Archive for the ‘Grief’ Tag

The Vindication and Rejoicing of the Hebrew Exiles, With the Third Servant Song   Leave a comment

Above:  Inconsolable Grief, by Ivan Kramskoi

Image in the Public Domain

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

READING SECOND ISAIAH, PART VIII

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

Isaiah 50:1-52:12

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

In Second Isaiah, YHWH is the father and Jerusalem is the mother of the covenant community, metaphorically.

The Third Servant Song is Isaiah 50:4-9.  The audience this time is the covenant community–especially those members thereof who have fallen away.  The Third Servant Song occurs in the textual context of divine frustration with Hebrew exiles (50:1-3, 10-11), many of whom remained rebellious.  Reading the Third Servant Song on Christian autopilot identifies the servant as Jesus.  This is overly simplistic and ahistorical.  The servant here speaks the message of God to disheartened Hebrew exiles.  The theology of Isaiah 50:4-9 is that the exiles deserved the Babylonian Exile (40:1-3), but that YHWH was about to vindicate them anyway.

Some of the despairing exiles relied on God and accepted this message.  Others rejected it and, poetically, laid down in pain.  They did not respond favorably and faithfully to God, mighty, strong, and sovereign.  They rejected grace.  They rejected God, in whom judgment and mercy exist in balance.

In Jeremiah (8:11; 27:8-11; 28:1-17), false hopes and prophets of peace and restoration belied the upcoming Fall of Jerusalem (586 B.C.E.) and its aftermath.  The truth was hard to hear.  Words of comfort were mostly lies.  Those words of comfort that were not lies focused on seemingly distant restoration, eventually.

In contrast, in a different time, words of imminent divine deliverance and consolation seemed, to many, ridiculous.  After so many years of the Babylonian Exile, that response was predictable.

When populations have been poor, oppressed, discriminated against, et cetera, the hope of a better future may seem ridiculous.  Yet there is always a better future with God.  How many people want to embrace that hope?  How many people think they can embrace that hope?  And to what extend is the continued state of poverty, oppression, discrimination, et cetera, a self-fulfilling prophecy?

The answers to the these questions vary according to circumstances, of course.  Machinery of oppression, discrimination, and the maintenance of poverty exists.  Most people over the course of documented time have lacked the agency that proponents of pulling oneself up by one’s bootstraps assume many people have.  Telling someone without shoes,

Pull yourself up by your bootstraps,

is cruel and unrealistic.  Yet other people are fortunate enough to possess agency.  But do they know this?  And do they know how to use that agency most effectively?

Second Isaiah addressed a population, of course.

Above:  Bonny Thomas (1965-2019), Whose Death Broke My Heart and Shattered My Life

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

On the individual level, grief can be as crippling as it is on the collective level.  I know this grief.  I know the grief over the death of dreams and aspirations.  I also know the grief that lingers after someone has died.  I know what life-shattering grief is; I deal with it daily.  I talk to God about it.  I remain broken, and I talk to God about it.  Doing that is what I know to do.  I am broken and shattered, but I am not alone.

We–collectively and individually–are all broken.  The fortunate are less broken that others.  Leaning into the strength and faithfulness of God is the way of healing.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 10, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF MYLES HORTON, “FATHER OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT”

THE FEAST OF SAINTS EUMENIOUS AND PARTHENIOS OF KOUDOUMAS, MONKS AND FOUNDERS OF KOUDOMAS MONASTERY, CRETE

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOSEPH OF DAMASCUS, SYRIAN ORTHODOX PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1860

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICHOLAS SPIRA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF RUED LANGGAARD, DANISH COMPOSER

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

The Gift of Tears to Shed   1 comment

Above:  Tear Ducts

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

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

Isaiah 25:6-9

Psalm 24

Revelation 21:1-6a

John 11:32-44

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

[The Lord GOD] will destroy death for ever….

–Isaiah 25:8a, The Revised English Bible (1989)

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

Writing another devotional blog post for All Saints’ Day can prove challenging, given how many I have composed.  My perspective on this hobby of writing lectionary-based devotions is unique, O reader.  I am the only mortal who knows how often I have repeated myself.

Anyway, the connection between Isaiah 25:5-9 and Revelation 21:1-6a is obvious.  Isaiah 25:6-9, set during the great eschatological banquet, is a fine choice to pair with Revelation 21:1-6a.

I have joined the company of those who visit someone’s grave and talk.  In my case, those are the graves of my father (who had Alzheimer’s Disease and died a combination of ailments on October 30, 2014) and my girlfriend (who struggled with mental illness until she died violently on October 14, 2019).  Therefore, Isaiah 25:6-9 has special meaning for me.  Perhaps you, O reader, also find special meaning in this text.  We mere mortals grieve because we are human and have emotions.  We need not grieve alone.  Hopefully, we can rely on other people to help us through the grieving process.  And God is with us, of course.

Jesus wept.

–John 11:35, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

Jesus weeps with us.  We are not alone.

Sister Ruth Fox, O.S.B., wrote “A Franciscan Blessing” (1985), which reads, in part:

May God bless you with the gift of tears to shed with those who suffer

from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all that they cherish,

so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and transform their pain into joy.

One day, I will be a position to help someone experiencing grief.  I will be able to assist that person because of my grief.  So be it.  Life in God requires people to look out for each other.  

The Feast of All Saints is an occasion to ponder all who have preceded us in the Christian faith.  They constitute a “great cloud of witnesses.”  Some are famous.  Most are obscure.  We may know a few of them by name.  To miss them is legitimate.

At the right time (the time of God’s choosing), may we join them on the other side of the veil.  In the meantime, we have work to do and God to glorify.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 30, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF LESSLIE NEWBIGIN, ENGLISH REFORMED MISSIONARY AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT BATHILDAS, QUEEN OF FRANCE

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK OAKELEY, ANGLICAN THEN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF SAINTS GENESIUS I OF CLERMONT AND PRAEJECTUS OF CLERMONT, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; AND SAINT AMARIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINT JACQUES BUNOL, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1945

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

Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2021/01/30/devotion-for-all-saints-day-year-d-humes/

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

The Tears of the Christ   1 comment

Above:  Jesus, from The Gospel According to Saint Matthew (1964)

A Screen Capture

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

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

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

Genesis 13:1-16 or Ezra 1:1-7; 3:8-13

Psalm 136:1-9, 23-26

Revelation 7:9-17

John 11:1-3. 16-44

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

Jesus wept.

–John 11:35, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

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

They will never hunger or thirst again; neither the sun nor scorching wind will ever plague them because the Lamb who is at the throne will be their shepherd and will lead them to springs of living water; and God will wipe away all tears like their eyes.

–Revelation 7:16-17, The Jerusalem Bible (1966)

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

I could take so many paths through the assigned readings for this week.  These readings are rich texts.  I will take just one path, however.

Before I do, here are a few notes:

  1. Abraham waited for God to tell him which land to claim.  Abraham chose well.
  2. Lot chose land on his own.  He chose poorly.  However, at the time he seemed to have chosen wisely; he selected fertile land.
  3. I agree with Psalm 136.  Divine mercy does endure forever.
  4. The chronology of the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah weaves in and out of those books.  I know, for I blogged my way through them in chronological order at BLOGA THEOLOGICA last year.

For the record, the chronological reading order of Ezra-Nehemiah follows:

  1. Ezra 1:1-2:70; Nehemiah 7:6-73a;
  2. Ezra 3:1-4:5;
  3. Ezra 5:1-6:22;
  4. Ezra 4:6-24;
  5. Nehemiah 1:1-2:20;
  6. Nehemiah 3:1-4:17;
  7. Nehemiah 5:1-19;
  8. Nehemiah 6:1-7:5;
  9. Nehemiah 11:1-12:47;
  10. Nehemiah 13:1-31;
  11. Nehemiah 9:38-10:39;
  12. Ezra 7:1-10:44; and
  13. Nehemiah 7:73b-9:38.

I take my lead in this post from the New Testament readings.  Tears are prominent in both of them.  Tears are on my mind during the COVID-19 pandemic.  They are also on my mind as I continue to mourn the violent death of my beloved.  Her departure from this side of the veil of tears has left me shaken and as forever changed me.

The full divinity and full humanity of Jesus are on display in John 11.  We read that Jesus wept over the death of his friend, St. Lazarus of Bethany.  We also read of other people mourning and weeping in the immediate area.  We may not pay much attention to that.  We may tell ourselves, “Of course, they grieved and wept.”  But two words–“Jesus wept”–remain prominent.

There is a scene in The Gospel According to Saint Matthew (1964) that fits this theme.  At the time, Hollywood studios had recently released technicolor movies about a Jesus who had no tear ducts yet had an impressive command of Elizabethan English while resembling a Northern European.  Yet Pier Paolo Pasolini, who committed about half of the Gospel of Matthew to film, presented a Jesus who had tear ducts.  Immediately after the off-camera decapitation of St. John the Baptist, the next shot was a focus on Christ’s face.  He was crying.  So were the men standing in front of him.

Jesus wept.

We weep.  Jesus weeps with us until the day God will wipe away all tears of those who have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 23, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN THE ALMSGIVER, PATRIARCH OF ALEXANDRIA

THE FEAST OF CHARLES KINGSLEY, ANGLICAN PRIEST, NOVELIST, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF EDWARD GRUBB, ENGLISH QUAKER AUTHOR, SOCIAL REFORMER, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JAMES D. SMART, CANADIAN PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF PHILLIPS BROOKS, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF MASSACHUSETTS, AND HYMN WRITER

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

Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2021/01/23/devotion-for-proper-19-year-d-humes/

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

From the Depths   Leave a comment

Above:  De Profundis, by Horatio Walker

Image in the Public Domain

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

For the First Sunday in Lent, Year 2

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

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)

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

We beseech thee, O Lord, by the mystery of our Savior’s fasting and temptation,

to arm us with the same mind that was in him toward all evil and sin;

and give us grace to keep our bodies in such holy discipline,

that our minds may be always ready to resist temptation,

and obey the direction of thy Holy Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Worship (1947), 146

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

Genesis 22:1-14

Psalm 130

2 Corinthians 6:1-10

Matthew 4:1-11

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

Before I settle into the main business of this blog post, I choose to get some preliminary matters out of the day.

  1. I have written about the near-sacrifice of Isaac many times.  (Check the category for Genesis 22, O reader.)  It is a terrible, traditionally misinterpreted tale.  In modern times, the state Department of Family and Children’s Services would be all over Abraham like lint on a cheap suit, and properly so.  Police officers would arrest Abraham for attempted murder, and properly so.  A prosecutor would try to convict Abraham in court, and properly so.  God tested Abraham.  Abraham failed that test.  He should have asked questions, to be sure he understood correctly.
  2. The Temptation of Jesus in the desert (Matthew 4) offers more familiar, much written-about ground.  (Check the category for Matthew 4, O reader.)  

I take my key note from Psalm 130, a prayer for forgiveness, both individual and collective.  The text affirms the merciful love of God, as well as the human obligation to confess sins, feel remorse for them, and repent of them.  That is the academic side of Psalm 130 for me.

There is no error is offering an objectively accurate analysis and summary of a text, of course.  In the case of Psalm 130, however, I add the dimension of grief.  During the years I loved Bonny Thomas, who struggled with mental illness, I returned frequently to Psalm 130.  I cried to God from the depths.  After Bonny lost her battle with mental illness and died violently, I cried again to God from the depths.  I have continued to do so.

We can cry to God from the depths in proper confidence that God will hear us and take pity on us.  We can also be present for others in their depths.  Having been or being in the depths can enable us to help others in the depths better than we could aid them otherwise.

This point ties into 2 Corinthians 6:6.  One of the ways we prove we are servants of God is by being kind.  Speaking of kindness, Jesus can help us, too.  He knows temptations, too.  So, in the darkness of the depths, we can find a cause for rejoicing and recognize that we have everything we need.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 6, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE EPIPHANY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST

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

In Times of Distress   Leave a comment

Above:  Pearl of Grief, by Rembrandt Peale

Image in the Public Domain

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

For the Second Sunday Before Lent, Year 2

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

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)

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

O Lord God, who seest that we put not our trust in anything that we do;

mercifully grant that by thy power,

we may be defended against all adversity;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Worship (1947), 139

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

Ecclesiastes 11:1-6

Psalm 71

2 Timothy 3:10-4:5

Luke 8:4-15

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

These four readings include the unifying theme of perseverance in faith during times of misfortune.  Do we become stronger or weaker in faith during such times?

The bottom has fallen out of my life twice–in late 2006 and early 2007 then again on October 14, 2019.  I rebounded spiritually from the 2006-2007 collapse years ago.  I am still rebuilding spiritually from Bonny’s sudden, violent death on October 14, 2019.  The COVID-19 pandemic has added complications on top of my personal catastrophe.

I have grown the most spiritually during times of distress.  The light of God has seemed brighter in the darkness.  Perhaps that light was as bright as it had always been.  If so, the darkness around it magnified the light’s effectiveness.  I remain grateful for that spiritual growth without wanting to relive those experiences or anything similar to them.

Life is unfair.  It hurts horribly, sometimes.  If one relies on one’s own resources, one cannot move along from one moment to the next, let alone one day to the next.  If one relies on God, both directly and indirectly, however, one can do that.  Life will still hurt, but one will not feel alone in that hurt.  Jesus can identify with us, our temptations, and our pain.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 12, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FOURTEENTH DAY OF ADVENT

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM LLOYD GARRISON, ABOLITIONIST AND FEMINIST; AND MARIA STEWART, ABOLITIONIST, FEMINIST, AND EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINTS BARTHOLOMEW BUONPEDONI AND VIVALDUS, MINISTERS AMONG LEPERS

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM LOUIS POTEAT, PRESIDENT OF WAKE FOREST COLLEGE, AND BIOLOGIST; HIS BROTHER, EDWIN MCNEILL POTEAT, SR., SOUTHERN AND NORTHERN BAPTIST MINISTER, SCHOLAR, AND PRESIDENT OF FURMAN UNIVERSITY; HIS SON, EDWIN MCNEILL POTEAT, JR., SOUTHERN BAPTIST MINISTER, MISSIONARY, MUSICIAN, HYMN WRITER, AND SOCIAL REFORMER; HIS BROTHER, GORDON MCNEILL POTEAT, SOUTHERN AND NORTHERN BAPTIST AND CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND MISSIONARY; AND HIS COUSIN, HUBERT MCNEILL POTEAT, SOUTHERN BAPTIST ACADEMIC AND MUSICIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT LUDWIK BARTOSIK, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1941

THE FEAST OF THOMAS CANNING, U.S. COMPOSER AND MUSIC EDUCATOR

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

The Long Goodbye   1 comment

World's Greatest Dad

Above:  An Item I Gave My Father Many Years Ago Yet Have Repatriated As a Memento

Photograph Dated December 27, 2013 Common Era

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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

As parents have compassion on their children:

so do you, Lord, have compassion on those who fear you.

For you know what we are made of:

you remember that we are but dust.

–Psalm 103:13-14, A New Zealand Prayer Book (1989)

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

A dear friend of mine in Athens, Georgia, told me recently of her father, who had Alzheimer’s Disease at the end of his life.  She said that the father she had known died ten years before his body expired.

I think of that now, as I realize, with the benefit of hindsight, that my father began to slip away, piece by piece, in the middle 1990s.  The first wheel came off the proverbial cart circa 2000.  His forced (partial) retirement from the South Georgia Conference, The United Methodist Church, came in June 2006.  The forced (full) retirement followed less than five years later.  My father’s physical and intellectual decline accelerated after that.  The diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease confirmed what some of us suspected.

I will not lie; I had a somewhat difficult relationship with my father at times.  He had his issues as much as I had mine.  Misunderstandings and bad chemistry are the stuff of many human relationships, unfortunately.  I am not attempting to assign blame, either.  No, I seek only to understand objectively and correctly what happened and why.  One cannot move on from the past well and deal with it properly if one sweeps it under the proverbial rug.  So I declare that both us were responsible and forgive both my father and myself for misunderstanding each other and acting accordingly.

Each of us is a mixture of the positive and the negative.  My father’s positive aspects outweighed the negative ones.  Indeed, I owe many of my favorite aspects of myself at least partially to his influence:  my excellent taste in music, my deep interest in theology, my fascination with Presbyterian Church history, et cetera.  I am grateful that my parents encouraged my sister and I to think for ourselves.  They raised us to ask questions, something central to my theological method.  And they responded well as I changed from a good Methodist boy into an Episcopalian one with strong Roman Catholic influences, including an affinity for Mary.

I have been watching my father’s decline for years.  For slightly more than eight years I have noticed it during visits to southern Georgia, U.S.A., from my home in Athens-Clarke County-Georgia.  Last Thanksgiving proved to be an especially alarming time.  Two weeks ago today my father left the ministerial cottage on the grounds of Magnolia Manor, Americus, Georgia, for the last time.  Now he resides just a very short walk away, in the rehabilitation wing of the nursing home.  I visited my father there and noticed with dismay the gaping holes in his memory, even from a few minutes prior.  Two days ago, when I told him goodbye until the Spring Break visit, I wondered if he would recognize me again.  It is a valid question, for he has begun to forget faces, even ones he sees every day.

My father–the one I knew–is dead, even though the body continues to function on its own.  Thus I have begun to grieve his passing.  That part of him which neurons and memories comprise is breaking down rapidly.  Somewhere there remains an intangible part of my father.  I will meet him again someday on the other side of this veil of grief and suffering.

In paradisum deducant te angeli:

In tuo adventu suscipiat te martyres,

et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Ierusalem.

May the angels lead you into paradise;

may the martyrs receive you

and lead you into the holy city of Jerusalem.

Chorus angelorum te suscipiat,

et cum Lazaro quondam paupere

aeternam habeas requiem.

May the choir of angels receive you

and, with Lazarus, who was once poor,

may you enjoy eternal rest.

Ego sum resurrectio et vita:

qui credit in me, etiam si mortuus fuerit, vivet:

et omnis qui vivet et credit in me,

non morietur in aeternam.

I am the resurrection and life.

He who believes in me, even though he is dead, shall live;

and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.

The Gregorian Missal for Sundays (Solesmes, France:  Abbaye Saint-Pierre, 1990), pages 698-699

Adieu, mon pere.  Je t’aime.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 27, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE THIRD DAY OF CHRISTMAS:  THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN THE EVANGELIST

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

http://taylorfamilypoems.wordpress.com/2014/11/02/eulogy-for-my-father/

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

Longing for Death   1 comment

Above:  A Graveyard

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

Job 3:1-3, 11-23 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

Afterward, Job began to speak and cursed the day of his birth.  Job spoke up and said:

Perish the day on which I was born,

And the night it was announced,

“A male has been conceived!”

Why did I not die at birth,

Expire as I came forth from the womb?

Why were their knees to receive me,

Or breasts for me to suck?

For now would I be lying in repose, asleep and at rest,

With the world’s kings and counselors who rebuild ruins for themselves,

Or with nobles who possess gold and who fill their houses with silver.

Or why was I not like the buried stillbirth,

Like babies who never saw the light?

There the wicked cease from troubling;

There rest those whose strength is spent.

Prisoners are wholly at ease;

They do not hear the taskmaster’s voice.

Small and great alike are there,

And the slave is free of his master.

Why does He give light to the sufferer

And life to the bitter in spirit;

To those who wait for death but it does not come,

Who search for it more than for treasure,

Who rejoice to exultation,

And are glad to reach the grave;

To the man who has lost his way,

Whom God has hedged about?

Psalm 88:1-8 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  O LORD, my God, my Savior,

by day and night I cry to you.

2  Let my prayer enter into your presence;

incline your ear to my lamentation.

3  For I am full of trouble;

my life is at the brink of the grave.

4  I am counted among those who go down to the Pit;

I have become like one who has no strength;

5  Lost among the dead,

like the slain who lie in the grave,

6  Whom you remember no more,

for they are cut off from your hand.

7  You have laid me in the depths of the Pit,

in dark places, and in the abyss.

8  Your anger weighs upon me heavily,

and all your great waves overwhelm me.

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

Some Related Posts:

A Prayer for Those Suffering from Holiday Grief:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/a-prayer-for-those-suffering-from-holiday-grief/

Prayers for Those Who Suffer:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/prayers-for-those-who-suffer/

Hope of the World:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/08/02/hope-of-the-world/

Stabat Mater:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/04/17/stabat-mater/

A Prayer for the Healing of Minds:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/a-prayer-for-the-healing-of-minds/

Rebirth:  A Prayer:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/17/rebirth-a-prayer/

A Prayer for Those Who Are Desperate:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/a-prayer-for-those-who-are-desperate/

For Those Who Are Unemployed:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/04/03/for-those-who-are-unemployed/

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

This day I will be quite concise.  I have longed for death and prayed for it, even cursed each morning I awoke.  I have sought escape–the sooner the better–from my troubles.  You, O reader, might have also known this feeling.  Or you might know it now.  If you do, O reader, all I can do to help you is tell you what happened to me:  My circumstances improved, thanks to God.  In my darkest hours I noticed acutely the presence of God.  Now I have another experience upon which to draw to help others.  My mandate from God is to use that dark time in my life for positive ends.

In my case, it got better.  If you need the same result, may that happen for you, by grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 26, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ALFRED THE GREAT, KING OF THE WEST SAXONS

THE FEAST OF SAINT CEDD, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF LONDON

THE FEAST OF DMITRY BORTNIANSKY, COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF PHLIP NICOLAI, JOHANN HEERMANN, AND PAUL GERHARDT, HYMN WRITERS

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

Published originally at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on October 26, 2011

Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/26/week-of-proper-21-tuesday-year-2/

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

Posted October 26, 2011 by neatnik2009 in Job 3, Psalm 88

Tagged with , , , , ,

Community, Beloved and Broken   1 comment

Above:  Statue of Reconciliation, St. Michael’s Cathedral, Coventry, England, United Kingdom

Image Source = Rebecca Kennison

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:UK_Coventry_Statue-of-Reconcilliation.jpg)

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

FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #1

2 Samuel 1:1, 7-27 (New Revised Standard Version):

After the death of Saul, when David had returned from defeating the Amalekites, David remained two days in Ziklag.

David intoned this lamentation over Saul and his son Jonathan.  (He ordered that The Song of the Bow he taught to the people of Judah; it is written in the Book of Jashar.)  He said:

Your glory, O Israel, lies slain upon your high places!

How the mighty have fallen!

Tell it not in Gath,

proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon;

or the daughters of the Philistines will rejoice,

the daughters of the uncircumcised will exult.

You mountains of Gilboa,

let there be no dew or rain upon you,

nor bounteous fields!

For there the shield of the mighty was defiled,

the shield of Saul, anointed with oil no more.

From the blood of the slain,

from the fat of the mighty,

the bow of Jonathan did not turn back,

nor the sword of Saul return empty.

Saul and Jonathan, beloved and lovely!

In life and in death they were not divided;

they were swifter than eagles,

they were stronger than lions.

O daughters of Israel, weep over Saul,

who clothed you with crimson, in luxury,

who put ornaments of gold on your apparel.

How the mighty have fallen

in the midst of the battle!

Jonathan lies slain upon your high places.

I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;

greatly beloved were you to me;

your love to me was wonderful,

passing the love of women.

How the mighty have fallen,

and the weapons of war perished!

Psalm 130 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  Out of the depths have I called to you, O LORD;

LORD, hear my voice;

let your ears consider well the voice of my supplication.

2  If you , LORD, were to note what is done amiss,

O Lord, who could stand?

3  For there is forgiveness with you;

therefore you shall be feared.

4  I wait for the LORD; my soul waits for him;

in his word is my hope.

5  My soul waits for the LORD,

more than watchmen in the morning,

more than watchmen in the morning.

6  O Israel, wait for the LORD,

for with the LORD there is mercy;

7  With him there is plenteous redemption,

and he shall redeem Israel from all their sins.

FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #2

Wisdom of Solomon 1:12-15; 2:23-24 (New Revised Standard Version):

Do not invite death by the error of your life,

or bring on destruction by the works of your hands;

because God did not make death,

and he does not delight in the death of the living.

For he created all things that they might exist;

the generative forces of the world are wholesome,

and there is no destructive poison in them,

and the dominion of Hades is not on earth.

For forgiveness is immortal.

…for God created us for incorruption,

and made us in the image of his own eternity.

but through the devil’s envy death entered the world,

and those who belong to his company experience it.

Response, Option #2A:  Lamentations 3:21-33 (New Revised Standard Version):

But this I call to mind,

and therefore I have hope:

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases,

his mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness.

“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,

“therefore I will hope in him.”

The LORD is good to those who wait for him,

to the soul that seeks him.

It is good that one should wait quietly

for the salvation of the LORD.

It is good for one to bear

the yoke in youth,

to sit alone in silence

when the Lord has imposed it,

to put one’s mouth to the dust

(there may yet be hope),

to give one’s cheek to the smiter,

and be filled with insults.

For the Lord will not

reject forever.

Although he causes grief, he will have compassion

according to the abundance of his steadfast love;

for he does not willingly afflict

or grieve anyone.

Response:  Option #2B:  Psalm 30 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

 I will exalt you, O LORD,

because you have lifted me up

and have not let my enemies triumph over me.

 O LORD my God, I cried out to you,

and you restored me to health.

 You brought me up, O LORD, from the dead;

you restored my life as I was going down to the grave.

 Sing to the LORD, you servants of his;

give thanks for the remembrance of his holiness.

 For his wrath endures but the twinkling of an eye,

his favor for a lifetime.

6 Weeping may spend the night,

but joy comes in the morning.

 While I felt secure, I said,

“I shall never be disturbed.

You,  LORD, with your favor, made me as strong as the mountains.”

 Then you hid my face,

and I was filled with terror.

 I cried to you, O LORD;

I pleaded with the LORD, saying,

10  “What profit is there in my blood, if I go down to the Pit?

will the dust praise you or declare your faithfulness?

11  Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me;

O LORD, be my helper.”

12  You have turned my wailing into dancing;

you have put off my sack-cloth and clothed me with joy.

13  Therefore my heart sings to you without ceasing;

O LORD my God, I will give you thanks for ever.

SECOND READING

2 Corinthians 8:7-15 (New Revised Standard Version):

As you excel in everything– in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you– so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking.

I do not say this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love against the earnestness of others. For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. And in this matter I am giving my advice: it is appropriate for you who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something– now finish doing it, so that your eagerness may be matched by completing it according to your means. For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has– not according to what one does not have. I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance. As it is written,

The one who had much did not have too much,

and the one who had little had too little.

GOSPEL READING

Mark 5:21-43 (New Revised Standard Version):

When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly,

My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.

He went with him.

And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said,

If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.

Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said,

Who touched my clothes?

And his disciples said to him,

You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, “Who touched me?”

He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her,

Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.

While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say,

Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?

But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue,

Do not fear, only believe.

He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them,

Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.

And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her,

Talitha cum,

which means,

Little girl, get up!

And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

The Collect:

Almighty God, you have built your Church upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone: Grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their teaching, that we may be made a holy temple acceptable to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.Amen.

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

Some Related Posts:

Proper 8, Year A:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/15/proper-8-year-a/

2 Samuel 1:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/10/week-of-2-epiphany-saturday-year-2/

Wisdom of Solomon 1-2:

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

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/19/week-of-proper-27-tuesday-year-1/

Mark 5:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/06/week-of-4-epiphany-tuesday-year-1/

Jerusalem:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/08/01/jerusalem-by-william-blake/

O Lord, You Gave Your Servant John:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/08/06/o-lord-you-gave-your-servant-john/

New Every Morning is the Love:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/22/new-every-morning-is-the-love-by-john-keble/

A Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/25/a-prayer-by-st-francis-of-assisi/

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/09/11/911-a-prayer-of-st-francis-of-assisi/

A Franciscan Blessing:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/17/a-franciscan-blessing/

Where Cross the Crowded Ways of Life:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/06/26/where-cross-the-crowded-ways-of-life/

A Prayer for Shalom:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/17/a-prayer-for-shalom/

On a ______:

http://taylorfamilypoems.wordpress.com/2011/08/14/on-a/

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

We are social creatures–some more so than others.  But we are all social creatures.  This fact helps explain why solitary confinement is such a strong punishment.  Furthermore, empathy helps bind us to each other.  It is to empathy that Paul appeals in 2 Corinthians 8:7-15.  Nobody should have too much or too little, he wrote; there should be a “fair balance” between the abundance of one and the needs of another.

In other words, we ought to take care of each other.  Corporations with enough cash on hand to spend millions or billions or dollars to purchase patents for things they did not invent for the purpose of either suing other corporations for patent infringement or intimidating other corporations from suing them for patent infringement have enough cash on hand to hire actual human beings.  There is an imbalance between abundance and needs.  As Martin Luther King, Jr., said on April 4, 1967, people should matter more than things and other forms of wealth.  To value property more highly than people is to have an inverse moral order.

We read of Jesus healing a woman with a persistent hemorrhage.  This condition had afflicted her for twelve years, during which she could not earn money and she was ritually unclean.  Therefore she was marginal in her community.  But now she was once again whole.

The woman had to deal with stigma over a physical problem.  David had another difficulty:  an estranged father-in-law who wanted him dead and against whom he was leading a rebellion.  Despite these facts, David had spared Saul’s life when he had the chance to take it.  And David mourned both Saul and Jonathan, his brother-in-law and best friend, who had died recently.  He referred to both of them as “beloved and cherished.”

We should grieve when relationships break, and we ought to mourn the fact that there is no way to repair some interpersonal ruptures due to realities such as death.  We should also be discontented when unjust economic disparities persist.  What can we do about it, whether in a family, community, county, state, national, or international level.  Alone we might not be able to do anything, but what can we accomplish collectively?  That is a question with an answer worth finding.  For, as the author of the Wisdom of Solomon reminds us,

God created us for incorruption,

and made us in the image of his own eternity.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 20, 2011 COMMON ERA

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

Published originally at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/08/20/proper-8-year-b/

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

Admitting the Existence of Our Dark Sides   1 comment

Above:  Zedekiah Chained

2 Kings 25:1-12 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.  And in the ninth year of his reign, on the tenth day of the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar moved against Jerusalem with his whole army.  He besieged it; and they built towers against it all around.  The city continued in a state of siege until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah.  By the ninth day [of the fourth month] the famine had become acute in the city; there was no food left for the common people.

Then [the wall of] the city was breached.  All the soldiers [left the city] by night through the gate between the double walls, which is near the king’s garden–the Chaldeans were all about the city; and [the king] set out for the Arabah.  But the Chaldean troops pursued the king, and they overtook him in the steppes of Jericho as his entire force left him and scattered.  They captured the king and brought him before the king of Babylon at Riblah; and they put him on trial.  They slaughtered Zedekiah’s sons before his eyes; then Zedekiah’s eyes were put out.  He was chained in bronze fetters and he was brought to Babylon.

On the seventh day of the fifth month–that was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon–Nebuzaradan, the chief of the guards, an officer of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem.  He burned the House of the LORD, the king’s palace, and all the houses of Jerusalem; he burned down the house of every notable person.  The entire Chaldean force that was with the chief of the guard tore down the walls of Jerusalem on every side.  The remnant of the people that was left in the city, the defectors who had gone over to the king of Babylon–and the remnant of the population–were taken into exile by Nebuzaradan, the chief of the guards.  But some of the poorest in the land were left by the chief of the guards, to be vinedressers and field hands.

Psalm 137 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  By the waters of Babylon we sat down and wept,

when we remembered you, O Zion.

2  As for our harps, we hung them up

on the trees in the midst of that land.

3  For those who led us away captive asked us for a song,

and our oppressors called for mirth:

“Sing for us the songs of Zion.”

4  How shall we sing the LORD’s song

upon alien soil?

5  If I forget you, O Jerusalem,

let my right hand forget its skill.

6  Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth

if I do not remember you,

if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy.

7  Remember the day of Jerusalem, O LORD,

against the people of Edom,

who said, “Down with it!  even to the ground!”

8  O Daughter of Babylon, doomed to destruction,

happy the one who pays you back

for that which you have done to us!

9  Happy shall be he who takes your little ones,

and dashes them against the rock!

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

The Canadian Anglican Lectionary says to read Psalm 137:106 for this day.  I have chosen, however, to include all nine verses.  The first six verses are mournful; the final three are vengeful.  These are honest and understandable emotions, given the circumstances.

One of the virtues of the Book of Psalms is its honesty.  True, we ought not indulge our feelings of vengeance by encouraging and acting upon them, but neither should we pretend that these emotions do not exist.  ”Vindicate me” and “Crush my enemies” are predictable pleas to God.

The good news is that we can take everything to God in prayer.  God already knows us–the good, the bad, and the really ugly–better than we know ourselves.  To be honest with God is a positive sign.  It is better than bottling up the gremlins of our souls or ignoring them.  And, by grace, we can work through our dark sides.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 18, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM PORCHER DUBOSE, EPISCOPAL THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT HELENA, MOTHER OF EMPEROR CONSTANTINE I

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

Published originally at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/08/18/week-of-proper-7-friday-year-2/

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