Archive for the ‘Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Lectionary Year C’ Category

Devotion for the Vigil of Pentecost, Years A, B, and C (ILCW Lectionary)   1 comment

Above:  Pentecost Dove

Image Scanned from a Church Bulletin

The Fulfillment of the Promise of Easter

MAY 27, 2023

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According to the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship (ILCW) Lectionary (1973), as contained in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and Lutheran Worship (1982)

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Exodus 19:1-9 or Acts 2:1-11

Psalm 33:12-22 (LBW) or Psalm 130 (LBW) or Psalm 98 (LW)

Romans 8:14-17, 22-27

John 7:37-39a

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Almighty and ever-living God,

you fulfilled the promise of Easter

by sending your Holy Spirit to unite the races and nations on earth

and thus to proclaim your glory. 

Look upon your people gathered in prayer,

open to receive the Spirit’s flame. 

May it come to rest in our hearts

and heal the divisions of word and tongue,

that with one voice and one song

we may praise your name in joy and thanksgiving;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 23

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O God, on this day you once taught the hearts of your faithful people

by sending a right understanding in all things

and evermore to rejoice in his holy consolation;

through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you in communion with the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982)

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The Episcopal, Lutheran, and Roman Catholic traditions provide for the Vigil of Pentecost, a service I have never had the opportunity to attend.  Page 227 of The Book of Common Prayer (1979) contains a rubric regarding the vigil.  The Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), Lutheran Worship (1982), and Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006) offer collects and readings for the Vigil of Easter.  The Lutheran Service Book (2006), which offers no collects in the pew edition, includes readings for this vigil.

The Vigil of Pentecost was popular during the Middle Ages.  It was one of the favored occasions for baptism.  Continental Protestant reformers rejected this vigil in the 1500s; they restored the liturgical primacy of Sunday.

Yet here we are, with Lutherans approving the celebration of the Vigil of Pentecost.  Liturgical renewal, blessed by thy name!

The theme of unity carries over from the readings for the preceding Sunday.  The faith community gathers in expectation of the fulfillment of divine promises, including the “promise of Easter,” to quote the collect from the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978).

God is the central actor, despite the anthropocentric tendencies of much of human theology.  That God is central should cause much thanksgiving and place human egos in proper context.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 26, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM COWPER, ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT ADELARD OF CORBIE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK AND ABBOT; AND HIS PROTÉGÉ, SAINT PASCAHSIUS RADBERTUS, FRANKISH ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, ABBOT, AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF ROBERT HUNT, FIRST ANGLICAN CHAPLAIN AT JAMESTOWN, VIRGINIA

THE FEAST OF RUGH BYLLESBY, EPISCOPAL DEACONESS IN GEORGIA

THE FEAST OF SAINT STANISLAW KUBITSA, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1940; AND SAINT WLADYSLAW GORAL, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP AND MARTYR, 1945

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM STRINGFELLOW, EPISCOPAL ATTORNEY, THEOLOGIAN, AND SOCIAL ACTIVIST

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Link to the corresponding post at BLOGA THEOLOGICA

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Devotion for the Ascension of Our Lord, Years A, B, and C (ILCW Lectionary)   1 comment

Above:  Icon of the Ascension of Christ

Image in the Public Domain

Enthronement

MAY 18, 2023

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According to the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship (ILCW) Lectionary (1973), as contained in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and Lutheran Worship (1982)

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Acts 1:1-11

Psalm 110

Ephesians 1:16-23

Luke 24:44-53

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Almighty God, your only Son was taken up into heaven

and in power intercedes for us. 

May we also come into your presence

and live forever in your glory;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 22

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Grant, we pray, almighty God,

that even as we believe your only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,

to have ascended into heaven,

so may also in heart and mind ascend and continually

dwell there with him;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 55-56

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Luke-Acts is a composite work.  Given this fact, the discrepancy in the timing of the Ascension confuses me.  Luke 24 places the Ascension on the same day as the Resurrection.  Yet Acts 1 times it forty days after the Resurrection and ten days before Pentecost.  O, well.

By the 300s, the Feast of the Ascension our Lord, set forty days after Easter Day, was commonplace.  St. Augustine of Hippo wrote that churches

all over the world

celebrated the feast.

I understand the Ascension as theological poetry, not theological prose, because of science.  I accept that, one day, Jesus was present with his Apostles until he left.  Given cultural and theological assumptions of the time, we have the metaphor of ascension.  May we–you, O reader, and I–not become lost in technical details.

The Feast of the Ascension is about enthronement–of Jesus, mainly.  It is about the enthronement of humanity itself.  To quote St. John Chrysostom:

Our very nature…is enthroned today high above all cherubim.

Happy Ascension Day!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 23, 2022 COMMON ERA

SATURDAY IN EASTER WEEK

THE FEAST OF TOYOHIKO KAGAWA, RENEWER OF SOCIETY AND PROPHETIC WITNESS IN JAPAN

THE FEAST OF MARTIN RINCKART, GERMAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT TERESA MARIA OF THE CROSS, FOUNDER OF THE CARMELITE SISTERS OF SAINT TERESA OF FLORENCE

THE FEAST OF WALTER RUSSELL BOWIE, EPISCOPAL PRIEST, SEMINARY PROFESSOR, AND HYMN WRITER

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Link to the corresponding post at BLOGA THEOLOGICA

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Devotion for Easter Day–Evening Service, Years A, B, and C (ILCW Lectionary)   1 comment

Above: Supper at Emmaus, by Caravaggio

Image in the Public Domain

Limited Expectations and Vision

APRIL 9, 2023

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According to the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship (ILCW) Lectionary (1973), as contained in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and Lutheran Worship (1982)

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Daniel 12:1c-3 or Jonah 2:2-9

Psalm 150 (LBW) or Psalm 146 (LW)

1 Corinthians 5:6-8

Luke 24:13-49

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Almighty God, give us the joy of celebrating our Lord’s resurrection. 

Give us also the joys of life in your service,

and bring us at last to the full joy of life eternal;

through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 21

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Almighty God the Father,

through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ

you have overcome death and opened the gate of everlasting life to us. 

Grant that we, who celebrate with jo the day of the Lord’s resurrection,

may be raised from the depth of sin by your life-giving Spirit;

through Jesus Christ, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 49

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Major lectionaries for Sundays and other holy days usually provide readings without specifying a morning or an evening service.  Some exceptions exist.  There are, for example, the main and the evening for services for Easter Day, as well as the Easter Vigil.

The main purpose for the evening service on Easter Day is to tell the story in Luke 24:13-49–the road to Emmaus story.  One textual curiosity is the timing of the Ascension of Jesus–immediately after the events of Luke 24:13-49 or forty days later (Acts 1:6-12).  That the same author (St. Luke) wrote both accounts adds to the confusion.

Anyway, Luke 14:13-49 tells us that God prevented the disciples on the road to Emmaus from recognizing Jesus for a while.  That explanation seems unnecessary; one may surmise reasonably that those disciples did not expect to encounter Jesus.  Therefore, they did not recognize him.  Are you, O reader, likely to recognize someone walking around when you think that person is dead?  We humans tend not to see what we do not expect to see.  We look yet we do not see.

God acts.  The evidence surrounds us, and we miss much of it.  The proof is not wearing camouflage.  No, we are paying inadequate attention.  This statement applies daily.  In science, people speak of

life as we know it.

I suspect that the universe teems with life, most of it not life as we know it.  If we were to encounter it, we would probably not recognize it.   Blessings often assume forms we do not recognize.  We encounter a plethora of blessings daily and fail to recognize many of them.

How do you, O reader, and I need to expand our definitions and expectations so we can recognize more of what God has done and is doing?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 17, 2022 COMMON ERA

EASTER DAY

THE FEAST OF DANIEL SYLVESTER TUTTLE, PRESIDING BISHOP OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH

THE FEAST OF EMILY COOPER, EPISCOPAL DEACONESS

THE FEAST OF LUCY LARCOM, U.S. ACADEMIC, JOURNALIST, POET, EDITOR, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAX JOSEF METZGER, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1944

THE FEAST OF WILBUR KENNETH HOWARD, MODERATOR OF THE UNITED CHURCH OF CANADA

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Link to the corresponding post at BLOGA THEOLOGICA

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Devotion for Good Friday, Years A, B, and C (ILCW Lectionary)   1 comment

Above:  Icon of the Crucifixion

Image in the Public Domain

A Time for Silence

APRIL 7, 2023

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According to the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship (ILCW) Lectionary (1973), as contained in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and Lutheran Worship (1982)

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Isaiah 52:13-53:12 or Hosea 6:1-6

Psalm 22:1-23 (LBW) or Psalm 22:1-24 (LW)

Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9

John 18:1-19:42 or John 19:17-30

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Almighty God, we ask you to look with mercy on your family;

for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed

and 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, forever and ever.  Amen.

OR

Lord Jesus, you carried our sins in your own body

on the tree so that we might have life. 

May we and all who remember this day find new life

in you now and in the world to come,

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

now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 20

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Almighty God, graciously behold this your family,

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

to be given into 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.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 45

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Words and rituals have power.  (That is a quintessential Lutheran theological statement.)  In my denomination, The Episcopal Church, the liturgy for Good Friday is powerful and solemn.  It concludes with people leaving in silence.

Sometimes one should be silent.  I invite you, O reader, to read the assigned portions of scripture aloud or to listen to them.  Let them sink in.  Let them exercise their power over you.  And digest them in silence.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 15, 2022 COMMON ERA

GOOD FRIDAY

THE FEAST OF SAINT OLGA OF KIEV, REGENT OF KIEVAN RUSSIA; SAINT ADALBERT OF MAGDEBURG, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP; SAINT ADALBERT OF PRAGUE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP AND MARTYR, 997; AND SAINTS BENEDICT AND GAUDENTIUS OF POMERANIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS, 997

THE FEAST OF SAINTS DAMIEN AND MARIANNE OF MOLOKAI, WORKERS AMONG LEPERS

THE FEAST OF SAINT FLAVIA DOMITILLA, ROMAN CHRISTIAN NOBLEWOMAN; AND SAINTS MARO, EUTYCHES, AND VICTORINUS OF ROME, PRIESTS AND MARTYRS, CIRCA 99

THE FEAST OF SAINT HUNNA OF ALSACE, THE “HOLY WASHERWOMAN”

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Link to the corresponding post at BLOGA THEOLOGICA

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Devotion for Wednesday in Holy Week, Years A, B, and C (ILCW)   1 comment

Above:  Judas Iscariot, by James Tissot

Image in the Public Domain

Judas Iscariot

APRIL 5, 2023

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According to the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship (ILCW) Lectionary (1973), as contained in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and Lutheran Worship (1982)

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Isaiah 50:4-9a

Psalm 70:1-2 4-6 (LBW) or Psalm 18:21-30 (LW)

Romans 5:6-11

Matthew 26:14-25

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Almighty God, your Son our Savior suffered at the hands of men

and endured the shame of the cross. 

Grant that we may walk in the way of his cross

and find it the way of life and peace;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 20

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Merciful and everlasting God the Father,

who did not spare your only Son

but delivered him up for us all that he might bear our sins on the cross;

grant that our hearts may be so fixed with steadfast faith in our Savior

that we may not fear the power of any adversaries;

through Jesus Christ, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 43

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In context, Isaiah 50:4-9a is an odd lection to read on this Sunday.  The speaker–the prophet/servant (Second Isaiah)–is pious yet merely human, therefore, sinful.  He believes that the suffering of the exiles during the Babylonian Exile has been justified.  Yet he also anticipates the divine vindication of that exiled population, for the glory of God.  Applying this reading to sinless Jesus (who suffered an unjust execution as an innocent man) requires astounding theological gymnastics.

Judas Iscariot played an essential role in a divine plan.  The writers of the four canonical Gospels portrayed him negatively, for one major obvious reason.  The Gospel of John added that Judas was an embezzler (John 12:6).  Despite all this, Judas was not outside the mercy of God.  And he had not committed the unpardonable sin–blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:32; Mark 3:28; Luke 12:10).  Judas may have thought that he knew what he was doing, but he did not.  Recall Luke 23:24, O reader:

Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”

The New American Bible–Revised Edition (2011)

I do not pretend to know the ultimate fate of Judas Iscariot.  I am not God.  I do, however, repeat my position that the only people in Hell are those who have condemned themselves.  God sends nobody to Hell.  Divine mercy and judgment exist in a balance I cannot grasp, for I am not God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 12, 2022 COMMON ERA

HOLY TUESDAY

THE FEAST OF HENRY SLOANE COFFIN, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, THEOLOGIAN, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR; AND HIS NEPHEW, WILLIAM SLOANE COFFIN, JR., U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND SOCIAL ACTIVIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT DAVID URIBE-VELASCO, MEXICAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1927

THE FEAST OF SAINT JULIUS I, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF SAINT ZENO OF VERONA, BISHOP

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Link to the corresponding post at BLOGA THEOLOGICA

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Devotion for Tuesday in Holy Week, Years A, B, and C (ILCW Lectionary)   1 comment

Above:  Icon of Christ Pantocrator

Image in the Public Domain

Following Jesus

APRIL 4, 2023

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According to the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship (ILCW) Lectionary (1973), as contained in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and Lutheran Worship (1982)

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Isaiah 49:1-6

Psalm 71:1-12 (LBW) or Psalm 18:1-7, 17-20 (LW)

1 Corinthians 1:18-25

John 12:20-36

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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 hour of trial.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 19

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Almighty and everlasting God,

grant us grace so to pass through this holy time of our Lord’s Passion

that we may receive the pardon of our sins;

through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 42

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In context, the identity of servant in Isaiah 49:1-6 is vague.  The servant is probably the personification of a faithful subset of the exiled population during the Babylonian Exile.  I do not look for Jesus in the Hebrew Bible as if he is Waldo in a Where’s Waldo? book.  Therefore, I conclude that linking Isaiah 49:1-6 to Jesus so as to identify him as the servant in that text requires extraordinary theological gymnastics.

Salvation is a process, not an event.  To be precise, salvation is a process the Church mediates via the sacraments.  That statement indicates the influence of Roman Catholicism in my theology.  (And I grew up a Methodist!)  Read 1 Corinthians 1:18 again, O reader:

…but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

The New American Bible–Revised Edition (2011)

The divine passive indicates that God is doing the saving.  God is the central actor.  Human selfishness places people in the center of theology.  (Now I sound like Karl Barth.)

As we barrel toward the crucifixion of Jesus, we read John 12:25:

Those who love their life will lose it, and those who hate their live in this world will keep it for eternal life.

The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

Eternal life, in Johannine theology, is know God via Jesus.  Johannine eternal life may begin in this life.

“Hate” is an unfortunate translation choice in John 12:25. The operative Greek word means “love less than.”  Reading John 12:25 in the context of John 12:26, 12:25 should read:

…and those who love their life in this world less than me (Jesus) will keep it for eternal life.

In the four canonical Gospels, we read of Jesus issuing individualized calls to discipleship, depending on circumstances.  Yet the common thread is subordinating everything to Jesus.

Why not?  Jesus gave himself.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 9, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF DIETRICH BONHOEFFEFR, GERMAN LUTHERAN MARTYR, 1945

THE FEAST OF JOHANN CRUGER, GERMAN LUTHERAN ORGANIST, COMPOSER, AND HYMNAL EDITOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN SAMUJEL BEWLEY MONSELL, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND POET; AND RICHARD MANT, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF DOWN, CONNOR, AND DROMORE

THE FEAST OF LYDIA EMILIE GRUCHY, FIRST FEMALE MINISTER IN THE UNITED CHURCH OF CANADA

THE FEAST OF MIKAEL AGRICOLA, FINNISH LUTHERAN LITURGIST, BISHOP OF TURKU, AND “FATHER OF FINNISH LITERARY LANGUAGE”

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM LAW, ANGLICAN PRIEST, MYSTIC, AND SPIRITUAL WRITER

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Link to the corresponding post at BLOGA THEOLOGICA

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Devotion for Monday in Holy Week, Years A, B, and C (ILCW Lectionary)   1 comment

Above:  St. Mary of Bethany and Jesus (Nicholas Ge)

Image in the Public Domain

Selfless Love

APRIL 3, 2023

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According to the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship (ILCW) Lectionary (1973), as contained in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and Lutheran Worship (1982)

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Isaiah 42:1-9

Psalm 36:5-10

Hebrews 9:11-15

John 12:1-11

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O God, your Son chose the path which led to pain

before joy and 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 your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 19

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Almighty God, whose Son Jesus Christ

chose to suffer pain before going up to joy,

and crucifixion before entering into glory,

mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross,

may find this path to be the way of life and peace;

through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 41

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In context, the servant in Isaiah 42:1-9 is the Jewish people personified, created and appointed to be a covenant people and a light to the nations.  In context, this group was about to emerge from the Babylonian Exile, which the Deuteronomistic theology of the Bible explained as divine punishment for persistent, collective violation of the moral mandates in the Law of Moses.  To identify this servant with sinless Jesus requires theological gymnastics.

Yet here we are.

Hebrews 9:11-15 presents Jesus as the mediator of a new covenant via his sacrificial death (and his resurrection).  Do not forget the resurrection, O reader.  Without it, we have dead Jesus, who can do nothing to redeem anyone.

But I am getting ahead of the story.

Each of the canonical Gospels contains a version of the story of a woman anointing Jesus.  Scholars tell us that there were two anointings–one of Christ’s head and another one of his feet–and that the Johannine account merges elements of both.  So be it.  In the Gospel of John, the setting was the home of Sts. Mary, Martha, and Lazarus of Bethany, and St. Mary of Bethany was the anointer.  We read of her, with her hair down (in the style of a harlot, not a respectable woman who could afford expensive nard ointment from India), behaving in an undignified and loving way.  We read that this anointing foreshadowed the anointing of Jesus’s corpse a few days later.

Displays of selfless love may shock one.  Ponder what Jesus did later that week, O reader.  Ponder what St. Mary of Bethany did at the beginning of the week, too.  Consider that these acts were different from each other yet had much in common.  The application of any given timeless principle varies according to who, when, and where one is.

What does the playing out of selfless love entail and look like where and when you are, O reader?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 8, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HENRY MELCHIOR MUHLENBERG, PATRIARCH OF AMERICAN LUTHERANISM; HIS GREAT-GRANDSON, WILLIAM AUGUSTUS MUHLENBERG, EPISCOPAL PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND LITURGICAL PIONEER; AND HIS COLLEAGUE, ANNE AYERS, FOUNDER OF THE SISTERHOOD OF THE HOLY COMMUNION

THE FEAST OF SAINT DIONYSIUS OF CORINTH, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF GODFREY DIEKMANN, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, PRIEST, ECUMENIST, THEOLOGIAN, AND LITURGICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF SAINT HUGH OF ROUEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP, ABBOT, AND MONK

THE FEAST OF SAINT JULIE BILLIART, FOUNDER OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE SISTERS OF NOTRE DAME

THE FEAST OF TIMOTHY LULL, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER, SCHOLAR, THEOLOGIAN, AND ECUMENIST

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Link to the corresponding post at BLOGA THEOLOGICA

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Devotion for Ash Wednesday, Years A, B, and C (ILCW Lectionary)   1 comment

Above:  Ash Wednesday Cross

Image in the Public Domain

Repentance

FEBRUARY 22, 2023

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According to the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship (ILCW) Lectionary (1973), as contained in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and Lutheran Worship (1982)

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Joel 2:12-19

Psalm 51:1-13

2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:2

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

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Almighty and ever-living God, you hate nothing you have made,

and you forgive the sins of all who are penitent. 

Create in us new and honest hearts, so that,

truly repenting of our sins, we may obtain from you,

the God of all mercy, full pardon and forgiveness;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns

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

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 17

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Almighty and everlasting God,

because you hate nothing you have made

and forgive the sins of all who are penitent,

create in us new and contrite hearts that we,

worthily repenting of our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness,

may obtain from you, the God of all mercy,

perfect remission and forgiveness;

through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns

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

Lutheran Worship (1982), 32

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The prophet Joel, in the 400s B.C.E. interpreted a plague of locusts as divine punishment on the people for disobeying the Law of Moses repeatedly and habitually.  He also understood that repentance remained an option.

I do not share Joel’s first assumption.  I do not interpret natural disasters as acts of divine judgment.  Those who live in Kansas may expect tornadoes.  Those who reside near the Gulf of Mexico may expect hurricanes and tropical storms.  Those who live near fault lines may expect earthquakes.  Those who live near active volcanoes may expect volcanic activity.  Those who live in a flood plain may expect floods.  Such is nature.

The Hebrew prophetic tradition could not make up its mind when repentance remained an option and when God had stopped listening.  (I know; I read the Hebrew prophetic books carefully recently.)  However, I have made up my mind on part of the issue:  So long as one has breath, repentance remains an option.  Whether one can repent after death is a question I cannot answer.  The answer to that question is for God to provide.  I do not presume to know the balance of divine judgment and mercy.

Remorse for sins prepares the way for repentance of those sins.  Talk is cheap.  Nevertheless, some words are necessary and helpful.  Martin Luther was correct; language–especially sacramental language–has power.  And actions are where, as a cliché says, the rubber meets the road.

Lent is a season in which the Church (that part of it with good liturgical sense, at least) focuses on repentance.  We mere mortals need to repent individually.  Societies, cultures, kingdoms, empires, nation-states, and institutions need to repent collectively.  Even the best of us, who have mastered the Lutheran theological category of civil righteousness, have fallen far short of God’s standard.  The rest of us have fallen far short of the same standard, too.  Everyone above a very young age struggles with habitual sins we know better than to commit.

Fortunately, God welcomes penitents and knows that we mere mortals are, poetically, like dust.  May we be penitent dust daily.  And may we observe Lent in such a way that we grow spiritually during this season.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 29, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS LYDIA, DORCAS, AND PHOEBE, CO-WORKERS OF SAINT PAUL THE APOSTLE

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Link to the corresponding post at BLOGA THEOLOGICA

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Devotion for Saturday Before Pentecost Sunday, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Above:  Elijah and the Chariot of Fire

Image in the Public Domain

Elijah and John the Baptist

JUNE 4, 2022

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The Collect:

God our creator, the resurrection of your Son offers life to all the peoples of the earth.

By your Holy Spirit, kindle in us the fire of your love,

empowering our lives for service and our tongues for praise,

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 36

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The Assigned Readings:

2 Kings 2:1-15a

Psalm 104:23-34, 35b

Luke 1:5-17

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May the glory of the LORD endure for ever;

may the LORD rejoice in all his works.

–Psalm 104:32, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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Elijah was a great prophet of God.  He departed this earth in 2 Kings 2:1-15a, not having died.  Expectations that he would return to prepare for the coming of the Messiah circulated for centuries.  In Luke 9, for example, some speculated that Jesus was the returned Elijah.  No, the chapter insisted, Jesus was greater than Elijah.  St. John the Baptist fulfilled Elijah’s function (Matthew 17:12-13) and Jesus was the Messiah.  Both Elijah and St. John the Baptist ran afoul of officialdom for the sake of righteousness.

The glory of the LORD endures forever.  It would do so even without the efforts of many faithful people, but such efforts are certainly laudable.  They are good works related to active faith in God.  Grace is free yet not cheap, for it makes demands on its recipients.  Sometimes the cost is one’s life.

Just as St. John the Baptist pointed to Jesus and, according to tradition, Elijah pointed to the Messiah, may each of us follow Christ, lead others to him, and seek his glory, not our own.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 8, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT THORFINN OF HAMAR, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF GALILEO GALILEI, SCIENTIST

THE FEAST OF HARRIET BEDELL, EPISCOPAL DEACONESS

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2016/01/08/elijah-and-john-the-baptist/

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Devotion for Thursday and Friday Before Pentecost Sunday, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

090806-N-6220J-004 SALINAS, Calif. (Aug. 6, 2009) Sailors and Navy Delayed Entry Program members serve breakfast to homeless men and women at Dorothy's Soup Kitchen in Salinas, Calif. during Salinas Navy Week community service event. Salinas Navy Week is one of 21 Navy Weeks planned across America in 2009. Navy Weeks are designed to show Americans the investment they have made in their Navy and increase awareness in cities that do not have a significant Navy presence. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Steve Johnson/Released)

090806-N-6220J-004
SALINAS, Calif. (Aug. 6, 2009) Sailors and Navy Delayed Entry Program members serve breakfast to homeless men and women at Dorothy’s Soup Kitchen in Salinas, Calif. during Salinas Navy Week community service event. Salinas Navy Week is one of 21 Navy Weeks planned across America in 2009. Navy Weeks are designed to show Americans the investment they have made in their Navy and increase awareness in cities that do not have a significant Navy presence. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Steve Johnson/Released)

Above:  United States Navy Personnel Serving Breakfast in a Soup Kitchen, Salinas, California, 2009

Image Source = Chief Mass Communication Specialist Steve Johnson, United States Navy

God’s Social Contract

JUNE 2 and 3, 2022

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The Collect:

God our creator, the resurrection of your Son offers life to all the peoples of the earth.

By your Holy Spirit, kindle in us the fire of your love,

empowering our lives for service and our tongues for praise,

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 36

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 32:11-17 (Thursday)

Isaiah 44:1-4 (Friday)

Psalm 104:23-34, 35b (Both Days)

Galatians 5:16-26 (Thursday)

Galatians 6:7-10 (Friday)

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The portion of Psalm 104 speaks of divine generosity, as do the lections from Isaiah.  In Isaiah 32 and 44 God’s generosity follows the Judeans reaping what they have sown (to borrow a phrase from Galatians 6:7).  Divine judgment and mercy exist in balance.

The social contract in the Law of Moses precludes exploitation and insensitivity to needs as it proclaims human interdependence as well as complete dependence upon God.  Yet the monarchies of Israel and Judah, scripture tells us, did not live up to that standard, among others in the Law of Moses.  I focus on the social contract because it segues nicely into the readings from Galatians, where we read to seek the common good (thus, for example, awaiting the Second Coming of Christ, which many people expected to be in the near future, did not constitute a valid excuse for laziness), not our selfish desires.  We are responsible for each other and to each other.  We are also responsible to God.  If we can avoid becoming a burden, we should do so, but we remain dependent upon God and our fellow human beings.  Likewise, one should not use the “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” attitude to justify the unjustifiable inaction of not providing appropriate help one can provide.  Attempting to identify the allegedly unworthy poor is inconsistent with Judeo-Christian ethics.

Even the hardest working person who plans well depends upon the labor of others and upon the grace of God.  Do we recognize this about ourselves as well as those near to us and far away from us?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 8, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT THORFINN OF HAMAR, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF GALILEO GALILEI, SCIENTIST

THE FEAST OF HARRIET BEDELL, EPISCOPAL DEACONESS

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2016/01/08/gods-social-contract/

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