Devotion for the Second Sunday of Easter, Year C (Humes)   1 comment

Above:  Supper at Emmaus, by Caravaggio

Image in the Public Domain

Regarding Faith and Reason

APRIL 11, 2021

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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

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The Assigned Readings:

Acts 10:1-20

Psalm 150

1 Thessalonians 1

Luke 24:13-25

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Easter is a season with eight Sundays, the last one being Pentecost.  Take heart, O reader; we have much more Easter to celebrate.

One theme in this Sunday’s readings is that the Jewish-Christian God is the universal deity, not a tribal god.  Yes, Gentiles are welcome at the party of salvation, too.  That salvation is possible because of the other theme, the resurrection of Jesus.  In the context of Luke 24, this is a truth two small groups of people announced to St. Simon Peter in one day.  Furthermore, these two groups had not coordinated their stories, as criminals rehearse the false alibis.

We who live nearly two millennia after these events have a challenge first-hand witnesses lacked.  We either accept the resurrection on faith or we reject it on lack of faith.  We can neither prove nor disprove it.  I choose to accept it.

This is not as big a leap of faith for me as it is for many others.  Yes, I embrace reason and accept science.  I recognize much merit in the Enlightenment, which influences how I think.  I am a modernist, not a postmodernist.  I also know from experience that Enlightenment and scientific categories, as we usually define them, do not account for everything.  Reason is a gift from God.  I, as a practicing Episcopalian, incorporate reason into my faith.  I also understand that reason takes me far, but not all the way to the empty tomb.  Reason is a tool in my toolbox of faith; it is not an idol.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 5, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE SUNDAY OF THE PASSION:  PALM SUNDAY, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF ANDRÉ, MAGDA, AND DANIEL TROCMÉ, RIGHTEOUS GENTILES

THE FEAST OF EMILY AYCKBOWM, FOUNDRESS OF THE COMMUNITY OF THE SISTERS OF THE CHURCH

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARIANO DE LA MATA APARICIO, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY AND EDUCATOR IN BRAZIL

THE FEAST OF PAULINE SPERRY, MATHETMATICIAN, PHILANTHROPIST, AND ACTIVIST; AND HER BROTHER, WILLARD LEAROYD SPERRY, CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, ETHICIST, THEOLOGIAN, AND DEAN OF HARVARD LAW SCHOOL

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM DERHAM, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND SCIENTIST

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2020/04/05/regarding-faith-and-reason-iii/

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Devotion for Easter Sunday, Year C (Humes)   1 comment

Above:  The Angel in the Tomb

Image in the Public Domain

Death, Grief, and Resurrection

APRIL 4, 2021

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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

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The Assigned Readings:

Acts 3:12-26 or Job 19:7-27c

Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24

1 Corinthians 15:19-28

Luke 24:1-12

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There is a tradition of reading Hebrew Bible texts not about the Messiah as if they were about Jesus.  Consider the reading from Job 19, O reader.  Job, who has lost most of his family, claims God as his kinsman-redeemer, who will defend him against enemies.  Ironically, in Job 1 and 2, we read that God has allowed Job to suffer.  The Book of Job is a composite work, and what we call Job 19 predates what we call Job 1 and Job 2.  Interpreting the Book of Job can be a complicated matter.

The reading from 1 Corinthians 15 should back up by a few verses.  In context, the resurrection of the dead is linked to the resurrection of Jesus.  One must be true for the other one to be true.  Without the resurrection of Jesus, Christian faith is in vain, Christians are still in their sins, and those who have died have perished.  Therefore,

If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are the most pitiable people of all.

–1 Corinthians 15:19, The New American Bible–Revised Edition (2011)

Death packs a powerful punch.  One can, at best, imagine how those closest to Jesus felt after he died.  Perhaps only a mother can begin to guess with some degree of accuracy how St. Mary of Nazareth felt.  Consider, then, O reader, the fortitude required for the women to go to the tomb.  Grief can sad one’s energy level and cause inaction.  Yet we read of women walking to the tomb.

We can also only imagine how the three women felt when they learned of the resurrection.

Their hope was not in vain.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 4, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BENEDICT THE AFRICAN, FRANCISCAN FRIAR AND HERMIT

THE FEAST OF ALFRED C. MARBLE, JR., EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF MISSISSIPPI THEN ASSISTING BISHOP OF NORTH CAROLINA

THE FEAST OF ERNEST W. SHURTLEFF, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., U.S. CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER, AND MARTYR, 1968

THE FEAST OF SIDNEY LOVETT, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND CHAPLAIN OF YALE UNIVERSITY

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2020/04/04/death-grief-and-resurrection/

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Devotion for Palm/Passion Sunday, Year C (Humes)   1 comment

Above:  A Crucifix

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Innocence

MARCH 28, 2011

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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

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The Assigned Readings:

Liturgy of the Palms:

Luke 19:28-44

Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29

Liturgy of the Word:

Isaiah 50:4-9a

Psalm 31:9-16

Philippians 2:1-13

Luke 23:1-56

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Some texts are standard for Palm/Passion Sunday on the Humes lectionary.  The account of the Triumphal Entry varies from year to year; each of the four versions gets its year.  Likewise, the Gospel reading varies each year.  It is always the Passion, though.  The readings from Psalm 31, Psalm 118, Isaiah 50, and Philippians 2 are evergreen, though.

I focus on Luke 23:1-56 in this post.

The Gospel of Luke hits us over the head with Jesus’s innocence.  Christ’s innocence is a theme in 23:4, 14-15, 22, 40-42, and 47.  Whenever the Bible keeps repeating a theme, we need to pay attention to that theme.

The execution of Jesus was a travesty and an example of judicial murder.

There is an interesting moral and legal question:  Is it better for a court to convict an innocent person or to acquit a guilty person?  The answer is obvious:  the latter.  Innocence should always lead to the absence of a conviction, incarceration, and execution.  I gaze with moral horror at those who would ever approve of convicting any innocent person.

The crucifixion of Jesus has more than one meaning.  It is, for example, a component of the atonement; the resurrection equals the final act.  The crucifixion of Christ should also spur us on to affirm that convicting and punishing the innocent is never acceptable.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 29, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FIFTH SUNDAY IN LENT, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF CHARLES VILLIERS STANFORD, COMPOSER, ORGANIST, AND CONDUCTOR

THE FEAST OF DORA GREENWELL, POET AND DEVOTIONAL WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN KEBLE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND POET

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JONAS AND BARACHISUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS, 327

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2020/03/29/innocence/

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Devotion for the Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year C (Humes)   1 comment

Above:  A Timeless Principle Applicable Both Individually and Collectively

Image Source = Google Earth

Individual and Collective Responsibility

MARCH 21, 2021

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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

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The Assigned Readings:

Micah 6:1-8

Psalm 126

Philemon

Luke 22:66-23:25

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He has told you, O man, what is good,

And what does the LORD require of you:

Only to do justice,

And to love goodness,

And to walk modestly with your God.

Then your name will achieve wisdom.

–Micah 6:8-9a, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

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The Letter to Philemon has long been a misunderstood book of the Bible.  The text is not, as St. John Chrysostom (349-407) insisted, a mandate to reunite masters and their fugitive slaves.  Furthermore, the epistle does not indicate that Onesimus was either a thief or a fugitive.  And verse 16 should read, in part,

as if a slave,

not the usual English-language translation,

as a slave.

Whether one thinks Onesimus was a slave may depend on how one interprets a Greek tense in one verse.

The Letter to Philemon and a portion of the Gospel reading pertain to individual responsibility.  Act compassionately.  Treat the other person, who may or may not have stolen from you, as a sibling in Christ.  Do not knowingly send an innocent man to die, and to do so horribly.  (The Gospel of Luke emphasizes the innocence of Christ in its Passion narrative.)

The other readings pertain to collective responsibility.  How should we-not I, not you–we respond to grace?  We should be grateful?  We should do justice.  We should love goodness.  We should walk modestly with our God.  Then our name will achieve wisdom.

My Western culture tends to fixate on individual responsibility and p;lace too little emphasis on collective responsibility.  This is an error.  We need to strike and maintain that balance, for the glory of God and the benefit of all members of our culture, as well as the rest of the world.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 27, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CHARLES HENRY BRENT, EPISCOPAL MISSIONARY BISHOP OF THE PHILIPPINES, BISHOP OF WESTERN NEW YORK, AND ECUMENIST

THE FEAST OF SAINTS NICHOLAS OWEN, THOMAS GARNET, MARK BARKWORTH, EDWARD OLDCORNE, AND RALPH ASHLEY, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS, 1601-1608

THE FEAST OF ROBERT HALL BAYNES, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF MADAGASCAR

THE FEAST OF SAINT RUPERT OF SALZBURG, APOSTLE OF BAVARIA AND AUSTRIA

THE FEAST OF STANLEY ROTHER, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, MISSIONARY, AND MARTYR IN GUATEMALA, 1981

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2020/03/27/individual-and-collective-responsibility/

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Devotion for the Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year C (Humes)   1 comment

Above:  The Denial of Saint Peter, by Caravaggio

Image in the Public Domain

Loving Like Jesus

MARCH 14, 2021

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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

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The Assigned Readings:

Micah 4:1-7

Psalm 137

Jude

Luke 22:54-65

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I detect two different moods in the set of readings for this Sunday.  On one hand, we have judgments, as in Psalm 137 and Jude.  On the other hand, we have Jesus almost certainly looking compassionately at St. Simon Peter, who had just denied knowing him.  We also read of an ideal future in Micah 4:1-7, in which the nations will seek religious instruction in Jerusalem.  That prophecy contradicts Micah 5:14, in which some nations will remain disobedient and suffer the consequences, however.

With which side of that divide do we identify?  Do we really want to bash our enemies’ babies’ heads against rocks?  Or do we really seek to be like Jesus?  My bishop, Robert C. Wright, says to “love like Jesus.”  I affirm that standard.  I also know how Jesus loved–so much that he died.  Loving like Jesus is a difficult challenge.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 26, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARGARET CLITHEROW, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR, 1586

THE FEAST OF FLANNERY O’CONNOR, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC WRITER

THE FEAST OF GEORGE RUNDLE PRYNNE, ANGLICAN PRIEST, POET, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JAMES RENDEL HARRIS, ANGLO-AMERICAN CONGREGATIONALIST THEN QUAKER BIBLICAL SCHOLAR AND ORIENTALIST; ROBERT LUCCOCK BENSLY, ENGLISH BIBLICAL TRANSLATOR AND ORIENTALIST; AGNES SMITH LEWIS AND MARGARET DUNLOP SMITH GIBSON, ENGLISH BIBLICAL SCHOLARS AND LINGUISTS; SAMUEL SAVAGE LEWIS, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND LIBRARIAN OF CORPUS CHRISTI COLLEGE; AND JAMES YOUNG, SCOTTISH UNITED PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND LITERARY TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT LUDGER, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF MUNSTER

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2020/03/26/loving-like-jesus-part-ii/

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Devotion for the Third Sunday in Lent, Year C (Humes)   1 comment

Above:  Icon of Micah

Image in the Public Domain

Opposing Corruption

MARCH 7, 2021

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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

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The Assigned Readings:

Micah 3:5-12

Psalm 63:1-8

Titus 3:1-15

Luke 22:1-6, 39-53

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Psalm 63 is a royal text.  Titus 3:1 instructs Christians to obey civil authorities.  Yet in Luke 22 and Micah 3, the authorities (civil and religious) are corrupt.  The stance of faith is to confront corruption, not to support it or accept its bribes.

In full disclosure, the founders of my country rebelled against the British Empire.  I think of a line from Man of the Year (2006):

If dissent were unpatriotic, we would still be British.

Furthermore, nuances regarding obedience to the civil magistrate exist in Christian theology.  For obvious reasons, when to resist and when to obey civil authority has been a question in segments of German theology since 1933.  One may think, for example, of the great Karl Barth (1886-1968) and the Theological Declaration of Barmen (1934), anti-Nazi.  Nevertheless, extreme law-and-order-affirming Christian theology exists.  One historical prime example of this attitude I found during research into conservative Presbyterianism (the Presbyterian Church in America, or PCA, to be precise) comes from The Presbyterian Journal, the magazine that midwifed the birth of the PCA in 1973.  In the October 30, 1974, issue, the editor agreed with a letter-writer, one Joan B. Finneran, “an elect lady of Simpsonville, Maryland.”  Finneran wrote that God establishes governments and commands people to obey earthly authority, therefore

When a Herod or a Hitler comes into power, we must thereby assume this is the LORD’s plan; He will use even such as these to put His total plan into effect for the good of His people here on earth.

Finneran needed to read the Theological Declaration of Barmen.

What should we do in good conscience when systems are corrupt and inhumane?  Corruption leads to collective ruin, after all.  Timeless principles are useful, but they are also vague.  Proper applications of them varies according to circumstances.  If I say,

Oppose corruption and work against the exploitation of the poor and the powerless,

I sound like the Law of Moses, various Hebrew prophets, and Jesus.  I also provide no guidance about how best to follow that counsel.  Proper application of timeless principles depends upon circumstances–who, when, and where one is.

That guidance must come from the Holy Spirit.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 25, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE ANNUNCIATION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT DISMAS, PENITENT BANDIT

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2020/03/25/opposing-corruption/

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Devotion for the Second Sunday in Lent, Year C (Humes)   1 comment

Above:  Icon of Habakkuk

Image in the Public Domain

Maintaining Faith During Difficult Times

FEBRUARY 28, 2021

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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

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The Assigned Readings:

Habakkuk 3:1-19

Psalm 27

Titus 2:1-15

Luke 19:45-20:8

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For the record, I drafted this post in longhand on December 22, 2019, before Coronavirus/COVID-19 spread across the planet.  Certain statements are always true, but especially cogent at particular times.

The Letter to Titus is a mixed bag.  On one hand, it insults all inhabitants of Crete (1:13) and does not oppose slavery (2:9-10).  I cringe when I read those verses.  On the other hand, the epistle offers sound advice about how to live:  live in such a matter that opponents and enemies will put themselves to shame when making negative statements “about us.”

There is never a shortage of people willing to lie and distort, to cherry-pick and to blow out of proportion, to repeat unsubstantiated rumors, or to start them, thereby shaming themselves. assuming that they have the capacity to feel shame.  They do, however, show their bad character while attacking those of good character.  These people of bad character are the ones whose skulls cracks open, as in Habakkuk 3:13.  (Who says the Book of Habakkuk uses no violent imagery?)

In the meantime, the righteous remain vulnerable to the dastardly, the unjust, and the wicked.  Wait for God, Psalm 27 tells us.  In the midst of rampant injustice, do we share the attitude of Habakkuk?

Yet I will rejoice in the LORD,

Exult in the God who delivers me.

The Lord GOD is my strength:

He makes my feet like the deer’s

and lets me stride upon the heights.

–Habakkuk 3:18-19, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

This can be a difficult attitude to maintain.  It is faith.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 24, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT OSCAR ROMERO, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF SAN SALVADOR; AND THE MARTYRS OF EL SALVADOR, 1980-1992

THE FEAST OF SAINT DIDACUS JOSEPH OF CADIZ, CAPUCHIN FRIAR

THE FEAST OF PAUL COUTURIER, APOSTLE OF CHRISTIAN UNITY

THE FEAST OF THOMAS ATTWOOD, “FATHER OF MODERN CHRISTIAN MUSIC”

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM LEDDRA, BRITISH QUAKER MARTYR IN BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS BAY COLONY, 1661

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2020/03/24/maintaining-faith-during-difficult-times/

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