Archive for the ‘St. Paul the Apostle’ Tag

Devotion for the Feast of the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth, Years A, B, C, and D (Humes)   2 comments

Above:  Embrace of Elizabeth and the Virgin Mary

Image in the Public Domain

Humility and Arrogance

MAY 31, 2019

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The Collect:

Almighty God, in choosing the virgin Mary to be the mother of your Son,

you made known your gracious regard for the poor and the lowly and the despised.

Grant us grace to receive your Word in humility, and so made one with your Son,

Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you

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

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 33

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The Assigned Readings:

1 Samuel 2:1-10

Psalm 113

Romans 12:9-16b

Luke 1:39-57

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Depending on the date of Easter, and therefore of Pentecost, the Feast of the Visitation can fall in either the season of Easter or the Season after Pentecost.

The history of the Feast of the Visitation has been a varied one.  The feast, absent in Eastern Orthodoxy, began in 1263, when St. Bonaventure introduced it to the Order of Friars Minor (the Franciscans), which he led.  Originally the date was July 2, after the octave of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (June 24).  Pope Urban VI approved the feast in 1389, the Council of Basel authorized it in 1441, propers debuted in the Sarum breviary of 1494, and Pope Pius V added the feast to the general calendar in 1561.  In 1969, during the pontificate of Paul VI, Holy Mother Church moved the Feast of the Visitation to May 31, in lieu of the Feast of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which Pope Pius XII had instituted in 1954.  The Episcopal Church added the Feast of the Visitation to its calendar in The Book of Common Prayer (1979).  The feast had long been July 2 in The Church of England and much of Lutheranism prior to 1969.  Subsequent liturgical revision led to the transfer of the feast to May 31 in those traditions.

The corresponding Eastern Orthodox feast on July 2 commemorates the placing of the Holy Robe of the Mother of God in the church at Blachernae, a suburb of Constantinople.

The theme of humility is prominent in the assigned readings and in the Lutheran collect I have quoted.  A definition of that word might therefore prove helpful.  The unabridged Webster’s New Twentieth Century Dictionary of the English Language (1951), a tome, defines humility as

Freedom from pride and arrogance; humbleness of mind; a modest estimate of one’s own worth; also, self-abasement, penitence for sin.

Humility refers to lowliness and, in the Latin root, of being close to the ground.  God raising up the lowly is a Lukan theme, as is God overthrowing the arrogant.  After all, the woes (Luke 6:24-26) follow the Beatitudes (6:20-25), where Jesus says,

Blessed are you who are poor,

not

Blessed are you who are poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3).

The first will be last and the last will be first, after all.

Wherever you are, O reader, you probably live in a society that celebrates the boastful, the arrogant.  The assigned readings for this day contradict that exultation of the proud, however.  They are consistent with the ethic of Jeremiah 9:22-23:

Yahweh says this,

“Let the sage not boast of wisdom,

nor the valiant of valour,

nor the wealthy of riches!

But let anyone who wants to boast, boast of this:

of understanding and knowing me.

For I am Yahweh, who acts with faithful love,

justice, and uprightness on earth;

yes, these are what please me,”

Yahweh declares.

The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

St. Paul the Apostle channeled that ethic in 1 Corinthians 1:31 and 2 Corinthians 10:17, among other passages.

That which he understood well and internalized, not without some struggle, remains relevant and timeless.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 1, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JUSTIN MARTYR, CHRISTIAN APOLOGIST AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAMPHILUS OF CAESAREA, BIBLE SCHOLAR AND TRANSLATOR; AND HIS COMPANIONS, MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL STENNETT, ENGLISH SEVENTH-DAY BAPTIST MINISTER AND HYMN-WRITER; AND JOHN HOWARD, ENGLISH HUMANITARIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT SIMEON OF SYRACUSE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2018/06/01/humility-and-arrogance-part-ii/

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2018/07/12/devotion-for-the-feast-of-the-visitation-of-mary-to-elizabeth-years-a-b-c-and-d-humes/

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Devotion for Easter Sunday, Year A (Humes)   2 comments

Above:  Easter Celtic Cross

Image Scanned by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Resurrected Lives, Part I

APRIL 21, 2019

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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:

Acts 2:22-41 or Job 19:7-27c

Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24

1 Corinthians 15:1-11

Matthew 28:1-10

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The reading from Job 19 might seem at first to be an odd selection for Easter Sunday.  The choice makes much sense on this occasion, however.  The lesson reminds us that even innocent people suffer, despite what certain conventionally pious people, such as alleged friends who insult the afflicted, claim.  Reading the Book of Job and the Gospel of John together highlights the falseness of the arguments of Job’s alleged friends, for, in the Johannine Gospel, the crucifixion of Jesus is Christ’s glorification.

Psalm 118 is a prayer of thanksgiving for victory in battle.  The theme of victory certainly applies to Easter, central to the Christian liturgical year.  Likewise the resurrection of Jesus is central to Christianity, as 1 Corinthians 15, in its entirety, affirms.

The body of Christian doctrine is varied and frequently self-contradictory, given the wide variety of competing denominations.  An orthodox Christian in one denomination is simultaneously a heretic, according to the standards of many other denominations.  Yet, for all the variation in doctrines not essential to salvation, a few doctrines are mandatory.  The Incarnation is one.  The atonement (with at least three interpretations of it dating to the Patristic Era) is a second.  The resurrection of Jesus is a third.

In the academic study of history one, assuming that one’s facts are correct and one’s chronology is in order, one must still be able to answer one question satisfactorily:

So what?

St. Paul the Apostle, in 1 Corinthians 15, answers that question ably down the corridors of time.  Through the resurrection of Jesus, we read (especially after verse 11), we Christians, liberated from our former states of sin, have hope; we lead resurrected lives.  Otherwise, if the resurrection is false,

…we of all people are most to be pitied.

–1 Corinthians 15:19b, The Revised English Bible (1989)

Yet we are not, thanks to God.

Happy Easter!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 30, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOAN OF ARC, ROMAN CATHOLIC VISIONARY AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF APOLO KIVEBULAYA, APOSTLE TO THE PYGMIES

THE FEAST OF JOSEPHINE BUTLER, ENGLISH FEMINIST AND SOCIAL REFORMER

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

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2018/05/30/resurrected-lives-part-i/

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This is post #400 of LENTEN AND EASTER DEVOTIONS.

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Devotion for Tuesday of Holy Week, Years A, B, C, and D (Humes)   4 comments

Above:  Christ Pantocrator

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

A Faithful Response, Part IV

APRIL 16, 2019

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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:

Isaiah 49:1-7

Psalm 71:1-14

1 Corinthians 1:18-31

John 12:20-36

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Psalm 71 is a prayer of an aged pious person afflicted by his enemies.  Many of its sentiments fit neatly into Holy Week, although verse 13 is rather un-Christlike:

Let my accusers be put to shame and consumed;

let those who seek to hurt me be covered with scorn and disgrace.

The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

That is far removed from

Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.

–Luke 23:34, The Jerusalem Bible (1966)

Divine paradoxes are glorious.  Consider, O reader, 1 Corinthians 1.  The message of Christ’s cross is folly and causes offense, but it is the power of God to those on the way to salvation.  The folly of God is greater than human wisdom in the hyperbolic language of St. Paul the Apostle.  The scapegoating and execution of an innocent man is the way to salvation?  How can that be?  Yet it is.

The people of God have a divine mandate to restore others to God and bring others to God.  Those who would gain eternal life (which begins on this side of Heaven) must love life less than God.  That is possible via grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 27, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FIRST SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR B:  TRINITY SUNDAY

THE FEAST OF PAUL GERHARDT, GERMAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF ALFRED ROOKER, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST PHILANTHROPIST AND HYMN WRITER; AND HIS SISTER, ELIZABETH ROOKER PARSON, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF AMELIA BLOOMER, U.S. SUFFRAGETTE

THE FEAST OF SAINT LOJZE GROZDE, SLOVENIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2018/05/27/a-faithful-response-part-v/

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Devotion for the Third Sunday in Lent, Year A (Humes)   2 comments

Above:  A Stamp Depicting Jonah

Image in the Public Domain

The Inner Jonah, Part II

MARCH 24, 2019

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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:

Jonah 2

Psalm 95

Philippians 2:14-18; 3:1-7

Matthew 26:36-56

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Psalm 95:8 (The Book of Common Prayer, 1979) tells us:

Harden not your hearts,

as you did in the wilderness,

at Meribah, and on that day at Massah,

when they tempted me.

In the same vein St. Paul the Apostle wrote:

Do everything without grumbling or argument.  Show yourselves innocent and above reproach, faultless children of God in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in a dark world and proffer the word of life.

–Philippians 2:14-16a, The Revised English Bible (1989)

Jesus, obedient to God, was about to die.

Jonah, seeking death, for the purpose of evading the call of God, could not get away from God and the divine call, as he learned.

Each of us has an inner Jonah.  Each of us, to some extent, hopes to avoid God and the divine call on life.  Each of us, to a certain extent, wants to live for self, not God.  Each of us, to some degree, finds the presence of God terrifying, or at least inconvenient and annoying.

Juxtaposing the stories of Jesus asking God to let the cup of crucifixion pass from him and of Jonah praying inside the big fish is interesting and appropriate.  We read that Jesus accepted that cup and went on to sacrifice himself, and that Jonah accepted the mission to Nineveh reluctantly.  Furthermore, we read in Philippians 1:21-26 that St. Paul the Apostle was at peace with the prospect of dying for Christ.

Jonah sticks out like a sore thumb in that company.  So do most of us.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 24, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF NICOLAUS SELNECKER, GERMAN LUTHERAN MINISTER, THEOLOGIAN, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JACKSON KEMPER, EPISCOPAL MISSIONARY BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT EDITH MARY MELLISH (A.K.A. MOTHER EDITH), FOUNDRESS OF THE COMMUNITY OF THE SACRED NAME

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2018/05/24/the-inner-jonah-part-ii/

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Devotion for the Second Sunday in Lent, Year A (Humes)   2 comments

Above:  A Stamp Depicting Jonah in the Boat

Image in the Public Domain

The Inner Jonah, Part I

MARCH 17, 2019

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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:

Jonah 1

Psalm 121

Philippians 1:15-30

Matthew 26:20-35

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The story of Jonah is a work of satirical fiction that teaches timeless truths.  It is the tale of a reluctant prophet who flees God’s call before finally accepting the vocation and succeeding, much to his disappointment.  The book is a story about repentance, God’s mercy on our enemies, God’s refusal to conform to our expectations, and the foolishness of religious nationalism.

St. Paul the Apostle, perhaps writing from prison in Ephesus, circa 56 C.E., wrote:

It is my confident hope that nothing will prevent me from speaking boldly; and that now as always Christ will display his greatness in me, whether the verdict be life or death.

–Philippians 1:20, The Revised English Bible (1989)

Christ, in Matthew 26, was obedient to God–soon to the point of death.  His final journey to Jerusalem had a result far different from that of the trek of pilgrims who sang Psalm 121.

Each of us has an inner Jonah.  Each of us likes certain categories more than we ought and other categories we should reject.  We like for God to bless people like ourselves and overlook our sis, and to smite our enemies, collective and individual.  To some extent, we define ourselves according to who we are not.  Therefore, if our enemies and those we dislike change, what does of identity become?

Defense mechanisms are frequently negative.  When we embrace them and flee from God, they certainly are.  When we embrace them and find divine grace scandalous, they are surely negative.  When we embrace them and choose not to speak the words of God boldly or at all, they certainly are idolatrous.

May we, by grace, eschew this and all other forms of idolatry.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 23, 2018  COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT IVO OF CHARTRES, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2018/05/23/the-inner-jonah-part-i/

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Devotion for Pentecost Sunday (Ackerman)   2 comments

Above:  Icon of Pentecost, by Phiddipus

Image in the Public Domain

Community and Faith

JUNE 9, 2019

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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:

Deuteronomy 16:9-12

Isaiah 60:19-22

Galatians 3:1-5

John 3:31-36

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“Pentecost” comes from “fifty,” as in the formulation in Deuteronomy 16.  The harvest festival described in that text is a community celebration of gratitude to God.

That communal ethos, rampant in the Bible, runs counter to much of Western Civilization, with its emphasis on individualism.  To read past the blindness of individualism when pondering the Bible can be difficult, but it is essential.  The glory of YHWH, we read in Isaiah 60, will shine on the faithful community.  We also read of a foolish community (or a group of communities) in Galatians 3.

As St. Paul the Apostle argued correctly, one cannot break one part of the Law of Moses without violating the entire law code.  And nobody can keep all of the Law.  The emphasis on the Holy Spirit in Galatians 3:1-5 is appropriate for this Sunday, a commemoration of an extraordinary event–the birth of the Church.

In the Gospel of John (17:3) eternal life is simply knowing God via Jesus; time and timelessness has nothing to do with the definition.  There is no such thing as an eternity without God, for eternity is, by definition, in God.  Eternity is a quality of life, not the afterlife.  One can have an afterlife without God; the term for that is Hell.  Eternity, however, begins in this life and continues into the next one.  Eternal life comes via the Holy Spirit.  Community can reinforce this faith.

I will not attempt to explain the Holy Trinity, for a set of heresies has originated from such efforts.  No, I ponder the Trinity and affirm that God is at least that and certainly far more.  I cannot grasp the Trinity, so how can I understand the full nature of God?  What we mere mortals are worthy of grasping, however, is sufficient for salvation and justification.  That which is left for us is to stand in the awe of God, to trust in God, to recognize our complete dependence on God, and, by grace, to love each other selflessly and self-sacrificially, thereby following the example of Jesus, the visible manifestation of God.  We can do this via the power of the Holy Spirit.

Happy Pentecost!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 14, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT METHODIUS I OF CONSTANTINOPLE, PATRIARCH

THE FEAST OF DOROTHY FRANCES BLOMFIELD GURNEY, ENGLISH POET AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF HANS ADOLF BRORSON, DANISH LUTHERAN BISHOP, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2017/06/14/community-and-faith/

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Devotion for Maundy Thursday (Ackerman)   2 comments

Crucifix III July 15, 2014

Above:  A Crucifix

Photograph by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

The Suffering of the Innocent

APRIL 18, 2019

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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:

Exodus 11:1-6; 12:29-36

Psalm 69:19-21

1 Corinthians 11:17-22, 27-34

John 15:18-25

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The Corinthian congregation was fractious during and after the time of St. Paul the Apostle.  A generation after St. Paul, for example, St. Clement of Rome wrote his letter, called 1 Clement, to that church, which had recently deposed all of its presbyters.  Reinstate them, he instructed.  The issue at hand in 1 Corinthians 11 was the potluck meal, an early version of the Holy Eucharist.  The poorer members of the congregation depended on that meal, which some of the more fortunate members were abusing by eating ahead of time and/or taking the occasion of the potluck meal to become intoxicated.  These individuals were not contributing their fair share of the menu.

Jesus, unlike them, gave of himself selflessly and sacrificially.  He understood well that following God might make one unpopular to the point of persecution and even execution.  To make a mockery of the Holy Eucharist was (and is) to take Jesus lightly.

The author of the canonical Gospels were clear that Jesus was innocent of the charge (insurrection) upon which Roman imperial officials crucified him.  Also innocent were the firstborn Egyptian sons in Exodus; they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Maundy Thursday is an especially appropriate time, guided by these readings, to ponder the suffering of the innocent, whether at the hand of the state, selfish individuals, or any other actors.  It is also a fine time to consider how our religious tradition continues to ascribe much of this suffering of the innocent to God.  What are we accusing God of being like anyway?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 10, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE INAUGURATION OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH (U.S.A.), 1983

THE FEAST OF THE INAUGURATION OF THE UNITED CHURCH OF CANADA, 1925

THE FEAST OF SAINT LANDERICUS OF PARIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2017/06/10/the-suffering-of-the-innocent/

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