Archive for the ‘Revelation of John 21’ Category

Good and Bad Shepherds, Part IV   Leave a comment

Above:  The New Jerusalem

Image in the Public Domain

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For the Second Sunday after Easter, 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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Almighty God, who hast given thine only Son to be unto us

both a sacrifice for sin, and also an example of godly life;

give us grace that we may always most thankfully receive his inestimable benefit,

and also daily endeavor ourselves to follow the blessed steps of his most holy life;

through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Worship (1947), 168

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Ezekiel 34:11-16

Psalm 148

Revelation 21:10-14, 21-27

John 21:15-25

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The pericope from Ezekiel 34, read narrowly, condemns bad Hebrew monarchs–shepherds, figuratively–who tended themselves, not the flock (the people).  Read broadly, the passage condemns all political and religious leaders who have or still do tend themselves, not the flock.  In John 21 we read of Jesus telling St. Simon Peter to

feed my sheep.

In Revelation 21 we read of God finally displacing the bad shepherds, fulfilling the promise of Ezekiel 34.

One function of stating an ideal in prophecy is to establish a high standard, thereby pointing to to all who fall short of that standard.  In our time this is what much the Apocalypse of John (Revelation) does effectively.  The current world order falls far short of the divine order’s high standard.  Corruption and deceit persist.  God must act because, too often, many people acquiesce or cooperate instead of doing their duty.

On the level short of international, national, or state/provincial politics, much less denominational leadership, I know of congregations that have disbanded because that was the only feasible option after a person or a few people (usually lay members) in positions of influence or authority have tended themselves, not to flock.  This predatory shepherding is detrimental to the flock.  On the rational level, such negative behavior makes no sense.  Why act out of perceived self-interest and thereby damage, destroy, and soil one’s own nest?  The answer, of course, is that these malefactors are irrational and do not know what they are really doing.

May all shepherds be good shepherds.  May they tend their flocks, not themselves.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 6, 2020 COMMON ERA

MONDAY IN HOLY WEEK

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCELLINUS OF CARTHAGE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR, 413

THE FEAST OF BENJAMIN HALL KENNEDY, GREEK AND LATIN SCHOLAR, BIBLE TRANSLATOR, AND ANGLICAN PRIEST

THE FEAST OF DANIEL G. C. WU, CHINESE-AMERICAN EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND MISSIONARY

THE FEAST OF EMIL BRUNNER, SWISS REFORMED THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF MILNER BALL, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, LAW PROFESSOR, WITNESS FOR CIVIL RIGHTS, AND HUMANITARIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT NOKTER BALBULUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

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Coronavirus/COVID-19: Prayers   1 comment

I posted these prayers at GATHERED PRAYERS yesterday.–KRT

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ON THE OCCASION OF A DISASTER

Compassionate God, whose Son Jesus wept at the grave of his friend Lazarus:

Draw near to us in this time of sorrow and anguish,

comfort those who mourn,

strengthen those who are weary,

encourage those in despair,

and lead us all to fullness of life;

through the same Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer,

who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

God for ever and ever.  Amen.

Readings

Job 14:7-13 or Jeremiah 31:15-20

Psalm 60 or 130 or 80:1-7 or 23

Romans 8:35-38 or Revelation 21:1-7 or Romans 8:18-25

Luke 6:20-26 or Mark 13:14-27

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 733

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IN A TIME OF NATURAL DISASTER

O God, you divided the waters of chaos at creation.

In Christ you stilled storms, raised the dead,

and vanquished demonic powers.

Tame the earthquake, wind, and fire,

and all forces that defy control or shock us by their fury.

Keep us from calling disaster your justice.

Help us, in good times and in distress,

to trust your mercy and yield to your power, this day and for ever.

Amen.

–Andy Langford, in The United Methodist Book of Worship (1992), 509

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DURING A NATIONAL CRISIS

God of ages,

in your sight nations rise and fall,

and pass through times of peril.

Now when our land is troubled,

be near to judge and save.

May leaders be led by your wisdom;

may they search your will and see it clearly.

If we have turned from your way,

help us to reverse our ways and repent.

Give us light and your your truth to guide us;

through Jesus Christ,

who is the Lord of this world, and our Savior.  Amen.

Book of Common Worship (1993), 818

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TIME OF CONFLICT, CRISIS, DISASTER

O God, where hearts are fearful and constricted, grant courage and hope.

Where anxiety is infectious and widening, grant peace and reassurance.

Where impossibilities close every door and and window, grant imagination and resistance.

Where distrust twists our thinking, grant healing and illumination.

Where spirits are daunted and weakened, grand soaring wings and strengthened dreams.

All these things we ask in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 76

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TIME OF CIVIC MOURNING

God our creator, through whose providing care we enjoy all goodness and life,

turn our eyes to your mercy at this time of confusion and loss.

Comfort this nation as we mourn;

shine your light on those whose only companion is darkness;

and teach us so to number our days that we may apply our hearts to your wisdom;

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 77

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Resurrection of the Dead, Part III   1 comment

Above:  The New Jerusalem

Image in the Public Domain

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For the Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year 2, according to the U.S. Presbyterian lectionary of 1966-1970

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O Lord and Master, who by thy Word hast called us to watch for thy return:

grant that when thou comest we may be found at work,  serving men in thy name.  Amen.

The Book of Common Worship–Provisional Services (1966), 126

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Isaiah 65:17-25

Revelation 21:1-14

John 14:1-19

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The Gospel of John functions on two levels–literal and metaphorical.  In the Johannine Gospel, we read, Jesus dwells with God the Father.  Jesus also dwells with followers, who can, in turn, dwell with God.  In the Gospel of John, eternal life is knowing God via Jesus.  “Eternal” is a description of quality, not time.  Eternal life, in the Fourth Gospel, is the counterpart of the Kingdom of God in the Synoptic Gospels.  Eternal life begins on this side of paradise.

That paradise is to be an earthbound one, according to Isaiah 65 and Revelation 21.  The afterlife and the resurrection of the dead are absent from the ideal future in Isaiah 65, for Judaism did not have the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead yet.  The resurrection of the dead is part of Revelation 21, however.  And the Father’s house has plenty of room for all the faithful.

Of course, there is plenty of room in the Father’s house.  God is the God of extravagant abundance, ever scarcity.  Do we believe in divine abundance, all the way to the parousia?  Or do we project scarcity upon God?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 25, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES BAR-ZEBEDEE, APOSTLE AND MARTYR

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Eschatological Ethics VII   1 comment

Above:  New Jerusalem

Image in the Public Domain

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For the Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year 1, according to the U.S. Presbyterian lectionary of 1966-1970

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Lord Jesus, Judge and Savior:  put thy Word within our hearts

that we may be saved from disobedience and,

in the time of thy coming, be found faithful to thee.  Amen.

The Book of Common Worship–Provisional Services (1966), 126

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Jeremiah 23:5-6

Revelation 21:1-4

Matthew 24:45-51

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Last week’s parable was the story of the Unjust Steward, who, out of self-interest, used his soon-to-be-former employer’s money to make friends and allies.

This week’s parable is the story of the Conscientious Steward, who was performing his duties when his boss, seemingly late, arrived.

Eschatological ethics teach us to be realistic and proactive.  They teach us that yes, God will eventually destroy the corrupt world order, with its rife exploitation and bad governance, and replace it with divine order.  Eschatological ethics teach us that only God can save the world, but that we remain stewards of it.  We–individually and collectively–have responsibilities to God and each other, as well as to succeeding generations, the planet, and other species on it.  Expectations of Christ’s Second Coming never excuse neglecting our duties from God.

Years ago I had a disturbing conversation with a particular young woman.  She, who identified herself as a Christian, referred to the planet as her “vacation home” and said that she did not care about what happened here; she was that focused on Heaven.  She apparently neglected a large portion of scripture about stewardship of creation and the mandate of social justice.  I reminded her of those teachings.  She did not change her mind, at least that day.

Only God can save the world, but we–individually and collectively–have divine orders to leave it better than we found it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 12, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE ELEVENTH DAY OF ADVENT, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF SAINT JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL, FOUNDRESS OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE VISITATION

THE FEAST OF ALICIA DOMON AND HER COMPANIONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS IN ARGENTINA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS BARTHOLOMEW BUONPEDONI AND VIVALDUS, MINISTERS AMONG LEPERS

THE FEAST OF SAINT LUDWIK BARTOSIK, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

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Eschatological Ethics VI: A New Year’s Resolution   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of the Apocalypse of John

Image in the Public Domain

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For New Year’s Day, Years 1 and 2, according to the U.S. Presbyterian lectionary of 1966-1970

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Judge eternal:  in your purpose our lives are lived,  and by your grace our hopes are bright.

Be with us in the coming year, forgiving, leading, and serving;

so that we may walk without fear, in the way of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Worshipbook:  Services and Hymns (1972), 158

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Eternal God, who makest all things new, and abidest for ever the same:

Grant us to begin this year in Thy faith, and to continue it in Thy favor;

that, being guided in all or doings, and guarded in all our days,

we may spend our days in Thy service, and finally, by Thy grace,

attain the glory of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Common Worship (1946), 316

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Deuteronomy 8:1-10

Revelation 21:1-7

Matthew 25:31-46

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To make a new year’s resolution is a frequent exercise in good intentions quickly abandoned for one reason or another.  In the context of the assigned readings, however, I propose a truly daunting resolution for every year.

Only God can save the world, but we (collectively and individually) have a divine commandment to leave it better than we find it.  This is part of eschatological ethics.  Belief in the return of Jesus is no good reason not to obey divine commandments vis-à-vis our environment (being good stewards of it) and loving our neighbors (nearby and far away).  The current world order is inherently corrupt, based on violence and exploitation.  We have the power to reduce the extent to which that statement is true, but not to create Utopia, literally “nowhere.”

May we resolve to live in the awareness of the Presence of God, who commands us to follow the Golden Rule.  May we resolve to acknowledge in thoughts, words, and deeds that thoughts and prayers are frequently inadequate and a cop-out anyway; that God demands that we act to improve situations when we can.  May we resolve to grasp that the command in Matthew 25:31-46 to care for the “least of these” is too much for individuals, and frequently challenging for organizations, whether public or private.  May we resolve to recognize Christ and the image of God in those who make us uncomfortable and are quite different from us.  May we resolve to recognize immigrants and refugees as our neighbors.  May we resolve, simply put, to love each other effectively and actively in the name of God and specifically of Jesus, who demonstrated his sacrificial love.

Love cannot wrong a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

–Romans 13:10, The Revised English Bible (1989)

Amen.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 24, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HENRY CARY SHUTTLEWORTH, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

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The Communion of Saints, Part II   1 comment

Above:  All Saints

Image in the Public Domain

THE FEAST OF ALL SAINTS (NOVEMBER 1)

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The Episcopal Church has seven Principal Feasts:  Easter Day, Ascension Day, the Day of Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, All Saints’ Day, Christmas Day, and the Epiphany.

The Feast of All Saints, with the date of November 1, seems to have originated in Ireland in the 700s, then spread to England, then to Europe proper.  November 1 became the date of the feast throughout Western Europe in 835.  There had been a competing date (May 13) in Rome starting in 609 or 610.  Anglican tradition retained the date of November 1, starting with The Book of Common Prayer (1549).  Many North American Lutherans first observed All Saints’ Day with the Common Service Book (1917).  The feast was already present in The Lutheran Hymnary (Norwegian-American, 1913).  The Lutheran Hymnal (Missouri Synod, et al, 1941) also included the feast.  O the less formal front, prayers for All Saints’ Day were present in the U.S. Presbyterian Book of Common Worship (Revised) (1932), the U.S. Methodist Book of Worship for Church and Home (1945), and their successors.

The Feast of All Saints reminds us that we, as Christians, belong to a large family stretching back to the time of Christ.  If one follows the Lutheran custom of commemorating certain key figures from the Hebrew Bible, the family faith lineage predates the conception of Jesus of Nazareth.

At Christ Episcopal Church, Valdosta, Georgia, where I was a member from 1993 to 1996, I participated in a lectionary discussion group during the Sunday School hour.  Icons decorated the walls of the room in which we met.  The teacher of the class called the saints depicted “the family.”

“The family” surrounds us.  It is so numerous that it is “a great cloud of witnesses,” to quote Hebrews 12:1.  May we who follow Jesus do so consistently, by grace, and eventually join that great cloud.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 13, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PETER OF CHELCIC, BOHEMIAN HUSSITE REFORMER; AND GREGORY THE PATRIARCH, FOUNDER OF THE MORAVIAN CHURCH

THE FEAST OF GODFREY THRING, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JANE CREWDSON, ENGLISH QUAKER POET AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF NARAYAN SESHADRI OF JALNI, INDIAN PRESBYTERIAN EVANGELIST AND “APOSTLE TO THE MANGS”

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Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in the mystical body of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord:

Give us grace to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living,

that we may come to those ineffable joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit

lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting.  Amen.

Year A:

Revelation 7:9-17

1 John 3:1-3

Psalm 34:1-10, 22

Matthew 5:1-12

Year B:

Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-9 or Isaiah 25:6-9

Psalm 24

Revelation 21:1-6a

John 11:32-44

Year B:

Daniel 7:1-3, 15-18

Psalm 149

Ephesians 1:11-23

Luke 6:20-31

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2006), 663; also Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 59

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Revelation 7:(2-8), 9-17

1 John 3:1-3

Matthew 5:1-12

Lutheran Service Book (2006), xxiii

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Adapted from this post:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2018/09/13/devotion-for-the-feast-of-all-saints-november-1/

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Qualifying the Called, Part II   1 comment

Above:  Joseph Interprets Pharaoh’s Dreams, by Peter von Cornelius

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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Genesis 41 (portions) or Isaiah 45:1-8

Psalm 25:7-22

1 Corinthians 9:16-27

Matthew 14:22-36

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The common thread uniting Genesis 41 and Isaiah 45:1-8 is a foreigner as a divine agent of deliverance–from famine in Genesis 41 and the Babylonian Exile in Isaiah 45:108.  God is apparently neither a nativist nor a xenophobe.

A spiritual mentor of mine in the 1990s asked one question about any passage of scripture he read.  Gene asked,

What is really going on here?

Water (as in a lake, as in the Sea of Galilee), symbolized chaos, hence the lack of a sea in the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:3).  The author of the Gospel of Matthew was making a point about the power of Christ over chaos.  That was not the only point he was making.  There was also a point about fear undermining faith and what one might otherwise do in Christ.

The beginning of evil is the mistaken belief that we can–and must–act on our own power, apart from God.  God calls us to specific tasks.  God equips us for them.  God qualifies us for them.  God does not call the qualified; no, God calls qualifies the called, as St. Paul the Apostle knew well.

Integrity and generosity are marks of Yahweh,

for he brings sinners back to the path.

Judiciously he guides the humble,

instructing the poor in his way.

–Psalm 25:8-9, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

Our greatest strengths and best intentions are good, but they are woefully inadequate to permit us to complete our vocations from God.  If we admit this, we are wise, to that extent, at least.  God might not call many of us to ease a famine or end an exile, but God has important work for all of us.  May we succeed in it, for divine glory, by grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 27, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THOMAS GALLAUDET AND HENRY WINTER SYLE, EPISCOPAL PRIESTS AND EDUCATORS OF THE DEAF

THE FEAST OF SAINT AMADEUS OF CLERMONT, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK; AND HIS SON, SAINT AMADEUS OF LAUSANNE, FRENCH-SWISS ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT DOMINIC BARBERI, ROMAN CATHOLIC APOSTLE TO ENGLAND

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

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2018/08/27/devotion-for-proper-19-year-a-humes/

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