Archive for the ‘Fear’ Tag

Spiritual Blindness, Part IV   1 comment

Above:  Christ Giving Sight to Bartimaeus, by William Blake

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Numbers 13:1-2, 17-32 or 2 Kings 5:1-17

Psalm 71:1-12

Hebrews 11

Mark 10:46-52

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Proper faith is optimistic, not foolish.  It acknowledges difficulties and trusts in God.  Proper faith casts out improper fear.

The story of blind Bartimaeus (Son of Timaeus, literally) is instructive.  In the context of the Gospel of Mark, it immediately precedes the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem (Mark 11).  One may state that Bartimaeus to follow Jesus at a very difficult time.  The character’s physical blindness functions as a commentary on the spiritual blindness of the Apostles earlier in Chapter 10.  One may conclude that, for Jesus, healing physical blindness was easier than healing the spiritual blindness of people around him.

The most basic commandment of Jesus to take one’s cross and follow him.  The details of that order vary person to person, depending on who, where, and when one is.  The principle is timeless, though.

May God forgive all of us for our spiritual blindness and heal us, so that we may follow him as well as possible.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 26, 2019 COMMON ERA

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

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2019/07/26/devotion-for-proper-26-year-b-humes/

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Good Society, Part V   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of Hosea

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Almighty and everlasting God, who art always more ready to hear than we to pray,

and art wont to give more than wither we desire or deserve:

pour down upon us the abundance of thy mercy;

forgiving us those things whereof our conscience is afraid,

and giving us those good things which we are not worthy to ask,

but through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Common Worship–Provisional Services (1966), 125-126

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Hosea 11:1-11

Romans 3:21-31

Matthew 5:21-26

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Judgment and mercy exist in balance in this day’s assigned readings.  God is parental in Hosea 11.  Discipline is part of good parenting.  In the context of God, human boasting is pointless, as we read in Romans 3.  Matthew 5:21-26 warns us that proper attitudes toward our fellow human beings matter.  As one can read in Matthew 6:14-15, the standard we apply to others will be the standard God applies to us; our forgiveness depends on us being forgiving.

Are we loving people or fearful and hateful people?  Our attitudes lead to our actions.  In other words, our fruits will reveal what kind of trees we are.

May we, by grace, transform our cultures so that hatred will become socially unacceptable.  May peer pressure encourage us to be loving people.  May social norms and mores insist that those in authority be loving individuals, not fearful, hateful people.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 24, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THOMAS À KEMPIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, PRIEST, AND SPIRITUAL WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN NEWTON, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF WALTER RAUSCHENBUSCH, U.S. BAPTIST MINISTER AND THEOLOGIAN OF THE SOCIAL GOSPEL

THE FEAST OF SAINTS VINCENTIA GEROSA AND BARTHOLOMEA CAPITANIO, COFOUNDERS OF THE SISTERS OF CHARITY OF LOVERE

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Building Up Each Other in Christ, Part III   Leave a comment

Above:  Samuel Anoints David

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

O God, creator of heaven and earth:

we humbly beseech thee to put away from us all hurtful things,

and to give us those things which are good for us;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

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

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

1 Samuel 16:1-13

Romans 15:1-13

Matthew 25:31-46

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Building up each other is one of the most basic elements of Biblical ethics.  It is part of Torah piety and the teachings of Jesus.  And, when we aid “the least among us,” we honor God.

The theme of surprise unites 1 Samuel 16:1-13 and Matthew 25:31-46.  God’s choices are not necessarily ours.  Many who identify themselves as spiritual insiders are not, according to God.  Furthermore, many have served God without knowing they have done so.

An especially annoying “seven-eleven” song (one with seven words one sings eleven times) tells us,

They’ll know we are Christians by our love.

That love seems to be in short supply much of the time.  Anger, fear, and resentment always seem to be plentiful, however.  We who know better should think and behave better, for the glory of God and the benefit of everyone.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 23, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BRIDGET OF SWEDEN, FOUNDRESS OF THE ORDER OF THE MOST HIGH SAVIOR; AND HER DAUGHTER, SAINT CATHERINE OF SWEDEN, SUPERIOR OF THE ORDER OF THE MOST HIGH SAVIOR

THE FEAST OF ADELAIDE TEAGUE CASE, PROFESSOR OF RELIGIOUS EDUCATION

THE FEAST OF SAINTS PHILIP EVANS AND JOHN LLOYD, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF THEODOR LILEY CLEMENS, ENGLISH MORAVIAN MINISTER, MISSIONARY, AND COMPOSER

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Trusting in God, Part III   1 comment

Moses

Above:  Moses, by Michelangelo Buonarotti

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Collect:

Glorious God, your generosity waters the world with goodness,

and you cover creation with abundance.

Awaken in us a hunger for the food that satisfies both body and spirit,

and with this food fill all the starving world,

through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 43

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Assigned Readings:

Deuteronomy 8:1-10 (Monday)

Deuteronomy 26:1-15 (Tuesday)

Psalm 78:1-8, 17-29 (Both Days)

Romans 1:8-15 (Monday)

Acts 2:37-47 (Tuesday)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

We will recount to generations to come

the praiseworthy deeds and the power of the LORD,

and the wonderful works he has done.

He gave his decrees to Jacob

and established a law for Israel,

which he commanded them to teach their children;

That the generations to come might know,

and the children yet unborn;

that they might in turn tell it to their children;

So that they might put their trust in God,

and not forget the deeds of God,

but keep his commandments;

And not be like their forefathers,

a stubborn and rebellious generation,

a generation whose heart was not steadfast,

and whose spirit was not faithful to God.

–Psalm 78:4-8, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

To believe in God, in the Biblical sense, is to trust in God.  The Psalm speaks of trusting in God, hence the focus of this post.  Deuteronomy, placing words in the mouth of Moses, reminds people of what God had done for them–how faithful God had been–and how faithful they should be.  Among the commandments to keep were orders to care for the widows and the orphans, and, by extension, all the vulnerable members of society.  There was more than enough for them to eat, dress, and have shelter properly in God’s economic plan.  If we have faith that God will provide enough for all of us to have a sufficient supply of necessities, we will have a secure place from which to extend hospitality to others, as God commands us to do.

We humans are at our worst when we act out of fear.  We protect ourselves and our families at the expense of others at such times.  We might even seek to harm others actively because we imagine that there is not enough for everyone to have enough of necessities.  In such cases we might affirm the existence of God, but we do not trust in God.

Whenever I hear people speaking of belief in God I suppose that they really mean affirming the existence of God.  An Episcopal priest I know has an excellent way of dealing with people who claim not to believe in God.  He asks them to describe the deity in whom they do not believe.  He winds up replying that the does not believe in that God either.  But, to the larger point of trusting in God versus merely affirming the existence of God, I have my own answer.  I affirm the existence of God consistently, but I trust in God most of the time.  And I seek to trust God more often.

How about you, O reader?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 14, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BASIL THE GREAT, FATHER OF EASTERN MONASTICISM

THE FEAST OF DOROTHY FRANCES BLOMFIELD GURNEY, ENGLISH POET AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT METHODIUS I OF CONSTANTINOPLE, PATRIARCH

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Adapted from This Post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2014/06/14/devotion-for-monday-and-tuesday-after-proper-13-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Terrifying Grace   1 comment

elijah-in-the-wilderness-washington-allston

Above:  Elijah in the Wilderness, by Washington Allston

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Assigned Readings:

1 Kings 19:1-4 (5-7), 8-15a and Psalms 42 and 43

or 

Isaiah 65:1-9 and Psalm 22:18-27

then 

Galatians 3:23-29

Luke 8:26-39

The Collect:

Keep, O Lord, your household the Church in your steadfast faith and love, that through your grace we may proclaim your truth with boldness, and minister your justice with compassion; for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Some Related Posts:

Proper 7, Year A:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/06/proper-7-year-a/

Proper 7, Year B:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/08/15/proper-7-year-b/

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/07/prayer-of-praise-and-adoration-for-the-fifth-sunday-after-pentecost/

Prayer of Confession:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/07/prayer-of-confession-for-the-fifth-sunday-after-pentecost/

Prayer of Dedication:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/07/prayer-of-dedication-for-the-fifth-sunday-after-pentecost/

1 Kings 19:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/08/06/week-of-proper-5-friday-year-2/

Isaiah 65:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/devotion-for-january-4-lcms-daily-lectionary/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/twenty-third-day-of-lent/

Galatians 3:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/11/02/week-of-proper-22-thursday-friday-and-saturday-year-2/

Luke 8:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/06/09/devotion-for-the-nineteenth-twentieth-and-twenty-first-days-of-easter-lcms-daily-lectionary/

The Remnant:

http://taylorfamilypoems.wordpress.com/2011/08/09/the-remnant/

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

As I took notes on the readings then pondered connections the first unifying thread I noticed was fear.  To begin with the Old Testament options, Elijah was a fugitive  from the wrath of Queen Jezebel after the contest with the priests of Baal.  Yet God, who was present in the silence, not the storm, encouraged the prophet and gave him more tasks to complete.  Third Isaiah reminded his audience that a remnant of the faithful would survive the destruction of the wicked.  So the faithful needed not to fear, although the wicked did.

In the Gospel of Luke Jesus healed a demoniac (whatever his modern psychiatric label would be) and killed a herd of swine.  Then fearful locals asked our Lord to depart the premises.  What scared them?  The loss of the swine, economic assets, disturbed some obvious reasons.  And the demonstration of such power certainly disturbed others.  But the healing was the scariest part of the sequence of events.  Who were the locals relative to the man if he, once ill, was now well?

Change disturbs many people profoundly.  We become accustomed to the status quo, even if we know that it is imperfect.  But at least it is familiar.  Some things, of course, should remain constant, so discomfort with some change is healthy and proper.  But resistance to change in general constitutes a spiritual dysfunction.  Besides, life is replete with change.  One who likes things just so and constant will not cope well with life.  And an organism that is not changing is dead.

Speaking of change, Christ Jesus overrides a variety of distinctions, such as slave and free person, male and female, and Jew and Gentile. Opposites such as these cease to matter in the context of our Lord.   That causes me great joy.  Yet many others find that breaking down barriers frightening.  If we define ourselves by who and what we are not rather than by who and what we are, it is terrifying news.

Grace scandalizes many of us.  It calls us as we are and leads us to become a new creation.  Grace ignores categories we use to make sense of the world and destroys our illusion that we know more than we do.  Grace tell sus that we need not hide from our enemies if God is with us.  We still might die–the Romans did crucify Jesus–but divine power remains unrivaled.  And God will preserve a remnant of the faithful as the wicked perish.  The members of that remnant will have a responsibility to minister grace to others, for grace is free, not cheap.

Dare we embrace this potentially upsetting and terrifying grace?  Or do we prefer the comfortable fictions and realities which comfort us while afflicting others?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 16, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF RUFUS JONES, QUAKER THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN FRANCIS REGIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH BUTLER, ANGLICAN BISHOP

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Fear Not   1 comment

Above:  St. Simon’s Island, Georgia, Lighthouse, 1848

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Acts 6:1-7 (Revised English Bible):

During this period, when disciples were growing in number, a grievance arose on the part of those who spoke Greek, against those who spoke the language of the Jews; they complained that their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution.  The Twelve called the whole company of disciples together and said,

It would not be fitting for us to neglect the word of God in order assist in the distribution.  Therefore, friends, pick seven men of good repute from your number, men full of the Spirit and of wisdom, and we will appoint them for this duty; then we can devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.

This proposal proved acceptable to the whole company.  They elected Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, along with Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas of Antioch, who had been a convert from Judaism, and presented them to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.

The word of God spread more and more widely; the number of disciples in Jerusalem was increasing rapidly, and very many of the priests adhered to the faith.

Psalm 33:1-5, 18-22 (Revised English Bible):

Shout for joy in the LORD, you that are righteous;

praise comes well from the upright.

Give thanks to the LORD on the lyre;

make music to him on the ten-stringed harp.

Sing to him a new song;

strike up with all your skill and shout in triumph,

for the word of the LORD holds true,

and all his work endures.

He is a lover of righteousness and justice;

the earth is filled with the LORD’s unfailing love.

The LORD’s eyes are turned towards those who fear him,

towards those who hope for his unfailing love

to deliver them from death,

and in famine to preserve them alive.

We have waited eagerly for the LORD;

he is our help and our shield.

In him our hearts are glad,

because we have trusted in his holy name.

LORD, let your unfailing love rest on us,

as we have put our hope in you.

John 6:16-21 (Anchor Bible):

As evening drew on, his [Jesus’] disciples came down to the sea.  Having embarked, they were trying to cross the sea to Capernaum.  By this time it was dark, and still Jesus had not joined them; moreover, with a strong wind blowing, the sea was becoming rough.  When they had rowed about three or four miles, they sighted Jesus walking upon the sea, approaching the boat.  They were frightened, but he told them,

It is I; do not be afraid.

So they wanted to take him into the boat, and suddenly the boat reached the shore toward which they had been going.

The Collect:

O Lord, the life of the faithful, the glory of the saints, and the delight of those who trust in you: Hear our supplications, and quench, we pray, the thirst of those who long for your promises; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

+++++++++++++++

There are two kinds of fear:  good and bad.  Good fear tells me not to touch a hot surface, for example.  This variety of fear preserves me from needless and avoidable foolishness.  This day’s readings concern bad fear, however.

Bad fear is spiritually corrosive.  It prompts us to take our eyes off Jesus and not to trust in God.  Bad fear shifts our focus from our blessings to our anxieties.  These can assume a variety of forms:  financial, psychological, emotional, food-related, legal, et cetera.  And they are real and genuine reasons for concern.  Everyone who has lived long enough has accumulated these.  I know fear as I write this devotional.  Sometimes I experience episodes of crippling fear, but these end.  From late 2006 to middle 2007 I was at my low point; I would have welcomed death, not that I would have committed suicide then.  (I was too afraid to do that.)  But, with much divine and human help, I emerged from the crisis.  And I am stronger spiritually today because of it.

Experience teaches me that God casts out fear and calls me seek the divine face.  Life tells me that when I occupy a dark valley God is with me.  If I do not recognize this fact, I have not looked closely enough.

I write this devotional during a recession which affects mostly people who did not cause it.  During economic difficulties many people give voice to resentments, especially those located at the intersection of racism and economics.  Much of talk radio and 24-hour news channel programming relies on fear and fear-related anger to fill airtime and attract audiences.  Positive programming, although edifying, is less of a draw that fear-baiting.  Political strategists have known for many years that scaring people is more effective electoral strategy than appealing to the higher angels of human nature.

Who can deliver us from negative fear?  Only God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 6, 2010 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCELLINUS OF CARTHAGE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR

THE FEAST OF ALBRECHT DURER, MATTHIAS GRUNEWALD, AND LUCAS CRANACH THE ELDER, ARTISTS

THE FEAST OF DANIEL G. C. WU, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND MISSIONARY TO CHINESE AMERICANS

THE FEAST OF FREDERIC BARKER, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF SYDNEY

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Adapted from this post:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/fourteenth-day-of-easter/

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Posted March 26, 2012 by neatnik2009 in Acts of the Apostles 6, John 6, Psalm 33

Tagged with ,

No Fear   1 comment

Above:  Fear

Image Source = D. Sharon Pruitt

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

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

1 John 4:11-19 (New Jerusalem Bible):

My dear friends,

if God loved us so much,

we too should love one another.

No one has ever seen God,

but as long as we love another

God remains in us

and his love comes to its perfection in us.

This is the proof that we remain in him

and he in us,

that he has given us a share in his Spirit.

We ourselves have seen and testify

that the Father sent his Son

as Saviour of the world.

Anyone who acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God,

God remains in him and he is God.

We have recognized for ourselves,

and put our faith in, the love God has for us.

God is love,

and whoever remains in love remains in God

and God in him.

Love comes to its perfection in us

when we can face the Day of Judgment fearlessly,

because even in this world

we have become as he is.

In love there is no room for fear,

but perfect love casts out fear,

because fear implies punishment

and no one who is afraid has come to perfection in love.

Let us love, then,

because he first loved us.

Psalm 72:1-2, 10b-13 (New Jerusalem Bible):

God, endow the king with your own fair judgment,

the son of the king with your own saving justice,

so that he may rule your people with justice,

and your poor with fair judgment.

The kings of Sheba and Saba will offer gifts;

all kings will do him homage,

all nations become his servants.

For he rescues the needy who calls to him,

and the poor who has no one to help.

He has pity on the weak and the needy,

and saves the needy from death.

Mark 6:45-52 (New Jerusalem Bible):

And at once he [Jesus] made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side near Bethsaida, while he himself sent the crowd away.  After saying goodbye to them he went off into the hills to pray.  When evening came, the boat was far out on the sea, and he was alone on the land.  He could see that they were hard pressed in their rowing, for the wind was against them; and about the fourth watch of the night he came towards them, walking on the sea.  He was going to pass them by, but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost and cried out; for they had all seen him and were terrified.  But at once he spoke to them and said,

Courage!  It’s me!  Don’t be afraid.

Then he got into the boat with them and the wind dropped.  They were utterly and completely dumbfounded, because they had not seen what the miracle of the loaves meant; their minds were closed.

The Collect:

O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Fear can have certain advantages.  For example, I fear the negative consequences of touching hot objects.  So fear protects me in such cases.  Yet fear, when turned against self and others, can cause great harm to self and others.

When I grew up my father imparted pearls of wisdom.  Among them was this:  We fear what we do not understand, and we hate what we fear.  History confirms this.  I point, for example, to interreligious strife rooted in misconceptions, as well as to how many parents and students mistreated Ryan White in the 1980s, the early years of AIDS as a major news story.  The scientists had determined how one does and does not contract AIDS by then, but this fact did not prevent people from acting cruelly toward a hemophiliac teenager and gentle soul.

Out of fear agents of my nation have tortured people, an immoral act which endangers the United States further.  Out of fear people have overgeneralized and blamed innocent people for the crimes of others.  On September 11, 2001, I was a graduate student at Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, Georgia.  Campus police officers had to protect exchange students from certain nations, for these pupils were potential targets of revenge attacks.  They had done nothing!

But love casts out fear.  God casts out fear.  Let us follow the path of love and God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 8, 2010 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ROLAND ALLEN, ANGLICAN MISSIONARY

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Adapted from this post:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/fourth-day-of-epiphany/

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Posted December 28, 2011 by neatnik2009 in 1 John 4, Mark 6, Psalm 72

Tagged with ,