Twenty-Second Day of Lent   10 comments

Confession

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Saturday, March 21, 2020

Collect and lections from the Episcopal Lesser Feasts and Fasts Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints

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Follow the assigned readings with me this Lent….

Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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Hosea 6:1-6 (TANAKH: The Holy Scriptures):

[People speaking]:

Come, let us turn back to the LORD:

He attached, and He can heal us;

He wounded, and He can bind us up.

In two days He will make us whole again;

On the third day He will raise us up,

And we shall be whole by His favor.

Let us pursue obedience to the LORD,

And we shall become obedient.

His appearance is as sure as daybreak,

And He will come to us like rain,

Like latter rain that refreshes the earth.

[God speaking]:

What can I do for you, Ephraim,

What can I do for you, Judah,

When your goodness is like morning clouds,

Like dew so early gone?

That is why I have hewn down the prophets,

Have slain them with the words of My mouth:

And the day that dawned [brought on] your punishment.

For I desire goodness, not sacrifice;

Obedience to God, rather than burnt offerings.

Psalm 51:16-21 (TANAKH: The Holy Scriptures):

Save me from bloodguilt,

O God, God, my deliverer,

that I may sing forth Your beneficence.

O Lord, open my lips,

and let not my mouth declare Your praise.

You do not want me to bring sacrifices;

You do not desire burnt offerings;

True sacrifice to God is a contrite spirit;

God, You will not despise

a contrite and crushed heart.

May it please You to make Zion prosper;

rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.

Then you will want sacrifices offered in righteousness,

burnt and whole offerings;

then bulls will be offered on Your altar.

Luke 18:9-14 (The New Testament in the Language of the People):

To some people who were confident that they themselves were upright, but who scorned everybody else, He [Jesus] told the following story:

Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax-collector.  The Pharisee stood and said this self-centered prayer, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of men, robbers, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax-collector.  I fast two days in the week, I pay a tithe on everything I get.’ But the tax-collector stood at a distance and would not even lift his eyes to heaven, but continued to beat his breast, and say, ‘O God, have mercy on me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man, and not the other, went back home forgiven and accepted by God.  For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

The Collect:

O God, you know us to be st in the midst of so many and great dangers, that by reason of the frailty of our nature we cannot always stand upright: Grant us such strength and protection as may support us in all dangers, and carry us through all temptations; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

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The prophet Hosea channeled divine displeasure with the kingdoms of Israel and Judah.  Faithlessness would lead to unpleasant consequences, he said.  This day’s reading from that prophet begins with a half-hearted, self-serving plea for deliverance from consequences without expressing remorse for antecedent actions.  The divine response is predictable; God did not accept the plea for deliverance.  The divine standard was goodness and obedience, not ritual sacrifices and self-serving prayers for deliverance.

The reading from Luke is one of Jesus’ more scandalous parables.  Pharisees were part of the religious establishment. As Henry I. Louttit, Jr., formerly the Rector of Christ Episcopal Church, Valdosta, Georgia (1967-1994), then Bishop of Georgia (1995-2010), said, the Pharisees were the respectable, church-going people of their time.  Tax collectors collected the income the Roman imperial government required plus extra, and kept the excess.  They were tax thieves, and thus despised widely.  The repentant tax thief is the more sympathetic character in the parable.

Among the recurring thoughts in the Bible is this:  God is no respecter of persons or their social status.  Rather, God sees us as we are.  Sometimes this entails perceiving our potential, and raising us to fill that.  And other times the consequence of  the divine gaze upon one is judgment.  The tax collector had no pretensions about himself.  Thus he went home approved by God.

I propose an individual or group activity related to the reading from Luke.  Ask: If Jesus were telling this parable today, what would he say in lieu of Pharisee?  And what would he say in place of tax collector?  Does this approach to the text bring the meaning of the parable more real to you?  And which character is more like you?  Follow the answers where they lead.

KRT

Written on February 28, 2010

Posted October 28, 2010 by neatnik2009 in 2020, Episcopal Church Lectionary, March 21

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