Archive for the ‘1 Corinthians 1’ Tag

Devotion for the Feast of the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth, Years A, B, C, and D (Humes)   2 comments

Above:  Embrace of Elizabeth and the Virgin Mary

Image in the Public Domain

Humility and Arrogance

JUNE 1, 2020



The Collect:

Almighty God, in choosing the virgin Mary to be the mother of your Son,

you made known your gracious regard for the poor and the lowly and the despised.

Grant us grace to receive your Word in humility, and so made one with 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), 33


The Assigned Readings:

1 Samuel 2:1-10

Psalm 113

Romans 12:9-16b

Luke 1:39-57


Depending on the date of Easter, and therefore of Pentecost, the Feast of the Visitation can fall in either the season of Easter or the Season after Pentecost.

The history of the Feast of the Visitation has been a varied one.  The feast, absent in Eastern Orthodoxy, began in 1263, when St. Bonaventure introduced it to the Order of Friars Minor (the Franciscans), which he led.  Originally the date was July 2, after the octave of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (June 24).  Pope Urban VI approved the feast in 1389, the Council of Basel authorized it in 1441, propers debuted in the Sarum breviary of 1494, and Pope Pius V added the feast to the general calendar in 1561.  In 1969, during the pontificate of Paul VI, Holy Mother Church moved the Feast of the Visitation to May 31, in lieu of the Feast of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which Pope Pius XII had instituted in 1954.  The Episcopal Church added the Feast of the Visitation to its calendar in The Book of Common Prayer (1979).  The feast had long been July 2 in The Church of England and much of Lutheranism prior to 1969.  Subsequent liturgical revision led to the transfer of the feast to May 31 in those traditions.

The corresponding Eastern Orthodox feast on July 2 commemorates the placing of the Holy Robe of the Mother of God in the church at Blachernae, a suburb of Constantinople.

The theme of humility is prominent in the assigned readings and in the Lutheran collect I have quoted.  A definition of that word might therefore prove helpful.  The unabridged Webster’s New Twentieth Century Dictionary of the English Language (1951), a tome, defines humility as

Freedom from pride and arrogance; humbleness of mind; a modest estimate of one’s own worth; also, self-abasement, penitence for sin.

Humility refers to lowliness and, in the Latin root, of being close to the ground.  God raising up the lowly is a Lukan theme, as is God overthrowing the arrogant.  After all, the woes (Luke 6:24-26) follow the Beatitudes (6:20-25), where Jesus says,

Blessed are you who are poor,


Blessed are you who are poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3).

The first will be last and the last will be first, after all.

Wherever you are, O reader, you probably live in a society that celebrates the boastful, the arrogant.  The assigned readings for this day contradict that exultation of the proud, however.  They are consistent with the ethic of Jeremiah 9:22-23:

Yahweh says this,

“Let the sage not boast of wisdom,

nor the valiant of valour,

nor the wealthy of riches!

But let anyone who wants to boast, boast of this:

of understanding and knowing me.

For I am Yahweh, who acts with faithful love,

justice, and uprightness on earth;

yes, these are what please me,”

Yahweh declares.

The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

St. Paul the Apostle channeled that ethic in 1 Corinthians 1:31 and 2 Corinthians 10:17, among other passages.

That which he understood well and internalized, not without some struggle, remains relevant and timeless.









Devotion for Tuesday of Holy Week, Years A, B, C, and D (Humes)   3 comments

Above:  Christ Pantocrator

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

A Faithful Response, Part IV

APRIL 12, 2022


The Collect:

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 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:

Isaiah 49:1-7

Psalm 71:1-14

1 Corinthians 1:18-31

John 12:20-36


Psalm 71 is a prayer of an aged pious person afflicted by his enemies.  Many of its sentiments fit neatly into Holy Week, although verse 13 is rather un-Christlike:

Let my accusers be put to shame and consumed;

let those who seek to hurt me be covered with scorn and disgrace.

The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

That is far removed from

Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.

–Luke 23:34, The Jerusalem Bible (1966)

Divine paradoxes are glorious.  Consider, O reader, 1 Corinthians 1.  The message of Christ’s cross is folly and causes offense, but it is the power of God to those on the way to salvation.  The folly of God is greater than human wisdom in the hyperbolic language of St. Paul the Apostle.  The scapegoating and execution of an innocent man is the way to salvation?  How can that be?  Yet it is.

The people of God have a divine mandate to restore others to God and bring others to God.  Those who would gain eternal life (which begins on this side of Heaven) must love life less than God.  That is possible via grace.










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


Above:  Candle Burning

Image in the Public Domain

Light in the Darkness

APRIL 12, 2022


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


The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 49:1-7

Psalm 71:1-14

1 Corinthians 1:18-31

John 12:20-36


A Related Post:

Prayer for Tuesday of Passion Week/Holy Week:


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)


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


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.









Third Sunday in Lent, Year B   23 comments

Above:  Moses with the Ten Commandments, by Rembrandt van Rijn


MARCH 7, 2021


Exodus 20:1-17 (New Revised Standard Version):

Then God spoke all these words:

I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.

You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.

You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.

Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God; you shall not do any work– you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.

Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.

You shall not murder.

You shall not commit adultery.

You shall not steal.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

Psalm 19 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  The heavens declare the glory of God,

and the firmament shows his handiwork.

2  One day tells its tale to another,

and one night imparts knowledge to another.

3  Although they have no words or language,

and their voices are not heard,

4  Their sound has gone out into all lands,

and their message to the ends of the world.

5  In the deep has he set a pavilion for the sun;

it comes forth like a bridegroom out of his chamber;

it rejoices like a champion to run its course.

6  It goes forth from the uttermost edge of the heavens

and runs about to the end of it again;

nothing is hidden from its burning heat.

7 The law of the LORD is perfect and revives the soul;

the testimony of the LORD is sure and gives wisdom to the innocent.

8 The statutes of the LORD are just and rejoice the heart;

the commandment of the LORD is clear and gives light to the eyes.

The fear of the LORD is clean and endures forever;

the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.

10 More to be desired are they than gold, more than much fine gold,

sweeter far than honey, than honey in the comb.

11 By them also is your servant enlightened,

and in keeping them there is great reward.

12 Who can tell how often he offends?

cleanse me from my secret faults.

13 Above all, keep your servant from presumptuous sins;

let them not get dominion over me;

then shall I be whole and sound,

and innocent of a great offense.

14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight,

O LORD, my strength and my redeemer.

1 Corinthians 1:18-25 (New Revised Standard Version):

The message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,

I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,

and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.

Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.

John 2:13-22 (New Revised Standard Version):

The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves,

Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!

His disciples remembered that it was written,

Zeal for your house will consume me.

The Jews then said to him,

What sign can you show us for doing this?

Jesus answered them,

Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.

The Jews then said,

This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?

But he was speaking of the temple of his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

The Collect:

Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. 


Some Related Posts

Third Sunday in Lent, Year A

Exodus 20:

1 Corinthians 1:


I grew up in the Bible Belt of southern Georgia U.S.A.  My parents taught me to engage my brain fully when considering the Bible, a fact for which I bless them.  That training continues to serve me well.  To this day, if I had to live in certain counties in Georgia–for example, those without an Episcopal congregation–I would not attend church, for I doubt that I could find a place to worship and to engage mind within the same walls without incurring scornful looks.  I am about to demonstrate why this is true.

One feature of Jewish law is that it is supposedly revealed–not subject to human reason–but revealed.  Yet I propose that there is great moral and intellectual danger in going on autopilot with regard to the Law of Moses.  For example, some of the Ten Commandments, printed above in English translation, classify women along with livestock and property.  Others do not question the moral legitimacy of slavery.  And other parts of the Law of Moses are quick to condemn people to death.  Just flip over to Exodus 21.

One can cherry pick the parts of the Law of Moses which confirm one’s opinions concerning a variety of issues, but this constitutes intellectual dishonesty if one claims to take the Bible literally and to consider the Book inerrant and infallible.  The truth is that we who read the book must pick and choose, for we cannot keep all of it, due to contradictions.  This is especially true if we are Christians.

So, as one does not accept biblical inerrancy or infallibility, but who takes the Bible quite seriously, I choose to follow the Law of Love:  What does love require?  I can ignore Exodus 21:7f, which begins with selling one’s daughter into slavery, for the Law of Love proscribes that such an act is never appropriate.  And, like the father in the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32), I can overlook the commandment to put to death a child who curses his mother or father (Exodus 21:17).

The Johannine Gospel, unlike the Synoptic Gospels, places our Lord’s cleansing of the Temple at the inaugural phase of his ministry.  (The Synoptics place this event just a few days before his crucifixion.)  Thus the author of the Gospel of John has Jesus begin his ministry by questioning and protesting publicly the Temple system of animal sacrifices, one which many people could not afford.  It was also true that the conversion of Roman currency (technically idolatrous, for it bore the allegedly divine Emperor’s image) into money religiously appropriate for the purchase of a sacrificial animal benefited not only the money changers but also the Temple authorities financially.  This economic exploitation galled Jesus.  For Jesus, love trumped all else.

1 Corinthians 1:18-25 speaks of Christ as being a stumbling block and a portal simultaneously.  The purpose of the Incarnation was not to erect a stumbling block but, if that is what one makes Jesus, that is what he is for that person.  Jesus is love incarnate.  For many of us (in the general sense) pure love and compassion are terrifying, for they break down the barriers we use to define our reality.  Who is an insider?  Who is an outsider?  Who is pure?  Who is impure?  Who is saved?  Who is damned?  We have our own answers, as does God.  These answers conflict quite often.  God, I suspect, is generally more merciful than we are.




Thirty-Sixth Day of Lent: Tuesday in Holy Week   27 comments

April 12, 2022

Collect and lections from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer


Follow the assigned readings with me this Lent….

Kenneth Randolph Taylor


Isaiah 49:1-6 (New Revised Standard Version):

Listen to me, O coastlands,

pay attention, you peoples from far away!

The LORD called to me before I was born,

while I was in my mother’s womb he named me.

He made my mouth like a sharp sword,

in the shadow of his hand he hid me;

he made me a polished arrow,

in his quiver he hid me away.

And he said tome,

You are my servant,

Israel, in whom I will be glorified.

But I said,

I have labored in vain,

I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity;

yet surely my cause is with the LORD,

and my reward with my God.

And now the LORD says,

who formed me from the womb to be his servant,

to bring Jacob back to him,

and that Israel might be gathered to him,

for I am honored in the sight of the LORD,

and my God has become my strength–

he says,

It is too light a thing that you should be my servant

to raise up the tribes of Jacob

and to restore the survivors of Israel;

I will give you as a light to the nations,

that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.

1 Corinthians 1:18-31 (New Revised Standard Version):

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  For it is written,

I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,

and the discernment of the of the discerning I will thwart.

Where is the one who is wise?  Where is the scribe?  Where is the debater of this age?  Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?  For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe.  For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.

Consider your own call, brothers and sisters, not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of human birth.  But God chose what was foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God.  He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, in order that, as it is written,

Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.

Psalm 71:1-12 (New Revised Standard Version):

In you, O LORD, I take refuge,

let me never be put to shame.

In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;

incline your ear to me and save me.

Be to me a rock of refuge,

a strong fortress, to save me,

for you are my rock and my fortress.

Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked,

from the grasp of the unjust and cruel.

For you, O Lord, are my hope,

my trust, O LORD, from my youth.

Upon you I have learned from my birth;

it was you who took me from my mother’s womb.

My praise is continually of you.

I have been like a portent to many,

but you are my strong refuge.

My mouth is filled with your praise,

and with your glory all day long.

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

do not forsake me when my strength is spent.

For my enemies speak concerning me,

and those who watch for my life consult together.

They say,

Pursue and seize that person whom God has forsaken,

for there is no one to deliver.

O God, do not be far from me;

O my God, make haste to help me!

John 12:37-38, 42-50 (New Revised Standard Version):

Although he [Jesus] had performed so many signs in their presence, they did not believe in him.  This was to fulfill the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah:

Lord, who has believed our message,

and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

Nevertheless many, even of the authorities, believed in him.  But because of the Pharisees they did not confess it, for fear that they would be put of the synagogue; for they loved human glory more than the glory that comes from God.

Then Jesus cried aloud:

Whoever believes in me believes not in me but in him who sent me.  And whoever sees me sees him who sent me.  I have come as a light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness.  I do not judge anyone who hears my words and does not keep them, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.  The one rejects me and does not receive my word has a judge; on the last day the word that I have spoken will serve as judge, for I have not spoken on my own, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment about what to say and what to speak.  And I know that his commandment is eternal life.  What I speak, therefore, I speak just as the Father has told me.


Mark 11:15-19 (New Revised Standard Version):

Then they [Jesus and his Apostles] came to Jerusalem.  And he entered the temple and began to drive out all those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves; and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple.  He was teaching and saying,

Is it not written,

‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’?

But you have made it a den of thieves.

And when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching.  And when evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.

The Collect:

O God, by the passion of your blessed Son you made an instrument of shameful death to be for us the means of life: Grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ, that we may gladly suffer shame and loss for the sake of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.


Being a light to the nations entails certain risks.  This is a divine mandate for the Hebrews:  to assume the responsibilities, not just the privileges, of being the Chosen people.   Yet post-exilic Judaism developed some exclusive, legalistic, and xenophobic tendencies.  Jesus disapproved of these, and certain religious authorities despised him.  He understood where some competing traditions of his faith community had gone wrong.

Before we continue, let us eschew anti-Semitism or even a hint of it.

The reason for changing money at the temple was religious.  Devout pilgrims pilgrims purchased sacrificial animals.  Yet Roman currency bore the image of the emperor, whom many considered semi-divine.  Thus Roman coins were technically idols.  So some businessmen converted Roman coinage to non-idolatrous currency which people could purchase sacrificial animals.  They did this for a price and for profit.  They exploited the devout poor, the high priest Caiaphas profited, too, and Jesus knew all of this.  These facts explain his righteous indignation.

Religion should be an instrument of liberation, not exploitation.  And too often religion becomes what Karl Marx called the “opiate of the masses.”  (Marx was correct about some details.)  The Book of Exodus tells of how God freed the Hebrews from slavery.  Over time some expressions of Judaism created many elaborate laws, which only the professional religious persons could keep.  Jesus opposed these legalistic manacles.  And, unfortunately, many Christian sects and denominations have forged new legalistic manacles while praising the name of Jesus.

When will we ever learn?  Will we ever learn?  Or do we doom ourselves?

The relevant truth for this discussion is that we can do nothing to merit the love and affection of God or to make ourselves worthy of God.  Yet God loves us profusely.  Nevertheless, many of us scurry around while trying to assuage God.  We have received some timeless rules, such as loving God fully and loving our neighbors as ourselves–the summary of divine law.  If we focus on the big picture most of the details will fall into place.  Yet many of us focus on the details and violate the spirit of the law.

And we repeat this pattern.

God has spoken repeatedly.  Numerous Hebrew prophets spoke.  Then Jesus came.  May we listen and comprehend.  Then may we act accordingly.


Published originally at SUNDRY THOUGHTS OF KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on March 26, 2010