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

Monday, March 28, 2005

The Lord's Offering

Daily Readings Psalm 48+Exodus 35:1-36:1+Leviticus 15+Matthew 4

Verse for the Day But Jesus answered, “It is written,‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4

Daily Text Exodus 35:1-3, 21,22,36:1
Moses assembled all the congregation of the Israelites and said to them: These are the things that the LORD has commanded you to do: 2Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a holy sabbath of solemn rest to the LORD; whoever does any work on it shall be put to death. 3You shall kindle no fire in all your dwellings on the sabbath day. 21And they came, everyone whose heart was stirred, and everyone whose spirit was willing, and brought the Lord’s offering to be used for the tent of meeting, and for all its service, and for the sacred vestments. 22So they came, both men and women; all who were of a willing heart brought brooches and earrings and signet rings and pendants, all sorts of gold objects, everyone bringing an offering of gold to the LORD.

Bezalel and Oholiab and every skillful one to whom the LORD has given skill and understanding to know how to do any work in the construction of the sanctuary shall work in accordance with all that the LORD has commanded.

The Lord’s Offering
In Exodus 31 the Sabbath is a last reminder for those who would build the Tabernacle. In Exodus 35, the point at which Moses convokes the building, the Sabbath observance is the first reminder. Always, Sabbath is held before the people of God. It also represents a chiastic form of repetition that is very common in ancient literature. Thus A-the tabernacle then the Sabbath is mentioned in AB order in chapter 31. When it is repeated in 35 it becomes B-the Sabbath, then A-the tabernacle. In 35 fire is prohibited outside the Tabernacle on the Sabbath and there is no known motivation for that. It simply becomes a part of the observance.

Bezalel and Oholiab are commissioned to be the artisans for the Tabernacle. The people are invited to give gifts of jewelry and precious things for the building of the Tabernacle and they do so as freely as they did so in the making of the Golden Calf, thus completing their repentance for that blasphemous act. Have you noticed that we are always willing to give for the making of something beautiful and more or less permanent. Maybe God has put that desire within us. This worship center, this place of divine presence was to be the locus of beauty in the lives of these nomadic peoples. It is from religion and art that the values of a culture are built and the people in this story gave of themselves for the development of each.

by Israel Zangwill

Bezalel, filled with wisdom to design
Stones, precious wood, rich-embroidered fabrics, gold,
Fed not the few with cunning manifold
Nor empty loveliness; his art divine
Set up a tabernacle as a sign
Of oneness for a rabble many-souled,
So that each span of desert should behold
A nomad people with a steadfast shrine.

But we, its sons, who wander in the dark,
Footsore, far-scattered, growing less and less,
What whiteness glooms our brotherhood to mark,
What promised land our journey’s end to bless!
We are, unless we build some shrine or ark,
A dying rabble in a wilderness.


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