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, September 03, 2005

Forgive, Act and Render

Daily Readings
Psalm 119:161-176 + I Kings 8 + I Chronicles 26 + Jeremiah 21

Quote of the Day
“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Even heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, much less this house that I have built!” I Kings 8:27 Solomon

Daily Text:I Kings 8

Forgive, Act and Render
Following Cogan [437:291] we may view this chapter as a drama having three acts: 1) the Ark of the Covenant is moved to the new Temple ultimately commencing the temple’s new role in the life of the nation, 2) Solomon as priest pronounces a blessing on the people and makes a beautiful prayer to YHWH calling for God’s recognition of the temple as a place from which the people’s soul-life will issue, and 3) a celebration of worship that lasted for a week.

Solomon recognized in vs. 27 that the temple could not hold Adonay, even the heavens in that three-decker universe could not hold him. But recognizing that, he pled that God would hear the prayers of his people from this temple and ‘forgive, act and render’ in the case of each heart of which he had knowledge. Assumed here is that by listening to the prayers of the people, God would have intimate knowledge of their sincerity and could respond appropriately. That God will “forgive, act and render” remains as critical in our own day as it was in the tenth century B.C. We continue to find support and sustenance in houses of worship, hopefully understanding that they are simply a convenience for our gathering together in community and lifting our prayers and praises to God.

The Prayer of Solomon at the Consecration of the Temple
Rebekah Hyneman

A gorgeous structure! rich with fretted gold
And radiant with gems. A white robed choir,
Sackbut and psaltery, and the tuneful harp
Waft their sweet melody unto high heaven.
A mighty monarch bows his head in prayer.
What boon has he to ask of pitying Heaven?
Seeks he for riches, or for pomp and power
Or asks he vengeance on unconquered foes?
Peace! peace! he breathes a lowly prayer to Heaven,
Even for others’ sins as for his own,
Asking forgiveness.

Father! when man forgetting Thy just decree
Shall wrong his brother, and by fraud or wile
Pervert the holy faith that leads to Thee
And turn his heart to sinfulness and guile;
Yet when they both are brought before Thy face,
And purer feelings in each bosom strive,
Hear Thou and judge in heaven Thy dwelling-place
And when Thou hearest, have mercy and forgive.

When Thy frail children, for their many sins,
Shall smart beneath the oppressor’s iron rod,
And when the tortured conscience first begins
To waken to the anger of its God;
Then when they come to Thee, that erring race,
And pray that Thou the heavy load remove,
Hear Thou in heaven Thy holy dwelling-place,
And when Thou hearest forgive, oh! God of love!

And when the heavens are shut, and the parched land
Must bear the burden of their sinful way,
And Thou shalt teach them with Thy mighty hand,
And bend their stubborn hearts to own Thy sway,--
And they repent and turn towards this place,
Let not Thine ear be deaf unto their voice;
But hear Thou from Thy heavenly throne of grace,
Hear and forgive the children of Thy choice.

And when the stranger, for Thy great name’s sake
Turneth toward this house, oh! mighty King,
Whatever supplication he may make,
Whatever sin or sorrow he may bring;
Yet when he bendeth here to ask Thy grace,
And prayeth Israel’s God to heal his grief.
Hear Thou in Heaven, Thy dwelling-place,
And when Thou hearest, forgive and grant relief.

If any sin (and what man sinneth not),
And Thou art wroth and angered with their shame,
And the sad captive’s lone and bitter lot
Be theirs, until they call upon Thy name;
Yet when they turn repentant towards this place,
And pray to Thee in supplicating tone,
Hear Thou in heavenThy holy throne of grace,
Forgive and have compassion on Thine own.

No gorgeous temple, rich with fretted gold
And bright with flashing gems, now meets our eye;
No holy prophet king, like him of old,
Now offers up our sacrifice on high;
Yet when we come with prayer to seek Thy face
Each with sin’s burning plague-spot in his breast,
Hear Thou, oh God! in heaven Thy dwelling-place
And when Thou hearest, forgive, and grant us rest.
403:112

Friday, September 02, 2005

The Temple of Solomon

Daily Readings
Psalm 119:137-160 + I Kings 7 + I Chronicles 25 + Jeremiah 20

Quote of the Day
Your promise is well tried, and your servant loves it. Psalm 119:140

Daily Text: I Kings 7

The Temple of Solomon
This is the description of the Temple of Solomon, its ornamentation and furniture. What is left to the imagination and extra-biblical sources are the technical details of how it was done and what uses there were for the pillars, the ‘seas,’ the ten stands with their ‘chariots.’ What the author tells is that it took seven years to build it and thirteen more for the palace nearby. He tells us also of Hiram of Tyre, a man skilled in the working of bronze—Hiram, not the king, but the son of a Jewish maid and a man from Tyre.

The palace was twice, more than twice the size of the temple. It had more uses, a throne room used often as court of Justice, a Hall of Pillars, a great portico, apartments for the king and his Egyptian queen, but the enormity of it compared with the temple says something. One thing it says is that here in the palace was the center of national life. Another, is that the temple may have been seen as a royal chapel, critical, but ancillary. The biblical record, of course, centers more on the temple, but one cannot ignore the comment made by the House of the Forest of the Lebanon.

from The Two Temples
C.T. Corlis
I Kings vii

Through the mist of the years in the long, long ago,
I saw in a vision a Temple, aglow—
Aglow with the beams of the orient sun,
Whose splendor and vastness conception outrun.

No sound of the hammer or trowel was there,
In silence that Temple uprose in the air,
Like some gorgeous castle in fairy tale told,
All covered with silver and inlaid with gold.
………

They builded with marble that Temple of old,
It has faded and gone like a tale that it told!
They builded with cedar, gold, silver and brass,
It has vanished like dew when exhaled from the grass.

But we have a Temple not builded with hands,
Eternal as truth, in its glory it stands;
Age dims not its luster, grand, glorious, sublime,
Unmarred by the tempests, untarnished by time.
411:210

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Edifice Complex

Daily Readings
Psalm 119:121-136 + I Kings 6 + I Chronicles 24 + Jeremiah 19

Quote of the Day
The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple. Psalm 119:130

Daily Text: I Kings 6

The Edifice Complex
The Deuteronomist evidently considered the temple to be the hinge on which Israel’s history swung. For the date given for the temple’s inception was considered to be 480 years following the Exodus and 480 years prior to the return from Exile. Since there is good evidence that Solomon came to the throne in 960, this would place the Exodus at about 1440, some two centuries before most scholars would date that event. However, that the Deuteronomist placed the building of the temple as central to the life and significance of Israel is without question.

What is incredibly important in all of this is the realization that God has allowed the building of the temple though He would have preferred that the worship of his Name not be confounded by focus on the building. The author of I Kings is clear that Solomon is building a house for the name of the LORD his God [I Kings 5:5]. The emphasis on perfection, however, is both recognition of the importance of such an undertaking and a red herring across the trail of true worship that is of the heart. The ‘edifice complex’ grows easily and dies hard.

Sion
George Herbert

Lord, with what glory wast thou served of old,
When Solomon’s temple stood and flourished!
Where most things were of purest gold;
The wood was all embellished
With flowers and carvings, mystical and rare:
All showed the builders, craved the seers care.

Yet all this glory, all this pomp and state
Did not affect thee much, was not thy aim;
Something there was, that sowed debate:
Wherefore thou quitt’st thy ancient claim
And now thy architecture meets with sin;
For all thy frame and fabric is within.

There thou art struggling with a peevish heart,
Which sometimes crosseth thee, thou sometimes it:
The fight is hard on either part.
Great God doth fight, he doth submit.
All Solomon’s sea of brass and world of stone
Is not so dear to thee as one good groan.

And truly brass and stones are heavy things,
Tombs for the dead, not temples fit for thee:
But groans are quick, and full of wings,
And all their motions upward be;
And ever as they mount, like larks they sing;
The note is sad, yet music for a king.
395:235

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

God of Peace

Daily Readings
Psalm 119:97-120 + I Kings 5 + I Chronicles 23 + Jeremiah 18

Quote of the Day
So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. The vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as seemed good to him. Then the word of the LORD came to me: can I not do with you, O house of Israel, just as this potter has done? says the LORD. Just like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. Jeremiah 18:3-6 the LORD to Jeremiah

Daily Text: I Kings 5

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

God of Peace
God denied David the privilege of building the temple to house the Ark of God, and the issue seems to have been that the people were not yet ready to become a settled people. They were used to carrying God in their midst in peace and war. Too David may have been desirous of helping consolidate the kingdom by making his capitol, Jerusalem even more impressive than it was. The Chronicler in chapters 22 and 28 suggest that it was because David had blood on his hands that God denied him the privilege of building the temple. But in I Kings 5 it seems to be that David was so busy consolidating the kingdom with continuous or near continuous wars, that God reserved the right for his son to build this special place. All of these insights may well have their rightful place.

YHWH reserved the right to have it built in a time of peace. It is interesting the little glimpses we get in the Hebrew scriptures of God preferring peace to war. They are counter cultural glimpses, yet these glimpses are present, as with the wise woman of Abel [II Samuel 20:18,19]. Solomon put it well, “…the LORD my God has given me rest on every side; there is neither adversary nor misfortune. S I intend to build a house for the name of the LORD my God…[I Kings 5:4,5]. It is indeed a God of peace and reconciliation that we serve, one who looks so unlike a god of war that when we see some of the passages in the Hebrew Scriptures we wonder, “Is this the same God?”

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

O To Be A Dragon
Marianne Moore

If I, like Solomon,…
could have my wish—

my wish…O to be a dragon,
a symbol of the power of Heaven—of silkworm
size or immense; at times invisible.
Felicitious phenomenon!
395:234

(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, August 29, 2005

Land of Peace and Plenty

Daily Readings
Psalm 119:81-96 + I Kings 4 + I Chronicles 22:2-19 + Jeremiah 17

Quote of the Day
See, a son shall be born to you; he shall be a man of peace. I will give him peace from all his enemies on every side; for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quiet to Israel in his days. I Chronicles 22:9 --the LORD to David

Daily Text: I Kings 4

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

Land of Peace and Plenty
David established the kingdom; Solomon ruled it and the people benefited. This image of David as a man of war and Solomon as a man of peace is a metaphor for our own day, as well as that of every other time. Solomon, though there is evidence that he was not a good administrator, turned his hand to administration as is evidenced from the official’s lists in this chapter. Construction boomed, agriculture thrived and Israel continued its place as a power in the Fertile Crescent, from the Euphrates to the Nile, from East of the Jordan to the Mediterranean coastal plain. That he used widespread patronage in his governing may be criticized or praised depending on one’s point of reference. Certainly, two of his sons-in-law are named as administrators. On the other hand, Solomon was of an educated and scribal bent. His children and their spouses may also have reflected that ability, a rare ability in that time. Scribes tended to pass their trade on to their sons and grandsons for generations reflecting not patronage, but needed and necessary skills [ff. Cogan 437:217]. Actually, this is partially confirmed in that some of the names come from David’s court, indicating that they were kept in place by Solomon, surely a wise and stable decision.

The reference to the nature of Solomon’s wisdom in 4:32, 33 suggest that his knowledge of plants and animals rather than of a scientific nature was woven into proverbs and songs, two major examples of venerable poetic production [437:222], that delighted and perhaps inspired his admirers. An example of this may be seen in Proverbs 30:24-28

Four things on earth are small,
yet they are exceedingly wise:
the ants are a people without strength,
yet they provide their food in the summer;
the badgers are a people without power,
yet they make their homes in the rocks;
the locusts have no king,
yet all of them march in rank;
the lizard can be grasped in the hand,
yet it is found in kings’ palaces.

If this is so, then the characterization of Solomon’s ability as ‘wisdom’, rather than ‘knowledge’, remains accurate and quite descriptive. All the evidence points in this direction: son of a musical and poetic father, considered to be the author of proverbs, philosophical texts (eg. Ecclesiastes) and sensual poetry (eg. Song of Solomon). All point to this creative type of wisdom.

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

Solomon’s Wisdom
Richard Wilton

Not only for high uses which belong
To kings, or private solace of his mind,
Or delectation of all human kind
With thoughtful proverb and with holy song,
Was wisdom giv’n; but that the goodly throng
Of creatures might a royal scholar find—
Beasts, reptiles, fish, birds borne on wave or wind,
And plants from hyssop frail to cedar strong.
May I in God’s least works high purpose see
And with intelligent observance greet
Each careless bird that flits from tree to tree,
Each thriftless flower that sheds its incense sweet
About my path. Thus be it given to me
To find true wisdom scattered at my feet.
411:210

(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, August 28, 2005

Discernment

Daily Readings
Psalm 119:57-80 + I Kings 3 + I Chronicles 21:1-22:1 + Jeremiah 16

Quote of the Day
“Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?” I Kings 3:9—Solomon

Daily Text: I Kings 3

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

Discernment
Gibeon is again the primary site of our passage. Home of the Amorites it was given to Aaron’s Levites in Joshua 21:17 and then by ‘our time’ made the principle high place in Israel. It is conceivable that this was done by Saul, perhaps at the time he broke the covenant signed by Joshua (Cf. II Samuel 21). While in Gibeon Solomon has a visitation from the LORD in a dream. In the dream there is much give and take, the LORD offering to give Solomon whatever he asks. As it turns out he asks for discernment to rule justly and is given the gift along with a promise of long life if he lives in the ways of the LORD.

Note YHWH’s sensitivity in this visitation. He doesn’t declare what Solomon’s gift will be, but asks for his heart’s desire. Solomon responds in such a way that will allow the LORD to augment his already plentiful gifts in this area of wisdom. This is the way he gifts us—according to our natural inclinations. “All things come of thee, Oh LORD, and of thine own have we given thee.” This is not true alone of the bread and the wine we employ in the sacrament, but true also of our lives as sacrament.

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

The Vision of Solomon
William Whitehead
1715-1785

‘Twas night, and sleep with gentle-waving wand
Sat softly brooding o’er that monarch’s brow,
Whose waking nod could Judah’s realms command,
Or deal destruction to the frighted foe,
Great David’s son—but at this tranquil hour
No dreams of state disturbed his peaceful bed;
To nobler heights his thoughts unfetter’d soar,
And brighter visions hover round his head:
Let meaner kings by mortals guard their state,
Around his sacred couch aerial legates wait.
“Hail, best belov’d! superior to the rest.”
One bending angel cried with heavenly voice,
“Earth, seas, and air, stand to thy view confess’d,
And God’s own mandate ratifies thy choice.
Choose then from these—say, shall thy pow’r extend
Where suns scarce warm this earth’s remotest shore,
Shall India’s lords beneath thy sceptre bend,
Whilst their black troops stand silent and adore?
To thee, sole lord, shall earth her stores unfold,
Pour all her gems to thee, and mines that flame with gold?

Shall ocean’s waves, obedient to thy call,
As erst to Moses, rang’d in order stand;
Whilst crowds once more admire the floating wall,
And treasures open on the glittering sand?
Or shall Fame’s breath inspire each softer air,
Thee just and good, to distant worlds resound,
Whilst Peace, fair goddess, leads the smiling year,
Swells the glad grain, and spreads the harvest round,
Bids Jordan’s stream extend its azure pride,
Pleas’d with reflected fruits that tremble in the tide?”

The cherub spoke when Power majestic rose;
A Tyrian-tinctur’d robe she drag’d behind,
Whose artful folds at every turn disclose
Sceptres and crowns that flutter’d in the wind.
Gigantic phantom! in her face appear’d
Terrific charms, too fierce for mortal eyes.
Aw’d and amaz’d her very smiles we fear’d.
As though storms lurk’d beneath the smooth disguise;
But when she frowns, tremendous thunders roar,
Stern desolation reigns, and kingdoms float in gore.

Her, Wealth succeeds, and scarce his tottering head
Sustains the glittering ore’s incumbent weight;
O’er his old limbs were tatter’d garments spread;
A well-fix’d staff directs his feeble feet.
Thus mean himself appear’d; but all around
What crowds unnumber’d hail the passing seer!
Power, as he came, bow’d lowly to the ground,
And own’d with reverence a superior there.
“Rise, David’s son, thy utmost wish extend,
See to thy sceptre Wealth, the world’s great monarch, bend.”

Fame next approach’d, whose clarion’s martial sound
Bids conqu’ring laurels flourish ever green;
And gentle Peace, with olive chaptlets crown’d,
And Plenty, goddess of the sylvan scene.
These Pleasure join’d; loose flow’d her radiant hair;
Her flying fingers touch’d the trembling lyre.
“Come, Mirth,” she sung, “your blooming wreaths prepare;
Come, gay Delight, and ever young Desire:
Let days, let years in downy circles move,
Sacred to sprightly Joy, and all-subduing Love.”

The mingled train advanc’d; to close the rear,
As lost in thought, appear’d a pensive maid;
Bright was her aspect, lovely, yet severe,
In virgin white her decent limbs array’d:
She moved in sober state; on either side
A beauteous handmaid friendly aid bestow’d:
Fair Virtue here, her view from earth to guide,
There Contemplation rais’d her golden rod.
Hail, Wisdom, hail! I see and bless the sight,
First-born of Heav’n, pure source of intellectual light.

On her the monarch fix’d his eager eyes,
On her alone, regardless of the crowd:
“Let vulgar souls,” he cried, “yon trifles prize,
Mortals that dare of misery to be proud,
Hence, then: I burn for more ingenuous charms;
Nature’s true beauties with more lustre shine.
Then, take me, Wisdom, take me to thy arms;
O snatch me from myself, and make me thine.
All Heav’n calls good, or man felicity,
Peace, plenty, health, content, are all comprised in thee.”
411:209

(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.