Archive for the ‘Psalm 27’ Tag

Devotion for the Second Sunday in Lent, Year C (Humes)   1 comment

Above:  Icon of Habakkuk

Image in the Public Domain

Maintaining Faith During Difficult Times

FEBRUARY 28, 2021

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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

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The Assigned Readings:

Habakkuk 3:1-19

Psalm 27

Titus 2:1-15

Luke 19:45-20:8

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For the record, I drafted this post in longhand on December 22, 2019, before Coronavirus/COVID-19 spread across the planet.  Certain statements are always true, but especially cogent at particular times.

The Letter to Titus is a mixed bag.  On one hand, it insults all inhabitants of Crete (1:13) and does not oppose slavery (2:9-10).  I cringe when I read those verses.  On the other hand, the epistle offers sound advice about how to live:  live in such a matter that opponents and enemies will put themselves to shame when making negative statements “about us.”

There is never a shortage of people willing to lie and distort, to cherry-pick and to blow out of proportion, to repeat unsubstantiated rumors, or to start them, thereby shaming themselves. assuming that they have the capacity to feel shame.  They do, however, show their bad character while attacking those of good character.  These people of bad character are the ones whose skulls cracks open, as in Habakkuk 3:13.  (Who says the Book of Habakkuk uses no violent imagery?)

In the meantime, the righteous remain vulnerable to the dastardly, the unjust, and the wicked.  Wait for God, Psalm 27 tells us.  In the midst of rampant injustice, do we share the attitude of Habakkuk?

Yet I will rejoice in the LORD,

Exult in the God who delivers me.

The Lord GOD is my strength:

He makes my feet like the deer’s

and lets me stride upon the heights.

–Habakkuk 3:18-19, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

This can be a difficult attitude to maintain.  It is faith.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 24, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT OSCAR ROMERO, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF SAN SALVADOR; AND THE MARTYRS OF EL SALVADOR, 1980-1992

THE FEAST OF SAINT DIDACUS JOSEPH OF CADIZ, CAPUCHIN FRIAR

THE FEAST OF PAUL COUTURIER, APOSTLE OF CHRISTIAN UNITY

THE FEAST OF THOMAS ATTWOOD, “FATHER OF MODERN CHRISTIAN MUSIC”

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM LEDDRA, BRITISH QUAKER MARTYR IN BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS BAY COLONY, 1661

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2020/03/24/maintaining-faith-during-difficult-times/

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Devotion for Saturday Before the Second Sunday in Lent, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Reconstruction of Jerusalem and the Temple of Herod--James Tissot

Above:  Reconstruction of Jerusalem and the Temple of Herod, by James Tissot

Image in the Public Domain

Two Killings

MARCH 16, 2019

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The Collect:

God of the covenant, in the mystery of the cross

you promise everlasting life to the world.

Gather all peoples into your arms, and shelter us with your mercy,

that we may rejoice in the life we share in your Son,

Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 27

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The Assigned Readings:

Psalm 118:26-29

Psalm 27

Matthew 23:37-39

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Hearken to my voice, O LORD, when I call;

have mercy on me and answer me.

–Psalm 27:7, Book of Common Worship (1993)

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Psalm 118 is a song of praise to God after a military victory.  Literary echoes of the text are apparent in the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.  Consider this verse, O reader:

Blessed be who enters in the name of Yahweh,

we bless you in the house of Yahweh.

–Psalm 118:26, The Anchor Bible:  Psalms III:  101-150 (1970), by Mitchell Dahood, S.J.

That allusion fits well, for, when Jesus entered Jerusalem that fateful week, he did so not as a conquering hero but as one who had conquered and who was en route to the peace talks.  A victorious monarch rode a beast of burden to the negotiations for peace.  Jesus resembled a messianic figure who had won a battle.  He was not being subtle, nor should he have been.

The tone of the assigned reading from Matthew 23 fits the tone of the verse from Psalm 27 better, however.  Psalm 27 consists of two quite different poems with distinct tenors.  Part I is happy and confident, but Part II comes from a place of concern and a context of peril.  The latter distinction is consistent with Christ’s circumstances between the Triumphal Entry and the Crucifixion.

Matthew 23’s Jesus is not a vacation Bible school Jesus or seeker-sensitive Jesus.  That Jesus’s hair is nice and combed.  His robes are sparkling white, and his face is aglow as he hovers about six inches off the ground.  He hugs people a lot, speaks in calm tones, and pats little children on the head as he tells his audience, only four chapters earlier in Matthew’s Gospel, that the kingdom belongs “to such as these” (Matt. 19:14; cf. Mark 10:14/Luke 18:16).  The Jesus of Matt. 23 is of a different sort.  He is fired up and within a word or two of unleashing some profanity in the style of a high school football coach.  This Jesus’s hair is untamed.  His clothes are beaten and tattered from a semitransient lifestyle.  His face and neck are reddened by the Palestinian sun, and his feet are blistered, cracked, and calloused.  There is a wild look in his eyes, sweat pouring down his forehead, and spit flying off his lips when he yells, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” (Matt. 23:13, 15, 23, 25, 27, 39; cf. 23:16).  His message ends not with a head pat to a child and an aphorism about the kingdom, but with tales of murder and bloodshed (23:34-37).

When you finish reading Jesus’s tirade against the scribes and Pharisees in Matt. 23, you might need a deep breath.  Those who have grown all too accustomed to the teddy-bear Jesus may need to reassess wholesale their idea of Jesus.  At the very least, we can point to the text and affirm that, when early Christians such as Matthew commemorated Jesus’s life in the form of narrative Gospels, they portrayed a Jewish teacher who was embroiled in heated controversy with other Jewish teachers and gave as good as he got.

–Chris Keith, Jesus Against the Scribal Elite:  The Origins of the Conflict (2014), page 5

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You scholars and Pharisees, you imposters!  Damn you!

–Matthew 23:29a, The Complete Gospels:  Annotated Scholars Version (1994)

Literary context matters.  Immediately prior to Matthew 23:37-39, the lament of Jesus over Jerusalem, our Lord and Savior, having engaged in verbal confrontations with religious authorities, denounces the scribes and Pharisees for their hypocrisy, power plays, impiety, violence, and inner impurity.  Immediately after Matthew 23:37-39 comes Matthew 24, in which Christ speaks apocalyptically, as in Mark 13 and Luke 21.  (The order of some of the material differs from one Synoptic Gospel to another, but these are obviously accounts of the same discourse.)  Jesus is about to suffer and die.

Matthew 23:34-39 echoes 2 Chronicles 24:17-25.  In 2 Chronicles 24 King Joash/Jehoash of Judah (reigned 837-800 B.C.E.), having fallen into apostasy and idolatry, orders the execution (by stoning) of one Zechariah, son of the late priest Jehoiada.  Zechariah’s offense was to confront the monarch regarding his apostasy and idolatry.  The priest’s dying wish is

May the LORD see and avenge!

–2 Chronicles 24:22, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

The theology of the narrative holds that God saw and avenged, given the subsequent killing of Joash/Jehoash by servants.

A contrast between that story and the crucifixion of Jesus becomes clear.  Never does Jesus say

May the LORD see and avenge!

or anything similar to it.  One cannot find Christ’s prayer for forgiveness for the crown and those who crucified him in Matthew or Mark, but one can locate it at Luke 23:34, which portrays him as a righteous sufferer, such as the author of Part II of Psalm 27.

The example of Jesus has always been difficult to emulate.  That example is, in fact, frequently counter-intuitive and counter-cultural.  Love your enemies?  Bless those who persecute you?  Take up your cross?  Really, yes.  It is possible via grace.  I know the difficulty of Christian discipleship.  It is a path I have chosen, from which I have strayed, and to which I have returned.  The goal is faithfulness, not perfection.  We are, after all, imperfect.  But we can do better, by grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 15, 2015 COMMON ERA

PROPER 28:  THE TWENTY-FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALBERT THE GREAT, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF REGENSBURG

THE FEAST OF JOHANN GOTTLOB KLEMM, INSTRUMENT MAKER; DAVID TANNENBERG, SR., GERMAN-AMERICAN MORAVIAN ORGAN BUILDER; JOHANN PHILIP BACHMANN, GERMAN-AMERICAN MORAVIAN INSTRUMENT MAKER; JOSEPH FERDINAND BULITSCHEK, BOHEMIAN-AMERICAN ORGAN BUILDER; AND TOBIAS FRIEDRICH, GERMAN MORAVIAN COMPOSER AND MUSICIAN

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2015/11/15/two-killings/

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Devotion for Thursday and Friday Before the Second Sunday in Lent, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Abraham and Lot Separate

Above:  Abraham and Lot Separate

Image in the Public Domain

Legalism and Fidelity

MARCH 14 and 15, 2019

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The Collect:

God of the covenant, in the mystery of the cross

you promise everlasting life to the world.

Gather all peoples into your arms, and shelter us with your mercy,

that we may rejoice in the life we share in your Son,

Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 27

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The Assigned Readings:

Genesis 13:1-7, 14-18 (Thursday)

Genesis 14:17-24 (Friday)

Psalm 27 (Both Days)

Philippians 3:2-12 (Thursday)

Philippians 3:17-20 (Friday)

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The LORD is my light and my salvation;

whom then shall I fear?

the LORD is the strength of my life;

of whom then shall I be afraid?

–Psalm 27:1, Book of Common Worship (1993)

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Sometimes the portrayal of Abram/Abraham in the Bible puzzles me.  In Hebrews 10:8-22 the patriarch is a pillar of fidelity to God.  Yet he hedges his bets and lies in Genesis 12, and the only people who suffer are the Pharaoh of Egypt and members of the royal household.  Abram exiles his firstborn son, Ishmael, in Genesis 21:8-21.  The patriarch intercedes on behalf of strangers in Genesis 19 yet not for his second son, Isaac, three chapters later.  Abram, who is wealthy, refuses even to appear to have enriched himself by means of the King of Sodom in Genesis 14.  In so doing the patriarch, who has just paid a tithe of war booty to Melchizedek, King of Salem (Jerusalem) and priest of El Elyon, a Canaanite sky deity, invokes YHWH, not El Elyon.  I do not know what to make of Abram/Abraham.

Circumcision is a major issue in Philippians 3.  St. Paul the Apostle refers to rival missionaries who favor the circumcision of Gentile male converts to Christianity.  He calls these Judaizers “dogs,” a strong insult many Jews reserved for Gentiles.  One can find the mandate for circumcision of males (including some Gentiles) in Genesis 17:9-14, where it is a sign of the Abrahamic Covenant.  It has been, for Jews, a physical sign of the covenant for millennia.  It has become an emotional issue for people who favor it as a religious obligation and a mark of identity as well as for those who consider it cruel.

In Philippians 3 circumcision is, for St. Paul the Apostle, a physical sign of righteousness based on law, not on active faith in God.  The line between legalism and righteousness can be difficult to locate sometimes.  One should obey certain commandments out of fidelity and love and respect for God.  One loves and honors God, so one keeps the commandments of God.

If you love me you will obey my commands…,

John 14:15 (The Revised English Bible, 1989) quotes Jesus as saying.  But when does keeping commandments turn into a fetish of legalism?  And when does the maintenance of one’s identity transform into exclusion of others?  Where is that metaphorical line many people cross?

One sure way of knowing if one has crossed that line is catching that person obsessing over minute details while overlooking pillars of morality such as compassion.  If one, for example, complains not because Jesus has healed someone but because he has done this on the Sabbath, one is a legalist.  If one becomes uptight about personal peccadilloes yet remains unconcerned about institutionalized injustice (such as that of the sexist, racial, and economic varieties), one is a legalist.  If one’s spiritual identity entails labeling most other people as unclean or damned, one is a legalist.  If one thinks that moral living is merely a matter of following a spiritual checklist, one is a legalist.  If one becomes fixated on culturally specific examples of timeless principles at the expense of those principles, one is a legalist.

May we who claim to follow and love God eschew legalism.  May we also care for our close friends and relatives at least as much as we do suffering strangers for which we harbor concern.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 14, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN AMOS COMENIUS, FATHER OF MODERN EDUCATION

THE FEAST OF THE CONSECRATION OF SAMUEL SEABURY, FIRST EPISCOPAL BISHOP

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM ROMANIS, ANGLICAN BISHOP AND HYMN WRITER

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2015/11/14/legalism-and-fidelity/

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Devotion for the Thirty-Seventh Day of Lent: Wednesday in Holy Week (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   9 comments

Above:  Christ in Majesty, Chartres Cathedral

Exodus and Hebrews, Part IV: The Word of God

MARCH 31, 2021

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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 10:21-11:10

Psalm 5 (Morning)

Psalms 27 and 51 (Evening)

Hebrews 4:1-16

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A Related Post:

Prayer:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/24/prayer-for-wednesday-of-passion-weekholy-week/

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For the word of God is living and active….

–Hebrews 4:12a, The Anchor Bible

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For the word of God is instinct with life….

–Hebrews 4:12a, translated by William Barclay

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The “word of God” in Hebrews 4:12a, as the note in The New Interpreter’s Study Bible (2003), explains,

is not Scripture but the living voice of God…. (page 2158)

And, as William Barclay commented in his (revised) volume on the Letter to the Hebrews,

…the word of God is something that every man must face, its offer something he must accept or reject.  (page 39)

The word of God comes through various media, including and not restricted to the Bible, nature, and other people.  In Exodus we read of the word of God coming directly to Moses, then going from there.  As a Christian I recognize the word of God, Jesus of Nazareth, whom I encounter in the Gospels.  That Word–that Logos–is the great high priest due to whom I can approach the throne of grace boldly.

One might wonder how to distinguish the voice of God from another–perhaps one’s own.  One’s God concept is far too small if it resembles what one sees when one looks into a mirror.  The best test I can determine is that of compassion, especially for the vulnerable members of society.  The Hebrew Prophets testified to this standard.  Love–sometimes the kind which leads to self-sacrifice (This is Holy Week)–yet which always seeks the best for others is another way of stating the case.  There is no divine law against such things.  Or, to use a concrete image, would Jesus do it, whatever “it” is?  Yes, the living exemplar is Jesus.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 30, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF EUSEBIUS OF CAESAREA, HISTORIAN AND ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF APOLO KIVEBULAYA, ANGLICAN EVANGELIST

THE FEAST OF JOACHIM NEANDER, GERMAN REFORMED MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOSEPHINE BUTLER, WORKER AMONG WOMEN

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/01/21/exodus-and-hebrews-part-iv-the-word-of-god/

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Devotion for the Thirtieth and Thirty-First Days of Lent (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   11 comments

Above:  The Burning Bush Logo of The Church of Scotland

Exodus and Mark, Part III:  Unlikely Instruments of God

MARCH 23 and 24, 2021

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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 2:23-3:22 (30th Day of Lent)

Exodus 4:1-18 (31st Day of Lent)

Psalm 34 (Morning–30th Day of Lent)

Psalm 5 (Morning–31st Day of Lent)

Psalms 25 and 91 (Evening–30th Day of Lent)

Psalms 27 and 51 (Evening–31st Day of Lent)

Mark 14:53-72 (30th Day of Lent)

Mark 15:1-15 (31st Day of Lent)

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Some Related Posts:

A Prayer by St. Francis of Assisi:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/25/a-prayer-by-st-francis-of-assisi/

Prayers:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/09/prayer-for-tuesday-in-the-fifth-week-of-lent/

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/11/prayer-for-wednesday-in-the-fifth-week-of-lent/

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Moses was a fugitive and a murderer with a speech impediment.  Yet God sent him (along with Aaron, his eloquent brother) back to Egypt to help liberate the Hebrews.  The Book of Exodus is quite clear:  God liberated the Hebrews, yet had human agents.

Simon Peter denied Jesus three times while the Sanhedrin condoned perjury and held the flimsiest excuse for a trial of our Lord and Savior.  Yet, a few weeks later, the Apostle became the rock of faith Jesus saw in him.  Peter was still prone to speak when he should have remained silent, but he was a very different man in other ways.

We come to God as we are, complete with virtues, vices, shortcomings, flaws, and fortes.  God knows all of them better than we do.  Yet we can, by grace, become instruments of God, whose image we bear.  Another indicator of grace germane to his one is that strengths can emerge from our flaws and our striving to overcome them.  We make a spiritual pilgrimage in God because we know of our need to do so.  And the journey proves quite rewarding in and of itself.  So, without minimizing or denying the realities of sin and human frailties, I encourage you, O reader, to look within yourself and to recognize them as opportunities for growing spiritually and helping others.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 29, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE FIRST U.S. PRESBYTERIAN BOOK OF CONFESSIONS, 1967

THE FEAST OF JIRI TRANOVSKY, HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS LUKE KIRBY, THOMAS COTTAM, WILLIAM FILBY, AND LAURENCE RICHARDSON, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND MARTYRS

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/01/21/exodus-and-mark-part-iii-unlikely-instruments-of-god/

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Devotion for the Twenty-Fourth and Twenty-Fifth Days of Lent (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   5 comments

Above:  The Widow’s Mite

Image Sources = Johannes Bockh and Thomas Mirtsch

Genesis and Mark, Part XXII: Sincerity (Or the Lack Thereof)

MARCH 16 and 17, 2021

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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:

Genesis 43:1-28 (24th Day of Lent)

Genesis 44:1-18, 32-34 (25th Day of Lent)

Psalm 34 (Morning–24th Day of Lent)

Psalm 5 (Morning–25th Day of Lent)

Psalms 25 and 91 (Evening–24th Day of Lent)

Psalms 27 and 51 (Evening–25th Day of Lent)

Mark 12:13-27 (24th Day of Lent)

Mark 12:28-41 (25th Day of Lent)

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Some Related Posts:

Prayers:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/04/prayer-for-tuesday-in-the-fourth-week-of-lent/

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/06/prayer-for-wednesday-in-the-fourth-week-of-lent/

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As I read the assigned lessons I arrived at a unifying theme:  sincerity (or the lack thereof).  Joseph’s brothers demonstrated the sincerity of their change of heart by

  1. not objecting to preferential treatment for Benjamin, the youngest brother, in Genesis 43:33-34, and
  2. defending Benjamin, whom they thought was about to become a slave in Genesis 44:18-34.

They passed the test with flying colors.

In contrast, collaborators tried to trick Jesus into sounding like a rebel in Mark 12:13-17.  There were more Roman soldiers than usual in the city at the time.  But Jesus was no fool.  And the Sadducees, who denied the resurrection of the dead, asked an obvious trick question about levirate marriage and the afterlife.  Yet our Lord did field an honest question–one regarding the greatest commandment–and witnessed a desperately poor widow make an offering.  In the immediately prior passage he had denounced scribes who

devour the property of widows….

–Mark 12:40b, The New Jerusalem Bible

I have covered the widow’s mite in other posts linked to this one, but I choose to write the following here and now:  The widow should have kept her money and spent it on her needs.  But at least she was sincere.

May we refrain from playing destructive games with God and each other.  Instead, may we seek the best for each other and the community, be honest in that, and be sincere in our love.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 22, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF RICHARD BIGGS, ACTOR

THE FEAST OF ROTA WAITOA, ANGLICAN PRIEST

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/01/21/genesis-and-mark-part-xxii-sincerity-or-the-lack-thereof/

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Devotion for the Nineteenth and Twentieth Days of Lent (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   7 comments

Above:  Martin Luther King, Jr.

Image Source = Library of Congress

Genesis and Mark, Part XVIII: True Human Worth

MARCH 10 and 11, 2021

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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:

Genesis 37:1-36 (19th Day of Lent)

Genesis 39:1-12 (20th Day of Lent)

Psalm 5 (Morning–19th Day of Lent)

Psalm 38 (Morning–20th Day of Lent)

Psalms 27 and 51 (Evening–19th Day of Lent)

Psalms 126 and 102 (Evening–20th Day of Lent)

Mark 10:1-12 (19th Day of Lent)

Mark 10:13-31 (20th Day of Lent)

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Some Related Posts:

A Prayer to See Others as God Sees Them:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/19/a-prayer-to-see-others-as-god-sees-them/

Prayers:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/03/prayer-for-wednesday-in-the-third-week-of-lent/

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/03/prayer-for-thursday-in-the-third-week-of-lent/

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We must rapidly begin to shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society.  When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

–The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., Riverside Church, New York, New York, April 4, 1967

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People matter to God.  That is an ethic I discern from many biblical passages, including pronouncements of the Hebrew Prophets and of Jesus.  And so how we treat each other matters to God.  Joseph may have been annoying, but he was still part of the family.  Women are people, not marital property to discard lightly. The most powerless among us are poster children for the Kingdom of God.  And we ought to be more attached to each other than to our wealth.

These are timeless lessons many of us seem never to learn.  Martin Luther King, Jr., taught such lessons in April 1967, when he denounced U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, and he lost much support.  Those who, for moral imperative love of country, criticize the government, especially during time of war, run the risk of incurring the wrath of jingoists.

Nevertheless, a basic truth remains:  People ought always to be valuable for who they are, never as financial commodities one can discard casually.  A person’s true worth is incalculable, for there is no spreadsheet designed to record such data.  So, O reader, the next times you look around and see other people, ask yourself how valuable they are to God, and so ought to be to you.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 22, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF RICHARD BIGGS, ACTOR

THE FEAST OF ROTA WAITOA, ANGLICAN PRIEST

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/01/21/genesis-and-mark-part-xviii-true-human-worth/

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Devotion for the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Days of Lent (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   9 comments

Above:  The Sacrifice of Isaac, by Caravaggio

Genesis and Mark, Part XIII: Arguing for Compassionate Deeds

MARCH 3 and 4, 2021

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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:

Genesis 22:1-19 (13th Day of Lent)

Genesis 24:1-31 (14th Day of Lent)

Psalm 5 (Morning–13th Day of Lent)

Psalm 38 (Morning–14th Day of Lent)

Psalms 27 and 51 (Evening–13th Day of Lent)

Psalms 126 and 102 (Evening–14th Day of Lent)

Mark 7:1-23 (13th Day of Lent)

Mark 7:24-37 (14th Day of Lent)

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Some Related Posts:

Behind the Lines, a.k.a. Regeneration (1997):

http://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2011/06/03/behind-the-lines-a-k-a-regeneration-1997/

Prayers:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/01/30/prayer-for-wednesday-in-the-second-week-of-lent/

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/01/30/prayer-for-thursday-in-the-second-week-of-lent/

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What can I say or write about the near-sacrifice of Isaac in Genesis 22 without repeating myself?  Nothing! I refuse to make apologies for it.  There is no record in Genesis that father and son spoke again after that incident.  They must have had conversations afterward, but Isaac’s relationship to Abraham must not have been the same as before.  How could it have been?  Really, O reader, if you were Isaac, how much would you want to say to your old man after such an incident?

One traditional lesson drawn from Genesis 22 is that God does not desire human sacrifice.  And narrative praises Abraham for his faithfulness.  Really?  But should not Abraham have pleaded for the life of his son?  He begged God to save the lives of strangers in Genesis 18:22-33.  Sometimes we are supposed to argue; sometimes that constitutes passing the test of faithfulness.  The Syro-Phoenician woman in Mark 7:24-30 passed the test with flying colors.

Abraham apparently loved his son and sought a wife for him in Genesis 24.  The patriarch was not a villain, but his record as a parent was troublesome.  (What about his treatment of his first son?) But Abraham did take care of his second son–at least after trying to kill him.

Jesus, in Mark 7, presents a great lesson in several parts.

  1. Food does not make one unclean.
  2. Ritual purity–in this case, in the form of the ceremonial washing of pots–is irrelevant.
  3. Being a Gentile or a disabled person ought not to marginalize one.  (People with major disabilities and deformities were impure.  A blind man or a man with crushed genitals or a deformed arm could not serve as priest, according to the Law of Moses.  The Law of Moses did not anticipate the Americans with Disabilities Act.)
  4. No, bad attitudes and resulting sins of commission and/or omission made one unclean.
  5. All foods are clean.  (Mark 7:19)
  6. A Gentile woman impresses Jesus with her faith and debating skills.
  7. But manipulating the Law of Moses and interpretations thereof to the detriment of others does make one unclean.

The standard (once more) is compassion.  Any human tradition which contradicts it is wrong.

To point to such violations from long ago is easy, and does not cost one anything or cause one even the slightest discomfort.  So I invite you, O reader, to look around.  Consider your present reality.  Where are violations (considered respectable and proper) of compassion?  And will you argue with them?  What will that cost you?  What will not arguing with them cost you?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 15, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE FIRST U.S. PRESBYTERIAN BOOK OF COMMON WORSHIP, 1906

THE FEAST OF CAROLINE CHISHOLM, HUMANITARIAN

THE FEAST OF PIRIPI TAUMATA-A-KURA, ANGLICAN MISSIONARY

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/genesis-and-mark-part-xiii-arguing-for-compassionate-deeds/

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Second Sunday in Lent, Year C   17 comments

Above:  Celtic Cross Over a Church Door

The Narrow Door

MARCH 17, 2019

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Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18 (New Revised Standard Version):

The word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision,

Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.

But Abram said,

O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?

And Abram said,

You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.

But the word of the LORD came to him,

This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.

He brought him outside and said,

Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.

Then he said to him,

So shall your descendants be.

And he believed the LORD; and the LORD reckoned it to him as righteousness.

Then he said to him,

I am the LORD who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess.

But he said,

O Lord GOD, how am I to know that I shall possess it?

He said to him,

Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.

He brought him all these and cut them in two, laying each half over against the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.

As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a deep and terrifying darkness descended upon him.

When the sun had gone down and it was dark, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying,

To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates.

Psalm 27 (Revised English Bible):

The LORD is my light and my salvation;

whom should I fear?

The LORD is the stronghold of my life;

of whom then should I go in dread?

When evildoers close in on me to devour me,

is my adversaries, my enemies,

who stumble and fall.

Should an army encamp against me,

my heart would have no fear;

if armed men should fall upon me,

even though I would be undismayed.

One thing I ask of the LORD,

it is the one thing I seek:

that I may dwell in the house of the LORD

all the days of my life,

to gaze on the beauty of the LORD

and to seek him in his temple.

For he will hide me in his shelter

in the day of misfortune;

he will conceal me under cover of his tent,

set me high on a rock.

Now my head will be raised high

above my enemy all about me;

so I shall acclaim him in his tent with a sacrifice

and sing a psalm of praise to the LORD.

Hear, LORD, when I cry aloud;

show my favour and answer me.

Come,

my heart has said,

seek his presence.

I seek your presence, LORD;

do not hide your face from me,

nor in your anger turn away from your servant,

whose help you have been;

God my saviour, do not reject me or forsake me.

Though my father and my mother forsake me,

the LORD will take me into his care.

Teach me your way, LORD;

do not give me up to the greed of my enemies;

lead me by a level path

to escape the foes who beset me:

liars breathing malice come forward

to give evidence against me.

Well I know that I shall see the goodness of the LORD

in the land of the living.

Wait for the LORD; be strong and brave,

and put your hope in the LORD.

Philippians 3:17-4:1 (Revised English Bible):

Join together, my friends, in following my example.  You have us for a model; imitate those whose way of life conforms to it.  As I have often told you, and now tell you with tears, there are many whose way of life makes them enemies of the cross of Christ.  They are heading for destruction, they make appetite their god, they take pride in what should bring shame; their minds are set on earthly things.  We, by contrast, are citizens of heaven, and from heaven we expect our deliverer to come, the Lord Jesus Christ.  He will transfigure our humble bodies, and give them a form like that of his own glorious body, by that power which enables him to make all things subject to himself.  This, my dear friends, whom I live and long for, my joy and crown, this is what it means to stand firm in the Lord.

Luke 13:22-35 (Revised English Bible):

He [Jesus] continued his journey through towns and villages, teaching as he made his way towards Jerusalem.  Someone asked him,

Sir, are only a few saved?

His answer was:

Make every effort to enter through the narrow door; for I tell you that many will try to enter but will not succeed.

When once the master of the house has got up and locked the door, you may stand outside and knock and say, “Sir let us in!” but he will answer, “I do not know where you come from.”  Then you will protest, “We used to eat and drink with you, and you taught in our streets.”  But he will repeat, “I tell you, I do not know where you come from.  Out of my sight, all of you, you and your wicked ways!”  There will be wailing and grinding of teeth there, when you see prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves are driven away.  From east and west, from north and south, people will come and take their places at the banquet in the kingdom of God.  Yes, and some are now last who will be first, and some who are first will be last.

At that time a number of  Pharisees came and warned him [Jesus],

Leave this place and be on your way; Herod wants to kill you.

He replied,

Go and tell that fox, “Listen:  today and tomorrow I shall be driving out demons and working cures; However, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the next day, because it is unthinkable for a prophet to meet his death anywhere but in Jerusalem.”

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, city that murders the prophets and stones the messengers sent to her!  How often have I longed to gather your children, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings; but you would not let me.  Look!  There is your temple, forsaken by God.  I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, “Blessings on him who comes in the name of the Lord!”

The Collect:

O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy: Be gracious to all who have gone astray from your ways, and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of your Word, Jesus Christ your Son; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/01/25/prayer-of-praise-and-adoration-for-the-second-sunday-in-lent/

Prayer of Confession:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/01/25/prayer-of-confession-for-the-second-sunday-in-lent/

Prayer of Dedication:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/01/25/prayer-of-dedication-for-the-the-second-sunday-in-lent/

Prayer:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/01/26/prayer-for-the-second-sunday-of-lent/

Hope of the World:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/08/02/hope-of-the-world/

A Prayer for Compassion:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/09/24/a-prayer-for-compassion/

A Prayer to Embrace Love, Empathy, and Compassion, and to Eschew Hatred, Invective, and Willful Ignorance:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/08/03/a-prayer-to-embrace-love-empathy-and-compassion-and-to-eschew-hatred-invective-and-willful-ignorance/

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Who were the “enemies of the cross” in Philippians?  They could have belonged to more than one camp, including early Gnostics, who thought that matter was evil, so the human body was evil.  So Jesus could not have died on a cross or then risen from the dead, according to Gnostics.  Hence Gnostics were not Christians.  And, since they considered the human body to be evil, some favored starving it.  Others gorged it.

Meanwhile, in Genesis, elderly Abram trusted God’s promise of progeny.

And because he put his trust in the LORD, He reckoned it to his merit.

–Genesis 15:6, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

The Lukan reading requires some textual context.  In Chapter 13:1-21 alone we find the following happening:

  1. Jesus encourages repentance. (1-5)
  2. Jesus tells a parable about giving a non-productive fig tree extra fertilizer and one more chance to avoid destruction. (6-9)
  3. Jesus heals a crippled woman on the Sabbath.  He incurs criticism for doing this deed on that day. (10-17)
  4. Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to a small mustard seed, which produces a very large weed. (18-19)
  5. Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to a small amount of yeast which produces enough to feed 150 people. (20-21)

Then we read about entering by the narrow door.  The Kingdom of God is generous, even weed-like, beyond human control, but the portal to it is narrow.

Who are the excluded?  Among them must be the “enemies of the cross,” those who are materialistic (even if some of them regard matter as evil, ironically).  And I propose that among the excluded are so persnickity about religious matters (such as the Sabbath) that they do not live compassionately.  They have the outward forms yet lack the substance.  God welcomes the repentance of all.  So God does not exclude anyone.  Yet the excluded define themselves as such by not repenting.

As we continue to read we find that our Lord’s life is at risk (31-35).  In the Gospel of Luke’s narrative Jesus had

resolute turned his face towards Jerusalem. (9:51, The New Jerusalem Bible)

So all of Chapter 13 occurs in the shadow of the cross to come.

To pass through a narrow door one must establish priorities.  Some items will never make the cut, for they are too large.  So one must travel lightly through the narrow door.  May we leave behind the bulky furniture of hatred, greed, resentment, prejudice, discrimination, and legalism, among other things.  And may we take compassion with us; it nullifies the items from the preceding sentence.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 14, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF FRANCIS MAKEMIE, FATHER OF U.S. PRESBYTERIANISM

THE FEAST OF NGAKUKU, ANGLICAN MISSIONARY

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/the-narrow-door/

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Devotion for the Seventh Day of Lent (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   9 comments

Above:  Noah’s Thank Offering, by Joseph Anton Koch

Genesis and Mark, Part VIII:  Societal Immorality

FEBRUARY 24, 2021

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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:

Genesis 8:13-9:17

Psalm 5 (Morning)

Psalms 27 and 51 (Evening)

Mark 4:1-20

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A Related Post:

Prayer:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/01/25/prayer-for-wednesday-of-the-first-week-of-lent/

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The sower’s seed needed good soil in which to flourish.  And, as I return to the beginning of the composite Noah’s Ark story, I read that

The earth became corrupt before God;

the earth was filled with lawlessness.

–Genesis 6:11, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

Thus the Great Flood followed in the narratives.  And, as today’s Genesis reading begins, so does renewed life on the planet.  But keep reading; the corruption returned almost immediately.

Corruption–societal immorality–is endemic among we human beings.  As a student of history, I point to examples of this.  Slavery was part of the socio-economic and political fabric of the nation from the 1600s, before this was the United States.   The blood Civil War destroyed the damnable Peculiar Institution in the 1860s.  Yet the racism which supported slavery persisted without apology, and many self-professing Christians quoted the Bible to support both slavery and Jim Crow.  The civil rights movement erased much de jure discrimination against African Americans, changing the attitudes of many people yet leaving de facto discrimination in place.  Many of my fellow human beings seek to discriminate against somebody.  These days homophobia is masquerading shamelessly as societal righteousness, but it is still a form of bigotry.

We human beings have a vocation to act toward each other according to the Golden Rule.  We ought to seek the best for each other, not look for ways to oppress each other.  This proposition undergirds my sense of morality, my ethics.  Thus I conclude  that anything else is corruption and immorality.  Here I stand; I can and will do no other.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 12, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF DUNCAN MONTGOMERY GRAY, SR., EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF MISSISSIPPI

THE FEAST OF SAINT GREGORY OF OSTIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT, CARDINAL, AND LEGATE; AND SAINT DOMINIC OF THE CAUSEWAY, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL MARSDEN, ANGLICAN MISSIONARY IN AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/genesis-and-mark-part-viii-societal-immorality/

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