Archive for the ‘March 13’ Category

Thoughts and Questions About the Temptations of Jesus   1 comment

Above:  The Temptations of Jesus

Image in the Public Domain

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

For St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia

Lent 2019

 

Texts:  Mark 1:12-13; Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13

Reading the Bible for spiritual formation is an ancient Benedictine practice.  My primary purpose in writing this short piece is to ask, how do the accounts (mainly the Lukan and Matthean ones) of the temptations of Jesus challenge us, both as individuals and a parish, to follow Jesus better than we do.

The Temptation to Turn Stones into Bread

Bread was especially precious in ancient Palestine, with relatively little arable land.

We are blessed to be able to purchase our bread inexpensively at stores.  Bread is abundant in our context, so we probably take it for granted more often than not.  We can, however, think of some tangible needs related to scarcity.

One challenge is not to permit tangible needs to overtake intangible necessities.  We all depend entirely on God and dwell within a web of mutual responsibility and dependence.  According to the late Henri Nouwen, this temptation is the temptation to be relevant.  Relevance is not necessarily bad; in fact, it is frequently positive.  However, maintaining the proper balance of tangible and intangible needs is essential.  Furthermore, Christ’s refusal to cave into the temptation to use his power to make bread—to cease to depend on God—ought to remind us never to imagine that we do not depend entirely on God.

Questions

  1. Do we permit tangible needs to distract us from intangible necessities?  If so, how?
  2. Do we manifest the vain idea that we do not depend entirely on God?  If so, how?

The Temptation to Jump from the Pinnacle of the Temple

Many scholars of the New Testament have proposed what the pinnacle of the Temple was.

That matter aside, this temptation is, according to Nouwen, the temptation to be spectacular.  It is also the temptation to attempt to manipulate God by trying to force God to intervene in a miraculous way.  That effort, like turning stones into bread, would indicate a lack of faith.

We humans frequently like the spectacular, do we not?  We tell ourselves and others that, if only God would do something spectacular, we will believe.  We are like those who, in the Gospels, only wanted Jesus to do something for them, and not to learn from him.

Questions

  1. Does our attraction to the spectacular distract us from the still, small voice of God?  If so, how?
  2. Does our attraction to the spectacular reveal our lack of faith?  If so, how?
  3. Does our attraction to the spectacular unmask our selfishness?  If so, how?

The Temptation to Worship Satan in Exchange for Earthly Authority

Many Palestinian Jews at the time of Christ thought of Satan as the power behind the Roman Empire and of the Roman pantheon as a collection of demons.  Jesus affirmed God the Father as the only source of his identity.

This temptation is about idolatry, power, and morally untenable compromises.

Many well-intentioned people—ministers, politicians, and appointed office holders, for example—have, in the name of doing good, become corrupt and sacrificed their suitability to do good.  They have sacrificed their moral integrity on the altar of amoral realism.

Some compromises are necessary, of course.  As Reinhold Niebuhr reminded us, we cannot help but commit some evil while trying to do good, for human depravity has corrupted social systems and institutions.

Questions

  1. Have we established our identity apart from God?  If so, how?
  2. How have we, with good intentions, committed or condoned evil?
  3. Have we made morally untenable compromises?  If so, how?

The Good News

The good news is both collective and individual.

I discover the principle, then:  that when I want to do right, only wrong is within my reach.  In my inmost self I delight in the law of God, but I perceive in my outward actions a different law, fighting against the law that my mind approves, and making me a prisoner under the law of sin which controls my conduct.  Wretched creature that I am, who is there to rescue me from this state of death?  Who but God?  Thanks be to him through Jesus Christ our Lord!  To sum up then:  left to myself I serve God’s law with my mind, but with my unspiritual nature I serve the law of sin.

–Romans 7:21-25, The Revised English Bible (1989)

Jesus has modeled the way to resist temptation—to trust God and to understand scripture.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 10, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FIRST SUNDAY IN LENT, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF MARIE-JOSEPH LAGRANGE, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF SAINT AGRIPINNUS OF AUTUN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP; SAINT GERMANUS OF PARIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP; AND SAINT DROCTOVEUS OF AUTUN, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN OGLIVIE, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MACARIUS OF JERUSALEM, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

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

Adapted from this post:

https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2019/03/10/thoughts-and-questions-about-the-temptations-of-jesus/

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

Devotion for Wednesday After the First Sunday in Lent, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Question Mark

Above:  Question Mark

Image in the Public Domain

Difficult Questions

MARCH 13, 2019

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

The Collect:

O Lord God, you led your people through the wilderness and brought them to the promised land.

Guide us now, so that, following your Son, we may walk safely through the wilderness of this world

toward the life you alone can give, 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 27

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

The Assigned Readings:

Job 1:1-22

Psalm 17

Luke 21:34-22:6

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

The assigned readings for this day present a composite picture of dire circumstances.

The Lukan Apocalypse, set immediately prior to the execution of Christ, advises spiritual vigilance for the return of the Son of Man, that is Jesus.  (“Son of Man” is an apocalyptic term in the Bible.)  Goodness does not spare Jesus from the betrayal by Judas Iscariot, however.

In the Book of Job God permits the titular character to suffer as part of a wager with the Adversary (the Satan), still one of God’s employees, according to the theology of the time.  One might imagine that the author of Psalm 17 was thinking of Job when he wrote that short poem.  Certainly the tone of Psalm 17 is consistent with Job’s speeches.

Hear my just cause, O Lord; consider my complaint;

listen to my prayer, which comes not from lying lips.

Let my vindication come forth from your presence;

let your eyes behold what is right.

–Psalm 17:1-2, Common Worship (2000)

Feel-good religion fails to deal properly with such circumstances.  Easy answers prove inadequate when the questions are difficult.  Human inadequacy becomes obvious and the need to rely on divine sufficiency becomes clear.  But what if one understands God to be at least partially responsible for one’s troubles?  I offer no easy answers, for the questions are difficult.  I do, however, embrace the wonderful Jewish practice of arguing with God faithfully.  It recurs throughout the Hebrew Bible, especially in the Book of Psalms.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 13, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HENRY MARTYN DEXTER, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HISTORIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT ABBO OF FLEURY, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINT BRICE OF TOURS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICHOLAS TAVELIC AND HIS COMPANIONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

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

https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2015/11/13/difficult-questions/

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

Devotion for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday After the Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year B (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Moses

Above:  Moses

Image in the Public Domain

Bickering and Murmuring

MARCH 12, 2018

MARCH 13, 2018

MARCH 14, 2018

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

The Collect:

O God, rich in mercy, by the humiliation of your Son

you lifted up this fallen world and rescued us from the hopelessness of death.

Lead us into your light, that all our deeds may reflect your love,

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 28

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

The Assigned Readings:

Exodus 15:22-27 (Monday)

Numbers 20:1-13 (Tuesday)

Isaiah 60:15-22 (Wednesday)

Psalm 107:1-16 (All Days)

Hebrews 3:1-6 (Monday)

1 Corinthians 10:6-13 (Tuesday)

John 8:12-20 (Wednesday)

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

Some sat in darkness and deep gloom,

bound fast in misery and iron;

Because they rebelled against the words of God

and despised the counsel of the Most High.

So he humbled their spirits with hard labor;

they stumbled and there was none to help.

Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,

and he delivered them from their distress.

He led them out of darkness and deep gloom

and broke their bonds asunder.

Let them give thanks to the LORD for his mercy

and the wonders he does for his children.

For he shatters the doors of bronze

and breaks in two the iron bars.

–Psalm 107:10-16, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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

Some of the assigned readings for these three days overlap with the content of the previous new post, so I refer you, O reader, to those comments while I pursue a different line of thought here.

A motif of bickering and murmuring recurs in the stories of the Exodus and the ensuing events.  There was a ubiquitous lack of trust in God.  At Meribah even Moses, whom the author of Hebrews 3:1-6 described as a faithful servant, had a moment of faithlessness.  Moses was mostly faithful, which is as well as any of we mere mortals can hope to be.

The bickering and murmuring have continued long past the times of the Book of Exodus.  How much more must God do–such as incarnate–before people stop bickering and murmuring?  Before that, was not restoring exiles to their ancestral homeland enough?  Examples of what not to do and of what to do are plentiful.

So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall.

–1 Corinthians 10:12, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

I could not have said it better myself.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 14, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FIFTEENTH DAY OF ADVENT, YEAR B

THE THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF SAINT VENANTIUS HONORIUS CLEMENTIUS FORTUNATUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF POITIERS

THE FEAST OF CARL PHILIPP EMANUEL BACH, COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN OF THE CROSS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MYSTIC

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

https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/12/15/bickering-and-murmuring/

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

The Death of Dreams and Aspirations   Leave a comment

Death of Dreams and Aspirations

Above:  The Original Text

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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

Loving God, who loves us, mourns with us, and rejoices with us,

the death of dreams and aspirations is among the most traumatic losses to endure.

It cuts to the emotional core of a person, causing great anguish, grief, and anger.

Regardless if the dream was indeed the one a person should have followed

(assuming that it was not morally wrong, of course),

the pain and disappointment are legitimate, I suppose.

I have known these emotions in this context more than once.

I wish them upon nobody, not even those who inflicted them upon me.

May we, by grace, function as your ministers of comfort

to those experiencing such a death or the aftermath of one

and who are near us or whom you send our way.

And may we, by grace, help others achieve their potential

and refrain from inflicting such pain upon others.

In the name of Jesus, who identified with us, suffered, died, and rose again.  Amen.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 19, 2014 COMMON ERA

HOLY SATURDAY, YEAR A

Posted April 19, 2014 by neatnik2009 in 2020, April 1, April 10, April 11, April 12, April 13, April 14, April 15, April 16, April 17, April 18, April 19, April 2, April 20, April 21, April 22, April 23, April 24, April 25, April 26, April 27, April 28, April 29, April 3, April 30, April 4, April 5, April 6, April 7, April 8, April 9, Ascension, Ash Wednesday, Easter Sunday, February 10, February 11, February 12, February 13, February 14, February 15, February 16, February 17, February 18, February 19, February 20, February 21, February 22, February 23, February 24, February 25, February 26, February 27, February 28, February 29, February 4, February 5, February 6, February 7, February 8, February 9, Friday in Easter Week, Good Friday, Holy Monday, Holy Saturday-Easter Vigil, Holy Tuesday, Holy Wednesday, June 1, June 10, June 11, June 12, June 13, June 2, June 3, June 4, June 5, June 6, June 7, June 8, June 9, March 1, March 10, March 11, March 12, March 13, March 14, March 15, March 16, March 17, March 18, March 19, March 2, March 20, March 21, March 22, March 23, March 24, March 25: Annunciation, March 26, March 27, March 28, March 29, March 3, March 30, March 31, March 4, March 5, March 6, March 7, March 8, March 9, Maundy Thursday, May 1, May 10, May 11, May 12, May 13, May 14, May 15, May 16, May 17, May 18, May 19, May 2, May 20, May 21, May 22, May 23, May 24, May 25, May 26, May 27, May 28, May 29, May 3, May 30, May 31: Visitation, May 4, May 5, May 6, May 7, May 8, May 9, Monday in Easter Week, Palm Sunday, Pentecost, Saturday in Easter Week, Thursday in Easter Week, Tuesday in Easter Week, Wednesday in Easter Week

Tagged with ,

Devotion for the Fourteenth, Fifteenth, and Sixteenth Days of Lent, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   3 comments

Gathering_of_the_Manna

Above:  The Gathering of the Manna, Part of a Fifteenth-Century Altarpiece

Image in the Public Domain

Anxiety Versus Faithfulness

THURSDAY-SATURDAY, MARCH 12-14, 2020

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

The Collect:

Merciful God, the fountain of living water,

you quench our thirst and wash away our sin.

Give us this water always.

Bring us to drink from the well that flows with the beauty of your truth

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 27

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

The Assigned Readings:

Exodus 16:1-8 (14th Day)

Exodus 16:9-21 (15th Day)

Exodus 16:27-35 (16th Day)

Psalm 95 (All Days)

Colossians 1:15-23 (14th Day)

Ephesians 2:11-22 (15th Day)

John 4:1-6 (16th Day)

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

The story which unites the assigned portions of Exodus is one of divine fidelity and human inconstancy.  Yet again people grumbled and failed to trust that God would provide in a timely fashion.  Out of faithfulness sinful acts flowed like a mighty river of perfidy.

This is a typical human pattern, is it not?  We should trust God, saying with Psalm 95:1,

Come, let us sing to the LORD;

let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

Yet often grumble then we hoard needlessly and out of faithlessness.

Forty years long I detested that generation and said,

“This people are wayward in their hearts;

they do not know my ways.”

–Psalm 95:10, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

Our worst behaviors usually flow from bad attitudes.  Out of such faithlessness we erect barriers between God and ourselves.  We do either that or we refuse to tear down such obstacles.  Out of such infidelity we build barriers between ourselves and others.  We do do either that or we refuse to tear down such obstacles.  The readings from Colossians and Ephesians speak of reconciliation via Christ.  This contradicts the human behaviors I have just mentioned.

Our faithful work is to cooperate with God, not to grumble and hoard greedily out of a sense of anxiety and insecurity.  Our task is to function as instruments of grace.  John 4:2 reads:

…although it was not Jesus himself but his disciples who baptized….

The New Revised Standard Version:  Catholic Edition (1993)

Our Lord and Savior’s disciples, despite their well-documented shortcomings, were crucial to the success of the Jesus movement, which became Christianity.  Likewise, we modern Christians have a mandate to show Jesus to others.  We cannot do this well unless we lay aside certain spiritual baggage.  We will remain deeply flawed, of course, but God can still shine through the cracks in our pots.

What kinds of attitudes will we seek to have toward God and each other?  We are powerless, of course, to do everything necessary on our own power.  Yet our attitudes matter greatly.  What we do is important.  So, by grace, may we succeed in fulfilling the sacred tasks God has assigned to us and which, hopefully, the best parts of our free wills want to complete.  May we do it because it is the right thing to do.  May we do it because it glorifies God.  May we do it because it helps others.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 25, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SQUANTO, COMPASSIONATE HUMAN BEING

THE FEAST OF JAMES OTIS SARGENT HUNTINGTON, FOUNDER OF THE ORDER OF THE HOLY CROSS

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

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/01/14/anxiety-versus-faithfulness/

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

Prayers of the People for Lent–Second Order   Leave a comment

Lent

Above:  Lent Wordle

I found the image in various places online, including here:  http://standrewauh.org/a-study-for-lent/

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

The congregational response to “We pray to you, O God” is “Hear our prayer.”

We pray for the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, that it may show the face of Christ to the world and draw people to you,

We pray to you, O God.

We pray for

  • Katharine, our Presiding Bishop;
  • Robert and Keith, our Bishops; and
  • Beth, our Rector;
  • and all clergy and lay members,
  • that they may serve you faithfully,

We pray to you, O God.

We pray for

  • Barack, our President;
  • Nathan, our Governor;
  • Nancy, our Mayor; and
  • all others who hold positions of authority and influence,

that justice may prevail,

We pray to you O God.

That we may, by grace, do your will each day,

We pray to you, O God.

That all who suffer may find succor,

We pray to you, O God.

We pray for (_____) and all who have died, that they may enjoy and glorify you forever,

We pray to you, O God.

We pray for our own needs and those of others.

Congregationally specific petitions follow.

The Celebrant adds a concluding Collect.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 2, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE PRESENTATION OF JESUS IN THE TEMPLE

Devotion for the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Days of Lent (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   7 comments

Above:  Isaac Blessing Jacob, by Govert Flinck

Genesis and Mark, Part XIV: Huh? What?

FRIDAY, MARCH 13, 2020, and SATURDAY, MARCH 14, 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:

Genesis 24:32-52, 61-67 (15th Day of Lent)

Genesis 27:1-29 (16th Day of Lent)

Psalm 22 (Morning–15th Day of Lent)

Psalm 43 (Morning–16th Day of Lent)

Psalms 107 and 130 (Evening–15th Day of Lent)

Psalms 31 and 143 (Evening–16th Day of Lent)

Mark 8:1-21 (15th Day of Lent)

Mark 8:22-38 (16th Day of Lent)

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

Some Related Posts:

Prayers:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/01/30/prayer-for-friday-in-the-second-week-of-lent/

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/01/30/prayer-for-saturday-in-the-second-week-of-lent/

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

And the LORD answered her [Rebekah],

“Two nations are in your womb,

Two separate peoples shall issue from your body;

One people shall be mightier than the other,

And the older shall serve the younger.”

–Genesis 25:23, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

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

Rebekah, sister of Laban, was generous,  unlike her brother.  And, according to the narrative, she became an instrument of God’s will.  (She was also a trickster.)  Just as the divine promise favored Isaac, the second son of Abraham, it also favored Jacob, the second son of Isaac.  The human means of granting this favor in each case were morally difficult, to state the case simply.  And so I scratch my head and ask myself what I am supposed to make of such stories.

Now I consider the sequence of events in Mark 8:

  1. Jesus feeds “about four thousand people” with seven loaves and a few small fishes.  He has leftovers afterward.  (1-10)
  2. Some Pharisees ask for a sign.  Jesus refuses.  (11-13)
  3. Jesus speaks metaphorically about the yeast of Pharisees and of Herod Antipas.  His Apostles take him literally.  (14-21)
  4. Jesus cures a blind man at Bethsaida.  (22-26)
  5. Jesus confesses Jesus to be the Christ.  (27-30)
  6. Jesus predicts his death and resurrection.  Peter rebukes him.  Jesus rebukes Peter then says that anyone who would follow must take up his own cross.  (31-38)

Jesus was surrounded by people who were oblivious–metaphorically blind–to his identity.  Peter grasped that Jesus was the Christ–the Messiah–yet misunderstood what that meant.  And, as for Pharisees demanding a sign, why was another multiplication of food insufficient?

God comes to us in many ways, including Bible stories.  As I reflect on my childhood Christian education, I do not recall many discussions of the nuances of morally difficult stories.  There was a great biblical whitewashing in Sunday School.  I prefer the Bible straight up, a stiff drink of narrative theology, if you will.  This good, stiff drink can prove uncomfortable sometimes, but so be it.  Even when I scratch my head and ask myself,

Huh? What?,

I prefer that reality to comfortable ignorance.

We meet Jesus in print via Bible stories  yet others encountered him in the flesh.  And many of them were confused.  You, O reader, and I have the advantage of hindsight. But we are also subject to confusion.  Nevertheless, such confusion can turn into knowledge of the truth, as it did in the case of Peter.  He, of course, took up his cross (literally).  Our crosses might not prove as costly, but what if they do?  Are we prepared for that?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 16, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ANDREW FOURNET AND ELIZABETH BICHIER, COFOUNDERS OF THE DAUGHTERS OF THE CROSS; AND SAINT MICHAEL GARICOITS, FOUNDER OF THE PRIEST OF THE SACRED HEART OF BETHARRAM

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN NEPOMUCENE, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF SUDAN

THE FEAST OF TE WERA HAURAKI, ANGLICAN MISSIONARY

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

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/genesis-and-mark-part-xiv-huh-what/

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