Archive for the ‘Easter’ Tag

Theophanies   Leave a comment

Above:  Pentecost Dove

Scanned from a Church Bulletin by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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

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O Thou who sent the promised fire of thy Spirit to make saints of ordinary men:

grant that we, waiting and together now, may be enflamed with such love for thee

that we may speak out boldly in thy name; through Jesus Christ the Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Common Worship–Provisional Services (1966), 123

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Exodus 19:1-11

Acts 2:1-21

John 14:23-31

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When God draws near, reality changes.  Pledges of communal piety may be extremely short-lived (as in Exodus 19), but the dramatic theophany alters the lives of all those who experience it.  This alteration is not reversible.

This is a devotional post for the Day of Pentecost, a commemoration of a dramatic event.  Not all theophanies are dramatic, though; many are quiet.  Some are not even events; no, they are processes.  Sometimes God works via events, dramatic or otherwise.  And sometimes God works gradually, seemingly imperceptible, especially if one does not know what to pay attention to at a particular time.

Nevertheless, the experience is transformational.  It does not take away free will, though.  One may recall the Golden Calf story (Exodus 32).  Free will can swing in more than one direction.

May we be instruments of God, not unreliable, grumbling people who reject grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 29, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS PETER AND PAUL APOSTLES AND MARTYRS

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Posted June 29, 2019 by neatnik2009 in Acts of the Apostles 2, Exodus 19, John 14

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When the Advocate Comes   1 comment

Above:  Pentecost Dove

Scanned from a Church Bulletin 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 2:1-21 or Joel 2:21-32

Psalm 104:24-34, 35b

Acts 2:1-21 or Romans 8:22-27

John 15:26-16:15

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My Episcopal parish recently held a few focus groups.  Our tasks were envision the congregation in a decade and to think about what the church should be then, to focus on goals and broad strokes, not technical details.  I stated my version of that future.  I also said, in broad terms, that we ought not to focus on what we can do or think we will be able to do, but on what God can do through us.  I vocalized the principle that we need to focus on divine agency, not human agency.

This has been the task of the Church since its birth on Pentecost 29 or 30 C.E., in Jerusalem.  God has always been central; human egos have imagined otherwise.

As we continue our collective and individual spiritual journeys in Christ, the Holy Spirit will accompany, advise, and advocate for us.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 29, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS PETER AND PAUL APOSTLES AND MARTYRS

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Adapted from this post:

https://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2019/06/29/devotion-for-pentecost-sunday-year-b-humes/

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Posted June 29, 2019 by neatnik2009 in Acts of the Apostles 2, Joel 2, John 15, Psalm 104, Romans 8

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Earthly Obligations   Leave a comment

Above:  Earth, December 22, 1968

Image in the Public Domain

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

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O Thou Lord of all times and places, whose thoughts are not our thoughts,

whose ways are not our ways, and who art lifted high above our selfish concerns:

rule our minds, redeem our ways, and by thy mercy draw us to thee;

through Jesus Christ the Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Common Worship–Provisional Services (1966), 123

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Daniel 7:9-14

1 John 2:28-3:3

Luke 21:29-36

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The readings for the Sunday after the Ascension, Year 2, have an apocalyptic tone. “One like a Son of Man”/”one like a human being”–probably the archangel Michael–descends in Daniel 7.  The Second Coming of Jesus is the backdrop of 1 John 2:28-3:3.  The tone of 2:29 is simultaneously inclusive and exclusive, to the discomfort of many religious adherents from a range of traditions.  A prediction of the Second Coming of Jesus, the Son of Man, fills the reading from Luke 21.

There are at least three possible responses to news of the parousia–indifference to the event, laziness regarding obligations, and increased vigilance.  The first response needs no explanation.  The second response is one in which one says,

God will fix problems, so why should I care about what happens on this planet?

This is a destructive attitude, and a sin.  The final attitude–increased vigilance in doing what one should do–is the correct one.

We are citizens of Heaven and residents of this planet.  We belong to communities, organizations, and societies.  We have a sacred duty to leave all of the above better than we found it, for we are stewards of the planet and its inhabitants of various species.  God will save the Earth, but we can–and must–respect, honor, and improve it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 29, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS PETER AND PAUL APOSTLES AND MARTYRS

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Apocalypse and Hope   1 comment

Above:  The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans Under the Command of Titus, A.D. 70, by David Roberts

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 9:32-43

Psalm 68:1-10, 32-35

2 Peter 3:8-14

Mark 13:1-13

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The apocalyptic tone of 2 Peter 3:8-14 and Mark 13:1-3 is actually good news.  God is the king of creation, of course, despite appearances to the contrary.  The word of God continues to spread, despite violent attempts to prevent that.  The end of the current world order will precede the rise of the divine world order.

One of the themes in the New Testament is the importance of remaining faithful–of not committing apostasy–despite many short-term reasons to do so.  Avoiding prison, continuing to live, and preventing suffering all sound like good reasons not to do something, do they not.  They are, much of the time.  However, Christian fidelity sometimes leads to incarceration, suffering, and/or martyrdom.  Yet, if we suffer with Christ, we will reign with him.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 29, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS PETER AND PAUL APOSTLES AND MARTYRS

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Adapted from this post:

https://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2019/06/29/devotion-for-the-seventh-sunday-of-easter-year-b-humes/

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Waiting for the Ideal Jerusalem   3 comments

Above:  Zechariah

Image in the Public Domain

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

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May all our thoughts, O God, be guided by thy Word and ruled by thy Spirit:

that we may have among us the same mind which was in Christ Jesus, our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Common Worship–Provisional Services (1966), 123

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Zechariah 8:1-8

Ephesians 1:15-23

Luke 24:36-53

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We are moving toward the Ascension of Jesus as we ponder the reign of God in Heaven and on Earth.  The sovereignty of God is an ancient and a contemporary theological concern.  Christ the King is an issue in Ephesians 1.  That may seem abstract, but, O reader, consider the other reading also.

Many exiles had returned to their ancestral homeland under Persian imperial patronage.  High hopes of what Jerusalem and the rest of the homeland would be like did not match reality.  The prophet Zechariah told these disappointed former exiles that divine promises were trustworthy, and that the ideal Jerusalem would come to pass.

We are still waiting.  How many of us are waiting in faith?  How many of us are waiting in lack of faith?

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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Posted June 28, 2019 by neatnik2009 in Ephesians 1, Luke 24, Zechariah 8

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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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Audacious Claims   Leave a comment

Above:   Christ Pantocrator

Scanned by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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

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Give us, O Lord, a right understanding and a sincere love of thy Word;

that we may not be deceived and carried away by any falsehood,

but grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen.

The Book of Common Worship–Provisional Services (1966), 123

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Isaiah 63:7-9

1 Corinthians 15:50-58

John 16:16-33

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In the world you will have trouble, but be brave:  I have conquered the world.

–John 16:33b, The Jerusalem Bible (1966)

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The author of the Gospel of John placed those words in the mouth of Jesus shortly prior to custody, torture, and crucifixion.

Johannine theology is counter-intuitive much of the time.  How, for example, can the crucifixion of Jesus be his glorification?  How could Jesus, whom the Roman Empire executed in full Foucaultian fashion, with the intention of eradicating him, have conquered the world prior to that crucifixion, much less the resurrection?  Johannine theology requires one to lay aside many assumptions.

The God of history, who cares about nations and individuals, has vanquished death.  Jesus has overcome the world.

Yet ponder the past and the present, O reader.  If you dare, pay close attention to the news, at least until you start swearing under your breath or shouting profanities in frustration.  If Jesus has really overcome the world, evidence for that claim is difficult to find.  As for God conquering death, that claim resides in a different realm than the one I detect with my five senses.  That claim is one to accept on faith, or not at all.

Audacious claims are easy to find in the Bible.  Perhaps the resurrection of Jesus is the most audacious one.  I accept that one on faith.  Relatively speaking, Jesus having overcome the world and God conquering death are easier to accept.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 27, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CORNELIUS HILL, ONEIDA CHIEF AND EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF HUGH THOMSON KERR, SR., U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND LITURGIST; AND HIS SON, HUGH THOMSON KERR, JR., U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, SCHOLAR, AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF JAMES MOFFATT, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, SCHOLAR, AND BIBLE TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN THE GEORGIAN, ABBOT; AND SAINTS EUTHYMIUS OF ATHOS AND GEORGE OF THE BLACK MOUNTAIN, ABBOTS AND TRANSLATORS

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Posted June 27, 2019 by neatnik2009 in 1 Corinthians 15, Isaiah 63, John 16

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