Archive for the ‘Psalm 117’ Tag

Devotion for the Fiftieth Day of Easter: Day of Pentecost (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   6 comments

Above:  The Conquest of the Amorites, by James Tissot

Numbers and Luke, Part IX:  Fairness and Grace

JUNE 5, 2022

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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

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The Assigned Readings:

Numbers 21:10-35

Psalm 93 (Morning)

Psalms 136 and 117 (Evening)

Luke 21:20-38

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NOTE:

The sequence to which this post belongs continues at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS, beginning with the following URL:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2012/06/26/devotion-for-monday-and-tuesday-in-pentecost-week-lcms-daily-lectionary/.

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Israelite victories and conquests prior to the arrival in Canaan fill Numbers 21:10-35.  The narrative tells us that so long as they obeyed God, they won.  I wish that life were always as simple as obedience to God leading to success and prosperity.  Yet, as we read in Luke 21:12-19, sometimes it leads to persecution and betrayal.  Indeed, the betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot opens the next chapter.

I have no easy answers as to why bad things happen to good people.  Observation and the study of history have taught me some lessons.  Jealousies arise.  We see those who are better than ourselves and we seek to tear them down rather than to improve ourselves.  Or we misunderstand others, and we learn to hate those we do not understand.  Sometimes people are just in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Yet some people seem to have all the luck while others seem to have none.  The fact that I know all this does mean than I understand it very well.

I do know that the world is an unfair place.  I have railed against this to God.  The world is still horribly unfair, however.  But perhaps fairness is not the proper standard.  Grace is not fair either, but I try not to complain about that reality.  No, the standard I really seek is grace–to everybody.  And, when I perceive the absence of it, I become disturbed.  And I rail about it to God.  But to what extent are we–you, O reader, and I–supposed to function as agents of that grace more than we do?

Now that is a hard lesson.

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/numbers-and-luke-part-ix-fairness-and-grace/

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Devotion for the Forty-Third and Forty-Fourth Days of Easter (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   9 comments

Above:  A United States $500 Bill from 1918  

$500 in 1918= $7,470 in 2011 (Consumer Price Index)

Numbers and Luke, Part V:  Illusions and Attachments as Idols

MAY 29 and 30, 2022

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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

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The Assigned Readings:

Numbers 14:1-25 (43th Day of Easter)

Numbers 14:26-45 (44th Day of Easter)

Psalm 93 (Morning–43th Day of Easter)

Psalm 97 (Morning–44th Day of Easter)

Psalms 136 and 117 (Evening–43th Day of Easter)

Psalms 124 and 115 (Evening–44th Day of Easter)

Luke 18:18-34 (43th Day of Easter)

Luke 18:35-19:10 (44th Day of Easter)

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Some Related Posts:

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

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

Prayer of Dedication:

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

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I found Richard Elliott Friedman’s Commentary on the Torah (2001) helpful in understanding what happened in Numbers 14.  (Aside:  If you, O reader, do not have a copy of that excellent book, you might want to purchase one.)  The spies/scouts have returned from their mission.  Some have warned in dire tones of the dangers there.  As Friedman pointed out and I did notice, they had not mentioned God.  But Caleb was more optimistic, ready to go back with the rest of the population.

In Numbers 14 the community laments the possibility of going to Canaan.  Dying in the desert seems preferable.  Even returning to Egypt, where they had been slaves, seems better than going to Canaan.  Caleb and Joshua try to calm the people, to no avail.  God, angry, threatens to destroy the faithless people, but Moses talks God down.  Instead, God decrees, the people will get their wish:  they will die in the desert.  This does not make them happy either.  And those who, against divine instructions, go up against the Canaanites and the Amalekites without God’s blessing and the Ark of the Covenant perish.

As Friedman stresses, the problem was a slave mentality.  The faithless people had not had to act before.  The Egyptians had acted upon them and made decisions for them.  God had liberated them and provided them with manna and quail in the desert.  (They did have to eat.)  But resettling Canaan would require effort.  It would require them to decide then to act.

An entire generation’s experience is not easily reversed.

–Richard Elliott Friedman, Commentary on the Torah (2001), page 475

The faithless Israelites clung tenaciously to nostalgia (for slavery, oddly enough) and to a slave mentality.  The rich man in Luke 18:18-23 clung to his wealth, which blinded him to his total dependence on God.  Zacchaeus (in Luke 19:1-10) preferred an attachment to Jesus to one to wealth and the illusion of independence.

Illusions and attachments can be the most difficult idols from which to divorce ourselves.  An idol, of course, is anything which distracts us from God.  Statutes of pagan deities are obvious idols, but concepts can be less obvious and more powerful ones.  We depend entirely on God.  We cannot pull ourselves up by our spiritual bootstraps.  Yes, we have an obligation to cooperate with God, but we cannot save ourselves.  And grace–that which we do not do–requires much of us.  It requires us to decide then to act.  It is free, not cheap.

Which illusions and attachments are your most powerful idols, O reader?  I must recognize and confront mine.  May you do the same to yours.  And may we succeed via grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 21, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ALL FAITHFUL MEMBERS OF THE CLERGY

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALOYSIUS GONZAGA, JESUIT

THE FEAST OF HENARE WIREMU TARATOA OF TE RANGA, COMPASSIONATE HUMAN BEING

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JOHN JONES AND JOHN RIGBY, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/numbers-and-luke-part-v-illusions-and-attachments-as-idols/

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Devotion for the Thirty-Sixth and Thirty-Seventh Days of Easter (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   7 comments

Above:  The Return of the Prodigal Son, by Leonello Spada

Numbers and Luke, Part I:  Respecting God

MAY 22 and 23, 2022

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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

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The Assigned Readings:

Numbers 3:1-16, 39-48 (36th Day of Easter)

Numbers 8:5-26 (37th Dayof Easter)

Psalm 93 (Morning–36th Day of Easter)

Psalm 97 (Morning–37th Day of Easter)

Psalms 136 and 117 (Evening–36th Day of Easter)

Psalms 124 and 115 (Evening–37th Day of Easter)

Luke 14:25-15:10 (36th Day of Easter)

Luke 15:11-32 (37th Day of Easter)

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Some Related Posts:

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

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

Prayer of Dedication:

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

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I belong to a wonderful congregation in Athens, Georgia.  It is friendly, generous, socially progressive, and open to free intellectual and spiritual inquiry.  The parish has become a community leader in environmental stewardship, with plans to improve according to this standard.  Of all the churches to which I have belonged, it is the closest fit for me.  Yet I think that my parish is too casual.  This is not a deal breaker for me, but the place is too casual.  So I come to church most Sundays dressed in a suit, a tie, and a fedora.  I stand out.  In a place where I, once the resident heretic in southern Georgia, am now relatively orthodox (without having changed my mind much), I stand out in another way.  Blending in is overrated.

The concept of one’s Sunday Best is a dated one in my increasingly casual North American culture.  Without turning church into an occasion for a fashion show, I affirm the underlying principle of Sunday Best:  One ought not approach God with a casual attitude.  That principle also undergirded the purity and Levitical codes in the Law of Moses.

This God whom we should not approach casually is the one whom we should love more than any person, possession, or other attachment.  This is the God who seeks us out when we are lost.  This is the God who listens to our insults, waives the death penalty from the Law of Moses, awaits our return, and welcomes us home.  (The son in the parable had told his father, via his early request for his inheritance,

I wish that you were dead.

This met the definition of cursing or insulting a parent, an offense which carried the death penalty.)

This is God, worthy of all our respect.  May our manner and attitude of approaching God in public and private reflect that reality.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 16, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF RUFUS JONES, QUAKER THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN FRANCIS REGIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH BUTLER, ANGLICAN BISHOP

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/numbers-and-luke-part-i-respecting-god/

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Devotion for the Twenty-Ninth, Thirtieth, and Thirty-First Days of Easter (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   11 comments

Above:  A Long-Playing Record

Image Source = Tomasz Sienicki

Leviticus and Luke, Part V:  Like a Broken Record

MAY 15-17, 2022

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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

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The Assigned Readings:

Leviticus 20:1-16, 22-27 (29th Day of Easter)

Leviticus 21:1-24 (30th Day of Easter)

Leviticus 23:1-22 (31st Day of Easter)

Psalm 93 (Morning–29th Day of Easter)

Psalm 97 (Morning–30th Day of Easter)

Psalm 98 (Morning–31st Day of Easter)

Psalms 136 and 117 (Evening–29th Day of Easter)

Psalms 124 and 115 (Evening–30th Day of Easter)

Psalms 66 and 116 (Evening–31st Day of Easter)

Luke 11:37-54 (29th Day of Easter)

Luke 12:1-12 (30th Day of Easter)

Luke 12:13-34 (31st Day of Easter)

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Some Related Posts:

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

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

Prayer of Dedication:

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

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 I admit it; I sound like a broken record:  Loving people and seeking justice for them matters far more than does keeping an obscure element of the Law of Moses.  Speaking of that law code, shall we consider some provisions of it?  We read some sexual laws and an order to execute one for the offense of idolatry.  Then there is this law:

If anyone insults his father or his mother, he shall be put to death; he has insulted his father and his mother–his blood guilt is upon him.

–Leviticus 20:9, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

To insult is also to curse, the sort of activity the Prodigal Son committed in Luke 15.  Yet the father, the God figure in the parable, forgave the son.

We read in Leviticus 21:16 forward that physically handicapped or deformed Levites were forbidden to serve as priests.  It seems that such men were not supposed to serve God in that way because their physical imperfections reflected the divine form inadequately.  I am glad of progressive attitudes regarding physical differences in modern times; may these ideas flourish.

Then we read about what makes a sacrifice acceptable.  I do not care, for none of that has mattered since the first century CE.

Jesus criticized people who were meticulous about legalistic details while they ignored the imperative of social justice.  He advocated humility before God, trust in God, and active concern for the conditions and circumstances of others.  I think that he cared about blind and disabled Levites, who got to eat well yet were still second-class spiritual citizens.

Speaking of Levites, contact with a corpse made one unclean (Leviticus 22).  That concern played a role in the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37).  And who was the hero in that story?

People matter more than arcane laws.  Here ends the lesson, again.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 15, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT LANDELINUS OF VAUX, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; SAINT AUBERT OF CAMBRAI, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP; SAINT URSMAR OF LOBBES, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND MISSIONARY BISHOP; AND SAINTS DOMITIAN, HADELIN, AND DODO OF LOBBES, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONKS

THE FEAST OF EVELYN UNDERHILL, ANGLICAN MYSTIC

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/leviticus-and-luke-part-v-like-a-broken-record/

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Devotion for the Twenty-Second Day of Easter: Fourth Sunday of Easter (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   3 comments

Above:  A Vested Jewish Priest

Leviticus and Luke, Part I:  Laying Foundations

MAY 8, 2022

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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

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The Assigned Readings:

Leviticus 8:1-13, 30-36

Psalm 93 (Morning)

Psalms 136 and 117 (Evening)

Luke 9:1-17

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Some Related Posts:

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/02/prayer-of-praise-and-adoration-for-the-fourth-sunday-of-easter/

Prayer of Dedication:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/02/prayer-of-dedication-for-the-fourth-sunday-of-easter/

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With this post I leave the Book of Exodus behind and move into the Book of Leviticus.  Of that book Professor Luke Timothy Johnson of Emory University has said

There is a reason why the Bible remains the all-time best selling book, and it is not the Book of Leviticus.  It is the Gospels.  People want to understand about Jesus.

Jesus and the Gospels, Lecture One, The Teaching Company, 2004

Fortunately, we have plenty of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke.

The Book of Leviticus opens where the Book of Exodus ends.  The Tabernacle now functional, complete with the Presence of God, Leviticus Chapters 1-7, as summarized succinctly in 7:37-38, detail

…the rituals of the burnt offering, the meal offering, the sin offering, the guilt offering, with which the LORD charged Moses on Mount Sinai, when He commanded that the Israelites present their offerings to the LORD, in the wilderness of Sinai.

TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

It is not riveting reading.  Then Chapter 8 provides an account of the consecration of Aaron and his sons as priests.  The chapter concludes with these words:

And Aaron and his sons did all the things that the LORD had commanded through Moses.

–Leviticus 8:36, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

It is a story about laying foundations.  But do not become too enthusiastic, O reader; bad news awaits us after this chapter.

Jesus and the Apostles (eleven of whom became bishops) laid foundations in Luke 9:17.  This was not the Church yet, but the proclamation of the Gospel was present.  And a food miracle with Eucharistic overtones occurred.  Today, of course, institutions which are heirs of Jesus and the Apostles proclaim the message and offer the Holy Eucharist.

As we–you, O reader, and I–go through our daily lives, what foundations is God laying through us and in us?  I wonder what shape that work will assume and how that work will benefit others and glorify God.  If I am fortunate, I will, in time, receive at least an inkling, so that I may rejoice over more than a vague hope.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 9, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT COLUMBA OF IONA, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY AND ABBOT

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/leviticus-and-luke-part-i-laying-foundations/

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Devotion for the Fifteenth Day of Easter: Third Sunday of Easter (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   3 comments

Above:  The Golden Calf, by James Tissot

Exodus and Luke, Part VII: Discipleship, Jesus, and the Mean God of Exodus 32

MAY 1, 2022

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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

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The Assigned Readings:

Exodus 32:15-35

Psalm 93 (Morning)

Psalms 136 and 117 (Evening)

Luke 6:39-49

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Some Related Posts:

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/28/prayer-of-praise-and-adoration-for-the-third-sunday-of-easter/

Prayer of Dedication:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/28/prayer-of-dedication-for-the-third-sunday-of-easter/

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Why do you call me, “Lord, Lord” and not do what I say?

–Luke 6:46, The New Jerusalem Bible

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Psalm 136 is a litany of thanksgiving to God.  The refrain is

his love endures forever.

(Revised English Bible)

Yet I do not see divine love in Exodus 32:15-35.  Do a massacre and a plague constitute love?  Earlier in the chapter Moses had talked God out of retribution, but his attempt at the end of the chapter failed.

I think that the account in Exodus 32:15-35 assumes that, since God is in control of nature, God must have sent the plague.  And, given the bloody nature of certain Bible stories, especially massacres of those of have committed idolatry (as in the case of Elijah and the priests of Baal), I imagine some ancients not batting an eyelash.  Idolatry was on par with murder and cursing or insulting one’s parents as capital offenses in the culture of the Israelites at the time of Moses.  I am  glad that I did not live then; parents selling children into slavery, people executing others for reasons that, in civilized cultures today, do not warrant judicial intervention–it is all too much for my liberal, post-Enlightenment tastes.

Yet I understand the unifying theme which runs between the main readings:  A disciple of God is one who follows God.  Rank hypocrisy offends, does it not?  Those three thousand or so people whom the Levites killed had sworn to keep the new covenant, the one Moses annulled when he broke the stone tablets.  Then, oddly by Western individualistic standards, God punished the faithful people with a plague.  Was the collective responsible?  So, even if I strive to live faithfully in a sinful society, am I still responsible for societal sins?  So, how faithful am I?  And, if I am very faithful, what is the point if God is going to punish me for the sins of others anyway?

I am reading a text written from one set of assumptions in a mindset foreign to it.  So certain aspects of the narrative “will not compute.”  As for faithfulness, I can only do my best to follow God via Jesus then trust Jesus, who is more merciful than God seems to be at the end of Exodus 32.  Comedian Lewis Black has said in a routine that maybe having a child calmed God down between the Old and the New Testaments.  It is a good joke, one which points to an evolution in God concepts in the Bible.  It is also true that, if one accepts the terms of the joke, one commits at least one heresy.  But, to borrow the language, I seek mercy through that child.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 8, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CLARA LUGER, WITNESS FOR CIVIL RIGHTS

THE FEAST OF ROLAND ALLEN, ANGLICAN MISSIONARY

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/exodus-and-luke-part-vii-discipleship-jesus-and-the-mean-god-of-exodus-32/

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Devotion for the Eighth Day of Easter: Second Sunday of Easter (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   8 comments

Above:  A Trail in the Woods

Image Source = Daniel Case

Exodus and Luke, Part I: The Path to Life Itself

APRIL 24, 2022

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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

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The Assigned Readings:

Exodus 20:1-24

Psalm 93 (Morning)

Psalms 136 and 117 (Evening)

Luke 4:1-15

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Some Related Posts:

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/27/prayer-of-praise-and-adoration-for-the-second-sunday-of-easter/

Prayer of Dedication:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/27/prayer-of-dedication-for-the-second-sunday-of-easter/

Prayer:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/27/prayer-for-the-second-sunday-of-easter/

I Do Not Ask, O Lord:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2012/05/06/i-do-not-ask-o-lord/

O Jesus, I Have Promised:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/o-jesus-i-have-promised/

Lord, Help Us Walk Your Servant Way:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/07/01/lord-help-us-walk-your-servant-way/

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Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid; for God has come only in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may be ever with you, so that you do not go astray.”

–Exodus 20:17, TANAKH:  the Holy Scriptures

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But Jesus answered him, “Scripture days:

Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”

–Luke 4:12, The New Jerusalem Bible

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Do not try the LORD your God, as you did at Massah.

Be sure to keep the commandments, decrees, and laws that the LORD your God has enjoined upon you….

–Deuteronomy 6:16-17, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

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Much of the Hebrews Scriptures, written in Hebrew and translated in other languages many times, was originally oral tradition.  It was part of the oral tradition for a long time, so, when people began to write it down, they knew how the stories ended.  The pledge to obey God’s commandments in Exodus 20 is something one reads in context of the rest of the story.  The people will disobey, of course.  So the ending helps define the meaning of earlier parts of the story.

With this post the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod daily lectionary of 2006 I am following  leaves the the Letter to the Hebrews behind.  Now we find the Gospel of Luke paired with the Book of Exodus.  We pick up in Luke 4, after the Advent and Christmas material, the baptism of Jesus, and the arrest of St. John the Baptist.  So we begin with the temptation of Jesus–classic Lenten material in most lectionaries.  The common thread here between the two main readings is testing, so the choice of Luke 4:1-15 works well.

God can test the people’s loyalty–that is the divine right–so that a sense of fear–awe and respect, really–will be in the people, who will then not go astray.  But when people go astray, they put God to the test–try God.  And Jesus passes his test with flying colors; he obeys God.

I have commented on the Ten Commandments in other posts to which I have provided links.  There is far more to write about the Ten Commandments, of course.  Foster R. McCurley, Jr., in Exodus, a 1969 adult Christian education resource, offered this summary germane to this point:

These Ten Commandments were given  to Israel by Yahweh to guide her in her life of covenant.  They were the expression of the Lord’s will for the way the redeemed people should live.  But it happened that the very commandments which were given as a guide turned out to accuse the people of their sin against God and their breach of covenant responsibilities.  Thus, the law, including these commandments, convicted and accused Israel–just as it accuses us–and drives all sinners to the need for a savior.  In the Lutheran tradition this accusing element is the chief use of the Ten Commandments in the life of the Christian.

–Philadelphia, PA:  Lutheran Church Press, 1969, pages 94-95

This prompted me to recall St. Paul the Apostle’s passage in Romans 4:13-17, in which he wrote of Abraham, the Law, faith, and justification with God.  In particular I thought of this part:

…law can bring only retribution, and where there is no law there can be no breach of law.  The promise was made on the ground of faith in order that it might be a matter of sheer grace.

–Romans 4:15-16a, Revised English Bible

So the reality of law, and therefore of violation thereof, convicts us of our sinfulness.  Fortunately, we have a Savior–not a mere martyr or hero of whom to make flattering statements–but a Savior to follow.  How each of us ought to do that is different, for we come to God in varying circumstances, with different gifts and societal issues and barriers, and at a variety of times and places.  My path of discipleship as an educated white male in the State of Georgia in 2012 is not that of an illiterate female in a traditional and chauvinistic culture at this time or that of a highly educated male in previous times.  So, regardless of the particulars of what your path ought to be, O reader, I encourage you to follow it.  It is the path to life itself.  Meanwhile, I try to follow my path.  If we both succeed, we will arrive at the same destination.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 6, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CLAUD OF BESANCON, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, MONK, ABBOT, AND BISHOP

THE FEAST OF INI KORUPIA, FOUNDER OF THE MELANESIAN BROTHERHOOD

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/03/01/exodus-and-luke-part-i-the-path-to-life-itself/

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Devotion for the First Day of Easter: Easter Sunday (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   10 comments

Above:  Jim Crow Jubilee, Sheet Music  Cover, Circa 1847

Image Source = Library of Congress

Exodus and Hebrews, Part VIII: Covenants

APRIL 17, 2022

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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

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The Assigned Readings:

Exodus 14:10-31

Psalm 93 (Morning)

Psalms 136 and 117 (Evening)

Hebrews 7:23-8:13

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Some Related Posts:

Prayer:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/24/prayer-for-easter-sunday/

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/24/prayer-of-praise-and-adoration-for-easter-sunday/

Prayer of Dedication:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/24/prayer-of-dedication-for-easter-sunday/

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I’m just telling you what you already know….You know what’s right; trust yourselves.  Learn to love.  Learn to forgive.

–Jesus at the end of Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter (2001)

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I chose not to resist the desire to quote Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter, that crazy movie, which, by the way, one needs a firm grasp of the Gospels to comprehend fully.  And the quote relates to the readings for this day.

The Exodus from Egypt occurs in Exodus 14:10-31.  And Psalm 136 and Hebrews 8:6-12 refer to the Exodus.  Hebrews, when mentioning the Exodus, quotes Jeremiah 31:31-34, the glue which holds this set of readings together.  God liberated the Israelites from Egypt and established a covenant with them.  But Jeremiah 31:31-34 reminds us, they violated it.  Therefore consequences befell the people.  Yet God will establish a new covenant, one internalized by the people.  This is the covenant, of which Jesus is the mediator, according to Hebrews 8:6-13.

As a  song says,

You have to be taught to hate.

I labor under no delusions that unsocialized infants are pristine creatures then that society corrupts them.  In fact, I suspect that the roots of bullying reside in human nature itself.  Nevertheless, we do learn prejudices from others.  We learn a great deal from others as they socialize us.  Sometimes this is for the worse, as in racism and any other form of group-based hatred and related discrimination.  We are not born hating; no, we learn to do that.

So, if we look within ourselves and post negative socialization, we will find some great virtues, such as altruism.  We will obey the covenant God has placed within us.  We have a living role model, one whom humans killed yet which God raised to life again.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 2, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT STEPHEN OF SWEDEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY, BISHOP, AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF LYONS (A.K.A. SAINT BLANDINA AND HER COMPANIONS)

THE FEAST OF REINHOLD NIEBUHR, UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST THEOLOGIAN

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/03/01/exodus-and-hebrews-part-viii-covenants/

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Twentieth Day of Easter   19 comments

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

Effects and Agents of Divine Intervention

May 6, 2022 (Year C)

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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,

Ananias!

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.

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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?

KRT

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

Posted October 29, 2010 by neatnik2009 in 2022, Episcopal Church Lectionary, May 6

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