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

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Acts of God

Daily Readings
Proverbs 21 + Joshua 4:1-5:1 + Deuteronomy 33 + Romans 15

Quote of the Day
May the God steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 15:5-6

Daily Text: Joshua 4:14, 15, 23, 24
14On that day the LORD exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they stood in awe of him, as they had stood in awe of Moses, all the days of his life. 15The LORD said to Joshua, 23For the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you crossed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we crossed over, 24so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, and so that you may fear the LORD your God forever."

Acts of God
All liturgy commemorates some historical occasion with its theological meaning intact and in its execution reenacts the complex of events. That is true for the Christian Eucharist that commemorates Christ, places the theology of rescue and expiation at its center and in the present reenacts it all. So it was for these exiled Jews remembering their crossing over into the land, understanding that God was with them always and reenacting in liturgy their own chosenness in the eyes and plan of God. This it was that has made and kept the Jews a people unique and always an expression of God’s care.

Chapter 4 is a puzzle. There are two major themes: the priests who carry the ark into the Jordan and stand there with it while the people pass over, and the stones that are set upon the west bank of the Jordan to stand as a witness for all time that God has done this. The priests and the ark are part of the theological content of the exilic liturgy. The stones have been replaced by the liturgy itself. Both are necessary. The puzzle exists in the historical web. That is, why give so much weight to these elements of that great crossing? And yet if we see it as historicized liturgy we can understand somewhat better.
These are the elements of recollection. It is how we remember the acts of God.

In the process Joshua became a beloved leader, one spoken to by God and followed by God’s people. The exodus, while not settled, was complete. They were out of Egypt in the promised land.

The Chosen Ones of Israel
Park Benjamin
1809-1864

The chosen ones of Israel are scatter’d far and wide:
Where flows the lordly Tiber, where rolls the Atlantic tide—
By Danube’s winding waters, by Hudson’s crystal springs,
Dwell the myriad descendants of the Prophets and the Kings.
Abroad along the valleys are their habitations found—
They are hunters in the forest, and tillers of the ground—
The rising sun beholds them in torrid realms afar,
And on their broken legions looks down the northern star.
In the old world’s crowded cities, in the prairies of the new,
Unchanged amid all changes, to their faith forever true—
Alike by Niger’s fountains and by Niagara’s flood
Still flow, unmix’d, the currents of the grand, heroic blood.
Ye mourn your lasting exile, your temple strewn in dust,
Yet forget not ye the promise of the righteous and the just—
Ye know ye shall be gathered, from every clime and shore,
And be again the chosen of Jehovah evermore.
From Assyria, Egypt, Elam—from Patmos, Cush, Shinar—
From Hamath, and the islands of foreign seas afar—
From all the earth’s four corners, where Israel’s children roam,
Shall the dispers’d of Judah throng to their long promis’d home.
And again, like some high mountain whose tops are crown’d with snow,
Shall the Temple’s thousand turrets in the golden sunset glow—
And again before their altars shall the congregations stand,
On thy plains, O lov’d Jerusalem! The happy, holy land!
And it shall come to pass that the remnant in that day,
Upon the Lord of Hosts above, the great I AM, shall stay:
And the escap’d of Jacob, from the paths which they have trod,
Shall return to him that smote them—your fathers’ mighty God!
411:491

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