Archive for June 2012

Devotion for the Fiftieth Day of Easter: Day of Pentecost (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   6 comments

Above:  The Conquest of the Amorites, by James Tissot

Numbers and Luke, Part IX:  Fairness and Grace

SUNDAY, MAY 31, 2020

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

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 everlasting 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:

Numbers 21:10-35

Psalm 93 (Morning)

Psalms 136 and 117 (Evening)

Luke 21:20-38

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

NOTE:

The sequence to which this post belongs continues at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS, beginning with the following URL:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2012/06/26/devotion-for-monday-and-tuesday-in-pentecost-week-lcms-daily-lectionary/.

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

Israelite victories and conquests prior to the arrival in Canaan fill Numbers 21:10-35.  The narrative tells us that so long as they obeyed God, they won.  I wish that life were always as simple as obedience to God leading to success and prosperity.  Yet, as we read in Luke 21:12-19, sometimes it leads to persecution and betrayal.  Indeed, the betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot opens the next chapter.

I have no easy answers as to why bad things happen to good people.  Observation and the study of history have taught me some lessons.  Jealousies arise.  We see those who are better than ourselves and we seek to tear them down rather than to improve ourselves.  Or we misunderstand others, and we learn to hate those we do not understand.  Sometimes people are just in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Yet some people seem to have all the luck while others seem to have none.  The fact that I know all this does mean than I understand it very well.

I do know that the world is an unfair place.  I have railed against this to God.  The world is still horribly unfair, however.  But perhaps fairness is not the proper standard.  Grace is not fair either, but I try not to complain about that reality.  No, the standard I really seek is grace–to everybody.  And, when I perceive the absence of it, I become disturbed.  And I rail about it to God.  But to what extent are we–you, O reader, and I–supposed to function as agents of that grace more than we do?

Now that is a hard lesson.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 23, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICETAS OF REMESIANA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF WIREMU TAMIHANA, MAORI PROPHET AND KINGMAKER

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

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/numbers-and-luke-part-ix-fairness-and-grace/

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

Advertisements

Fiftieth Day of Easter: Day of Pentecost, Year C   16 comments

Above:  Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit, Cumming, Georgia, Pentecost Sunday, June 12 2011

Image Source = Bill Monk, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

The Inclusive Gospel of Jesus

JUNE 9, 2019

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

The Assigned Readings for This Sunday:

Acts 2:1-21 or Genesis 11:1-9

Psalm 104:25-35, 37

Romans 8:14-17 or Acts 2:1-21

John 7:37-39a

The Collect:

Almighty God, on this day you opened the way of eternal life to every race and nation by the promised gift of your Holy Spirit: Shed abroad this gift throughout the world by the preaching of the Gospel, that it may reach to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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

Some Related Posts:

A Prayer for Those With Only the Holy Spirit to Intercede for Them:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/17/a-prayer-for-those-with-only-the-holy-spirit-to-intercede-for-them/

Come Down, O Love Divine:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/08/25/come-down-o-love-divine/

Come, Holy Spirit, Heavenly Dove:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/07/30/come-holy-spirit-heavenly-dove/

Invocation to the Holy Spirit:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/07/11/invocation-to-the-holy-spirit/

Holy Spirit, Font of Light:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/05/30/holy-spirit-font-of-light/

Prayer of Praise and Adoration for the Day of Pentecost:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/prayer-of-praise-and-adoration-for-the-day-of-pentecost/

Prayer of Confession for the Day of Pentecost:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/prayer-of-confession-for-the-day-of-pentecost/

Prayer of Dedication for the Day of Pentecost:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/prayer-of-dedication-for-the-day-of-pentecost/

Like the Murmur of the Dove’s Song:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/11/01/like-the-murmur-of-the-doves-song/

Spirit of God, Unleashed on Earth:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/10/22/spirit-of-god-unleashed-on-earth/

Pentecost Prayer of Adoration:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/pentecost-prayer-of-adoration/

Pentecost Prayers for Openness to God:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/pentecost-prayers-for-openness-to-god/

Pentecost Prayers of Confession:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/pentecost-prayers-of-confession/

Come, Holy Spirit, Come!:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2012/04/28/come-holy-spirit-come/

Come, Blessed Spirit! Source of Light!:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2012/05/08/come-blessed-spirit-source-of-light/

Come to Our Poor Nature’s Night:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2012/05/19/come-to-our-poor-natures-night/

Holy Ghost, With Light Divine:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2012/05/19/holy-ghost-with-light-divine/

Divine Spirit, Attend Our Prayers:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2012/05/19/spirit-divine-attend-our-prayers/

Come, Thou Holy Spirit Bright:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2012/05/30/come-thou-holy-spirit-bright/

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

The LENTEN AND EASTER DEVOTIONS blog terminates each church year at the Day of Pentecost.  This practice makes sense because Pentecost Sunday is the last day of the Easter season.  There is another reason, however.  Liturgical renewal and restructuring for most of Western Christianity, beginning with the Roman Catholic Church in Advent 1969, has led to the labeling of the subsequent Sundays in Ordinary Time (beginning two weeks after Pentecost Sunday) as “after Pentecost” in lieu of the prior dominant practice, “after Trinity.”  (Disclaimer:  U.S. Methodists used to divide the post-Pentecost and pre-Advent time into two seasons:  Whitsuntude and Kingdomtide, with the latter beginning on the last Sunday in August.  And the Lutheran Service Book and Hymnal (1958) lists Ordinary Time Sundays as both “after Pentecost” and “after Trinity.”)  Trinity Sunday, of course, is the Sunday immediately following the Day of Pentecost.  Anyhow, those who continue to observe Sundays after Trinity are liturgical outliers.  My own denomination, since its 1979 Book of Common Prayer and the process which led up to it, operates on the Sundays after Pentecost pattern.  It is what I have known.  The 1928 Book of Common Prayer is an artifact from which I have never worshiped.  Sundays after Trinity seem quaint to me.

So here we are, on the cusp of changing seasons and Sunday numbering (the Propers through 29 are almost upon us), pondering two opposite and assigned stories.  The Tower of Babel myth tells of linguistic differences causing confusion and thwarting human ambitions.  (We know from anthropology, history, and science that linguistic diversity is much older than the timeframe of the Tower of Babel story.)  The sin in the myth is pride, which God confounds.  Yet linguistic variety cannot confound God’s purposes in Acts 2 because God will not permit it to do so.  The proverbial living water of Jesus, whose glorification in the Gospel of John was his crucifixion–something humiliating and shameful by human standards–would be available regardless of one’s language.

Thus the Church was born.  It is always changing and reforming, adapting to changing circumstances and seeking to look past human prejudices and false preconceptions.  I prefer to include as many people as possible while maintaining liturgical reverence and orthodox (Chalcedonian, etc.) Christology.  I do, in other words have boundaries, but they are too large according to those on my right and too small according to those on my left.  That makes me something of a moderate, I suppose.  “Left of center” might be more accurate.  Regardless of who is correct, may the church and its constituent parts follow the crucified and resurrected Lord and Savior, who transmuted shame and humiliation into glory, who ate with notorious sinners, whose grace scandalized respectable and respected religious authorities.  Or are we become modern counterparts of the scribes and Pharisees with whom Jesus locked horns?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 23, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICETAS OF REMESIANA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF WIREMU TAMIHANA, MAORI PROPHET AND KINGMAKER

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

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/the-inclusive-gospel-of-jesus/

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

Devotion for the Forty-Eighth and Forty-Ninth Days of Easter (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   9 comments

Above:  Moses Striking the Rock, by Pieter de Grebber

Numbers and Luke, Part VIII:   The Sin of Pride

FRIDAY, MAY 29, 2020, and SATURDAY, MAY 30, 2020

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

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 everlasting 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:

Numbers 20:1-21 (48th Day of Easter)

Numbers 20:22-21:9 (49th Day of Easter)

Psalm 96 (Morning–48th Day of Easter)

Psalm 92 (Morning–49th Day of Easter)

Psalms 50 and 138 (Evening–48th Day of Easter)

Psalms 23 and 114 (Evening–49th Day of Easter)

Luke 20:19-44 (48th Day of Easter)

Luke 20:45-21:9 (49th Day of Easter)

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

The readings for today occur against the backdrop of death.  Miriam and Aaron die.  Jesus will die soon.  And, in the midst of all this, the main sin common to the readings from Numbers and Luke is pride, being spectacular.  That was the sin of Moses, whose disobedience detracted from the glory of God.  And the scribes in Luke 20:45-47 reveled in public acclaim while devouring the property of widows.  Furthermore, those who wasted our Lord’s time with a political trap and with sophistry earlier in Luke 20 probably thought their rhetorical powers and mind games clever.  They were mistaken.

To have a balanced self-image, or ego, is crucial.  We are neither worms nor demigods.  We are, however, bearers of the image of God.  And, as the author of the Letter to the Hebrews wrote in poetic terms, we are slightly lower than the angels.  So we ought to acknowledge our potential, its source, and our limitations.  To miss the mark–to aim too high or too low–is to arrive at an inaccurate estimate of our true worth.

May we therefore think neither too highly nor too lowly of ourselves.  And may we let God appear as spectacular as possible.  Not to do so is to commit the sin of pride.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 23, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICETAS OF REMESIANA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF WIREMU TAMIHANA, MAORI PROPHET AND KINGMAKER

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

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/numbers-and-luke-part-viii-the-sin-of-pride/

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

Devotion for the Forty-Seventh Day of Easter (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   4 comments

Above:  The Wicked Husbandmen

Numbers and Luke, Part VII:  Accepting or Rejecting the Chosen of God

THURSDAY, MAY 28, 2020

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

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 everlasting 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:

Numbers 16:41-17:13/17:6-28

Psalm 47 (Morning)

Psalms 68 and 113 (Evening)

Luke 20:1-8

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

TECHNICAL NOTE:

Numbers 16:41-17:13 (Protestant versification) = 17:6-28 (Jewish, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox versification).

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

The theme of authority and rebellion against it continues from previous readings in the Book of Numbers and the Gospel of Luke.

One day prior to the setting of the Numbers reading Moses had ordered that the fire pans of Korah and his people be melted down and made into copper plating for the altar as a warning against any future rebellions.  Yet he and Aaron faced a rebellion which, the narrative tells us, God punished with a plague which killed 14,700 people.  And God affirmed the Aaronic priesthood; I ought to mention that detail.

Much later, in Jerusalem, during Holy Week in 29 CE, Jesus faced challenges to his authority.  The textual context makes abundantly clear that the wicked tenants in the parable were stand-ins for people such as those who were confronting him.

Here I am, almost eleven months ahead of schedule, writing a devotional post for just a few days before Pentecost Sunday, and the lectionary I am following has me in Holy Week!  Anyhow, the message is timeless:  Do not oppose the chosen ones of God.  Since I am writing for just a few days before Pentecost Sunday, I choose to focus on the Holy Spirit here and now.  It goes where it will.  Through it God the Father speaks to us. We need it to interpret Scripture correctly.  The one unpardonable sin in the Bible is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which I understand to be to mistake good for evil, to be so spiritually oblivious as not to know the difference.

May we–you, O reader, and I–recognize the fruits of the Holy Spirit in people.  We see them in many ways.  When people of God strive for social justice, which entails inclusiveness more often than not, the Holy Spirit is probably at work.  When love and compassion win, the Holy Spirit is at work.  The test is fruits, or results.  And may we support the good ones (the ones of the Holy Spirit, of God) and reject the rest.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 22, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALBAN, FIRST ENGLISH MARTYR

THE FEAST OF THE INAUGURATION OF THE UNITING CHURCH OF AUSTRALIA, 1977

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN FISHER, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF ROCHESTER

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAULINUS OF NOLA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

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

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/numbers-and-luke-part-vii-accepting-or-rejecting-the-chosen-of-god/

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

Devotion for the Forty-Fifth and Forty-Sixth Days of Easter (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   4 comments

Above:  The Punishment of Korah and the Stoning of Moses and Aaron, by Sandro Botticelli

Numbers and Luke, Part VI:  Servant Leadership

TUESDAY, MAY 26, 2020, and WEDNESDAY, MAY 27, 2020

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

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 everlasting 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:

Numbers 16:1-22 (45th Day of Easter)

Numbers 16:23-40/17:5 (46th Day of Easter)

Psalm 98 (Morning–45th Day of Easter)

Psalm 99 (Morning–46th Day of Easter)

Psalms 66 and 116 (Evening–45th Day of Easter)

Psalms 8 and 118 (Evening–46th Day of Easter)

Luke 19:11-28 (45th Day of Easter)

Luke 19:29-48 (46th Day of Easter)

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

TECHNICAL NOTE:

Numbers 16 has 35 verses in Jewish, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox versions of the Bible yet 50 verses in Protestant ones.  So Numbers 17:1-5 in Protestant Bibles = Numbers 16:36-50 in Jewish, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox ones.  And 17:1-5 (Jewish, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox) = 16:36-40 (Protestant).  Life would be simpler if there were just one system of versification in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, would it not?

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

ARCHELAUS, received the kingdom of Judaea by the last will of his father, Herod the Great, though a previous will had bequeathed it to his brother Antipas.  He was proclaimed king by the army, but declined to assume the title until he had submitted his claims to Augustus.  Before setting out, he quelled with the utmost cruelty a sedition of the Pharisees, slaying nearly 3,000 of them.  At Rome he was opposed by Antipas and by many of the Jews, but Augustus allotted to him the greater part of the kingdom (Judaea, Samaria, Ituraea) with the title of Ethnarch.  He married Glaphyra, the widow of his brother Alexander, though his wife and her second husband, Juba, king of Mauretania, were alive.  This violation of the Mosaic Law and his continued cruelty roused the Jews, who complained to Augustus.  Archlaus was deposed (A.D. 7) and banished to Vienne.  The date of his death is unknown.  He is mentioned in Matt. ii. 22, and the parable of Luke xix. 11 seq. may refer to his journey to Rome.

Encyclopedia Britannica (1955), Volume 2, page 264

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

What right did Moses have to rule?  And what was the proper basis of the Aaronic priesthood?  Korah and his confederates wanted to know.  So they challenged Moses and Aaron.  They also died trying.  Exuent those reels.  The basis for all that they opposed was God, the narrative tells us.

The Parable of the Pounds refers to Herod Archelaus, whose 1955 Encyclopedia Britannica entry I have typed verbatim.  The appointed king, like Archelaus, was a very bad man.  The placement of this parable immediately before our Lord’s Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem cannot be an accident.  Jesus is a king, but of a sort very different from any Roman puppet, such as Herod Antipas, who appears in Luke 23:8-12.  Antipas was Tetrarch of Galiille and Perea.  He had ordered the beheading of St. John the Baptist.  Ironically, the Tetrarch’s journey to Rome in search of the title “king” had an unexpected result.  The Emperor Caligula, convinced by Herod Agrippa I, brother-in-law of Antipas, that Antipas was conspiring against the Emperor , banished him (Antipas) to Lugdunum, Gaul, now Lyon, France, in 39 CE.

Seeking glory is a dangerous game and wielding authority is a great responsibility.  Power might grind down those who lack it, but it also consumes many people who desire it.  Moses did not seek the alleged glory of leading a mass of grumblers in the desert.  And going to the cross just a few days after the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem was the glorification of Jesus in the Gospel of John, albeit a painful and humiliating manner of attaining it.

You know that among the gentiles those they call their rulers lord it over them, and their great men make their authority felt.  Among you this is not to happen.  No; anyone who wants to become great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be slave to all.  For the Son of man himself came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

–Mark 10:42b-45, The New Jerusalem Bible

The context for that lesson from the Gospel of Mark is shortly before the Triumphal Entry and immediately after James and John, our Lord’s first cousins, ask for honored places in Heaven.  And it fits well here, in this post, with the assigned readings for these two days.

Every generation has its share of violent tyrants and petty dictators, unfortunately.  Yet every generation also has its servant leaders, men and women who struggle to do the right thing, to wield authority honorably, without losing their souls.  It is a difficult calling, one in which, I pray, they will succeed.

I pray also that the rest of us called to other pursuits will work effectively for the benefit of others, not our own aggrandizement, in all the ways in which God leads us.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 21, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ALL FAITHFUL MEMBERS OF THE CLERGY

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALOYSIUS GONZAGA, JESUIT

THE FEAST OF HENARE WIREMU TARATOA OF TE RANGA, COMPASSIONATE HUMAN BEING

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JOHN JONES AND JOHN RIGBY, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

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

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/numbers-and-luke-part-vi-servant-leadership/

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

Devotion for the Forty-Third and Forty-Fourth Days of Easter (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   9 comments

Above:  A United States $500 Bill from 1918  

$500 in 1918= $7,470 in 2011 (Consumer Price Index)

Numbers and Luke, Part V:  Illusions and Attachments as Idols

SUNDAY, MAY 24, 2020, and MONDAY, MAY 25, 2020

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

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 everlasting 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:

Numbers 14:1-25 (43th Day of Easter)

Numbers 14:26-45 (44th Day of Easter)

Psalm 93 (Morning–43th Day of Easter)

Psalm 97 (Morning–44th Day of Easter)

Psalms 136 and 117 (Evening–43th Day of Easter)

Psalms 124 and 115 (Evening–44th Day of Easter)

Luke 18:18-34 (43th Day of Easter)

Luke 18:35-19:10 (44th Day of Easter)

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

Some Related Posts:

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/prayer-of-praise-and-adoration-for-the-seventh-sunday-of-easter/

Prayer of Dedication:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/prayer-of-dedication-for-the-seventh-sunday-of-easter/

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

I found Richard Elliott Friedman’s Commentary on the Torah (2001) helpful in understanding what happened in Numbers 14.  (Aside:  If you, O reader, do not have a copy of that excellent book, you might want to purchase one.)  The spies/scouts have returned from their mission.  Some have warned in dire tones of the dangers there.  As Friedman pointed out and I did notice, they had not mentioned God.  But Caleb was more optimistic, ready to go back with the rest of the population.

In Numbers 14 the community laments the possibility of going to Canaan.  Dying in the desert seems preferable.  Even returning to Egypt, where they had been slaves, seems better than going to Canaan.  Caleb and Joshua try to calm the people, to no avail.  God, angry, threatens to destroy the faithless people, but Moses talks God down.  Instead, God decrees, the people will get their wish:  they will die in the desert.  This does not make them happy either.  And those who, against divine instructions, go up against the Canaanites and the Amalekites without God’s blessing and the Ark of the Covenant perish.

As Friedman stresses, the problem was a slave mentality.  The faithless people had not had to act before.  The Egyptians had acted upon them and made decisions for them.  God had liberated them and provided them with manna and quail in the desert.  (They did have to eat.)  But resettling Canaan would require effort.  It would require them to decide then to act.

An entire generation’s experience is not easily reversed.

–Richard Elliott Friedman, Commentary on the Torah (2001), page 475

The faithless Israelites clung tenaciously to nostalgia (for slavery, oddly enough) and to a slave mentality.  The rich man in Luke 18:18-23 clung to his wealth, which blinded him to his total dependence on God.  Zacchaeus (in Luke 19:1-10) preferred an attachment to Jesus to one to wealth and the illusion of independence.

Illusions and attachments can be the most difficult idols from which to divorce ourselves.  An idol, of course, is anything which distracts us from God.  Statutes of pagan deities are obvious idols, but concepts can be less obvious and more powerful ones.  We depend entirely on God.  We cannot pull ourselves up by our spiritual bootstraps.  Yes, we have an obligation to cooperate with God, but we cannot save ourselves.  And grace–that which we do not do–requires much of us.  It requires us to decide then to act.  It is free, not cheap.

Which illusions and attachments are your most powerful idols, O reader?  I must recognize and confront mine.  May you do the same to yours.  And may we succeed via grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 21, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ALL FAITHFUL MEMBERS OF THE CLERGY

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALOYSIUS GONZAGA, JESUIT

THE FEAST OF HENARE WIREMU TARATOA OF TE RANGA, COMPASSIONATE HUMAN BEING

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JOHN JONES AND JOHN RIGBY, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

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

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/numbers-and-luke-part-v-illusions-and-attachments-as-idols/

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

Forty-Third Day of Easter: Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year C   10 comments

Above:  Thomas Edison, 1925

Image Source = Library of Congress

Via Words and Deeds

JUNE 2, 2019

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

Acts 16:16-34 (Revised English Bible):

Once, on our way to the place of prayer, we met a slave-girl who was possessed by a spirit of divination and brought large profits to her owners by telling fortunes.  She followed Paul and the rest of us shouting,

These men are servants of the Most High God, and are declaring to you a way of salvation.

She did this day after day, until, in exasperation, Paul rounded on the spirit.

I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her,

he said, and it came out instantly.

When the girl’s owners saw that their hope of profit had one, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them to the city authorities in the main square; bringing them before the magistrates, they alleged,

These men are causing a disturbance in our city; they are Jews, and they are advocating practices which it is illegal for us Romans to adopt and follow.

The mob joined in the attack; and the magistrates had the prisoners stripped and gave orders for them to be flogged.  After a severe beating they were flung into prison and the jailer was ordered to keep them under close guard.  In view of these orders, he put them into the inner prison and secured their feet in the stocks.

About midnight Paul and Silas, at their prayers, were singing praises to God, and the other prisoners were listening, when suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the jail were shaken; the doors burst open and all the prisoners found their fetters unfastened.  The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open and, assuming that the prisoners had escaped, drew his sword intending to kill himself.  But Paul shouted,

Do yourself no harm; we are all here.

The jailer called for lights, rushed in, and threw himself down before Paul and Silas, trembling with fear. He then escorted them out and said,

Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

They answered,

Put your trust in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household,

and they imparted the word of the Lord to him and everyone in his house.  At that late hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds, and there and then he and his whole family were baptized.  He brought them up into his house, set out a meal, and rejoiced with his whole household in his new-found faith in God.

Psalm 97 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 The LORD is King;

let the earth rejoice;

let the multitude of the isles be glad.

2 Clouds and darkness are round about him,

righteousness and justice are the foundations of his throne.

A fire goes before him

and burns up his enemies on every side.

4 His lightnings light up the world;

the earth sees it and is afraid.

The mountains melt like wax at the presence of the LORD,

at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.

The heavens declare his righteousness,

and all the peoples see his glory.

Confounded be all who worship carved images

and delight in false gods!

Bow down before him, all you gods.

Zion hears and is glad, and the cities of Judah rejoice,

because of your judgments, O LORD.

For you are the LORD,

most high over all the earth;

you are exalted far above all gods.

10 The LORD loves those who hate evil;

he preserves the lives of the saints

and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.

11 Light has sprung up for the righteous,

and joyful gladness for those who are truehearted.

12 Rejoice in the LORD, you righteous,

and give thanks to his holy Name.

Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21 (New Revised Standard Version):

At the end of the visions I, John, heard these words:

See, I am coming soon; my reward is with me, to repay according to everyone’s work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.

Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they will have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates….It is I, Jesus, who sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.

Th spirit and the bride say, “Come.”

And let everyone who hears say, “Come.”

Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift….

The one who testifies to these things says,

Surely I am coming soon.

Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus!

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints.  Amen.

John 17:20-26 (Anchor Bible):

[Jesus continued,]

Yet it is not for these alone that I pray but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they all may be one, just as you, Father, in me and I in you, that they also may be [one] in us.  Thus the world may be brought to completion as one.  Thus the world may come to know that you sent me and that you loved them even as you loved me.  Father, they are your gift to me; and where I am, I wish them to be one with me, that they may see my glory which you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.  O Father most just, while the world did not know you (though I knew you), these men came to know that you sent me.  And to them  I made known your name; and I will continue to make it known so that the love you had for me may be in them and I may be in them.

The Collect:

O God, the King of glory, you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven: Do not leave us comfortless, but send us your Holy Spirit to strengthen us, and exalt us to that place where our Savior Christ has gone before; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

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

Some Related Posts:

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/prayer-of-praise-and-adoration-for-the-seventh-sunday-of-easter/

Prayer of Dedication:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/prayer-of-dedication-for-the-seventh-sunday-of-easter/

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

Words can be powerful.  They can inspire one to act boldly or badly, for the benefit of others or to their detriment.  As an old U.S. Supreme Court ruling tells us, there is no constitutional protection for crying “fire” in a crowded theater.  And, in a related matter, speech which incites violence is illegal, so long as the state disapproves of that violence.  On the other hand, speech which decries state-approved violence, such as war, has, as history proves, often been criminalized, if not merely considered in appropriate.  Consider the examples of Eugene Victor Debs and a host of anti-World War I activists, for example.  And how much hell did Martin Luther King, Jr., catch for opposing the Vietnam War?

Yet, as powerful as words can be, actions matter more.  Sometimes one tries and fails, but at least one did something.  Failure has led to ultimate success, as the example of Thomas Edison attests.  We must not anathemize failure, just giving up when one ought to persist.  Edison did fail many times before he succeeded.  The light bulb in the floor lamp behind my head as I type these words attests to his ultimate success.

It is through the words and actions of others of many men and women who have preceded us that we know of Jesus Christ.  Actions flow from attitudes, and words explain deeds when deeds do not belie them.  So I emphasize deeds, along with the Letter of James and sound Roman Catholic theology.  Sometimes good and faithful works will get us into legal trouble, as in the case of Sts. Paul and Silas.  (Yet the incident gave them an opportunity to convert a household.)  And sometimes good and faithful works will lead to martyrdom, as in the case of those in Revelation 22 who had washed their robes in the blood of the lamb.  Yet may we persist in good and faithful deeds.  There will be (even if only in the afterlife),

joyful gladness for those who are truehearted.

–Psalm 97;11b, 1979 Book of Common Prayer

The company of the truehearted includes both those who are already in Christ and those whom the first group adds to their number.  This is about more than evangelism, which is vital.  It is also about discipleship and service.  To love one’s neighbor as oneself might entail social activism, for what use is it to wish one fed while not feeding him or her or supporting a system which keeps him or her hungry?  And what use is it to wish one at peace while supporting a system which keeps him or her at war?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 21, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ALL FAITHFUL MEMBERS OF THE CLERGY

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALOYSIUS GONZAGA, JESUIT

THE FEAST OF HENARE WIREMU TARATOA OF TE RANGA, COMPASSIONATE HUMAN BEING

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JOHN JONES AND JOHN RIGBY, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

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

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/via-words-and-deeds/

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