Archive for the ‘Hubris’ Tag

Transfigured Lives   1 comment

Above:  Icon of the Transfiguration of Jesus

Image in the Public Domain

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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Genesis 11:1-9

Psalm 50:1-6

Galatians 6:1-18

Mark 9:2-13

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The great myth of the Tower of Babel is a cautionary tale.  It is certainly neither history nor cultural anthropology.  So be it.  The great myth in Genesis 11:1-9 condemns human hubris, that which

goeth before the fall.

“Look at me!  Look at us!” is terrible theology.  It is not humility before God either.  Besides, such large-scale construction projects (as in the mythical Tower of Babel) entailed forced labor in antiquity.  They required the exploitation of many people, in violation of the ethical mandates of the Law of Moses.

Galatians 6 is consistent with the ethical mandates of the Law of Moses.  Bear one another’s burdens, we read.  Act out of mutuality, we read.  Never tire of doing good, we read.

Reaching to Heaven in pride is an element of Genesis 11.  In the accounts of the Transfiguration, we read that God has reached down to people in sacrificial love.  One proper response to such love is to love one another sacrificially.  We cannot love as God loves, even by grace.  However, we can, by grace, love each other better than we can on our own power.

May the sacrificial love of God manifest in the life of Jesus of Nazareth transfigure our lives.  May it transfigure your life, O reader.  May it transfigure my life.  May hubris recede far into the background and disappear.  May we seek to glorify God, not ourselves.  May we succeed, by grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 4, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE ELEVENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ELIZABETH ANN SETON, FOUNDRESS OF THE AMERICAN SISTERS OF CHARITY

THE FEAST OF FELIX MANZ, FIRST ANABAPTIST MARTYR, 1527

THE FEAST OF SAINTS GREGORY OF LANGRES, TERTICUS OF LANGRES, GALLUS OF CLERMONT, GREGORY OF TOURS, AVITUS I OF CLERMONT, MAGNERICUS OF TRIER, AND GAUGERICUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS

THE FEAST OF JOHANN LUDWIG FREYDT, GERMAN MORAVIAN COMPOSER AND EDUCATOR

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Adapted from this post:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2021/01/04/devotion-for-the-sunday-of-the-transfiguration-year-d-humes/

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Humility Before God and People, Part III   Leave a comment

Above:  The Ruins of the Tower of Babel, from Metropolis (1927)

A Screen Capture via PowerDVD

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For the Second Sunday after Christmas, Year 2

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Lectionary from A Book of Worship for Free Churches (The General Council of the Congregational Christian Churches in the United States, 1948)

Collect from The Book of Worship (Evangelical and Reformed Church, 1947)

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Almighty God, who hast poured upon us the new light of thine incarnate Word;

grant that the same light enkindled in our hearts may shine forth in our lives;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Worship (1947), 120

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Genesis 11:1-9

Psalm 85

Colossians 2:6-17

Matthew 3:1-12

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Pride goeth before the fall.

The great myth of the Tower of Babel (which contradicts every bit of evidence regarding the history of languages) in Genesis 11:1-9 is a cautionary tale against hubris.  Lest we think we are hot stuff, God has to kneel town, pull out the really big magnifying glass, and squint, figuratively, to see out greatest achievements.  They are that insignificant.  Humility before God is a virtue.

Humility before God leads naturally to remorse for sins and to repentance.  Humility before God acknowledges both divine judgment and mercy.  Humility before God in Christ helps to keep one rooted in Jesus and established in the faith.  And humility before Good helps one, like St. John the Baptist, say, in so many words,

I have a vocation from God.  That calling is important.  Yet I will not imagine myself to be more important than I am.

Each of us bears the image of God.  Each of us is important.  May we think of ourselves and each other accordingly.  May we encourage one another in faith and practice, for the good of each other.  And may we think of ourselves as neither more nor less important than we are.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 3, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FIFTH DAY OF ADVENT

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARUTHAS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF MAYPHERKAT AND MISSIONARY TO PERSIA

THE FEAST OF AMILIE JULIANE, COUNTESS OF SCHWARZBURG-RUDOLSTADT, GERMAN LUTHERAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF ARCHIBALD CAMPBELL TAIT, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

THE FEAST OF SAINT FRANCIS XAVIER, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY TO THE FAR EAST

THE FEAST OF SOPHIE KOULOMZIN, RUSSIAN-AMERICAN CHRISTIAN EDUCATOR

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The Reign of King Azariah/Uzziah of Judah   9 comments

Above:  King Azariah/Uzziah of Judah

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART XCV

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2 Kings 15:1-7

2 Chronicles 26:1-23

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Love righteousness, you rulers of the earth.

think of the Lord with uprightness,

and seek him with sincerity of heart;

because he is found by those who do not put him to the test,

and manifests himself to those who do not distrust him.

For perverse thoughts separate men from God,

and when his power is tested, it convicts the foolish;

because wisdom will not enter a deceitful soul,

nor dwell in a body enslaved to sin.

For a holy and disciplined spirit will flee from deceit,

and will rise and depart from foolish thoughts,

and will be ashamed at the approach of unrighteousness.

–Wisdom of Solomon 1:1-5, Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition (2002)

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King Amaziah of Judah (Reigned 798-769 B.C.E.)

King Azariah/Uzziah of Judah (Reigned 785-733 B.C.E.)

King Jotham of Judah (Reigned 759-743 B.C.E.)

King Jeroboam II of Israel (Reigned 788-747 B.C.E.)

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Again, the account in 2 Chronicles expands on its source material in 2 Kings.  This elaboration creates a different impression regarding the cause of the monarchs’ skin disease (“leprosy”–not what most of us think of when we hear that word) than 2 Kings 15 does.

Anyway, the skin disease made King Azariah/Uzziah ritually impure, thereby excluding him from the Temple and isolating him.  His son Jotham served as the regent.

The primary theme regarding King Azariah/Uzziah is hubris.  Strength leads to pride.  The lack of repentance for pride leads to punishment.  Willful disobedience has terrible consequences.  

The scene of the monarch’s hubris, impenitence, and willful disobedience may seem odd to many.  Perhaps one recalls that King Solomon burned incense in a priestly manner in 1 Kings 9:25.  The Chronicler’s perspective, informed by postexilic standards that only Aaronic priests may burn incense at the Temple, may be anachronistic.

Nevertheless, the example of King Azariah/Uzziah should serve as a reminder not to rest on one’s spiritual laurels.  If we think we are spiritual insiders, we may set ourselves up for the fall that comes after pride goes.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 5, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ARTHUR AND LEWIS TAPPAN, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST BUSINESSMEN AND ABOLITIONISTS; COLLEAGUES AND FINANCIAL BACKERS OF SAMUEL ELI CORNISH AND THEODOER S. WRIGHT, AFRICAN-AMERICAN MINISTERS AND ABOLITIONISTS

THE FEAST OF BERNARD LICHTENBERG, GERMAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1943

THE FEAST OF SAINT HRYHORII LAKOTA, UKRAINIAN GREEK CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1950

THE FEAST OF JOHANN DANIEL GRIMM, GERMAN MORAVIAN MUSICIAN

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