Archive for the ‘Ezekiel 37’ Tag

Devotion for the Great Vigil of Easter, Years A, B, C, and D (Humes)   1 comment

Above:  Icon of the Resurrection

Image Scanned by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

The Light of Christ, Part II

APRIL 3-4, 2021

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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:

At least three of the following sets:

Genesis 1:1-2:4a and Psalm 136:1-9, 23-26

Genesis 7:1-5, 11-18; 8:6-18; 9:8-13 and Psalm 46

Genesis 22:1-18 and Psalm 16

Exodus 14:10-31; 15:20-21 and Exodus 15:1b-13, 17-18

Isaiah 55:1-11 and Isaiah 12:2-6

Ezekiel 20:1-24 and Psalm 19

Ezekiel 36:24-28 and Psalms 42 and 43

Ezekiel 37:1-14 and Psalm 143

Zephaniah 3:14-20 and Psalm 98

Then:

Romans 6:3-11

Psalm 114

Matthew 28:1-10

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The history of the Great Vigil of Easter is interesting.  We do not know when the service began, but we do know that it was already well-established in the second century C.E.  We also know that the Great Vigil was originally a preparation for baptism.  Reading the history of the Easter Vigil reveals the elaboration of the rite during ensuing centuries, to the point that it lasted all night and was the Easter liturgy by the fourth century.  One can also read of the separation of the Easter Vigil and the Easter Sunday service in the sixth century.  As one continues to read, one learns of the vigil becoming a minor afternoon ritual in the Roman missal of 1570.  Then one learns of the revival of the Easter Vigil in Holy Mother Church in the 1950s then, in North America, in The Episcopal Church and mainline Lutheranism during the liturgical renewal of the 1960s and 1970s.  Furthermore, if one consults the U.S. Presbyterian Book of Common Worship (1993) and The United Methodist Book of Worship (1992), on finds the ritual for the Great Vigil of Easter in those volumes.

The early readings for the Easter Vigil trace the history of God’s salvific work, from creation to the end of the Babylonian Exile.  The two great Hebrew Biblical themes of exile and exodus are prominent.  Then the literal darkness ends, the lights come up, and the priest announces the resurrection of Jesus.  The eucharistic service continues and, if there are any candidates for baptism, that sacrament occurs.

One of the chants for the Easter Vigil is

The light of Christ,

to which the congregation chants in response,

Thanks be to God.

St. Paul the Apostle, writing in Romans, reminds us down the corridors of time that the light of Christ ought to shine in our lives.  May that light shine brightly through us, by grace, that we may glorify God every day we are on this side of Heaven.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 29, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PERCY DEARMER, ANGLICAN CANON AND TRANSLATOR AND AUTHOR OF HYMNS

THE FEAST OF SAINT BONA OF PISA, ROMAN CATHOLIC MYSTIC AND PILGRIM

THE FEAST OF JIRI TRANOVSKY, LUTHER OF THE SLAVS AND FOUNDER OF SLOVAK HYMNODY

THE FEAST OF JOACHIM NEANDER, GERMAN REFORMED MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2018/05/29/the-light-of-christ-part-iv/

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

Icon of the Second Coming

Above:  Icon of the Second Coming

Image in the Public Domain

Hope in God

MAY 13, 2019

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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 37:15-28

Psalm 100

Revelation 15:1-4

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Raise a shout for the LORD, all the earth;

worship the LORD in gladness;

come into His presence with shouts of joy.

Acknowledge that the LORD is God;

He made us and we are His,

His people, the flock He tends.

Enter His gates with praise,

His courts with acclamation.

Praise Him!

Bless His name!

For the LORD is good;

His steadfast love is eternal;

His faithfulness is for all generations.

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

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Ezekiel 37:15-28 and Revelation 15:1-4 point toward the future.  The reunion of the northern and southern kingdoms of Israel and Judah remains unrealized, for the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel reside in various places in the Old World and are rarely Jewish in the contemporary sense of that word.  Corrupt human systems govern the world; God has yet to destroy them and to replace them with justice.  Yet we are not foolish to hope for the best in times to come.

Opening the Christian Bible (in all of its competing canons) with Genesis and concluding it with Revelation makes sense.  The sacred anthology starts with the creation and corruption of paradise and ends with the restoration of it–from Eden to Eden.  The Bible comes full circle, ending with the restoration of the broken.  Much harrowing material coexists with comforting passages in the middle.

We who live in the in-between times, those bookended by the announcement of the promises in Ezekiel 37:15-28 and Revelation 15:1-4 and the fulfillment of them, are wise to remember, in the words of Psalm 100, that God is our shepherd and that we are God’s sheep.  Wandering off into danger is detrimental to us, just as we are important to our shepherd.  Do we honor our shepherd?  The answer to that questions is, under the best of circumstances, not nearly enough.  Fortunately, we can do much better, by grace.  May we do so.  And may we hold fast to the hope that what God has promised to do, God will do.

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/hope-in-god/

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Great Vigil of Easter, Year C   6 comments

Above:  St. Martin in the Fields Episcopal Church, Atlanta, Georgia, April 7, 2012

Image Source = Bill Monk, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

Embrace This Mystery

LATE SATURDAY, APRIL 20-EARLY SUNDAY, APRIL 21, 2019

(BETWEEN SUNSET AND SUNRISE)

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READINGS AT THE LITURGY OF THE WORD

(Read at least two,)

(1) Genesis 1:1-2:4a and Psalm 136:1-9, 23-26

(2) Genesis 7:1-5, 11-18, 8:6-18, 9:8-13 and Psalm 46

(3) Genesis 22:1-18 and Psalm 16

(4) Exodus 14:10-31; 15:20-21 and Canticle 8, page 85, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

(5) Isaiah 55:1-11 and Canticle 9, page 86, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

(6) Baruch 3:9-15, 3:32-4:4 or Proverbs 8:1-8, 19-21; 9:4b-6 and Psalm 19

(7) Ezekiel 36:24-28 and Psalms 42 and 43

(8) Ezekiel 37:1-14 and Psalm 143

(9) Zephaniah 3:12-20 and Psalm 98

DECLARATION OF EASTER

The Collect:

Almighty God, who for our redemption gave your only-begotten Son to the death of the cross, and by his glorious resurrection delivered us from the power of our enemy: Grant us so to die daily to sin, that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his resurrection; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. or this O God, who made this most holy night to shine with the glory of the Lord’s resurrection: Stir up in your Church that Spirit of adoption which is given to us in Baptism, that we, being renewed both in body and mind, may worship you in sincerity and truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

READINGS AT THE FIRST HOLY EUCHARIST OF EASTER

Romans 6:3-11

Psalm 114

Luke 24:1-12

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My custom regarding posts for the Easter Vigil is to list the manifold and myriad readings (most of which are optional) and to offer a brief reflection.  Consistent with that practice I invite you, O reader, to approach the question of divine power, which gave us the Resurrection, with awe, wonder, reverence, and praise.  The Resurrection of Jesus is a matter of theology; historical methods cannot analyze it properly.  I am a trained historian, so far be it from me to criticize methods which work well most of that time.  But I am also a Christian, and I recognize the existence of mysteries beyond the bounds of historical scrutiny.  Life is better with some mysteries than without them.  So I invite you, O reader, to embrace this mystery.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 31, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE VISITATION OF MARY TO ELIZABETH

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/03/01/embrace-this-mystery/

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Fiftieth Day of Easter: Day of Pentecost, Year B   31 comments

Above:  Descent of the Holy Spirit

Our Advocate

MAY 23, 2021

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The Assigned Readings for This Sunday:

Acts 2:1-21 or Ezekiel 37:1-14

Psalm 104:25-35, 37

Romans 8:22-27 or Acts 2:1-21

John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15

The Collect:

Almighty God, on this day you opened the way of eternal life to every race and nation by the promised gift of your Holy Spirit: Shed abroad this gift throughout the world by the preaching of the Gospel, that it may reach to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Fiftieth Day of Easter:  Day of Pentecost, Year A:

https://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/fiftieth-day-of-easter-day-of-pentecost-year-a/

A Prayer for Those With Only the Holy Spirit to Intercede for Them:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/17/a-prayer-for-those-with-only-the-holy-spirit-to-intercede-for-them/

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I have written more than once that judgment and mercy coexist in the Bible.  This assertion is obvious from a close reading of the sacred anthology.  This day the emphasis belongs on mercy.

We read in John 16 that the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity, is the Advocate.  This is a legal term; our Advocate is our defense attorney.  In other words, God stands with us, so why should we fear?

Nevertheless, many Christians have suffered persecution and martyrdom for twenty centuries.  Many still do.  And Jesus, from whose Greek title, Christ, we derive the label “Christian,” died on a cross.  So this divine companionship and defense does not guard every follower of God from physical or legal harm.  Yet the message of Christ has continued to spread, the blood of the martyrs continues to water the Church, and killing people cannot end the spread of Christianity.

Beyond all that, those who die faithful to God go to God in the afterlife.  No harm can touch them there.  This might seem like cold comfort or no comfort in this life, but it is something.  The world is imperfect, and only God can repair it.

Yet may we rejoice that we have an Advocate.  May the quality of our lives reflect this gratitude.

KRT

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/03/30/our-advocate/

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Great Vigil of Easter, Year B   15 comments

Easter Vigil, St. Peter and St. Paul Episcopal Church, Marietta, Georgia, April 4, 2010

Image Source = Bill Monk, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

He’s Alive!

LATE SATURDAY, APRIL 3-EARLY SUNDAY, APRIL 4, 2021

(BETWEEN SUNSET AND SUNRISE)

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READINGS AT THE LITURGY OF THE WORD

(Read at least two,)

(1) Genesis 1:1-2:4a and Psalm 136:1-9, 23-26

(2) Genesis 7:1-5, 11-18, 8:6-18, 9:8-13 and Psalm 46

(3) Genesis 22:1-18 and Psalm 16

(4) Exodus 14:10-31; 15:20-21 and Canticle 8, page 85, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

(5) Isaiah 55:1-11 and Canticle 9, page 86, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

(6) Baruch 3:9-15, 3:32-4:4 or Proverbs 8:1-8, 19-21; 9:4b-6 and Psalm 19

(7) Ezekiel 36:24-28 and Psalms 42 and 43

(8) Ezekiel 37:1-14 and Psalm 143

(9) Zephaniah 3:12-20 and Psalm 98

DECLARATION OF EASTER

The Collect:

Almighty God, who for our redemption gave your only- begotten Son to the death of the cross, and by his glorious resurrection delivered us from the power of our enemy: Grant us so to die daily to sin, that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his resurrection; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. or this O God, who made this most holy night to shine with the glory of the Lord’s resurrection: Stir up in your Church that Spirit of adoption which is given to us in Baptism, that we, being renewed both in body and mind, may worship you in sincerity and truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

READINGS AT THE FIRST HOLY EUCHARIST OF EASTER

Romans 6:3-11

Psalm 114

Mark 16:1-8

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A Related Post:

Great Vigil of Easter, Year A:

https://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/great-vigil-of-easter-year-a/

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Recently, while listening to Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) radio, I heard an interviewee say,

We danced our religion before we thought it.

This is objectively accurate.

I am an intellectual–an unapologetic one.  So I like to ponder various matters deeply, exploring their nuances.  This is healthy, for one ought to exercise one’s brain power frequently.  Yet sometimes intellect and reason cannot explain something.  The Resurrection of Jesus is one of these matters.

Without the Resurrection Christianity is a lie and we who affirm the reality of this event are pitiable fools, the the latest in a long line of deluded idiots.  Yet the saints who preceded us were not deluded fools, and Christ is risen indeed.

Happy Easter!

KRT

Great Vigil of Easter, Year A   22 comments

“This is the night….”

Image Source = John Stephen Dwyer

LATE SATURDAY, APRIL 13-EARLY SUNDAY, APRIL 4, 2021

(BETWEEN SUNSET AND SUNRISE)

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READINGS AT THE LITURGY OF THE WORD

(Read at least two,)

(1) Genesis 1:1-2:4a and Psalm 136:1-9, 23-26

(2) Genesis 7:1-5, 11-18, 8:6-18, 9:8-13 and Psalm 46

(3) Genesis 22:1-18 and Psalm 16

(4) Exodus 14:10-31; 15:20-21 and Canticle 8, page 85, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

(5) Isaiah 55:1-11 and Canticle 9, page 86, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

(6) Baruch 3:9-15, 3:32-4:4 or Proverbs 8:1-8, 19-21; 9:4b-6 and Psalm 19

(7) Ezekiel 36:24-28 and Psalms 42 and 43

(8) Ezekiel 37:1-14 and Psalm 143

(9) Zephaniah 3:12-20 and Psalm 98

DECLARATION OF EASTER

The Collect:

Almighty God, who for our redemption gave your only- begotten Son to the death of the cross, and by his glorious resurrection delivered us from the power of our enemy: Grant us so to die daily to sin, that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his resurrection; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. or this O God, who made this most holy night to shine with the glory of the Lord’s resurrection: Stir up in your Church that Spirit of adoption which is given to us in Baptism, that we, being renewed both in body and mind, may worship you in sincerity and truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

READINGS AT THE FIRST HOLY EUCHARIST OF EASTER

Romans 6:3-11

Psalm 114

Matthew 28:1-10

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Ritualism, despite what some say, is important.  Rituals mark milestones in any civilization or culture.  And rites are crucial to religion.  So, with the Easter Vigil, we mark the resurrection of Jesus in a lovely (and long) ritual much grander and more meaningful than any Protestant Easter Sunrise Service.

During Lent we have not said the “A” word (Alleluia).  We have put away most candles and entered into a penitential mood.  This has become increasingly somber the closer we have come to Good Friday, the darkest day of them all.  Now, after the beginning the Vigil in the darkness, we have a liturgical opportunity to welcome the light again and to resume saying “Alleluia.”  And the candles are back!

Easter, a 50-day season has begun with a series of readings from the Bible about salvation history.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

Published originally at SUNDRY THOUGHTS OF KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on June 19, 2010

Thirty-Fourth Day of Lent   12 comments

The Scapegoat, by William Holman Hunt (1854)

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Saturday, March 27, 2021

Collect and lections from the Episcopal Lesser Feasts and Fasts Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints

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Follow the assigned readings with me this Lent….

Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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Ezekiel 37:21-28 (Revised English Bible):

[The Lord GOD has said:] say to them:

The Lord GOD has said: I am going to take the Israelites from their places of exile among the nations; I shall assemble them from every quarter and restore them to their own soil.  I shall make them a single nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel, and one king will be over them all.  No longer will they be two nations, no longer divided into two kingdoms.  They will never again be defiled with their idols, their loathsome ways, and all their acts of disloyalty.  I shall save them from all their sinful backsliding and purify them.  Thus they will be my people, and I shall be their God.  My servant David will be king over them; they will all have one shepherd.  They will conform to my laws and my statutes and observe them faithfully.  They will live in the land which I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where your forefathers lived.  They and their descendants will live there for ever, and my servant David is to be their prince for ever.  I shall make an everlasting covenant with them to ensure peace and prosperity.  I shall greatly increase their numbers, and I shall put my sanctuary in their midst for all time.  They will live under the shelter of my dwelling; I shall be their God and they will be my people.  The nations will know that I the LORD am keeping Israel sacred to myself, because my sanctuary is in their midst for ever.

Psalm 85:1-7 (Revised English Bible):

LORD, you have been gracious to your land

and turned the tide of Jacob’s fortunes.

You have forgiven the guilt of your people

and put all their sins away.

You have withdrawn all your wrath

and turned from your hot anger.

God our saviour, restore us

and abandon your displeasure towards us.

Will you be angry with us for ever?

Must your wrath last for all generations?

Will you not give us new life

that your people may rejoice in you?

LORD, show us your love

and grant us your deliverance.

John 11:45-53 (Revised English Bible):

[Contextual note:  This reading occurs immediately after Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.]

Many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary [of Bethany], and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him.  But some of them went off to the Pharisees and reported what he had done.

Thereupon the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a meeting of the Council.

This man is performing many signs,

they said,

and what action are we taking?  If we let him go on like this the whole populace will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away our temple and our nation.

But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said,

You have no grasp of the situation at all; you do not realize that it is more to your interest that one man should die for the people, than that the whole nation should be destroyed.

He did not say this of his own accord, but as the high priest that year he was prophesying that Jesus would die for the nation, and not the for the nation alone but to gather together the scattered children of God.  So from that day they plotted his death.

The Collect:

O Lord, in your goodness you bestow abundant graces on your elect: Look with favor, we entreat you, upon those who in these Lenten days are being prepared for Holy Baptism, and grant your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

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In this day’s readings we have the love and forgiveness of God juxtaposed with the faithlessness of people.  Ezekiel told of a restored Jewish nation, where the people would serve God and a member of the Davidic dynasty would rule the people.  And when Jesus the Messiah, of the lineage of David, arrived, many of the people unto whom he came rejected him.

The Jews of Judea lived under Roman occupation.  The Romans were paradoxical; they could be both tolerant and tyrannical.  They tolerated the exercise of Judaism as an old religion, exempting Jews from certain obligations, such as sacrificing to the gods for the sake of the empire.  Yet they cracked down severely on rebellions.  History tells of the First Jewish War, in which the Romans destroyed the Jerusalem Temple, and the Second Jewish War of the 130s, in which the Romans crushed a rebellion which a self-proclaimed Messiah led.

Let us consider more historical context.  The Feast of the Passover was near.  This was the annual commemoration of God’s deliverance of the Jews from slavery in Egypt.  In Jesus’ day people celebrated this in Roman-occupied Jerusalem.  If any man were to declare himself the Messiah and lead the charge against the Romans, he would do so at Passover, a politically potent religious event.  The Romans, being aware of the potential security situation, patrolled this annual feast heavily.

Therefore, fears of a potential Roman crackdown because of Jesus’ activities were reasonable.  Yet the scapegoating of Jesus was not.  Scapegoating makes the scapegoaters feel better without solving any problems.  It is a way of appearing to do something constructive while doing something destructive.  This is especially harmful to the scapegoat.

Holy Week is next.  Let us take the final steps of Lent together.

KRT

Written on March 17, 2010

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/02/14/scapegoating/

Posted October 29, 2010 by neatnik2009 in 2021, Episcopal Church Lectionary, March 27

Tagged with , ,

Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year A   23 comments

Above: The Raising of Lazarus, by Vincent Van Gogh, 1890

These Bones Can Live Again Or, Some Good Deeds Do Not Go Unpunished

MARCH 29, 2020

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Ezekiel 37:1-14 (New Revised Standard Version):

The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. He said to me,

Mortal, can these bones live?

I answered,

O Lord GOD, you know.

Then he said to me,

Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord.

So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me,

Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.

I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.

Then he said to me,

Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, “Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.” Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act,

says the Lord.

Psalm 130 (New Revised Standard Version):

Out of the depths I cry to you , O LORD.

Lord, hear my voice!

Let your ears be attentive

to the voice of my supplications!

If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities,

Lord, who could stand?

But there is forgiveness with you,

so that you may be revered.

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,

and in his word I hope;

my soul waits for the Lord

more than those who watch for the morning,

more than those who watch for the morning.

O Israel, hope in the LORD!

For with the LORD there is steadfast love,

and with him is great power to redeem.

It is he who will redeem Israel

from all its iniquities.

Romans 8:6-11 (New Revised Standard Version):

To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law– indeed it cannot, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.

John 11:1-45 (New Revised Standard Version):

Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent a message to Jesus,

Lord, he whom you love is ill.

But when Jesus heard it, he said,

This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.

Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

Then after this he said to the disciples,

Let us go to Judea again.

The disciples said to him,

Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?

Jesus answered,

Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.

After saying this, he told them,

Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.

The disciples said to him,

Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.

Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly,

Lazarus is dead. For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.

Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples,

Let us also go, that we may die with him.

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus,

Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.

Jesus said to her,

Your brother will rise again.

Martha said to him,

I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.

Jesus said to her,

I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?

She said to him,

Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.

When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately,

The Teacher is here and is calling for you.

And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him,

Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said,

Where have you laid him?

They said to him,

Lord, come and see.

Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said,

See how he loved him!

But some of them said,

Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?

Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said,

Take away the stone.

Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him,

Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.

Jesus said to her,

Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?

So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said,

Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.

When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice,

Lazarus, come out!

The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them,

Unbind him, and let him go.

Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.

The Collect:

Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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My soundtrack for the writing of this post is part of Gustav Mahler’s monumental Symphony #2, the “Resurrection” Symphony.  The work is not Christian, and Mahler was at best a nominal Roman Catholic who converted from the Judaism he did not practice, either, to get a job.  But the man wrote wonderful music.  The portion of the “Resurrection” Symphony which attracts me now is the Urlicht movement, a soul-melting contralto solo, the lyrics of which (in English translation) follow:

O red rose!

Man lies in direst need!

Man lies in deepest pain!

I would rather be in heaven!

I came upon a broad path:

an angel came to me and sought to turn me back.

Ah no!  I would not be sent away!

I am from God and to God I will return!

Dear God will give me a light,

will light me to eternal, blessed life!

Then the final movement begins.  When the soloists and choir members sing the words (again in English translation) include:

Rise again, yea, thou shalt rise again,

my dust, after brief rest!

Mahler’s symphony concerns a dead hero who awakens in Heaven, so the context is somewhat outside the reading from the Johannine Gospel, but some of it works well, anyhow.

The author of the Fourth Gospel wrote of Jesus raising his good friend, Lazarus, from the dead.  The long portion of John 11 in the Revised Common Lectionary has a happy ending.  But read the rest of the chapter.  Some of Jesus’ religious enemies conspire to have him killed because of fear that spreading faith in Jesus will bring down the wrath of the Roman Empire on Judea, and it was allegedly better for one man, not a nation, to die.

The placement of this Gospel reading at this point in the lectionary is appropriate, for the next Sunday will be Palm (Passion) Sunday, the opening of Holy Week.  At this point in the church year the short countdown to the crucifixion of Jesus has begun.  The foreshadowing, present in some of the canonical Gospels since the birth narratives, will yield to unfolding drama and a climax.  The author of the Markan Gospel, the first of the canonical Gospels written, believed that the role of the Messiah was to suffer and die, not to be the conquering hero to expel the Roman occupiers and restore Israel to its Davidic glory.  New Testament scholars call this Markan view the Messsianic Secret, for, according “Mark,” whoever he was, the death of the Messiah revealed the identity and true function of the Messiah to all who paid attention.  Think of it this way:  Messiah 101 is that he must die.  But he has to die before this becomes readily apparent.  Writing of this nearly 2000 years later it seems obvious, but this was not the case at the time.

O, just one more thing.

There is a Medieval Roman Catholic tradition which states that Lazarus and his sisters became evangelists in Provence, France.  I do not know if the reality behind the tradition is fact or fiction, but I am certain of one proposition:  I would tell people that Jesus had raised me (or my brother, if one assumes the point of view of Mary or Martha) from the dead.

KRT

Written on June 19, 2010

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/these-bones-can-live-again-or-some-good-deeds-do-not-go-unpunished/