Archive for the ‘Psalm 94’ Category

Psalms 90, 91, 92, and 94: Faithful Uncertainty   1 comment

READING THE BOOK OF PSALMS

PART LXII

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Psalms 90, 91, 92, and 94

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Reading these four psalms together, one may suffer theological whiplash easily.  Human existence is as transitory as the grass (90:5) yet God, who makes us at home safely defines the human situation (90:14-17).  We have a home with God (90:14-17). our refuge (91), who rescues us when a corrupt judicial system victimizes us (94).  Nevertheless, divine wrath consumes us and divine fury dismays us (90:7).  How are we supposed to interpret these texts, taken together, as well as individually?

I tread carefully in the realm of theodicy.  Attempts to defend theological orthodoxy, whether actual or imagined, easily and frequently produce monstrous depictions of God, portrayed as objectively unworthy of love, praise, and adoration.  Simply put, theodicy often degenerates into idiocy at best and into heresy at worst.  Furthermore, God requires no human defenses.  Therefore, I move on from theodicy expeditiously.

I can, however, acknowledge the range of human perceptions of God.  Yes, Psalm 90, by itself, gives me theological whiplash.  Yet I can handle that; human beings possess the capacity to hold mutually incompatible opinions simultaneously.  Also, two opinions which may seem to contradict each other may fit together in a both-and system.  God is…God, for lack of a better word.  If we think that we can grasp divinity fully, we delude ourselves.  We have a human frame of reference, the only frame of reference we can have.  Yet it is insufficient relative to God.  So, we do the best we can, in situations–never in the abstract.  Different circumstances produce different impressions.  And we struggle to make sense of these experiences and impressions.

That is fine.  God calls us to be faithful, not omniscient and certain.  God calls us to trust, and to act accordingly, especially in how we treat each other.  Somewhere in the fog of faithful uncertainty we may ponder the balance of divine judgment and mercy.  We may even find that balance confusing.  So be it.  We are dust, but we are God’s beloved dust.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 5, 2023 COMMON ERA

THE FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF JAPAN, 1597-1639

THE FEAST OF SAINT AVITUS OF VIENNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT JANE (JOAN) OF VALOIS, CO-FOUNDER OF THE SISTERS OF THE ANNUNCIATION

THE FEAST OF PEDRO ARRUPE, ADVOCATE FOR THE POOR AND MARGINALIZED, AND SUPERIOR GENERAL OF THE SOCIETY OF JESUS

THE FEAST OF SAINTS PHILEAS AND PHILOROMUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS, 304

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM PENNEFATHER, CO-FOUNDER OF THE MILDMAY RELIGIOUS AND BENEVOLENT INSTITUTIONS

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Posted February 5, 2023 by neatnik2009 in Psalm 90, Psalm 91, Psalm 92, Psalm 94

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David Spares King Saul’s Life: Two Versions   Leave a comment

Above:  Saul and David in the Cave of En-Gedi, by Willem de Poorter

Image in the Public Domain

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

PART XXII

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1 Samuel 23:15-24:22

1 Samuel 26:1-25

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If the LORD had not come to my help,

I should have dwelt in the land of silence.

–Psalm 94:17, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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The editing of different sources into a composite narrative created a unified story with chronological inconsistencies.  I have written of some of these contradictions in other posts in this series.  That cutting and pasting (to use an anachronism) also gave us doublets–two versions of the same story.  Careful reading of much of the Hebrew Bible has identified doublets, starting in Genesis.

The doublet on which I focus in this post pertains to David saving King Saul’s life, not taking it, while the monarch was trying to kill David.  The doublets wrap around 1 Samuel 25 in the composite narrative.

In 1 Samuel 23:15-24:22, King Saul and his forces were pursuing David and his forces.  Saul was eager to kill David.  The inhabitants of Ziph were ready to facilitate David’s death, as those of Keilah had been earlier in Chapter 23.  David spared Saul’s life and issued an order that nobody kill the monarch.  In this familiar story, David cut off a piece of Saul’s cloak, made his presence known, and spoke to Saul.  The king acknowledged that David would succeed him.

The editing of 1 Samuel 23, 24, and 26 is odd.  It seems that 26:1-25, with its reference to the Ziphites, originally flowed from the end of Chapter 23.

In 1 Samuel 26:1-25, David spared Saul’s life and forbade violence against the monarch.  However, David claimed Saul’s spear, the kingdom of his kingship.  (See 1 Samuel 13:22; 18:10; 19:9; 20:33; and 22:6.  Also see 2 Samuel 1:6.)  David also took the water jar at Saul’s head.  Saul and David also spoke, and the king admitted that David would win.

In both versions, Saul admitted to being in the wrong.  Yet he persisted in the wrong.  Saul did not repent.

I know what it is to be a wronged person.  I know the names of those who have wronged me, actively or passively.  I know their characters, objectively.  I also affirm that they are responsible before God for their characters and deeds, just as I am responsible before God for my character and deeds.  What kind of person am I?  The answer to that question is more important than the issue of what kind of people others are.  One cannot prevail against perfidy by falling into it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 21, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BRUNO ZEMBOL, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC FRIAR AND MARTYR, 1942

THE FEAST OF SAINTS CAMERIUS, CISELLUS, AND LUXORIUS OF SARDINIA, MARTYRS, 303

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF EDESSA, CIRCA 304

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAXIMILIAN OF ANTIOCH; MARTYR, CIRCA 353; AND SAINTS BONOSUS AND MAXIMIANUS THE SOLDIER, MARTYRS, 362

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Opposition to Rebuilding Jerusalem and Its Walls   2 comments

Above:  Artaxerxes I

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 2 KINGS 22-25, 1 ESDRAS, 2 CHRONICLES 34-36, EZRA, AND NEHEMIAH

PART XIV

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1 Esdras 2:16-30

Ezra 4:6-24

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How long shall the wicked, O LORD,

how long shall the wicked triumph?

–Psalm 94:3, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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Just as consistent chronology is not the organizing principle in Ezra-Nehemiah, neither is it the organizing principle in 1 Esdras.

During the reign (465-424 B.C.E.) of Artaxerxes I of the Persians and the Medes…

…Lies about the loyalty of Jews in Jerusalem persisted.  The Jews were going to rebel against the empire, critics alleged.  Artaxerxes I believed the lies and issued orders to cease reconstruction.

The identification of Artaxerxes and one of the models for the fictional Ahasuerus in the Book of Esther makes sense.  Artaxerxes I comes across in 1 Esdras and Ezra as a king quite different from Darius I.  Also, Ahasuerus in the Book of Esther comes across as an easily-swayed ruler who let others make decisions in his name.

Next stop:  The Book of Nehemiah.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 9, 2020 COMMON ERA

PROPER 14:  THE TENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINT EDITH STEIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN AND PHILOSOPHER

THE FEAST OF SAINT HERMAN OF ALASKA, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX MONK AND MISSIONARY TO THE ALEUT

THE FEAST OF JOHN DRYDEN, ENGLISH PURITAN THEN ANGLICAN THEN ROMAN CATHOLIC POET, PLAYWRIGHT, AND TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF MARY SUMNER, FOUNDRESS OF THE MOTHERS’ UNION

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Good and Bad Fruit, Part V   Leave a comment

Above:  The Parable of the Fig Tree, by Jan Luyken

Image in the Public Domain

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For the Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity, Year 1

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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)

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Lord, we pray thee, that thy grace may always go before and follow after us,

and make us continually to be given to all good works;

through 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), 214

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Deuteronomy 32:39, 40

Psalm 94:11-23

Ephesians 3:13-21

Luke 13:1-17

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The justice of God equals the righteousness of God.  Justice and righteousness are the same word in the Bible.  We read that God will vindicate the faithful, out of justice.  (Aside:  Read Deuteronomy 32:36-42, not 32:39, 40.  The passage makes more sense that way.)  That theme also exists in Psalm 94.  The balance of divine judgment and mercy tilts toward mercy for one more year in the case of the barren fig tree.  If the tree remains barren, however, the balance will tilt toward judgment.  That will be just, in that case.

If we do not lose heart–if we, in the context of faith community, support each other in grasping the love of God in Christ–we will mature spiritually.  We will not be like any barren fig tree.  No, we will be like healthy, productive fig trees.  The evidence will be in our fruits, which will include righteousness/justice.  We may suffer, but God will vindicate us.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 27, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORGE WASHINGTON DOANE, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF NEW JERSEY; AND HIS SON, WILLIAM CROSWELL DOANE, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF ALBANY; HYMN WRITERS

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ANTONY AND THEODOSIUS OF KIEV, FOUNDERS OF RUSSIAN ORTHODOX MONASTICISM; SAINT BARLAAM OF KIEV, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX ABBOT; AND SAINT STEPHEN OF KIEV, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX ABBOT AND BISHOP

THE FEAST OF CHRISTINA ROSSETTI, POET AND RELIGIOUS WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS REMACLUS OF MAASTRICHT, THEODORE OF MAASTRICHT, LAMBERT OF MAASTRICHT, HUBERT OF MAASTRICT AND LIEGE, AND FLORIBERT OF LIEGE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; SAINT LANDRADA OF MUNSTERBILSEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBESS; AND SAINTS OTGER OF UTRECHT, PLECHELM OF GUELDERLAND, AND WIRO, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARIES

THE FEAST OF SAINT ZITA OF TUSCANY, WORKER OF CHARITY

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Getting Off Our Values and Getting to Work   3 comments

Above:  The Importune Neighbour, by William Holman Hunt

Image in the Public Domain

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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 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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Judges 19 (portions) or Jeremiah 13:1-11

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 4:13-25

Luke 10:38-11:13

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We have quite a collection of readings this Sunday!

  1. Judges 19 gives us a tale of rape, death, dismemberment, and the prelude to genocide, played out in Judges 20 and 21.
  2. Stay away from God’s bad side, as in Jeremiah 13 and Psalm 94.
  3. Romans 4 reminds us of the importance of living according to faith.
  4. The executive summary of the lesson from Luke is to learn from Jesus (even to violate social conventions to do so) and to act according to those teachings.

Judges 19, the first portion of a section spanning chapters 19-21, contains enough material for many posts, given its background, its literary contexts, and the ink many exegetes have spilled regarding the story.  However, my purpose in this post entails reading Judges 19 in the context of the other lessons.  One note from The Jewish Study Bible (2nd. ed.) offers a useful sentence:

The story depicts a unified society, sensitive to the problems of ethics and serving the LORD.

–536

The society Jeremiah critiqued was insensitive to ethics and serving the LORD.  On the other hand, St. Mary of BethanySt. Paul the Apostle, and the author of Psalm 94 were sensitive to ethics and serving the LORD.  So was St. Martha of Bethany, also insistent on being a good hostess who offered proper hospitality, a Biblical virtue.

Prayer comes attached to action in Luke 11:9-13.  That is an important lesson:  pray then, as able, act to effect positive change.  Self-serving politicians who offer “thoughts and prayers” after terrible events then do nothing, even though they have the power to do so, make a mockery of the teaching in Luke 11:9-13.  One of the lessons my father taught me is that prayer should have feet whenever possible.  Be salt and light in the world, Jesus still commands us.

I recall an editorial from a Roman Catholic periodical during the middle 1990s, when many politicians beat the drum of “family values” with more words than deeds.  As I remember, the title of the editorial was,

GET OFF YOUR VALUES AND GET TO WORK.

Talk is cheap.  We need to get off our values and get to work.  After all, faith, in the theology of St. Paul the Apostle, is inherently active.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 18, 2020 COMMON ERA

SATURDAY IN EASTER WEEK

THE FEAST OF ROGER WILLIAMS, FOUNDER OF RHODE ISLAND; AND ANNE HUTCHINSON, REBELLIOUS PURITAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT CORNELIA CONNELLY, FOUNDRESS OF THE SOCIETY OF THE HOLY CHILD JESUS

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARIA ANNA BLONDIN, FOUNDRESS OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE SISTERS OF SAINT ANNE

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MURIN OF FAHAN, LASERIAN OF LEIGHLIN, GOBAN OF PICARDIE, FOILLAN OF FOSSES, AND ULTAN OF PERONNE, ABBOTS; AND SAINTS FURSEY OF PERONNE AND BLITHARIUS OF SEGANNE, MONKS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROMAN ARCHUTOWSKI, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1943

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2020/04/18/devotion-for-proper-14-year-c-humes/

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Guide Post to the Septuagint Psalter Project   1 comment

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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The psalter of the Septuagint contains 151 psalms.

I have written based on all of them, in numerical order.  I have retained the Hebrew numbering system, not that of the Septuagint.

Although I have no theological reticence to venture into textual territory that, according the United Methodism of my youth, is apocryphal, I do have limits.  They reside in the realm of Orthodoxy, with its range of scriptural canons.  Beyond that one finds the Pseudipigrapha.  Psalm 151 concludes the Book of Psalms in The Orthodox Study Bible (2008); so be it.

The Hebrew psalter concludes with Psalm 150.  In other psalters, however, the count is higher.  In certain editions of the Septuagint, for example, Psalm 151 is an appendix to the Book of Psalms.  In other editions of the Septuagint, however, Psalm 151 is an integrated part of the psalter.  There is also the matter of the Syraic psalter, which goes as high as Psalm 155.  I have no immediate plans to ponder Psalms 152-155, however.  Neither do I plan to read and write about Psalms 156-160 any time soon, if ever.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 23, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MARTIN DE PORRES AND JUAN MACIAS, HUMANITARIANS AND DOMINICAN LAY BROTHERS; SAINT ROSE OF LIMA, HUMANITARIAN AND DOMINICAN SISTER; AND SAINT TURIBIUS OF MOGROVEJO, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF LIMA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM JOHN COPELAND, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

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Book One:  Psalms 1-41

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

24

25

26

27

28

29

30

31

32

33

34

35

36

37

38

39

40

41

Book Two:  Psalms 42-72

42

43

44

45

46

47

48

49

50

51

52

53

54

55

56

57

58

59

60

61

62

63

64

65

66

67

68

69

70

71

72

Book Three:  Psalms 73-89

73

74

75

76

77

78

79

80

81

82

83

84

85

86

87

88

89

Book Four:  Psalms 90-106

90

91

92

93

94

95

96

97

98

99

100

101

102

103

104

105

106

Book Five:  Psalms 107-150

107

108

109

110

111

112

113

114

115

116

117

118

119:1-32

119:33-72

119:73-104

119:105-144

119:145-176

120

121

122

123

124

125

126

127

128

129

130

131

132

133

134

135

136

137

138

139

140

141

142

143

144

145

146

147

148

149

150

Also in the Greek:  Psalm 151

151

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Posted August 23, 2017 by neatnik2009 in Psalm 1, Psalm 10, Psalm 100, Psalm 101, Psalm 102, Psalm 103, Psalm 104, Psalm 105, Psalm 106, Psalm 107, Psalm 108, Psalm 109, Psalm 11, Psalm 110, Psalm 111, Psalm 112, Psalm 113, Psalm 114, Psalm 115, Psalm 116, Psalm 117, Psalm 118, Psalm 119, Psalm 12, Psalm 120, Psalm 121, Psalm 122, Psalm 123, Psalm 124, Psalm 125, Psalm 126, Psalm 127, Psalm 128, Psalm 129, Psalm 13, Psalm 130, Psalm 131, Psalm 132, Psalm 133, Psalm 134, Psalm 135, Psalm 136, Psalm 137, Psalm 138, Psalm 139, Psalm 14, Psalm 140, Psalm 141, Psalm 142, Psalm 143, Psalm 144, Psalm 145, Psalm 146, Psalm 147, Psalm 148, Psalm 149, Psalm 15, Psalm 150, Psalm 151, Psalm 16, Psalm 17, Psalm 18, Psalm 19, Psalm 2, Psalm 20, Psalm 21, Psalm 22, Psalm 23, Psalm 24, Psalm 25, Psalm 26, Psalm 27, Psalm 28, Psalm 29, Psalm 3, Psalm 30, Psalm 31, Psalm 32, Psalm 33, Psalm 34, Psalm 35, Psalm 36, Psalm 37, Psalm 38, Psalm 39, Psalm 4, Psalm 40, Psalm 41, Psalm 42, Psalm 43, Psalm 44, Psalm 45, Psalm 46, Psalm 47, Psalm 48, Psalm 49, Psalm 5, Psalm 50, Psalm 51, Psalm 52, Psalm 53, Psalm 54, Psalm 55, Psalm 56, Psalm 57, Psalm 58, Psalm 59, Psalm 6, Psalm 60, Psalm 61, Psalm 62, Psalm 63, Psalm 64, Psalm 65, Psalm 66, Psalm 67, Psalm 68, Psalm 69, Psalm 7, Psalm 70, Psalm 71, Psalm 72, Psalm 73, Psalm 74, Psalm 75, Psalm 76, Psalm 77, Psalm 78, Psalm 79, Psalm 8, Psalm 80, Psalm 81, Psalm 82, Psalm 83, Psalm 84, Psalm 85, Psalm 86, Psalm 87, Psalm 88, Psalm 89, Psalm 9, Psalm 90, Psalm 91, Psalm 92, Psalm 93, Psalm 94, Psalm 95, Psalm 96, Psalm 97, Psalm 98, Psalm 99

Psalms 93 and 94   1 comment

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POST XXXVI OF LX

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

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

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

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

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

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

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 226

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Psalm 93, adapted from a Canaanite myth (a common literary and theological device in the Bible), depicts YHWH as the King of the Earth and as one triumphant over the primordial forces of chaos.  Human forces of chaos–those who, out of delusion think that God does not see or care, target the widows, strangers, and orphans for violence–come in for divine smiting in Psalm 94.  (See my comments about God caring in the posts for Psalms 14 and 53.)  Deliverance of the oppressed is very bad news for the oppressors.

I also notice the difference between divine smiting and discipline in Psalm 94.  Smiting leads to destruction, but discipline provides spiritual instruction.  In human terms a responsible parent disciplines his or her children, for their own good and that of society.  Discipline does not cross the line into abuse, for which no moral justification exists, and remain discipline.  Although discipline is frequently unpleasant, is preferable to the more unpleasant consequences of greater offenses than one has committed.  God is, metaphorically, of course, a parental figure to us.  Why should we not expect discipline from God?

Defenses of God by human beings interest me.  On occasion I offer some myself.  At other times I back off and cite the insufficiency of human defenses of God.  I admit freely to inconsistency on this point.  At this time I restrict my defense of God to one point:  discipline is not abuse.  We ought not to imagine otherwise.  Abuse tears people down; it does not build them up.  The existence of discipline by God indicates that God has not, in the words of Psalm 94, forsaken.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 17, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL JOHNSON, CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, ANGLICAN PRIEST, PRESIDENT OF KING’S COLLEGE, “FATHER OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH IN CONNECTICUT,” AND “FATHER OF AMERICAN LIBRARY CLASSIFICATION;” TIMOTHY CUTLER, CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, ANGLICAN PRIEST, AND RECTOR OF YALE COLLEGE; DANIEL BROWNE, EDUCATOR, CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, AND ANGLICAN PRIEST; AND JAMES WETMORE, CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND ANGLICAN PRIEST

THE FEAST OF JONATHAN FRIEDRICH BAHNMAIER, GERMAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

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The Sin of Religious Violence   1 comment

entry-into-jerusalem-giotto

Above:  Entry Into Jerusalem, by Giotto

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

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

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The Assigned Readings:

Deuteronomy 11:1-17 or Isaiah 43:8-15

Psalm 94 or 35

John 8:48-59

Romans 1:8-15 (16-17) 18-32; 2:1-11 or Galatians 6:1-6 (7-16) 17-18

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Accuse my accuser of Yahweh,

attack my attackers.

–Psalm 35:1, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

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That verse summarizes much of Psalms 35 and 94.  The plea of the persecuted for God to smite their enemies, although understandable and predictable, but it is inconsistent with our Lord and Savior’s commandment to love our enemies and to pray for our persecutors (Matthew 5:43).  Sometimes divine smiting of evildoers is a necessary part of a rescue operation, for some persecutors refuse to repent.  Nevertheless, I suspect that God’s preference is that all people repent of their sins and amend their lives.

We read in Deuteronomy 11 (placed in the mouth of Moses long after his death) of the importance of following divine laws–or else.  Then, in Isaiah 43, set in the latter phase of the Babylonian Exile, which, according to the Biblical narrative, resulted from failure to obey that law code, we read of impending deliverance by God from enemies.  Both readings remind us of what God has done for the Hebrews out of grace.  Grace, although free, is never cheap, for it requires a faithful response to God.  We are free in God to serve God, not be slaves to sin.  We are free in God to live as vehicles of grace, not to indulge inappropriate appetites.  We are free in God to lay aside illusions of righteousness, to express our penitence, and to turn our backs on–to repent of–our sins.

This is a devotion for Palm Sunday.  We read in John 8 that some Jews at Jerusalem sought to stone Jesus as a blasphemer (verse 59).  I suppose that they thought they were acting in accordance with Leviticus 24:10-23.  Later in the Fourth Gospel (Chapters 18 and 19) certain religious authority figures are complicit in his death–as a scapegoat (11:47-53).

This desire to kill those who offend our religious sensibilities strongly is dangerous for everyone.  It is certainly perilous for those who suffer because of it.  Furthermore, such violence causes spiritual harm to those who commit it.  And what if one’s judgment is wrong?  One has committed a most serious offense before God.  This tendency toward religious violence exists in various traditions, has a shameful past and an inexcusable present reality, and does nothing inherently to glorify God.  In fact, it detracts from the glory of God.  That God can work through such abominations committed in His name testifies to divine sovereignty.  Exhibit A is the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 10, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHANN NITSCHMANN, SR., MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND BISHOP; DAVID NITSCHMANN, JR., THE SYNDIC, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY BISHOP; AND DAVID NITSCHMANN, THE MARTYR, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF CECIL FRANCES ALEXANDER, POET AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN LUDWIG BRAU, NORWEGIAN MORAVIAN TEACHER AND POET

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JOHN LEONARDI, FOUNDER OF THE CLERKS REGULAR OF THE MOTHER OF GOD OF LUCCA; AND JOSEPH CALASANCTIUS, FOUNDER OF THE CLERKS REGULAR OF RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS

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Adapted from this post:

https://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2016/10/10/devotion-for-palm-sunday-year-d/

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Deciding or Refusing to Repent   1 comment

Adoration of the Shepherds, by Mikael Toppelius

Above:  The Adoration of the Shepherds, by Mikael Toppelius

Image in the Public Domain

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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 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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Isaiah 6:(8) 9-13 or Jeremiah 10:1-16 (17-25)

Psalm 35 or 94

John 12:17-19, 37-50

Romans 11:2b-28 (29-32) 33-36

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You have seen, O LORD, do not be silent!

O Lord, do not be far from me!

–Psalm 35:22, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

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Happy are those whom you discipline, O LORD,

and whom you touch out of your law,

giving them respite from days of trouble,

until a pit is dug for the wicked.

For the Lord will not forsake his people;

he will not abandon his heritage;

for justice will return to the righteous,

and all the upright in heart will follow it.

–Psalm 94:12-15, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

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Some of the readings for this occasion seem to indicate that God has, at various times, designated entire populations and refused to permit them to repent of their sins.  This reading is at odds with the theology of unlimited atonement (by Jesus, via his death and resurrection), which ends a process begun by the incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity as Jesus of Nazareth.  My understanding is that (A) all of us are sinners, (B) God desires all sinners to repent, and (C) many sinners simply refuse to repent.  In Judaism one can find an interpretation of the lection from Isaiah that insists that God predicted that many people would not understand and did not desire them to fail to understand.  In this reading First Isaiah’s mission was to help people to repent, not to prevent it.  This makes sense to me.

Why might one not repent?  One might identify a set of reasons, but perhaps the most basic reason is that one must recognize something as an error before one seeks to correct it.  Spiritual blindness is a major problem from which all people suffer.  We can, by grace, see what occupies our blind spots.  Assuming that we do this, do we want to change?  Maybe we think that necessary change is pointless or too difficult.  Or perhaps we are simply afraid to take action by trusting in God and venturing into unknown (to us) spiritual territory.  Either way, one does not repent.

Whoever loves himself or herself more than God is lost, we read in John 12.  To be a Christian is to follow Jesus, who went to a cross then a tomb, which he occupied only briefly.

To think this much about Good Friday and Easter Sunday on Christmas Day might seem odd, but it is theologically correct.  The recognition of this reality is hardly new.  Indeed, Johann Sebastian Bach incorporated the Passion Chorale tune into his Christmas Oratorio.

Grace is free to all, fortunately.  Yet many will not accept it and the demands accompanying it.  Each of us has a responsibility to say “yes” to God, whose grace is always free and never cheap.  Each of us has a responsibility to love his or her neighbors as he or she loves himself or herself.  Doing so will, for different people, lead to different ends in this life, and translate into action in a variety of ways, depending on circumstances.  The principle is constant, however.  Jesus, who came to us first as a baby, demands nothing less than taking up one’s cross and following him.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 30, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HENRIETTE LUISE VON HAYN, GERMAN MORAVIAN HYMN WRITER

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Adapted from this post:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2016/08/30/devotion-for-christmas-day-year-d/

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Responsibilities, Insiders, and Outsiders   1 comment

Boaz--Rembrandt van Rijn

Above:  Boaz, by Rembrandt van Rijn

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

O God, you show forth your almighty power

chiefly by reaching out to us in mercy.

Grant to us the fullness of your grace,

strengthen our trust in your promises,

and bring all the world to share in the treasures that come

through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 52

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The Assigned Readings:

Ruth 1:1-22 (Monday)

Ruth 3:14-4:6 (Tuesday)

Ruth 4:7-22 (Wednesday)

Psalm 94 (All Days)

1 Timothy 5:1-8 (Monday)

1 Timothy 5:9-16 (Tuesday)

Luke 4:16-30 (Wednesday)

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The Lord will not cast off his people:

nor will he forsake his own.

For justice shall return to the righteous man:

and with him to all the true of heart.

–Psalm 94:14-15, The Alternative Service Book 1980

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The composite pericope from 1 Timothy comes from a particular place and time, so some of the details do not translate well into contemporary Western settings.  May we, therefore, refrain from falling into legalism.  Nevertheless, I detect much of value in that reading, which acknowledges the existence of both collective and individual responsibilities and sorts out the boundary separating them in a particular cultural context.  One principle from that text is that relatives should, as they are able, take care of each other.  Another principle present in the reading is mutuality–responsibility to and for each other.

The lack of a support system, or at least an adequate one, is a major cause of poverty and related ills.  The support system might be any number of things, including:

  1. the social safety net (the maintenance and strengthening of which I consider to be a moral imperative),
  2. friends,
  3. relatives,
  4. neighbors,
  5. the larger community,
  6. a faith community,
  7. non-governmental organizations, or
  8. a combination of some of the above.

In the Book of Ruth Naomi and Ruth availed themselves of effective support systems.  They moved to Bethlehem, where Ruth was a foreigner but Naomi had relatives.  The women also gleaned in fields.  There Ruth met Boaz, a landowner and a kinsman of Naomi.  He obeyed the commandment from Deuteronomy 24:19 and left grain for the poor.  The story had a happy ending, for Ruth and Boaz married and had a son.  Naomi, once bitter, was thrilled.

One hypothesis regarding the Book of Ruth is that the text dates to the postexilic period.  If this is accurate, the story of the marriage of Ruth and Boaz functions as a criticism of opposition to intermarriage between Hebrews and foreigners and serves as a call for the integration of faithful foreigners into Jewish communities.  The Jewish support system, this perspective says, should extend to Gentiles.

Sometimes the call to exercise individual responsibility and to fulfill one’s role in collective responsibility becomes challenging, if not annoying.  One difficulty might be determining the line between the two sets of responsibilities.  Getting that detail correct is crucial, for we are responsible to and for each other.  The Pauline ethic (as in 2 Corinthians 8:7-15) which holds that those who have much should not have too much and that those who have little should not have too little is a fine goal toward which to strive, but who determines how much is too much and how little is too little?  And what is the best way to arrive at and maintain that balance?  These seem like communal decisions, given the communal ethos of the Bible.

If all that were not enough, we might have responsibilities to and for more people than we prefer or know we do.  John Donne wrote,

No man is an island,

Entire of itself,

Every man is a piece of the continent,

A part of the main.

If a clod be washed away by the sea,

Europe is the less.

As well as if a promontory were.

As well as if a manor of thy friend’s

Or of thine own were:

Any man’s death diminishes me,

Because I am involved in mankind,

And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;

It tolls for thee.

Do we dare to live according to the standard that anyone’s death diminishes us?  Do we dare to recognize foreigners and other “outsiders” as people whom God loves and whom we ought to love as we love ourselves?  Do we dare to think of “outsiders” as people to whom and for whom we are responsible?  If we do, how will we change the world for the better?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 6, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT VINCENTIA GEROSA AND BARTHOLOMEA CAPITANIO, COFOUNDERS OF THE SISTERS OF CHARITY OF LOVERE

THE FEAST OF ISAIAH, BIBLICAL PROPHET

THE FEAST OF JAN HUS, PROTO-PROTESTANT MARTYR

THE FEAST OF OLUF HANSON SMEBY, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2015/07/06/devotion-for-monday-tuesday-and-wednesday-after-proper-27-year-b-elca-daily-lectionary/

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