Archive for the ‘Romans 10’ Category

The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Part VII   1 comment

christ-and-pilate-by-nicholas-ge

Above:  Christ and Pilate, by Nicholas Ge

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:

Nahum 1:1-8

Psalm 33:(1-12) 13-22

Matthew 27:3-31a or Mark 15:2-20a or Luke 23:2-25 or John 18:29-19:16

Romans 10:14, 16-21 or Romans 11:2b-28 (29-32) 33-36

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Judgment and mercy relate to each other in the readings for this Sunday.  Divine judgment and mercy coexist in Nahum 1, with judgment falling on the Neo-Assyrian Empire.  The two factors also coexist in Psalm 33, but with the emphasis on mercy.  Psalm 33, in the context of the readings from the Gospels and Romans 10 and 11, seems ironic, for rejection of Jesus does not fit with

Happy is the nation whose God is the LORD!

happy is the people he has chosen to be his own.

–Psalm 33:12, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

The options for the Gospel reading bring us to the verge of the crucifixion of Jesus, who was, of course, innocent of any offense (in the eyes of God), especially one that any Roman imperial official would consider worthy of crucifixion.  To kill a person that way was to make an example of him, to extinguish him, and to convince (via fear) anyone from doing what he had done or had allegedly done.  It was a form of execution usually reserved for criminals such as insurrectionists.  The fact of the crucifixion of Jesus actually reveals much about the perception of Jesus by certain people.

Jesus was a threat to the religious establishment at a place and in a time when the separation of religion and state did not exist.  He was not an insurrectionist, however.  He was a revolutionary though.  He was a revolutionary who continues to threaten human institutions and social norms by calling their morality into question.

Attempts to domesticate Jesus are nothing new.  We can, however, access the undomesticated Jesus via the Gospels.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 20, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE TWENTY-FOURTH DAY OF ADVENT

THE FEAST OF SAINT DOMINIC OF SILOS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF ARCHIBALD CAMPBELL TAIT, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

THE FEAST OF SAINT PETER CANISIUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM JOHN BLEW, ENGLISH PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2016/12/20/devotion-for-proper-25-year-d/

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Esther VI: Whom to Glorify   1 comment

Ahasuerus and Haman at the Feast of Esther

Above:  Ahasuerus and Haman at the Feast of Esther, by Rembrandt van Rijn

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

Almighty and ever-living God, you are always more ready than we are to pray,

and you gladly give more than we either desire or deserve.

Pour upon us your abundant mercy.

Forgive us those things that weigh on our conscience,

and give us those good things that come only through your Son,

Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 43

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The Assigned Readings:

Esther 6:1-7:6

Psalm 55:16-23

Romans 9:30-10:4

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They attack those at peace with them,

going back on their oaths;

though their mouth is smoother than butter,

enmity is in their hearts;

their words more soothing than oil,

yet sharpened like swords.

–Psalm 55:20-21, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

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Our journey through the Book of Esther takes us through the sixth chapter and part of the seventh.  Ahasuerus, finally growing some part of a spine, recalls that Mordecai had saved his life in Chapter 2.  The monarch asks if the loyal courtier has received a reward for such fidelity and learns that the answer is negative.  Ahasuerus plans to reward Mordecai properly as Haman, who seeks to have the monarch send Mordecai to die, enters the royal presence.  Haman never has the opportunity to say what is on his mind, for Ahasuerus asks him what should happen to the man the monarch wishes to honor.  Haman, imagining that Ahasuerus means to honor him, explains details of an impressive ceremony.  The monarch turns the tables on Haman by instructing him to make those arrangements for Mordecai.  Haman, now in a desperate situation, is about to be in a worse situation, for Ahasuerus responds favorably to Queen Esther’s request for the deliverance of the Jews.  The monarch is angry to learn that Haman has manipulated him into nearly committing genocide.  Haman cringes in terror before the king and queen consort.

I propose that, as one reads that story from the Bible, one should imagine tones of voice and facial expressions.  Doing so makes the account come to life.

I have spent much time contemplating the Law of Moses recently.  Pondering timeless principles illustrated by culturally specific laws which assume a certain level of technology and other factors no longer applicable to many of us today has increased my regard for those principles, such as the truths that we human beings are completely dependent upon God, are responsible for each other, and are responsible to each other.  Obeying divine law is properly a matter of obedience to God, not works-based righteousness.  As Jesus says in John 14:15 (The New Jerusalem Bible, 1985),

If you love me you will keep my commandments.

I suppose, then, that St. Paul the Apostle objected not to the Law of Moses itself but to the misuse of it.  He favored focusing on what God has done, not what we mere mortals have done.  St. Paul was especially fond of fixating on what Jesus has done.

Haman, a proud, spiteful, and amoral man, sought to destroy innocent others to promote himself in the royal court.  Although he was a fictional character, real-life scoundrels who have been willing to sacrifice others (innocent or not) for their own glorification have populated seats of power throughout time.  They have not practiced righteousness, much less works-based righteousness.

May we seek to glorify God, not ourselves.  May we seek to love our fellow human beings as we love ourselves.  May we choose the higher path.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 17, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT PATRICK, BISHOP OF ARMAGH

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2016/03/17/devotion-for-tuesday-after-proper-12-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

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The Kingdom of God   1 comment

Christ Pantocrator

Above:  Christ Pantocrator

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come.

With your abundant grace and might,

free us from the sin that would obstruct your mercy,

that willingly we may bear your redeeming love to all the world,

for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever. Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 19

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The Assigned Readings:

Zephaniah 3:8-13 (December 22)

Zephaniah 3:14-20 (December 23)

Psalm 96 (Both Days)

Romans 10:5-13 (December 22)

Romans 13:11-14 (December 23)

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He will judge the world with righteousness

and the peoples with his truth.

–Psalm 96:13, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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The language of the Kingdom of God functions on more than one level.  It describes the following, with some germane scriptural passages favoring one definition above the other two:

  1. an earthly future when God’s order has replaced corrupt, violent, and exploitative human systems;
  2. an earthly place where God’s order has replaced corrupt, violent, and exploitative human systems; and
  3. Heaven.

There is also a sense of the Kingdom of God being partially manifest in the present; the Regnum Dei has arrived, yet there is more to come.  In a political sense, the Kingdom of God functions as a criticism of violent, corrupt, and economically exploitative human systems.  Thus, for example, any way in which the Judean monarchy or the Roman imperium differed from the Kingdom of God was a way in which it missed the mark–sinned.

One function of divine judgment in the Bible is to prompt repentance.  Judgment has a purifying function, as in Zephaniah 3:8-20, a vision of a righteous time and place.  The restored, purified remnant of Judah will live faithfully in the presence of God.  Furthermore, the passage says, justice will prevail and shame will be absent and unnecessary.

Those who have benefitted from the mercies of God ought to live accordingly, thanking God with their lives, as grace enables them to do so.  The love of God is universal, so the previous sentence applies to everyone.  To respond to perfect love with as close to that as humanly possible does not constitute symmetry, but God accepts it graciously.  The Kingdom of God, the Gospels tell us, is inside us and around us.  It has arrived partially; its fullness will come in time.  May our lives, by grace, indicate something of that part of the Kingdom of God which is present.

As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, whom the Roman Empire executed, may we remember that he entered a violent world in which he was a target from the beginning of this incarnated life.  Yet:

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

–John 1:5, New Revised Standard Version (1989)

The darkness remains, but so does the light.  And God is the King, despite appearances to the contrary.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 27, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ARTHUR CAMPBELL AINGER, ENGLISH EDUCATOR, SCHOLAR, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT AEDESIUS, PRIEST AND MISSIONARY; AND SAINT FRUDENTIUS, FIRST BISHOP OF AXUM AND ABUNA OF THE ETHIOPIAN ORTHODOX TEWAHEDO CHURCH

THE FEAST OF THE VICTIMS OF THE SALEM WITCH TRIALS

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Adapted from this post:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2014/10/27/devotion-for-december-22-and-23-year-b-elca-daily-lectionary/

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Hope for Transformation   1 comment

07406v

Above:  Ruins of Ancient Corinth, Between 1898 and 1946

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-matpc-07406

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The Collect:

O Lord God, enliven and preserve your church with your perpetual mercy.

Without your help, we mortals will fail;

remove far from us everything that is harmful,

and lead us toward all that gives life and salvation,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 46

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The Assigned Readings:

Ezekiel 24:1-14 (Thursday)

Ezekiel 24:15-27 (Friday)

Psalm 119:33-40 (Both Days)

2 Corinthians 12:11-21 (Thursday)

Romans 10:15b-21 (Friday)

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Turn away the reporach which I dread,

because your judgments are good.

Behold, I long for your commandmetns;

in your righteousness preserve my life.

–Psalm 119:39-40, Book of Common Worship (1993)

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The assigned readings from Ezekiel are quite vivid and disturbing. We read an allegory of divine punishment for human sins, such as economic injustice, judicial corruption, and the exploitation of human beings, and the practice of idolatry. And the prophet, as a sign to others, is not even supposed to mourn his wife’s passing. The meaning of this second allegroy is to accept as just the divine punishment and admit complicity in evil deeds. Then transformation will follow and the next phase will ensue.

The yet-unrealized hope of transformation from a bad situation (often of one’s own creation, at least partially) occupies the readings from Romans and 2 Cornithians. God had been stretching out divine hands to

a disobedient and defiant people

–Romans 10:20, The Revised English Bible (1989)

and the Corinthian church had continued to be a troublesome congregation in the lessons, but St. Paul the Apostle persisted in hope of transformation.

May we refrain from abandoning that hope in relation to others and ourselves.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 14, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM CROFT, ANGLICAN ORGANIST AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF JONATHAN MYRICK DANIELS, EPISCOPAL SEMINARIAN AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF MATTHIAS CLAUDIUS, GERMAN LUTHERAN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAXIMILIAN KOLBE, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

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Adapted from This Post:

link

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‘My Father Was A Wandering Aramean.”   1 comment

migrant-workers

Above:  Migrant Workers Cutting Cabbages Near Lake Harbor, Florida, 1939

Image Source = Library of Congress

(http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/fsa2000031504/PP/)

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Deuteronomy 26:1-11 (New Revised Standard Version):

When you have come into the land that the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess, and you possess it, and settle in it, you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from the land that the LORD your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place that the LORD your God will choose as a dwelling for his name. You shall go to the priest who is in office at that time, and say to him,

Today I declare to the LORD your God that I have come into the land that the LORD swore to our ancestors to give us.

When the priest takes the basket from your hand and sets it down before the altar of the LORD your God, you shall make this response before the LORD your God:

A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous. When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, by imposing hard labor on us, we cried to the LORD, the God of our ancestors; the LORD heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. The LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with a terrifying display of power, and with signs and wonders; and he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. So now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground that you, O LORD, have given me.

You shall set it down before the LORD your God and bow down before the LORD your God. Then you, together with the Levites and the aliens who reside among you, shall celebrate with all the bounty that the LORD your God has given to you and to your house.

Psalm 91 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High,

abides under the shadow of the Almighty.

He shall say to the LORD,

“You are my refuge and my stronghold,

my God in whom I put my trust.”

He shall deliver you from the snare of the hunter,

and from the deadly pestilence.

4 He shall cover you with his pinions,

and you shall find refuge under his wings.

You shall not be afraid of any terror by night,

nor of the arrow that flies by day;

Of the plague that stalks in the darkness,

nor of the sickness that lays waste at mid-day.

7  A thousand shall fall at your side

and ten thousand at your right hand,

but it shall not come near you.

8  Your eyes have only to behold

to see the reward of the wicked.

9  Because you have made the LORD your refuge,

and the Most High your habitation,

10  There shall no evil happen to you,

neither shall any plague come near your dwelling.

11  He shall give his angels charge over you,

to keep you in all his ways.

12  They shall bear you in their hands,

lest you dash your foot against a stone.

13  You shall tread upon the lion and adder;

you shall trample the young lion and the serpent under your feet.

14 Because he is bound to me in love,

therefore I will deliver him;

I will protect him, because he knows my name.

15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him;

I am with him in trouble;

I will rescue him and bring him to honor.

16 With long life will I satisfy him,

and show him my salvation.

Romans 10:5-15 (New Revised Standard Version):

Moses writes concerning the righteousness that comes from the law, that

the person who does these things will live by them.

But the righteousness that comes from faith says,

Do not say in your heart, “Who will ascend into heaven?”

(that is, to bring Christ down)

or

“Who will descend into the abyss?”

(that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say?

The word is near you,

on your lips and in your heart

(that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. The scripture says,

No one who believes in him will be put to shame.

For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For,

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written,

How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!

 Luke 4:1-13 (New Revised Standard Version):

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. The devil said to him,

If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.

Jesus answered him,

It is written, “One does not live by bread alone.”

Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him,

To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.

Jesus answered him,

It is written,

“Worship the Lord your God,

and serve him only.”

Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him,

If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written,

“He will command his angels concerning you,

to protect you,”

and

“On their hands they will bear you up,

so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.”

Jesus answered him,

It is said, ”Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”

When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.

The Collect:

Almighty God, whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be tempted by Satan: Come quickly to help us who are assaulted by many temptations; and, as you know the weaknesses of each of us, let each one find you mighty to save; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

First Sunday in Lent, Year A:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/27/first-sunday-in-lent-year-a/

First Sunday in Lent, Year B:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2011/07/24/first-sunday-in-lent-year-b/

Romans 10:

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

Matthew 4 (Parallel to Luke 4):

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/27/first-sunday-in-lent-year-a/

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/01/23/prayer-of-praise-and-adoration-for-the-first-sunday-in-lent/

Prayer of Confession:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/01/23/prayer-of-confession-for-the-first-sunday-in-lent/

Prayer of Dedication:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/01/23/prayer-of-dedication-for-the-first-sunday-in-lent/

Prayer:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/01/23/prayer-for-the-first-sunday-in-lent/

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 Surely, this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, nor it is far away.  It is not in the heavens, that you should say, “Who will go up to heaven for us, and get it for us what we may hear it and observe it?”  Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us, and get it so that we may hear it and observe it?”  No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe.

–Deuteronomy 30:11-14, New Revised Standard Version–Catholic Edition

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Among the benefits of having converted my Bible study program into a lectionary-based blogging project is covering texts repeatedly–usually in different combinations.  Thus parallels, contrasts, similarities, and shades of meaning emerge.  Nevertheless, a frustration arises:  Sometimes I have difficulty not being redundant in my analysis.  Sometimes I am redundant in my analysis.  So, when I read the Lukan version of the temptation of Jesus, I ask myself how I can avoid repeating what I have already written.

The readings fit together nicely.  Luke 4:1-13 quotes Psalm 91:11-12.  Moses, in Deuteronomy 26:1-11, reminds the descendants of escaped slaves what God has done for them before they enter the Promised Land.  God is like what God has done.  Such grace requires of its recipients a favorable response to both God and fellow human beings.  Paul, in Romans 10:5-13, provides one of the famous passages about there being no distinction between Jews and Gentiles in Jesus.  Salvation is available to all via Jesus, who resisted temptations successfully.

The word of God is in each of us.  The Word of God has made the word of God manifest.  Jesus, of course, is the Word of God.  The word of God is everything God says–from our temporal perspective, has said, is saying, and will say.  We have benefited much from grace, so we must not hoard it for ourselves.  My ancestor was not a wandering Aramean; no, he was a Virginia farmer with eighteen children, most of whom did not live to adulthood.  But the principle holds.  There are “wandering Arameans” wherever we turn.  May we resist the temptation to treat them and to think of them scornfully.  God also loves them.  The word of God is also within them.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 7, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT DOMITION OF HUY, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP

THE FEAST OF HARRIET STARR CANNON, COFOUNDER OF THE COMMUNITY OF SAINT MARY

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROSE VENERINI, FOUNDER OF THE VENERINI SISTERS

THE FEAST OF SAINT THEODARD OF NARBONNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP, AND SAINTS JUSTUS AND PASTOR, MARTYRS

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Adapted from this post:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/05/07/first-sunday-in-lent-year-c/

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This is post #600 of BLOGA THEOLOGICA.

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Stereotypes of God   1 comment

Above:  The Prophet Joel

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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:

Joel 1:1-20 (January 21)

Joel 2:1-17 (January 22)

Psalm 51 (Morning–January 21)

Psalm 54 (Morning–January 22)

Psalms 85 and 47 (Evening–January 21)

Psalms 28 and 99 (Evening–January 17)

Romans 10:1-21 (January 21)

Romans 11:1-24 (January 22)

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Some Related Posts:

Joel 1-2:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/27/first-day-of-lent-ash-wednesday/

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

Romans 10-11:

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

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/02/11/proper-15-year-a/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/13/week-of-proper-25-saturday-year-1/

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Rend your hearts

Rather than your garment,

And turn back to the LORD, your God.

For He is gracious and compassionate,

slow to anger, abounding in kindness,

And renouncing punishment.

Who knows but He may turn and relent,

And leave a blessing behind

For meal offering and drink offering

To the LORD your God?

–Joel 2:13-14, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

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Now suppose that some branches were broken off, and you are wild olive, grafted among the rest to share with the others the rich sap of the olive tree….

–Romans 11:17, The New Jerusalem Bible

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Sometimes a lectionary is too choppy.  At such occasions extended readings are appropriate.  Such is the case with the readings for January 21 and 22 on the daily lectionary from the Lutheran Service Book (2006).

The Book of Joel, from the Persian period (539-332 B.C.E.) of Jewish history, opens with frightening images.  Read the first chapter, O reader of this post, for full effect.  Locusts, flames, and other forces have devastated the land.  And, as Chapter 2 opens, the terrifying Day of the LORD approaches.  The earth trembles, the sky shakes, and stars go dark.  Yet even then there is the possibility of forgiveness, assuming repentance, or turning around.

Paul spends Romans 10 and 11 dealing with the question of Jews who have rejected Jesus.  In this context he likens Gentiles to branches grafted onto the tree of Judaism.  Gentiles, he advises, ought not to become proud and dismissive.  As much as there is divine mercy, there is also divine judgment–for Jews and Gentiles alike.

There is an often repeated misunderstanding about God as He comes across in the Hebrew Scriptures.  The God of the Old Testament, we hear, is mean, violent, and vengeful.  This is a gross oversimplification–read Joel 2 for evidence of that statement.  I am convinced that some of the violent imagery and some of the stories containing it result from humans projecting their erroneous assumptions upon God.  Yet I refuse to say that all–or even most–of such incidents flow from that practice.  I seek, O reader, to avoid any stereotype–frightful or cuddly–about God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 31, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARIA SKOBTSOVA, ORTHODOX MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT BENJAMIN, ORTHODOX DEACON AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF FRANCIS ASBURY, U.S. METHODIST BISHOP

THE FEAST OF JOHN DONNE, POET AND ANGLICAN PRIEST

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Adapted from this post:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/03/31/devotion-for-january-21-and-22-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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“The Word is Very Near You….”   1 comment

Above:  A Scroll of the Book of Esther

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FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #1

Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28 (New Revised Standard Version):

Jacob settled in the land where his father had lived as an alien, the land of Canaan. This is the story of the family of Jacob.

Joseph, being seventeen years old, was shepherding the flock with his brothers; he was a helper to the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives; and Joseph brought a bad report of them to their father. Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his children, because he was the son of his old age; and he had made him a long robe with sleeves. But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him.

Now his brothers went to pasture their father’s flock near Shechem. And Israel said to Joseph,

Are not your brothers pasturing the flock at Shechem? Come, I will send you to them.

He answered,

Here I am.

So he said to him,

Go now, see if it is well with your brothers and with the flock; and bring word back to me.

So he sent him from the valley of Hebron.

He came to Shechem, and a man found him wandering in the fields; the man asked him,

What are you seeking?

He said,

I am seeking my brothers; tell me, please, where they are pasturing the flock.

The man said,

They have gone away, for I heard them say, “Let us go to Dothan.”

So Joseph went after his brothers, and found them at Dothan. They saw him from a distance, and before he came near to them, they conspired to kill him. They said to one another,

Here comes this dreamer. Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; then we shall say that a wild animal has devoured him, and we shall see what will become of his dreams.

But when Reuben heard it, he delivered him out of their hands, saying,

Let us not take his life.

Reuben said to them,

Shed no blood; throw him into this pit here in the wilderness, but lay no hand on him

– that he might rescue him out of their hand and restore him to his father. So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the long robe with sleeves that he wore; and they took him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it.

Then they sat down to eat; and looking up they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, with their camels carrying gum, balm, and resin, on their way to carry it down to Egypt. Then Judah said to his brothers,

What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.

And his brothers agreed. When some Midianite traders passed by, they drew Joseph up, lifting him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt.

Psalm 105:1-6, 16-22, 45b (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Give thanks to the LORD and call upon his Name;

make known his deeds among the peoples.

Sing to him, sing praises to him,

and speak of all his marvelous works.

3 Glory in his holy Name;

let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.

Search for the LORD and his strength;

continually seek his face.

5 Remember the marvels he has done,

his wonders and the judgments of his mouth,

O offspring of Abraham his servant,

O children of Jacob his chosen.

16 Then he called for a famine in the land

and destroyed the supply of bread.

17 He sent a man before them,

Joseph, who was sold as a slave.

18 They bruised his feet in fetters;

his neck they put in an iron collar.

19 Until his prediction came to pass,

the word of the LORD tested him.

20 The king sent and released him;

the ruler of the peoples set him free.

21 He set him as a master over his household,

as a ruler over all his possessions,

22 To instruct his princes according to his will

and to teach his elders wisdom.

45b Hallelujah!

FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #2

1 Kings 19:9-18 (New Revised Standard Version):

At Horeb, the mount of God, Elijah came to a cave, and spent the night there. Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying,

What are you doing here, Elijah?

He answered,

I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.

He said,

Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.

Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said,

What are you doing here, Elijah?

He answered,

I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.

Then the LORD said to him,

Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram. Also you shall anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel; and you shall anoint Elisha son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah as prophet in your place. Whoever escapes from the sword of Hazael, Jehu shall kill; and whoever escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha shall kill. Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.

Psalm 85:8-13 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

8 I will listen to what the LORD God is saying,

for he is speaking peace to his faithful people

and to those who turn their hearts to him.

Truly, his salvation is very near to those who fear him,

that his glory may dwell in our land.

10 Mercy and truth have met together;

righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

11 Truth shall spring up from the earth,

and righteousness shall look down from heaven.

12 The LORD will indeed grant prosperity,

and our land will yield its increase.

13 Righteousness shall go before him,

and peace shall be a pathway for his feet.

SECOND READING

Romans 10:5-15 (New Revised Standard Version):

Moses writes concerning the righteousness that comes from the law, that

the person who does these things will live by them.

But the righteousness that comes from faith says,

Do not say in your heart, “Who will ascend into heaven?”

(that is, to bring Christ down)

or

“Who will descend into the abyss?”

(that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say?

The word is near you,

on your lips and in your heart

(that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. The scripture says,

No one who believes in him will be put to shame.

For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For,

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written,

How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!

GOSPEL READING

Matthew 14:22-33 (New Revised Standard Version):

Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying,

It is a ghost!

And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said,

Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.

Peter answered him,

Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.

He said,

Come.

So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out,

Lord, save me!

Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him,

You of little faith, why did you doubt?

When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying,

Truly you are the Son of God.

The Collect:

Grant to us, Lord, we pray, the spirit to think and do always those things that are right, that we, who cannot exist without you, may by you be enabled to live according to your will; 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 chosen to take my focus from Romans.  Thus I refer you, O reader, to the following links, for further details:

For Genesis–http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/23/week-of-proper-9-thursday-year-1/

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

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Consider these words, put into the mouth of Moses toward the end of the Israelite sojourn in the wilderness:

For this commandment which I command you this day is not too hard for you, neither is it far off.  It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up for us to heaven, and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’  Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say ‘Who will go over to the sea for us, and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’  But the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.

See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil.   If you obey commandments of the LORD your God which I command you this day, by loving the LORD your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his ordinances, they you shall live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you are entering to take possession of it.  But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you this day, that you shall perish….  (Deuteronomy 30:11-18a, Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition)

Paul was obviously familiar with this passage, for he channeled it in this day’s excerpt from Romans.  God’s message is not remote, he says; it is near us.  Indeed, the Hebrew prophets proclaimed this word, and many Jewish scriptures, originally oral tradition, did as well.  So did Jesus, God incarnate.  How much more concrete could God get than that?  So, yes, the word is very near us.  If we do not perceive it, we need to pay closer attention.

The reading from Deuteronomy describes following God as the path to life and the alternative as the route to death.  Life and death are both physical and spiritual in this context.  I typed only part of the germane passage; a portion I chose not to type concludes, “therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live….” (Deuteronomy 30:19)  But we know how the story unfolded, do we not?  Read the excerpt from 1 Kings; pious advocacy of monotheism by a portion of the population did not prevent the widespread practice of polytheism.  Thus hindsight, in the wake of the Babylonian Exile, informs the theology of final, edited version of much of the Hebrew Bible:  Spiritual infidelity led to the decline, division, and extinction of the Jewish kingdoms.

YHWH was a different kind of deity relative to the alleged members of pantheons.  As Professor Richard Elliott Friedman writes in his Commentary on the Torah:

In comparing Israel’s monotheism to pagan religion, we must appreciate that the difference between one and many is not the same sort of thing as the difference between two and three or between six and twenty.  It is not numerical.  It is a different concept of what a god is.  A God who is outside of nature, known through acts of history, a creator, unseeable, without a mate, who makes legal covenants with humans, who is one, is a revolution in religious conception. (Page 586)

The account from 1 Kings reinforces this point.  Adherents of other deities believed that they made themselves known in forces of nature, such as earthquakes, fire,  and mighty winds.  But YHWH did the opposite.  God does that often.  We find God in silence, not noise.  And we Christians worship God, who took on human form and became both fully human and fully divine.  (I have given up trying to explain this mystery and chosen to revel in it instead.)  God refuses to fit into our theological boxes.  If we cannot deal with this reality in a healthy way, then we need to read the great J. B. Phillips book, Your God is Too Small.

The word is near us.  It is present in the silence around us, as well as in any place we read or hear God speaking–certainly in the Bible, but not just there.  The word can also be present in other literature, as well as in nature.  The word is present anywhere the Holy Spirit speaks to us, including our minds.  So the word is around us and inside us.  Do we hear it?  Do we really hear it?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 31, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CHARLES FREDERICK MACKENZIE, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF CENTRAL AFRICA

THE FEAST OF MENNO SIMONS, MENNONITE LEADER

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Adapted from this post:

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

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