Archive for the ‘Isaiah 49’ Tag

Devotion for Tuesday of Holy Week, Years A, B, C, and D (Humes)   3 comments

Above:  Christ Pantocrator

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

A Faithful Response, Part IV

MARCH 30, 2021

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The Collect:

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

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

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

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

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

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 49:1-7

Psalm 71:1-14

1 Corinthians 1:18-31

John 12:20-36

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Psalm 71 is a prayer of an aged pious person afflicted by his enemies.  Many of its sentiments fit neatly into Holy Week, although verse 13 is rather un-Christlike:

Let my accusers be put to shame and consumed;

let those who seek to hurt me be covered with scorn and disgrace.

The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

That is far removed from

Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.

–Luke 23:34, The Jerusalem Bible (1966)

Divine paradoxes are glorious.  Consider, O reader, 1 Corinthians 1.  The message of Christ’s cross is folly and causes offense, but it is the power of God to those on the way to salvation.  The folly of God is greater than human wisdom in the hyperbolic language of St. Paul the Apostle.  The scapegoating and execution of an innocent man is the way to salvation?  How can that be?  Yet it is.

The people of God have a divine mandate to restore others to God and bring others to God.  Those who would gain eternal life (which begins on this side of Heaven) must love life less than God.  That is possible via grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 27, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FIRST SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR B:  TRINITY SUNDAY

THE FEAST OF PAUL GERHARDT, GERMAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF ALFRED ROOKER, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST PHILANTHROPIST AND HYMN WRITER; AND HIS SISTER, ELIZABETH ROOKER PARSON, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF AMELIA BLOOMER, U.S. SUFFRAGETTE

THE FEAST OF SAINT LOJZE GROZDE, SLOVENIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2018/05/27/a-faithful-response-part-v/

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Devotion for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday Before the Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year B (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

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Above:  Candle Flame

Image in the Public Domain

A Light to the Nations, Part I

MAY 6-8, 2021

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The Collect:

O God, you have prepared for those who love you joys beyond understanding.

Pour into our hearts such love for you that,

loving you above all things,

we may obtain your promises,

which exceed all we can desire,

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

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 49:5-6 (Thursday)

Isaiah 42:5-9 (Friday)

Deuteronomy 32:44-47 (Saturday)

Psalm 98 (All Days)

Acts 10:1-34 (Thursday)

Acts 10:34-43 (Friday)

Mark 10:42-45 (Saturday)

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Shout with joy to the LORD, all you lands;

lift up your voice, rejoice, and sing….

In righteousness shall he judge the world

and the peoples with equity.

–Psalm 98:5, 10, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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A sense of having a covenant with and a special revelation from God ought not to lead one into spiritual and theological elitism, the religious equivalent of ethnocentrism, which is just as false as cultural relativism.  Of course I condemn legalism and spiritual and theological elitism wherever they rear their ugly heads, but more importantly I advocate a healthy sense of ecumenism.  I emphasize what I favor–loving one’s fellow human beings in the name of God and behaving toward them accordingly.

For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.

–Mark 10:45, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

I, as a professing Christian, claim to follow Jesus.  Thus, if I am to be an intellectually and spiritually honest Christian, I must serve others in the name of Christ, regardless of the human categories into which they fit.  I retain definitions of true religions (Judaism and Christianity), merely false religions, and predatory cults, for I am not a Universalist.  Yet my theology is ecumenical, drawing from Judaism and various Christian traditions.  Those Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons (members of merely false religions) who come to my front door and whom I fail to avoid sometimes, do not understand this, for they think that they have the ultimate revelation of God.  Meanwhile, I live in a home with crucifixes, a menorah, hymnals and service books from a range of denominations, and Bibles from Jewish, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant backgrounds.  I remain an observant Episcopalian, but other denominations fascinate me–some more than others.  Lutherans and Moravians are especially interesting.

There is God; no such beings as gods exist.  Thus all of us are children of God, although many do not know that.  To be an effective light to the nations one must, among other things, lay aside contempt for the people one hopes to convert.  The failure to do so has been among the most grievous faults of many missionaries for centuries.  They people who have set out to do something righteous have destroyed cultures and functioned as agents of imperial powers instead, for the shackles of ethnocentrism have chained them.  Fortunately, modern schools of missions are among the places where one may learn how to avoid following in those footsteps.

To be a light to the nations–or one’s community–is a great responsibility, one to approach with much reverence and humility.  It is a goal one can accomplish only by grace and which requires the acknowledgment that one does not have a complete understanding of God.  Nobody has such a grasp of the divine, but some of us have learned more of the truth than others.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 20, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE TWENTY-FIRST DAY OF ADVENT, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF SAINT DOMINIC OF SILOS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINT PETER CANISIUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF KATHARINA VON BORA LUTHER, WIFE OF MARTIN LUTHER

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/12/20/a-light-to-the-nations-part-i/

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Devotion for Tuesday in Holy Week, Years A, B, and C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   2 comments

Candle_flame_(1)

Above:  Candle Burning

Image in the Public Domain

Light in the Darkness

MARCH 30, 2021

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The Collect:

Lord Jesus, you have called us to follow you.

grant that our love may not grow cold in your service,

and that we may not fail or deny you in the time of trial,

for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 30

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 49:1-7

Psalm 71:1-14

1 Corinthians 1:18-31

John 12:20-36

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A Related Post:

Prayer for Tuesday of Passion Week/Holy Week:

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

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Do not cast me away in the time of old age;

forsake me not when my strength fails.

For my enemies are talking against me,

and those who lie in wait for my life take counsel together.

–Psalm 71:9-10, Common Worship (2000)

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In our end us our beginning;

in our time, infinity;

in our doubt there is believing;

in our life, eternity.

In our death, a resurrection;

at the last, a victory,

unrevealed until its season,

something God alone can see.

–Natalie Sleeth, 1986

Copyright (1986) Holder = Hope Publishing Company

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The great task of being a light of God to the nations can be dangerous.  Jesus died, for elements of the darkness objected to him.  And a multitude of saints (canonized and otherwise) has died for showing God’s light in the darkness.

Too often I hear of many of my fellow Christians emphasize the death of Jesus so much that they either minimize or ignore his Resurrection.  With the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior we have dead Jesus, one powerless to save anyone from anything.  Of course, given my well-documented tendency toward the Classic Theory of the Atonement (Christus Victor), I emphasize the Resurrection of Jesus.  Death has lost its sting and God has demonstrated power superior to that of evil schemers.  This should encourage one in the difficult and potentially dangerous work of functioning as a light to the nations.  God will sin in the end.  The saints of God will continue to shine for God in the darkness after they die.  The darkness cannot extinguish the light.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 28, 2013 COMMON ERA

THANKSGIVING DAY (U.S.A.)

THE FEAST OF SAINT STEPHEN THE YOUNGER, DEFENDER OF ICONS

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOSEPH PIGNATELLI, RESTORER OF THE JESUITS

THE FEAST OF KAMAHAMEHA AND EMMA, KING AND QUEEN OF HAWAII

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/01/17/light-in-the-darkness-2/

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

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Above:  Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery, by Pieter Brueghel the Elder

Image in the Public Domain

Shame, Blushing, and Forgiveness

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 11, 2020

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The Collect:

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

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

Strengthen our faith in your promises, that by your

Spirit we may lift your life to all the world through

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

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

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 27

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The Assigned Readings:

Ezekiel 36:22-32

Psalm 128

John 7:53-8:11

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The LORD bless you from Zion,

and may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life.

–Psalm 128:5, Book of Common Worship (1993)

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Ezekiel 36:32, in announcing return from exile, says,

I assure you that I am not doing this for your sake–declares the Lord Yahweh.  Be ashamed and blush for your conduct, House of Israel.

The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

This tone differs from that of another Hebrew text:

Can a woman forget her suckling child,

that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?

Even these may forget,

yet I will not forget you.

Behold, I have graven you on the palms of my hands;

your walls are continually before me.

–Isaiah 49:15-16, Revised Standard Version–Second Edition (1971)

Both are true, of course, for God is one of the more interesting and complex characters in the Old Testament.  And yes, there is always ample reason for human blushing and shame.

Some of those who had such reasons brought a woman caught in adultery to Jesus.  This was a trap for him, for these accusers did not seem concerned about the whereabouts of the man with whom she had sinned.  So she was a tool, and her accusers might have permitted the sexual intercourse to occur.  If so, they were also guilty of an offense punishable by death by stoning.  If this was the case, Jesus probably reminded them of that, hence their flight from the scene.

That woman, who had her own reasons for shame and blushing, was also a beloved daughter of God, one whom God would not forget.  Jesus gave her another chance.  We are much like that woman, for we have done terrible things.  Yet God keeps forgiving us.  And grace, although free, is not cheap; it requires much of us.  May we do what grace commands of us.

I wonder what the erst of the unnamed woman’s life was like.  How did the experience change her?  And how did that reality affect those around her?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 25, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SQUANTO, COMPASSIONATE HUMAN BEING

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

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/01/14/shame-blushing-and-forgiveness/

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

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Above:  The Plain of Esdraelon and the Carmel Ridge, Palestine, Ottoman Empire, 1900

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-matpc-01202

The Lineage of Faithful Community

THURSDAY, MARCH 5, 2020

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The Collect:

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

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

Strengthen our faith in your promises, that by your

Spirit we may lift your life to all the world through

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

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

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 27

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 51:1-3

Psalm 121

2 Timothy 1:3-7

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I raise my eyes to the Mountain,

whence will my help come to me?

My help will come from the home of Yahweh,

who made heaven and earth.

He shall not put your foot in the Quagmire,

your guardian shall not slumber.

Indeed he never slumbers nor sleeps,

the guardian of Israel.

Yahweh is your guardian,

Yahweh is your shade,

the Most High is your right hand.

By day the sun

will not strike you

Nor the moon at night.

Yahweh will guard you

from every evil.

He will guard your life.

Yahweh will guard your going and your coming

from now unto eternity.

–Psalm 121, translated by Mitchell Dahood in The Anchor Bible (1970)

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The readings from 2 Timothy and Isaiah remind us of spiritual legacies.  Typical Jewish practice was to speak of the nature of God by retelling what God had done.  Thus we read in Isaiah 51 of Abraham, Sarah, and gracious acts of God in the context of other statements of divine faithfulness, mercy, and judgment.  In my copy of The Revised English Bible (1989), opened to Isaiah 51:1-3, I read of part of Chapter 49, in which God is like a mother who can never forget her child.  And, in 49:26, I read these words:

I shall make your oppressors eat their own flesh,

and they shall be drunk with their own blood

as if with wine,

and all mankind will know

that I the LORD am your Deliverer,

your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.

When the oppressors refuse to cease oppressing, how can the situation be otherwise?

I, drawing from 2 Timothy 1, acknowledge that family inheritance helps explain why I am a Christian.  There is more to it than that, of course, but the family inheritance helps.  I grew up a Christian because of my family, but I remain one because of the person of Jesus of Nazareth.  As I check the lectionary I am following, I note that John 3:1-17 is the assigned Gospel reading to which one strain of these lections is building.  So I notice that 2 Timothy 1, in the context of John 3, ought not to become an excuse to rest on one’s spiritual inheritance.  The epistle confirms the necessity of active faith.

And, as for John 3, the proper English-language term is

born from above,

not

born again.

I, a Christian, have never had a

born again

experience, but I am familiar in my spiritual life with the Roman Catholic-Lutheran-Anglican sense of baptismal regeneration.  I follow Martin Luther’s advice and trust in the promises of God pronounced at baptism.

Psalm 121 speaks of divine protection–in this case, of religious pilgrims.  The Ancients knew of sunstroke, of course, hence one line of the text.  And many of them believed erroneously that the Moon could also be dangerous, hence terms such as

moonstruck

and

lunatic.

God, the psalm says, will protect also from the Moon.  Our fears, whether based in objective reality or not, are real, and we need grace for their alleviation.  May we welcome that grace and act boldly in faithfulness to God.  And may we join or continue in the line of those who have walked with God and bring others to the procession.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 25, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SQUANTO, COMPASSIONATE HUMAN BEING

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

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/01/14/the-lineage-of-faithful-community/

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Thirty-Sixth Day of Lent: Tuesday in Holy Week   27 comments

March 30, 2021

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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Isaiah 49:1-6 (New Revised Standard Version):

Listen to me, O coastlands,

pay attention, you peoples from far away!

The LORD called to me before I was born,

while I was in my mother’s womb he named me.

He made my mouth like a sharp sword,

in the shadow of his hand he hid me;

he made me a polished arrow,

in his quiver he hid me away.

And he said tome,

You are my servant,

Israel, in whom I will be glorified.

But I said,

I have labored in vain,

I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity;

yet surely my cause is with the LORD,

and my reward with my God.

And now the LORD says,

who formed me from the womb to be his servant,

to bring Jacob back to him,

and that Israel might be gathered to him,

for I am honored in the sight of the LORD,

and my God has become my strength–

he says,

It is too light a thing that you should be my servant

to raise up the tribes of Jacob

and to restore the survivors of Israel;

I will give you as a light to the nations,

that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.

1 Corinthians 1:18-31 (New Revised Standard Version):

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  For it is written,

I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,

and the discernment of the of the discerning I will thwart.

Where is the one who is wise?  Where is the scribe?  Where is the debater of this age?  Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?  For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe.  For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.

Consider your own call, brothers and sisters, not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of human birth.  But God chose what was foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God.  He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, in order that, as it is written,

Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.

Psalm 71:1-12 (New Revised Standard Version):

In you, O LORD, I take refuge,

let me never be put to shame.

In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;

incline your ear to me and save me.

Be to me a rock of refuge,

a strong fortress, to save me,

for you are my rock and my fortress.

Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked,

from the grasp of the unjust and cruel.

For you, O Lord, are my hope,

my trust, O LORD, from my youth.

Upon you I have learned from my birth;

it was you who took me from my mother’s womb.

My praise is continually of you.

I have been like a portent to many,

but you are my strong refuge.

My mouth is filled with your praise,

and with your glory all day long.

Do not cast me off in the time of old age;

do not forsake me when my strength is spent.

For my enemies speak concerning me,

and those who watch for my life consult together.

They say,

Pursue and seize that person whom God has forsaken,

for there is no one to deliver.

O God, do not be far from me;

O my God, make haste to help me!

John 12:37-38, 42-50 (New Revised Standard Version):

Although he [Jesus] had performed so many signs in their presence, they did not believe in him.  This was to fulfill the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah:

Lord, who has believed our message,

and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

Nevertheless many, even of the authorities, believed in him.  But because of the Pharisees they did not confess it, for fear that they would be put of the synagogue; for they loved human glory more than the glory that comes from God.

Then Jesus cried aloud:

Whoever believes in me believes not in me but in him who sent me.  And whoever sees me sees him who sent me.  I have come as a light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness.  I do not judge anyone who hears my words and does not keep them, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.  The one rejects me and does not receive my word has a judge; on the last day the word that I have spoken will serve as judge, for I have not spoken on my own, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment about what to say and what to speak.  And I know that his commandment is eternal life.  What I speak, therefore, I speak just as the Father has told me.

OR

Mark 11:15-19 (New Revised Standard Version):

Then they [Jesus and his Apostles] came to Jerusalem.  And he entered the temple and began to drive out all those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves; and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple.  He was teaching and saying,

Is it not written,

‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’?

But you have made it a den of thieves.

And when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching.  And when evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.

The Collect:

O God, by the passion of your blessed Son you made an instrument of shameful death to be for us the means of life: Grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ, that we may gladly suffer shame and loss for the sake of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

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Being a light to the nations entails certain risks.  This is a divine mandate for the Hebrews:  to assume the responsibilities, not just the privileges, of being the Chosen people.   Yet post-exilic Judaism developed some exclusive, legalistic, and xenophobic tendencies.  Jesus disapproved of these, and certain religious authorities despised him.  He understood where some competing traditions of his faith community had gone wrong.

Before we continue, let us eschew anti-Semitism or even a hint of it.

The reason for changing money at the temple was religious.  Devout pilgrims pilgrims purchased sacrificial animals.  Yet Roman currency bore the image of the emperor, whom many considered semi-divine.  Thus Roman coins were technically idols.  So some businessmen converted Roman coinage to non-idolatrous currency which people could purchase sacrificial animals.  They did this for a price and for profit.  They exploited the devout poor, the high priest Caiaphas profited, too, and Jesus knew all of this.  These facts explain his righteous indignation.

Religion should be an instrument of liberation, not exploitation.  And too often religion becomes what Karl Marx called the “opiate of the masses.”  (Marx was correct about some details.)  The Book of Exodus tells of how God freed the Hebrews from slavery.  Over time some expressions of Judaism created many elaborate laws, which only the professional religious persons could keep.  Jesus opposed these legalistic manacles.  And, unfortunately, many Christian sects and denominations have forged new legalistic manacles while praising the name of Jesus.

When will we ever learn?  Will we ever learn?  Or do we doom ourselves?

The relevant truth for this discussion is that we can do nothing to merit the love and affection of God or to make ourselves worthy of God.  Yet God loves us profusely.  Nevertheless, many of us scurry around while trying to assuage God.  We have received some timeless rules, such as loving God fully and loving our neighbors as ourselves–the summary of divine law.  If we focus on the big picture most of the details will fall into place.  Yet many of us focus on the details and violate the spirit of the law.

And we repeat this pattern.

God has spoken repeatedly.  Numerous Hebrew prophets spoke.  Then Jesus came.  May we listen and comprehend.  Then may we act accordingly.

KRT

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

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/02/20/abuses-of-legalism/

Twenty-Fifth Day of Lent   14 comments

A Cat and Her Kittens

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Wednesday, March 17, 2021

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

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Follow the assigned readings with me this Lent….

Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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Isaiah 49:7-15 (TANAKH: The Holy Scriptures):

Thus says the LORD,

The Redeemer of Israel, the Holy One,

To the despised one,

To the abhorred nations,

To the slave of rulers:

Kings shall see and stand up;

Nobles, and they shall prostrate themselves–

To the honor of the LORD, who is faithful,

To the Holy One of Israel who chose you.

Thus said the LORD:

In an hour of favor I answer you,

And on a day of salvation I help you–

I created you and appointed you a covenant people–

Restoring the land,

Allotting anew the desolate holdings,

Saying to the prisoners, “Go free,”

To those who are in darkness, “Show yourselves.”

They shall pasture along the roads,

On every bare height shall be their pasture.

They shall not hunger of thirst,

Hot wind and sun shall not strike them;

He will guide them to springs of water.

I will make all My mountains a road,

And My highways shall be built up.

Look! These are coming from afar,

These from the north and the west,

And these from the land of Sinim.

Shout, O heavens, and rejoice, O earth!

Break into shouting, O hills!

For the LORD has comforted His people,

And has taken back His afflicted ones in love.

Zion says,

The LORD has forsaken me,

My Lord has forgotten me.

Can a woman forget her baby,

Or disown the child of her womb?

Though she might forget,

I never could forget you.

Psalm 145:8-18 (TANAKH: The Holy Scriptures):

The LORD is gracious and compassionate,

slow to anger and abounding in kindness.

The LORD is good to all,

and His mercy is upon all His works.

All Your works shall praise You, O LORD,

and Your faithful ones shall bless You.

They shall talk of the majesty of Your kingship,

and speak of Your might,

to make His mighty acts known among men

and the majestic glory of His kingship.

Your kingship is an eternal kingship;

Your dominion is for all generations.

The LORD supports all who stumble,

and makes all who are bent stand straight.

The eyes of all look to You expectantly,

and You give them their food when it is due.

You give it openhandedly,

feeding every creature to its heart’s content.

The LORD is beneficent in all His ways

and faithful in all His works.

The LORD is near to all who call Him,

to all who call Him with sincerity.

John 5:19-29 (The New Testament in Modern English–Revised Edition):

Jesus therefore said to them [some Jews],

I solemnly assure you that the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing.  For whatever the Father does the Son does the same.  For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything that he does himself.  Yes, and he will show him even greater things than these to fill you with wonder.  For just as the Father raises the dead and makes them live, so does the Son give life to any man he chooses.  The Father is no man’ s judge; he has put judgment entirely in the Son’s hands, so that all men may honour the Son equally with the Father.  The man who does not honour the Son does not honour the Father who sent him.  I solemnly assure you that the man who hears what I have to say and believes in the one who has sent me has eternal life.  He does not have to face judgment; he has already passed from death into life.  Yes, I assure you that a time is coming, in fact has already come, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who have heard it will live!  For just as the Father has life in himself, so by the Father’s gift, the Son also has live in himself.  And he has given him authority to judge because he is Son of Man.  No, do not be surprised–the time is coming when all those who are dead and buried will hear his voice and they will come–those who have done right will rise again to life, but those who have done wrong will rise to face judgment!

The Collect:

O Lord our God, you sustained your ancient people in the wilderness with bread from heaven: Feed now your pilgrim flock with the food that endures to everlasting life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

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My theme this day is eternal life.

In the reading handed down by (Second) Isaiah exile of Judah is nearing its end.  And God expresses love and forgiveness for the descendants of those who went into exile.  The dominant (and retrospective) theology of much of the Hebrew Bible is that sin led to exiles.  God has forgiven the people, and is pulling strings to bring about a resettlement in the homeland.  I love the concluding words:  “I never could forget you.”

This day’s reading from John follows directly on the heels of the previous day’s gospel lection.  (And the next day’s reading from John will follow this one immediately.)  So, recall that Jesus had just healed a man on the Sabbath, and received criticism because of his timing.  Then he referred to God as his Father, which some construed as blasphemy.  Who did Jesus think he was, to speak of God in such familiar (and equal) terms?

He was (and is) the Second Person of the Trinity.  And his authority flows from the First Person.

Verse 24 uses the term “eternal life.”  In verse 24 anyone who internalizes the teachings of Jesus and trusts in God has eternal life.  This is the present tense, not the future tense.  This is consistent with John 17:3:  “And this is eternal life, to know you, the only true God, and him whom you have sent–Jesus Christ.”

Father Raymond E. Brown, the Roman Catholic priest and great Bible scholar, wrote two thick volumes on the Gospel of John for The Anchor Bible series.  His first volume contains appendices, one of which includes a detailed explanation of eternal life on pages 505-508.  Anyone who wishes to read Brown’s analysis in full should consult those pages.  The essence follows:  Eternal life is “the life by which God Himself lives, and which the Son of God possesses from the Father.”  The Son became incarnate to give eternal life to human beings.  The Holy Spirit, which can be given only after the Son has conquered death, breathes eternal life after the Son has conquered death.  Before that happened, Jesus breathed eternal life in person.  Eternal life is associated with the waters of baptism and nourished by the body and blood of Jesus received during the Holy Eucharist.  Eternal life begins during this natural life and continues after natural life ends.  Thus eternal life is not everlasting life.

Being a stickler for details, such as definitions, I chafe when I hear people say “eternal”  and “eternity” when they mean “everlasting.” Hell is everlasting, but Heaven is eternal.

Think about this:  There is no eternal life apart from God.  There is no eternity apart from God.  God cannot forget us; may we not forget God.

KRT

Written on March 1, 2010

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/eternal-life/