Archive for the ‘Greed’ Tag

Psalms 47-49   1 comment

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

A Screen Capture by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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POST XVIII OF LX

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The Book of Common Prayer (1979) includes a plan for reading the Book of Psalms in morning and evening installments for 30 days.  I am therefore blogging through the Psalms in 60 posts.

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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 everlasting 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 226

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God is in control.  Do we affirm this?  We (collectively and individually) ought to trust in God.  Do we (collectively and individually) give more than lip service to this principle?  Related to these points is another one.  Since wealth and pleasure are temporary, we should not trust in them–make idols of them.  Is this not a counter-cultural message in many, if not most, societies?  Greed and hedonism are, after all, powerful temptations.

Do not be afraid when a man becomes rich,

when his household goods increase;

for when he dies he can take none of it along;

his goods cannot follow him down.

–Psalm 49:17-18, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

That passage reminds me of another one:

Do not store up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and thieves break in and steal, but store up treasure in heaven, where neither moth nor rust will destroy, nor thieves break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

–Matthew 6:19-21, The Revised English Bible (1989)

Shall we be honest with and about ourselves?  Each of us clings to something that is temporary as if it were permanent.  It might be tangible or intangible, but it is transitory.  It is also an idol.  The treasures, even if only psychological in nature, we lay up in this life distract us from acknowledging our complete dependence on God, in whom scripture tells us we should trust.

May we, by grace, cease this idolatry.  There is nothing inherently wrong with wealth, which one can use for positive purposes.  The issues are how one relates to it and how one utilizes it.  Does one make an idol of it?  If so, one has a spiritual problem.  For many of us, though, the idolatrous attachments might be to family heirlooms or to other possessions of little value to anyone else.  Our stuff (for lack of a more accurate word) weighs us down and distracts us from focusing on where our attention should be.  May we, by grace, abandon this idolatry and place our sentimental stuff in proper perspective.

The History Channel series Life After People, although not religious and spiritual by design, is germane to this post.  The series imagines the fate of the physical remains of human civilizations after the disappearance of the human race from the planet.  Eventually, one learns, almost evidence of humans will cease to exist.  The Pyramids of Giza and our plastic refuse (especially that great mass of it in the oceans) will last the longest.  Most of that which we imagine to be permanent will return to nature, as it should.  We are, in the long term, insignificant.  While we are here, however, we can accomplish much good and glorify God.  May we strive to do so.  May we, by grace, succeed.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 10, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM WALSHAM HOW, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF WAKEFIELD AND HYMN WRITER; AND HIS SISTER, FRANCES JANE DOUGLAS(S), HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT LAURENCE OF ROME, ROMAN CATHOLIC DEACON AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SHERMAN BOOTH, ABOLITIONIST

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Posted August 10, 2017 by neatnik2009 in Matthew 6, Psalm 47, Psalm 48, Psalms I: 1-76

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Humility and Arrogance   1 comment

Parable of the Wicked Servants

Above:  Parable of the Wicked Servants

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

Almighty God, your sovereign purpose bring salvation to birth.

Give us faith amid the tumults of this world,

trusting that your kingdom comes and your will is done

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

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 53

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The Assigned Readings:

Daniel 4:4-18 (Thursday)

Daniel 4:19-27 (Friday)

Daniel 4:28-37 (Saturday)

Psalm 16 (All Days)

1 Timothy 6:11-21 (Thursday)

Colossians 2:6-15 (Friday)

Mark 12:1-12 (Saturday)

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FYI:  Daniel 4:1-37 in Protestant Bibles equals Daniel 4:1-34 in Jewish, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox translations.

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Arrogance can be easy to muster and humility can be difficult to manifest.  I know this well, for

  1. I have been prone to intellectual arrogance, and
  2. humility can be painful.

To be fair, some people I have known have nurtured my intellectual arrogance via their lack of intellectual curiosity and their embrace of anti-intellectualism.  That reality, however, does nothing to negate the spiritual problem.  I am glad to report, however, that it is a subsiding problem, by grace.

The internal chronology of the Book of Daniel defies historical accuracy; I came to understand that fact years ago via close study of the text.  The Book of Daniel is folkloric and theological, not historical and theological.  The folktale for these three days concerns King Nebuchadrezzar II (a.k.a. Nebuchadnezzar II), King of the Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian Empire, who reigned from 605 to 562 B.C.E.  The arrogant monarch, the story tells us, fell into insanity.  Then he humbled himself before God, who restored the king’s reason.

So now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt, and glorify the King of Heaven, all of whose works are just and whose ways are right, and who is able to humble those who behave arrogantly.

–Daniel 4:34, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

This is folklore, not history, but the lesson regarding the folly of arrogance is true.

The Parable of the Wicked Tenants (Mark 12:1-12) exists in the context of conflict between Jesus and Temple authorities during the days immediately prior to his death.  In Chapter 11 our Lord and Savior cleansed the Temple and, in a symbolic act, cursed a fig tree as a sign of his rejection of the Temple system.  In Chapters 11 and 12 Temple authorities attempted to entrap Jesus in his words.  He evaded the traps and ensnared his opponents instead.  In this context Jesus told the Parable of the Wicked Tenants.  The vineyard was Israel, the slain slaves/servants were prophets, and the beloved son was Jesus.  The tenants were the religious leaders in Jerusalem.  They sought that which belonged to God, for Christ was the heir to the vineyard.

1 Timothy 6:11-21 continues a thread from earlier in the chapter.  Greed is bad, we read:

But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.

–6:9-10, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

Faithful people of God, however, are to live differently, pursuing righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness (verse 11).  The wealthy are to avoid haughtiness and reliance on uncertain riches, and to trust entirely in God (verse 17).  Further instructions for them include being generous and engaging in good works (verse 18).

Complete dependence upon God is a Biblical lesson from both Testaments.  It is a pillar of the Law of Moses, for example, and one finds it in 1 Timothy 6, among many other parts of the New Testament.  Colossians 2:6-15 drives the point home further, reminding us that Christ has cancelled the debt of sin.

Forgiveness as the cancellation of debt reminds me of the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Matthew 18:23-35).  A king forgave a large debt–10,000 talents–a servant owed to him.  Given that one talent was fifteen years’ worth of wages for a laborer, and that the debt was therefore 150,000 years’ worth of wages, the amount of the debt was hyperbolic.  The point of the hyperbole in the parable was that the debt was impossible to repay.  The king was merciful, however.  Unfortunately, the servant refused to forgive debts other people owed to him, so the king revoked the debt forgiveness and sent the servant to prison.

So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.

–Matthew 18:35, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

Just as God forgives us, we have a responsibility to forgive others.  Doing so might require us to lay aside illusions of self-importance.  That has proven true in my life.

The path of walking humbly with God and acknowledging one’s total dependence upon God leads to liberation from illusions of grandeur, independence, and self-importance.  It leads one to say, in the words of Psalm 16:1 (Book of Common Worship, 1993):

Protect me, O God, for I take refuge in you;

I have said to the LORD, “You are my Lord,

my good above all other.”

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 10, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHANN SCHEFFLER, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, POET, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF GEORG NEUMARK, GERMAN LUTHERAN POET AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN HINES, PRESIDING BISHOP OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2015/07/10/devotion-for-thursday-friday-and-saturday-before-proper-28-year-b-elca-daily-lectionary/

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Proper Leadership   1 comment

Licensed Wreckers in the Hands of the Receivers

Above:  Licensed Wreckers–In the Hands of the Receivers, 1882

A familiar event:  a greedy few benefit from the collapse of a corporation, by order of a court.

Artist = Joseph Ferdinand Keppler (1838-1894)

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsca-28458

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The Collect:

Sovereign God, raise your throne in our hearts.

Created by you, let us live in your image;

created for you, let us act for your glory;

redeemed by you, let us give you what is yours,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 50

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The Assigned Readings:

Judges 17:1-6 (Thursday)

Deuteronomy 17:14-20 (Friday)

Psalm 96:1-9 [10-13] (Both Days)

3 John 9-12 (Thursday)

1 Peter 5:1-5 (Friday)

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The themes of being a good example and of leading intertwine in these days’ assigned readings.  Indeed, one may have fine moral character and be a bad or ineffective leader, but a good leader–a fine shepherd of the people–will possess proper moral qualities.  As an old Greek maxim tells us, character is destiny.

We read of two bad examples–people not to emulate.  Micah of Ephraim (Judges 17:1-6) practiced idolatry.  He went on in the succeeding verses to hire a Levite as his priest.

Now I know that the LORD will prosper me, because the Levite has become my priest.

–Judges 17:13, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

Yet the idolatry remained and no ritual, regardless of its sanctity, functioned as a talisman against the consequences of sin.  And Diotrephes (3 John 9-12) used a local congregation as his power base and lied about others to protect his status.  He disobeyed the advice in 1 Peter 5:1-5, for he used his position to lord it over the congregation.

Proper leadership entails functioning as a good example.  To exercise the trust that is a leadership role as one should is to build up the people–to work for the common good–and not to line one’s proverbial pockets.  Official corruption is one of the major causes of poverty, as numerous examples (especially in oil-rich areas with rampant poverty yet a relative few very wealthy people) demonstrate.  Also, how one behaves speaks more loudly than what one says.  Political talk is cheap, but actions count.  I recall an editorial in a Roman Catholic magazine in the middle 1990s.  The author, who had no kind words for politicians, who used the rhetoric of “family values” to win elections then did little or nothing to help the poor, much less families, wrote,

GET OFF YOUR VALUES AND GET TO WORK.

The criticism remains valid in a host of circumstances.

The words of Psalm 96:13 (The Book of Common Prayer, 1979) can function as both encouragement and as bad news.

He [the LORD] will judge the world with righteousness

and the peoples with his truth.

It is good news for the oppressed and the downtrodden and terrifying news for the oppressors and those who trod upon people.  So be it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 31, 2014 COMMON ERA

PROPER 17:  THE TWELFTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINT AIDAN OF LINDISFARNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

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Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2014/08/31/devotion-for-thursday-and-friday-before-proper-24-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

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Good Shepherds   1 comment

pope_francis_in_march_2013

Above:  His Holiness, Francis, Bishop of Rome

Image Source = casarosada.gob.ar via http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Pope_Francis_in_March_2013.jpg

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The Collect:

O God our shepherd, you know your sheep by name

and lead us to safety through the valleys of death.

Guide us by your voice, that we may walk in certainty and security

to the joyous feast prepared in your house,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 33

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The Assigned Readings:

Ezekiel 34:17-23 (23rd Day)

Ezekiel 34:23-31 (24th Day)

Jeremiah 23:1-8 (25th Day)

Psalm 100 (All Days)

1 Peter 5:1-5 (23rd Day)

Hebrews 13:20-21 (24th Day)

Matthew 20:17-28 (25th Day)

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Some Related Posts:

Ezekiel 34:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/03/15/devotion-for-january-11-and-12-lcms-daily-lectionary/

Jeremiah 23:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/advent-devotion-for-december-18/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/09/20/proper-11-year-b/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/06/03/devotion-for-november-10-lcms-daily-lectionary/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/06/05/proper-29-year-c/

1 Peter 5:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/devotion-for-december-3-lcms-daily-lectionary/

Hebrews 13:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/09/week-of-4-epiphany-saturday-year-1/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/06/03/devotion-for-the-seventh-day-of-easter-saturday-in-easter-week-lcms-daily-lectionary/

Matthew 20:

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

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Know this:  The LORD alone is God;

we belong to the LORD, who made us,

we are God’s people and the sheep of God’s pasture.

–Psalm 100:2, Book of Common Worship (1993)

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Sometimes the timing of the writing of these devotions astounds me.  I refer not to the fact that I drafted this post on December 9, 2013, or the reality that I am typing it on December 16, 2013.  No, that is typical of my pattern of writing ahead of schedule.  No, I mean the juxtaposition of current events in December 2013 to the content of the assigned readings.  Pope Francis has condemned unbridled capitalism (note the adjective “unbridled”) and supply-side (“trickle-down”) economics as immoral, triggering an avalanche of criticisms of him and his remarks.  Talk radio and Fox News Channel personalities are beside themselves.  The Holy Father is a Marxist, Rush Limbaugh says.  (Francis is not a Marxist.)  He has condemned an entire economic system, some say.  (The Holy Father has condemned what George H. W. Bush called “Voodoo economics” in 1980 and a culture of greed.)  But why let objective reality get in the way of a tantrum?  Pope Francis is standing in the tradition of the Hebrew prophets and Jesus, a good thing for a Pontiff to do.  All of this, in combination with the lections, reminds me of the thoughts of the late Bishop Bennett J. Sims (died in 2006) on leadership.  He favored servant leadership, that which builds up others and does not seek to control them.  This was his idea of business ethics and good government.

God will replace the predatory shepherds of Ezekiel 34:1-16 with good shepherds, the rest of that chapter says.  The sheep will benefit from the change.  1 Peter 5:1-5 encourages humility as a guide in dealing with others.  And we who follow Jesus are the sheep of his flock.  He is the Good Shepherd of a famous parable.  In his kingdom the servants are the greatest, the meek will inherit the earth, the grieving will receive comfort, the hungry will have their fill, and the poor will inherit the kingdom.  There is no artificial scarcity in God’s economics; no, there is enough for everyone to fill every need.

The facts that our world is not that reality and that the Pope’s words have sparked such an outcry indicate deeply ingrained sinfulness–spiritual blindness–especially of the type which seems leftover from reactionary Cold War politics.  Yet the prophetic words of God and of God’s servants regarding economics and human dignity stand as condemnations of those who disagree with them.  So be it.  That might open the door for repentance and conversion, the preferable subsequent course of action.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 16, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE SIXTEENTH DAY OF ADVENT, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF GUSTAF AULEN, SWEDISH LUTHERAN THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT ADELAIDE, HOLY ROMAN EMPRESS

THE FEAST OF MARIANNE WILLIAMS, ANGLICAN MISSIONARY

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Adapted from this post:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2013/12/16/devotion-for-the-twenty-third-twenty-fourth-and-twenty-fifth-days-of-easter-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

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Predatory Shepherds   1 comment

06366v

Above:  Shepherds and Sheep, Between 1898 and 1946

Image Source = Library of Congress

(http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/matpc/item/mpc2004006443/pp/)

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-matpc-06366

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The Collect:

O God our shepherd, you know your sheep by name

and lead us to safety through the valleys of death.

Guide us by your voice, that we may walk in certainty and security

to the joyous feast prepared in your house,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 33

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The Assigned Readings:

Ezekiel 34:1-16

Psalm 23

Luke 15:1-7

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Some Related Posts:

Ezekiel 34:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/03/15/devotion-for-january-11-and-12-lcms-daily-lectionary/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/29/proper-29-year-a/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/07/week-of-proper-15-wednesday-year-2/

Luke 15:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/18/week-of-proper-26-thursday-year-1/

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The LORD is my shepherd;

I shall not be in want.

You make me lie down in green pastures

and lead me beside still waters.

–Psalm 23:1-2, Book of Common Worship (1993)

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Psalm 23 and Luke 15:4-7 provide useful contrasts to the predatory “shepherds” of Ezekiel 34:1-16.  Yahweh is the Good Shepherd in Psalm 23.  Jesus is the Good Shepherd in Luke 15.  The latter material is especially familiar to me, for I have researched it recently.  There were teams of shepherds who guarded village flocks, which were assets.  One shepherd sought out a lost sheep while his coworkers guarded the others.

The “shepherds” of Ezekiel 34:1-16 were leaders of the kingdom.  They had become predators, not protectors.  They had scattered the flock and not tended to the needs of the sheep.  These bad “shepherds” had engaged in economic exploitation and official corruption.  And God was about to replace, said Ezekiel, for the benefit of the flock.

Corruption is among the leading causes of poverty, as people who live in developing countries with abundant and coveted natural resources can attest.  The discovery of oil, for example, should improve the standard of living for the masses there, but it usually benefits just a few while the majority persist in poverty because the few hoard the wealth instead of sharing it.  Greed is truly the root of all human evil and a persistent social problem.  May all agents of it either repent and convert (the preferred remedy) or fail in their perfidious plots, by the efforts of moral people who are agents of God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 16, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE SIXTEENTH DAY OF ADVENT, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF GUSTAF AULEN, SWEDISH LUTHERAN THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT ADELAIDE, HOLY ROMAN EMPRESS

THE FEAST OF MARIANNE WILLIAMS, ANGLICAN MISSIONARY

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Adapted from this post:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2013/12/16/devotion-for-the-twenty-first-day-of-easter-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

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The Insufficiency of Materialism and Greed   1 comment

Above:  Boat of Purity and Ease, Summer Palace, Beijing, China–Restored and Expanded in the 1890s by Order of the Dowager Empress Cixi Via Embezzled Funds Intended Originally for the Chinese Navy

Image Source = Corymgrenier

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

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Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.

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Romans 16:1-9, 16, 21-27 (Revised English Bible):

I commend to you, Phoebe, a fellow-Christian who is a minister in the church at Cenchrae.  Give her, in the fellowship of the Lord, a welcome worthy of God’s people, and support her in any business in which she may need your help, for she has herself been a good friend to many, including myself.

Give my greetings to Prisca and Aquila, my fellow-workers in Christ Jesus.  They risked their necks to save my life, and not I alone but all the gentile churches are grateful to them.  Greet also the church that meets at their house.

Give my greetings to my dear friend Epanetus, the first convert to Christ in Asia, and to Mary, who worked so hard for you.  Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow-countrymen and comrades in captivity, who are eminent among the apostles and were Christians before I was.

Greetings to Anpliatus, my dear friend in the fellowship of the Lord, to Urban my comrade in Christ, and to my dear Stachys….

Greet one another with the kiss of peace.  All Christ’s churches send you their greetings.

Greetings to you from my colleague Timothy, and from Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater my fellow-countrymen.  (I Tertius, who took this letter down, add my Christian greetings.)  Greetings also from Gaius, my host and host of the whole congregation, and from Erastus, treasurer of this city, and our brother Quartus.

To him who has power to make you stand firm, according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of that divine secret kept in silence for long ages but now disclosed, and by the eternal God’s command made known to all nations through prophetic scriptures, to bring them to faith and obedience–to the only wise God through Jesus Christ be glory for endless ages!  Amen.

Psalm 145:1-7 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

I will exalt you, O God my King,

and bless your Name for ever and ever.

Every day will I bless you

and praise your Name for ever and ever.

3 Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised;

there is no end to his greatness.

4 One generation shall praise your works to another

and shall declare your power.

5  I will ponder the glorious splendor of your majesty

and all your marvelous works.

6  They shall speak of the might of your wondrous acts,

and I will tell of our greatness.

7  They shall publish the remembrance of your great goodness;

they shall sing of your righteous deeds.

Luke 16:9-15 (Revised English Bible):

[Jesus continued,]

So I say to you, use your worldly wealth to win friends for yourselves, so that when money is a thing of the past you may be received into an eternal home.

Anyone who can be trusted in small matters can be trusted also in great; and anyone who is dishonest in small matters is dishonest also in great.  If, then, you have not proved trustworthy with the wealth of this world, who will trust you with the wealth that is real?  And if you have proved untrustworthy with what belongs to another, who will give you anything of your own?

No slave can serve two masters; for either he will hate the first and love the second, or he will be devoted to the first and despise the second.  You cannot serve God and Money.

The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and scoffed at him.  He said to them,

You are the people who impress others with your righteousness; but God sees through you; for what is considered admirable in human eyes is detestable in the sight of God.

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The Collect:

Almighty and merciful God, it is only by your gift that your faithful people offer you true and laudable service: Grant that we may run without stumbling to obtain your heavenly promises; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Some  Related Posts:

http://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/06/15/feast-of-sts-lydia-dorcas-and-phoebe-holy-wome-january-29/

http://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/01/22/feast-of-aquila-priscilla-and-apollos-february-13/

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“Keeping up with the Joneses” is a certain way of seeking social status and, depending on one’s finances, a probable way of wasting money better spent in other ways or saved.  We humans like to keep up appearances at least some of the time, but many of us know of the futility of this pattern of behavior.  Maybe this fact helps explain our admiration for real people and fictional characters who do not even try to keep up with the Joneses or to impress others in empty matters.

Jesus, at the end of this day’s lesson from Luke, says that nobody can serve God and mammon simultaneously.  Mammon refers not to money itself, which is morally neutral, but to materialism and greed.  Our lives, as we read elsewhere in the Bible, do not consist in the abundance of our possessions.  Our wealth here on earth is subject to rust and decay, so making the accumulation of an end, not a means to an end, is foolish decision.

The prophet Samuel, when he anointed David as King of Israel, said that people look on exteriors, but God looks inside people.  The reading from Luke fits neatly with this incident.   Of course we cannot serve both God and greed; the two are incompatible.

Paul, while concluding the Epistle to the Romans, commended various people, many of whom are quite obscure.  But they served God faithfully.  God knows who they were (and are); they are at rest in our Lord.  That matters more than anything else.  Furthermore, I observe that you and I are almost certain to spend our lives and our afterlives is earthly obscurity.  We will die.  And, in time, all those who have known us will die also.  Then it will be as if we had not lived.  When that time, comes, how will we stand in relation to God?  That is what matters most.  Our money will go away; indeed, money is mostly fictitious, consisting of numbers flowing back and forth between computers.  Our possessions will break or burn or go to the dump or a thrift store.  Our lives are not located in our possessions and money.  No, they have meaning in relationships and in God.

May we focus our energies on that which is most important.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 18, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF MALTBIE DAVENPORT BABCOCK, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT ERIK IX OF SWEDEN, KING AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN I, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF TAMIHANA TE RAUPARAHA, ANGLICAN MISSIONARY

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Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/18/week-of-proper-26-saturday-year-1/

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Posted May 9, 2012 by neatnik2009 in Luke 16, Psalm 145, Romans 16

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Possessions and Attitudes   1 comment

Above:  Some of Charles Foster Kane’s Possessions after His Death, from Citizen Kane (1941)

(The image is a screen capture.)

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Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.

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Romans 4:13, 19-25 (Revised English Bible):

It was not through law that Abraham and his descendants were given the promise that the world should be their inheritance, but through righteousness that came from faith.

His faith did not weaken when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old),  and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; no distrust made him doubt God’s promise, but, strong in faith, he gave glory to God, convinced that what he had promised he was able to do.  And that is why Abraham’s faith was

counted to him as righteousness.

The words “counted to him” were meant to apply not only to Abraham but to us; our faith too is to be “counted,” the faith in the God who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead; for he was given up to death for our misdeeds, and raised to life for our justification.

THEN 

Canticle 16 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

The Song of Zechariah (Luke 1:68-79) plus the Trinitarian formula

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel;

he has come to his people and set them free.

He has raised up for us a mighty savior,

born of the house of his servant David.

Through his holy prophets he promised of old,

that he would save us from our enemies,

from the hands of all who hate us.

He promised to show mercy to our fathers

and to remember his holy covenant.

This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham,

to set us free from the hands of our enemies,

Free to worship him without fear,

holy and righteous in his sight

all he days of our life.

You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High,

for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way,

To give his people knowledge of salvation

by the forgiveness of their sins.

In the tender compassion of our God

the dawn from on high shall break upon us,

To shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death,

and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;

as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever.  Amen.

OR

Psalm 89:19-29 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

19  You spoke once in a vision and said to your faithful people:

“I have set the crown upon a warrior

and have exalted one chosen out of the people.

20  I have found David my servant;

with my holy oil have I anointed him.

21  My hand will hold him fast

and my arm will make him strong.

22  No enemy shall deceive him,

nor any wicked man bring him down.

23  I will crush his foes before him

and strike down those who hate him.

24  My faithfulness and love shall be with him,

and he shall be victorious through my Name.

25  I shall make his dominion extend

from the Great Sea to the River.

26  He will say to you, ‘You are my Father,

my God, and the rock of my salvation.’

27  I will make him my firstborn

and higher than the kings of the earth.

28  I will keep my love for him for ever,

and my covenant will stand firm for him.

29  I will establish his line for ever

and his throne as the days of heaven.”

THEN

Luke 12:13-21 (Revised English Bible):

Someone in the crowd said to him [Jesus],

Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family property with me.

He said to the man,

Who set me over you to judge or arbitrate?

Then to the people he said,

Beware!  Be on your guard against greed of every kind, for even when someone has more than enough, his possessions do not give him life.

And he told them this parable:

There was a rich man whose land yielded a good harvest.  He debated with himself: “What am I to do?  I have not the space to store my produce.  This is what I will do, ” said he:  ”I will pull down my barns and build them bigger.  I will collect in them all my grain and other goods, and I will say to myself, ‘You have plenty of good things laid by, enough for many years to come:  take life easy, eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.’”  But God said to him, “You fool, this very night you must surrender your life; and the money you have made, who will get it now?” That is how it is with the man who piles up treasure for himself and remains a pauper in the sight of God.

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The Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God, in Christ you have revealed your glory among the nations: Preserve the works of your mercy, that your Church throughout the world may persevere with steadfast faith in the confession of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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The end of Citizen Kane haunts me.  Charles Foster Kane has died recently.  He has left behind a large house stuffed with possessions, none of which mean anything to those who clean up after him.  In fact, they burn many of them.

We cannot take our possessions with us, and others will have to clean up after us.  How much work will we make them do?  In the interim, how much work will we make ourselves do every time we move?

People matter far more than possessions, for positive relationships can alleviate loneliness but money and “stuff” cannot.  Abraham was wealthy, but we do not recall him mainly as a rich patriarch.  His legacy, as Paul understood it, is faith.  So not only do people matter more than possessions; so does faith, which, in the Pauline formulation, is inherently active.

I have many books, and intend to keep a large library for as long as possible.  But I use it for various purposes, including devotions.  And I feel good when I reduce the size of my library by giving books to students, for I do not need anymore dust collectors.  Furthermore, I become painfully aware of the size of my library every time I move.  It can become an albatross if I am not careful.

Having many possessions is not a problem; neither is being wealthy.  Money and items are morally neutral.  What matters most is our attitude toward them, as well as the actions flowing from this mindset.  Faith, in Paul’s formulation, entails acknowledging and accepting our complete dependence on God’s grace alone, not on anything we bring to the table.  So any attitude which stands in the way of embracing this fact of life needs to change.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 8, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BENEDICT II, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF DAME JULIAN OF NORWICH, SPIRITUAL WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAGDALENA OF CANOSSA, FOUNDER OF THE DAUGHTERS OF CHARITY AND THE SONS OF CHARITY

THE FEAST OF SAINT PETER OF TARENTAISE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP

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Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/08/week-of-proper-24-monday-year-1/

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Posted May 9, 2012 by neatnik2009 in Faith and Media, Luke 12, Psalm 89, Romans 4

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