Archive for the ‘Psalm 81’ Tag

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


Above:  The Pool, by Palma Giovane

Image in the Public Domain

Idolatry Versus Wholeness



The Collect:

Merciful God, the fountain of living water,

you quench our thirst and wash away our sin.

Give us this water always.

Bring us to drink from the well that flows with the beauty of your truth

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

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

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 27


The Assigned Readings:

Jeremiah 2:4-14

Psalm 81

John 7:14-31, 37-39


But my people would not hear my voice:

and Israel would not obey me.

–Psalm 81:11, A New Zealand Prayer Book (1989)


The living water theme from the previous post exists also in Jeremiah 2:

Be aghast at this, you heavens,

shudder in horror,

says the LORD.

My people have committed two sins:

they have rejected me,

a source of living water,

and they have hewn out for themselves cisterns,

cracked cisterns which hold no water.

–Verses 12 and 13, The Revised English Bible (1989)

God had done much for the people who had chased instead after false gods

who were powerless to help.

–Jeremiah 2:8e, The Revised English Bible (1989)

Idolatry is a frequent human reality.  Lest one lull oneself into complacency, one can commit idolatry while trying to pursue holiness.  Consider, O reader, the scene in John 7.  Our Lord and Savior stood accused of having violated Sabbath laws by having healed a paralyzed man (Chapter 5).  These forbade many activities allowed on the other six days.  One who worked on the Sabbath was even supposed to be put to death, except in certain circumstances.  If the Sabbath was the eighth day of a boy’s life, circumcision remained mandatory on that date.  And actions which saved life were permissible.  The former removed part of a person.  The latter prevented death.  Thus what could be wrong with restoring someone to wholeness on the Sabbath?

Picking legal nits without compassion is as idolatrous as is worshiping an imaginary deity.  May none of us be guilty of either of these deeds.







Devotion for the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Days of Lent, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   3 comments


Above:  Christ and the Woman of Samaria at Jacob’s Well

Image Creator = N. Currier (Firm)

Image Created Between 1835 and 1856

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-USZC2-2099

Living Water in the Wilderness

MONDAY, MARCH 16, 2020, and TUESDAY, MARCH 17, 2020


The Collect:

Merciful God, the fountain of living water,

you quench our thirst and wash away our sin.

Give us this water always.

Bring us to drink from the well that flows with the beauty of your truth

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

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

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 27


The Assigned Readings:

Genesis 24:1-27 (17th Day)

Genesis 29:1-14 (18th Day)

Psalm 81 (Both Days)

2 John 1-13 (17th Day)

1 Corinthians 10:1-4 (18th Day)


Oh, that my people would listen to me!

that Israel would walk in my ways!

–Psalm 81:13, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)


The daily lectionary I am following in this series of posts focuses on the Revised Common Lectionary, building up to a Sunday’s readings Thursday through Saturday then glowing from those readings Monday through Wednesday.  Thus, for the purpose of this post, one needs to know that the Gospel lection for the Third Sunday in Lent, Year A, is Jesus speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well.  This is the longest recorded conversation of our Lord and Savior in the Gospels.  And it was, I have mentioned, not only with a woman but with a Samaritan–a radical step in that social milieu.  That Jesus, what will he do next?  Which social norm will he violate tomorrow?

I bring the discourse on living water in John 4 into this post, for that content belongs here also.  At a well a servant of Abraham found Isaac’s future wife and Jacob’s mother, Rebekah.  At a well Jacob met one of his future wives, Rachel.  Wells were crucial sources of life-giving and life-sustaining water, especially in an arid environment.  And, elsewhere in the biblical narrative, God provided water for the wandering Israelites in the desert after the Exodus and before the settlement of Canaan under the leadership of Joshua, son of Nun.  The tie between water and the sense of God providing for the people was palpable.

The metaphorical living water of which Jesus spoke in John 4 brings me to 2 John 6:

To love is to live according to [God’s] commandments:  this is the commandment which you have heard since the beginning, to live a life of live.

The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

As we journey through the wilderness of anxiety, fear, animosity, misunderstanding, and perhaps even hatred, may we drink deeply of the living water of Christ-like love–agape–which accepts others unconditionally and self-sacrificially.  May we trust that God will provide sufficiently and on time.  May we have the grace and strength to seek the best interests of others–also our own best interests–for we are all in in this life together and dependent on God.  May this living water enable us to help others–therefore ourselves–and to love and glorify God, regardless of how bleak the wilderness seems or is.







Twenty-First Day of Lent   12 comments

Cedars of Lebanon


Friday, March 25, 2022

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


Follow the assigned readings with me this Lent….

Kenneth Randolph Taylor


Hosea 14:2-10 (TANAKH: The Holy Scriptures):

Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God,

For you have fallen because of your sin.

Take words with you

And return to the LORD.

Say to Him:

Forgive all guilt

And accept what is good;

Instead of bulls we will pay

[The offering of] our lips.

Assyria shall not save us,

No more will we ride on steeds,

Nor ever again will we call

Our handiwork our god,

Since in You alone orphans find pity!

I will heal their affliction,

Generously will I take them back in love;

For my anger has turned away from them.

I will be to Israel like dew;

He shall blossom like the lily,

He strike out like a Lebanon tree.

His boughs shall spread out far,

His beauty shall be like the olive tree’s,

His fragrance like that of Lebanon.

They who sit in his shade shall be revived:

They shall bring to life new grain,

They shall blossom like the vine;

His scent shall be like the wine of Lebanon.

Ephraim [shall say]:

What more have I to do with idols?

When I respond and look to Him,

I become like a verdant cypress.

Your fruit is provided by Me.

He who is wise will consider these words,

He who is prudent will take note of them.

For the paths of the LORD of smooth;

The righteous can walk on them,

While sinners stumble on them.

Psalm 81:9-15 (TANAKH: The Holy Scriptures):

Hear, My people, and I will admonish you;

Israel, if you would be listen to me!

You shall have no foreign god,

you shall not bow down to an alien god.

I am the LORD your God

who brought you out of the land of Egypt;

open your mouth wide and I will fill it.

But My people would not listen to Me,

Israel would not obey Me.

So I let them go after their willful heart

that they might follow their own devices.

If only My people would listen to Me,

if Israel would follow my Paths,

then would I subdue their enemies at once,

strike their foes again and again.

Mark 12:28-34 (The New Testament in the Language of the People):

Then one of the scribes, on hearing them [some Pharisees, Herodians, and Sadducees] arguing, came up, and since he saw that Jesus had answered them properly, he asked Him,

What sort of command is the first of all commands?

Jesus answered,

The first one is, ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord, and you must love the Lord your God with your whole heart, your whole soul, your whole mind, and your whole strength.’  And this is the second, ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’  No other command is greater than these.

Then the scribe said to Him,

Indeed, Teacher, you have properly said that He is one by Himself, and there is no other but Him, and to love Him with one’s whole heart, one’s whole understanding, and one’s whole strength, and to love one’s neighbor as one loves himself is far more than all the burnt-offerings and sacrifices.

So Jesus said to him, as He saw that he had answered thoughtfully,

You are not far from the kingdom of God.

And no one ventured to ask Him any more questions.

The Collect:

Grant us, O Lord our Strength, a true love of your holy Name; so that, trusting in your grace, we may fear no earthly evil, nor fix our hearts on earthly goods, but may rejoice in your full salvation; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.


Jesus had been sparring verbally with Pharisees and Herodians over the lawfulness of paying Roman taxes with idolatrous coins bearing the image of the allegedly divine emperor.  If he said no, the imperium would not like his answer.  Yet if he said yes, religious authorities would pounce on him.  Jesus avoided the trap by saying that one should give the empire its due and render to God what God is due.

Then, in the Markan narrative, Sadducees, who did not believe in the resurrection of the dead, asked Jesus a question about a woman who married a series of brothers via levirate marriage.  Whose wife would she be in the resurrection?  This was an insincere inquiry.  I imagine Jesus thinking, “This is the best they do?  They ask me stupid questions like this?”

Then a thoughtful scribe seeking an answer asked Jesus a question concerning the greatest commandment.  Jesus channeled Deuteronomy 6:4-5, the Shema.  I will not repeat what I have written concerning the greatest commandments in immediately preceding posts of this series.  Instead, I refer you to them.

The presence of Jesus reflects the theology of Hosea.  God offered people another chance to obey God and avoid the consequences of disobedience.  Biblical judgment and mercy balance each other well.  Often they are present on the same printed page, if not adjacent pages.  Judgment means nothing in the absence of mercy, just as mercy lacks meaning without judgment.  God loves us and wants us to come home.  And, in this day’s reading from Mark, the only professional religious person interested in an honest answer received encouraging words from Jesus.

So, are we more interested in seeking useful answers from God, or do we want to play sophomoric and political games with the Holy One?  And what does the answer say about us?


Written on February 28, 2010