Archive for the ‘Romans 8’ Tag

Devotion for Pentecost, Year D (Humes)   1 comment

Above:  Pentecost Dove

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Light in the Darkness

JUNE 5, 2022


The Collect:

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

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

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

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

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

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236


The Assigned Readings:

Acts 2:1-21 or Joel 2:21-32 (Protestant and Anglican)/Joel 2:21-3:5 (Jewish, Roman Catholic, and Roman Catholic)

Psalm 104:24-34, 35b

Acts 2:1-11 or Romans 8:22-27

John 15:26-16:15


The Humes lectionary readings for Pentecost across all four years are mostly the same.  In fact, the readings for Years B and D on this day are identical.  I understand; feasible options are limited.

Anyway, after writing lectionary-based devotions for more than a decade, I fall barely short of dreading composing another devotion for Pentecost.  My perspective is unique; only I know how often I have repeated myself.  I may have something not excessively repetitive to offer in this post.

One of the major themes in the Gospel of John is the conflict between light (good) and darkness (evil).  We read that the Holy Spirit will reveal to the world how wrong it has been about sin, about who was in the right, and about judgment.

Pentecost was nearly 2000 years ago.  The world has persisted in a state of denial and obliviousness.  Human nature has not changed.

Yet may we take courage.  God remains sovereign.  And those who cleave to the light remain in Christ, who is in God.  The light shines on the just and the unjust.  And the darkness has not overcome the light.












Devotion for Pentecost Sunday, Year B (Humes)   1 comment

Above:  Pentecost Dove

Scanned from a Church Bulletin by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

When the Advocate Comes

MAY 31, 2020


The Collect:

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

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

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

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

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

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236


The Assigned Readings:

Acts 2:1-21 or Joel 2:21-32

Psalm 104:24-34, 35b

Acts 2:1-21 or Romans 8:22-27

John 15:26-16:15


My Episcopal parish recently held a few focus groups.  Our tasks were envision the congregation in a decade and to think about what the church should be then, to focus on goals and broad strokes, not technical details.  I stated my version of that future.  I also said, in broad terms, that we ought not to focus on what we can do or think we will be able to do, but on what God can do through us.  I vocalized the principle that we need to focus on divine agency, not human agency.

This has been the task of the Church since its birth on Pentecost 29 or 30 C.E., in Jerusalem.  God has always been central; human egos have imagined otherwise.

As we continue our collective and individual spiritual journeys in Christ, the Holy Spirit will accompany, advise, and advocate for us.






Forty-Seventh and Forty-Eighth Days of Easter, Year A (ELCA Daily Devotion)   3 comments

Cross and Crown

Above:  Cross and Crown

Image in the Public Domain

Suffering and Glory

THURSDAY, MAY 28, 2020, and FRIDAY, MAY 29, 2020


The Collect:

O God, on this day you open the hearts of your faithful people

by sending us your Holy Spirit.

Direct us by the light of that Spirit,

that we may have a right judgment in all things

and rejoice at all times in your peace,

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 36


The Assigned Readings:

Exodus 19:1-9a (47th Day)

Exodus 19:16-25 (48th Day)

Psalm 33:12-22 (Both Days)

Acts 2:1-11 (47th Day)

Romans 8:14-17 (48th Day)


O LORD, you look down from heaven

and behold all the people in the world.

From where you sit enthroned you turn your gaze

on all who dwell on the earth.

You fashion all the hearts of them

and understand all their works.

–Psalm 33:13-15, Book of Common Worship (1993)


Take up thy cross, and follow Christ,

Nor think till death to lay it down;

For only he who bears the cross

May hope to wear the glorious crown.

–Charles W. Everest (1814-1877)


The readings from Exodus and Acts have the flavor of prose poetry and of mystery, two things I will not attempt to minimize with regard to encounters with God.  Sometimes words prove inadequate; so be it.  May we learn as much as possible from them and embrace the divine mystery.

The Law of Moses contained rules for free people, who were all slaves of God, but no longer of the Pharaoh.  Since all the Israelites were free people, they had a day off from work, for example.  And nobody had any right to exploit another person.  This reality did not prevent exploitation, but the Law defined that violation.

If we are children of God, St. Paul the Apostle tells us down the corridors of time, we are also heirs with Christ, who suffered.  Therefore, if we are to share in his glory, we must also share in his suffering.  The last part of that formulation is not comforting, is it?  It is the part which I, as a North American Christian, am fortunate not to face as vividly in my daily life as many of my coreligionists elsewhere do in theirs.  Yet I know enough about colonial American history to be aware of Puritans hanging Quakers in New England in the 1600s and of the government of New York incarcerating unlicensed preachers in the late 1600s and early 1700s.  And I know of religious persecution around the world from the days of the Bible to today.  (Committing violence against nonviolent people does not impress me.)  I can still, regardless of circumstances, seek proper priorities and follow Christ.

At least there is good news accompanying the bad news:  Those who suffer for the sake of Christ will not do so alone; God will be with them.  And the power of God is marvelous indeed; no darkness can overcome it.









Fiftieth Day of Easter: Day of Pentecost, Year C   16 comments

Above:  Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit, Cumming, Georgia, Pentecost Sunday, June 12 2011

Image Source = Bill Monk, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

The Inclusive Gospel of Jesus

JUNE 5, 2022


The Assigned Readings for This Sunday:

Acts 2:1-21 or Genesis 11:1-9

Psalm 104:25-35, 37

Romans 8:14-17 or Acts 2:1-21

John 7:37-39a

The Collect:

Almighty God, on this day you opened the way of eternal life to every race and nation by the promised gift of your Holy Spirit: Shed abroad this gift throughout the world by the preaching of the Gospel, that it may reach to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Some Related Posts:

A Prayer for Those With Only the Holy Spirit to Intercede for Them:

Come Down, O Love Divine:

Come, Holy Spirit, Heavenly Dove:

Invocation to the Holy Spirit:

Holy Spirit, Font of Light:

Prayer of Praise and Adoration for the Day of Pentecost:

Prayer of Confession for the Day of Pentecost:

Prayer of Dedication for the Day of Pentecost:

Like the Murmur of the Dove’s Song:

Spirit of God, Unleashed on Earth:

Pentecost Prayer of Adoration:

Pentecost Prayers for Openness to God:

Pentecost Prayers of Confession:

Come, Holy Spirit, Come!:

Come, Blessed Spirit! Source of Light!:

Come to Our Poor Nature’s Night:

Holy Ghost, With Light Divine:

Divine Spirit, Attend Our Prayers:

Come, Thou Holy Spirit Bright:


The LENTEN AND EASTER DEVOTIONS blog terminates each church year at the Day of Pentecost.  This practice makes sense because Pentecost Sunday is the last day of the Easter season.  There is another reason, however.  Liturgical renewal and restructuring for most of Western Christianity, beginning with the Roman Catholic Church in Advent 1969, has led to the labeling of the subsequent Sundays in Ordinary Time (beginning two weeks after Pentecost Sunday) as “after Pentecost” in lieu of the prior dominant practice, “after Trinity.”  (Disclaimer:  U.S. Methodists used to divide the post-Pentecost and pre-Advent time into two seasons:  Whitsuntude and Kingdomtide, with the latter beginning on the last Sunday in August.  And the Lutheran Service Book and Hymnal (1958) lists Ordinary Time Sundays as both “after Pentecost” and “after Trinity.”)  Trinity Sunday, of course, is the Sunday immediately following the Day of Pentecost.  Anyhow, those who continue to observe Sundays after Trinity are liturgical outliers.  My own denomination, since its 1979 Book of Common Prayer and the process which led up to it, operates on the Sundays after Pentecost pattern.  It is what I have known.  The 1928 Book of Common Prayer is an artifact from which I have never worshiped.  Sundays after Trinity seem quaint to me.

So here we are, on the cusp of changing seasons and Sunday numbering (the Propers through 29 are almost upon us), pondering two opposite and assigned stories.  The Tower of Babel myth tells of linguistic differences causing confusion and thwarting human ambitions.  (We know from anthropology, history, and science that linguistic diversity is much older than the timeframe of the Tower of Babel story.)  The sin in the myth is pride, which God confounds.  Yet linguistic variety cannot confound God’s purposes in Acts 2 because God will not permit it to do so.  The proverbial living water of Jesus, whose glorification in the Gospel of John was his crucifixion–something humiliating and shameful by human standards–would be available regardless of one’s language.

Thus the Church was born.  It is always changing and reforming, adapting to changing circumstances and seeking to look past human prejudices and false preconceptions.  I prefer to include as many people as possible while maintaining liturgical reverence and orthodox (Chalcedonian, etc.) Christology.  I do, in other words have boundaries, but they are too large according to those on my right and too small according to those on my left.  That makes me something of a moderate, I suppose.  “Left of center” might be more accurate.  Regardless of who is correct, may the church and its constituent parts follow the crucified and resurrected Lord and Savior, who transmuted shame and humiliation into glory, who ate with notorious sinners, whose grace scandalized respectable and respected religious authorities.  Or are we become modern counterparts of the scribes and Pharisees with whom Jesus locked horns?







Fiftieth Day of Easter: Day of Pentecost, Year B   31 comments

Above:  Descent of the Holy Spirit

Our Advocate

MAY 23, 2021


The Assigned Readings for This Sunday:

Acts 2:1-21 or Ezekiel 37:1-14

Psalm 104:25-35, 37

Romans 8:22-27 or Acts 2:1-21

John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15

The Collect:

Almighty God, on this day you opened the way of eternal life to every race and nation by the promised gift of your Holy Spirit: Shed abroad this gift throughout the world by the preaching of the Gospel, that it may reach to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Some Related Posts:

Fiftieth Day of Easter:  Day of Pentecost, Year A:

A Prayer for Those With Only the Holy Spirit to Intercede for Them:


I have written more than once that judgment and mercy coexist in the Bible.  This assertion is obvious from a close reading of the sacred anthology.  This day the emphasis belongs on mercy.

We read in John 16 that the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity, is the Advocate.  This is a legal term; our Advocate is our defense attorney.  In other words, God stands with us, so why should we fear?

Nevertheless, many Christians have suffered persecution and martyrdom for twenty centuries.  Many still do.  And Jesus, from whose Greek title, Christ, we derive the label “Christian,” died on a cross.  So this divine companionship and defense does not guard every follower of God from physical or legal harm.  Yet the message of Christ has continued to spread, the blood of the martyrs continues to water the Church, and killing people cannot end the spread of Christianity.

Beyond all that, those who die faithful to God go to God in the afterlife.  No harm can touch them there.  This might seem like cold comfort or no comfort in this life, but it is something.  The world is imperfect, and only God can repair it.

Yet may we rejoice that we have an Advocate.  May the quality of our lives reflect this gratitude.




Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year A   23 comments

Above: The Raising of Lazarus, by Vincent Van Gogh, 1890

These Bones Can Live Again Or, Some Good Deeds Do Not Go Unpunished

MARCH 29, 2020


Ezekiel 37:1-14 (New Revised Standard Version):

The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. He said to me,

Mortal, can these bones live?

I answered,

O Lord GOD, you know.

Then he said to me,

Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord.

So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me,

Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.

I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.

Then he said to me,

Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, “Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.” Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act,

says the Lord.

Psalm 130 (New Revised Standard Version):

Out of the depths I cry to you , O LORD.

Lord, hear my voice!

Let your ears be attentive

to the voice of my supplications!

If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities,

Lord, who could stand?

But there is forgiveness with you,

so that you may be revered.

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,

and in his word I hope;

my soul waits for the Lord

more than those who watch for the morning,

more than those who watch for the morning.

O Israel, hope in the LORD!

For with the LORD there is steadfast love,

and with him is great power to redeem.

It is he who will redeem Israel

from all its iniquities.

Romans 8:6-11 (New Revised Standard Version):

To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law– indeed it cannot, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.

John 11:1-45 (New Revised Standard Version):

Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent a message to Jesus,

Lord, he whom you love is ill.

But when Jesus heard it, he said,

This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.

Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

Then after this he said to the disciples,

Let us go to Judea again.

The disciples said to him,

Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?

Jesus answered,

Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.

After saying this, he told them,

Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.

The disciples said to him,

Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.

Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly,

Lazarus is dead. For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.

Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples,

Let us also go, that we may die with him.

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus,

Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.

Jesus said to her,

Your brother will rise again.

Martha said to him,

I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.

Jesus said to her,

I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?

She said to him,

Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.

When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately,

The Teacher is here and is calling for you.

And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him,

Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said,

Where have you laid him?

They said to him,

Lord, come and see.

Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said,

See how he loved him!

But some of them said,

Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?

Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said,

Take away the stone.

Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him,

Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.

Jesus said to her,

Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?

So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said,

Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.

When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice,

Lazarus, come out!

The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them,

Unbind him, and let him go.

Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.

The Collect:

Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


My soundtrack for the writing of this post is part of Gustav Mahler’s monumental Symphony #2, the “Resurrection” Symphony.  The work is not Christian, and Mahler was at best a nominal Roman Catholic who converted from the Judaism he did not practice, either, to get a job.  But the man wrote wonderful music.  The portion of the “Resurrection” Symphony which attracts me now is the Urlicht movement, a soul-melting contralto solo, the lyrics of which (in English translation) follow:

O red rose!

Man lies in direst need!

Man lies in deepest pain!

I would rather be in heaven!

I came upon a broad path:

an angel came to me and sought to turn me back.

Ah no!  I would not be sent away!

I am from God and to God I will return!

Dear God will give me a light,

will light me to eternal, blessed life!

Then the final movement begins.  When the soloists and choir members sing the words (again in English translation) include:

Rise again, yea, thou shalt rise again,

my dust, after brief rest!

Mahler’s symphony concerns a dead hero who awakens in Heaven, so the context is somewhat outside the reading from the Johannine Gospel, but some of it works well, anyhow.

The author of the Fourth Gospel wrote of Jesus raising his good friend, Lazarus, from the dead.  The long portion of John 11 in the Revised Common Lectionary has a happy ending.  But read the rest of the chapter.  Some of Jesus’ religious enemies conspire to have him killed because of fear that spreading faith in Jesus will bring down the wrath of the Roman Empire on Judea, and it was allegedly better for one man, not a nation, to die.

The placement of this Gospel reading at this point in the lectionary is appropriate, for the next Sunday will be Palm (Passion) Sunday, the opening of Holy Week.  At this point in the church year the short countdown to the crucifixion of Jesus has begun.  The foreshadowing, present in some of the canonical Gospels since the birth narratives, will yield to unfolding drama and a climax.  The author of the Markan Gospel, the first of the canonical Gospels written, believed that the role of the Messiah was to suffer and die, not to be the conquering hero to expel the Roman occupiers and restore Israel to its Davidic glory.  New Testament scholars call this Markan view the Messsianic Secret, for, according “Mark,” whoever he was, the death of the Messiah revealed the identity and true function of the Messiah to all who paid attention.  Think of it this way:  Messiah 101 is that he must die.  But he has to die before this becomes readily apparent.  Writing of this nearly 2000 years later it seems obvious, but this was not the case at the time.

O, just one more thing.

There is a Medieval Roman Catholic tradition which states that Lazarus and his sisters became evangelists in Provence, France.  I do not know if the reality behind the tradition is fact or fiction, but I am certain of one proposition:  I would tell people that Jesus had raised me (or my brother, if one assumes the point of view of Mary or Martha) from the dead.


Written on June 19, 2010