Archive for the ‘John 5’ Tag

Devotion for Easter Sunday Morning (Year D)   1 comment

angel-in-the-tomb

Above:  The Angel in Christ’s Tomb

Image in the Public Domain

Divine Power and Perfect Love

APRIL 17, 2022

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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:

Deuteronomy 7:1-26

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

John 5:19-30

2 Corinthians 1:1-17 (18-22) or Philippians 1:1-2 (3-11) 12-20

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Concepts of God interest me.  God, we read, delivers the faithful (sometimes).  On other occasions, faithful people suffer for the sake of righteousness, without deliverance.  God is a judge, we read, but God also acts mercifully and finds the Hebrew people attractive, despite the record of murmuring, of committing idolatry, and of committing other violations of the Law of Moses.

Deuteronomy 7, placed in the mouth of Moses long after his death, commands Hebrews to destroy the people of Canaan, not to marry them or to come under their influence otherwise.  That is a description of genocide.  That is something I cannot imaging Jesus advocating.  When I read Deuteronomy 7 I do so through the lenses of what the late Donald Armentrout called “Gospel glasses.”  To do otherwise would be for me to be disingenuous as a Christian.

Jesus died violently for a set of reasons.  Among them was the fact that some people considered him to be an enemy of God.  After all, Leviticus 24 orders the execution of blasphemers.  If I am to be consistent while condemning the execution of alleged blasphemers in the Islamic world because of my values of religious toleration and of attempting to emulate Christ, I must also condemn such violence committed in the name of God in the Jewish and Christian traditions.

One meaning of the crucifixion is that human beings executed Jesus unjustly.  One meaning of the resurrection is that God defeated the evil plans of those human beings–not with violence, but with power and perfect love.

May we leave terminal retribution to God, whose judgment is infinitely better than ours, and of whom mercy is also a quality.

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/divine-power-and-perfect-love/

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Devotion for Ash Wednesday (Year D)   1 comment

christ-healing-the-paralytic-at-bethesda

Above:  Christ Healing the Paralytic at Bethesda, by Palma Giovane

Image in the Public Domain

The Sin of Legalism

MARCH 2, 2022

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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 57:1-21

Psalm 102

John 5:1-18

James 1:1-16 or Ephesians 2:11-22 or Galatians 1:1-24

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Penitence is related to repentance.  Frequently, in everyday vocabulary, they become interchangeable terms, but they are different.  To repent is to turn one’s back on sin–sin in general and a particular sin or set of sins.  The theological focus on Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent is repentance.

Timothy Matthew Slemmons has done an excellent job of selecting appropriate texts for Ash Wednesday while avoiding the usual suspects.

  1. We read in Isaiah 57 that Judah needs to repent of idolatry.  We also read that judgment will ensue, but that mercy will follow it.
  2. The penitence in Psalm 102 is individual.  In that text the consequences of the sins have caught up with the author, who is in distress and pleading for mercy.
  3. James 1 advises us to rejoice and to trust in God during times of trial, not to yield to temptation during them.  We read that Jesus breaks down barriers between us and God and among us.  Why, then, do many of us insist on maintaining and erecting barriers, especially for others?
  4. Galatians 1 informs us that Jesus liberates us to serve, enjoy, and glorify God.
  5. In John 5 we read of Jesus liberating  man from a physical disability and intangible, related problems.  Then, we read, some strict Sabbath keepers criticize the newly able-bodied man for carrying his bed roll on the Sabbath.  I detect misplaced priorities in the critics.

Each of us has much for which to be pentitent and much of which to repent.  At this time I choose to emphasize legalism, which is a thread in some of the readings.  Legalism, in some cases, has innocent and pious origins; one seeks to obey divine commandments.  Out of good intentions one goes astray and becomes a master nit picker lost amid the proverbial trees and unable to see the forest.  Rules become more important than compassion.  This might be especially likely to happen when one is a member of a recognizable minority defined by certain practices.  Creating neat categories, thereby defining oneself as set apart and others as unclean, for example, can become quite easily an open door to self-righteousness.  It is a sin against which to remain vigilant as one notices a variety of sins in one’s vicinity.

The list of sins I have not committed is long.  So is the list of sins of which I am guilty.  The former does not make up for the latter.  The fact that I have never robbed a liquor store speaks well of me yet does not deliver me from my sins and the consequences thereof; it does, however, testify to what Lutheran theology calls civic righteousness.  Although I have the right to condemn the robbing of liquor stores, I have no become self-righteous and legalistic toward those who have.  They and I stand before God guilty of many sins.  All of us need to be penitent and to repent.  All of us need the mercy of God and the merits of Jesus Christ.

I am no less prone to legalism than any other person is.  My inclination is to break down roadblocks to God, not to create or maintain them.  Nevertheless, I recognize the existence of certain categories and approve of them.  This is healthy to an extent.  But what if some of my categories are false? This is a thought I must ponder if I am to be a faithful Christian.  Am I marginalizing people God calls insiders?  Are you, O reader?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 8, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ABRAHAM RITTER, U.S. MORAVIAN MERCHANT, HISTORIAN, MUSICIAN, AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF ERIK ROUTLEY, HYMN WRTIER

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM DWIGHT PORTER BLISS, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND ECONOMIST; AND RICHARD THEODORE ELY, ECONOMIST

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2016/10/08/the-sin-of-legalism/

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

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Above:  The Pool, by Palma Giovane

Image in the Public Domain

Idolatry Versus Wholeness

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 18, 2020

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The Collect:

Merciful God, the fountain of living water,

you quench our thirst and wash away our sin.

Give us this water always.

Bring us to drink from the well that flows with the beauty of your truth

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:

Jeremiah 2:4-14

Psalm 81

John 7:14-31, 37-39

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But my people would not hear my voice:

and Israel would not obey me.

–Psalm 81:11, A New Zealand Prayer Book (1989)

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The living water theme from the previous post exists also in Jeremiah 2:

Be aghast at this, you heavens,

shudder in horror,

says the LORD.

My people have committed two sins:

they have rejected me,

a source of living water,

and they have hewn out for themselves cisterns,

cracked cisterns which hold no water.

–Verses 12 and 13, The Revised English Bible (1989)

God had done much for the people who had chased instead after false gods

who were powerless to help.

–Jeremiah 2:8e, The Revised English Bible (1989)

Idolatry is a frequent human reality.  Lest one lull oneself into complacency, one can commit idolatry while trying to pursue holiness.  Consider, O reader, the scene in John 7.  Our Lord and Savior stood accused of having violated Sabbath laws by having healed a paralyzed man (Chapter 5).  These forbade many activities allowed on the other six days.  One who worked on the Sabbath was even supposed to be put to death, except in certain circumstances.  If the Sabbath was the eighth day of a boy’s life, circumcision remained mandatory on that date.  And actions which saved life were permissible.  The former removed part of a person.  The latter prevented death.  Thus what could be wrong with restoring someone to wholeness on the Sabbath?

Picking legal nits without compassion is as idolatrous as is worshiping an imaginary deity.  May none of us be guilty of either of these deeds.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 26, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN BERCHMANS, ROMAN CATHOLIC SEMINARIAN

THE FEAST OF ISAAC WATTS, HYMN WRITER

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/01/14/idolatry-versus-wholeness/

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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

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THE FIRST READING

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.

THE RESPONSE

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.

THE SECOND READING

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.

THE GOSPEL READING:  FIRST OPTION

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.

THE GOSPEL READING:  SECOND OPTION

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.

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Some Related Posts:

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/prayer-of-praise-and-adoration-for-the-sixth-sunday-of-easter/

Prayer of Dedication:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/prayer-of-dedication-for-the-sixth-sunday-of-easter/

 Babylon 5:  Shadow Dancing (1996):

http://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/07/30/babylon-5-shadow-dancing-1996/

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

http://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/06/15/feast-of-sts-lydia-dorcas-and-phoebe-holy-wome-january-29/

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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.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 16, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF RUFUS JONES, QUAKER THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN FRANCIS REGIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH BUTLER, ANGLICAN BISHOP

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/what-do-you-want/

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Twenty-Sixth Day of Lent   17 comments

Adoration of the Golden Calf, by Nicholas Poussin (1594-1665)

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Thursday, March 31, 2022

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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“Beyond the sacred page I seek Thee, Lord….”

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Exodus 32:7-14 (TANAKH: The Holy Scriptures):

The LORD spoke to Moses,

Hurry down, for your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt, have acted basely.  They have been quick to turn aside from the way that I enjoined upon them.  They have made themselves a molten calf and bowed low to it and sacrificed to it, saying, ‘This is your god, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt!’

The LORD further said to Moses,

I see that this is a stiffnecked people.  Now, let Me be, that My anger may blaze forth against them and that I may destroy them, and make of you a great nation.

But Moses implored the LORD his God, saying,

Let not your anger, O LORD, blaze forth against Your people, whom You delivered from the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand.  Let not the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that He delivered them, only to kill them off in the mountains and annihilate them from the face of the earth.’  Turn from Your blazing anger, and renounce Your plan to punish Your people.  Remember Your servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, how You swore by Your Self and said to them: I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven, and I will give to your offspring this whole land of which I spoke, to possess forever.

And the LORD renounced the punishment He had planned to bring upon His people.

Psalm 106:6-7, 19-23 (TANAKH: The Holy Scriptures):

We have sinned like our forefathers;

we have gone astray, done evil.

Our forefathers in Egypt did not perceive Your wonders;

they did not remember Your abundant love,

but rebelled at the sea, at the Sea of Reeds.

They made a calf at Horeb

and bowed down to a molten image.

They exchanged their glory

for the image of a bull that feeds on grass.

They forgot God who saved them,

who performed great deeds in Egypt,

wondrous deeds in the land of Ham,

awesome deeds at the Sea of Reeds.

He would have destroyed them

had not Moses His chosen one

confronted Him on the breach

to avert His destructive wrath.

John 5:30-47 (The New Testament in Modern English–Revised Edition):

[Jesus said,]

By myself I can do nothing.  As I hear from God, I judge, and my judgment is true because I do not live to please myself but to do the will of the Father who sent me.  You may say that I am bearing witness about myself, that therefore what I say about myself has no value, but I would remind you that there is one who witnesses about me and I know that his witness about me is absolutely true.  You sent to John, and he testified to the truth.  Not that it is man’s testimony that I need–I only tell you this to help you to be saved.  John certainly was a lamp that burned and shone, and for a time you were willing to enjoy the light that he gave.  But I have a higher testimony than John’s.  The work that the Father gave me to complete, yes, these very actions which I do are my witness that the Father has sent me.  This is how the Father who has sent me has given his own personal testimony to me.

Now you have never at any time heard what he says or seen what he is like.  Nor do you really allow his word to find a home in your hearts, for you refuse to believe the man whom he has sent.  You pore over the scriptures for you imagine that you will find eternal life in them.  All the time they give testimony to me, but you are not willing to come to me to have real life!  I do not need the praise of men, but I can tell you that you have none of the love of God in your hearts.  I have come in the name of my Father and you will not accept me.  Yet if another man comes simply in his own name, you will accept him.  How on earth can you believe while you are for ever looking for each other’s approval and not for the glory that comes from the one God?  There is no need for you to think that I have come to accuse you before the Father.  You already have an accuser–Moses, in whom you put all your confidence!  For if you really believed Moses, you would be bound to believe me; for it was about me that he wrote.  But if you do not believe what he wrote, how can you believe what I say?

The Collect:

Almighty and most merciful God, drive from us all weakness of body, mind, and spirit; that, being restored to wholeness, we may with free hearts become what you intend us to be and accomplish what you want us to do; 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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Idolatry is this day’s theme.

Moses was up on the mountain communing with God and receiving commandments while Aaron began to lead the Israelites in idolatry.  Exodus tells us that God was prepared to destroy the people then and there, until Moses made a persuasive case to the contrary.

We human beings like to make God (or our gods) concrete.  This explains the popularity throughout history of idols, representations of deities.  Monotheism came relatively late to the Hebrew people, as their practices of worshiping Yahweh and other gods for a very long time testify.  People are like what they do.  Prophets, priests, and other religious authorities might claim that people should bow down to only one God, but people who worship gods are polytheists.  And Yahweh wanted all the attention, not just some of it.

In this day’s reading from John the idol of the certain Jewish authorities was the Hebrew Bible.  They focused so much on their scriptures that they did not recognize the fulfillment of part of those scriptures in their midst.

Today the Bible is the most common idol among professing Christians.  This is not the sacred anthology’s intended function, of course.  Yet I write of reality, not an ideal state.  The Bible should be a means to an end, not the end.

I conclude with a hymn, “Break Thou the Bread of Life,” with words by Mary A. Lathbury and Alexander Groves.

Break Thou the bread of life, dear Lord, to me,
As Thou didst break the loaves beside the sea;
Beyond the sacred page I seek Thee, Lord;
My spirit pants for Thee, O living Word!

Bless Thou the truth, dear Lord, to me, to me,
As Thou didst bless the bread by Galilee;
Then shall all bondage cease, all fetters fall;
And I shall find my peace, my all in all.

Thou art the bread of life, O Lord, to me,
Thy holy Word the truth that saveth me;
Give me to eat and live with Thee above;
Teach me to love Thy truth, for Thou art love.

O send Thy Spirit, Lord, now unto me,
That He may touch my eyes, and make me see:
Show me the truth concealed within Thy Word,
And in Thy Book revealed I see the Lord.

KRT

Written on March 2, 2010

Twenty-Fifth Day of Lent   14 comments

A Cat and Her Kittens

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Wednesday, March 30, 2022

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/

Twenty-Fourth Day of Lent   17 comments

The Ruins of the Bethsaida (a.k.a. Bethesda or Bethzatha) Pool

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Tuesday, March 29, 2022

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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Ezekiel 47:1-12 (TANAKH: The Holy Scriptures):

He [the Lord GOD] led me back to the entrance of the Temple, and I found that water was issuing from below the platform of the Temple–eastward, since the Temple faced east–but the water was running at the south of the altar, under the south wall of the Temple.  Then he led me out by way of the south wall of the Temple.  Then he led me out by way of the northern gate and led me around to the outside of the outer gate that faces in the direction of the east; and I found that water was gushing from [under] the south wall.  As the man went on eastward with a measuring line in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits and led me across the water; the water was ankle deep.  Then he measured off another thousand and led me across the water; the water was knee deep.  He measured off a further thousand and led me across the water; the water was up to the waist.  When he measured yet another thousand, it was a stream I could not cross; for the water had swollen into a stream that could not be crossed except by swimming.

Do you see, O mortal?

he said to me; and he had led me back to the bank of the stream.

As I came back, I saw trees in great profusion on both banks of the stream.

This water,

he told me,

runs out to the eastern region, and flows into the Arabah; and when it comes into the sea, into the sea of foul waters, the water will become wholesome.  Every living creature that swarms will be able to live wherever this stream goes; the fish will be very abundant once these waters have reached there.  It will be wholesome, and everything will live wherever this stream goes.  Fishermen shall stand beside it all the way from En-eglaim; it shall be a place for drying nets; and the fish will be of various kinds [and] most plentiful, like the fish of the Great Sea.  But its swamps and marshes shall not become wholesome; they will serve to [supply] salt.  All kinds of trees leaves will not wither nor their fruit fail; they will yield new fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the Temple.  Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.

Psalm 46:2-8 (TANAKH: The Holy Scriptures):

God is our refuge and stronghold,

a help in trouble, very near.

Therefore we are not afraid

though the earth reels,

though mountains topple into the sea–

its waters rage and foam;

in its swell mountains quake.

There is a river whose streams gladden God’s city,

the holy dwelling-place of the Most High.

God is in its midst, it will not be toppled;

by daybreak God will come to its aid.

Nations rage, kingdoms topple;

at the sound of His thunder the earth dissolves.

The LORD of hosts is with us;

the God of Jacob is our haven.

John 5:1-18 (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, which made the Jews keep on telling the man who had been healed,

It’s the Sabbath; it is not right for you to carry your bed.

He replied,

The man who made me well was the one who told me, “Pick up your bed and walk.”

Then they asked him,

And who is the man who told you to do that?

But the one who had been healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away in the dense crowd.  Later Jesus found him in the Temple and said to him,

Look: you are a fit man now.  Do not sin again or something worse might happen to you!

Then the man went off and informed the Jews that the one who had made him well was Jesus.  It was because Jesus did such things on the Sabbath day that the Jews persecuted him.  But Jesus’ answer to them was this,

My Father is still at work and therefore I work as well.

This remark made the Jews all the more determined to kill him, because not only did he break the Sabbath but he referred to God as his own Father, so putting himself on equal terms with God.

The Collect:

O God, with you is the well of life, and in your light we see light: Quench our thirst with living water, and flood our darkened minds with heavenly light; 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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This day’s readings concern restoration.

The lesson from Ezekiel tells of a vision of an ideal future.  In the refurbished Holy Land a stream from beneath the Temple will flow from Jerusalem, become a mighty river, and restore life in the desert.  People will even be able to fish from the Dead Sea.  I perceive echoes of the mythic waters of creation from Genesis.  Only this time we have waters of new creation.

This is not “Jesus-and-Meism,” in the style of overly individualistic and narcissistic, the world may go to Hell in a hand basket but I don’t’ care because I will go to Heaven, Fundamentalism.  No, this is a vision of society-wide restoration.  Echoes of this theme are evident in the psalm.

(Note:  Just in case anyone thinks nobody believes in the style of Fundamentalism I have described, I point to conversations I have had in which people have embraced that style of religion.  It seems to make them feel good, but it does nothing for anybody else.)

In the reading from the Johannine Gospel Jesus heals a who has been in a desperate physical, emotional, and spiritual state for many years.  He does this on the Sabbath.  Jesus restores the man to wholeness in every way, especially spiritual, hence the caution against sin.

In Jewish law of the time people with certain physical disabilities and deformities were forbidden from entering parts of the Jerusalem Temple complex.  So Jesus restored the man to dignity in his society.

In the context of the new healing, the complaint about the man carrying his pallet on the Sabbath is petty.  It reveals the spiritual brokenness of those who uttered that statement.

Some words about the use of “the Jews” in the Gospel of John are necessary.  In other Gospels Jesus confronts scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, and Temple lawyers.  In John, however, he is at odds with “the Jews.”  These are not all Jews, just the individuals at odds with Jesus at the time.  The Johannine Gospel dates to a time when Jewish-Christian relations had become vitriolic.  So, once again, I caution against anti-Semitism.

Very few people live in true isolation.  So restoration of an individual affects others–friends and family members, at least.  Therefore to restore one man or woman is to create a ripple effect, as when one throws a stone into water.  When the ripples cross our path, may we be sufficiently sensitive not to complain about trivia.

KRT

Written on March 1, 2010

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/restoration-2/

Posted October 28, 2010 by neatnik2009 in 2022, Episcopal Church Lectionary, March 29

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