Skip to comments.This weekend from Lent and Beyond: Fr. Tim Fountain and David Ould
Posted on 04/09/2006 6:09:12 PM PDT by sionnsar
For yesterday and today from Lent and Beyond's Anglican Bloggers' Collaborative Lenten Meditations series, we have Past Due by Fr. Tim Fountain and Enter the King by David Ould. Fr. Fountain is the rector of Good Shepherd in Sioux Falls, SD, and David Ould is a seminarian in Australia and the author of the Drinking at the White Horse Inn blog. Don't miss either of these fine meditations.
Todays entry in the Anglican Bloggers Lenten devotional collaboration is by Lent & Beyonds own Tim Fountain, rector of Good Sheperd, Sioux Fall, South Dakota. Apologies for the posting delay.
Lent & Beyond Devotion for Saturday, April 8, 2006
The Rev. Tim Fountain, Sioux Falls, South Dakota
I just mailed off my property tax payment. Still grappling with the IRS on the income tax bill.
The American in me often squabbles with the Christian. As an American, I am prone to be critical of the government and want to know what it is doing with my money. But then I run into the subtle, nuanced New Testament take on taxes:
Romans 13:5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. 6This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are Gods servants, who give their full time to governing.
OK, not very subtle or nuanced. Necessary. And the authorities are Gods servants? Remarkable words from an early church on the outside of power and often on the wrong end of powers sword. Yet Paul writes of our obligation to pay taxes:
7 Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes
This business of obligation is on my mind a lot. My denomination is torn by various individuals and groups asserting rights, position and other justifications for actions and inactions over/against other individuals and groups. We proclaim anything but obligation to one another.
I opined on a blog site that we might benefit from a season in which we identify a few core obligations between various entities parishes and dioceses, dioceses and General Convention, and (this insight was added by another blogger) General Convention and the Anglican Communion. Then, we would have to fast from fighting for a few convention cycles and see what comes of the effort.
Where do we find sources for these obligations? Paul finishes his thought on obligations with two ideas, the first of which will appeal to the more liberal among us:
8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. 9The commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not covet, and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: Love your neighbor as yourself. 10Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
Love can get sloppy or, as in Archbishop Tutus great comment on Anglicanism, untidy. It means that elusive concepts like bonds of affection are more important than concrete uniformity. Love is measured in very earthy terms Paul here gives us absence of harm between neighbors (although we need to move very quickly to I Corinthians 13 to really flesh this out).
I think we might benefit from this obligation to render harmless love. OK, that is a poor and easily misconstrued pairing of words, but what I mean is a massive fast from efforts to root out and destroy those who frighten, annoy, offend or, at least in our perception, oppress us. It is an obligation to withhold the knockout punch, even if we are on the adrenalin high that comes at the edge of what we perceive as victory and to extend instead the hand of friendship, however awkwardly.
But before more conservative readers think that this is drifting off into all you need is love muzak, we must also give attention to Pauls second and concluding idea,
11 And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
We have obligations to the coming kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. Obligations to behave decently, as in the daytime. Obligations to focus on the demands of our returning Lord rather than our own passing passions. Obligations to be transformed to clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ.
I think we might benefit from this obligation to (stealing from the Benedictines) prefer nothing to Christ. We need another massive fast, this one from our gluttony of causes to advocate and resolutions to pass. A fast from what C.S. Lewis called, Christianity AND This is an obligation to find a few essentials and to practice shared advocacy of them, building on what is common rather than what divides. And these commonalities to which we are obligated, as Paul presents them, are transcendent truths not just earthly stuff we do together.
I just had a micro-glimpse of what these two kinds of obligation might look like. The Dean of our Cathedral accepted a call to move out of state. Our Bishop threw a deanery clergy party for him, and I couldnt go because of a standing family obligation. Then, there was a Sunday Evensong and farewell event and I couldnt get to that, either.
Then, the Bishop and his wife invited my wife and me to a third farewell dinner. We went, assuming it was another deanery event.
When we arrived, we realized that we were the only clergy couple there besides the Bishop, the Dean and their spouses. We had been invited because we were the only ones who couldnt get to the other events.
Now, there must have been a very strong obligation of love on the Bishops part. Im still pretty new to this diocese. Im also a theological minority here (well, almost anywhere in ECUSA). Its not like Im some majorly influential or desireable figure who had to be there. But the Bishop cared that I be there and was loving enough to create a special place for me.
I think that our Bishop acted on spiritual obligations as well. I think he was honoring his consecration promises to be a good pastor and colleague to his clergy. And, as a Native American, he might have been honoring an ancient insight that the circle is not complete until the last person arrives.
All I can tell you for sure is that I was deeply touched, humbled and inspired because someone felt an obligation to invite me to dinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, crucified, risen, ascended and coming again, your apostle wrote of our burden to love one another and to live as witnesses to your kingdom. We pray the Father to give us the Holy Spirit, without whom we cannot meet these obligations. We ask for grace to meet them in time, aware that the day is almost here. Deliver us from delinquency on our obligations to one another and to you. We pray this in your Name. Amen.
Todays Palm Sunday devotional is by David Ould of the Drinking at the WhiteHorse Inn blog.
Luke 19:28 And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29 When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, 30 saying, Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, Why are you untying it? you shall say this: The Lord has need of it. 32 So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. 33 And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, Why are you untying the colt? 34 And they said, The Lord has need of it. 35 And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. 36 And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. 37 As he was drawing nearalready on the way down the Mount of Olivesthe whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, 38 saying, Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest! 39 And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, Teacher, rebuke your disciples. 40 He answered, I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.
The shadow of the cross hangs long and hard over Jesus entry into Jerusalem. As we read through the gospels, in particular Luke, we are left in no doubts as to what awaits Him there. We have been waiting for this moment ever since we were told
Luke 9:51 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is where Jesus will be taken up. The language is that of ascension, or coronation, resonating with the Psalms of Ascents. From the moment that Jesus set his face to go to Jerusalem we have been waiting for his enthronement. And, at first sights, it appears that we have it. Or perhaps not.
29 When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, 30 saying, Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, Why are you untying it? you shall say this: The Lord has need of it. 32 So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. 33 And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, Why are you untying the colt? 34 And they said, The Lord has need of it.
The other gospel writers make it clear to us that there is direct reference here to the prophecy in Zechariah.
Zechariah 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
Here is the king of Israel and yet arrives on a donkey, not even that - a colt. He is humble. Perhaps this is not quite the king that the people are expecting. Nevertheless they come out of the city and treat him as the monarch. As He reaches Olivet (where later Luke will record his actual ascension) they can restrain themselves no longer and break into song.
38 saying, Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!
This time the reference is explicit. The disciples quote from Psalm 118 as they praise their king. But they sing more than they know. Lets have a look.
We pick up Psalm 118 a few verses before the disciples
Psalm 118:20 This is the gate of the LORD; the righteous shall enter through it.
So far so good. Off we go to the gate of the city but immediately theres a bit of a problem. The righteous shall enter into the city but righteousness isnt a quality that people have in abundance. What they need is a saviour. Good job then .
21 I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation.
But, of course, there are some who dont want this king who brings salvation.
22 The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.23 This is the LORDs doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. 24 This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
and so we reach our quote. It is quite obvious that this is the right psalm to quote. Here, at long last, is the one coming in the name of the LORD who brings righteousness.
25 Save us, we pray, O LORD! O LORD, we pray, give us success! 26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! We bless you from the house of the LORD. 27 The LORD is God, and he has made his light to shine upon us
And then, all of a sudden, the twist in the tail. The shift of paradigm as one picture of kingship is replaced with another so that we can truly see him as he really is. For the Psalm does not stop there. As we ascend to Jerusalem with Jesus we are not just on a sightseeing tour. There is a specific destination. Jesus has come to be enthroned and it is to his throne He will now go
Bind the festal sacrifice with cords, up to the horns of the altar!
Jesus will be enthroned, but his throne is to be an altar where he will be bound up with cords and sacrificed. His ascent to Jerusalem will take him all the way up the steps of the temple to the very horns of that altar where animals were sacrificed to atone for sin. Except, of course, He will not have a grand temple sacrifice since He is the humble king. He arrived on a donkey and He will not even be given the dignity of being killed in the temple, rather He will be taken outside the city to die there instead. The builders of the temple will reject Him but He does not need that place for He Himself is the cornerstone of a far greater temple built on that other hill and it is up the steps of that temple that He will soon ascend to take His crown.
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