Archive for the ‘Suffering’ Tag

Devotion for the Third Sunday of Easter, Year C (Humes)   1 comment

Above:  St. Simon Peter

Image in the Public Domain

Not Standing in God’s Way

APRIL 18, 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:

Acts 11:1-18

Psalm 30

1 Thessalonians 2:1-8

Luke 24:36-53

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The four assigned readings share the context of an uneasy situation.  We read a prayer of thanksgiving of a person who has recovered from a potentially fatal illness in Psalm 30.  The slime in the pit of Sheol will not praise God, but a living person does.  We also read of St. Simon Peter defending his actions (from Acts 10) to his fellow Jewish Christians, whom he persuades.  We read of past suffering in 1 Thessalonians 2.  And we read of Jesus comforting and empowering frightened Apostles in Luke 24.

My keynote for this post comes from Acts 11:17b:

How could I stand in God’s way?

The Revised English Bible (1989)

When God refuses to fit into or respect the categories that provide psychological comfort to us and reinforce our defense mechanisms, how do we respond or react?  Do we respond or do we react?  (Yes, those words have different definitions.)  Many of us, regardless of where we fall on the liberal-conservative scale overall and on each issue, identify ourselves as insiders and others as outsiders.  Outsiders exist, of course, but God’s criteria for defining insiders and outsiders differ from ours.  And what if one who imagines oneself to be an insider is actually an outsider?

No devout person tries to stand in God’s way, I suppose.  Yet many do, sometimes.  We humans frequently mistake our standards for those of God.  We may do our best, according to what we know or think we know, but we can and do err.

May we, by grace, never stand in God’s way.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 6, 2020 COMMON ERA

MONDAY IN HOLY WEEK

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCELLINUS OF CARTHAGE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR, 413

THE FEAST OF BENJAMIN HALL KENNEDY, GREEK AND LATIN SCHOLAR, BIBLE TRANSLATOR, AND ANGLICAN PRIEST

THE FEAST OF DANIEL G. C. WU, CHINESE-AMERICAN EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND MISSIONARY

THE FEAST OF EMIL BRUNNER, SWISS REFORMED THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF MILNER BALL, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, LAW PROFESSOR, WITNESS FOR CIVIL RIGHTS, AND HUMANITARIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT NOKTER BALBULUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2020/04/06/not-standing-in-gods-way/

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Devotion for the Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year B (Humes)   2 comments

Above:  The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans Under the Command of Titus, A.D. 70, by David Roberts

Image in the Public Domain

Apocalypse and Hope

MAY 24, 2020

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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 9:32-43

Psalm 68:1-10, 32-35

2 Peter 3:8-14

Mark 13:1-13

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The apocalyptic tone of 2 Peter 3:8-14 and Mark 13:1-3 is actually good news.  God is the king of creation, of course, despite appearances to the contrary.  The word of God continues to spread, despite violent attempts to prevent that.  The end of the current world order will precede the rise of the divine world order.

One of the themes in the New Testament is the importance of remaining faithful–of not committing apostasy–despite many short-term reasons to do so.  Avoiding prison, continuing to live, and preventing suffering all sound like good reasons not to do something, do they not.  They are, much of the time.  However, Christian fidelity sometimes leads to incarceration, suffering, and/or martyrdom.  Yet, if we suffer with Christ, we will reign with him.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 29, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS PETER AND PAUL APOSTLES AND MARTYRS

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2019/06/29/apocalypse-and-hope/

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Devotion for the Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year B (Humes)   1 comment

Above:  Denial of Saint Peter, by a Follower of Gerard Seghers

Image in the Public Domain

Waiting for Good News

MARCH 29, 2020

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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:

Daniel 12:1-10

Psalm 51:1-12

2 Timothy 4:5-22

Mark 14:53-72

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With one week to go before Palm/Passion Sunday, we read downbeat lessons–an apocalypse in Daniel 12, confession of sin in Psalm 51, reports of suffering and bad treatment in 2 Timothy 4, and the railroading of Jesus by the Sanhedrin and the denial of Jesus by St. Simon Peter.  All of this is seasonally appropriate.

Where, however, is the good news?  God shows mercy to the contrite.  God keeps company with the faithful suffering.  The resurrection is temporally nearby in the Gospel narrative.  Furthermore, the fully realized Kingdom of God will be good news for the faithful.

Before we get to the good news, however, we must pass through the valley of the shadow of death.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 24, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE NATIVITY OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2019/06/24/waiting-for-good-news/

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Devotion for the First Sunday in Lent, Year B (Humes)   1 comment

Above:  The Four Men in the Fiery Furnace

Image in the Public Domain

Glorifying God

MARCH 1, 2020

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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:

Daniel 3:1, 4-28

2 Timothy 1:1-14

Mark 10:32-45

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These three readings testify that suffering is frequently part of a faithful life, and that the suffering faithful enjoy the presence of God.

The readings from Daniel 3 and 2 Timothy 1 speak for themselves, but the lesson from Mark 10 needs some unpacking.

James and John, sons of Zebedee, were also sons of Mary Salome, sister of St. Mary of Nazareth.  They were, therefore, first cousins of Jesus.  In an alternate version (Matthew 20:20-38) this story, Mary Salome made the request on their behalf.  At that point James and John had yet to grasp certain key points, such as the impending crucifixion of Jesus, which our Lord and Savior predicted more than once.  They sought glory; Jesus called for carrying one’s cross and following him.

The call to Christian discipleship is the call to follow Jesus, even through times of persecution and suffering.  God will glorify as God sees fit; we ought not to seek glory for ourselves.  No, we should glorify God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 20, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH AUGUSTUS SEISS, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER, LITURGIST, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF CHARLES COFFIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

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

THE FEAST OF JOHANN FRIEDRICH HERTZOG, GERMAN LUTHERAN HYMN WRITER

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2019/06/20/glorifying-god-vi/

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Devotion for the Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year A (Humes)   1 comment

Above:  Saint Peter, by Marco Zoppo

Image in the Public Domain

Suffering

JUNE 2, 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 5:17-42

Psalm 46

1 Peter 4:12:5:11

Matthew 24:1-14

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Suffering and persecution are prominent in the assigned readings.  The passage from Matthew 24, set during Holy Week, precedes the crucifixion of Jesus.  Sometimes suffering is a result of obeying God, yet, as we read in Psalm 46:7 (The New Revised Standard Version, 1989),

The LORD of hosts is with us;

the God of Jacob is our refuge.

One might also think of lyrics Doris Plenn wrote in response to McCarthyism:

When tyrants tremble, sick with fear,

And hear their death-knell ringing,

When friends rejoice both far and near,

How can I keep from singing?

In prison cell and dungeon vile,

Our thoughts to them are winging;

When friends by shame are undefiled,

How can I keep from singing?

After all, God transformed a Roman cross, a symbol of humiliation and a means of execution, into the ultimate symbol of grace and victory over death and sin.

Here ends the lesson.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 2, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BLANDINA AND HER COMPANIONS, THE MARTYRS OF LYONS, 177

THE FEAST OF ANDERS CHRISTENSEN ARREBO, “THE FATHER OF DANISH POETRY”

THE FEAST OF MARGARET ELIZABETH SANGSTER, HYMN WRITER, NOVELIST, AND DEVOTIONAL WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT STEPHEN OF SWEDEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY, BISHOP, AND MARTYR

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2018/06/02/suffering-part-iii/

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Devotion for Easter Sunday, Year A (Humes)   1 comment

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 Good Friday, Years A, B, C, and D (Humes)   1 comment

Above:  Icon of the Crucifixion, by Andrei Rublev

Image in the Public Domain

Love and Active Goodness

APRIL 2, 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:

Isaiah 52:13-53:12

Psalm 22

Hebrews 10:16-25

John 18:1-19:42

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Who is the servant in Isaiah 52:13-53:12?  That has been a debated issue.  If one assumes that, as in earlier Servant Songs, the servant is the personification of the exiled nation of Israel (broadly speaking), the former Kingdom of Judah or at least the faithful remnant thereof, one must accept that the redemptive suffering during the Babylonian Exile was supposed to benefit Gentiles also.  The text certainly applies well to Jesus, who quoted the beginning of Psalm 22 from the cross.  That text, the prayer of one afflicted with a mortal illness, ends on a note of trust in God–certainly on a happy note, unlike Good Friday and the events thereof.

Focusing on the crucifixion of Jesus is proper on Good Friday.  As we do so may we ponder Hebrews 10:24, part of one of the pericopes:

We ought to see how each of us may arouse others to love and active goodness.

The Revised English Bible (1989)

That is a Christlike ethic!  “Love and active goodness” summarize Christ well.  “Love and active goodness” describe his self-sacrifice succinctly.  “Love and active goodness” summarize a faithful response to such selflessness and redemptive suffering.

Yet we frequently arouse each other to anger, usually for selfish purposes.  Anger is not necessarily bad, for we should be angry sometimes, as evidence of well-developed consciences.  Nevertheless, anger and expressions thereof are frequently destructive, not constructive.  This is certainly evident in media, social media, politics, and the comments sections of many websites.

Jesus has shown us a better way.  The long-dead author of the Letter to the Hebrews understood that better way well.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 29, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PERCY DEARMER, ANGLICAN CANON AND TRANSLATOR AND AUTHOR OF HYMNS

THE FEAST OF SAINT BONA OF PISA, ROMAN CATHOLIC MYSTIC AND PILGRIM

THE FEAST OF JIRI TRANOVSKY, LUTHER OF THE SLAVS AND FOUNDER OF SLOVAK HYMNODY

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

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2018/05/29/love-and-active-goodness/

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Devotion for Good Friday (Year D)   1 comment

christ-on-the-cross

Above:  Christ on the Cross, by Gerard David

Image in the Public Domain

Kyrie Eleison

APRIL 10, 2020

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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:

Ezra 9:5-15 or Jeremiah 25:15-38 or 2 Chronicles 7:1-22

Psalm 88

Luke 23:(1-12) 13-49

1 Peter 4:(1-8) 9-11 (12-14) 15-19

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The readings for this day speak of fiery ordeals.  In 2 Chronicles 7, Jeremiah 25, Ezra 9, and Psalm 88, they occur because of faithlessness to God.  These ordeals–divine punishment–lie in the future for the first two readings and in the past and the present in the last two lections.  In the first three readings he sins are collective, but they are individual in Psalm 88.  When we turn to Luke 23 and 1 Peter 4 we find that the suffering does not constitute divine punishment.  Faith tells us that Jesus did not sin, and the predicted fiery ordeals in 1 Peter 4 result from one’s righteousness and the lack of righteousness of others.

God is unpleasant in the assigned readings from the Hebrew Bible.  Perhaps the most concise passage to this effect is Jeremiah 25:27 (The New Revised Standard Version, 1989):

Then you shall say to them, Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel:  Drink, get drunk and vomit, fall and rise no more, because of the sword that I am sending among you.

I reject Penal Substitutionary Atonement, the idea that Jesus died for my sins.  That theory of the atonement portrays God as one in whom to stand in terror, not to love and respect.  It depicts God as one who says,

I will not be content until some people torture and execute my innocent Son.

No, I am closer to the Classic Theory of the Atonement, or Christus Victor, of the Conquest of Satan.  This theory of the atonement emphasizes the resurrection of Jesus.  This makes sense to me because, without the resurrection, Jesus is dead.  Dead Jesus cannot save anyone from anything–sins or damnation, especially.  Actually, I propose that the entire earthly life of Jesus was the means of atonement.  I prefer to leave the mechanics of the atonement vague, in full Eastern Orthodox style.

Good Friday is among the holiest days of the year.  It is an occasion to reflect on the atonement and on social structures and institutions that kill the innocent.  Good Friday is an especially appropriate day to pray for forgiveness for the evil we have done and the evil done on our behalf.  Innocent people still suffer at the hands of other people.  Scapegoating continues.  State-sponsored violence is not just a matter of the past.  The prayer of our Lord and Savior (“Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.”–Luke 23:34a, The Jerusalem Bible, 1966) remains relevant.  Furthermore, sometimes they (we) do not know what they (we) are doing.

Lord, have mercy upon us.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 10, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHANN NITSCHMANN, SR., MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND BISHOP; DAVID NITSCHMANN, JR., THE SYNDIC, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY BISHOP; AND DAVID NITSCHMANN, THE MARTYR, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF CECIL FRANCES ALEXANDER, POET AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN LUDWIG BRAU, NORWEGIAN MORAVIAN TEACHER AND POET

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JOHN LEONARDI, FOUNDER OF THE CLERKS REGULAR OF THE MOTHER OF GOD OF LUCCA; AND JOSEPH CALASANCTIUS, FOUNDER OF THE CLERKS REGULAR OF RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2016/10/10/kyrie-eleison-2/

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Devotion for Thursday and Friday Before Pentecost Sunday, Year B (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Job Illustration

Above:  A Job Illustration by William Blake

Image Source = William Safire, The First Dissident:  The Book of Job in Today’s Politics (New York, NY:  Random House, 1992)

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Confronting God

MAY 20 and 21, 2021

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The Collect:

Mighty God, you breathe life into our bones,

and your Spirit brings truth to the world.

Send us this Spirit, transform us by your truth,

and give us language to proclaim your gospel,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 36

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The Assigned Readings:

Genesis 2:4b-7 (Thursday)

Job 37:1-13 (Friday)

Psalm 33:12-22 (Both Days)

1 Corinthians 15:42b-49 (Thursday)

1 Corinthians 15:50-57 (Friday)

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Our soul waits for the LORD;

he is our help and our shield.

–Psalm 33:20, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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We come from God and hopefully return to God.  Our bodies are perishable, but we will have imperishable bodies one day.  We depend on God for everything, so our sufficiency comes from God alone, not from ourselves.  Psalm 33 tells us to trust in God, as does Elihu from Job 37.  But what about the times we find doing so difficult?

Elihu, shoehorned into the Book of Job between Job’s concluding argument and God’s response thereto, repeated arguments of Job’s alleged friends.  God is just, they and he said, so God does not permit the innocent to suffer.  The Book of Job contradicts Elihu on the final point, however, for it tells the reader at the beginning that God permitted Job’s suffering as a test of loyalty.

God does not torment,

Elihu told Job.  But is there a practical difference between tormenting and permitting torment?  The fact that Elihu’s remarks resemble God’s subsequent speech adds another layer of interpretative difficulty to the Book of Job, but I digress.

The Book of Job is, among other things, a useful caution against easy answers to difficult questions.  I prefer Job’s attitude in 13:15-16 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures, 1985):

He may well slay me; I may have no hope;

Yet I will argue my case before Him.

In this too is my salvation:

That no impious man can come into His presence.

At least Job was willing to speak to God, not just speak of God.  And arguing faithfully with God is among the most wonderful aspects of Judaism.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 20, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE TWENTY-FIRST DAY OF ADVENT, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF SAINT DOMINIC OF SILOS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINT PETER CANISIUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF KATHARINA VON BORA LUTHER, WIFE OF MARTIN LUTHER

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/12/20/confronting-god/

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Devotion for Monday and Tuesday After the First Sunday in Lent, Year B (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Job Illustration

Above:  One of William Blake’s Illustrations Based on the Book of Job

Image Source = William Safire, The First Dissident:  The Book of Job in Today’s Politics (New York, NY:  Random House, 1992)

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Defense Mechanisms

FEBRUARY 22 and 23, 2021

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The Collect:

Holy God, heavenly Father, in the waters of the flood you saved the chosen,

and in the wilderness of temptation you protected your Son from sin.

Renew us in the gift of baptism.

May your holy angels be with us,

that the wicked foe may have no power over us,

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

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The Assigned Readings:

Job 4:1-21 (Monday)

Job 5:8-27 (Tuesday)

Psalm 77 (Both Days)

Ephesians 2:1-10 (Monday)

1 Peter 3:8-18a (Tuesday)

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I think of God, I am restless,

I ponder, and my spirit faints.

You will not let my eyelids close;

I am troubled and I cannot speak….

Will the Lord cast me off for ever?

will he no more show his favor?

Has his loving-kindness come to an end for ever?

Has God forgotten to be gracious?

has he, in his anger, withheld his compassion?

–Psalm 77:3-4, 7-9, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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Those verses from Psalm 77 remind me of Job.  The assigned readings from the Book of Job come from a speech by Eliphaz the Temanite, who mocks the titular character of the book while reciting a combination of pious platitudes and works-based theology of righteousness.  Thus, according to Eliphaz, Job deserves his fate, for a just deity would not permit an innocent person to suffer.  1 Peter 3:8-18a and Ephesians contradict Eliphaz.

The character of Eliphaz acted partially out of the defense of tradition.  Certainly tradition provides comfort in the form of predictability, but sometimes it is wrong, as are many deeds people commit in defense of it.  Eliphaz should have obeyed the advice of 1 Peter 3:8 instead.  He should have been

full of brotherly affection, kindly and humbly.

The Revised English Bible (1989)

It is better to be compassionate than to be correct in one’s opinion.  To behave correctly is superior to acting badly in defense of one’s theological orthodoxy.  This is a devotion for the season of Lent, a time of repentance and of confession of sin.  May we confess and repent of our defense mechanisms which inflict harm on others.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 6, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE SEVENTH DAY OF ADVENT, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICETIUS OF TRIER, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, ABBOT, AND BISHOP; AND SAINT AREDIUS OF LIMOGES, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

THE FEAST OF SAINT ABRAHAM OF KRATIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, ABBOT, BISHOP, AND HERMIT

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICHOLAS OF MYRA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF PHILIP BERRIGAN, SOCIAL ACTIVIST

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/12/11/defense-mechanisms/

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