Archive for the ‘Idolatry’ Tag

Holiness, Part VIII   1 comment

Above:  Woodland Stream, by Alexander Demetrius Goltz

Image in the Public Domain

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

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Leviticus 19:1-2, 15-18

Psalm 1

1 Thessalonians 1:5b-10

Matthew 22:34-40 (41-46)

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Almighty and everlasting God,

increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity;

and, that we may obtain what your promise,

make us love what you command;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 29

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Almighty God, we pray,

show your humble servants your mercy,

that we, who put no trust in our own merits,

may be dealt with not according to the severity of your judgment

but according to your mercy;

through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 87

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Holiness, in the Bible, pertains to separation from the profane/common (Leviticus 10:10; 1 Samuel 21:5-6; Ezekiel 22:26; 44:23; etc.).  Holiness is about complete devotion to God.  Holiness, however, is not about legalism, self-righteousness, and serial contrariness.  No, holiness is more about what it favors than what it opposes.

Holiness–in its proper sense–manifests itself in life:

  1. The Holiness code, as in Leviticus 19:1-37, includes honoring parents; keeping the sabbath; refraining from idolatry; offering a sacrifice of well-being properly; feeding the poor; dealing honestly with people; defrauding no one and stealing from nobody; not insulting the deaf; not placing a stumbling block before the blind; rendering impartial justice; loving one’s kinsman as oneself; not mixing different types of cattle, seeds, and cloth; refraining from sexual relations with a slave woman meant for another man; reserving the fruit of the food tree for God for the first three years; eating nothing with blood; avoiding divination and soothsaying; avoiding extreme expressions of grief and mourning; not forcing one’s daughter into harlotry; and eschewing necromancy.  Most of the items on this list are absent from the assigned portion of Leviticus 19.  Cultural contexts define them.
  2. “The man” (literal from the Hebrew text) is a student of the Torah.  He finds his stability in God, in contrast to the unstable scoffers.  When the scoffers find stability, they do not find it in God.
  3. Holiness is contagious in 1 Thessalonians 1:5-10.
  4. Jesus knew the influence of Rabbi Hillel (Matthew 22:34-40).  Holiness manifests in how we treat each other.

In a dog-eat-dog world, more spiritually toxic since the advent of social media and internet comments sections one does well not to read, loving God fully and loving one’s neighbor as one loves oneself (assuming that one loves oneself, of course) does separate one from the profane/common.  Holiness is love, not legalism.  Many particulars of holiness vary according to context, but the timeless principles remain constant.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 22, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JACK LAYTON, CANADIAN ACTIVIST AND FEDERAL LEADER OF THE NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY

THE FEAST OF JOHN DAVID CHAMBERS, ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER AND TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINTS HRYBORII KHOMYSHYN, SYMEON LUKACH, AND IVAN SLEZYUK, UKRAINIAN GREEK CATHOLIC BISHOPS AND MARTYRS, 1947, 1964, AND 1973

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JOHN KEMBLE AND JOHN WALL, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYRS, 1679

THE FEAST OF SAINTS THOMAS PERCY, RICHARD KIRKMAN, AND WILLIAM LACEY, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS, 1572 AND 1582

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Adapted from this post

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Mutuality in God XIV   1 comment

Above:  Figs

Image in the Public Domain

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

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Deuteronomy 11:18-21, 26-28

Psalm 31:1-5 (6-18), 19-24 (LBW) or Psalm 4 (LW)

Romans 3:21-25a, 27-28

Matthew 7:(15-20) 21-29

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Lord God of all nations,

you have revealed your will to your people

and promised your help to us all. 

Help us to hear and to do what you command,

that the darkness may be overcome by the power of your light;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 24

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O God,

whose never-failing providence sets in order all things

both in heaven and on earth,

put away from us, we entreat you, all hurtful things;

and give us those things that are profitable for us;

through Jesus Christ, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 62

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Jewish Covenantal Nomism, present in Deuteronomy 11 and in the background of Romans 3, establishes the tone for this post.  Salvation for Jews comes by grace; they are the Chosen People.  Keeping the moral mandates of the Law of Moses habitually is essential to retaining that salvation.

Love, therefore, the LORD your God, and always keep His charge.  His laws, His rules, and His commandments.

–Deuteronomy 11:1, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985,1999)

Perfection in these matters is impossible, of course.  Therefore, repentance is crucial daily.  In broader Biblical context, God knows that we mere mortals are “but dust.”  Do we?

Grace is free, not cheap.  Nobody can earn or purchase it, but grace does require much of its recipients.  Thin, too, O reader, how much it cost Jesus.

Both options for the Psalm this Sunday contain the combination of trust in God and pleading with God.  I know this feeling.  Maybe you do, too, O reader.

St. Paul the Apostle’s critique of Judaism was simply that it was not Christianity.  As E. P. Sanders wrote:

In short, this is what Paul finds wrong in Judaism:  it is not Christianity.

Paul and Palestinian Judaism:  A Comparison of Patterns of Religion (1977), 552

For St. Paul, the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus changed everything.

I, as a Christian, agree.  However, I also affirm the continuation of the Jewish covenant.  I trust that God is faithful to all Jews and Gentiles who fulfill their ends of the covenant and mourns those who drop out.  Many of those who have dropped out may not know that they have done so.

The good fruit of God, boiled down to its essence and one word, is love.  Recall the First Letter of John, O reader:  Be in Christ.  Walk in the way Jesus walked.

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.  For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.

–1 John 5:2-3a, Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition (2002), 203

And how could we forget 1 John 4:7-8?

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God.  He who does not love does not know God; God is love.

Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition (2002)

This point brings me back to Psalm 31.  In verse 6 or 7 (depending on versification), either God or the Psalmist hates or detests idolators.  Translations disagree on who hates or detests the idolators.  In context, the voice of Psalm 31 is that of a devout Jews falsely accused of idolatry; he protests against this charge and defends his piety and innocence.  Human beings are capable of hating and detesting, of course.  I reject the argument that God hates or detests anyone, though.

Salvation comes via grace.  Damnation comes via works, however.  God sends nobody to Hell.  As C. S. Lewis wrote, the doors to Hell are locked from the inside.

The Right Reverend Robert C. Wright, the Episcopal Bishop of Atlanta, says to love like Jesus.  Consider, O reader, that Christ’s love is self-sacrificial and unconditional.  It beckons people to love in the same way.  This divine love, flowing through mere mortals, can turn upside-down societies, systems, and institutions right side up.

However, anger, grudges, and hatred are alluring idols.  Much of social media feeds off a steady diet of outrage.  To be fair, some outrage is morally justifiable.  If, for example, human trafficking does not outrage you, O reader, I do not want to know you.  But too much outrage is spiritually and socially toxic.  To borrow a line from Network (1976):

I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!

That kind of rage is a key ingredient in a recipe for a dysfunctional society.

We human beings all belong to God and each other.  We are responsible to and for each other.  May we think and act accordingly, by grace and for the common good.  God commands it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 1, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF SAINTS PHILIP AND JAMES, APOSTLES AND MARTYRS

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Adapted from this post

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A Daring Dance with God   1 comment

Above:  Tango Postcard, 1920

Image in the Public Domain

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

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Acts 2:14a, 22-32

Psalm 105:1-7

1 Peter 1:3-9

John 20:19-31

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Almighty God, we have celebrated with joy

the festival of our Lord’s resurrection. 

Graciously help us to show the power of the resurrection

in all that we say and do;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 21

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Grant, almighty God,

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

may by the help of your grace bring forth

the fruits thereof in our life and conduct;

through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 50

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

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

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

The New American Bible–Revised Edition (2011)

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

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

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

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

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 18, 2022 COMMON ERA

MONDAY IN EASTER WEEK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Adapted from this post

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The Empty Tomb, with Post-Resurrection Appearances of Jesus   Leave a comment

Above:  Supper at Emmaus, by Caravaggio

Image in the Public Domain

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READING LUKE-ACTS, PART LII

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Luke 24:1-49

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When I begin to read Luke 24, I recall the conclusion of chapter 23.  That ending includes:

All [Jesus’s] friends stood at a distance; so also did the women who had accompanied him from Galilee and saw all this happen.

–Luke 23:49, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

We also read:

Meanwhile the women who had come from Gailee with Jesus were following behind.  They took note of the tomb and how the body had been laid.

Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments.  And on the Sabbath day they rested, as the Law required.

–Luke 23:55-56, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

Immediately, at the beginning of chapter 24, we find these women at the tomb.

The Gospel of Luke depicts women as the first ones to understand salvific events.  Recall, O reader, Sts. Mary of Nazareth and Elizabeth in Luke 1.  We read in Luke 24 that women were the first witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus.  We also read that women were the first evangelists after the resurrection.

The quest for certainty is idolatrous when faith is required.  I refer to circumstances in which evidence for or against a proposition does not exist.  When one has proof either way, one does not need faith.  The resurrection of Jesus falls into the article of faith.  No historical evidence can logically prove or disprove it.  One may rationally deem the resurrection of Jesus improbable.  If so, one must also admit that improbable events sometimes occur.  I affirm the resurrection of Jesus as I disregard all pious attempts to prove it, thereby trying to remove the necessity of faith regarding this matter.

Attempts to harmonize the post-resurrection stories in the canonical Gospels into a chronology have failed.  So be it.  The Gospels are not journalism.  No, they are good news, literally.

And women continue to proclaim this good news.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 1, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANNA OF OXENHALL AND HER FAITHFUL DESCENDANTS, SAINTS WENNA THE QUEEN, NON, SAMSON OF DOL, CYBI, AND DAVID OF WALES

THE FEAST OF EDWIN HODDER, ENGLISH BIOGRAPHER, DEVOTIONAL WRITER, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF GEORGE WISHART, SCOTTISH CALVINIST REFORMER AND MARTYR, 1546; AND WALGER MILNE, SCOTTISH PROTESTANT MARTYR, 1558

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROGER LEFORT, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF BOURGES

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Posted March 1, 2022 by neatnik2009 in Luke 1, Luke 23, Luke 24

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The Parable of the Dishonest/Crafty Steward/Manager   2 comments

Above:  The Parable of the Unjust Steward, by Jan Luyken

Image in the Public Domain

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READING LUKE-ACTS, PART XXXIX

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Luke 16:1-15

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This parable has prompted the raising of many eyebrows for a very long time.

In cultural context, however, the parable makes more sense than it does at the first, superficial reading, as well as out of context.

The rich man, a property owner, charged interest in violation of the Law of Moses.  The steward’s job was (1) to manage his employer’s wealth, and (b) to collect rent, debts, and interest.  A steward kept some of the interest for himself. The steward in this parable was (1) squandering his employer’s wealth, (2) “cooking the books,” and (3) making friends in the process of “cooking the books.”  He “cooked the books” by bringing the employer into compliance with the Law of Moses.  The steward had placed his soon-to-be-former employer in a difficult position.  The employer could not charge the steward with dishonesty without admitting his illegal activities.

The steward’s audaciousness in achieving his ends calls attention to Jesus’s lesson.  Anyone of us would go to the greatest lengths, no matter how unsavory, to ensure a place in this world; how much more should we devote our attention to the world to come (v. 8)?

–Michael F. Patella, in Daniel Durken, ed., The New Collegiate Bible Commentary:  New Testament (2009), 277

Then we keep reading:  We are to use “dishonest wealth” to win friends but not to trust “dishonest wealth.”  No, we need to trust God.  We, unlike the steward in the parable, ought not to squander that which is entrusted to us.  No, we should be trustworthy, so as to earn trust.

Then–as now–the origins of vast fortunes were usually unsavory.  For that reason, wealth, in these verses, was dishonest.  In a society in which the vast majority of the population was poor, the relatively few rich people benefited from exploitation.  Many of them had seized the land of the less fortunate, for example.  Or wealthy heirs reaped the rewards of the land grabs.

Wealth is a popular idol.  Money, by itself, is morally neutral.  However, people’s relationship to it cannot be morally neutral.  So, is money an instrument or an idol for you, O reader?  Whom–or what–do you trust?  And are you trustworthy with your responsibilities?

God is the owner; we mere mortals are stewards.  “Steward” derives from “sty ward,” as in one who tends a master’s pigs.  May we tend faithfully to God’s sty and not imagine ourselves to be owners.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 19, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SARGENT SHRIVER AND HIS WIFE, EUNICE KENNEDY SHRIVER, HUMANITARIANS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALESSANDRO VALIGNANO, ITALIAN JESUIT MISSIONARY PRIEST IN THE FAR EAST

THE FEAST OF CHARLES WINFRED DOUGLAS, EPISCOPAL PRIEST, LITURGIST, MUSICOLOGIST, LINGUIST, POET, HYMN TRANSLATOR, AND ARRANGER

THE FEAST OF HENRY TWELLS, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

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Trust in God, Part IV   Leave a comment

Above: From My Study, January 7, 2022

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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READING LUKE-ACTS, PART XXXI

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Luke 12:13-34

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In the context of Jesus’s society, the rich man’s conduct was especially egregious.  Most people were poor.  A relative few were wealthy, and the middle class was small.  Hoarding crops kept food away from people who needed it.

In whom or what do we trust?  If we trust in anyone or anything else more than we trust in God, we commit idolatry.  If we trust in money and possessions, we trust in ephemera.

Another issue regarding possessions is that they occupy space.

I moved from Athens, Georgia, to Americus, Georgia, last October.  I rented an enclosed trailer to haul behind my truck.  I had some space in the truck cab, too. I knew better than to haul anything in the truck bed.  As I prepared to move, I obsessed over how much space I had.  This obsession led me to downsize more than I had already.  I downsized well; I used the available space well.

When one downsizes, one may realize that one has not used x, y, and z for a long time.  One, therefore, may not miss them.

That which matters most is intangible.  Relationships with other human beings and God matter most and are related to each other.  One may realize this after a loved one has died and one is cleaning out the deceased person’s abode.  A life does not consist of possessions.

Anxiety and worry cannot improve one’s life.  However, proper concern may spur appropriate actions to resolve problems.  If one is anxious because one lacks, one may still remain anxious after coming into a fortune.  Such a person may become anxious about safeguarding wealth.  Scarcity is a human creation; there is always plenty with God.  God calls us to take care of each other, to ease each other’s anxiety, and to ensure that everybody has enough.  How to accomplish this goal most effectively within a given context is a legitimate topic for discussion.  The underlying commandment is not up for debate, however.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 7, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF FRANÇOIS FÉNELON, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF CAMBRAI

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALDRIC OF LE MANS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF LE MANS

THE FEAST OF JEAN KENYON MACKENZIE, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MISSIONARY IN WEST AFRICA

THE FEAST OF LANZA DEL VASTO, FOUNDER OF THE COMMUNITY OF THE ARK

THE FEAST OF SAINT LUCIAN OF ANTIOCH, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR, 312

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM JONES, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND MUSICIAN

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Posted January 7, 2022 by neatnik2009 in Luke 12

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Greatness   Leave a comment

Above:  Christ with the Children, by Carl Heinrich Bloch

Image in the Public Domain

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READING LUKE-ACTS, PART XXIV

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Luke 9:37-50

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First, I know that demonic possession does not cause epilepsy.  In this regard, I know more than people did in the first century C.E.  Reading ancient texts that carry discredited assumptions we moderns do not necessarily share requires one to ask, “What is really going on here?”

We read that, one day after the Transfiguration, Jesus’s disciples were not “ready for primetime.”  We read that they did not understand his second prediction of the Passion.  We read that, in contrast to the Twelve, someone else was “performing exorcisms) (whatever that means in current diagnostic terms) successfully.

…and everyone was awestruck by the greatness of God.

–Luke 9:43, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

And, among human beings in the divine order, the one who is least is greatest.  The Lucan theme of reversal of fortune recurs.

Ego is not necessarily negative.  A healthy ego is essential.  A realistic self-image is humility.  An inferiority complex and arrogance–opposites–lead to the same selfish results.  One places oneself at the center, at the expense of others and the common good.  One with an inferiority complex does so to feel better about oneself.  One with a raging ego does so because one imagines one is so important as to belong in the center.  Arrogance is appropriate in cats.  In the rest of us, it is sinful.

Status is a popular idol.  A relative few people may be immune to its temptations.  I am not one of these people.  Jesus still teaches us that the divine order is right side up and the human order is upside down.  Human psychology and sociology are consistent; human nature does not change.  Yet, in the divine order, the first are last and the last are first.

Luke 1:1-9:50 and 9:52f exist in the shadow of 9:51:

Now it happened that as the time drew near for him to be taken up, he resolutely turned his face toward Jerusalem….

The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

Jesus did not value high status in human terms.  He came to serve.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 31, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE SEVENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

NEW YEAR’S EVE

THE FEAST OF SAINT GIUSEPPINA NICOLI, ITALIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN AND MINISTER TO THE POOR

THE FEAST OF HENRY IRVING LOUTTIT, JR., EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF GEORGIA

THE FEAST OF ROSSITER WORTHINGTON RAYMOND, U.S. NOVELIST, POET, HYMN WRITER, AND MINING ENGINEER

THE FEAST OF SAINT ZOTICUS OF CONSTANTINOPLE, PRIEST AND MARTYR, CIRCA 351

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Posted December 31, 2021 by neatnik2009 in Luke 9

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To the Church in Laodicea   Leave a comment

Above:  The Ancient City of Laodicea

Image Source = Google Earth

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READING REVELATION, PART VIII

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Revelation 3:14-22

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The church in Laodicea had existed since the time of St. Paul the Apostle.  John of Patmos insisted that choosing God’s side against the Roman Empire and the worship of the Emperor of Rome was crucial.  Yet the congregation in Laodicea was lukewarm and complacent.  It had lost the ability to make moral and spiritual distinctions.

Yet that congregation had an opportunity to repent–or else.

Some of the members of that church in that commercial city relied on their wealth, not on God.  The poor members could not rely on wealth, of course.  They apparently relied on other idols.

Whenever any portion of the Church relies on God instead of God, it errs severely.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 13, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN DAVID, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY

THE FEAST OF ALBAN BUTLER, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND HAGIOGRAPHER

THE FEAST OF HENRY STEPHEN BUTLER, EPISCOPAL ORGANIST, CHOIRMASTER, AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF JOAO BOSCO BURNER, BRAZILIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1976

THE FEAST OF VINCENT TAYLOR, BRITISH METHODIST MINISTER AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

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Posted October 13, 2021 by neatnik2009 in Revelation of John 3

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To the Church in Thyatira   Leave a comment

Above:  Ruins of Ancient Thyatira (now Akhisar, Turkey)

Image in the Public Domain

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READING REVELATION, PART V

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Revelation 2:18-29

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Apollo, the sun god, was the deity of Thyatira.  His local cult merged with emperor-worship.  The opening of this passage set Jesus against and above Apollo and the emperor, officially, the Son of God.

The positive words for the Thyatiran congregation enduring patiently give way quickly to criticism for tolerating a false prophetess, “Jezebel.”  The reference to the wicked Queen of Israel and wife of King Ahab fits.  The text accuses “Jezebel” of having led members of that congregation into idolatry–figuratively, adultery.

In contrast, Thyatira was a center of commerce.  Business interests encouraged compromises for the sake of profits.  Some of the compromises compromised the Christian witness of the Thyatiran congregation.

Those who remain faithful will reign with Christ, we read.

Knowing when to compromise and when to hold fast can be difficult, in contexts.  Some compromises are necessary.  They are either harmless or proper.  Yet other compromises are detrimental and counter-productive.  They give away the store, so to speak.  Knowing when to compromise and when to hold fast is crucial.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 10, 2021 COMMON ERA

PROPER 23:  THE TWENTIETH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF JOHANN NITSCHMANN, SR., MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND BISHOP; DAVID NITSCHMANN, JR., THE SYNDIC, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND BISHOP; AND DAVID NITSCHMANN, THE MARTYR, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND MARTYR, 1729

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN LUDWIG BRAU, NORWEGIAN TEACHER AND POET

THE FEAST OF EDWARD WHITE BENSON, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

THE FEAST OF LOUIS FITZGERALD BENSON, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMNODIST

THE FEAST OF VIDA DUTTON SCUDDER, EPISCOPAL PROFESSOR, AUTHOR, CHRISTIAN SOCIALIST, AND SOCIAL REFORMER

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Posted October 10, 2021 by neatnik2009 in Revelation of John 2

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To the Church in Pergamum   Leave a comment

Above:  Ruins of the Acropolis, Pergamum, Between 1888 and 1910

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsca-03770

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READING REVELATION, PART IV

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Revelation 2:12-17

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Pergamum, a prominent city, was the seat of the local Roman imperial Provincial Council.  Zeal for enforcing emperor-worship was great.  In the worldview of Revelation, Pergamum was on the short list of places where Satan was enthroned.

Nevertheless, the church there persisted in faith, even after the martyrdom of one of their own, Antipas.

The story of Balaam fills Numbers 22-24.  In that account, Balak, the King of Moab, afraid of the Israelites, hired the soothsayer Balaam to curse and weaken the Israelites.  Numbers 22-24 reveal that God prevented Balaam from doing that.  The Jewish tradition upon which Revelation 2:12-17 relied expanded on that story, making Balaam the prototype of evil people who taught Jews to commit idolatry and to eat food sacrificed to idols (Numbers 25:1-3).

The Nicolaitans favored accommodation to the dominant culture, the one John of Patmos considered evil.

The text of Revelation 2:12-17 is vague about the sins of some of the Christians there.  Some guesses are reasonable, though.  One may surmise that some Christians were eating food sacrificed to idols, for example.  One may recall 1 Corinthians 8:7-13 regarding that matter.

Revelation 2:12-17 concludes with a divine promise to the faithful–a blessed afterlife with spiritual manna.  This conclusion is similar to a passage from Second Baruch, from the Pseudepigrapha:

And it will happen at that time that the treasury of manna will come down again from on high, and they will eat of it in those years because these are they who will arrived at the consummation of time.

–2 Baruch 29:8, translated by A. F. J. Klijn

The white stone was blessed because it was white.  (White symbolized holiness in Revelation.  Jesus had white hair.  The martyrs wore white robes.  Et cetera.)  The stone bore a new name, perhaps that of Jesus.  The faithful, having remained faithful to Christ, received a positive afterlife.

Not conforming to the dominant culture can be difficult when one belongs to a powerless minority.  When that dominant culture oppresses one’s religion, conforming is an easy way out of persecution.  Human beings are inherently social creatures.  Conformity, therefore, is a powerful pressure.  When nonconformity is righteous, conformity is sinful.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 9, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT DENIS, BISHOP OF PARIS; AND HIS COMPANIONS; ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS, CIRCA 250

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN LEONARDI, FOUNDER OF THE CLERKS REGULAR OF THE MOTHER OF GOD OF LUCCA; AND SAINT JOSEPH CALASANCTIUS, FOUNDER OF THE CLERKS REGULAR OF RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS

THE FEAST OF PENNY LERNOUX, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC JOURNALIST AND MORAL CRITIC

THE FEAST OF ROBERT GROSSETESTE, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC SCHOLAR, PHILOSOPHER, AND BISHOP OF LINCOLN

THE FEAST OF WILFRED THOMASON GRENFELL, MEDICAL MISSIONARY TO NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR

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