Archive for November 2013

Devotion for Good Friday, Years A, B, and C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   2 comments

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Above:  The Dogma of the Redemption, by John Singer Sargent

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-USZ62-133671

Love and Good Works

FRIDAY, APRIL 10, 2020

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The Collects:

Almighty God, look with loving mercy on your family,

for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed,

to be given over to the hands of sinners,

and to suffer death on the cross;

who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

or

Merciful God, your Son was lifted up on the cross to draw all people to himself.

Grant that we who have been born out of his wounded side may at all times

find mercy in him, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 31

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 52:13-53:12

Psalm 22

Hebrews 10:16-15 or Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9

John 18:1-19:42

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Some Related Posts:

Prayer for Good Friday:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/24/prayer-for-good-friday/

Grant, Lord Jesus, That My Healing:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/12/06/grant-lord-jesus-that-my-healing/

To Mock Your Reign, O Dearest Lord:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/11/19/to-mock-your-reign-o-dearest-lord/

Throned Upon the Awful Tree:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/09/26/throned-upon-the-awful-tree/

How Can I Thank You?:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/08/14/how-can-i-thank-you/

O Christ, Who Called the Twelve:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/07/01/o-christ-who-called-the-twelve/

How Wide the Love of Christ:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/06/30/how-wide-the-love-of-christ/

Beneath the Cross of Jesus:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/04/26/beneath-the-cross-of-jesus/

Darkly Rose the Guilty Morning:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/darkly-rose-the-guilty-morning/

O Jesus, We Adore Thee:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/o-jesus-we-adore-thee/

O Sacred Head, Now Wounded:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/o-sacred-head-now-wounded/

Stabat Mater:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/04/17/stabat-mater/

Ah, Holy Jesus, How Hast Thou Offended:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/04/17/ah-holy-jesus-how-hast-thou-offended/

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/04/17/when-i-survey-the-wondrous-cross/

My Song is Love Unknown:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/27/my-song-is-love-unknown/

In the Cross of Christ I Glory:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/10/20/in-the-cross-of-christ-i-glory/

Hymn of Promise:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/09/30/hymn-of-promise/

O Jesus, Youth of Nazareth:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/29/o-jesus-youth-of-nazareth-by-ferdinand-q-blanchard/

For the Cross:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/17/for-the-cross/

O Blessed Mother:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/17/o-blessed-mother/

O Word of Pity, for Our Pardon Pleading:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2012/08/08/o-word-of-pity-for-our-pardon-pleading/

Sing, My Tongue, the Glorious Battle:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2013/10/31/sing-my-tongue-the-glorious-battle/

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Psalm 22, which begins with

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me,

and are so far from my salvation,

from the words of my distress?

O my God, I cry in the daytime,

but you do not answer;

and by night also, but I find no rest.

–Verses 1-2, Common Worship (2000)

ends in thanksgiving for what God has done.  This fact applies well to the Easter Triduum, but I choose not to pursue that line of thought further in this post, for to do so would be to get ahead of this day’s portion of the narrative.

Faithful people of God read Isaiah 52:13-53:12 for centuries before the crucifixion of Jesus.  As obvious as that statement might seem, it might also surprise some people accustomed to only one lens through which to interpret it.  So what about Jewish readings of the passage?  The servant of God could be the whole Israelite nation or just the pious minority thereof or a particular holy person, maybe Jeremiah.  All of these are possible.  The words also fit Jesus well.

I publish these words in the vicinity of Thanksiving Day (U.S.A.) 2013 and shortly before the beginning of the season of Advent.  I know that Christmas leads to Good Friday and Easter Sunday.  There is much occurring theologically in these assigned readings.  Among them are a condemnation of unjust violence and a reminder that God is more powerful than our hatred and fear.

It is well and good to salute Jesus, but that alone is insufficient.  We have no mere hero and martyr.  No, we have a Lord and Savior, whom we are supposed to follow.  He said to keep his commandments and to love each other as he loved his Apostles.  Fortunately, we have access to grace, or else accomplishing these goals would be impossible.

So may we heed the advice of Hebrews 10:24:

…and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works….

Revised Standard Version—Second Edition (1971)

If certain people had thought that way, they would not have sought to kill Jesus.

Following this ethic requires us to seek not affirmation of our opinions, doctrines, and social status, but that which is best for others.  Obeying our Lord and Savior—taking up a cross and following him—entails thinking more about others than about oneself.  This is difficult yet for the best overall.

Good Friday is a holy day for me.  The Episcopal Church’s liturgy for the day moves me deeply, doing what good ritual ought to do—take one out of daily routines and transport one into a different spiritual atmosphere.  Reading the assigned lessons has taken me only a short distance along that path, but that brief trip suffices for now.  The material is emotionally difficult.  It it is not, that fact might speak poorly of the reader.

May divine love fill your soul, O reader, and inspire you to love and good works.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

THE FEAST OF GEORGE DAWSON, ENGLISH BAPTIST AND UNITARIAN PASTOR

THE FEAST OF DOROTHY DAY, SOCIAL ACTIVIST

THE FEAST OF THE INAUGURATION OF THE CHURCH OF NORTH INDIA, 1970

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/01/17/love-and-good-works/

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Devotion for Maundy Thursday, Years A, B, and C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   2 comments

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Above:  The Dogma of the Redemption, by John Singer Sargent

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-USZ62-133671

Jesus and Scapegoating

THURSDAY, APRIL 9, 2020

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The Collect:

Holy God, source of all love, on the night of his betrayal,

Jesus gave us a new commandment,

to love one another as he loves us.

Write this commandment in our hearts,

and give us the will to serve others

as he was the servant of all, your Son,

Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 30

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The Assigned Readings:

Exodus 12:1-4 [5-10] 11-14

Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

John 13:1-17, 31-35

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Some Related Posts:

Prayer for Holy Thursday/Maundy Thursday:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/24/prayer-for-holy-thursdaymaundy-thursday/

Lord, Help Us Walk Your Servant Way:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/07/01/lord-help-us-walk-your-servant-way/

That Solemn Night:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2012/04/28/that-solemn-night/

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O Lord, I am your servant,

your servant, the child of your handmaid;

you have freed me from my bonds.

I will offer to you a sacrifice of thanksgiving

and call upon the name of the Lord.

–Psalm 116:14-15, Common Worship (2000)

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The greatest title of the Bishop of Rome is “Servant of the Servants of God.”  That model of servanthood comes from Jesus himself, who affirmed by words and deeds the dignity of human beings and called we mortals to respectful community.  In serving each other we seek and find our own best interests, for what affects one person has an impact on others.

The Passover and the Exodus marked the freedom of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, delivered them from the sins of their oppressors, and set them on the way to hearing an ideal of responsibility to and for each other.  In the Law of Moses people, all slaves of God, have no right to exploit or oppress each other.  We humans have yet to fulfill that ethic in our social, economic, and political systems, unfortunately.

Ironically, the reading from the Gospel of John is set on Wednesday, for, in the Fourth Gospel, our Lord and Savior dies on Thursday, while the sacrificial animals die at the Temple.  He is, in other words, the Passover Lamb.  He was, for many, a scapegoat in a difficult political situation.  Yet the wrath of the Roman Empire fell hard in time anyway.

Scapegoating anyone violates the ethic of mutuality in the Law of Moses.  May we, in reverence for Jesus and because it is the right thing to do, refrain from scapegoating people.  May we respect their dignity actively and effectively instead.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 28, 2013 COMMON ERA

THANKSGIVING DAY (U.S.A.)

THE FEAST OF SAINT STEPHEN THE YOUNGER, DEFENDER OF ICONS

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOSEPH PIGNATELLI, RESTORER OF THE JESUITS

THE FEAST OF KAMAHAMEHA AND EMMA, KING AND QUEEN OF HAWAII

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/01/17/jesus-and-scapegoating/

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Devotion for Wednesday in Holy Week, Years A, B, and C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   2 comments

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Above:  The Dogma of the Redemption, by John Singer Sargent

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-USZ62-133671

Shame and Glory

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 8, 2020

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The Collect:

Almighty God, your Son our Savior suffered at human hands

and endured the shame of the cross.  Grant that we may walk

in the way of the cross and find it the way of life and peace,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 30

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 50:4-9a

Psalm 70

Hebrews 12:1-3

John 13:21-32

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A Related Post:

A Prayer for Wednesday of Passion Week/Holy Week:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/24/prayer-for-wednesday-of-passion-weekholy-week/

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O God, make speed to save me;

O Lord, make haste to help me.

Let those who seek my life

be put to shame and confusion;

let them be turned back and disgraced

who wish me evil.

Let those who mock and deride me

turn back because of their shame.

But let all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you;

let those who love your salvation say always, “Great is the Lord!”

As for me, I am poor and needy;

come to me quickly, O God.

You are my help and my deliverer;

O Lord, do not delay.

–Psalm 70, Common Worship (2000)

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Shame and honor are social constructs.  One has only as much honor or shame as others agree one does.  And people can redefine symbols.  This has happened in the case of the cross, originally a symbol of shame and utter annihilation, but now one of victory over evil and death.

May we who claim to follow God really follow God.  As part of that discipline may we, in words of Isaiah 50:4,

Console the weary

with a timely word….

The Revised English Bible (1989)

And, also as part of that discipline, may we not subscribe to false codes of honor and shame, for the glorification of our Lord and Savior in the Johannine Gospel was his crucifixion.

“Shame” is glorification.  The first will be last.  The last will be first.  Some prostitutes and Roman collaborators will enter Heaven before certain respectable religious people will.  I detect a good pattern here.

May we notice that pattern and live according to its ethic of radical grace, by the power of grace.  And may we, unlike the author of Psalm 70, reject the predictable and understandable tendency to seek the doom and disgrace of our enemies and persecutors.  May we follow the example of our Lord and Savior.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 28, 2013 COMMON ERA

THANKSGIVING DAY (U.S.A.)

THE FEAST OF SAINT STEPHEN THE YOUNGER, DEFENDER OF ICONS

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOSEPH PIGNATELLI, RESTORER OF THE JESUITS

THE FEAST OF KAMAHAMEHA AND EMMA, KING AND QUEEN OF HAWAII

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/01/17/shame-and-glory/

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Devotion for Tuesday in Holy Week, Years A, B, and C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   2 comments

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Above:  Candle Burning

Image in the Public Domain

Light in the Darkness

TUESDAY, APRIL 7, 2020

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The Collect:

Lord Jesus, you have called us to follow you.

grant that our love may not grow cold in your service,

and that we may not fail or deny you in the time of trial,

for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 30

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 49:1-7

Psalm 71:1-14

1 Corinthians 1:18-31

John 12:20-36

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A Related Post:

Prayer for Tuesday of Passion Week/Holy Week:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/24/prayer-for-tuesday-of-passion-weekholy-week/

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Do not cast me away in the time of old age;

forsake me not when my strength fails.

For my enemies are talking against me,

and those who lie in wait for my life take counsel together.

–Psalm 71:9-10, Common Worship (2000)

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In our end us our beginning;

in our time, infinity;

in our doubt there is believing;

in our life, eternity.

In our death, a resurrection;

at the last, a victory,

unrevealed until its season,

something God alone can see.

–Natalie Sleeth, 1986

Copyright (1986) Holder = Hope Publishing Company

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The great task of being a light of God to the nations can be dangerous.  Jesus died, for elements of the darkness objected to him.  And a multitude of saints (canonized and otherwise) has died for showing God’s light in the darkness.

Too often I hear of many of my fellow Christians emphasize the death of Jesus so much that they either minimize or ignore his Resurrection.  With the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior we have dead Jesus, one powerless to save anyone from anything.  Of course, given my well-documented tendency toward the Classic Theory of the Atonement (Christus Victor), I emphasize the Resurrection of Jesus.  Death has lost its sting and God has demonstrated power superior to that of evil schemers.  This should encourage one in the difficult and potentially dangerous work of functioning as a light to the nations.  God will sin in the end.  The saints of God will continue to shine for God in the darkness after they die.  The darkness cannot extinguish the light.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 28, 2013 COMMON ERA

THANKSGIVING DAY (U.S.A.)

THE FEAST OF SAINT STEPHEN THE YOUNGER, DEFENDER OF ICONS

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOSEPH PIGNATELLI, RESTORER OF THE JESUITS

THE FEAST OF KAMAHAMEHA AND EMMA, KING AND QUEEN OF HAWAII

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/01/17/light-in-the-darkness-2/

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Devotion for Monday in Holy Week, Years A, B, and C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   2 comments

AgnusDeiWindow

Above:  Stained-Glass Version of the Moravian Logo

Image Source = JJackman

The Lamb Who Has Conquered

MONDAY, APRIL 6, 2020

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The Collect:

O God, your Son chose the path that led to pain before joy

and to the cross before glory.  Plant his cross in our hearts,

so that in its power and love we may come at last to joy and glory,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 30

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 42:1-9

Psalm 36:5-11

Hebrews 9:11-15

John 12:1-11

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A Related Post:

Prayer for Monday of Passion Week/Holy Week:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/24/prayer-for-monday-of-passion-weekholy-week/

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Your righteousness stands like strong mountains,

your justice like the great deep;

you, Lord, shall save both man and beast.

–Psalm 36:6, Common Worship (2000)

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The Synoptic Gospels tell us something powerful and vital visually:  Jesus entered Jerusalem that signal day on the back of a beast of burden.  This was a clear sign within his culture, for a king who had won already rode such an animal to the peace talks.  Thus our Lord and Savior entered Jerusalem triumphantly not as a conquering hero but as one who had triumphed already.  As the wordy Jesus of the Fourth Gospel says,

I have overcome the world.

–John 16:33b, Revised Standard Version—Second Edition (1971)

The servant of God in Isaiah 42:1-9, in the original meaning, is the Hebrews, the Chosen People.  That mandate is also the assignment of all the faithful people of God—Jews and Gentiles—to shine brightly for God and to work justice-righteousness.  (Justice and righteousness are the same in the Bible.)  One test of how well we perform on that standard is how we treat others, especially the vulnerable.  That is a good idea to remember as we proceed through Holy Week and approach the liturgical observance of our Lord and Savior’s judicial murder—his crucifixion.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 28, 2013 COMMON ERA

THANKSGIVING DAY (U.S.A.)

THE FEAST OF SAINT STEPHEN THE YOUNGER, DEFENDER OF ICONS

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOSEPH PIGNATELLI, RESTORER OF THE JESUITS

THE FEAST OF KAMAHAMEHA AND EMMA, KING AND QUEEN OF HAWAII

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/01/17/the-lamb-who-has-conquered/

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Devotion for the Thirty-Fourth Day of Lent, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   2 comments

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Above:  Destruction of Jerusalem Under the Babylonian Rule, 1493

Image in the Public Domain

Vengeance and Forgiveness

SATURDAY, APRIL 4, 2020

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The Collect:

Everlasting God, in your endless love for the human race

you sent our Lord Jesus Christ to take on our nature and

to suffer death on the cross.  In your mercy enable us to share

in his obedience to your will and in the glorious victory of

his resurrection, who lives and reigns with you and the

Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 29

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The Assigned Readings:

Lamentations 3:55-66

Psalm 31:9-16

Mark 10:32-34

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For my life is wasted with grief,

and my years with sighing;

my strength fails me because of my affliction,

and my bones are consumed.

–Psalm 31:10, Common Worship (2000)

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The desire for revenge is predictable and understandable, especially when one is innocent.  To want the malefactor (s) to suffer of the consequences of his, her, or their perfidy is a natural reaction.  I have known this powerful emotion and struggled with it.

This is a devotion for the day before Palm/Passion Sunday.  With that in mind, may we think ahead a few days liturgically through Holy Week.  Jesus was innocent of any capital offense, a fact which did not prevent his execution—judicial murder.  Yet he practices forgiveness; he did not ask God to rain down vengeance upon anyone complicit in his death.

That is a difficult example to follow, even in less dire circumstances.  Yet we have access to grace, so following the good example of our Lord and Savior is possible.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 28, 2013 COMMON ERA

THANKSGIVING DAY (U.S.A.)

THE FEAST OF SAINT STEPHEN THE YOUNGER, DEFENDER OF ICONS

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOSEPH PIGNATELLI, RESTORER OF THE JESUITS

THE FEAST OF KAMAHAMEHA AND EMMA, KING AND QUEEN OF HAWAII

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/01/15/vengeance-and-forgiveness/

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Devotion for the Thirty-Second and Thirty-Third Day of Lent, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   2 comments

Probably_Valentin_de_Boulogne_-_Saint_Paul_Writing_His_Epistles_-_Google_Art_Project

Above:  Saint Paul Writing His Epistles, by Valentin de Boulogne

Image in the Public Domain

Compassion and Suffering

THURSDAY, APRIL 2, 2020, and FRIDAY, APRIL 3, 2020

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The Collect:

Everlasting God, in your endless love for the human race

you sent our Lord Jesus Christ to take on our nature and

to suffer death on the cross.  In your mercy enable us to share

in his obedience to your will and in the glorious victory of

his resurrection, who lives and reigns with you and the

Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 29

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The Assigned Readings:

1 Samuel 16:11-13 (32nd Day)

Job 13:13-19 (33rd Day)

Psalm 31:9-16 (Both Days)

Philippians 1:1-11 (32nd Day)

Philippians 1:21-30 (33rd Day)

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But my trust is in you, O Lord.

I have said, “You are my God.

My times are in your hand;

deliver me from those who persecute me.

Make your face to shine upon your servant,

and save me for your mercy’s sake.”

–Psalm 31:14-16, Common Worship (2000)

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Sometimes people suffer because they have done something wrong; they reap what they sown.  Other times people suffer because they have done something for God.  When the light shines in the darkness, elements of the latter cannot or will not abide the former.  And sometimes neither of the above reasons applies.

The Book of Job establishes that the titular character was righteous, that God permitted his manifold and terrible sufferings, and that Job had bad excuses for friends.  Our excerpt from Job 13, in the voice of the titular character, rebuts Zophar, who had told him to confess his sins.

Be quiet! Kindly let me do the talking,

happen to me what may.

–Job 13:13, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

seems like a mild translation to me.  Job and Zophar did commit the same error—presuming to know how God does or should act.  But at least Job was not as annoying as his alleged friend.

God has worked in ways we do not always expect.  A young shepherd became a king.  A persecutor of nascent Christianity became one of its most important evangelists.  The most important figure of an age was a Palestinian Jewish carpenter and stonecutter, not any of the Roman Emperors.  And God continues to be full of surprises.

May we not presume to know more than we do.  More important than being right and proven so is acting compassionately.  I would rather be compassionate and objectively incorrect on some point of doctrine than mean-spirited or unkind in my dealings with people and objectively correct on points of doctrine.  Perhaps the character of Zophar thought that he was helping, but he was wrong.  Good intentions are insufficient.  What are the effects?

That is a difficult and high standard to pass.  May we succeed, by grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 28, 2013 COMMON ERA

THANKSGIVING DAY (U.S.A.)

THE FEAST OF SAINT STEPHEN THE YOUNGER, DEFENDER OF ICONS

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOSEPH PIGNATELLI, RESTORER OF THE JESUITS

THE FEAST OF KAMAHAMEHA AND EMMA, KING AND QUEEN OF HAWAII

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/01/15/compassion-and-suffering/

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