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.

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Location: Amherst, Virginia, United States

Monday, April 11, 2005

The Light in the Wilderness

Daily Readings
Psalm 61 + Numbers 7:89-8:26 +Deuteronomy 1+ Matthew 17

Verse for the Day
The LORD your God, who goes before you, is the one who will fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your very eyes, and in the wilderness, where you saw how the LORD your God carried you, just as one carries a chld, all the way that you traveled until you reached this place. Deuteronomy 1:30,31

Daily Text Numbers 7:89; 8:1-3, 5, 13-15
89When Moses went into the tent of meeting to speak with the LORD, he would hear the voice speaking to him from above the mercy seat that was on the ark of the covenant from between the two cherubim; thus it spoke to him.

The LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 2Speak to Aaron and say to him: When you set up the lamps, the seven lamps shall give light in front of the lampstand. 3Aaron did so; he set up its lamps to give light in front of the lampstand, as the LORD had commanded Moses.
5 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 13Then you shall have the Levites stand before Aaron and his sons, and you shall present them as an elevation-offering to the LORD.
14 Thus you shall separate the Levites from among the other Israelites, and the Levites shall be mine. 15Thereafter the Levites may go in to perform service at the tent of meeting, once you have cleansed them and presented them as an elevation-offering.

The Light in the Wilderness
The confusion of the Tent of Meeting as being outside the camp or the outer court of the Tabernacle continues. Sometimes ‘Tent of Meeting’ is used as a reference to the whole of the tabernacle much as we would use the word ‘church’ to refer to the nave and sanctuary in a place of Christian worship. It may well be considered as referring both to the Tabernacle and a simple place of meeting outside the camp overseen by Joshua. Certainly, in Numbers 7:89, it refers to the Tabernacle for mercy seat and cherubim are referenced. Psalm 61, appointed for today, makes this same reference in verse 4. ”I will dwell in your tent forever; I will take refuge under the cover of your wings.”

The Tabernacle is now actively set up. The menorah’s seven lamps are put in place and lighted. The Levites are purified and consecrated. What has previously been commanded is now instituted. God is speaking to Moses from his ‘dwelling place’ with his people. The promise of Exodus 25:22 is lived out in Numbers 7:89. Moses no longer goes to the mountain to speak with God, but to the tabernacle, perhaps into the holy of holies. Aaron may be High Priest, but Moses is the one who speaks with God. This intimacy brings alive the imagery of the Holy of Holies. Not just one day a year, but whenever Moses speaks with God. This sounds like the ‘law written on the heart.’ This reminds one of the direct address that Jesus made to his heavenly father and encouraged his followers to make in the ‘Our Father.’ This is worship of and communion with the One God.

When Israel to the Wilderness
from Union Hymnal, No. 127. Copyright, 1932,
by the Central Conference of American Rabbis

Max Meyerhardt

When Israel to the wilderness
Had fled from Pharoaoh’s cruel might,
Th’ Eternal sent to lead them on,
A cloud by day, a fire by night.

And, guided by that heav’nly flame,
That beacon from the Lord’s own hand,
The chosen people safely reached
Their destined goal,--the Promised Land.

Yet, not alone in days of yore,
Has God His wondrous mercy shown
For still He grants to all mankind
A glorious light to lead them on.

A lamp of radiant, glowing hue,
By Israel borne in ev’ry clime,
Through fire and flood, through tears and blood,
With courage grand and faith sublime.

Oh, heav’nly lamp! Thy light shall shine
‘Till sin and hate from earth depart,
‘Till wrong shall fail and right prevail,
and justice rule the human heart.
377:171

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