Archive for the ‘John 7’ Tag

Fiftieth Day of Easter: Day of Pentecost, Year C   16 comments

Above:  Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit, Cumming, Georgia, Pentecost Sunday, June 12 2011

Image Source = Bill Monk, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

The Inclusive Gospel of Jesus

JUNE 5, 2022

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The Assigned Readings for This Sunday:

Acts 2:1-21 or Genesis 11:1-9

Psalm 104:25-35, 37

Romans 8:14-17 or Acts 2:1-21

John 7:37-39a

The Collect:

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

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Some Related Posts:

A Prayer for Those With Only the Holy Spirit to Intercede for Them:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/17/a-prayer-for-those-with-only-the-holy-spirit-to-intercede-for-them/

Come Down, O Love Divine:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/08/25/come-down-o-love-divine/

Come, Holy Spirit, Heavenly Dove:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/07/30/come-holy-spirit-heavenly-dove/

Invocation to the Holy Spirit:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/07/11/invocation-to-the-holy-spirit/

Holy Spirit, Font of Light:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/05/30/holy-spirit-font-of-light/

Prayer of Praise and Adoration for the Day of Pentecost:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/prayer-of-praise-and-adoration-for-the-day-of-pentecost/

Prayer of Confession for the Day of Pentecost:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/prayer-of-confession-for-the-day-of-pentecost/

Prayer of Dedication for the Day of Pentecost:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/prayer-of-dedication-for-the-day-of-pentecost/

Like the Murmur of the Dove’s Song:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/11/01/like-the-murmur-of-the-doves-song/

Spirit of God, Unleashed on Earth:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/10/22/spirit-of-god-unleashed-on-earth/

Pentecost Prayer of Adoration:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/pentecost-prayer-of-adoration/

Pentecost Prayers for Openness to God:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/pentecost-prayers-for-openness-to-god/

Pentecost Prayers of Confession:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/pentecost-prayers-of-confession/

Come, Holy Spirit, Come!:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2012/04/28/come-holy-spirit-come/

Come, Blessed Spirit! Source of Light!:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2012/05/08/come-blessed-spirit-source-of-light/

Come to Our Poor Nature’s Night:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2012/05/19/come-to-our-poor-natures-night/

Holy Ghost, With Light Divine:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2012/05/19/holy-ghost-with-light-divine/

Divine Spirit, Attend Our Prayers:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2012/05/19/spirit-divine-attend-our-prayers/

Come, Thou Holy Spirit Bright:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2012/05/30/come-thou-holy-spirit-bright/

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The LENTEN AND EASTER DEVOTIONS blog terminates each church year at the Day of Pentecost.  This practice makes sense because Pentecost Sunday is the last day of the Easter season.  There is another reason, however.  Liturgical renewal and restructuring for most of Western Christianity, beginning with the Roman Catholic Church in Advent 1969, has led to the labeling of the subsequent Sundays in Ordinary Time (beginning two weeks after Pentecost Sunday) as “after Pentecost” in lieu of the prior dominant practice, “after Trinity.”  (Disclaimer:  U.S. Methodists used to divide the post-Pentecost and pre-Advent time into two seasons:  Whitsuntude and Kingdomtide, with the latter beginning on the last Sunday in August.  And the Lutheran Service Book and Hymnal (1958) lists Ordinary Time Sundays as both “after Pentecost” and “after Trinity.”)  Trinity Sunday, of course, is the Sunday immediately following the Day of Pentecost.  Anyhow, those who continue to observe Sundays after Trinity are liturgical outliers.  My own denomination, since its 1979 Book of Common Prayer and the process which led up to it, operates on the Sundays after Pentecost pattern.  It is what I have known.  The 1928 Book of Common Prayer is an artifact from which I have never worshiped.  Sundays after Trinity seem quaint to me.

So here we are, on the cusp of changing seasons and Sunday numbering (the Propers through 29 are almost upon us), pondering two opposite and assigned stories.  The Tower of Babel myth tells of linguistic differences causing confusion and thwarting human ambitions.  (We know from anthropology, history, and science that linguistic diversity is much older than the timeframe of the Tower of Babel story.)  The sin in the myth is pride, which God confounds.  Yet linguistic variety cannot confound God’s purposes in Acts 2 because God will not permit it to do so.  The proverbial living water of Jesus, whose glorification in the Gospel of John was his crucifixion–something humiliating and shameful by human standards–would be available regardless of one’s language.

Thus the Church was born.  It is always changing and reforming, adapting to changing circumstances and seeking to look past human prejudices and false preconceptions.  I prefer to include as many people as possible while maintaining liturgical reverence and orthodox (Chalcedonian, etc.) Christology.  I do, in other words have boundaries, but they are too large according to those on my right and too small according to those on my left.  That makes me something of a moderate, I suppose.  “Left of center” might be more accurate.  Regardless of who is correct, may the church and its constituent parts follow the crucified and resurrected Lord and Savior, who transmuted shame and humiliation into glory, who ate with notorious sinners, whose grace scandalized respectable and respected religious authorities.  Or are we become modern counterparts of the scribes and Pharisees with whom Jesus locked horns?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 23, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICETAS OF REMESIANA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF WIREMU TAMIHANA, MAORI PROPHET AND KINGMAKER

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/the-inclusive-gospel-of-jesus/

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

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

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

“For the Common Good”

MAY 31, 2020

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The Assigned Readings for This Sunday:

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

Psalm 104:25-35, 37

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

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

The Collect:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Empowered by God, may we do so.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 21, 2010 COMMON ERA

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

Twenty-Ninth Day of Lent   12 comments

Susanna and the Elders, by Albrecht Altdorfer (c.1480-1538)

Monday, April 4, 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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Daniel 13:1-9, 15-29, 34-62 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

There was a man living in Babylon whose name was Joakim.  And he took a wife named Susanna, the daughter of Hilkiah, a very beautiful woman and one who feared the Lord.  Her parents were righteous, and had taught their daughter according to the Law of Moses.  Joakim was very rich and had a spacious garden adjoining his house; and the Jews used to come to him because he was the most honored of them all.

In that year two elders from the people were appointed as judges.  Concerning them the Lord had said:

Iniquity came forth from Babylon, from elders who were judges, who were supposed to govern the people.

These men were frequently at Joakim’s house, and all who had suits at law came to them.

When the people departed at noon, Susanna would go into her husband’s garden to walk.  The two elders used to see her every day, going in and walking about, and they began to desire her.  And they perverted their minds and turned away their eyes from looking to Heaven or remembering righteous judgments.

Once, while they were watching for an opportune day, she went in as before with only two maids, and wished to bathe in the garden, for it was very hot.  And no one was there except the two elders, who had hid themselves and were watching her.  She said to her maids,

Bring me oil and ointments, and shut the garden doors so that I may bathe.

They did as she said, shut the garden doors, and went by the side doors to bring what they had been commanded; and they did not see the elders, because they were hidden.

When the maids had gone out, the two elders rose and ran to her, and said,

Look the garden doors are shut, no one sees us, and we are in love with you; so give your consent, and lie with us.  If you refuse, we will testify against you that a young man was with you, and this was why you sent your maids away.

Susanna sighed deeply, and said,

I am hemmed in on every side.  For if I do this thing, it is death for me; and if I do not, I shall not escape your hands.  I choose not to do it and to fall into your hands, rather than to sin in the sight of the Lord.

Then Susanna cried out with a loud voice, and the two elders shouted against her.  And one of them ran and opened the garden doors.  When the household servants heard the shouting in the garden, they rushed in at the side door to see what had happened to her.  And when the elders told their tale, the servants were greatly ashamed, for nothing like this had ever been said about Susanna.

The next day, when the people gathered at the house of her husband Joakim, the two elders came, full of their wicked plot to have Susanna put to death.  They said before the people,

Send for Susanna, the daughter of Hilkiah, who is the wife of Joakim.

Then the two elders stood up in the midst of the people, and laid their hands upon her head.  And she, weeping, looked up toward heaven, for her heart trusted in the Lord.  The elders said,

As we were walking in the garden alone, this woman came in with two maids, shut the garden doors, and dismissed the maids.  Then a young man, who had been hidden, came to her and lay with her.  We were in a corner of the garden, and when we saw this wickedness we ran to them.  We saw them embracing, but we could not hold the man, for hew was too strong for us, and he opened the doors and dashed out.  So we seized this woman and asked her who the young man was, but she would not tell us.  These things we testify.

The assembly believed them, because they were elders of the people and judges; and they condemned her to death.

Then Susanna cried out with a loud voice, and said,

O eternal God, who discern what is secret, who are aware of all things before they come to be, you know that these men have borne false witness against me.  And now I am to die!  Yet I have done none of the things they have wickedly invented against me!

The Lord heard her cry.  And as she was being led away to be put to death, God aroused the holy spirit of a young lad named Daniel; and he cried with a loud voice,

I am innocent of the blood of this woman.

All the people turned to him, and said,

What is this that you have said?

Taking his stand in the midst of them, he said,

Are you such fools, you sons of Israel?  Have you condemned a daughter of Israel without examination and without learning the facts?  Return to the place of judgment.  For these men have borne false witness against her.

Then all the people returned in haste.  And the elders said to him,

Come, sit among us and inform us, for God has given you that right.

And Daniel said to them,

Separate them far from each other, and I will examine them.

When they were separated from each other, he summoned one of them and said to him,

You old relic of wicked days, your sins have now come home, which you have committed in the past, pronouncing unjust judgments, condemning the innocent and letting the guilty go free, though the Lord said, ‘Do not put to death an innocent and righteous person.’ Now then, if you really saw her, tell me this: Under what tree did you see being intimate with each other?

He answered,

Under a mastic tree.

And Daniel said,

Very well!  You have lied against you own head, for the angel of God has received the sentence from God and will immediately cut you in two.

Then he put him aside, and commanded them to bring the other.  And he said to him,

You offspring of Canaan and not of Judah, beauty has deceived you and lust has perverted your heart.  This is how you have been dealing with the daughters of Israel, and they were intimate with you through fear; but a daughter of Judah would not endure your wickedness.  Now then, tell me:  Under what tree did you catch them being intimate with each other?

He answered,

Under an evergreen oak.

And Daniel said to him,

Very well!  You have lied against your own head, for the angel of God is waiting with his sword to saw you in two, that he may destroy you both.

Then all the assembly shouted loudly and blessed God, who saves all who hope in him.  And they rose against the two elders, for out of their mouths Daniel had convicted them of bearing false witness. and they did to them as they had wickedly planned to do their neighbor; acting in accordance with the law of Moses, they put them to death.  Thus innocent blood was saved that day.

Psalm 23 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want;

he makes me lie down in green pastures.

He leads me beside still waters;

he restores my soul.

He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I fear no evil;

for you are with me;

your rod and your staff,

they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;

you anoint my head with oil,

my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;

and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

John 7:53-8:11 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

They [the chief priests and Pharisees] went each to his own house, but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.  Early in the morning he came again to the temple; all the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them.  The scribes and Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in their midst they said to him,

Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery.  Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such.  What do you say about her?

This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him.  Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.  And as they continued to ask him he stood up and said to them,

Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw the stone at her.

And once more he bent down  and wrote with his finger on the ground.  But when they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.  Jesus looked up and said to her,

Woman, where are they?  Has no one condemned you?

She said,

No one, Lord.

And Jesus said,

Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again.

The Collect:

Be gracious to your people, we entreat you, O Lord, that they, repenting day by day of the things that displease you, may be more and more filled with love of you and of your commandments; and, being supported by your grace in this life, may come to the full enjoyment of eternal life in your everlasting kingdom; 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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The story of Susanna, one of the Greek additions to the Book of Daniel, is canon in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions.  It is also an ancient example of a detective story and a courtroom drama.  The two lecherous and would-be murderous elders commit perjury and face the consequences of their actions.  They attempt to blackmail the virtuous (and married) Susanna into having sex with them in violation of the Law of Moses, which proscribes execution for all sexual partners involved in adultery.  The same law code states elsewhere that false witnesses will suffer the same fate they wish upon the innocent party or parties.

This day’s reading from John was originally in Luke, but that is a point of information, not formation.  My approach in these devotions is to seek formation.  So let us proceed, taking the reading on its own terms and in narrative context.

The placement of this story at this point in the Johannine Gospel narrative indicates heightened tensions between Jesus and religious authorities, who try repeatedly to entrap him in his words.  In this case the pawn is a woman caught in adultery.  The text states her guilt of the charge and the existence of a man who does not appear in the story.  He got away, and this fact does not seem to trouble the religious authority figures in front of Jesus.  The Law of Moses called for the execution of the man and the woman committing adultery.  This is a trap for Jesus, and he knows it.  So he exposes their hypocrisy, and they skulk away.  And Jesus sends the woman on her way, granting her a new beginning.

Righteousness does not consist of manipulating religious laws and traditions to cover up nefarious goals.  Nor does it is not involve playing “gotcha” with anyone.  No, I think that righteousness is much like love.  It is patient and kind, eschews arrogance and does not insist on its own way.  Righteousness, like love, rejoices in the truth, not wrongdoing.  Righteousness entails caring about the consequences of one’s actions on others.

Let us pursue righteousness, not self-justification at the expense of others.

KRT

Written on March 5, 2010

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/02/14/the-pursuit-of-righteousness/

Posted October 29, 2010 by neatnik2009 in 2022, April 4, Episcopal Church Lectionary

Tagged with , , , ,

Twenty-Eighth Day of Lent   17 comments

Logo of the Moravian Church

Image Source = JJackman

Saturday, April 2, 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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Jeremiah 11:18-20 (New Revised Standard Version):

It was the LORD who made it known to me, and I knew;

then you showed me their evil deeds.

But I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter.

And I did not know it was against me that they devised schemes, saying,

Let us destroy the tree with its fruit,

let us cut him off from the land of the living,

so that his name will no longer be remembered!

But you, O LORD of hosts, who judge righteously,

who try the heart and the mind,

let me see your retribution upon them,

for to you I have committed my cause.

Psalm 7:6-11 (New Revised Standard Version):

Rise up, O LORD, in your anger;

lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies;

awake, O my God; you have appointed a judgment.

Let the assembly of the peoples be gathered around you,

and over it take your seat on high.

The LORD judges the peoples;

judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness

and according to the integrity that is in me.

O let the evil of the wicked come to an end,

but establish the righteous,

who test the minds and hearts,

O righteous God.

God is my shield,

who saves the upright in heart.

God is a righteous judge,

and a God who has indignation every day.

John 7:37-52 (New Revised Standard Version):

On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out,

Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink.  As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’

Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit because Jesus was not yet glorified.

When they heard these words, some in the crowd said,

This is really the prophet.

Others said,

This is the Messiah.

But some asked,

Surely the Messiah does not come from Galilee, does he?  Has not the scripture said that the Messiah is descended from David and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?

So there was a division in the crowd because of him.  Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.

Then the temple police went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them,

Why did you not arrest him?

The police answered,

Never has anyone spoken like this!

Then the Pharisees replied,

Surely you have not been deceived, too, have you?  Has any one of the authorities or of the Pharisees believed in him?  But this crowd, which does not know the law–they are accursed.

Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus before, and who was one of them, asked,

Our law does not judge people without first giving them a hearing to find out what they are doing, does it?

They replied,

Surely you are not also from Galilee, are you?  Search and you will see that no prophet is to arise from Galilee.

The Collect:

Mercifully hear our prayers, O Lord, and spare all those who confess their sins to you; that those whose consciences are accursed by sin may by your merciful pardon be absolved; 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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This day’s readings are full of anger.  A righteous man obeying divine instructions faces the dangers associated with his thankless calling and pleas for retribution upon his persecutors.  A psalmist makes the same request.  And religious authorities continue their plotting to eliminate Jesus, whom they perceive as a threat.

Like anyone else I have opinions, many of which I hold strongly.  Sometimes I think that anyone who disagrees with me is misinformed at best.  If I feel less charitable, I might perceive the disagreeing party as an idiot.  On occasion I think that another opinion is dangerous, but never have I agreed with or advocated an assassination squad, torture, execution, or a show trial for anyone.

Yet some of these suggestions have appeared in readings to date, and others will do so.  Characters who identify themselves with godliness supported such tactics in the pages of the Gospels.  Perhaps some of this is due to the fact the partisans of Jesus wrote the canonical Gospels, for one must consider who wrote a document when interpreting it.  Yet I stand convinced that any exaggeration, if present, is slight.  My study of history and recent and current events tells me that people who think they are on God’s side (and therefore all who disagree with them are not) and who feel defensive and homicidal can rationalize to themselves even the greatest atrocities, ranging from the Crusades to the Inquisition to the Religious Wars to the Salem Witch Trials to terrorist attacks.  So, a plot among religious leaders to kill Jesus (ultimately via the Roman Empire) is believable.

It is easy to criticize these conspirators thousands of years later.  But think about this honestly, and perhaps painfully:  Which character are you in each of these readings?  I am not certain that I would have welcomed and followed Jesus had I lived in his time and place.  This conclusion disturbs my conscience and moves to seek divine pardon.  Jesus upset many apple carts in ancient times, and continues to do so.

Too often we of the Church have attempted to domesticate Jesus.  We have reduced him to a smiling man with a child on one knee while dispensing wisdom.  And we have oversimplified his character and occasional mood swings and chosen to ignore difficult sayings.  And when we have arrived at hard-to-digest material, such as the Passion narrative, we have reduced our Lord and Savior to a martyr about whom we make positive statements, but whom we dare not follow too closely.  We have passed off padlum as truth.

Well, Jesus is not domesticated, and God does not fit into a theological box.  Human minds cannot perceive the immensity of God and divine judgment and mercy.  So, much theological humility is appropriate on everybody’s part.    And we must submit ourselves to the mystery which is God without committing intellectual suicide. And we must be open to divine surprises, which are numerous.

KRT

Written on March 4, 2010

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/domesticating-jesus/

Posted October 28, 2010 by neatnik2009 in 2022, April 2, Episcopal Church Lectionary

Tagged with , ,

Twenty-Seventh Day of Lent   15 comments

Jesus:  Alpha and Omega

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Friday, April 1, 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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Wisdom 2:1a, 12-24 (New Revised Standard Version):

For they [the ungodly] reasoned unsoundly, saying to themselves,

Let us lie in wait for the righteous man,

because he is inconvenient to us and opposes our actions;

he reproaches us for sins against the law,

and accuses us of sins against our training.

He professes to have knowledge of God,

and calls himself a child of the Lord.

He became to us a reproof of our thoughts;

the very sight of him is a burden to us,

because his manner of life is unlike that of others,

and his ways are strange.

We are considered by him as something base,

and he avoids our ways as unclean;

he calls the last end of the righteous hapy,

and boasts that God is his father.

Let us see if his words are true,

and let us test what will happen at the end of his life;

for if the righteous man is God’s child, he will help him,

and will deliver him from the hand of his adversaries.

Let us test him with insult and torture,

so that we may find out how gentle he is,

and make trial of his forbearance.

Let us condemn him to a shameful death,

for, according to what he says, he will be protected.

Thus they reasoned, but they were led astray,

for their wickedness blinded them,

and they did not know the secret purposes of God,

nor hoped for the wages of holiness,

nor discerned the prize of blameless souls;

for God created us for incorruption,

and made us in the image of his own eternity,

but through the devil’s envy death entered the world,

and those who belong to his company experience it.

Psalm 34:15-22 (New Revised Standard Version):

The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous,

and his ears are open to their cry.

The face of LORD is against evildoers,

to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.

When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears,

and rescues them from all their troubles.

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted,

and saves the crushed in spirit.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous,

but the LORD rescues them from them all.

He keeps all their bones;

not one of them will be broken.

Evil brings death to the wicked,

and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.

The LORD redeems the life of his servants;

none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.

John 7:1-2, 10, 35-30 (New Revised Standard Version):

After this [many disciples abandoning Jesus followed by Jesus predicting his betrayal, in 6:60-71] Jesus went about in Galilee.  He did not wish to go about in Judea because the Jews [not all of them, as I wrote in a previous devotion–KRT] were looking for an opportunity to kill him.  Now the Jewish festival of Booths was near.

But after his brothers had gone to the festival, then he also went, not publicly but as it were in secret.

Now some of the people of Jerusalem were saying,

Is not this the man whom they are trying to kill?  And here he is, speaking openly, but they say nothing to him!  Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Messiah?  Yet we know where this man is from; but when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.”

Then Jesus cried out as he was teaching in the Temple,

You know me, and you know where I am from.  I have not come on my own.  But the one who sent me is true, and you do not know him.  I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.

Then they tried to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him, because his hour had not yet come.  Yet many in the crowd believed in him and were saying,

When the Messiah comes, will he do more signs than this man has done?

The Collect:

O God, you have given us the Good News of your abounding love in your Son Jesus Christ:  So fill our hearts with thankfulness that we may rejoice to proclaim the good tidings we have received; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

++++++++++++

You might have noticed the increased amount of foreshadowing of Holy Week in this day’s readings relative to previous days’ lections.  I did as I typed them.  Lent has forty days, and the end of that season is near to March 19.  As we near the conclusion of Lent and prepare to enter the Easter season, let us give all the details of the Passion narrative their due.  These are not celebratory, as is Christmas.  Yet they are no less crucial to Christianity.

The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus reflect the abounding love of God for sinful human beings.  May we rejoice to proclaim these good tidings we have received.  But do we recognize the good tidings we have received?  One of the themes of the Gospel of Mark is the Messianic Secret.  The meaning of being the Messiah was not to expel the occupying Roman forces from the Jewish homeland, as many people expected and hoped.  Rather, the Messiah was the Suffering Servant, and this became clear through his death.  Yet let us continue the story in due season, for if we stop at Good Friday we have dead Jesus.

But let us not get ahead of ourselves.

Prior to the failed experiment called Prohibition one of the most prominent Evangelical organizations in the rural United States was the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU).  A story (perhaps apocryphal) about the WCTU follows:  A woman traveling the WCTU lecture circuit spoke in a certain town.  After delivering her stump speech about how God wants all people to abstain from alcohol, she asked if anyone in the audience had any questions.  One young man raised his hand politely, and the lady called on him.  He asked, “If what you say is true, how do you explain Jesus turning water into wine at Cana?”  The woman answered, “I would like him better if he had not done that.”

Does Jesus disappoint us?  If so, this is our problem, not his.  He is the abounding love of God incarnate.  Jesus is exactly who and what he should be.  If he does not live up to our expectations, we need to reexamine our presumptions.

KRT

Written on March 3, 2010