Archive for the ‘Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod Lectionary’ Category

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

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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

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The Assigned Readings:

Numbers 21:10-35

Psalm 93 (Morning)

Psalms 136 and 117 (Evening)

Luke 21:20-38

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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/.

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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

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

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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

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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

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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)

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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

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

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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

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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

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The Assigned Readings:

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

Psalm 47 (Morning)

Psalms 68 and 113 (Evening)

Luke 20:1-8

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TECHNICAL NOTE:

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

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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

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

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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

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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

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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)

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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?

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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

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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

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

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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

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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

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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)

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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/

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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

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

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Devotion for the Forty-Second Day of Easter (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   8 comments

Above:  The Reports of the Two Spies

Numbers and Luke, Part IV:  Difficult Vocations

SATURDAY, MAY 23, 2020

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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

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The Assigned Readings:

Numbers 13:1-3, 17-33

Psalm 92 (Morning)

Psalms 23 and 114 (Evening)

Luke 18:1-17

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Marginalized people take center stage in Luke 18:1-17.  A widow, one of the more vulnerable people in a patriarchal society, has to intimidate a corrupt judge into doing the right thing.  A tax collector, who raises funds for the occupying Romans and lives off what he steals in the process, is humble before God, in contrast to a Pharisee, a member of the religious establishment.  And the Kingdom of God belongs to powerless people, such as children.  God, who is unlike the corrupt judge, justifies the tax collector and gives the Kingdom to the powerless.

Nevertheless, the widow still had to work hard to intimidate the corrupt judge.  And the tax collector had to do some heavy theological lifting.  And neither would resettling Canaan be easy for the Israelites after having lived in Egypt for centuries.

What is God calling you, O reader, to do?  And how difficult will it be?  The good news is that where God’s call is, one also finds God’s empowering grace and Holy Spirit.  Doing what God has commanded of you might be difficult.  It might take a long time.  And you might not live long enough to see the project completed; some sow seeds and others read the harvest sometimes.  But may you do as God has commanded, not losing heart.  Or, if you do lose heart, may you find it again quickly.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 20, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BAIN OF FONTANELLE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP, MONK, MISSIONARY, AND ABBOT

THE FEAST OF ONESIMUS NESIB, TRANSLATOR AND LUTHERAN MISSIONARY

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/numbers-and-luke-part-iv-difficult-vocations/

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Devotion for the Thirty-Ninth, Fortieth, and Forty-First Days of Easter (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   10 comments

Above:  Lazarus and Dives

Numbers and Luke, Part III:  The Kingdom of God

WEDNESDAY-FRIDAY, MAY 20-22, 2020

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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

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The Assigned Readings:

Numbers 10:11-36 (39th Day of Easter)

Numbers 11:1-23, 31-35 (40th Dayof Easter)

Numbers 11:24-29; 12:1-16 (41st Day of Easter)

Psalm 99 (Morning–39th Day of Easter)

Psalm 47 (Morning–40th Day of Easter)

Psalm 96 (Morning–41st Day of Easter)

Psalms 8 and 118 (Evening–39th Day of Easter)

Psalms 68 and 113 (Evening–40th Day of Easter)

Psalms 96 and 138 (Evening–41st Day of Easter)

Luke 16:19-31 (39th Day of Easter)

Luke 17:1-19 (40th Day of Easter)

Luke 17:20-37 (41st Day of Easter)

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Numbers 10:11-12:16 constitutes a unit in that book.  The narrative tells how the Israelites moved to the desert of Paran. they moved in a particular order but not without grumbling.  Manna could not compare with Egyptian food, apparently.  And even Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses.  The narrative says that God afflicted the people with fire or their murmuring until Moses convinced God to stop, and that God afflicted Miriam with a skin disease which rendered her ritually unclean for a week.

If I were to decide whether to stand in awe or terror of such a deity, I would choose the latter option.  That terror would also be appropriate in Luke 17:22-37.  And Dives, the rich man in the parable in Luke 16:19-31, should have learned terror of God in the afterlife, yet did not.  He still thought that the could order Lazarus, the poor man, around.

The Kingdom of God is among us.  In one sense it has always been present, for it is where God is.  Yet the Incarnation inaugurated the Kingdom of God via Jesus.  That Kingdom has not gone away since the time of the historical Jesus any more than it went away after the Crucifixion or the Ascension.  The full reign of God has yet to arrive on the planet, of course, but the Kingdom of God remains present via the Holy Spirit and the people of God, regardless of national, ethnic, or racial origin.

The Kingdom of God remains present in many ways.  It remains present anywhere the people of God work for the benefit of their fellow human beings.  It remains present anywhere one person corrects a fellow or sister human being in Godly love.  It remains present wherever people forgive and/or reconcile.  (Reconciliation is a mutual process, but one person can forgive another in absentia.)  It remains present wherever a person of God chooses not to hold a grudge.  It remains present wherever people of God care actively and effectively for the less fortunate.

May we remember that the shape of a society, culture, or subculture is what people have made it.  So, where injustice exists and persists, we humans are responsible.  May we, with God’s help, correct injustice and forge better societies, cultures, and subcultures.  This will not constitute God’s full reign following the apocalypse, but it will be an improvement on the present arrangements.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 20, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BAIN OF FONTANELLE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP, MONK, MISSIONARY, AND ABBOT

THE FEAST OF ONESIMUS NESIB, TRANSLATOR AND LUTHERAN MISSIONARY

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/numbers-and-luke-part-iii-the-kingdom-of-god/

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