Archive for the ‘Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle’ Tag

Hope II   1 comment

Above:  The Conversion of Saint Paul, by Luca Giordano

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:

Acts 9:1-22

Psalm 98

2 Peter 3:1-7

Mark 12:28-34

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In Mark 12, after Jesus rebuffed two trick questions and evaded a political trap just a few days prior to his crucifixion, he heard a sincere question.  His reply was consistent, with the Hebrew Bible and Rabbi Hillel:  Love God fully and one’s neighbor as oneself.

Saul of Tarsus, while zealously participating in making Christians martyrs, thought he was loving God fully.  God had a different opinion.

All things have continued as they were from as far  back as documentation and memory recount.  We say that God is the king yet we read headlines and consume news stories that seem to indicate otherwise.  Doubting ans scoffing are understandable results.  Nevertheless, we must retain hope that divine justice will eventually prevail; we must never surrender to despair.  Perhaps God will work through us to improve the world as we cease to seek excuses for disobeying the Golden Rule while pretending to honor it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 28, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN GERARD, ENGLISH JESUIT PRIEST; AND SAINT MARY WARD, FOUNDRESS OF THE INSTITUTE OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

THE FEAST OF SAINTS PLUTARCH, MARCELLA, POTANOMINAENA, AND BASILIDES OF ALEXANDRIA, MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF SAINT TERESA MARIA MASTERS, FOUNDRESS OF THE INSTITUTE OF THE SISTERS OF THE HOLY FACE

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM AND JOHN MUNDY, ENGLISH COMPOSERS AND MUSICIANS

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Adapted from this post:

https://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2019/06/28/devotion-for-the-sixth-sunday-of-easter-year-b-humes/

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The Glory of the Lord, Part III   1 comment

Temple of Solomon

Above:  The Temple of Solomon

I scanned the image from a Bible salesman’s sample book from the late 1800s.  The volume is falling apart, unfortunately, but it is quite nice to have nevertheless.

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The Collect:

O God, form the minds of your faithful people into one will.

Make us love what you command and desire what you promise,

that, amid all changes of this world, our hearts

may be fixed where true joy is found,

Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you

and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 35

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The Assigned Readings:

2 Chronicles 5:2-14

Psalm 29

Acts 26:19-29

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And in the temple of the LORD

all are crying, “Glory!”

–Psalm 29:9, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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The reading from 2 Chronicles depicts the Presence/glory of YHWH filling the new Temple at Jerusalem as a cloud, just as Exodus 40 depicts the divine Presence/glory filling the Tent of Meeting as a cloud.

King Solomon used the first Temple to bolster his monarchy.  He had also used forced labor to construct that Temple.  Furthermore, his unjust economic policies contributed greatly to the unrest which led to the division of his kingdom after his death.  YHWH’s commandments in the Law of Moses demanded economic justice, but Solomon violated those statutes.

Saul of Tarsus became St. Paul the Apostle after encountering Jesus dramatically on the road to Damascus.  He understood the demands of God on his life much better than Solomon grasped his duties to God.  St. Paul still had some blind spots (as all of us do), but he did become a major figure in nascent Christianity and suffered much for his (active) faith until the day of his martyrdom.

The Presence/glory of God was more evident in the career of St. Paul the Apostle than it was in Solomon’s Temple.  Is it evident in your life, O reader?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 8, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT THORFINN OF HAMAR, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF GALILEO GALILEI, SCIENTIST

THE FEAST OF HARRIET BEDELL, EPISCOPAL DEACONESS

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Adapted from this post:

https://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2016/01/08/devotion-for-tuesday-after-the-seventh-sunday-of-easter-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

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God’s Surprises   1 comment

Abraham and the Three Angels

Above:   Abraham and the Three Angels, by Gustave Dore

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

Gracious God, you have placed within the hearts of all your children

a longing for your word and a hunger for your truth.

Grant that we may know your Son to be the true bread of heaven

and share this bread with all the world,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 43

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The Assigned Readings:

Genesis 18:1-15

Psalm 111

Philippians 4:10-20

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Reverence for the LORD is the first step to wisdom,

good success comes to all who obey his laws.

His people will never stop praising him.

–Psalm 111:10, Harry Mowvley, The Psalms Introduced and Newly Translated for Today’s Readers (1989)

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Sometimes, however, distress comes to those who obey God’s laws.  Consider, O reader, St. Paul the Apostle, who suffered death threats, incarceration, beatings, a shipwreck, and an execution.  Consider also, O reader, the church he planted at Philippi.  That congregation had to contend with internal and external threats, from anti-Christian authorities to Gnostics.  Yet the Philippian church, for all its struggles, was generous of spirit and helped St. Paul in tangible ways.

Depending on our expectations, some of God’s methods might surprise us.  One might expect a persecuted and struggling community to be preoccupied with its own troubles.  And, as for Abraham and Sarah in Genesis 18, a pregnancy certainly falls into the category of the unexpected.  The spiritual lesson I offer based on these readings is that we ought to open our minds and move beyond our usual expectations regarding what God might do and how God might do it.  We have certainly missed some blessings because we have not been looking in the right place at the right time.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 5, 2015 COMMON ERA

EASTER SUNDAY, YEAR B

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

THE FEAST OF SAINT NOKTER BALBULUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2015/04/05/devotion-for-monday-after-proper-12-year-b-elca-daily-lectionary/

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The Call of God III   1 comment

Eli and Samuel

Above:  Eli and Samuel, by John Singleton Copley

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

Holy God, creator of light and giver of goodness, your voice moves over the waters.

Immerse us in your grace, and transform us by your Spirit,

that we may follow after your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 22

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The Assigned Readings:

1 Samuel 3:1-21

Psalm 29

Acts 9:10-19a

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Pay tribute to Yahweh, you sons of God,

tribute to Yahweh of glory and power,

tribute to Yahweh of the glory of his name,

worship Yahweh in his sacred court.

–Psalm 29:1-3, The Jerusalem Bible (1966)

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The readings for today tell stories of God calling people to pursue a faithful and risky path.  This command to embark upon a new course was for the benefit of others and the glory of God.  If any of the three people on whom these lessons focus had refused to obey and not recanted, God could have found someone else willing to obey, but he who would have refused in such a counterfactual situation would have been worse off spiritually.

We begin in 1 Samuel 3, the account of God’s call to the young Samuel.  The boy was living at Shiloh, with the priest Eli as his guardian.  Paula J. Bowes, author of theCollegeville Bible Commentary volume (1985) on the books of Samuel, noticed the literal and metaphorical levels of meaning in the text:

The picture of Eli as asleep and practically blind describes Israel’s state in relation to the Lord.  The lamp of God, that is, God’s word, is almost extinguished through the unworthiness of the officiating priests.  The Lord ignores Eli and calls directly to the boy Samuel to receive this divine word….Samuel is the faithful, chosen priest who will soon replace the unfaithful and rejected house of Eli.

–Page 15

Eli had the spiritual maturity to accept the verdict of God.  Repeating that judgment was obviously uncomfortable for the boy, who might have been uncertain of how the priest would take the news.

Acts 9 contains an account of the transformation of Saul of Tarsus into St. Paul the Apostle.  Saul, unlike young Samuel, understood immediately who was speaking to him.  Ananias of Damascus also heard from God and, after a brief protest, obeyed.  Thus Ananias abetted the spiritual transformation of Saul into one of the most influential men in Christian history.  The summons to do so met with reasonable fear, however, for Saul had been a notorious persecutor of earliest Christianity.  How was Ananias supposed to know beforehand that Saul had changed?  Ananias had to trust God.  And St. Paul suffered greatly for his obedience to God; he became a martyr after a series of imprisonments, beatings, and even a shipwreck.

Gerhard Krodel, author of the Proclamation Commentaries volume (1981) on the Acts of the Apostles, wrote that Chapter 8 ends with an account of the breaking down of a barrier and that Chapter 9 opens with another such story.  Acts 8 closes with the story of St. Philip the Deacon (not the Apostle) converting the Ethiopian eunuch, a Gentile.  St. Paul had to deal with understandable suspicion of his bona fides after his conversion in Acts 9.  Later in the book he inaugurated his mission to the Gentiles–the breaking down of another barrier.

I have never heard the voice of God.  On occasion I have noticed a thought I have determined to be of outside origin, however.  Usually these messages have been practical, not theological.  For example, about fourteen years ago, I knew in an instant that I should put down the mundane task I was completing and move my car.  I had parked it under a tree, as I had on many previous days, but something was different that day.  So I moved my car to a spot where only open sky covered it.  Slightly later that day I looked at the spot where my car had been and noticed a large tree limb on the ground.  Last year I knew that I should drive the route from Americus, Georgia, back to Athens, Georgia, without stopping.  So I did.  I parked the car at my front door and proceeded to unload the vehicle.  When I went outside to move the car to the back parking lot, the vehicle would not start, for my ignition switch needed work.  But I was home, safe.  Yes, God has spoken to me, but not audibly and not to tell me to become a great priest or evangelist.

My experience of God has been subtle most of the time.  At some time during my childhood God entered my life.  This happened quietly, without any dramatic event or “born again” experience.  God has been present, shaping me over time.  At traumatic times I have felt grace more strongly than the rest of the time, but light is more noticeable amid darkness than other light.  Grace has been present during the good times also.  Not everybody who follows God will have a dramatic experience of the divine.  So be it.  May nobody who has had a dramatic experience of the divine insist that others must have one too.

Yet God does call all the faithful to leave behind much that is comfortable and safe.  Breaking down human-created barriers to God is certain to make one unpopular and others uncomfortable, is it not?  It contradicts “received wisdom” as well as psychological and theological categories.  Anger and fear are predictable reactions which often lead to violence and other unfortunate actions.  Frequently people commit these sins in the name of God.

The call of God is to take risks, break down artificial barriers, and trust God for the glory of God and the benefit of others.  Along the way one will reap spiritual benefits, of course.  Wherever God leads you, O reader, to proceed, may you go there.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 15, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALBERT THE GREAT, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF REGENSBURG

THE FEAST OF JOHANN GOTTLOBB KLEMM, INSTRUMENT MAKER; DAVID TANNENBERG, SR., GERMAN-AMERICAN MORAVIAN ORGAN BUILDER; JOHANN PHILIP BACHMANN, GERMAN-AMERICAN MORAVIAN INSTRUMENT BUILDER; JOSEPH FERDINAND BULITSCHEK, BOHEMIAN-AMERICAN ORGAN BUILDER; AND TOBIAS FRIEDRICH, GERMAN MORAVINA COMPOSER AND MUSICIAN

THE FEAST OF MARGARET MEAD, ANTHROPOLOGIST

THE FEAST OF PHILIP WILLIAM OTTERBEIN, COFOUNDER OF THE CHURCH OF THE UNITED BRETHREN IN CHRIST

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Adapted from this post:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2014/11/15/devotion-for-thursday-before-the-first-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-b-elca-daily-lectionary/

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A Life Worthy of the Lord   1 comment

01950v

Above:  Design Drawing for a Stained-Glass Window Showing the Conversion of Paul

Designed by J. & R. Lamb Studios

Image Source = Library of Congress

(http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/LAMB2006001434/)

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The Collect:

Bend your ear to our prayers, Lord Christ, and come among us.

By your gracious life and death for us, bring light into the darkness

of our hearts, and anoint us with your Spirit, for you live and reign

with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 28

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 59:9-19 (23rd Day)

Isaiah 42:14-21 (24th Day)

Psalm 146 (Both Days)

Acts 9:1-20 (23rd Day)

Colossians 1:9-24 (24th Day)

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Some Related Posts:

Isaiah 59:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/devotion-for-december-30-lcms-daily-lectionary/

Isaiah 42:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/devotion-for-december-21-lcms-daily-lectionary/

Acts 9:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2013/09/03/devotion-for-thursday-and-friday-before-the-first-sunday-after-epiphany-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/twentieth-day-of-easter/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/06/08/fifteenth-day-of-easter-third-sunday-of-easter-year-c/

Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul the Apostle (January 25):

http://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/06/11/feast-of-the-conversion-of-st-paul-the-apostle-january-25/

Colossians 1:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/10/week-of-proper-17-thursday-year-1/

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Judgment and mercy go hand-in-hand in the Bible.  The assigned readings for today demonstrate this well.  Psalm 146:5-9 reads:

Happy is he whose helper is the God of Jacob,

whose hope is the LORD his God,

maker of heaven and earth,

the sea, and all that is in them;

who maintains faithfulness for ever

and deals out justice to the oppressed.

The LORD feeds the hungry

and sets the prisoner free.

The LORD raises those who are bowed down;

the LORD loves the righteous

and protects the stranger in the land;

the LORD gives support to the fatherless and the widow,

but thwarts the course of the wicked.

The Revised English Bible (1989)

Deliverance of the faithful and destruction of the wicked occurs in the readings from Isaiah.  In the Bible justice and righteousness are the same thing; our English-language words “justice” and “righteousness” are translations of the same term.  Thus corruption and economic exploitation are both unrighteous and unjust.

Sometimes, however, God grants persecutors opportunities to repent and convert.  If they refuse, that is solely their responsibility.  St. Paul the Apostle, with human guidance sent by God, accepted.  He, in the Letter to the Colossians, wrote eloquently in terms he drew from his life:

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.  He has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

–1:11-14, Revised Standard Version—Second Edition (1971)

Some people have dramatic experiences.  Others of us do not.  Contrary to what some say, being able to document when one came to God is not requisite.  Yet being of God is necessary for salvation.  God, who works in more than one way, is the arbiter of these matters.

So, regardless of how we came to God—gradually and quietly (as I did) or dramatically (as St. Paul did)—may we honor God daily by keeping our Lord and Savior’s commandments (

If you love me, keep my commandments.

—Jesus) and following the Apostle’s advice

to lead a life worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.

–Colossians 1:10, Revised Standard Version—Second Edition (1971)

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 26, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN BERCHMANS, ROMAN CATHOLIC SEMINARIAN

THE FEAST OF ISAAC WATTS, HYMN WRITER

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Adapted from this post:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2013/11/26/devotion-for-the-twenty-third-and-twenty-fourth-days-of-lent-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

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Joshua and Acts, Part III: Ideals, Reality, and Influence   1 comment

conversion-of-st-paul-luca-giordano

Above:  The Conversion of St. Paul, by Luca Giordano

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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:

Joshua 3:1-7 (June 28)

Joshua 4:1-24 (June 29)

Psalm 130 (Morning–June 28)

Psalm 56 (Morning–June 29)

Psalms 32 and 139 (Evening–June 28)

Psalms 100 and 62 (Evening–June 29)

Acts 9:1-22 (June 28)

Acts 9:23-43 (June 29)

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Some Related Posts:

Joshua 3:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/02/07/week-of-proper-14-thursday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/13/proper-26-year-a/

Acts 9:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/twentieth-day-of-easter/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/twenty-first-day-of-easter/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/06/08/fifteenth-day-of-easter-third-sunday-of-easter-year-c/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/06/09/twenty-second-day-of-easter-fourth-sunday-of-easter-year-c/

Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul the Apostle (January 25):

http://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/06/11/feast-of-the-conversion-of-st-paul-the-apostle-january-25/

“Lord, What Wilt Thou Have Me to Do?”:

http://taylorfamilypoems.wordpress.com/2011/08/18/lord-what-wilt-thou-have-me-to-do-acts-9-6/

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One of the themes present in the Book of Joshua yet developed more fully elsewhere in the Jewish Bible is the dissonance between the ideal and reality.  The ideal was very much on display at the crossing of the River Jordan.  The journey is a generation had ended yet the hardest work lay ahead.  For the moment, however, the news was happy.

When the ideal and the real differ one can harmonize the two by changing one of them to match the other.  God offered Saul of Tarsus an opportunity to embrace a new reality and sent human helpers, including Ananias and Barnabas.  Peter, once a man rarely capable of choosing the right words, became a great Apostle.  The time and effort which Jesus had invented in him paid off.

Interdependence is human reality, as is total dependence on God.  God is the source of everything.  And we need each other to succeed.  I, as a Gentile, owe much to St. Paul, who relied upon others, including Ananias and Barnabas.  Their reach extends to the present day.  How far will your influence, O reader, reach into the future?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 17, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF BENNETT J. SIMS, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF ATLANTA

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF COMPIEGNE

THE FEAST OF SAINT NERSES LAMPRONATS, ARMENIAN APOSTOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF TARSUS

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM WHITE, PRESIDING BISHOP OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH

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Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2012/07/17/devotion-for-june-28-and-29-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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