Archive for the ‘Shame’ Tag

Shame and Glory   1 comment


Above:  The Dogma of the Redemption, by John Singer Sargent

Image Source = Library of Congress


Reproduction Number = LC-USZ62-133671


The Collect:

Almighty God, your Son our Savior suffered at human hands

and endured the shame of the cross.  Grant that we may walk

in the way of the cross and find it the way of life and peace,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

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

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 30


The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 50:4-9a

Psalm 70

Hebrews 12:1-3

John 13:21-32


Some Related Posts:

Isaiah 50:

Hebrews 12:

John 13:

A Prayer for Wednesday of Passion Week/Holy Week:


O God, make speed to save me;

O Lord, make haste to help me.

Let those who seek my life

be put to shame and confusion;

let them be turned back and disgraced

who wish me evil.

Let those who mock and deride me

turn back because of their shame.

But let all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you;

let those who love your salvation say always, “Great is the Lord!”

As for me, I am poor and needy;

come to me quickly, O God.

You are my help and my deliverer;

O Lord, do not delay.

–Psalm 70, Common Worship (2000)


Shame and honor are social constructs.  One has only as much honor or shame as others agree one does.  And people can redefine symbols.  This has happened in the case of the cross, originally a symbol of shame and utter annihilation, but now one of victory over evil and death.

May we who claim to follow God really follow God.  As part of that discipline may we, in words of Isaiah 50:4,

Console the weary

with a timely word….

The Revised English Bible (1989)

And, also as part of that discipline, may we not subscribe to false codes of honor and shame, for the glorification of our Lord and Savior in the Johannine Gospel was his crucifixion.

“Shame” is glorification.  The first will be last.  The last will be first.  Some prostitutes and Roman collaborators will enter Heaven before certain respectable religious people will.  I detect a good pattern here.

May we notice that pattern and live according to its ethic of radical grace, by the power of grace.  And may we, unlike the author of Psalm 70, reject the predictable and understandable tendency to seek the doom and disgrace of our enemies and persecutors.  May we follow the example of our Lord and Savior.








Adapted from this post:


Posted January 17, 2014 by neatnik2009 in Hebrews 12, Isaiah 50, John 13, Psalm 70

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Of Humility, Honor, and Shame   1 comment

Above:  A Heraldic Chair

Image Source = Rodolph de Salis


Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.


Romans 11:1-6, 11-12, 25-29 (Revised English Bible):

I ask then:  Has God rejected his people?  Of course not! I am an Israelite myself, of the stock of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.  God has not rejected the people he acknowledge of old as his own.  Surely you know what scripture says in the story of Elijah–how he pleads with God against Israel:

Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have torn down your altars, and I alone am left, and they are seeking my life.

But what was the divine word to him?

I have left myself seven thousand men who have not knelt to Baal.

In just the same way at the present time a “remnant” has come into being, chosen by the grace of God.  But if it is by grace, then it does not rest on deeds, or grace would cease to be grace.

I ask then:  When they stumbled, was their fall final?  Far from it!  Through a false step on their part salvation has come to the Gentiles, and this in turn will stir them to envy.  If their false step means the enrichment of the world, if their falling short means the enrichment of the Gentiles, how much more will their coming to full strength mean!

There is a divine secret here, my friends, which I want to share with you, to keep you from thinking yourselves wise:  this partial hardening has come on Israel only until the Gentiles have been admitted in full strength; once that has happened, the whole of Israel will be saved, in accordance with the scripture:

From Zion shall come the Deliverer;

he shall remove wickedness from Jacob.

And this is the covenant I will grant them,

when I take away their sins.

Judged by their response to the gospel, they are God’s enemies for your sake; but judged by his choice, they are dear to him for the sake of the patriarchs; for the gracious gifts of God and his calling are irrevocable.

Psalm 94:14-19 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

14  For the LORD will not abandon his people,

nor will he forsake his own.

15  For judgment will again be just,

and all the true of heart will follow it.

16  Who rose up for me against the wicked?

who took my part against the evildoers?

17  If the LORD had not come to my help,

I should soon have dwelt in the land of silence.

18  As often as I said, “My foot has slipped,”

your love, O LORD, upheld me.

19  When many cares fill my mind,

your consolations cheer my soul.

Luke 14:1, 7-11 (Revised English Bible):

One sabbath he [Jesus] went to have a meal in the house of one of the leading Pharisees; and they were watching him closely.

… (sabbath healing–a text for the previous post–here)

When he noticed how the guests were trying to secure the places of honour, he spoke to them in a parable:

When somebody asks you to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the place of honour.  It may be that some person more distinguished than yourself has been invited; and the host will come to say to you, “Give this man your seat.”  Then you will look foolish as you go to take the lowest place.  No, when you receive the invitation, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he will say, “Come up higher, my friend.”  Then all your fellow-guests will see the respect in which you are held.  For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled; and who ever humbles himself will be exalted.


The Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Some Related Posts:

Romans 11:

A Prayer for Humility:


Honor and shame are social concepts, for we have only the amount of each that other assign us.  This fact forms part of the backdrop of the parable from Luke 14.  The fact remains that we are more likely to cause socially awkward situations for ourselves by seeking honor and glory than permitting others to bestow it on us.

But I propose that there is a better way, which is not seeking honor and glory as others define it, but finding them in God.  Each of us in the human race bears the image of God.  Some of us are unaware of this fact, but that does not change our reality.  So, if we play with the metaphors, Yahweh is our father is some ways and our mother in others, Jesus is our brother, and saints (living or dead, canonized or not) are family members.  Jesus died as a criminal, in a way meant to bring dishonor to one.  Before that he left Heaven to become fully human.  (He was already fully divine.)  St. Peter died when crucified upside down, a crown stoned St. Stephen to death, and martyrdoms have continued to the present day.

So, in the Kingdom of God, honor, glory, and shame have very different meanings than they do elsewhere.

St. Paul the Apostle (himself beheaded by order of Emperor Nero) wrote eloquently and at length of the importance of grace.  By grace God has not given up on those–Jews included–who have not recognized Jesus as the Messiah.  And, also by grace, God has grafted Gentiles onto the tree of salvation.  I am a Gentile, so it follows that, by grace, God has grafted me onto the tree of salvation.  Of course, Paul’s definition of faith includes the act of responding positively to God, who has initiated the salvific actions.  This positive response is one of free will, which we have because God has placed it there.  So everything goes back to God.

So Paul’s only spiritual boast was in Christ, as is mine.  This is an attitude of humility, which is quite separate from self-degradation.  Claiming to be lower than pond scum is an example of self-degradation.  No, I am a bearer of the image of God because God has placed it within me.  As a member of the human species, my basic problem is one of sin–pf course–but I am higher than pond scum.  Humility, rather, is having a realistic self-estimate then acting on it.

The proper source of my identity is God.  My honor comes from God and is in and through the same.  I could be in the most degraded hellhole on earth (Fortunately I am far from it.) on the account of Jesus, and I would remain remain undefiled by earthly notions of shame.

Years ago I read an interview with Archbishop Desmond Tutu.  He repeated a story about a Jew during the Holocaust.  A Nazi guard forced the Jew to clean the toilets, which were especially disgusting.

Where is your God now?

the Nazi taunted the Jew.

Right here beside me in the muck,

he replied.






Adapted from this post:


Posted May 9, 2012 by neatnik2009 in Luke 14, Psalm 94, Romans 11

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Freedom from Shame   1 comment

Above:  A Crucifix


Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.


Romans 6:20-23 (Revised English Bible):

When you were slaves of sin, you were free from the control of righteousness.  And what gain did that bring you?  Things that now make you ashamed, for their their end is death.  But now, freed from the commands of sin and bound to the service of God, you have gains that lead to holiness, and the end is eternal life.  For sin pays a wage, and the wage is death, but God gives freely, and his gift is eternal life in union with Christ Jesus our Lord.

Psalm 1 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 Happy are they who have not walked in the counsel of the wicked,

nor lingered in the way of sinners,

nor sat in the seats of the scornful!

2 Their delight is in the law of the LORD,

and the meditate on his law day and night.

They are like trees planted by streams of water,

bearing fruit in due season, with leaves that do not wither,

everything they do shall prosper.

4 It is not so with the wicked;

they are like the chaff which the wind blows away.

Therefore the wicked shall not stand upright when judgment comes,

nor the sinner in the council of the righteous.

For the LORD knows the ways of the righteous,

but the way of the wicked is doomed.

Luke 12:49-53 (Revised English Bible):

[Jesus continued,]

I have come to set fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!  I have a baptism to undergo, and what constraint I am under until it is over!  Do you suppose that I came to establish peace to the earth?  No indeed, I have come to bring dissension.  From now on, a family of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.


The Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God, in Christ you have revealed your glory among the nations: Preserve the works of your mercy, that your Church throughout the world may persevere with steadfast faith in the confession of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Some Related Posts:

Romans 6:

Matthew 10 (Similar to Luke 12):

Mark 10 (Similar to Luke 12):


Shame and honor are social constructs.  One has shame or honor because others say that one does.  Such concepts have less potency in my Western society, with its individualistic focus, than in other cultures, with their communal emphasis.  To the extent that one feels shame or honor, one does so because one has internalized certain standards.

The standards to which Paul and Jesus pointed were frequently at odds with the Hellenistic culture which was always close.  Our Lord grew up in Nazareth, just a few miles from Sepphoris, the very Hellenistic capital of the Galilee, for example.  (Oddly enough, there is no mention of Sepphoris in the canonical Gospels.)  Anyhow, the standards to which Paul referred in Romans 6 were those of God.

Yes, one ought to feel regret for one’s sins.  There is a difference between regret and self-flagellation (literal or metaphorical), however.  Through Jesus we have forgiveness and liberation from sin, so we ought not to dwell on our sins.  Rather, we should learn from them and focus on the present and future, in both of which we have eternal life, which is simply life in God via the Christ (John 17:3).

Consider the cross.  Roman imperial use of it for execution was meant to shame the executed.  Yet, in Christianity, the cross has become a sign of triumph.  Crosses decorate jewelry, steeples, and church walls, for example.  The power and grace of God transform defeat into triumph and shame into honor.  This in indeed liberation, so may we live for God as free people.






Adapted from this post:


Posted May 9, 2012 by neatnik2009 in John 17, Luke 12, Psalm 1, Romans 6

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Let Us Lay Shame Aside and Emulate Jesus   2 comments

Above:  Christ Healing a Bleeding Woman


Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.


Hebrews 12:1-4 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.  In your struggle against sin you have not resisted to the point of shedding your blood.

Psalm 22:22-30 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

22 Praise the LORD, you that fear him;

stand in awe of him, O offspring of Israel;

all you of Jacob’s line, give glory.

23 For he does not despise nor abhor the poor in their poverty;

neither does he hide his face from them;

but when they cry to him he hears them.

24 My praise is of him in the great assembly;

I will perform my vows in the presence of those who worship him.

25 The poor shall eat and be satisfied,

and those who seek the LORD shall praise him:

“May your heart love for ever!”

26 All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD,

and all the families of the nations shall bow before him.

27 For kingship belongs to the LORD;

he rules over the nations.

28 To him alone who sleep in the earth bow down in worship;

all who go down to the dust fall before him.

29 My soul shall live for him;

my descendants shall serve him;

they shall be known as the LORD’s for ever.

30 They shall come and make known to a people yet unborn

the saving deeds that he has done.

Mark 5:21-43 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him; and he was beside the sea.  Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at this feet, and begged him, saying,

My little daughter is at the point of death.  Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.

And he went with him.

And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him.  And there was a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse.  She had heard the reports about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment.  For she said,

If I touch even his garments, I shall be made well.

And immediately the hemorrhage ceased; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.  And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone forth from him, immediately turned about in the crowd, and said,

Who touched my garments?

And his disciples said to him,

You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, “Who touched me?”

And he looked around to see who had done it.  But the woman, knowing what had been done to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him, and told him the whole truth.  And he said to her,

Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.

While he was still speaking, there came fro the ruler’s house some who said,

Your daughter is dead.  Why trouble the Teacher any further?

But ignoring what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue,

Do not fear, only believe.

And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James.  When they came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, he saw a tumult, and people weeping and wailing loudly.  And when he had entered, he said to them,

Why do you make a tumult and weep?  The child is not dead but sleeping.

And they laughed at him.  But he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was.  Taking her by the hand he said to her,

Talitha cumi;

which means,

Little girl, I say to you, arise.

And immediately the girl got up and walked; for she was twelve years old.  And immediately they were overcome with amazement.  And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.


The Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God, you govern all things both in heaven and on earth: Mercifully hear the supplications of your people, and in our time grant us your peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


If a woman has a discharge of blood for many days, not at the time of her impurity, or if she has a discharge beyond the time of her impurity, all the days of the discharge she shall continue in uncleanness; as in the days of her impurity, she shall be unclean.  Every bed on which she lies; all the days of her discharge, shall be to her the bed of impurity; and everything on which she sits shall be unclean, as in the uncleanness of her impurity.  And whoever touches these things shall be unclean, and shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the evening….

–Leviticus 15:25-27 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition)

This was the woman’s condition in the reading from Mark.  Her physical problem, which the doctors she visited could not remedy, made her a social outcast and rendered her destitute.  This was cruelest element of her condition, and it had more to do with how others understood her (and therefore treated her) than with her medical state.  The power of culture is pervasive, but only as widespread as we permit it to be.  We could choose to be merely kind human beings, if we wanted to do so.  But no, often we go with the flow, join in group behavior, and find ways to justify cruelty to our fellow human beings.  We might not even recognize the cruelty of which we are guilty.

But Jesus was kind.  He healed her physically, emotionally, and psychologically.  And he restored her to society.  We are social creatures, so the opinions of our peers matter to us and affect us.  May we emulate Jesus, not this woman’s peers.

Consider the following, the paragraph on Total Depravity from A Brief Statement of Belief (1962), of the Presbyterian Church in the United States, the old “Southern” Presbyterian Church:

Sin permeates and corrupts our entire being and burdens us more and more with fear, hostility, guilt, and misery.  Sin operates not only within individuals but also within society as a deceptive and oppressive power, so that even men of good will are unconsciously and unwillingly involved in the sins of society.  Man cannot destroy the tyranny of sin in himself or in his world; his only hope is to be delivered from it by God.

This is true, is it not?

Wrapped around the tale of the woman with a menstrual hemorrhage is the story of a desperate father.  His twelve-year-old daughter was severely ill.  But Jesus, Jairus was convinced, could heal her.  Before the two men could arrive, however, the daughter died.  “Why trouble the teacher any further?” some wondered after this development.  But the woman with the hemorrhage did not trouble Jesus, and neither did the situation with the daughter of Jairus.

Here I place my second emphasis.  Jesus came to serve, not to be served.  He had compassion for people.  True, even he needed to get away for quiet time, as we have read already in Mark.  Yet he did not mind the woman with a hemorrhage or Jairus coming to him.  This was not without a physical cost to himself, but he paid it without complaint.  Here is one worthy of the label “Savior.”

I detect a third theme, one focused on blood.  In the Law of Moses the feminine discharge of blood renders one (and objects with which one comes into contact) unclean and impure.  Yet, as the author of the Letter to the Hebrews alludes, the death and resurrection of Jesus changes everything.  The execution of Jesus was supposed to bring about shame (shame being a societal concept, not anything inherent to an individual) upon Jesus, but the crucifixion of Jesus became his exaltation in the Gospel of John.  In Christian sacramental theology blood has become something desirable, under the transubstantiated cover of wine.  Where then, is the shame associated with blood?

So I encourage you, O reader, to rejoice in the examples of Jesus and of the saints of who gone on before you.  We stand in the midst of a great cloud of witnesses, including that woman Jesus healed, Jairus, and (hopefully) his daughter.  They are neither foolish nor impure, and they are not really dead.  They are our family members in faith.  May we join their company one day.

Ubi caritas est vera, Deus ibi est.

Where love is found to be authentic, God is there.






Adapted from this post: