Archive for the ‘Repentance’ Tag

Three Banquets   1 comment

Above:  The Parable of the Unworthy Wedding Guest, by Claes Corneliszaen Moeyaert

Image in the Public Domain

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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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Isaiah 25:6-9

Psalm 23

Philippians 4:4-13

Matthew 22:1-10 (11-14)

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Almighty God, source of every blessing,

your generous goodness comes to us anew every day. 

By the work of your Spirit,

lead us to acknowledge your goodness,

give thanks for your benefits,

and serve you in willing obedience; 

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 28

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Enlighten our minds, we pray, O God,

by the Spirit who proceeds from you, 

that, as your Son has promised,

we may be led into all truth;

through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord,

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

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 85

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The eschatological banquet is a motif in the Bible.  It is a powerful image, given that (a) most people were poor, and (b) most land was not arable.  The eschatological banquet speaks of divine abundance.  Isaiah 25 comes from the great proto-apocalypse of Third Isaiah (see chapters 24-27).  The Parable of the Wedding Feast tells of God’s inclusiveness in inviting guests and of the dire consequences of attending without the “garment” of repentance of sins.  Psalm 23 depicts God as overpowering yet not destroying the Psalmist’s enemies, who must watch the banquet to which God has not invited them.

Philippians 4:8 meshes well with the theme of repentance, present in the parable:

Finally, brothers, let your minds be filled with everything that is true, everything that is honourable, everything that is upright and pure, everything that we love and admire–with whatever is good and praiseworthy.

The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

That is a fine description of a metaphorical wedding garment.

Recall also, O reader, that in Psalm 23, only goodness and mercy pursue or accompany (depending on the translation) the Psalmist.  The enemies cannot keep up with God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 19, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT SIXTUS III, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF BLAISE PASCAL, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC SCIENTIST, MATHEMATICIAN, AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF GEERT GROOTE, FOUNDER OF THE BRETHREN OF THE COMMON LIFE

THE FEAST OF IGNAZ FRANZ, GERMAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMNAL EDITOR

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MAGNUS AND AGRICOLA OF AVIGNON, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS OF AVIGNON

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM HAMMOND, ENGLISH MORAVIAN HYMN WRITER

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Adapted from this post

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The Faithfulness and Generosity of God, Part VII   1 comment

Above:  The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, by Rembrandt Van Rijn

Image in the Public Domain

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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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Isaiah 55:6-9

Psalm 27:1-13 (LBW) or Psalm 27:1-9 (LW)

Philippians 1:1-5 (6-11), 19-27

Matthew 20:1-16

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Lord God, you call us to work in your vineyard

and leave no one standing idle. 

Set us to our tasks in the work of your kingdom,

and help us to order our lives by your wisdom;

through your Son, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 28

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Keep, we pray you, O Lord, your Church with your perpetual mercy;

and because without you we cannot but fall,

keep us ever by your help from all things hurtful

and lead us to all things profitable for our salvation;

for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 81-82

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Grace does not discriminate based on when one accepts it; all who accept grace receive the same rewards and the same duties to God and other human beings.  The call to repentance from immediately before the end of the Babylonian Exile (Isaiah 55) remains current.  Repentance is an appropriate response to grace.  St. Paul the Apostle’s call for the Philippian congregation always to

behave in a manner that is worthy of the gospel of Christ

(1:27)

remains current for congregations, all levels of the institutional church, and individuals.

Resentment is a motif in some of the parables of Jesus.  Think O reader, of the Prodigal Son’s older brother, for example.  Recall that he honored his father and fulfilled his duty.  So, why was that disrespecful wastrel getting an extravagant party upon returning home?  One may easily identify with the grumbling of laborers who thought they should receive more than a day’s wages because people who started working later in the day also received the promised payment of a denarius.

Are you envious because I am generous?  

–Matthew 15:15b, The New American Bible–Revised Edition (2011)

That is God’s question to grumbling, dutiful people today, too.  All people depend completely on grace.  Those who grumble and harbor resentment over divine generosity need to repent of doing so.  To refuse to repent of this is to behave in a manner unworthy of the gospel of Christ.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 16, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN DIEFENBAKER AND LESTER PEARSON, PRIME MINISTERS OF CANADA; AND TOMMY DOUGLAS, FEDERAL LEADER OF THE NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALIPIUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF TAGASTE, AND FRIEND OF SAINT AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO

THE FEAST OF JOHN COURTNEY MURRAY, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF JOHN JONES OF TALYSARN, WELSH CALVINISTIC METHODIST MINISTER AND HYMN TUNE COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF MATTHIAS CLAUDIUS, GERMAN LUTHERAN WRITER

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Adapted from this post

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Judgment and Mercy, Part XXVII   1 comment

Above:  Ezekiel

Image in the Public Domain

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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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Ezekiel 33:7-9

Psalm 119:33-40 (LBW) or Psalm 119:113-120 (LW)

Romans 13:1-10

Matthew 18:15-20

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Almighty and eternal God,

you know our problems and our weaknesses

better than we ourselves. 

In your love and by your power help us in our confusion,

and, in spite of our weaknesses, make us firm in faith;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 27

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Grant, merciful Lord, to your faithful people pardon and peace

that they may be cleansed from all their sins

and serve you with a quiet mind;

through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 79

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Context is crucial.  Any given text originates within a particular context.  To read that text without the context in mind is to distort that text.

Consider the relationship of the people to human authority, O reader.  Romans 13:1-7, which commands submission to the government, comes from a particular time and place.  That text also comes from the mind of a citizen of the Roman Empire.  On the other hand, Exodus 1 praises the midwives Shiphrah and Puah for disobeying the Pharaoh’s orders.  Likewise, the Apocalypse of John assumes that resistance to the Roman Empire, an agent of Satan, is mandatory for Christians.  In history, one may point to the Underground Railroad, the conductors of which were, according to United States federal law, criminals, at least part of the time.  Does anyone want to go on record as condemning the Underground Railroad?  I also know that, in the context of the Third Reich, many Christian theologians teach that one must oppose the government sometimes.  For the obvious reason, this teaching is especially strong among German theologians.

The caveat in Romans 13:1-7 is that any civil authority not responsive to the will of God is not a true authority.  Therefore, one may validly resist that government for the sake of conscience.  The examples of resisting slavery and Nazism certainly apply under this principle.

Now that I have gotten that out of the way….

One purpose of prophetic pronouncements of divine punishment is to encourage repentance.  Repentance, in turn, cancels punishment.  One who is supposed to warn people is not responsible for their fate if one warns them.  However, if one does not warn them, one is accountable for their fate.  The commandments of God impart life, but people must know what they are.

Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence love is the fulfillment of the law.

–Romans 13:10, The New American Bible–Revised Edition (2011)

In context, “you” (Matthew 18:18-19) is plural.

I covered Matthew 18:18 in the post for the Fourteenth Sunday After Pentecost, Year A.

Love confronts when necessary.  Love confronts in these contexts, for the benefit of the person confronted.  Many people understand this in the context of addiction interventions.  Obeying the Golden Rule sometimes entails practicing tough love, offering what someone needs, not what that person wants.  How one responds becomes one’s responsibility, for those who have confronted have done their jobs.

Although one may desire to rescue someone, doing so may prove impossible.  I know this from experience.  Some people cannot or will not do what they need to do.  I leave judgment in these matters to God, who frequently shows more mercy than many people do.  If I must err, I prefer to do so on the side of mercy.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 17, 2022 COMMON ERA

PROPER 11:  THE SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM WHITE, PRESIDING BISHOP OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH

THE FEAST OF BENNETT J. SIMS, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF ATLANTA

THE FEAST OF THE CARMELITE MARTYRS OF COMPIÈGNE, 1794

THE FEAST OF CATHERINE LOUISA MARTHENS, FIRST LUTHERAN DEACONESS CONSECRATED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, 1850

THE FEAST OF SAINT NERSES LAMPRONATS, ARMENIAN APOSTOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF TARSUS

THE FEAST OF STEPHEN THEODORE BADIN, FIRST ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST ORDAINED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

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Adapted from this post

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St. Paul the Apostle in Jerusalem   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Paul

Image in the Public Domain

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READING LUKE-ACTS, PART LXXI

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Acts 21:17-23:22

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St. Paul’s Third Missionary Journey spanned 53-58 C.E.  He was back in Jerusalem for Passover in 58 C.E.

St. Paul’s reputation preceded him.  He agreed to St. James of Jerusalem’s plan for damage control.  St. Paul accompanied four men to the Temple, where they made their Nazarite vows.  He also sponsored sacrifices, consistent with the Law of Moses.  This strategy failed.  A Jewish mob beat St. Paul outside the Temple.  They would have killed him had Roman soldiers not rescued him.  The mob’s cries of “Kill him!” echoed another mob’s cries of “Crucify him! Crucify him!” (Luke 23:21).

Notice the sympathetic portrayal of the Romans, O reader.  It is consistent with the Lucan motif of identifying good Roman officials even though Luke-Acts presents the Roman Empire as being at odds with God.  Alas, Luke-Acts presents the empire as being an unwitting tool of God sometimes.

St. Paul had impeccable Jewish credentials as well as Roman citizenship.  As a citizen, he had the legal right to appeal to the emperor.  This fact led him to Rome.

Roman soldiers had to save St. Paul from a Jewish conspiracy a second time.  The soldiers transferred him to Caesarea.

Keep in mind, O reader, that I have been writing this weblog for more than a decade.  During those years, I have made many opinions abundantly clear and repeated myself at least a zillion times, lest someone who reads a post without having read other posts or many other posts mistake me for someone who holds positions I find abhorrent.

For the sake of clarity, I repeat for time number zillion plus one that I reject and condemn anti-Semitism.  Really, I should not have to keep repeating myself in this matter and many other matters.  Yet I do, for even a dispassionate statement of objective historical reality may seem hateful to certain people.  I live in an age of ubiquitous hyper-sensitivity, which I find as objectionable as ubiquitous insensitivity.  I favor ubiquitous sensitivity instead.

As I keep repeating ad nauseum in this series, I have no interest in condemning long-dead people and resting on self-righteous laurels.  I may condemn long-dead people, but I refuse to stop there.  No, I examine myself spiritually and draw contemporary parallels, too.  Sacred violence is an oxymoron, regardless of who commits it.  And I should never approve of it.  Also, my Christian tradition has a shameful legacy of committing and condoning “sacred violence” against targets, including Jews, Muslims, and Christians.

By this point in the narrative, St. Paul was taking a circuitous route to Rome, to bear witness for Jesus there.  The Roman soldiers and officials, as well as the homicidal Jews of Jerusalem, were tools to get him to the imperial capital.

Ask yourself, O reader:  What would push you over the edge into homicidal tendencies?  Answer honestly.  Then take the answer to God in prayer and repent.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 2, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALEXANDER OF ALEXANDRIA, PATRIARCH; AND SAINT ATHANASIUS OF ALEXANDRIA, PATRIARCH AND “FATHER OF ORTHODOXY”

THE FEAST OF CHARLES SILVESTER HORNE, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN FRIEDRICH HASSE, GERMAN-BRITISH MORAVIAN COMPOSER AND EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF ELIAS BOUDINOT, IV, U.S. STATESMAN, PHILANTHROPIST, AND WITNESS FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE

THE FEAST OF JULIA BULKLEY CADY CORY, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT SIGISMUND OF BURGUNDY, KING; CLOTILDA, FRANKISH QUEEN; AND CLODOALD, FRANKISH PRINCE AND ABBOT

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Repentance, Part XI   1 comment

Above:  Icon of Hosea

Image in the Public Domain

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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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Hosea 5:15-6:6

Psalm 50:1-15 (LBW) or Psalm 119:65-72 (LW)

Romans 4:18-25

Matthew 9:9-13

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O God, the strength of those who hope in you: 

Be present and hear our prayers;

and, because in the weakness of our mortal nature

we can do nothing good without you,

give us the help of your grace,

so that in keeping your commandments

we may please you in will and deed,

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 24

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O God, from whom all good proceeds,

grant to us, your humble servants,

that by your holy inspiration we may think the things that are right

and by your merciful guiding accomplish them;

through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 64

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For I desire goodness, not sacrifice;

Obedience to God, rather than burnt offerings.

–Hosea 6:6, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985, 1999)

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Yet the Law of Moses commands sacrifices and burst offerings.

Hebrew prophets did not always express themselves as clearly as some of us may wish they had.  In context, Hosea 6:6 referred to God rejecting the opportunistic appearance of repentance or a habitually errant population.  Divinely-ordained rituals were not properly talismans; they did not protect one from one’s proverbial chickens coming home to roost.  Hosea 6:6 asserted the primacy of morality over rituals.

I am neither a puritan nor a pietist.  I favor polishing God’s altar and eschew condemning “externals.”

God, metaphorically, is a consuming fire.  Before God, therefore, false repentance does not impress.  The attitude in Psalm 119 is preferable:

Before I was humbled, I strayed,

but now I keep your word.

You are good, and you do what is good;

teach me your statutes.

–Psalm 119:67-68, The Revised New Jerusalem Bible (2019)

Sometimes recognizing one’s need to repent may be a challenge.  How can one repent if one does not think one needs to do so?  How can one turn one’s back on one’s sins (some of them, anyway) unless one knows what those sins are?  Self-righteousness creates spiritual obstacles.

How happy are they who know their need for God, for the kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

–Matthew 5:3, J. B. Phillips, The New Testament in Modern English–Revised Edition (1972)

The test, O reader, for whether you need God is simple.  Check for your pulse.  If you have one, you need God.  We all stand in the need of grace; may we admit this then think and act accordingly.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 2, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALEXANDER OF ALEXANDRIA, PATRIARCH; AND SAINT ATHANASIUS OF ALEXANDRIA, PATRIARCH AND “FATHER OF ORTHODOXY”

THE FEAST OF CHARLES SILVESTER HORNE, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN FRIEDRICH HASSE, GERMAN-BRITISH MORAVIAN COMPOSER AND EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF ELIAS BOUDINOT, IV, U.S. STATESMAN, PHILANTHROPIST, AND WITNESS FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE

THE FEAST OF JULIA BULKLEY CADY CORY, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT SIGISMUND OF BURGUNDY, KING; CLOTILDA, FRANKISH QUEEN; AND CLODOALD, FRANKISH PRINCE AND ABBOT

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Adapted from this post

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Mutuality in God XIV   1 comment

Above:  Figs

Image in the Public Domain

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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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Deuteronomy 11:18-21, 26-28

Psalm 31:1-5 (6-18), 19-24 (LBW) or Psalm 4 (LW)

Romans 3:21-25a, 27-28

Matthew 7:(15-20) 21-29

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Lord God of all nations,

you have revealed your will to your people

and promised your help to us all. 

Help us to hear and to do what you command,

that the darkness may be overcome by the power of your light;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 24

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O God,

whose never-failing providence sets in order all things

both in heaven and on earth,

put away from us, we entreat you, all hurtful things;

and give us those things that are profitable for us;

through Jesus Christ, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 62

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Jewish Covenantal Nomism, present in Deuteronomy 11 and in the background of Romans 3, establishes the tone for this post.  Salvation for Jews comes by grace; they are the Chosen People.  Keeping the moral mandates of the Law of Moses habitually is essential to retaining that salvation.

Love, therefore, the LORD your God, and always keep His charge.  His laws, His rules, and His commandments.

–Deuteronomy 11:1, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985,1999)

Perfection in these matters is impossible, of course.  Therefore, repentance is crucial daily.  In broader Biblical context, God knows that we mere mortals are “but dust.”  Do we?

Grace is free, not cheap.  Nobody can earn or purchase it, but grace does require much of its recipients.  Thin, too, O reader, how much it cost Jesus.

Both options for the Psalm this Sunday contain the combination of trust in God and pleading with God.  I know this feeling.  Maybe you do, too, O reader.

St. Paul the Apostle’s critique of Judaism was simply that it was not Christianity.  As E. P. Sanders wrote:

In short, this is what Paul finds wrong in Judaism:  it is not Christianity.

Paul and Palestinian Judaism:  A Comparison of Patterns of Religion (1977), 552

For St. Paul, the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus changed everything.

I, as a Christian, agree.  However, I also affirm the continuation of the Jewish covenant.  I trust that God is faithful to all Jews and Gentiles who fulfill their ends of the covenant and mourns those who drop out.  Many of those who have dropped out may not know that they have done so.

The good fruit of God, boiled down to its essence and one word, is love.  Recall the First Letter of John, O reader:  Be in Christ.  Walk in the way Jesus walked.

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.  For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.

–1 John 5:2-3a, Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition (2002), 203

And how could we forget 1 John 4:7-8?

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God.  He who does not love does not know God; God is love.

Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition (2002)

This point brings me back to Psalm 31.  In verse 6 or 7 (depending on versification), either God or the Psalmist hates or detests idolators.  Translations disagree on who hates or detests the idolators.  In context, the voice of Psalm 31 is that of a devout Jews falsely accused of idolatry; he protests against this charge and defends his piety and innocence.  Human beings are capable of hating and detesting, of course.  I reject the argument that God hates or detests anyone, though.

Salvation comes via grace.  Damnation comes via works, however.  God sends nobody to Hell.  As C. S. Lewis wrote, the doors to Hell are locked from the inside.

The Right Reverend Robert C. Wright, the Episcopal Bishop of Atlanta, says to love like Jesus.  Consider, O reader, that Christ’s love is self-sacrificial and unconditional.  It beckons people to love in the same way.  This divine love, flowing through mere mortals, can turn upside-down societies, systems, and institutions right side up.

However, anger, grudges, and hatred are alluring idols.  Much of social media feeds off a steady diet of outrage.  To be fair, some outrage is morally justifiable.  If, for example, human trafficking does not outrage you, O reader, I do not want to know you.  But too much outrage is spiritually and socially toxic.  To borrow a line from Network (1976):

I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!

That kind of rage is a key ingredient in a recipe for a dysfunctional society.

We human beings all belong to God and each other.  We are responsible to and for each other.  May we think and act accordingly, by grace and for the common good.  God commands it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 1, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF SAINTS PHILIP AND JAMES, APOSTLES AND MARTYRS

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Adapted from this post

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The Conversion and Commissioning of Saul of Tarsus   1 comment

Above:  The Conversion of Saint Paul, by Luca Giordano

Image in the Public Domain

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READING LUKE-ACTS, PART LXIII

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Acts 9:1-31

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These stories are well-trod ground in lectionaries, hence my oeuvre of lectionary-based posts about them.  I refer you, O reader, to those posts, available here at BLOGA THEOLOGICA.

One of the more frustrating aspects of human psychology is the tendency to double down on an opinion despite the existence of factual evidence that contradicts the basis of that opinion.  Simply put, for many people, objective reality is irrelevant.  Many people labor under the mistaken idea that they are entitled to their opinions, regardless of how uninformed or poorly-informed those opinions are.  They labor under the lie that they are entitled to their own facts.  As Harlan Ellison wisely asserted, people are entitled to their informed opinions.  Nevertheless, confirmation bias persists.  And, in the current age of social media and narrowly-focused news outlets where damn lies flourish, mutually-exclusive versions of reality thrive.  This phenomenon works against societal cohesion and the preservation of representative government and freedom.

Saul of Tarsus, who became St. Paul the Apostle, did something remarkable:  he changed his mind.  Literally, he repented.  Given the circumstances, Saul/St. Paul may have had no choice.  Nevertheless, in my cultural-political milieu, his decision seems remarkable.

It was also courageous.

To acknowledge frankly that one has been wrong–spectacularly so–requires courage.  Doubling down in error occurs because of cowardice–the desire to defend one’s ego, threatened by admitting error.

Notice something else, O reader.  Notice that Saul of Tarsus, who had persecuted and martyred Christians, became the subject of murder plots and attempts for preaching Christ.  Fortunately, Saul had Christian allies, including St. (Joseph) Barnabas, who earned his reputation as a “son of encouragement.”

May you, O reader, have someone like St. (Joseph) Barnabas in your life, to encourage you in faith.  May you be like St. (Joseph) Barnabas to at least one person, too.  And may you never fear to change your mind based on objective evidence–objective reality–not any counterfeit version thereof.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 19, 2022 COMMON ERA

TUESDAY IN EASTER WEEK

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALPHEGE, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY, AND MARTYR, 1012

THE FEAST OF SAINT EMMA OF LESUM, BENEFACTOR

THE FEAST OF OLAVUS PETRI, SWEDISH LUTHERAN THEOLOGIAN, HISTORIAN, LITURGIST, MINISTER, HYMN WRITER, HYMN TRANSLATOR, AND “FATHER OF SWEDISH LITERATURE;” AND HIS BROTHER, LAURENTIUS PETRI, SWEDISH LUTHERAN ARCHBISHOP OF UPPSALA, BIBLE TRANSLATOR, AND “FATHER OF SWEDISH HYMNODY”

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Holy Week Begins II   1 comment

Above:  The Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

Image in the Public Domain

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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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Isaiah 50:4-9a

Psalm 31:1-5, 9-16 (LBW) or Psalm 92 (LW)

Philippians 2:5-11

Matthew 26:1-27:66 or Matthew 27:11-54

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Almighty God, you sent your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ,

to take our flesh upon him and to suffer death on the cross. 

Grant that we may share in his obedience to your will

and in the glorious victory of his resurrection;

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), 19

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Almighty and everlasting God the Father,

who sent your Son to take our nature upon him

and to suffer death on the cross

that all mankind should follow the example of his great humility,

mercifully grant that we may both follow

the example of our Savior Jesus Christ in his patience

and also have our portion in his resurrection;

through Jesus Christ, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 39

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In context, Isaiah 50:4-9a is an odd lection to read on this Sunday.  The speaker–the prophet/servant (Second Isaiah)–is pious yet merely human, therefore, sinful.  He believes that the suffering of the exiles during the Babylonian Exile has been justified.  Yet he also anticipates the divine vindication of that exiled population, for the glory of God.  Applying this reading to sinless Jesus (who suffered an unjust execution as an innocent man) requires astounding theological gymnastics.

The hymn St. Paul the Apostle quoted back to the Philippian Christians in the 50s C.E. indicates something about the development of Christology by that time.  One may wonder how old the human was when St. Paul quoted it.  One may keep wondering, for one has no way of knowing.  Yet one may know that the time from which it originated was at or near the dawn of Christianity.

Palm Sunday functions as the Reader’s Digest version of Holy Week through Good Friday in many churches.  It does on the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship lectionary.  So be it.  With that in mind, I invite you, O reader, to ponder the injustice of what Jesus suffered during Holy Week.  I also encourage you to place yourself inside the narrative and to ask yourself who you would have been in the story.  Depending on your honest answer, you may have uncovered a sin (or sins) of which to repent.

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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Adapted from this post

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The Lucan Apocalypse   Leave a comment

Above:  The Destruction of Jerusalem, by David Roberts

Image in the Public Domain

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READING LUKE-ACTS, PART L

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Luke 21:5-36

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Each of the Synoptic Gospels includes an apocalypse in the context of Holy Week.  For the other Synoptic apocalypses, read Matthew 24:1-44 and Mark 13:1-36, O reader.  All three Synoptic apocalypses, from a temporal perspective, approach the destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Temple in 70 C.E. in the past tense.  The Synoptic apocalypses project the terrible events of 70 C.E. back in time, and create a prediction of them, framed by a present tense decades after the time of Jesus.  I do not rule out Jesus having predicted the destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Temple.  Neither do I deny the historical reality of the composition of the four canonical Gospels.

One purpose of such passages of doom and judgment is to inspire repentance.  Well-placed fear can go a long way.  If you doubt this, O reader, ask yourself when you last touched a hot stove.

Another purpose is to contrast the current human disorder with the divine order–the fully-realized Kingdom of God.  Perhaps this contrast, made so starkly will inspire collective and institutional change–revolution, really.  Or not.

A third purpose is to comfort the faithful.  God remains sovereign.  God will win in the end.  Therefore, remain faithful and do not lose hope.  Do not commit apostasy.

The signs of the advent of the fully-realized Kingdom of God are incredibly vague.  They sound like ancient history and current events.  Attempts to move from vague statements to detailed predictions for our time are foolish.

The loss of hope may be the greatest loss.  Death stings terribly; I know.  Yet life without hope is not worthwhile.  We need not lose hope; we can reasonably trust God, who is faithful.  And, by grace, we can retain and regain hope.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 8, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOSEPHINE BAKHITA, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN

THE FEAST OF CORNELIA HANCOCK, U.S. QUAKER NURSE, EDUCATOR, AND HUMANITARIAN; “FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE OF NORTH AMERICA”

THE FEAST OF SAINT JEROME EMILIANI, FOUNDER OF THE COMPANY OF THE SERVANTS OF THE POOR

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JOHN OF MATHA AND FELIX OF VALOIS, FOUNDERS OF THE ORDER OF THE MOST HOLY TRINITY

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOSEPHINA GABRIELA BONINO, FOUNDER OF THE SISTERS OF THE HOLY FAMILY

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARIA ESPERANZA DE JESUS, FOUNDER OF THE HANDMAIDS OF MERCIFUL LOVE AND THE SONS OF MERCIFUL LOVE

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Posted February 8, 2022 by neatnik2009 in Luke 21, Mark 13, Matthew 24

Tagged with , , ,

Misquoting God   1 comment

Above:  The Garden of Eden, by Thomas Cole

Image in the Public Domain

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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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Genesis 2:7-9, 15-17; 3:1-7

Psalm 130

Romans 5:12 (13-16) 17-19

Matthew 4:1-11

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O Lord God, you led your ancient people through the wilderness

and brought them to the promised land. 

Guide now the people of your Church, that, following our Savior,

we may walk through the wilderness of this world

toward the glory of the world to come;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

or

Lord God, our strength,

the battle of good and evil rages within and around us,

and our ancient foe tempts us with his deceits and empty promises. 

Keep us steadfast in your Word, and,

when we fall, raise us again and restore us

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), 17-18

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O almighty and eternal God, we implore you

to direct, sanctify, and govern our hearts and bodies

in the ways of your laws and the works of your laws

and the works of your commandments

that through your mighty protection, both now and ever,

we may be preserved in body and soul;

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

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

Lutheran Worship (1982), 33

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I have been composing lectionary-based devotions for more than a decade.  I have, therefore, covered the temptation of Jesus already.

I make one comment about it, though:  one function of the story is to help Christians know how to resist temptation.

This combination of readings–about temptation, confession of sin, and repentance–works well as a unit.  The First Reading provides my main point:  we must resist the temptation to misquote God, as Eve did in the myth.  Read that text again, O reader, and realize that God did not forbid touching the fruit of the knowledge of good and bad.  Misquoting God gave the mythical snake his opening.

The Talmud teaches:

He who adds [to God’s words] subtracts [from them].

–Quoted in The Jewish Study Bible, Second Edition (2014), 15

The words of God are what God has said and says.  Scripture, channeled through human lenses and experiences, provide many of God’s words.  The Reformed tradition within Christianity speaks of God’s second book, nature.  The mystical tradition within Christianity recognizes another method by which God speaks. I report some experiences I cannot explain rationally.  I do know if I I listened to God, a guardian angel, or intuition.  Yet I know that I listened and acted, to my benefit in practical, automotive matters.

I am an intellectual.  I reject the inerrancy and infallibility of scripture, based on having studied the Bible closely and seriously.  And I take the Bible seriously.  I try to understand first what a given text says, in original context.  Then I extrapolate to today.  I try not to misquote or misinterpret any text of scripture.  Neither do I shut down the parts of my mind that respect history and science.  Good theology, good history, and good science are in harmony.  As Galileo Galilei said:

The Bible tells us now to go to Heaven, not how the heavens go.

O reader, what is God saying to you today?  Do mis misquote it.  No, listen carefully.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 2, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE PRESENTATION OF JESUS IN THE TEMPLE

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Adapted from this post

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