Archive for the ‘Pentecost’ Tag

The Nature and Character of God   1 comment

Above:  Pentecost Dove

Image Scanned from a Church Bulletin

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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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Joel 2:28-29

Psalm 104:25-34 or Veni Creator Spiritus

Acts 2:1-21

John 20:19-23

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God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

as you sent upon the disciples the promised gift of the Holy Spirit,

look upon your Church and open our hearts to the power of the Spirit. 

Kindle in us the fire of your love,

and strengthen our lives for service in your kingdom;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

OR

God our creator, earth has many languages,

but your Gospel announces your love

to all nations in one heavenly speech. 

Make us messengers of the good news that,

through the power of your Spirit,

everyone everywhere may unite in one song of praise;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 23

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O God, on this day you once taught the hearts of your faithful people

by sending them the light of your Holy Spirit. 

Grant us in our day the same Spirit

to have a right understanding in all things

and evermore to rejoice in his holy consolation;

through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you in communion with the Holy Spirit,

now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 59

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VENI CREATOR SPIRITUS

Come, Holy Spirit; 

send down from heaven’s heigh

your radiant light.

Come, lamp of every heart,

come, parent of the poor,

all gifts ar yours.

Comforter beyond all comforting,

sweet unexpected guest,

sweetly refresh.

Rest in hard labour;

coolness in heavy heat,

hurt souls’ relief.

Refill the secret hearts 

of your faithful,

O most blessed light.

Without your holy power

nothing can bear your light,

nothing is free from sin.

Wash all that is filthy,

water all that is parched,

heal what is hurt within.

Bend all that is rigid,

warm all that has frozen hard,

lead back the lost.

Give to your faithful ones,

who come in simple trust,

your sevenfold mystery.

Give virtue its reward,

give, in the end, salvation

and joy that has no end.

–Original Latin text by Rabanus Maurus, 800s C.E.; translation courtesy of The Church of England, Common Worship:  Daily Prayer (2005), 642

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Pentecost is the fiftieth and last day of the season of Easter.  The baptismal connection to this feast is strong.  The alternative name, Whitsunday (White Sunday) refers to the white garments of the newly baptized.

The divine nature exceeds human comprehension.  Orthodox theology offers partial answers, the best we mere mortals can receive.  Receiving those answers does not guarantee comprehending them, though.  So be it.  Christianity is not Gnosticism; salvation depends on grace, not knowledge.  With all this in mind, we can still utilize useful language, much of which may be theological poetry, not theological prose.  God is with us.  God empowers us.  Christian language for this truth is “the Holy Spirit.”

However, I seek to avoid committing modalism, an ancient Trinitarian heresy.  This heresy denies the permanent existence of the members of the Holy Trinity and focuses on allegedly transitory distinctions, defined by functions.  Know, O reader, that I am not a modalist.  I merely acknowledge that the full nature of God is too much for a human mind to grasp and that we mere mortals experience God in certain ways.

I like the Jewish way of explaining the divine nature and character, as much as doing so is possible.  That method is recalling what God has done.  This method pervades the Hebrew Bible.  Think, O reader, what God has done that you have noticed.  Ask yourself what these divine actions tell you about the nature and character of God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 26, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM COWPER, ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER

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

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

THE FEAST OF RUGH BYLLESBY, EPISCOPAL DEACONESS IN GEORGIA

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

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

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Adapted from this post

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The Fulfillment of the Promise of Easter   1 comment

Above:  Pentecost Dove

Image Scanned from a Church Bulletin

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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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Exodus 19:1-9 or Acts 2:1-11

Psalm 33:12-22 (LBW) or Psalm 130 (LBW) or Psalm 98 (LW)

Romans 8:14-17, 22-27

John 7:37-39a

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Almighty and ever-living God,

you fulfilled the promise of Easter

by sending your Holy Spirit to unite the races and nations on earth

and thus to proclaim your glory. 

Look upon your people gathered in prayer,

open to receive the Spirit’s flame. 

May it come to rest in our hearts

and heal the divisions of word and tongue,

that with one voice and one song

we may praise your name in joy and thanksgiving;

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), 23

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O God, on this day you once taught the hearts of your faithful people

by sending a right understanding in all things

and evermore to rejoice in his holy consolation;

through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you in communion with the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982)

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The Episcopal, Lutheran, and Roman Catholic traditions provide for the Vigil of Pentecost, a service I have never had the opportunity to attend.  Page 227 of The Book of Common Prayer (1979) contains a rubric regarding the vigil.  The Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), Lutheran Worship (1982), and Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006) offer collects and readings for the Vigil of Easter.  The Lutheran Service Book (2006), which offers no collects in the pew edition, includes readings for this vigil.

The Vigil of Pentecost was popular during the Middle Ages.  It was one of the favored occasions for baptism.  Continental Protestant reformers rejected this vigil in the 1500s; they restored the liturgical primacy of Sunday.

Yet here we are, with Lutherans approving the celebration of the Vigil of Pentecost.  Liturgical renewal, blessed by thy name!

The theme of unity carries over from the readings for the preceding Sunday.  The faith community gathers in expectation of the fulfillment of divine promises, including the “promise of Easter,” to quote the collect from the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978).

God is the central actor, despite the anthropocentric tendencies of much of human theology.  That God is central should cause much thanksgiving and place human egos in proper context.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 26, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM COWPER, ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER

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

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

THE FEAST OF RUGH BYLLESBY, EPISCOPAL DEACONESS IN GEORGIA

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

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

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Adapted from this post

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Pentecost: The Birth of the Church   Leave a comment

Above:  Pentecost Dove

Image Scanned from a Bulletin

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READING LUKE-ACTS, PART LV

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Acts 2:1-47

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Historically, Christian communities in the United States of America that have emulated the young Jerusalem church have received much scorn and suspicion from other Christians.  Cold War politics heightened this scorn and suspicion.  What kind of weirdos would live in community and share their possessions?  Were they communists?  No, they were Christians who had paid close attention to the Acts of the Apostles.

I suspect that Acts 2 includes prose poetry.  That is fine; poetry is the best method of expressing the truth sometimes.  At the Feast of Weeks, a harvest festival associated with the giving of the Law of Moses, God reversed the curse from the mythical story of the Tower of Babel.  The multiplicity of languages was not a barrier to communication.  And St. Simon Peter, who had denied Jesus three times, proclaimed him fearlessly.

Consistent with Lucan themes, Jews and Gentiles alike were welcome.

I strive to write clearly, O reader.  I do not mistake serial contrariness in the name of Jesus for Christian discipleship.  The reflexive rejection of “the world” overlooks that which “the world” gets right.  Yet Luke-Acts presents the dichotomy between the prevalent human order of the time and the fully-realized Kingdom of God.

The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., was correct in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail (April 16, 1963):  The Church was powerful when its members rejoiced to suffer for what they believed.  The Church was powerful when it was disturbing the peace of the unjust social order.  The Church was powerful when it agitated for justice.  The Church was powerful when it was not

an arch-supporter of the status quo.

Christendom was not a golden age of the Church.  I have detected no reason to feel nostalgic for the long age of Christendom, of Constantinian Christianity.

In these days when “none” is the fastest-growing religious affiliation in my society, I recognize that many people have abandoned the Church, which has frequently betrayed its foundational principles and become a powerful voice for injustice and varieties of hatred.  I recognize an opportunity for ecclesiastical leaders and members to wake up from the slumber of the unjust status quo and to reclaim the pre-Constantinian Church’s power of witness.

Note:  I borrowed “Constantinian Christianity” from Dr. Cornel West.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 29, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CHARLES VILLERS SANFORD, COMPOSER, ORGANIST, AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF DORA GREENWELL, POET AND DEVOTIONAL WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN KEBLE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND POET

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

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The Qualified Called, Part II   1 comment

Above:  Pentecost Dove

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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For the Day of Pentecost, Year 2

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

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

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O God, who didst teach the hearts of thy faithful people,

by sending to them the light of the Holy Spirit;

grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things,

and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort;

through 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), 180

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Joel 2:28-32 (Protestant and Anglican)/Joel 3:1-5 (Jewish, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox)

Psalm 48

Ephesians 4:7-16

John 14:15-31

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The readings from the Old Testament speak of the Babylonian Exile, what followed it, and what people hoped would follow it.  The vision of Joel 2:28-32/3:1-5 (depending on versification) speaks of a new time, not yet fully realized.  The text speaks of a new beginning in God.  Linking Joel 2:28-32/3:1-5 to the Feast of Pentecost makes sense and asserts the importance of the events that Pentecost so long ago.

The readings from the New Testament fit the Feast of Pentecost well.  The references to the Paraclete in John 14:15-32 suit that passage for this occasion.  Both New Testament readings deal with how we–individually and collectively–think and behave.  (We are as we think, after all.)

Si vous m’aimez, gardez mes commandements.

–Jean 14:15, Louis Segond (1910)

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Si vous m’aimez, vous garderez mes commandements.

–Jean 14:15, Nouvelle Version Segond Révisée (1978)

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Si vous m’aimez, vous obéirez à mes commandements.

–Jean 14:15, La Bible en Français Courant (1996)

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Si vous m’aimez, vous suivrez mes commandements.

–Jean 14:15, La Bible du Semeur (2015)

“You” is plural in John 14:15.

Deeds reveal creeds.

God calls us–individually and collectively–to great missions.  God also equips us for them.  We are inadequate on our own power, but we do not need to rely on our own power.  We do need to reply in the affirmative and act accordingly when God calls.  If we do so, we will keep Christ’s commandments.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 12, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BENEDICT BISCOP, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT OF WEARMOUTH

THE FEAST OF SAINT AELRED OF HEXHAM, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT OF RIEVAULX

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANTHONY MARY PUCCI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF HENRY ALFORD, ANGLICAN PRIEST, BIBLICAL SCHOLAR, LITERARY TRANSLATOR, HYMN WRITER, HYMN TRANSLATOR, AND BIBLE TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARGUERITE BOURGEOYS, FOUNDRESS OF THE SISTERS OF NOTRE DAME

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Light in the Darkness, Part VI   2 comments

Above:  Pentecost Dove

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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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 2:1-21 or Joel 2:21-32 (Protestant and Anglican)/Joel 2:21-3:5 (Jewish, Roman Catholic, and Roman Catholic)

Psalm 104:24-34, 35b

Acts 2:1-11 or Romans 8:22-27

John 15:26-16:15

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The Humes lectionary readings for Pentecost across all four years are mostly the same.  In fact, the readings for Years B and D on this day are identical.  I understand; feasible options are limited.

Anyway, after writing lectionary-based devotions for more than a decade, I fall barely short of dreading composing another devotion for Pentecost.  My perspective is unique; only I know how often I have repeated myself.  I may have something not excessively repetitive to offer in this post.

One of the major themes in the Gospel of John is the conflict between light (good) and darkness (evil).  We read that the Holy Spirit will reveal to the world how wrong it has been about sin, about who was in the right, and about judgment.

Pentecost was nearly 2000 years ago.  The world has persisted in a state of denial and obliviousness.  Human nature has not changed.

Yet may we take courage.  God remains sovereign.  And those who cleave to the light remain in Christ, who is in God.  The light shines on the just and the unjust.  And the darkness has not overcome the light.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 12, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BENEDICT BISCOP, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT OF WEARMOUTH

THE FEAST OF SAINT AELRED OF HEXHAM, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT OF RIEVAULX

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANTHONY MARY PUCCI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF HENRY ALFORD, ANGLICAN PRIEST, BIBLICAL SCHOLAR, LITERARY TRANSLATOR, HYMN WRITER, HYMN TRANSLATOR, AND BIBLE TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARGUERITE BOURGEOYS, FOUNDRESS OF THE SISTERS OF NOTRE DAME

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Adapted from this post:

https://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2021/01/12/devotion-for-pentecost-year-d-humes/

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Faces of Christ   Leave a comment

Above:  Christ and Nicodemus, by Fritz von Uhde

Image in the Public Domain

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For the Day of Pentecost, 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, who didst teach the hearts of thy faithful people,

by sending to them the light of the Holy Spirit;

grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things,

and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort;

through 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), 180

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Joel 2:28-32

Psalm 48

Acts 2:1-13

John 3:16-21

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After writing lectionary-based devotions for years, I have come to dread drafting these posts for certain major feasts.  I have written the same posts, some with minor variations, several times.  Excuse me, therefore, O reader, for dwelling on John 3:16-21.

In the context of Pentecost, we may interpret the reference to light shining in the darkness as partially indicating the Holy Spirit.  In the context of today, we may expand the definition to include all who follow Jesus.  Each of us may be the only face of Christ some people will see.  If the Holy Spirit shines through us, we become faces of Christ.

The darkness of the world will be less dark if more of us shine more brightly with Christ, via the Holy Spirit.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 11, 2020 COMMON ERA

HOLY SATURDAY

THE FEAST OF HEINRICH THEOBALD SCHENCK, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF CHARLES STEDMAN NEWHALL, U.S. NATURALIST, HYMN WRITER, AND CONGREGATIONALIST AND PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER

THE FEAST OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SELWYN, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF NEW ZEALAND, PRIMATE OF NEW ZEALAND, AND BISHOP OF LICHFIELD; MISSIONARY

THE FEAST OF GEORGE ZABELKA, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, MILITARY CHAPLAIN, AND ADVOCATE FOR CHRISTIAN NONVIOLENCE

THE FEAST OF HENRY HALLAM TWEEDY, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, LITURGIST, AND HYMN WRITER

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Posted April 11, 2020 by neatnik2009 in Acts of the Apostles 2, Joel 2, John 3, Psalm 48

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The Spirit of Truth   1 comment

Above:  Pentecost Dove

Scanned from a Bulletin, Saint Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia

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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:

Joel 2:21-32

Psalm 104:24-34, 35b

Acts 2:1-21

John 14:8-17, 25-27

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John 14:8-17, 25-27 is the only one of the four readings not common to Pentecost on all four years of the Humes lectionary.  I choose, therefore, to focus on that lesson in this post.

The Jesus of the Synoptic Gospels acts more and speaks less.  The Jesus of the Johannine Gospel, however, speaks more and acts less.  Therefore, we have chapter upon chapter of material, in the mouth of Jesus, addressing his Apostles during Holy Week.  The setting of John 14 is the Wednesday of Holy Week, after the Last Supper.  (Yes, in the Gospel of John, Jesus was the Passover Lamb, crucified on Thursday, the day of Passover, as sacrificial animals went to death at the Temple.)  We read that Jesus was about to go away, but that the Apostles would not be alone.   The Holy Spirit would teach them in Christ’s absence and give them divine peace.

I am cautious about any attempt to parse the Trinity, for I do not want to commit a Trinitarian heresy.  The Trinity is a great and glorious mystery; I prefer to treat it as such.  Nevertheless, I affirm that remains active in the world.  The label for God, active in the world, is the Holy Spirit, in Christian theology.  The same Holy Spirit available to those Apostles remains available to all of us.

Happy Pentecost!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 11, 2020 COMMON ERA

HOLY SATURDAY

THE FEAST OF HEINRICH THEOBALD SCHENCK, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF CHARLES STEDMAN NEWHALL, U.S. NATURALIST, HYMN WRITER, AND CONGREGATIONALIST AND PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER

THE FEAST OF GEORGE AUGUSTUS SELWYN, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF NEW ZEALAND, PRIMATE OF NEW ZEALAND, AND BISHOP OF LICHFIELD; MISSIONARY

THE FEAST OF GEORGE ZABELKA, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, MILITARY CHAPLAIN, AND ADVOCATE FOR CHRISTIAN NONVIOLENCE

THE FEAST OF HENRY HALLAM TWEEDY, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, LITURGIST, AND HYMN WRITER

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Adapted from this post:

https://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2020/04/11/devotion-for-pentecost-year-c-humes/

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Posted April 11, 2020 by neatnik2009 in Acts of the Apostles 2, Joel 2, John 14, Psalm 104

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Theophanies   Leave a comment

Above:  Pentecost Dove

Scanned from a Church Bulletin by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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For the Day of Pentecost, Year 2, according to the U.S. Presbyterian lectionary of 1966-1970

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O Thou who sent the promised fire of thy Spirit to make saints of ordinary men:

grant that we, waiting and together now, may be enflamed with such love for thee

that we may speak out boldly in thy name; through Jesus Christ the Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Common Worship–Provisional Services (1966), 123

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Exodus 19:1-11

Acts 2:1-21

John 14:23-31

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When God draws near, reality changes.  Pledges of communal piety may be extremely short-lived (as in Exodus 19), but the dramatic theophany alters the lives of all those who experience it.  This alteration is not reversible.

This is a devotional post for the Day of Pentecost, a commemoration of a dramatic event.  Not all theophanies are dramatic, though; many are quiet.  Some are not even events; no, they are processes.  Sometimes God works via events, dramatic or otherwise.  And sometimes God works gradually, seemingly imperceptible, especially if one does not know what to pay attention to at a particular time.

Nevertheless, the experience is transformational.  It does not take away free will, though.  One may recall the Golden Calf story (Exodus 32).  Free will can swing in more than one direction.

May we be instruments of God, not unreliable, grumbling people who reject grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 29, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS PETER AND PAUL APOSTLES AND MARTYRS

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Posted June 29, 2019 by neatnik2009 in Acts of the Apostles 2, Exodus 19, John 14

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When the Advocate Comes   1 comment

Above:  Pentecost Dove

Scanned from a Church Bulletin by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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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 2:1-21 or Joel 2:21-32

Psalm 104:24-34, 35b

Acts 2:1-21 or Romans 8:22-27

John 15:26-16:15

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My Episcopal parish recently held a few focus groups.  Our tasks were envision the congregation in a decade and to think about what the church should be then, to focus on goals and broad strokes, not technical details.  I stated my version of that future.  I also said, in broad terms, that we ought not to focus on what we can do or think we will be able to do, but on what God can do through us.  I vocalized the principle that we need to focus on divine agency, not human agency.

This has been the task of the Church since its birth on Pentecost 29 or 30 C.E., in Jerusalem.  God has always been central; human egos have imagined otherwise.

As we continue our collective and individual spiritual journeys in Christ, the Holy Spirit will accompany, advise, and advocate for us.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 29, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS PETER AND PAUL APOSTLES AND MARTYRS

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Adapted from this post:

https://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2019/06/29/devotion-for-pentecost-sunday-year-b-humes/

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Posted June 29, 2019 by neatnik2009 in Acts of the Apostles 2, Joel 2, John 15, Psalm 104, Romans 8

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Restoration, Resurrection, and Reconciliation   1 comment

Above:  Pentecost Dove

Scanned from a Church Bulletin by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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For the Day of Pentecost, Year 1, according to the U.S. Presbyterian lectionary of 1966-1970

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O Thou who sent the promised fire of thy Spirit to make saints of ordinary men:

grant that we, waiting and together now, may be enflamed with such love for thee

that we may speak out boldly in thy name; through Jesus Christ the Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Common Worship–Provisional Services (1966), 123

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Ezekiel 37:1-14

Acts 10:34-48

John 20:19-23

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The three assigned readings focus on restoration and resurrection.  The vision of the dry bones in Ezekiel 37 refers mt to the resurrection of the dead but to the resurrection of Israel after the Babylonian Exile.  The resurrection of Jesus, the context of John 20 and a reference in Acts 10, is one of the items in the catalog of literal events, albeit on historians can neither prove nor disprove.  No, the resurrection of Jesus resides in the realm of that which one either accepts by faith or rejects by the absence of faith.

Notice, O reader, that God is the primary actor in the readings.  God restores Israel.  God resurrects Jesus.  God, in the form of the Holy Spirit, arrives.  God is even active in the Greek divine passive voice, as in John 20:22-23, or at least the first part of verse 23:

After saying this he breathed on them, and said:

“Receive the Holy Spirit.

If you forgive anyone’s sins,

they are forgiven;

if you retain anyone’s sins,

they are retained.”

The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

“They,” in that passage, refers to sins.

Suppose, O reader, that I have sinned against you, another person, and God.  Suppose, furthermore, that I have realized my sin, confessed it to both people and to God, and asked for forgiveness from everyone involved.  Suppose that one person and God have forgiven me, but that the other person has refused to do so.

Who retains the sin?  The person who refuses forgiveness does.

It is to him [Jesus] that all the prophets testify, declaring that everyone who trusts in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.

–Acts 10:43, The Revised English Bible (1989)

Forgiveness can be a difficult spiritual practice, but it is an essential one.  It is crucial to restoration and resurrection of individuals, families, communities, and societies.  Forgiveness facilitates reconciliation.  Forgiveness enables on to lay grudges aside and to progress spiritually as one should.  Forgiveness is part of the mission of the church.

Decades ago, in the United States, a man burgled a church and stole audio equipment.  The police arrested him and the District Attorney prosecuted.  At the trial the pastor of the church testified on the thief’s behalf and asked for leniency.  The court rendered its verdict. The thief, a changed man, joined that church.

Extending forgiveness is crucial if the Church is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ as far and wide as possible, to facilitate faithful responses to the witness of the Holy Spirit.  Extending forgiveness is also a matter of faithful response.  Certainly we, who acknowledge that we receive forgiveness daily, have an obligation to forgive.  Grace is free yet not cheap, after all.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 30, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANDREW THE APOSTLE, MARTYR

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