Archive for the ‘Ark of the Covenant’ Tag

Bringing the Ark of the Covenant to the First Temple and Dedicating the First Temple   Leave a comment

Above:  Dedicating the Temple

Image in the Public Domain

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

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

PART LIX

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

1 Kings 8:1-66

2 Chronicles 5:1-7:22

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

The LORD is King;

he has put on splendid apparrel;

the LORD has put on his apparel

and girded himself with strength.

He has made the world so sure

that it cannot be moved.

From since the world began, your throne has been established,

you are from everlasting.

The waters have lifted up, O LORD,

the waters have lifted up their voice;

the waters have lifted up their pounding waves.

Mightier than the sound of many waters,

mightier than the breakers of the sea,

mightier is the LORD who dwells on high.

Your testimonies are very sure,

and holiness adorns your house, O LORD,

for ever and for evermore.

–Psalm 93, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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

Many ancient historians wrote long speeches they attributed to various people, most of them dead already.  These historians knew they were not writing transcripts.  The best ancient historians, however, summarized what those figures had said.

The prayer of King Solomon at the dedication of the First Temple probably contains material from the actual prayer, about 500 years after the Exodus.  However, the prayer, in its final form, contains material from as late as the postexilic period.  The petitions for divine pardon certainly fit the postexilic period.

The First Temple existed, religiously, to house the Ark of the Covenant (the throne of God on the Earth) and to function as the site of ritual sacrifices.  Politically, the First Temple helped to legitimize the Davidic Dynasty.  The First Temple, not a figurative box for God to fit into, nevertheless became a political site, as the Second Temple did.  There was no separation of religion and state in ancient Israel, Judah, and Judea.

Our readings for this post refer to the mystery of God, manifest in a cloud that filled the Temple.  The imagery of the divine cloud went back to the period immediately following the Exodus from Egypt.  God remained other yet nearby.  God remained dangerous to get too close to yet nearby.  The Holy of Holies was always dimly lit, for seeing the Ark of the Covenant was supposedly perilous.

That understanding of God is foreign to my theology.  I, as a Christian, affirm the Incarnation.  I state without a doubt that Jesus, the incarnate form of the Second Person of the Trinity (however that worked) ate meals with people.  Jesus dining in a home is an image that undercuts the lethal holiness of God in 1 Kings.  God, I affirm, is untamable.  God refuses to fit into our theological boxes, which serve primarily to reinforce our psyches.  And God is approachable.  God seeks us.  God pursues us not to condemn us but to embrace us.

Do we want to embrace God in return?  The choice is ours many times daily.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 21, 2020 COMMON ERA

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

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

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

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

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

Preparation to Build the First Temple   Leave a comment

Above:  The Temple of Solomon

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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

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

PART LVII

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

1 Kings 5:1-18 (Protestant)

1 Kings 5:15-32 (Jewish and Roman Catholic)

3 Kingdoms 5:15-32 (Eastern Orthodox)

2 Chronicles 2:1-18

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

Those who act deceitfully shall not dwell in my house,

and those who tell lies shall not continue in my sight.

–Psalm 101:7, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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

Given that I have already covered the problems of forced labor and of the discrepancies between 1 Kings 5:13/27 (depending on versification) and 2 Chronicles 2:16, I choose to focus on another passage.

Yet who is really able to build [God] a house, since the heavens and even the highest heavens cannot contain him?

–2 Chronicles 2:5a, The New American Bible (1991)

I have stood inside magnificent, beautiful cathedrals.  I have felt spiritually at home in them, for I understand the liturgical importance of sacred space.  I admit without any reluctance that I am a ritualist.  Architecture and liturgy, hand-in-hand, set the stage properly.  They take one of ordinary life.  I also know that, in the case of many medieval cathedrals, the construction of those edifices was an expression of faith.  I eschew the Puritanical-Pietistic suspicion of “externals” that minimizes the importance of sacred spaces and proper rituals.

At the same time, I take King Solomon’s point.  Even the vault of heaven cannot contain God.  No structure, therefore, regardless of how grand it is, can contain God, either.  However, containing God is not the purpose of such buildings.  Yes, the First Temple contained the Ark of the Covenant and was the site of sacrifices.  God did not dwell solely at the First Temple, though.

I can find God in many places.  God speaks to me in my thoughts, via the Bible, by means of people, in rituals, and via nature.  God has more than one channel, so to speak.  And nothing–no building, no denomination, no intellectual category, no aspect of nature–can contain God.  God can, however, speak through them.  And we ought to listen.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 21, 2020 COMMON ERA

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

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

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

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

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

Bringing the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem   Leave a comment

Above:  David Dancing in the Presence of the Ark of the Covenant

Image in the Public Domain

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

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

PART XXXIII

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

2 Samuel 6:1-23

1 Chronicles 13:1-14

1 Chronicles 15:1-16:43

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

Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised;

in the city of our God is his holy hill.

Beautiful and lofty, the joy of all the earth, is the hill of Zion,

the very center of the world and the city of the great King.

God is in her citadels;

he is known to be her sure refuge.

–Psalm 48:1-3, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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

The versions from 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles are similar yet different.  The chronology differs; 1 Chronicles places the beginning of the moving of the Ark of the Covenant and the death of Uzzah (1 Chronicles 13 and 2 Samuel 6) prior to David’s defeat of the Philistines (1 Chronicles 14 and 2 Samuel 5).  The account from 1 Chronicles also omits the material from 2 Samuel 6:20-23.  The two versions also differ regarding the sacrifices in Jerusalem–an ox and a fatling (2 Samuel 6:13) or seven bulls and seven rams (1 Chronicles 15:26).  Furthermore, 1 Chronicles adds material, such as list of Levites and musicians, as well as a psalm of Thanksgiving.  Both versions have David dance in public while wearing only a small apron, as well as Michal seeing him and despising him.

At least seven points warrant consideration.

  1. Uzzah meant well.  He was not responsible for the Ark of the Covenant being on an oxcart and for the oxen stumbling.  The proper way to carry the Ark was on poles, over human shoulders.  David was responsible for the manner of transportation of the Ark.
  2. Lethal holiness struck again.  Getting too approximate to God was perilous.  This constituted a change from the presentation of God in the beginning of Genesis, when God walked in the Garden of Eden and took strolls with Abraham.
  3. Michal loved David until she did not.  No Biblical text indicates, however. that David loved her.  David treated Michal badly.
  4. David’s dance was lewd.
  5. David’s psalm of thanksgiving includes a variety of universalism–God is the God of all the Earth, not a tribal or national deity.  The case of Obed-edom, a Gittite (2 Samuel 6:9-11; 1 Chronicles 13:13-14) fits neatly with this theme.
  6. The removal of the Ark of the Covenant from Baalim/Baalam/Kiriath-jearim to Jerusalem bolstered David’s royal authority.
  7. The account in 1 Chronicles portrays David in a more flattering light than the version in 2 Samuel does.  1-2 Samuel offers more honesty about David’s flaws than 1 Chronicles does.

I arrive at a four-part summary.

  1. I dislike David.
  2. I sympathize with Michal.
  3. I sympathize with Uzzah.
  4. As much as I grasp reverence for God, I also affirm that the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity as Jesus of Nazareth contradicts lethal holiness.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 30, 2020 COMMON ERA

PROPER 17:  THE THIRTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR A

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

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

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

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

David Versus the Philistines   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of David

Image in the Public Domain

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

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

PART XXXII

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

2 Samuel 5:17-25

1 Chronicles 14:1-17

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

Save me, O God, by your Name;

in your might, defend my cause.

Hear my prayer, O God;

give ear to the words of my mouth.

–Psalm 54:1-2, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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

Saul became the King of Israel with a charge to defeat the Philistine threat.  He failed for nearly twenty years.  Some time after David became the undisputed King of Israel, he defeated Philistine forces and liberated Israel from that threat, for a while.  (2 Samuel 5:17 is vague regarding the passage of time.)  God was fighting for Israel and advising David, the texts emphasized.

These passages contain references to previous passages.  The Israelite capture of idols as war booty indicates the opposite of the Philistine capture of the Ark of the Covenant (1 Samuel 4).  Exodus 14:25 and Judges 5:20 also mention God taking a side and intervening.

Interestingly, “Baal” functions as a name of God in 2 Samuel 5:20.  This is not entirely surprising.  I know of other religious connections between the Israelites and their neighbors.  For example, some of the Psalms indicate Egyptian or Canaanite influences; the texts use extant hymns as models.  Also, “El” and “Elohim” are Jewish names of God.  A student of ancient comparative religion may know that El was the chief Canannite deity and the presiding officer of the divine council, the Elohim.  The use of “Baal” for YHWH in 2 Samuel 5:20 prompts me to wonder about Ishbaal, son of Saul.  I wonder of the “man of Baal” was the “man of YHWH,” literally.  “Baal” means “Lord” or “Master.”  Perhaps the most famous Baal is Baal Peor, the Canaanite storm god and one the Baals.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 30, 2020 COMMON ERA

PROPER 17:  THE THIRTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR A

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

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

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

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

The Philistines Return the Ark of the Covenant   Leave a comment

Above: The Ark of the Covenant in the Temple of Dagon

Image in the Public Domain

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

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

PART VI

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

1 Samuel 5:1-7:1

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

Let God arise, and let his enemies be scattered;

let those who hate him flee before him.

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

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

After the Philistine army captured the Ark of the Covenant (1 Samuel 4)…

A pseudo-documentary on the so-called History Channel argued (without evidence, of course) that the Ark of the Covenant contained a nuclear reactor.  (Who knew?)  That explanation was absurd.  The Ark, however, was dangerous, according to Biblical texts.  Although young Samuel slept near to it (1 Samuel 3), touching the object (even by accident or to prevent it from falling) and looking into it was lethal.  The holiness of God was dangerous to mere mortals; people who acted wisely dared not get too close.

Another prominent theme in this story is the sovereignty of God.  Even a statue of Dagon, a fish-god associated with corn and grain, fell face-down before the Ark then lost its head and hands (5:3-4).

The affliction later in Chapter 5 varies according to translations.  TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985) renders the germane Hebrew word as “hemorrhoids.”  The New Revised Standard Version (1989), however, renders that Hebrew word as “tumors,” however.  The best academic guess seems to be Bubonic Plague.  Yet, based on archaeological evidence of phallic imagery at the site, venereal disease is another surmise.

A close reading of the Hebrew Bible reveals shifts in theology.  One may recall that, in Genesis 18, Abraham walked (literally) and haggled with God face-to-face.  One may also remember that, by the time of Exodus 19:23, Israelites were not supposed to get too close to Mount Sinai when Moses and God were on the mountain together.  God did not change; theology did.

I, as a Christian, affirm the accessibility of God.  I point to the Incarnation.

To return to the main point, the story emphasizes the sovereignty of God.  No human power or concept can contain God.  God disrupts that which God should disrupt.  People cannot tame God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 14, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM CROFT, ANGLICAN ORGANIST AND COMPOSER

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

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

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

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

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

The Philistine Army Captures the Ark of the Covenant   Leave a comment

Above:  The Ark of the Covenant, by James Tissot

Image in the Public Domain

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

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

PART V

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

1 Samuel 4:1b-22

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

O God, you have cast us off and broken us;

you have been angry;

oh, take us back to you again.

–Psalm 60:1, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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

Military defeat (which God allowed, according to the text) of the Israelite forces did not constitute the defeat of God.  Philistine capture of the Ark of the Covenant (in lieu of the statue of a deity, the conventional booty) did not constitute the defeat of God.  Military defeat of Israelite forces did, however, constitute a crisis.

The Ark of the Covenant symbolized the presence of God.  The Ark’s unprecedented presence on the battlefield indicated the belief that the Ark was a talisman.

The deaths of Hophni and Phinehas (per 1 Samuel 2:24) and of Eli (once he heard of the capture of the Ark of the Covenant, not the deaths of his wayward sons) added to the seriousness of the situation.  Had the glory of God departed from Israel?  The mother of Ichabod thought so.

I wonder how Ichabod felt going through life with a name meaning “no glory.”

This story, in context, contains no hint of pervasive national wickedness for which God punished Israel via the Philistines.  One must, therefore, wonder why the defeat occurred.  A prosaic answer would entail an explanation of military strategies, of course.  That, however, is not the point of this story.  No, the point relates to the sovereignty of God.

The defeat was ironic.  The Philistines were polytheists who misquoted the history of the plagues of Egypt (Exodus 7:8-11:10), placing them in the wilderness, oddly.  Yet, according to 1 Samuel 4, these Philistines were agents of God.  They were about to learn how little they understood about the God of the Israelites.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 14, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM CROFT, ANGLICAN ORGANIST AND COMPOSER

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

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

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

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

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

The Church Militant and the Church Triumphant   2 comments

Above:  Saint John on Patmos, by the Limbourg Brothers

Image in the Public Domain

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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

Isaiah 25:6-9

Psalm 24

Revelation 7:9-17

John 11:32-44

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

Three of the four readings for this day come from the context of tribulation.  The other reading (Psalm 24) is a text composed for the procession of the Ark of the Covenant.

God is the King of Glory, as Psalm 24 attests, but appearances contradict that truth much of the time.  The apocalyptic tone on Isaiah 25:6-9 and Revelation 7:9-17 confirms the discrepancy between appearances and reality.  In John 11, with the story of the raising of Lazarus, immediately precedes the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem (John 12).  Furthermore, the Gospel of John tells us, the raising of Lazarus was the last straw before the decision to execute Jesus (John 11:47f).

Despite the violence and other perfidy of the world, we read, God will remain faithful to the righteous and will defeat evil.  That will be a day of rejoicing and the beginning of a new age.  To be precise, it will be a day of rejoicing for the righteous and of gnashing of teeth for the unrighteous.

That day seems to be far off, does it not?  Perhaps it is.  I dare not add my name to the long list of those who have predicted the date of the parousia.  I do, however, rejoice that the Church Triumphant exists and constitutes that great cloud of witnesses surrounding the Church Militant.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 26, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ANNE AND JOACHIM, PARENTS OF SAINT MARY OF NAZARETH

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

Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2019/07/26/devotion-for-all-saints-day-year-b-humes/

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

Psalms 82-85   1 comment

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

POST XXXII OF LX

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

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.

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

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

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

Show us, O LORD, Your faithfulness;

grant us your deliverance.

–Psalm 85:8, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

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

Show us, O Yahweh, your kindness,

and give us your prosperity.

–Psalm 85:8, Mitchell J. Dahood translation

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

Show us your steadfast love, O LORD,

and grant us your salvation.

–Psalm 85:7, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

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

LORD, show us your love

and grant us your deliverance.

–Psalm 85:7, The Revised English Bible (1989)

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

The act of comparing translations can yield much.  For example, the Hebrew word hesed can mean “faithfulness,” “kindness,” “love,” and “steadfast love.”  Likewise, another Hebrew word can mean “deliverance,” “salvation,” and “prosperity.”  In the context of Psalm 85 it is deliverance from the Babylonian Exile and prosperity that only God can provide.  Related to these matters is the fact that “righteousness” and “justice” are the same in the Bible.  I bring up this point because of Psalm 82, which tells us that God’s justice is universal.

The author of Psalm 83 assumes that enemies of ancient Israel are automatically enemies of God also.  Thus he has no hesitation to ask God to smite them.  Yet, as we read in Psalm 81, God has enemies in ancient Israel also.  Furthermore, a recurring theme in the Hebrew Bible is the faithfulness of certain Gentiles, including the prostitute Rahab and her family (Joshua 2 and 6) and the Aramean general Naaman (2 Kings 5), both from national enemies.  In the Book of Jonah, a work of satirical fiction from the post-Babylonian Exilic period, God recognizes the possibility that enemies of ancient Israel will repent and desires that they do so.   Reality is more complicated than the author of Psalm 83, in his understandable grief and anger, perceives it to be.

A faithful response to God includes both gratitude and obedience.  This segue brings me to Psalm 84, my favorite psalm, one which Johannes Brahms set to music gloriously in A German Requiem.  The psalmist writes as a pilgrim to the Temple at Jerusalem.  He approaches the Presence of God humbly and filled with awe.  The author delights to be in the Presence of God, which he understands to exist physically (via the Ark of the Covenant) at the Temple.

If Rahab and her family could become part of Israel, surely divine judgment and mercy crossed national barriers in antiquity.  If the Gentile Ruth could become the grandmother of David, YHWH was never just a national deity.  If the alien Naaman could recognize the power of YHWH, there was an opening to Gentiles at the time of the divided monarchy.

If divine justice is universal, as I affirm, we will do well to cease imagining that God is on our side and strive instead to be on God’s side.  We can succeed, by grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 14, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM CROFT, ANGLICAN ORGANIST AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF JONATHAN MYRICK DANIELS, EPISCOPAL SEMINARIAN AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF MATTHIAS CLAUDIUS, GERMAN LUTHERAN WRITER

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

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

Keeping Faith, Part I   1 comment

Ark of the Covenant in the Temple of Dagon

Above:  The Ark of the Covenant in the Temple of Dagon

Image in the Public Domain

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

The Collect:

O God, judge eternal, you love justice and hate oppression,

and you call us to share your zeal for truth.

Give us courage to take our stand with all victims of bloodshed and greed,

and, following your servants and prophets, to look to the pioneer and perfecter of our faith,

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

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 45

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

The Assigned Readings:

Joshua 7:1, 10-26 (Thursday)

1 Samuel 5:1-12 (Friday)

1 Samuel 6:1-16 (Saturday)

Psalm 82 (All Days)

Hebrews 10:26-31 (Thursday)

Hebrews 10:32-39 (Friday)

Matthew 24:15-27 (Saturday)

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

God takes his stand in the divine assembly,

surrounded by the gods he gives judgement.

–Psalm 82:1, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

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

In 1 Samuel 5 and 6 Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant, which proved to be more than they knew how to handle.  Idols bowed down to the Ark.  The Ashdodites came down with what was most likely venereal disease, although other translations include hemorrhoids and the bubonic plague.  The Philistines returned the Ark promptly.

God is more than we mere mortals can handle or contain.  Some of our theological propositions are true (at least partially), but the combination of these does not equal the truth of God.  There is always a glorious mystery of divinity; one should accept and embrace it.  We ought to persevere in faith and good works, especially when doing so is difficult.  Doing the right thing during good times is easy, and every day is a good day for faith and good works.  Yet keeping faith during challenging times is when, as an old saying tells us, the rubber meets the road.  When we fail, we have an obligation to express remorse and to repent.

Writing these words and creating this post is easy.  Living these words is more difficult, however.  I have to work on that task daily.  The results vary from day to day and from time of day to time of day.  To keep trying is crucial.  To do so while trusting in God, who is always somewhat mysterious, and in the existence of grace makes succeeding more likely.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 23, 2016 COMMON ERA

WEDNESDAY IN HOLY WEEK

THE FEAST OF GEORGE RUNDLE PRYNNE, ANGLICAN PRIEST, POET, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT GREGORY THE ILLUMINATOR, PATRIARCH OF ARMENIA

THE FEAST OF HEINRICH VON LAUFENBERG, GERMAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT TURIBIUS OF MOGROVEJO, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF LIMA

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

Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2016/03/23/devotion-for-thursday-friday-and-saturday-before-proper-15-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

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

Christ, the Temple of Yahweh   1 comment

Temple of Solomon

Above:   The Temple of Solomon

Image Scanned by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Christ, the Temple of Yahweh

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

The Collect:

Merciful Lord God, we do not presume to come before you

trusting in our own righteousness,

but in your great and abundant mercies.

Revive our faith, we pray; heal our bodies, and mend our communities,

that we may evermore dwell in your Son,

Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 38

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

The Assigned Readings:

1 Kings 6:23-38 (Thursday)

1 Kings 8:14-21 (Friday)

1 Kings 8:31-40 (Saturday)

Psalm 96:1-9 (All Days)

2 Corinthians 5:11-17 (Thursday)

2 Corinthians 11:1-6 (Friday)

Luke 4:31-37 (Saturday)

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

Great is Yahweh, worthy of all praise,

more awesome than any of the gods.

All the gods of the nations are idols.

–Psalm 96:4-5a, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

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

King Solomon presided over the construction of the first Temple at Yahweh.  That process entailed forced labor, unfortunately.  That structure functioned both religiously, housing the Ark of the Covenant, and politically, boosting the monarchy.  The crown controlled the place where God dwelt, according to the orthodoxy of the day.  How convenient was that?

Jesus engaged in conflicts with people attached to the successor of Solomon’s Temple.  The Second Temple, expanded by the order of King Herod the Great as a political and self-serving policy, was the seat of collaboration with the occupying Roman forces.  Yes, much of the Jewish populace of Palestine had great respect for the Temple, but the fact of the exploitative system rooted in that place remained.  That Jesus competed with the Temple and the priesthood, healing people and offering reconciliation with God, contributed to animosity between him and people invested in the Temple system financially.

Christ became the new Temple, the figure via whom people can become new creations.  He was the figure whom St. Paul the Apostle proclaimed jealously, defending his version of the Christian gospel.  Christ became the timeless Temple free of corruption, the Temple no power can control or destroy.

May all nations worship God at that Temple.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 28, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE THIRD SUNDAY IN LENT, YEAR C 

THE FEAST OF THOMAS BINNEY, ENGLISH CONFORMIST MINISTER, LITURGIST, AND “ARCHBISHOP OF NONCONFORMITY”

THE FEAST OF ANDREW REED, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, HUMANITARIAN, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF ANNA JULIA HAYWOOD COOPER AND ELIZABETH EVELYN WRIGHT, AFRICAN-AMERICAN EDUCATORS

THE FEAST OF ELIZABETH C. CLEPHANE, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN HYMN WRITER

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

Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2016/02/28/devotion-for-thursday-friday-and-saturday-before-proper-4-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

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