Archive for the ‘Parable of the Lost Sheep’ Tag

Lost and Found, Part II   1 comment

Above:  The Parable of the Lost Coin, by John Everett Millais

Image in the Public Domain

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For the Fifth Sunday of the Season of God the Father, Year 2, according to the U.S. Presbyterian lectionary of 1966-1970

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O Lord Jesus, good shepherd of the sheep, who came to seek and to save the lost:

so lead thy church that we may show thy compassion to the helpless,

rescue those in peril, and bring home the wanderers in safety to thee.  Amen.

The Book of Common Worship–Provisional Services (1966), 127

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Genesis 8:13-22

James 1:12-18

Luke 15:1-10

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To repent is to change one’s mind, literally.  A person repents when he or she changes his or her mind regarding a particular sin or set of sins, thereby resolving not to repeat it or them.  We read of God changing the divine mind–usually away from judgment and toward mercy–throughout the Bible, especially the Hebrew Bible, as in Genesis 8:21-22.

If we imagine that we are not lost, we need a spiritual awakening.  If we think we do not need to repent, we have to repent of that, as well as of our other sins.  You, O reader, and I are the lost sheep in Luke 15:4-7 and the precious coin (worth about one day’s wages) on the earthen floor of the small, windowless house in Luke 15:8-10.  We are precious to God.

Is God precious to us?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 26, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ANNE AND JOACHIM, PARENTS OF SAINT MARY OF NAZARETH

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God Cares, Part IV   Leave a comment

Above:  Ruth Swearing Her Allegiance to Naomi, by Jan Victors

Image in the Public Domain

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FOR THE NINTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, ACCORDING TO A LECTIONARY FOR PUBLIC WORSHIP IN THE BOOK OF WORSHIP FOR CHURCH AND HOME (1965)

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Let your merciful ears, O Lord, be open to the prayers of your humble servants;

and, that they may obtain their petitions, make them to ask such things as shall please you;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

–Modernized from The Book of Worship for Church and Home (1965), page 139

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Ruth 1:1, 4-9, 16-19a

Psalm 14

Acts 28:16-20, 23-34, 30-31

Luke 15:1-10

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Most English-language translations of Psalm 14, nearly identical to Psalm 53, do not do the text justice, especially in the first verse.  The “fools” are actually wicked, for example.  Furthermore, the saying that “there is no God” is not a statement of modern-style atheism.  No, it means that God does not care and is absent from the world in any meaningful way.  That misperception leads the wicked deeper into their perfidy.

God is present in the world in meaningful ways.  God also cares–deeply.  We read this in Luke 15:1-10, the Parable of the Lost Sheep.  We read this also in the entire Book of Ruth.  We read of God’s concern repeatedly in the writings of St. Paul the Apostle, who ended his days in Rome.  And, if we affirm that God cares, we acknowledge that we should do the same.  If we recognize the presence of God in meaningful ways in the world, and if we are spiritually honest, we must then admit that we have an obligation to be present in the world in meaningful ways also.

These are great challenges.  They might even prove to be more than inconvenient to us.  Nevertheless, grace–the only way we can rise to this challenge–is available, fortunately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 5, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE TWELFTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN NEPOMUCENE NEUMANN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF PHILADELPHIA

THE FEAST OF ANTONIO LOTTI, ROMAN CATHOLIC MUSICIAN AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF SAINT GENOVEVA TORRES MORALES, FOUNDRESS OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS AND THE HOLY ANGELS

THE FEAST OF MARGARET MACKAY, SCOTTISH HYMN WRITER

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Sheep and Mutuality   1 comment

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Above:  Shepherds, 1898

Image Source = Library of Congress

(http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/mpc2004006450/PP/)

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-matpc-06374

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The Collect:

Lord God, our strength, the struggle between good and evil rages within and around us,

and the devil and all the forces that defy you tempt us with empty promises.

Keep us steadfast in your word, and when we fall, raise us again and restore us

through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 26

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The Assigned Readings:

Exodus 34:1-9, 27-28

Psalm 32

Matthew 18:10-14

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Some Related Posts:

Exodus 34:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/06/09/devotion-for-the-sixteenth-and-seventeenth-days-of-easter-lcms-daily-lectionary/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/01/12/week-of-proper-12-tuesday-year-1/

Matthew 18:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2013/07/18/devotion-for-december-27-and-28-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/tenth-day-of-advent/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/05/08/devotion-for-october-24-25-and-26-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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I will instruct you and teach you

in the way that you should go;

I will guide you with my eye.

–Psalm 32:9, Common Worship (2000)

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No one may come up with you, no one may be seen anywhere on this mountain; the flocks and herds may not even graze in front of this mountain.

–Exodus 34:3, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

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One of the perils of superficial familiarity with biblical texts is going on autopilot regarding them.

O yes, I know this passage,

we tell ourselves before we move along.  Yet we probably do not know these texts as well as we think we do.

Matthew 18:12-14 is such a text.  I knew that I was missing something, so I consulted my collection of commentaries.  They have informed me that these flocks were usually village flocks which a team of shepherds guarded.  Thus one shepherd could seek a lost sheep while his coworkers watched the others.  And each sheep was important.  Likewise, a sheep apart from the herd was in great danger.

This parable sits in the middle of teachings about communal life.  Immediately before the parable we read about welcoming children.  After the parable we learn about how to deal properly with errant members of the faith community.  In all three cases we read about what is best for the individual and the community.  But, as Matthew 18:17 tells us, the community must not allow the errant individual to danger it.

Communal life, with individual responsibilities to and for each other, constitutes one of the major concerns of the Law of Moses.  May we modern people not ignore this fact, despite the rugged individualism prevalent in the global Western tradition.  The individual cannot be healthy apart from the whole, which cannot be all that it can be without all of the members it should have.

Another point stands out in my mind.  As Moses collected the second set of tablets from God, not even flocks and herds were supposed to be in front of the mountain where he met with God.  The holy distance from sinful people–even from livestock–was very much a real issue.  By the time of Matthew 18, however, God, via the Incarnation, had closed that gap.  People ate with Jesus, anointed parts of him, and looked into his face.  And, as Hebrews 4:16 (assigned for yesterday) told us in the context of our Lord and Savior’s testing yet sinlessness:

Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

The New Revised Standard Version:  Catholic Edition (1993)

So, confident in our great high priest, may we love each other actively and effectively, fulfilling our mutual responsibilities well.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 18, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ARTHUR TOZER RUSSELL, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT HILDA OF WHITBY, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBESS

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Adapted from this post:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2013/11/18/devotion-for-the-seventh-day-of-lent-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

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Repentance, Part II   1 comment

Above:  Parable of the Lost Sheep, by Jan Luyken

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Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.

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Romans 14:7-12 (Revised English Bible):

For none of us lives, and equally none of us dies, for himself alone.  If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord.  This why Christ died and lived again, to establish his lordship over both dead and living.  You, then, why do you pass judgement on your fellow-Christian? And you, why do you look down on your fellow-Christian?  We all stand before God’s tribunal; for we read in scripture,

As I live, says the Lord, to me every knee shall bow and every tongue acknowledge God.

So, you see, each of us will be answerable to God.

Psalm 27:1-6, 17-18 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 The LORD is my light and my salvation;

whom then shall I fear?

the LORD is the strength of my life;

of whom then shall I be afraid?

When evildoers came upon me to eat up my flesh,

it was they, my foes and my adversaries, who stumbled and fell.

Though an army should encamp against me,

yet my heart shall not be afraid;

4 And though war should rise up against me,

yet I will put my trust in him.

5 One thing I have asked of the LORD;

one thing I seek;

that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life;

To behold the fair beauty of the LORD

and to seek him in his temple.

17 What if I had not believed

that I should see the goodness of the LORD

in the land of the living!

18 O tarry and await the LORD’s pleasure;

be strong, and he shall comfort your heart;

wait patiently for the LORD.

Luke 15:1-10 (Revised English Bible):

Another time, the tax-collectors and sinners were all crowding in to listen to Jesus; and the Pharisees and scribes began murmuring their disapproval:

This fellow,

he said,

welcomes sinners and eats with them.

He answered them with this parable:

If one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them, does he not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is missing until he finds it?  And when he does, he lifts it joyfully on to his shoulders, and goes home to call his friends and neighbours together.  ”Rejoice with me!” he cries.  ”I have found my lost sheep.”  In the same way, I tell you, there will be greater joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who do not need to repent.

Or again, if a woman has ten silver coins and loses one of them, does she not light the lamp, sweep out the house, and look in every corner till she finds it?  And when she does, she calls her friends and neighbours together, and says, “Rejoice with me!  I have found the coin that I lost.”  In the same way, I tell you, there is joy among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.

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The Collect:

Almighty and merciful God, it is only by your gift that your faithful people offer you true and laudable service: Grant that we may run without stumbling to obtain your heavenly promises; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Matthew 18 (Similar to Luke 14):

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/02/04/week-of-proper-14-tuesday-year-1/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/tenth-day-of-advent/

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A group of shepherds tended a communal flock.  The shepherds were responsible for the well-being of each precious sheep. Sheep and shepherds needed each other.  And the woman probably needed the silver coin, so it was precious to her.

Jesus tells these familiar stories in Luke 15, a chapter full of stories about being lost then found again.  The immediate context is grumbling about him dining with socially undesirable people.  If our Lord ‘s culture had a cliche about lying down with dogs and rising with fleas, he did not live according to it, for he cared more about repentance than respectability.

Repentance is a much-misunderstood word.  It means far more than saying “I’m sorry and I apologize.”  No, it indicates turning around and changing one’s mind. Repentance is active.  Much is active in the Bible.  Faith is active for Paul, for example.  Indeed, Paul reminds us that our lives occur within the context of God, so we ought not pass judgment on our fellow Christians.  All of us, he reminds us, are equally subject to God’s tribunal.

One might recall Matthew 7:1-5, which, according to the Revised Standard Version, reads:

Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.  Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when there is the log in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

I could not say it better myself.  Now all I need to do is practice this advice more often.  And, being not all that different from many other people, I know that I have company in committing this sin.  May God forgive us all and grant us grace to live more nearly as we know we ought to do.

Every sheep and silver coin is precious to those who rely on them, and every person matters to God, who knows us better than we know ourselves.  May we therefore repent of our attitudes and actions which do not value others as much as we ought to do.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 18, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF MALTBIE DAVENPORT BABCOCK, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT ERIK IX OF SWEDEN, KING AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN I, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF TAMIHANA TE RAUPARAHA, ANGLICAN MISSIONARY

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Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/18/week-of-proper-26-thursday-year-1/

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