (Evening–21st Day of Easter)

Luke 8:1-21 (19th Day of Easter)

Luke 8:22-39 (20th Day of Easter)

Luke 8:40-56 (21st Day of Easter)

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Some Related Posts:

Exodus 40:

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

Luke 8:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/29/week-of-proper-19-friday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/29/week-of-proper-19-saturday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/04/01/week-of-proper-20-monday-year-1/

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

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The long and detailed description of the setting up of the Tabernacle in Exodus contains the refrain

…just as the LORD had commanded Moses.

(TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures)

The Tabernacle complete, Gods Presence fills the space.  God and the people will meet there.  Thus the Book of Exodus ends.

Foster R. McCurley, Jr., in his 1969 adult Christian education volume, Exodus (Philadelphia, PA:  Lutheran Church Press), concludes on page 128:

At the same time, the Book of Exodus means something for us because in some ways we stand in a similar predicament.  The people of Exodus had received the gift of deliverance and had been brought into a new relationship with God. They waited for the fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham–the promise of land, descendants, and blessing.  We of the church look back to the Cross and Resurrection, and we have been brought into a unique relationship with our Father.  We rejoice in our salvation and in the new covenant which God has established with us in Christ.  Yet we wait for the consumation of the kingdom–to a time when Christ will come again to make all things new.  We stand as participants in the last act of God’s triumphant drama, but the final curtain has yet to fall.

It sounds like an Advent message, does it not?

The Kingdom of God was evident among those whom Jesus healed, the marginalized people whose dignity he affirmed, and the women who financed his ministry.  Yet that was nearly 2000 years ago.  We wait for the final curtain to fall.  As we wait may we do as the LORD commands us.  So may our fate be different from that of the liberated generation of Israelites.  May we live in gratitude to God, who has freed us from our sins.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 9, 2012 COMMON ERA

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

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Adapted from this post:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/06/09/devotion-for-the-nineteenth-twentieth-and-twenty-first-days-of-easter-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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Exodus and Luke, Part V: The Tabernacle of God   1 comment

calling-of-st-matthew-caravaggio

Above:  The Calling of Saint Matthew, by Caravaggio

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Exodus 25:1-22 (12th Dayof Easter)

Exodus 31:1-18 (13th Day of Easter)

Psalm 47 (Morning–12th Day of Easter)

Psalm 96 (Morning–13th Day of Easter)

Psalms 68 and 113 (Evening–12th Day of Easter)

Psalms 50 and 138 (Evening–13th Day of Easter)

Luke 5:17-39 (12th Day of Easter)

Luke 6:1-19 (13th Day of Easter)

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Some Related Posts:

Luke 5-6:

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

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/11/week-of-proper-17-friday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/11/week-of-proper-17-saturday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/12/week-of-proper-18-monday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/14/week-of-proper-18-tuesday-year-1/

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Exodus 25 begins a section of that book which contains detailed instructions regarding the Tabernacle, the priestly vestments, the furniture, the curtains, et cetera.  The mental images which fill my head every time I read those verses are far from a plain vernacular church building, the kind of structure which is ubiquitous in rural Georgia, USA.  The Tabernacle is supposed to be and look holy.  And I agree; a church building ought to be beautiful.

Then, in the context of the Tabernacle, we find instructions to keep the Sabbath, even to execute anyone who works on that day (31:14).  As a matter of law, one reserves execution for offenses considered especially serious and dangerous.  It is true that the Sabbath was a mark of freedom, but was the command to kill those who worked on it necessary?  I have worked on my Sabbath, Sunday; I had little choice.  And I have worked on Fridays and Saturdays.  I know people, such as health care professionals who have to work some Sundays.  Although I try to avoid needless shopping in Sundays, I do not advocate executing people who do anything other than rest on them.

Laws such as this one give ammunition to militant Atheists and fuel the imaginations of ruthless theocrats and would-be theocrats.  And, minus the killing, they remind me of old Puritan New England laws and more recent Southern U.S. “blue laws.”  Once, in South Carolina, it was illegal to buy a light bulb on a Sunday.  And it used to be illegal to hum to oneself in public in Puritan New England.  Yet I take the passage in its historical and cultural contexts, thereby softening its brutal blow.  The main idea is that the Israelites were supposed to be a holy people, a people set apart by God to witness to others.  They were to be the main tabernacle of God.

In Luke 5 and 6 Jesus healed a paralytic and a man with a withered hand.  He dined with Levi/Matthew, his new Apostle, and some of Levi/Matthew’s fellow tax thieves for the Roman Empire.  People with physical deformities were marginalized in the Law of Moses.  A blind man could not serve as a priest, for example.  Physical deformity or major malfunction carried with it stigma and spiritual second-class citizenship.  And dining with collaborators!  How dare he?  Actually, why not?  The tabernacle of God, defined as God’s people, included the physically deformed and disabled plus the notorious sinners who knew of their spiritual deficiencies.

We–you, O reader, and I–despite our spiritual deficiencies, are invaluable parts of the tabernacle of God.  It is a spectacular place, would not be same without us.  May we, by grace, live up to our potential.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 8, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CLARA LUGER, WITNESS FOR CIVIL RIGHTS

THE FEAST OF ROLAND ALLEN, ANGLICAN MISSIONARY

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Adapted from this post:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/06/08/devotion-for-the-twelfth-and-thirteenth-days-of-easter-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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Exodus and Hebrews, Part XII: Encountering God   2 comments

moses-michelangelo

Above:  Moses, by Michelagelo Bunoarroti

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Exodus 17:1-16

Psalm 47 (Morning)

Psalms 68 and 113 (Evening)

Hebrews 11:1-29

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Some Related Posts:

Exodus 17:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/18/week-of-1-epiphany-thursday-year-1/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/third-sunday-in-lent-year-a/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/04/15/proper-21-year-a/

Hebrews 11:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/05/week-of-3-epiphany-saturday-year-1/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/week-of-6-epiphany-saturday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/11/13/week-of-proper-1-saturday-year-1/

Prayer:

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

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Let God arise, and let his enemies be scattered;

let those who hate him flee before him.

–Psalm 68:1, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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The theological ignorance of many longtime church members has astonished and dismayed me.  I recall, for example, when I was a child growing up in United Methodist parsonages in rural southern Georgia, that some elderly and middle-aged parishioners who had grown up in church asked that, if Christ is vital to salvation, how this pertained to those who lived and died before the time of Jesus.  My parents answered from Hebrews 11:13:

…but they saw them in the far distance and welcomed them….

(The New Jerusalem Bible)

As a person trained in history and therefore in chronology, I point out that one is not responsible for embracing that which has yet to occur.   So nobody went to Hell in 600 BCE for not accepting Christ, for example; the Incarnation was in the future.  That point was obvious to me even as a child still in public schools.  Why was it not obvious to some of my elders?

In Exodus 17 we read of more grumbling followed by God giving Moses instructions, which he followed.  Then we read of God, via Moses and human helpers and a stone, delivering the Israelites from attackers.  The depiction of the recently liberated former slaves is negative; they are grumbling ingrates.  People ask for spectacular signs throughout the Bible, but how often, when they receive them, do they trust in God?

I have seen mighty acts of God in my life.  No, I have not witnessed a pillar of cloud by day or a pillar of fire by night.  No, I have not spoken with God face to face.  Yet I have felt God pick my up when I was desperate.  And I have met some of God’s human agents when I needed them very much.  I have known at my darkest hours–the ones when I welcomed death and cursed living yet was too scared to attempt suicide–that I was not alone.  And, by grace, I emerged stronger than before.  That was close enough to a pillar of fire for me.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 2, 2012 COMMON ERA

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

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

THE FEAST OF REINHOLD NIEBUHR, UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST THEOLOGIAN

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Adapted from this post:

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

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Compassion and the Family of God   1 comment

Above:  A Father and His Son

Image Source = Onkelbo

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Father_and_son_27.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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Romans 8:12-17 (Revised English Bible):

It follows, my friends, that our old nature has no claim on us. we are not obliged to live in that way.  If you do so, you must die.  But if by the Spirit you put to death the base pursuits of the body, then you will live.

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.  The Spirit you have received is not a spirit of slavery, leading you back into a life of fear, but a Spirit of adoption, enabling us to cry “Abba!  Father!”  The Spirit of God affirms to our spirit that we are God’s children; and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow-heirs with Christ; but we must share his sufferings if we are also to share his glory.

Psalm 68:1-6, 19-20 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

 Let God arise, and let his enemies be scattered;

let those who hate him flee before him.

 Let them vanish like smoke when the wind drives it away;

as the wax melts at the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God.

 But let the righteous be glad and rejoice before God;

let them also be merry and joyful.

 Sing to God, sing praises to his Name;

exalt him who rides upon the heavens;

YAHWEH is his Name, rejoice before him!

 Father of orphans, defender of widows,

God in his holy habitation!

 God gives the solitary a home and brings forth prisoners into freedom;

but the rebels shall live in dry places.

19  Blessed be the Lord day by day,

the God of our salvation, who bears our burdens.

20  He is our God, the God of our salvation;

God is the LORD, by whom we escape death.

Luke 13:10-17 (Revised English Bible):

He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath, and there was a woman there possessed by a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years.  She was bend double and quite unable to stand up straight.  When Jesus saw her he called her and said,

You are rid of your trouble,

and he laid hands on her.  Immediately she straightened up and began to praise God.  But the president of the synagogue, indignant with Jesus for healing on the sabbath, intervened and said to the congregation,

There are six working day:  come and be cured on one of them, and not on the sabbath.

The Lord gave him this answer:

What hypocrites you are!

he said.

Is there a single one of you who does not loose his ox or his donkey from its stall and take it out to water on the sabbath?  And here is this woman, a daughter of Abraham, who has been bound by Satan for eighteen long years:  was it not right for her to be loosed from her bonds on the sabbath?

At these words all his opponents were filled with confusion, while the mass of the people were delighted at all the wonderful things he was doing.

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The Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command; 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:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/31/proper-11-year-a/

A Benediction:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/05/04/the-blessing-of-the-god-of-abraham-and-sarah/

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In modern times we might say that the woman suffered from a psychosomatic condition.  We would, anyhow, offer a scientific explanation, not demonic affliction, a common diagnosis in the Hellenistic world.  That, however, is really beside the point.  Whatever ailed the woman, Jesus rid her of it on the sabbath, and he faced criticism for doing so.  It was a matter of timing, his critic said.  Why did you perform this good deed on the sabbath?

Jesus offered some excellent logic, which I find summarized on page 241 of Volume VIII of The Interpreter’s Bible (1952):

If it is right to care for domestic animals on the sabbath, it is right to relieve human distress.

This, as I understand it, is a very Jewish understanding of the sabbath.  I have heard of Jewish medical professionals who consider their sabbath shifts as ways of keeping the sabbath.  Yet Jesus was up against a narrower interpretation, one which said that is permissable to save a life but not to offer full first aid,much less a cure, on the sabbath.

This woman had lived in poverty, on the margins of society, for years because of her physical condition.  Jesus restored her to health, wholeness, and social standing, and one person dared to criticize him!  Where was this man’s compassion?

Paul, for a while now in Romans, has been extolling the virtues and consequences of grace–including its cost to God.  Now, in this day’s portion, he uses the analogy of adoption into the family of God and states the cost of grace for us:

…but we must share in his sufferings if we are also to share his glory.

The inheritance comes in two flavors:  pleasant and unpleasant.  My first thought as I typed that partial verse the first time was of Lutheran congregational names.  One of the common names of Lutheran churches I have seen in various places is “Cross and Crown.”  That sums it up, does it not?

Yet, by grace, we have the opportunity to be members of the household of God.  We can be children and heirs.  And how do members of functional families act toward each other?  They support, care for, and look out for each other, do they not?  They do not complain about a sabbath healing.

Karen Armstrong has said that the basic act of transcendence each of us needs to do is to transcend self and identify with other people.  This is compassion.  God has identified with us, hence the Incarnation.  Grace requires us to identify with others.  Where will compassion take us?  What will it cost us?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 11, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HENRY KNOX SHERRILL, PRESIDING BISHOP OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAMERTIUS OF VIENNE, FATHER OF ROGATION DAYS

THE FEAST OF SAINT MATTEO RICCI, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY

THE FEAST OF RUATARA, TE ARA MO TE RONGOPAI, GATEWAY FOR THE GOSPEL

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Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/11/week-of-proper-25-monday-year-1/

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Posted May 9, 2012 by neatnik2009 in Luke 13, Psalm 68, Romans 8

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“I Have Conquered the World.”–Jesus   1 comment

Above:  Christ the Victorious

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Acts 19:1-8 (Revised English Bible):

While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul travelled through the inland regions till he came to Ephesus, where he found a number of disciples.  When he asked them,

Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?

they replied,

No, we were not even told that there is a Holy Spirit.

He asked,

Then what baptism were you given?

They answered,

John’s baptism.

Paul said,

The baptism that John gave was a baptism in token of repentance, and he told the people to put their trust in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus.

On hearing this they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus; and when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them and they spoke in tongues of ecstasy and prophesied.  There were about a dozen men in all.

During the next three months he attended the synagogue and with persuasive argument spoke boldly about the kingdom of God.  When some proved obdurate and would not believe, speaking evil of the new way before the congregation, he withdrew from them, taking the disciples with him, and continued to hold discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus.  This went on for two years with the result that the whole population of the province of Asia, both Jews and Gentiles, heard the word of the Lord.

Psalm 68:1-8 (Revised English Bible):

May God arise and his enemies he scattered,

and those hostile to him flee at his approach.

You disperse them like smoke;

you melt them like wax near fire.

The wicked perish at the presence of God,

but the righteous are joyful;

they exult before God

with gladness and rejoicing.

Sing praises of God, raise a psalm to his name;

extol him who rides on the clouds.

The LORD is his name, exult before him,

a father to the fatherless, the widow’s defender–

God in his holy dwelling-place.

God gives the friendless a home

and leads the prisoner out in all safety,

but rebels must remain in the scorching desert.

God, when at the head of your people

you marched out through the barren waste,

earth trembled, rain poured from the heavens

before God the Lord of Sinai, before God the God of Israel.

John 16:28-33 (Anchor Bible):

There,

his disciples exclaimed,

at last you are speaking plainly, without figures of speech!  Now we know that you know everything–you do not even need that a person ask you questions.  Because of this we believe that you came forth from God.

Jesus answered them,

So now you believe?  Why, an hour is coming–indeed has already come–for you to be scattered, each on his own, leaving me all alone because the Father is with me.  I have said this to you so that in me you find peace.  In the world you find something, but have courage: I have conquered the world.

The Collect:

O God, by the glorification of Jesus Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit you have opened for us the gates of your kingdom:  Grant that we, who have received such great gifts , may dedicate ourselves more diligently to your service, and give more fully the riches of our faith; 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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I have conquered the world.

The Johannine Gospel places these words in Jesus’ mouth shortly before his apprehension, torture, and execution.  This seems an unusual statement to make immediately before such an event.  Yet, given the narrative of John’s Gospel, it makes sense.  In that book the glorification of Jesus was his crucifixion and he was in control all along.  This is the fully human and fully divine Jesus with an accent on divinity.

Christianity conquered the Roman Empire, which executed Jesus, who rose from the dead and defeated death.  And no power has been able to extinguish the Christian message.  Many have tried, and none have succeeded.  Legend states that as Julian the Apostate, the last non-Christian Roman Emperor died, he said,

You have conquered, O Galilean.

Indeed.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 9, 2010 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF DIETRICH BONHOEFFER, MARTYR AND GERMAN LUTHERAN THEOLOGIAN

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Adapted from this post:

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

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Posted March 30, 2012 by neatnik2009 in Acts of the Apostles 19, John 16, Psalm 68

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The Power of Prayer   1 comment

Above: Praying Hands, by Albrecht Durer

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Acts 1:6-14 (New Revised Standard Version):

When the apostles had come together, they asked Jesus,

Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?

He replied,

It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said,

Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away. When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.

Psalm 68:1-10, 32-35 (New Revised Standard Version):

Let God rise up, let his enemies be scattered;

let those who hate him flee before him.

As smoke is driven away, so drive them away;

as wax melts before the fire,

let the wicked perish before God.

But let the righteous be joyful;

let them exult before God;

let them be jubilant with joy.

Sing to God, sing praises to his name;

lift up a song to him who rides upon the clouds–

his name is the LORD–

be exultant before him.

Father of orphans and protector of widows

is God in his holy habitation.

God gives the desolate a home to live in;

he leads out the prisoners to prosperity,

but the rebellious live in a parched land.

O God, when you went out before your people,

when you marched through the wilderness,

the earth quaked, the heavens poured down rain

at the presence of God, the God of Sinai,

at the presence of God, the God of Israel.

Rain in abundance, O God, you showered  abroad;

you restored your heritage when it languished;

your flock found a dwelling in it;

in your goodness, O God, you provided for the needy.

Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth;

sing praises to the Lord.

O rider in the heavens the ancient heavens;

listen, he sends out his voice, his mighty voice.

Ascribe power to God,

whose majesty is over Israel;

and whose power is in the skies.

Awesome is God in his sanctuary,

the God of Israel;

he gives power and strength to his people.

Blessed by God!

1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11 (New Revised Standard Version):

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you.

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.

John 17:1-11 (New Revised Standard Version):

Jesus looked up to heaven and said,

Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.

I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.

The Collect:

O God, the King of glory, you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven: Do not leave us comfortless, but send us your Holy Spirit to strengthen us, and exalt us to that place where our Savior Christ has gone before; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

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First a definition of prayer is appropriate.  The best and most succinct definition comes from the catechism in the Book of Common Prayer (1979).  Prayer, it says, “is responding to God, by thought and by deeds, with or without words.”  Furthermore, Christian prayer is “response to God the Father, through Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit.”

A few thoughts about prayer, mostly in relation to the assigned lections, come to mind.

  1. Primary among these is that a number of Biblical readings indicate that God listens to prayers, sometimes reversing a decision.  Hence we are not mere peons in the eyes of God.
  2. Then I suggest that implicit in the lection from Luke is an assumption that one is in tune with God, hence the statements about God answering our prayers in the affirmative.  Sometimes the best (for us) answer to our prayers is, “No, I have a better plan for you.”
  3. Prayer has the power also to transform the one who prays.  Ponder this:  If you pray for, not pray about, someone whom you despise, that person might or might not change.  Yet your way of thinking about that individual will probably change.  You can become a better and more spiritual person.
  4. Also, silent prayer is at least as important as spoken prayer.  Much of the time it is appropriate to be quiet in the presence of God, to watch, and to listen.  This is quite transformational.
  5. Finally, there is no one method by which all people must pray.  Growing up in the Baptist Belt of the U.S. South, I became familiar with a style of prayer which entails a cadence and great deal of talking.  This type of praying has never appealed to me.  My preference turns toward a combination of corporate liturgical prayer, private liturgical prayer, informal chattiness, and periods of listening.  Furthermore, I have long been uncomfortable praying aloud in public without a Prayer Book.  Informal prayer is an inherently private matter for me; I want no eavesdroppers.   I have gleaned from conversations I have had from people the late, great, and frequently funny Molly Ivins would have described as “Shi’ite Baptists” that they think that I do not really pray because I pray differently than they do.  Actually, I know that there is a link between personality type and prayer style preference; a large body of literature exists on the subject.  In prayer one size does not fit all.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 21, 2010 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ALL FAITHFUL MEMBERS OF THE CLERGY

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

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Adapted from this post:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/forty-third-day-of-easter-seventh-sunday-of-easter-year-a/

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Posted March 30, 2012 by neatnik2009 in 1 Peter 4, 1 Peter 5, Acts of the Apostles 1, John 17, Psalm 68

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