Archive for the ‘Donald Armentrout’ Tag

Divine Power and Perfect Love   1 comment

angel-in-the-tomb

Above:  The Angel in Christ’s Tomb

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:

Deuteronomy 7:1-26

Psalms 71:15-24 or Psalm 75 or Psalm 76

John 5:19-30

2 Corinthians 1:1-17 (18-22) or Philippians 1:1-2 (3-11) 12-20

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Concepts of God interest me.  God, we read, delivers the faithful (sometimes).  On other occasions, faithful people suffer for the sake of righteousness, without deliverance.  God is a judge, we read, but God also acts mercifully and finds the Hebrew people attractive, despite the record of murmuring, of committing idolatry, and of committing other violations of the Law of Moses.

Deuteronomy 7, placed in the mouth of Moses long after his death, commands Hebrews to destroy the people of Canaan, not to marry them or to come under their influence otherwise.  That is a description of genocide.  That is something I cannot imaging Jesus advocating.  When I read Deuteronomy 7 I do so through the lenses of what the late Donald Armentrout called “Gospel glasses.”  To do otherwise would be for me to be disingenuous as a Christian.

Jesus died violently for a set of reasons.  Among them was the fact that some people considered him to be an enemy of God.  After all, Leviticus 24 orders the execution of blasphemers.  If I am to be consistent while condemning the execution of alleged blasphemers in the Islamic world because of my values of religious toleration and of attempting to emulate Christ, I must also condemn such violence committed in the name of God in the Jewish and Christian traditions.

One meaning of the crucifixion is that human beings executed Jesus unjustly.  One meaning of the resurrection is that God defeated the evil plans of those human beings–not with violence, but with power and perfect love.

May we leave terminal retribution to God, whose judgment is infinitely better than ours, and of whom mercy is also a quality.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 10, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHANN NITSCHMANN, SR., MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND BISHOP; DAVID NITSCHMANN, JR., THE SYNDIC, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY BISHOP; AND DAVID NITSCHMANN, THE MARTYR, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF CECIL FRANCES ALEXANDER, POET AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN LUDWIG BRAU, NORWEGIAN MORAVIAN TEACHER AND POET

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JOHN LEONARDI, FOUNDER OF THE CLERKS REGULAR OF THE MOTHER OF GOD OF LUCCA; AND JOSEPH CALASANCTIUS, FOUNDER OF THE CLERKS REGULAR OF RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS

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Adapted from this post:

https://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2016/10/10/devotion-for-easter-sunday-morning-year-d/

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Esther VII: Enemies   1 comment

Haman Begging the Mercy of Esther

Above:  Haman Begging the Mercy 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 7:7-8:17

Psalm 55:16-23

Matthew 5:43-48

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You, God, will thrust them down

to the abyss of destruction,

men bloodthirsty and deceptive,

before half their days are spent.

–Psalm 55:23, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

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In Matthew 5:43-48, part of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus commands his followers to love their enemies and to pray for their persecutors.  Those instructions contradict the psalm and the designated portion of the Book of Esther.

In the Book of Esther Haman meets his grisly end and King Ahasuerus grants permission to Mordecai and Queen Esther to revoked the first royal edict and order anything (in his name) they deem appropriate.  Ahasuerus remains a figure through whom others govern.  The monarch orders the execution of Haman and his sons and gives his property to Queen Esther.  She and Mordecai write the second royal edict (as contained in Chapter E, as The New American Bible labels it) in the name of Ahasuerus.  They authorize Jews living in the Persian Empire to attack their (the Jews’) enemies.  Mordecai receives special honors, and, throughout the empire, Jews rejoice and their enemies do not.

How much of this is justice and how much is revenge?  In the Law of Moses the penalty for perjury to convict someone falsely is symmetrical:

If the man who testified is a false witness, if he has testified falsely against his fellow, you shall do to him as he schemed to do to his fellow.  Thus you will sweep out evil from your midst; others will hear and be afraid, and such evil things will not again be done in your midst.  Nor must you show pity; life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

–Deuteronomy 19:18b-21, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

Nevertheless, there is a difference between justice and revenge.  I grasp the punishment of Haman yet wonder about the bloodbath reported subsequently in the Book of Esther.    “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” leaves the world blind and toothless in time.

I, as a Christian, read the Bible through what the late Donald Armentrout called the “Gospel glasses.”  The four canonical Gospels contextualize the rest of the Bible for me.  The ethics of Jesus therefore override contradictory texts in my mind.  I am still working on loving my enemies as I understand the distinction between justice and revenge on one hand and revenge and a rescue operation on the other.  Some people will not cease from oppressing because others appeal to their consciences, which might not exist.  Nevertheless, is even necessary violence something to celebrate?

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-wednesday-after-proper-12-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

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The Presence of God, Part III   1 comment

fra_angelico_019

Above:  Women at the Empty Tombby Fra Angelico

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

Almighty God, you give us the joy of celebrating our Lord’s resurrection.

Give us also the joys of life in your service,

and bring us at last to the full joy of life eternal,

through 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 32

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The Assigned Readings:

Joshua 3:1-17

Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24

Matthew 28:1-10

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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/

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

Matthew 28:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/06/04/devotion-for-november-20-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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I shall not die, but live,

and declare the works of the LORD.

–Psalm 118:17, Book of Common Worship (1993)

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The presence of God is evident in more than one way–perhaps in as many ways as there are circumstances in which it is evident.  In the assigned narratives for today we have two of them–the Ark of the Covenant and an empty tomb.  And, in the lections in general, we have the presence of God in a third way–in texts, but only when the Holy Spirit speaks to us through them.

I recall a story which Donald Armentrout told.  The pastor of a small, independent congregation in Tennessee retold the Easter story one Easter Sunday morning.  He paraphrased the angel in Matthew 28:6:

He ain’t here.

That, Armentrout said, was an excellent summary of the Easter story.

Jesus is not in the tomb.  Jesus is, however, among us, so to speak, in each other.  When we help others–the least of his brothers and sisters–we do it for Jesus if we are Christians.  Likewise, when we refuse to help others–the least of his brothers and sisters–we refuse to do something for Jesus if we are Christians.  Thus not caring about others is more than merely lacking empathy for them.  May we care for each other actively and as effectively as possible, for that is a great spiritual duty.

In whom, O reader, will you see Jesus today?  You cannot do everything; nobody can.  But you can do your part.  The other person can be a means by which God speaks to you, just as you can be a vehicle of grace to him or her.  That divine, blessed exchange is a beautiful thing.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 2, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE SECOND DAY OF ADVENT, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINT BRIOC, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AND OF SAINT TUDWAL, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND BISHOP

THE FEAST OF CHANNING MOORE WILLIAMS, EPISCOPAL BISHOP IN CHINA AND JAPAN

THE FEAST OF JOHN BROWN, ABOLITIONIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT OSMUND OF SALISBURY, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

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Adapted from this post:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2013/12/02/devotion-for-the-fourth-day-of-easter-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

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Posted January 19, 2014 by neatnik2009 in Joshua 3-5, Matthew 28, Psalm 118

Tagged with , , ,

The Light Shining in the Darkness   1 comment

kind_en_kaars

Above:  Lighting a Votive Candle

Image Source = AutoCCD

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kind_en_Kaars.jpg)

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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:

1 Samuel 15:10-21 (20th Day)

1 Samuel 15:22-31 (21st Day)

1 Samuel 15:32-34 (22nd Day)

Psalm 23 (All Days)

Ephesians 4:25-32 (20th Day)

Ephesians 5:1-9 (21st Day)

John 1:1-9 (22nd Day)

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Some Related Posts:

1 Samuel 15:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/07/week-of-2-epiphany-monday-year-2/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2012/10/05/devotion-for-july-28-29-and-30-lcms-daily-lectionary/

Ephesians 4:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/03/proper-14-year-b/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/11/06/week-of-proper-24-friday-year-2-and-week-of-proper-24-saturday-year-2/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/01/04/devotion-for-september-5-lcms-daily-lectionary/

Ephesians 5:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2013/09/07/devotion-for-monday-tuesday-and-wednesday-after-the-third-sunday-after-epiphany-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/03/proper-14-year-b/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/01/04/devotion-for-september-5-lcms-daily-lectionary/

John 1:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/first-day-of-christmas-christmas-day/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/first-sunday-after-christmas-years-a-b-and-c/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/seventh-day-of-christmas/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/04/13/devotion-for-february-4-in-epiphanyordinary-time-lcms-daily-lectionary/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2013/07/10/devotion-for-december-25-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

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You revive my spirit:

and guide me in right pathways

for your name’s sake.

–Psalm 23:3, A New Zealand Prayer Book (1989)

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1 Samuel 15 confuses me.  The readings from Ephesians tell me to follow Christ as an example, to forgive people, to love them, and to deal generously with them.  But 1 Samuel 15 tells a story in which King Saul falls out of favor with God for not committing enough violence.  In a holy war an army was supposed to destroy and kill completely, but Saul’s forces did not do that.  The concept of God in that chapter is not the one in my head.

No, I follow Jesus, who did not slaughter yet whom Roman imperial forces crucified.  I follow Christ—victim and victor, sacrifice and priest.  I follow Jesus, the light of the world, the light which

shines in the darkness.

Yet

…the darkness has never mastered it.

–John 1:5, The Revised English Bible (1989)

I read the Bible through the lenses of what the late Donald Armentrout called

Gospel glasses.

Thus I acknowledge the superiority of the four canonical gospels to the rest of the canon of Scripture.  And I recognize Jesus of Nazareth as the template to follow.

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-twentieth-twenty-first-and-twenty-second-days-of-lent-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

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