Archive for the ‘Hebrews 4’ Tag

Devotion for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday Before the Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year B (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Christ Pantocrator

Above:  Christ Pantocrator

Image in the Public Domain

Fleeing from Grace

MARCH 18-20, 2021

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Collect:

O God, rich in mercy, by the humiliation of your Son

you lifted up this fallen world and rescued us from the hopelessness of death.

Lead us into your light, that all our deeds may reflect your love,

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 28

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 30:15-18 (Thursday)

Exodus 30:1-10 (Friday)

Habakkuk 3:2-13 (Saturday)

Psalm 107:1-16 (All Days)

Hebrews 4:1-13 (Thursday)

Hebrews 4:14-5:4 (Friday)

John 12:1-11 (Saturday)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your loving-kindness;

in your great compassion blot out my offenses.

Wash me through and through from my wickedness

and cleanse me from my sin.

–Psalm 51:1-2, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Through all generations you have made yourself known,

and in your wrath you did not forget mercy.

–Habakkuk 3:2b, The Revised English Bible (1989)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

For thus said my Lord GOD,

The Holy One of Israel,

“You shall triumph by stillness and quiet;

Your victory shall come about

Through calm and confidence.”

But you refused.

“No,” you declared.

“We shall flee on our steeds”–

Therefore you shall flee!

“We shall ride on swift mounts”–

Therefore your pursuers shall prove swift!

One thousand before the shout of one–

You shall flee at the shout of five;

Till what is left of you

Is like a mast on a hilltop,

Like a pole upon a mountain.

—–

Truly, the LORD is waiting to show you grace,

Truly, He will arise to pardon you.

For the LORD is a God of justice;

Happy are all who wait for Him.

–Isaiah 30:15-18, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The concept of God changes between the covers of the Bible.  God is physically immediate to Abraham, for example, yet proximity to God is fatal in much of the Hebrew Scriptures.    Even touching the Ark of the Covenant accidentally proved fatal, according to the texts.  There was no fatal holiness in Jesus, however; St. Mary of Bethany anointed him in John 12:1-11, shortly before the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem.

So we can draw near to God, who has drawn close to us and become incarnate (however that worked) as one of us.  The theological point of the full humanity and divinity of Jesus is one of those difficult knots great minds have tried to understand.  (For details, consult a history of Christian theology.)  I will not tread in their steps here except to assert that one ought to seek a balance between the humanity and the divinity of Jesus; one should not emphasize one at the expense of the other.  My experience in congregations (especially during my formative years) has been that people have usually been more comfortable with the divinity of Christ than with his humanity.  They have committed the heresy of Apollinarianism, or acknowledging his humanity while giving short shrift to it.

If attempting to untangle the mysteries of the Incarnation and of the nature(s) and will(s) of Christ proves insufficiently challenging, what about the balance between divine judgment and mercy?  I can provide a partial answer; the rest I am content to leave as a mystery.  Some things we do to ourselves, so we suffer the consequences of our actions.  Forgiveness of sins does not remove those consequences in this realm of existence, however.  Also, sometimes good news for the oppressed is catastrophic news for oppressors who refuse to change their ways.  That is the way life works.  In addition, some divine judgment is discipline meant to prompt repentance.  In such cases the metaphor of God as parent works well.  In some circumstances (especially from the Hebrew Scriptures) I refuse to affirm the argument that God has commanded people to commit genocide and other atrocities.  Maybe those who committed those deeds thought they were fulfilling a divine mandate, but they were wrong.  Against which population would Jesus commit or condone genocide?

Often we seek to use theology to justify our sins when we ought to confess and repent of those offenses.  Frequently we seek not God–in the context of whose holiness our sinfulness becomes evident–but confirmation of our imagined righteousness.  We flee from God, so we doom ourselves to face certain consequences.  We run away from God, who waits to show us mercy.  Maybe doing that is easier than facing the reality of our spiritual lives.  If that is true, this statement is a sad one.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 15, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE SIXTEENTH DAY OF ADVENT, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF THOMAS BENSON POLLOCK, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM PROXMIRE, UNITED STATES SENATOR

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/12/15/fleeing-from-grace/

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

3c33671v

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

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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/

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Devotion for the Seventh Day of Lent, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   2 comments

06374v

Above:  Shepherds, 1898

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-matpc-06374

Sheep and Mutuality

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 4, 2020

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Collect:

Lord God, our strength, the struggle between good and evil rages within and around us,

and the devil and all the forces that defy you tempt us with empty promises.

Keep us steadfast in your word, and when we fall, raise us again and restore us

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 26

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Assigned Readings:

Exodus 34:1-9, 27-28

Psalm 32

Matthew 18:10-14

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I will instruct you and teach you

in the way that you should go;

I will guide you with my eye.

–Psalm 32:9, Common Worship (2000)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

No one may come up with you, no one may be seen anywhere on this mountain; the flocks and herds may not even graze in front of this mountain.

–Exodus 34:3, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

One of the perils of superficial familiarity with biblical texts is going on autopilot regarding them.

O yes, I know this passage,

we tell ourselves before we move along.  Yet we probably do not know these texts as well as we think we do.

Matthew 18:12-14 is such a text.  I knew that I was missing something, so I consulted my collection of commentaries.  They have informed me that these flocks were usually village flocks which a team of shepherds guarded.  Thus one shepherd could seek a lost sheep while his coworkers watched the others.  And each sheep was important.  Likewise, a sheep apart from the herd was in great danger.

This parable sits in the middle of teachings about communal life.  Immediately before the parable we read about welcoming children.  After the parable we learn about how to deal properly with errant members of the faith community.  In all three cases we read about what is best for the individual and the community.  But, as Matthew 18:17 tells us, the community must not allow the errant individual to danger it.

Communal life, with individual responsibilities to and for each other, constitutes one of the major concerns of the Law of Moses.  May we modern people not ignore this fact, despite the rugged individualism prevalent in the global Western tradition.  The individual cannot be healthy apart from the whole, which cannot be all that it can be without all of the members it should have.

Another point stands out in my mind.  As Moses collected the second set of tablets from God, not even flocks and herds were supposed to be in front of the mountain where he met with God.  The holy distance from sinful people–even from livestock–was very much a real issue.  By the time of Matthew 18, however, God, via the Incarnation, had closed that gap.  People ate with Jesus, anointed parts of him, and looked into his face.  And, as Hebrews 4:16 (assigned for yesterday) told us in the context of our Lord and Savior’s testing yet sinlessness:

Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

The New Revised Standard Version:  Catholic Edition (1993)

So, confident in our great high priest, may we love each other actively and effectively, fulfilling our mutual responsibilities well.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 18, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ARTHUR TOZER RUSSELL, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT HILDA OF WHITBY, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBESS

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/01/14/sheep-and-mutuality/

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Devotion for the Fifth and Sixth Days of Lent, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   5 comments

09744v

Above:  Crucifix, Tyrol, Italy, Between 1890 and 1900

Image Creator = Detroit Publishing Company

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsc-09744

Suffering

MONDAY, MARCH 2, 2020, and TUESDAY, MARCH 3, 2020

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Collect:

Lord God, our strength, the struggle between good and evil rages within and around us,

and the devil and all the forces that defy you tempt us with empty promises.

Keep us steadfast in your word, and when we fall, raise us again and restore us

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 26

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Assigned Readings:

1 Kings 19:1-8 (5th Day)

Genesis 4:1-16 (6th Day)

Psalm 32 (Both Days)

Hebrews 2:10-18 (5th Day)

Hebrews 4:14-5:10 (6th Day)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

You are a place for me to hide in;

you preserve me from trouble;

you surround me with songs of deliverance.

–Psalm 32:8, Common Worship (2000)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The theological problem of why people suffer is a golden oldie.  Some attempts to answer it prove unsatisfactory, often blaming the victim.  The arguments of Job’s alleged friends come to mind immediately.  Such theodicies cross the line separating good piety from idiocy and cruelty.

The assigned readings for these two days offer some scenarios in which people suffer:

  1. Suffering results from one’s own sin, as in Psalm 32.
  2. Suffering results from another person’s malice, as in the other lessons.

And sometimes God provides for a suffering person, as in 1 Kings 19 and Genesis 4.  In the latter case, divine protection covered a murderer.  In offer no explanations or justifications.  No, I function merely as a reporter.

Yet I know that suffering can lead to useful spiritual lessons.  And I take great comfort in the truth that God, by virtue of the Incarnation, sympathizes with us in our weakness and suffering.  We are not alone, no matter how much we might feel alone.  Thanks be to God!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 18, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ARTHUR TOZER RUSSELL, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT HILDA OF WHITBY, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBESS

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/01/14/suffering/

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Devotion for the Thirty-Seventh Day of Lent: Wednesday in Holy Week (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   9 comments

Above:  Christ in Majesty, Chartres Cathedral

Exodus and Hebrews, Part IV: The Word of God

APRIL 13, 2022

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Assigned Readings:

Exodus 10:21-11:10

Psalm 5 (Morning)

Psalms 27 and 51 (Evening)

Hebrews 4:1-16

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

A Related Post:

Prayer:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/24/prayer-for-wednesday-of-passion-weekholy-week/

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

For the word of God is living and active….

–Hebrews 4:12a, The Anchor Bible

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

For the word of God is instinct with life….

–Hebrews 4:12a, translated by William Barclay

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The “word of God” in Hebrews 4:12a, as the note in The New Interpreter’s Study Bible (2003), explains,

is not Scripture but the living voice of God…. (page 2158)

And, as William Barclay commented in his (revised) volume on the Letter to the Hebrews,

…the word of God is something that every man must face, its offer something he must accept or reject.  (page 39)

The word of God comes through various media, including and not restricted to the Bible, nature, and other people.  In Exodus we read of the word of God coming directly to Moses, then going from there.  As a Christian I recognize the word of God, Jesus of Nazareth, whom I encounter in the Gospels.  That Word–that Logos–is the great high priest due to whom I can approach the throne of grace boldly.

One might wonder how to distinguish the voice of God from another–perhaps one’s own.  One’s God concept is far too small if it resembles what one sees when one looks into a mirror.  The best test I can determine is that of compassion, especially for the vulnerable members of society.  The Hebrew Prophets testified to this standard.  Love–sometimes the kind which leads to self-sacrifice (This is Holy Week)–yet which always seeks the best for others is another way of stating the case.  There is no divine law against such things.  Or, to use a concrete image, would Jesus do it, whatever “it” is?  Yes, the living exemplar is Jesus.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 30, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF EUSEBIUS OF CAESAREA, HISTORIAN AND ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF APOLO KIVEBULAYA, ANGLICAN EVANGELIST

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

THE FEAST OF JOSEPHINE BUTLER, WORKER AMONG WOMEN

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/01/21/exodus-and-hebrews-part-iv-the-word-of-god/

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++