Archive for the ‘John 6’ Tag

Devotion for the Eleventh and Twelfth Days of Lent (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   15 comments

Above:  Christ Rescuing Peter from Drowning

Genesis and Mark, Part XII:  Wonders, Jealousies, Fears, and Violence

FEBRUARY 26 and 27, 2024


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

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

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

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236


The Assigned Readings:

Genesis 18:1-15 (11th Day of Lent)

Genesis 21:1-21 (12th Day of Lent)

Psalm 119:73-80 (Morning–11th Day of Lent)

Psalm 34 (Morning–12th Day of Lent)

Psalms 121 and 6 (Evening–11th Day of Lent)

Psalms 25 and 91 (Evening–12th Day of Lent)

Mark 6:14-34 (11th Day of Lent)

Mark 6:35-56 (12th Day of Lent)


Some Related Posts:

Feast of the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist, Martyr (August 29):




The Feeding of the Five Thousand is a story which all four canonical Gospels tell.  Here are the citations:

  1. Mark 6:30-44
  2. Matthew 14:13-21
  3. Luke 9:10-17
  4. John 6:1-15

There are five thousand men in Mark.  There is no indication of an estimate, such as “about” or “as many as.”  Neither is there any mention of women and children.

Matthew 14:21 tells us of

about five thousand men…, to say nothing of women and children.  (The New Jerusalem Bible)

Luke 9:14 has

about five thousand men.  (The New Jerusalem Bible)

And John 6:10 mentions

as many as five thousand men.  (The New Jerusalem Bible)

So the women and children occur explicitly in the Matthew reading, although the Johannine version implies them.  (I read the text in several translations quite closely and consulted commentaries.) Such details interest me.


Sometimes a lectionary becomes too choppy.  I understand the need to avoid placing too much material on one day.  The Lutheran daily lectionary I am following provides for

two readings of 15-25 verses each….one from the Old Testament, the other from the New Testament.

Lutheran Service Book (2006), page 299

Yet this system divides the passage describing the Feeding of the Five Thousand (men) in Mark into two readings across as many days.  One of my methods in composing these posts is combining days of material as necessary to maintain a certain degree of textual unity, not that I need to defend myself in this matter.  This is a purely procedural notice.

We read today of wonders coexisting with sad news.  Abraham and Sarah become parents in their old age yet expel Hagar and Ishmael, victims in the narrative.  Our Lord heals people, feeds five thousand men with a small amount of food, and walks on water.  Yet Herod Antipas, the man responsible for the death of John the Baptist, wants to meet Jesus.  The wondrous and the unfortunate rub shoulders with each other.

That is the nature of the world, is it not?  The Second Person of the Trinity became incarnate as Jesus of Nazareth.  His life was at risk before he was born and remained so after his birth.  And the Roman Empire executed him–not for being a nice guy who told people to love their neighbors, by the way.  Authorities perceived him as a thread to their power.  And he was, but not in the way in which zealots would have preferred him to be.

Jealousies and fears arise within us, bringing out the worst of our natures.  Sometimes we project them onto God and convince ourselves that God commands us to expel or execute those who, by their existence, threaten our positions, status, or ego.  May God forgive us, regardless of whether we know what we do.









Twenty-First Day of Easter   15 comments

A Black Sheep

Image Source = Jesus Solana

Who Are Our Goyim?

April 29, 2023 (Year A)


Acts 9:31-43; 10:1-5, 25-31, 34-35, 44-48 (Revised English Bible):

[Note:  The Episcopal Feasts and Fasts specifies the first reading for Years A and B as Acts 9:31-42 and the first reading for Year C as Acts 10:1-5, 25-31, 34-35, 44-48.  I have combined these readings and extended them by one verse to create a composite narrative, which works well as a unit.]

Meanwhile the church, throughout Judaea, Galilee, and Samaria, was left in peace to build up its strength, and to live in the fear of the Lord.  Encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers.

In the course of a tour Peter was making throughout the region he went down to visit God’s people at Lydda.  There he found a man named Aeneas who had been bedridden with paralysis for eight years.  Peter said to him,

Aeneas, Jesus Christ cures you; get up and make your bed!

and immediately he stood up.  All who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him; and they turned to the Lord.

In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (in Greek, Dorcas, meaning “Gazelle”), who filled her days with acts of kindness and charity.  At that time she fell ill and died; and they washed her body and laid it in a room upstairs.  As Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, who had heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him with the urgent request,

Please come over to us without delay.

At once Peter went off with them.  When he arrived he was taken up into the room, and all the widows came and stood round him in tears, showing him the shirts and coats that Dorcas used to make while she was with them.  Peter sent them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; then, turning towards the body, he said,

Tabitha, get up.

She opened her eyes, saw Peter, and sat up.  He gave her his hand and helped her to her feet.  Then he called together the members of the church and the widows and showed her to them alive.  News of it spread all over Joppa, and many came to believe in the Lord. Peter stayed on in Joppa for some time at the house of a tanner named Simon.

At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in the Italian Cohort, as it was called.  He was a devout man, and he and his whole family joined in the worship of God; he gave generously to help the Jewish people, and was regular in his prayers to God.  One day about three in the afternoon he had a vision in which he clearly saw and angel of God come into his room and say,


Cornelius stared at him in terror.

What is it, my lord?

he asked.   The angel said,

Your prayers and acts of charity have gone up to heaven to speak for you before God….Now send to Joppa for a man named Simon, also named Peter….

When Peter arrived, Cornelius came to meet him, and bowed to the ground in deep reverence.  But Peter raised him to his feet and said,

Stand up; I am only a man like you.

Still talking with him he went in and found a large gathering.  He said to them,

I need not tell you that a Jew is forbidden by his religion to visit or associate with anyone of another race.  Yet God has shown me clearly that I must not call anyone profane or unclean; that is why I came here without demur when you sent for me.  May I ask what was your reason for doing so?

Cornelius said,

Three days ago, just about this time, I was in the house here saying the afternoon prayers, when suddenly a man in shining robes stood before me.  He said: ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your acts of charity have spoken for you before God….’

Peter began:

I now understand that God has no favourites, but that in every nation those who are godfearing and do what is right are acceptable to him….

Peter was still speaking when the Holy Spirit came upon all who were listening to the message.  The believers who had come with Peter, men of Jewish birth, were amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit should have been poured out even on Gentiles, for they could hear them speaking in tongues of ecstasy and acclaiming the greatness of God.  Then Peter spoke,

Is anyone prepared to withhold the water of baptism from these persons, who have received the Holy Spirit, just as we did?

Then he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.  After that they asked him to stay on with them for a time.

Psalm 116:12-19 (Revised English Bible):

How can I repay the LORD

for all his benefits to me?

I shall lift up the cup of salvation

and call on the name of the LORD

in the presence of all his people.

A precious thing in the LORD’s sight

is the death of those who are loyal to him.

Indeed, LORD, I am your slave,

I am your slave, your slave-girl’s son;

you have loosed my bonds.

To you I shall bring a thank-offering

and call on the LORD by name.

I shall pay my vows to the LORD

in the presence of all his people,

In the courts of the LORD’s house,

in the midst of you, Jerusalem.

Praise the LORD.

John 6:60-69 (Anchor Bible):

Now, after hearing this, many of his disciples remarked,

This sort of talk is hard to take.  Now can anyone pay attention to it?

Jesus was quite conscious that his disciples were murmuring in protest at this.

Does it shake your faith?

he said to them.

If, then, you behold the Son of Man ascending to where he was before…?  It is the Spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless.  The words that I have spoken to you are both Spirit and life.  But among you there are some who do not believe.

(In fact, Jesus knew from the start those who refused to believe, as well as one who would hand him over.)  So he went on to say:

This is why I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted to him by the Father.

At this many of his disciples broke away and would not accompany him any more.  And so Jesus said to the Twelve,

Do you also want to go away?

Simon Peter answered,

Lord, to whom shall we go?  It is you who have the words of eternal life; and we have come to believe and are convinced that you are God’s Holy One.

The Collect:

O God, by the abundance of your grace you unfailingly increase the number of your children: Look with favor upon those whom you have chosen to be members of your Church, that, having been born again in Baptism, they may be granted a glorious resurrection; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.


Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter XXXV (Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., 1903):

1.  God, in infinite and perfect love, having provided in the covenant of grace, through the mediation and sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, a way of life and salvation, sufficient for and adapted to the whole lost race and man, doth freely offer this salvation to all men in the gospel.

2.  In the gospel God declares his love for the world and his desire that all men should be saved; reveals fully and clearly the only way of salvation; promises eternal life to all who truly repent and believe in Christ; invites and commands all to embrace the offered mercy; and by his Spirit accompanying the Word pleads with men to accept his gracious invitation.

3.  It is the duty and privilege of everyone who hears the gospel immediately to accept its merciful provisions; and they who continue in impenitence and unbelief incur aggravated guilt and perish by their own fault.

4.  Since there is no other way of salvation than that revealed in the gospel, and since in the divinely established and ordinary method of grace faith cometh by hearing the Word of God, Christ hath commissioned his Church to go into all the world and to make disciples of all nations.  All believers are, therefore, under obligation to sustain the ordinance of the Christian religion where they are already established, and to contribute by their prayers, gifts, and personal efforts to the extension of the Kingdom of Christ throughout the whole earth.

(The above text is either very, very similar or identical to the Westminster Confession of Faith, Article X, of the Presbyterian Church in the United States, 1942.)


I grew up United Methodist, schooled in Arminianism.  Thus I learned that access to salvation was democratic, available freely to all.  Hence I rejected any notion of predestination with barely a thought.  In 2008, however, I came to accept Single Predestination, the proposition that God has predestined some people to Heaven and nobody to Hell.  Within this logical framework the testimony of the Holy Spirit beckons the rest to come to God.  I changed my mind because I reread and studied certain passages from the Pauline tradition very closely, and decided that I must wrestle with them.

So now I am too (mainline) Calvinistic to become a Methodist again, unless one considers Welsh Methodism.  (Yet I know that certain old-style Calvinists do not consider Single Predestination within the bounds of Calvinism; they insist on Double Predestination, the proposition that God has predestined everyone to Heaven or to Hell.  I dislike theological purity tests, however, given that I fail them consistently.)

This day’s readings from Acts and John tell part of the faith journey of Simon Peter.  He affirmed his faith in Jesus when others rejected our Savior, worked among Jews and Gentiles, learned from God to reject traditional Jewish notions of ritual cleanliness and uncleanliness, and baptized a gathering of Gentiles.  God, Peter asserted, does not distinguish between people on the basis of being Jewish or Gentile; the divine standard is whether one stands in awe of God (the accurate translation of “fearing God”) and acts accordingly.  The reading from Acts ends with a reminder that water baptism is what people do, but that spiritual baptism is what God does.

As a Gentile grafted onto the Jewish tree of faith I owe a great spiritual debt to men such as Peter and Paul, who took the good news of Jesus to the goyim.  I have faith in part because of their efforts.  And I recognize my need to identify my goyim.  To which people do I need to reach out?  Which biases do I need to renounce?  I invite everyone reading this devotion to ask himself or herself the same questions and to follow the answers wherever they will lead.


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

Twentieth Day of Easter   19 comments

Ananias Restoring Sight to St. Paul, by Pietro Cortona (1631)

Effects and Agents of Divine Intervention

April 28, 2023 (Year A)


Acts 9:1-31 (Revised English Bible):

[Note:  The Episcopal Church’s Lesser Feasts and Fasts lists Acts 9:1-20 as the first reading for Years A and B and Acts 9:10-20, 26-31 as the first reading for Year C.  I have merged and extended these to create a composite first reading.]

Saul, still breathing murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples, went to the high priest and applied for letters to the synagogues at Damascus authorizing him to arrest any followers of the new way whom he found, men or women, and bring them to Jerusalem.  While he was still on the road and nearing Damascus, suddenly a light from the sky flashed all around him.  He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”

Tell me, Lord,

he said,

who you are.

The voice answered,

I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.  But now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you have to do.

Meanwhile the men who were traveling with him stood speechless; they heard the voice but could see no one.  Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could not see; they led by the hand and brought him into Damascus.  He was blind for three days, and took no food or drink.

There was in Damascus a disciple named Ananias.  He had a vision in which he heard the Lord say,


He answered,

Here I am, Lord.

The Lord said to him,

Go to Straight Street, to the house of Judas, and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul.  You will find him at prayer; he has had a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying hands on him to restore his sight.

Ananias answered,

Lord, I have often heard about this man and all the harm he has done your people in Jerusalem.  Now he is here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who invoke your name.

But the Lord replied,

You must go, for this man is my chosen instrument to bring my name before the nations and their kings, and before the people of Israel.  I myself will show him all that he must go through for my name’s sake.

So Ananias went and, on entering the house, laid his hands on him and said,

Saul, my brother, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me to you so that you may recover your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Immediately it was if scales had fallen from his eyes, and he regained his sight.  He got up and was baptized, and when he had eaten his strength returned.

He stayed some time with the disciples in Damascus.  Without delay he proclaimed Jesus publicly in the synagogues, declaring him to be the Son of God.  All who heard were astounded.

Is not this the man,

they said,

who was in Jerusalem hunting down those who invoke this name?  Did he not come here for the sole purpose of arresting them and taking them before the chief priests?

But Saul went from strength to strength, and confounded the Jews of Damascus with his cogent proofs that Jesus was the Messiah.

When some time had passed, the Jews hatched a plot against his life; but their plans became known to Saul.  They kept watch on the city gates day and night so that they might murder him; but one night some disciples took him out and, lowering him in a basket, let him down over the wall.

On reaching Jerusalem he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, because they did not believe that he was really a disciple.  Barnabas, however, took him and introduced him to the apostles; he described to them how on his journey Saul had seen the Lord and heard his voice, and how at Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus.  Saul now stayed with them, moving about freely in Jerusalem.  He spoke out boldly and openly in the name of the Lord, talking and debating with the Greek-speaking Jews.  But they planned to murder him, and when the brethren discovered this they escorted him down to Caesarea and sent him away to Tarsus.

Meanwhile the church, throughout Judaea, Galilee, and Samaria, was left in peace to build up its strength, and to live in the fear of the Lord.  Encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers.

Psalm 117 (Revised English Bible):

Praise the LORD, all nations,

extol him, all you peoples;

for his love protecting us is strong,

the LORD’s faithfulness is everlasting.

Praise the LORD.

John 6:52-59 (Anchor Bible):

At this time the Jews started to quarrel among themselves, saying,

How can he give us [his] flesh to eat?

Therefore Jesus told them,

Let me firmly assure you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.  He who eats on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.  And I shall raise him up on the last day.  For my flesh is real food, and my blood, real drink.  The man who feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.  Just as the Father who has life sent me and I have life because of the Father, so the man who feeds on me will have life because of me.  This is the bread that came down from heaven.  Unlike those ancestors who ate and yet died, the man who feeds on this bread will live forever.

He said this in a synagogue instruction at Capernaum.

The Collect:

Let your people, O Lord, rejoice for ever that they have been renewed in spirit; and let the joy of our adoption as your sons and daughters strengthen the hope of our glorious resurrection in Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.


Saul of Tarsus was on the “right” side of religious authority when he persecuted the nascent Christian movement.  Yet, as Paul the Apostle he found his true spiritual calling.  Between those two phases of his life came a divine intervention nobody present could ignore.  Through a direct act of God Saul found true life in Jesus, even though this entailed the hunter joining the ranks of the hunted, and suffering martyrdom in time.  He, like Jesus, was reborn after three days, and died at the hands of the Roman Empire.

Two men played an instrumental role in facilitating the conversion and ministry of Paul the Apostle.  Ananias of Damascus obeyed God and took a great risk in approaching Saul of Tarsus.  Imagine that you are Ananias in the account from Acts.  A certain measure of caution and skepticism would be reasonable, given Saul’s recent history.  Yet God granted Saul a new beginning, and Ananias played a part in that process.  Then the Twelve in Jerusalem were understandably afraid until Barnabas (“Son of Encouragement”) introduced Saul to them.

I detect a loose thread in the Acts reading for this day.  The men traveling with Saul heard the voice yet saw nobody, and “stood speechless.”  What effect(s) did this experience have on them?  I presume that they took Saul to Damascus, and that they were at least initially in agreement with Saul’s mission to persecute Christians in that city.  Did they change their minds?  The author of Luke-Acts does not answer my questions.

Which character in this story reminds you of yourself?  Where does your answer to this question lead you spiritually?


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

Posted October 29, 2010 by neatnik2009 in 2023, April 28, Episcopal Church Lectionary

Tagged with , ,

Nineteenth Day of Easter   19 comments

The Gathering of the Manna, circa 1460-1470

To Glorify God, and Fully to Enjoy Him Forever

April 27, 2023 (Year A)


First Reading for Year C:  Acts 8:9-25 (Revised English Bible):

A man named Simon had been in the city for some time and had captivated the Samaritans with his magical arts, making large claims for himself.  Everybody, high and low, listened intently to him.

This man,

they said,

is that power of God which they called ‘The Great Power.’

They listened because they had for so long been captivated by his magic.  But when they came to believe Philip, with his good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, men and women alike were baptized.  Even Simon himself believed, and after his baptism was constantly in Philip’s company.  He was captivated when he saw the powerful signs and miracles that were taking place.

When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent off Peter and John, who went down there and prayed for the converts, asking that they might receive the Holy Spirit.  Until then the Spirit had not come upon any of them, they had been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus, that and nothing more.  So Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

When Simon observed that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money and said,

Give me too the same power, so that anyone I lay my hands on will receive the Holy Spirit.

Peter replied,

You thought God’s gift was for sale?  Your money can go with you to damnation!  You have neither part nor share in this, for you are corrupt in the eyes of God.  Repent of this wickedness of yours and pray the Lord to forgive you for harbouring such a thought.  I see that bitter gall and the chains of sin will be your fate.

Simon said to them,

Pray to the Lord for me, and ask that none of the things you have spoken of may befall me.

After giving their testimony and speaking the word of the Lord, they took the road back to Jerusalem, bringing the good news to many Samaritan villages on the way.

First Reading for Years A and B:  Acts 8:26-40 (Revised English Bible):

Then the angel of the Lord said to Philip,

Start out and go south to the road that leads down from Jerusalem to Gaza.

(This is the desert road.)  He set out and was on his way when he caught sight of an Ethiopian.  This man was a eunuch, a high official of the Kandake, of queen, of Ethiopia, in charge of all her treasure; he had been to Jerusalem on a pilgrimage and was now returning home, sitting in his carriage and reading aloud from the prophet Isaiah.  The Spirit said to Philip,

Go and meet the carriage.

When Philip ran up he heard him reading from the prophet Isaiah and asked,

Do you understand what you are reading?

He said,

How can I without someone to guide me?

and invited Philip to get in and sit beside him.

The passage he was reading was this:

He was like a sheep led to the slaughter; like a lamb that is dumb before the shearer, he does not open his mouth.  He has been humiliated and has no redress.  Who will be able to speak of his posterity?  For he is cut off from the world of the living.

The eunuch said to Philip,

Please tell me, who is it that the prophet is speaking about here: himself or someone else?

Then Philip began and, starting from this passage, he told him the good news of Jesus.  As they were going along the road, they came to some water.


said the eunuch,

here is water: what is to prevent my being baptized?

and he ordered the carriage to stop.  Then they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.  When they came up from the water the Spirit snatched Philip away; the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.  Philip appeared at Azotus, and toured the country, preaching in all the towns till he reached Caesarea.

Psalm for Year C:  Psalm 65:1-5 (Revised English Bible):

It is fitting to praise you in Zion, God:

vows should be paid to you.

Hearer of prayer,

to you everyone should come.

Evil deeds are too heavy for me;

only you can wipe out our offences.

Happy are those whom you choose

and bring near to remain in your courts.

Grant us in abundance the bounty of your house,

of your holy temple.

Through dread deeds you answer us with victory,

God our deliverer,

in whom all put their trust

at the ends of the earth and on distant sees.

Psalm for Years A and B:  Psalm 66:16-20 (Revised English Bible):

Come, listen, all who fear God,

and I shall tell you what he has done for me;

I lifted up my voice in prayer,

his praise was on my tongue.

If I had cherished evil thoughts,

the Lord would not have listened;

but in truth God did listen

and paid heed to my plea.

Blessed is God

who has not withdrawn from me his love and care.

John 6:41-51 (Anchor Bible):

At this the Jews started to murmur in protest because he [Jesus] claimed:

I am the bread that came down from heaven.

And they kept saying,

Isn’t this Jesus, the son of Joseph?  Don’t we know his father and mother?  How can he claim to have come down from heaven?

Jesus told them,

Stop your murmuring.  No one can come to me unless the Father who has sent me calls him.  And I shall raise him up on the last day.  It is written in the prophets: ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’  Everyone who has heard the Father has learned from Him comes to me.  Not everyone has seen the Father–only the one who is from God has seen the Father.  Let me firmly assure you, the believer possesses eternal life.  I am the bread of life.  Your ancestors ate manna in the desert, but they died.  This is the bread that comes down from heaven, that a man may eat it and never die.  I myself am the living bread that came down from heaven.  If anyone eats this bread, he will live forever.  And the bread that I shall give is my own flesh for the life of the world.

The Collect:

Grant, O Lord, that we may so live in the Paschal mystery that the joy of these fifty days may continually strengthen us, and assure us of our salvation; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.


The Second Person of the Trinity became incarnate as Jesus not to glorify himself, but to help people and to glorify God.  His works and words attest to this.  The cross and the empty tomb testify to this, also.  Philip the Evangelist, filled with God helped an honest seeker (a Gentile, by the way) find God.  And apostles confronted a magician who sought only to glorify himself and to avoid the negative consequences of his actions.

Vocation is located at the intersection of one’s greatest joys and others’ deepest needs.  Specifics of vocation vary individually and according to time and circumstances.  One might have Vocation A for a time then Vocation B later, for example.  And Vocation C might overlap with A and B.  Yet I believe that one constant thread runs through all variable factors.  As the Westminster Larger Catechism states in its first answer,

Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him forever.

How is God calling you to live beyond yourself, help others, glorify God, and enjoy him forever?


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

Posted October 29, 2010 by neatnik2009 in 2023, April 27, Episcopal Church Lectionary

Tagged with , , ,

Eighteenth Day of Easter   8 comments


The Unstoppable Kingdom of God

April 26, 2023


Acts 6:1b-8 (Revised English Bible):

That day [the martyrdom of Stephen] was the beginning of a time of violent persecution for the church in Jerusalem; and all except the apostles were scattered over the country districts of Judaea and Samaria.  Stephen was given burial by devout men, who made a great lamentation for him.  Saul, meanwhile, has harrying the church; he entered house and house, seizing man and women and sending them to prison.

As for those who had been scattered, they went through the country preaching the word.  Philip came down to a city in Samaria and began proclaiming the Messiah there.  As the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, everyone paid close attention to what he had to say.  In many cases of possession the unclean spirits came out with a loud cry, and many paralyzed and crippled folk were cured; and there was great rejoicing in that city.

Psalm 66:1-9 (Revised English Bible):

Let all the earth acclaim God.

Sing to the glory of his name,

make his praise glorious.

Say to God,

How awesome are your deeds!

Your foes cower before the greatness of your strength.

The whole world bows low in your presence;

they praise your name in song.

Come and see what God has done,

his awesome dealings with mankind.

He changed the sea into dry land;

his people passed over the river on foot;

there we rejoiced in him

who rules for ever by his power.

His eyes keep watch on the nations;

let no rebel rise in defiance.

Bless our God, you nations;

let the sound of his praise be heard.

He preserves us in life;

he keeps our feet from stumbling.

John 6:35-40 (Anchor Bible):

Jesus explained to them [the crowd]:

I myself am the bread of life.  No one who comes to me shall ever be hungry, and no one who believes in me shall ever again be thirsty.  But, as I have told you, though you have seen [me], still you do not believe.  Whatever the Father gives me will come to me; and anyone who comes to me I will never drive out, because it is not to do my own will that I have come down from heaven, but to do the will of Him who sent me.  And it is the will of Him who sent me that I should lose nothing of what He has given me; rather,  should raise it up on the last day.  Indeed, this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks upon the Son and believes in him should have eternal life.  And I shall raise him up on the last day.

The Collect:

O God, by the abundance of your grace you unfailingly increase the number of your children: Look with favor upon those whom you have chosen to be members of your Church: that, having been born again in Baptism, they may be granted a glorious resurrection; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.


One of the parables of Jesus likens the Kingdom of God to a pesky plant which grows from the humble mustard seed.  The plant goes where it will, regardless of human efforts to combat it.  I live in Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, which contains much kudzu.  Stubborn, persistent plants are part of my daily environment.

In Serenity, the movie follow-up to the cult series Firefly, Mr. Universe tells Captain Malcolm Reynolds, “Can’t stop the signal, Mal.”  The truth got out in that movie, despite the efforts of authorities keep their secret and defend their position.

Authorities executed Jesus and consented to that murder.  Yet God raised him from the dead.  Authorities stoned Stephen the Deacon.  Yet the work of the nascent Christian movement flourished.

The Kingdom of God will continue to expand.  The mustard plant will spread out.  Kuzdu will keep growing.  And nobody can stop the signal. Thanks be to God (except for the kudzu)!


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

Seventeenth Day of Easter   13 comments

Eucharistic Miracle at Manciano

Image Source = Junior

Bread of Life

April 25, 2023


“I am the Bread of Life,” hymn text by Suzanne Toolan, as printed in Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006):

1.  “I am the bread of life.

You who come to me shall not hunger,

and who believe in me shall not thirst.

No one can come to me unless the Father beckons.


“And I will raise you up,

and I will raise you up,

and I will raise you up on the last day.”

2.  “The bread that I will give

is my flesh for the life of the world,

and if you eat of this bread,

you shall live forever,

you shall live forever.”


3.  “Unless you eat of the flesh of the Son of Man

and drink of his blood,

and drink of his blood,

you shall not have life within you.”


4.  “I am the resurrection, I am the life.

If you believe in me,

even though you die,

you shall live forever.”


Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ,

the Son of God,

who have come into the world.


Acts 7:51-8:1a (Revised English Bible):

[Stephen continued,]

How stubborn you are, heathen, still at heart and deaf to the truth!  You always resist the Holy Spirit.  You are just like your fathers!  Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute?  They killed those who foretold the coming of the righteous one, and now you have betrayed him and murdered him.  You received the law given by God’s angels and yet you have not kept it.

This touched them to the raw, and they ground their teeth with fury.  But Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, and gazing intently up to heaven, saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at God’s right hand.


he said.

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

At this they gave a great shout, and stopped their ears; they made a concerted rush at him, threw him out of the city, and set about stoning him.  The witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.  As they stoned him Stephen called out,

Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.

He fell on his knees and cried aloud,

Lord, do not hold this sin against them,

and with that he died.  Saul was among those who approved of his execution.

Psalm 31:1-5 (Revised English Bible):

In you, LORD, I have found refuge;

let me never be put to shame.

By your saving power deliver me,

bend down and hear me,

come quickly to my rescue.

Be to me a rock of refuge,

a stronghold to keep me safe.

You are my rock and my stronghold;

lead and guide me for the honour of your name.

Set me free from the net that has been hidden to catch me;

for you are my refuge.

Into your hand I commit my spirit.

You have delivered me, LORD, you God of truth.

John 6:30-35 (Anchor Bible):

So that we can put faith in you,

they [the people] asked him [Jesus],

what sign are you going to perform for us to see?  What is the ‘work’ you do?  Our ancestors had manna to eat in the desert; according to Scripture, “He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”

Jesus said to them:

Truly I assure you, it is not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, bit is my Father who gives you the real bread from heaven.  For God’s bread comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.

They begged,

Sir, give us this bread all the time.

Jesus explained to them:

I myself am the bread of life.  No one who comes to me shall ever be hungry, and no one who believes in me shall ever again be thirsty.

The Collect:

O God, by the abundance of your grace you unfailingly increase the number of your children: Look with favor upon those whom you have chosen to be members of your Church, that, having been born again in Baptism, they may be granted a glorious resurrection; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.


Jesus is the bread of life.  Stephen the Deacon had faith in Jesus.  His faith-based actions led to martyrdom and to life in heaven.  Stephen died, yet he lived.  Before the martyrdom of Stephen, Jesus died, yet he lived.  And, for nearly two thousand years, men, women, and children, trusting in Jesus’ promises, have followed in Stephen’s path.  They have died, yet they have lived.

Yet the bread of life is not for martyrs alone.  It grants life to all who have faith in the Messiah.  And all of us can access the sacramental bread of our Lord and Savior frequently.  Every time we partake of the Holy Eucharist we take Jesus (in the outward form of bread and wine) into our bodies.  May we become more like what we eat and drink sacramentally.


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

Posted October 29, 2010 by neatnik2009 in 2023, April 25, Episcopal Church Lectionary

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Sixteenth Day of Easter   11 comments

Christ in Majesty, Chartres Cathedral

Faith in Jesus, Not Tradition(s)

April 24, 2023


Acts 6:8-15 (Revised English Bible):

Stephen, full of grace and power, began to do great wonders and signs among the people.  Some members of the synagogue called the Synagogue of the Freedmen, comprising Cyrenians and Alexandrians and people from Cilicia and Asia, came forward and argued with Stephen, but could not hold their own against the inspired wisdom with which he spoke.  They then put up men to allege that they had heard him make blasphemous statements against Moses and against God.  They stirred up the people and the elders and scribes, set upon him and seized him, and brought him before the Council.  They produced false witnesses who said,

This fellow is for ever saying things against this holy place and against the law.  For we have heard him say this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and alter the customs handed down to us by Moses.

All who were sitting in the Council fixed their eyes on him, and his face seemed to them like the face of an angel.

Psalm 27:7-14 (Revised English Bible):

Hear, LORD, when I cry aloud;

show my favour and answer me.


my heart has said,

seek his presence.

I seek your presence, LORD;

do not hide your face from me,

nor in your anger turn away from your servant,

whose help you have been;

God my saviour, do not reject me or forsake me.

Though my father and my mother forsake me,

the LORD will take me into his care.

Teach me your way, LORD;

do not give me up to the greed of my enemies;

lead me by a level path

to escape the foes who beset me:

liars breathing malice come forward

to give evidence against me.

Well I know that I shall see the goodness of the LORD

in the land of the living.

Wait for the LORD; be strong and brave,

and put your hope in the LORD.

John 6:22-29 (Anchor Bible):

The next day the crowd which had remained on the other side of the sea observed that there had only been one boat there and that Jesus had not gone along with his disciples in that boat, for his disciples had departed alone.  Then some boats came out from Tiberias near the place where they had eaten the bread [after the Lord had given thanks].  So, once the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they too embarked and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus.

And when they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him,

Rabbi, when did you come here?

Jesus answered,

Truly, I assure you, you are not looking for me because you have seen signs, but because you have eaten your fill of the loaves.  You should not be working for perishable food but for food which the Son of Man will give you; for it is on him that God the Father has set His seal.

At this they said to him,

What must we do, then, to ‘work’ the works of God?

Jesus replied,

This is the work of God; have faith in him whom He sent.

The Collect:

O God, you have united diverse peoples in the confession of your Name: Grant that all who have been born again in the font of Baptism may also be united in faith and love; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.


Faith is an often used and frequently misunderstood word.  In its most unfortunate misapprehension the word means checking one’s brain at the church door and assenting blindly to what a designated ecclesiastical authority says.  This version of faith rests on accumulated tradition without questioning that tradition.  It states that people today need to accept propositions X, Y, and Z because that was what some people understood as truth in some previous year or era.

That is insufficient, and, in my opinion, simply wrong-headed.

In the context this day’s assigned reading from the Johannine Gospel faith is trust in one person, Jesus.  Faith and truth are related, for both depend on reliability.  Jesus is reliable, for he did what he said he would do.  His deeds and words were of a piece, so we can place our faith in him wisely.  Faith in Jesus can empower a person to withstand great hardship.  It empowered Stephen the Deacon to “have the face of an angel” in the company of those who, shortly after this day’s reading from Acts ended, had him executed.

Jesus of Nazareth is the Word of God.  May we who have faith in him deepen that faith, and may those who do not have faith in him come to it then deepen it.


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

Posted October 29, 2010 by neatnik2009 in 2023, April 24, Episcopal Church Lectionary

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Fourteenth Day of Easter   12 comments

St. Simon’s Island, Georgia, Lighthouse, 1848

Fear Not

April 22, 2023


Acts 6:1-7 (Revised English Bible):

During this period, when disciples were growing in number, a grievance arose on the part of those who spoke Greek, against those who spoke the language of the Jews; they complained that their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution.  The Twelve called the whole company of disciples together and said,

It would not be fitting for us to neglect the word of God in order assist in the distribution.  Therefore, friends, pick seven men of good repute from your number, men full of the Spirit and of wisdom, and we will appoint them for this duty; then we can devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.

This proposal proved acceptable to the whole company.  They elected Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, along with Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas of Antioch, who had been a convert from Judaism, and presented them to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.

The word of God spread more and more widely; the number of disciples in Jerusalem was increasing rapidly, and very many of the priests adhered to the faith.

Psalm 33:1-5, 18-22 (Revised English Bible):

Shout for joy in the LORD, you that are righteous;

praise comes well from the upright.

Give thanks to the LORD on the lyre;

make music to him on the ten-stringed harp.

Sing to him a new song;

strike up with all your skill and shout in triumph,

for the word of the LORD holds true,

and all his work endures.

He is a lover of righteousness and justice;

the earth is filled with the LORD’s unfailing love.

The LORD’s eyes are turned towards those who fear him,

towards those who hope for his unfailing love

to deliver them from death,

and in famine to preserve them alive.

We have waited eagerly for the LORD;

he is our help and our shield.

In him our hearts are glad,

because we have trusted in his holy name.

LORD, let your unfailing love rest on us,

as we have put our hope in you.

John 6:16-21 (Anchor Bible):

As evening drew on, his [Jesus’] disciples came down to the sea.  Having embarked, they were trying to cross the sea to Capernaum.  By this time it was dark, and still Jesus had not joined them; moreover, with a strong wind blowing, the sea was becoming rough.  When they had rowed about three or four miles, they sighted Jesus walking upon the sea, approaching the boat.  They were frightened, but he told them,

It is I; do not be afraid.

So they wanted to take him into the boat, and suddenly the boat reached the shore toward which they had been going.

The Collect:

O Lord, the life of the faithful, the glory of the saints, and the delight of those who trust in you: Hear our supplications, and quench, we pray, the thirst of those who long for your promises; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.


There are two kinds of fear:  good and bad.  Good fear tells me not to touch a hot surface, for example.  This variety of fear preserves me from needless and avoidable foolishness.  This day’s readings concern bad fear, however.

Bad fear is spiritually corrosive.  It prompts us to take our eyes off Jesus and not to trust in God.  Bad fear shifts our focus from our blessings to our anxieties.  These can assume a variety of forms:  financial, psychological, emotional, food-related, legal, et cetera.  And they are real and genuine reasons for concern.  Everyone who has lived long enough has accumulated these.  I know fear as I write this devotional.  Sometimes I experience episodes of crippling fear, but these end.  From late 2006 to middle 2007 I was at my low point; I would have welcomed death, not that I would have committed suicide then.  (I was too afraid to do that.)  But, with much divine and human help, I emerged from the crisis.  And I am stronger spiritually today because of it.

Experience teaches me that God casts out fear and calls me seek the divine face.  Life tells me that when I occupy a dark valley God is with me.  If I do not recognize this fact, I have not looked closely enough.

I write this devotional during a recession which affects mostly people who did not cause it.  During economic difficulties many people give voice to resentments, especially those located at the intersection of racism and economics.  Much of talk radio and 24-hour news channel programming relies on fear and fear-related anger to fill airtime and attract audiences.  Positive programming, although edifying, is less of a draw that fear-baiting.  Political strategists have known for many years that scaring people is more effective electoral strategy than appealing to the higher angels of human nature.

Who can deliver us from negative fear?  Only God.


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

Posted October 29, 2010 by neatnik2009 in 2023, April 22, Episcopal Church Lectionary

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Thirteenth Day of Easter   11 comments

Feeding of the Five Thousand (A Coptic Icon)

Recognizing Jesus (in the Eucharist)

April 21, 2023


Acts 5:34-42 (Revised English Bible):

But a member of the Council rose to his feet, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in high regard by all the people.  He had the men put outside for a while, and then said,

Men of Israel, be very careful in deciding what to do with these men.  Some time ago Theudas came forward, making claims for himself, and a number of our people, about four hundred, joined him.  But he was killed and his whole movement was destroyed and came to nothing.  After him came Judas the Gaillean at the time of the census; he induced some people to revolt under his leadership, but he too perished and his whole movement was broken up.  Now, my advice is this:  keep clear of these men; let them alone.  For if what is being planned and done is human in origin, it will collapse; but if it is from God, you will never be able to stamp it out, and you will risk finding yourselves at war with God.

Convinced by this, they sent for the apostles and had them flogged; then they ordered them to give up speaking in the name of Jesus, and discharged them.  The apostles went out from the Council rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer humiliation for the sake of the name.  And every day they went steadily on with their teaching in the temple and in private houses, telling the good news of Jesus the Messiah.

Psalm 27:1-6 (Revised English Bible):

The LORD is my light and my salvation;

whom should I fear?

The LORD is the stronghold of my life;

of whom then should I go in dread?

When evildoers close in on me to devour me,

is my adversaries, my enemies,

who stumble and fall.

Should an army encamp against me,

my heart would have no fear;

if armed men should fall upon me,

even though I would be undismayed.

One thing I ask of the LORD,

it is the one thing I seek:

that I may dwell in the house of the LORD

all the days of my life,

to gaze on the beauty of the LORD

and to seek him in his temple.

For he will hide me in his shelter

in the day of misfortune;

he will conceal me under cover of his tent,

set me high on a rock.

Now my head will be raised high

above my enemy all about me;

so I shall acclaim him in his tent with a sacrifice

and sing a psalm of praise to the LORD.

John 6:1-15 (Anchor Bible):

Later on Jesus crossed the Sea of Galilee [to the shore] of Tiberias, but a large crowd kept following him because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick.  So Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples.  The Jewish feast of Passover was near.

When Jesus looked up, he caught sight of a large crowd coming toward him; so he said to Philip,

Where shall we ever buy bread for these people to eat?

(Actually, of course, he was perfectly aware of what he was going to do, but he asked this to test Philip’s reaction.)  He replied,

Not even with two hundred days’ wages could we buy enough loaves to give each of them a mouthful.

One of Jesus’ disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, remarked to him.

There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and a couple of dried fish, but what good is that for so many?

Jesus said,

Get the people to sit down.

Now the men numbered about five thousand, but there was plenty of grass there for them to find a seat.  Jesus then took the loaves of bread, gave thanks, and passed them around to those sitting there; and he did the same with the dried fish–just as much as they wanted.  When they had enough, he told his disciples,

Gather up the fragments that are left over so that nothing will perish.

And so they gathered twelve baskets full of fragments left over by those who had been fed with the five barley loaves.

Now when the people saw the sign[s] he had performed, they began to say,

This in undoubtedly the Prophet who is to come into the world.

With that Jesus realized that they would come and carry him off to make him king, so he fled back to the mountain alone.

The Collect:

O Lord, you have saved us through the Paschal mystery of Christ:  Continue to support your people with heavenly gifts, that we may attain true liberty, and enjoy the happiness of heaven which he have begun to taste on earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever.  Amen.


Gamaliel stated that Jesus might have been the genuine article.  He was waiting for further evidence, but his conditional statement was ultimately correct.  At least that member of the Sanhedrin did not reject Jesus reflexively.  Christian tradition holds that Peter and John baptized Gamaliel and his son some time later.  Given the account from Acts 5:34-42, this is plausible.  (Historically speaking, that is as far as I can go.)

The assigned reading from the Johannine Gospel is a variation on the “Feeding of the Five Thousand.”  The text is clear that there were five thousand men, without stating the number of women and children.  This detail amplifies the wondrous nature of the feeding of such a large crowd with so few loaves and fishes.  The Johannine narrative focuses on the bread, not the fishes, for it emphasizes the proto-Last Supper nature of the event.  Today we Christians can have frequent access to Jesus through the blessed host, which becomes the body of our Lord and Savior, and so we can partake of another glorious mystery.

Gamaliel recognized the possibility that Jesus was who and what people claimed he was.  Do we recognize Jesus in the Holy Eucharist?


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

Posted October 29, 2010 by neatnik2009 in 2023, April 21, Episcopal Church Lectionary

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