Archive for the ‘Psalm 103’ Tag

Devotion for the Third Sunday in Lent, Year D (Humes)   1 comment

Above:  The Taking of Christ, by Jacques de l’Ange

Image in the Public Domain

Loving Like Jesus

MARCH 20, 2022


The Collect:

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

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

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

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236


The Assigned Readings:

Hosea 6:1-11

Psalm 103:1-18

Colossians 2:6-19

John 18:1-14


Looking for Jesus is a theme in the readings from the New Testament.  The germane question is why one seeks him–to control or arrest him, with ultimate lethal intent or to follow him.  One can never control Jesus, of course.  But one can follow him.  Doing so entails repentance–actions, not just words or intentions.  Fortunately, God seems to like repentance.

Aspects of the readings from Hosea 6 and Colossians 2 require unpacking.  Hosea 6:4-11 condemns mistaking sacred rituals for talismans.  The Law of Moses, of which the Book of Hosea is fond, mandates certain rituals, but does not mistake them for talismans.  Obey the Law of Moses, with its moral obligations and keep the rituals, Hosea 6 teaches.  Likewise, there are Hellenistic cultural contextual issues at work in Colossians 2.  May you, O reader, and I never repeat the error of the General Assembly of the old Presbyterian Church in the United States (the “Southern Presbyterian Church”), which approved the following resolution:

There is no warrant for the observance of Christmas and Easter as holy days, but rather the contrary (see Galatians iv. 9-11; Colossians ii. 16-21), and such observance is contrary to the principles of the Reformed faith, conducive to will-worship, and not in harmony with the simplicity of the gospel in Jesus Christ.

The theme of the reading from Colossians 2 is the proper use of Christian liberty.  We are free in Christ to follow him.  The worldly distractions you, O reader, and I may contend with may be quite different from those for the original audience of the Letter to the Colossians.  May we not mistake culturally specific examples of timeless principles for those principles.

Loving one’s neighbor as one loves oneself can get one in deep trouble.  Obeying the moral obligations of divine commandments can be perilous.  Of course, the servant is not greater than the master.











Devotion for Palm Sunday/Passion Sunday (Ackerman)   1 comment

Above:  Christ Pantocrator

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Loving Like Jesus

APRIL 2, 2023


The Collect:

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

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

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

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236


The Assigned Readings:

Deuteronomy 16:1-3

Psalm 103:15-18

1 John 2:7-11, 15-17

John 16:16-33


The Gospel of John makes plain many points regarding Jesus.  Among them is that he was the Passover lamb that fateful Passover, the annual commemoration of God’s deliverance of the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt.

In John 16:33 Jesus, comforting his Apostles, says,

In the world you face persecution.  But take courage, I have conquered the world!

The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

Then, shortly later, he went off to die at the brutal hands of the Roman Empire.

Jesus as either delusional or accurate.  From a flawed, human perspective, he was the former.  Jesus was actually accurate, of course.  He modeled love–selfless and sacrificial love, such as that extolled in 1 John 2–to the end.  And, of course, there was the resurrection.

We who call ourselves Christians have a mandate from God to love radically, selflessly, and sacrificially.  We have orders to follow our teacher and to pursue a course higher than the ones we see held in esteem in society.  We have an obligation to do this without grumbling or any form of negativity.  We have a responsibility to pursue our divine vocation while trusting in God, through whom Jesus conquered the world.

The world does not seem conquered by Jesus, does it?  Nevertheless, God is in control; may we remember that.  God has purposes we cannot comprehend and tactics impossible for us to grasp.  Our duty is to love like Jesus.  May we, by grace, fulfill our duty before God.









Forty-Eighth Day of Easter   12 comments

“Follow Me.”

May 26, 2023


Acts 25:13-25 (Revised English Bible):

Some days later King Agrippa and Bernice arrived an Caesarea on a courtesy visit to Festus.  They spent some time there, and during their stay Festus raised Paul’s case with the king.

There is a man here,

he said,

left in custody by Felix; and when I was in Jerusalem the chief priests and elders of the Jews brought a charge against him, demanding his condemnation.  I replied that it was not Roman practice to hand a man over before he had been confronted with his accusers and given an opportunity of answering the charge.  So when they had come here with me I lost no time, but took my seat in court the very next day and ordered the man to be brought before me.  When his accusers rose to speak, they brought none of the charges I was expecting; they merely had certain points of religion, and about someone called Jesus, a dead man whom Paul alleged to be alive.  Finding myself out of depth in such discussions, I asked if he was willing to go to Jerusalem an stand trial on these issues.  But Paul appealed to be remanded in custody for his imperial majesty’s decision, and I ordered him to be detained until I could send him to the emperor.

Psalm 103:1-2, 19-22 (Revised English Bible):

Bless the LORD, my soul;

with all my being I bless his holy name.

Bless the LORD, my soul,

and forget none of his benefits.

The LORD has established his throne in heaven,

his kingly power over the whole world.

Bless the LORD, you his angels,

mighty in power, who do his bidding and obey his command.

Bless the LORD, all you his hosts;

his ministers who do his will.

Bless the LORD, all created things,

everywhere in his dominion.

Bless the LORD, my soul.

John 21:15-19 (Anchor Bible):

When they had eaten breakfast, Jesus addressed Simon Peter,

Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?

He said,

Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.

Jesus told him,

Then feed my lambs.

A second time Jesus repeated the question,

Simon, son of John, do you love me?

He said,

Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.

Jesus told him,

Then tend my sheep.

For the third time Jesus asked,

Simon, son of John, do you love me?

Peter was hurt because Jesus had asked for the third time,

Do you love me?

So he said to him,

Lord, you know everything; you know well that I love you.

Jesus told him,

Then feed my little sheep.  Truly I assure you, when you were a young man, you used to fasten your own belt and set off for wherever you wished.  But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.

(What he said indicated the sort of death by which Peter was to glorify God.)  After these words, Jesus told him,

Follow me

The Collect:

O loving Father, grant that your Church, being gathered by your Holy Spirit, may be dedicated more fully to your service, and live united in your love, according to your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.


Peter had denied Jesus three times before the crucifixion.  And he affirmed Jesus three times after the resurrection.  Yet there is more taking place in the reading from the Johannine Gospel.

The verbs for “love” vary slightly in the Greek language.  Commentaries I have consulted note this fact without assigning any significance to it, stating that these are synonyms, while noting that ancient and modern scholars have understood the different Greek words as being important.  Anyhow, the first two times Jesus and Peter converse Jesus asks if Peter has agape love for him, and Peter replies that he has phileo love for Jesus.  Agape is unconditional, sacrificial love–the kind of love God has for us.  Agape comes from the agapan, which is what John uses in the text.  (Agapan can mean “to prefer or to esteem.”)  Phileo is friendship and affection, which indicates passion, not preference.  The third time, however, Jesus asked if Peter had phileo love for him, and Peter replied that he had phileo love for Jesus.

So, if one assumes that differing Greek words indicate more than the use of synonyms, here is what the Johannine Gospel depicts.  The first two times Jesus asked Peter, “Do you prefer me to fishing and fishing boats?” and Peter’s replies indicated passion in the sense of friendship and brotherly love.  The third time, however, Jesus and Peter referred to phileo love.

Yet, as scholars of the Fourth Gospel indicate, that work uses agape (and its linguistic variations) and phileo (and its linguistic variations) interchangeably.

As a devotional exercise, however, I ask you, O reader, a spiritual question:  Do you have mere affection for Jesus, or do you prefer him to the alternatives in your life?  Follow the question wherever the Holy Spirit leads.

(Thanks to Father Raymond E. Brown’s commentary on John in sorting out Greek words, by the way.)

Both Peter and Paul became martyrs–Peter by crucifixion.  Considering himself unworthy to die as Jesus did, he was crucified upside-down.

The account from Acts becomes more understandable if one knows who these people were.  Herod Agrippa II was a client king within the Roman Empire.  Think of the British rule in India through 1947; London ruled parts of the subcontinent directly and others through natives.  Rome followed the same practice in the Holy Land.  Herod Agrippa II (reigned 53-100) was a great-grandson of Herod the Great (d. 4 B.C.E.), who had ordered the infamous massacre of the Holy Innocents.  Herod Agrippa II “ruled” part of his great-grandfather’s territory and was incestuous with Bernice, his sister, who went on to become the mistress of the Roman Emperor Titus (reigned 79-81).  Also, this Herod appointed the high priest.

Festus was the new Roman governor of Judea.  The author of Luke-Acts depicts him as a conscientious man who tried to follow the letter of the law, rule honorably, and clean up messes inherited from Felix, his predecessor.  Paul did not convince either Festus or Herod Agrippa II of the rightness of his cause, but, as Herod observed, Paul could have been freed if he had not asserted his right as a Roman citizen to appeal to the Emperor, who, unfortunately, was Nero (reigned 54-68).  (Yet Paul had a divine mandate to go to Rome.)  At Rome Paul met his death by beheading, although Acts ends before that event.

Paul preferred Jesus to the alternatives in his life.  And, at his end, so did Peter.


Published originally at SUNDRY THOUGHTS OF KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on April 9, 2010

Sixteenth Day of Lent   13 comments

The Return of the Prodigal Son, by Leonello Spada (1576-1622)

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Collect and lections from the Episcopal Lesser Feasts and Fasts Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints


Follow the assigned readings with me this Lent….

Kenneth Randolph Taylor


Micah 7:14-15, 18-20 (Revised English Bible):

Shepherd your people with your crook,

the flock that is your own,

that lives apart on a moor with meadows all around;

let them graze in Bashan and Gilead as in days gone by.

Show us miracles as in the days when you came out of Egypt.

Who is god like you?  You take away guilt,

you forgive the sins of the remnant of your people.

You do not let your anger rage for ever,

for to be merciful is your true delight.

Once more you will show us compassion and wash away our guilt,

casting all our sins into the depths of the sea.

You show faithfulness to Jacob, unfailing mercy to Abraham,

as you swore to our forefathers in days gone by.

Psalm 103:1-14 (Revised English Bible):

Bless the LORD, O my soul;

with all my being I bless his holy name.

Bless the LORD, my soul,

and forget none of his benefits.

He pardons all my wrongdoing and heals all my ills.

He rescues me from death’s pit and crowns me with love and compassion.

He satisfies me with all good in the prime of life,

and my youth is renewed like an eagle’s.

The LORD is righteous in all he does;

he brings justice to all who have been wronged.

He revealed his ways to Moses,

his mighty deeds to the Israelites.

The LORD is compassionate and gracious,

long-suffering and ever faithful;

he will not always accuse or nurse his anger forever.

He has not treated us as our sins deserve

or repaid us according to our misdeeds.

As the heavens tower high over the earth,

so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.

As far as east is from west,

so far from us has he put away our offences.

As a father has compassion on his children,

so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;

for he knows how we are made,

he remembers that we are but dust.

Luke 15:11-32 (Revised English Bible):

Again he [Jesus] said:

There was once a man who had two sons; and the younger said to the father, ‘Father, give me my share of the property.’  So he divided his estate between them.  A few days later the younger son turned the whole of his share into cash and left for a distant country, where he squandered it in dissolute living.  He had spent it all, when a famine fell upon that country and he began to be in need.  So he went and attached himself to one of the local landowners, who sent him on to his farm to mind the pigs.  He would have been glad to fill his belly with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.  Then he came to his senses: ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more food than they can eat,’ he said, ‘and here I am, starving to death!  I will go at once to my father, and say to him, “Father, I have sinned against God and against you; I am no longer fit to be called your son; treat me as one your hired servants.”‘ So he set out for his father’s house.  But while he was still a long way off his father saw him, and his heart went out to him; he ran to meet him, flung his round him, and kissed him.  The son said, ‘Father, I have sinned against God and against you; I am no longer fit to be called your son.’  But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Fetch a robe, the best we have, and put it on him; put a ring on his finger, and sandals on his feet.  Bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us celebrate with a feast.  For this son of mine was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and is found.’ And the festivities began.

Now the elder son had been out on the farm; and on his way back, as he approached the house, he heard music and dancing.  He called one of the servants and asked what it meant.  The servant told him, ‘Your brother has come home, and your father has killed the fatted calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ But when he was angry and refused to go in.  His father came out and pleaded with him; but he retorted, ‘You know how I have slaved for you all these years; I have never once disobeyed your orders; yet you never gave me so much as a kid, to celebrate with my friends.  But now that this son of yours turns up, after running through your money with women, you kill the fatted calf for him.’

‘My boy,’ said the father, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.’ How could we fail to celebrate this happy day?  Your brother here was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and has been found.’

The Collect:

Grant, most merciful Lord, to your faithful people pardon and peace, that they may be cleansed from all their sins, and serve you with a quiet mind; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.


Luke 15 contains three parables about being lost and found.  First, a shepherd tending a hundred sheep sought out one lost member of his flock the rejoiced.  Next, a woman sought and found a valuable coin in her home.  Then she rejoiced.  Finally, a patient father looked and waited for the return of wasteful son who had turned his back on his family.  When the son returned, the father rejoiced.

The Encarta World English Dictionary defines “prodigal” (as an adjective) to mean:

  1. EXTRAVAGANTLY WASTEFUL spendthrift or extravagant to a degree bordering on recklessness
  2. PRODUCING GENEROUS AMOUNTS giving or producing something in large amounts
  3. WASTING PARENTAL MONEY BUT STILL LOVED spending parental money wastefully, but returning home to a warm welcome

The third definition derives from this day’s parable.  The first meaning applies to the younger son, and the second definition applies to the father, a stand-in for God.

Tradition calls this day’s parable “the Prodigal Son.”  This is a misnomer.  It is really a parable about a loving father, as wasteful younger son who comes to his senses and repents, and a resentful older son who stays home dutifully.  The father loves his sons, both of whom disappoint him.  Yet the younger son repents.  And what about the older son?  His part of the story contains the climax of the parable.  He does not join in his father’s joy and extravagant grace.

Grace scandalizes us sometimes, especially if we are more like the older son than the younger one.  Grace means that someone does not receive what he or she deserves.  Yet none of us deserves grace, so who are we to criticize?  And can we not be merely decent human beings who rejoice in God’s extravagant, scandalous, even prodigal (according to definition #2) love?

Think of the reading from Micah.  To show mercy is God’s true delight.  And consult the psalm.  God knows that we are dust, is compassionate and gracious, and loves as a father (and mother, too) loves a child.  Previous readings this Lent have informed us that we should love God completely and be compassionate and merciful, as God is compassionate and merciful.  Let us connect the dots.  Let us love ourselves, one another, and God.  And if this causes scandal, so be it.


Written on February 24, 2010

First Day of Lent: Ash Wednesday   18 comments

Lent Begins

FEBRUARY 22, 2023


The Assigned Readings for This Feast:

Joel 2:1-2, 12-17 or Isaiah 58:1-12

Psalm 103 or Psalm 103:8-14

2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

The Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Lent is a time to prepare for Easter.  The forty days of this season exclude the Sundays which fall within its time span, hence the distinction between a day of Lent and a Sunday in Lent.

I invite you, O reader, to maintain a holy Lent.  There is more than one way to do this, and the best way to do it is the method which works for you.  Some suggestions follow:

  1. Fast one meal per day.
  2. Eat simpler meals than previously.
  3. Give up a bad habit.
  4. Take up a good habit.
  5. Increase your prayer time.
  6. Study the Bible more than before.

This weblog contains Lenten devotions specified per day.  Perhaps they will prove useful to you.  Writing and revising them is certainly a healthy spiritual exercise for me.

May the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today and always.


Written on June 16, 2010