Fr. James' Lectionary

The Lectionary is both a reading program for completing all of Holy Scripture on a one year schedule, and a daily comment on a portion of the day's reading wedded to a poem to give an added perspective on the theme.

Location: Amherst, Virginia, United States

Saturday, March 26, 2005

I Am the Lord your God

Lectionary Readings Psalm 46-- Exodus 33 -- Leviticus 12 -- Matthew 2

Verse for the Day God is our refuge and strength,a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1

Text Daily Exodus 33:12-16
12 Moses said to the LORD, ‘See, you have said to me, “Bring up this people”; but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, “I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.” 13Now if I have found favor in your sight, show me your ways, so that I may know you and find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.’ 14He said, ‘My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’ 15And he said to him, ‘If your presence will not go, do not carry us up from here. 16For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people, unless you go with us? In this way, we shall be distinct, I and your people, from every people on the face of the earth.’

I Am the LORD your God
The argument of the chapter is that because of Israel’s disobedience with the golden calf, God will no longer be present in Israel’s midst. As a result Moses establishes a tent of meeting outside the camp, a tent tended to not by Aaron and sons, but by Joshua. Here Moses struggles with God as did Abraham over Sodom. He does not give up until God fully forgives and restores the people. But in the midst of the struggle it becomes clear that God is willing to do away with this people and create a new people from Moses, much like he did with Noah in Genesis 7,8. In fact, he promises Moses that he will be present with him and give him rest (33:14). ‘Rest’ could suggest that he will take him to the Promised Land, but it is also reminiscent of Genesis 2:1-3. Here ‘rest’ represents completion of God’s work. It is what he has always wanted for the human part of the creation. The Garden of Eden was just such an idyllic understanding. God’s purpose for humankind is to bring them into perfect harmony and rest in God’s-self. This is what he offers Moses. So great is their intimacy that without the people Moses can have this sort of relationship to God. But Moses is having none of it. God himself has commanded Moses to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt into Canaan, and into Canaan they will go. He insists, “If your presence will not go, do not carry us up from here.” And then he argues for himself, including the people, that he will not know God’s favor unless all of them are led by God. “In this way, we shall be distinct, I and your people, from every people on the face of the earth.” Persistent altruism.

But he also wants God’s ‘rest,’ and that he pursues after he obtains God’s forgiveness and re-commitment to the covenant people. Moses has received the Ten Words and has internalized them. He struggles with God, and then he turns and desires to know the glory of God. “I am the LORD your God…” has been emblazoned on the heart and consciousness of this man.

The Priest
by James Oppenheim

Man of Song and Man of Science,
Truly you are as people on the outside of a house,
And one of you only sees that it is made of stone, and its windows of glass, and that fire
burns in the hearth,
And the other of you sees that the house is beautiful and very human,

But I have gone inside the house,
And I live with the host in that house
And have broken bread with him, and drunk his wine,
And seen the transfiguration that love and awe make in the brain. . .
For the house is the world, and the Lord is my host and my Father:
It is my Father’s house.

Enough? I see what is enough!
Machinery is enough for a Scientist,
And Beauty is enough for a Poet;
But in the hearts of men and women, and in the thirsty hearts of little children
There is a hunger, and there is an unappeasable longing,
For a Father and for the love of a Father. . .
For the root of a soul is mystery,
And the Night is mystery,
And in that mystery men would open inward into Eternity,
And know love, the Lord.
Blessed be his works, and his angels, and his sons crowned with his glory!


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