Archive for the ‘Lent’ Tag

The Power of Holy Saturday   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of the Entombment of Jesus

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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For Holy Saturday, Year 1

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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 Common Prayer (The Episcopal Church, 1928)

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Grant, O Lord, that as we are baptized into the death of thy blessed Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ,

so by continual mortifying our corrupt affectations we may be buried with him;

and that through the grave, and gate of thy death, we may pass to our joyful resurrection;

for his merits, who died, and was buried, and was buried, and rose again for us,

the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1928),161

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Job 33:23-30

Psalm 30

1 Peter 3:17-22

Mark 15:42-47

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Two interesting notes come to mind before I get to my main point.

  1. 1 Peter 3:17-22 is why the Apostles’ Creed contains a reference to Christ’s descent to the dead.  The passage also gives us the Orthodox doctrine of the Harrowing of Hell.
  2. Whenever reading from the Book of Job, one should be aware who is speaking.  The speaker in Job 33 is Elihu, a condescending idiot who, in the full context of the chapter, contradicts Job’s claim of innocence, backed up by the first two chapters.  Yet even idiots get some details right, by random change.  To quote a cliché, even a broken clock is right twice a day.

My main point is that this devotion is that we should never rush through Holy Saturday.  Easter will arrive on schedule, as it does every year.  In the gap between the Good Friday service and the Easter Vigil, sunrise service, or main service on Easter Sunday morning, we should allow Jesus to be dead, liturgically.  If we let Holy Saturday sit and have the power it should, Easter will mean more when it arrives.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 3, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF LUTHER D. REED, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND LITURGIST

THE FEAST OF SAINTS BURGENDOFARA AND SADALBERGA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBESSES, AND THEIR RELATIVES

THE FEAST OF MARC SANGNIER, FOUNDER OF THE SILLON MOVEMENT

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARY OF EGYPT, HERMIT AND PENITENT

THE FEAST OF REGINALD HEBER, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF CALCUTTA, AND HYMN WRITER

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A Solemn Day   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of the Crucifixion, by Andrei Rublev

Image in the Public Domain

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For Good Friday, Year 1

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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, we beseech thee graciously to behold this thy family,

for which our Lord Jesus Christ was contented to be betrayed,

and given up into the hands of wicked men, and to suffer death upon the cross;

who now liveth and reigneth wtih thee and the Holy Spirit,

ever One God, world without end.  Amen.

The Book of Worship (1947), 161-162

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Isaiah 52:13-53:12

Psalm 22:1, 4-19

Hebrews 10:19-22 or Revelation 5:6-10

Luke 23:33-46

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I am capable of writing accurate, scholarly, and germane comments about all of the assigned readings.  This time, O reader, I choose not to do so.  No, I encourage you to read the lections aloud, the way most people who have encountered the Bible have done.  I ask you to listen and to let the words sink into your being.  After that, may you follow the leading of the Holy Spirit regarding what to do next.

Shalom.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 2, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JAMES LLOYD BRECK, “THE APOSTLE OF THE WILDERNESS”

THE FEAST OF CARLO CARRETTO, SPIRITUAL WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JOHN PAYNE AND CUTHBERT MAYNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND MARTYRS, 1582 AND 1577

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH BERNARDIN, CARDINAL ARCHBISHOP OF CHICAGO

THE FEAST OF SAINT SIDONIUS APOLLINARIS, SAINT EUSTACE OF LYON, AND HIS DESCENDANTS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS

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The Sins of Others   Leave a comment

Above:  The Angel of Death and the First Passover, by Charles Foster

Image in the Public Domain

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For Maundy/Holy Thursday, Year 1

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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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O Lord God, who hast left unto us in a wonderful Sacrament a memorial of thy passion:

grant, we beseech thee, that we may so use this Sacrament of thy Body and Blood that,

the fruits of thy redemption may continually be manifest in us;

who livest and reignest with the Father, and the Holy Spirit,

ever One God, world without end.  Amen.

The Book of Worship (1947),161

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Exodus 12:1-14

Psalm 55:1-14

1 Corinthians 11:23-32

Matthew 26:36-46

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For the sake of not flying off in several directions in this post, I refer you, O reader, to the germane tags attached to this post.  One could pursue a number of threads.  I have pursued most or all of them over the years.

March 25 is an important date.  It is, according to ancient mythology, the anniversary of the creation of the world.  March 25 is also, in tradition, the anniversary of the conception of Jesus, the annunciation to St. Mary of Nazareth.  Also, March 25 was the date of the crucifixion of Jesus, traditionally.  March 25 is the Feast of the Annunciation, hence December 25 is Christmas Day.  March 25 is also the Feast of St. Dismas, the penitent bandit,

We are approaching Good Friday, the commemoration of the execution of our Lord and Savior.  Although we read of that execution occurring on Friday in the Synoptic Gospels, we also read of it taking place on Thursday–Passover itself–in the Gospel of John.  The Johannine Gospel makes clear that Jesus was the Passover Lamb that year (29 C.E. or so).

We need deliverance from our sins, of course.  Yet that is not all.  When we consider the meaning of the first Passover (the one in Exodus), we ought to perceive that we also need deliverance from the sins of others.  Do we not read in Exodus that the deaths of firstborn sons in Egypt was divine judgment on Egyptians?  Do we not read also that the blood prompted the angel of death to pass over a (Hebrew) home so marked?

The politics of celebrating Passover in Roman-occupied Jerusalem was perilous.  A Roman fortress looked down into the Temple complex.  Passover was not just an annual religious commemoration; it was also a celebration of God having freed Hebrews from slavery in Egypt.  The political parallels to the time were obvious.

A partial explanation of why Jesus died is that he died because of the sins of others–Pontius Pilate, crowd members, various Temple officials, et cetera.  (I am trying to remain focused.)  That was neither the first nor the last time an innocent person has suffered because of the sins of others, usually the sins of members of officialdom or an institution.

People will not stop dying because of the sins of others until the fully-realized Kingdom of God becomes reality.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 1, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK DENISON MAURICE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT GIUSEPPE GIROTTI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1945

THE FEAST OF JOHN GRAY, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, MYTHOLOGIST, BIBLICAL SCHOLAR, AND PROFESSOR OF HEBREW AND SEMITIC LANGUAGES

THE FEAST OF SAINT LUDOVICO PAVONI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINTS SYRAGIUS OF AUTUN AND ANARCHARIUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; AND SAINTS VALERY OF LEUCONE AND EUSTACE OF LUXEUIT, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOTS

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A Covenant People, Part V   Leave a comment

Above:  A Crucifix

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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For Wednesday in Holy Week, Year 1

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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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Assist us mercifully with thy help, O Lord God of our salvation;

that we may enter with joy upon the mediation of those mighty acts,

whereby thou hast given unto us life and immortality;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Worship (1947),160

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Isaiah 42:1-12

Psalm 56

1 John 4:7-11

Matthew 26:6-13

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I have written many times about the anointing of Jesus, the pericope from Matthew 26.  I choose not to repeat myself on that story in this post, O reader.  If you want to read my thoughts about that incident, click on the germane tag.

I heard the following story as a firsthand account from a priest who visited and preached at my parish, St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia.  The described events occurred during the Civil Rights Movement, when the priest (who was Caucasian) was a juvenile.  He told this story about his father, mother, and paternal grandfather.

The father had lost his job in Texas, where the family resided.  The household, which included the paternal grandfather, moved to metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia, where the mother had relatives.  The transplants from Texas started pondering which Episcopal congregation to join.  One Sunday, they visited a socially active church.  There was no coffee hour after the service that day so that people could participate in a civil rights demonstration.  The grandfather, who lived his faith, went to the protest.  The mother, father, and future priest went home.

Hours passed.  The expected time for protesters to return to the parish also passed.  Those Episcopalians, including the grandfather, were in jail.  The father, galled, drove to the jail with his son in tow to bail out the grandfather.  The ride home was tense until the grandfather, excited, exclaimed that the parish had a fine program for welcoming newcomers, and that the family would join that congregation.  The family did.

The reading from Isaiah 42 includes a mandate to a covenant people.  We who come from a culture with an individualistic focus need to pay attention to the communitarian aspect of the Bible than others may need to do.  A covenant people has a mandate to be a light to the nations, to open eyes deprived of light, to rescue prisoners from confinement, and to rescue those who sit in darkness from the dungeon.  A covenant people has a mandate to help effect positive social change.  A covenant people opposes injustice and threatens it as the Kingdom of God breaks forth into the world.  Only God can establish the Kingdom of God, but a covenant people must testify via words and deeds to the Kingdom, breaking through.  A covenant people must confront injustice and tell agents thereof that they are lacking, compared to God’s righteousness/justice.

A Christian covenant people must love like Jesus, who loved self-sacrificially.  The servants are not greater than their master, after all.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 31, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARIA SKOBTSOVA, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX, MARTYR, 1945

THE FEAST OF ERNEST TRICE THOMPSON, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND RENEWER OF THE CHURCH

THE FEAST OF FRANZ JOSEPH HAYDN AND HIS BROTHER, MICHAEL HAYDN, COMPOSERS

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOAN OF TOULOUSE, CARMELITE NUN; AND SAINT SIMON STOCK, CARMELITE FRIAR

THE FEAST OF JOHN DONNE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND POET

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Faithful Attitudes   Leave a comment

Above: The Uninvited Wedding Guest, by Vincent Malo

Image in the Public Domain

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For Tuesday in Holy Week, Year 1

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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 and Everlasting God, grant us grace so to contemplate the passion of our Lord,

that we may find therein forgiveness for our sins;

through the same Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth

with thee and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end.  Amen.

The Book of Worship (1947), 159-160

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Lamentations 3:1-7, 18-33

Psalm 31:1-5, 15-19

Ephesians 2:13-22

Matthew 22:1-14

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The destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E. seems to have influenced the telling of the parable in Matthew 22:1-14.  The  allegory, told from the perspective of marginalized Jewish Christians, is plain:  The judgment of God will fall not only on those who reject Jesus, but on elements of the Christian movement, too.

Before I proceed to other texts, I note that we Gentiles need to be careful not to commit anti-Semitism, whether consciously or otherwise.  The language of invective is always dangerous.  It makes sense, in historical context, circa 85 C.E., within the Jewish faith–the context for the composition of the Gospel of Matthew.  One can understand this example of invective in context without giving into it.  Besides, as we read in Ephesians, such divisions are supposed to end in Christ, crucified and resurrected.

So why do we insist on rebuilding those walls of division?

The unifying theme is the balance of judgment and mercy in God.  If one is an honest monotheist, one must affirm that God both afflicts and restores, and judges and forgives.  This theme is most prominent in Lamentations 3, in the voice of a man, the personification of exiles during the Babylonian Exile.  How can one affirm both that God has led people into exile and that those exiles should trust in God, whose mercies are not exhausted?

If you, O reader, expect a pat and easy answer from me, I disappoint you.  If, however, you expect an honest answer in which I admit to struggling with the question I have asked, I do not disappoint you.  Easy answers are for easy questions, and pat answers are probably never appropriate.  The life of faith is not about false certainty.  Much of the life of faith consists of admitting to doubts and to ignorance, and of following and trusting in God.

I distrust any theological system or approach that claims to have more correct answers than it does and that discourages honest questions.  Faith is not about having few or no questions and doubts; it is about struggling with them and working through them with God.

Lord, I don’t understand x, y, and z.  Perhaps I never will.  If so, so be it.  I still seek to follow you.

That is a faithful attitude.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 30, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT INNOCENT OF ALASKA, EQUAL TO THE APOSTLES AND ENLIGHTENER OF NORTH AMERICA

THE FEAST OF CORDELIA COX, U.S. LUTHERAN SOCIAL WORKER, EDUCATOR, AND RESETTLER OF REFUGEES

THE FEAST OF JOHN MARRIOTT, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN WRIGHT BUCKHAM, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, THEOLOGIAN, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT JULIA ALVAREZ MENDOZA, MEXICAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1927

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Hypocrisy and Salvation   2 comments

Above: Christ Driving the Money Changers from the Temple, by Theodor Rombouts

Image in the Public Domain

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For Monday in Holy Week, Year 1

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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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Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that we, who amid so many adversities do fail through our own infirmities,

may be restored through the passion and intercession of thine only begotten Son,

who liveth and reigneth, with thee and the Holy Spirit, ever One God, world without end.  Amen.

The Book of Worship (1947), 159

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Lamentations 1:1-14

Psalm 6

1 Corinthians 1:18-25

Matthew 21:12-17

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Lamentations is a good choice to read during Holy Week.  The immediate, historical context in Lamentations 1 is the aftermath of the Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian conquest of Judah in 586 B.C.E.  Nevertheless, according to the theme of the story of Israel being the story of Jesus–a prominent theme in the Gospel of Matthew–Lamentations 1 reads well in the context of Holy Week.

Interpretation of the “Temple Incident,” as many Biblical scholars call the Cleansing of the Temple, vary.  Douglas R. A. Hare, writing for the Interpretation series of commentaries in 1993, argued against

the ever-popular interpretation that Jesus, as a champion of the poor, was protesting against dishonesty and price-gouging on the part of the vendors and the money changers.

No, according to Hare, Jesus objected to the secularization of the Temple, for in Jeremiah 7:9-11 (cited in the account in Matthew 21:12-17), the Temple had become a

den of thieves

where the thieves hid their booty and felt safe.  Hare argued that, in Matthew 21:12-17, Jesus, by ejecting buyers and sellers alike, objected to those whose lives, although outwardly religious, contradicted their pious claims.

In other words, outward piety is not a talisman against consequences of hypocrisy and sin.

Furthermore, the Gospel of Matthew presents Jesus as a faithful Jew and the Torah as of God.  In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus teaches the Torah much better than conventionally orthodox religious authorities.  If one, therefore, interprets the Temple Incident as an attack on the system of sacrifices, one misunderstands the story.  No, one should interpret the Temple Incident as foreshadowing of the the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E., according to Hare.

After all, the writing of the Gospel of Matthew postdated the destruction of the Temple.  Certainly, that event influenced the telling of stories, including this one.

1 Corinthians 1:18 uses the divine passive voice.

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition (2002)

God is saving many of of us.  Notice the present tense, O reader.  Salvation is a process, not an event.  This makes sense to me, for I have no great epiphany I can date.  I can, however, recall a series of moments since childhood.  I cannot even recall when I lacked God in my life.  I am also sufficiently Catholic to affirm that salvation is a process the Church mediates via sacraments.

Each of us is a hypocrite.  Each of us, to one degree or another, lives one way and puts on a a face to mask the reality or some portion thereof.  If anyone thinks otherwise about self, that person is wrong.

There is hope, however.  Yet is the cross a stumbling block or folly, functionally, or is it the wisdom of God, in one’s estimation?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 29, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FIFTH SUNDAY IN LENT, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF CHARLES VILLIERS STANFORD, COMPOSER, ORGANIST, AND CONDUCTOR

THE FEAST OF DORA GREENWELL, POET AND DEVOTIONAL WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN KEBLE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND POET

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JONAS AND BARACHISUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS, 327

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What Kind of King?   4 comments

Above: Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

Image in the Public Domain

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For Palm Sunday, Year 1

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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 and Everlasting God, who hast sent thy Son, our Savior Jesus Christ,

to take upon him our flesh, and to suffer death upon the cross,

that all mankind should follow the example of his great humility;

mercifully grant that we may both follow the example of his patience,

and also be made partakers of his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Worship (1947), 157

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Zechariah 9:9-14

Psalm 24

Galatians 2:16-21 or 1 Timothy 1:12-17

Luke 19:29-44

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The readings for Palm Sunday, taken together, present a contrast between expectations and immediate reality.

The prophecy in Zechariah 9:9-14 is of the Messiah returning on the Day of the Lord.  (The text was surely in the minds of many supporters and opponents of Jesus during the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem.  Jesus was NOT keeping a low profile.   The week of Passover was a dangerous time not to keep a low profile in Roman-occupied Jerusalem.)

Psalm 24 is a liturgical text for the procession of the Ark of the Covenant.  The text contains parts for two alternating choirs.  Perhaps one could not get more triumphant than such a formal procession for a very long time, certainly pre-Easter 29 C.E. or so.

Yet the Romans remained in power for centuries after that day.  In that manner, they won, or seemed to win.  On the other hand, Jesus did not remain dead for long.  In that regard, the Roman Empire lost.

If one answers that all Jews of the time shared one Messianic hope, one errs.  Choose any population, O reader; you will find variation within it.  Nevertheless, if one thinks that the expectation that the Messiah would be a conquering hero was commonplace, one is correct.  This commonplace idea of Messiahship is one against which the Gospel of Mark argues.

What kind of king is Jesus?  He is not the conquering hero.  And as Bishop N. T. Wright points out, Yahweh will be the king after the end of this age.  Jesus is the king of salvation, but Yahweh is the king of the ages.  The Western Church even observes Christ the King Sunday.

I understand the appeal of Messiah as conquering hero.  I also know one finds it in certain prophecies, including Zechariah 9:9-14.  That must wait, however.  For now, we have the Prince of Peace, who laid down his life to a violent power.

Does God confuse us by defying our expectations at times or even most of the time?  If so, we stand in the company of a myriad.  We can argue with God’s choices or we can revel in them, if not understand them.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 29, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FIFTH SUNDAY IN LENT, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF CHARLES VILLIERS STANFORD, COMPOSER, ORGANIST, AND CONDUCTOR

THE FEAST OF DORA GREENWELL, POET AND DEVOTIONAL WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN KEBLE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND POET

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JONAS AND BARACHISUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS, 327

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