Archive for the ‘Pentecost’ Tag

Speech and Grace   1 comment

icon-of-aaron

Above:  Icon of Aaron

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:

Exodus 4:1-17 or Deuteronomy 5:1-33 or Deuteronomy 31:23-29 or Daniel 12:1-13

Psalm 119:113-136

Matthew 10:9-23 or Luke 12:1-12

2 Corinthians 11:1-12:1

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If we love God, we will keep divine commandments, the summary of which is to love God with our whole selves and to practice the Golden Rule.  Details of those generalizations tend to be culturally specific, but the principles are timeless.  We cannot keep divine commandments all the time, but we can be aware of the mandate to obey God, try to obey, and trust in the faithfulness of God.  We will have help for our vocations from God.  This help might arrive via human beings or directly from God.  Furthermore, circumstances might be quite treacherous and we might suffer and/or die, but God will never abandon those who are faithful.

Appropriately a recurring theme in some of the assigned readings for this day is speaking.  To be precise, God sends Aaron to speak for Moses and the Holy Spirit to speak through persecuted Christians.  Speech is powerful; it can build up or tear down.  Speech can inspire people to greatness and positive action or convince them that all hope is lost or that they should act negatively.  It can glorify God or blaspheme against the Holy Spirit.  Speech can exonerate or convict the innocent.  It can bless or curse.  Speech can elevate a situation with beauty and profundity or downgrade it with vulgarity.

Out of the same mouth come praise and curses.  This should not be so, my friends.  Does a fountain flow with both fresh and brackish water from the same outlet?  My friends, can a fig tree produce olives, or a grape vine produce figs?  No more can salt water produce fresh.

–James 3:10-12, The Revised English Bible (1989)

May we glorify God via our words and deeds, and may God speak and act through us.  Grace is free yet never cheap; it will cost us something.  Grace will require us to sacrifice that which detracts and distracts from glorifying God.  Grace will also never abandon us and will flow through us to benefit others and glorify God.  Will we be willing vehicles of grace?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 12, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF MARTIN DOBER, MORAVIAN BISHOP AND HYMN WRITER; JOHANN LEONHARD DOBER, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND BISHOP; AND ANNA SCHINDLER DOBER, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF EDITH CAVELL, NURSE AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT KENNETH OF SCOTLAND, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY

THE FEAST OF SAINT NECTARIUS OF CONSTANTINOPLE, ARCHBISHOP

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Adapted from this post:

https://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2016/10/12/devotion-for-pentecost-sunday-year-d/

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Numbers and Luke, Part IX: Fairness and Grace   1 comment

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Above:  The Conquest of the Amorites, by James Tissot

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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 everlasting 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:

Numbers 21:10-35

Psalm 93 (Morning)

Psalms 136 and 117 (Evening)

Luke 21:20-38

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Some Related Posts:

Luke 21:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/first-day-of-advent-first-sunday-of-advent-year-c/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/06/01/week-of-proper-29-thursday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/06/01/week-of-proper-29-friday-year-1-and-week-of-proper-29-saturday-year-1/

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NOTE:

The sequence to which this post belongs continues at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS, beginning with the following URL:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2012/06/26/devotion-for-monday-and-tuesday-in-pentecost-week-lcms-daily-lectionary/.

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Israelite victories and conquests prior to the arrival in Canaan fill Numbers 21:10-35.  The narrative tells us that so long as they obeyed God, they won.  I wish that life were always as simple as obedience to God leading to success and prosperity.  Yet, as we read in Luke 21:12-19, sometimes it leads to persecution and betrayal.  Indeed, the betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot opens the next chapter.

I have no easy answers as to why bad things happen to good people.  Observation and the study of history have taught me some lessons.  Jealousies arise.  We see those who are better than ourselves and we seek to tear them down rather than to improve ourselves.  Or we misunderstand others, and we learn to hate those we do not understand.  Sometimes people are just in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Yet some people seem to have all the luck while others seem to have none.  The fact that I know all this does mean than I understand it very well.

I do know that the world is an unfair place.  I have railed against this to God.  The world is still horribly unfair, however.  But perhaps fairness is not the proper standard.  Grace is not fair either, but I try not to complain about that reality.  No, the standard I really seek is grace–to everybody.  And, when I perceive the absence of it, I become disturbed.  And I rail about it to God.  But to what extent are we–you, O reader, and I–supposed to function as agents of that grace more than we do?

Now that is a hard lesson.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 23, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICETAS OF REMESIANA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF WIREMU TAMIHANA, MAORI PROPHET AND KINGMAKER

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Adapted from this post:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/06/23/devotion-for-the-fiftieth-day-of-easter-day-of-pentecost-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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The Inclusive Gospel of Jesus, Part I   2 comments

holy-spirit-cumming-ga

Above:  Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit, Cumming, Georgia, Pentecost Sunday, June 12 2011

Image Source = Bill Monk, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

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The Assigned Readings for This Sunday:

Acts 2:1-21 or Genesis 11:1-9

Psalm 104:25-35, 37

Romans 8:14-17 or Acts 2:1-21

John 7:37-39a

The Collect:

Almighty God, on this day you opened the way of eternal life to every race and nation by the promised gift of your Holy Spirit: Shed abroad this gift throughout the world by the preaching of the Gospel, that it may reach to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Fiftieth Day of Easter:  Day of Pentecost, Year A:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/fiftieth-day-of-easter-day-of-pentecost-year-a/

Fiftieth Day of Easter:  Day of Pentecost, Year B:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2011/08/02/fiftieth-day-of-easter-day-of-pentecost-year-b/

A Prayer for Those With Only the Holy Spirit to Intercede for Them:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/17/a-prayer-for-those-with-only-the-holy-spirit-to-intercede-for-them/

Come Down, O Love Divine:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/08/25/come-down-o-love-divine/

Come, Holy Spirit, Heavenly Dove:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/07/30/come-holy-spirit-heavenly-dove/

Invocation to the Holy Spirit:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/07/11/invocation-to-the-holy-spirit/

Holy Spirit, Font of Light:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/05/30/holy-spirit-font-of-light/

Prayer of Praise and Adoration for the Day of Pentecost:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/prayer-of-praise-and-adoration-for-the-day-of-pentecost/

Prayer of Confession for the Day of Pentecost:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/prayer-of-confession-for-the-day-of-pentecost/

Prayer of Dedication for the Day of Pentecost:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/prayer-of-dedication-for-the-day-of-pentecost/

Like the Murmur of the Dove’s Song:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/11/01/like-the-murmur-of-the-doves-song/

Spirit of God, Unleashed on Earth:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/10/22/spirit-of-god-unleashed-on-earth/

Pentecost Prayer of Adoration:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/pentecost-prayer-of-adoration/

Pentecost Prayers for Openness to God:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/pentecost-prayers-for-openness-to-god/

Pentecost Prayers of Confession:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/pentecost-prayers-of-confession/

Come, Holy Spirit, Come!:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2012/04/28/come-holy-spirit-come/

Come, Blessed Spirit! Source of Light!:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2012/05/08/come-blessed-spirit-source-of-light/

Come to Our Poor Nature’s Night:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2012/05/19/come-to-our-poor-natures-night/

Holy Ghost, With Light Divine:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2012/05/19/holy-ghost-with-light-divine/

Divine Spirit, Attend Our Prayers:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2012/05/19/spirit-divine-attend-our-prayers/

Come, Thou Holy Spirit Bright:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2012/05/30/come-thou-holy-spirit-bright/

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The LENTEN AND EASTER DEVOTIONS blog terminates each church year at the Day of Pentecost.  This practice makes sense because Pentecost Sunday is the last day of the Easter season.  There is another reason, however.  Liturgical renewal and restructuring for most of Western Christianity, beginning with the Roman Catholic Church in Advent 1969, has led to the labeling of the subsequent Sundays in Ordinary Time (beginning two weeks after Pentecost Sunday) as “after Pentecost” in lieu of the prior dominant practice, “after Trinity.”  (Disclaimer:  U.S. Methodists used to divide the post-Pentecost and pre-Advent time into two seasons:  Whitsuntude and Kingdomtide, with the latter beginning on the last Sunday in August.  And the Lutheran Service Book and Hymnal (1958) lists Ordinary Time Sundays as both “after Pentecost” and “after Trinity.”)  Trinity Sunday, of course, is the Sunday immediately following the Day of Pentecost.  Anyhow, those who continue to observe Sundays after Trinity are liturgical outliers.  My own denomination, since its 1979 Book of Common Prayer and the process which led up to it, operates on the Sundays after Pentecost pattern.  It is what I have known.  The 1928 Book of Common Prayer is an artifact from which I have never worshiped.  Sundays after Trinity seem quaint to me.

So here we are, on the cusp of changing seasons and Sunday numbering (the Propers through 29 are almost upon us), pondering two opposite and assigned stories.  The Tower of Babel myth tells of linguistic differences causing confusion and thwarting human ambitions.  (We know from anthropology, history, and science that linguistic diversity is much older than the timeframe of the Tower of Babel story.)  The sin in the myth is pride, which God confounds.  Yet linguistic variety cannot confound God’s purposes in Acts 2 because God will not permit it to do so.  The proverbial living water of Jesus, whose glorification in the Gospel of John was his crucifixion–something humiliating and shameful by human standards–would be available regardless of one’s language.

Thus the Church was born.  It is always changing and reforming, adapting to changing circumstances and seeking to look past human prejudices and false preconceptions.  I prefer to include as many people as possible while maintaining liturgical reverence and orthodox (Chalcedonian, etc.) Christology.  I do, in other words have boundaries, but they are too large according to those on my right and too small according to those on my left.  That makes me something of a moderate, I suppose.  ”Left of center” might be more accurate.  Regardless of who is correct, may the church and its constituent parts follow the crucified and resurrected Lord and Savior, who transmuted shame and humiliation into glory, who ate with notorious sinners, whose grace scandalized respectable and respected religious authorities.  Or are we become modern counterparts of the scribes and Pharisees with whom Jesus locked horns?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 23, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICETAS OF REMESIANA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF WIREMU TAMIHANA, MAORI PROPHET AND KINGMAKER

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Adapted from this post:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/06/23/fiftieth-day-of-easter-day-of-pentecost-year-c/

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Our Advocate   1 comment

Above:  Descent of the Holy Spirit

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The Assigned Readings for This Sunday:

Acts 2:1-21 or Ezekiel 37:1-14

Psalm 104:25-35, 37

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

John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15

The Collect:

Almighty God, on this day you opened the way of eternal life to every race and nation by the promised gift of your Holy Spirit: Shed abroad this gift throughout the world by the preaching of the Gospel, that it may reach to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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A Related Post:

A Prayer for Those With Only the Holy Spirit to Intercede for Them:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/17/a-prayer-for-those-with-only-the-holy-spirit-to-intercede-for-them/

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I have written more than once that judgment and mercy coexist in the Bible.  This assertion is obvious from a close reading of the sacred anthology.  This day the emphasis belongs on mercy.

We read in John 16 that the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity, is the Advocate.  This is a legal term; our Advocate is our defense attorney.  In other words, God stands with us, so why should we fear?

Nevertheless, many Christians have suffered persecution and martyrdom for twenty centuries.  Many still do.  And Jesus, from whose Greek title, Christ, we derive the label “Christian,” died on a cross.  So this divine companionship and defense does not guard every follower of God from physical or legal harm.  Yet the message of Christ has continued to spread, the blood of the martyrs continues to water the Church, and killing people cannot end the spread of Christianity.

Beyond all that, those who die faithful to God go to God in the afterlife.  No harm can touch them there.  This might seem like cold comfort or no comfort in this life, but it is something.  The world is imperfect, and only God can repair it.

Yet may we rejoice that we have an Advocate.  May the quality of our lives reflect this gratitude.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 2, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT EUSEBIUS OF VERCELLI, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL DAVID FERGUSON, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF LIBERIA

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Adapted from this post:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2011/08/02/fiftieth-day-of-easter-day-of-pentecost-year-b/

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“For the Common Good”   1 comment

Above:  Tree of Jesse, from the Recipian Bible, 12th Century C.E.

(The doves around Jesus’ head represent the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit.)

“For the Common Good”

JUNE 12, 2011

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The Assigned Readings for This Sunday:

Acts 2:1-21 or Numbers 11:24-30

Psalm 104:25-35, 37

1 Corinthians 12:3b-13 or Acts 2:1-21

John 20:19-23 or John 7:37-39

The Collect:

Almighty God, on this day you opened the way of eternal life to every race and nation by the promised gift of your Holy Spirit: Shed abroad this gift throughout the world by the preaching of the Gospel, that it may reach to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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The Apostle Paul provided a partial list of manifestations of the Holy Spirit:

  1. the utterance of wisdom
  2. the utterance of knowledge
  3. faith
  4. healing
  5. the working of miracles
  6. prophecy
  7. the discernment of spirits
  8. tongues
  9. the interpretation of tongues

And he cautioned people to use them for the common good, not building up oneself.  A spiritual gift ought not to become an occasion of the illusion of spiritual spirituality over those who lack that gift, he wrote, for the variety of gifts is essential to the proper functioning of the church.  And the greatest gift is love, or charity as some Biblical translators render the original Greek word.

(An Aside:  Some of my coreligionists insist that to pray one needs a “prayer language.”  My prayer language is English, which God understands very well.)

The Catechism of the Catholic Church identifies seven gifts of the Holy Spirit:

  1. wisdom
  2. understanding
  3. counsel
  4. fortitude
  5. knowledge
  6. piety
  7. fear of the Lord (see paragraph 1831).

And the Catholic Catechism lists the fruits of the Holy Spirit, “perfections that the Holy Spirit forms in us as the first fruits of eternal glory,: identifying twelve of them:

  1. charity
  2. joy
  3. peace
  4. patience
  5. kindness
  6. goodness
  7. generosity
  8. gentleness
  9. faithfulness
  10. modesty
  11. self-control
  12. chastity (see paragraph 1832).

I believe that each of us enters this world with much potential to do much good.  We can fulfill this potential if we obey God, making wise decisions which liberate us to live into our divine vocations.  Trying to decide wisely does not guarantee success, of course, but that is at least better than not caring at all.  And our vocations from God might not be what we think they are.

As I survey world history I wonder how much better the world would be if more of us had spent more time nurturing joy, patience, kindness, generosity, fortitude, and other great virtues.  Leaving one’s corner of the world (or, on a grander scale, the world) is insufficient to grant salvation; only God can do that.  But this is a noble and achievable goal God empowers us to complete.

One might say, however, “What does it matter?  The world is a screwed-up place, and will be so for a long time.”  Yes, the world is screwed-up, but it can be less so.  I do not think of the world as the enemy camp, the bastion of Satan (in whom I do not believe anyway, although I accept the reality of evil).  Instead, I think of the world as my neighborhood, for which I am partially responsible.  I am partially to blame for its screwed-up nature.  If I am not part of the solution, I am part of the problem.  And I want to be part of the solution.  I can do my part, you can do your part, another person can do his or her part, et cetera, and together we can accomplish much good.

Empowered by God, may we do so.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 21, 2010 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ALL FAITHFUL MEMBERS OF THE CLERGY

THE FEAST OF HENARE WIREMU TARATOA OF TE RANGA, COMPASSIONATE HUMAN BEING

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Adapted from this post:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/fiftieth-day-of-easter-day-of-pentecost-year-a/

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