Archive for the ‘United Methodist Church’ Tag

Devotion for the Seventh Day of Easter: Saturday in Easter Week (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   13 comments

Above:  Logo of the Moravian Church

Image Source = JJackman

Exodus and Hebrews, Part XIV: Following Jesus

APRIL 23, 2022

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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 19:1-25

Psalm 92 (Morning)

Psalms 23 and 114 (Evening)

Hebrews 13:1-21

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A Related Post:

Prayer:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/27/prayer-for-saturday-of-easter-week/

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I have heard press reports of the Vatican cracking down on liberal dissenters for years.  This is the sort of news that makes me glad to be an Episcopalian, for we have distributed authority.  And, as a self-respecting liberal, I identify with the denominational establishment more often than not.  Many Roman Catholic dissidents would occupy the Episcopal Church’s mainstream if they were to leave the Roman Church for the Anglican Communion.

I thought about that as I read Hebrews 13:17, which, in The New Jerusalem Bible, begins

Obey your leaders and give way to them….

Context matters.  The dominant theme in Hebrews 13 is looking out for each other, including strangers.  So a good religious leader is one who looks out for the flock.  When I turn to historical context I note that the audience consisted of persecuted Christians and Christians who might face persecution.  So sticking together was vital for the church.  Nevertheless, as one who grew up feeling out of place in the denomination in which he grew up (The United Methodist Church) and feeling alienated from the adjacent and dominant Southern Baptist subculture in rural southern Georgia, I reserve the right to identify with dissenters when I agree with them.  I also reserve the right to identify with the establishment when I agree with it.  I know that all of the following statements are accurate:

  1. I can be wrong.
  2. I can be correct.
  3. Bishops can be wrong.
  4. Bishops can be correct.
  5. Both sides can be wrong, just about different matters.
  6. Both sides can be correct, just about different matters.

The ultimate Christian leader is Jesus of Nazareth; may we follow him always.

Moses was the leader in the Book of Exodus.  He was, unfortunately, not immune from mysogyny, hence his instruction

…do not go near a woman

–Exodus 19:15b, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

in relation to maintaining the ritual purity of men.  (The Law of Moses does cast female biology in a negative light, does it not?)  But it was generally good advice to do as Moses said; God spoke to him.  And Moses was trying to do the best he could for the people.  Leading a group of mostly quarrelsome nomads in the desert was not an easy task or vocation.

Issues of human authority and submission to it occur elsewhere in the Bible.  Paul wrote that we should obey our leaders, but Hebrew Prophets, speaking for God, opposed kings in their day.  I have no doubt that one reason the Romans crucified Jesus was that his rhetoric regarding the Kingdom of God called the imperium into question; the Kingdom of God looked like the opposite of the imperial order.  And our Lord and Savior clashed with his religious leaders.  So prooftexting one or two passages regarding this issue distorts the biblical witness on it.

I am a Christian who grew up a Protestant.  (Now I identify as an Anglo-Lutheran-Catholic within The Episcopal Church.) Much of that Protestant rebelliousness remains within me, although I have mixed it with Roman Catholicism.  So I stand with the Moravians, whose motto is

OUR LAMB HAS CONQUERED; LET US FOLLOW HIM.

May we follow him wherever he leads us.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 3, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MORAND OF CLUNY, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK AND MISSIONARY

THE FEAST OF SAINTS LIPHARDUS OF ORLEANS AND URBICIUS OF MEUNG, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOTS

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF UGANDA

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/03/01/exodus-and-hebrews-part-xiv-following-jesus/

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Devotion for the Fifth Day of Easter: Thursday in Easter Week (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   15 comments

Above:  Moses, by Michelagelo Bunoarroti

Exodus and Hebrews, Part XII: Encountering God

APRIL 8, 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 17:1-16

Psalm 47 (Morning)

Psalms 68 and 113 (Evening)

Hebrews 11:1-29

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A Related Post:

Prayer:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/27/prayer-for-thursday-of-easter-week/

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Let God arise, and let his enemies be scattered;

let those who hate him flee before him.

–Psalm 68:1, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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The theological ignorance of many longtime church members has astonished and dismayed me.  I recall, for example, when I was a child growing up in United Methodist parsonages in rural southern Georgia, that some elderly and middle-aged parishioners who had grown up in church asked that, if Christ is vital to salvation, how this pertained to those who lived and died before the time of Jesus.  My parents answered from Hebrews 11:13:

…but they saw them in the far distance and welcomed them….

(The New Jerusalem Bible)

As a person trained in history and therefore in chronology, I point out that one is not responsible for embracing that which has yet to occur.   So nobody went to Hell in 600 BCE for not accepting Christ, for example; the Incarnation was in the future.  That point was obvious to me even as a child still in public schools.  Why was it not obvious to some of my elders?

In Exodus 17 we read of more grumbling followed by God giving Moses instructions, which he followed.  Then we read of God, via Moses and human helpers and a stone, delivering the Israelites from attackers.  The depiction of the recently liberated former slaves is negative; they are grumbling ingrates.  People ask for spectacular signs throughout the Bible, but how often, when they receive them, do they trust in God?

I have seen mighty acts of God in my life.  No, I have not witnessed a pillar of cloud by day or a pillar of fire by night.  No, I have not spoken with God face to face.  Yet I have felt God pick my up when I was desperate.  And I have met some of God’s human agents when I needed them very much.  I have known at my darkest hours–the ones when I welcomed death and cursed living yet was too scared to attempt suicide–that I was not alone.  And, by grace, I emerged stronger than before.  That was close enough to a pillar of fire for me.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 2, 2012 COMMON ERA

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

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF LYONS (A.K.A. SAINT BLANDINA AND HER COMPANIONS)

THE FEAST OF REINHOLD NIEBUHR, UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST THEOLOGIAN

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/03/01/exodus-and-hebrews-part-xii-encountering-god/

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