Archive for the ‘Image of God’ Tag

Devotion for the Second Sunday in Lent, Year B (Humes)   3 comments

Above:  Belshazzar’s Feast, by Rembrandt van Rijn

Image in the Public Domain

Humility

MARCH 8, 2020

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

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

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

The Assigned Readings:

Daniel 5:1-7, 17-30

Psalm 22:23-31

2 Timothy 2:1-15

Mark 14:1-11

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

Before I address my main point, I write about two historical problems with Daniel 5 and 6.  Belshazzar was never a king, for example.  His father was Nabonidus (reigned 556-539 B.C.E.), the last king of the Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian Empire.  In 539 B.C.E. Cyrus II of the Persians and the Medes conquered the Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian Empire .  Darius the Mede (6:1), a supposed predecessor of Cyrus II, was fictitious.  At best Belshazzar was the regent or viceroy his father when his father was away.  The chronology within the Book of Daniel makes no sense, regardless of whether one restricts oneself to the Hebrew version or the version with Greek additions. The Book of Daniel is not history; its chronology contradicts other portions of the Hebrew Bible.  That fact does not mean, of course, that we cannot read it in a spiritually profitable manner.

Humility before God is a theme running through the assigned readings.  Belshazzar was far from humble before God.  The author of Psalm 22 preached the virtues of being in the awe of God, a term we usually read or hear translated as “fear of God.”  St. Paul the Apostle, who knew much about ego, obeyed God and suffered for his obedience.  The unnamed woman who anointed Jesus at the home of Simon the leper in Bethany demonstrated extravagant love and humility; she did not care about how she looked.

To be humble is to be down to earth, literally.  In the context of God each of us should recognize his or her relative insignificance.  Yet we bear the image of God, as Cyrus II was.  Divine grace can flow through us to others.  That should be sufficient status for us.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 21, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALOYSIUS GONZAGA, JESUIT

THE FEAST OF BERNARD ADAM GRUBE, GERMAN-AMERICAN MINISTER, MISSIONARY, COMPOSER, AND MUSICIAN

THE FEAST OF CARL BERNHARD GARVE, GERMAN MORAVIAN MINISTER, LITURGIST, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JOHN JONES AND JOHN RIGBY, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

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

https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2019/06/21/humility-before-god-part-v/

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

Devotion for the Sixth Sunday of Easter (Year D)   1 comment

parable-of-the-wicked-servant

Above:  Parable of the Wicked Servant, by Domenico Fetti

Image in the Public Domain

Respecting the Image of God in Others

MAY 9, 2021

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

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

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

The Assigned Readings:

Deuteronomy 15:1-18 or 19:15-21

Psalm 129

Matthew 18:1-14 (15-20) or Luke 9:46-50; 17:1-4

2 Corinthians 9:1-15

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

The reading for this Sunday, taken together, proclaim the mandate of economic and legal justice, condemn lying in court, command forgiving penitents, order valuing the powerless and the vulnerable, and extol the virtues of generosity of spirit and of giving.  On the other hand, we read a prayer for God to destroy Israel’s enemies and a permission slip to dun foreigners.  What are we supposed to make of all this?

First I call attention to the presence of both collective and individual sins and virtues.  My Western culture, steeped in individualism, understands individual sins better than collective and institutional ones.  I know that, as a matter of history, many professing Christians have obsessed over personal peccadilloes to the exclusion or minimizing of societal sins.

My second point is the value of foreigners who bear the image of God.  Focusing just on the Hebrew Bible for a few minutes, I recall certain passages that depict some goyim favorably:  Rahab the prostitute (Joshua 2:1-24 and 6:17-25), Ruth (Ruth 1-4), and Naaman (2 Kings 5:1-19).  And, of course, as one turns to the New Testament, one should think of the controversy regarding St. Paul the Apostle’s mission to the Gentiles.

Finally, forgiveness can be difficult, but it is the best policy.  According to a rule common among Jews at the time of Jesus, one was perfect if one forgave three times daily.  As we read in the Gospel readings, Jesus more than doubled that number, increasing it to seven.  (He affirmed spiritual challenges.)  Even if forgiving someone does not affect that person it changes for the better the one who forgives.  We also read in Matthew 7:1-5 that the standard we apply to others will be the standard God applies to us.  One might also consult Matthew 18:23-34, the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant.

I understand the desire for God to smite one’s foes.  I have prayed for such results.  I have also learned that praying for their repentance–for their benefit and that of others–is a better way to proceed.  Even our foes bear the image of God, after all.  God loves them too, correct?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 12, 2016 COMMON ERA

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

THE FEAST OF EDITH CAVELL, NURSE AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT KENNETH OF SCOTLAND, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY

THE FEAST OF SAINT NECTARIUS OF CONSTANTINOPLE, ARCHBISHOP

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

https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2016/10/12/respecting-the-image-of-god-in-others/

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

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

Abimelech

Above:  Abimelech

Image in the Public Domain

Obeying or Resisting the Will of God

APRIL 9, 2019

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

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

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

The Assigned Readings:

Judges 9:7-15

Psalm 20

1 John 2:18-28

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

Now I know that the LORD has given deliverance to his king;

from his heavenly sanctuary he responds to him,

sending his mighty power which always saves.

Some draw attention to their chariots, some to their horses,

 but for our part we draw attention to the LORD, our God.

They crumble and fall,

but we will rise and continue on our way.

The LORD had delivered the king;

he answers us when we call.

–Psalm 20:7-10, Harry Mowvley, The Psalms Introduced and Newly Translated for Today’s Readers (1989)

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

Psalm 20 contains a monarchical perspective, but Judges 9 does not.  In Judges 9 we read of Abimelech, son of Gideon (Jerubbabel).  We learn of Abimelech’s three-year-long local reign at Shechem, of his violent rise to power, and of his violent demise.  The text makes plain that Abimelech’s reign was contrary to the will of God and that of God was supposed to be the only king of the Israelites.  The thematic link of Samuel’s warning in 1 Samuel 8 is obvious.

1 John we find a letter to a congregation recovering from a traumatic schism.  The schismatics were probably Gnostics, based on internal evidence from the document.  The author, who was possibly St. John the Evangelist, advised his audience to remain strong in Christian faith and to continue to reject teachings of antichrists (note the plural form of the word, O reader), who reject Christ.  Gnostics seem like probable antichrists in this context, given their theological position that Jesus was not really incarnate and therefore could not have died on the cross.  That which is material, they said, is evil.  They taught, therefore, that Jesus was a phantom.  So much for Christianity!  There is no Christianity without the Incarnation and all that followed it in the earthly life of Jesus.

The thematic glue for this day’s assigned readings is the will of God–specifically, acting in accordance with it or contrary to it.  Stating that one should act according to the will of God is easy, but discerning that will can be difficult.  Many people who have claimed to know the divine will have acted such that their deeds have belied their protestations of righteousness.  I make no pretense of knowing the mind of God better than anyone else, but I affirm some helpful principles.  These include:

  1. Love you neighbor as you love yourself.
  2. Respect the image of God in all other people actively.
  3. Act toward others as you want them to behave toward you.
  4. Follow Jesus.
  5. Refrain from attempting to domesticate him and/or his message.
  6. If you must err, do so on the side of compassion, not fear or hatred.

Stating those principles is easier than practicing them, I realize, but one need not rely on one’s own power to live righteously in one’s society; grace abounds.  May God deliver each of us from all that stands between us and righteousness.

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

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

https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2015/12/04/obeying-or-resisting-the-will-of-god/

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

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

Vineyard in Summer

Above:  Vineyard in Summer

Image in the Public Domain

The Works of the Flesh and the Fruit of the Spirit

MAY 3 and 4, 2021

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

The Collect:

O God, you give us your Son as the vine apart from whom we cannot live.

Nourish our life in his resurrection,

that we may bear the fruit of love

and know the fullness of your joy,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 34

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

The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 5:1-7 (Monday)

Isaiah 32:9-20 (Tuesday)

Psalm 80 (Both Days)

Galatians 5:16-26 (Monday)

James 3:17-18 (Tuesday)

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

O LORD God of hosts,

how long will you be angered

despite the prayers of your people?

–Psalm 80:4, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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

The metaphor of the House of Israel as the vineyard of God works well in Isaiah 5.  God has done much that should result in a good vintage, yet:

…He hoped for justice,

But behold, injustice;

For equity,

But behold, iniquity!

–Isaiah 5:7b, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

The readings for these two days make clear that positive actions lead to good spiritual results and that negative actions lead to bad spiritual results.  Some of the consequences are also temporal, although the rain falls on both the just and unjust.  Also, righteous deeds lead to suffering sometimes.  Nevertheless, it is better to be on God’s side than to be elsewhere.

As for the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5, I propose that the lists are not comprehensive.  One should focus on the big picture and not become lost in the weeds, mistaking the lists as mere checklists.  Checklist morality holds no appeal to me, for it tends toward a sense of works-based righteousness.

I have not committed x, y, and z, so I must be doing well,

checklist morality leads one to say.  Rather, focusing on the principles and pondering how to apply them within one’s daily situations is a better way to proceed.  The works of the flesh damage and destroy the person who commits them and the people around him or her.  In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit builds up people, communities, and societies.  This is consistent with mutuality–mutual dependence and responsibility–a core tenet within the Law of Moses.

May we, empowered by grace, work for the common good in our families, communities, and societies.  May we recognize and respect the image of God in others, especially those different from us.  May we value them and seek their best.  May fraternal love, grounded in love for God, prevail.  May it spread like a group of mustard plants.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 19, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE TWENTIETH DAY OF ADVENT, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF LARS OLSEN SKRESFRUD, LUTHERAN MISSIONARY

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

https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/12/19/the-works-of-the-flesh-and-the-fruit-of-the-spirit/

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

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

Fiery Furnace

Above:  Fiery Furnace

Image in the Public Domain

God and Kosmos

APRIL 12 and 13, 2021

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

The Collect:

Almighty God, with joy we celebrate the day of our Lord’s resurrection.

By the grace of Christ among us,

enable us to show the power of the resurrection in all that we say or do,

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 32

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

The Assigned Readings:

Daniel 3:1-30 (Monday)

Daniel 6:1-28 (Tuesday)

Psalm 135 (Both Days)

1 John 2:3-11 (Monday)

1 John 2:12-17 (Tuesday)

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

O LORD, your Name is everlasting;

your renown, O LORD, endures from age to age.

–Psalm 135:13, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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

The readings from Daniel 3 and 6 tell of faithful Jews in deadly peril due to their fidelity to God, who delivered them.  After each deliverance a violent monarch became the earthly protector of the faithful.  Details of how this worked are not the content of warm and fuzzy lessons for children’s Sunday School.

1 John 2:15 says:

Do not love the world or the things in the world.

The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

“The world” refers not to the created order but to the evil order in which faithful people face persecution.

Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe?  The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each one to his home, and you will leave me alone.  Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me.  I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace.  In the world you face persecution.  But take courage; I have conquered the world!”

–John 16:31-33, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

The extraordinary context for that portion of the Johannine Gospel is that Jesus was about to die.  In the Gospel of John he said that immediately prior to his betrayal and crucifixion.  The worst which people did to him was terrible indeed, but God was more powerful, as the Resurrection revealed.

The call to reject the world which Christ has conquered is not a command to eschew all aspects of culture, popular and otherwise, many of which are beneficial and others of which are harmless.  No, it is a mandate to establish and stick to proper priorities; God must come first.  So may we recognize and respect the image of God within others and act accordingly.  May we reject the fear which leads people to harm each other instead of building each other up.

And now, my friends, all that is true, all that is noble, all that is just and pure, all that is lovable and attractive, whatever is excellent and admirable–fill your thoughts with these things.

–Philippians 4:8, The Revised English Bible (1989)

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 17, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE EIGHTEENTH DAY OF ADVENT, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF MARIA STEWART, EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF EGLANTYNE JEBB, FOUNDER OF SAVE THE CHILDREN

THE FEAST OF FRANK MASON NORTH, U.S. METHODIST MINISTER

THE FEAST OF SAINT OLYMPIAS, ORTHODOX DEACONESS

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

https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/12/17/god-and-kosmos/

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

Devotion for Monday and Tuesday in Easter Week, Year B (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Paul Writing His Epistles

Above:  Paul Writing His Epistles, by Valentin de Boulogne

Image in the Public Domain

Two Creations

APRIL 5 and 6, 2021

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

The Collect:

Almighty God, you give us the joy of celebrating our Lord’s resurrection.

Give us also the joys of life in your service,

and bring us at last to the full joy of life eternal,

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 32

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

The Assigned Readings:

Genesis 1:1-19 (Monday)

Genesis 1:20-2:4a (Tuesday)

Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24 (Both Days)

1 Corinthians 15:35-49 (Monday)

1 Corinthians 15:50-58 (Tuesday)

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

I shall not die, but live,

and declare the works of the Lord.

–Psalm 118:17, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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

We read of two creations–one of the perishable, the other of the imperishable.  Genesis 1:1-2:4a is a Jewish revision of a Babylonian creation myth.  This is evident from literary analysis and the study of the past, so I brook no Creationist foolishness.  Besides, my main purpose in this post is to put Genesis 1:1-2:4a beside 1 Corinthians 15:35-50 and write from that place of comparison and contrast.  So here we go:

  1. People bear the image of God in Genesis.
  2. People bear the image of perishable Adam and can bear the image of imperishable Christ in 1 Corinthians.
  3. The fruits of the old creation grow old, decay, die, and decompose.
  4. The fruits of the new creation do not perish.
  5. The two types of bodies in 1 Corinthians 15 are physical, but the spiritual body has a different composition than does the perishable body.  The spiritual body is something different.  It is not a reanimated corpse.
  6. God is crucial for both creations.

The nature of the spiritual body is mysterious, but is not some mystery beneficial?  If such unknown factors do anything, they prevent us from having even more swelled heads, I suppose.

More important than the mystery and the answer to it is something unambiguous:  the central role which St. Paul the Apostle attributes to God–Christ, to be precise.  To ponder that detail is more profitable spiritually than attempting to resolve a mystery we will probably never solve in this realm of reality.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 17, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE EIGHTEENTH DAY OF ADVENT, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF MARIA STEWART, EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF EGLANTYNE JEBB, FOUNDER OF SAVE THE CHILDREN

THE FEAST OF FRANK MASON NORTH, U.S. METHODIST MINISTER

THE FEAST OF SAINT OLYMPIAS, ORTHODOX DEACONESS

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

https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/12/17/two-creations/

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

Devotion for the Forty-Eighth and Forty-Ninth Days of Easter (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   9 comments

Above:  Moses Striking the Rock, by Pieter de Grebber

Numbers and Luke, Part VIII:   The Sin of Pride

MAY 21 and 22, 2021

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

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:

Numbers 20:1-21 (48th Day of Easter)

Numbers 20:22-21:9 (49th Day of Easter)

Psalm 96 (Morning–48th Day of Easter)

Psalm 92 (Morning–49th Day of Easter)

Psalms 50 and 138 (Evening–48th Day of Easter)

Psalms 23 and 114 (Evening–49th Day of Easter)

Luke 20:19-44 (48th Day of Easter)

Luke 20:45-21:9 (49th Day of Easter)

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

The readings for today occur against the backdrop of death.  Miriam and Aaron die.  Jesus will die soon.  And, in the midst of all this, the main sin common to the readings from Numbers and Luke is pride, being spectacular.  That was the sin of Moses, whose disobedience detracted from the glory of God.  And the scribes in Luke 20:45-47 reveled in public acclaim while devouring the property of widows.  Furthermore, those who wasted our Lord’s time with a political trap and with sophistry earlier in Luke 20 probably thought their rhetorical powers and mind games clever.  They were mistaken.

To have a balanced self-image, or ego, is crucial.  We are neither worms nor demigods.  We are, however, bearers of the image of God.  And, as the author of the Letter to the Hebrews wrote in poetic terms, we are slightly lower than the angels.  So we ought to acknowledge our potential, its source, and our limitations.  To miss the mark–to aim too high or too low–is to arrive at an inaccurate estimate of our true worth.

May we therefore think neither too highly nor too lowly of ourselves.  And may we let God appear as spectacular as possible.  Not to do so is to commit the sin of pride.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 23, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICETAS OF REMESIANA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF WIREMU TAMIHANA, MAORI PROPHET AND KINGMAKER

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

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/numbers-and-luke-part-viii-the-sin-of-pride/

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

Devotion for the Ninth Day of Easter (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   6 comments

Above:  A Migrant Worker in California, 1935

Image Source = Library of Congress

Exodus and Luke, Part II: Together in Society

APRIL 12, 2021

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

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 22:20-23:13

Psalm 97 (Morning)

Psalms 124 and 115 (Evening)

Luke 4:16-30

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

I began my preparations for this post by reading Exodus 21:1-23:13 closely.  The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod lectionary skips Exodus 21:1-22:19.  This statement does not constitute a criticism, for one must skip around sometimes when creating a lectionary.  Yet I thought that the skipped-over verses might pertain to the assigned material.  I was correct.

Exodus 22:20 forward commands the Israelites to show kindness, mercy, and respect to strangers, widows, and orphans, to refrain from usury (a rule which credit card companies violate daily), to make good sacrifices to God, to return wandering livestock to its owner, to grant justice to the poor, to leave food in the fields for the hungry, and to honor the Sabbath.  The guiding principle is that what one person does affects others.  There is no room for careless individualism which harms the society.

But what does one find in Exodus 21:1-22:19?  Slaves (more like indentured servants in the U.S. historical context) have rights.  Women have many of the same rights as men.  One dies for a variety of offenses, from cursing or insulting one’s parents to committing murder.  One can sell one’ s daughter into slavery.  Retribution is in proportion to the offense.  For  many offenses restitution–not death–is the penalty.  An Israelite who offers a sacrifice to a deity other than Yahweh must die.  A reader can find other laws there; this is just a sampling.

Historical and cultural contexts matter.  There were traditional Semitic notions of family honor and parental authority.  Any offense which carried the death penalty was one deemed especially dangerous to society.  And the people were nomads in the desert.  Resources were precious, and there was no jail or prison.

I, of course, live in a settled society which draws influences from the Enlightenment.  Despite poverty not far from my front door (a few miles away, elsewhere in Athens, Georgia, a street separates university dormitories from public housing projects), there is an abundance of food and drink.   And the local jail is frequently overcrowded.  I wonder how a modern version of the Law of Moses would compare the biblical one.

In Luke 4:16-30 we read an account of our Lord’s rejection at Nazareth, his hometown.  Plotting to overthrow someone off a cliff, as some residents of Nazareth meant to do Jesus, was not nice.  Perhaps some people thought that it was consistent with the death penalty for blasphemy (Leviticus 24:16).  Or maybe it was just a case of homicidal rage.  If they had succeeded that day, would they not have been subject to death themselves (Exodus 21:14)?

One must, if one is to understand the Bible properly, consider it intelligently, taking into account all the germane contexts, avoiding the error of prooftexting, and not transforming the Bible into an idol.  May we use the Bible as an icon–through which we see God–not as an idol–which we see in lieu of God.  And may we remember that we are here on the planet together, so what one person does affects others.  And God expects us to avoid wronging or oppressing one another.  After all, we all bear the image of God; may we treat each other accordingly.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 7, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROBERT OF NEWMINSTER, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND PRIEST

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANTHONY MARY GIANELLI, FOUNDER OF THE MISSIONARIES OF SAINT ALPHONSUS LIGUORI AND THE SISTERS OF MARY DELL’ORTO

THE FEAST OF CHARLES AUGUSTUS BRIGGS, PRESBYTERIAN PASTOR AND EPISCOPAL PRIEST

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

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/03/01/exodus-and-luke-part-ii-together-in-society/

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

First Day of Easter: Easter Sunday, Year C–Principal Service   21 comments

Above:  St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Rome, Georgia, April 8, 2012 (Easter Sunday)

Image Source = Bill Monk, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

Our Spiritual Resurrections

APRIL 21, 2019

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

The Assigned Readings for This Sunday:

Acts 10:34-43 or Jeremiah 31

Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24

Colossians 3:1-4 or Acts 10:34-43

John 20:1-18 or Matthew 28:1-10

The Collect:

Almighty God, who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of the Lord’s resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by your life-giving Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

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

Some Related Posts:

On This Day, the First of Days:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/06/26/on-this-day-the-first-of-days/

Thine is the Glory:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/05/23/thine-is-the-glory/

Now the Green Blade Rises:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/04/26/now-the-green-blade-rises/

Come Away to the Skies, My Beloved:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/04/23/come-away-to-the-skies-my-beloved/

The Strife is O’er, the Battle Done:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/04/23/the-strife-is-oer-the-battle-done/

Good Christians All, Rejoice and Sing:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/04/23/good-christians-all-rejoice-and-sing/

That Easter Day with Joy Was Bright:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/04/23/that-easter-day-with-joy-was-bright/

Alleluia! Alleluia! Hearts and Voices Heavenward Raise:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/04/23/alleluia-alleluia-hearts-and-voices-heavenward-raise/

Alleluia! Alleluia! Give Thanks to the Risen Lord:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/04/23/alleluia-alleluia-give-thanks-to-the-risen-lord/

Hail Thee, Festival Day! (Easter):

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/04/23/hail-thee-festival-day-easter/

At the Lamb’s High Feast We Sing:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/04/23/at-the-lambs-high-feast-we-sing/

Alleluia, Song of Gladness:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/05/alleluia-song-of-gladness/

Hymn of Promise:

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

Prayers of Thanksgiving:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/easter-prayers-of-thanksgiving/

Prayers of Confession:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/easter-prayers-of-confession/

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/24/prayer-of-praise-and-adoration-for-easter-sunday/

Prayer of Dedication:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/24/prayer-of-dedication-for-easter-sunday/

Prayer:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/24/prayer-for-easter-sunday/

Welcome, Thou Victor in the Strife:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2012/05/06/welcome-thou-victor-in-the-strife/

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

Rise, heart; thy Lord is risen.  Sing his praise

Without delays,

Who takes thee by the hand, that thou likewise

With him may’st rise;

That, as his death calcined thee to dust,

His life may make thee gold, and much more, Just.

–George Herbert

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

St. Paul the Apostle understood the Resurrection of Jesus as a literal event.  (He was correct.)  He also used it as material for a metaphor:  Just as Jesus died and rose again, we must die to our sins and rise again spiritually.

So the Resurrection of Jesus affects us today.  It calls us to live for a purpose higher than satisfying appetites, not that all appetites are negative.  But we are more than biological creatures; we are also spiritual ones.   This higher calling has more than one aspect to it.  Evangelism is one element.  Another is treating each other properly, as fellow bearers of the image of God.  The Baptismal Covenant (found on pages 304 and 305 of The Book of Common Prayer, 1979, of The Episcopal Church) summarizes this ethic well.

That is our challenge as Christians, then.  We must, as we read in Colossians 3:5-17, put away the negative and replace it with the positive, which includes

compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience

(3:12, New Revised Standard Version)

plus forgiveness and love (3:13-14).  May we do this in the name of our Resurrected Lord and Savior, who lives inside us. Being can make more converts and better disciples than preaching can, for the former is what one is.  The latter, however, is what one says, and deeds can belie words.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 1, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAMPHILIUS OF CAESAREA, BIBLE SCHOLAR AND TRANSLATOR; AND HIS COMPANIONS, MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF SAINT JUSTIN MARTYR, APOLOGIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT SIMEON OF SYRACUSE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

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

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/03/01/our-spiritual-resurrections/

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

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

Above:  The Burning Bush Logo of The Church of Scotland

Exodus and Mark, Part III:  Unlikely Instruments of God

MARCH 23 and 24, 2021

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

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

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

Psalm 34 (Morning–30th Day of Lent)

Psalm 5 (Morning–31st Day of Lent)

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

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

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

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

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

Some Related Posts:

A Prayer by St. Francis of Assisi:

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

Prayers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 29, 2012 COMMON ERA

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

THE FEAST OF JIRI TRANOVSKY, HYMN WRITER

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

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

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

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