Archive for the ‘Mitchell J. Dahood’ Tag

Intelligence and Understanding   Leave a comment

Above:  Head of Job, by William Blake

Image in the Public Domain

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For the Twenty-Sixth Sunday after Trinity, 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 God, so rule and govern our hearts and minds by thy Holy Spirit,

that being made ever mindful of the end of all things,

and the day of just judgment,

we may be stirred up to holiness of living here,

and dwell with thee forever hereafter;

through Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Worship (1947), 233

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Job 28

Psalm 119:161-176

Ephesians 2:1-10

Matthew 12:38-50

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Which literary (not historical) character speaks in Job 28?  Scholarly sources disagree.  The two candidates are Job and that idiot, Elihu.  Job 28 does not flow stylistically from Job 27, in which Job is the speaker.  The Elihu cycle is Job 32-37, of course, but Job 28 may consist of material that belongs there.  If Elihu is the speaker (as the notes in The Jewish Study Bible insist), this text proves the adage that a broken clock is right twice a day.

And [God] said to man,

“Wisdom?  It is fear of the Lord.

Understanding?–avoidance of evil.”

–Job 28:28, The Jerusalem Bible (1966)

To put it another way,

Then [God] said to human beings,

“Wisdom?–that is fear of the Lord;

Intelligence?–avoidance of evil.”

–Job 28:28, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

“Fear of the Lord” is a terrible and common translation.  “Fear” should be “awe.”

More interesting, though, is “intelligence” for “understanding” in The New Jerusalem Bible.  “Understanding” is the standard translation in English.  On the other hand, Nouvelle Version Segond Revisée (1976) renders Job 28:28 as:

Puis il dit à l’homme:

Voici la crainte du Seigneur, c’est la sagesse;

S’ecarter du mal, c’est l’intelligence.

We read in Psalm 119:174-176:

I long for your salvation, Yahweh,

And your law is my delight.

Long live my soul to praise you,

and let your ordinances help me.

If I should stray like a lost sheep,

seek your servant,

For I have not forgotten your commandments.

Mitchell J. Dahood, S.J.

If we love God, we keep divine commandments.  If we love God, we do not ask for signs, faithlessly.  If we love God, we love one another, bearers of the image of God.  If we love God, we return to God after having sinned.  If we love God, we try to avoid evil.  If we love God, we embrace divine mercy for ourselves and all other recipients of it.  If we love God, we accept the present of salvation and the demands that gift makes on our lives.  Grace is free, not cheap.  If we love God, we stand in awe of God and act intelligently, with understanding, by grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 3, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF CAROLINE CHISHOLM, ENGLISH HUMANITARIAN AND SOCIAL REFORMER

THE FEAST OF ELIAS BOUDINOT, IV, U.S. STATESMAN, PHILANTHROPIST, AND WITNESS FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARIE-LÉONIE PARADIS, FOUNDRESS OF THE LITTLE SISTERS OF THE HOLY FAMILY

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MAURA AND TIMOTHY OF ANTINOE, MARTYRS, 286

THE FEAST OF SAINT TOMASSO ACERBIS, CAPUCHIN FRIAR

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Judgment and Mercy, Part XVIII   1 comment

Above:  David and Goliath

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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1 Samuel 17:1-49 or Jeremiah 32:1-15

Psalm 110

Romans 11:22-36

Luke 16:19-31

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[Yahweh] smote kings in the day of his wrath,

he routed nations;

he heaped corpses high,

He smote heads across a vast terrain.

–Psalm 110:5b-6, Mitchell J. Dahood (1970)

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The key term for this post comes from Romans 11:22–

the kindness and severity of God,

as The Revised English Bible (1989) renders that verse.  That is another way of saying “judgment and mercy.”  That which we call judgment or wrath of God is frequently the proverbial chickens coming home to roost.  As logicians remind us,

If x, then y.

That formula can also work so that y is positive.

One can draw a variety of lessons from these readings.  The lessons include:

  1. Never be insensitive to human suffering. (Luke 16)
  2. Never think that other people exist to do one’s bidding.  (Luke 16)
  3. Never forget that one is vulnerable, regardless of how imposing one may be or seem.  (1 Samuel 17)
  4. Never oppress.  (1 Samuel 17)
  5. Never think oneself wiser than one is.  (Romans 11)
  6. Never lose hope, regardless of how dark the times are or seem to be.  (Jeremiah 32)

After all, God is just/righteous.  Divine judgment and mercy, balanced, are expressions of God’s justice/righteousness.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 28, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JAROSLAV VAJDA, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER, HYMN TRANSLATOR, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOZEF CEBULA, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1941

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAMPHILIUS OF SULMONA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP AND ALMSGIVER

THE FEAST OF SAINT PETER CHANEL, PROTOMARTYR OF OCEANIA, 1841

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM STRINGFELLOW, EPISCOPAL ATTORNEY, THEOLOGIAN, AND SOCIAL ACTIVIST

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2020/04/28/devotion-for-proper-24-year-c-humes/

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Trusting in God, Part X   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of Habakkuk

Image in the Public Domain

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For the Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity, 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, we beseech thee, let thy continual pity cleanse and defend thy Church;

and because it cannot continue in safety without thy succor,

preserve it evermore by thy help and goodness;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Worship (1947), 212

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Habakkuk 2:1-14

Psalm 84

Ephesians 4:8-16

Luke 12:16-40

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The Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian Empire was cruel.  It was evil.  The empire, in the words of God, delivered to Habakkuk,

destroyed many peoples

and

plundered many nations.

The prophet’s theological problem was how to relate to God when the Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian Empire seemed invincible.  God’s answer, recorded in Habakkuk, was that the empire would fall.  The empire that lived by the sword doomed itself to die by the sword.

The existence of evil does not negate the existence and justice of God.  Few questions impress me less than,

If God exists and is just, why did x happen?

I tread carefully in the realm of theodicy, an undertaking that turns into idiocy easily and frequently.  Social injustice will always exist as long as people are in charge of institutions and governments.  We can, however, reduce social injustice.  We have a moral mandate to do so.  God equips us to do so.

Empires and nation-states rise and fall.  So be it.  We cannot change that reality, certainly.  We can, regardless of whatever else is happening and who ever is in political power, trust and take refuge in God.  We can trust in our real king.  We can pray, with the author of Psalm 84,

How lovely is your dwelling,

O Yahweh of Hosts!

My soul longs and pines aloud

for your court, O Yahweh!

My heart and my flesh cry out.

–Verses 2-3, Mitchell J. Dahood (1968)

Amen.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 26, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM COWPER, ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT ADELARD OF CORBIE, FRANKISH ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK AND ABBOT; AND HIS PROTÉGÉ, SAINT PASCHASIUS RADBERTUS, FRANKISH ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, ABBOT, AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF ROBERT HUNT, FIRST ANGLICAN CHAPLAIN IN JAMESTOWN, VIRGINIA

THE FEAST OF RUTH BYLLESBY, EPISCOPAL DEACONESS IN GEORGIA

THE FEAST OF SAINT STANISLAW KUBISTA, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1940; AND SAINT WLADYSLAW GORAL, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP AND MARTYR, 1945

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Judgment and Mercy, Part XVII   Leave a comment

Above:  Ocean Waves

Image in the Public Domain

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For the Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity, 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, give unto us the increase of faith, hope, and charity;

and that we may obtain that which thou dost promise,

make us to love that which thou dost command;

through Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Worship (1947), 208

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Micah 7

Psalm 73

Galatians 3:15-22

Matthew 7:7-14

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For the umpteenth time, divine judgment and mercy exist in balance.  This theme exists in all four readings for today.  I cannot, in good conscience, agree with the Psalmist toward the end of Psalm 73.

Annihilate everyone who deserts you.

–Verse 27b, Mitchell J. Dahood (1968)

No, I pray that they will return to God and remain.  Yet I know that not all will.  Not all people will find the hard road that leads to life, having departed from it, return to it.

Galatians 3:15-22 exists in the immediate textual context of Galatians 3:14:

The purpose of this was that the blessing of Abraham should in Jesus Christ be extended to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

The Revised English Bible (1989)

Trust in God, we read in Micah 7.  Trust in God as the Kingdom of Judah crumbles and one’s society falls apart.  Trust in God while suffering the consequences of one’s sins.  Trust in God, whose forgiveness and graciousness last longer than wrath.  The poetic image of God hurling sins into the depths of the sea is quite comforting.

After all, annihilation need not be inevitable.  God seeks all people, but not all people seek God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 24, 2020 COMMON ERA

GENOCIDE REMEMBRANCE

THE FEAST OF SAINT EGBERT OF LINDISFARNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK; AND SAINT ADALBERT OF EGMONT, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY

THE FEAST OF SAINT FIDELIS OF SIGMARINGEN, CAPUCHIN FRIAR AND MARTYR, 1622

THE FEAST OF JOHANN WALTER, “FIRST CANTOR OF THE LUTHERAN CHURCH”

THE FEAST OF SAINT MELLITUS, BISHOP OF LONDON, AND ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

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Eternal Life III   Leave a comment

Above:  A Gavel

Image in the Public Domain

Photographer = Airman First Class Grace Lee, United States Air Force

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For the Twelfth Sunday after Trinity, 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 Merciful God, of whose only gift it cometh that

thy faithful people do unto thee true and laudable service;

grant, we beseech thee, that we may so faithfully serve thee in this life,

that we fail not to attain thy heavenly promises;

through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Worship (1947), 206

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Ezekiel 34:1-24

Psalm 66:1-10, 16-20

2 Corinthians 4:16-5:1

Matthew 7:1-6

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Almighty God have mercy on you, forgive you all your sins through our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen you in all goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep you in eternal life.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), 353

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One can read “eternal,” “eternity,” and “eternal life” throughout the Bible.  The confusing element is that the authors did not agree about what whose terms meant.  Frequently “eternal” is a synonym for “everlasting” and “eternity” means the afterlife, timelessness, or a very long time.  I, as a Johannine Christian, take my definition of eternal life from John 17:3–knowing God via Jesus.  Eternal life can continue into the afterlife, according to this verse.  Notice the blessing I quoted from The Book of Common Prayer (1979), O reader; it reflects Johannine theology.  When we turn to St. Paul the Apostle, dictating an epistle to the Corinthian church, we find that he understood eternal life to mean spending one’s afterlife with Jesus.

I hope you, O reader, do not think I am being needlessly pedantic in this post.  (I am capable of unapologetic pedantry, though.  It is consistent with my orientation toward details.)  No, in this post, I strive to understand what the authors were trying to say before I interpret what they said.  God

rules from his eternal fortress

in the Mitchell J. Dahood translation of Psalm 66.  Nevertheless, God

rules by his might for ever,

according to the Revised Standard Version.  “Eternal” equals “forever” in Psalm 66, but not in 2 Corinthians and John.  Eternal life can begin before death in John, but not in Paul.

The readings from Ezekiel and Matthew are germane.  Repentance holds off divine judgment in Ezekiel 33.  That is important background for Ezekiel 34, in which how we think of and treat others inform how God will evaluate us.  Likewise, we read in Matthew 7:1-5 that God will apply to us the standard we use to judge others or not judge them.  This teaching, a cousin of the Golden Rule, reminds me of the penalty for perjury in the Law of Moses–to suffer the fate one would have had an innocent person suffer.  Given that repentance holds off divine judgment, the lack of repentance does not hold off divine judgment.  Then one cannot move into the metaphorical eternal, heavenly building from 2 Corinthians 5:1.

Judgment in these matters is God’s purview.  We human beings, although not completely uninformed, know far less than God does.  May we strive to take up our crosses and follow Jesus daily.  May we encourage others to do the same.  May we also support them when they do.  And may we, by grace, have a minimum of hypocrisy as we follow Jesus.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 23, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF TOYOHIKO KAGAWA, RENEWER OF SOCIETY AND PROPHETIC WITNESS IN JAPAN

THE FEAST OF JAKOB BÖHME, GERMAN LUTHERAN MYSTIC

THE FEAST OF MARTIN RINCKART, GERMAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT TERESA MARIA OF THE CROSS, FOUNDRESS OF THE CARMELITE SISTERS OF SAINT TERESA OF FLORENCE

THE FEAST OF WALTER RUSSELL BOWIE, EPISCOPAL PRIEST, SEMINARY PROFESSOR, AND HYMN WRITER

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Rhapsodic Faith   1 comment

Above:  The Grief of Hannah

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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1 Samuel 1:1-20 or Jeremiah 14:1-22

Psalm 101

Romans 5:12-21

Luke 11:27-36

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Your love and justice will I sing,

to you, Yahweh, will I chant,

I will rhapsodize about your dominion complete.

When will you come to me?

–Psalm 101:1b-2a, Mitchell J. Dahood (1970)

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The Psalter in The Book of Common Prayer (1979) renders the third line quoted above as,

I will strive to follow a blameless course…

The germane notes in Dahood’s third (of three) volumes on the Book of Psalms for The Anchor Bible series cite Hebrew words and linguistic nuances to justify his choice of translation.  Part of the pleasure of reading Dahood on the Psalms is studying, after a fashion, under a master of his field–in his case, ancient Semitic languages.  I recommend purchasing his three volumes on the Psalms if one seeks to study the Book of Psalms deeply.

Part of the Hebrew text of Psalm 101 can legitimately read in English as,

I will strive to follow a blameless course,

and as,

I will rhapsodize about your dominion complete.

Think about that, O reader.  One rendering focuses on deeds; the other zeroes in on joyfulness and singing.  No single English-translation can capture the richness of the Hebrew text.

The attitude of the Psalmist, like that of Hannah in 1 Samuel 1:1-20, contrasts with that of the wicked people and generations in the other assigned readings.

  1. Human nature is flawed; that is obvious to me.  Human depravity is not even an article of faith for me; I need no faith to accept that for which I have evidence.
  2. Sadly, false prophets (frequently supporting a political establishment) remain with us.  One may read of the false prophets in the Book of Jeremiah and think readily of some of some of their contemporary counterparts.
  3. The quest for signs indicates faithlessness.  Furthermore, human memories and attention spans can be fleeting.  Consider, O reader, John 6.  One reads of the Feeding of the Five Thousand in the first fifteen verses.  One also reads in verse 30, set on the following day, “Then what sign will you do, that we may see, and believe you?”

May we, by grace, pay attention.  May we mark, learn, and inwardly digest the law of of God.  May we find that law written on our hearts.  Then may we rejoice.  May we rhapsodize consistently and strive to follow a blameless course.  And may we succeed, by grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 19, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALPHEGE, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY, AND MARTYR, 1012

THE FEAST OF DAVID BRAINERD, AMERICAN CONGREGATIONALIST THEN PRESBYTERIAN MISSIONARY AND MINISTER

THE FEAST OF SAINT EMMA OF LESUM, BENEFACTOR

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

THE FEAST OF OLAVUS PETRI, SWEDISH LUTHERAN THEOLOGIAN, HISTORIAN, LITURGIST, MINISTER, HYMN WRITER, HYMN TRANSLATOR, AND “FATHER OF SWEDISH LITERATURE;” AND HIS BROTHER, LAURENTIUS PETRI, SWEDISH LUTHERAN ARCHBISHOP OF UPPSALA, BIBLE TRANSLATOR, AND “FATHER OF SWEDISH HYMNODY”

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2020/04/19/devotion-for-proper-15-year-c-humes/

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The Scandal of Grace VIII   1 comment

Above:  The Return of the Prodigal Son, by James Tissot

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

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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The Assigned Readings:

Acts 13:1-12

Psalm 67

1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11

Luke 15:11-32

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Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, as indeed you do.

–1 Thessalonians 5:11, The New American Bible–Revised Edition (2011)

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That verse is a fitting counterpoint to the attitude of the elder brother in the story traditionally called the Parable of the Prodigal Son.  Or is it the Parable of the Resentful Older Brother?  Or is it the Parable of the Lost Son?  If so, which son was lost?  Or is the Parable of the Loving Father?  The text is too rich for one label to describe it adequately.  Psalm 67 begins, in the translation of Mitchell J. Dahood, S.J.:

May God have pity on us and bless us;

may he cause his face to shine,

may he come to us.

That fits well with the parable.  On the other hand, it does not mesh with the blinding of Elymar the sorcerer in Acts 13.

Back to the father with two sons, a formula for trouble since Cain and Abel…

Which son was really lost?  The younger one–the wastrel–came to his senses and acted accordingly.  The resentful, dutiful older son–a character easy with whom to identify–played by the rules and expected commensurate rewards.  Yet could he not have rejoiced that his brother had returned?  Perhaps the older brother was the lost one.

The parable ends with unresolved tension.  The ambiguous conclusion invites us to ask ourselves what we would do in the place of the older brother.

Grace is scandalous.  It does not seem fair, by our standards, much of the time.  It violates our definition of fairness frequently.  Grace may not be fair, but it is just.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 9, 2020 COMMON ERA

MAUNDY THURSDAY

THE FEAST OF DIETRICH BONHOEFFER, GERMAN LUTHERAN MARTYR, 1945

THE FEAST OF JOHANN CRUGER, GERMAN LUTHERAN ORGANIST, COMPOSER, AND HYMNAL EDITOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN SAMUEL BEWLEY MONSELL, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND POET; AND RICHARD MANT, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF DOWN, CONNOR, AND DROMORE

THE FEAST OF LYDIA EMILIE GRUCHY, FIRST FEMALE MINISTER IN THE UNITED CHURCH OF CANADA

THE FEAST OF MIKAEL AGRICOLA, FINNISH LUTHERAN LITURGIST, BISHOP OF TURKU, AND “FATHER OF FINNISH LITERARY LANGUAGE”

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Adapted from this post:

https://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2020/04/09/devotion-for-the-sixth-sunday-of-easter-year-c-humes/

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Human Potential in God, Part III   Leave a comment

Above:  Abraham

Image in the Public Domain

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For the Second Sunday Before Lent, 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 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

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Genesis 18:16-33

Psalm 139:1-16, 23, 24

1 Corinthians 12:1-11

Luke 6:27-49

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Character matters.  It is also destiny, as a wise saying reminds us.

This set of readings presents us with challenges.  We may prefer to say with the author of Psalm 139, in verses omitted from the lectionary,

Look!  those who hate you, Yahweh, have I hated,

and your challengers held in loathing.

With perfect hatred have I hated them,

they have been my foes.

–Translated by Mitchell J. Dahood (1970), verses 21 and 22

Praying for our enemies–loving them, praying for them, not about them–is truly challenging.  I do not pretend to have mastered it.

Even our enemies have the potential to repent and become agents of righteousness.  They possess spiritual gifts that, applied, can work for the common good.  Repentance remains an option.

I need, at least as much as anyone else, to remember not to write off people who work for iniquity and spew hatred.  After all, if I also spew hatred, how different and morally superior am I?

Character matters.  It is also destiny.  Others may doom themselves.  That is unfortunate, but I cannot make up their minds for them.  I can, however, make up my mind.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 21, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH, CARL PHILIPP EMANUEL BACH, AND JOHANN CHRISTIAN BACH, COMPOSERS

THE FEAST OF JOHN S. STAMM, BISHOP OF THE EVANGELICAL CHURCH THEN THE EVANGELICAL UNITED BRETHREN CHURCH

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICHOLAS OF FLÜE AND HIS GRANDSON, SAINT CONRAD SCHEUBER, SWISS HERMITS

THE FEAST OF SAINT SERAPION OF THMUIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF UMPHREY LEE, U.S. METHODIST MINISTER AND MINISTER OF SOUTHERN METHODIST UNIVERSITY

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God, the Only Proper Center   1 comment

Above:  Jezebel and Ahab, by Frederic Leighton

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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Exodus 33:12-23 or 1 Kings 21:1-24

Psalm 61:1-5, 8

Hebrews 4:14-5:5, 7-9

Mark 9:14-29

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According to Psalms 14 and 53, the fool/benighted man, an amoral person, thinks incorrectly that God either does not care (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures, 1985) or is absent (Mitchell J. Dahood, 1968).  The erroneous assumption of the fool/benighted man is that God either does not want to answer prayers or cannot do so.  Therefore, from that perspective, one must and can rely on one’s own powers and devices.  This is the root of evil.

God does care.  God is present.  God does answer prayers.  Sometimes the answer is “no,” which we may not like.  God loves us, but is not our vending machine.

St. Augustine of Hippo wrote,

We pray that we may believe and believe that we may pray.

We can simultaneously have faith and doubts.  I know this spiritual state.  Perhaps you do, too, O reader.  We can have enough faith to pray yet not enough to assume that God will answer as we desire.  To anyone who knows this spiritual state, I say,

Welcome to the human race.  You stand in the company of the communion of saints.

When we cannot pray, or be mindful of God, yet want to do so, we are not bereft.  That desire is a solid beginning, a foundation on which God can build.

We err when we place ourselves–individually and/or collectively–in the center of theology and spirituality.  God is the only proper center.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 25, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES BAR-ZEBEDEE, APOSTLE AND MARTYR

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2019/07/25/devotion-for-proper-21-year-b-humes/

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Signs, Part II   2 comments

Above:  Elijah in the Wilderness, by Washington Allston

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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Exodus 32:1-14 or 1 Kings 19:1-15

Psalm 59:1-5, 16-17

Hebrews 4:1-13

Mark 8:22-33

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Yahweh, God of Hosts, God of Israel!

Awake to punish all the nations,

show no mercy to wicked traitors.

–Psalm 59:6, Mitchell J. Dahood (1968)

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That attitude is consistent with God’s Plan A in Exodus 32, after the idolatry and apostasy at the base of the mountain.  Aaron’s poor excuse still makes me laugh, though.

So I said to them, “Whoever has gold, take it off!  They gave it to me and I hurled it into the fire and out came this calf!

–Exodus 32:24, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

Exodus and Mark contain stories of dramatic, powerful encounters with God.  We read of visual and tactile experiences. We also read of short-lived faithfulness, of much grumbling, of obliviousness, of recognition followed by official denial, and of fidelity.

The juxtaposition of the formerly blind man (Mark 8:22-26) and the obliviousness of St. Simon Peter (Mark 8:32-33) highlights the spiritual blindness of the latter man.  The stories also challenge us to ponder our spiritual blindness.

Even Elijah, who had recently confronted the prophets of Baal Peor then presided over their slaughter (1 Kings 18), had to deal with his spiritual blindness.  While hiding from Queen Jezebel and feeling sorry for himself, he encountered God, who, in that context, revealed self not in dramatic ways (as Baal Peor would have done), but in a still, small voice, or, as The New Jerusalem Bible (1985) renders the text,

a light murmuring sound.

Do we fail to notice messages from God because we seek dramatic signs?

Sometimes, in the Gospels, one reads of Jesus performing a miracle, followed by people demanding a sigh.  One’s jaw should drop.  One should seek God for the correct reasons and not become attached to dramatic signs.  God whispers sometimes.  God whispers to us, to those similar to us, and to those quite different from us.  God judges and forgives.  Signs are abundant.  How many do we notice?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 25, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES BAR-ZEBEDEE, APOSTLE AND MARTYR

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2019/07/25/devotion-for-proper-20-year-b-humes/

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