Archive for the ‘Easter’ Tag

God, Gloriously Subversive   Leave a comment

Above:  Pentecost Dove

Scanned from a Church Bulletin by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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FOR PENTECOST SUNDAY, ACCORDING TO A LECTIONARY FOR PUBLIC WORSHIP IN THE BOOK OF WORSHIP FOR CHURCH AND HOME (1965)

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O God, who at this time teaches the heart of your faithful people,

by sending them the light of your Holy Spirit:

Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things

and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort;

through the merits of Christ Jesus our Savior, who lives and reigns with you,

in the unity of the same Spirit, one God, world without end.  Amen.

–Modernized from The Book of Worship for Church and Home (1965), pages 127-128

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Jeremiah 31:31-34

Psalm 30

Acts 2:1-8, 12-21

John 14:15-17, 25-27

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Robert C. Wright, the Episcopal Bishop of Atlanta, and my bishop, likes to repeat the slogan,

Love like Jesus.

That teaching is consistent with the reading from John 14, in which the test of loving Jesus is obeying his commandments.  May we recall how Jesus loved and lived–sacrificially and unconditionally.  The ethics of Jesus, as we read them in the Gospels, are those of Judaism–love the LORD with all one’s heart, soul, and mind, and one’s neighbor as oneself.  That is certainly the summary of the Torah, according to Rabbi Hillel, who died when Jesus was a boy.

The Holy Spirit is a great leveler.  A recurring theme in varieties of Christianity, from the Quakers to the Arminians, is equality via the Holy Spirit.  This teaching is, according to those who favor spiritual hierarchy, heretical.  Equality via the Holy Spirit cuts through social–gender, economic, racial, ethnic, et cetera–distinctions, much to the discomfort of those invested in those categories as indications of inequality.  God writes the new covenant on hearts metaphorically without regard to social status.  God, who turns mourning into dancing, is no respecter of persons.  God is, according to human standards, subversive.

This is wonderful news to ponder on any day, but especially on Pentecost, the last day of the Easter season and the birthday of the Church.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 19, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE SEVENTEENTH DAY OF ADVENT

THE FEAST OF RAOUL WALLENBERG, RIGHTEOUS GENTILE

THE FEAST OF CHICO MENDES, “GANDHI OF THE AMAZON”

THE FEAST OF ROBERT CAMPBELL, SCOTTISH EPISCOPALIAN THEN ROMAN CATHOLIC SOCIAL ADVOCATE AND HYMN WRITER

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This is post #1800 of BLOGA THEOLOGICA.

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Christ, Ascended   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of the Ascension, by Andrei Rublev

Image in the Public Domain

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FOR THE FEAST OF THE ASCENSION AND ASCENSION SUNDAY, ACCORDING TO A LECTIONARY FOR PUBLIC WORSHIP IN THE BOOK OF WORSHIP FOR CHURCH AND HOME (1965)

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Almighty God, whose blessed Son our Savior Jesus Christ ascended

far above the heavens, that he might fill all things:

Mercifully give us faith to perceive that according to his promise

he abides with his Church on earth, even to the ends of the world;

through the same your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

–Modernized from The Book of Worship for Church and Home (1965), page 122

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Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14

Psalm 8 (Ascension Day)

Psalm 29 (Ascension Sunday)

Ephesians 1:15-23

Luke 24:44-53

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The Ascension of Jesus (Acts 1:6-11) is one of those events I file under “You Had to Be There.”  I read the account (not assigned for these occasions, oddly enough) of it as prose poetry.  I do not assume, after all, that Heaven (as God’s abode) is on the other side of the sky and that the cosmos has three tiers, the middle level of which is the Earth.  What I do take literally is that Jesus was physically present at the beginning of the day and gone by the end of that day.  I also notice that the importance of the departure of Jesus for the Apostles was that they had they had to assume their responsibility, with the aid of the Holy Spirit.

The assigned readings, taken together, emphasize the sovereignty of God.  The lesson from Daniel 7 is part of a longer passage.  In a dream are four mighty beasts, representing, in order, the Chaldeans/Neo-Babylonians, the Medes, the Persians, and the empire of Alexander the Great.  From the latter arise ten horns, representing Seleucid successors of Alexander.  One of these horns is the arrogant and violent Antiochus IV Epiphanes (reigned 175-164 B.C.E.).  “One like a Son of Man,” a heavenly being often identified in Jewish tradition as Michael the Archangel, crushes Antiochus IV Epiphanes.

We know from the passage of time that events did not unfold that way; history did not culminate in the Hasmonean period.  We can, however, affirm the sovereignty of God, a theme prevalent in Psalms 8 and 29 also.  The sovereignty of God is also evident in the resurrection of Jesus.

Various Christian traditions emphasize different aspects of the life of Christ.  Anglicanism, with its incarnational theology, is the church of Christmas.  Roman Catholicism, with its ubiquitous crucifixes, fixates on Good Friday.  The Jesus of Eastern Orthodoxy is the ascended and glorified Jesus in Heaven, as their iconography indicates.  Each emphasis has its virtues, but the ascended and glorified Christ is the version of Jesus to ponder on the Feast of the Ascension.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 18, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE SIXTEENTH DAY OF ADVENT

THE FEAST OF MARC BOEGNER, ECUMENIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT GIULIA VALLE, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN

THE FEAST OF SAINT ISAAC HECKER, FOUNDER OF THE MISSIONARY SOCIETY OF SAINT PAUL THE APOSTLE

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The Conquering Faith   Leave a comment

Above:  Christ Pantocrator

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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FOR THE FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER EASTER, ACCORDING TO A LECTIONARY FOR PUBLIC WORSHIP IN THE BOOK OF WORSHIP FOR CHURCH AND HOME (1965)

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O Lord Jesus Christ, who is the eternal Wisdom of the Father:

We ask you to assist us by your heavenly grace, that we may be blessed in our work this day,

and above all things may attain the knowledge of you, whom to know is life eternal;

and that according to your most holy example, we may ever be found going among our fellow human beings,

doing good, healing the sick, and preaching the Gospel of the kingdom of heaven;

to the praise and glory of your name.  Amen.

–Modernized from The Book of Worship for Church and Home (1965), page 120

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Deuteronomy 10:12-15, 20-11:1

Psalm 36

1 John 5:1-5, 11

John 17:1-5

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PRELIMINARY NOTE:

I encourage you, O reader, to read Deuteronomy 10:12-11:1 and 1 John 5:1-12, not just the portions of them included  in the old lectionary from which I am writing.

KRT

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In John 16:33 Jesus, shortly prior to his apprehension, trial, torture, and execution tells his Apostles,

I have told you all this so that in me you may find peace.  In the world you will have suffering.  But take heart!  I have conquered the world.

The Revised English Bible (1989)

That functions as background for reading 1 John 5:1-5:

Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

–1 John 5:5, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

The term “eternal life” occurs deeper into 1 John 5.  In John 17:3 we read a definition of eternal life:  to know God as the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom God has sent.  Eternal life therefore begins on this side of the afterlife.

Above:  A Yard Sign, Athens, Georgia, October 12, 2017

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

The lessons from Deuteronomy 10-11 and Psalm 36 remind us to follow God, befriend and tend to the needs of strangers, and to trust in the steadfast love (hesed) of God.  All of these are consistent with eternal life, as in John 17 and 1 John 5.  All of these are consistent with the conquering faith mentioned in 1 John 5.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 18, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE SIXTEENTH DAY OF ADVENT

THE FEAST OF MARC BOEGNER, ECUMENIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT GIULIA VALLE, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN

THE FEAST OF SAINT ISAAC HECKER, FOUNDER OF THE MISSIONARY SOCIETY OF SAINT PAUL THE APOSTLE

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Posted December 18, 2017 by neatnik2009 in 1 John 5, Deuteronomy 10, Deuteronomy 11, John 16, John 17, Psalm 36

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Attachments, Part II   Leave a comment

Above:  Some of the Possessions of Charles Foster Kane, from Citizen Kane (1941)

A Screen Capture

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FOR THE FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER EASTER, ACCORDING TO A LECTIONARY FOR PUBLIC WORSHIP IN THE BOOK OF WORSHIP FOR CHURCH AND HOME (1965)

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Almighty and everlasting God, who governs all things in heaven and earth:

Mercifully hear the supplications of your people, and grant us your peace all the days of our life;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

–Modernized from The Book of Worship for Church and Home (1965), page 119

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Deuteronomy 7:6-11

Psalm 49

2 Corinthians 5:1-10

John 16:16-22

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Much is transitory.  The body is transitory.  Wealth is transitory.   Joy is transitory.  We read in John 16 that the physical presence of Jesus with the 12 Apostles was transitory.

Nevertheless, God is everlasting.  Certain principles are constant.  Among these are grace and divine judgment and mercy.  We depend entirely on God; may we never neglect this reality.  May we seek to respond faithfully to God and, by grace, succeed.  Although transitory things can provide proper pleasures, may we recognize those pleasures as being transitory and not become too attached to them.  We cannot avoid all temporary attachments in this life and be well-adjusted; we are only human, after all.  May we simply know these attachments for what they are and acknowledge God as the only permanent attachment.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 18, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE SIXTEENTH DAY OF ADVENT

THE FEAST OF MARC BOEGNER, ECUMENIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT GIULIA VALLE, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN

THE FEAST OF SAINT ISAAC HECKER, FOUNDER OF THE MISSIONARY SOCIETY OF SAINT PAUL THE APOSTLE

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Good and Bad Shepherds, Part III   Leave a comment

Above:  Christ the Good Shepherd

Image in the Public Domain

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FOR THE THIRD SUNDAY AFTER EASTER, ACCORDING TO A LECTIONARY FOR PUBLIC WORSHIP IN THE BOOK OF WORSHIP FOR CHURCH AND HOME (1965)

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Almighty God, who shows to those in error the light of your truth,

to the intent that they may return to the way of righteousness:

Grant to all those who are admitted into the fellowship of Christ’s religion,

that they may avoid those things that are contrary to their profession,

and follow all such things as are agreeable to the same;

through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

–Modernized from The Book of Worship for Church and Home (1965), page 119

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Ezekiel 34:11-16, 30-31

Psalm 44

1 Peter 2:19-25

John 10:11-16

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The reading from 1 Peter takes on a different meaning when one backs up one verse to 2:18:

Slaves, accept the authority of your masters with all deference, not only those who are kind and gentle, but also those who are harsh.

The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

Yes, I understand the differences between Roman slavery and race-based chattel slavery, but I contend that no form of slavery is compatible with Christianity, despite the accommodations the Church has made to varieties of slavery in various places over time.  Kyrie eleison.  As for the use of Christ’s sufferings to argue for submission even to harsh masters, I rebut that slave rebellions are justifiable.

The theme of shepherds unites Ezekiel 34 and John 10.  In Ezekiel 34, taken as a whole, we read condemnations of bad kings, spoken of metaphorically as shepherds.  We read also of God as the good shepherd.  This language applies to Jesus in John 10:14f.  And why not?  Do we Christians not affirm that Jesus was divine?

Psalm 44 is a national lament following defeat by an unidentified foe.  Scholarly educated guesses place the text as early as the Babylonian Exile and as late as the time of the Maccabees/Hasmoneans.  More interestingly, though, the psalmist understands defeat as to have occurred despite national fidelity to God, not because of collective, persistent sin (verses 17-19).  The text reflects the impression that God is hiding the divine face from the nation as it seeks divine assistance.

One might interpret Psalm 44 more than one way.  Perhaps the psalmist is accurate.  Or maybe he misconstrues the situation.  Either way, the sense of abandonment by God is palpable.  Sometimes the righteous suffer because of or despite their righteousness, after all.

I refuse to offer false and simplistic answers to this difficult question.  I do, however, conclude the way the author of Psalm 44 does:  seek God.  When I bring other readings to bear on the matter, I say, seek God, who incarcerated as one of us, who is our Good Shepherd, and whose ways we cannot fully comprehend.

To whom else can we turn?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 18, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE SIXTEENTH DAY OF ADVENT

THE FEAST OF MARC BOEGNER, ECUMENIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT GIULIA VALLE, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN

THE FEAST OF SAINT ISAAC HECKER, FOUNDER OF THE MISSIONARY SOCIETY OF SAINT PAUL THE APOSTLE

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Divine Faithfulness and Human Responses   Leave a comment

Above:  Christ Pantocrator

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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FOR THE SECOND SUNDAY AFTER EASTER, ACCORDING TO A LECTIONARY FOR PUBLIC WORSHIP IN THE BOOK OF WORSHIP FOR CHURCH AND HOME (1965)

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O Almighty God, who alone can order the unruly wills and affections of sinful human beings:

Grant to your people, that they may love the thing which you command, and desire that which you promise;

that so, among the sundry and manifold changes of the world,

our hearts may surely be fixed, where true joys are to be found;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

–Modernized from The Book of Worship for Church and Home (1965), page 119

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Isaiah 12:1-6

Psalm 42

Romans 6:3-11

John 6:37-40

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The reading from Romans is one piece of evidence for the proposition that one can use the death and resurrection of Jesus metaphorically while considering them to be literal events.  In this case the metaphorical death is our death to sin and the metaphorical resurrection is to our life in God in Christ Jesus.  In the Gospel of John that life is eternal life, which begins on this side of the afterlife (17:3).  John 6 also emphasizes the faithfulness of God, a theme in Isaiah 12, a hymn of praise to God to sing after the Day of the Lord.  We can sing it to God just as well today, can we not?

Psalm 42 (originally part of one psalm with #43) comes from a particular context.  The author, who is ill, cannot make the customary pilgrimage from his home near Mount Hermon to Jerusalem.  He longs to travel to that city and the Temple there.  Some people around the psalmist say that his illness signifies that God has forsaken him.  They are mistaken, of course, but the words still sing.  The psalmist prays for vindication in the form of healing, so that he may make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem.  We do not read what happened next.

Even when those (including the self-identified orthodox around us) are wrong, their words and attitudes have power to affect us.  They might imagine themselves to be faithful, but God certainly is.  May we thank God for that and respond faithfully, depending on grace, as we must.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 18, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE SIXTEENTH DAY OF ADVENT

THE FEAST OF MARC BOEGNER, ECUMENIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT GIULIA VALLE, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN

THE FEAST OF SAINT ISAAC HECKER, FOUNDER OF THE MISSIONARY SOCIETY OF SAINT PAUL THE APOSTLE

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Posted December 18, 2017 by neatnik2009 in Isaiah 12, John 17, John 6, Psalm 42, Psalm 43, Romans 6

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Vindication, Part III   Leave a comment

Above:  The Incredulity of Saint Thomas, by Caravaggio

Image in the Public Domain

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FOR THE FIRST SUNDAY AFTER EASTER, ACCORDING TO A LECTIONARY FOR PUBLIC WORSHIP IN THE BOOK OF WORSHIP FOR CHURCH AND HOME (1965)

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O God, who through the resurrection of Jesus Christ has freed us

from the power of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of your love:

Grant, we ask you that, as by his death he has recalled us into life,

so by his abiding presence he may bring us to the joys eternal;

through him who for our sakes died and rose again, and is ever with us in power,

the same your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

–Modernized from The Book of Worship for Church and Home (1965), page 119

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Job 19:1, 23-27

Psalm 43

1 Corinthians 15:12-22

John 20:19-31

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I am not one given to complex theological purity tests, for I almost always fail them.  That is fine, for I have never sought to please those who have written and applied these purity tests.

I do, however, assert that the following passage is crucial to Christianity:

…and of Christ has not been raised, the our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain.

–1 Corinthians 15:14, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

One must affirm the resurrection of Jesus to be a Christian.  To work through doubts is fine, for doubt is a feasible route to knowledge.  Besides, St. Thomas the Apostle is my favorite Biblical character.  I harbor strong suspicions that people who never doubt never think deeply.

Vindication is a theme uniting Psalm 43 and Psalm 19.  In the latter reading the titular character, in TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985), expresses confidence that his Vindicator (verse 25) lives.  Job means that he will see his Vindicator during his (Job’s) lifetime, not in the afterlife.  One might think of George Frederick Handel‘s Messiah, which uses the text (as “I Know That My Redeemer Liveth” in reference to Jesus, consistent with much of Christian tradition.  Job understands his Vindicator to be one, probably a relative, who will defend his (Job’s) rights.  The author of Psalm 43 identifies God as his Vindicator.  If we apply this theme to Jesus, we arrive at the ultimate vindication of Jesus and ourselves–his resurrection.

I like to ponder stories the Biblical authors chose not to tell or could not tell.  For example, news of the resurrection reached Temple authorities.  How could it not have done so?  I wonder what Caiaphas and company say in meetings?  Perhaps they sent spies out to observe Jesus.  What did these religious authorities make of the reality of Christ’s restoration to life?

What do we make of it?  More importantly, what do we and will we do with it?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 18, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE SIXTEENTH DAY OF ADVENT

THE FEAST OF MARC BOEGNER, ECUMENIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT GIULIA VALLE, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN

THE FEAST OF SAINT ISAAC HECKER, FOUNDER OF THE MISSIONARY SOCIETY OF SAINT PAUL THE APOSTLE

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