Archive for the ‘Psalm 138’ Tag

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

Above:  Moses Striking the Rock, by Pieter de Grebber

Numbers and Luke, Part VIII:   The Sin of Pride

JUNE 3 and 4, 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 20:1-21 (48th Day of Easter)

Numbers 20:22-21:9 (49th Day of Easter)

Psalm 96 (Morning–48th Day of Easter)

Psalm 92 (Morning–49th Day of Easter)

Psalms 50 and 138 (Evening–48th Day of Easter)

Psalms 23 and 114 (Evening–49th Day of Easter)

Luke 20:19-44 (48th Day of Easter)

Luke 20:45-21:9 (49th Day of Easter)

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The readings for today occur against the backdrop of death.  Miriam and Aaron die.  Jesus will die soon.  And, in the midst of all this, the main sin common to the readings from Numbers and Luke is pride, being spectacular.  That was the sin of Moses, whose disobedience detracted from the glory of God.  And the scribes in Luke 20:45-47 reveled in public acclaim while devouring the property of widows.  Furthermore, those who wasted our Lord’s time with a political trap and with sophistry earlier in Luke 20 probably thought their rhetorical powers and mind games clever.  They were mistaken.

To have a balanced self-image, or ego, is crucial.  We are neither worms nor demigods.  We are, however, bearers of the image of God.  And, as the author of the Letter to the Hebrews wrote in poetic terms, we are slightly lower than the angels.  So we ought to acknowledge our potential, its source, and our limitations.  To miss the mark–to aim too high or too low–is to arrive at an inaccurate estimate of our true worth.

May we therefore think neither too highly nor too lowly of ourselves.  And may we let God appear as spectacular as possible.  Not to do so is to commit the sin of pride.

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-viii-the-sin-of-pride/

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Devotion for the Thirty-Fourth and Thirty-Fifth Days of Easter (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   11 comments

Above:  Jesus Carrying the Cross, by El Greco

Leviticus and Luke, Part VIII:  Sin and Suffering

MAY 20 and 21, 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 26:1-20 (34th Day of Easter)

Leviticus 26:21-33, 39-44 (35th Day of Easter)

Psalm 96 (Morning–34th Day of Easter)

Psalm 92 (Morning–35th Day of Easter)

Psalms 50 and 138 (Evening–34th Day of Easter)

Psalms 23 and 114 (Evening–35th Day of Easter)

Luke 13:18-35 (34th Day of Easter)

Luke 14:1-24 (35th Day of Easter)

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The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod lectionary of 2006 (from the Lutheran Service Book) skipped over Leviticus 25, which includes the year of the Jubilee.  People should have observed it more often than they did.  If one had lost an inheritance of land, he was supposed to get it back.  Slaves were to become free people.  the land was supposed to lie fallow, for its benefit and that of the people.  The underlying principle was that everything belonged to God.

The theology of sin and suffering in Leviticus 26 is overly simplistic.  Sin leads to suffering; righteousness leads to blessings.  The Book of Job argues against this theology as a universal rule.  And Jesus, in Luke 13 and 14, was en route to Jerusalem to die–not for his own sins (as he had none) but for and because of the sins of others.  Herod Antipas (Luke 13:31-33) wanted Jesus dead.  His father, Herod the Great, had also wanted Jesus dead.  Seeking the death of another is certainly sinful.

Blessed are you when people hate you, drive you out, abuse you, denounce your name as criminal, on account of the Son of Man.  Rejoice when that day comes and dance for joy, look!–your reward will be great in heaven.  This was the way their ancestors treated the prophets.

–Luke 6:22-23, The New Jerusalem Bible

Not all will go well for us when we walk with God.  Yet it is good to walk with God, regardless of the price one must pay.  What can one offer in exchange for one’s soul?

I close with words by William Alexander Percy (1885-1942):

The peace of God,

it is no peace,

but strife closed in the sod.

Yet let us pray for just one thing–

the marvelous peace of God.

Amen.

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/leviticus-and-luke-part-viii-sin-and-suffering/

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Devotion for the Twenty-Sixth, Twenty-Seventh, and Twenty-Eighth Days of Easter (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   2 comments

Above:  A Vegetable Garden Which Violates the Law of Moses

(But I am not legalistic, so I do not care.)

Leviticus and Luke, Part IV:  Legalism and Compassion

MAY 12-14, 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 17:1-16 (26th Dayof Easter)

Leviticus 18:-7, 20-19:8 (27th Day of Easter)

Leviticus 19:9-18, 26-37 (28th Day of Easter)

Psalm 47 (Morning–26th Day of Easter)

Psalm 96 (Morning–27th Day of Easter)

Psalm 92 (Morning–28th Day of Easter)

Psalms 68 and 113 (Evening–26th Day of Easter)

Psalms 50 and 138 (Evening–27th Day of Easter)

Psalms 23 and 114 (Evening–28th Day of Easter)

Luke 10:23-42 (26th Day of Easter)

Luke 11:1-13 (27th Day of Easter)

Luke 11:14-36 (28th Day of Easter)

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The laws in Leviticus 18-19 are a mixed bag.  They concern, among other things, sexual relations, clothing, proper conduct toward the poor, and what to do when someone sheds animal blood improperly.  I look in amazement at the hypocrisy of self-professed biblical literalists who quote 18:22 (the ban on homosexual intercourse) yet commit fraud (in violation of 19:13) or do not think twice about wearing polyester garments (in violation of 19:19).

Context is crucial.  In regard to the question of homosexuality, the concept of homosexual orientation did not exist at the time, so such intercourse was considered unnatural.  Also, it could never lead to procreation.  But neither can sexual relations between a husband and his post-menopausal wife.  So, is that also wrong?

Priests could wear garments made of two or more types of cloth–and they did (Exodus 28:6 and 39:29).  So lay people were not supposed to do so, except at the fringes of garments, according to Numbers 15:37-40.  Nevertheless, an allegedly unnatural mixture of people or cloth or even cattle or seeds (Leviticus 19:19) was taboo, except when it was not.  How many of you, my readers, have a vegetable garden with more than one type of plant growing in it?  Are you thereby sinning?  Are your polyester garments–certainly unnatural mixtures–sinful?

I avoid such hypocrisy by not being a biblical literalist or claiming to be one.  So I quote science, consider historical contexts, and throw out some laws while retaining others for use in the twenty-first century Common Era.  Defrauding people is bad.  Forcing’s one’s daughter into prostitution is clearly wrong.  And one should respect one’s elders.  But are vegetable gardens and polyester suits sinful?

As I ponder the readings from the Gospel of Luke I notice the thread of the importance of caring for each other.  The stranger is my neighbor, and the person I might despise due to his group identity might be a hero or heroine.  We must forgive each other.  If this proves difficult, we must take that issue to God, who can empower us to forgive.  People matter more than rules about cloth combinations or animal blood.

Do I pick and choose what to affirm in the Bible?  Of course I do!  Does not the Letter to the Hebrews override much of the Law of Moses?  Did not Jesus countermand parts of the letter of that law code?  As a Christian, I have the New Testament and the Old one.  And, as a thinking human being, I have access to scientific, psychological, psychiatric, and sociological knowledge which did not exist in biblical times.  So read about Jesus exorcising demons and interpret it as him curing epilepsy or some other illness with organic causes.  While doing this I focus on principles more than on details.  One of these principles is that Jesus taught compassion, not legalism.  So, if I am to follow him, I must live accordingly.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 14, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BASIL THE GREAT, FATHER OF EASTERN MONASTICISM

THE FEAST OF SAINT METHODIUS I, PATRIARCH OF CONSTANTINOPLE

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/leviticus-and-luke-part-iv-legalism-and-compassion/

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Devotion for the Nineteenth, Twentieth, and Twenty-First Days of Easter (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   9 comments

Above:  The Tabernacle

Exodus and Luke, Part X:  Just As the LORD Had Commanded

MAY 5-7, 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 38:21-39:8, 22-23, 27-31 (19th Dayof Easter)

Exodus 39:32-40:16 (20th Day of Easter)

Exodus 40:17-38 (21st Day of Easter)

Psalm 47 (Morning–19th Day of Easter)

Psalm 96 (Morning–20th Day of Easter)

Psalm 92 (Morning–21st Day of Easter)

Psalms 68 and 113 (Evening–19th Day of Easter)

Psalms 50 and 138 (Evening–20th Day of Easter)

Psalms 23 and 114 (Evening–21st Day of Easter)

Luke 8:1-21 (19th Day of Easter)

Luke 8:22-39 (20th Day of Easter)

Luke 8:40-56 (21st Day of Easter)

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The long and detailed description of the setting up of the Tabernacle in Exodus contains the refrain

…just as the LORD had commanded Moses.

(TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures)

The Tabernacle complete, Gods Presence fills the space.  God and the people will meet there.  Thus the Book of Exodus ends.

Foster R. McCurley, Jr., in his 1969 adult Christian education volume, Exodus (Philadelphia, PA:  Lutheran Church Press), concludes on page 128:

At the same time, the Book of Exodus means something for us because in some ways we stand in a similar predicament.  The people of Exodus had received the gift of deliverance and had been brought into a new relationship with God. They waited for the fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham–the promise of land, descendants, and blessing.  We of the church look back to the Cross and Resurrection, and we have been brought into a unique relationship with our Father.  We rejoice in our salvation and in the new covenant which God has established with us in Christ.  Yet we wait for the consumation of the kingdom–to a time when Christ will come again to make all things new.  We stand as participants in the last act of God’s triumphant drama, but the final curtain has yet to fall.

It sounds like an Advent message, does it not?

The Kingdom of God was evident among those whom Jesus healed, the marginalized people whose dignity he affirmed, and the women who financed his ministry.  Yet that was nearly 2000 years ago.  We wait for the final curtain to fall.  As we wait may we do as the LORD commands us.  So may our fate be different from that of the liberated generation of Israelites.  May we live in gratitude to God, who has freed us from our sins.

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/exodus-and-luke-part-x-just-as-the-lord-had-commanded/

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Devotion for the Twelfth and Thirteenth Days of Easter (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   6 comments

Above:  The Calling of Saint Matthew, by Caravaggio

Exodus and Luke, Part V:  The Tabernacle of God

APRIL 28 and 29, 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 25:1-22 (12th Dayof Easter)

Exodus 31:1-18 (13th Day of Easter)

Psalm 47 (Morning–12th Day of Easter)

Psalm 96 (Morning–13th Day of Easter)

Psalms 68 and 113 (Evening–12th Day of Easter)

Psalms 50 and 138 (Evening–13th Day of Easter)

Luke 5:17-39 (12th Day of Easter)

Luke 6:1-19 (13th Day of Easter)

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Exodus 25 begins a section of that book which contains detailed instructions regarding the Tabernacle, the priestly vestments, the furniture, the curtains, et cetera.  The mental images which fill my head every time I read those verses are far from a plain vernacular church building, the kind of structure which is ubiquitous in rural Georgia, USA.  The Tabernacle is supposed to be and look holy.  And I agree; a church building ought to be beautiful.

Then, in the context of the Tabernacle, we find instructions to keep the Sabbath, even to execute anyone who works on that day (31:14).  As a matter of law, one reserves execution for offenses considered especially serious and dangerous.  It is true that the Sabbath was a mark of freedom, but was the command to kill those who worked on it necessary?  I have worked on my Sabbath, Sunday; I had little choice.  And I have worked on Fridays and Saturdays.  I know people, such as health care professionals who have to work some Sundays.  Although I try to avoid needless shopping in Sundays, I do not advocate executing people who do anything other than rest on them.

Laws such as this one give ammunition to militant Atheists and fuel the imaginations of ruthless theocrats and would-be theocrats.  And, minus the killing, they remind me of old Puritan New England laws and more recent Southern U.S. “blue laws.”  Once, in South Carolina, it was illegal to buy a light bulb on a Sunday.  And it used to be illegal to hum to oneself in public in Puritan New England.  Yet I take the passage in its historical and cultural contexts, thereby softening its brutal blow.  The main idea is that the Israelites were supposed to be a holy people, a people set apart by God to witness to others.  They were to be the main tabernacle of God.

In Luke 5 and 6 Jesus healed a paralytic and a man with a withered hand.  He dined with Levi/Matthew, his new Apostle, and some of Levi/Matthew’s fellow tax thieves for the Roman Empire.  People with physical deformities were marginalized in the Law of Moses.  A blind man could not serve as a priest, for example.  Physical deformity or major malfunction carried with it stigma and spiritual second-class citizenship.  And dining with collaborators!  How dare he?  Actually, why not?  The tabernacle of God, defined as God’s people, included the physically deformed and disabled plus the notorious sinners who knew of their spiritual deficiencies.

We–you, O reader, and I–despite our spiritual deficiencies, are invaluable parts of the tabernacle of God.  It is a spectacular place, would not be same without us.  May we, by grace, live up to our potential.

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/2013/03/01/exodus-and-luke-part-v-the-tabernacle-of-god/

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Devotion for the Sixth Day of Easter: Friday in Easter Week (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   11 comments

Above:  Captain John Sheridan Thinking Logically about Illogical Things While Delenn Looks On

A Screen Capture from And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place (1996), an episode of Babylon 5 (1994-1998)

Image courtesy of PowerDVD and a legal DVD

Exodus and Hebrews, Part XIII: Sharing Each Others’ Burdens

APRIL 22, 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 18:5-27

Psalm 96 (Morning)

Psalms 50 and 138 (Evening)

Hebrews 12:1-24

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Some Related Posts:

Prayer:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/27/prayer-for-friday-of-easter-week/

Babylon 5:  And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place (1996):

http://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/07/29/babylon-5-and-the-rock-cried-out-no-hiding-place-1996/

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The thing you are doing is not right; you will surely wear yourself out, and these people as well.

–Exodus 18:17b-18, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

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Therefore, we also, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses [as this] surrounding us, after we have put aside every weight, even the sin that clings to us very readily, let us run with endurance the course that is laid out before us, keeping our gaze directed to Jesus, the prime leader and perfecter of the faith, who, instead of the joy laid out before him, having despised [the] cross of shame, endured [it], and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  Just consider the one who has endured so great an opposition [as this] against himself, from the sinners, so that you may not become exhausted, being depressed in your souls.

–Hebrews 12:1-3, The Anchor Bible

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Jethro had sage advice for his son-in-law, Moses, who was overworking himself.  Moses needed to share his burden with trustworthy men.  It was a solution which worked for the common good.

We are not alone either, so we need not bear our burdens alone.  We have the examples of Jesus and members of the Church Triumphant, of course.  And we have human helpers around us.  Do we avail ourselves of them, for our benefit and that of others?

Above:  The Reverend Will Dexter, Dispensing Advice 

My thoughts turned to science fiction as I read Jethro’s advice to Moses.  I recalled And the Rock Cried Out, Hiding Place, a 1996 episode of Babylon 5 (1994-1998).  In that episode Captain John Sheridan, a hero, is overworking himself, staying up quite late to read station reports and complete other mundane business.  The Reverend Will Dexter, a visiting minister, fulfills Jethro’s function and advises Sheridan to share the burden of command.  Otherwise, Sheridan will be a bad and overburdened leader unable to do what he needs to do.  Sheridan, although initially dismissive, follows the advice.

What is God calling you, O reader, to do?  And with whose help?

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-xiii-sharing-each-others-burdens/

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Thirty-Eighth Day of Easter   13 comments

Above:  Yosemite Morning

From Worse to Better

May 24, 2022

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Acts 16:16-34 (Revised English Bible):

Once, on our way to the place of prayer, we met a slave-girl who was possessed by a spirit of divination and brought large profits to her owners by telling fortunes.  She followed Paul and the rest of us shouting,

These men are servants of the Most High God, and are declaring to you a way of salvation.

She did this day after day, until, in exasperation, Paul rounded on the spirit.

I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her,

he said, and it came out instantly.

When the girl’s owners saw that their hope of profit had one, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them to the city authorities in the main square; bringing them before the magistrates, they alleged,

These men are causing a disturbance in our city; they are Jews, and they are advocating practices which it is illegal for us Romans to adopt and follow.

The mob joined in the attack; and the magistrates had the prisoners stripped and gave orders for them to be flogged.  After a severe beating they were flung into prison and the jailer was ordered to keep them under close guard.  In view of these orders, he put them into the inner prison and secured their feet in the stocks.

About midnight Paul and Silas, at their prayers, were singing praises to God, and the other prisoners were listening, when suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the jail were shaken; the doors burst open and all the prisoners found their fetters unfastened.  The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open and, assuming that the prisoners had escaped, drew his sword intending to kill himself.  But Paul shouted,

Do yourself no harm; we are all here.

The jailer called for lights, rushed in, and threw himself down before Paul and Silas, trembling with fear. He then escorted them out and said,

Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

They answered,

Put your trust in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household,

and they imparted the word of the Lord to him and everyone in his house.  At that late hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds, and there and then he and his whole family were baptized.  He brought them up into his house, set out a meal, and rejoiced with his whole household in his new-found faith in God.

Psalm 138 (Revised English Bible):

I shall give praise to you, LORD, with my whole heart;

in the presence of the gods I shall sing psalms to you.

I shall bow down towards your holy temple;

for your love and faithfulness I shall praise your name,

for you have exalted your promise above the heavens.

When I called, you answered me

and made me bold and strong.

Let all the kings of the earth praise you, LORD,

when they hear the words you have spoken;

let them sing of the LORD’s ways,

for great is the glory of the LORD.

The LORD is exalted, yet he cares for the lowly

and from afar he takes note of the proud.

Though I am compassed about by trouble,

you preserve my life,

putting forth your power against the rage of my enemies,

and with your right hand you save me.

The LORD will accomplish his purpose for me.

Your love endures for ever, LORD;

do not abandon what you have made.

John 16:4b-11 (Anchor Bible):

[Jesus continued,]

At the beginning I did not tell you this because I was with you; but now I am going to Him who sent me.  Yet not one of you asks, me ‘Where are you going?’  Just because I have said this to you, your hearts are full of sadness.  Still I am telling you the truth:  it is for your own good that I go away.  For if I do not go away, the Paraclete can never come to you; whereas, if I do go, I shall send him to you.  And when he does come, he will prove the world wrong about sin, about justice, and about judgment.  first, about sin–in that they refuse to believe in me.  Then, about justice–in that I am going to the Father and you can see me no longer.  Finally, about judgment–in that the Prince of this world has been condemned….

The Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God, you have given your Church the great joy of the resurrection of Jesus Christ: Give us also the greater joy of the kingdom of your elect, when the flock of your Son will share in the final victory of its Shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

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The situation looked grim.  Authorities were about to apprehend Jesus, torture him, and put him to death.  Yet, in the context in the Johannine Gospel, Jesus comforted this apostles and foretold his victory, his departure,  and the coming of the Holy Spirit.  (FYI:  The Fortieth Day of Easter is the Ascension and the Fiftieth Day is Pentecost, hence the positioning of this reading at this point in the Episcopal Easter lectionary.)

The situation looked grim.  Paul, empowered by the same Holy Spirit, had committed a good deed, delivering a young woman from economic exploitation.  In retribution her owners had Paul and Silas arrested, beaten, and imprisoned on false charges.  As bad as this situation was, it set up the opportunity for Paul and Silas to save the life of their jailer and to bring him and his family to Christ.  Imagine the fear the jailer, a low-level government employee, must have felt.  It was sufficient for him to prefer suicide to the alternative.  Yet, at that moment, he found new life.

I have experienced very dark times in my life.  More than once I have preferred death to life, although I was too afraid to attempt suicide.  More than once I have cursed a day on which I woke up because I feared what life might hold for me.  That was true in 2007; I write this in 2010.  Out of those dark times came great blessings.  Although I take no joy in those events from my life in 2007 I rejoice in the blessings which have flowed from them.

Human life consists in part of peaks and valleys, deserts and rich fields, light and darkness.  It is easy during happy times to ignore God and rely on oneself, but more difficult to do during hard times.  When we exit the valley we need to carry with us the knowledge of dependence on God, of which God has reminded us.

KRT

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

Posted October 29, 2010 by neatnik2009 in 2022, Episcopal Church Lectionary, May 24

Tagged with , ,

Eighth Day of Lent   9 comments

A Roman Painting of a Door

March 10, 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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Esther 14:1-6, 12-14, a.k.a. C:12-17, 23-25 (New American Bible):

Queen Esther, seized with mortal anguish, likewise had recourse to the Lord.  Taking off her splendid garments, she put on garments of distress and mourning.  In place of her precious ointments she covered her head with dirt and ashes.  She afflicted her body severely; all her festive adornments were put aside, and her hair was wholly disheveled.

Then she prayed to the Lord, the God of Israel, saying,

My Lord, our King, you alone are God.  Help me, who am alone and have no help but you, for I am taking my life into my hand.  As a child I was wont to hear from the people of the land of my forefathers that you, O Lord, chose Israel from among all peoples, and our fathers from among all their ancestors, as a lasting heritage, and that you fulfilled all your promises to them.  But now we have sinned in your sight, and you have delivered us into the hands of our enemies….Be mindful of us, O Lord.  Manifest yourself in the time of our distress and give me courage, King of gods and Ruler of every power.  Put in my mouth persuasive words in the presence of the lion, and turn his heart to hatred of our enemy, so that he and those in league with him may perish.  Save us by your power, and help me, who am alone and have no one but to you, O Lord.

Psalm 138 (New American Bible):

I thank you, LORD, with all my heart; before the gods to you I sing.

I bow low toward your holy temple; I praise your name for your fidelity and love.

For you have exalted over all your name and your promise.

When I cried out, you answered; you strengthened my spirit.

All the kings of the earth will praise you, LORD, when they hear the words of your mouth.

They will sing of the ways of the LORD:

How great is the glory of the LORD!

The LORD is on high, but cares for the lowly and knows the proud from afar.

Though I walk in the midst of dangers, you guard my life when my enemies rage.

You stretch out your hand; your right hand saves me.

The LORD is with me to the end.

LORD, your love endures forever.

Never forsake the work of your hands!

Matthew 7:7-12 (New American Bible):

[Jesus said,]

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asks for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asks for a fish?  If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.

Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.  This is the law and the prophets.

The Collect:

Strengthen us, O Lord, by your grace, that in your might we may overcome all spiritual enemies, and with pure hearts serve you; 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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My first thought is that I cannot reconcile the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12) with Esther’s prayer for divine retribution.  For that matter, I cannot reconcile the Golden Rule with petitions for divine retribution contained in the Psalms, although I understand the human desire for such outcomes.

Then again, I am not a Biblical literalist.

Today’s readings remind us that God cares for us during difficult times.  This does not guarantee that we will emerged unscathed, as every Christian martyrdom attests.  And what about the Holocaust?  About twelve million people died.  The problem of the existence of evil is a tricky issue for we monotheists.  Polytheists can blame certain deities for evil and let other gods off the hook.  Yet we who believe in one omniscient, omnipotent God must wrestle with this problem.

I offer no answers.  Indeed, I suspect that there are no good answers to this question in this life.  Although I have read books on the subject, no proposed answer works for me.  Yet this fact does not hinder my faith, for I have known the extravagant and saving grace of God.  I have been in the pit, as a psalmist wrote, and God has snatched me out of it.  This I know.  As for the rest, I want to learn those answers one day, in the next life, for I have an inquiring mind.

KRT

Written on February 21, 2010