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, June 04, 2005

Covenant Liturgy

Daily Readings
Psalm 81 + Joshua 24 + Hosea 3 + I Timothy 3

Quote of the Day
Without any doubt, the mystery of our religion is great:
God was revealed in flesh,vindicated in spirit,seen by angels,
proclaimed among Gentiles,believed in throughout the world,
taken up in glory. I Timothy 3:16

Daily Text: Joshua 24:1-4a, 19-21, 31
Then Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and summoned the elders, the heads, the judges, and the officers of Israel; and they presented themselves before God. 2And Joshua said to all the people, "Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Long ago your ancestors--Terah and his sons Abraham and Nahor--lived beyond the Euphrates and served other gods. 3Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the River and led him through all the land of Canaan and made his offspring many. I gave him Isaac; 4and to Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. 19But Joshua said to the people, "You cannot serve the LORD, for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins. 20If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you harm, and consume you, after having done you good." 21And the people said to Joshua, "No, we will serve the LORD!" 31Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua and had known all the work that the LORD did for Israel.

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

Covenant Liturgy
The dialogical form of Chapter 24 is so apparent, that the reader may easily pencil notes observing the change back and forth between the LORD, Joshua and the people. Scholars indicate that this script was probably utilized many times through the centuries. Certainly its message is a timeless one. YHWH was to be the only God that Israel served, and the people commit to that.

Joshua’s remarkable leadership in this must be noted. We have every reason from the book of Joshua to believe that the people served YHWH faithfully during the life of Joshua, but the faithful leader sees the possibility and anticipating a falling away after his passing, challenges the people so radically (vs. 19) that they commit to a written witness (vs. 26,27) of their covenant promise. And, in fact, verse 31 attests that the generation that remembered Joshua and the LORD’s work for Israel, faithfully served the LORD throughout their lifetimes. The remarkable matter here is that Joshua did not have to become a prophet. He anticipated a falling away and acted before it occurred to keep the people faithful following his demise. That is leadership! Joshua’s leadership is probably the high water mark of leadership in all of the biblical record. With the exception of his failure to ask God for direction concerning Gibeon (chapter 9), Joshua’s record is flawless when it comes to his service to the God of Moses. Not known for the faith of Abraham, or the courage of Moses, Joshua should be remembered for being a godly leader of people. Surely our God could use more like him. His ringing challenge to the people, “choose this day whom you will serve…but as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD,” has been preserved as an individual and corporate goal from that day to this.

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

Joshua At Schechem
Charles Reznikoff

You Hebrews are too snug in Ur,
said God; wander about waste paces,
north and south leave your dead;
let kings fight against you,
and the heavens rain fire and brimstone
on you. And it was so.
and God looked again and saw
the Hebrews with their sons and daughters
rich in flocks and herds,
with jewels of silver
and jewels of gold.
And God said, Be slaves
to Pharaoh. And it was so.
And God looked again and saw
the Hebrews at the fleshpots,
with fish to eat,
cucumbers and melons.
And God said, Be gone
into the wilderness by the Red Sea
and the wilderness of Shur and the wilderness
of Shin; let Amalek come upon you,
and fiery serpents bite you. And it was so.
And God looked again and saw in a land of brooks
and springs and fountains,
wheat and barley, the Hebrews,
in a land on which they did not labor,
in cities which they did not build,
eating of vineyards and olive trees
which they did not plant.
And God scattered them—
through the cities of the Medes,
beside the waters of Babylon;
they fed before Him into Egypt
and went down to the sea in ships;
the whale swallowed them,
the birds brought word of them to the king;
the young men met them with weapons of war,
the old men with proverbs—
and God looked and saw the Hebrews
citizens of the great cities,
talking Hebrew in every language under the sun.

(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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