Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Dog!

 


About the gospel reading for Sunday, I have reduced the size and set off in blue the first part because it's optional and likely will not be read, at least in our church, as we are trying to cut down on the time folks are assembled and potentially at greater risk of covid-19 exposure.


So I'm ignoring the small blue part and looking at the startlingly intriguing story that Matthew (below) copied from Mark (also below). And I was thinking to compare Matthew with Mark's original as we often do in Sunday School, to spot differences, to see if they're significant, and to talk about why Matthew may have made changes. 


Of the woman, Mark says that she is "Gentile, Syrophoenician", Matthew changes it to Canaanite, why? I think maybe Mark sees this event as Jesus opening the gospel to Gentiles, as did Paul before him; whereas Matthew - - who is writing to Jewish Christians, may consider that Jesus is only for the Jews, (indeed, Matthew adds Jesus' dismissive retort “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel”) - - Matthew feels he needs to emphasize, maybe with a hint of hostility and prejudice? (Black Lives Matter), that this woman is of Israel's ancient enemy and is unwelcome, but Jesus deigns to accommodate her because of her faith (which might suggest she's a "God-fearer", a Gentile who worships the God of Israel? and therefore marginally acceptable?); whereas in Mark, the verbal exchange seems maybe a bit playful, and Jesus does as she asks because she outdid him in the verbal exchange and he is delighted that her wit matches his own! 


Another difference is that Mark has the woman's child sick In bed back home, but Matthew does not; so it's not unreasonable to visualize the daughter as standing there beside her mother. Maybe you see something I'm missing, but I don't see this difference as significant other than that it allowed me to use a drawing (above) of Jesus that shows the little girl.


If you read and compare the two stories, Mark and Matthew, you may find more to explore, but that's what I see of differences at first glance this morning.


What's more noticeable (in both stories) though, is Jesus' apparent rudeness in disparaging the woman and her daughter and her people as "dogs". A Jew, he might instead have said "pigs" but he says dogs, snide and dismissive enough. Coming from our dear, sweet, kind and loving Northern European Savior portrayed on Baptist Sunday School walls throughout the South when I was a boy, 



this is shocking to us, stunning, unacceptable, does not match our image of Jesus. So some comment is appropriate, eh? I think at least a couple of things, suggestions, and then you may want to think about it further before it hits whatever pulpit you attend next Sunday (I am not preaching Sunday). 


First, though I am taken aback, on thought, I don't think it's surprising, because after all Jesus was a Jew, and there is no reason for me to think that his orientation to untouchable Gentiles would have been different from other Jews of his day.


Second, from a bible criticism point of view, the fact that what Jesus said is shocking and unacceptable may indicate (there's a literary technical term for regarding ugly things as especially likely to have been said or done, but I forget it) that Jesus really did say this. Or at least that it comes from an old memory of something that really did happen. So I say yep, Jesus really did say this to the Gentile woman who may have regarded him as a known exorcist.


T+


Matthew 15: (10-20), 21-28 (NRSV)

[Jesus called the crowd to him and said to them, “Listen and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.” Then the disciples approached and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?” He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.” But Peter said to him, “Explain this parable to us.” Then he said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.”]

Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly.


Mark 7:24-30 (NRSV)

The Syrophoenician Woman’s Faith

24 From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, 25 but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. 26 Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” 28 But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 29 Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.” 30 So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

Monday, August 10, 2020

RSF&PTL anyway

 

That's the view from 7H, my home, from my porch. I feel lucky, fortunate, luck of the draw, to live here, and all the more so at this stage of my life. Indeed even to BE at this stage of life. 


Yes, fortunate, some would say "blessed", but I do not believe a good deity would "bless" one, including me, in such ways when so many others live in want, pain, need. My life is blessed (well, there I go) in so many ways: I am a Have. I am, undeservedly compared to others, a healthy human free white American male who is living peacefully and semi-productively into old age in a Time and place that, for safety, comfort, wealth, education, convenience of the Haves, is unequaled in human history. To say that I am "blessed" in any sense of being singled out to be favored because I deserve it, would blaspheme the God of me, who I believe expects much of me simply because I have much that others do not. Perhaps the blessings are meant as a challenge to test my character.


Luke 12:48. 


Yep, I could sell all that I have and give the proceeds to the poor? Who would that help? Nobody all that much. And anyway how about "The poor you will have with you always"? Life is a quandary, isn't it. I find it so; how am I to avoid, evade, the guilt and shame of being a Have when the world is filled with Have Nots, knowing full well that I'm not doing, and've not done, the best I can to make a difference: 

  • I could say Black Lives Matter every morning instead of relaxing.
  • I could share more of all that I studied and learned at theological seminary.  
  • I could light into evil every day instead of hiding behind that this is not a political blog.
  • I could have been an astronomer or meteorologist instead of the three or four vocations I chased. Maybe next time. But no, it's been too much fun this way.


So I quietly abide, making ripples not waves, and generating no backwash. Is there to be a reckoning? Am I to face Judgment for all that I didn't do? Have I worked for freedom, peace and especially JUSTICE among all people? Have I respected the dignity of EVERY human being? I think how I live, not what I believe, is what will matter, but is a C+ in life salvific?! 


Keeping my promise for Mondays, below are the Propers for Sunday, August 16. 


Of the Collect, Marion Hatchett says it was written for the 1549 BCP. Maybe it needs tweaking? Its theological assertion, "you have given your only Son to be for us a sacrifice for sin, and also an example of godly life". 


Yes, an example (the old BCP said ensample) of godly life. But a sacrifice for sin? the theology that God gave Jesus to suffer an agonizing death as an atonement for human sin so that God could forgive and save us may suit Paul and Anselm, but does not mirror Jesus who meets me in the gospels. In our age that seems more hopefully to grasp the Love of God than the righteous, punishing, unwavering justice of God, atonement theology wants examination. We love the ancient and medieval in our holy history. But liturgy need not cling sentimentally and nostalgically to the ancient and medieval just because it's expressed so lyrically and beautifully. It's Time to contemplate and refresh, if not entire theologies, an impossible undertaking, at least liturgical words in collects and other prayers, because "lex orandi lex credendi", what we pray reflects what we believe, our theology is in our liturgy.


It's a beautiful day.

T+ 

 


The Collect

Almighty God, you have given your only Son to be for us a sacrifice for sin, and also an example of godly life: Give us grace to receive thankfully the fruits of his redeeming work, and to follow daily in the blessed steps of his most holy life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Old Testament

Genesis 45:1-15

Joseph could no longer control himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried out, “Send everyone away from me.” So no one stayed with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it. Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, so dismayed were they at his presence.

Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come closer to me.” And they came closer. He said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years; and there are five more years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God; he has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. Hurry and go up to my father and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not delay. You shall settle in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children, as well as your flocks, your herds, and all that you have. I will provide for you there—since there are five more years of famine to come—so that you and your household, and all that you have, will not come to poverty.’ And now your eyes and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see that it is my own mouth that speaks to you. You must tell my father how greatly I am honored in Egypt, and all that you have seen. Hurry and bring my father down here.” Then he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, while Benjamin wept upon his neck. And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them; and after that his brothers talked with him.


The Response

Psalm 133

Ecce, quam bonum!

1 Oh, how good and pleasant it is, *

when brethren live together in unity!

2 It is like fine oil upon the head *

that runs down upon the beard,

3 Upon the beard of Aaron, *

and runs down upon the collar of his robe.

4 It is like the dew of Hermon *

that falls upon the hills of Zion.

5 For there the Lord has ordained the blessing: *

life for evermore.


The Epistle

Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32


I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew.

For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. Just as you were once disobedient to God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience, so they have now been disobedient in order that, by the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy. For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all.


The Gospel

Matthew 15: (10-20), 21-28

[Jesus called the crowd to him and said to them, “Listen and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.” Then the disciples approached and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?” He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.” But Peter said to him, “Explain this parable to us.” Then he said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.”]

Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Peter Little Faith

Most people probably have not been at sea at night with wind whipping waves high in the darkness, the boat or ship fighting for control, to head into the seas and to keep from rolling beyond the righting moment and capsizing. It can be quite unnerving, even terrifying. I'm thinking the disciples in the boat that night were indeed uneasy, although as fishermen they would have been accustomed to being out in the boat in all sorts of weather. 


There are dozens, hundreds of works of art visualizing Jesus walking on the water, wandering out on the surface of the Sea of Galilee at three o'clock in the morning's darkness. Looking, searching online, I just chose one*


that's at night, and isn't sappy. Everyone knows the story, it's one of everybody's all time favorite Sunday School bible adventures. The gospel for today (scroll down), as I write this morning, imaginative sermons from it are being preached, with any number of lessons drawn from it. 


As Matthew tells it, it's not for sure whether this story is more about Jesus' astonishing feat of walking on the surface of water, or about Peter's sudden loss of faith as he realizes what he is doing.


There's the miracle, Jesus with the power and authority of God, walking on water, impossible for us, but anything's possible for God, and for us who have faith.


In Matthew, there's knocking Peter, whom Jesus addresses as Ὀλιγόπιστε, "Little Faith!!" and who could be any one of us. But I never would have gotten out of the boat in the first place, so Peter has my admiration and understanding. 


And in a sense, Ὀλιγόπιστε, "Little Faith" (a vocative masculine singular NT Greek adjective, becomes Peter's new name that describes him in a way similar to Jacob's new name Israel describing him. Peter, whose original name is Simon, changed to Peter (Rock), now Little Faith. So maybe Ὀλιγόπιστε Ἰωάννου, Little Faith son of John? There is a sense in Bible naming, in which the name one is given carries power, prophecy, destiny.


There's the acclamation, "Truly you are the Son of God," This story also appears at Mark 6:47-52 and at John 6:16-21, but neither Mark nor John record that acclamation, which may suggest that it's Matthew's message to his intended Jewish Christian audience, to whom he is writing to persuade that Jesus was the Messiah(i.e., if Peter sees it and acclaims it, they need to know that, so they also can acclaim it). 


Also, as Mark and John tell it, Peter does not get out of the boat. And whereas in Mark and Matthew, Jesus gets in the boat with the disciples, in John's account Jesus does not get into the boat. A Sunday School discussion would contemplate and explore the differences and their reasons!


Among NT scholars, Mark (c.a. 70?) and John (c.a. 90-125?) are regarded as independent sources, indicating that this story itself is quite ancient, possibly going back to Jesus' time and the disciples' memories? 


There is foolishness about the story of Jesus walking on the water: some people have searched for a sandbar stretching out into the sea that Jesus may actually have walked on that night. If this is to disprove the "miracle", to prove that he didn't really walk on water, then it indicates ignorance about why the story is told (the same ignorance shown in searching the ocean for a fish big enough to swallow Jonah, it misses the point, which is the story itself). Although searching for a sandbar may seem reasonable to establish a basis for what the disciples remembered and told, and the story growing as oral tradition over the years and decades before the evangelists set it down in writing, it misses the point of accepting the story just as each evangelist tells it and trying to understand the message each (Mark, Matthew, and John) meant to convey to his intended audience. Everything can be disproved, but that's not the point of bible scholarship.


Anyway, really good for a Sunday School discussion. Here's the story, as Matthew tells it:


Matthew 14:22-33

Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”

Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

*Art: Peter Walks on Water, 1806 By Philipp Otto Runge on canvas, Kunsthalle Hamburg Germany  

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Saturday

 


It looks like a fire but it isn't, it's someone's light. Looking east from the sidewalk. Venus is behind the cloud, high. Out here on 7H porch, looking up, half a waning moon trailed by Mars. As the east continues pink and pinker with the rising sun.



Several boats are moving on the Bay, and one ship at the moment, Campeche Bay 279x41


underway for Progreso, with container cargo.


HISTORY: This Day in History reports that on Aug 8, 1974 President Richard Nixon resigned under pressure from Congress and the public. I remember it well. I'd voted for Nixon as President three times, and thought he was a good president until the Watergate affair came up. But early in my Navy years, a chief petty officer, Cook who worked with me at the U S Naval Station, Mayport, Florida from 1959 to 1962, had served as White House staff with President Eisenhower. Chief Cook could not stand Vice President Nixon whom, he said, in contrast to General Eisenhower's kindness, Nixon was a jerk, haughty, arrogant, and rude. It seems a shame for a man who had himself been born into a poor family to so forget his origins and elevate himself in his own eyes. 


Nixon resigned in singular disgrace, was succeeded by Gerald Ford, who next election was defeated by Jimmy Carter, whom I once met on a commercial air flight from WashingtonDC to Atlanta. After the plane settled into flight, President Carter came down the aisle greeting everyone and stopping to chat. I asked him how his mother was ("Miss Lillian" was nationally and popularly known as a character), and he paused to say Why thank you for asking, and to tell me that She was fine. A Naval Academy graduate and nuclear submarine qualified as a naval officer, Jimmy Carter was and is a good man, a Southern gentleman and a powerfully if gently spoken Christian. Sometimes the difference in men in power is whether they are good or evil. 


Relax: tomorrow's Sunday.


T+





Friday, August 7, 2020

Jesus, the Word who Said

 

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved over the waters. And God Said "Let there be light".



In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word was in the beginning with God. All things were made through the Word (i.e., "Let there BE"), and without the Word was not anything made that was made. ... And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.


NOAA's revised hurricane forecast predicts another 10 to 15 named storms

From the great Capital Weather Gang at the Washington Post … This hurricane season has already broken records, with 9 named storms to date. Yesterday, EarthSky reported that hurricane forecasters at Colorado State had upped their predicted number of hurricanes for 2020. Now NOAA has gotten in on the act, too, revising its hurricane forecast upward. Every factor is lining up in favor of an "extremely active" hurricane season, NOAA said. If the number of storms exceeds 21, we'll run out of this year's hurricane names.



More hurricanes? Jiminy Christmas. Maybe the warming oceans are responsible?



Covid-19 ... . In the US, one in every 2,300 indigenous Americans has died, compared to one in 3,600 white Americans – making them the second most at-risk ethnic category in the US after black Americans. In mid-May, the Navajo Nation, whose reservation spans 27,000 square miles (70,000 sq km) in the south-western US, surpassed New York state for the highest Covid-19 infection rate in the US. (BBC online this morning)



Latest Model Forecasts 300,000 U.S. COVID-19 Deaths by December

University of Washington health experts added that 70,000 lives could be saved if people were scrupulous about wearing masks (Reuters this morning)



In high school I knew a boy who lived in a house like one of these. His name was David. We didn't know until he needed a ride home from band practice late one Thursday evening. We drove him out to his neighborhood east of PC, and he said this is fine, "I'll get out here". Meaning well but unwisely, we insisted on driving him to his door. He directed us to a right turn that went up a rise, a left turn and stop in front of a house like all these, in the dark night, candle light from inside shining out through cracks between unpainted boards.

 


Why am I doing this? IDK. A counter, even more stupid than it is revealing, uncomprehending and racist as it turns out, to Black Lives Matter, has been the self-righteous retort All Lives Matter. 



Mounting evidence shows that patients suffering from COVID-19 exhibit neurological symptoms including loss of smell and taste, delirium and a higher risk of stroke. But the impact on the brain may be broader and last longer than these symptoms suggest. Neuroscientist Natalie Tronson of the University of Michigan explains how inflammation triggered by SARS-CoV-2 may lead to permanent memory loss and cognitive decline.



As it turns out, though, the surest sign of a racist is denial, as seen in the assertion, "I am NOT a racist". Or the ultimate "I am the least racist person on earth".


There's a new book out, Caste, touted by Oprah's Book Club. I've read a couple of reviews and several comments by people who have read it or started it and, immediately being offended, put it down and wrote nasty. It's too pricey for me at the moment. Like buying only U-$10 wine, especially pricier wine that's BOGO this week, I buy books cheap or not at all. So, I'll keep a lookout for when it's available Mass Market Softcover. Or used.


We are minimizing grocery shopping by more ordering online. With a longing for it, recently I ordered and yesterday arrived a shipment from Walleye Direct. 


Walleye fillets from lakes in Canada, and we had for supper. Oh, man. I love freshwater fish.


Why? I grew up in the segregated South, where houses like those copied above were common. Not until my freshman year of college did it dawn on me, and did I realize what I was, the evil and shame of it. Though I've been working on it for 66 years now, it's not gone. I don't think it's possible to get rid of it, only to fight myself.


T+


Yes, I know the long white dresses date some of the pictures. But that's what I remember.


And here's another book that, when the price drops, I may be moved to order and read:


Born to Wonder

Exploring Our Deepest Questions—Why Are We Here and Why Does It Matter?

In Born to Wonder, Alister McGrath, a prolific Oxford scholar, scientist, and theologian, explores the deepest mystery at the heart of life itself.
Life is a gift. We never asked to be born. Yet here we are, living in this strange world of space and time, trying to work out what it’s all about before the darkness closes in and extinguishes us. We are adrift on a misty, grey sea of ignorance, seeking a sun-kissed island of certainty, on which we might hope to find clear answers to our deepest and most poignant questions.

What is the point of life? Why are we here? And what is it about us that makes us want to ask these questions? As far as we know, we’re the only species on earth that asks these questions, and dares to hope that we might find an answer. 

It… 


A joy of coming up on 85: that what makes wandering, disjointed, meandering sense to me may not make any rational sense to you at all! And it doesn't bother me in the least!


Thursday, August 6, 2020

Bubba's Doppelgänger?


For love of Caroline 
      and only for love of Caroline 
            has Papa become a Seminole. 

Tass points out to me that UofFlorida is not playing FSU in football this year, but as long as Caroline studies at FSU, Papa will be an FSU fan anyway. Now, if there ever is another real CFB season ... well, we're not there, so no need to go there this morning. But for now, Go Noles!

That selfie was on my morning walk yesterday. My New Normal walk is short, less than half our walk of Old Normal, and only within the bounds of Harbour Village. Down the stairwell to the Park (the Park or Green or BeckSide is atop the garage), around the Park, 


down to the pool level to look out across StAndrewsBay to the west


and up via elevator, wearing facemask. BTW, the arrow points to my office/study/den, where I'm sitting this moment as the fingers tippy-tap out this morning's blogpost. 


Haven't been for today's walk yet, but anon.  

Meantime, an artist extraordinaire. Click the link and watch the three-minute video to stir your confidence in creation and Creator:



Thanks to Judy and Walt for the video!!



Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Forget Me Not


Wednesday morning is my commitment to post a bible study, comment, or something that's more holy than I'm, and I'll do that before I press "Publish". But something first. 


This past Sunday morning as I rushed to finish getting ready to leave for church, I paused to scroll email. From A-Poem-A-Day, this caught my eye and, in all honesty, my heart, and I made mental note to return and find it. Yes, it's long; and yes, it's sentimental; and yes, its style and rhyme and lack of cynical sarcasm is out of fashion with most poetry preferred by today's self-anointed intellectual elite; and yes, for me to publish it tells more about me than generally I'm comfortable sharing. But no matter! To my knowledge, only my friend Robert is as sentimental as I about people and places we have known and loved in our many long years of life. So even if nobody else gets it, I know Robert will get it.

FORGET ME NOT

Ann Plato

When in the morning’s misty hour,
When the sun beams gently o’er each flower;
When thou dost cease to smile benign,
And think each heart responds with thine,
When seeking rest among divine, 
                                    Forget me not.

When the last rays of twilight fall, 
And thou art pacing yonder hall; 
When mists are gathering on the hill,
Nor sound is heard save mountain rill,
When all around bids peace be still,
                                    Forget me not.

When the first star with brilliance bright,
Gleams lonely o’er the arch of night;
When the bright moon dispels the gloom,
And various are the stars that bloom,
And brighten as the sun at noon,
                                    Forget me not.

When solemn sighs the hollow wind,
And deepen’d thought enraps the mind;
If e’er thou doest in mournful tone,
E’er sigh because thou feel alone,
Or wrapt in melancholy prone,
                                    Forget me not. 

When bird does wait thy absence long,
Nor tend unto its morning song;
While thou art searching stoic page,
Or listening to an ancient sage,
Whose spirit curbs a mournful rage,
                                    Forget me not.

Then when in silence thou doest walk,
Nor being round with whom to talk;
When thou art on the mighty deep,
And do in quiet action sleep; 
If we no more on earth do meet,
                                    Forget me not.

When brightness round thee long shall bloom, 
And knelt remembering those in gloom;
And when in deep oblivion’s shade, 
This breathless, mouldering form is laid,
And thy terrestrial body staid,
                                     Forget me not.

“Should sorrow cloud thy coming years,
And bathe thy happiness in tears,
Remember, though we’re doom’d to part,
There lives one fond and faithful heart,
                        That will forget thee not.” 




++++++++++

For the Bible study I think maybe I'll work on the lesson (below, scroll down) from Romans a bit. 

Part of it in my mind is thinking about what it means to, let's say, an Evangelical Christian I once knew, compared to what Paul meant when he wrote it, what? maybe 55 to 60 AD? 

Countering my insistence that James is right, "faith without works is dead" and a Christian is bound to live a certain way, "strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being", a friend who described himself as an Evangelical Christian once told me I was wrong and, quoting the verse "if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved", and said all you have to do to be saved is accept Christ, confess him as Lord and believe God raised him from the dead.

His religious, faith, and spiritual concern was not Others, the poor and oppressed whom Jesus loved, but Himself, to be "Saved" and, again to quote Jerry Falwell, "as sure for heaven as if he was already there". As an Episcopalian, I think that's ridiculous and outrageous, I'm seriously problematic with it as a hollow and selfish excuse for religion. First, with the idea of being "saved": if the object of religion is to be saved, meaning get into heaven when I die, religion is rubbish, or to use Paul's word, σκύβαλον (look it up). That wasn't why Jesus came, he did not come to teach us to focus on Saving Ourselves so as to go to heaven when we die, he came to teach us to Live for Others; he came as Show and Tell, to tell us God's values (love God love neighbor) and to show us a godly life, himself the example of chesed, agapē, lovingkindness. When we become Christians - - officially at baptism, I suppose, as the church practices it, although Jesus would Take & Bless & Break & Give the Bread with unbaptized Gandhi - - when we become Christians we covenant to live life a certain way, specifically the Way of the Cross, a way of love and sacrifice. Being a Christian is, therefore, not what I believe, but how I live because of what I believe. And how I live because of what is Right, as Sunday's collect that I commented on yesterday prays, not in any way with an eye on earning or achieving or qualifying for afterlife. 

And Paul's idea of salvation was not "to say the right words and believe the right things" so as to be as sure for heaven (in the sky) as if you were already there, but Paul's belief that the End Time was imminent (as signaled by God's raising Jesus from death to life) and that only those who lived under the Creating God, the God of Israel - - God and Father of Jesus Christ - - would qualify to be citizens of the forthcoming Kingdom of God on earth, which would be ruled by Jesus Christ at his Second Coming. 

Again, Paul's mission as he saw it was to bring non-Jews into the faith of Christ (i.e., under the reign of the God of Israel who raised Jesus and would raise us also) so that when the End Time came (which, again, Paul was certain was imminent as shown by God's resurrecting Jesus, the first fruits of the upcoming General Resurrection, from death to life), one could, depending on how God judged one to have lived if dead, and to be living if still alive as Paul expected, be part of God's new kingdom on earth, which, with Jesus coming on the clouds to institute and lead it, would replace life on earth as known. 

Like Jesus as a man, Paul was a person of his age, his era. A flat-earther, Paul never had the stunning experience of being taken aback by peering through a telescope into the heavens


and seeing what all is out there, or of knowing that earth is a speck in a solar system that is on an outer edge of a galaxy of billions of stars like our sun, 


that, 100,000 light years across,


is one of some two-hundred-billion such galaxies. 

I'll add that, considering Paul's "ignorance" in life as it was two thousand years ago, God only knows what, two thousand years from Now (as we Now are two thousand years from Paul), people will look back and see how ignorant we were in our self-assumed worldly sophistication. 

So, what am I saying, what is all this for faith and religion in the 21st century? I'm not disparaging Christianity, except as it is blasphemed and depraved for reasons of Self instead of, as Jesus meant, lived for Others. I propose read, study, explore, discuss, learn, "seek the truth, come whence it may, cost what it will", to quote the inscription in the lintel over the library door of one of the (Episcopal) theological seminaries I attended forty years ago. 

And finally, combining my sentimentality, 
and Ann Plato's poem Forget Me Not, 
    around forget-me-not flowers, 
and my love for charismatic Christianity 
    with its moving praise songs, 
and the Romans lesson for Sunday, 
and our Acclamation of Faith
    Christ has died
    Christ is risen
    Christ will come again,
and the forget-me-nots once again, 
I will add the lovely mantra from the Taize Community
    Jesus, remember me
    when you come into your kingdom:



T+


The Epistle
Romans 10:5-15

Moses writes concerning the righteousness that comes from the law, that “the person who does these things will live by them.” But the righteousness that comes from faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say?

“The word is near you, 
on your lips and in your heart”
(that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. The scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”