Archive for the ‘John 14’ Tag

Devotion for Pentecost, Year C (Humes)   1 comment

Above:  Pentecost Dove

Scanned from a Bulletin, Saint Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia

The Spirit of Truth

MAY 23, 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:

Joel 2:21-32

Psalm 104:24-34, 35b

Acts 2:1-21

John 14:8-17, 25-27


John 14:8-17, 25-27 is the only one of the four readings not common to Pentecost on all four years of the Humes lectionary.  I choose, therefore, to focus on that lesson in this post.

The Jesus of the Synoptic Gospels acts more and speaks less.  The Jesus of the Johannine Gospel, however, speaks more and acts less.  Therefore, we have chapter upon chapter of material, in the mouth of Jesus, addressing his Apostles during Holy Week.  The setting of John 14 is the Wednesday of Holy Week, after the Last Supper.  (Yes, in the Gospel of John, Jesus was the Passover Lamb, crucified on Thursday, the day of Passover, as sacrificial animals went to death at the Temple.)  We read that Jesus was about to go away, but that the Apostles would not be alone.   The Holy Spirit would teach them in Christ’s absence and give them divine peace.

I am cautious about any attempt to parse the Trinity, for I do not want to commit a Trinitarian heresy.  The Trinity is a great and glorious mystery; I prefer to treat it as such.  Nevertheless, I affirm that remains active in the world.  The label for God, active in the world, is the Holy Spirit, in Christian theology.  The same Holy Spirit available to those Apostles remains available to all of us.

Happy Pentecost!











Devotion for Easter Sunday (Ackerman)   1 comment

Books and a Globe, from the Library, St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia, June 9, 2017

Photograph by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

God’s Work, Our Task

APRIL 17, 2022


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:

2 Kings 4:18-20, 32-37

Isaiah 52:1-2

Acts 13:26-31

Mark 16:9-20


In the lessons for this day, we read of different forms of death and resurrection to life.

The Shunammite widow’s son was essential to her well-being in that patriarchal society, in which widows and orphans were particularly vulnerable.  The revivification of the son by God via the prophet Elisha was for the benefit of both mother and son.

The death of the Kingdom of Judah and the ensuing Babylonian Exile was traumatic.  The exile did end, however, albeit without the restoration of the kingdom.  Indeed, the realities of life after the conclusion of the exile did not march the promises recorded in scripture.  The Jews lived under foreign rule in a poor province, after all.  Eventually Judea experienced independence for about a century, but then the Romans came.  The Jews of Palestine lived in exile at home.

The resurrection of Jesus was a game changer.  Without it we Christians would have a dead Jesus and would be the most pitiable people anywhere (1 Corinthians 15:19).  Yet Jesus did not remain on the Earth for long afterward.  No, he gave his followers a mandate.

The work of God is properly our task as human beings.  We have orders to love sacrificially, build each other up, and care for each other’s needs.  We have commands to share the good news of the Incarnation via Jesus and of his saving life, death, and resurrection.  I do not pretend to grasp the full meaning of Jesus being the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6), but I affirm that the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus play crucial parts in that truth.

May we, by grace, being glory to God, draw people to Christ, and strengthen others in their faith.







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

Anna at the Presentation of Jesus--Giotto

Above:  Anna at the Presentation of Jesus, by Giotto

Image in the Public Domain

Divine Consolation

MAY 25, 2022


The Collect:

Beautiful God, you gather your people into your realm,

and you promise us food from your tree of life.

Nourish us with your word, that empowered by your Spirit

we may love one another and the world you have made,

through Jesus Christ, your Son and our Lord, who lives and reigns

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

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 34


The Assigned Readings:

2 Chronicles 34:20-33

Psalm 93

Luke 2:25-38


The LORD is King;

he has put on splendid apparel;

the LORD has put on his apparel

and girded himself with strength.

He has made the whole world so sure

that it cannot be moved;

Ever since the world began, your throne has been established;

you are from everlasting.

The waters have lifted up, O LORD,

the waters have lifted up their voice;

the waters have lifted up their pounding waves.

Mightier than the sound of many waters,

mightier than the breakers of the sea,

mightier is the LORD who dwells on high.

Your testimonies are very sure,

and holiness adorns your house, O LORD,

for ever and for evermore.

–Psalm 93, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)


Humility before God, whose testimonies are sure, is a virtue.  In the main two readings for this day we encounter five people who were humble before God:

  • King Josiah of Judah (reigned 640-609 B.C.E.), who instigated religious reforms consistent with the Book of Deuteronomy,
  • Saints Mary and Joseph of Nazareth, who raised Jesus in an observant Jewish home, and
  • Saints Simeon and Anna the Prophetess, who testified regarding the infant Jesus.

As Father Raymond E. Brown pointed out in The Birth of the Messiah (Updated Edition, 1993), the law and the prophets framed birth and infancy of Jesus.  The Lukan language alluded to Isaiah 40:1 and 66:12-13, with their references to the consolation (paraklesis in Greek and parakalein in Hebrew, sounding like paraclete) of Israel.  Sts. Joseph and Mary obeyed legal customs.  Two prophets attested to our Lord and Savior’s bona fides, but only one prophet affirmed St. John the Baptist in Luke 1:67-79.  St. Anna the Prophetess looked for the redemption of Jerusalem, echoing Isaiah 52:9 (The Revised English Bible, 1989):

Break forth together into shouts of joy,

you ruins of Jerusalem;

for the LORD has comforted his people,

he has redeemed Jerusalem.

The author of the Gospel of Luke understood the life of Jesus as fitting neatly into a much longer narrative of consolation and redemption.  His subtle word choices helped to establish connections with subsequent texts, such as John 14:15f, in which Jesus promised that God the Father would send another Paraclete–Comforter, Counselor, and Advocate–the Holy Spirit, simply put.

Consolation is among the most frequent reasons many people seek God.  This makes sense to me.  The quest for comfort recurs throughout the Bible, especially in the Book of Psalms, because of the ubiquity of distress.  Turning to God might not end one’s distress, but it does provide one with a means of coping with it.  If we love God, we will obey divine commandments.  This might lead to suffering (John 15:18-27), but at least the Holy Spirit will be present with us during our ordeals.  There is much consolation in that.









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

Lion and Lamb

Above:  The Lion and the Lamb

An image I have found on several websites, never with any notice of restrictions


MAY 5, 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 65:17-25

Psalm 80

John 14:18-31


Restore us, O God of hosts,

show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.

–Psalm 80:7, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)


The context for John 14 is the impending death of Jesus.  Nevertheless, we have these words attributed to Jesus:

Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.

–Verse 27b, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

The reason for such calm is confidence in God.  That verse comes from a portion of the Johannine Gospel in which Jesus promises the Holy Spirit, which, of course, has arrived–long ago from my temporal point of view yet after the setting of that passage.

Unrealized as of yet is the promise of the new creation in Isaiah 65:17-25.  O, that the world were as the pericope describes!  Nevertheless, I understand that God’s schedule is not mine.  God is not late; we are impatient.

We have the joy of witnessing the fulfillment of some of God’s promises yet have to wait for others.  May we remain faithful as we wrestle with doubts and fears.  May we emerge faithful on the other side of uncertainty and frustration.  May well-placed trust in God be the final word.







Devotion for the Thirty-Third, Thirty-Fourth, and Thirty-Fifth Days of Easter, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   3 comments


Above:  The New Jerusalem

Image in the Public Domain

And the Sea Was No More



The Collect:

Almighty and ever-living God,

you hold together all things in heaven and on earth.

In your great mercy, receive the prayers of all your children,

and give to all the world the Spirit of your truth and peace,

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 34


The Assigned Readings:

Genesis 6:5-22 (33rd Day)

Genesis 7:1-24 (34th Day)

Genesis 8:13-19 (35th Day)

Psalm 66:8-20 (All Days)

Acts 27:1-12 (33rd Day)

Acts 27:13-38 (34th Day)

John 14:27-29 (35th Day)


You let enemies ride over our heads;

we went through fire and water;

but you brought us into a place of refreshment.

–Psalm 66:12, Book of Common Worship (1993)


Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.

–Revelation 21:1, Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition (2002)


Water can be scary, for it has the potential to destroy much property and end lives.  In much of the Bible water signifies chaos.  The first creation myth (Genesis 1:1-2:4a), actually not as old as the one which follows it, depicts a watery chaos as the foundation of an ordered, flat earth with a dome over it.  The lections from Genesis 6-8, being the union of of various texts (as evident in late Chapter 6 and early Chapter 7 with regard to the number of animals to take aboard the Ark), is a composite myth in which water is a force of divine destruction and recreation.  And the water is something to fear in Acts 27.  It is no accident that, in Revelation 21, the New Jerusalem has no sea; the city is free of chaos.

Professor Amy-Jill Levine, in her Teaching Company course, The Old Testament (2001), says that she does not like Noah.  He, in the story, could have tried to save lives if he had argued with God, as Abraham did, she says.  Maybe she has a valid point.  It is certainly one nobody broached in my juvenile or adult Sunday School classes, for my first encounter with the idea came via DVD recently.  Yet the story which the Biblical editor wanted us to hear was one of God’s covenant with Noah.

That theme of covenant fits well with the calm and confidence of St. Paul the Apostle en route to Rome.  He had a legal case arising from preaching (Acts 21:27 forward).  The Apostle had exercised his right as a Roman citizen to appeal directly to the Emperor (Acts 25:11).  Yet Herod Agrippa II (reigned 50-100), a client ruler of the Roman Empire, had stated that the Apostle could have gone free if he had not appealed to the Emperor (Acts 26:32), who, unfortunately, was Nero.  Anyhow, Paul’s calm and confidence during the storm on the Mediterranean Sea, with the danger on board the ship, came from a positive spiritual place.

That peace is the kind which Jesus bequeaths to us and which the world cannot give.  That peace is the sort which enables one to remain properly–seemingly foolishly, to some–confident during daunting times.  That peace carries one through the chaotic waters and the spiritual wilderness until one arrives at the New Jerusalem.  That peace is available via grace.








Thirty-Sixth Day of Easter: Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year C   15 comments

Above:  Shadow Vessels from Babylon 5:  Shadow Dancing (1996)

(Image courtesy of PowerDVD and a legal DVD)

What Do You Want?

MAY 22, 2022



Acts 16:9-15 (Revised English Bible):

During the night a vision came to Paul: a Macedonian stood there appealing to him,

Cross over to Macedonia and help us.

As soon as he had seen this vision, we set about getting a passage to Macedonia, convinced that God had called us to take the good news there.

We sailed from Troas and made a straight run to Samothrace, the next day a Neapolis, and there to Philippi, a leading city in that district of Macedonia and a Roman colony.  Here we stayed for some days, and on the sabbath we went outside the city gate by the riverside, where we thought there would be a place of prayer; we sat down and talked to the women who had gathered there.  One of those listening was called Lydia, a dealer in purple fabric, who came from the city of Thyatira; she was a worshipper of God, and the Lord opened her heart to respond to what Paul said.  She was baptized, and her household with her, and then she urged us,

Now that you have accepted me as a believer in the Lord, come and stay at my house.

And she insisted on our going.


Psalm 67 (Revised English Bible):

May God be gracious to us and bless us,

may he cause his face to shine on us,

that your purpose may be known on earth,

your saving power among all nations.

Let the peoples praise you, God;

let all peoples praise you.

Let nations rejoice and shout in triumph;

for you judge the peoples with equity

and guide the nations of the earth.

Let all the peoples praise you, God;

let all the peoples praise you.

The earth has yielded its harvest.

May God, our God, bless us.

God grant us his blessing,

that all the ends of the earth may fear him.


Revelation 21:10, 22-22:5 (New Revised Standard Version):

In the spirit the angel carried me away to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God.

I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. Its gates will never be shut by day– and there will be no night there. People will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.


John 14:23-29 (New Revised Standard Version):

Jesus said to Judas (not Iscariot),

Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.

I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, “I am going away, and I am coming to you.” If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe.


John 5:1-9 (The New Testament in Modern English–Revised Edition):

Some time later came one of the Jewish feast-days and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.  There in in Jerusalem near the sheep-pens a pool surrounded by five arches, which has the Hebrew name of Bethzatha.  Under these arches a great many sick people were in the habit of lying; some of them were blind, some lame, an some had withered limbs.  (They used to wait there for the “moving of the water,” for a certain times an angel used to come down into the pool and disturb the water, and then the first person who stepped into the water after the disturbance would be healed of whatever he was suffering from.)  One particular man had been there ill for thirty-eight years.  When Jesus saw him lying there on his back–knowing that he had been like that for a long time, he said to him,

Do you want to get well again?

The sick man replied,

Sir, I haven’t got anybody to put me into the pool when the water is all stirred up.  While I’m trying to get there somebody else gets into it first.

Jesus said,

Get up, pick up your bed and walk!

At once the man recovered, picked up his bed and began to walk.

This happened on a Sabbath day….

The Collect:

O God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as surpass our understanding: Pour into our hearts such love towards you, that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Some Related Posts:

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

Prayer of Dedication:

 Babylon 5:  Shadow Dancing (1996):

Feast of Sts. Lydia, Dorcas, and Phoebe, Holy Women (January 29):


In the 1994-1998 science fiction series Babylon 5, set from 2258 to 2262, there are two ancient and rival species:  The Vorlons and the Shadows.  The Vorlons, lords of order, ask

Who are you?

The Shadows, agents of destruction, ask

What do you want?

As series creator J. Michael Straczynski has said during episode commentaries of DVD,

You have to know who you are before you can know what you want.

Also, what one wants says much about who one is.

What do we want?  Do we want to be well after having been ill for a long time?  Being well would change daily life.  Are we prepared for those new challenges?  At least being ill is familiar.

What do we want?  Do we want to be faithful to God?  If this leads to persecution, even martyrdom, are we prepared to pay the cost of discipleship?

What do we want?  Do we want God’s rule on earth?  Or do we benefit from the messed-up, human-created reality?

What does what we want reveal about who we are?  And we cannot not decide, as a poster says.  So we will make decisions, which will have consequences for ourselves and others.  Who we are matters greatly, as does what we want.








Thirty-Sixth Day of Easter: Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year A   18 comments

Above:  A Depiction of the Holy Spirit as a Dove (from St. Charles’s Church, Vienna, Austria)

If You Love Jesus…

MAY 17, 2020


Acts 17:22-31 (New Revised Standard Version):

Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said,

Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him– though indeed he is not far from each one of us. For `In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said,

For we too are his offspring.

Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.

Psalm 66:8-20 (New Revised Standard Version):

Bless our God, O peoples,

let the sound of his praise be heard,

who has kept us among the living,

and has not let our feet slip.

For you, O God, have tested us;

you have tried us as silver is tried.

You brought us into the net;

you laid burdens on our backs;

you let people ride over our heads;

we went through fire and through water;

yet you have brought us out of a spacious place.

I will come into your house with burnt offerings;

I will pay you my vows,

those that my lips uttered

and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.

I will offer to you burnt offerings of fatlings,

with the smoke of the sacrifice of rams;

I will make an offering of bulls and goats.

Come and hear, all you who fear God,

and I will tell what he has done for me.

I cried aloud to him,

and he was extolled with my tongue.

If I had cherished iniquity in my heart,

the Lord would not have listened.

But truly God has listened;

he has given heed to the words of my prayer.

Blessed by God,

because he has not rejected my prayer

or removed his steadfast love from me.

1 Peter 3:13-22 (New Revised Standard Version):

Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God’s will, than to suffer for doing evil. For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you– not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.

John 14:15-21 (New Revised Standard Version):

Jesus said to his disciples,

If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.

I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.

The Collect:

O God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as surpass our understanding: Pour into our hearts such love towards you, that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


We cannot love God, whom we cannot see, unless first we love our fellow human beings, whom we can see.  This is an old standard, one I use to determine whether an action one commits in the name of God is consistent with God.

And what is the standard of love, which many older translations render as charity?  The answer to that question comes from the Apostle Paul, who wrote the following in 1 Corinthians 13, as the Confraternity Version (1941) renders it:

And I point out to you a yet more excellent way.  If I should speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have charity, I have become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.  And I have prophecy and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith as to remove mountains, yet do not have charity, I am nothing.  And if I distribute all my goods to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, yet do not have charity, it profits me nothing.

Charity is patient, is kind; charity does not envy, is not pretentious, is not puffed up, is not ambitious, is not self-seeking, is not provoked; thinks no evil, does not rejoice over wickedness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Charity never fails, whereas prophecies will disappear, and tongues will cease, and knowledge will be disappeared.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when that which is perfect has come, that which is imperfect will be done away with.  When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I spoke as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child.  Now that I have become a man, I have put away the things of a child.  We now see through a mirror in an obscure manner, but then face to face.  Now I know in part, but then I shall know even as I have been known.  So there abide faith, hope, and charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

So, when I read about people killing their daughters for become pregnant outside of wedlock or their sons for watching soccer matches on television then quoting back religion to justify murder, I believe these acts are inconsistent with God, who is love.  Such love, or charity, if you prefer that translation, can take the form of tough love sometimes.  I recognize this fact readily.  Yet it can never become manifest as an honor killing.

May we love each other actively, emphasizing the benefits to the others around us.

Note where we are in the Easter season with this post.  There are two weeks left the season, which ends with the Day of Pentecost.  The designers of the Revised Common Lectionary have placed this Gospel reading on this day to start the short countdown to Pentecost.  This example demonstrates one strength of a lectionary, for organization is an advantage in planning the Christian year.


Written on June 20, 2010

Thirty-First Day of Easter   10 comments

Christ Pantocrator

Let Us Be On Our Way

May 17, 2022


Acts 14:19-28 (Revised English Bible):

Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came on the scene and won over the crowds.  They stoned Paul, and dragged him out of the city, thinking him dead.  The disciples formed a ring around him, and he got to his feet and went into the city.  Next day he left with Barnabas for Derbe.

After bringing the good news to that town and gaining many converts, they returned to Lystra, then to Iconium, and then to Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to be true to the faith.  They warned them that to enter the kingdom of God we must undergo many hardships.  They also appointed for them elders in each congregation, and with prayer and fasting committed them to the Lord in whom they had put their trust.

They passed through Pisidia and came into Pamphylia.  When they had delivered the message at Perga, they went down to Attalia, and from there sailed to Antioch, where they had originally been commended to the grace of God for the task which they had now completed.  On arrival there, they called the congregation together and reported all that God had accomplished through them, and how he had thrown open the gates of faith to the Gentiles.  And they stayed for some time with the disciples there.

Psalm 145:8-13 (Revised English Bible):

The LORD is gracious and compassionate,

long-suffering and ever faithful.

The LORD is good to all;

his compassion rests upon all his creatures.

All your creatures praise you, LORD,

and your loyal servants bless you.

They talk of the glory of your kingdom

and tell of your might,

to make known to mankind your mighty deeds,

the glorious majesty of your kingdom.

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,

as your dominion endures throughout all generations.

John 14:27-31 (Anchor Bible):

[Jesus continued,]

‘Peace’ is my farewell to you.  My ‘peace’ is my gift to you, and I do not give it to you as the world gives it.  Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be fearful.  You have heard me tell you, ‘I am going away,’ and ‘I am coming back to you.’  If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.  But now, I have told you even before it happens so that, when it does happen, you may believe.  I shall no longer speak [much] with you, for the Prince of the world is coming.  Actually, he has no hold on me; but the world must recognize that I love the Father and that I do exactly as the Father has commanded me.  Get up!  Let us leave her and be on our way.

The Collect:

O God, you continually increase your Church by the birth of new sons and daughters in Baptism:  Grant that they may be obedient all the days of their life to the rule of faith which they received in that Sacrament; through Jesus Christ our Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.


As you read this devotion know that I wrote in on the evening of Good Friday 2010.  The material is appropriate to that date.  Paul’s evangelistic work put his life at risk, and Jesus was near to his arrest before the crucifixion.  Yet Paul continued with his work and Jesus went along to his fate (but not before speaking at length even more, as John liked to depict him doing).

The Johannine narrative of Jesus has him comforting his apostles, telling them not to let their hearts be troubled, shortly before his apprehension, torture, and execution.  The Jesus of John’s Gospel is in control; he is I AM.  I would be fearful if the might of the Roman Empire were about to fall upon me, and that fear would be rational, given the Empire’s history to that time.  Yet all these facts contribute the power of the Johannine depiction of Jesus.

And the Apostle Paul, after a stoning and near-death, continued with his work.  I might think after a stoning that I would need to find another line of work–something less dangerous–but Paul was a different character.  (Aren’t you glad Paul had as much perseverance as he did?)  Paul rose (with help from his fellow Christians) and went on his way.  Jesus rose and went on his way (with his apostles).  Each person has a vocation or set of vocations from God at any given moment.  When we experience difficulty because of our faithfulness to them we need to gather our strength then rise and go on our way, not give up.  And the support of religious fellow travelers, if available, proves helpful in the journey of faith.


Published originally at SUNDRY THOUGHTS OF KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on April 6, 2010

Posted October 29, 2010 by neatnik2009 in 2022, Episcopal Church Lectionary, May 17

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Thirtieth Day of Easter   12 comments

Ancient Site of Lystra, 1913

The Ancient Site of Lystra, 1913

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-USZ62-138548

Breaking Bad Spiritual Habits

May 16, 2022


Acts 14:1-18 (Revised English Bible):

At Iconium they [Paul and Barnabas] went together into the Jewish synagogue and spoke to such purpose that Jews and Greeks in large numbers became believers.  But the unconverted Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the Christians.  So Paul and Barnabas stayed on for some time, and spoke boldly and openly in reliance on the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to work signs and miracles.  The populace was divided, some siding with the Jews, others with the apostles.  A move was made by Gentiles and Jews together, with the connivance of the city authorities, to maltreat them and stone them, and when they became aware of this, they made their escape to the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe and the continuing country.  There they continued to spread the good news.

At Lystra a cripple, lame from birth, who had never walked in his life, sat listening to Paul as he spoke.  Paul fixed his eyes on him and, and seeing that he had the faith to be cured, said in a loud voice,

Stand up straight on your feet;

and he sprang up and began to walk.  When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they shouted, in their native Lycaonian,

The gods have come down to us in human form!

They called Barnabas Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes, because he was the spokesman.  The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, and he and the people were about to offer sacrifice.

But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their clothes and rushed into the crowd, shouting,

Men, why are you doing this?  We are human beings, just like you.  The good news we bring tells you to turn from these follies to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them.  In past ages he has allowed all nations to go their own way; and yet he has not left you without some clue to his nature, in the benefits he bestows: he sends you rain from heaven and the crops in their seasons, and gives you food in plenty and keeps you in good heart.

Even with these words they barely managed to prevent the crowd from offering sacrifice to them.

Psalm 115:1-13 (Revised English Bible):

Not to us, LORD, not to us,

but to your name give glory

for your love, for your faithfulness!

Why should the nations ask,

Where, then, is their God?

Our God is high in heaven;

he does whatever he wills.

Their idols are silver and gold,

made by human hands.

They have mouths, but cannot speak,

eyes, but cannot see;

they have ears, but cannot hear,

nostrils, but cannot smell;

with their hands they cannot feel,

and their feet they cannot walk,

and no sound comes from their throats.

Their makers become like them,

and so do all who put their trust in them.

But Israel trusts in the LORD:

he is their help and their shield.

The house of Aaron trusts in the LORD:

he is their help and their shield.

Those who fear the LORD trust in the LORD:

he is their help and their shield.

The LORD who has been mindful of us will bless us,

he will bless the house of Israel,

he will bless the house of Aaron.

The LORD will bless those who fear him,

both high and low.

John 14:15-26 (Anchor Bible):

[Jesus said,]

If you love me and keep my commandments, then at my request the Father will give you another Paraclete to be with you forever.  He is the Spirit of Truth whom the world cannot accept since it neither sees nor recognizes him; but you do recognize him since he remains with you and is within you.  I shall not leave you orphans; I am coming back to you.  In just a little while the world will not see me any more; but you will see me because I have life and you will have life.  On that day you will recognize that I am in the Father, and you are in me, and I in you.  Whoever keeps the commandments that he has from me is the man who loves me; and the man who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I shall love him and reveal myself to him.

Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said,

Lord, what can have happened that you are going to reveal yourself to us and not to the world?

Jesus answered,

If anyone loves me, we will keep my word.  Then my Father will love him, and we shall come to him and make our dwelling place with him.  Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word that you hear is not my own but comes from the Father who sent me.  I have said this to you while I am still with you.  But the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, that the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you [myself].

The Collect:

O Lord, you have given us the grace to know the resurrection of your Son:  Grant that the Holy Spirit, by his love, may raise us to newness of life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.


We human beings, regardless of our cultural, religious, and educational backgrounds, regard and think of what we can see and cannot see in human terms.  That is our frame of reference.  This is not a spiritual problem if we recognize that we must think in metaphors, and that these metaphors point to a higher reality.  Thus we Christians have inherited theological language of God the Father and the God the Son, for example.  These metaphors are beautiful and meaningful, but they are merely metaphors.  I am not attached to them in any negative or positive way, preferring to refer to God only as “you” in private prayer, yet I do not object to praying corporately to “God the Father” and “God the Son.”  Also, inclusive language comes in two forms:  good and bad.  Bad inclusive language sounds eerily like a boring job description.

Whatever the ultimate nature of God is, human metaphors can describe it only partially.

To overcome learned religion can be difficult, as it was for those who thought Paul and Barnabas as Zeus and Hermes incarnate.  Polytheism is ancient, and practiced Monotheism is a relatively recent development.  The deification of aspects of nature and divinity as anthropomorphic figures has been a frequent practice, and remains commonplace in the world today.  To their credit, Paul and Barnabas gave glory to the one and only God, but their audience did not grasp their message.

The season of Easter lasts for fifty days.  Day Number Fifty is Pentecost, a foreshadowing of which we receive in this day’s reading from John.  Through the Holy Spirit we can understand great spiritual truths.  So, however we think of God metaphorically, we can relate on some level (only with divine help) to God.  Some basic spiritual lessons pertain to keeping the commandments of Jesus, maintaining good practices, ceasing bad practices, and understanding the differences between people and God.  These are not merely private and individual.   No, they have social implications.  (One major fault with certain varieties of Protestantism is focusing on individuals at the expense or to the exclusion of society.)

So, what is God saying to you?  What will God say to you?  And how will these messages change you and lead you to have an impact on your community and/or society?  Society is not an abstraction; it consists of individuals.  People can change it, and many have, for both good and ill.  So I challenge you to listen to God and leave society better than you found it.  And you can start by distinguishing between good habits and bad habits then resisting the bad and turning toward the good.  Only the one God, whose nature exceeds any metaphor, can guide us in this quest.


Published originally at SUNDRY THOUGHTS OF KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on April 6, 2010

Posted October 29, 2010 by neatnik2009 in 2022, Episcopal Church Lectionary, May 16

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Twenty-Ninth Day of Easter: Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year A   15 comments

“Do not let your hearts be troubled….”–Jesus

MAY 10, 2020


Acts 7:55-60 (New Revised Standard Version):

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Stephen gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.


he said,

I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!

But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him. Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed,

Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.

Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice,

Lord, do not hold this sin against them.

When he had said this, he died.

Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16 (New Revised Standard Version):

In you, O LORD, I seek refuge;

so not let me ever be put to shame;

in your righteousness deliver me.

Incline your ear to me;

rescue me speedily.

Be a rock of refuge for me,

a strong fortress to save me.

You are indeed my rock and my fortress;

for your name’s sake lead me and guide me,

take me out of the net that is hidden for me,

for you are my refuge.

Into your hand I commit my spirit;

you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.

My times are in your hand;

deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors.

Let your face shine upon your servant;

save me in your steadfast love.

1 Peter 2:2-10 (New Revised Standard Version):

Rid yourselves, therefore, of all malice, and all guile, insincerity, envy, and all slander.  Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation–if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  For it stands in scripture:

See, I am laying in Zion a stone,

a cornerstone chosen and precious;

and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.

To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those who do not believe,

The stone that the builders rejected

has become the head of the corner,


A stone that makes them stumble,

and a rock that makes them fall.

They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Once you were not a people,

but now you are God’s people;

once you had not received mercy,

but now you have received mercy.

John 14:1-14 (New Revised Standard Version):

Jesus said,

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.

Thomas said to him,

Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?

Jesus said to him,

I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.

Philip said to him,

Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.

Jesus said to him,

Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.

The Collect:

Almighty God, whom truly to know is everlasting life: Grant us so perfectly to know your Son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life, that we may steadfastly follow his steps in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


The Authorized Version of the Bible translates “dwelling places” from John 14:2 as “mansions.”  This is a poor translation, for, depending on the scholar one consults, the reference in Greek can have three possible meanings:

1.  There are “many rooms” (as the New International Version renders the text).  The location of one’s room in the afterlife depends on one’s life:  good for good and evil for evil.  Some Jewish literature of the time contained this idea.

2.  There is a series of roadside rooms where a traveler sleeps overnight before rising the next morning and going on his or her way.  So there are stages of one’s spiritual journey, even in Heaven.

3.  There are many rooms in God’s house, with plenty of room for everybody.

I like #2.  But who knows, really?  The main idea we should remember that Jesus is central to this afterlife.

Let us remember, too, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”  Given the literary context within the Johannine Gospel, Jesus had many reasons to be troubled.  And yet he said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”  And Paul the Apostle endured his share of difficulties after become a Christian and evangelist.  Yet the epistles he wrote and dictated reflect a deep and abiding faith, great determination, and moments of frustration and pique, but not a greatly troubled heart.

I was a student at Valdosta State University and a member of Christ Episcopal Church, Valdosta, Georgia, from 1993 to 1996.  One day I attended the funeral for Deacon Stella Clark’s son.  I arrived at the church just before the funeral, for I chose not to skip a class meeting.  The church was full, so I had to sit in the Parish Hall and listen to the service on a speaker.  I recall Stella reading the Gospel, which began “Do not let your hearts be troubled…,” her voice breaking.  That was great faith indeed.  During that service she administered communion, the bread of life, to me.

Life contains the good and the bad, the joyous and the excruciating, and all degrees in the middle.  Through it all we are not alone, no matter how much we feel that way.  Experience has taught me that grace is most noticeable when the need for it is greatest.  So I carry meaningful memories related to traumatic times.  I rejoice in the great joy during those troubled times and thank God for the spiritual growth which has flowed from them, but take no delight in those times themselves.  And I have learned more deeply the truth of “Do not let your hearts be troubled….”  This is a lesson one can learn only by living.


Published originally at SUNDRY THOUGHTS OF KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on June 20, 2010

Posted October 29, 2010 by neatnik2009 in May 10, Revised Common Lectionary Year A

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