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, August 27, 2005

Settling the Score

Daily Readings
Psalm 119:41-56 + I Kings 2 + I Chronicles 20 + Jeremiah 15

Quote of the Day
Therefore thus says the LORD: If you turn back, I will take you back, and you shall stand before me. If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless, you shall serve as my mouth. It is they who will turn to you, not you who will tun to them. Jeremiah 15:19

Daily Text: I Kings 2

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

Settling the Score
“Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” These were not the words of David as he was ‘about to go the way of all the earth.’ Rather his last recorded words to Solomon were personal. ‘Be strong, be courageous.’ Serve the LORD; deal loyally with the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite, and bring the gray heads of Joab and Shimei down with blood to Sheol!

Fortunately, for David and for us, these are not the things we remember of him. We remember the soaring phrases of the psalms. His music is his legacy. Before the time of the prophets and the messiah, this man of God somehow kept his knowledge of God and his knowledge of humankind in separate compartments, so separate that to move from one to the other today is to guarantee discomfort, contradiction and confusion.

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

The Harp the Monarch Minstrel Swept
George Noel Gordon, Lord Byron

The harp the monarch minstrel swept,
The king of men, the loved of Heaven,
Which music hallowed while she wept
O’er tones her heart of hearts had given,
Redoubled be her tears, its chords are riven!
It softened men of iron mould,
It gave them virtues not their own;
No ear so dull, no soul so cold,
That felt not, fired not to the tone,
Till David’s lyre grew mightier than his throne!
It told the triumphs of our king,
It wafted glory to our God;
It made our gladdened valleys ring,
The cedars bow, the mountains nod;
Its sound aspired to heaven and there abode!
Since then, though heard on earth no more,
Devotion and her daughter Love
Still bid the bursting spirit soar
To sounds that seem as from above,
In dreams that day’s broad light can not remove.
395:233

(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, August 26, 2005

The Succession

Daily Readings
Psalm 119:17-40 + I Kings 1 + I Chronicles 19 + Jeremiah 14

Quote of the Day
Your decrees are my delight, they are my counselors. Psalm 119:24

Daily Text: I Kings 1

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

The Succession
Picture perfect David is not, at this late stage in his life. However, in some sense success is his. Note the root of the word ‘succession,’ someone to follow after, someone to continue your name. Although many of those who have served him have departed, there are enough strong souls loyal to him to enable him to determine who will succeed him. As is often the case, the race goes to the one willing to grasp at the golden ring, and having grasped to win all. This is as true for Adonijah as it is for Nathan and Bathsheba. Adonijah was also willing to gamble all, but risks are always real and he lost it all, while Solomon won the prize.

At war here are the images of success that were projected strongly in David’s own day, as in our own. Triumph or the wisdom gained in the fear of the LORD. In the end there is David the king, warmed by the most beautiful lass in the land and there is the son of David, alone on the cross.

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

Provide, Provide
Robert Frost

The witch that came (the withered hag)
To wash the steps with pail and rag
Was once the beauty Abishag,

The picture pride of Hollywood.
Too many fall from great and good
For you to doubt the likelihood.

Die early and avoid the fate
Or if predestined to die late
Make up your mind to die in state.

Make the whole stock exchange your own!
If need be, occupy a throne,
Where nobody can call you crone.

Some have relied on what they knew,
Others on simply being true.
What worked for them might work for you.

No memory of having starred
Atones for later disregard
Or keeps the end from being hard.

Better to go down dignified
With boughten friendship at your side
Than none at all. Provide, provide!
395:227

(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, August 25, 2005

Naomi's Redemption

Daily Readings
Psalm 119:1-16 + Ruth 4 + I Chronicles18 + Jeremiah 13

Quote of the Day
For as the loincloth clings to one’s loins, so I made the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah cling to me, says the LORD, in order that they might be for me a people, a name, a praise, and a glory…. Jeremiah 13:11

Daily Text: Ruth 4

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

Naomi’s Redemption
Boaz left the threshing floor and went to the city gate. He encountered the man who had first redemption rights to Elimelech’s property and offered the property to him. He accepted, and then when Boaz mentioned the additional responsibilities of Naomi and Ruth, he declined. It appears at one level that Boaz was quite canny about all of this, however, at another level he was utterly straightforward and respectful of the other man’s legal precedence.

The levirite legal procedure here is thoughtful and fascinating. As was suggested in chapter 3, Naomi is the one whose rights are being protected. Elimelech was the kinsman to Boaz and our unknown second party. When Boaz marries Ruth he is doing so ‘as part of a legally valid commercial transaction’ [436:147]. He is not ‘buying’ Ruth, but he is buying property and rights and, if you will, a name. The child, Obed, who is a result of this union is recorded here as a child for Naomi! That is, this child is the one who inherits his grandfather and Mahlon’s estate even though Boaz is remembered as his father and Ruth as his mother. It is all wrapped up in the notion that to be remembered one must have children, and thereby have one’s name carried on into the future. In this case, Mahlon did that through his wife and her second husband, though even more primary were Elimelech and Naomi. David’s father thus inherited Elimelech’s estate from Obed.

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

Ruth and Naomi
Thomas Curtis Clark

Three weeping women in the Moab land:
For death had robbed them of the men they loved;
Three widows left to face the world, which proved,
For all it held, a maze of desert sand.
But fate was kind: to Bethlehem returned,
Naomi, Ruth found comfort for their woes.
Good Boaz, kinsman, smiled as in the rows
Of corn the daughter gleaned,; and as he yearned
To soothe her grief, Naomi dreamed that he
Should through the lowly Ruth raise up once more
From wreck the family name. The shining door
Of hope stood wide: her dream came true and she
Who sorrowed now was glad. Ruth then could sing—
She knew not that through her should come Earth’s King!
377:247

(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, August 24, 2005

Naomi's Provision

Feast of St. Bartholomew

Daily Readings
Psalm 118 + Ruth 3 + I Chronicles 17 + Jeremiah 12

Quote of the Day
And you made your people Israel to be your people forever; and you, O LORD, became their God. I Chronicles 17:22

Daily Text: Ruth 3

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

Naomi’s Provision
Usually we consider the book of Ruth to be about Ruth, and a source of David’s line. But, in fact, it is also about Naomi and Naomi’s redemption. Elimelech dies and Naomi is left bereft. Not only that, she is responsible for her daughter-in-law Ruth, as her husband Elimelech would have been had he survived his son Mahlon. Boaz is Elimelech’s kinsman, and it is Naomi that has the widow’s right for provision. As we move towards the denouement of the relationship between Ruth and Boaz, it is on the strength of Naomi’s rights. Naomi is responsible for Ruth, and by redeeming his responsibility to Elimelech, Boaz will take both Ruth and Naomi as their kinsman.

On the night of our account Ruth goes to Boaz in the second half of the night and uncovers his legs—this is the Hebrew meaning, rather than feet [ff. Campbell 436:121]. And the suggestion clearly is that she uncovers his genitals. My image of this is that Ruth pulls off his cloak exposing his nakedness and then lies beside him, though perhaps nearer his feet, and on his cloak. When he awakens and gropes for his cloak he finds the woman and the conversation recorded ensues. It is clear that sexual intercourse does not occur, though it is suggested. Ruth asks that he spread his ‘wing’, most likely his ‘cloak’ over her and that is tantamount to asking him to provide her the coverage of marriage. He demur’s because there is another kinsman with a greater right of redemption than his. He asks her to ‘lodge’ there the remainder of the night and she leaves very early so that no one sees her. Both are being very responsible. Ruth is responsible , in order, to provide for Naomi and herself, and Boaz is responsible in order to honor the kinsman with the greater right, but all to the end of providing for both Naomi and Ruth. God’s provision is bountiful! “What shall I return to the LORD for all his bounty to me? [Psalm 116:12]”

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

The Zest of Life
Henry van Dyke

Let me but live my life from year to year,
With forward face and unreluctant soul.
Not hastening to, nor turning from the goal;
Not mourning for the things that disappear
In the dim past, nor holding back in fear
From what the future veils; but with a whole
And happy heart, that pays its toll
To youth and age, and travels on with cheer.
So let the way wind up the hill or down,
Through rough or smooth, the journey will be joy;
Still seeking what I sought but when a boy,
New friendship, high adventure, and a crown,
I shall grow old, but never lose life’s zest,
Because the road’s last turn will be the best.
404 I:60

(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, August 23, 2005

Naomi's Praise

Daily Readings
Psalms 116, 117 + Ruth 2 + I Chronicles 16 + Jeremiah 11

Quote of the Day
How shall I repay the LORD for all the good things he has done for me?
Psalm 116:10 BCP

Daily Text: Ruth 2

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

Naomi’s Praise
Ruth offers to go glean in the barley fields hoping to find someone’s favor and Naomi gives her permission. That first morning she asks and receives permission in a field belonging to a certain Boaz and immediately she finds the favor she seeks. Obviously, his juices begin flowing immediately giving us a pretty good idea of how beautiful this young woman is. By the end of the day she has been fed by Boaz, given a place to glean throughout the harvest and she has gleaned a remarkable, though unknown amount of barley. She goes home and answers Naomi’s questions and Naomi’s response is telling. The day before Naomi is complaining bitterly. But this evening her response is, “Blessed be he by the LORD, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!” And the word ‘kindness’ is our old Hebrew word hesed, steadfast love! Naomi’s bitterness begins to alter from that moment, and the hand of YHWH influences circumstances in directions favorable to our two characters.

How often God does this for us and we fail to see that it is the LORD affecting our circumstances, or if we wonder we put it down to coincidence. It makes one wonder whether or not the ancient view that God brings everything, good and evil, to us is not a more stable way of viewing the circumstances of our lives. At least Naomi did not have to second guess herself. When things were bad—God was responsible; when things turned for the better—God was responsible. Complaint and praise each recognizes the omnipotence and the immanence of God.

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

Ruth
Thomas Hood
1799-1845

She stood breast-high amid the corn,
Clasped by the golden light of morn,
Like the sweetheart of the sun,
Who many a glowing kiss had won.

On her cheek an autumn flush
Deeply ripened—such a blush
In the midst of brown was born,
Like red poppies grown with corn.

Round her eyes her tresses fell,--
Which were blackest none could tell;
But long lashes veiled a light
That had else been all too bright.

And her hat, with shady brim,
Made her tressy forehead dim;--
Thus she stood amid the stooks,
Praising God with sweetest looks.

Sure, I said, Heaven did not mean
Where I reap thou shouldst but glean;
Lay thy sheaf down and come
Share my harvest and my home.
411:152

(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.