Archive for the ‘Dietrich Bonhoeffer’ Tag

Divine and Human Authority   Leave a comment

Above:  Conscientious Objectors at Camp Lewis, Washington, United States of America, November 18, 1918

Image in the Public Domain


For the Twenty-Third Sunday after Trinity, Year 2


Lectionary from A Book of Worship for Free Churches (The General Council of the Congregational Christian Churches in the United States, 1948)

Collect from The Book of Worship (Evangelical and Reformed Church, 1947)


Absolve, we beseech thee, O Lord, thy people from their offenses;

that from the bonds of our sins which, by reason of our frailty,

we have brought upon us, we may be delivered by thy bountiful goodness;

through Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth

with thee and the Holy Spirit, ever One God, world without end  Amen.

The Book of Worship (1947), 228


Isaiah 32:1-8

Psalm 146

Romans 13:1-7

Luke 13:23-30


Don’t get me started about submission to government authority (Romans 13:1-7).  Okay, now that I have started, I am off to the proverbial races.

The Bible is inconsistent regarding submission to and resistance to civil authority.  Romans 13:1-7 represents one strain.  One may think of Shiphrah and Puah (Exodus 1:15-22), who let newborn Hebrew boys live, in violation of a royal order.  One may also recall the Book of Daniel, with more than one instance of remaining faithful to God by violating a royal decree.  Perhaps one recalls 1, 2, and 4 Maccabees, in which fidelity to the Law of Moses required disobedience to Seleucid kings, such as Antiochus IV Epiphanes and other  (1 Maccabees 1:15-9:73; 2 Maccabees 6:1-15:37; 4 Maccabees 4:15-18:24) .  I would be remiss to forget about Tobit, who violated a royal order yet obeyed the Law of Moses by burying corpses (Tobit 1:16-20).  Finally, the Revelation of John portrays the government of the Roman Empire as being in service to Satan.  In this strain, Christians should resist agents of Satan.

When one turns to Christian history, one finds a long tradition of civil disobedience within Christianity.  Accounts of Quakers, Anabaptists, and other pacifists suffering at the hands of governments for refusing to fight in wars properly arouse moral outrage against those governments.  The Third Reich presents a stark example that evokes apocalyptic depictions of Satanic government.  Anti-Nazi heroes included Karl Barth, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and a plethora of Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant martyrs, among others.

Furthermore, the Third Reich has continued to inform a strain of German Christian theology since the 1930s.  When to obey and when to resist authority has remained especially prominent in German circles, for obvious reasons.

Governments come and go.  God remains forever.  Wrong is wrong, regardless of whether one commits it independently or as part of one’s official duties.

Isaiah 32:1-8 depicts an ideal government at the end of days.  In Christian terms, this text describes the fully realized Kingdom of God.  That is not our reality.

Psalm 146 reminds us:

Put no trust in princes

or in any mortal, for they have no power to save.

When they breathe their last breath,

they return to the dust;

and on that day their plans come to nothing.

–Verses 3-4, The Revised English Bible (1989)

The bottom line, O reader, is this:  Love God fully.  Keep divine commandments.  Live according to the Golden Rule.  If doing so is legal, you are fortunate.  If doing so is illegal, love God fully, keep divine commandments, and live according to the Golden Rule anyway.  God remains forever.






Freedom in Christ   Leave a comment

Above:  Good Shepherd

Image in the Public Domain


For the Second Sunday after Easter, Year 2


Lectionary from A Book of Worship for Free Churches (The General Council of the Congregational Christian Churches in the United States, 1948)

Collect from The Book of Worship (Evangelical and Reformed Church, 1947)


Almighty God, who hast given thine only Son to be unto us

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

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

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

through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Worship (1947), 168


Ezekiel 34:11-16, 30, 31

Psalm 147

1 Peter 2:11-25

John 10:11-16


I confess without any reluctance that my personality contains a wide streak of rebellion.  I enjoy poking my fingers in the eyes of authority figures, so to speak.  Logically, then, I enjoy the portions of scripture (Hebrew prophets and apocalyptic literature, especially) that lower the boom on certain potentates–bad shepherds, figuratively–and on kingdoms and empires.  I bristle at 1 Peter 2:17.  Why should I honor “the emperor” or any modern tyrant?  After all, I recognize those Christians who, in the name of Jesus, resisted Adolf Hitler as moral giants.  And the theme of submission that runs through 1 Peter is foreign to me.

And don’t get me started on the acceptance of slavery in 1 Peter 2:18-20, O reader.

The First Letter of Peter comes from a social context quite different from mine.  Context is crucial.  I, as a student of history, affirm that principle.  One needs to consider that, in Asia Minor, in the late first century of the Common Era, Christians constituted a vulnerable minority subject to laws they had no hand in making.  And how should one translate the principles of 1 Peter into life in a republic?

The key may be that we are free in God.  We are slaves only to God.  We are not properly slaves to the state.  The Church must never be an arm of the state.  No, the Church must serve God.  To quote David L. Bartlett:

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, and a host of less famous stand as constant reminders that sometimes Christian freedom means freedom from society’s rules, and not merely freedom to obey willingly.

The New Interpreter’s Bible, Volume XII (1998), 278

John 10 applies the language of the Good Shepherd from Ezekiel 34 to Jesus.  We read in Ezekiel 34 that God is the Good Shepherd who will replace bad human shepherds with better ones.  (Most of the Kings of Judah were bad shepherds.)  The use of the imagery of the Good Shepherd in John 10 takes on an apolitical approach, though.  In John 10, the Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.  In other words, Jesus will die.

May we never forget that the Roman Empire executed Jesus on a charge of which he was innocent.

At least 1 Peter does not advise us to revere the emperor.  No, the letter tells us to revere God.  God outranks the emperor.

We are free in Christ to follow him, who died and rose again.  We are free to serve Christ in “the least of these.”  We are free to work for social justice and resist tyranny.  And we are free to take up our crosses and follow him.  We may even be free to die for our faith.  Very little seems to increase one’s likelihood of suffering more than obeying the Golden Rule consistently and applying it to institutions, governments, policies, and societies.









Suffering, Part VII   Leave a comment

Above: Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

Image in the Public Domain


For Palm Sunday, Year 2


Lectionary from A Book of Worship for Free Churches (The General Council of the Congregational Christian Churches in the United States, 1948)

Collect from The Book of Worship (Evangelical and Reformed Church, 1947)


Almighty and Everlasting God, who hast sent thy Son, our Savior Jesus Christ,

to take upon him our flesh, and to suffer death upon the cross,

that all mankind should follow the example of his great humility;

mercifully grant that we may both follow the example of his patience,

and also be made partakers of his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Worship (1947), 157


Jeremiah 18:1-14

Psalm 8

Hebrews 12:1-11

Mark 11:1-11


Great power accompanies great privilege.  Psalm 8 includes a staggering idea–that

human beings share in God’s creative power and care of creation.

The Revised New Jerusalem Bible–Study Edition (2019), 941

When we add Jeremiah 18:1-14 to the mix, we add another element:  We belong to God, not ourselves.  We–individually and collectively, ought to allow God to shape us.  That is one of our responsibilities.

Divine judgment and mercy exist in balance in the Bible.  Also, repentance can stave off judgment, sometimes, at least.  Furthermore, punishment can be discipline, as a parent disciplines a child.  And one, such as the author of the Letter to the Hebrews, may understand suffering as a form of discipline.

Hebrews 12:5-11 borrows from Proverbs 3:11-12 to address the suffering of the audience familiar with persecution.  Keep the faith, the Letter to the Hebrews teaches.  The text even uses the language of “sons” from Proverbs 3:11-12.  The germane Greek word in Hebrews translates literally as “sons,” not “children.”  This is consistent with the Pauline theology of sonship of God, although St. Paul the Apostle neither dictated nor wrote the Letter to the Hebrews.  The reference to “sons” is crucial and specific to the culture.  It is a reference to heirs, for sons inherited; daughters did not.  Specifically, legitimate sons inherited.

The Jerusalem Bible (1966) gets to the point in 12:8:

If you were not getting this training, as all of you are, then you would not be sons but bastards.

Suffering as spiritual training may be a difficult idea to accept.  Nevertheless, if one professes to be a Christian, one claims to follow Jesus, who suffered greatly, especially during Holy Week.  As Daniel Berrigan (1921-2016), who suffered unjustly at the hands of the United States federal government for practicing his Christian faith observed, those who follow Jesus must 

look good on wood.

So, we have two sides of our calling from God in Christ:

  1. To share in divine creative power and care of creation, and
  2. To look good on wood.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) wrote that when Jesus calls a man to follow him, Christ bids that man to come and die.  A servant is not greater than the master.

Welcome to Holy Week.









Good Trees for God   5 comments


Above:  A Visual Protest Against Police Brutality and Corruption, June 11, 1887

Artist = Eugene Zimmerman (1862-1935)

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-USZC4-4792


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


The Assigned Readings:

Leviticus 4:27-31; 5:14-16 (Monday)

Deuteronomy 17:2-13 (Tuesday)

Leviticus 16:1-5, 20-28 (Wednesday)

Psalm 119:65-72 (All Days)

1 Peter 2:11-17 (Monday)

Romans 13:1-7 (Tuesday)

Matthew 21:18-22 (Wednesday)


These readings present us with some difficult material.  In the Torah an animal sacrifice atoned for unintentional sins, offering an unauthorized sacrifice led to death, and idolatry carried the death penalty.

So you shall purge evil from your midst.

–Deuteronomy 17:7b, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

Also, in the readings from Romans and 1 Peter, resisting authority is a sin, regardless of the nature of that government.    I will address these matters in order.


One was supposed to keep a distance from the holy and approach God in a certain way in the Law of Moses.  Thus one had instructions to offer sacrifices just so, for example.  And touching the Ark of the Covenant was deadly.  In contrast, Jesus, God incarnate, ate with people, many of whom had dubious moral histories and bad reputations.  I side with Jesus in this matter.


One ought to be very careful regarding instructions to kill the (alleged) infidels.  Also, one should recognize such troublesome passages in one’s own scriptures as well as in those of others, lest one fall into hypocrisy regarding this issue.  Certainly those Puritans in New England who executed Quakers in the 1600s thought that they were purging evil from their midst.  Also, shall we ponder the Salem Witch Trials, in which paranoid Puritans trapped inside their superstitions and experiencing LSD trips courtesy of a bread mold, caused innocent people to die?  And, not that I am equating Puritans with militant Islamists, I have no doubt that those militant Islamists who execute Christians and adherents to other religions think of themselves as people who purge evil from their midst.  Violence in the name of God makes me cringe.

When does one, in the name of purging evil from one’s midst, become that evil?


Speaking of removing evil from our midst (or at least trying to do so), I note that Dietrich Bonhoeffer, after struggling with his conscience, participated in a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler.  I let that pass, for if one cannot kill (or at least plan to kill) a genocidal dictator in the name of morality….Sometimes life presents us with bad decisions and worse ones.  Choose the bad in very such circumstance, I say.  In the Hitler case, how many lives might have continued had he died sooner?


Christianity contains a noble and well-reasoned argument for civil disobedience.  This tradition reaches back to the Early Church, when many Christians (some of whom became martyrs) practiced conscientious objection to service in the Roman Army.  The tradition includes more recent figures, such as many heroes of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.  Many of those activists suffered and/or died too.  And, in the late 1800s, the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, hardly a bastion of liberalism at any point in its history, declared that the Ottoman imperial government, which had committed violence against the Armenian minority group, had no more moral legitimacy or right to rule.  Yet I read in the October 30, 1974, issue of The Presbyterian Journal, the midwife for the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) in 1973, that:

When a Herod or a Hitler comes into power, we must thereby assume this is the Lord’s plan; He will use even such as these to put His total plan into effect for the good of His people here on earth.

–page 11

That was an extreme law-and-order position the editor affirmed in the context of reacting against demonstrations of the 1960s and early 1970s.  A few years later, however, the PCA General Assembly approved of civil disobedience as part of protests against abortions.


If one assumes, as St. Paul the Apostle and much of the earliest Church did, that Jesus would return quite soon and destroy the sinful world order, preparation for Christ’s return might take priority and social reform might move off the list of important things to accomplish.  But I am writing in 2014, so much time has passed without the Second Coming having occurred.  Love of one’s neighbors requires us to act and even to change society and/or rebel against human authority sometimes.


The barren fig tree in Matthew 21:18-22 was a symbol of faithless and fruitless people.  If we know a tree by its fruits and we are trees, what kind of trees are we?  May we bear the fruits of love, compassion,and mere decency.  May our fruits be the best they can be, albeit imperfect.  May we be the kind of trees that pray, in the words of Psalm 119:68 (The Book of Common Prayer, 1979):

You are good and you bring forth good;

instruct me in your statutes.





Adopted from this post:



A New Zealand Prayer Book/He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa (1989)   2 comments

Flag of New Zealand

Above:  Flag of New Zealand


The entire volume is now available here:

But a hardbound copy is still better.


One may find other resources here:


A New Zealand Prayer Book (1989) is a thoroughly modern resource.  It is also a departure from its predecessor, which resembled closely The Book of Common Prayer (1662).  But time and language march on, as should liturgy.

I will not attempt to replicate the excellent analysis of this volume from The Oxford Guide to The Book of Common Prayer (2006), edited by Charles Hefling and Cynthia Shattuck.  Kenneth Booth’s chapter on A New Zealand Prayer Book provides fine explanations of the book itself and its multicultural, theological, and liturgical contexts.  I refer you, O reader to The Oxford Guide for such analysis.  My purpose here is to provide personal reflections based on private use of the book.

A New Zealand Prayer Book, the prayer book of The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, is the result of a quarter-century of liturgical revision.  The result is a book in English, Maori, and Tongan.  And the English is modern and inclusive.  In the Night Prayer ritual, for example one finds a Maori translation and two English versions of the Lord’s Prayer.  One English rendering is fairly traditional, minus archaic language.  Be banished, Elizabethan English, from Prayer Books!  Get thee to the hills and remaineth there!  (That last part is just me being punchy.) The other English translation is wonderfully non-traditional:

Eternal Spirit,

Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver,

Source of all that is and that shall be,

Father and Mother of us all,

Loving God, in whom is heaven.

The hallowing of your name echo through the universe!

The way of your justice be followed by the people of the world!

Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!

Your commonwealth of peace and freedom sustain our hope and come on earth.

With the bread we need for today, feed us.

In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.

In times of temptation and test, strengthen us.

From trials too great to endure, spare us.

From the grip of all that is evil, free us.

For you reign in the glory of the power that is love,

now and for ever.  Amen.

Sometimes texts become so familiar in a certain translation as to become old hat.  Hearing or reading them in different translations helps one to encounter them afresh.

The Calendar is distinct to New Zealand, with the usual Universal Church holy days, of course.  So the Conversion of St. Paul is still January 25, the Annunciation is still March 25, the Transfiguration is still August 6, et cetera.  English and Maori saints (of various denominations) of the islands populate the Calendar, as do great Roman Catholic saints from antiquity to modern times.  And the Calendar includes Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Pope John XXIII, and Martin Luther King, Jr., as it should.

A New Zealand Prayer Book offers not only public services but private and family ones.  The rites for Daily Devotions fill pages 104-137, providing distinct morning and evening rituals for each day of the week.  In contrast, The Book of Common Prayer (1979) of my own Episcopal Church provides one form for a daily morning devotion, another for a Noontime devotion, a third for early evening, and a final one for the close of the day–one page each, four pages in all.

A New Zealand Prayer Book also provides a service called Midday Prayer, whereas The Book of Common Prayer (1979) offers An Order of Service for Noonday.  The New Zealand service provides more options, not that the Episcopal service is not lovely and meaningful.

Sometimes, in The Episcopal Church, we hear the lector read an unpleasant portion of Scripture, one which ends with people dead, injured seriously, struck blind, and stricken with a disease.  Then he or she says the prescribed prompt:

The Word of the Lord.

The congregation replies,

Thanks be to God.

If the reading comes from one of the Gospels and a deacon or priest reads it, he or she says,

The Gospel of the Lord.

The congregation replies,

Praise to you, Lord Christ.

This has proven to be awkward sometimes.  I recall that, on some occasions, the congregation has offered up a pregnant pause before saying half-heartedly,

Thanks be to God.

Someone has just died terribly or come down with a disease in the reading; are we to be thankful?  Fortunately, A New Zealand Prayer Book reduces the non-Gospel awkwardness.  The lector says,

Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church.

Then the congregation answers,

Thanks be to God.

That is what I think when I use A New Zealand Prayer Book:

Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church./Thanks be to God.








Subversive Compassion   1 comment

Above:  Christ with Beard


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


The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 6:1-7:9

Psalm 102 (Morning)

Psalms 130 and 16 (Evening)

1 Peter 2:13-25


Some Related Posts:

Isaiah 6-7:

A Prayer for Compassion:


I have covered the reading from Isaiah already, so I refer you, O reader, to the labeled links for them.  At this time and place I choose to say the following:  A pressing question for many Christians in the latter portion of the first century C.E. was whether one could be both a good Christian and a good Roman.  Also, the author of 1 Peter assumed that Jesus would be back quite soon to sort out the world order.  As I write these words, our Lord has not returned. The world order is what we have made it; may we exercise our agency responsibly to improve it.  This does involve resisting authority sometimes, as in the case of tyrannical governments.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer plotted to assassinate Adolf Hitler.  Many faithful Christians–Protestants and Roman Catholics–sheltered Jews and resisted the Third Reich.  And, throughout church history, bishops have called monarchs to account.

We who read and interpret the Bible must be careful to read it as a whole, not to fixate so much on certain passages that we ignore inconvenient ones and distort the composite meaning of the texts.  There is something called confirmation bias, which means that we tend to pay attention to evidence which supports our opinions and ignore or dismiss that which does not.  I look for this in myself and try to safeguard against prooftexting, the confirmation bias method of misreading the Bible.

I keep returning to the example Jesus set.  (I am a professing Christian, literally a “partisan of Christ.”)  He violated many religious customs, some of them from the Law of Moses itself.  He seems to have favored compassion over any other factor when they came into conflict.  And he taught this ethic with his words.  So we have in our Lord the union of words and deeds favoring compassion above all else in guiding our actions toward others.  Compassion trumps all else.

As much as I disagree with those aspects of Christian traditions which deal favorably with tyrants and dictators, justify servitude, and smile upon gender inequality, I find Jesus to be the strong counterpoint to them.  Somewhere–very soon after our Lord’s time on the planet ended–the church began to accommodate itself–frequently in ways inconsistent with Christ–to the Roman Empire.  Jesus was a subversive.  I mean this as a compliment.  I follow the subversive, or at least I try to do so.  If I am to be an honest Christian, this is what I must do.







The Golden Rule, Part II   1 comment

Above:  A Nurse with Infant Orphans

Image Source = Michielvd



Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.


Titus 2:1-3:15 (Revised English Bible):

For your part, you must say what is in keeping with sound doctrine.  The older men should be sober, dignified, and temperate, sound in faith, love, and fortitude.  The older women, similarly, should be reverent in their demeanour, not scandalmongers or slaves to excessive drinking; they must set a high standard, and so teach the younger women to be loving wives and mothers, to be temperate, chaste, busy at home, and kind, respecting the authority of their husbands.  Then the gospel will not be brought into disrepute.

Urge the younger men, similarly, to be temperate in all things, and set them an example of good conduct yourself.  In your teaching you must show integrity and seriousness, and offer sound instruction to which none can take exception.  Any opponent will be at a loss when he finds nothing to say to our discredit.

Slaves are to respect their masters’ authority in everything and to give them satisfaction; they are not to answer back, nor to pilfer, but are to show themselves absolutely trustworthy.  In all this they will add lustre to the doctrine of God our Saviour.

For the grace of God has dawned upon the world with healing for all mankind; and by it we are disciplined to renounce godless ways and worldly desires, and to live a life of temperance, honesty, and godliness in the present age, looking forward to the happy fulfillment of our hope when the splendour of our great God and Saviour Christ Jesus will appear.  He it is who sacrificed himself for us, to set us free from all wickedness and to make us his own people, pure and eager to do good.

These are your themes; urge them and argue them with an authority which on one can disregard.

Remind everyone to be submissive to the government and the authorities, and to obey them; to be ready for any honourable work; to slander no one, to avoid quarrels, and always to show forbearance and a gentle disposition to all.

There was a time when we too were lost in folly and disobedience and were slaves to passions and pleasures of every kind.  Our days were passed in malice and envy; hateful ourselves, we loathed one another.

But when the kindness and generosity of God our Saviour dawned upon the world, then, not for any good deeds of our own, but because he was merciful, he saved us through the water of rebirth and the renewing power of the Holy Spirit, which he lavished upon us through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that, justified by his grace, we might in hope become heirs to eternal life.

That is a saying you may trust.

Such are the points I want to insist on, so that those who have come to believe in God may be sure to devote themselves to good works.  These precepts are good in themselves and useful to society.  But avoid foolish speculations, genealogies, quarrels, and controversies under the law; they are unprofitable and futile.

If someone is contentious, he should be allowed a second warning; after that, have nothing more to do with him, recognizing that anyone like that has a distorted mind and stands self-condemned in his sin.

Once I have sent Artemas or Tychicus to you, join me at Nicopolis as soon as you can, for that is where I have decided to spend the winter.  Do your utmost to help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their travels, and see that they are not short of anything.  And our own people must be taught to devote themselves to good works to meet urgent needs; they must not be unproductive.

All who are with me send your greetings.  My greetings to our friends in the faith.  Grace be with you all!

Psalm 37:1-6, 28-29 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Do not fret yourself because of evildoers;

do not be jealous of those who do no wrong.

2 For they shall soon whither like the grass,

and like the green grass they fade away.

3 Put your trust in the LORD and do good,

dwell in the land and feed on its riches.

Take delight in the LORD,

and he shall give you your heart’s desire.

Commit your way to the LORD and put your trust in him,

and he will bring it to pass.

He will make your righteousness as clear as the light

and your just dealing as the noonday.

28 Turn from evil, and do good,

and dwell in the land for ever.

29 For the LORD loves justice;

he does not forsake his faithful ones.

Psalm 91:9-16 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

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.

Luke 17:7-10 (Revised English Bible):

[Jesus said to his disciples,]

Suppose one of you has a servant ploughing or minding sheep.  When he comes in from the fields, will the master say, “Come and sit down straightway”?  Will he not rather say, “Prepare my supper; hitch up your robe, and wait on me while I have my meal.  You can have yours afterwards”?  Is he grateful to the servant for carrying out his orders?  So with you:  when you have carried out all you have been ordered to do, you should say, “We are servants and deserve no credit; we have only done our duty.”

In the course of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem he was travelling through the borderlands of Samaria and Galilee.  As he was entering a village he was met by ten men with leprosy.  They stood some way off, and called out to him,

Jesus, Master, take pity on us.

When he saw them he said,

Go and show yourselves to the priests;

and while they were on the way, they were made clean.  One of them, finding himself cured, turned back with shouts of praise to God.  He threw himself down at Jesus’ feet and thanked him.  And he was a Samaritan.  At this Jesus said:

Were not all then made clean?  The other nine, where are they?  Was  no one found returning to give praise to God except this foreigner?

And he said to the man,

Stand up and go on your way; your faith has cured you.


The Collect:

O God, whose blessed Son came into the world that he might destroy the works of the devil and make us children of God and heirs of eternal life: Grant that, having this hope, we may purify ourselves as he is pure; that, when he comes again with power and great glory, we may be made like him in his eternal and glorious kingdom; where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Some Related Posts:

Week of Proper 27:  Tuesday, Year 1:

Week of Proper 27:  Wednesday, Year 1:



Chapters 2 and 3 of Titus contain much practical advice and non-controversial administrative advice.  Some of the content is sexist by modern standards, but it did not seem so at the time.  Then there are really troublesome parts–slavery and submission to the government.  As I have already written, the failure to condemn slavery and to insist upon complete egalitarianism mars the Pauline tradition for me.  And, as for submission to the government, in the Pauline case, the Roman Empire, I have read some disturbing articles and editorials (as late as the middle 1970s) in arch-conservative, pro-law and order Christian magazines during the Vietnam War era, citing the Third Reich as an extreme example of a government to which one ought to submit.  What would Dietrich Bonhoeffer have said about that?

I propose that, as a Christian, my obligation is to follow the example of Jesus, who lived according to the Golden Rule.  So, regardless of the specific circumstances, may we treat others respectfully and act toward them compassionately.  This might entail some tough love, but so be it.  Each person bears the image of God; may we treat them with the dignity corresponding to the status of God-bearer.







Adapted from this post:


Who Am I?   1 comment

Above:  Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Died in 1945)


1 Corinthians 4:6-15 (The Jerusalem Bible):

Now in everything I have said here, brothers, I have taken Apollos and myself as an example (remember the maxim:  ”Keep to what is written”); it is not for you, so full of your own importance, to go taking sides for one man against another.  In any case, brother, has anybody given you some special right?  What do you have that was not given to you?  And if it was given, how can you boast as though it were not?  Is it that you have everything you want–that you are rich already, in possession of your kingdom, with us left outside?  Indeed I wish you were really kings, and we could be kings with you!  But instead, it seems to me, God has put us apostles at the end of his parade, with the men sentenced to death; it is true–we have put on show in front of the whole universe, angels as well as men.  Here we are, fools for the sake of Christ, while you are the learned men in Christ; we have no power, but you are influential; you are celebrities, we are nobodies.  To this day, we go without food and drink and clothes; we are beaten and have no homes; we work for our living with our own hands.  When we are cursed, we answer with a blessing; when we are hounded, we put with it; we are insulted and we answer politely.  We are treated as the offal of the world, still to this day, the scum of the earth.

I am saying this not just to make you ashamed but to bring you, as my dearest children, to your senses.  You might have thousands of guardians in Christ, but not more than one father and it was I who begot you in Christ Jesus by preaching the Good News.


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Paul has an argument with certain Corinthian Christians.  Yes, he was nice in Chapter 1, but now he has removed his gloves.  He is even sarcastic.  Through it all, Paul reminds the hearers of the true costs of discipleship–in his case, suffering.  Following Jesus is about serving others, not seeking glory.  And the disciple is not above his master.  Consider what happened to Jesus; why should we expect to reign with him without suffering first?

The point of Paul’s tirade was not to tear down the hearers, but to correct their misapprehensions.  This was tough love mixed with disappointment.  Paul had sacrificed much for his Lord, so he took certain offenses personally.  If he erred in his sarcasm, it was understandable.  I take it, however, as entirely justifiable.  Some people had it coming.

Paul was, among other things, a man of passionate convictions.  This comes across clearly in his epistles.  He was brilliant, devout, and prone to outbursts of anger and sarcasm.  Ego struggles marked his spiritual development, so passages about humility meant quite a bit, coming from him.  Paul could be a tempestuous person–on whom I am glad channeled his passions, arguments, and tempests for God.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, while a prisoner of Nazi Germany (until the Nazis hanged him), wrote a famous poem called Who Am I?  In it he wrestled with his own contradictions and doubts.  Then he arrived at this conclusion:

Who am I?  They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.

Whoever I am, thou knowest, O God, I am thine.

(Source = Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison, Enlarged Edition, Edited by Eberhard Bethge, Touchstone, 1971, page 348)

Bonhoeffer was Christ’s.  So was Paul.  They were great men and martyrs.  I am also Christ’s, although I do not presume to be worthy of the company of such great men.  Yet I seek to bring all my contradictions to God and to glorify God.  I will succeed by grace.  May you, O reader, join me on this quest, if you have not done so already.  Or maybe I have joined you on the journey.





Published originally at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on October 14, 2011

Adapted from this post:


Posted October 14, 2011 by neatnik2009 in 1 Corinthians 4

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