Twenty-Seventh Day of Lent   15 comments

Jesus:  Alpha and Omega

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Friday, March 27, 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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Wisdom 2:1a, 12-24 (New Revised Standard Version):

For they [the ungodly] reasoned unsoundly, saying to themselves,

Let us lie in wait for the righteous man,

because he is inconvenient to us and opposes our actions;

he reproaches us for sins against the law,

and accuses us of sins against our training.

He professes to have knowledge of God,

and calls himself a child of the Lord.

He became to us a reproof of our thoughts;

the very sight of him is a burden to us,

because his manner of life is unlike that of others,

and his ways are strange.

We are considered by him as something base,

and he avoids our ways as unclean;

he calls the last end of the righteous hapy,

and boasts that God is his father.

Let us see if his words are true,

and let us test what will happen at the end of his life;

for if the righteous man is God’s child, he will help him,

and will deliver him from the hand of his adversaries.

Let us test him with insult and torture,

so that we may find out how gentle he is,

and make trial of his forbearance.

Let us condemn him to a shameful death,

for, according to what he says, he will be protected.

Thus they reasoned, but they were led astray,

for their wickedness blinded them,

and they did not know the secret purposes of God,

nor hoped for the wages of holiness,

nor discerned the prize of blameless souls;

for God created us for incorruption,

and made us in the image of his own eternity,

but through the devil’s envy death entered the world,

and those who belong to his company experience it.

Psalm 34:15-22 (New Revised Standard Version):

The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous,

and his ears are open to their cry.

The face of LORD is against evildoers,

to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.

When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears,

and rescues them from all their troubles.

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted,

and saves the crushed in spirit.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous,

but the LORD rescues them from them all.

He keeps all their bones;

not one of them will be broken.

Evil brings death to the wicked,

and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.

The LORD redeems the life of his servants;

none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.

John 7:1-2, 10, 35-30 (New Revised Standard Version):

After this [many disciples abandoning Jesus followed by Jesus predicting his betrayal, in 6:60-71] Jesus went about in Galilee.  He did not wish to go about in Judea because the Jews [not all of them, as I wrote in a previous devotion–KRT] were looking for an opportunity to kill him.  Now the Jewish festival of Booths was near.

But after his brothers had gone to the festival, then he also went, not publicly but as it were in secret.

Now some of the people of Jerusalem were saying,

Is not this the man whom they are trying to kill?  And here he is, speaking openly, but they say nothing to him!  Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Messiah?  Yet we know where this man is from; but when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.”

Then Jesus cried out as he was teaching in the Temple,

You know me, and you know where I am from.  I have not come on my own.  But the one who sent me is true, and you do not know him.  I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.

Then they tried to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him, because his hour had not yet come.  Yet many in the crowd believed in him and were saying,

When the Messiah comes, will he do more signs than this man has done?

The Collect:

O God, you have given us the Good News of your abounding love in your Son Jesus Christ:  So fill our hearts with thankfulness that we may rejoice to proclaim the good tidings we have received; 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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You might have noticed the increased amount of foreshadowing of Holy Week in this day’s readings relative to previous days’ lections.  I did as I typed them.  Lent has forty days, and the end of that season is near to March 19.  As we near the conclusion of Lent and prepare to enter the Easter season, let us give all the details of the Passion narrative their due.  These are not celebratory, as is Christmas.  Yet they are no less crucial to Christianity.

The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus reflect the abounding love of God for sinful human beings.  May we rejoice to proclaim these good tidings we have received.  But do we recognize the good tidings we have received?  One of the themes of the Gospel of Mark is the Messianic Secret.  The meaning of being the Messiah was not to expel the occupying Roman forces from the Jewish homeland, as many people expected and hoped.  Rather, the Messiah was the Suffering Servant, and this became clear through his death.  Yet let us continue the story in due season, for if we stop at Good Friday we have dead Jesus.

But let us not get ahead of ourselves.

Prior to the failed experiment called Prohibition one of the most prominent Evangelical organizations in the rural United States was the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU).  A story (perhaps apocryphal) about the WCTU follows:  A woman traveling the WCTU lecture circuit spoke in a certain town.  After delivering her stump speech about how God wants all people to abstain from alcohol, she asked if anyone in the audience had any questions.  One young man raised his hand politely, and the lady called on him.  He asked, “If what you say is true, how do you explain Jesus turning water into wine at Cana?”  The woman answered, “I would like him better if he had not done that.”

Does Jesus disappoint us?  If so, this is our problem, not his.  He is the abounding love of God incarnate.  Jesus is exactly who and what he should be.  If he does not live up to our expectations, we need to reexamine our presumptions.

KRT

Written on March 3, 2010

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