Archive for the ‘John 20’ Tag

Devotion for Easter Sunday Evening (Year D)   1 comment

icon-of-the-resurrection

Above:  Icon of the Resurrection

Image in the Public Domain

Christ, Violence, and Love

APRIL 12, 2020

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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:

Exodus 34:27-28 (29-35) or Deuteronomy 9:8-21

Psalms 71:15-24 or Psalm 75 or Psalm 76

John 21:20-25 or Luke 24:36-49 or John 20:19-31

2 Corinthians 3:7-11 (4:16-5:1) 5:2-5 (6-10) or Revelation 1:1-3 (4-8) 9-20

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Once again we read of the coexistence of divine judgment and mercy.  This time the emphasis is on mercy, given the context of the assigned lessons.  The bleakest reading comes from Genesis 34, where we learn of two brothers committing violence (including honor killings) in reaction to either the rape of their sister (Dinah) by a foreign man or to her consensual non-marital sexual relations with a foreigner.  This story contrasts with the crucifixion of Jesus, in which those complicit in that act of violence unambiguously targeted an innocent man.

We who call ourselves Christians have a responsibility to follow Jesus–Christ crucified, as St. Paul the Apostle wrote.  St. Paul, as Saul of Tarsus, had approved of the execution of at least one Christian, St. Stephen (Acts 7:54-8:1a).  Saul of Tarsus had also dragged other Christians to prison (Acts 8:1b-3).

We who call ourselves Christians also have a responsibility to follow Jesus, the resurrected one.  May we die to our sins.  May we die to our desires to commit or condone violence against those we find inconvenient and/or who threaten our psychological safety zones.  May we die to the desire to repay evil for evil.  May we die to the thirst for revenge.  And may God raise us to new life in the image of Christ.  May we seek to glorify God alone and succeed in that purpose, by grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 10, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHANN NITSCHMANN, SR., MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND BISHOP; DAVID NITSCHMANN, JR., THE SYNDIC, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY BISHOP; AND DAVID NITSCHMANN, THE MARTYR, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF CECIL FRANCES ALEXANDER, POET AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN LUDWIG BRAU, NORWEGIAN MORAVIAN TEACHER AND POET

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JOHN LEONARDI, FOUNDER OF THE CLERKS REGULAR OF THE MOTHER OF GOD OF LUCCA; AND JOSEPH CALASANCTIUS, FOUNDER OF THE CLERKS REGULAR OF RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2016/10/10/christ-violence-and-love/

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Devotion for the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Days of Easter, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   4 comments

Jesus Bookmark

Above:  A Jesus Bookmark

Image scanned by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

The Corporeal and the Spiritual

THURSDAY-SATURDAY, APRIL 16-18, 2020

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The Collect:

Almighty and eternal God,

the strength of those who believe and the hope of those who doubt,

may we, who have not seen,

have faith in you and receive the fullness of Christ’s blessing,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 32

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The Assigned Readings:

Song of Songs 2:8-15 (5th Day)

Song of Songs 5:9-6:3 (6th Day)

Song of Songs 8:6-7 (7th Day)

Psalm 16 (All Days)

Colossians 4:2-5 (5th Day)

1 Corinthians 15:1-11 (6th Day)

John 20:11-20 (7th Day)

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My heart, therefore, is glad, and my spirit rejoices;

my body also shall not rest in hope.

–Psalm 16:9, Book of Common Worship (1993)

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The Song of Songs, I heard growing up, is about the relationship between Christ and the Church.  Balderdash!  There is also a Jewish allegorical interpretation which claims that the book is about the relationship between God and Israel.  I do not accept that either.  No, the Song of Songs is exactly what it appears to be–a series of poetic texts about a love affair between a man and a woman who may or may not be married to each other but who are in danger because of their love.

Hence the Song of Songs is about human erotic relationships.  And it belongs in the Canon of Jewish and Christian Scripture.  As J. Coert Rylaardsdam writes in Volume 10 (1964) of The Layman’s Bible Commentary:

Its [the Song of Songs’] respect for life is expressed in the savoring of it; and it is this that makes it a very important commentary on the meaning of the confession that God is the Creator of all things.  The presence of the Song in Scripture is a most forceful reminder that to confess God as Creator of all things visible and invisible is to deny that anything is “common” (see Acts 10:9-16) or, to use the cliché of today, “secular.”  This book teaches that all life is holy, not because we, as Christians, make it so, but because it is made and used by the living God.

–page 140

If that analysis seems odd to one, that fact indicates a different worldview than the Song’s authors had.  As Rylaardsdam writes on page 138:

The people who wrote the Bible had no equivalent of our notion of the “secular”; they did not separate the natural from the sacred as we often do, for they took very seriously the confession of God as Creator of all.

As Dr. Amy-Jill Levine says in her 2001 Teaching Company Course, The Old Testament, much of what was normative in biblical times has ceased to be so.  That is certainly true for those of us in the global West, shaped by the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment.  Modernity differs greatly from antiquity, in ways both good and bad.

Much of the Christian tradition–including the legacy of St. Paul the Apostle, a great evangelist who suffered much, to the point of martyrdom–contains discomfort with the corporeal.  Human bodies can be messy and otherwise unpleasant, to be sure, but their potential for temptation has attracted much attention.  Much of Christian tradition has obsessed about the latter fact excessively, even encouraging a universal, false dichotomy between the flesh and the spirit–a dichotomy absent from the Song of Songs.

That frequent and erroneous distrust of the flesh has influenced the Christology of many people negatively, leading them to commit heresy.  To say that Jesus was fully human and fully divine is easy.  To deal with the “fully divine” aspect of that formulation can prove relatively uncontroversial.  Yet to unpack the “fully human” aspect holds the potential–often realized–to upset people.  In the early 1990s, for example, my father said in a sermon in southern Georgia, U.S.A., that Jesus had a sense of humor.  One lady, a longtime member of the congregation, took offense, claiming that he had insulted her Jesus.

Yet the Incarnation is about both the corporeal and the spiritual.  And the resurrected Jesus was no phantom, for he had a physical form.  The Incarnation means several things simultaneously.  Among them is an affirmation of the goodness of creation, including human physicality.  If that physicality makes us uncomfortable–if we perceive it as antithetical to spiritual well-being–we have a spiritual problem, one of erroneous categories and at least on false dichotomy.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 14, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FOURTEENTH DAY OF ADVENT, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINT VENANTIUS HONORIUS CLEMENTIUS FORTUNATUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF POITIERS

THE FEAST OF CARL PHILIPP EMANUEL BACH, COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN OF THE CROSS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MYSTIC

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/01/20/the-corporeal-and-the-spiritual/

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Eighth Day of Easter: Second Sunday of Easter, Year C   7 comments

Above:  Lamb of God

Seeking the Peace of God

APRIL 28, 2019

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THE FIRST READING

Acts 5:27-32 (New Revised Standard Version):

When the temple police had brought the apostles, they had them stand before the council. The high priest questioned them, saying,

We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you are determined to bring this man’s blood on us.

But Peter and the apostles answered,

We must obey God rather than any human authority. The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior that he might give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.

THE RESPONSE:  OPTION #1

Psalm 118:14-29 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

14  The LORD is my strength and my song,

and he has become my salvation.

15  There is a sound of exultation and victory

in the tents of the righteous:

16  ”The right hand of the LORD has triumphed!

the right hand of the LORD is exalted!

the right hand of the LORD has triumphed!”

17  I shall not die, but live,

and declare the works of the LORD.

18  The LORD has punished me sorely,

but he did not hand me over to death.

19  Open for me the gates of righteousness;

I will enter them;

I will offer thanks to the LORD.

20  ”This is the gate of the LORD;

he who is righteous may enter.”

21  I will give thanks to you, for you answered me

and have become my salvation.

22  The same stone which the builders rejected

has become the chief cornerstone.

23  This is the LORD’s doing,

and it is marvelous in our eyes.

24  On this day the LORD has acted;

we will rejoice and be glad in it.

25  Hosanna, LORD, hosanna!

LORD, send us now success.

26  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord;

we bless you from the house of the LORD.

27  God is the LORD; he has shined upon us;

form a procession with branches up to the horns of the altar.

28  ”You are my God, and I will thank you;

you are my God, and I will exalt you.”

29  Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;

his mercy endures for ever.

THE RESPONSE:  OPTION #2

Psalm 150 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Hallelujah!

Praise God in his holy temple;

praise him in the firmament of his power.

Praise him for his mighty acts;

praise him for his excellent greatness.

Praise him with the blast of the ram’s-horn;

Praise him with lyre and harp.

Praise him with timbrel and dance;

praise him with strings and pipe.

Praise him with resounding cymbals;

praise him with loud-clanging cymbals.

Let everything that has breath

praise the LORD.

Hallelujah!

THE SECOND READING

Revelation 1:4-8 (New Revised Standard Version):

John to the seven churches that are in Asia:  Grace to you and peace from him who is and was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the first born of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever.  Amen.

Look!  He is coming with the clouds;

every eye will see him,

even those who pierced him;

and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wait.

So it is to be.   Amen.

I am the Alpha and the Omega,

says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

THE GOSPEL READING

John 20:19-31 (New Revised Standard Version):

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said,

Peace be with you.

After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again,

Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.

When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,

Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.

But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him,

We have seen the Lord.

But he said to them,

Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said,

Peace be with you.

Then he said to Thomas,

Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.

Thomas answered him,

My Lord and my God!

Jesus said to him,

Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

The Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ’s Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/27/prayer-of-praise-and-adoration-for-the-second-sunday-of-easter/

Prayer of Dedication:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/27/prayer-of-dedication-for-the-second-sunday-of-easter/

Prayer:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/27/prayer-for-the-second-sunday-of-easter/

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Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.

–John 20:22b-23, New Revised Standard Version 

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Jesus had returned from the dead, a death which human authorities had ordered.  So, in Acts 5:27, St. Simon Peter could defy human authority in good conscience.  (That adds a wrinkle to an argument I made here.    Back in time, closer to the Resurrection, Jesus comforted his surviving eleven Apostles, saying

Peace be with you.

The Apostles’ task was to spread that peace to others.

What, then, does John 20:22b-23 mean?  In other words, who retains unforgiven sins?

Recently I watched The Twenty (2010), an independent movie which deals with that question.  The three main characters loathe themselves.  The recovering alcoholic who has been sober for just a few weeks before resuming drinking detests himself.  The pedophile who has apologized to his victims and lived as a recluse for twenty-two years is ashamed of himself.  Two of his three victims have forgiven him.  The third victim, now a bar waitress and a devout person, has yet to find a way to live with herself either.  The lack of forgiveness of others and of self causes problems for all three characters.  And all these lives intersect because of a message on a twenty-dollar bill, hence the title of the movie.

The film ends ambiguously.  Will the self-exiled pedophile confess his sins in public?  Will the bar waitress force him to do so?  Will the recovering alcoholic save his fragile marriage?  Will anybody forgive himself or herself and find a way to live with the person in the mirror?  And will anybody forgive anybody else?

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,

have mercy on us.

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,

have mercy on us.

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,

grant us your peace.

A New Zealand Prayer Book (1989), page 426

Amen.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 3, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MORAND OF CLUNY, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK AND MISSIONARY

THE FEAST OF SAINTS LIPHARDUS OF ORLEANS AND URBICIUS OF MEUNG, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOTS

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF UGANDA

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/03/01/seeking-the-peace-of-god/

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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

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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.

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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/

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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

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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

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

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Eighth Day of Easter: Second Sunday of Easter, Year B   13 comments

Robert De Niro as Captain Mendoza in The Mission (1986)

(Image = A Screen Capture via PowerDVD)

Forgiving and Retaining Sins

APRIL 8, 2018

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Acts 4:32-35 (New Revised Standard Version):

Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.

Psalm 133 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 Oh, how good and pleasant it is,

when brethren live together in unity!

2 It is like fine oil upon the head

that runs down upon the beard,

3 Upon the beard of Aaron,

and runs down upon the collar of his robe.

It is like the dew of Hermon

that falls upon the hills of Zion.

5 For there the LORD has ordained the blessing;

life for evermore.

1 John 1:1-2:2 (New Revised Standard Version):

We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life– this life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us– we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

John 20:19-31 (New Revised Standard Version):

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said,

Peace be with you.

After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again,

Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.

When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,

Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.

But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him,

We have seen the Lord.

But he said to them,

Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said,

Peace be with you.

Then he said to Thomas,

Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.

Thomas answered him,

My Lord and my God!

Jesus said to him,

Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

The Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ’s Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Eighth Day of Easter:  Second Sunday of Easter, Year A:

https://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/eighth-day-of-easter-second-sunday-of-easter-year-a/

Acts 4:

https://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/tenth-day-of-easter/

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If you forgive men’s sins,

their sins are forgiven;

if you hold them,

they are held fast.

–John 20:23 (The Anchor Bible)

This is an interesting passage, is it not?  How one interprets it probably says much about where one stands in relation to the Protestant and Counter Reformations.  That, at least, has been my impression, based on a review of commentaries on the Gospel of John.  Almost without failing, Roman Catholic commentators favor the interpretation that the Christian community has the power to absolve and retain sins, but almost all Protestant scholars have argued that all the church has the power to do is pronounce what God has done.  I belong a tradition in the middle.  The Reconciliation of a Penitent in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer permits the priest either to absolve sins or to announce the forgiveness of sins.  Pick your flavor:  Catholic or Protestant; both are Christian.

I took some time to explore this passage.  It can, depending on how one wants to read the Greek, read in the present tense or the passive past perfect tense; the sins are either retained or forgiven or they have been forgiven and have been retained.  Also, to forgive means to “let go,” and a both “retain” an “hold” are literal translations of the same Greek word.  There is apparently some slight ambiguity in the text as to whether one or one’s sins are retained or forgiven (in whatever tense and voice), but, as Father Raymond Brown points out in Volume II of his massive commentary on the Gospel of John, textual parallelism points to the sins being retained or forgiven.

There is one more very interesting fact:  This is the only time the Greek words for “to forgive” and “to retain” appear in the Johannine Gospel.

With that much resolved, there is another question: Who retains the unforgiven sins?  The text seems to indicate that the unforgiven person does.

The major purpose of the series of devotional blog posts is to offer thoughts one can apply in life.  Fortunately, I have three such thoughts today:

  1. If we do not forgive the sins of those who have wronged us, we carry those sins around with us.  Grudges can become very heavy and cumbersome luggage we need not take from place to place.
  2. We need not, despite our Reformation heritage and/or Western individualistic asssumptions, overlook or give short shrift to the communal setting of forgiveness in John 20:23.  The Church, empowered by the Holy Spirit, must carry on Christ’s work of loving people, making them whole again, and building and restoring faith communities.
  3. There is great power in both the human forgiveness and the human proclamation of the forgiveness of sins.  In The Mission (1986), set in South America in the middle 1700s, a group of Jesuits works with the Guarini tribe in the rain forest.  Captain Mendoza, a former slave trader who has hunted the Guarini, changes his life after he kills his brother because the two of them love the same woman.  Father Gabriel, the Jesuit priest in charge of the Guarini mission, takes Mendoza to the Guarini.  Along the way, Mendoza lugs a heavy and rather inconvenient net containing instruments of war and violence.  At the mission site, the Guarini chief orders a tribesman to cut the burden away from Mendoza.  The former slave captain, forgiven by the people he once hunted, begins a new life among them.  First, however, he breaks down emotionally.

Here ends the lesson.

KRT

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/03/26/forgiving-and-retaining-sins/

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First Day of Easter: Easter Sunday, Year B–Principal Service   36 comments

Above:  Victory of the Resurrection

Raised–In an Altered Form

APRIL 1, 2018

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The Assigned Readings for This Sunday:

Acts 10:34-43 or Isaiah 25:6-9

Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24

1 Corinthians 15:1-11 or Acts 10:34-43

John 20:1-18 or Mark 16:1-8

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.

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Some Related Posts:

First Day of Easter:  Easter Sunday, Year A–Principal Service:

https://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/first-day-of-easter-easter-sunday-year-a-principal-service/

First Day of Easter:  Easter Sunday, Years A, B, and C–Evening Service:

https://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/first-day-of-easter-easter-sunday-years-a-b-and-c-evening-service/

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My devotion for this Sunday morning is subjective, whereas my text for the Easter Vigil is a straight-forward “He did rise from the dead” affirmation.  If you prefer that, follow the link.

The power of the Resurrection is that of restored life–in an altered form.  One cannot pass from life to death to life again without emerging changed.  I know this power well in my life.

I was a Ph.D. student at The University of Georgia from 2005 to 2006.  My program became a casualty of my major professor.  So I limped my way to the emotionally draining end of a dream.  I was burned out on being a graduate student.  Besides, in my understandable anger, I had burned my bridges.  There was no turning back, one way or another.

Then I faced legal charges, of which I was innocent.  Finally, in late June 2007, after making my life difficult for months, my prosecutor offered a compromise which entailed the court dropping all charges immediately.  I accepted; at least the case was over and I avoided a criminal record, a result I value because of my innocence.  (Yet I distrust the legal system to this day.)

The combined traumas of 2006 and 2007 killed (metaphorically speaking, of course) my former self.  Then, by the power of God, the new self began to emerge.  (Here is a link to my poem from that period,)  He looks like the former self outwardly and has many of the same memories as the former self, but is slower to judge and quicker to try to understand others.  The new self grasps better how much he depends on God and accepts this reality ungrudgingly.

Yes, I carry psychological scar tissue, but scar tissue is a natural result of surviving an injury or injuries.  I am grateful to be where I am spiritually, but do not look back fondly on my journey in 2006-2007.  It was truly painful, but it made me a better person. The bottom line, however, is this:  I am still here, a little worse for wear yet better off in many ways.  I still here because of God’s power, not my own.  [Update: Those negative emotions washed out of my system years ago.  I would not have been human had I not had such emotions, but I would have been foolish not to drop that burden years ago.–2017]

Resurrection used to be abstract for me.  Not anymore.

KRT

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https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2018/03/20/uga-and-me/

Fiftieth Day of Easter: Day of Pentecost, Year A   30 comments

Above:  Tree of Jesse, from the Recipian Bible, 12th Century C.E.

(The doves around Jesus’ head represent the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit.)

“For the Common Good”

MAY 31, 2020

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The Assigned Readings for This Sunday:

Acts 2:1-21 or Numbers 11:24-30

Psalm 104:25-35, 37

1 Corinthians 12:3b-13 or Acts 2:1-21

John 20:19-23 or John 7:37-39

The Collect:

Almighty God, on this day you opened the way of eternal life to every race and nation by the promised gift of your Holy Spirit: Shed abroad this gift throughout the world by the preaching of the Gospel, that it may reach to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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The Apostle Paul provided a partial list of manifestations of the Holy Spirit:

  1. the utterance of wisdom
  2. the utterance of knowledge
  3. faith
  4. healing
  5. the working of miracles
  6. prophecy
  7. the discernment of spirits
  8. tongues
  9. the interpretation of tongues

And he cautioned people to use them for the common good, not building up oneself.  A spiritual gift ought not to become an occasion of the illusion of spiritual spirituality over those who lack that gift, he wrote, for the variety of gifts is essential to the proper functioning of the church.  And the greatest gift is love, or charity as some Biblical translators render the original Greek word.

(An Aside:  Some of my coreligionists insist that to pray one needs a “prayer language.”  My prayer language is English, which God understands very well.)

The Catechism of the Catholic Church identifies seven gifts of the Holy Spirit:

  1. wisdom
  2. understanding
  3. counsel
  4. fortitude
  5. knowledge
  6. piety
  7. fear of the Lord (see paragraph 1831).

And the Catholic Catechism lists the fruits of the Holy Spirit, “perfections that the Holy Spirit forms in us as the first fruits of eternal glory,: identifying twelve of them:

  1. charity
  2. joy
  3. peace
  4. patience
  5. kindness
  6. goodness
  7. generosity
  8. gentleness
  9. faithfulness
  10. modesty
  11. self-control
  12. chastity (see paragraph 1832).

I believe that each of us enters this world with much potential to do much good.  We can fulfill this potential if we obey God, making wise decisions which liberate us to live into our divine vocations.  Trying to decide wisely does not guarantee success, of course, but that is at least better than not caring at all.  And our vocations from God might not be what we think they are.

As I survey world history I wonder how much better the world would be if more of us had spent more time nurturing joy, patience, kindness, generosity, fortitude, and other great virtues.  Leaving one’s corner of the world (or, on a grander scale, the world) is insufficient to grant salvation; only God can do that.  But this is a noble and achievable goal God empowers us to complete.

One might say, however, “What does it matter?  The world is a screwed-up place, and will be so for a long time.”  Yes, the world is screwed-up, but it can be less so.  I do not think of the world as the enemy camp, the bastion of Satan (in whom I do not believe anyway, although I accept the reality of evil).  Instead, I think of the world as my neighborhood, for which I am partially responsible.  I am partially to blame for its screwed-up nature.  If I am not part of the solution, I am part of the problem.  And I want to be part of the solution.  I can do my part, you can do your part, another person can do his or her part, et cetera, and together we can accomplish much good.

Empowered by God, may we do so.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 21, 2010 COMMON ERA

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/03/30/for-the-common-good/