Archive for the ‘Reconciliation’ Tag

Reconciliation, Part III   Leave a comment

Above:  An Israeli Stamp of Jonah

Image in the Public Domain

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

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O Lord, Heavenly Father, in whom is the fullness of light and wisdom:

enlighten our minds by thy Holy Spirit, and give us grace to receive thy Word

with reverence and humility, without which no man can understand thy truth.

Grant this for the sake of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

The Book of Common Worship–Provisional Services (1966), 126

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Jonah 3:1-4:11

Ephesians 4:25-32

Matthew 9:1-13

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…let your words be for the improvement of others, as occasion offers, and do good to your listeners….

–Ephesians 4:29b, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

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Jonah (a fool and a fictitious prophet, the story of whom continues to indict individuals and groups) and the critics of Jesus in Matthew 9:1-13 were unlike the ideal person in Ephesians 4:25-32.  Jonah, a reluctant prophet who learned the hard way that he could not flee from God, became bitterly disappointed when he successfully helped to effect the repentance of enemies.  Divine mercy has long been scandalous and objectionable to many people.

If God loved only people similar to ourselves, would we feel better?  Would our egos be more secure?  Perhaps.  We do well, that not withstanding, to know that, if we do not desire the destruction of, not the repentance of a population, some people, somewhere, wish the destruction of the population to which we belong.  The story of Jonah always indicts some individuals and populations.  Mutual animosity cannot work toward the common good.  Besides, we should, logically, be glad when an enemy ceases to be a foe.  It is better for us, is it not?  But do we know that?

May the love of God define our egos and our attitudes toward other people, especially those different from us.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 24, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THOMAS À KEMPIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, PRIEST, AND SPIRITUAL WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN NEWTON, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF WALTER RAUSCHENBUSCH, U.S. BAPTIST MINISTER AND THEOLOGIAN OF THE SOCIAL GOSPEL

THE FEAST OF SAINTS VINCENTIA GEROSA AND BARTHOLOMEA CAPITANIO, COFOUNDERS OF THE SISTERS OF CHARITY OF LOVERE

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Reconciliation, Part II   Leave a comment

Above:  The Tomb of Rabbi Hillel

Image in the Public Domain

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

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Holy God, who sent thy Son Jesus Christ to fulfill the Law:

mercifully grant that by our actions we may show forth his perfect love;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Common Worship–Provisional Services (1966), 124

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Deuteronomy 30:11-20

Acts 6:1-7

Matthew 5:17-26

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The Law of God is permanent (Matthew 5:17f), according to Jesus, agreeing with Deuteronomy 30:11f.

How, then, are we supposed to interpret the Law-related conflicts between religious authorities and our Lord and Savior?  He interpreted the Law more inwardly and rigorously.  For example, he taught reconciliation, a principle at work in Acts 6:1-7.

Reconciliation, by definition, must involve more than one party.  If I seek to reconcile with John Q. Public, that desire speaks well of me.  If Mr. Public agrees to reconcile, we accomplish reconciliation.  Yet if Mr. Public rejects my offer of reconciliation, he continues to carry his burden; I carry no burden, for I have laid it down.  That result is positive for me, but reconciliation would be preferable.

Christ’s interpretation of the Law refuses to honor the letter of the Law while violating the spirit of the Law.  Internalize the ethos of the Law, Jesus says, then act accordingly.  This is an old teaching in 2019, as I type these words.

It was not unique to Jesus, though.  Rabbi Hillel, who died when Jesus was a minor, quoted the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-5) when he summarized the Torah.  He continued,

The rest is commentary.  Go and learn it.

The wisdom of Hillel and Jesus continues to instruct those who pay attention.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 18, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF BARTHOLOMÉ DE LAS CASAS, “APOSTLE TO THE INDIANS”

THE FEAST OF ARTHUR PENRHYN STANLEY, ANGLICAN DEAN OF WESTMINSTER, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF EDWARD WILLIAM LEINBACH, U.S. MORAVIAN MUSICIAN AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF ELIZABETH FERARD, FIRST DEACONESS IN THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND

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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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Reconciliation, Part I   1 comment

Jonathan Myrick Daniels

Above:  In Memory of Jonathan Myrick Daniels, Who Gave His Life for Another Human Being Near Selma, Alabama, in 1965

Image Source = Bill Monk, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

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The Collect:

Beloved God, from you come all things that are good.

Lead us by the inspiration of your Spirit to know those things that are right,

and by your merciful guidance, help us to do them,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 49

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The Assigned Readings:

Ezekiel 19:10-14 (Monday)

Isaiah 27:1-6 (Tuesday)

Psalm 144 (Both Days)

1 Peter 2:4-10 (Monday)

2 Corinthians 5:17-21 (Tuesday)

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May there be no breaching of the walls, no going into exile,

no wailing in the public squares.

Happy are the people of whom this is so!

happy are the people whose God is the LORD!

–Psalm 144:15-16, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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The Old Testament readings use the imagery of vineyards to describe the people of God.  In Ezekiel 19 this is the meaning of that metaphor, with the Kingdom of Judah as a vine therein and the ill-fated King Zedekiah as a stem.  Exile came, of course.   And we read in Isaiah 27 that the future vineyard will be a glorious and Godly one, that redemption will come.  Yet the consequences of sin will stay play out.

Redemption via Christ Jesus is the topic in the readings from 1 Peter 2 and 2 Corinthians 5.  Christ reconciles us to God.  Jesus is the innocent Lamb of God, the cornerstone of faith for Christians and a stumbling block for others.  Our spiritual tasks as the redeemed include functioning as agents of divine reconciliation.  Grace is free, but not cheap.  As I consider the honor roll of reconcilers in the name of Jesus I notice the names of many martyrs and other persecuted people.Jesus is there, of course, as is St. Paul the Apostle.  In recent decades martyred reconcilers have included Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador (died in 1980) and Jonathan Myrick Daniels (died in 1965) and the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. (died in 1968), of the United States.  Others, such asNelson Mandela (died in 2013) spent long terms in prison then did much to heal the wounds of their societies.

Judgment and mercy coexist in the Bible.  The first comes then the second follows; that is a recurring pattern in the Old and New Testaments.  Reconciling, not seeking revenge, is the way to break the cycle of violence and to start the cycle of love and peace.  Relinquishing our bloodlusts can prove difficult, but the price of not doing so is both avoidable and terrible.

May we reconcile with God and, as much as possible, with each other.  The latter will prove impossible sometimes, due to conditions such as the death, inability, or unwillingness of the other party or parties.  In such cases at least one person can surrender the grudge; that is progress, at least.  And grace enables not only that but reconciliation in other cases.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 25, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF MICHAEL FARADAY, SCIENTIST

THE FEAST OF BAYARD RUSTIN, WITNESS FOR CIVIL RIGHTS

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Adapted from This Post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2014/08/25/devotion-for-monday-and-tuesday-after-proper-22-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

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Attitudes, Love, and Reconciliation   1 comment

us_5000_1934_federal_reserve_note

Above:  $5000, 1934

(Images of U.S. currency are in the public domain.)

$5000 U.S. (1934) = $85,700 (2012) on the Consumer Price Index

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The Collect:

Holy God of compassion, you invite us into your way of forgiveness and peace.

Lead us to love our enemies, and transform our words and deeds

to be like his through whom we pray, Jesus Christ, our Savior.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 24

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The Assigned Readings:

Proverbs 25:11-22 (Monday)

Genesis 31:1-3, 17-50 (Tuesday)

Proverbs 3:27-55 (Wednesday)

Psalm 119:57-64 (All Days)

Romans 12:9-21 (Monday)

Hebrews 12:14-16 (Tuesday)

Luke 18:18-30 (Wednesday)

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Some Related Posts:

Proverbs 25:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2012/07/16/devotion-for-june-21-and-22-lcms-daily-lectionary/

Proverbs 3:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/24/week-of-proper-20-monday-tuesday-and-wednesday-year-2/

Romans 12:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/04/02/devotion-for-january-23-lcms-daily-lectionary/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/04/02/devotion-for-january-24-lcms-daily-lectionary/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/08/proper-17-year-a/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/17/week-of-proper-26-tuesday-year-1/

Hebrews 12:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/07/week-of-4-epiphany-wednesday-year-1/

Luke 18:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/06/21/devotion-for-the-forty-third-and-forty-fourth-days-of-easter-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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You are my only portion, O Lord;

I have promised to keep your words.

I entreat you with all my heart,

be merciful to me according to your promise.

–Psalm 119:57-58, Common Worship (2000)

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Certain themes repeat in the Bible.  Among these is the one which states that we have a mandate to seek reconciliation with each other, not vengeance against each other.  A perhaps apocryphal story comes to mind:

A congregation gathered on the day that the aged St. John the Evangelist visited it.  He entered (with assistance) and sat down at the front of the assembly.  The Apostle said, “My children, love one another.”  Then he motioned to his helpers to assist him in leaving.  Someone, disappointed with the brevity of John’s words, followed him and asked why he had said just to love one another.  The Apostle answered, “When you have done that, I will tell you more.”

Loving one another is that basic.  And often it proves difficult, for we might feel righteous while pondering how another has wronged us.  Maybe another has behaved perfidiously toward us.  But nursing a grudge hurts the person who encourages it and does no harm to its intended target.

The readings for these days range from maxims to stories about how we ought to behave toward others.  Sometimes all parties are both the wronged and the perpetrators.  (Life is frequently complicated in that way.)  The seeming outlier among these readings is Luke 18:18-30.  The wealthy man in that passage kept many of the truly timeless provisions of the Law of Moses–honoring his parents, not murdering or stealing, etc.  But his attitude toward his wealth prevented him from treating others as properly as he should have been doing all along.

His health was morally neutral; his attitude was not.  Your “wealth,” O reader, might not be funds or property, but your attitude toward it is a vital issue.  The same applies to all of us.

So may we seek peace with each other, knowing that perhaps nobody is fully innocent in a particular situation.  Thus nobody is in a good position to judge anyway.  And may we not let our attitude(s) regarding anything obstruct such reconciliation.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 19, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HENRY MARTYN, ANGLICAN MISSIONARY

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAUL OF THE CROSS, FOUNDER OF THE PASSIONIST CONGREGATION

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Adapted from this post:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2013/10/19/devotion-for-monday-tuesday-and-wednesday-after-the-seventh-sunday-after-epiphany-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

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Five Minutes of Heaven (2009)   Leave a comment

Five-Minutes-of-Heaven-(2009)-5

Above:  James Nesbitt and Liam Neeson from Five Minutes of Heaven

A screen capture which I found in several places on the Internet, including:

http://movies.nytimes.com/2009/08/21/movies/21five.html?_r=0

FIVE MINUTES OF HEAVEN (2009)

Starring

Liam Neeson as Alistair Little (2008)

James Nesbitt as Joe Griffin (2008)

Mark Ryder as Alistair Little (1975)

Kevin O’Neill as Joe Griffin (1975)

Directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel

Rated R

Five Minutes of Heaven is a character movie and a thought provoking story of guilt, forgiveness, and reconciliation set in Northern Ireland.  It is really a two-man drama with supporting characters.  The actors play their roles so well that words are frequently unnecessary to convey the characters’ thoughts; a look into the eyes suffices.

The first part of the movie occurs in 1975.  Alistair Little, a radicalized seventeen-year-old Protestant, wants to kill a Roman Catholic.  It is the thing which his friends and peers tell him is right to do.  Are not Catholics killing Protestants, after all?  So he shoots one James Griffin while the victim watches television at home.  Little does this in front of Griffin’s eleven-year-old brother, Joe, whom the grief-stricken mother blames for not preventing the shooting.

Then the movie skips to 2008, a quieter time in Northern Ireland.  Little, who served a twelve-year prison sentence, has reformed.  He lives alone in a Belfast flat and travels the world to promote nonviolence.  Someone must tell people, he says, that it is not right to kill people because they are different.  Someone should have told him that when he was a young man, he says.  Little, a broken and guilt-racked man, carries the face of the eleven-year-old Joe Griffin with him mentally.  It has been with him every day for thirty-three years.  The burden of it has become almost too heavy to continue to bear.

Griffin, who works in an egg carton factory, is married with two daughters.  As much as Little wants to let go of the events of 1975 and their consequences, Griffin clings to them.  His attitude poisons his family life.  So he is apprehensive and vengeful when the crew of a reality television series asks him to meet Little, who is concerned that this will be too difficult and painful for Griffin.  It is.

I choose not to reveal the entire plot of the movie or its ending, for a good film review should leave much for the viewer to discover firsthand.   But I do choose to focus on the spiritual side of the movie’s content:  the necessity to forgive–at least for one’s own sake–and, if possible, to reconcile.  Friendship might remain impossible after the offense, but the dropping of grudges is crucial.  Also, violence harms not only its intended victim(s) but its perpetrator(s).  What we do to others we do also to ourselves.  Therefore, if we do not act compassionately, we might wind up like Little and Griffin, two emotionally and spiritually scarred men facing the common past which entraps them as they struggle together in the ruins of the scene of a thirty-three-year-old crime.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 18, 2013 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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Numbers and Luke, Part XI: Atonement   1 comment

pieta-michelangelo

Above:  Pieta, by Michelangelo Buonarroti

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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 23:4-28 (Wednesday)

Numbers 24:1-25 (Thursday)

Psalm 89:1-18 (Morning–Wednesday)

Psalm 97 (Morning–Thursday)

Psalms 1 and 33 (Evening–Wednesday)

Psalms 16 and 62 (Evening–Thursday)

Luke 22:47-71 (Wednesday)

Luke 23:1-25 (Thursday)

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How can I damn whom God has not damned,

How doom when the LORD has not doomed?

–Numbers 23:8, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

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It would have been nice (per Numbers 31:16) if Balaam had maintained that attitude.

Balaam, in Numbers 23 and 24, did as God instructed him, to King Balak’s dismay.  This was risky in the short term, I suppose, but the two merely parted company. Thus that part of the story ended.

Among my essential books is A Short History of Christian Thought, Revised and Expanded Edition (Oxford University Press, 1996), by Linwood Urban.  Father/Professor Urban’s volume is a wonderful resource for reading about Christian theological development.  These doctrines which we Christians affirm, refute, or discuss did not fall fully formed from Heaven.  No, theologians wrote and debated.  Bishops gathered at council and synods.  And, more often than not, they got it right.

Urban devotes a chapter to the doctrine of the Atonement.  He contextualizes it in Scripture and theology.  And he traces three understandings of the Atonement in the Bible and the writings of Church Fathers.  To summarize:

Reconciliation or atonement is said to be accomplished by the Incarnation itself, by the sacrificial death of Christ on Calvary, and by the conquest and defeat of the Devil.

–page 106

I recommend reading Urban’s chapter for full citations to the Bible and named Church Fathers.  These are matters of theological history.  Thus the existence of more than one ancient interpretation of the mechanics of the Atonement in Christian theology is a matter of objectively correct and confirmed history, not opinion.  As the late U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, everybody is entitled to his own opinions, but not his own facts.

As for me, I grew up learning St. Anselm of Canterbury’s theory of Penal Substitutionary Atonement.  Jesus took my place on the cross, people told me.  This does not satisfy me, for it makes God seem like a vindictive thug.

I will not be satisfied until I see my son tortured and executed,

I imagine such a deity saying or thinking.  I recognize the Conquest of Satan theory in the Scriptures, and I hear echoes of the Incarnation-as-Atonement in the Gospels before their Passion narratives begin.  But we must come to terms with the death of Jesus.  That even played a vital role in the Atonement process.  Yet me must not stop there, for dead Jesus did not redeem us; resurrected Jesus did.

My conclusion follows:  The entire earthly life of Jesus was necessary for the Atonement to occur.  The Incarnation was vital, as were the Crucifixion and the Resurrection.  And Jesus was one whom God had neither damned nor doomed.  No, his death pointed out the futility and cruelty of scapegoating people.  And his Resurrection from the dead showed God’s power, which God had demonstrated many times.  Now and again, however, we mere mortals seem to need reminders.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 26, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JEREMIAH, BIBLICAL PROPHET

THE FEAST OF ISABEL FLORENCE HAPGOOD, ECUMENIST

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Adapted from this post:

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

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Genesis and Mark, Part XXI: Reconciliation Versus Destruction   1 comment

parable-of-the-wicked-husbandmen

Above:  The Wicked Husbandmen

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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:

Genesis 42:1-34, 38

Psalm 119:73-80 (Morning)

Psalms 121 and 6 (Evening)

Mark 12:1-12

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Some Related Posts:

Genesis 42:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/22/week-of-proper-9-wednesday-year-1/

Mark 12:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/11/08/week-of-last-epiphany-monday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/11/15/week-of-proper-4-monday-year-1/

Matthew 21 (Parallel to Mark 12):

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/fifteenth-day-of-lent/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/04/24/proper-22-year-a/

Prayer:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/04/prayer-for-monday-in-the-fourth-week-of-lent/

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Selling anyone into slavery is a wicked act.  That statement seems self-evident, does it not?  Yet that is what Joseph’s brothers plotted to do to him.  And so he went to Egypt involuntarily.  Years later, with severe famine widespread, most of these brothers met Joseph again without recognizing him.  And he tested them while setting in motion plans for a family reunion.  In return for wickedness there was grace, even if it wore a disguise.

In contrast we have the Parable of the Wicked Tenants, which we find in all three Synoptic Gospels.  (It also appears in Matthew 21:33-46 and Luke 20:9-19.)  The chronology in each case is quite similar:  It is Holy Week, Jesus having expelled the money changers from the Temple recently.  The accounts from Mark and Luke end in the same way, more or less, as does that of Matthew, but the latter adds an explicit wrinkle left implicit in the other Gospels:

I tell you, then, that the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.

–Matthew 21:43, The New Jerusalem Bible

This is a troublesome parable.  God looks like an absentee landlord who demands the fruits of other’s labor.  So one might sympathize with the frustrations, if not the violence, of the wicked tenants.  Yet that is beside the point.  In textual context, Jesus is the murdered son and the Temple authorities are the wicked tenants.  Read in the context of the First Jewish War and the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE, events in the shadows of which the canonical Gospels exist, the Christians (many of them Jewish at the time) are the new tenants.

Such stories have become fodder for Anti-Semites.  This is most unfortunate.  I reject hatred toward any group of people, especially the Jews, the truck of the tree onto which my branch, the Gentiles, is grafted, by grace.

So we have two responses to evil:  reconciliation and destruction.  The latter attitude, as reflected in the Parable of the Wicked Tenants, is understandable in the context of the long and messy separation of Christianity from Judaism.  The earliest canonical Gospel, Mark, dates to no earlier than 67 CE.  John, likely the latest one, probably comes from the 90s.  Mutual anger, resentment, and misunderstanding characterized the parting of the ways between Judaism and Christianity, its offspring.  The canonical Gospels are documents from that particular era, so they reflect the time of their origin.  We humans recall and retell the past in the context of our present; the Gospels are consistent with this rule.

Reconciliation is preferable to destruction, anger, resentment, and misunderstanding.  It is not always possible, for reconciliation is a mutual state.  Yet, if reconciliation does prove impossible because one party is unwilling, the willing party can forgive and refuse to hold a grudge any longer, if at all.  And that is better than mutual hostility.  Did Jesus condemn from the cross?  No, he forgave!  May we, by grace, follow his example and forgive–reconcile, if possible.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 22, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF RICHARD BIGGS, ACTOR

THE FEAST OF ROTA WAITOA, ANGLICAN PRIEST

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Adapted from this post:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/05/22/devotion-for-the-twenty-third-day-of-lent-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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Job and John, Part XVI: Alienation and Reconciliation   1 comment

Above:  Statue of Reconciliation, Coventry Cathedral, England

Image Source = Rebecca Kennison

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:UK_Coventry_Statue-of-Reconcilliation.jpg)

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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:

Job 19:1-12, 21-27

Psalm 110 (Morning)

Psalms 66 and 23 (Evening)

John 8:1-20

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Some Related Posts:

Job 19:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/27/week-of-proper-21-thursday-year-2/

John 8:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/twenty-ninth-day-of-lent/

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The story of the woman accused of adultery and her near-stoning is one of those pieces of the oral tradition which fits better in some ways in the Synoptic Gospels, where it is not.  Scholars recognize this fact.  Yet I propose that its placement here in John is appropriate theologically.  I cannot attest to the veracity of the chronology.  For that matter, chronology is a matter on which the canonical Gospels disagree.  That fact, however, seems not to have troubled those early Church leaders who approved of the New Testament canon.  And it does not trouble me.  The Gospels are more theological than historical anyway.  And doubts regarding the chronology are irrelevant to my purpose today, for I take the text on its own terms.

As I reread parts of John 7 and 8, I noticed something striking:  Jesus saves the woman’s life at a time when people are plotting to kill him.  That is why the placement of this incident at this juncture in the Johannine Gospel works so well.  As to the woman’s story, I ask one two questions:

  1. Where was the man?
  2. And why did not her accusers care about that detail?

By law he should have faced the same penalty as she would have.  And, given the circumstances, so should have her accusers.  They let the man get away so that they could entrap Jesus.  They did nothing to prevent the act of adultery?  Thus they were complicit  in the offense.  Perhaps Jesus reminded them of this via whatever he wrote on the ground.  And, by the way, the accusers were creepy peeping toms.

I note another fascinating feature of the Johannine material.  There is a contrast between Jesus, the source of living water (7:38) and the light of the world (8:12) on one hand and such bloodlust on the other hand.  His enemies plotted not only to kill him but others–the woman in this account and Lazarus shortly later in the Gospel.  Indeed they lived in darkness–and, to sound like the Gospel of Thomas–they were that darkness.

The thread linking the readings from the Gospel of John and the Book of Job is alienation.  Job was alienated from his friends, his family members, his life, and his God.  Jesus was alienated (not by his choice) from many leaders of his own tradition.  Reconciliation is a mutual state; if only one party is willing but the other is not, there is no reconciliation.  Thus one party can create alienation.  And few activities create this reality more than plotting to deprive someone of his life.  May we be willing to reconcile–to restore wholeness with the other, to restore wholeness where dissonance has arisen.  Dissonance might remain, but may we not be the source of it.

Until the next segment of our journey….

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 26, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS REMACLUS OF MAASTRICHT, THEODORE OF MAASTRICHT, LAMBERT OF MAASTRICHT, HUBERT OF MAASTRICHT AND LIEGE, AND FLORIBERT OF LIEGE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; LANDRADA OF MUNSTERBILSEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBESS; AND OTGER OF UTRECHT, PLECHELM OF GUELDERLAND, AND WIRO, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARIES

THE FEAST OF CHRISTINA ROSSETTI, POET

THE FEAST OF SAINT PASCHASIUS RADBERTUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

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

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Adapted from this post:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/04/26/devotion-for-february-24-in-epiphanyordinary-time-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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Posted November 6, 2012 by neatnik2009 in Job 19, John 8, Psalm 110, Psalm 23, Psalm 66

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The Folly of Revenge and the Quest for It   1 comment

Above:  Anger

Image Source = Petar Pavlov

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Anger_Symbol.jpg)

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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:

Joel 3:1-21/4:1-21

Psalm 143 (Morning)

Psalms 81 and 116 (Evening)

Romans 12:14-13:14

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Some Related Posts:

Joel 3-4:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/01/week-of-proper-22-saturday-year-1/

Romans 12-13:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/14/first-day-of-advent-first-sunday-of-advent-year-a/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/08/proper-17-year-a/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/17/week-of-proper-26-tuesday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/12/proper-18-year-a/

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

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Egypt shall be like a desolation,

And Edom a desolate waste,

Because of the outrage to the people of Judah,

In whose land they shed the blood of the innocent.

–Joel 4:19, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

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Never try to get revenge:  leave that, my dear friends, to the Retribution.  As scripture says:  Vengeance is mine–I will pay them back, the Lord promises.  And more:  If your enemy is hungry, give him something to eat; if thirsty, something to drink.  By this, you will be heaping red-hot coals on his head.  Do not be mastered by evil, but master evil with good.

–Romans 12:19-21, The New Jerusalem Bible

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TECHNICAL NOTE:

Versification of  parts of the Hebrew Bible differs depending upon whether one reads from a Protestant translation or a Jewish, Roman Catholic, or Eastern Orthodox one.  Such is the case in Joel, where 2:1-32 in Protestant versions equals 2:1-3:5 in Jewish, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox translations.  And Joel 4 in Jewish, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox versions equals Joel 3 in Protestant translations.

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Vengeance is a primal emotions.  It jumps off the pages of the Book of Psalms.  Consider, O reader, these cringe-worthy lines:

Remember, O LORD, against the Edomites

the day of Jerusalem ‘s fall;

how they cried, “Strip her, strip her

to her very foundations.”

Fair Babylon, you predator,

a blessing on him who repays you in kind

what you have inflicted on us;

a blessing on him who seizes your babies

and dashes them against the rocks.

–Psalm 137:7-9, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

And how often have relatives of murdered people stated in public their desire for the death penalty for the guilty and cited revenge as it is a good thing?  Revenge poisons a person’s soul and does not undo the damage the perpetrator has inflicted.  There will be retribution for some from God, in whom there is also mercy.  I know the desire for revenge well, and I have had to rid myself of it.

As Paul advised,

As much as possible,and to the utmost of your ability, be a peace with everyone.

–Romans 12:18, The New Jerusalem Bible

Such matters involve more than one party, of course.  And, if not all parties consent to mutual peace, there will be no reconciliation.  I suppose that simply pursuing revenge–rather, leaving judgment to God–is the best possible outcome in such a case.  Getting on with one’s life is better for oneself than obsessing over a real or imagined injury.

Life is short, certainly in geological terms.  May we not mar our brief time on earth with the quest for revenge more than we have done so already.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 2, 2012 COMMON ERA

MONDAY IN HOLY WEEK

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

THE FEAST OF HENRY BUDD, ANGLICAN PRIEST

THE FEAST OF JAMES LLOYD BRECK, EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF JOHN PAUL II, BISHOP OF ROME

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Adapted from this post:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/04/02/devotion-for-january-24-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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Posted October 5, 2012 by neatnik2009 in Joel, Joel 3, Psalm 116, Psalm 81, Romans 12, Romans 13

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