Twenty-Third Day of Lent   20 comments

Christ in Majesty, Chartres Cathedral

Monday, March 23, 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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Isaiah 65:17-25 (TANAKH: The Holy Scriptures):

[God speaking]:

For behold!  I am creating

A new heaven and a new earth;

The former things shall not be remembered,

They shall never come to mind.

Be glad, then, and rejoice forever

In what I am creating.

For I shall create Jerusalem as a joy,

And her people as a delight;

And I will rejoice in Jerusalem

And delight in her people.

Never again shall be heard there

The sounds of weeping and wailing.

No more shall there be an infant or graybeard

Who does not live out his days.

He who dies at a hundred years

Shall be reckoned as a youth,

And he who fails to reach a hundred

Shall be reckoned accursed.

They shall build houses and dwell in them,

They shall plant vineyards and enjoy their fruit.

They shall not build for others to dwell in,

Or plant for others to enjoy.

For the days of My people shall be

As long as the days of a tree,

My chosen ones shall outlive

The work of their hands.

They shall not toil to no purpose;

They shall not bear children for terror,

But they shall be a people blessed by the LORD,

And their offspring shall remain with them.

Before they pray, I will respond.

The wolf and the lamb shall graze together,

And the lion shall eat straw like the ox,

And the serpent’s food shall be earth.

In all My sacred mount

Nothing evil or vile shall be done

–said the LORD.

Psalm 30:2-6, 11-13 (TANAKH: The Holy Scriptures):

I extol You, O LORD,

for you have lifted me up,

and not let my enemies rejoice over me.

O LORD, my God,

I cried out to You,

and You healed me.

O LORD, You brought me up from Sheol,

preserved me from going down to the Pit.

O you faithful of the LORD, sing to Him,

and praise His holy name.

For he is angry but a moment,

and when He is pleased there is life.

One may lie down weeping at nightfall,

but at dawn there are shouts of joy.

Hear, O LORD, and have mercy on me;

O LORD, be my help!

You turned my lament into dancing,

you undid my sackcloth and girded me with joy.

that [my] whole being might sing hymns to You endlessly;

O LORD my God,  I praise You forever.

John 4:43-54 (The New Testament in Modern English–Revised Edition):

After the two days were over, Jesus left and went away to Galilee.  (For Jesus himself testified that a prophet enjoys no honour in his own country.)  And on his arrival the people received him with open arms.  For they had seen all that he himself had done in Jerusalem during the festival, since they had themselves been present.  So Jesus came again to Cana in Galilee, the place where he mad made the water into wine.  At Capernaum there was an official whose son was very ill.  When he heard that Jesus had left Judaea and had arrived in Galilee, he went off to see him and begged him to come down and heal his son, who was by this time at the point of death.

Jesus said to him,

Will you never believe unless you see signs and wonders?

The official returned,

Sir, please come down before my boy dies!

Jesus returned,

You can go home, your son is alive.

And the man believed what Jesus had said to him and went on his way.

On the journey back his servants met him with the report:

Your son is alive and well.

So he asked them at what time he had begun to recover, and they replied,

The fever left him yesterday at one o’clock in the afternoon.

Then the father knew that this must have happened at the very moment when Jesus had said to him,

Your son is alive.

And he and his whole household had believed in Jesus.  This, then, was the second sign that Jesus gave on his return from Judaea to Galilee.

The Collect:

O Lord our God, in your holy Sacraments you have given us a foretaste of the good things of your kingdom: Direct us, we pray, in the way that leads to eternal life, that we may come to appear before you in that place of light where you dwell for ever with your saints; 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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Hebrew prophets foretold the coming of the Kingdom of God, the divine setting right of all that was wrong.  There would be peace and justice, the lion would lie down with the lamb, and the righteous would live in paradise on earth.  This theology appeals especially to those living in conditions far from ideal–in exile, under occupation, or inside the borders of a generally benevolent yet foreign empire when, not to so long ago, they had lived in their own kingdom.

Perhaps the most striking aspect of this day’s reading is Isaiah is its hopefulness.  This description applies also to the psalm and the faith of the father of the ailing son.  And the ultimate hope in the Gospel reading is that the Kingdom of God had come on earth, but not exactly in the way Third Isaiah and other prophetic writers had envisioned.  The Jews of Judea lived under Roman occupation, but the Kingdom of God was spread out upon the earth, and many people did not see it.  The Kingdom of God has swept over the people, and they did not recognize it because it did not meet the criteria they expected.  Jesus had come.  That was enough.

Signs and wonders are wonderful.  The long-distance healing of a young man near death no small matter.  Each of us looks for signs and wonders now and again, and we receive many of them, regardless of whether we seek or recognize them.  Yet we should not ignore the fact that one of the major ideas in the Gospel of Mark is that Jesus was far more than a wonder-worker.

If we believe in Jesus–if we trust in Jesus–why do we do so?  Is it just because of what he has done for us and what we perceive he can do for us?  Or do our reasons run more deeply?

I can answer only for myself.  Incarnation occupies the center of my theology.  Most claims about Jesus predate him.  A study of ancient comparative religion turns up accounts of alleged sons of God and  sacrificial victims who rose from the dead, thereby atoning for sins.  These figures never walked the face of the earth, however.  In contrast, Jesus was born of a woman, grew up, walked around, spoke to people, and ate in public settings.  And I believe–I trust–that he was God incarnate.  That is sufficient reason for me remain a Christian.

The Kingdom of God has been here for almost 2,000 years.  That satisfies my quota of signs and wonders.

KRT

Written on February 28, 2010

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/why-trust-in-jesus/

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Posted October 28, 2010 by neatnik2009 in 2020, Episcopal Church Lectionary, March 23

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20 responses to “Twenty-Third Day of Lent

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