Archive for the ‘Exodus 4’ Tag

Devotion for Pentecost Sunday (Year D)   1 comment

icon-of-aaron

Above:  Icon of Aaron

Image in the Public Domain

Speech and Grace

JUNE 1, 2020

DURING THE SEASON AFTER PENTECOST

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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:

Exodus 4:1-17 or Deuteronomy 5:1-33 or Deuteronomy 31:23-29 or Daniel 12:1-13

Psalm 119:113-136

Matthew 10:9-23 or Luke 12:1-12

2 Corinthians 11:1-12:1

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If we love God, we will keep divine commandments, the summary of which is to love God with our whole selves and to practice the Golden Rule.  Details of those generalizations tend to be culturally specific, but the principles are timeless.  We cannot keep divine commandments all the time, but we can be aware of the mandate to obey God, try to obey, and trust in the faithfulness of God.  We will have help for our vocations from God.  This help might arrive via human beings or directly from God.  Furthermore, circumstances might be quite treacherous and we might suffer and/or die, but God will never abandon those who are faithful.

Appropriately a recurring theme in some of the assigned readings for this day is speaking.  To be precise, God sends Aaron to speak for Moses and the Holy Spirit to speak through persecuted Christians.  Speech is powerful; it can build up or tear down.  Speech can inspire people to greatness and positive action or convince them that all hope is lost or that they should act negatively.  It can glorify God or blaspheme against the Holy Spirit.  Speech can exonerate or convict the innocent.  It can bless or curse.  Speech can elevate a situation with beauty and profundity or downgrade it with vulgarity.

Out of the same mouth come praise and curses.  This should not be so, my friends.  Does a fountain flow with both fresh and brackish water from the same outlet?  My friends, can a fig tree produce olives, or a grape vine produce figs?  No more can salt water produce fresh.

–James 3:10-12, The Revised English Bible (1989)

May we glorify God via our words and deeds, and may God speak and act through us.  Grace is free yet never cheap; it will cost us something.  Grace will require us to sacrifice that which detracts and distracts from glorifying God.  Grace will also never abandon us and will flow through us to benefit others and glorify God.  Will we be willing vehicles of grace?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 12, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF MARTIN DOBER, MORAVIAN BISHOP AND HYMN WRITER; JOHANN LEONHARD DOBER, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND BISHOP; AND ANNA SCHINDLER DOBER, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF EDITH CAVELL, NURSE AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT KENNETH OF SCOTLAND, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY

THE FEAST OF SAINT NECTARIUS OF CONSTANTINOPLE, ARCHBISHOP

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2016/10/12/speech-and-grace/

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Devotion for the Nineteenth and Twentieth Days of Easter, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   3 comments

Finneran Source Card

Above:  A Germane Source Card from My Collection of Research Note Cards

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Liberating Grace

THURSDAY, APRIL 30, 2020, and FRIDAY, MAY 1, 2020

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The Collect:

O God our shepherd, you know your sheep by name

and lead us to safety through the valleys of death.

Guide us by your voice, that we may walk in certainty and security

to the joyous feast prepared in your house,

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:

Exodus 2:15b-25 (19th Day)

Exodus 3:16-22; 4:18-20 (20th Day)

Psalm 23 (Both Days)

1 Peter 2:9-12 (19th Day)

1 Peter 2:13-17 (20th Day)

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You spread a table before me in the presence of those who trouble me;

you have anointed my head with oil,

and my cup is running over.

–Psalm 23:5, Book of Common Worship (1993)

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Names have power, or so many people believed in the time of Moses.  To know someone’s name was usually to have some power over that person, hence God provides more of a description than a name–and a vague one at that–in response to the query of Moses.  The transliterated Hebrew text reads:

Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh,

which is how TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985) renders it.  The germane footnote in the that translation says:

Meaning of Heb. uncertain; variously translated:  “I Am That I Am”; “I Am Who I Am”; “I Will Be What I Will Be”; etc.

The relevant note in The Jewish Study Bible (2004) begins:

God’s proper name, disclosed in the next verse, is YHVH (spelled “yod-heh-vav-heh” in Heb.; in ancient times the “vav” was pronounced “w”).  But here God first tells Moses its meaning:  Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh, probably best translated as “I Will Be What I Will Be,” meaning “My nature will become evident from My actions.”

–page 111

“Ehyeh,” or “I Will Be,” is not a name that says much.  It denies opportunities to attempt to have power over God and preserves mystery while indicating how to learn about God.

Volume I (1994) of The New Interpreter’s Bible informs me that the name YHVH/YHWH derives from the Hebrew verb meaning “to be,” so:

This God is named as the power to create, the one who causes to be.  This God is the one who will be present in faithful ways to make possible what is not otherwise possible.  This God is the very power of newness that will make available new life for Israel outside the deathliness of Egypt.

–page 714

The politics of Exodus 2 and 3 is that of liberation of the oppressed from their oppressors.  God, these texts tell us, will free the Hebrews from the tyranny of the Pharaoh.  Yet I read difficult politics–that of submission to authority, regardless of its moral nature–in 1 Peter 2:13-17.  The next pericope is more chilling, for it tells slaves to obey their masters.  There have been different forms of slavery over the course of time, of course, but I propose that this, for the point I am making today, is a distinction without a difference; no form of human slavery is morally acceptable.  1 Peter comes from a time when many Christians were attempting to prove that they did not constitute a threat to the Roman Empire, which had executed the founder of their religion via crucifixion.  And many Christians thought that Jesus might return soon, so social reform or revolution was not a priority for some.

The relationship of Christians to civil authority has long been a challenging one, especially in Lutheran theology.  And the arch-conservative (racist and reactionary, really) Presbyterian Journal, which helped to give birth to the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) denomination in December 1973, spent much of the 1940s through the 1960s lambasting civil rights efforts and activists and quoting the Bible to justify Jim Crow laws.  (I have examined original copies of the publication and possess the notes to prove the statement I just made.)  The Journal writers, who called Martin Luther King, Jr., a Communist even after he had died, did not approve of his opposition to the Vietnam War either.  They, in fact, criticized in very strong terms even conscientious objectors and all forms of civil disobedience, claiming them to be contrary to Christianity.  The beating of this drum continued into the 1970s.  In the 30 October 1974 issue, on pages 11 and 16, Editor G. Aiken Taylor commended and reprinted words by one Joan B. Finneran, whom he called

an elect lady of Simpsonville, MD.

Finneran wrote that the Bible commands us to obey earthly authority, for God establishes governments.  Therefore:

When a Herod or a Hitler comes into power, we must thereby assume this is the Lord’s plan; He will use even such as these to put His total plan into effect for the good of His people here on earth.

God is in control, Finneran wrote, even if we, in our ignorance, do not understand divine plans.  And we Americans ought to vote carefully and to pray for our elected officials–and obey them, of course.  Finneran’s message, cloaked in details of Reformed theology,was one of submission to authority–even genocidal tyrants.  That fact overrides any technically correct parts of her case in my mind.

I reject Finneran’s message, for, if one cannot disobey the Third Reich righteously, which regime can one oppose properly?  Even the very conservative Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America understood the limits of obedience to human authority well in 1896, when the Synod passed a resolution condemning the Ottoman Empire for its massacres of Armenians and declaring that the Sultan’s regime had lost its moral right to govern.

I must, in all fairness and accuracy, point out that the Presbyterian Church in America has (subsequent to 1974) approved of civil disobedience in some cases and (in 2004) approved a pastoral letter condemning racism.

The Old Testament reveals the character of God mostly by recounting what God has done.  God has, among other things, freed people.  The central theme of the Bible is liberation to follow God.  Our patterns of behavior reveal our character.  Do we even try to follow God?  Do we even attempt to aid those who suffer?  Do we even care about the oppressed?  Good intentions are positive, of course; they are preferable to bad ones.  Yet we need grace to succeed.  That, fortunately, is plentiful from God, who makes life itself and new life free from tyranny possible.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 16, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE SIXTEENTH DAY OF ADVENT, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF GUSTAF AULEN, SWEDISH LUTHERAN THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT ADELAIDE, HOLY ROMAN EMPRESS

THE FEAST OF MARIANNE WILLIAMS, ANGLICAN MISSIONARY

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/01/20/liberating-grace/

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Devotion for the Eleventh and Twelfth Days of Lent, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   2 comments

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Above:  Stained-Glass Window:  Moses and the Snake, St. Mark’s Church, Gillingham, Kent, England

Image in the Public Domain

Grace and Obligations

MONDAY, MARCH 9, 2020, and TUESDAY, MARCH 10, 2020

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The Collect:

O God, our leader and guide, in the waters of baptism

you bring us to new birth to live as your children.

Strengthen our faith in your promises, that by your

Spirit we may lift your life to all the world through

Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

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

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 27

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The Assigned Readings:

Numbers 21:4-9 (11th Day)

Isaiah 65:17-25 (12th Day)

Psalm 128 (Both Days)

Hebrews 3:1-6 (11th Day)

Romans 4:6-13 (12th Day)

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Happy are they all who fear the LORD,

and who follow in the ways of the LORD!

–Psalm 128:1, Book of Common Worship (1993)

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The story in Numbers 21:4-9 is a good place to start this post.  It sent me scurrying to commentaries.  The notes in The Jewish Study Bible (2004) tell me of the Rabbinic discomfort with the sympathetic magic in the account.  Professor Richard Elliott Friedman, in his Commentary on the Torah (2011), makes the connection between the bronze serpent and the incident concerning the snake in the court of the Pharaoh (Exodus 7:8-10).  Friedman also refers to 2 Kings 18:4, in which King Hezekiah orders the destruction of the bronze serpent, to which some people had been burning incense.  Volume 2 (1953) of The Interpreter’s Bible says that the bronze serpent was an example of spiritual homeopathy or at least an example thereof, one which

rests on a sound basis in human experience

whereby

wounds heal wounds.

–page 243

The best, most helpful analysis, however, comes from Walther Eichrodt, as translated by J. A. Baker:

The terrifying power of God, who will turn his weapons of leprosy, serpent and plague (cf. Ex. 4.1-7, Num. 21:6ff; 11:33) even against his own people leaves men in no doubt that the covenant he has created is no safe bulwark, behind which they can make cunning use of the divine power to prosecute their own interests.  The covenant lays claim to the whole man and calls him to a surrender with no reservations.

Theology of the New Testament, Volume One (Philadelphia, PA:  Westminster Press, 1961), pages 44-45

Thus this post continues a line of thought present in its immediate predecessor in order of composition.  God calls the blessed people to function as blessings to others.  The faithful, redeemed people of God have a mandate to cooperate with God in reforming society for the common good and divine glory.  In the Bible righteousness and justice are the same thing.  Hence we read prophets’ condemnations of economic exploitation and judicial corruption as opposites of righteousness.  To live in the household of God is to have both privileges and duties.

One task for those with a slave mentality is to abandon it and to embrace freedom in God.  I know that eating the same thing repeatedly gets old rapidly, but at least the Israelites were not starving.  God does provide; gratitude is in order, even if manna is crystallized insect feces.  Often our mentalities stand between us and God, whose manna does come with the condition of servitude to the source.  What we receive from God might not be what we want or expect, but it is what we need.  May we accept it gratefully and accept the obligation to serve God and leave our world better than we found it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 25, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SQUANTO, COMPASSIONATE HUMAN BEING

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

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/01/14/grace-and-obligations/

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Devotion for the Thirty-Second and Thirty-Third Days of Lent (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   7 comments

Above:  Hebrews Making Bricks in Egypt

Exodus and Mark, Part IV:  Seemingly Insurmountable Odds

THURSDAY, APRIL 2, 2020, and FRIDAY, APRIL 3, 2020

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Exodus 4:19-31 (32nd Day of Lent)

Exodus 5:1-6:1 (33rd Day of Lent)

Psalm 38 (Morning–32nd Day of Lent)

Psalm 22 (Morning–33rd Day of Lent)

Psalms 126 and 102 (Evening–32nd Day of Lent)

Psalms 107 and 130 (Evening–33rd Day of Lent)

Mark 15:16-32 (32nd Day of Lent)

Mark 15:33-47 (33rd Day of Lent)

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Some Related Posts:

In the Dark and Cloudy Day:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2012/05/19/in-the-dark-and-cloudy-day/

I Do Not Ask, O Lord:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2012/05/06/i-do-not-ask-o-lord/

Dear God….:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2012/04/16/dear-god/

Strengthen Us, Good Lord:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/strengthen-us-good-lord/

Litany from a Novena to St. Jude the Apostle:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2012/01/12/litany-from-a-novena-to-st-jude-the-apostle/

Novena Prayer in Time of Difficulties:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/19/novena-prayer-in-time-of-difficulties/

Prayers:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/11/prayer-for-thursday-in-the-fifth-week-of-lent/

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/11/prayer-for-friday-in-the-fifth-week-of-lent/

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It seems odd to read of the crucifixion of Jesus on a lectionary before Holy Week.  On the other hand, to begin reading Exodus, the book which speaks of the first Passover, before Holy Week is appropriate, for to do so introduces a theme crucial to understanding what Jews were celebrating in Jerusalem.

Anyhow, the Pharoah, in reaction to the first meeting with Moses and Aaron, dug in his heels.  He made an impossible demand of Hebrew slaves then punished them for not doing the impossible.  And Jesus was dead in Mark 15.  The empire had spoken in each case.

It is tempting to jump ahead in each story.  I encourage you, O reader, to take each story step-by-step.  Let each element of the story speak to you.  Do not rush ahead of the narrative.  Allow the hopelessness to sink in.  Let Jesus be dead for a little while.  The rest of each story will follow as it should.  Until then….

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 29, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE FIRST U.S. PRESBYTERIAN BOOK OF CONFESSIONS, 1967

THE FEAST OF JIRI TRANOVSKY, HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS LUKE KIRBY, THOMAS COTTAM, WILLIAM FILBY, AND LAURENCE RICHARDSON, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND MARTYRS

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/01/21/exodus-and-mark-part-iv-seemingly-insurmountable-odds/

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Devotion for the Thirtieth and Thirty-First Days of Lent (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   11 comments

Above:  The Burning Bush Logo of The Church of Scotland

Exodus and Mark, Part III:  Unlikely Instruments of God

TUESDAY, MARCH 31, 2020, and WEDNESDAY, APRIL 1, 2020

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Exodus 2:23-3:22 (30th Day of Lent)

Exodus 4:1-18 (31st Day of Lent)

Psalm 34 (Morning–30th Day of Lent)

Psalm 5 (Morning–31st Day of Lent)

Psalms 25 and 91 (Evening–30th Day of Lent)

Psalms 27 and 51 (Evening–31st Day of Lent)

Mark 14:53-72 (30th Day of Lent)

Mark 15:1-15 (31st Day of Lent)

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Some Related Posts:

A Prayer by St. Francis of Assisi:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/25/a-prayer-by-st-francis-of-assisi/

Prayers:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/09/prayer-for-tuesday-in-the-fifth-week-of-lent/

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/11/prayer-for-wednesday-in-the-fifth-week-of-lent/

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Moses was a fugitive and a murderer with a speech impediment.  Yet God sent him (along with Aaron, his eloquent brother) back to Egypt to help liberate the Hebrews.  The Book of Exodus is quite clear:  God liberated the Hebrews, yet had human agents.

Simon Peter denied Jesus three times while the Sanhedrin condoned perjury and held the flimsiest excuse for a trial of our Lord and Savior.  Yet, a few weeks later, the Apostle became the rock of faith Jesus saw in him.  Peter was still prone to speak when he should have remained silent, but he was a very different man in other ways.

We come to God as we are, complete with virtues, vices, shortcomings, flaws, and fortes.  God knows all of them better than we do.  Yet we can, by grace, become instruments of God, whose image we bear.  Another indicator of grace germane to his one is that strengths can emerge from our flaws and our striving to overcome them.  We make a spiritual pilgrimage in God because we know of our need to do so.  And the journey proves quite rewarding in and of itself.  So, without minimizing or denying the realities of sin and human frailties, I encourage you, O reader, to look within yourself and to recognize them as opportunities for growing spiritually and helping others.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 29, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE FIRST U.S. PRESBYTERIAN BOOK OF CONFESSIONS, 1967

THE FEAST OF JIRI TRANOVSKY, HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS LUKE KIRBY, THOMAS COTTAM, WILLIAM FILBY, AND LAURENCE RICHARDSON, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND MARTYRS

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/01/21/exodus-and-mark-part-iii-unlikely-instruments-of-god/

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Devotion for the Twenty-Ninth Day of Lent (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   7 comments

Above:  Brother Edward from Babylon 5: Passing Through Gethsemane (1995)

Image = A Screen Capture I Took Via PowerDVD

Exodus and Mark, Part II:  To Flee Or Not to Flee; That is the Question

MONDAY, MARCH 30, 2020

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Exodus 2:1-22

Psalm 119:73-80 (Morning)

Psalms 121 and 6 (Evening)

Mark 14:32-52

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Some Related Posts:

Babylon 5:  Passing Through Gethsemane:

http://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/07/19/babylon-5-passing-through-gethsemane-1995/

Prayer:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/09/prayer-for-monday-in-the-fifth-week-of-lent/

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Before I get to my main point I desire to share an interesting feature of the Gospel of Mark as a literary composition.  In 14:52 a young man flees Gethsemane naked.  Yet, in 16:5, a young man wearing a white robe sits in the empty tomb.  I had not noticed the juxtaposition of these two verses until I watched Professor Luke Timothy Johnson’s Jesus and the Gospels course from The Teaching Company.  Is the young man in Chapter 14 the young man in Chapter 16?  And what the significance, if any, of two mentions of a young man in relation to the death (before it and after it) of our Lord?  The Gospel of Mark is a brilliant composition, so I wonder about this matter, which does not seem accidental to me.

Now for my main point….

Moses, by Exodus 2:11-15, had come to identify as a Hebrew.  I wonder what would have happened had he not fled.  Later in the Book of Exodus he walks into the royal palace and confronts the next Pharaoh.  He (Moses) was no less a murderer than he was in Chapter 2.  And, later, he was also a fugitive.  Exodus 4:19 not withstanding, did not the Egyptians keep records?  Was there a statute of limitations on murder?  My counter-factual wondering aside, Moses did flee.  And it was a wise decision.

Jesus did not have to remain at Gethsemane.  Authorities would have apprehended then killed him eventually, but it did not have to be at that place and time.  But he stayed voluntarily.

Babylon 5 (1994-1998) is one of my favorite science fiction series.  In one episode, Passing Through Gethsemane (1995),  Brother Edward, a Roman Catholic monk on the space station, explains (when asked) the core of his faith to two aliens.  He explains that Christ did not have remain at Gethsemane.  Edward wondered if he would have had the same courage.

There is a time to remain in a difficult situation for the sake of others.  And there is a time to leave and live to fight another day, so to speak.  In military terms, there is no shame in a tactical retreat.  But may we know when to remain, when to advance, and when to retreat.  May we listen then obey when God tells us the proper course of action.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 29, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE FIRST U.S. PRESBYTERIAN BOOK OF CONFESSIONS, 1967

THE FEAST OF JIRI TRANOVSKY, HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS LUKE KIRBY, THOMAS COTTAM, WILLIAM FILBY, AND LAURENCE RICHARDSON, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND MARTYRS

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/01/21/exodus-and-mark-part-ii-to-flee-or-not-to-flee-that-is-the-question/

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