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

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Effect of Righteousness

The Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Temple

Daily Readings
Psalm 84:1-6 Malachi 3:1-4 Isaiah 32 Hebrews 2:14-18

Daily Text: Isaiah 32

The Effect of Righteousness
Beautiful is the imagery of this passage. Verses 1-8 contain two six couplet stanzas, each completed by a subject the opposite of the five preceding couplets. So at the end of the poem about the righteous rulers comes the couplet about the scoundrel or fool. And at the end of the stanza about the iniquity of the scoundrel comes the couplet about the one of noble mind.
The carefree women of Judah are addressed, not because they are alone, but perhaps because they more vulnerable, physically, spiritually and emotionally, than the men. Verse 10 seems better translated as in the New English Bible (NEB) ‘when the year is out.’ That desolation will continue until a ‘spirit from on high’ is lavished upon them. It will take the spirit of the Holy One of Israel to bring about the new order. And order begins with righteous living, which leads to justice, which itself (abhors war) yields peace; prosperity is a secondary effect. They are linked, and linked in any other progression they lead to the breakdown of all order. This is the Holy One’s vision not only for Judah, but for the whole people of God and the Creation. Why is it that the Church can not see this, advocate this, practice this?

“Seeking Perspective in a Hate-Torn World”
Madeleine L’Engle

Seeking perspective in a hate-torn world,
Leaving, for respite brief, the choking city,
I turn to trees, new leaves not quite unfurled,
A windswept blue-pure sky for pity.
Across a pasture, over a stone wall,
Past berry brambles and an unused field,
Listening for leaf sound and the brook’s clear call,
Turning down path by bush and tree concealed,
Forgetting human sin and nature’s fall
I seek perfection in the cool green still.
Small trees with new spring growth are tall.
Here is no sign of human hate or ill.
Unexpecting any pain or shock
I turn to climb upon my thinking rock.

The rock stands high above the snow-full brook.
Behind the rock an old tree breaks the sky,
And on the tree where bird and beast may look
An icon and a cross are hanging high.
So strong are they, placed lovingly together,
I need have little fear for their protection
Through wind and snow and bitter wintry weather.
They speak to me of joy and Resurrection
And here my self-will stills, my heart beats slow.
God’s presence in his world is bright and strong.
Upon the rock I climb, and then—No! No!
The sky is dark and here is hate and wrong.
O God! make it not be! Oh, make it not!
The icon: target for a rifle’s shot.

A wave of dark blasts cold across my face.
My stomach heaves with nausea at the dirt
Of hate in this pure green and loving place.
The trees pull back and cower in their hurt.
Rooted, they could not stop the vicious gun
Fired straight at God’s birth-giver and her child.
There’s only death in this. It’s no one’s fun
To blaspheme love. A shot has made a wild
Distortion of the young and ancient face.
I give the broken fragments to the brook
And let the water lap them with its grace.
And then I sit upon the rock and look
At the great gouge in the tree’s wood.
Evil obscures all peace and love and good.

As I sit looking at the shot-at tree
The rough wound opens and grows strange and deep
Within the wood, till suddenly I see
A galaxy aswirl with flame. I do not sleep
And yet I see a trillion stars speed light
In ever-singing dance within the hole
Surrounded by the tree. Each leaf’s alight
With flame. And then a burning living coal
Drops hissing in the brook, and all the suns
Burst outward in their joy, and the shot child,
Like the great and flaming tree, runs
With fire and water, and alive and wild
Gentle and strong, becomes the wounded tree.
Lord God! The icon’s here, alive and free.

Collect for the Day
O God our heavenly Father, you have blessed us and given us dominion over all the earth: Increase our reverence before the mystery of life; and give us new insight into your purposes for the human race, and new wisdom and determination in making provision for its future in accordance with your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. [BCP 828:44 for the Future of the Human Race]


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