Archive for the ‘Psalm 72’ Category

A Covenant People, Part VI   Leave a comment

Above:  Sunrise

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

For the Feast of the Epiphany, Year 2

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Lectionary from A Book of Worship for Free Churches (The General Council of the Congregational Christian Churches in the United States, 1948)

Collect from The Book of Worship (Evangelical and Reformed Church, 1947)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

O God, who by the leading of a star didst manifest thy only begotten Son to the Gentiles;

mercifully grant, that, we, who know thee now by faith,

may after this life have the fruition of thy glorious Godhead;

through the same Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord,

who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit,

ever one God, world without end.  Amen.

The Book of Worship (1947), 123

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Isaiah 49:1-9

Psalm 72

Ephesians 2:1-22

Matthew 3:13-17

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The fully-realized Kingdom of God remains in the future tense.  It is a state of affairs in which exploitation, violence, and social injustice cease to exist.  It stands in stark contrast to our reality, marred and defined by those sins plus hostilities, both one-sided and mutual.  The Kingdom of God is already partially realized, at least from a human perspective, one bound by time.  It was evident in the life and ministry of Jesus.  It remains evident in the lives of faithful followers of God.

Ephesians 2 reminds us that, in Christ, God breaks down barriers of hostility separating people and groups of people.  Yet we mere mortals frequently rebuild those barriers.  One of my favorite single-cell cartoons depicts people with big pencils drawing lines yet using the eraser at the other end of a pencil.  The image is probably under copyright protection, so I have not looked for it, to add to this post.  Perhaps you, O reader, can find it and see what I mean.

God calls we of the faith to be a covenant people.  The best guess regarding the identity of the servant in Isaiah 49 is the personification of faithful Jews.  God calls us to help the faithless join or rejoin the flock, whether or not they are of our “tribe.”  God equips us to function as agents of reconciliation, both collectively and individually.  God invites us to live as agents of grace.

Edmond Browning, a former Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, emphasized a certain theme, “No Outsiders.”  He paid close attention of Ephesians 2.  In Christ, Browning preached, there are no outsiders.  In Christ, the Presiding Bishop proclaimed, everyone is an insider.  

This message remains as radical and offensive as it was nearly 2000 years ago.  This is the message at the heart at the heart of the Feast of the Epiphany and the season that follows it.  The light shining upon the Gentiles and inviting them to join the covenant people is the essence of the Epiphany.

Happy Epiphany, O reader!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 4, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE SIXTH DAY OF ADVENT

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JOHN OF DAMASCUS AND COSMAS OF MAIUMA, THEOLOGIANS AND HYMNODISTS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALEXANDER HOTOVITZKY, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1937

THE FEAST OF SAINT BERNARD OF PARMA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH MOHR; AUSTRIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST; AND FRANZ GRUBER, AUSTRIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC TEACHER, MUSICIAN, AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF SAINT OSMUND OF SALISBURY, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Death and Legacy of King Solomon   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of King Solomon

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART LXIV

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

1 Kings 11:41-42

2 Chronicles 9:29-31

Ecclesiasticus/Sirach 47:12-22

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Give the King your justice, O God,

and your righteousness to the King’s Son;

That he may rule your people righteously

and the poor with justice;

That the mountains may bring prosperity to the people,

and the little hills bring righteousness.

–Psalm 72:1-3, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The accounts in 1 Kings 11 and 2 Chronicles 9 are brief and to the point.  The text in Ecclesiasticus/Sirach 47 is more interesting reading.  It is a lament for the potential King Solomon wasted.  That text also emphasizes the faithfulness of God–in this case, to the Davidic Dynasty.  People sin and suffer the consequences of their sins.  God remains faithful.

I write these posts to be universal, not bound by time and space.  I frequently restrict my choice of names to the material from the passage or passages.  I write these posts to be universal, therefore never at risk of becoming so dated as to be become irrelevant with the passage of time.  In so doing, I like to apply timeless principles which are, by definition, always germane.

Any leader of a nation-state, province, state, town, city, county, kingdom, et cetera, has certain duties.  These include making wise decisions and improving the common good.  Perhaps the most basic duty is to leave the nation-state, province, state, town, city, county, kingdom, or whatever is is better than he or she found it.

Solomon failed as a monarch and a leader.  Generations of people paid the high price for his failure.

May all in authority decide and govern wisely, for the common, intergenerational good.  May those who will not so decide and govern leave office as soon as possible.  May those who will so decide and govern replace them as soon as possible.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 23, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES OF JERUSALEM, BROTHER OF JESUS

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

King Solomon’s Organization of the Kingdom   1 comment

Above:  King Solomon, by Simeon Solomon

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART LVI

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

1 Kings 4:1-28 (Protestant)

1 Kings 4:1-5:8 (Jewish and Roman Catholic)

3 Kingdoms 4:1-5:8 (Eastern Orthodox)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

He shall rule from sea to sea,

and from the River to the ends of the earth.

–Psalm 72:8, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The material I read for this post is the type of content that makes many eyes glaze over.  Yes, the list of officials is a composite from different periods of King Solomon’s reign.  So be it.  Yes, the material lacks a narrative structure.  This material tells us much about the governance of the united Kingdom of Israel under King Solomon.

King Solomon weakened tribal power and centralized power in Jerusalem.  The twelve prefects had authority over jurisdictions defined by economic capacities, not tribes.

King Solomon favored Judeans first.  He took care of them and himself before he took care of others.

1 Kings 4:20 tells us that the people were content.  If we fast forward to Chapter 11, though, we read that many people, especially in ten of the twelve tribes, were discontent.  One who knows the narrative of 1 Kings understands the link of that discontent to the rebellion and secession in Chapter 12.

One should read 1 Kings 4:1-28/4:1-5:8 in the context of later material in 1 Kings.  Hindsight is an essential element in the book, after all.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 21, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORGE MCGOVERN, U.S. SENATOR AND STATESMAN; AND HIS WIFE, ELEANOR MCGOVERN, HUMANITARIAN

THE FEAST OF DAVID MORITZ MICHAEL, GERMAN-AMERICAN MORAVIAN MUSICIAN AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF JAMES W. C. PENNINGTON, AFRICAN-AMERICAN CONGREGATIONALIST AND PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, EDUCATOR, AND ABOLITIONIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT LAURA OF SAINT CATHERINE OF SIENA, FOUNDRESS OF THE WORKS OF THE INDIANS AND THE CONGREGATION OF MISSIONARY SISTERS OF IMMACULATE MARY AND OF SAINT CATHERINE OF SIENA

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Posted October 21, 2020 by neatnik2009 in 1 Kings 1, 1 Kings 11, 1 Kings 12, 1 Kings 4, 1 Kings 5, Psalm 72

Tagged with

The Wisdom of King Solomon   Leave a comment

Above:  The Judgment of Solomon, by William Blake

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART LV

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

1 Kings 3:1-28

1 Kings 4:29-34 (Protestant)

1 Kings 5:9-14 (Jewish and Roman Catholic)

3 Kingdoms 5:9-14 (Eastern Orthodox)

2 Chronicles 1:2-17

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Give the King your justice, O God,

and your righteousness to the King’s Son;

That he may rule your people righteously and the poor with justice;

That the mountains may bring prosperity to the people,

and the little hills bring righteousness.

He shall defend the needy among the people;

he shall rescue the poor and crush the oppressor.

–Psalm 72:1-4, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

One should read scripture in various contexts.  The historical record is such a context.  Other contexts include geography, cultural anthropology, and human psychology.  And other scripture provides essential contextualization, too.

Both 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles tell the story of the dream encounter between Solomon and God.  The petition for wisdom, to rule justly, sounds good, does it not?  One could forget the bloody purge in 1 Kings 2.  One could also ignore the foreshadowing of trouble and idolatry evident in King Solomon’s marriage to an Egyptian princess.  Furthermore, 1 Kings 5 and 2 Chronicles 2 refer to the use of forced labor to construct the First Temple.  The account in 2 Chronicles 2 minimizes this problem by stating that the burdens of forced labor fell solely on foreigners.  However, 1 Kings 5:13/27 (depending on versification) tells us that the monarch imposed forced labor on “all Israel.”

Perhaps we would all feel better if we were to focus on the dream vision and on how King Solomon determined which prostitute was lying to him about being the baby’s mother.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 21, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORGE MCGOVERN, U.S. SENATOR AND STATESMAN; AND HIS WIFE, ELEANOR MCGOVERN, HUMANITARIAN

THE FEAST OF DAVID MORITZ MICHAEL, GERMAN-AMERICAN MORAVIAN MUSICIAN AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF JAMES W. C. PENNINGTON, AFRICAN-AMERICAN CONGREGATIONALIST AND PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, EDUCATOR, AND ABOLITIONIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT LAURA OF SAINT CATHERINE OF SIENA, FOUNDRESS OF THE WORKS OF THE INDIANS AND THE CONGREGATION OF MISSIONARY SISTERS OF IMMACULATE MARY AND OF SAINT CATHERINE OF SIENA

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

David Becomes the Unchallenged King of Israel, With the Lists of His Mighty Warriors   1 comment

Above:  David King Over All Israel

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART XXXI

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

2 Samuel 5:1-16

1 Chronicles 11:1-9

2 Samuel 23:8-39

1 Chronicles 11:10-12:40

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Give the King your justice, O God,

and your righteousness to the King’s Son;

That he may rule your people righteously

and the poor with justice;

That the mountains may bring prosperity to the people,

and the little hills bring righteousness.

–Psalm 72:1-3, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

1 Chronicles 11:1-9 follows 2 Samuel 5:1-16, with some notable differences.  2 Samuel 5 follows a two-year-long civil war (2 Samuel 2-4), absent from 1 Chronicles 11.  In the version of events according to 1 Chronicles, Saul died in Chapter 10 then David immediately became the undisputed King of Israel in Chapter 11.  Also, 2 Samuel 5 establishes that David and his forces seized Jerusalem (Jebus) about five and a half years after David became the undisputed monarch.  1 Chronicles is unclear regarding the passage of time in this matter.

The germane texts argue that David, whose forces defeated the weakest and the strongest Jebusite soldiers alike, had human and divine recognition.

The lists of King David’s mighty warriors are very similar, with 1 Chronicles adding material.  So be it.

David reigned for about forty years and six months, including the two years of the civil war.  He governed from Hebron for about seven and a half years and from Jerusalem for about thirty-three years.  He added wealth, power, and women to his collection.  David’s family life was hardly ideal.  It became worse with the passage of time.  The shape of the end was evident in the beginning.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 30, 2020 COMMON ERA

PROPER 17:  THE THIRTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINT JEANNE JUGAN, FOUNDRESS OF THE LITTLE SISTERS OF THE POOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN LEARY, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC SOCIAL ACTIVIST AND ADVOCATE FOR THE POOR AND THE MARGINALIZED

THE FEAST OF KARL OTTO EBERHARDT, GERMAN MORAVIAN ORGANIST, MUSIC, EDUCATOR, AND COMPOSER

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Accession of King Saul   Leave a comment

Above: The Coronation of King Saul

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART X

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

1 Samuel 11:1-15

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

He shall defend the needy among the people,

he shall rescue the poor and crush the oppressor.

–Psalm 72:4, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Saul, chosen to become the King of Israel, was not yet the monarch.  He was still working in the field at the beginning of Chapter 11.  Saul rose to the occasion and led forces into victory against those of the cruel Nahash the Ammonite.

The mention of Jabesh-Gilead, east of the River Jordan, constitutes a call-back to Judges 21:8-12.  In that passage, set after a civil war against the tribe of Benjamin, victorious tribes sacked Jabesh-Gilead  to find wives for Benjaminite men.  Judges 21:25 reads,

In those days, there was no king in Israel; all the people did what was right in their eyes.

The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

In narrative context, then, the deliverance of the inhabitants of Jabesh-Gilead affirmed the necessity of the monarchy.

Saul’s behavior in 1 Samuel 9-11 indicated that he did not want to become the King of Israel.  The family farm seemed to be his preference.  After the anointing, Saul returned home and told nobody about the anointing.  He hid in the baggage at the assembly.  After the assembly, he was still a farmer.

Reading the stories of the beginning of Saul’s reign may create a sense of sadness.  Knowing the rest of the story places the beginning of the tale in context.  One can imagine what Saul may have become if he had made different choices or had never had to pursue runaway donkeys on a certain day.  There is also a cautionary tale about the allure of power and the fragility of some psyches.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 14, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM CROFT, ANGLICAN ORGANIST AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF JOHN BAJUS, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN HENRY HOPKINS, JR., EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND HYMNODIST; AND HIS NEPHEW, JOHN HENRY HOPKINS, III, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND MUSICIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAXIMILIAN KOLBE, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1941; AND JONATHAN MYRICK DANIELS, EPISCOPAL SEMINARIAN AND MARTYR, 1965

THE FEAST OF SARAH FLOWER ADAMS, ENGLISH UNITARIAN HYMN WRITER; AND HER SISTER, ELIZA FLOWER, ENGLISH UNITARIAN COMPOSER

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Anointing and Electing Saul as the King of Israel   Leave a comment

Above: Stamp of King Saul

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART IX

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

1 Samuel 9:1-10:27

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Give to the King your justice, O God,

and your righteousness to the King’s Son;

That he may rule your people righteously and the poor with justice;

That the mountains may bring prosperity to the people,

and the little hills bring righteousness.

–Psalm 72:1-3, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

A careful reader of 1 Samuel 9:1-10:27 may get theological whiplash.  The reason for that whiplash is that an editor (perhaps Ezra) cut and pasted different sources after the Babylonian Exile.  The attitude toward the monarchy shifts in Chapter 10.  One reads of Samuel seemingly gladly anointing Saul (God’s choice, apparently) in Chapter 9 then publicly accusing monarchists of having committed idolatry and rejecting God in Chapter 10.  This anti-monarchist message echoes Chapter 8.

Saul did not seek to become the first King of Israel.  No, he sought his father’s runaway donkeys.  In the story, God worked through what seemed to be accidents to get Saul and Samuel in the same place just in time for the anointing.  That rite changed Saul, depicted as having sterling character, into a prophetic figure.  Saul was off to a good start as the King-elect of Israel.

“Saul” means “asked, requested.”  Possibly, then, Saul was not his name.  People requested a king; they got “asked, requested.”  Saul may the name tradition assigned to him postmortem.  I have heard this hypothesis in connection with his real name being Lebayu.  That issue is historically interesting, but not theologically important.

Accidents and coincidences are real.  Logically, coincidence is not causation.  Mistaking coincidence for causation leads to erroneous conclusions.  However, conclusions can be deceptive; seeming accidents and coincidences may indicate God at work, behind the scenes.  I recognize that truth in my life.  You, O reader, may also recognize it in your life.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 14, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM CROFT, ANGLICAN ORGANIST AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF JOHN BAJUS, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN HENRY HOPKINS, JR., EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND HYMNODIST; AND HIS NEPHEW, JOHN HENRY HOPKINS, III, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND MUSICIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAXIMILIAN KOLBE, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1941; AND JONATHAN MYRICK DANIELS, EPISCOPAL SEMINARIAN AND MARTYR, 1965

THE FEAST OF SARAH FLOWER ADAMS, ENGLISH UNITARIAN HYMN WRITER; AND HER SISTER, ELIZA FLOWER, ENGLISH UNITARIAN COMPOSER

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

A Covenant People, Part II   Leave a comment

Above:  Disputation with the Doctors, by Duccio di Buoninsegna

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

For the First Sunday after the Epiphany, Year 1

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Lectionary from A Book of Worship for Free Churches (The General Council of the Congregational Christian Churches in the United States, 1948)

Collect from The Book of Worship (Evangelical and Reformed Church, 1947)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

O Lord, we beseech thee mercifully to receive

the prayers of thy people who call upon thee;

and grant that they may both perceive and know

what things they ought to do,

and also may have grace and power faithfully to fulfill the same;

through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Worship (1947), 123

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Isaiah 49:5-23

Psalm 72:1-15, 17

Romans 12:1-9

Luke 2:40-52

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The call of God, in both Judaism and Christianity, entails both individuals and groups being lights to the nations.  We Christians have the responsibility to testify to the light that is Jesus, to point toward him.  We cannot do this alone; we need grace and communal context.  The Church is supposed to be a covenant people.  Each congregation is supposed to be a covenant people.  Faithful Jewish communities are supposed to be covenant peoples.

Covenant peoples bear the fruits of justice/righteousness (the same word in the Bible).  These fruits include the presence of economic equity, the lack of oppression, the absence of unnecessary violence, and the presence of an honest judiciary.  Abuse of power has no place in any covenant people.  Neither does assuming that one is better than other people.  Human mutuality and the recognition of complete dependence on God exemplify any covenant people.

The use of externally Jewish or Christian rhetoric to argue against characteristics of a covenant people constitutes a mockery of faith and the Kingdom of God.  Unfortunately, such rhetoric for that purpose remains ubiquitous.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 14, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF FANNIE LOU HAMER, PROPHET OF FREEDOM

THE FEAST OF ALBERT LISTER PEACE, ORGANIST IN ENGLAND AND SCOTLAND

THE FEAST OF HARRIET KING OSGOOD MUNGER, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF NEHEMIAH GOREH, INDIAN ANGLICAN PRIEST AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINTS VINCENZINA CUSMANO, SUPERIOR OF THE SISTERS SERVANTS OF THE POOR; AND HER BROTHER, SAINT GIACOMO CUSMANO, FOUNDER OF THE SISTERS SERVANTS OF THE POOR AND THE MISSIONARY SERVANTS OF THE POOR

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

God and Country–God First and Foremost   Leave a comment

Above:  Statue of Liberty, 1894

Photographer = John S. Johnston

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-USZ62-40098

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Patriotism is a virtue, but jingoism and blind obedience to civil authority are vices.  Nationalism can be a virtue, but it can also be a vice.  To worship one’s nation-state is to commit idolatry, for one should worship God alone.

The way denominations handle the relationship to civil government can be interesting.  According to the North American Lutheran service books I have consulted, neither July 1 (Canada Day) nor July 4 is on the ecclesiastical calendar, but there are propers for a national holiday of those sorts.  Given the historical Lutheran theology of obedience to civil government, the lack of feast days for Canada Day and Independence Day (U.S.A.) surprises me.  Perhaps it should not surprise me, though, given the free church (versus state church) experience of Lutherans in North America since the first Lutheran immigrants arrived, during the colonial period.  (I, an Episcopalian, have read more U.S. Lutheran church history than many U.S. Lutherans.)  The Anglican Church of Canada, a counterpart of The Church of England, a state church, has no official commemoration of Canada Day on its liturgical calendar, but The Book of Alternative Services (1985) contains prayers for the nation, the sovereign, the royal family, and the Commonwealth.  (God save the Queen!)  The Episcopal Church, another counterpart of The Church of England, has an ecclesiastical commemoration for Independence Day, but that feast (except for an attempt to add it in 1786) dates to 1928.

My context is the United States of America, a country in which all of us are either immigrants or descendants of immigrants.  Even the indigenous peoples descend from immigrants.  My context is the United States of America, a country in which xenophobia and nativism have a long and inglorious legacy, and constitute elements of current events.  My country is one dissidents from the British Empire founded yet in which, in current, increasingly mainstream political discourse, or what passes for political discourse, dissent is allegedly disloyal and treasonous.  My country is one with a glorious constitution that builds dissent into the electoral system, but a country in which, in July 2018 (as I write this post), support for those who espouse authoritarian ideas and tactics is growing stronger.  my country is one founded on noble ideals enshrined in the Declaration of Independence (1776), but one in which denying inalienable rights to one portion or another of the population is a tradition (often wrapped sacrilegiously in the cloak of the moral and the sacred) older than the republic.

Patriotism entails recognizing both the good and the bad.  It involves affirming the positive and seeking to correct the negative.  I am blessed to be a citizen of the United States of America.  The reality of my birth here provides me with advantages many people in much of the rest of the world lack.  My patriotism excludes the false idea of American Exceptionalism and embraces globalism.  My knowledge of the past tells me that we in the United States have never been cut off from the world, for events and trade patterns in the rest of the world have always affected us.  My patriotism, rooted in idealism (including anti-colonialism), seeks no form of empire or hegemony, but rather warm, respectful relations with democratic, pluralistic allies and insistence on essential points, such as human rights.  My patriotism eschews the false, self-justifying mockery of patriotism that Dr. Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) correctly labeled as

the last refuge of a scoundrel.

(Johnson, that moralist, word expert, and curmudgeon, has never ceased to be relevant.)  Some of those who are officially enemies of the state are actually staunch patriots.  To quote Voltaire (1694-1778),

It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.

I seek, however, to avoid becoming too temporally bound in this post.  For occasional temporally specific critiques, consult my political statements at SUNDRY THOUGHTS, my original weblog, from which I spun off this weblog.

As much as I love my country, I do not worship it or wrap the Stars and Stripes around a cross.  No, God is bigger than that.  A U.S. flag properly has no place in a church; I support the separation of church and state as being in the best interests of the church.  The church should retain its prophetic (in the highest sense of that word) power to confront civil authority when necessary and to affirm justice when it is present.  No person should assume that God is on the side of his or her country, but all should hope that the country is more on God’s side than not.

Finally, all nations and states will pass away, as many have done.  Yet God will remain forever.  As St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430) taught, that which is temporary (even if long-lasting from human perspective) can be worthy of love, but only so much.  To give too much love to that which is temporary is to commit idolatry.  And, in Augustinian theology, what is sin but disordered love?  So yes, may we love our countries with the highest variety of patriotism, but may we love God more, for God is forever.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 23, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BRIDGET OF SWEDEN, FOUNDER OF THE ORDER OF THE MOST HOLY SAVIOR; AND HER DAUGHTER, SAINT CATHERINE OF SWEDEN, SUPERIOR OF THE ORDER OF THE MOST HOLY SAVIOR

THE FEAST OF ADELAIDE TEAGUE CASE, PROFESSOR OF RELIGIOUS EDUCATION

THE FEAST OF SAINTS PHILIP EVANS AND JOHN LLOYD, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF THEODOR LILEY CLEMENS, ENGLISH MORAVIAN MINISTER, MISSIONARY, AND COMPOSER

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Lord God Almighty, in whose Name the founders of this country won liberty for themselves and for us,

and lit the torch of freedom for nations then unborn:

Grant that we and all the people of this land may have grace to maintain our liberties in righteousness and peace;

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

Deuteronomy 10:17-21

Psalm 145 or 145:1-9

Hebrews 11:8-16

Matthew 5:43-48

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 453

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Lord of all the worlds, guide this nation by your Spirit to go forward in justice and freedom.

Give to all our people the blessings of well-being and harmony,

but above all things give us faith in you, that our nation may bring to your name and blessings to all peoples,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Jeremiah 29:4-14

Psalm 20

Romans 13:1-10

Mark 12:13-17

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 63

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Almighty God, you rule all the peoples of the earth.

Inspire the minds of all women and men to whom you have committed

the responsibility of government and leadership in the nations of the world.

Give to them the vision of truth and justice,

that by their counsel all nations and peoples may work together.

Give to the people of our country zeal for justice and strength of forbearance,

that we may use our liberty in accordance with your gracious will.

Forgive our shortcomings as a nation; purify our hearts to see and love the truth.

We pray all these things through Jesus Christ.  Amen.

–Andy Langford in The United Methodist Book of Worship (1992)

Deuteronomy 10:12-13, 17-21

Psalm 72

Galatians 5:13-26

John 8:31-36

The United Methodist Book of Worship (1992)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Almighty God, you have given us this good land as our heritage.

Make us always remember your generosity and constantly do your will.

Bless our land with honest industry, sound learning, and an honorable way of life.

Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way.

Make us who come many nations with many different languages a united people.

Defend our liberties and give those whom we have entrusted

with the authority of government the spirit of wisdom,

that there might be justice and peace in the land.

When times are prosperous, let our hearts be thankful,

and, in troubled times, do not let our trust in you fail.

We ask all this through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Book of Common Worship (1993), 816

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2018/07/23/devotion-for-independence-day-u-s-a-july-4/

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Gentiles and Divine Justice   1 comment

Above:  The Kingdom of Herod the Great

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

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

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

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Isaiah 60:1-6

Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14

Ephesians 3:1-13

Matthew 2:-12

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

…that through the Gospel the Gentiles are joint heirs with the Jews, part of the same body, sharers together in the promise made in Christ Jesus.

–Ephesians 3:6, The New English Bible (1970)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

That is a prominent theme of the Feast of the Epiphany and the season that ensues.

Psalm 72 is a coronation text.  It describes the ideal monarch–one who judges with justice, brings prosperity, defends the poor, delivers the needy, crushes the oppressor, and therefore deserves great respect.  I, as a student of history, cannot identify any world leaders, past and present, whom that vaunted description fits.

The reading from Isaiah 60 makes the most sense in the context of the rest of the chapter.  The historical context is the end of the Babylonian Exile and the return of exiles to a glorified, exalted Jerusalem.  We read, in the voice of God:

For though I struck you in anger, in mercy I have pitied you.

–Isaiah 60:10b, The Jerusalem Bible (1966)

One reason we read Isaiah 60:1-6 on this occasion is the reference to camels in verse 6.  That element segues nicely into Matthew 2, in which Persian, Zoroastrian Magi arrived about two years after the birth of Jesus.  In Matthew 2 we meet the disturbed and violent client king Herod the Great, far removed from the ideal monarch in Psalm 72.  We read of these Gentiles, responsive to the direction of God, unlike the half-Jewish Idumean client king, a man clinging to power desperately.

Who are really the insiders?  Who are really the outsiders?  The answers, according to God, might shock many of us.  After all, the justice of God is superior to human justice, even the highest, most moral variety of it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 18, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FIFTH SUNDAY IN LENT, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF SAINT LEONIDES OF ALEXANDRIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR; ORIGEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC THEOLOGIAN; SAINT DEMETRIUS OF ALEXANDRIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP; AND SAINT ALEXANDER OF JERUSALEM, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT CYRIL OF JERUSALEM, BISHOP, THEOLOGIAN, AND LITURGIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAUL OF CYPRUS, EASTERN ORTHODOX MARTYR

THE FEAST OF ROBERT WALMSLEY, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST HYMN WRITER

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Adapted from this post:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2018/03/18/devotion-for-the-feast-of-the-epiphany-years-a-b-c-and-d-humes/

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

This is post #1850 of BLOGA THEOLOGICA.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++