Archive for the ‘Acts 17’ Tag

Devotion for the Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year A (ILCW Lectionary)   1 comment

Above:  Icon of the Harrowing of Hades

Image in the Public Domain

Judgment and Mercy

MAY 14, 2023

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

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Acts 17:22-31

Psalm 66:1-6, 14-18 (LBW) or Psalm 98 (LW)

1 Peter 3:15-22

John 14:15-21

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O God, from whom all good things come:

Lead us by the inspiration of your Spirit

to think those things which are right,

and by your goodness to do them;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 22

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Lord, because you promised to give what we ask

in the name of your only-begotten Son,

teach us rightly to pray and with all your saints

to offer you our adoration and praise;

through Jesus Christ, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 54

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YHWH is no mere tribal deity.  No, YHWH is the sole, universal deity.  This is a summary of Judeo-Christian monotheism.  I affirm it and trust that it is true.

Two properties of YHWH are judgment and mercy.  They exist in a balance I dare not even pretend to understand.  However, I favor mercy, if I must make an assumption in a given circumstance.  I do not want to be a judgmental person, after all.  I leave the determination to God.

1 Peter 3:19-20 indicates that divine mercy may reach farther than conventionally pious Christians may often think.  This passage tells us that damnation is not necessarily final.  This is distressing news for those who prefer unambiguous theological categories and detest theological uncertainty.  So be it.

Let us be honest about and with ourselves.  We probably seek unbridled mercy for ourselves, people we like, and those similar to us.  We probably desire divine judgment for everyone else.  How many of those in “everyone else” think the same way about us, people we like, and those similar to us?  Grace is scandalous.  Divine mercy really rocks the boat and sinks some theological boats.

To be clear, I am not a universalist.  As I have written many times already, God sends nobody to Hell.  People condemn themselves.  C. S. Lewis said it best:  The doors to Hell are locked from the inside.  Some people never listen, unfortunately for them.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 22, 2022 COMMON ERA

FRIDAY IN EASTER WEEK

THE FEAST OF GENE BRITTON, EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF DONALD S. ARMENTROUT, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF HADEWIJCH OF BRABERT, ROMAN CATHOLIC MYSTIC

THE FEAST OF KATHE KOLLWITZ, GERMAN LUTHERAN ARTIST AND PACIFIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT VITALIS OF GAZA, MONK, HERMIT, AND MARTYR, CIRCA 625

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Link to the corresponding post at BLOGA THEOLOGICA

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Devotion for the Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year A (ILCW Lectionary)   1 comment

Above:  Icon of the Ministry of the Apostles

Image in the Public Domain

The Divine Mandate for Social Justice

MAY 7, 2023

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

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Acts 17:1-15

Psalm 33:1-11 (LBW) or Psalm 146 (LW)

1 Peter 2:4-10

John 14:1-12

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

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

that, amid, all the changes of this world,

our hearts may be fixed where true joy is found;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 22

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O God, you make the minds of your faithful to be of one will;

therefore grant to your people that they may love what you command

and desire what you promise,

that among the manifold changes of this age our hearts

may ever be fixed where true joys are to be found;

through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 53

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…the people who have been turning the whole world upside down have come here now….

–Acts 17:6b, The Revised New Jerusalem Bible (2019)

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One need not be evil to favor maintaining the status quo, even when it is exploitative and for overturning.  Good, morally defensible change can cause disorientation and discomfort, even among conventionally pious people.  The terms “revolutionary,” “liberal,” “conservative,” and “reactionary” are inherently relative to the center, the definition of which varies according to time and place.  These four labels are, in the abstract, morally neutral.  In circumstances, however, they are not.  Being conservative, for example, may be right or wrong, depending on what one hopes to conserve.  And, if one is not a revolutionary in certain circumstances, one is morally defective.

The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., called for a

moral revolution of values

on April 4, 1967, when he finally unambiguously and unapologetically opposed the Vietnam War.  That address, which he delivered at the Riverside Church, Manhattan, proved to be extremely controversial, mainly because of King’s position on the Vietnam War.  That controversy obscured much of the rest of the contents of the speech.  (King was correct to oppose the Vietnam War, by the way.)  The other content of that speech remains prophetic and germane.  The call for a society that values people more than property, for example, has not come to fruition, sadly.

Sometimes “turning the world upside down” is really turning it right side up, as in Psalm 146 and the Beatitudes.  Giving justice to the oppressed, feeding the hungry, caring for the strangers, sustaining the orphan and the widow, and frustrating the way of the wicked are examples of turning the world right side up, not upside down.  You, O reader, and I live in an upside-down world.

This is theologically orthodox.  False theological orthodoxy mistakes social justice for heresy and bolsters social injustice.  However, the Law of Moses, the Hebrew prophets, and the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth are consistent in holding that social injustice is a divine mandate.

So be it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 21, 2022 COMMON ERA

THURSDAY IN EASTER WEEK

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROMAN ADAME ROSALES, MEXICAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1927

THE FEAST OF SAINT CONRAD OF PARZHAM, CAPUCHIN FRIAR

THE FEAST OF DAVID BRAINERD, AMERICAN CONGREGATIONALIST THEN PRESBYTERIAN MISSIONARY AND MINISTER

THE FEAST OF GEORGE B. CAIRD, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST THEN UNITED REFORMED MINISTER, BIBLICAL SCHOLAR, AND HYMN WRITER AND TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF GEORGIA HARKNESS, U.S. METHODIST MINISTER, THEOLOGIAN, ETHICIST, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT SIMON BARSABAE, BISHOP; AND HIS COMPANIONS, MARTYRS, 341

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Link to the corresponding post at BLOGA THEOLOGICA

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

Above:  Saint Paul Preaches in Athens

Image in the Public Domain

The Incarnation

MAY 22, 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 17:16-34

Psalm 42

2 John

John 17:1-26

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Attaching a precise theological label to the heresy in the community of the Second Letter of John is difficult.  Which -ism is it?  Anyway, it entails denying the Incarnation.

The Incarnation is central to Christianity.  Easter depends upon Good Friday.  Easter and Good Friday, in turn depend upon Christmas.  Therefore, whenever I listen to certain classical music for Christmas and hear the familiar tune of the Passion Chorale, I know that some composers understood the link between Christmas and Easter.

The Incarnation may be one of the more audacious claims of Christian doctrine.  It seems absurd to many.  Rejection of it by many may discourage some who proclaim the Gospel.  Yet the light continues to shine in the darkness, which has not overcome it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 12, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BENEDICT BISCOP, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT OF WEARMOUTH

THE FEAST OF SAINT AELRED OF HEXHAM, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT OF RIEVAULX

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANTHONY MARY PUCCI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF HENRY ALFORD, ANGLICAN PRIEST, BIBLICAL SCHOLAR, LITERARY TRANSLATOR, HYMN WRITER, HYMN TRANSLATOR, AND BIBLE TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARGUERITE BOURGEOYS, FOUNDRESS OF THE SISTERS OF NOTRE DAME

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2021/01/12/the-incarnation/

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Thirty-Ninth Day of Easter   6 comments

Above:  Areopagus, Athens, Greece

Image Source = ajbear AKA KiltBear

Glorifying God

May 17, 2023

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Acts 17:15, 22-18:1 (Revised English Bible):

He [Paul] argued in the synagogue with the Jews and gentile worshippers, and also in the city square [at Athens] every day with casual passers-by.

Paul stood up before the Council of the Areopagus and began:

Men of Athens, I see that in everything that concerns religion you are uncommonly scrupulous.  As I was going round looking at the objects of your worship, I noticed among other things an altar bearing the inscription ‘To an Unknown God.’  What you worship but do not know–this is what I now proclaim.

The God who created the world and everything in it, and who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands.  It is not because hie lacks anything that he accepts service at our hands, for he is himself the universal giver of life and breath–indeed of everything.  He created from one stock every nation of men to inhabit the whole earth’s surface.  He determined their eras in history and the limits of their territory.  They were to seek God in the hope that, groping after him, they might find him; though indeed he is not far from each one of us, for in him we live and move, in him we exist; as some of your own poets have said, ‘We are also his offspring.’  Being God’s offspring, then, we ought not to suppose that the deity is like an image in gold or silver or stone, shaped by human craftsmanship and design.  God has overlooked the age of ignorance; but now he commands men and women everywhere to repent, because he has fixed the day on which he will have the world judged, and justly judged, by a man whom he has designated; of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.

When they heard about the raising of the dead, some scoffed; others said,

We will hear you on this subject some other time.

So Paul left the assembly.  Some men joined him and became believers, including Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus; and also a woman named Damaris, with others besides.

After this he left Athens and went to Corinth.

Psalm 148:1-2, 11-14 (Revised English Bible):

Praise the LORD.

Praise the LORD from the heavens;

praise him in the heights above.

Praise him, all his angels;

praise him, all his hosts.

Let kings and all commoners,

princes and rulers over the whole earth,

youths and girls,

old and young together,

let them praise the name of the LORD,

for his name is high above all others,

and his majesty above earth and heaven.

He has exalted his people in the pride of power

and crowned with praise his loyal servants,

Israel, a people close to him.

Praise the LORD.

John 16:12-15 (Anchor Bible):

[Jesus continued,]

I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.  When he comes, however, being the Spirit of Truth, he will guide you along the way to all truth.  For he will not speak on his own, but will speak only what he hears and will declare to you the things to come.  He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will declare to you.  Everything that the Father has is mine; that is why I said: ‘It is from me that he receives what he will declare to you.’

The Collect:

Lord God Almighty, for no merit on our part you have brought us out of death into life, 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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Often, when asked why are Christians, people say that they want to go to Heaven and not to Hell.  Heaven is preferable to Hell, but if this is principally why one identifies as a Christian one’s religion is mostly or entirely self-serving.  Embedded in the Incarnation is the premise that Jesus came not to be served, but to serve.  The crucifixion is most emblematic and indicative of this service.  And Paul did not understand his Christianity as self-serving, for he suffered greatly because of his faith and actions which flowed from it.

Also, by serving and glorifying God we are supposed to draw people to God and encourage those already united with God in faith.  Thus gifts of the Holy Spirit have a communal purpose; they build up the faith community, not the individual.

The Westminster Catechisms (Larger and Shorter) state that man’s chief and highest end is “to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.”  This is the most concise statement on that subject.  Enjoyment of God can take many forms, but indicates (regardless of its form) a spiritual state.  This can come only from God, who draws us more closely into the divine presence and transforms us.  St. Augustine of Hippo said, “Love God and do as you please.”  Certainly, if we love God as St. Augustine understood that thought, we will take delight only in what pleases God, so we will be able to follow our delights without fear of them leading us astray.  Now all we have to do is reach that pinnacle, by grace, of course.

KRT

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

Thirty-Sixth Day of Easter: Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year A   18 comments

Above:  A Depiction of the Holy Spirit as a Dove (from St. Charles’s Church, Vienna, Austria)

If You Love Jesus…

MAY 14, 2023

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Acts 17:22-31 (New Revised Standard Version):

Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said,

Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him– though indeed he is not far from each one of us. For `In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said,

For we too are his offspring.

Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.

Psalm 66:8-20 (New Revised Standard Version):

Bless our God, O peoples,

let the sound of his praise be heard,

who has kept us among the living,

and has not let our feet slip.

For you, O God, have tested us;

you have tried us as silver is tried.

You brought us into the net;

you laid burdens on our backs;

you let people ride over our heads;

we went through fire and through water;

yet you have brought us out of a spacious place.

I will come into your house with burnt offerings;

I will pay you my vows,

those that my lips uttered

and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.

I will offer to you burnt offerings of fatlings,

with the smoke of the sacrifice of rams;

I will make an offering of bulls and goats.

Come and hear, all you who fear God,

and I will tell what he has done for me.

I cried aloud to him,

and he was extolled with my tongue.

If I had cherished iniquity in my heart,

the Lord would not have listened.

But truly God has listened;

he has given heed to the words of my prayer.

Blessed by God,

because he has not rejected my prayer

or removed his steadfast love from me.

1 Peter 3:13-22 (New Revised Standard Version):

Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God’s will, than to suffer for doing evil. For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you– not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.

John 14:15-21 (New Revised Standard Version):

Jesus said to his disciples,

If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.

I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.

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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We cannot love God, whom we cannot see, unless first we love our fellow human beings, whom we can see.  This is an old standard, one I use to determine whether an action one commits in the name of God is consistent with God.

And what is the standard of love, which many older translations render as charity?  The answer to that question comes from the Apostle Paul, who wrote the following in 1 Corinthians 13, as the Confraternity Version (1941) renders it:

And I point out to you a yet more excellent way.  If I should speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have charity, I have become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.  And I have prophecy and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith as to remove mountains, yet do not have charity, I am nothing.  And if I distribute all my goods to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, yet do not have charity, it profits me nothing.

Charity is patient, is kind; charity does not envy, is not pretentious, is not puffed up, is not ambitious, is not self-seeking, is not provoked; thinks no evil, does not rejoice over wickedness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Charity never fails, whereas prophecies will disappear, and tongues will cease, and knowledge will be disappeared.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when that which is perfect has come, that which is imperfect will be done away with.  When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I spoke as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child.  Now that I have become a man, I have put away the things of a child.  We now see through a mirror in an obscure manner, but then face to face.  Now I know in part, but then I shall know even as I have been known.  So there abide faith, hope, and charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

So, when I read about people killing their daughters for become pregnant outside of wedlock or their sons for watching soccer matches on television then quoting back religion to justify murder, I believe these acts are inconsistent with God, who is love.  Such love, or charity, if you prefer that translation, can take the form of tough love sometimes.  I recognize this fact readily.  Yet it can never become manifest as an honor killing.

May we love each other actively, emphasizing the benefits to the others around us.

Note where we are in the Easter season with this post.  There are two weeks left the season, which ends with the Day of Pentecost.  The designers of the Revised Common Lectionary have placed this Gospel reading on this day to start the short countdown to Pentecost.  This example demonstrates one strength of a lectionary, for organization is an advantage in planning the Christian year.

KRT

Written on June 20, 2010

Posted October 29, 2010 by neatnik2009 in 2023, May 14, Revised Common Lectionary Year A

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