Archive for the ‘Easter Sunday’ Tag

Regarding Faith and Reason II   2 comments

Above:  Icon of the Resurrection

Image in the Public Domain

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For Easter Sunday, Year 1

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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)

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Almighty God, who through the resurrection of thine only begotten Son Jesus Christ,

hast overcome death and opened unto us the gate of everlasting life;

assist and support us, we beseech thee, the aspirations of thy heavenly grace,

that dying unto sin always, and living unto righteousness,

we may at last triumph over death and the grave, in the full image of our risen Lord:

to whom, with thee and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, world without end.  Amen.

The Book of Worship (1947), 163

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Isaiah 25:1-9

Psalm 118:14-29

1 Corinthians 15:12-28

John 20:1-10

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If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied.  But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

–1 Corinthians 15:19-20, Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition (2002)

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I am, to a great extent, a product of the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment.  I make no apologies for this; I value science, evidence, objective reality, liberty of conscience, constitutional government, human reason, the separation of powers, and the freedoms of speech, press, assembly, and dissent.  Call me a radical, if you wish, O reader.  I call myself an Episcopalian.  I get to believe in Jesus and accept fossil records, rock layers, geological time, dinosaurs, and evolution.  I am a modernist in both the Enlightenment and late nineteenth-century meanings of that word.

I do not pretend, however, that my intellectual categories are sufficient for all circumstances.  My scientific, Enlightenment, and historical categories prove helpful most of the time.  As I age, however, I find, much to my surprise, that mysticism is becoming a more prominent component of my spirituality.

I also understand the difference between faith and proof.  I need no faith to accept that which I can prove.  I can also disprove many subjective claims by citing objective evidence.  Faith his how believes that which is true yet one can neither prove nor disprove.

I know that human nature is corrupted (despite what certain Enlightenment philosophers argued) because I study the past and have something of a grasp of current events.  I have as much of a grasp of current events as I can without crossing the line into my spiritual and psychological detriment.  I have as much of a grasp of current events as possible without risking turning into General George Patton’s ideal man–one who can swear profanely for three minutes consistently without repeating any word.  Human depravity is a certainty–a fact–for me; it is not an article of faith for me.  On the other hand, I accept the existence of God on faith.  In fact the I reject the possibility of proving the existence of God logically.

Likewise, I believe (trust, literally) in the resurrection of Jesus.  I do so by faith.  I do not know that the resurrection is true; I believe (trust) that it is.  I stake everything on it being true.  I know that Jesus was a historical figure, but I believe that he was the incarnate Son of God, crucified and resurrected.

The resurrection of Jesus is one of the relatively few Christian doctrines one must accept to be a Christian.  The Virgin Birth is an optional doctrine, for example, but the Incarnation is not.  One may also choose to accept or reject the Immaculate Conception of St. Mary of Nazareth and be a Christian either way.  (Yes, I understand the difference between the Immaculate Conception and the Virgin Birth.  The first sets the stage for the second.)  As I was writing, the resurrection of Jesus, like the Incarnation, is mandatory for inclusion in the Christian faith.  Without the resurrection, we have a dead Jesus, who cannot save anyone from any sins and their consequences.  The resurrection completes the atonement, according to the Classic Theory of the Atonement, or Christus Victor.

The resurrection also contradicts and violates most of my intellectual categories.  So be it.

Happy Easter!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 4, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BENEDICT THE AFRICAN, FRANCISCAN FRIAR AND HERMIT

THE FEAST OF ALFRED C. MARBLE, JR., EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF MISSISSIPPI THEN ASSISTING BISHOP OF NORTH CAROLINA

THE FEAST OF ERNEST W. SHURTLEFF, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., U.S. CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER, AND MARTYR, 1968

THE FEAST OF SIDNEY LOVETT, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND CHAPLAIN OF YALE UNIVERSITY

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Death, Grief, and Resurrection   6 comments

Above:  The Angel in the 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:

Acts 3:12-26 or Job 19:7-27c

Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24

1 Corinthians 15:19-28

Luke 24:1-12

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There is a tradition of reading Hebrew Bible texts not about the Messiah as if they were about Jesus.  Consider the reading from Job 19, O reader.  Job, who has lost most of his family, claims God as his kinsman-redeemer, who will defend him against enemies.  Ironically, in Job 1 and 2, we read that God has allowed Job to suffer.  The Book of Job is a composite work, and what we call Job 19 predates what we call Job 1 and Job 2.  Interpreting the Book of Job can be a complicated matter.

The reading from 1 Corinthians 15 should back up by a few verses.  In context, the resurrection of the dead is linked to the resurrection of Jesus.  One must be true for the other one to be true.  Without the resurrection of Jesus, Christian faith is in vain, Christians are still in their sins, and those who have died have perished.  Therefore,

If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are the most pitiable people of all.

–1 Corinthians 15:19, The New American Bible–Revised Edition (2011)

Death packs a powerful punch.  One can, at best, imagine how those closest to Jesus felt after he died.  Perhaps only a mother can begin to guess with some degree of accuracy how St. Mary of Nazareth felt.  Consider, then, O reader, the fortitude required for the women to go to the tomb.  Grief can sad one’s energy level and cause inaction.  Yet we read of women walking to the tomb.

We can also only imagine how the three women felt when they learned of the resurrection.

Their hope was not in vain.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 4, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BENEDICT THE AFRICAN, FRANCISCAN FRIAR AND HERMIT

THE FEAST OF ALFRED C. MARBLE, JR., EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF MISSISSIPPI THEN ASSISTING BISHOP OF NORTH CAROLINA

THE FEAST OF ERNEST W. SHURTLEFF, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., U.S. CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER, AND MARTYR, 1968

THE FEAST OF SIDNEY LOVETT, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND CHAPLAIN OF YALE UNIVERSITY

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Adapted from this post:

https://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2020/04/04/devotion-for-easter-sunday-year-c-humes/

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Astounding News from God   Leave a comment

Above:   Manna

Image in the Public Domain

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For Easter Sunday, Year 2, according to the U.S. Presbyterian lectionary of 1966-1970

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Mighty God, who raised up Jesus from the dead:

give us such trust in thee, that all our days we may rejoice,

looking to that perfect day when we shall feast in paradise with Christ our Lord,

to whom be praise and glory evermore.  Amen.

The Book of Common Worship–Provisional Services (1966), 122

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Exodus 16:4-17

Revelation 1:1-8

John 20:1018

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These three readings tell of astounding news.

God always provides enough, often through mundane and natural methods.  Manna and quail, for example, occur naturally.  Perhaps the technical description of manna (crystalized insect excrement) disgusts one, but the substance is not harmful.  People still consume it safely, in fact.

Manna was not miraculous, but it was astounding at the time.  The resurrection of Jesus was both astounding and miraculous, though.  Doubts in real time were understandable.

The Christ of Revelation 1:1-8 is the risen, ascended, and glorified figure descending to a mixed reaction.  Judgment and mercy come mixed in that description.  Yet one may recall Christ’s intercession–his prayer from the cross that God forgive those who did not know what they were doing.  That intercession seems at first to conflict with Revelation 1:1-8.  The two do not conflict, though; God condemns nobody, but people condemn themselves.

How do we respond to the astounding news from God daily?  Do we grumble or do we rejoice?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 26, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ISABEL FLORENCE HAPGOOD, U.S. JOURNALIST, TRANSLATOR, AND ECUMENIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANDRA GIACINTO LONGHIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF TREVISO

THE FEAST OF PHILIP DODDRIDGE, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF VIRGIL MICHEL, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, ACADEMIC, AND PIONEER OF LITURGICAL RENEWAL

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Honest Faith Versus False Certainty III   Leave a comment

Above:   Post-Resurrection Appearances

Image in the Public Domain

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For the Easter Sunday, Year 2, according to the U.S. Presbyterian lectionary of 1966-1970

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Almighty God, who through the raising of Jesus Christ from the dead hast given us a living hope:

keep us joyful in all our trials, and guard our faith that we may receive

the heavenly inheritance which thou hast prepared for us;

through Jesus Christ our Savior.  Amen.

The Book of Common Worship–Provisional Services (1966), 122

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Exodus 14:15-29

1 Corinthians 15:1-11

Matthew 28:1-20

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These three readings pertain to salvation history, to two of God’s mighty acts–the Exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt and the resurrection of Jesus.  In each reading one finds evidence of new life–new life as free people, new life for a former corpse, and new life in Christ.

Writing good devotions for Easter can be difficult, for one may not want to draft Easter Devotion #5753, repeating the previous devotions for the holy day.  In some ways I prefer to feel the resurrection, for I cannot explain it.  I must accept the resurrection of Jesus on faith or not at all, for nobody can prove or disprove it.  In this matter, as in many others, certainty is impossible.  It is also spiritually undesirable.

New life in Christ entails taking up one’s cross and following him in faith, not in seeking certainty in matters in which it is impossible.  I practice the Christian faith, not the Christian certainty.  Certainty has its place elsewhere in life.  I, as a student of history, respect objective reality and the ability to document it.  The resurrection of Jesus is not a matter for historical interpretation, though.  It is, however, a matter of faith.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 26, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ISABEL FLORENCE HAPGOOD, U.S. JOURNALIST, TRANSLATOR, AND ECUMENIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANDRA GIACINTO LONGHIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF TREVISO

THE FEAST OF PHILIP DODDRIDGE, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF VIRGIL MICHEL, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, ACADEMIC, AND PIONEER OF LITURGICAL RENEWAL

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I Know That My Redeemer Liveth   1 comment

Above:  The Angel in the Empty 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:

Acts 2:42-47 or Job 19:7-27c

Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24

1 Corinthians 15:12-20

Mark 16:1-8

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Ah, that these words of mine were written down,

inscribed on some monument

with iron chisel and engraving tool,

cut into the rock for ever.

This I know:  that my Avenger lives,

and he, the Last, will take his stand on earth.

After my awaking, he will set me close to him,

and from my flesh I shall look upon God.

He, whom I shall see will take my part:

these eyes will gaze on him and find him not aloof.

My heart within me sinks…

You, then, that mutter, “How shall we track him down,

what pretext shall we find against him?”

may well fear the sword on your own account.

There is an anger stirred to flame by evil deeds;

you will learn that there is indeed a judgment.

–Job 19:23-29, The Jerusalem Bible (1966)

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In the context of the Book of Job in its final form, the continued faith of Job, afflicted with divine consent by the loyalty tester (the Satan) then rejected by surviving relatives and insulted repeatedly by so-called friends, makes little sense.  The Avenger/Vindicator/Redeemer, or kinsman-redeemer who was to avenge innocent blood, had to be God, for whom the alleged friends presumed to speak.  One irony in the Book of Job, in its final form, is that we who read Chapters 1, 2, and 42 know that Elihu, Zophar, Bildad, and Eliphaz were wrong when claiming that God protects the innocent, in Job’s case.  Yet Job still trusts in God.

The reading of this passage on Easter Sunday makes sense.  Did not the resurrection of Jesus vindicate him?  And does it not vindicate we who, in faith, accept his resurrection?

Job’s attitude, in contrast to the forgiving spirit of Jesus on the cross, is understandable.  Job’s attitude also vindicates the human need for justice.  God will judge and show mercy as God deems appropriate.

The Gospel of Mark originally ended with,

…and they were terrified

at the empty tomb.  Such fear was understandable; the women at the tomb had no hindsight regarding the resurrection of Jesus.  Hindsight was impossible at the time.

I try to minimize how much I anthropomorphize God.  Some of it is unavoidable, given human perspective.  To a great extent, God is, for lack of a better word, other–not quite unknowable, but still other.  The somewhat unknowable other terrifies us sometimes, even in showing extreme mercy, for we do not understand.  With hindsight, however, we can find reasons to rejoice, not fear.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 26, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ISABEL FLORENCE HAPGOOD, U.S. JOURNALIST, TRANSLATOR, AND ECUMENIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANDRA GIACINTO LONGHIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF TREVISO

THE FEAST OF PHILIP DODDRIDGE, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF VIRGIL MICHEL, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, ACADEMIC, AND PIONEER OF LITURGICAL RENEWAL

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Adapted from this post:

https://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2019/06/26/devotion-for-easter-sunday-year-b-humes/

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So What?   Leave a comment

Above:   Supper at Emmaus, by Caravaggio

Image in the Public Domain

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For Easter Sunday, Year 1, according to the U.S. Presbyterian lectionary of 1966-1970

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Almighty God, who through the raising of Jesus Christ from the dead hast given us a living hope:

keep us joyful in all our trials, and guard our faith that we may receive

the heavenly inheritance which thou hast prepared for us;

through Jesus Christ our Savior.  Amen.

or

Mighty God, who raised up Jesus from the dead:

give us such trust in thee, that all our days we may rejoice,

looking to that perfect day when we shall feast in paradise with Christ our Lord,

to whom be praise and glory evermore.  Amen.

The Book of Common Worship–Provisional Services (1966), 122

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First Service:

Isaiah 26:1-8

Colossians 3:1-4

Mark 16:1-8

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Second Service:

Daniel 3:13-125

Acts 1:1-5

Luke 24:13-32

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The original ending of the Gospel of Mark was terrified disciples fleeing the empty tomb.  Then various people composed other, uplifting conclusions.

There is something more powerful about ending Mark with 16:8.  The stark, uncertain abruptness feels real in a way with which we humans experience life frequently.  We recall hearing that we should trust God, but we are afraid.  Nobody has a moral right t belittle that feeling, which we all experience more often than we like.  God is present with us in that darkness.  Whenever we cry out to God from the depths, we may be screaming to one who, unknown to us, is actually walking beside us, and doing so without castigating us.

The Resurrection of Jesus functions on two levels in Pauline theology.  It is simultaneously a literal event and a metaphor, as in Colossians 3:1-4–death to sin and resurrection to life in Christ.

In the study of history one question every scholar needs to answer one question:

So what?

Assuming that one is accurate, so what?  When one applies this question to the Resurrection of Jesus, the best answer comes from St. Paul the Apostle, in 1 Corinthians 15:

…and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is pointless and you have not, after all, been released from your sins.  In addition, those who have fallen asleep in Christ are utterly lost.  If our hope in Christ has been for this life only, we are of all people the most pitiable.

–Verses 17-19, The Revised English Bible (1989)

That is “so what.”

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 13, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HENRY MARTYN DEXTER, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HISTORIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT ABBO OF FLEURY, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINT BRICE OF TOURS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICHOLAS TAVELIC AND HIS COMPANIONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

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Resurrected Lives, Part I   1 comment

Above:  Easter Celtic Cross

Image Scanned by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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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 2:22-41 or Job 19:7-27c

Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24

1 Corinthians 15:1-11

Matthew 28:1-10

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The reading from Job 19 might seem at first to be an odd selection for Easter Sunday.  The choice makes much sense on this occasion, however.  The lesson reminds us that even innocent people suffer, despite what certain conventionally pious people, such as alleged friends who insult the afflicted, claim.  Reading the Book of Job and the Gospel of John together highlights the falseness of the arguments of Job’s alleged friends, for, in the Johannine Gospel, the crucifixion of Jesus is Christ’s glorification.

Psalm 118 is a prayer of thanksgiving for victory in battle.  The theme of victory certainly applies to Easter, central to the Christian liturgical year.  Likewise the resurrection of Jesus is central to Christianity, as 1 Corinthians 15, in its entirety, affirms.

The body of Christian doctrine is varied and frequently self-contradictory, given the wide variety of competing denominations.  An orthodox Christian in one denomination is simultaneously a heretic, according to the standards of many other denominations.  Yet, for all the variation in doctrines not essential to salvation, a few doctrines are mandatory.  The Incarnation is one.  The atonement (with at least three interpretations of it dating to the Patristic Era) is a second.  The resurrection of Jesus is a third.

In the academic study of history one, assuming that one’s facts are correct and one’s chronology is in order, one must still be able to answer one question satisfactorily:

So what?

St. Paul the Apostle, in 1 Corinthians 15, answers that question ably down the corridors of time.  Through the resurrection of Jesus, we read (especially after verse 11), we Christians, liberated from our former states of sin, have hope; we lead resurrected lives.  Otherwise, if the resurrection is false,

…we of all people are most to be pitied.

–1 Corinthians 15:19b, The Revised English Bible (1989)

Yet we are not, thanks to God.

Happy Easter!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 30, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOAN OF ARC, ROMAN CATHOLIC VISIONARY AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF APOLO KIVEBULAYA, APOSTLE TO THE PYGMIES

THE FEAST OF JOSEPHINE BUTLER, ENGLISH FEMINIST AND SOCIAL REFORMER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS LUKE KIRBY, THOMAS COTTAM, WILLIAM FILBY, AND LAURENCE RICHARDSON, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND MARTYRS

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Adapted from this post:

https://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2018/05/30/devotion-for-easter-sunday-year-a-humes/

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