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

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Ichabod

Daily Readings
Psalm 93 + I Samuel 4:1b-22 + Tobit 14 + Ezekiel 34:11-16

Quote of the Day
I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, but the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them with justice. Ezekiel 34:16

Daily Text: I Samuel 4:5-13, 18, 21-22
5When the ark of the covenant of the LORD came into the camp, all Israel gave a mighty shout, so that the earth resounded. 6When the Philistines heard the noise of the shouting, they said, "What does this great shouting in the camp of the Hebrews mean?" When they learned that the ark of the LORD had come to the camp, 7the Philistines were afraid; for they said, "Gods have come into the camp." They also said, "Woe to us! For nothing like this has happened before. 8Woe to us! Who can deliver us from the power of these mighty gods? These are the gods who struck the Egyptians with every sort of plague in the wilderness. 9Take courage, and be men, O Philistines, in order not to become slaves to the Hebrews as they have been to you; be men and fight."
10 So the Philistines fought; Israel was defeated, and they fled, everyone to his home. There was a very great slaughter, for there fell of Israel thirty thousand foot soldiers. 11The ark of God was captured; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died.
12 A man of Benjamin ran from the battle line, and came to Shiloh the same day, with his clothes torn and with earth upon his head. 13When he arrived, Eli was sitting upon his seat by the road watching, for his heart trembled for the ark of God. When the man came into the city and told the news, all the city cried out. 18When he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell over backward from his seat by the side of the gate; and his neck was broken and he died, for he was an old man, and heavy. He had judged Israel forty years. 21She named the child Ichabod, meaning, "The glory has departed from Israel," because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband. 22She said, "The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured."

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

Ichabod
The Ark of God is taken is battle! There is only one response from an Israelite—despair. The priests Hophni and Phineas are both killed on one day as was prophecied, Eli falls and dies when he hears about the ark, his daughter-in-law bears a son prematurely and names him Ichabod—the glory has departed. More than the loss of battle, more than the fact that their enemies now have the Ark of God's presence is the fear that God is gone. One of the drawbacks of God’s agreeing to live in a box is the Israelites tendency to believe that He did.

A Christian parallel to this heresy is our tendency to call a building ‘the Church.’ We put our money where our mouth is and like three meals a day our resources disappear into its maw. But God has been clear. He resides within us. The Church is not a building, but the people, the congregation of the faithful. God has tried to create a new thing among his people, but one wonders if we ever see anything new under the sun.

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

Ichabod
John Greenleaf Whittier
1807-1892

Daniel Webster was a great champion of the anti-slavery movement in the United States. But to preserve the Union and to give the Northern states time to prepare for war he agreed to a compromise in the Senate with the Fugitive Slave Law that allowed slave hunters to roam throughout the Union recovering runaways. John Greenleaf Whittier, for whom Webster was a hero, was stricken and wrote Ichabod to express his dismay. One might say, that while God had not departed, God’s principle (and one of His principal’s) had departed. It was a sad day.

So fallen! So lost! the light withdrawn
Which once he wore!
The glory from his gray hairs gone
Forevermore!

Revile him not, the Tempter hath
A snare for all;
And pitying tears, not scorn and wrath,
Befit his fall!

Oh, dumb be passion’s stormy rage,
When he who might
Have lighted up and led his age,
Falls back in night.

Scorn! would the angels laugh, to mark
A bright soul driven,
Fiend-goaded, down the endless dark,
From hope and heaven!

Let not the land once proud of him
Insult him now,
Nor brand with deeper shame his dim,
Dishonored brow.

But let its humbled sons, instead,
From sea to lake,
A long lament, as for the dead,
In sadness make.

Of all we loved and honored, naught
Save power remains;
A fallen angel’s pride of thought,
Still strong in chains.

All else is gone; from those great eyes
The soul has fled:
When faith is lost, when honor dies,
The man is dead!

Then, pay the reverence of old days
To his dead fame;
Walk backward, with averted gaze,
And hide the shame!
428:70

(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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