Archive for the ‘Acts 9’ Tag

Devotion for the Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year B (Humes)   2 comments

Above:  The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans Under the Command of Titus, A.D. 70, by David Roberts

Image in the Public Domain

Apocalypse and Hope

MAY 24, 2020

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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 9:32-43

Psalm 68:1-10, 32-35

2 Peter 3:8-14

Mark 13:1-13

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The apocalyptic tone of 2 Peter 3:8-14 and Mark 13:1-3 is actually good news.  God is the king of creation, of course, despite appearances to the contrary.  The word of God continues to spread, despite violent attempts to prevent that.  The end of the current world order will precede the rise of the divine world order.

One of the themes in the New Testament is the importance of remaining faithful–of not committing apostasy–despite many short-term reasons to do so.  Avoiding prison, continuing to live, and preventing suffering all sound like good reasons not to do something, do they not.  They are, much of the time.  However, Christian fidelity sometimes leads to incarceration, suffering, and/or martyrdom.  Yet, if we suffer with Christ, we will reign with him.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 29, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS PETER AND PAUL APOSTLES AND MARTYRS

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2019/06/29/apocalypse-and-hope/

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

Above:  The Conversion of Saint Paul, by Luca Giordano

Image in the Public Domain

Hope

MAY 17, 2020

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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 9:1-22

Psalm 98

2 Peter 3:1-7

Mark 12:28-34

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In Mark 12, after Jesus rebuffed two trick questions and evaded a political trap just a few days prior to his crucifixion, he heard a sincere question.  His reply was consistent, with the Hebrew Bible and Rabbi Hillel:  Love God fully and one’s neighbor as oneself.

Saul of Tarsus, while zealously participating in making Christians martyrs, thought he was loving God fully.  God had a different opinion.

All things have continued as they were from as far  back as documentation and memory recount.  We say that God is the king yet we read headlines and consume news stories that seem to indicate otherwise.  Doubting ans scoffing are understandable results.  Nevertheless, we must retain hope that divine justice will eventually prevail; we must never surrender to despair.  Perhaps God will work through us to improve the world as we cease to seek excuses for disobeying the Golden Rule while pretending to honor it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 28, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN GERARD, ENGLISH JESUIT PRIEST; AND SAINT MARY WARD, FOUNDRESS OF THE INSTITUTE OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

THE FEAST OF SAINTS PLUTARCH, MARCELLA, POTANOMINAENA, AND BASILIDES OF ALEXANDRIA, MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF SAINT TERESA MARIA MASTERS, FOUNDRESS OF THE INSTITUTE OF THE SISTERS OF THE HOLY FACE

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM AND JOHN MUNDY, ENGLISH COMPOSERS AND MUSICIANS

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2019/06/28/hope-ii/

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

St. Barnabas

Above:  St. Barnabas

Image in the Public Domain

Friendship

MAY 16 and 17, 2022

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The Collect:

O Lord God, you teach us that without love, our actions gain nothing.

Pour into our hearts your most excellent gift of love, that,

made alive by your Spirit, we may know goodness and peace,

through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 34

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The Assigned Readings:

1 Samuel 20:1-23, 35-42 (Monday)

2 Samuel 1:4-27 (Tuesday)

Psalm 133 (Both Days)

Acts 11:19-26 (Monday)

Acts 11:27-30 (Tuesday)

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Oh, how good and pleasant it is

when brethren live together in unity!

It is like fine oil upon the head

that runs down upon the beard,

Upon the beard of Aaron,

and runs down upon the collar of his robe.

It is like the dew of Hermon

that falls upon the hills of Zion.

For there the LORD has ordained the blessing,

life for evermore.

–Psalm 133, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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Friendship is a form of such unity.

Jonathan remained David’s friend, even to the detriment of his (Jonathan’s) relationship with his father, King Saul.  In 1 Samuel 20:30 the monarch cursed out his son, although few versions in English have rendered the verse accordingly.  Saul’s reminder that Jonathan was also endangering his own potential kingship were rational yet ultimately unnecessary, for father and son died at about the same time.

St. Barnabas was a major ally of St. Paul the Apostle.  He assisted the former Saul of Tarsus, violent foe of nascent Christianity, who had become a convert to the faith recently.  St. Barnabas escorted St. Paul to meet with the understandably frightened remaining Apostles (Acts 9:26-28).  St. Barnabas, working among the Christians of Antioch, left to retrieve St. Paul from Tarsus and took him to Antioch (Acts 11:19-26).  Sts. Barnabas and Paul carried alms to Jerusalem (11:27-30).  The two men traveled together on evangelistic journeys (Acts 13:2).  St. Barnabas addressed the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:12), and he and St. Paul delivered the decree thereof to churches (Acts 15:22-31).  The two men parted company because they disagreed strongly over taking John Mark (St. Mark the Evangelist) with them, so Sts. Barnabas and Mark traveled together afterward (Acts 15:36-39).  Although St. Paul respected St. Barnabas (1 Corinthians 9:6 and Galatians 2:1, 9), he criticized his former traveling companion for, like St. Simon Peter, refusing table fellowship with Gentiles (Galatians 2:13).  Nevertheless, St. Barnabas had helped to make the former Saul of Tarsus the figure who became St. Paul the Apostle, vouching for him at a crucial juncture.  What if St. Barnabas had been wrong about St. Paul?  He took that risk.

Friends are people who stand by us at the most difficult times.  Such people are natural agents of divine grace.  May each of us have such friends and be such a friend to others, for the glory of God and for the common good.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 2, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE NINTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FEAST OF JOHANN KONRAD WILHELM LOEHE, BAVARIAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND COORDINATOR OF DOMESTIC AND FOREIGN MISSIONS

THE FEAST OF SABINE BARING-GOULD, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2016/01/02/friendship/

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

Men in Boat

Above:  Men in Boat (1860), by Alfred R. Waud (1828-1891)

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsca-20362

In the Same Boat

MAY 10, 2022

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The Collect:

O God of peace, you brought again from the dead

our Lord Jesus Christ, the shepherd of the sheep.

By the blood of your eternal covenant, make us complete

in everything good that we may do your will,

and work among us all that is well-pleasing in your sight,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 33

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The Assigned Readings:

Ezekiel 45:1-9

Psalm 100

Acts 9:32-35

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Acknowledge that the LORD is God;

He made us and we are His,

His people, the flock He tends.

–Psalm 100:3, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

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Acknowledging that the LORD is God entails, among other things, living accordingly.  Psalm 14:1a and 53:2a (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures, 1985) tell us that

The benighted man thinks,

“God does not care.”

The standard English-language translation from the Hebrew text is close to the rendering in The Revised English Bible (1989):

The impious fool says in his heart,

“There is no God.”

The difference in translation is mostly in the second half of that passage.  The issue in Psalms 14 and 53 is practical atheism, not the denial of the existence of God.  Belief in God, in the Biblical sense, is trust in God, not mere affirmation of divine existence.  Thus the benighted man/impious fool operates under the mistaken idea that God does not care.  Actually, God cares deeply, especially about how we mortals treat each other.

Land was a patrimony and therefore a matter of great importance in Biblical times.  A member of one generation held it in trust for heirs.  Yet monarchs evicted legitimate landowners and seized land some times.  This is the matter in Ezekiel 45:8b-9 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures, 1985):

My princes shall no more defraud My people, but shall leave the rest of the land to the several tribes of the House of Israel.

Thus says the Lord GOD:  Enough, princes of Israel!  Make an end of lawlessness and rapine, and do what is right and just!  Put an end to your evictions of My people–declares the Lord GOD.

References to such evictions occur in 1 Kings 21:1-16; Isaiah 5:8; and Micah 2:2.

The timeless message here is that nobody has any right to improve his or her financial position by victimizing others, especially the powerless and the less powerful.  Climbing the ladder of success by kicking others off it is immoral.

St. Simon Peter’s healing of Aeneas, a man bedridden with paralysis for eight years, built up Aeneas, restoring him to health and community.

Whatever we do to each other is what we do to ourselves.  If we keep others”in their place,” seemingly to improve our circumstances, we really hurt ourselves, for we doom ourselves to monitor others instead of pursuing proper opportunities.  May we build each other up in the name of Jesus Christ, enabling each other to become the people we can become in God, for the glory of God and the benefit of the whole.  To use a cliché, we are all in the same boat.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 31, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE SEVENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FEAST OF JOHN WYCLIFFE, BIBLE TRANSLATOR

NEW YEAR’S EVE

THE FEAST OF PHILIPP HEINRICH MOLTHER, GERMAN MORAVIAN MINISTER, BISHOP, COMPOSER, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF ROSSITER WORTHINGTON RAYMOND, U.S. NOVELIST, POET, HYMN WRITER, AND MINING ENGINEER

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2015/12/31/in-the-same-boat/

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Devotion for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday After the Third Sunday of Easter, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Vison of Ezekiel--Fra Angelico

Above:  The Vision of Ezekiel, Fra Angelico

Image in the Public Domain

Commissioned and Equipped

MAY 2-4, 2022

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The Collect:

Eternal and all-merciful God,

with all the angels and all the saints we laud your majesty and might.

By the resurrection of your Son, show yourself to us

and inspire us to follow Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 33

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The Assigned Readings:

Ezekiel 1:1-25 (Monday)

Ezekiel 1:26-2:1 (Tuesday)

Isaiah 6:1-8 (Wednesday)

Psalm 121 (All Days)

Acts 9:19-31 (Monday)

Acts 26:1-18 (Tuesday)

Luke 5:1-11 (Wednesday)

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I lift up my eyes to the hills;

from where is my help to come?

My help comes from the LORD,

the maker of heaven and earth.

–Psalm 121:1-2, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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Most of the readings for these three days are stories of commissioning by God, accompanied by a spectacular vision or event.  Ezekiel and Isaiah become prophets, fishermen become Apostles, and Saul of Tarsus becomes St. Paul the Apostle, the great evangelist.  God qualifies the called, who know well that they are, by themselves, inadequate for the tasks to which God has assigned them.

I do not know about you, O reader, but I have seen no visions and have not witnessed miraculous deeds.  Neither has God called me to do anything in the same league as the tasks assigned to Ezekiel, Isaiah, St. Paul, and the original twelve Apostles.  I do know some of my inadequacies, however, and affirm that God has work for me to do.  Furthermore, I acknowledge my need for grace to complete those tasks for the glory of God.

Each of us has a role to play in God’s design.  Many of us seek or will seek to fulfill it, but others do not or will not seek to do so.  God will win in the end, as the Book of Revelation tells me, so divine victory is up to God, not any of us.  Nevertheless, is responding faithfully to God and accepting the demands of grace not better than doing otherwise?

What is God calling and equipping you, O reader, to do?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 20, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF SAINT DOMINIC OF SILOS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINT PETER CANISIUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM JOHN BLEW, ENGLISH PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2015/12/20/commissioned-and-equipped/

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Devotion for the Twenty-Third and Twenty-Fourth Days of Lent, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   3 comments

01950v

Above:  Design Drawing for a Stained-Glass Window Showing the Conversion of Paul

Designed by J. & R. Lamb Studios

Image Source = Library of Congress

A Life Worthy of the Lord

MONDAY, MARCH 23, 2020, and TUESDAY, MARCH 24, 2020

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The Collect:

Bend your ear to our prayers, Lord Christ, and come among us.

By your gracious life and death for us, bring light into the darkness

of our hearts, and anoint us with your Spirit, for you live and reign

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

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 28

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 59:9-19 (23rd Day)

Isaiah 42:14-21 (24th Day)

Psalm 146 (Both Days)

Acts 9:1-20 (23rd Day)

Colossians 1:9-24 (24th Day)

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A Related Post:

Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul the Apostle (January 25):

http://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/06/11/feast-of-the-conversion-of-st-paul-the-apostle-january-25/

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Judgment and mercy go hand-in-hand in the Bible.  The assigned readings for today demonstrate this well.  Psalm 146:5-9 reads:

Happy is he whose helper is the God of Jacob,

whose hope is the LORD his God,

maker of heaven and earth,

the sea, and all that is in them;

who maintains faithfulness for ever

and deals out justice to the oppressed.

The LORD feeds the hungry

and sets the prisoner free.

The LORD raises those who are bowed down;

the LORD loves the righteous

and protects the stranger in the land;

the LORD gives support to the fatherless and the widow,

but thwarts the course of the wicked.

The Revised English Bible (1989)

Deliverance of the faithful and destruction of the wicked occurs in the readings from Isaiah.  In the Bible justice and righteousness are the same thing; our English-language words “justice” and “righteousness” are translations of the same term.  Thus corruption and economic exploitation are both unrighteous and unjust.

Sometimes, however, God grants persecutors opportunities to repent and convert.  If they refuse, that is solely their responsibility.  St. Paul the Apostle, with human guidance sent by God, accepted.  He, in the Letter to the Colossians, wrote eloquently in terms he drew from his life:

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.  He has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

–1:11-14, Revised Standard Version—Second Edition (1971)

Some people have dramatic experiences.  Others of us do not.  Contrary to what some say, being able to document when one came to God is not requisite.  Yet being of God is necessary for salvation.  God, who works in more than one way, is the arbiter of these matters.

So, regardless of how we came to God—gradually and quietly (as I did) or dramatically (as St. Paul did)—may we honor God daily by keeping our Lord and Savior’s commandments (

If you love me, keep my commandments.

—Jesus) and following the Apostle’s advice

to lead a life worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.

–Colossians 1:10, Revised Standard Version—Second Edition (1971)

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 26, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN BERCHMANS, ROMAN CATHOLIC SEMINARIAN

THE FEAST OF ISAAC WATTS, HYMN WRITER

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/01/14/a-life-worthy-of-the-lord/

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Twenty-Second Day of Easter: Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year C   10 comments

Above:  Lamb of God Crozier

Agents of Divine Healing

MAY 8, 2022

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Acts 9:36-43 (New Revised Standard Version):

Now in Joppa there was a disciple whose name was Tabitha, which in Greek is Dorcas. She was devoted to good works and acts of charity. At that time she became ill and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in a room upstairs. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, who heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him with the request,

Please come to us without delay.

So Peter got up and went with them; and when he arrived, they took him to the room upstairs. All the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing tunics and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was with them. Peter put all of them outside, and then he knelt down and prayed. He turned to the body and said,

Tabitha, get up.

Then she opened her eyes, and seeing Peter, she sat up. He gave her his hand and helped her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he showed her to be alive. This became known throughout Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. Meanwhile he stayed in Joppa for some time with a certain Simon, a tanner.

Psalm 23 (New Revised Standard Version):

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures;

he leads me beside still waters;

he restores my soul.

He leads me in right paths

for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley,

I fear no evil;

for you are with me;

your rod and my staff–

they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me

in the presence of my enemies;

you anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me

all the days of my life,

and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD

my whole life long.

Revelation 7:9-17 (New Revised Standard Version):

After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, saying,

Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!

And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, singing,

 Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom

and thanksgiving and honor

and power and might

be to our God forever and ever!  Amen.

Then one of the elders addressed me, saying,

Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?

I said to him,

Sir, you are the one that knows.

Then he said to me,

These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

For this reason they are before the throne of God

and worship him day and night within his temple,

and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them.

They will hunger no more, and thirst no more;

the sun will not strike them,

nor any scorching heat;

for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd,

and he will guide them to springs of the water of life,

and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.

John 10:22-30 (New Revised Standard Version):

At that time the festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him,

How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.

Jesus answered,

I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.

The Collect:

O God, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd of your people: Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who calls us each by name, and follow where he leads; who, with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/02/prayer-of-praise-and-adoration-for-the-fourth-sunday-of-easter/

Prayer of Dedication:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/02/prayer-of-dedication-for-the-fourth-sunday-of-easter/

Feast of Saints 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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Last Sunday in the Revised Common Lectionary, Jesus gave Simon Peter a commission to feed his (our Lord’s) lambs and tend his sheep.  This Sunday we see the empowered Apostle at work, raising from the dead one Tabitha/Dorcas of Joppa, a woman deemed essential in her community.  Restored to life, she could resume her

…good works and acts of charity.

–Acts 9:36b, New Revised Standard Version

The theme of shepherding also carries over from last week.  Tabitha/Dorcas was a shepherd to vulnerable people in Joppa.  Psalm 23, of course, depicts God as a shepherd.  The assigned reading from John 10 follows the Good Shepherd monologue immediately.  In John 10:22-30 Jesus, whose life is in danger, accuses the critics in front of him of not being among his sheep.  (They did want to stone him in John 10:31.)  And martyrs with robes washed white in the blood of the Lamb of God feature prominently in Revelation 7.  Those sheep have found their safe pasture posthumously.

Violence occupies a prominent place in two of the New Testament readings.  Unfortunately, many people over time have acted on their desires to commit violence against those who merely disagree with them.  New England Puritans, in colonial times, executed Quakers, who were, of course, nonviolent.  Anabaptists have faced persecution and/or martyrdom in the Old World since the 1500s.  Persecution has continued in the New World.  I regret that some of this has occurred in the United States, especially during times of war, when the U.S. Government had no patience with conscientious objectors.  Many of my fellow human beings cannot or chose not to abide differences, hence much violence.  Thus others become martyrs, often by the hands of professing Christians.  It was wrong.  It is wrong.

What causes fighting and quarrels among you?  Is not their origin the appetites that war in your bodies?  You want what you cannot have, so you murder; you are envious, and cannot attain your ambition, so you quarrel and fight….

–James 4:1-2a, Revised English Bible

Many of us want conformity, so we despise the nonconformists among us.  We do not understand them, so we hate them. We hate them, so we commit or condone violence against them.  As a lifelong nonconformist (often by default, for peer pressure has less influence on me than on many others), I have suffered emotionally from the taunts of others.  So I identify naturally with the picked-on, the despised, the misunderstood, and the oppressed.  They are of my tribe, whether or not I understand them.  So I attend church happily with heretics, homosexuals, and others who have incurred spiritual wounds in other Christian traditions.

May we–you, O reader, and I–be, by grace, agents of divine healing, not of spiritual harm or even of physical martyrdom.  May we love others, not seek their harm.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 9, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT COLUMBA OF IONA, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY AND ABBOT

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/agents-of-divine-healing/

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Fifteenth Day of Easter: Third Sunday of Easter, Year C   15 comments

Above:  A Shepherd with Sheep

Feeding God’s Sheep

MAY 1, 2022

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Acts 9:1-20 (Revised English Bible):

Saul, still breathing murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples, went to the high priest and applied for letters to the synagogues at Damascus authorizing him to arrest any followers of the new way whom he found, men or women, and bring them to Jerusalem.  While he was still on the road and nearing Damascus, suddenly a light from the sky flashed all around him.  He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”

Tell me, Lord,

he said,

who you are.

The voice answered,

I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.  But now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you have to do.

Meanwhile the men who were traveling with him stood speechless; they heard the voice but could see no one.  Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could not see; they led by the hand and brought him into Damascus.  He was blind for three days, and took no food or drink.

There was in Damascus a disciple named Ananias.  He had a vision in which he heard the Lord say,

Ananias!

He answered,

Here I am, Lord.

The Lord said to him,

Go to Straight Street, to the house of Judas, and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul.  You will find him at prayer; he has had a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying hands on him to restore his sight.

Ananias answered,

Lord, I have often heard about this man and all the harm he has done your people in Jerusalem.  Now he is here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who invoke your name.

But the Lord replied,

You must go, for this man is my chosen instrument to bring my name before the nations and their kings, and before the people of Israel.  I myself will show him all that he must go through for my name’s sake.

So Ananias went and, on entering the house, laid his hands on him and said,

Saul, my brother, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me to you so that you may recover your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Immediately it was if scales had fallen from his eyes, and he regained his sight.  He got up and was baptized, and when he had eaten his strength returned.

He stayed some time with the disciples in Damascus.  Without delay he proclaimed Jesus publicly in the synagogues, declaring him to be the Son of God.

Psalm 30 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

 I will exalt you, O LORD,

because you have lifted me up

and have not let my enemies triumph over me.

 O LORD my God, I cried out to you,

and you restored me to health.

 You brought me up, O LORD, from the dead;

you restored my life as I was going down to the grave.

 Sing to the LORD, you servants of his;

give thanks for the remembrance of his holiness.

 For his wrath endures but the twinkling of an eye,

his favor for a lifetime.

6 Weeping may spend the night,

but joy comes in the morning.

 While I felt secure, I said,

“I shall never be disturbed.

You,  LORD, with your favor, made me as strong as the mountains.”

 Then you hid my face,

and I was filled with terror.

 I cried to you, O LORD;

I pleaded with the LORD, saying,

10  “What profit is there in my blood, if I go down to the Pit?

will the dust praise you or declare your faithfulness?

11  Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me;

O LORD, be my helper.”

12  You have turned my wailing into dancing;

you have put off my sack-cloth and clothed me with joy.

13  Therefore my heart sings to you without ceasing;

O LORD my God, I will give you thanks for ever.

Revelation 5:11-14 (Revised English Bible):

As I looked I heard, all round the throne of the living creatures and the elders, the voices of many angels, thousands on thousands, myriads on myriads.  They proclaimed with loud voices:

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth, wisdom and might, honour and glory and praise!

Then I heard all created things, in heaven, on earth, under the earth, and in the sea, crying:

Praise and honour, glory and might, to him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb for ever!

The four living creatures said,

Amen,

and the elders prostrated themselves in worship.

John 21:1-19 (New Revised Standard Version):

Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them,

I am going fishing.

They said to him,

We will go with you.

They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them,

Children, you have no fish, have you?

They answered him,

No.

He said to them,

Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.

So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter,

It is the Lord!

When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off.

When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. Jesus said to them,

Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.

So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them,

Come and have breakfast.

Now none of the disciples dared to ask him,

Who are you?

because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter,

Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?

He said to him,

Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.

Jesus said to him,

Feed my lambs.

A second time he said to him,

Simon son of John, do you love me?

He said to him,

Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.

Jesus said to him,

Tend my sheep.

He said to him the third time,

Simon son of John, do you love me?

Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time,

Do you love me?

And he said to him,

Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.

Jesus said to him,

Feed my sheep. Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.

(He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him,

Follow me.

The Collect:

O God, whose blessed Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread: Open the eyes of our faith, that we may behold him in all his redeeming work; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/28/prayer-of-praise-and-adoration-for-the-third-sunday-of-easter/

Prayer of Dedication:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/28/prayer-of-dedication-for-the-third-sunday-of-easter/

“Lord, What Wilt Thou Have Me to Do?” (Acts 9-6):

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/08/14/lord-what-wilt-thou-have-me-to-do-acts-9-6/

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Simon Peter had denied Jesus three times in John 18:15-18 and 25-27.  This fact caused him much grief; he was ashamed of himself.  The Resurrected Jesus gave him an opportunity to affirm him three times.  That was a gesture of grace.  And the standard of active love of Jesus was (and remains) to

Feed my lambs

and to

Tend my sheep.

It was Jesus, the worthy lamb of Revelation 5, who called Saul of Tarsus, a chief persecutor of the nascent Christian movement, to join that movement.  Saul, by persecuting Christians, had been doing the same to Jesus.  And Saul’s conversion proved to be one of the seminal events in Christian history, for his mission to the Gentiles revolutionized the shape of the faith.  Where would we be without the Pauline Epistles?  Where would I, a Gentile, be spiritually?  So, as one of my Lord’s sheep, I owe much to St. Paul the Apostle.

The sheep will eat only if someone feeds them.  Shepherds have fed me.  And I try to do my part.  Preparing then typing these lectionary-based devotional posts is one way I hope to feed other sheep.  To know that something I have done in solitude can help others feeds rewarding, not that I seek praise for this activity.  Yet it does encourage me to continue.  May you, O reader, feed sheep in the ways God directs you.  And may you have the necessary encouragement to persist, for the benefit of others and the glory of God.  The sheep need to eat.  May their diet be healthy and plentiful.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 8, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CLARA LUGER, WITNESS FOR CIVIL RIGHTS

THE FEAST OF ROLAND ALLEN, ANGLICAN MISSIONARY

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/03/01/feeding-gods-sheep/

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Twenty-First Day of Easter   15 comments

A Black Sheep

Image Source = Jesus Solana

Who Are Our Goyim?

May 7, 2022 (Year C)

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Acts 9:31-43; 10:1-5, 25-31, 34-35, 44-48 (Revised English Bible):

[Note:  The Episcopal Feasts and Fasts specifies the first reading for Years A and B as Acts 9:31-42 and the first reading for Year C as Acts 10:1-5, 25-31, 34-35, 44-48.  I have combined these readings and extended them by one verse to create a composite narrative, which works well as a unit.]

Meanwhile the church, throughout Judaea, Galilee, and Samaria, was left in peace to build up its strength, and to live in the fear of the Lord.  Encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers.

In the course of a tour Peter was making throughout the region he went down to visit God’s people at Lydda.  There he found a man named Aeneas who had been bedridden with paralysis for eight years.  Peter said to him,

Aeneas, Jesus Christ cures you; get up and make your bed!

and immediately he stood up.  All who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him; and they turned to the Lord.

In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (in Greek, Dorcas, meaning “Gazelle”), who filled her days with acts of kindness and charity.  At that time she fell ill and died; and they washed her body and laid it in a room upstairs.  As Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, who had heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him with the urgent request,

Please come over to us without delay.

At once Peter went off with them.  When he arrived he was taken up into the room, and all the widows came and stood round him in tears, showing him the shirts and coats that Dorcas used to make while she was with them.  Peter sent them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; then, turning towards the body, he said,

Tabitha, get up.

She opened her eyes, saw Peter, and sat up.  He gave her his hand and helped her to her feet.  Then he called together the members of the church and the widows and showed her to them alive.  News of it spread all over Joppa, and many came to believe in the Lord. Peter stayed on in Joppa for some time at the house of a tanner named Simon.

At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in the Italian Cohort, as it was called.  He was a devout man, and he and his whole family joined in the worship of God; he gave generously to help the Jewish people, and was regular in his prayers to God.  One day about three in the afternoon he had a vision in which he clearly saw and angel of God come into his room and say,

Cornelius!

Cornelius stared at him in terror.

What is it, my lord?

he asked.   The angel said,

Your prayers and acts of charity have gone up to heaven to speak for you before God….Now send to Joppa for a man named Simon, also named Peter….

When Peter arrived, Cornelius came to meet him, and bowed to the ground in deep reverence.  But Peter raised him to his feet and said,

Stand up; I am only a man like you.

Still talking with him he went in and found a large gathering.  He said to them,

I need not tell you that a Jew is forbidden by his religion to visit or associate with anyone of another race.  Yet God has shown me clearly that I must not call anyone profane or unclean; that is why I came here without demur when you sent for me.  May I ask what was your reason for doing so?

Cornelius said,

Three days ago, just about this time, I was in the house here saying the afternoon prayers, when suddenly a man in shining robes stood before me.  He said: ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your acts of charity have spoken for you before God….’

Peter began:

I now understand that God has no favourites, but that in every nation those who are godfearing and do what is right are acceptable to him….

Peter was still speaking when the Holy Spirit came upon all who were listening to the message.  The believers who had come with Peter, men of Jewish birth, were amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit should have been poured out even on Gentiles, for they could hear them speaking in tongues of ecstasy and acclaiming the greatness of God.  Then Peter spoke,

Is anyone prepared to withhold the water of baptism from these persons, who have received the Holy Spirit, just as we did?

Then he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.  After that they asked him to stay on with them for a time.

Psalm 116:12-19 (Revised English Bible):

How can I repay the LORD

for all his benefits to me?

I shall lift up the cup of salvation

and call on the name of the LORD

in the presence of all his people.

A precious thing in the LORD’s sight

is the death of those who are loyal to him.

Indeed, LORD, I am your slave,

I am your slave, your slave-girl’s son;

you have loosed my bonds.

To you I shall bring a thank-offering

and call on the LORD by name.

I shall pay my vows to the LORD

in the presence of all his people,

In the courts of the LORD’s house,

in the midst of you, Jerusalem.

Praise the LORD.

John 6:60-69 (Anchor Bible):

Now, after hearing this, many of his disciples remarked,

This sort of talk is hard to take.  Now can anyone pay attention to it?

Jesus was quite conscious that his disciples were murmuring in protest at this.

Does it shake your faith?

he said to them.

If, then, you behold the Son of Man ascending to where he was before…?  It is the Spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless.  The words that I have spoken to you are both Spirit and life.  But among you there are some who do not believe.

(In fact, Jesus knew from the start those who refused to believe, as well as one who would hand him over.)  So he went on to say:

This is why I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted to him by the Father.

At this many of his disciples broke away and would not accompany him any more.  And so Jesus said to the Twelve,

Do you also want to go away?

Simon Peter answered,

Lord, to whom shall we go?  It is you who have the words of eternal life; and we have come to believe and are convinced that you are God’s Holy One.

The Collect:

O God, by the abundance of your grace you unfailingly increase the number of your children: Look with favor upon those whom you have chosen to be members of your Church, that, having been born again in Baptism, they may be granted a glorious resurrection; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

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Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter XXXV (Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., 1903):

1.  God, in infinite and perfect love, having provided in the covenant of grace, through the mediation and sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, a way of life and salvation, sufficient for and adapted to the whole lost race and man, doth freely offer this salvation to all men in the gospel.

2.  In the gospel God declares his love for the world and his desire that all men should be saved; reveals fully and clearly the only way of salvation; promises eternal life to all who truly repent and believe in Christ; invites and commands all to embrace the offered mercy; and by his Spirit accompanying the Word pleads with men to accept his gracious invitation.

3.  It is the duty and privilege of everyone who hears the gospel immediately to accept its merciful provisions; and they who continue in impenitence and unbelief incur aggravated guilt and perish by their own fault.

4.  Since there is no other way of salvation than that revealed in the gospel, and since in the divinely established and ordinary method of grace faith cometh by hearing the Word of God, Christ hath commissioned his Church to go into all the world and to make disciples of all nations.  All believers are, therefore, under obligation to sustain the ordinance of the Christian religion where they are already established, and to contribute by their prayers, gifts, and personal efforts to the extension of the Kingdom of Christ throughout the whole earth.

(The above text is either very, very similar or identical to the Westminster Confession of Faith, Article X, of the Presbyterian Church in the United States, 1942.)

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I grew up United Methodist, schooled in Arminianism.  Thus I learned that access to salvation was democratic, available freely to all.  Hence I rejected any notion of predestination with barely a thought.  In 2008, however, I came to accept Single Predestination, the proposition that God has predestined some people to Heaven and nobody to Hell.  Within this logical framework the testimony of the Holy Spirit beckons the rest to come to God.  I changed my mind because I reread and studied certain passages from the Pauline tradition very closely, and decided that I must wrestle with them.

So now I am too (mainline) Calvinistic to become a Methodist again, unless one considers Welsh Methodism.  (Yet I know that certain old-style Calvinists do not consider Single Predestination within the bounds of Calvinism; they insist on Double Predestination, the proposition that God has predestined everyone to Heaven or to Hell.  I dislike theological purity tests, however, given that I fail them consistently.)

This day’s readings from Acts and John tell part of the faith journey of Simon Peter.  He affirmed his faith in Jesus when others rejected our Savior, worked among Jews and Gentiles, learned from God to reject traditional Jewish notions of ritual cleanliness and uncleanliness, and baptized a gathering of Gentiles.  God, Peter asserted, does not distinguish between people on the basis of being Jewish or Gentile; the divine standard is whether one stands in awe of God (the accurate translation of “fearing God”) and acts accordingly.  The reading from Acts ends with a reminder that water baptism is what people do, but that spiritual baptism is what God does.

As a Gentile grafted onto the Jewish tree of faith I owe a great spiritual debt to men such as Peter and Paul, who took the good news of Jesus to the goyim.  I have faith in part because of their efforts.  And I recognize my need to identify my goyim.  To which people do I need to reach out?  Which biases do I need to renounce?  I invite everyone reading this devotion to ask himself or herself the same questions and to follow the answers wherever they will lead.

KRT

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

Twentieth Day of Easter   19 comments

Ananias Restoring Sight to St. Paul, by Pietro Cortona (1631)

Effects and Agents of Divine Intervention

May 6, 2022 (Year C)

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Acts 9:1-31 (Revised English Bible):

[Note:  The Episcopal Church’s Lesser Feasts and Fasts lists Acts 9:1-20 as the first reading for Years A and B and Acts 9:10-20, 26-31 as the first reading for Year C.  I have merged and extended these to create a composite first reading.]

Saul, still breathing murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples, went to the high priest and applied for letters to the synagogues at Damascus authorizing him to arrest any followers of the new way whom he found, men or women, and bring them to Jerusalem.  While he was still on the road and nearing Damascus, suddenly a light from the sky flashed all around him.  He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”

Tell me, Lord,

he said,

who you are.

The voice answered,

I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.  But now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you have to do.

Meanwhile the men who were traveling with him stood speechless; they heard the voice but could see no one.  Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could not see; they led by the hand and brought him into Damascus.  He was blind for three days, and took no food or drink.

There was in Damascus a disciple named Ananias.  He had a vision in which he heard the Lord say,

Ananias!

He answered,

Here I am, Lord.

The Lord said to him,

Go to Straight Street, to the house of Judas, and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul.  You will find him at prayer; he has had a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying hands on him to restore his sight.

Ananias answered,

Lord, I have often heard about this man and all the harm he has done your people in Jerusalem.  Now he is here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who invoke your name.

But the Lord replied,

You must go, for this man is my chosen instrument to bring my name before the nations and their kings, and before the people of Israel.  I myself will show him all that he must go through for my name’s sake.

So Ananias went and, on entering the house, laid his hands on him and said,

Saul, my brother, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me to you so that you may recover your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Immediately it was if scales had fallen from his eyes, and he regained his sight.  He got up and was baptized, and when he had eaten his strength returned.

He stayed some time with the disciples in Damascus.  Without delay he proclaimed Jesus publicly in the synagogues, declaring him to be the Son of God.  All who heard were astounded.

Is not this the man,

they said,

who was in Jerusalem hunting down those who invoke this name?  Did he not come here for the sole purpose of arresting them and taking them before the chief priests?

But Saul went from strength to strength, and confounded the Jews of Damascus with his cogent proofs that Jesus was the Messiah.

When some time had passed, the Jews hatched a plot against his life; but their plans became known to Saul.  They kept watch on the city gates day and night so that they might murder him; but one night some disciples took him out and, lowering him in a basket, let him down over the wall.

On reaching Jerusalem he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, because they did not believe that he was really a disciple.  Barnabas, however, took him and introduced him to the apostles; he described to them how on his journey Saul had seen the Lord and heard his voice, and how at Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus.  Saul now stayed with them, moving about freely in Jerusalem.  He spoke out boldly and openly in the name of the Lord, talking and debating with the Greek-speaking Jews.  But they planned to murder him, and when the brethren discovered this they escorted him down to Caesarea and sent him away to Tarsus.

Meanwhile the church, throughout Judaea, Galilee, and Samaria, was left in peace to build up its strength, and to live in the fear of the Lord.  Encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers.

Psalm 117 (Revised English Bible):

Praise the LORD, all nations,

extol him, all you peoples;

for his love protecting us is strong,

the LORD’s faithfulness is everlasting.

Praise the LORD.

John 6:52-59 (Anchor Bible):

At this time the Jews started to quarrel among themselves, saying,

How can he give us [his] flesh to eat?

Therefore Jesus told them,

Let me firmly assure you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.  He who eats on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.  And I shall raise him up on the last day.  For my flesh is real food, and my blood, real drink.  The man who feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.  Just as the Father who has life sent me and I have life because of the Father, so the man who feeds on me will have life because of me.  This is the bread that came down from heaven.  Unlike those ancestors who ate and yet died, the man who feeds on this bread will live forever.

He said this in a synagogue instruction at Capernaum.

The Collect:

Let your people, O Lord, rejoice for ever that they have been renewed in spirit; and let the joy of our adoption as your sons and daughters strengthen the hope of our glorious resurrection in 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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Saul of Tarsus was on the “right” side of religious authority when he persecuted the nascent Christian movement.  Yet, as Paul the Apostle he found his true spiritual calling.  Between those two phases of his life came a divine intervention nobody present could ignore.  Through a direct act of God Saul found true life in Jesus, even though this entailed the hunter joining the ranks of the hunted, and suffering martyrdom in time.  He, like Jesus, was reborn after three days, and died at the hands of the Roman Empire.

Two men played an instrumental role in facilitating the conversion and ministry of Paul the Apostle.  Ananias of Damascus obeyed God and took a great risk in approaching Saul of Tarsus.  Imagine that you are Ananias in the account from Acts.  A certain measure of caution and skepticism would be reasonable, given Saul’s recent history.  Yet God granted Saul a new beginning, and Ananias played a part in that process.  Then the Twelve in Jerusalem were understandably afraid until Barnabas (“Son of Encouragement”) introduced Saul to them.

I detect a loose thread in the Acts reading for this day.  The men traveling with Saul heard the voice yet saw nobody, and “stood speechless.”  What effect(s) did this experience have on them?  I presume that they took Saul to Damascus, and that they were at least initially in agreement with Saul’s mission to persecute Christians in that city.  Did they change their minds?  The author of Luke-Acts does not answer my questions.

Which character in this story reminds you of yourself?  Where does your answer to this question lead you spiritually?

KRT

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

Posted October 29, 2010 by neatnik2009 in 2022, Episcopal Church Lectionary, May 6

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