Archive for the ‘Eternal Life’ Tag

Spiritual Unity   1 comment

Above:  Church Row, Louvale, Georgia

Image Source = Google Earth

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According to the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship (ILCW) Lectionary (1973), as contained in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and Lutheran Worship (1982)

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Acts 1:(1-7) 8-14

Psalm 47 (LBW) or Psalm 133 (LW)

1 Peter 4:12-17; 5:6-11

John 17:1-11

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Almighty and eternal God,

your Son our Savior is with you in eternal glory. 

Give us faith to see that, true to his promise,

he is among us still, and will be with us to the end of time;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

OR

God, our creator and redeemer,

your Son Jesus prayed that his followers might be one. 

Make all Christians one with him as he is with you,

so that in peace and concord

we may carry to the world the message of your love;

through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 23

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O King of glory, Lord of hosts,

uplifted in triumph above all heavens,

we pray, leave us not without consolation,

but send us the Spirit of truth,

whom you promised from the Father;

for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 57

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My theme in this post is unity.

John 17:1-11 opens with the Johannine definition of eternal life (knowing God via Jesus) and concludes with another Johannine motif–spiritual indwelling.

Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are.

–John 17:11b, The New American Bible–Revised Edition (2011)

In the Gospel of John, Jesus dwells in the Father.  Christians dwell in Jesus, therefore, they dwell in the Father.

In John 17:11b, the prayer is that God will keep the disciples as a unity, not as units–that the unity of the faith community will mirror the unity of Jesus and the Father.

Spiritual unity and organic unity differ.  One can exist in the absence of the other one.  Denominations or congregations may cooperate harmoniously while bitter infighting divides a denomination or congregation.  Organic unity may not always be desirable or feasible, but ecumenical cooperation may be effective.

Psalm 133 opens:

Oh, how good and pleasant it is when brethren live together in unity.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

One subtext to this may be hopes for the reunion of the northern Kingdom of Israel and the southern Kingdom of Judah.  If so, we have an example of another dashed hope.  One may also recall the argumentative house churches in Corinth, thanks to epistles from St. Paul the Apostle.

Spiritual unity is a noble goal.  Yet I know from experience that it is frequently elusive on the small scale.  Within my family, for example, I feel as if I exist on a parallel spiritual track, even to the other professing, practicing Christians to whom I am related.  I own a tee-shirt that reads,

HERETIC.

I wear it with pride and defiance.  I also belong to a congregation that suffered a schism in 2012, before I moved to town.  And, as I write these words, my childhood denomination, The United Methodist Church, is proving that “Untied Methodist Church” is far more than a typographical error.  This contemporary manifestation of Donatism grieves me.

Such is life.  The ideal of spiritual unity persists.  It beckons.  How many of us are paying attention?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 24, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER, YEAR C

GENOCIDE REMEMBRANCE

THE FEAST OF SAINT EGBERT OF LINDISFARNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK; AND SAINT ADALBERT OF EGMONT, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY

THE FEAST OF SAINT FIDELIS OF SIGMARINGEN, CAPUCHIN FRIAR AND MYSTIC, 1622

THE FEAST OF JAKOB BÖHME, GERMAN LUTHERAN MYSTIC

THE FEAST OF JOHANN WALTER, “FIRST CANTOR OF THE LUTHERAN CHURCH”

THE FEAST OF SAINT MELLITUS, BISHOP OF LONDON, AND ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

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Adapted from this post

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A Daring Dance with God   1 comment

Above:  Tango Postcard, 1920

Image in the Public Domain

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According to the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship (ILCW) Lectionary (1973), as contained in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and Lutheran Worship (1982)

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Acts 2:14a, 22-32

Psalm 105:1-7

1 Peter 1:3-9

John 20:19-31

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Almighty God, we have celebrated with joy

the festival of our Lord’s resurrection. 

Graciously help us to show the power of the resurrection

in all that we say and do;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 21

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Grant, almighty God,

that we who have celebrated the mystery of the Lord’s resurrection

may by the help of your grace bring forth

the fruits thereof in our life and conduct;

through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 50

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Given that I have written lectionary-based devotions for more than a decade, I choose not to use this post to focus on a passage that may not seem like the obvious bullseye.

John 20:30-31 is probably the original conclusion to the Fourth Gospel.  That conclusion ends:

…that through this belief [that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God] you may have life in his name.

The New American Bible–Revised Edition (2011)

This theme, present also in the readings from Acts and 1 Peter, is where I dwell today, instead of defending St. Thomas the Apostle again.  Two words attract my attention:

  1. Belief, in the full, Biblical sense, is trust.  Whenever someone asks me if I believe in God, I ask what that person means.  In vernacular English, “believe” indicates acceptance of a preposition.  In the English-language vernacular, to believe in God is to affirm the existence of God.  I always affirm the existence of God.  I usually trust in God.  Likewise, to believe that Jesus is the Messiah and the Son of God is to trust that he is both of those.
  2. Life” refers to eternal life.  In Johannine theology, eternal life is knowing God via Jesus.  Logically, beginning with Johannine theological assumptions, to trust that Jesus is the Messiah and the Son of God leads to eternal life.  If x, then y.

These are articles of faith; we have no evidence for them or against them.  When trust in God is required, the quest for certainty constitutes idolatry.  Certainty feels comforting.  We can be certain of much, either by proving or disproving propositions.  Yet much falls into the gray zone of faith; we have it or lack it.  That uncertainty may unnerve us.  Fundamentalism undercuts trust in God by offering the crutch of false certainty.

Somewhere, years ago, I heard an intriguing spiritual metaphor–performing a daring dance with God.  That daring dance is the dance of trust, of faith.  It is daring from a human perspective.  May God have this dance?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 18, 2022 COMMON ERA

MONDAY IN EASTER WEEK

THE FEAST OF ROGER WILLIAMS, FOUNDER OF RHODE ISLAND; AND ANNE HUTCHINSON, REBELLIOUS PURITAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT CORNELIA CONNELLY, FOUNDER OF THE SOCIETY OF THE HOLY CHILD JESUS

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARY ANNA BLONDIN, FOUNDER OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE SISTERS OF SAINT ANNE

THE FEAST OF MARY C. COLLINS, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MISSIONARY AND MINISTER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MURIN OF FAHAN, LASERIAN OF LEIGHLIN, GOBAN OF PICARDIE, FOILLAN OF FOSSES, AND ULTAN OF PERONNE, ABBOTS; SAINTS FURSEY OF PERONNE AND BLITHARIOUS OF SEGANNE, MONKS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROMAN ARCHUTOWSKI, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1943

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Adapted from this post

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Following Jesus   1 comment

Above:  Icon of Christ Pantocrator

Image in the Public Domain

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According to the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship (ILCW) Lectionary (1973), as contained in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and Lutheran Worship (1982)

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Isaiah 49:1-6

Psalm 71:1-12 (LBW) or Psalm 18:1-7, 17-20 (LW)

1 Corinthians 1:18-25

John 12:20-36

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Lord Jesus, you have called us to follow you. 

Grant that our love may not grow cold in your service,

and that we may not fail or deny you in the hour of trial.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 19

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Almighty and everlasting God,

grant us grace so to pass through this holy time of our Lord’s Passion

that we may receive the pardon of our sins;

through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 42

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In context, the identity of servant in Isaiah 49:1-6 is vague.  The servant is probably the personification of a faithful subset of the exiled population during the Babylonian Exile.  I do not look for Jesus in the Hebrew Bible as if he is Waldo in a Where’s Waldo? book.  Therefore, I conclude that linking Isaiah 49:1-6 to Jesus so as to identify him as the servant in that text requires extraordinary theological gymnastics.

Salvation is a process, not an event.  To be precise, salvation is a process the Church mediates via the sacraments.  That statement indicates the influence of Roman Catholicism in my theology.  (And I grew up a Methodist!)  Read 1 Corinthians 1:18 again, O reader:

…but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

The New American Bible–Revised Edition (2011)

The divine passive indicates that God is doing the saving.  God is the central actor.  Human selfishness places people in the center of theology.  (Now I sound like Karl Barth.)

As we barrel toward the crucifixion of Jesus, we read John 12:25:

Those who love their life will lose it, and those who hate their live in this world will keep it for eternal life.

The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

Eternal life, in Johannine theology, is know God via Jesus.  Johannine eternal life may begin in this life.

“Hate” is an unfortunate translation choice in John 12:25. The operative Greek word means “love less than.”  Reading John 12:25 in the context of John 12:26, 12:25 should read:

…and those who love their life in this world less than me (Jesus) will keep it for eternal life.

In the four canonical Gospels, we read of Jesus issuing individualized calls to discipleship, depending on circumstances.  Yet the common thread is subordinating everything to Jesus.

Why not?  Jesus gave himself.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 9, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF DIETRICH BONHOEFFEFR, GERMAN LUTHERAN MARTYR, 1945

THE FEAST OF JOHANN CRUGER, GERMAN LUTHERAN ORGANIST, COMPOSER, AND HYMNAL EDITOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN SAMUJEL BEWLEY MONSELL, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND POET; AND RICHARD MANT, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF DOWN, CONNOR, AND DROMORE

THE FEAST OF LYDIA EMILIE GRUCHY, FIRST FEMALE MINISTER IN THE UNITED CHURCH OF CANADA

THE FEAST OF MIKAEL AGRICOLA, FINNISH LUTHERAN LITURGIST, BISHOP OF TURKU, AND “FATHER OF FINNISH LITERARY LANGUAGE”

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM LAW, ANGLICAN PRIEST, MYSTIC, AND SPIRITUAL WRITER

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Adapted from this post

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Walking in the Light   Leave a comment

Above:  Ben Burton Park, Athens, Georgia, November 11, 2017

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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READING THE GENERAL EPISTLES, PART XIV

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1 John 1:1-2:29

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Circa 100 C.E., a disciple of St. John the Evangelist, writing as that apostle, addressed a Johannine Christian community.   That church had recently suffered a schism; Gnostics had broken away.

Gnosticism was problematic for several reasons.

  1. It understood knowing to be a saving deed.
  2. This allegedly salvific knowledge was a secret.  Therefore, Gnostics were self-appointed spiritual elites.
  3. Gnosticism understood all that was material to be evil.  This doctrine refuted the Incarnation and all the spin-off Christological doctrines–the Resurrection and the Atonement, in particular.  In Gnostic thought, Jesus only seemed to have a body, and another man occupied the cross intended for Christ.
  4. The cosmology and God-concept of Gnosticism were convoluted.  That, however, is a topic for another time and post.

The author of First John knew the Gospel of John well.  He wrote in Johannine terms.  The opening of First John imitated John 1:1-18.  The Johannine definition of eternal life as knowing God via Jesus carried over.  So did reserving the language of divine sonship for Jesus and referring to Christians as “children of God.”  One may also recognize the Johannine motif of indwelling, present in First John.

One who has read the General Epistles and who has a good memory of them may read 1 John 1:1-2:29 and detect themes covered elsewhere in the General Epistles.  Straighten up and fly right.  Good and evil are fighting in the world.  Do not give into evil, forbidden desires.  Live in mutuality.  Cling to Jesus.  Beware of false teachers.  These false teachers are Antichrists, for they deny Christ.

Sin is a major topic in First John, a subtle text.  Some of the subtleties are so subtle that one may easily miss them.  For the sake of clarity, I choose to cover part of 1 John 3, so for as it seems to contradict 1 John 1 and 2.

If we say we have no sin in us,

we are deceiving ourselves

and refusing to admit the truth;

but if we acknowledge our sins,

then God who is faithful and just

will forgive our sins and purify us

from everything that is wrong.

To say that we have never sinned

is to call God a liar

and to show that his word is not in us.

I am writing this, my children,

to stop you sinning;

but if anyone should sin,

we have an advocate with the Father,

Jesus Christ, who is just;

he is the sacrifice that takes our sins away,

but not only us,

but the whole world.

–1 John 1:8-2:2, The Jerusalem Bible (1966)

Consider the following passage, too, O reader:

Surely everyone who entertains this hope

must purify himself, must try to be pure as Christ.

Anyone who sins at all

breaks the law,

because to sin is to break the law.

Now you know that he appeared in order to abolish sin,

and that in him there is no sin;

and anyone who sins

has never seen him or known him.

My children, do not let anyone lead you astray:

to live a holy life

is to be holy just as he is holy;

to lead a sinful life is to belong to the devil,

since the devil was a sinner from the beginning.

It was to undo all that the devil has done

that the Son of God appeared.

No one who as been begotten by God sins;

because God’s seed remains in him,

he cannot sin when he has been begotten by God.

–1 John 3:3-9, The Jerusalem Bible (1966)

A superficial reading of the two passages leads one to conclude that they contradict each other.  Yet a close reading reveals the logical progression.  Jesus destroys sin.  Therefore, to the extent one is in Christ, one cannot sin.  To the extent one is in tune with God, one cannot sin.  In the original context of First John, the second passage does not argue for the sinlessness of Christians.  Rather, 3:9 is:

…the strongest, most principles denial that sinfulness could ever be reckoned a birth certificate of godliness.

–C. Clifton Black, in The New Interpreter’s Bible, Volume XII (1998), 413

The author of First John was apparently arguing against false teachers who held that there was a warrant for sin in the Christian life.  This false teaching continued to cause confusion in the germane Johannine community after the schism.

Perhaps paraphrasing 1 John 3:9, outside of the original context, helps:

To the extent that one is in Christ, one is not and cannot be a slave to sin.

The light of Christ dispels the darkness of evil, in other words.  May we–individually and collectively–live our lives in the light (1 John 1:7).

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 2, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PETRUS HERBERT, GERMAN MORAVIAN BISHOP AND HYMNODIST

THE FEAST OF CARL DOVING, NORWEGIAN-AMERICAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF JAMES ALLEN, ENGLISH INGHAMITE THEN GLASITE/SANDEMANIAN HYMN WRITER; AND HIS GREAT-NEPHEW, OSWALD ALLEN, ENGLISH GLASITE/SANDEMANIAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARIA ANNA KRATOCHWIL, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN AND MARTYR, 1942

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Eternal Life IV   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of Christ Pantocrator

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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For the First Sunday after Easter, Year 2

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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 hast brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ,

the glorious Prince of Salvation, with everlasting power over hell and the grave;

grant unto us power, we beseech thee, to rise with him to newness of life,

that we may overcome the world with the victory of faith,

and have part at last in the resurrection of the just;

through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Worship (1947), 165-166

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Genesis 32:22-31

Psalm 145

1 John 5:4-12

Luke 24:36-49

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Encountering God in the flesh makes one a different person.  Genesis 32:22-31 contains a story of transformation from a cheat and a liar named Jacob into a new man named Israel who walks with a limp.  Luke 24:36-49 tells us of Jesus appearing to his Apostles after the Resurrection.  As we keep reading in Luke-Acts, we learn of the transformations certain Apostles and others experienced in their lives and wrought in the lives of others.

Indirectly, via the chain of transformations, we who breathe today can have faith in the living Christ.  That faith, in Johannine theology, is eternal life.  The God of David, the God of Jesus–is our stronghold, or can be, in this life and the next one.

Happy Easter, O reader!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 10, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FIRST SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN THE GOOD, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF MILAN

THE FEAST OF ALLEN WILLIAM CHATFIELD, ANGLICAN PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF IGNATIOUS SPENCER, ANGLICAN THE  ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND APOSTLE OF ECUMENICAL PRAYER; AND HIS PROTEGÉE, ELIZABETH PROUT, FOUNDRESS OF THE SISTERS OF THE CROSS AND PASSION

THE FEAST OF MARY LUNDIE DUNCAN, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM GAY BALLANTINE, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, EDUCATOR, SCHOLAR, POET, AND HYMN WRITER

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Posted January 10, 2021 by neatnik2009 in 1 John 5, Genesis 32, Luke 24, Psalm 145

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Salvation and Damnation, Part III   2 comments

Above:  Nicodemus Coming to Jesus, by Henry Ossawa Turner

Image in the Public Domain

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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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Amos 7:1-17 or Proverbs 8:1-21

Psalm 118:14-29

1 Timothy 5:1-16

John 3:1-21

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Divine judgment and mercy exist in balance in the Old and New Testaments.  They find balance in Jesus in John 3.  Those who reject the light condemn themselves to the darkness.  God sends nobody to Hell.  All who go there send themselves.  We read of the impending doom of the northern Kingdom of Israel in Amos 7.  In that passage, we also read that God is in judgment mode.

Proverbs 8 speaks of divine wisdom.  That is the wisdom, the persistent, collective rejection which led to the pronouncement of divine judgment in Amos 7.  The word of God that Amos proclaimed was treasonous, according to authorities in the Kingdom of Israel.  That word of God condemned the leaders who labeled that truth as treason.  The Assyrians arrived in force, right on schedule, though.  The truth was not treason.

The reading from 1 Timothy 5 speaks to divinely-mandated ethics.  The passage also contains some culturally-specific elements that may be irrelevant to your context, O reader.  May we not become distracted by those culturally-specific details.  The timeless principle is mutuality:  We are res[pmsob;e to and for each other.  In that timeless context, individual and collective responsibility also exist in balance.

I admit without apology that I am pedantic.  My pedantry extends to theology.  In the Gospel of John, eternal life is knowing God via Jesus (John 17:3).  Within the Johannine context, as in John 3:16, therefore, there is no eternity apart from God–Jesus, to be precise.  In other words, eternal life and the afterlife are not synonyms in Johannine theology.  “Eternal” describes the quality of life, not the length thereof.  I am a generally Johannine Christian, so I understand “eternal life” according to the definition in John 17:3.  Nevertheless, outside of the Johannine tradition in the New Testament, the meaning of “eternal” is “everlasting.”

I am not shy about saying and writing openly what I really think:  I remain unconvinced that my Jewish elder brothers and sisters in faith are doomed to go to Hell.  No, I affirm that their covenant remains in effect.  According to Covenantal Nomism, consistently and unrepentantly disregarding the ethical obligations of the Law of Moses causes one to drop out of the covenant.  Salvation comes via grace, but damnation comes via works.

The more I age and move away from reflexively Reformation-influenced theology, the more comfortable I become embracing the relationship among faith, works, salvation, and damnation in both Testaments.  God cares deeply about how people treat each other, the Bible tells us.  We mere mortals may deceive ourselves and each other.  We cannot, however, pull the proverbial wool over God’s equally proverbial eyes.  Our creeds become evident in our deeds.

Nevertheless, may we avoid the trap of thinking that we deserve salvation.  That remains a gift.  All who receive it may experience a degree of shock when they realize who else has received it.  So be it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 1, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE EIGHTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FEAST OF THE HOLY NAME OF JESUS

THE WORLD DAY OF PEACE

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Adapted from these posts:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2021/01/01/devotion-for-the-sixth-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-d-humes/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2021/01/01/devotion-for-proper-4-year-d-humes/

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Eternal Life III   Leave a comment

Above:  A Gavel

Image in the Public Domain

Photographer = Airman First Class Grace Lee, United States Air Force

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For the Twelfth Sunday after Trinity, 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 and Merciful God, of whose only gift it cometh that

thy faithful people do unto thee true and laudable service;

grant, we beseech thee, that we may so faithfully serve thee in this life,

that we fail not to attain thy heavenly promises;

through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Worship (1947), 206

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Ezekiel 34:1-24

Psalm 66:1-10, 16-20

2 Corinthians 4:16-5:1

Matthew 7:1-6

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Almighty God have mercy on you, forgive you all your sins through our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen you in all goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep you in eternal life.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), 353

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One can read “eternal,” “eternity,” and “eternal life” throughout the Bible.  The confusing element is that the authors did not agree about what whose terms meant.  Frequently “eternal” is a synonym for “everlasting” and “eternity” means the afterlife, timelessness, or a very long time.  I, as a Johannine Christian, take my definition of eternal life from John 17:3–knowing God via Jesus.  Eternal life can continue into the afterlife, according to this verse.  Notice the blessing I quoted from The Book of Common Prayer (1979), O reader; it reflects Johannine theology.  When we turn to St. Paul the Apostle, dictating an epistle to the Corinthian church, we find that he understood eternal life to mean spending one’s afterlife with Jesus.

I hope you, O reader, do not think I am being needlessly pedantic in this post.  (I am capable of unapologetic pedantry, though.  It is consistent with my orientation toward details.)  No, in this post, I strive to understand what the authors were trying to say before I interpret what they said.  God

rules from his eternal fortress

in the Mitchell J. Dahood translation of Psalm 66.  Nevertheless, God

rules by his might for ever,

according to the Revised Standard Version.  “Eternal” equals “forever” in Psalm 66, but not in 2 Corinthians and John.  Eternal life can begin before death in John, but not in Paul.

The readings from Ezekiel and Matthew are germane.  Repentance holds off divine judgment in Ezekiel 33.  That is important background for Ezekiel 34, in which how we think of and treat others inform how God will evaluate us.  Likewise, we read in Matthew 7:1-5 that God will apply to us the standard we use to judge others or not judge them.  This teaching, a cousin of the Golden Rule, reminds me of the penalty for perjury in the Law of Moses–to suffer the fate one would have had an innocent person suffer.  Given that repentance holds off divine judgment, the lack of repentance does not hold off divine judgment.  Then one cannot move into the metaphorical eternal, heavenly building from 2 Corinthians 5:1.

Judgment in these matters is God’s purview.  We human beings, although not completely uninformed, know far less than God does.  May we strive to take up our crosses and follow Jesus daily.  May we encourage others to do the same.  May we also support them when they do.  And may we, by grace, have a minimum of hypocrisy as we follow Jesus.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 23, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF TOYOHIKO KAGAWA, RENEWER OF SOCIETY AND PROPHETIC WITNESS IN JAPAN

THE FEAST OF JAKOB BÖHME, GERMAN LUTHERAN MYSTIC

THE FEAST OF MARTIN RINCKART, GERMAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT TERESA MARIA OF THE CROSS, FOUNDRESS OF THE CARMELITE SISTERS OF SAINT TERESA OF FLORENCE

THE FEAST OF WALTER RUSSELL BOWIE, EPISCOPAL PRIEST, SEMINARY PROFESSOR, AND HYMN WRITER

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Ecological Sins   Leave a comment

Above:  Earthrise (1968), by William Anders

Image in the Public Domain

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For the Second Sunday of the Season of God the Father, Year 2, according to the U.S. Presbyterian lectionary of 1966-1970

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O Heavenly Father, who has filled the world with beauty:

open our eyes to behold thy gracious hand in all thy works,

that, rejoicing in thy whole creation, we may learn to serve thee with gladness;

for the sake of him by whom all things were made, thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Common Worship–Provisional Services (1966), 127

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Genesis 1:1-5

1 John 1:1-4

John 1:1-5

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I am a Johannine Christian; the theology of the Gospel of John drives my faith.  According to that theology, “the Word” is Jesus, not the Bible.  Furthermore, eternal life is knowing God via Jesus.  Eternal life, or as the Synoptic Gospels call it, the Kingdom of God, begins on this side of Heaven.

On the old Presbyterian lectionary of 1966-1970, this Sunday is a time to remember to be mindful of the natural world.  Reading the beginning of the myth in Genesis 1 makes sense on such an occasion.  The beginning of the prologue to the Gospel of John fits well, too.  Besides, the start of Genesis is the model for John 1:1-18.  We read that the natural world came into existence through the Word.  The prologue to 1 John, in which “the Word” is the Gospel message, otherwise fits thematically with the prologue to the Gospel of John.

Being respectful and mindful of the natural world, although consistent with proper spirituality, can also be a selfish, purely reasonable attitude.  Soiling our nests is counter-productive, after all.  We fail to be respectful and mindful of the natural world at our peril and that of members of subsequent generations.  This is concrete, not abstract; the climate is changing around us at a pace faster than scientists predicted just a few years ago.  The natural world, of which we are part and in which our species evolved, is God’s world.  We are stewards, not owners, of creation.  We are, overall, bad stewards, for we are visiting the consequences of our ecological sins on members of generations already born and not yet conceived.

May God forgive us and help them.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 26, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ANNE AND JOACHIM, PARENTS OF SAINT MARY OF NAZARETH

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Resurrection of the Dead, Part III   1 comment

Above:  The New Jerusalem

Image in the Public Domain

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

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O Lord and Master, who by thy Word hast called us to watch for thy return:

grant that when thou comest we may be found at work,  serving men in thy name.  Amen.

The Book of Common Worship–Provisional Services (1966), 126

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Isaiah 65:17-25

Revelation 21:1-14

John 14:1-19

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The Gospel of John functions on two levels–literal and metaphorical.  In the Johannine Gospel, we read, Jesus dwells with God the Father.  Jesus also dwells with followers, who can, in turn, dwell with God.  In the Gospel of John, eternal life is knowing God via Jesus.  “Eternal” is a description of quality, not time.  Eternal life, in the Fourth Gospel, is the counterpart of the Kingdom of God in the Synoptic Gospels.  Eternal life begins on this side of paradise.

That paradise is to be an earthbound one, according to Isaiah 65 and Revelation 21.  The afterlife and the resurrection of the dead are absent from the ideal future in Isaiah 65, for Judaism did not have the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead yet.  The resurrection of the dead is part of Revelation 21, however.  And the Father’s house has plenty of room for all the faithful.

Of course, there is plenty of room in the Father’s house.  God is the God of extravagant abundance, ever scarcity.  Do we believe in divine abundance, all the way to the parousia?  Or do we project scarcity upon God?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 25, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES BAR-ZEBEDEE, APOSTLE AND MARTYR

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Donatism of a Sort, Part II   Leave a comment

Above:  The Temple of Solomon

Image in the Public Domain

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

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Lord of all power and might, who art the author and giver of good things:

graft in our hearts the love of thy name, increase in us true religion,

nourish us with all goodness, and by thy great mercy keep us in the same;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Common Worship–Provisional Services (1966), 125

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2 Chronicles 6:12-21

Acts 13:42-52

John 17:1-11

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No building or body of doctrine can contain God.  Yet buildings and bodies of doctrine can be useful for people.  We need to acknowledge the proper roles and the limits of buildings and doctrines, which can set the table and create the atmosphere or reverence well.

We also need to acknowledge our biases.  The word “Donatism” is much more recent (yet ancient from our perspective) than the exclusionary attitude it summarizes.  I, as a Gentile, side with Sts. Paul and Barnabas in Acts 13:42-52.  I rejoice that I have (present tense) eternal life via Jesus (John 17:3).  I read the New Testament and find evidence of controversies over including Gentiles as equals in the Christian faith.  I acknowledge that Judaizers were not evil but that they clung to a religious identity.

The debates over whom to include and exclude continue.  May the love of Christ, who died for all people and rose again, and through whom salvation is available, guide our attitudes and words.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 22, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARY MAGDALENE, EQUAL TO THE APOSTLES

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