Archive for the ‘Hebrews 10’ Tag

Devotion for Good Friday, Years A, B, C, and D (Humes)   1 comment

Above:  Icon of the Crucifixion, by Andrei Rublev

Image in the Public Domain

Love and Active Goodness

APRIL 15, 2022

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The Collect:

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

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

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

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 52:13-53:12

Psalm 22

Hebrews 10:16-25

John 18:1-19:42

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Who is the servant in Isaiah 52:13-53:12?  That has been a debated issue.  If one assumes that, as in earlier Servant Songs, the servant is the personification of the exiled nation of Israel (broadly speaking), the former Kingdom of Judah or at least the faithful remnant thereof, one must accept that the redemptive suffering during the Babylonian Exile was supposed to benefit Gentiles also.  The text certainly applies well to Jesus, who quoted the beginning of Psalm 22 from the cross.  That text, the prayer of one afflicted with a mortal illness, ends on a note of trust in God–certainly on a happy note, unlike Good Friday and the events thereof.

Focusing on the crucifixion of Jesus is proper on Good Friday.  As we do so may we ponder Hebrews 10:24, part of one of the pericopes:

We ought to see how each of us may arouse others to love and active goodness.

The Revised English Bible (1989)

That is a Christlike ethic!  “Love and active goodness” summarize Christ well.  “Love and active goodness” describe his self-sacrifice succinctly.  “Love and active goodness” summarize a faithful response to such selflessness and redemptive suffering.

Yet we frequently arouse each other to anger, usually for selfish purposes.  Anger is not necessarily bad, for we should be angry sometimes, as evidence of well-developed consciences.  Nevertheless, anger and expressions thereof are frequently destructive, not constructive.  This is certainly evident in media, social media, politics, and the comments sections of many websites.

Jesus has shown us a better way.  The long-dead author of the Letter to the Hebrews understood that better way well.

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/love-and-active-goodness/

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Devotion for the Feast for the Annunciation, Years A, B, C, and D (Humes)   1 comment

Above:  Icon of the Annunciation

Image in the Public Domain

Glorious Paradoxes

MARCH 25, 2022

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The Collect:

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

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

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

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 7:10-14

Psalm 45 or 40:5-10

Hebrews 10:4-10

Luke 1:26-38

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The date of the Feast of the Annunciation of Our Lord is theological, not historical, as I have written elsewhere.  Scholarship regarding the development of the Western Christian calendar reveals that, by the 200s, March 25, according to popular Christian belief in the West, was the

beginning of creation, the date of the incarnation, and the date of the crucifixion, symbolically tying the creation and the new creation together.  The date thus became the new year’s day throughout Europe from the sixth century and remained so in England (and America) until 1752.

–Philip H. Pfatteicher, Commentary on the Lutheran Book of Worship:  Lutheran Liturgy in Its Ecumenical Context (Minneapolis, MN:  Augsburg Fortress, 1990), 315-316.

If one reads the pericope from Isaiah 7 in the context of that chapter, one reads a story about Ahaz, an impious King of Judah under threat from the forces of Aram and Israel.  Ahaz puts on airs of piety, prompting First Isaiah to retort,

Is it not enough for you to treat men as helpless, that you also treat my God as helpless?

–Isaiah 7:13, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

The divine sign (the one Ahaz refused to seek) of deliverance from the Syro-Ephraimite crisis is that a young woman in the court will give birth to a son, we read.  The crisis will end in Judah’s favor by the time that boy has moral reasoning, we read.

Ahaz was quite unlike the king of Psalm 45 and the author of Psalm 40–that is, pious men.  Yet, if he received a sign without asking, and while mocking God, one might have good cause to wonder what God will give to the righteous, not that obedience to God ensures an easy life.  (Ask Jesus.)

God has never been helpless–or has He?  (Untangling Trinitarian knots is risky theological business.)  Certainly the young incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity was helpless, for a time.  And Jesus seemed helpless on the cross, where, as the author of the thoroughly misnamed Letter to the Hebrews wrote, the “offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” has consecrated believers (10:10).

The Incarnation was paradoxical.  God assuming human form and becoming fully human–an infant, even–was paradoxical.  God simultaneously being in Heaven and on Earth was paradoxical.  God simultaneously being helpless and not helpless was paradoxical.  All these paradoxes were glorious.

So is the symbolic tying together of the creation and the new creation.  This tying together is something I do not pretend to understand, but that I affirm via faith, regardless of when the conception of Jesus actually occurred.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 24, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF NICOLAUS SELNECKER, GERMAN LUTHERAN MINISTER, THEOLOGIAN, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JACKSON KEMPER, EPISCOPAL MISSIONARY BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT EDITH MARY MELLISH (A.K.A. MOTHER EDITH), FOUNDRESS OF THE COMMUNITY OF THE SACRED NAME

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2018/05/24/glorious-paradoxes/

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Devotion for Monday After the Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Construction of the Tabernacle

Above:  Construction of the Tabernacle, by Gerard Hoet

Image in the Public Domain

Stimulating One Another to Love and Good Works

APRIL 4, 2022

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The Collect:

Creator God, you prepare a new way in the wilderness,

and your grace waters our desert.

Open our hearts to be transformed by the new thing you are doing,

that our lives may proclaim the extravagance of your love

given to all 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 29

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The Assigned Readings:

Exodus 40:1-15

Psalm 20

Hebrews 10:19-25

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May the LORD answer you on the day when trouble comes,

may Jacob’s God lift you safely above it.

From his Temple may he send you help

and support you from Zion.

–Psalm 20:1-3, Harry Mowvley, The Psalms Introduced and Newly Translated (1989)

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Exodus 40:15 refers to the order of Aaron as an “everlasting priesthood” (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures, 1985).  That priesthood, although long-lasting, did end, however.  In Hebrews 10 we read that Jesus has an everlasting priesthood.  He, unlike Aaron and subsequent priests of that order, is not subject to death (Hebrews 7:23-25) or sin (Hebrews 7:26-28).  Christ, our everlasting and eternal (in the Johannine sense of the word; there is no eternity apart from God, although there is an option for afterlife apart from God) priest, impels is to support each other in spiritual living:

Let us consider [how we] might stimulate one another to love and good works, not giving up meeting together (as some have been doing), but encouraging [one another] even the more so since you see the day drawing near.

–Hebrews 10:24-25, George Wesley Buchanan, The Anchor Bible (1972)

As of December 2015, Jesus has yet to return, but the ethical teaching remains applicable.  God helps us to live faithfully by direct and indirect methods.  We humans are properly here to, among other things, support each other in goodness, loving each other as we love ourselves, sometimes to the point of self-sacrifice.  I am not naive; I understand that, in an imperfect world, one must use violence in certain circumstances to effect positive change.  This is why the work of police and military personnel is socially constructive much of the time.  However, much violence–perhaps most of it–does not build up the common good.  It does not fit the description of “stimulating one another to love and good works.”

May you, O reader, stimulate those around you to love and good works, by grace.  And may those around you do the same for you.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 4, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THOMAS COTTERILL, ENGLISH PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND LITURGIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN CALABRIA, FOUNDER OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE POOR SERVANTS AND THE POOR WOMEN SERVANTS OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH MOHR, AUSTRIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2015/12/04/stimulating-one-another-to-love-and-good-works/

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Devotion for Thursday and Friday Before the Second Sunday in Lent, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Abraham and Lot Separate

Above:  Abraham and Lot Separate

Image in the Public Domain

Legalism and Fidelity

MARCH 10 and 11, 2022

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The Collect:

God of the covenant, in the mystery of the cross

you promise everlasting life to the world.

Gather all peoples into your arms, and shelter us with your mercy,

that we may rejoice in the life we share in 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 27

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The Assigned Readings:

Genesis 13:1-7, 14-18 (Thursday)

Genesis 14:17-24 (Friday)

Psalm 27 (Both Days)

Philippians 3:2-12 (Thursday)

Philippians 3:17-20 (Friday)

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The LORD is my light and my salvation;

whom then shall I fear?

the LORD is the strength of my life;

of whom then shall I be afraid?

–Psalm 27:1, Book of Common Worship (1993)

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Sometimes the portrayal of Abram/Abraham in the Bible puzzles me.  In Hebrews 10:8-22 the patriarch is a pillar of fidelity to God.  Yet he hedges his bets and lies in Genesis 12, and the only people who suffer are the Pharaoh of Egypt and members of the royal household.  Abram exiles his firstborn son, Ishmael, in Genesis 21:8-21.  The patriarch intercedes on behalf of strangers in Genesis 19 yet not for his second son, Isaac, three chapters later.  Abram, who is wealthy, refuses even to appear to have enriched himself by means of the King of Sodom in Genesis 14.  In so doing the patriarch, who has just paid a tithe of war booty to Melchizedek, King of Salem (Jerusalem) and priest of El Elyon, a Canaanite sky deity, invokes YHWH, not El Elyon.  I do not know what to make of Abram/Abraham.

Circumcision is a major issue in Philippians 3.  St. Paul the Apostle refers to rival missionaries who favor the circumcision of Gentile male converts to Christianity.  He calls these Judaizers “dogs,” a strong insult many Jews reserved for Gentiles.  One can find the mandate for circumcision of males (including some Gentiles) in Genesis 17:9-14, where it is a sign of the Abrahamic Covenant.  It has been, for Jews, a physical sign of the covenant for millennia.  It has become an emotional issue for people who favor it as a religious obligation and a mark of identity as well as for those who consider it cruel.

In Philippians 3 circumcision is, for St. Paul the Apostle, a physical sign of righteousness based on law, not on active faith in God.  The line between legalism and righteousness can be difficult to locate sometimes.  One should obey certain commandments out of fidelity and love and respect for God.  One loves and honors God, so one keeps the commandments of God.

If you love me you will obey my commands…,

John 14:15 (The Revised English Bible, 1989) quotes Jesus as saying.  But when does keeping commandments turn into a fetish of legalism?  And when does the maintenance of one’s identity transform into exclusion of others?  Where is that metaphorical line many people cross?

One sure way of knowing if one has crossed that line is catching that person obsessing over minute details while overlooking pillars of morality such as compassion.  If one, for example, complains not because Jesus has healed someone but because he has done this on the Sabbath, one is a legalist.  If one becomes uptight about personal peccadilloes yet remains unconcerned about institutionalized injustice (such as that of the sexist, racial, and economic varieties), one is a legalist.  If one’s spiritual identity entails labeling most other people as unclean or damned, one is a legalist.  If one thinks that moral living is merely a matter of following a spiritual checklist, one is a legalist.  If one becomes fixated on culturally specific examples of timeless principles at the expense of those principles, one is a legalist.

May we who claim to follow and love God eschew legalism.  May we also care for our close friends and relatives at least as much as we do suffering strangers for which we harbor concern.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 14, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN AMOS COMENIUS, FATHER OF MODERN EDUCATION

THE FEAST OF THE CONSECRATION OF SAMUEL SEABURY, FIRST EPISCOPAL BISHOP

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM ROMANIS, ANGLICAN BISHOP AND HYMN WRITER

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2015/11/14/legalism-and-fidelity/

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Devotion for Good Friday, Years A, B, and C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   2 comments

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Above:  The Dogma of the Redemption, by John Singer Sargent

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-USZ62-133671

Love and Good Works

APRIL 15, 2022

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The Collects:

Almighty God, look with loving mercy on your family,

for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed,

to be given over to the hands of sinners,

and to suffer death on the cross;

who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

or

Merciful God, your Son was lifted up on the cross to draw all people to himself.

Grant that we who have been born out of his wounded side may at all times

find mercy in him, 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 31

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 52:13-53:12

Psalm 22

Hebrews 10:16-15 or Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9

John 18:1-19:42

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Some Related Posts:

Prayer for Good Friday:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/24/prayer-for-good-friday/

Grant, Lord Jesus, That My Healing:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/12/06/grant-lord-jesus-that-my-healing/

To Mock Your Reign, O Dearest Lord:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/11/19/to-mock-your-reign-o-dearest-lord/

Throned Upon the Awful Tree:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/09/26/throned-upon-the-awful-tree/

How Can I Thank You?:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/08/14/how-can-i-thank-you/

O Christ, Who Called the Twelve:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/07/01/o-christ-who-called-the-twelve/

How Wide the Love of Christ:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/06/30/how-wide-the-love-of-christ/

Beneath the Cross of Jesus:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/04/26/beneath-the-cross-of-jesus/

Darkly Rose the Guilty Morning:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/darkly-rose-the-guilty-morning/

O Jesus, We Adore Thee:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/o-jesus-we-adore-thee/

O Sacred Head, Now Wounded:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/o-sacred-head-now-wounded/

Stabat Mater:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/04/17/stabat-mater/

Ah, Holy Jesus, How Hast Thou Offended:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/04/17/ah-holy-jesus-how-hast-thou-offended/

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/04/17/when-i-survey-the-wondrous-cross/

My Song is Love Unknown:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/27/my-song-is-love-unknown/

In the Cross of Christ I Glory:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/10/20/in-the-cross-of-christ-i-glory/

Hymn of Promise:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/09/30/hymn-of-promise/

O Jesus, Youth of Nazareth:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/29/o-jesus-youth-of-nazareth-by-ferdinand-q-blanchard/

For the Cross:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/17/for-the-cross/

O Blessed Mother:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/17/o-blessed-mother/

O Word of Pity, for Our Pardon Pleading:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2012/08/08/o-word-of-pity-for-our-pardon-pleading/

Sing, My Tongue, the Glorious Battle:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2013/10/31/sing-my-tongue-the-glorious-battle/

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Psalm 22, which begins with

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me,

and are so far from my salvation,

from the words of my distress?

O my God, I cry in the daytime,

but you do not answer;

and by night also, but I find no rest.

–Verses 1-2, Common Worship (2000)

ends in thanksgiving for what God has done.  This fact applies well to the Easter Triduum, but I choose not to pursue that line of thought further in this post, for to do so would be to get ahead of this day’s portion of the narrative.

Faithful people of God read Isaiah 52:13-53:12 for centuries before the crucifixion of Jesus.  As obvious as that statement might seem, it might also surprise some people accustomed to only one lens through which to interpret it.  So what about Jewish readings of the passage?  The servant of God could be the whole Israelite nation or just the pious minority thereof or a particular holy person, maybe Jeremiah.  All of these are possible.  The words also fit Jesus well.

I publish these words in the vicinity of Thanksiving Day (U.S.A.) 2013 and shortly before the beginning of the season of Advent.  I know that Christmas leads to Good Friday and Easter Sunday.  There is much occurring theologically in these assigned readings.  Among them are a condemnation of unjust violence and a reminder that God is more powerful than our hatred and fear.

It is well and good to salute Jesus, but that alone is insufficient.  We have no mere hero and martyr.  No, we have a Lord and Savior, whom we are supposed to follow.  He said to keep his commandments and to love each other as he loved his Apostles.  Fortunately, we have access to grace, or else accomplishing these goals would be impossible.

So may we heed the advice of Hebrews 10:24:

…and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works….

Revised Standard Version—Second Edition (1971)

If certain people had thought that way, they would not have sought to kill Jesus.

Following this ethic requires us to seek not affirmation of our opinions, doctrines, and social status, but that which is best for others.  Obeying our Lord and Savior—taking up a cross and following him—entails thinking more about others than about oneself.  This is difficult yet for the best overall.

Good Friday is a holy day for me.  The Episcopal Church’s liturgy for the day moves me deeply, doing what good ritual ought to do—take one out of daily routines and transport one into a different spiritual atmosphere.  Reading the assigned lessons has taken me only a short distance along that path, but that brief trip suffices for now.  The material is emotionally difficult.  It it is not, that fact might speak poorly of the reader.

May divine love fill your soul, O reader, and inspire you to love and good works.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

THE FEAST OF GEORGE DAWSON, ENGLISH BAPTIST AND UNITARIAN PASTOR

THE FEAST OF DOROTHY DAY, SOCIAL ACTIVIST

THE FEAST OF THE INAUGURATION OF THE CHURCH OF NORTH INDIA, 1970

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/01/17/love-and-good-works/

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Devotion for the Fourth Day of Easter: Wednesday in Holy Week (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   10 comments

Above:  The Gathering of the Manna

Exodus and Hebrews, Part XI: Faith, Apostasy, and Judgment

APRIL 7, 2021

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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 16:13-35

Psalm 99 (Morning)

Psalms 8 and 118 (Evening)

Hebrews 10:19-39

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A Related Post:

Prayer:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/27/prayer-for-wednesday-of-easter-week/

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The same stone which the builders rejected

has become the chief cornerstone.

This is the LORD’s doing,

and it is marvelous in our eyes.

On this day the LORD has acted;

we will rejoice and be glad in it.

–Psalm 118:22-24, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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We humans use the word “faith” to mean different things.  We have faith in one another.  We keep the faith.  We adhere to one faith tradition or another or none at all.  Likewise, the Bible uses the word “faith” to mean different things.  For St. Paul the Apostle faith was a matter of both attitudes and works.  After all, as a man or woman thinks, so he or she is.  In the Letter of James, however, faith is a mater of intellectual assent to theological propositions.  So, according to that definition, one must pair faith with works; faith alone is inadequate.  And, in the Letter to the Hebrews, faith is that which enables a persecuted Christian not to shrink back, and therefore to retain the pleasure of God.  In Hebrews 11:1

Faith means that we are certain of the things we hope for, convinced of the thing we do not see.

(translated by William Barclay)

The Israelites did see in Exodus.  They saw repeatedly.  They saw how God liberated them from slavery in Egypt.  They saw God feed them and provide drinkable water for them in the desert.  And still many of them grumbled.  Many of them lacked faith according to any of the Biblical definitions.  Others had it then lost it.

The author of the Letter to the Hebrews wrote

It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

–10:31, The New Jerusalem Bible

while warning against apostasy.  Read the narrative in Exodus:  judgment and mercy coexisted.  Human actions led to consequences, positive or negative much of the time.  But God was patient for a long time.  That was merciful.  Then judgment came, and the liberated generation doomed itself never to enter the Promised Land.

May we, by combination of grace and free will, delight in God until the end.  And may God delight in us.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 2, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT STEPHEN OF SWEDEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY, BISHOP, AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF LYONS (A.K.A. SAINT BLANDINA AND HER COMPANIONS)

THE FEAST OF REINHOLD NIEBUHR, UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST THEOLOGIAN

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/03/01/exodus-and-hebrews-part-xi-faith-apostasy-and-judgment/

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Devotion for the Third Day of Easter: Tuesday in Easter Week (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   10 comments

Above:  An Oasis

Exodus and Hebrews, Part X: Grumbling Versus Gratitude

APRIL 6, 2021

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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 15:19-16:12

Psalm 98 (Morning)

Psalms 66 and 116 (Evening)

Hebrews 10:1-18

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A Related Post:

Prayer:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/27/prayer-for-tuesday-of-easter-week/

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How shall I repay the LORD

fora ll the good things he has done for me?

I will lift up the cup of salvation

and call upon the Name of the LORD.

I will fulfill my vows to the LORD

in the presence of all his people.

–Psalm 116:10-12, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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The sharp pivot from gratitude to grumbling occurred in Exodus 15:24, six verses after the conclusion of the Song of Moses (and the Israelites) and three verses after Miriam’s chant.  That did not take long, although the text does not indicate how much time passed, other than more than three days had passed.  And, given that the issue was drinkable water in the desert, one might understand why people complained.  If one were in that situation, one might grumble also.

Yet that is not the point; lack of faith in God’s provisions is.  Was God going to liberate the Israelites only to let them die in the desert?  No, the people would have enough to meet their needs, even if they did not always like what God provided and how God provided it.  Grumbling persisted.  Much gratitude would have been in order instead.

This is our story, is it not?  We–you, O reader, and I–are much like those Israelites.  We ought to be more grateful than we are.  And we have an additional reason for gratitude:  Instead of having to rely on annual sacrifices for the forgiveness of sins, we have the benefit of Christ, the greatest High Priest, who has done the hardest work already.  The rest of the hard work is ours.  That hard work is to leave behind in our spiritual Egypt all the grumbling and ingratitude as we depend on God in the wilderness.  That generation of Israelites did not do so, and therefore did not enter the Promised Land.  How will your journey end?  How will my journey end?  That remains for free will to determine.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 2, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT STEPHEN OF SWEDEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY, BISHOP, AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF LYONS (A.K.A. SAINT BLANDINA AND HER COMPANIONS)

THE FEAST OF REINHOLD NIEBUHR, UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST THEOLOGIAN

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/03/01/exodus-and-hebrews-part-x-grumbling-versus-gratitude/

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Thirty-Ninth Day of Lent: Good Friday   40 comments

The Crucifixion, by Titian (1558)

April 15, 2022

Collect and lections from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer

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Follow the assigned readings with me this Lent….

Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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Old Roman Chant for the Adoration of the Cross:   Domine audivi auditum tuum:

(Written down in the 600s C.E., so who knows how long people passed it down via oral tradition?)

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Isaiah 52:13-53:12 (New Revised Standard Version):

See, my servant shall prosper;

he shall be exalted and lifted up,

and shall be very high.

Just as there were many who were astonished at him

–so marred was his appearance, beyond human semblance,

and his form beyond that of mortals–

so he shall startle many nations;

kings shall shut their mouths because of him;

for that which they had not heard they shall contemplate.

Who has believed what we have heard?

And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

For he grew up before him like a young plant,

and like a root out of dry ground;

he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,

nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

He was despised and rejected by others;

a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity;

and as one from whom others hide their faces

he was despised, and we held him of no account.

Surely he has borne our infirmities

and carried our diseases;

yet we accounted him stricken,

struck down by God, and afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions,

crushed for our iniquities;

upon him was the punishment that made us whole,

and by his bruises we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray;

we have all turned to our own way,

and the LORD has laid on him

the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,

yet he did not open his mouth;

like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,

and like a sheep that is before its shearers is silent,

so he did not open his mouth.

By a perversion of justice he was taken away.

Who could have imagined his future?

For he was cut off from the land of the living,

stricken for the transgression of my people.

They made his grace with the wicked

and this tomb with the rich,

although he had done no violence

and there was no deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the will the LORD to crush him with pain.

When you make his life an offering for sin,

he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days;

through him the will of the LORD shall prosper.

Out of his anguish he shall see light;

he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge.

The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous,

and he shall bear their iniquities.

Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great,

and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;

because he poured out himself to death,

and was numbered with the transgressors;

yet he bore the sin of many,

and made intercession for the transgressors.

Psalm 22:1-22 (New Revised Standard Version):

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?

O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer;

and by night, but find no rest.

Yet you are holy,

enthroned on the praises of Israel.

In you our ancestors trusted;

they trusted, and you delivered them.

To you they cried, and were saved;

in you they trusted, and were not put to shame.

But I am a worm, and not human;

scorned by others, and despised by the people.

All who see me mock at me;

they make mouths at me, they shake their heads;

Commit your cause to the LORD; let him deliver–

let him rescue the one in whom he delights!

Yet it was you who took me from the womb;

you kept me safe on my mother’s breast.

On you I was cast from my birth,

and since my mother bore me you have been my God.

Do not be far from me,

for trouble is near

and there is no one to help.

Many bulls encircle me,

strong bulls of Bashan surround me;

they open wide their mouths at me,

like a ravening and roaring lion.

I am poured out like water,

and all my bones are out of joint;

my heart is like wax;

it is melted within my breast;

my mouth is dried up like a potsherd,

and my tongue sticks to my jaws;

you lay me in the dust of death.

For dogs are all around me;

a company of evildoers encircles me.

My hands and feet have shriveled,

I can count all my bones.

They stare and gloat over me;

they divide my clothes among themselves,

and for my clothing they cast lots.

But you, O LORD, do not be far away!

O my help, come quickly to my aid!

Deliver my soul from the sword,

my life from the power of the dog!

Save me from the mouth of the lion!

From the horns of the wild oxen you have rescued me.

I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters;

in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.

Hebrews 10:1-25 (New Revised Standard Version):

Since the law has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered year after year, make perfect those who approach.  Otherwise, would they not have ceased being offered, since the worshipers, cleansed once for all, would no longer have any consciousness of sin?  But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sin year after year.  For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.  Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,

Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,

but a body you have prepared for me;

in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure.

Then I said,

See, God, I have come to do your will, O God”

(in the scroll of the book it is written of me.)

When he said above,

You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings”

(these are offered according to the law), then he added,

See, I have come to do your will.

He abolishes the first in order to establish the second.  And it is by God’s will that we have the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

And every priest stands day after day at his service, offering again and again the same sacrifice for sins.  But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins,

he sat down at the right hand of God,

and since then has been waiting

until his enemies would be made a footstool for his feet.

For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.  And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us, for after saying,

This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord:

I will put my laws in their hearts,

and I will write them on their minds,

he also adds,

I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.

Where there is no forgiveness of these, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.

Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful.  And let us consider how to provoke to one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

John 18:1-19:37 (New Revised Standard Version):

After Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to a place where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, because Jesus often met there with his disciples. So Judas brought a detachment of soldiers together with police from the chief priests and the Pharisees, and they came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. Then Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him, came forward and asked them,

Whom are you looking for?

They answered,

Jesus of Nazareth.

Jesus replied,

I am he.

Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to them,

I am he,

they stepped back and fell to the ground. Again he asked them,

Whom are you looking for?

And they said,

Jesus of Nazareth.

Jesus answered,

I told you that I am he. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.

This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken,

I did not lose a single one of those whom you gave me.

Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave’s name was Malchus. Jesus said to Peter,

Put your sword back into its sheath. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?

So the soldiers, their officer, and the Jewish police arrested Jesus and bound him. First they took him to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was better to have one person die for the people.

Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter was standing outside at the gate. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out, spoke to the woman who guarded the gate, and brought Peter in. The woman said to Peter,

You are not also one of this man’s disciples, are you?

He said,

I am not.

Now the slaves and the police had made a charcoal fire because it was cold, and they were standing around it and warming themselves. Peter also was standing with them and warming himself.

Then the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching. Jesus answered,

I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said to them; they know what I said.

When he had said this, one of the police standing nearby struck Jesus on the face, saying,

Is that how you answer the high priest?

Jesus answered,

If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong. But if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?

Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They asked him,

You are not also one of his disciples, are you?

He denied it and said,

I am not.

One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked,

Did I not see you in the garden with him?

Again Peter denied it, and at that moment the cock crowed.

Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate’s headquarters. It was early in the morning. They themselves did not enter the headquarters, so as to avoid ritual defilement and to be able to eat the Passover. So Pilate went out to them and said,

What accusation do you bring against this man?

They answered,

If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.

Pilate said to them,

Take him yourselves and judge him according to your law.

The Jews replied,

We are not permitted to put anyone to death.

(This was to fulfill what Jesus had said when he indicated the kind of death he was to die.)

Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him,

Are you the King of the Jews?

Jesus answered,

Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?

Pilate replied,

I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?

Jesus answered,

My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.

Pilate asked him,

So you are a king?

Jesus answered,

You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.

Pilate asked him,

What is truth?

After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them,

I find no case against him. But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover. Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?

They shouted in reply,

Not this man, but Barabbas!

Now Barabbas was a bandit.

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him, saying,

Hail, King of the Jews!

and striking him on the face. Pilate went out again and said to them,

Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him.

So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them,

Here is the man!

When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted,

Crucify him! Crucify him!

Pilate said to them,

Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him.

The Jews answered him,

We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God.

Now when Pilate heard this, he was more afraid than ever. He entered his headquarters again and asked Jesus,

Where are you from?

But Jesus gave him no answer. Pilate therefore said to him,

Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?

Jesus answered him,

You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.

From then on Pilate tried to release him, but the Jews cried out,

If you release this man, you are no friend of the emperor. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor.

When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside and sat on the judge’s bench at a place called The Stone Pavement, or in Hebrew Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews,

Here is your King!

They cried out,

Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!

Pilate asked them,

Shall I crucify your King?

The chief priests answered,

We have no king but the emperor.

Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.

So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read,

Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.

Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate,

Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’

Pilate answered,

What I have written I have written.

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. So they said to one another,

Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.

This was to fulfill what the scripture says,

They divided my clothes among themselves,

and for my clothing they cast lots.

And that is what the soldiers did.

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother,

Woman, here is your son.

Then he said to the disciple,

Here is your mother.

And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture),

I am thirsty.

A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said,

It is finished.

Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out. (He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth.) These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled,

None of his bones shall be broken.

And again another passage of scripture says,

They will look on the one whom they have pierced.

After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

The Collect:

Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

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This day I choose to focus not on the lengthy and moving Gospel reading, but on the Epistle.  God is love, Jesus commanded his Apostles to love another as he loved them.  Because of divine love the Second Person of the Trinity became incarnate as Jesus and helped many people.  Because of his love and human wickedness Jesus went to his death.  And because of love Jesus rose again, demonstrated the superior power of God, and went on before us.  Because of love the surviving Apostles preached the Gospel and most gave their lives.  So I think about Hebrews 10:24:  “And let us consider how to provoke to one another to love and good deeds….”

Did not Jesus seek to provoke people to love and good deeds?  We who call ourselves Christians need to think about what that label means.  We who claim the name of Jesus should take up our cross(es) and follow him.  We ought to follow his example and keep his commandments, which entail love and good deeds.  We need to honor our Lord and Savior with our lives, not just our words.  This message is appropriate on any day, but especially on Good Friday.

Think about how much better the world would be if more of us spent our days thinking of ways to provoke each other to love and good deeds, then acting on these intentions.  Imagine how much respectful talk radio, news and opinion websites, and 24-hour news and opinion channels would be if love and good deeds were to displace shouting matches and pandering to base desires and pressures to indulge in infotainment, lies, and half-truths.  How many churches would become more Christlike if parishioners sought to encourage one another to love and good deeds instead of playing theological games of one upsmanship and arguing about trivial matters, such as the color of the carpet?  Alas, negativity and fluff attract huge audiences.  We humans are our own worst enemies.

Today and every other day may we reflect on the love God for us.  May this agape love inspire us to seek to love and respect each other as brothers and sisters in the divine household, via grace, of course.

KRT

Published originally at SUNDRY THOUGHTS OF KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on March 26, 2010

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/02/23/provoking-one-another-to-love-and-good-deeds/