Archive for the ‘Acts 16’ Tag

Devotion for the Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year D (Humes)   1 comment

Above:  Good Shepherd

Image in the Public Domain

Sacred Vocations

MAY 15, 2022

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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

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The Assigned Readings:

Acts 16:11-34

Psalm 23

2 Thessalonians 3:6-18

John 10:1-18

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2 Thessalonians 3:6-18, in context, contains a crucial message:  Do not use waiting for the Second Coming of Jesus as an excuse for idleness.  Mutuality, a value from the Law of Moses, remains germane.  We all depend on are are responsible to and for each other.  As The Book of Common Prayer (1979) reminds us, we depend upon each other’s labor.

Performing the labor God has assigned to us may get us into trouble, as it did in Acts 16:11-34.  If so, perhaps an opportunity for evangelism will arise from the circumstance.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd.  Such a shepherd deserves our best efforts, does he not?  May we, by grace, not fail him.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 11, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT THEODOSIUS THE CENOBIARCH, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

THE FEAST OF CHARLES WILLIAM EVEREST, EPISCOPAL PRIEST, POET, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF MIEP GIES, RIGHTEOUS GENTILE

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAULINUS II OF AQUILEIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC PATRIARCH OF AQUILEIA

THE FEAST OF RICHARD FREDERICK LITTLEDALE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND TRANSLATOR OF HYMNS

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2021/01/11/sacred-vocations-part-ii/

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Devotion for Monday After the Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Tabernacle in the Wilderness

Above:  The Tabernacle in the Wilderness

Image in the Public Domain

The Glory of the Lord, Part II

MAY 30, 2022

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The Collect:

O God, form the minds of your faithful people into one will.

Make us love what you command and desire what you promise,

that, amid all changes of this world, our hearts

may be fixed where true joy is found,

Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you

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

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 35

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The Assigned Readings:

Exodus 40:16-38

Psalm 29

Acts 16:35-40

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And in the temple of the LORD

all are crying, “Glory!”

–Psalm 29:9, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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The Presence/glory of God was manifest as a cloud in the Tent of Meeting in Exodus 40.

In Acts 16 the Presence/glory of God worked through Sts. Paul and Silas at Philippi, where they delivered a young woman from exploitation, found themselves incarcerated on false allegations of disturbing the peace, and evangelized their jailer and his family before spending time with the church in the city.

We encounter the Presence/glory of God in many places, such as nature, scripture, sacred places, and our fellow human beings.  Often we meet the Presence/glory of God in people quite different from ourselves.  Do we welcome this reality or do we fall back on tribal identities?  Do we hold fast to divine glory or do we exchange it for a lesser glory?

We might choose a lesser glory without being malevolent.  Acts 16:16-19 is clear that those who profited from a slave girl with a spirit of divination (until St. Paul the Apostle exorcised her) were greedy and had exploited her.  Many others, however, simply have spiritual blind spots and proceed from false assumptions.  They do not know what they are really doing.  That description applies to most people at least partially, does it not?  Fortunately, grace is available.  Will we accept it?

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/the-glory-of-the-lord-part-ii/

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Devotion for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday Before the Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Above:  Zacchaeus, by Niels Larsen Stevns

Image in the Public Domain

Seeking, Finding, and Following Divine Guidance

MAY 19-21, 2022

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The Collect:

Beautiful God, you gather your people into your realm,

and you promise us food from your tree of life.

Nourish us with your word, that empowered by your Spirit

we may love one another and the world you have made,

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

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

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 34

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The Assigned Readings:

Proverbs 2:1-5 (Thursday)

Proverbs 2:6-8 (Friday)

Proverbs 2:9-15 (Saturday)

Psalm 67 (All Days)

Acts 15:36-41 (Thursday)

Acts 16:1-8 (Friday)

Luke 19:1-10 (Saturday)

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May God be merciful to us and bless us,

show us the light of his countenance and come to us.

Let your ways be known upon earth,

your saving health among all nations.

Let the people praise you, O God;

let all the peoples praise you.

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,

for you judge the peoples with equity

and guide all the nations upon earth.

Let the peoples praise you, O God;

let all the peoples praise you.

The earth has brought forth her increase;

may God, our own God, give us his blessing.

May God give us his blessing,

and may all the ends of the earth stand in aw of him.

–Psalm 67, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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Seeking divine guidance, which God provides, is a noble and frequent occurrence.  But how commonplace is discerning that guidance properly versus mistaking one’s inner voice or the opinions of others for divine guidance?  St. Paul the Apostle sought to spread the Gospel in certain regions yet God’s purpose was for him to so in Macedonia instead.  One can seek to do something to glorify God and still misunderstand God’s call on one’s life, this story has taught for almost 2000 years.

Sometimes texts can prove to be ambiguous.  Does Proverbs 2:1-15 indicate that knowing and acting on the will of God protects one from evildoers?  If so, the passage is falsely optimistic.  If, however, it is in the spirit of Matthew 10:28a (“Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul….”), Proverbs 2:1-15 is true.

Luke 19:1-10 (verse 8, specifically) contains other subtleties.  The passage is the story of Jesus and Zacchaeus, a tax collector who has been defrauding his neighbors for years.  He was literally a tax thief for the Roman Empire.  According to Exodus 22:7, the rate of restitution in the case of the theft of money or goods from someone’s house was 200%.  In Luke 19:8b (Revised Standard Version–Second Edition, 1971, consistent with the Greek text), Zacchaeus said,

Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold.

–present tense.

That sentence can mean one of two things–that Zacchaeus did that already or planned to do that.  The translation of the Bible or a portion thereof is an act of interpretation.  Thus, in the New International Version (1978, 1984, and 2011 permutations) and in Today’s New International Version (2005) one reads:

Look, Lord!  Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.

The “here and now,” not present in the original Greek text, occurs also in The New English Bible (1970) and The Revised English Bible (1989).  Other translations opt for the future tense, as in the case of The New Revised Standard Version (1989).

The context of Luke 19:1-10 indicates that Zacchaeus repented–turned around, changed his mind–that Jesus approved, and that Zacchaeus found restoration to his community.  He had violated the Biblical injunction not to exploit others and paid the price for it.  Resolving to do the right thing then following through set him on the path to justice.  Zacchaeus did even more than the Law of Moses required him to do.  This course of action was costly in material terms yet much more rewarding spiritually and socially.

I do not pretend to be an expert on the practical, circumstantial details of the will of God, but I have paid attention to certain Biblical principles.  Among them is the fact that economic exploitation is sinful.  The Law of Moses, Hebrew prophets, Jesus, and Revelation 18 agree on this point.  Opposing economic exploitation might place one opposite certain corporate leaders and most of the hosts on the FOX News Channel, but so be it.  One can follow mammon or Jesus, but not both.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 4, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE ELEVENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FEAST OF FELIX MANZ, FIRST ANABAPTIST MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT ELIZABETH SETON, FOUNDER OF THE AMERICAN SISTERS OF CHARITY

THE FEAST OF SAINTS GREGORY OF LANGRES, TERTICUS OF LANGRES, GALLUS OF CLERMONT, GREGORY OF TOURS, AVITUS I OF CLERMONT, MAGNERICUS OF TRIER, AND GAUGERICUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS

THE FEAST OF JOHANN LUDWIG FREYDT, GERMAN MORAVIAN COMPOSER AND EDUCATOR

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2016/01/04/seeking-finding-and-following-divine-guidance/

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Forty-Third Day of Easter: Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year C   10 comments

Above:  Thomas Edison, 1925

Image Source = Library of Congress

Via Words and Deeds

MAY 29, 2022

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Acts 16:16-34 (Revised English Bible):

Once, on our way to the place of prayer, we met a slave-girl who was possessed by a spirit of divination and brought large profits to her owners by telling fortunes.  She followed Paul and the rest of us shouting,

These men are servants of the Most High God, and are declaring to you a way of salvation.

She did this day after day, until, in exasperation, Paul rounded on the spirit.

I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her,

he said, and it came out instantly.

When the girl’s owners saw that their hope of profit had one, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them to the city authorities in the main square; bringing them before the magistrates, they alleged,

These men are causing a disturbance in our city; they are Jews, and they are advocating practices which it is illegal for us Romans to adopt and follow.

The mob joined in the attack; and the magistrates had the prisoners stripped and gave orders for them to be flogged.  After a severe beating they were flung into prison and the jailer was ordered to keep them under close guard.  In view of these orders, he put them into the inner prison and secured their feet in the stocks.

About midnight Paul and Silas, at their prayers, were singing praises to God, and the other prisoners were listening, when suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the jail were shaken; the doors burst open and all the prisoners found their fetters unfastened.  The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open and, assuming that the prisoners had escaped, drew his sword intending to kill himself.  But Paul shouted,

Do yourself no harm; we are all here.

The jailer called for lights, rushed in, and threw himself down before Paul and Silas, trembling with fear. He then escorted them out and said,

Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

They answered,

Put your trust in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household,

and they imparted the word of the Lord to him and everyone in his house.  At that late hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds, and there and then he and his whole family were baptized.  He brought them up into his house, set out a meal, and rejoiced with his whole household in his new-found faith in God.

Psalm 97 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 The LORD is King;

let the earth rejoice;

let the multitude of the isles be glad.

2 Clouds and darkness are round about him,

righteousness and justice are the foundations of his throne.

A fire goes before him

and burns up his enemies on every side.

4 His lightnings light up the world;

the earth sees it and is afraid.

The mountains melt like wax at the presence of the LORD,

at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.

The heavens declare his righteousness,

and all the peoples see his glory.

Confounded be all who worship carved images

and delight in false gods!

Bow down before him, all you gods.

Zion hears and is glad, and the cities of Judah rejoice,

because of your judgments, O LORD.

For you are the LORD,

most high over all the earth;

you are exalted far above all gods.

10 The LORD loves those who hate evil;

he preserves the lives of the saints

and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.

11 Light has sprung up for the righteous,

and joyful gladness for those who are truehearted.

12 Rejoice in the LORD, you righteous,

and give thanks to his holy Name.

Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21 (New Revised Standard Version):

At the end of the visions I, John, heard these words:

See, I am coming soon; my reward is with me, to repay according to everyone’s work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.

Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they will have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates….It is I, Jesus, who sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.

Th spirit and the bride say, “Come.”

And let everyone who hears say, “Come.”

Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift….

The one who testifies to these things says,

Surely I am coming soon.

Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus!

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints.  Amen.

John 17:20-26 (Anchor Bible):

[Jesus continued,]

Yet it is not for these alone that I pray but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they all may be one, just as you, Father, in me and I in you, that they also may be [one] in us.  Thus the world may be brought to completion as one.  Thus the world may come to know that you sent me and that you loved them even as you loved me.  Father, they are your gift to me; and where I am, I wish them to be one with me, that they may see my glory which you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.  O Father most just, while the world did not know you (though I knew you), these men came to know that you sent me.  And to them  I made known your name; and I will continue to make it known so that the love you had for me may be in them and I may be in them.

The Collect:

O God, the King of glory, you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven: Do not leave us comfortless, but send us your Holy Spirit to strengthen us, and exalt us to that place where our Savior Christ has gone before; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

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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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Words can be powerful.  They can inspire one to act boldly or badly, for the benefit of others or to their detriment.  As an old U.S. Supreme Court ruling tells us, there is no constitutional protection for crying “fire” in a crowded theater.  And, in a related matter, speech which incites violence is illegal, so long as the state disapproves of that violence.  On the other hand, speech which decries state-approved violence, such as war, has, as history proves, often been criminalized, if not merely considered in appropriate.  Consider the examples of Eugene Victor Debs and a host of anti-World War I activists, for example.  And how much hell did Martin Luther King, Jr., catch for opposing the Vietnam War?

Yet, as powerful as words can be, actions matter more.  Sometimes one tries and fails, but at least one did something.  Failure has led to ultimate success, as the example of Thomas Edison attests.  We must not anathemize failure, just giving up when one ought to persist.  Edison did fail many times before he succeeded.  The light bulb in the floor lamp behind my head as I type these words attests to his ultimate success.

It is through the words and actions of others of many men and women who have preceded us that we know of Jesus Christ.  Actions flow from attitudes, and words explain deeds when deeds do not belie them.  So I emphasize deeds, along with the Letter of James and sound Roman Catholic theology.  Sometimes good and faithful works will get us into legal trouble, as in the case of Sts. Paul and Silas.  (Yet the incident gave them an opportunity to convert a household.)  And sometimes good and faithful works will lead to martyrdom, as in the case of those in Revelation 22 who had washed their robes in the blood of the lamb.  Yet may we persist in good and faithful deeds.  There will be (even if only in the afterlife),

joyful gladness for those who are truehearted.

–Psalm 97;11b, 1979 Book of Common Prayer

The company of the truehearted includes both those who are already in Christ and those whom the first group adds to their number.  This is about more than evangelism, which is vital.  It is also about discipleship and service.  To love one’s neighbor as oneself might entail social activism, for what use is it to wish one fed while not feeding him or her or supporting a system which keeps him or her hungry?  And what use is it to wish one at peace while supporting a system which keeps him or her at war?

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/via-words-and-deeds/

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Thirty-Sixth Day of Easter: Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year C   15 comments

Above:  Shadow Vessels from Babylon 5:  Shadow Dancing (1996)

(Image courtesy of PowerDVD and a legal DVD)

What Do You Want?

MAY 22, 2022

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THE FIRST READING

Acts 16:9-15 (Revised English Bible):

During the night a vision came to Paul: a Macedonian stood there appealing to him,

Cross over to Macedonia and help us.

As soon as he had seen this vision, we set about getting a passage to Macedonia, convinced that God had called us to take the good news there.

We sailed from Troas and made a straight run to Samothrace, the next day a Neapolis, and there to Philippi, a leading city in that district of Macedonia and a Roman colony.  Here we stayed for some days, and on the sabbath we went outside the city gate by the riverside, where we thought there would be a place of prayer; we sat down and talked to the women who had gathered there.  One of those listening was called Lydia, a dealer in purple fabric, who came from the city of Thyatira; she was a worshipper of God, and the Lord opened her heart to respond to what Paul said.  She was baptized, and her household with her, and then she urged us,

Now that you have accepted me as a believer in the Lord, come and stay at my house.

And she insisted on our going.

THE RESPONSE

Psalm 67 (Revised English Bible):

May God be gracious to us and bless us,

may he cause his face to shine on us,

that your purpose may be known on earth,

your saving power among all nations.

Let the peoples praise you, God;

let all peoples praise you.

Let nations rejoice and shout in triumph;

for you judge the peoples with equity

and guide the nations of the earth.

Let all the peoples praise you, God;

let all the peoples praise you.

The earth has yielded its harvest.

May God, our God, bless us.

God grant us his blessing,

that all the ends of the earth may fear him.

THE SECOND READING

Revelation 21:10, 22-22:5 (New Revised Standard Version):

In the spirit the angel carried me away to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God.

I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. Its gates will never be shut by day– and there will be no night there. People will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

THE GOSPEL READING:  FIRST OPTION

John 14:23-29 (New Revised Standard Version):

Jesus said to Judas (not Iscariot),

Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.

I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, “I am going away, and I am coming to you.” If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe.

THE GOSPEL READING:  SECOND OPTION

John 5:1-9 (The New Testament in Modern English–Revised Edition):

Some time later came one of the Jewish feast-days and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.  There in in Jerusalem near the sheep-pens a pool surrounded by five arches, which has the Hebrew name of Bethzatha.  Under these arches a great many sick people were in the habit of lying; some of them were blind, some lame, an some had withered limbs.  (They used to wait there for the “moving of the water,” for a certain times an angel used to come down into the pool and disturb the water, and then the first person who stepped into the water after the disturbance would be healed of whatever he was suffering from.)  One particular man had been there ill for thirty-eight years.  When Jesus saw him lying there on his back–knowing that he had been like that for a long time, he said to him,

Do you want to get well again?

The sick man replied,

Sir, I haven’t got anybody to put me into the pool when the water is all stirred up.  While I’m trying to get there somebody else gets into it first.

Jesus said,

Get up, pick up your bed and walk!

At once the man recovered, picked up his bed and began to walk.

This happened on a Sabbath day….

The Collect:

O God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as surpass our understanding: Pour into our hearts such love towards you, that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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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-sixth-sunday-of-easter/

Prayer of Dedication:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/prayer-of-dedication-for-the-sixth-sunday-of-easter/

 Babylon 5:  Shadow Dancing (1996):

http://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/07/30/babylon-5-shadow-dancing-1996/

Feast of Sts. Lydia, Dorcas, and Phoebe, Holy Women (January 29):

http://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/06/15/feast-of-sts-lydia-dorcas-and-phoebe-holy-wome-january-29/

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In the 1994-1998 science fiction series Babylon 5, set from 2258 to 2262, there are two ancient and rival species:  The Vorlons and the Shadows.  The Vorlons, lords of order, ask

Who are you?

The Shadows, agents of destruction, ask

What do you want?

As series creator J. Michael Straczynski has said during episode commentaries of DVD,

You have to know who you are before you can know what you want.

Also, what one wants says much about who one is.

What do we want?  Do we want to be well after having been ill for a long time?  Being well would change daily life.  Are we prepared for those new challenges?  At least being ill is familiar.

What do we want?  Do we want to be faithful to God?  If this leads to persecution, even martyrdom, are we prepared to pay the cost of discipleship?

What do we want?  Do we want God’s rule on earth?  Or do we benefit from the messed-up, human-created reality?

What does what we want reveal about who we are?  And we cannot not decide, as a poster says.  So we will make decisions, which will have consequences for ourselves and others.  Who we are matters greatly, as does what we want.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 16, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF RUFUS JONES, QUAKER THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN FRANCIS REGIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH BUTLER, ANGLICAN BISHOP

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/what-do-you-want/

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Thirty-Eighth Day of Easter   13 comments

Above:  Yosemite Morning

From Worse to Better

May 24, 2022

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Acts 16:16-34 (Revised English Bible):

Once, on our way to the place of prayer, we met a slave-girl who was possessed by a spirit of divination and brought large profits to her owners by telling fortunes.  She followed Paul and the rest of us shouting,

These men are servants of the Most High God, and are declaring to you a way of salvation.

She did this day after day, until, in exasperation, Paul rounded on the spirit.

I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her,

he said, and it came out instantly.

When the girl’s owners saw that their hope of profit had one, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them to the city authorities in the main square; bringing them before the magistrates, they alleged,

These men are causing a disturbance in our city; they are Jews, and they are advocating practices which it is illegal for us Romans to adopt and follow.

The mob joined in the attack; and the magistrates had the prisoners stripped and gave orders for them to be flogged.  After a severe beating they were flung into prison and the jailer was ordered to keep them under close guard.  In view of these orders, he put them into the inner prison and secured their feet in the stocks.

About midnight Paul and Silas, at their prayers, were singing praises to God, and the other prisoners were listening, when suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the jail were shaken; the doors burst open and all the prisoners found their fetters unfastened.  The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open and, assuming that the prisoners had escaped, drew his sword intending to kill himself.  But Paul shouted,

Do yourself no harm; we are all here.

The jailer called for lights, rushed in, and threw himself down before Paul and Silas, trembling with fear. He then escorted them out and said,

Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

They answered,

Put your trust in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household,

and they imparted the word of the Lord to him and everyone in his house.  At that late hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds, and there and then he and his whole family were baptized.  He brought them up into his house, set out a meal, and rejoiced with his whole household in his new-found faith in God.

Psalm 138 (Revised English Bible):

I shall give praise to you, LORD, with my whole heart;

in the presence of the gods I shall sing psalms to you.

I shall bow down towards your holy temple;

for your love and faithfulness I shall praise your name,

for you have exalted your promise above the heavens.

When I called, you answered me

and made me bold and strong.

Let all the kings of the earth praise you, LORD,

when they hear the words you have spoken;

let them sing of the LORD’s ways,

for great is the glory of the LORD.

The LORD is exalted, yet he cares for the lowly

and from afar he takes note of the proud.

Though I am compassed about by trouble,

you preserve my life,

putting forth your power against the rage of my enemies,

and with your right hand you save me.

The LORD will accomplish his purpose for me.

Your love endures for ever, LORD;

do not abandon what you have made.

John 16:4b-11 (Anchor Bible):

[Jesus continued,]

At the beginning I did not tell you this because I was with you; but now I am going to Him who sent me.  Yet not one of you asks, me ‘Where are you going?’  Just because I have said this to you, your hearts are full of sadness.  Still I am telling you the truth:  it is for your own good that I go away.  For if I do not go away, the Paraclete can never come to you; whereas, if I do go, I shall send him to you.  And when he does come, he will prove the world wrong about sin, about justice, and about judgment.  first, about sin–in that they refuse to believe in me.  Then, about justice–in that I am going to the Father and you can see me no longer.  Finally, about judgment–in that the Prince of this world has been condemned….

The Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God, you have given your Church the great joy of the resurrection of Jesus Christ: Give us also the greater joy of the kingdom of your elect, when the flock of your Son will share in the final victory of its Shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

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The situation looked grim.  Authorities were about to apprehend Jesus, torture him, and put him to death.  Yet, in the context in the Johannine Gospel, Jesus comforted this apostles and foretold his victory, his departure,  and the coming of the Holy Spirit.  (FYI:  The Fortieth Day of Easter is the Ascension and the Fiftieth Day is Pentecost, hence the positioning of this reading at this point in the Episcopal Easter lectionary.)

The situation looked grim.  Paul, empowered by the same Holy Spirit, had committed a good deed, delivering a young woman from economic exploitation.  In retribution her owners had Paul and Silas arrested, beaten, and imprisoned on false charges.  As bad as this situation was, it set up the opportunity for Paul and Silas to save the life of their jailer and to bring him and his family to Christ.  Imagine the fear the jailer, a low-level government employee, must have felt.  It was sufficient for him to prefer suicide to the alternative.  Yet, at that moment, he found new life.

I have experienced very dark times in my life.  More than once I have preferred death to life, although I was too afraid to attempt suicide.  More than once I have cursed a day on which I woke up because I feared what life might hold for me.  That was true in 2007; I write this in 2010.  Out of those dark times came great blessings.  Although I take no joy in those events from my life in 2007 I rejoice in the blessings which have flowed from them.

Human life consists in part of peaks and valleys, deserts and rich fields, light and darkness.  It is easy during happy times to ignore God and rely on oneself, but more difficult to do during hard times.  When we exit the valley we need to carry with us the knowledge of dependence on God, of which God has reminded us.

KRT

Posted originally at SUNDRY THOUGHTS OF KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on April 6, 2010

Posted October 29, 2010 by neatnik2009 in 2022, Episcopal Church Lectionary, May 24

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Thirty-Seventh Day of Easter   11 comments

A 1628 Reconstruction of the World Map According to Posidonius (Circa 150-130 B.C.E.)

Serving God

May 23, 2022

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Acts 16:11-15 (Revised English Bible):

We sailed from Troas and made a straight run to Samothrace, the next day a Neapolis, and there to Philippi, a leading city in that district of Macedonia and a Roman colony.  Here we stayed for some days, and on the sabbath we went outside the city gate by the riverside, where we thought there would be a place of prayer; we sat down and talked to the women who had gathered there.  One of those listening was called Lydia, a dealer in purple fabric, who came from the city of Thyatira; she was a worshipper of God, and the Lord opened her heart to respond to what Paul said.  She was baptized, and her household with her, and then she urged us,

Now that you have accepted me as a believer in the Lord, come and stay at my house.

And she insisted on our going.

Psalm 149 (Revised English Bible):

Sing to the LORD a new song,

his praise in the assembly of his loyal servants!

Let Israel rejoice in their maker;

let the people of Zion exult in their king.

Let them praise his name in the dance,

and sing to him psalms with tambourine and lyre.

For the LORD accepts the service of his people;

he crowns the lowly with victory.

Let his loyal servants exult in triumph;

let them shout for joy as they prostrate themselves.

Let the high praises of God be on their lips

and a two-edged sword in their hand

to wreak vengeance on the nations

and punishment on the heathen,

binding their kings with chains,

putting their nobles in irons,

carrying out the judgement decreed against them–

this is glory for all his loyal servants.

Praise the LORD.

John 15:26-16:4a (Anchor Bible):

[Jesus continued, ]

When the Paraclete comes, the Spirit of truth who comes forth from the Father and whom I shall send to you from the Father, he will bear witness on my behalf.  You should bear witness because you have been with me from the beginning.  I have said this to you to prevent your faith from being shaken.  They are going to put you out of the Synagogue.  In fact, the hour is coming when the man who puts you to death will think that he is serving God!  And they will do such things [to you] because they never knew the Father nor me.  However, I have said this to you so that, when the[ir] hour comes, you may remember that I told you so.

The Collect:

Almighty God, you show the light of your truth to those who are in error, to the intent that they may return to the way of righteousness: Grant that those who are admitted into the fellowship of Christ’s religion that they may avoid those things that are contrary to their profession, and follow all such things as are agreeable to it; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

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The psalm troubles me.  Although it begins nicely, it concludes in violence.  This is incompatible with the love and service of God, as I understand them.  No, for my cues I turn to the Johannine Gospel lection, which describes accurately what happened to many early Christians and expresses in spirit what numerous followers of Jesus experience today.  “In fact, the hour is coming when the man who puts you to death will think that he is serving God!”  “Sacred” violence is not the answer, yet the pages of the Bible teem with it.

No, the reading from Acts reflects an aspect of service to God.  Hospitality, born of mutual support, can indicate love from God.  Certainly, it does so much more than wreaking vengeance of the nations.

KRT

Posted originally at SUNDRY THOUGHTS OF KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on April 6, 2010

Posted October 29, 2010 by neatnik2009 in 2022, Episcopal Church Lectionary, May 10, May 23

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Thirty-Fifth Day of Easter   11 comments

Timothy and His Grandmother, by Rembrandt van Rijn (1648)

Demands of Love Upon Oneself

May 21, 2022

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Acts 16:1-10 (Revised English Bible):

He [Paul] went on to Derbe and then to Lystra, where he found a disciple named Timothy, the son of a Jewish Christian mother and a gentile father, well spoken of by the Christians at Lystra and Iconium.  Paul wanted to take with him when he left, so he had him circumcised out of consideration for the Jews who lived in those parts, for they all knew that his father was a Gentile.  As they made their way from town to town they handed on the decisions taken by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem and enjoined their observance.  So, day by day, the churches grew stronger in faith and increased in numbers.

They travelled through the Phrygian and Galatian region, prevented by the Holy Spirit from delivering the message in the province of Asia.  When they approached the Mysian border they tried to enter Bithynia, but, as the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them, they passed through Mysia and reached the coast at Troas.  During the night a vision came to Paul: a Macedonian stood there appealing to him,

Cross over to Macedonia and help us.

As soon as he had seen this vision, we set about getting a passage to Macedonia, convinced that God had called us to take the good news there.

Psalm 100 (Revised English Bible):

Let all the earth acclaim the LORD!

Worship the LORD in gladness;

enter his presence with joyful songs.

Acknowledge that the LORD is God;

he made us and we are his,

his own people, the flock which he shepherds.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,

his courts with praise.

Give thanks to him and bless his name;

for the LORD is good and his love is everlasting,

his faithfulness endures to all generations.

John 15:18-21 (Anchor Bible):

[Jesus continued,]

If the world hates you, bear in mind that it has hated me before you.  If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but the reason why the world hates you is that you do not belong to the world, for I chose you out of the world.  Remember what I told you:  ‘No servant is more important than his master.’  If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they have kept my word, they will keep yours, too.  But they will do all these things to you because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me….

The Collect:

Lord God Almighty, for no merit on our part you have brought us out of death, out of sorrow into joy: Put no end to your gifts, fulfill your marvelous acts in us, and grant us who have been justified by faith the strength to persevere in that faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

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I grew up in a series of United Methodist parsonages.  This is no secret, for one can find this fact in more than one place on this blog alone.  Growing up, my sister, Barbara, and I  had to observe certain rules others did not keep.  My family and I lived in a proverbial glass house, so we had to observe some rules I consider silly.  For example, we were not supposed to play in yard on Sunday afternoon at the Vidette United Methodist Church parsonage (in Vidette, Georgia, 1980-1982), in case someone saw this and thought it improper.  The provincial mindsets of some of my father’s parishioners when I grew up and the demands these imposed on me help explain why I remain a lay member, not compelled to curtail my daily life due to such petty issues, in 2010.  Although there is a place for considering the sensibilities of others, there is also a time to dismiss certain standards, community or otherwise.

Timothy had a much greater issue, however.  If I were he, I would refuse adult circumcision for obvious reasons, saying, “The concerns of the Jews and Judaizers be damned!  This is my body!”  But Timothy was better man than I.

And Jesus faced lethal consequences for his love; this day’s discourse from the Johannine Gospel is from shortly before his apprehension by the authorities, and therefore close in time to his crucifixion.  So, consider the power of his words in that context.

True love and kindness is far more than warm, fuzzy feelings.  Rather, they are active, and they arouse hostility in many people.  True love and kindness can get a person killed, imprisoned, or otherwise persecuted.  They can make one despised.  They can inconvenience one greatly.  But, without putting ourselves out improperly, let us love and be kind.

KRT

Posted originally at SUNDRY THOUGHTS OF KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on April 6, 2010

Posted October 29, 2010 by neatnik2009 in 2022, Episcopal Church Lectionary, May 21

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