Archive for the ‘Martin Luther’ Tag

Devotion for the Ninth and Tenth Days of Lent, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   5 comments

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Above:  The Dogma of the Redemption, by John Singer Sargent (1856-1925)

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-USZ62-133671

A Great Mutuality of Blessing

FRIDAY, MARCH 6, 2020, and SATURDAY, MARCH 7, 2020

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The Collect:

O God, our leader and guide, in the waters of baptism

you bring us to new birth to live as your children.

Strengthen our faith in your promises, that by your

Spirit we may lift your life to all the world 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:

Micah 7:18-20 (9th Day)

Isaiah 51:4-8 (10th Day)

Psalm 121 (Both Days)

Romans 3:21-31 (9th Day)

Luke 7:1-10 (10th Day)

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I lift up my eyes to the hills;

from where is my help to come?

My help comes from the LORD,

the maker of heaven and earth.

–Psalm 121:1-2, Book of Common Worship (1993)

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Recently I finished watching Professor Phillip Cary’s Teaching Company DVD series, Luther:  Gospel, Law, and Reformation (2004).  He is a well-informed scholar who has no qualms about stating his opinions plainly, therefore not feigning a disinterested objectivity.  His stance is one of academic hospitality while standing his ground.  Thus one learns, for example, how John Calvin’s theology differed from that of Martin Luther and where Cary comes down on those issues.  That is fair.

A point Cary made in one lecture applies to the readings for these two days.  Everyone, he said, receives his or her blessing from someone else.  God blesses the Jews, the Chosen People.  They benefit, yes, but so do Gentiles, through whom other blessings flow to Jews.  There is a great mutuality of blessing.  This principle remains true in other, smaller settings–communities, families, congregations, et cetera.  I can think of examples of it in my life.  And perhaps you, O reader, can do likewise.

Blessings–such as forgiveness of sin  via God–especially Jesus–are wonderful.  They are for the benefit of the forgiven, of course, but they also serve a greater purpose.  With great blessings come great responsibilities to function as conduits of grace for others.  The reality of God does nothing to detract from the human need for physical means of grace, such as other people and the sacraments.  Blessing others can range from a simple task to a more involved one and prove perilous to oneself.  Sometimes the latter is what love requires of one.  Yet whatever grace demands of us, may we respond affirmatively.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 25, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SQUANTO, COMPASSIONATE HUMAN BEING

THE FEAST OF JAMES OTIS SARGENT HUNTINGTON, FOUNDER OF THE ORDER OF THE HOLY CROSS

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/01/14/a-great-mutuality-of-blessing/

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

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Above:  The Plain of Esdraelon and the Carmel Ridge, Palestine, Ottoman Empire, 1900

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-matpc-01202

The Lineage of Faithful Community

THURSDAY, MARCH 5, 2020

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The Collect:

O God, our leader and guide, in the waters of baptism

you bring us to new birth to live as your children.

Strengthen our faith in your promises, that by your

Spirit we may lift your life to all the world 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:

Isaiah 51:1-3

Psalm 121

2 Timothy 1:3-7

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I raise my eyes to the Mountain,

whence will my help come to me?

My help will come from the home of Yahweh,

who made heaven and earth.

He shall not put your foot in the Quagmire,

your guardian shall not slumber.

Indeed he never slumbers nor sleeps,

the guardian of Israel.

Yahweh is your guardian,

Yahweh is your shade,

the Most High is your right hand.

By day the sun

will not strike you

Nor the moon at night.

Yahweh will guard you

from every evil.

He will guard your life.

Yahweh will guard your going and your coming

from now unto eternity.

–Psalm 121, translated by Mitchell Dahood in The Anchor Bible (1970)

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The readings from 2 Timothy and Isaiah remind us of spiritual legacies.  Typical Jewish practice was to speak of the nature of God by retelling what God had done.  Thus we read in Isaiah 51 of Abraham, Sarah, and gracious acts of God in the context of other statements of divine faithfulness, mercy, and judgment.  In my copy of The Revised English Bible (1989), opened to Isaiah 51:1-3, I read of part of Chapter 49, in which God is like a mother who can never forget her child.  And, in 49:26, I read these words:

I shall make your oppressors eat their own flesh,

and they shall be drunk with their own blood

as if with wine,

and all mankind will know

that I the LORD am your Deliverer,

your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.

When the oppressors refuse to cease oppressing, how can the situation be otherwise?

I, drawing from 2 Timothy 1, acknowledge that family inheritance helps explain why I am a Christian.  There is more to it than that, of course, but the family inheritance helps.  I grew up a Christian because of my family, but I remain one because of the person of Jesus of Nazareth.  As I check the lectionary I am following, I note that John 3:1-17 is the assigned Gospel reading to which one strain of these lections is building.  So I notice that 2 Timothy 1, in the context of John 3, ought not to become an excuse to rest on one’s spiritual inheritance.  The epistle confirms the necessity of active faith.

And, as for John 3, the proper English-language term is

born from above,

not

born again.

I, a Christian, have never had a

born again

experience, but I am familiar in my spiritual life with the Roman Catholic-Lutheran-Anglican sense of baptismal regeneration.  I follow Martin Luther’s advice and trust in the promises of God pronounced at baptism.

Psalm 121 speaks of divine protection–in this case, of religious pilgrims.  The Ancients knew of sunstroke, of course, hence one line of the text.  And many of them believed erroneously that the Moon could also be dangerous, hence terms such as

moonstruck

and

lunatic.

God, the psalm says, will protect also from the Moon.  Our fears, whether based in objective reality or not, are real, and we need grace for their alleviation.  May we welcome that grace and act boldly in faithfulness to God.  And may we join or continue in the line of those who have walked with God and bring others to the procession.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 25, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SQUANTO, COMPASSIONATE HUMAN BEING

THE FEAST OF JAMES OTIS SARGENT HUNTINGTON, FOUNDER OF THE ORDER OF THE HOLY CROSS

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/01/14/the-lineage-of-faithful-community/

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