Archive for August 2011

Proper 5, Year B   Leave a comment

Above:  Saint Paul Writing His Epistles (1500s Painting)

Persistence

The Sunday Closest to June 8

Second Sunday After Pentecost

JUNE 7, 2015

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FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #1

1 Samuel 8:4-11 (12-15), 16-20 (11:14-15) (New Revised Standard Version):

All the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him,

You are old and your sons do not follow in your ways; appoint for us, then, a king to govern us, like other nations.

But the thing displeased Samuel when they said,

Give us a king to govern us.

Samuel prayed to the LORD, and the LORD said to Samuel,

Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. Just as they have done to me, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so also they are doing to you. Now then, listen to their voice; only– you shall solemnly warn them, and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.

So Samuel reported all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a king. He said,

These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen, and to run before his chariots; [and he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his courtiers. He will take one-tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and his courtiers.] He will take your male and female slaves, and the best of your cattle and donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take one-tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the LORD will not answer you in that day.

But the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel; they said,

No! but we are determined to have a king over us, so that we also may be like other nations, and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight our battles.

[Samuel said to the people,

Come, let us go to Gilgal and there renew the kingship.

So all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king before the LORD in Gilgal. There they sacrificed offerings of well-being before the LORD, and there Saul and all the Israelites rejoiced greatly.]

Psalm 138 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

I will give thanks to you, O LORD, with my whole heart;

before the gods I will sing your praise.

I will bow down toward your holy temple

and praise your Name,

because of your love and faithfulness;

3 For you have glorified your Name

and your word above all things.

4 When I called, you answered me;

you increased my strength within me.

All the kings of the earth will praise you, O LORD,

when they have heard the words of your mouth.

They will sing of the ways of the LORD,

that great is the glory of the LORD.

7 Though the LORD be high, he cares for the lowly;

he perceives the haughty from afar.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you keep me safe;

you stretch forth your hand against the fury of my enemies;

your right hand shall save me.

9 The LORD will make good his purpose for me;

O LORD, your love endures for ever;

do not abandon the works of your hands.

FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #2

Genesis 3:8-15 (New Revised Standard Version):

The man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and they hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, and said to him,

Where are you?

He said,

I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.

He said,

Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?

The man said,

The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.

Then the LORD God said to the woman,

What is this that you have done?

The woman said,

The serpent tricked me, and I ate.

The LORD God said to the serpent,

Because you have done this,

cursed are you among all animals

and among all wild creatures;

upon your belly you shall go,

and dust you shall eat

all the days of your life.

I will put enmity between you and the woman,

and between your offspring and hers;

he will strike your head,

and you will strike his heel.

Psalm 130 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  Out of the depths have I called to you, O LORD;

LORD, hear my voice;

let your ears consider well the voice of my supplication.

2  If you , LORD, were to note what is done amiss,

O Lord, who could stand?

3  For there is forgiveness with you;

therefore you shall be feared.

4  I wait for the LORD; my soul waits for him;

in his word is my hope.

5  My soul waits for the LORD,

more than watchmen in the morning,

more than watchmen in the morning.

6  O Israel, wait for the LORD,

for with the LORD there is mercy;

7  With him there is plenteous redemption,

and he shall redeem Israel from all their sins.

SECOND READING

2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1 (New Revised Standard Version):

Just as we have the same spirit of faith that is in accordance with scripture–

I believed, and so I spoke

– we also believe, and so we speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will bring us with you into his presence. Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

GOSPEL READING

Mark 3:20-35 (New Revised Standard Version):

The crowd came together again, so that Jesus and his disciples could not even eat. When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying,

He has gone out of his mind.

And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said,

He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.

And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables,

How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.

Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin

– for they had said,

He has an unclean spirit.

Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him,

Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.

And he replied,

Who are my mother and my brothers?

And looking at those who sat around him, he said,

Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.

The Collect:

O God, from whom all good proceeds: Grant that by your inspiration we may think those things that are right, and by your merciful guiding may do them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Some Related Costs:

Proper 5, Year A:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/11/20/proper-5-year-a/

Proper 5, Year B:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/08/03/proper-5-year-b/

1 Samuel 8:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/06/week-of-1-epiphany-friday-year-2/

Genesis 3:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/19/week-of-5-epiphany-friday-year-1/

Mark 3:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/30/week-of-3-epiphany-monday-year-1/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/30/week-of-3-epiphany-tuesday-year-1/

O Blessed Mother:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2009/11/06/o-blessed-mother/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/06/o-blessed-mother/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/o-blessed-mother/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/11/14/o-blessed-mother/

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Losing heart can be easy.  You, O reader, might know the feeling–I do–the recurring impression that beating one’s head against a wall, although painful and self-injurious, would at least yield observable results, which is more than one can say honestly about one’s current, recent, and long-standing efforts.  Yes, there are valid times to change tactics and therefore to cut one’s losses, and persistence which lasts too long can constitute beating a dead horse.  Yet sometimes one needs to persist longer before seeing positive results.  The problem, of course, is how to know the difference.

Paul faced much opposition to his Christian work and even argued with congregations.  Jesus dealt daily with dense Apostles.  Today I, as a Christian, stand on their shoulders, for the Apostles (minus Judas Iscariot) spread the word far and wide after our Lord’s death and Paul took the message to the Gentiles, of whom I am one.  And, of course, the Pauline tradition accounts for 14 of the 27 books of the New Testament.  Their persistence paid off.

Think about how patient and persistent Gd must be with you.  (I ponder how patient and persistent God has been and is with me.)  One of the themes in the Bible is focusing more on who one can be rather than who one is.  Simon Peter, an impetuous hothead, became a leader of the early Church.  Paul, once an oppressor of “the Way,” became perhaps its greatest missionary.  David went from tending his father’s flock of sheep to ruling a great kingdom.  Mary, an obscure young woman, became the Mother of God, the woman who had the greatest influence on how Jesus turned out.

May we discern God’s call to us and support each other in our divine vocations.  May we be patient with one another, persist through trials (without beating dead horses), and recognize each other’s potential then nourish it.  May we do all this for the common good and the glory of God.

KRT

Published in a nearly identical form at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on August 3, 2011

Posted August 3, 2011 by neatnik2009 in June 7, Revised Common Lectionary Year B

Tagged with

Trinity Sunday, Year B   Leave a comment

Above:  A Father and His Son

Image Source = Onkelbo

Members of the Family

FIRST SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

MAY 27, 2018

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The Assigned Readings for This Sunday:

Isaiah 6:1-8

Psalm 29 or Canticle 13 from The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

Romans 8:12-17

John 3:1-17

The Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God, you have given to us your servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of your divine Majesty to worship the Unity: Keep us steadfast in this faith and worship, and bring us at last to see you in your one and eternal glory, O Father; who with the Son and the Holy Spirit live and reign, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Trinity Sunday, Year A:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/05/trinity-sunday-year-a/

Trinity Sunday, Year B:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/07/22/trinity-sunday-year-b/

John 3:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/second-sunday-in-lent-year-a/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/ninth-day-of-easter/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/tenth-day-of-easter/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/eleventh-day-of-easter/

Romans 8:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/31/proper-11-year-a/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/11/week-of-proper-25-monday-year-1/

Alta Trinita Beata:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/10/21/alta-trinita-beata/

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Trinity Sunday is a potentially awkward time, one at which a person might feel the temptation to try to explain the Holy Trinity.  This temptation has given rise to a host of heresies, including Adoptionism and Arianism.  The Trinity is a mystery; may we be content with that.  As far as I am concerned, the concept of the Holy Trinity, as we have it, comes as close as any human idea can to summarizing God.  Yet there must be far more than what we can possibly imagine.

Yet we can make some statements confidently.  As Paul reminds us, God has adopted us into the family.  And, as the Johannine Gospel tells us, God seeks to redeem, not condemn,us.  We occupy a seat of privilege because God has placed us in it.  This status brings with it certain responsibilities.  We need, for example, to love one another, not fear, hate, and loathe each other.  We need to treat others as fellow members of the family of God.  Obeying this mandate will reform us and our societies, challenge mores (and perhaps laws), and maybe place us in harm’s way.  There are, unfortunately, those who find simple compassion threatening–sometimes to the extent of being willing to commit or condone violence.

God loves even those who find love so baffling that they are willing to kill to resist it.  And we must love and bless them too, by grace.  Jesus did no less.  And, if we are to follow our Lord, we must do as he did.

Adoption into the family of God can be a joy, but it can also lead to much grief in this life.  Such is the world as it is, but not as it needs to remain.  We can make this world a better place simply by being better people in it.  This is part of of our call from God.  Redeeming the world is God’s task, for which we are not equipped.  Yet the inability to do everything is no excuse to do nothing, so may we do what God commands us; may we love one another and act accordingly.  May we be salt and light.

KRT

Published in a nearly identical form at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on July 22, 2011

Posted August 2, 2011 by neatnik2009 in May 27, Revised Common Lectionary Year B

Tagged with

Fiftieth Day of Easter: Day of Pentecost, Year B   Leave a comment

Above:  Descent of the Holy Spirit

Our Advocate

MAY 20, 2018

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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.

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Some Related Posts:

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

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/fiftieth-day-of-easter-day-of-pentecost-year-a/

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

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2011/08/02/fiftieth-day-of-easter-day-of-pentecost-year-b/

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

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/17/a-prayer-for-those-with-only-the-holy-spirit-to-intercede-for-them/

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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.

KRT

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Published in a nearly identical form at LENTEN AND EASTER DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on August 2, 2011

Posted August 2, 2011 by neatnik2009 in May 20, Revised Common Lectionary Year B

Tagged with

Forty-Third Day of Easter: Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year B   Leave a comment

Above:  Christ Pantocrator

Eternal Life

MAY 13, 2018

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Acts 1:15-17, 21-26 (New Revised Standard Version):

In those days Peter stood up among the believers (together the crowd numbered about one hundred twenty persons) and said,

Friends, the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit through David foretold concerning Judas, who became a guide for those who arrested Jesus– for he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry. So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us– one of these must become a witness with us to his resurrection.

So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed and said,

Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.

And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.

Psalm 1 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 Happy are they who have not walked in the counsel of the wicked,

nor lingered in the way of sinners,

nor sat in the seats of the scornful!

2 Their delight is in the law of the LORD,

and the meditate on his law day and night.

They are like trees planted by streams of water,

bearing fruit in due season, with leaves that do not wither,

everything they do shall prosper.

4 It is not so with the wicked;

they are like the chaff which the wind blows away.

Therefore the wicked shall not stand upright when judgment comes,

nor the sinner in the council of the righteous.

For the LORD knows the ways of the righteous,

but the way of the wicked is doomed.

1 John 5:9-13 (New Revised Standard Version):

If we receive human testimony, the testimony of God is greater; for this is the testimony of God that he has testified to his Son. Those who believe in the Son of God have the testimony in their hearts. Those who do not believe in God have made him a liar by not believing in the testimony that God has given concerning his Son. And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.

John 17:6-19 (New Revised Standard Version):

Looking up to heaven, Jesus prayed,

I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.

The Collect:

O God, the King of glory, you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven: Do not leave us comfortless, but send us your Holy Spirit to strengthen us, and exalt us to that place where our Savior Christ has gone before; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Forty-Third Day of Easter:  Seventh Day of Easter, Year A:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/forty-third-day-of-easter-seventh-sunday-of-easter-year-a/

Forty-Third Day of Easter:  Seventh Day of Easter, Year B:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2011/08/02/forty-third-day-of-easter-seventh-day-of-easter-year-b/

1 John 5:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/16/sixth-day-of-epiphany/

Feast of St. Matthias (February 24):

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/06/12/feast-of-st-matthias-apostle-and-martyr-february-24/

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The Jesus of the Gospel of Mark speaks from time to time (mostly briefly) yet acts more often than he says much.  In contrast, the Jesus of the Johannine Gospel holds forth, often in private, at length.  This latter understanding of our Lord becomes apparent in this Sunday’s Gospel reading, part of Christ’s great intercessory prayer.

More interesting to me, however, is the concept of eternal life, which, according to John 17:3, is knowing God (the Father) and Jesus Christ (God the Son).  And we read in 1 John 5:11 that “God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.”  So eternal life is life in Christ; its definition does not depend on time or the afterlife.

Simply put, there is no eternity without God.  There can be an afterlife without God; the term for that is Hell.  God, of course, is the final judge, and I do not presume to make judgments as to a person’s fate in the afterlife.  Who knows what happens between anyone and Jesus after one dies?

As a Christian–an intellectually honest one–I affirm the necessity of Christ.  I also testify to grace, the bounds of which exceed my imagination.  In other words, God does not fit into any proverbial box, and I try not to put God into one.  I do know a few things for sure, though:  God does exist, God does care about us actively, and I am not God.  Also, the historical person named Jesus of Nazareth was God incarnate.  Three of these four statements are great mysteries; may we accept and embrace them.  As to the non-mysterious statement (“I am not God.”), that is obvious.

KRT

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Published in a nearly identical form at LENTEN AND EASTER DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on August 2, 2011

Thirty-Sixth Day of Easter: Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year B   Leave a comment

Above:  A Vineyard

Love of God–For Gentiles

MAY 6, 2018

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Acts 10:44-48 (New Revised Standard Version):

While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter said,

Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?

So he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they invited him to stay for several days.

Psalm 98 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Sing to the LORD a new song,

for he has done marvelous things.

With his right hand and his holy arm

has he won for himself the victory.

The LORD has made known his victory;

his righteousness has he openly shown in the sight of the nations.

He remembers his mercy and faithfulness to the house of Israel,

and all the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.

Shout with joy to the LORD, all you lands;

lift up your voice, rejoice, and sing.

Sing to the LORD with the harp,

with the harp and the voice of song.

With trumpets and the sound of the horn

shout with joy before the King, the LORD.

Let the sea make a noise and all that is in it,

the lands and those who dwell therein.

Let the rivers clap their hands,

and let the hills ring out with joy before the LORD,

when he comes to judge the earth.

10 In righteousness shall he judge the world

and the peoples with equity.

1 John 5:1-6 (New Revised Standard Version):

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith. Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one that testifies, for the Spirit is the truth.

John 15:9-17 (New Revised Standard Version):

Jesus said to his disciples,

As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.

The Collect:

O God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as surpass our understanding: Pour into our hearts such love towards you, that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Thirty-Sixth Day of Easter:  Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year A:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/thirty-sixth-day-of-easter-sixth-sunday-of-easter-year-a/

Thirty-Sixth Day of Easter:  Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year B:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2011/08/01/thirty-sixth-day-of-easter-sixth-sunday-of-easter-year-b/

John 15:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/thirty-third-day-of-easter/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/thirty-fourth-day-of-easter/

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The Gospel reading this week continues the “Jesus as true” vine theme and picks up 1 John’s recurring “love one another” motif.  If all this seems redundant, it is.  But maybe it needs to be repetitive, for we human beings, generally speaking, seem quite often to have a difficult time loving one another.

Jesus, in John 15, says, “Abide in my love.”  This is self-sacrificial, unconditional love.  That is very hard to do, but the commandment stands.  This love, as Peter found out in Acts 10, extends to Gentiles.  God invites all of us to the party.  Some (the predestined) receive their invitations quite early, but the Holy Spirit delivers the invitations to the rest.

I have caught myself embracing embarrassing and sinful attitudes about who is acceptable in my religious inner circle.  But God does not check our pedigrees.  So may we not erect any barrier to anyone who truly and sincerely seeks to follow Christ.  And may God forgive us and give us grace to change our attitudes and ways when we do.

As the old Vacation Bible School song says,

Jesus loves the little children,

all the children of the world.

Red and yellow, black and white,

they are precious in his sight.

Jesus loves the children of the world.

KRT

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Published in a nearly identical form at LENTEN AND EASTER DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on August 1, 2011

Twenty-Ninth Day of Easter: Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year B   Leave a comment

Above:  The Baptism of the Eunuch, by Rembrandt van Rijn

“Perfect love casts out fear….”

APRIL 29, 2018

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Acts 8:26-40 (New Revised Standard Version):

An angel of the Lord said to Philip,

Get up and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.

(This is a wilderness road.) So he got up and went. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. Then the Spirit said to Philip,

Go over to this chariot and join it.

So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked,

Do you understand what you are reading?

He replied,

How can I, unless someone guides me?

And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him. Now the passage of the scripture that he was reading was this:

Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter,

and like a lamb silent before its shearer,

so he does not open his mouth.

In his humiliation justice was denied him.

Who can describe this generation?

For his life is taken away from the earth.

The eunuch asked Philip,

About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?

Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus. As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said,

Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?

He commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he was passing through the region, he proclaimed the good news to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.

Psalm 22:24-30 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

24 My praise is of him in the great assembly;

I will perform my vows in the presence of those who worship him.

25 The poor shall eat and be satisfied,

and those who seek the LORD shall praise him:

“May your heart love for ever!”

26 All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD,

and all the families of the nations shall bow before him.

27 For kingship belongs to the LORD;

he rules over the nations.

28 To him alone who sleep in the earth bow down in worship;

all who go down to the dust fall before him.

29 My soul shall live for him;

my descendants shall serve him;

they shall be known as the LORD’s for ever.

30 They shall come and make known to a people yet unborn

the saving deeds that he has done.

1 John 4:7-21 (New Revised Standard Version):

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.

By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. So we have known and believe the love that God has for us.

God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us. Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.

John 15:1-8 (New Revised Standard Version):

Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”

The Collect:

Almighty God, whom truly to know is everlasting life: Grant us so perfectly to know your Son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life, that we may steadfastly follow his steps in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Twenty-Ninth Day of Easter:  Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year A:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/twenty-ninth-day-of-easter-fifth-sunday-of-easter-year-a/

Twenty-Ninth Day of Easter:  Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year B:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2011/08/01/twenty-ninth-day-of-easter-fifth-sunday-of-easter-year-b/

Acts 8:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/nineteenth-day-of-easter/

1 John 4:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/third-day-of-epiphany/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/fourth-day-of-epiphany/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/fifth-day-of-epiphany/

John 15:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/thirty-second-day-of-easter/

O Love That Casts Out Fear:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/27/o-love-that-casts-out-fear/

Feast of St. Philip, Deacon and Evangelist (October 11):

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/06/13/feast-of-st-philip-deacon-and-evangelist-october-11-2/

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There is a classic scholarly work about racism in Southern United States religion; the title of the book is In His Image, But….  As a student of U.S., Southern, and religious history, I know well the arguments people have made, quoting the Bible, to justify slavery (to 1865) and enforced segregation (well into the Twentieth Century).  Many of the arguments for segregation were recycled from the days of slavery.

Of all the assigned readings for this Sunday, 1 John 4:7-21 stands out most in my mind.  This reading continues an earlier theme in that letter:  We ought to love one another.  Here, in 1 John, we read:

…those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also. (4:21b)

Racial and ethnic differences are frequently quite obvious to any sighted person.  This, I suppose, helps explain why racism has been and remains common (even though many racists prefer to speak on code words).  Yet, to quote, 1 John 4 again, we cannot love God, whom we have not seen and cannot see, if we hate our fellow human beings, whom he have seen and can see.

St. Philip the Deacon reached out to the Ethiopian eunuch, a visibly different man, and helped him to become grafted onto the vine of Jesus.  Psalm 22 reminds us that all the Earth belongs to God.  Many people are quite different from anyone of us, and not all cultural differences will melt away.  Nor should they; variety is the spice of life.  We will retain our separate cultural and subcultural identities, which is healthy so long as we remember that we have one common identity in God, namely in Jesus, if we are Christians.

“Perfect love casts our fear,” we read in 1 John 4:18.  Out of fear we have one another, bomb each other, dehumanize and demonize one another, and behave in other inhumane ways toward each other.  The activities do not reflect the love of Jesus or bring glory to God.

May we know whose we are (God’s) and act accordingly, loving ourselves as bearers of the divine image and our fellow human beings as the same.  May we love our neighbors as ourselves.  It is that simple and that challenging.

KRT

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Published in a nearly identical form at LENTEN AND EASTER DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on August 1, 2011