Archive for September 2011

Proper 12, Year B   Leave a comment

Above:  The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes, by James Tissot

Christ, Our Passover

The Sunday Closest to July 27

Ninth Sunday After Pentecost

JULY 25, 2021

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FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #1

2 Samuel 11:1-17 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

(In Chapters 8-10, David fights wars and shows kindness to Jonathan’s son.)

In the spring of the year, the time when the kings go forth to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they ravaged the Ammonites, and besieged Rabbah.  But David remained at Jerusalem.

It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking upon the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful.  And David sent and inquired about the woman.  And one said,

Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?

So David sent messengers, and took her; and she came to him, and he lay with her.  (Now she was purifying herself form her uncleanness.)  Then she returned to her house.  And the woman conceived; and she sent and told David,

I am with child.

So David sent word to Joab.

Send me Uriah the Hittite.

When Uriah came to him, David asked how Joab was doing, and how the people fared, and how the war prospered.  Then David said to Uriah,

Go down to your house, and wash your feet.

And Uriah went out of the king’s house, and there followed him a present from the king.  But Uriah slept  at the door of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and did not go down to his house.  When they told David,

Uriah did not go down to his house,

David said to Uriah,

Have you not come from a journey?  Why did you not go down to your house?

Uriah said to David,

The ark and Israel and Judah dwell in booths; and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field; shall I then go to my house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife?  As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do this thing.

Then David said to Uriah,

Remain here today also, and tomorrow I will let you depart.

So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day, and the next.  And David invited him, and he ate in his presence and drank, so that he made him drunk; and in the evening he went out to lie on his couch with the servants of his lord, but did not go down to his house.

In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah.  In the letter he wrote,

Set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting, and then draw back from him, that he may be struck down, and die.

And as Joab was besieging the city, he assigned Uriah to the place where he knew there were valiant men.  And men of the city came out and fought with Joab; and some of the servants of David among the people fell.  Uriah the Hittite was slain also.

Psalm 14 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”

All are corrupt and commit abominable acts;

there is none who does any good.

2  The LORD looks down from heaven upon us al,

to see if there is any who is wise,

if there is one who seeks after God.

3  Every one has proved faithless;

all alike have turned bad;

there is none who does good; no, not one.

4  Have they no knowledge, all those evildoers

who eat up my people like bread

and do not call upon the LORD?

5  See how they tremble with fear,

because God is in the company of the righteous.

6  Their aim is to confound the plans of the afflicted,

but the LORD is their refuge.

7  Oh, that Israel’s deliverance would come out of Zion!

When the LORD restored the fortunes of his people,

Jacob will rejoice and Israel be glad.

FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #2

2 Kings 4:42-44 (New Revised Standard Version):

 

A man came from Baal-shalishah, bringing food from the first fruits to the man of God: twenty loaves of barley and fresh ears of grain in his sack. Elisha said,

Give it to the people and let them eat.

But his servant said,

How can I set this before a hundred people?

So he repeated,

Give it to the people and let them eat, for thus says the LORD, “They shall eat and have some left.”

He set it before them, they ate, and had some left, according to the word of the LORD.

Psalm 145:10-19 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

10 All your works praise you, O LORD,

and all your faithful servants bless you.

11 They make known the glory of your kingdom

and speak of your power;

12 That the peoples may know of your power

and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.

13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom;

your dominion endures throughout all ages.

14 The LORD is faithful in all his words

and merciful in all his deeds.

15 The LORD upholds all those who fall;

he lifts up those who are bowed down.

16 The eyes of all wait upon you, O LORD,

and you give them their food in due season.

17 You open wide your hand

and satisfy the needs of every living creature.

18 The LORD is righteous in all his ways

and loving in all his works.

19 The LORD is near to those who call upon him,

to all who call upon him faithfully.

SECOND READING

Ephesians 3:14-21 (New Revised Standard Version):

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name.  I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.  I pray that you may have the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever.  Amen.

GOSPEL READING

John 6:1-21 (Anchor Bible):

Later on Jesus crossed the Sea of Galilee [to the shore] of Tiberias, but a large crowd kept following him because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick.  So Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples.  The Jewish feast of Passover was near.

When Jesus looked up, he caught sight of a large crowd coming toward him; so he said to Philip,

Where shall we ever buy bread for these people to eat?

(Actually, of course, he was perfectly aware of what he was going to do, but he asked this to test Philip’s reaction.)  He replied,

Not even with two hundred days’ wages could we buy enough loaves to give each of them a mouthful.

One of Jesus’ disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, remarked to him.

There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and a couple of dried fish, but what good is that for so many?

Jesus said,

Get the people to sit down.

Now the men numbered about five thousand, but there was plenty of grass there for them to find a seat.  Jesus then took the loaves of bread, gave thanks, and passed them around to those sitting there; and he did the same with the dried fish–just as much as they wanted.  When they had enough, he told his disciples,

Gather up the fragments that are left over so that nothing will perish.

And so they gathered twelve baskets full of fragments left over by those who had been fed with the five barley loaves.

Now when the people saw the sign[s] he had performed, they began to say,

This in undoubtedly the Prophet who is to come into the world.

With that Jesus realized that they would come and carry him off to make him king, so he fled back to the mountain alone.

As evening drew on, his [Jesus’] disciples came down to the sea.  Having embarked, they were trying to cross the sea to Capernaum.  By this time it was dark, and still Jesus had not joined them; moreover, with a strong wind blowing, the sea was becoming rough.  When they had rowed about three or four miles, they sighted Jesus walking upon the sea, approaching the boat.  They were frightened, but he told them,

It is I; do not be afraid.

So they wanted to take him into the boat, and suddenly the boat reached the shore toward which they had been going.

The Collect:

O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal; 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:

Proper 12, Year A:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/01/11/proper-12-year-a/

Proper 12, Year B:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/09/25/proper-12-year-b/

Break Thou the Bread of Life:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/29/break-thou-the-bread-of-life/

2 Samuel 11:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/12/week-of-3-epiphany-friday-year-2/

John 6:

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

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

Matthew 14 (Parallel to John 6):

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/01/14/proper-13-year-a/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/01/17/week-of-proper-13-monday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/01/31/proper-14-year-a/

Mark 6 (Parallel to John 6):

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

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/09/week-of-4-epiphany-saturday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/09/20/proper-11-year-b/

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Only one miracle story occurs on all four canonical Gospels.  That is the feeding of the Five Thousand, with slight variations.  Were there, for example, five thousand men (as Mark and Luke record the miracle), five thousand people (as John indicates), or five thousand men plus an uncounted number of women and children (as Matthew says)?  All that is beside the point, for the accounts describe a staggering act of divine power and mercy.

Afterward, in John’s Gospel, the astonished crowd recognizes Jesus as a political messiah, so he and the Apostles leave the area.  This (in the Johannine Gospel) sets the stage for Jesus walking on water, much to the astonishment of his Apostles.  There is an accompanying storm for Jesus to calm in the Matthew and Mark accounts, but not here.  Rather, the Johannine account emphasizes that Jesus is the incarnate I AM, not a political messiah.

Before I proceed further, I must acknowledge that I am drawing heavily from Father Raymond E. Brown’s Anchor Bible commentary on the Gospel of John.  His depth of knowledge and extreme attention to details (He gets to John 6 on page 231 of Volume I.) are staggering.  I can feast on this material for a long time to come.

Back to the Gospel of John….

There are obvious Eucharistic overtones in the Johannine account of the mass feeding.  But how should we understand the walking on water?  Brown, citing other sources, suggests a Passover image.  Think about it:  In both the Book of Exodus and in John 6 we find a water passage and the presence of unexpected food in close proximity to each other.  And, in John, there is an explicit point of profound theology:  JESUS IS THE PASSOVER LAMB.  Thus we find Jesus dying on the cross as the sacrifice of animals occurs at the Temple.  (In the Synoptic Gospels, however, Jesus is crucified on the next day.)  The Last Supper, in the Synoptic Gospels, is a Passover meal.  Yet, in the Johannine Gospel, JESUS IS THE PASSOVER MEAL.  (See John 19:16b following.)

We encounter astounding theology in John 6.  Who do we want Jesus to be, and why might we follow him?  Do we week a national liberator or a Passover lamb?  And what does our expectation indicate about us?

KRT

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Published in a nearly identical form at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on September 25,  2011

Posted September 25, 2011 by neatnik2009 in July 25, Revised Common Lectionary Year B

Tagged with

Feast of Alberto Ramento (October 3)   1 comment

The Flag of the Republic of the Philippines

ALBERTO RAMENTO Y BALDOVINO (AUGUST 9, 1936-OCTOBER 3, 2006)

Prime Bishop of the Philippine Independent Church (1993-1999)

Spokesman for Oppressed and Exploited People

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On the morning of October 3, 2006, in Tarlac, Republic of the Philippines, the news was official:  Alberto Ramento, former Prime Bishop of the Philippine Episcopal Church and incumbent Bishop of Tarlac, was dead.  The cause of death was stabbing–inside his own rectory.  The bishop had long spoken out for the poor and the working class, often in opposition to Filipino government policies, notably of President Gloria Arroyo.

Ordained deacon then priest in 1958  and bishop in 1969, Ramento served the Diocese of Cavite from 1969 to 1993, was Prime Bishop from 1993 to 1999, led the diocese of Western Pangasian from 2000 to 2002, served the Diocese of Tarlac from 1999 to 2006, and was President of the Supreme Council of Bishops from 2005 to 2006.  He was also a committed ecumenist, Founding Convenor of the Movement of Concerned Citizens for Civil Liberties, and, in the words of Winifred Vergara, The Episcopal Church’s missioner for Asian-American Ministries, “a prophetic voice in the Philippines.”  This prophetic voice had condemned political corruption and killings earlier that year at a June 12 interfaith rally.

Ramento was also Convenor of Peace for Life, which describes itself as “a global faith-based movement resisting globalisation and creating life-enhancing alternatives.”  Their online resources regarding Bishop Ramento’s murder are here:  http://www.peaceforlife.org/resources/peoplestruggle/philippines/2008/08-1003-ramento.html.

The murder remains unsolved.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 21, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MATTHEW THE EVANGELIST, APOSTLE AND MARTYR

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For More Information:

http://ecusa.anglican.org/3577_78351_ENG_HTM.htm

http://www.scribd.com/doc/2326682/Profile-of-Bishop-Alberto-B-Ramento

http://www.humanrights.asia/news/urgent-appeals/UA-331-2006

http://www.oikoumene.org/es/documentacion/documents/comisiones-del-cmi/asuntos-internacionales/regional-concerns/asia/message-of-condolences-on-the-death-of-bishop-alberto-ramento.html

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The Readings and Collect:

O God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served, and to give his life for the life of the world.  Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom the world offers no comfort and little help.  Through us give hope to the hopeless, love to the unloved, peace to the troubled, and rest to the weary, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

–Renewers of Society, Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), hymnal and worship book of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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I found Bishop Ramento’s name on page 708 of Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), the guide to The Episcopal Church’s calendar of saints.  That page is the appendix consisting of a list of some people “worthy of commemoration” yet who do not “quality under the ‘fifty-year rule’ previously concurred by the General Convention.”  I have no such rule.

KRT

Proper 11, Year B   Leave a comment

Above:  Mosaic of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, from Ravenna, Italy

Beyond Estrangement

The Sunday Closest to July 20

Eighth Sunday After Pentecost

JULY 18, 2021

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FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #1

2 Samuel 7:1-14a (New Revised Standard Version):

When David, the king, was settled in his house, and the LORD had given him rest from all his enemies around him, the king said to the prophet Nathan,

See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.

Nathan said to the king,

Go, do all that you have in mind; for the LORD is with you.

But that same night the word of the LORD came to Nathan:

Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the LORD: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?” Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the LORD of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel; and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me.

Psalm 89:20-37 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

20  I have found David my servant;

with my holy oil have I anointed him.

21  My hand will hold him fast

and my arm will make him strong.

22  No enemy shall deceive him,

nor any wicked man bring him down.

23  I will crush his foes before him

and strike down those who hate him.

24  My faithfulness and love shall be with him,

and he shall be victorious through my Name.

25  I shall make his dominion extend

from the Great Sea to the River.

26  He will say to you, ‘You are my Father,

my God, and the rock of my salvation.’

27  I will make him my firstborn

and higher than the kings of the earth.

28  I will keep my love for him for ever,

and my covenant will stand firm for him.

29  I will establish his line for ever

and his throne as the days of heaven.”

30  ”If his children forsake my law

and do not walk according to my judgments;

31  If they break my statutes

and do not keep my commandments;

32  I will punish their transgressions with a rod

and their iniquities with the lash;

33  But I will not take my love from him,

nor let my faithfulness prove false.

34  I will not break my covenant,

nor change what has gone out of lips.

35  Once for all I have sworn by my holiness:

‘I will not lie to David.

36  His line shall endure for ever

and his throne as the sun before me;

37  It shall stand fast for evermore like the moon,

the abiding witness in the sky.’”

FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #2

Jeremiah 23:1-6 (New Revised Standard Version):

Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!

says the LORD. Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who shepherd my people:

It is you who have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. So I will attend to you for your evil doings, says the LORD. Then I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing,

says the LORD.

The days are surely coming,

says the LORD,

when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. And this is the name by which he will be called: “The LORD is our righteousness.”

Psalm 23 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  The LORD is my shepherd;

I shall not be in want.

2  He makes me lie down in green pastures

and leads me beside still waters.

3  He revives my soul

and guides me along right pathways for his Name’s sake.

4  Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I shall fear no evil;

for you are with me;

your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

5  You spread a table before me in the presence of those who trouble me;

you have anointed my head with oil,

and my cup is running over.

6  Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,

and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

SECOND READING

Ephesians 2:11-22 (New Revised Standard Version):

Remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth, called “the uncircumcision” by those who are called “the circumcision” — a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands– remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.

GOSPEL READING

Mark 6:30-34, 53-56 (New Revised Standard Version):

The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them,

Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.

For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.

When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.

The Collect:

Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have compassion on our weakness, and mercifully give us those things which for our unworthiness we dare not, and for our blindness we cannot ask; through the worthiness of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Proper 11, Year A:

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

Proper 11, Year B:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/09/20/proper-11-year-b/

2 Samuel 7:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/05/fourth-sunday-of-advent-year-b/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/advent-devotion-for-december-24/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/12/week-of-3-epiphany-wednesday-year-2/

Jeremiah 23:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/advent-devotion-for-december-18/

Mark 6:

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

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/09/week-of-4-epiphany-saturday-year-1/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/09/week-of-5-epiphany-monday-year-1/

Matthew 14 (Parallel to Mark 6):

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/01/14/proper-13-year-a/

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The Pauline reading from Ephesians (from perhaps 58-59 C.E.) speaks of reconciliation in Christ between Jews and Gentiles.  Members of the two groups “are no longer strangers and aliens, but…citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God.”  It is a beautiful vision.

History, however, tells a different story.  The estrangement between Christians and Jews was unmistakable by 85 C.E., at the composition of the Gospel of Matthew, written to Jewish Christians, marginalized members of the Jewish community.  And, about a decade later, came the Gospel of John, which utilizes invective against Jews.  From there the history of Christian Anti-Semitism spans millennia and includes shameful instances of violence and discrimination.

It did not have to be this way.  Beyond Jewish-Christian relations, there is a long and shameful history of professing Christians justifying and perpetrating racism, xenophobia, nativism, and other forms of hatred toward their fellow human beings.  It did not have to be this way.  It does not have to be this way.  It does not have to continue to be this way.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd of all sheep who will come to him and all whom he draws successfully to himself.  We sheep are Gentiles, Jews, members of various racial and ethnic groups, parts of various cultures and subcultures, heterosexuals and homosexuals.  In Christ there is no hostility among us.  So, if such hostility does exist among us, we are not mutually in Christ, are we?

There is much work to do.  We have communities to build and walls to destroy.  All of this work is in Christ, our Good Shepherd.

KRT

Published originally in a slightly different form at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on September 20, 2011

Posted September 20, 2011 by neatnik2009 in July 18, Revised Common Lectionary Year B

Tagged with

Feast of St. Denis and His Companions (October 9)   3 comments

Above:  The Nave of the Basilica of St. Denis, Paris, France

SAINT DENIS (DIED CIRCA 250)

First Bishop of Paris, and Martyr

Also known as Denys, Dennis, and Dionysius

Many legends have grown from the life of St. Denis, who, along with Deacon Eleutherius and Father Rusticus, undertook a perilous mission to the persecuted Church in Gaul, now France.  They worked at Paris, where they founded a Christian community and converted many pagans before pressure from pagan priests culminated in the imprisonment, torture, and execution of St. Denis and his companions.  Legends include the tale that the deceased St. Denis picked up his severed head, held it, walked two miles to his burial site, and delivered a sermon along the way.  Ironically, Catholic hagiographers have long encouraged the faithful to invoke the headless Patron Saint of France against headaches.

Such a tale, just one part of a contradictory corpus of lore, is needless and obviously fictitious.  Denis, Eleutherius, and Rusticus gave their lives for Jesus, the crucified and resurrected one.  Each received the crown of martyrdom after taking up his cross and following his Lord.  What more need one say to justify sainthood in these cases?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 16, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT LUDMILLA, DUCHESS OF BOHEMIA

THE FEAST OF SAINT NINIAN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF GALLOWAY

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Common of a Martyr II

From Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church

Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyrs Denis, Eleutherius, and Rusticus triumphed over suffering and were faithful even to death:  Grant us, who now remember them in thanksgiving, to be so faithful in our witness to you in this world, that we may receive with them the crown of life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.   Amen.

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 51:1-12

Psalm116 or 116:1-8

Revelation 7:13-17

Luke 12:2-12

Posted September 16, 2011 by neatnik2009 in October 9, Saints of 200-299

Tagged with

Feast of St. Gerard of Brogne (October 3)   Leave a comment

A Statue of St. Gerard of Brogne

SAINT GERARD OF BROGNE (DIED IN 959)

Abbot

St. Gerard, born in Staves, Namur (now part of Belgium), became a page to the Count of Namur, who sent him on a special mission to the court of King Charles III (“the Simple”) of France (reigned 879-929) in 918.  The saint, who remained in France after completing his mission, joined the Benedictines of St. Denis.  There he was a monk for eleven years before returning to his home estate at Brogne to found an abbey.  At Brogne St. Gerard served as an abbot for twenty-two years, and from there he introduced the Rule of St. Benedict into many monasteries in what is now France and Belgium.  He also reformed the practices of a group of monasteries for two decades.  This was not universally popular among the affected monks, some of whom left for monasteries over which St. Gerard had no jurisdiction.

St. Gerard was a capable monastic administrator, and therefore a man who had necessary gifts.  At this tumultuous time in European history, the monasteries and convents of the Roman Catholic Church did preserve knowledge and provide essential social services.  This crucial work required orderly practices.  Yet, as good an administrator as St. Gerard was, he often found that his duties interfered with his need for contemplative prayer.

Kristen E. White, in A Guide to the Saints (New York:  Ballantine, 1991), summarizes the saint’s greatest quality:  “He was known especially for his sweetness of temper.”  This was certainly essential to his success as an abbot for how one deals with others affects how well one leads them.

This quality of sweetness of character impresses me.   I have known and known of theologically orthodox people who were perpetually grumpy.  No matter how much I agreed with them, I did not want to associate with them or lend them much, if any, support.  They drove people–sometimes including me–away from them, and would have accomplished much more had they possessed sunny dispositions and sweet spirits.

If we are on God’s side, why should we not have “sweetness of temper”?  In other words, to paraphrase the Apostle Paul, if God is for us, who can be against us?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 16, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT LUDMILLA, DUCHESS OF BOHEMIA

THE FEAST OF SAINT  NINIAN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF GALLOWAY

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Common of a Monastic II

From Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church

O God, by whose grace your servant St. Gerard of Brogne, kindled with the flame of your love, became a burning and a shining light in your Church:  Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline, and walk before you as children of light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Acts 2:42-47a

Psalm 133 or 34:108 or 119:161-168

2 Corinthians 6:1-10

Matthew 6:24-33

Posted September 16, 2011 by neatnik2009 in October 3, Saints of 900-999

Tagged with

Feast of Anthony Ashley Cooper, Lord Shaftesbury, Seventh Earl of Shaftesbury, and British Humanitarian (October 1)   2 comments

Houses of Parliament, London, England, United Kingdom

An Image in the Public Domain

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ANTHONY ASHLEY COOPER (APRIL 28, 1801-OCTOBER 1, 1885)

Lord Shaftesbury

Seventh Earl of Shaftesbury

Member of Parliament

Humanitarian

Social Reformer

Anthony Ashley Cooper, born in London on April 28, 180, was a son of Cropley Cooper, brother of the Fifth Earl of Shaftesbury.  Cooper’s mother, Anne, was daughter of the Fourth Earl of Marlborough.  The Fifth Earl of Shaftesbury died in 1811, so Cooper’s father became the Sixth Earl and Cooper became Lord Shaftesbury.  Our hero succeeded his father as Earl of Shaftesbury in 1851.

Born into nobility and educated at Oxford, Lord Shaftesbury represented successive constituencies most of the years from 1826 to 1851, when he transferred to the House of Lords.  While in the House of Commons, he began his work of improving the lives of vulnerable people.  For example, residents of lunatic asylums, as people called them at the time, were social outcasts subject to notorious abuses.  Cooper, however, was able to remove most of the worst abuses.  Lunatics, he said, were ill, therefore in need of treatment, not abuse and ostracism.  He took up this cause in 1828 and continued it for many years.

Other vulnerable people Lord Shaftesbury helped included factory and mine workers.  He secured government regulation of working hours, reducing the workday to ten hours.  This happened in 1847, after years of negotiation and strong opposition.  And mine owners opposed the Mines Act of 1842, which outlawed  the employment of all women and girls plus all boys younger than thirteen years in such conditions.

Lord Shaftesbury also lobbied for public health after an 1841 tour of the East End of London.  He believed that all people should have access to proper housing, clean water, and what the 1968 Encyclopedia Britannica called politely “the disposal of nuisances.”  From this portion of Cooper’s career came a series of public health laws, including the building and annual inspection of clean, safe, and sanitary housing for members of the working class.

Cooper continued the good work as a member of the House of Lords, for he worked on housing issues (just to offer one example) until the end of his life.  He also took an interest in free public schools for poor children.  These were the “rugged schools” and, for four decades, Lord Shaftesbury served as President of the Rugged School Union.

Why did Lord Shaftesbury engage in these works?  He said it best in 1828, in the context of his effort to reform asylums:  “By God’s blessing, my first effort has been for the advancement of human happiness.”  And, as he told his biographer many years later, while speaking of a man’s religion, “if it is worth anything, [it] should enter into every sphere of life, and rule his conduct in every relation.”

The Episcopal Church added Lord Shaftesbury to its calendar of saints in 2009, pairing him with William Wilberforce on July 30.  Wilberforce, of course, worked long and hard for the abolition of the slave trade and slavery within the British Empire.  So this is a logical pairing, for Cooper, like Wilberforce a member of the Evangelical wing of The Church of England, also opposed slavery strongly.  Yet I think it appropriate to give Lord Shaftesbury, who died on October 1, 1885, his own feast day.

Lord Shaftesbury was able at least to ease the burdens and suffering of many vulnerable people.  He could not outlaw all child labor, for example, but he could and did ban much of it.  To do something positive is better than doing nothing for others.   It matters that we do what we can–play our part–and pass the baton to others, who will continue our work.  What will your contribution be?  How will you leave your corner of the world better than you found it?

By way of giving credit where it is due, I acknowledge my great debt of gratitude to the 1968 Encyclopedia Britannica and the 1962 Encyclopedia Americana.  (I knew that keeping them was a good idea!)  The collect and choice of readings, however, originate with me.

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Loving God, who sent a succession of prophets to remind people, potentates, and societies of the obligation to care for the poor, the vulnerable, and the marginalized, thank  you for the holy example of Anthony Ashley Cooper, Seventh Earl of Shaftesbury.  May we also persist in seeking to help others, and may we succeed, by grace, for the benefit of others, and for the glory of your holy Name.  Amen.

Isaiah 1:1-31

Psalm 8

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

Luke 8:26-39

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KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 14, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE HOLY CROSS

Proper 10, Year B   Leave a comment

Above:  The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist, by Caravaggio, 1608

Of God, Potentates, and Prophets

The Sunday Closest to July 13

Seventh Sunday After Pentecost

JULY 10, 2021

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FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #1

2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19 (New Revised Standard Version):

David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand.  David and all the people with him set out and went from Baalejudah, to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the LORD of hosts who is enthroned on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill.  Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were driving the new cart with the ark of God; and Ahio went in front of the ark.  David and all the house of Israel were dancing before the LORD with all their might, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals.

So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obededom to the city of David with rejoicing; and when those who bore the ark of the LORD had gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling.  David danced before the LORD with all his might; David was girded with a linen ephod.  So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet.

As the ark of the LORD came into the city of David, Michal daughter of Saul looked out of the window, and saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD; and she despised him in her heart.

They brought in the ark of the LORD, and set it in its place, inside the tent that David had pitched for it; and David offered burnt offerings and offerings of well-being before the LORD.  When David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the offerings of well-being, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD of hosts, and distributed food among all the people, the whole multitude of Israel, both men and women, to each a cake of bread, a portion of meat, and a cake of raisins.   Then all the people went back to their homes.

Psalm 24 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 The earth is the LORD’s and all that is in it,

the world and all who dwell therein.

For it is who founded it upon the seas

and made it firm upon the rivers of the deep.

“Who can ascend the hill of the LORD?

and who can stand in his holy place?”

“Those who have clean hands and a pure heart,

who have not pledged themselves to falsehood,

nor sworn by what is a fraud.

They shall receive a blessing from the LORD

and a just reward from the God of their salvation.”

Such is the generation of those who seek him,

of those who seek your face, O God of Jacob.

7  Lift up your heads, O gates;

lift them high, O everlasting doors;

and the King of glory shall come in.

8  ”Who is this King of glory?”

“The LORD, strong and mighty,

the LORD, mighty in battle.”

9  Lift up your heads, O gates;

lift them high, O everlasting doors;

and the King of glory shall come in.

10  ”Who is he, this King of glory?”

“The LORD of hosts,

he is the King of glory.”

FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #2

Amos 7:7-15 (New Revised Standard Version):

This is what the Lord God showed me: the Lord was standing beside a wall built with a plumb line, with a plumb line in his hand. And the LORD said to me,

Amos, what do you see?

And I said,

A plumb line.

Then the Lord said,

See, I am setting a plumb line

in the midst of my people Israel;

I will never again pass them by;

the high places of Isaac shall be made desolate,

and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste,

and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.

Then Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, sent to King Jeroboam of Israel, saying,

Amos has conspired against you in the very center of the house of Israel; the land is not able to bear all his words. For thus Amos has said,

“Jeroboam shall die by the sword,

and Israel must go into exile

away from his land.”

And Amaziah said to Amos,

O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, earn your bread there, and prophesy there; but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom.

Then Amos answered Amaziah,

I am no prophet, nor a prophet’s son; but I am a herdsman, and a dresser of sycamore trees, and the LORD took me from following the flock, and the LORD said to me, “Go, prophesy to my people Israel.”

Psalm 85:8-13 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

8 I will listen to what the LORD God is saying,

for he is speaking peace to his faithful people

and to those who turn their hearts to him.

9 Truly, his salvation is very near those who fear him,

that his glory may dwell in our land.

10 Mercy and truth have met together;

righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

11 Truth shall spring up from the earth,

and righteousness shall look down from heaven.

12 The LORD will indeed grant prosperity,

and our land will yield its increase.

13 Righteousness shall go before him,

and peace shall be a pathway for his feet.

SECOND READING

Ephesians 1:3-14 (New Revised Standard Version):

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.

GOSPEL READING

Mark 6:14-29 (New Revised Standard Version):

King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known.  Some said,

John the Baptist has been raised from the dead; that is why these powers are at work in him.

But others said,

It is Elijah.

And others said,

It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.

But when Herod heard of it he said,

John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.

For Herod had sent and seized John, and bound him for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife.  And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him.  But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and kept him safe.  When he heard him, he was much perplexed; and yet he heard him gladly.  But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and the leading men of Galilee.  For when Herodias’ daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl,

Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will grant it.

And he vowed to her,

Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.

And she went out, and said to her mother,

What shall I ask?

And she said,

The head of John the Baptist.

And she came in immediately with haste to the king, and asked, saying,

I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.

And the king was exceedingly sorry; but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her.  And immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard and gave orders to bring his head.  He went and beheaded him in the prison, and brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother.  When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.

The Collect:

O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you, and grant that they may know and understand what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Proper 10, Year A:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/25/proper-10-year-a/

Proper 10, Year B:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/09/07/proper-10-year-b/

The Feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist, Martyr (August 29):

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/06/13/feast-of-the-beheading-of-st-john-the-baptist-martyr-august-29/

2 Samuel 6:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/12/week-of-3-epiphany-tuesday-year-2/

Amos 7:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/08/25/week-of-proper-8-thursday-year-2/

Mark 6:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/08/week-of-4-epiphany-friday-year-1/

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The prophet Amos had been condemning the policies of King Jeroboam II of Israel, whose regime controlled certain religious sites.  There being no separation of religion and state in this context, the prophet faced a royal order to go home to Judah.  At least Jeroboam did not command the execution of Amos.

Herod Antipas, Tetrarch of Galilee and Perea from 4 B.C.E. to 39 C.E., had entered into an incestuous marriage to Herodias.  John the Baptist had condemned this, and thus found himself in prison.  The combination of lust and pride led Herod Antipas to order John’s execution.

We read in Ephesians about redemption through the blood of Jesus.  The Roman authorities had ordered his execution, of course.

The powerful seem to have won immediately.  But look again; they lost in the long term.  The last vestige of the Roman Empire ceased to exist in 1453 C.E.  The Emperor Caligula exiled Herod Antipas to Gaul in 39 C.E.  And Jeroboam II died more than 2,750 years ago.  He failed to silence Amos, whose words are available in translation today.

Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul….–Matthew 10:28a, New Revised Standard Version

God will win.  That is how the story will end.  I know, for I have read the book.  So I take courage and seek to play my part in the work of righteousness.

KRT

Published originally at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on September 7, 2011

Posted September 7, 2011 by neatnik2009 in July 10, Revised Common Lectionary Year B

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Feast of Mordecai Johnson (September 10)   1 comment

Founders Library, Howard University, Washington, D.C.

THE REVEREND MORDECAI WYATT JOHNSON (JANUARY 4, 1890-SEPTEMBER 10, 1976)

Educator, University President, Community Organizer, and National Baptist Minister

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010) contains the revamped calendar of saints for The Episcopal Church.  That volume contains a list of people the denomination might add later, given the passage of more time.  That list contains the name of Mordecai Johnson.  Although my church body has decided to wait, I act today to enroll him on my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.

Born to former slaves in Paris, Tennessee, in 1890, Johnson did not grow up in an academic environment.  His mother worked as a domestic, and his father was a mill worker and a preacher.  Yet Johnson’s future was to an academic one.  He studied at Morehouse College, Atlanta University, the University of Chicago, and Rochester Theological Seminary, graduating from the seminary in 1916.  He also graduated with a Master’s Degree from Harvard University in 1922.  Along the way, he married Anna Ethelyn Gardner (with whom he had three sons and two daughters), pastored the Second Baptist Church in Muford, New York, served as the pastor the First Baptist Church of Charleston, West Virginia, and worked with the YWCA.

Johnson became the first African-American President of Howard University in 1926, serving in that position for thirty-four years.  He developed his institution in many ways, notably transforming its law school into a training ground for many civil rights attorneys and law professors.  Much of his legacy in this regard became evident in the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund, which fought back the curse of Jim Crow laws via the court system.  Brown v. Board of Education (1954) was one of their greatest accomplishments.  Among the people Johnson inspired was Martin Luther King, Jr.

Johnson died in Washington, D.C., on September 10, 1976.

History contains the stories of many heroes.  Sometimes, as in the case of Dr. King, they receive great renown and even a national holiday.  King deserves his holiday, but let us not forget Mordecai Johnson, who inspired him.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 5, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF MOTHER TERESA OF CALCUTTA, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN

THE FEAST OF GREGORIO AGLIPAY, PHILIPPINE INDEPENDENT BISHOP

LABOR DAY (U.S.A.)

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Further Reading:

http://www.howard.edu/library/reference/cybercamps/camp2001/studentwebs/shayna/default.html

http://www.aaregistry.org/historic_events/view/educator-mordecai-johnson-influenced-mlk-jr

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The Collect and Readings:

O God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served, and to give his life for the life of the world.  Lead us by his love to serve all to whom the world offers no comfort and little help.  Through us give hope to the hopeless, love to the unloved, peace to the trouble, and rest to the weary, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

This a a collect and these are the readings for “Renewers of Society” from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), the hymnal and worship book of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

Proper 9, Year B   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Joseph’s Church, Nazareth, Israel

Rejecting and Insulting Prophets

The Sunday Closest to July 6

Sixth Sunday After Pentecost

JULY 4, 2021

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FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #1

2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10 (New Revised Standard Version):

All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron, and said,

Look, we are your bone and flesh. For some time, while Saul was king over us, it was you who led out Israel and brought it in. The LORD said to you: It is you who shall be shepherd of my people Israel, you who shall be ruler over Israel.

So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron; and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the LORD, and they anointed David king over Israel. David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years. At Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months; and at Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years.

David occupied the stronghold, and named it the city of David. David built the city all around from the Millo inward. And David became greater and greater, for the LORD, the God of hosts, was with him.

Psalm 48 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised;

in the city of our God is his holy hill.

2 Beautiful and lofty, the joy of all the earth, is the hill of Zion,

the very center of the world and the city of the great King.

God is in her citadels;

he is known to be her sure refuge.

Behold, the kings of the earth assembled

and marched forward together.

5 They looked and were astonished;

they retreated and fled in terror.

Trembling seized them there;

they writhed like a woman in childbirth,

like ships of the sea when the east wind shatters them.

As we have heard, so have we seen,

in the city of the LORD of hosts, in the city of our God;

God has established her for ever.

8 We have waited in silence on your loving-kindness, O God,

in the midst of your temple.

Your praise, like your Name, O God, reaches to the world’s end;

your right hand is full of justice.

10 Let Mount Zion be glad

in the cities of Judah rejoice,

because of your judgments.

11 Make the circuit of Zion;

walk round about her;

count the number of her towers.

12 Consider well her bulwarks;

examine her strongholds;

that you may tell those who come after.

13 This God is our God for ever and ever;

he shall be our guide for ever more.

FIRST READING AND PSALM:  OPTION #2

Ezekiel 2:1-5 (New Revised Standard Version):

The Lord said to me:

O mortal, stand up on your feet, and I will speak with you.

And when he spoke to me, a spirit entered into me and set me on my feet; and I heard him speaking to me. He said to me,

Mortal, I am sending you to the people of Israel, to a nation of rebels who have rebelled against me; they and their ancestors have transgressed against me to this very day. The descendants are impudent and stubborn. I am sending you to them, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD.’ Whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house), they shall know that there has been a prophet among them.

Psalm 123 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 To you I lift up my eyes,

to you enthroned in the heavens.

As the eyes of the servants look to the hand of their masters,

and the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress,

3 So our eyes look to the LORD our God,

until he show us his mercy.

Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy,

for we have had more than enough of contempt,

5 Too much of the scorn of the indolent rich,

and of the derision of the proud.

SECOND READING

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

I know a person in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven– whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows. And I know that such a person– whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows– was caught up into Paradise and heard things that are not to be told, that no mortal is permitted to repeat. On behalf of such a one I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses. But if I wish to boast, I will not be a fool, for I will be speaking the truth. But I refrain from it, so that no one may think better of me than what is seen in me or heard from me, even considering the exceptional character of the revelations. Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.

GOSPEL READING

Mark 6:1-13 (New Revised Standard Version):

Jesus left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said,

Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?

And they took offense at him. Then Jesus said to them,

Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.

And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.

Then he went about among the villages teaching. He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. He said to them,

Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.

So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

 The Collect:

O God, you have taught us to keep all your commandments by loving you and our neighbor: Grant us the grace of your Holy Spirit, that we may be devoted to you with our whole heart, and united to one another with pure affection; 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:

Proper 9, Year A:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/18/proper-9-year-a/

Proper 9, Year B:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/09/05/proper-9-year-b/

2 Samuel 5:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/11/week-of-3-epiphany-monday-year-2/

2 Corinthians 12:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/05/week-of-proper-6-saturday-year-1/

Mark 6:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/07/week-of-4-epiphany-wednesday-year-1/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/07/week-of-4-epiphany-thursday-year-1/

Matthew 13 (Parallel to Mark 6):

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/01/13/week-of-proper-12-friday-year-1/

Luke 9 (Parallel to Mark 6):

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/04/05/week-of-proper-20-wednesday-year-1/

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We read from 2 Samuel about David victorious.  His rival, Saul’s son Ishbaal dead, David became sole monarch in Israel and made Jerusalem the seat of his power.  The rebellion ended with the rebel leader leading the nation.

That, alas, is the happiest of the readings for this Sunday.  In Ezekiel 2, for example, God commissioned Ezekiel to be a prophet yet warns him that the people have a rebellious past.  But at least they will know that a prophet has been among them.  Jesus, a prophet and more than a prophet, was among the residents of his hometown when they rejected him.  They even raised questions about his paternity and Mary’s sexual history.  Later in the lesson, Jesus sent out his Apostles on a preaching mission with instructions to, among other things, simply leave places where they faced rejection.  This advice reflected what he did at Nazareth.

We read in the Gospels that Jesus moved away from Nazareth and settled in Capernaum.  Maybe one reason for this relocation was to get away such rumors in so small a place.  Jesus was, after all, fully human as well as fully divine.  We like to focus on the fully divine side, do we not?  But may we not minimize or ignore the fully human aspect.  Such rumors (certainly not recent in relation to the events of the Gospel story) and rejection had to hurt him emotionally.  Who wants to hear malicious rumors about one’s parents?  (Joseph did raise Jesus.  That, for me, makes Joseph our Lord’s father in the way which matters most.)

Paul, in his famous excerpt from 2 Corinthians, reported (evasively at first) about a mystical experience.  This is a somewhat amusing reading; I like how Paul began by writing of a man he knew then admitted that he was that man.  Whatever he saw and heard, and whatever caused it, it made quite an impression on him.  But, he wrote, he came away from it with an unidentified affliction.  ”A thorn in my side” is the standard English translation from the original Greek.  J. B. Phillips (1972), however, refers to a “stabbing pain.”  Whatever it was, it prevented Paul from becoming too elated.

Yet, Paul learned, divine grace is sufficient and made perfect in weakness, or, as J. B. Phillips (1972) renders one line, “where there is weakness, [God’s] power is shown more completely.”  That power is always present, as is the grace, in some measure.  Yet we notice God’s grace more easily when we are in weakened states.  I know this fact well from experience; you, O reader, might also know it from experience.

The bottom line is this:  Independence and self-reliance, as spiritual values, are false gods and illusions.  To pursue them is to chase after empty shadows and to commit idolatry.  Everyone depends on the grace and power of God.  Prophets have walked among us.  Do we recognize them? Prophets might even have grown up among us.  Do we recognize them, or do we reject and insult them?  How we respond to God and the prophets of God informs how God responds to us.  May God show mercy, as is the divine prerogative.

KRT

Published originally in a nearly identical form at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/09/05/rejecting-and-insulting-prophets/

Posted September 5, 2011 by neatnik2009 in July 4, Revised Common Lectionary Year B

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