Archive for the ‘Repentance’ Tag

The Mind of Christ   Leave a comment

Above:  Christ Pantocrator

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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

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God, you know that we are set amid so many and great dangers,

and that by reason of the frailty of our nature we cannot always stand upright.

Grant us to such strength and protection, as may support us in all dangers,

and carry us through all temptations;  through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

–Modernized from The Book of Worship for Church and Home (1965), page 86

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Proverbs 4:10-18

Psalm 3

1 Corinthians 2:1-16

Mark 1:14-22

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Two errors of the wicked are the assumptions that (A) they can rely on themselves alone and (B) that they must do so.  These errors lead to others, such as the exploitation of people.  In a dog-eat-dog world the wicked prefer to feast.  The righteous, however, seek God.

Unspiritual people, we read in 1 Corinthians 2, lack the mind of Christ, for they cannot grasp the Holy Spirit, which imparts the mind of Christ, which is superior to human wisdom.  The hidden wisdom of God is folly to the unspiritual.  Yet, throughout the Gospel of Mark (including in 1:23:28, which one should read after 1:22), we find that evil spirits (whatever that category translates into outside of the Hellenistic worldview of the time) recognized Jesus for what he was, unlike those closest to Christ.  Recognition does not necessarily lead to repentance, does it?

Whose authority do we acknowledge as being spiritually supreme?  Or do we recognize and accept any such authority?  To state that one follows God as the supreme authority is easy; to act on that is more difficult.  Furthermore, how does one tell the difference between what God commands and what one merely wants to hear?  We humans often create a concept of God that agrees with us.  How convenient for us, at least in the short term!  Not one of us is exempt from this trap all of the time.  Shall we be honest about that?

Good news is that we need not rely on our own power to deal effectively with this trap.  Nor can we do so anyway.  No, we need to rely on God, if we are to succeed in knowing the difference between divine dictates and human prejudices and other preferences.  I do not pretend to have mastered this matter.  I do, however, notice that the Golden Rule seems to be prominent.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 4, 2017 COMMON ERA

LABOR DAY (U.S.A.)

THE FEAST OF PAUL JONES, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF UTAH AND PEACE ACTIVIST; AND HIS COLLEAGUE, JOHN NEVIN SAYRE, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND PEACE ACTIVIST

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Posted September 4, 2017 by neatnik2009 in 1 Corinthians 2, Mark 1, Proverbs, Psalm 3

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A Light to the Nations VII   Leave a comment

Above:  Kent Lighthouse at Night

Image in the Public Domain

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

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Master of us all, you have given us work to do.

Also give us strength to perform it with gladness and singleness of heart;

and when it is completed grant us a place in your kingdom;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

–Modernized from The Book of Worship for Church and Home (1965), page 86

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Jeremiah 10:1-7

Psalm 50

Acts 8:26-35

John 4:7-26

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We have a fine set of readings (as usual) this time.  My only negative comment regards not the portions of scripture themselves but the old lectionary itself; the lessons from Jeremiah, Acts, and John are too short.  One should read through Jeremiah 10:16, Acts 8:40, and John 4:42 for full effect.

God (in Jeremiah 10) and Jesus (in John 4) notably avoided condemning anyone.  (The condemnation came in Psalm 50 instead.)  God, speaking through the prophet Jeremiah, condemned idolatry and cautioned against practicing it, but proclaimed (in that passage) no punishment of practitioners of idolatry.  No, God did that elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible.  And Jesus, scandalously speaking at great length to the Samaritan woman at the well, did not condemn her for anything.  No, he, like God in Jeremiah 10:1-16, encouraged repentance.  That strategy worked on the woman.

A recurring theme in this series of posts has been being a light to the nations.  This has been appropriate, given the theme of the Season after the Epiphany, with the message of Christ spreading to the Gentiles, or to the nations.

Find the good and praise it.

–Alex Haley

A light to the nations stands out among them; it does not blend in.  Neither is a light to the nations a reflexive contrarian.  No, such a light affirms the positive and names the negative.  It does so in the proper way, so as to avoid defeating divine purposes by making unnecessary scenes.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ, by its nature, offends many, but the record of Christian missionary efforts is sadly replete with examples of evangelists who, out of racism, ethnocentrism, and other faults, sabotaged their work and actively (yet accidentally) discouraged many people from coming to God.

May we be lights to the nations properly.  May we be like St. Philip the Deacon (not the Apostle), who, in Acts 8, engaged constructively with the Ethiopian eunuch.  May we be like Jesus, who, in John 4, spoke the truth gently and persuasively to the Samaritan woman.  May we draw people to God and encourage discipleship.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 4, 2017 COMMON ERA

LABOR DAY (U.S.A.)

THE FEAST OF PAUL JONES, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF UTAH AND PEACE ACTIVIST; AND HIS COLLEAGUE, JOHN NEVIN SAYRE, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND PEACE ACTIVIST

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As the Dew   Leave a comment

Above:  Dew

Image in the Public Domain

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

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Lord God, you see that we do not put our trust in anything that we do.

Mercifully grant that by your power we may be defended against all adversity;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

–Modernized from The Book of Worship for Church and Home (1965), page 86

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Hosea 6:1-3

Psalm 49

Colossians 1:21-29

John 1:19-30

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Deeds reveal creeds.

That is one of my favorite statements.  It is also consistent with the readings for this day.

On the surface Hosea 6:1-3 sounds good, does it not?  However, it is actually cynical, self-serving, and transactional, as the full context of the Book of Hosea reveals.  The setting of the Book of Hosea is the middle of the eighth century B.C.E., during the final period of strength of the northern Kingdom of Israel, shortly before its fall to the Assyrians in 722 B.C.E.  As one reads the book one finds strong condemnations of pervasive and repeated societal sins.  After one reads Hosea 6:1-3 one should continue reading.  In 6:4-11 alone God likens the goodness of the people to the dew in the morning (quickly gone) and states the principle of the primacy of morality over sacrifices.  Ritual acts, even ones God has commanded, are not talismans that protect us from the consequences of sins for which we are not sorry.

Actual repentance is something God welcomes, however.  It works toward the purposes of improving the quality of human lives and of glorifying God, in whom we can trust during evil days.  Cynical sacrifice offends, not glorifies, God, but sacrificing one’s ego, so as to walk humbly with God, is spiritually healthy.

To sin is literally to miss the mark.  One might sin while attempting to hit the target.  Alternatively, one might not even try.  In the former case, one needs to repent of having bad aim.  In the latter case, however, one is in a far worse situation.

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.”

–Luke 23:34a, The Revised English Bible (1989)

Jesus made that intercession at his crucifixion.  He was being quite generous of spirit.  Yes, many of the people for whom he prayed in that moment were ignorant of what they were really doing.  Others, however, did know exactly what they were doing.  They needed forgiveness also.

So it is with us, collectively and individually.  Sometimes we know what we are doing when we sin; at other times we do not.  Either way, we need to repent and to receive forgiveness.  Our goodness should never be temporary, like the dew.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 4, 2017 COMMON ERA

LABOR DAY (U.S.A.)

THE FEAST OF PAUL JONES, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF UTAH AND PEACE ACTIVIST; AND HIS COLLEAGUE, JOHN NEVIN SAYRE, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND PEACE ACTIVIST

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Posted September 4, 2017 by neatnik2009 in Colossians 1, Hosea, John 1, Luke 23, Psalms I: 1-76

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Hesed and Repentance   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of Jonah

Image in the Public Domain

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

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Almighty and everlasting God, look mercifully upon our infirmities,

and all dangers and necessities stretch forth your right hand to help and defend us.  Amen.

–Modernized from The Book of Worship for Church and Home (1965), page 86

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Jonah 3:1-5

Psalm 21

1 Corinthians 1:18-31

John 12:20-36a

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These are the words of the LORD:

Let not the wise boast of their wisdom,

nor the valiant of their valour;

let not the wealthy boast of their wealth;

but if anyone must boast, let him boast of this:

that he understands and acknowledges me.

For I am the LORD, I show unfailing love,

I do justice and right on the earth,

for in these I take pleasure.

This is the word of the LORD.

–Jeremiah 9:23-24, The Revised English Bible (1989)

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Therefore, in the words of scripture,

“If anyone must boast, let him boast of the Lord.”

–1 Corinthians 1:31, The Revised English Bible (1989)

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1 Corinthians 1:18 interests me.  The Revised English Bible (1989) reads:

The message of the cross is sheer folly to those on the way to destruction, but to us, who are on the way to salvation, it is the power of God.

The New Revised Standard Version (1989), however, renders that verse as follows:

For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

The active agent in that instance of the passive voice is God, in whom we find not only the process (not event) of salvation but the only proper boast.

I take it as an article of faith that God wants all people to repent and to come to salvation.  Yet I am not a universalist, for I understand that many will refuse to do so.  I rejoice with Jesus when people, regardless of their ethnicity, seek him.  I stand with God in the theologically accurate yet fictional story of Jonah and his mission; enemies should repent.

God saw what they did, how they were turning back from their evil ways.  And God renounced the punishment He had planned to bring upon them, and did not carry it out.

This displeased Jonah greatly, and he was grieved.

–Jonah 3:10-4:1, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

The character of Jonah does not recognize the irony of lamenting divine compassion for national enemies as he acknowledges that God is compassionate and prays for death.  Jonah, like the authors of many psalms, including Psalm 21, does not want enemies to repent and receive forgiveness.  That is no reason to boast.

Would it not be convenient for us if God were compassionate only toward ourselves and people like us?  Perhaps it would be, but that sort of deity would not be one worthy of boasting about, would He?  Human wisdom is limited.  Human valor is finite.  Human wealth can do only so much, and we can take none of our wealth with us when we die.  God’s hesed–faithfulness, mercy, steadfast love, et cetera–is infinite, however.  It is also available to everyone.  Do we rejoice when sinners repent?  God does.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 4, 2017 COMMON ERA

LABOR DAY (U.S.A.)

THE FEAST OF PAUL JONES, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF UTAH AND PEACE ACTIVIST; AND HIS COLLEAGUE, JOHN NEVIN SAYRE, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND PEACE ACTIVIST

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Psalms 144-146   1 comment

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POST LIX OF LX

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The Book of Common Prayer (1979) includes a plan for reading the Book of Psalms in morning and evening installments for 30 days.  I am therefore blogging through the Psalms in 60 posts.

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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 226

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The theme of praising God unites Psalms 144, 145, and 146.

Psalm 144, with linguistic singularities to the other psalms (mainly 18 and 143), might not be original, but neither are many other psalms.  The fact that some of them quote, plagiarize, or echo other entries in the psalter ought not to surprise one.  Neither should it trouble one.  Psalm 144, a royal psalm attributed to David yet certainly not from his pen, acknowledges human inadequacy before God.  The text states that military victory is impossible without divine aid.  The psalm, in the context of a military threat, envisions an ideal society, one in which prosperity will be widespread and access to good food will be ubiquitous.  These will be signs of grace.

Psalm 145 contains unstinting praise of God.  We read that God is, for example, gracious, compassionate, majestic, kingly, beneficent, and protective of the faithful.  We also read,

but the wicked He will destroy.

–Psalm 145:20b, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

This may be true, but does God not desire that the wicked confess their sins and repent instead?  What does the psalmist desire?

Psalm 146 begins the doxology of the Hebrew psalter.  Psalms 146-150 begin and end with the same word:

Hallelujah.

Thematically Psalm 146 is similar to Psalm 144; both emphasize the transient nature of people, in contrast to God.  And, like Psalm 145, Psalm 146 stresses that God cares actively and effectively for the vulnerable.  In Psalm 146 God protects the strangers, but the author of Psalm 144 prays for the protection from foreigners.  True, they are lying aliens who swear falsely.  In that regard that petition from Psalm 144 is similar to the descriptions of the fates of the wicked in Psalms 145 and 146.

Our journey through the Hebrew psalter is nearly complete, O reader.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 23, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MARTIN DE PORRES AND JUAN MACIAS, HUMANITARIANS AND DOMINICAN LAY BROTHERS; SAINT ROSE OF LIMA, HUMANITARIAN AND DOMINICAN SISTER; AND SAINT TURIBIUS OF MOGROVEJO, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF LIMA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM JOHN COPELAND, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

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Psalms 139 and 140   1 comment

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POST LVII OF LX

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The Book of Common Prayer (1979) includes a plan for reading the Book of Psalms in morning and evening installments for 30 days.  I am therefore blogging through the Psalms in 60 posts.

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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 226

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Psalm 139 opens and concludes piously.  The author also asks God to examine him spiritually and writes of God’s omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience.  Unfortunately, the psalmist’s piety includes the understanding that solidarity with God entails hatred for God’s enemies.  The author of Psalm 139 seeks their destruction, not their repentance.  This is a perspective one also finds in Psalm 140, in which the author is under siege from evil, lawless men whose words are like weapons.

I do not defend evil, lawless people who engage in slander and/or violence.  Neither do I stand up for enemies of God.  I do not, however, seek their destruction and damnation.  No, I seek their repentance; I want them to amend their lives.

Hatred, after all, is a vice, not a virtue.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 22, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JACK LAYTON, CANADIAN ACTIVIST AND FEDERAL LEADER OF THE NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY

THE FEAST OF JOHN DRYDEN, ENGLISH PURITAN THEN ANGLICAN THEN ROMAN CATHOLIC POET, PLAYWRIGHT, AND TRANSLATOR

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Psalms 82-85   1 comment

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POST XXXII OF LX

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The Book of Common Prayer (1979) includes a plan for reading the Book of Psalms in morning and evening installments for 30 days.  I am therefore blogging through the Psalms in 60 posts.

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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 226

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Show us, O LORD, Your faithfulness;

grant us your deliverance.

–Psalm 85:8, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

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Show us, O Yahweh, your kindness,

and give us your prosperity.

–Psalm 85:8, Mitchell J. Dahood translation

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Show us your steadfast love, O LORD,

and grant us your salvation.

–Psalm 85:7, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

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LORD, show us your love

and grant us your deliverance.

–Psalm 85:7, The Revised English Bible (1989)

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The act of comparing translations can yield much.  For example, the Hebrew word hesed can mean “faithfulness,” “kindness,” “love,” and “steadfast love.”  Likewise, another Hebrew word can mean “deliverance,” “salvation,” and “prosperity.”  In the context of Psalm 85 it is deliverance from the Babylonian Exile and prosperity that only God can provide.  Related to these matters is the fact that “righteousness” and “justice” are the same in the Bible.  I bring up this point because of Psalm 82, which tells us that God’s justice is universal.

The author of Psalm 83 assumes that enemies of ancient Israel are automatically enemies of God also.  Thus he has no hesitation to ask God to smite them.  Yet, as we read in Psalm 81, God has enemies in ancient Israel also.  Furthermore, a recurring theme in the Hebrew Bible is the faithfulness of certain Gentiles, including the prostitute Rahab and her family (Joshua 2 and 6) and the Aramean general Naaman (2 Kings 5), both from national enemies.  In the Book of Jonah, a work of satirical fiction from the post-Babylonian Exilic period, God recognizes the possibility that enemies of ancient Israel will repent and desires that they do so.   Reality is more complicated than the author of Psalm 83, in his understandable grief and anger, perceives it to be.

A faithful response to God includes both gratitude and obedience.  This segue brings me to Psalm 84, my favorite psalm, one which Johannes Brahms set to music gloriously in A German Requiem.  The psalmist writes as a pilgrim to the Temple at Jerusalem.  He approaches the Presence of God humbly and filled with awe.  The author delights to be in the Presence of God, which he understands to exist physically (via the Ark of the Covenant) at the Temple.

If Rahab and her family could become part of Israel, surely divine judgment and mercy crossed national barriers in antiquity.  If the Gentile Ruth could become the grandmother of David, YHWH was never just a national deity.  If the alien Naaman could recognize the power of YHWH, there was an opening to Gentiles at the time of the divided monarchy.

If divine justice is universal, as I affirm, we will do well to cease imagining that God is on our side and strive instead to be on God’s side.  We can succeed, by grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 14, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM CROFT, ANGLICAN ORGANIST AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF JONATHAN MYRICK DANIELS, EPISCOPAL SEMINARIAN AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF MATTHIAS CLAUDIUS, GERMAN LUTHERAN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAXIMILIAN KOLBE, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

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