Above: United States Navy Personnel Staffing a Soup Kitchen
Image Source = Chief Mass Communication Specialist Steve Johnson
Devotion to Good Works
The Sunday Closest to November 16
Twenty-Fifth Sunday After Pentecost
NOVEMBER 15, 2015
FIRST READING AND PSALM: OPTION #1
1 Samuel 1:1-20 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):
There was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim of the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. He had two wives; the name of one was Hannah, and the name of the other was Peninnah. And Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.
Now this man used to go up year by year from his city to worship and to sacrifice to the LORD of hosts at Shiloh, where the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests of the LORD. On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Penninah his wife and to all her sons and daughters; and, although he loved Hannah, he would give Hannah only one portion, because the LORD had closed her womb. So it went on year by year; as often she went up to the house of the LORD, she used to provoke her. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat. And Elkanah, her husband, said to her,
Hannah, why do you weep? And why do you not eat? And why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?
After they had eaten and drunk in Shiloh, Hannah rose. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the LORD. She was deeply distressed and prayed to the LORD, and wept bitterly. And she vowed a vow and said,
O LORD of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your maidservant, but will give to your maidservant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.
As she continued praying before the LORD, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard; therefore Eli took her to be a drunken woman. And Eli said to her,
How long will you be drunken? Put away your wine from you.
But Hannah answered,
No, my lord, I am a woman sorely troubled; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out of my soul before the LORD. Do not regard your maidservant as a base woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.
Then Eli answered,
Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have made to him.
And she said,
Let your maidservant find favor in your eyes.
Then the woman went her way and ate, and her countenance was no longer sad.
They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the LORD; then they went back to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the LORD remembered her; and in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said,
I have asked him of the LORD.
1 Samuel 2:1-10 (Revised English Bible):
Then Hannah offered this prayer:
My heart exults in the LORD,
in the LORD I now hold my head high;
I gloat over my enemies;
I rejoice because you have saved me.
There is none but you,
none so holy as the LORD,
none so righteous as our God.
Cease your proud boasting,
let no word of arrogance pass our lips,
for the LORD is a God who knows;
he governs what mortals do.
Strong men stand in mute dismay,
but those who faltered put on new strength.
Those who had plenty sell themselves for a crust,
and the hungry grow strong again.
The barren woman bears seven children,
and the mother of many sons is left to languish.
The LORD metes out both death and life:
he sends down to Sheol, he can bring the dead up again.
Poverty and riches both come from the LORD;
he brings low and he raises up.
He lifts the weak out of the dust
and raises the poor from the refuse heap
to give them a place among the great,
to assign them seats of honour.
The foundations of the earth are the LORD’s,
and he has set the world upon them.
He will guard the footsteps of his loyal servants,
while the wicked will be silenced in darkness;
for it is not by strength that a mortal prevails.
Those who oppose the LORD will be terrified
when from the heavens he thunders against them.
The LORD is judge even to the ends of the earth;
he will endow his king with strength
and raise high the head of his anointed one.
FIRST READING AND PSALM: OPTION #2
Daniel 12:1-13 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):
The Lord spoke to Daniel in a vision and said,
At that time Michael, the great prince, the protector of your people, shall arise. There shall be a time of anguish, such as has never occurred since nations first came into existence. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book. Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.
Psalm 16 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):
1 Protect me, O God, for I take refuge in you;
I have said to the LORD, “You are my Lord,
my good above all other.”
2 All my delight is upon the godly that are in the land,
upon those who are noble among the people.
3 But those who run after other gods
shall have their troubles multiplied.
4 Their libations of blood I will not offer,
nor take the names of their gods upon my lips.
5 O LORD, you are my portion and my cup;
it is you who uphold my lot.
6 My boundaries enclose a pleasant land;
indeed, I have a goodly heritage.
7 I will bless the LORD who gives me counsel;
my heart teaches me, night after night.
8 I have set the LORD always before me;
because he is at my right hand I shall not fall.
9 My heart, therefore, is glad, and my spirit rejoices;
my body also shall rest in hope.
10 For you will not abandon me to the grave,
nor let your holy one see the Pit.
11 You will show me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy,
and in your right hand are pleasures for evermore.
Hebrews 10:11-25 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):
And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, then to wait until his enemies should be made a stool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,
This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, says the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,
then he adds,
I will remember their sins and their misdeeds no more.
Where there is forgiveness for these, there is no longer any offering for sin.
Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way which he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see Day drawing near.
Mark 13:1-8 (New Revised Standard Version):
As Jesus came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him,
Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!
Then Jesus asked him,
Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.
When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately,
Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?
Then Jesus began to say to them,
Beware that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name and say, “I am he!” and they will lead many astray. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birthpangs.
Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Some Related Links:
Proper 28, Year A:
Proper 28, Year B:
1 Samuel 1:
Luke 21 (Parallel to Mark 13):
The church year is almost over, with one Sunday remaining in Year B and Advent, Year C, starting one week after that. (I am, by the way, typing these words almost one year ahead of Proper 28, Year B, and two days ahead of Proper 28, Year A. I seem to have jumped ahead in my devotional writing a few months ago.) Anyhow, by this time each church year, some Sunday readings have become apocalyptic. We see this in the lessons from Hebrews, Mark, and Daniel. The reading from Mark 13 speaks of the end of the Temple system and the coming of Roman imperial wrath over a Jewish rebellion. The writing of the Gospel of Mark occurred somewhere in the vicinity of the First Jewish War and the year 70 C.E., a fact which certainly influenced the telling of the contents of Mark 13:1-8. We humans tell the past through the lens of our present. Yet apocalypses need not be entirely dark; there is hope in Daniel 12:1-3.
That said, I prefer to focus on one verse:
We ought to see how each of us may best arouse others to love and active goodness.–Hebrews 10:24, Revised English Bible
The New Revised Standard Version offers this translation:
And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds….
J. B. Phillips, in the 1972 revision of The New Testament in Modern English, renders that verse as follows:
…and let us think of one another and how we can encourage each other to love and do good deeds.
And the New Jerusalem Bible offers this lovely phrasing:
Let us be concerned for each other, to stir a response in love and good works.
Many people seek to humiliate others, shout others down, or do violence to them. This does not improve society. I wonder how much better society would be if more people competed with each other to perform good deeds, such as feeding others or helping others become what they ought to be. Good works, the Bible tells us, are important. This principle runs through Judaism and Christianity, as evident in the following:
- the commandment to love one’s neighbor as oneself
- the Golden Rule.
And let us not forget the Golden Rule, 1 Corinthians 13, the Letter of James, Titus 2:14, and the life of Jesus.
So, instead of trying to demonstrate orthodoxy by arguing about theology, may we demonstrate orthopraxy by acting affirmatively from our faith. Then, when someone wants to know why we do what we do, our words will have force. A member of my congregation tells a true story about the aftermath of a natural disaster in Virginia years ago. A group of Mennonites traveled to the affected area, where they spent their time working to help the people there. They did this until they had done all that they could. Then the Mennonites returned to their home. Some locals, impressed by the Mennonites, wanted to know more about those helpful people. There is now a Mennonite presence in that area; locals demanded it.
Here ends the lesson.
Published originally at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR