Archive for the ‘St. Barnabas’ Tag

St. Paul’s Second Missionary Journey   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of St. Paul the Apostle

Image in the Public Domain

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

READING LUKE-ACTS, PART LXIX

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Acts 15:36-18:23

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

STS. PAUL, BARNABAS, AND MARK

I begin by backing up to 13:13:

Paul and his friends went by sea from Perga in Pamphylia where John left them to go back to Jerusalem.

The Jerusalem Bible (1966)

John was St. (John) Mark.

The tone in 13:13 is neutral.  The verse does not explain why St. (John) Mark returned to Jerusalem.  Consulting commentaries uncovers a variety of possible reasons and the intimation that St. Luke was being diplomatic in 13:13.

If St. Luke was diplomatic in 13:13, his diplomacy had ceased by 15:38:

…but Paul was not in favour of taking along the very man who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had refused to share in their work.

The Jerusalem Bible (1966)

St. (John) Mark and St. (Joseph) Barnabas were cousins.  Naturally, then, St. Barnabas (“son of encouragement”) wanted to include his kinsman.  Yet human frailty broke up the team from the First Missionary Journey.  Sts. Barnabas and Paul separated.

A few years later, by the middle 50s C.E., St. Paul had forgiven St. Mark.

Aristarchus, who is here in prison with me, sends his greetings, and so does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas–you were sent some instructions about him, if he comes to you, give him a warm welcome….

–Colossians 4:10, The Jerusalem Bible (1966)

St. Barnabas reunited with St. Mark shortly after separating from St. Paul.  The cousins embarked on a mission to Cyprus (Acts 15:39).

St. Paul seems never to have reconciled with St. Barnabas.  Nevertheless, the reference to St. Barnabas in 1 Corinthians 9:6, in the early 50s C.E., is not hostile:

Are Barnabas and I the only ones who are not allowed to stop working?

The Jerusalem Bible (1966)

STS. PAUL AND SILAS

St. Paul found a new missionary partner, St. Silas/Silvanus, and embarked on the Second Missionary Journey.  St. Timothy joined the team early in the journey.  St. Luke was part of the team, too, based on “we” (Acts 16:10-17).

During the Second Missionary Journey, St. Paul founded the house churches at Philippi, Thessalonica, and Corinth, to whom he subsequently addressed epistles.  Yet opponents continued to work against the success of the mission.

DYNAMICS OF POWER:  THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND THE ROMAN EMPIRE

One crucial detail of 16:25-40 is that Sts. Paul and Silas were Roman citizens.  Therefore, the beating and incarceration of them without trial was illegal.  The possible penalties for those who had abused Sts. Paul and Silas included disqualification from holding public office (at best) to execution (at worse).  Therefore, the magistrates at Philippi tried to sweep this matter under the proverbial rug; they begged Sts. Paul and Silas to leave.

Paul’s citizenship is an important, although ironic, feature of his apologia in Acts.  In this regard, Paul’s acceptance of Philippi’s official apology (see v. 39) symbolizes his general attitude toward Rome in Acts.  His point is that Rome is unable to subvert the work of God’s salvation in the world; and even this great empire must come hat in hand to the prophets of the Most High God.

–Robert W. Wall, in The New Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. 10 (2002), 235

Notably, one house church in Philippi met at the home of St. Lydia (a woman, obviously), a Gentile.  The other house church met in the home of the jailer.

Paul’s strategic acceptance of their apology (16:39) suggests a reversal of power that has become an important political matter only after the households of faith have been established in Philippi.  The proper role of civil authority is not to dictate terms so that the church becomes yet another institution of its power.  Rather civil authority is now obliged to safeguard the deposit of faith in their city as an institution of divine power (cf. Rom. 13:1-7).  Luke’s portrait of Rome in Acts is of the inability of secular authority to subvert the work of God’s salvation in the world.

–Robert W. Wall, in The New Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. 10 (2002), 236

The separation of religion and state (in the best interest of religion and of religious institutions, by the way) did not exist in St. Paul’s time, hence the events of Acts 17:1-15.

“The people who have been turning the whole world upside down have come here now….”

–Acts 17:6b, The Jerusalem Bible

These critics were wrong.  The people turning the world right side up.  The world was upside down already.  The Lucan Beatitudes and Woes (Luke 6:20f) made that point clearly.

When we mere mortals, accustomed and acculturated to the status quo, fail to understand that the world is upside down, we may react negatively to those turning the world right side up.  Not one of us is immune to this moral blindness.

THEOLOGY AND PHILOSOPHY

The relationship of Christianity to philosophy has sometimes been a fraught topic.  St. Clement of Alexandria (died circa 210) defended the validity of Greek philosophy (especially that of Plato) in Christianity.  St. Clement, the “Pioneer of Christian Scholarship,” accepted secular knowledge as valid; the truth was the truth.  Period.  After more than a millennium of favoring Platonism, Holy Mother Church switched to the thought of Aristotle in the Middle Ages.  St. Thomas Aquinas (d. 1274) would have rejoiced to have lived long enough to witness this change, which he helped to effect.  St. Clement of Alexandria became a heretic post mortem and ex post facto.  Eventually, Rome revoked his pre-congregation canonization.

For the record, I like both Sts. Clement of Alexandria and St. Thomas Aquinas.

I have conversed with fundamentalists who have chafed at philosophy as something that informs theology.  When I mentioned the Greek philosophy in the New Testament (especially Acts 17:16-34 and throughout the Letter to the Hebrews), I prompted greater irritation.  Facts be damned; I changed no minds.

St. Paul used whatever was available to him in service to his mission.  In Athens, Greece, for example, he stood on common ground with the Stoics and the Epicureans when he proclaimed that God, not captured in human sanctuaries, does not need human worship.  St. Paul even quoted the Stoic philosopher Epimenies of Knossos when the Apostle decreed:

…it is in him that we live, and move, and exist….

–Acts 17:28, The Jerusalem Bible (1966)

Yet the Apostle argued against other aspects of Stoicism and Epicureanism.  Against Stoicism, he rejected pantheism and asserted the existence of one transcendent creator who sustains everything.  St. Paul also replaced the endless cycles in Stoicism with doomsday.  Against Epicureanism, he countered deism with God being intimately involved with creation.

St. Paul worked within circumstances.  He was not a systematic theologian.  Therefore, he contradicted himself sometimes.  (Newsflash:  People do contradict themselves.)  He spoke philosophically in Athens, Greece, but did not dictate philosophically in 1 Corinthians (see chapter 1).  The manner of how he spoke, dictated, and wrote depended on who the audience was and what the circumstances were.

CONCLUSION

The account of St. Paul’s Second Missionary Journey tells of his successes and his failures.  Nobody can succeed all the time.  Success depends greatly on the receptiveness (or lack thereof) of the audience.  As St. Teresa of Calcutta (d. 1997) said, God calls us to be faithful, not successful.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 26, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM COWPER, ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT ADELARD OF CORBIE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK AND ABBOT; AND HIS PROTÉGÉ, SAINT PASCAHSIUS RADBERTUS, FRANKISH ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, ABBOT, AND THEOLOGIAN

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

THE FEAST OF RUGH BYLLESBY, EPISCOPAL DEACONESS IN GEORGIA

THE FEAST OF SAINT STANISLAW KUBITSA, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1940; AND SAINT WLADYSLAW GORAL, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP AND MARTYR, 1945

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM STRINGFELLOW, EPISCOPAL ATTORNEY, THEOLOGIAN, AND SOCIAL ACTIVIST

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

St. Paul’s First Missionary Journey   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Paul the Apostle

Image in the Public Domain

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

READING LUKE-ACTS, PART LXVII

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Acts 13:1-14:28

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Terminology and context matter.  A reading of Acts 13:1-14:28 reveals a few mentions of “the Jews.”  Recall, O reader, that Sts. (Joseph) Barnabas and Paul the Apostle were Jewish.  Remember, also, that many of the people they converted were Jews.  “The Jews,” therefore, refers to Jews hostile to Christianity–sometimes, violently so.

We have the same issue in the Gospel of John, a book with mostly Jewish characters and composed during a time of conflict between Jewish Americans and non-Christian Jews.  Another wrinkle in the Johannine Gospel, though, is that “the Judeans” may be the correct translation sometimes.

The hostility of “the Jews” toward Christian Jews and Sts. Paul and Barnabas, in particular, should inspire spiritual examination in the reader or listener.  I think of the shameful record of violence Christians have committed in the name of Christ against Jews, Muslims, other Christians, and other people.  I understand that I am not immune to the dark side of human nature.  How dare I fall into complacent self-righteousness and mistake myself for someone who would never commit or condone such an act, given different circumstances?

Such violence arises from hatred, which flows from fear, which comes from a lack of understanding.  Such violence also indicates the severity of the perceived threat Sts. Paul and Barnabas allegedly posed.

We also notice a pattern in evangelism–taking the message to the Jews first then to the pagans.  This is consistent with St. Paul’s outreach to Gentiles while including Jews in his mission.

For St. Paul, the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus ended one epoch and inaugurated another one.  Therefore, in his mind, outreach to the Jewish population made sense.

We read of two miraculous works–a healing and a blinding.  I am happy for the man born crippled, for I rejoice in his healing.  Yet I cannot rejoice in the blinding of Elymas Magus (Bar-Jesus), a magician and a false prophet.  The physical blindness indicated spiritual blindness, mixed with fear of losing influence with Proconsul Sergius Paulus.

Perhaps the magician’s temporary blindness is a metaphor of the failure he and others like him have in blinding people to the course of God’s salvation.

–Robert W. Wall, in The New Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. 10 (2002), 190

A relevant matter is the name “Bar-Jesus.”  “Jesus” is simply “Joshua,” a common name.  Yet the irony of “Son of Joshua” opposing nascent Christianity is ironic.  We read that St. Paul described Bar-Jesus as

son of the devil

instead.  The implication here is that opposition to the Gospel was a moral failing.  We readers are supposed to recall the conflict between Jesus and Satan and evil spirits in the Gospel of Luke.  Also, we are supposed to contrast St. Paul, blinded on the road to Damascus, with Elymas/Bar-Jesus.

Speaking of the name “Bar-Jesus,” another rendering is “Bariesou,” similar to “Barieu,” or “wrongdoer.”

Luke-Acts dates to circa 85 C.E.  Recall, O reader, that Gentiles were the intended audience.  Consider, also, the rising tensions between Christians (both Jews and Gentiles) and non-Christian Jews at the time.  Read in context, we may reasonably guess how members of the original audience related Acts 13:1-14:28 to their lives.

This seems like an appropriate setting in which to repeat myself from previous posts:

  1. Judaism at the time understood that God accepted righteous Gentiles.
  2. Luke-Acts documented some Gentiles who had positive relationships with their local Jewish communities.
  3. Intra-Jewish arguments occurred in the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles.
  4. Anti-Semitism has always been wrong.
  5. Legalists have always distorted non-legalistic religions.

I have made these points in writing many times.  I tire of the necessity of repetition, but I feel obligated to commit it sometimes, just in case someone has missed all of the ten zillion times I have condemned anti-Semitism, for example.

Recall the Parable of the Mustard Seed, O reader.  The Kingdom of God is like a really big weed–an unwanted plant, by definition–derived from a tiny seed.  The Kingdom of God goes where it will.  I live in Georgia, so I understand the “kudzu theory” of the Kingdom of God.  This kingdom’s shape may not necessarily be what one expects, but the kingdom is present and tenacious.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 23, 2022 COMMON ERA

SATURDAY IN EASTER WEEK

THE FEAST OF TOYOHIKO KAGAWA, RENEWER OF SOCIETY AND PROPHETIC WITNESS IN JAPAN

THE FEAST OF MARTIN RINCKART, GERMAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT TERESA MARIA OF THE CROSS, FOUNDER OF THE CARMELITE SISTERS OF SAINT TERESA OF FLORENCE

THE FEAST OF WALTER RUSSELL BOWIE, EPISCOPAL PRIEST, SEMINARY PROFESSOR, AND HYMN WRITER

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Herod Agrippa I’s Persecution of Christians   Leave a comment

Above:  Herod Agrippa I

Image in the Public Domain

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

READING LUKE-ACTS, PART LXVI

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Acts 12:1-25

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Herod Agrippa I was a Roman client king from 37 to 44 C.E.  We have another, more precise, dated detail–the martyrdom of St. James Bar-Zebedee (the brother of Saint John the Evangelist and a first cousin of Jesus–circa 44 C.E,

Herod Agrippa (10 B.C.E.-44 C.E.) was a grandson of Herod the Great, the brother of Herodias, the uncle of Salome, and a brother-in-law of Herod Antipas.  Herod Agrippa I, who lived extravagantly and in debt, found refuge courtesy of Herod Antipas, who appointed him the inspector of markets in Antipas’s new capital, Tiberias, circa 27 C.E.  Herod Agrippa I, a friend of Gaius Caligula, made a pro-Caligula remark in the presence of Emperor Tiberius in Rome six months prior to the death of Tiberius (d. 37 C.E.)  Therefore, Herod Agrippa I spent the last six months of Tiberius’s reign as a prisoner.  Caligula (reigned 37-41 C.E.) released Herod Agrippa I and appointed him a king in 37 C.E.  After Caligula died, Emperor Claudis (I) expanded Herod Agrippa I’s territory to include Judea and Samaria.  Herod Agrippa I, a supporter of Pharisaic Judaism, persecuted Christianity (Acts 2 and 12).  His death in Caesarea (Acts 12:22-23) was sudden.  The Biblical text wrote of his death so as to portray him as evil and unrepentant, in the infamous footsteps of Antiochus IV Epiphanes and Judas Iscariot.

Regardless of martyrdoms and persecution, the Christian movement remained unhindered.

Meanwhile, Sts. (Joseph) Barnabas and Paul the Apostle returned to Antioch from Jerusalem.  This relief mission complete, they brought St. (John) Mark to Antioch.

I feel sorry for the guards Herod Agrippa I ordered executed.  They did their job guarding St. Simon Peter.  On the other hand, I am glad St. Simon Peter escaped.

The rest of the story:  A series of Roman procurators succeeded Herod Agrippa I until 66 C.E.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 22, 2022 COMMON ERA

FRIDAY IN EASTER WEEK

THE FEAST OF GENE BRITTON, EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF DONALD S. ARMENTROUT, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF HADEWIJCH OF BRABERT, ROMAN CATHOLIC MYSTIC

THE FEAST OF KATHE KOLLWITZ, GERMAN LUTHERAN ARTIST AND PACIFIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT VITALIS OF GAZA, MONK, HERMIT, AND MARTYR, CIRCA 625

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Christians at Antioch   Leave a comment

Above:  Athens Korean Presbyterian Church, Athens, Georgia

Image Source = Google Earth

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

READING LUKE-ACTS, PART LXV

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Acts 11:19-30

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Roman historians documented droughts throughout the Roman Empire during the reign (41-54 C.E.) of Emperor Claudius (I).  The germane drought may have been the one that struck Judea in 46-48 C.E.

We read of the mixed (Jewish and Gentile) Christian community at Antioch.  We also read of why St. (Joseph) Barnabas was the “son of encouragement,” especially regarding St. Paul the Apostle.  And we read of the mixed Christian community at Antioch demonstrating concern for their Jewish Christian brethren at Jerusalem.  This final point is crucial, given the tensions of which I wrote in the previous post in this series.

Focusing on what we have in common, not that which divides us, can be difficult sometimes.  I know; I have tried this strategy with some of my relatives.  The strategy only works when the only side reciprocates.  Therefore, I know the taste of failure in these efforts.

Some differences are irreconcilable.  I belong to Calvary Episcopal Church, the only congregation in Sumter County, Georgia, to which I can feasibly belong.  If I had to belong to any other church in this county, I would starve spiritually and feel like an outcast.  Spiritual types are real; so be it.  But differences need not transmogrify into hostility.  A level of mutual affection may flourish, too.

Before I moved to Americus, Georgia, I lived in Athens-Clarke County, and belonged to Saint Gregory the Great Episcopal Church.  About a mile up the road, the local Korean Presbyterian congregation had moved into its new building.  The Korean Presbyterians needed a new sign yet could not afford it.  Our pianist/organist, who taught piano to children of some of Korean Presbyterians, created a fund for a new sign for the Athens Korean Presbyterian Church and encouraged Gregorians to donate to it.  People were generous, and the Korean Presbyterian congregation purchased their new sign.

In contemporary terms, organic union may not always be feasible, but ecumenism may thrive.  If we focus on what unites us–Jesus–we will do well.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 22, 2022 COMMON ERA

FRIDAY IN EASTER WEEK

THE FEAST OF GENE BRITTON, EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF DONALD S. ARMENTROUT, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF HADEWIJCH OF BRABERT, ROMAN CATHOLIC MYSTIC

THE FEAST OF KATHE KOLLWITZ, GERMAN LUTHERAN ARTIST AND PACIFIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT VITALIS OF GAZA, MONK, HERMIT, AND MARTYR, CIRCA 625

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Conversion and Commissioning of Saul of Tarsus   1 comment

Above:  The Conversion of Saint Paul, by Luca Giordano

Image in the Public Domain

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

READING LUKE-ACTS, PART LXIII

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Acts 9:1-31

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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”

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Life in Christian Community in Jerusalem   Leave a comment

Above:  The Death of Ananias, by Raphael

Image in the Public Domain

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

READING LUKE-ACTS, PART LVII

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Acts 4:32-5:11

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Acts 2:42-47 relates to 4:32-5:11.

The portion of scripture for this post comes in two parts:  4:32-37 and 5:1-11.  4:32-37 bears the stronger similarity to 2:42-47.  The motif of members of Christian community in Jerusalem taking care of each other financially dominates in 4:32-37 and 2:42-47.

Also, we meet St. (Joseph) Barnabas in 4:36-37.

The famous story of Ananias and Sapphira is a cautionary tale.  Do not lie to the community, we learn.  One may be within one’s rights, legally, but do not lie.

What is done to the community is done to the Spirit of God.

–Dennis Hamm, in Daniel Durken, ed., The New Collegeville Bible Commentary:  New Testament (2009), 387

How we regard God and how we think of each other are related to each other.

According to that standard, how do you measure up, O reader?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 9, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF DIETRICH BONHOEFFEFR, GERMAN LUTHERAN MARTYR, 1945

THE FEAST OF JOHANN CRUGER, GERMAN LUTHERAN ORGANIST, COMPOSER, AND HYMNAL EDITOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN SAMUJEL BEWLEY MONSELL, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND POET; AND RICHARD MANT, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF DOWN, CONNOR, AND DROMORE

THE FEAST OF LYDIA EMILIE GRUCHY, FIRST FEMALE MINISTER IN THE UNITED CHURCH OF CANADA

THE FEAST OF MIKAEL AGRICOLA, FINNISH LUTHERAN LITURGIST, BISHOP OF TURKU, AND “FATHER OF FINNISH LITERARY LANGUAGE”

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM LAW, ANGLICAN PRIEST, MYSTIC, AND SPIRITUAL WRITER

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Failures to Communicate   Leave a comment

Above:  Paul and Barnabas in Lystra, by Johann Heiss

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

For the Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity, Year 2

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Lectionary from A Book of Worship for Free Churches (The General Council of the Congregational Christian Churches in the United States, 1948)

Collect from The Book of Worship (Evangelical and Reformed Church, 1947)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Almighty and Everlasting God, give unto us the increase of faith, hope, and charity;

and that we may obtain that which thou dost promise,

make us to love that which thou dost command;

through Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Worship (1947), 208

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

2 Samuel 12:1-10

Psalm 104

Acts 14:1-18

Matthew 20:20-28

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

One may sin out of ignorance.  In some of these cases, the sinner should know better.  (I refer to St. Mary Salome, mother of Sts. James and John, especially.)  And, when the sin does not have its origin in ignorance, one should know better.  (I refer to King David.)

Cultural conditioning can restrict one’s spiritual horizons and lead one into sins of ignorance.  Consider the reading from Acts 14, O reader.  Realize that, from a certain point of view, mistaking St. Paul the Apostle for Hermes and St. (Joseph) Barnabas for Zeus made sense.  Consider, also, how Sts. Paul and Barnabas could have used that error to their temporal benefit had they been unscrupulous.

But no!  Sts. Paul and Barnabas pointed to God.  They glorified Jesus, to little effect.  Despite their best efforts, they did not communicate.

Sending a message is either just that or the first step in communicating.  X communicates with Y when X sends a message to Y, and Y understands the message as X intended it.  I, as an educator, know well the situation in which I say something plainly, yet a student misunderstands me.

So, O reader, what messages are God sending to you?  How many of them are you receiving?  How many of those are you understanding as God intends?  And why are you not receiving and correctly understanding more messages from God?

Believe me, I ask the same questions of myself.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 20, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT FABIAN, BISHOP OF ROME, AND MARTYR, 250

THE FEAST OF SAINTS EUTHYMIUS THE GREAT AND THEOCRISTUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOTS

THE FEAST OF GREVILLE PHILLIMORE, ENGLISH POET, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF HARRIET AUBER, ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF RICHARD ROLLE, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC SPIRITUAL WRITER

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

Building Up Each Other in Christ, Part IV   1 comment

Above:  Saint Paul and Saint Barnabas at Lystra, by Alessandro Salucci

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Collect:

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Assigned Readings:

Acts 13:14-16, 26-48

Psalm 114

1 Thessalonians 5:12-28

Luke 15:21-37

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

We need to be careful not to read the text from Acts 123 in an anti-Semitic manner.

  1. To do so is sinful.
  2. Sts. Paul and Barnabas were Jewish.
  3. Many of their supporters were Jewish.
  4. “The Jews” refers to hostile Jews.

Also, Psalm 114 fits well with St. Paul’s full address, portions of which the lection from Acts 13 omits.

The Lukan apocalypse is one of the Synoptic apocalypses in the context of Holy Week.  The wrath of God will come and the new world order of God will replace the current world order.  All of this is solely in the divine domain.

In the meantime, we have a mandate to build up each other and to leave the world better than we found it.  We can start by never repaying evil with evil, and by refraining from every kind of evil.

Writing those words is easy, but living according to them can be difficult.  Even when we seek to live according to the Golden Rule, we may inadvertently commit evil.  Weakness and ignorance are formidable foes.

May we start by seeking to live according to the Golden Rule and by trusting in God to guide us in understanding what that means (in detail) in various circumstances.  The Golden Rule is a timeless principle, but the proper application of timeless principles varies according to context, including who, when, and where one is.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 10, 2020 COMMON ERA

GOOD FRIDAY

THE FEAST OF PIERRE TEILHARD DE CHARDIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, SCIENTIST, AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT FULBERT OF CHARTRES, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF HENRY VAN DYKE, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF HOWARD THURMAN, U.S. PROTESTANT THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM LAW, ANGLICAN PRIEST, MYSTIC, AND SPIRITUAL WRITER

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Adapted from this post:

https://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2020/04/10/devotion-for-the-seventh-sunday-of-easter-year-c-humes/

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Son of Encouragement   1 comment

Above:  St. Barnabas

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Collect:

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Assigned Readings:

Acts 11:19-30

Psalm 23

1 Thessalonians 2:9-20

Luke 14:15-24

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

A few themes converge in this set of readings.  Divine judgment and mercy exist in balance.  Only divine love may pursue the faithful in Psalm 23, but the enemies have pronounced judgment on themselves.  Indeed, one may understand the wrath of God as proverbial chickens to roost.  Accepting an invitation to the divine banquet then making bad excuses for not attending is a bad option.  On the other hand, encouraging others in the faith, as St. Joseph Barnabas did to and with St. Paul the Apostle, is a wise course of action.

“Barnabas” means “Son of Encouragement.”  That is a fitting name for the saint.

May each of us be a ____ of encouragement–a son, daughter, brother, sister, uncle, father, mother, neighbor, friend, et cetera–of encouragement.  The emphasis  belongs on “of encouragement.”  May we encourage each other in Christ, so that we all may achieve our full stature in Christ, not pronounce judgment on ourselves.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 7, 2020 COMMON ERA

TUESDAY IN HOLY WEEK

THE FEAST OF SAINT TIKHON OF MOSCOW, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX PATRIARCH

THE FEAST OF SAINT GEORGE THE YOUNGER, GREEK ORTHODOX BISHOP OF MITYLENE

THE FEAST OF JAY THOMAS STOCKING, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MONTFORD SCOTT, EDMUND GENNINGS, HENRY WALPOLE, AND THEIR FELLOW MARTYRS, 1591 AND 1595

THE FEAST OF RANDALL DAVIDSON, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Adapted from this post:

https://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2020/04/07/devotion-for-the-fourth-sunday-of-easter-year-c-humes/

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Donatism of a Sort, Part II   Leave a comment

Above:  The Temple of Solomon

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Lord of all power and might, who art the author and giver of good things:

graft in our hearts the love of thy name, increase in us true religion,

nourish us with all goodness, and by thy great mercy keep us in the same;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Common Worship–Provisional Services (1966), 125

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

2 Chronicles 6:12-21

Acts 13:42-52

John 17:1-11

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

No building or body of doctrine can contain God.  Yet buildings and bodies of doctrine can be useful for people.  We need to acknowledge the proper roles and the limits of buildings and doctrines, which can set the table and create the atmosphere or reverence well.

We also need to acknowledge our biases.  The word “Donatism” is much more recent (yet ancient from our perspective) than the exclusionary attitude it summarizes.  I, as a Gentile, side with Sts. Paul and Barnabas in Acts 13:42-52.  I rejoice that I have (present tense) eternal life via Jesus (John 17:3).  I read the New Testament and find evidence of controversies over including Gentiles as equals in the Christian faith.  I acknowledge that Judaizers were not evil but that they clung to a religious identity.

The debates over whom to include and exclude continue.  May the love of Christ, who died for all people and rose again, and through whom salvation is available, guide our attitudes and words.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 22, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARY MAGDALENE, EQUAL TO THE APOSTLES

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++