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

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Confession and Amendment of Life

Daily Readings
Ecclesiastes 1 + Judges 10:1-16 + Hosea 13 + Titus 3

Quote of the Day
After a first and second admonition, have nothing more to do with anyone who causes divisions, since you know that such a person is perverted and sinful, being self-condemned. Titus 3:10, 11

Daily Text: Judges 10:10-16
10 So the Israelites cried to the LORD, saying, "We have sinned against you, because we have abandoned our God and have worshiped the Baals." 11And the LORD said to the Israelites, "Did I not deliver you from the Egyptians and from the Amorites, from the Ammonites and from the Philistines? 12The Sidonians also, and the Amalekites, and the Maonites, oppressed you; and you cried to me, and I delivered you out of their hand. 13Yet you have abandoned me and worshiped other gods; therefore I will deliver you no more. 14Go and cry to the gods whom you have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your distress." 15And the Israelites said to the LORD, "We have sinned; do to us whatever seems good to you; but deliver us this day!" 16So they put away the foreign gods from among them and worshiped the LORD; and he could no longer bear to see Israel suffer.

Lectio What one word or phrase from the Daily Text leaps out at you? ‘Comment’ below.

Confession and Amendment of Life
The familiar formula appears again—Israel has sinned, and God turns them over to their enemies, the people repent, a deliverer is raised, and the oppression is lifted. Except that this time there is an addition made that is marked within this passage. When the Israelites confess their sin, God in direct address charges them with abandonment and promises never to deliver again. They have gone too far, too many times. Their memories of their allegiance to the God of Israel are too short. God tells them to ‘cry to the gods’ they have chosen for deliverance. If they are so wonderful, let them provide relief from the oppressing neighbors.
But Israel will not be deterred. Knowing God has no intention of delivering them this time, they repent anyway and putting away their foreign gods worship the LORD. And then the editor pens this note: “and he (YHWH) could no longer bear to see Israel suffer.” Brown says this, “Christians, who believe that Jesus was the perfect revelation of God (John 1:18), must reject a hermeneutic that distingushes (sic) between ‘the God of the OT’ and ‘the God of the NT,’ especially by referring falsely and pejoratively to the God of the OT as a God of wrath and vengeance (426:221).” If God is God and God is one, then even the suggestion that there are two different gods in the OT and NT is blasphemy. No, the God of love seen through Jesus is the God of love we see through the eyes of the Deuteronomist in the book of Judges. But note that this God of love requires that his people serve the God of Israel and not other gods. Note, this God of love requires confession of sin and amendment of life. This is not a god of radical inclusion who winks at sin and wraps everyone in loving arms regardless of whom and what they are. This is the same God who took sin so seriously that he was willing to come and die himself upon a human-supplied cross at the hands of those who cared more for their own prerogatives than they did for God. This loving God consistently expects confession of sin and amendment of life in order for the costly redemption God has provided to become efficacious. Confession and amendment of life, like steadfast love (hesed), is required in both Hebrew and Greek testaments.

Meditatio What would you add to this commentary on the Daily Text? ‘Comment’ below.

A Hymn to God the Father
Ben Jonson
1573?-1637

Hear me, O God!
A broken heart
Is my best part:
Use still Thy rod,
That I may prove,
Therein, Thy love.

If Thou hadst not
Been stern to me,
But left me free,
I had forgot
Myself and Thee.

For, sin’s so sweet,
As minds ill-bent
Rarely repent,
Unless they meet
Their punishment.

Who more can crave
Than Thou hast done?
Thou gav’st a Son
To free a slave,
First made of naught,
With all since bought.

Sin, death, and hell
His glorious Name
Quite overcame;
Yet I rebel,
And slight the same.

But, I’ll come in
Before my loss
Me farther toss;
As sure to win
Under His cross
407:290

(Alternative poem? Include under ‘comment’ below.)

Oratio Conspire to respond with an act of kindness for someone you encounter today. Make it loving, low key and low risk. Hold a door, clean a car, give a flower, notice the unnoticed, make Christ’s love real. Write your experience below under ‘Comment.’

Contemplatio Enjoy what God is doing through you.

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