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, June 11, 2005

Fear and Incompetence Notwithstanding

Feast of St. Barnabas

Daily Readings
Psalm 88 + Judges 7:1-8:3 + Hosea 10 + II Timothy 4

Quote of the Day
Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; breakup your fallow ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you. Hosea 10:12

Daily Text: Judges 7:2-7, 9-18
2The LORD said to Gideon, "The troops with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand. Israel would only take the credit away from me, saying, 'My own hand has delivered me.' 3Now therefore proclaim this in the hearing of the troops, 'Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return home.'" Thus Gideon sifted them out; twenty-two thousand returned, and ten thousand remained. 4Then the LORD said to Gideon, "The troops are still too many; take them down to the water and I will sift them out for you there. When I say, 'This one shall go with you,' he shall go with you; and when I say, 'This one shall not go with you,' he shall not go." 5So he brought the troops down to the water; and the LORD said to Gideon, "All those who lap the water with their tongues, as a dog laps, you shall put to one side; all those who kneel down to drink, putting their hands to their mouths, you shall put to the other side." 6The number of those that lapped was three hundred; but all the rest of the troops knelt down to drink water. 7Then the LORD said to Gideon, "With the three hundred that lapped I will deliver you, and give the Midianites into your hand. Let all the others go to their homes."
9 That same night the LORD said to him, "Get up, attack the camp; for I have given it into your hand. 10But if you fear to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah; 11and you shall hear what they say, and afterward your hands shall be strengthened to attack the camp." Then he went down with his servant Purah to the outposts of the armed men that were in the camp. 12The Midianites and the Amalekites and all the people of the East lay along the valley as thick as locusts; and their camels were without number, countless as the sand on the seashore. 13When Gideon arrived, there was a man telling a dream to his comrade; and he said, "I had a dream, and in it a cake of barley bread tumbled into the camp of Midian, and came to the tent, and struck it so that it fell; it turned upside down, and the tent collapsed." 14And his comrade answered, "This is no other than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, a man of Israel; into his hand God has given Midian and all the army." 15When Gideon heard the telling of the dream and its interpretation, he worshiped; and he returned to the camp of Israel, and said, "Get up; for the LORD has given the army of Midian into your hand."
16 After he divided the three hundred men into three companies, and put trumpets into the hands of all of them, and empty jars, with torches inside the jars, 17he said to them, "Look at me, and do the same; when I come to the outskirts of the camp, do as I do. 18When I blow the trumpet, I and all who are with me, then you also blow the trumpets around the whole camp, and shout, 'For the LORD and for Gideon!'"


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

Fear and Incompetence Notwithstanding
Two thirds of Gideon’s force goes home when they receive permission to go if they are afraid. Of the ten thousand remaining the LORD sets up a test and with it picks the 300 least alert, least military in bearing, least prepared to fight and with them wins the battle.
The armies of Gideon, all 300 of them, are camped opposite the Midianites whose camel troops alone seem more than the sand of the sea. The LORD invites Gideon, if he is afraid, to go down stealthily into the camp. Obviously he is fearful for he goes and coming close to a couple sentries hears one regale the other with a dream and its interpretation that Gideon will roll right over Midian’s forces. Gideon doesn’t wait further. He is now convinced that God is going to do more than rain water on a fleece. He takes his men in three small companies and surrounds the camp, with ram’s horns in one hand and a torch covered by a jar in the other. With great fanfare they the blow the trumpets, break the jars and stand while the Midianites destroy themselves and then flee toward the Jordan River with the emboldened Israelites galumphing in hot pursuit.

How often we without direction attempt to do the LORD’s work with Gideon’s incompetent army. If only we would step out on faith, how much He could do with us!
The lesson that God can do much with a few has not been lost.

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

Lines Written in Her Breviary
Ste. Theresa, 1515-1582; tr. By
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Let nothing disturb thee,
Nothing affright thee;
All things are passing;
God never changeth;
Patient endurance
Attaineth to all things;
Who God possesseth
In nothing is wanting;
Alone God sufficeth.
407:130

(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.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Bald Skepticism

Daily Readings
Psalm 87 + Judges 6 + Hosea 9 + II Timothy 3

Quote of the Day
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it, and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
II Timothy 3:14,15

Daily Text: Judges 6:13, 36-40
13Gideon answered him, "But sir, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our ancestors recounted to us, saying, 'Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?' But now the LORD has cast us off, and given us into the hand of Midian." 36Then Gideon said to God, "In order to see whether you will deliver Israel by my hand, as you have said, 37I am going to lay a fleece of wool on the threshing floor; if there is dew on the fleece alone, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that you will deliver Israel by my hand, as you have said." 38And it was so. When he rose early next morning and squeezed the fleece, he wrung enough dew from the fleece to fill a bowl with water. 39Then Gideon said to God, "Do not let your anger burn against me, let me speak one more time; let me, please, make trial with the fleece just once more; let it be dry only on the fleece, and on all the ground let there be dew." 40And God did so that night. It was dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground there was dew.


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

Bald Skepticism
What a story! Gideon is inheritor to all the YHWH history, yet his own father is a Baal follower, maybe a priest of Baal, for the altar of Baal and the sacred pole are his father’s. This gives us a clear insight into how far the Israelites did stray from worship of their own God. The envoy of Yahweh appears to Gideon and announces that God is with him. Here is an honest response! If YHWH is with us, why then has all this happened to us? Oppression by the Midianites, harrassing by these damnable camel riders, living like rats in holes in the ground? But the envoy and YHWH himself, coming in a now you see me (the envoy) now you don’t (YHWH himself) pattern convinces Gideon that he is indeed in touch with the Almighty, convinced enough to tear down the altar of Baal and the sacred pole and completely destroy them in honoring this same YHWH.

Convinced, but still skeptical Gideon asks one last proof. A fleece wet from dew with the surrounding ground dry. Done. But then the kicker, the reverse, the fleece dry with the surrounding ground wet! “With the physical properties of fleece lying exposed overnight on bare rock, the differentials of condensation and evaporation necessary to give rise to the story are entirely understandaable; fishermen living on one of the streamless and springless Desert Islands have obtained sufficent water for their livelihood by spreading out fleece in the evening and wringing dew from them in the morning. The true miracle is the reverse of the process, and that’s what young Gideon had required (Boling, 424:141).” But then, what?

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

O Sing Unto God
Madeleine L’Engle

O sing unto God
and sing praises unto his Name
magnify him that rideth upon the heavens
praise him in his name
JAH!
shout it
cry it aloud upon the wind
take the tail of his steed
and fling across the sky
in his wild wake
JAH!
he cannot be caught
he cannot be fled
nor his knowledge escaped
the light of his Name
blinds the brilliance of stars
JAH!
catch the falling dragon
ride between his flailing wings
leap between the jaws of the lion
grasp the horn of the unicorn
calling with mighty voice
JAH!
caught in star flame
whipped by comet lash
rejoice before him
cry above the voices of the cherubim
shout alongside the seraphim
JAH!
bellowing joy behind kings
scattered by the quaking of his hills
fleeing before his fire
rush like snow through his thunderous flame
crying with gladness
adoration of his Name
He is Lord
JAH!
2:6

(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.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Mother of Israel

Daily Readings
Psalm 86 + Judges 5 + Hosea 8 + II Timothy 2

Quote of the Day
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth. II Timothy 2:15

Daily Text: Judges 5:1, 4, 7, 23-24, 28, 31
Then Deborah and Barak son of Abinoam sang on that day, saying:
4 ‘LORD, when you went out from Seir,
when you marched from the region of Edom,
the earth trembled,
and the heavens poured,
the clouds indeed poured water.
7The peasantry prospered in Israel,
they grew fat on plunder,
because you arose, Deborah,
arose as a mother in Israel.
23 ‘Curse Meroz, says the angel of the LORD,
curse bitterly its inhabitants,
because they did not come to the help of the LORD,
to the help of the LORD against the mighty.
24 ‘Most blessed of women be Jael,
the wife of Heber the Kenite,
of tent-dwelling women most blessed.
28 ‘Out of the window she peered,
the mother of Sisera gazed* through the lattice:
“Why is his chariot so long in coming?
Why tarry the hoofbeats of his chariots?”
31 ‘So perish all your enemies, O LORD!
But may your friends be like the sun as it rises in its might.’
And the land had rest for forty years.

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

Mother of Israel
This ancient piece of writing—Judges five—the song of Deborah, gives insight into Israel during this time of judges that we have from no other source. Deborah’s organization of the people is credited in vss. 6,7 with a growing strength among the tribes that threatened the Canaanite hegemony in the plains, and allowed even the peasantry to grow fat on plunder. Perhaps this was the reason for Sisera’s attack. Whatever its motivation, it was again Deborah’s wisdom, foresight and ability to command that allowed the tribes to be ready and to catch Sisera in a pincer movement from north and south at the flooded Wadi Kishon. Rich and poor alike (vs. 10) benefited. In beautiful couplets, the poem contrasts a victorious mother in Israel, Deborah, with the mourning mother of Sisera, a curse on Meroz contrasted with a blessing on Jael, daughter of Israel. Men were the commanders, women were the turning points, decisive, sensitive, mourning, celebrating. Deborah finally sings for the perishing of all the Lord’s enemies and the flourishing of all of his friends, vs. 31. After the singing was over, the observation of the author was that …”the land had rest forty years.”

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

Meroz
(Judges v.23)
George S. Outram
1805-1856

The sullen waters of earth’s strangest sea
Roll o’er the plain where once Gomorrah’s towers
Rose in the sunlight. Huge misshapen mounds
Attest the dignity of Babylon.
One yet may muse upon the plains of Troy:
“Here fought Achilles; here was Hector slain.”
And still the beautiful Palmyra shows
Her graceful shaft and broken colonnade.
But, of that city which people cursed
In answer to the charge of Deborah
There is no sign remaining—not a stone.
No legendary voice is heard to say:
“Here Meroz stood, the pathless city stood.”
Her very name is blotted from the map;
And none would know that Meroz ever was,
But from the song which tells us of her sin
And of her doom. She dared not take a part
In that dark day of peril and rebuke.
She feared the iron hand of Sisera
And Jabin’s bloody vengeance; and she stood
Halting and neuter in the hour of strife.
And so she fell. Her cattle drooped and died;
Her fields of corn were blasted by the wind;
Her people sickened at the Angel’s touch,
And slowly wasted into skeletons.
Houses were tenantless, and hearts were cold
And silent as the grave; no man drew near
To tender counsel, help, or sympathy.
So Meroz passed away. But not, it seems,
In one dread moment, as when Korah died;
But as the wife of Lot, a monument
Of warning for a while. In after days
Fathers would stand and point their children’s eyes
To Meroz, and her rafters, and her tombs;
And say, “My child, that place refused her help
When God and Jabin wrestled on the field.
With their houses all that day of storm
Her children tarried, watching who should win,
That she might hail the victor with her songs.
And so she perished, as each lukewarm soul
Who eyes two lords, and is to neither true,
Shall die, unpitied and abhorred by all.”
411:133

(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.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Stung by Honey Bee and Gored by Wild Goat

Daily Readings
Psalm 85 + Judges 4 + Hosea 6:11b-7:16 + II Timothy 1

Quote of the Day
I will listen to what the LORD God is saying,
for he is speaking peace to his faithful people
and to those who turn their hearts to him. Psalm 85:8

Daily Text: Judges 4:1-3
The Israelites again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, after Ehud died. 2So the LORD sold them into the hand of King Jabin of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor; the commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth-ha-goiim. 3Then the Israelites cried out to the LORD for help; for he had nine hundred chariots of iron, and had oppressed the Israelites cruelly twenty years.

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

Stung by Honey Bee and Gored by Wild Goat
This little story is so fascinating that it is very difficult to choose a short passage. The Hebrew is so colorful and descriptive that it seems likely that this was a story told both children and adults for amusement, for hope and for the joy of national identification. Deborah, which means ‘Honey Bee, ’with God’s help stung the enemy causing total defeat, every man including their powerful General, Sisera. Barak, ‘Lightning,’ was the Israelite general who led the successful charge down on the powerful army with 900 iron chariots! But those chariots, if the parallels are accurate, became mired in the waters of the Wadi Kishon, just like the Egyptian chariots were mired in the mud of the Red Sea. If we can take a clue from 5:4, 20, 21 we might conclude that the heavens opened and rain flooded the battlefield, perhaps even as far as the Oak in Zaananim, vs. 11, Thus God confounded Israel’s enemies and they panicked and fled back toward their home city.

Sisera, in his panic fled north by himself. Perhaps it was pouring rain as is suggested in 5:20, 21. If so, by the time he arrived outside the tent of Jael, wife of Heber the Kenite he would have been exhausted, chilled, defeated emotionally, spiritually and physically. Welcomed by the wife of his ally, who is a Jewish woman married to Heber, Sisera is concerned only that she tell no man. The secret in this famous tale is that it is not by the hand of man that the victory comes, but by the hand of God and the hand of a woman—two women, truth to tell. This woman’s name, Jael, means ‘Wild Goat,’ and I can hear now the uncontrolled laughter of the children as they hear this familiar tale. Even the name suggests that this woman, loyal to her own people, rather than neutral as was her husband, Heber, was no ordinary woman, but one full of life, capable of judgement and immediate action. In exile, the Hebrew people would take hope, for the odds against them were also insurmountable until YHWH, God of Israel took a hand.

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

from The Song of Deborah and Barak
George Wither
1588-1667
1.
Sing praises, Israel, to the Lord,
That thee avengèd so,
When to the fight with free accord,
The people forth did go.
You Kings, give ear,
You Princes, hear,
While to the Lord I raise
My voice aloud,
And sing to God,
The Lord of Israel, praise.

7.
Arise, O Deborah, arise,
Rise, rise, and sing a song;
Abinoam’s son, O Barak, rise;
Thy captives haste along:
Their princes all
By him made thrall,
To the survivor be,
To triumph on
The mighty One,
The Lord vouchsafèd me.

12.
With them the Canaanitish kings
At Tana’ch fought that day,
Close by Megiddo’s water-springs,
Yet bore no prize away.
For, lo! The stars
Fought in thieir spheres;
‘Gainst Sisera fought they.
And some (by force)
The water-course
Of Kishon swept away.

15.
But, blest be Jael, Heber’s spouse,
The Kenite; blest be she,
More than all women are, of those
That use in tents to be.
To him did she
Give milk, when he
Did water only wish;
And butter set,
For him to eat,
Upon a lordly dish.

16.
She in her left hand took a nail,
and rais’d up in the right
A workman’s hammer, wherewithal
She Sisera did smite;
His head she took,
When she had struck
His piercèd temples through;
He fell withal,
And in the fall
He at her feet did bow.

1.
Sing praises, Israel, to the Lord,
That thee avengèd so,
When to the fight with free accord,
The people forth did go.
You Kings, give ear,
You Princes, hear,
While to the Lord I raise
My voice aloud,
And sing to God,
The Lord of Israel, praise.
411:130

(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.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Assassin

Daily Readings
Psalm 84 + Judges 3:7-31 + Hosea 6:1-11a + I Timothy 6

Quote of the Day
“Come, let us return to the LORD; for it is he who has torn, and he will heal us; he has struck down, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him. Hosea 6:1,2 [Earliest reference to resurrection, 8th century]

Daily Text: Judges 3:14-19
14So the Israelites served King Eglon of Moab eighteen years. 15But when the Israelites cried out to the LORD, the LORD raised up for them a deliverer, Ehud son of Gera, the Benjaminite, a left-handed man. The Israelites sent tribute by him to King Eglon of Moab. 16Ehud made for himself a sword with two edges, a cubit in length; and he fastened it on his right thigh under his clothes. 17Then he presented the tribute to King Eglon of Moab. Now Eglon was a very fat man. 18When Ehud had finished presenting the tribute, he sent the people who carried the tribute on their way. 19But he himself turned back at the sculptured stones near Gilgal, and said, "I have a secret message for you, O king." So the king said, "Silence!" and all his attendants went out from his presence.


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

Assassin
Three judges are named in this chapter; Othniel, Ehud and Shamgar. Little content of their time in office is given, with the exception of the story in our portion. But the pattern is clear. Israel did what was evil, God gave them over to be ruled by an oppressing monarch, the people finally turned in despair to God and he provided a deliverer, a saviour who was gifted in war and maybe wise in counsel. This deliverer or judge after delivering the people served as leader until his or her death. The story of Ehud, the Benjamite, a left-handed man, assassin, is gripping. Through deception he manages to be alone with Eglon the Moabite king and he delivers to him ‘a message from God’—a two edged sword through the belly. In the ensuing battle Ehud wrests control from the Moabites and provides three generations of peace to his people. God, it seems, uses any means.

It has often been said that history is written by the victor, and by that is meant that all of the ‘right’ is claimed by the winner. For example, the U. S. claims that its wars have primarily been in response to aggression, but scores of times we have been the aggressor. For example, we did not end up with one-third of Mexico, because they gave it to us. But our history is written so that the Battle of the Alamo makes heroes of our brave men. Biblical history, for some reason, is not written this way. That history reveals all of the nation’s warts. They lose their battles because of their sin. They win battles, because the LORD is on their side! They have become a unique people in the history of the world, but it is not on the basis of their history. Their history, as we see it in the bible, is a theological treatise. That is, it documents their relationship to God first and to nations incidentally. And it is for that God relationship that this people is known.

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


Monsters
Tamara Spring Hubbard

I like to think myself different
as I light a white candle
and wave a white flag.

But what’s so different
between us versus them,
and me versus him?
what is so hidden
in blood and bone and skin?

Especially
when I gather stones,
same as them.
Unpublished

(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.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Complexity

Daily Readings
Psalm 83 + Judges 2:6-3:6 + Hosea 5 + I Timothy 5

Quote of the Day
And whoever does not provide for relatives, and especially for family members, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. I Timothy 5:8

Daily Text: Judges 2:7, 10-11, 14-16, 18-19, 20-23
7The people worshiped the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great work that the LORD had done for Israel. 10Moreover, that whole generation was gathered to their ancestors, and another generation grew up after them, who did not know the LORD or the work that he had done for Israel. 11Then the Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and worshiped the Baals; 14So the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he gave them over to plunderers who plundered them, and he sold them into the power of their enemies all around, so that they could no longer withstand their enemies. 15Whenever they marched out, the hand of the LORD was against them to bring misfortune, as the LORD had warned them and sworn to them; and they were in great distress. 16Then the LORD raised up judges, who delivered them out of the power of those who plundered them. 18Whenever the LORD raised up judges for them, the LORD was with the judge, and he delivered them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge; for the LORD would be moved to pity by their groaning because of those who persecuted and oppressed them. 19But whenever the judge died, they would relapse and behave worse than their ancestors, following other gods, worshiping them and bowing down to them. They would not drop any of their practices or their stubborn ways. 20So the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel; and he said, "Because this people have transgressed my covenant that I commanded their ancestors, and have not obeyed my voice, 21I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations that Joshua left when he died." 22In order to test Israel, whether or not they would take care to walk in the way of the LORD as their ancestors did, 23the LORD had left those nations, not driving them out at once, and had not handed them over to Joshua.
Lectio What one word or phrase from the Daily Text leaps out at you? ‘Comment’ below.

Complexity
Joshua 24:28-31 is the prologue for this chapter, basically repeated here in verses 6-10. The result is the appointment of judges, men whose life and gifts allow God to use them to give respite to the unfaithful who continue to be God’s chosen people. Finally, we come to the final four verses of chapter that give the substance to the chapter. In those days following Joshua and all who have known God’s working during the days of Joshua, God allows the surrounding nations to test Israel’s faithfulness to the covenant and finds them wanting. Beyond that the Deuteronomist goes on to say that God left those nations in place specifically to test Israel’s faithfulness. This creates an anomaly, because our understanding to this point is not that God left the nations in place to test Israel, but that Israel failed to follow God’s command and chose not to drive these nations out.

Is there some attempt here to use 2:23-3:6 to counteract chapter one of Judges? At least for us in the 21st century, the people failed or God arranged for them to fail. How can it be both? And yet, that contradiction seems to stand in the text. It is a prime example of a textual seam, that is, evidence of more than one editor, editors with differing theological presuppositions. Either way, failing to follow God’s command, or tested by God, the Israelites fail the test.

As in so many experiences in life, we can only know the meaning of what happens in the present, by looking back later and interpreting that past. And still we do not know how it is that God works or worked. We only surmise and attempt to move on with that surmise as our learning. Maturity often requires complexity, when simplicity and straightforwardness is what we desire.

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

Simple Gifts
Shaker song, 18th century

‘Tis the gift to be simple,
‘tis the gift to be free,
‘tis the gift to come down
where we ought to be,
and when we find ourselves
in the place just right,
‘twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gained
to bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed,
to turn, turn, will be our delight
till by turning, turning we come round right.
423:554

(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.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Transitional Leadership

Daily Readings
Psalm 82 + Judges 1:1-2:5 + Hosea 4 + I Timothy 4

Quote of the Day
For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, provided it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by God’s word and by prayer. I Timothy 4:4,5

Daily Text: Judges 1:1, 2:1-5
After the death of Joshua, the Israelites inquired of the LORD, "Who shall go up first for us against the Canaanites, to fight against them?"

Now the angel of the LORD went up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, "I brought you up from Egypt, and brought you into the land that I had promised to your ancestors. I said, 'I will never break my covenant with you. 2For your part, do not make a covenant with the inhabitants of this land; tear down their altars.' But you have not obeyed my command. See what you have done! 3So now I say, I will not drive them out before you; but they shall become adversaries to you, and their gods shall be a snare to you." 4When the angel of the LORD spoke these words to all the Israelites, the people lifted up their voices and wept. 5So they named that place Bochim, and there they sacrificed to the LORD.

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

Transitional Leadership
Chapter one through verse five of chapter two is an historical rendering of some of the settling experience of each of the Cisjordan tribes save that of Issachar. The picture created in Judges of one of the tribes settling their own inheritance city by city, town by town, with little change in the settlement patterns of the existing peoples is quite different from the overall view given in Joshua. There the idea is floated that Joshua pacified the land and then distributed it. In Judges a history, confirmed by archaeology, of a slow, limited settling is given. God is with them, yes, but this is the generation after the one that knew Joshua and they have forgotten the compelling nature of the covenant made with YHWH. They do not drive out the existing peoples either because they do not or because they cannot. The theological message is that they have forgotten YHWH.

Chapter one is preface to the real beginning of the book of the Judges in 2:6. It gives background, sets the stage, prepares the reader. The angel of the LORD, one might read the LORD himself, went from Gilgal to Bochim or Bethel. This may be a reference to the move of the tabernacle from Gilgal, just across the Jordan, to Bethel in the heart of the newly emerging political entity. The theology is clear. The LORD has brought the people into the land, and kept his promise, but they have failed to keep theirs and as a result God will not drive the existing peoples out, allowing them to be adversaries. The people heard this discouraging summation and wept. They knew it was so. Throughout chapter one the recital is that Judah could not drive out the inhabitants of the plain, Manasseh did not drive out the inhabitants, Ephraim did not drive out the Canaanites, Zebulun did not drive out the inhabitants, Asher, Naphtali, Dan….The time was troubled, transitional, difficult, discouraging. Into this mix step the judges, beginning with Othniel, the son-in-law of Caleb. Ecclesiasticus memorializes them in 46:11, 12.

The judges also, with their
respective names,
whose hearts did not fall into
idolatry
And who did not turn away from the LORD
may their memory be blessed!
May their bones send forth new
life from where they lie,
and may the names of those
who have been honored
live again in their children!

The equal of Joshua they are not, but they are men of their times used by God to advance the cause of their people. Such are needed in every generation, including our own.

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

Cardinal Wolsey’s Farewell
from “King Henry VIII,” Act III, sc. 2
William Shakespeare

Farewell! A long farewell, to all my greatness!
This is the state of man: to-day he puts forth
The tender leaves of hopes; to-morrow blossoms
And bears his blushing honours thick upon him;
The third day comes a frost, a killing frost;
And, when he thinks, good easy man, full surely
His greatness is a-ripening, nips his root,
And then he falls, as I do. I have ventured,
Like little wanton boys that swim on bladders,
This many summers in a sea of glory,
But far beyond my depth: my high-blown pride
At length broke under me, and now has left me,
Weary and old with service, to the mercy
Of a rude stream, that must for ever hide me.
Vain pomp and glory of this world, I hate ye:
I feel my heart new open’d. O! how wretched
Is that poor man that hangs on prince’s favours!
There is, betwixt that smile we would aspire to,
That sweet aspect of princes, and their ruin,
More pangs and fears than wars or women have—
And when he falls, he falls like Lucifer,
Never to hope again.
407:980

(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.