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

Friday, January 06, 2006

Hand of Anger and Longing

The Feast of the Epiphany

Daily Readings
Isaiah 60:1-6, 9 Genesis 5 Isaiah 9:8-21; 5:25-30 Matthew 2:1-12

Daily Text: Isaiah 9:8-21; 5:25-30

Hand of Anger and Longing
The 9th chapter, verse 8 begins with an indictment of the Northern Kingdom of Israel who has been prideful and arrogant, and even God’s judgement does nothing to alter their attitude. It is accepted that Assyria, under Tiglath-pileser III will descend upon them out of the North. In chapter 5:25-30 we have a continuation of this prophecy, not all of which may be present, and which may be part of a later redaction or insertion by an editor. We see in this section that the Syrians are involved against the Northern Kingdom, perhaps as early as the 9th century, and still Israel does not see God’s loving hand at work disciplining them. When God sees that they still persist in their arrogance he whistles up a far nation, generally accepted to be Assyria. That far away nation falls on them in 733 B.C. Their army is portrayed as well-trained and efficient, moving quickly and attacking effectively so that they are completely overwhelmed with no possibility of rescue. The imagery of uniform, chariot and esprit d’corp is brilliantly laced with the roar of an attacking army confident of overpowering a weaker foe. “The light grows dark with clouds”, indeed.
One of the important issues illustrated here is the consistent, persistent attempt of the Lord to reach them. Four times we see repeated the words, “For all this his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still.” In that stretched out hand is both anger and longing.

Hugh Wilgus Ramsaur

Ah, what if Time forgot to light the stars,
Weary of viewing our long, senseless plight
Of greed and blundering death, and dawnless night
Sealed with a frozen doom our gaping scars!
Fantastic ice-crags loomed. Colossal spars
Stood fixed in writhing grandeur! Still and white,
A tortured phantom-sea where sound nor sight
Disturbed the avenging dark’s unfathomed bars.

And some lone Being lost from outer-space
Should aeons hence feel wonder to behold,
Written with chasmal runes, that a proud race
Could so have fallen; and deep in the mold
Of Conquest’s ruined dreams and shattered gold
Find, wrought in stone, an anguished, thorn-crowned face!

Collect for the Day
O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. [BCP, Epiphany]


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