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

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Alien Fire/Celestial Fire: Bible Commentary on Leviticus 10 with poem from Hekhalot Hymns, The Attendants of the Innermost Chamber

Daily Readings
Psalm 133, Exodus 29, Leviticus 10, I Corinthians 16

Daily Text: Leviticus 10

Alien Fire/Celestial Fire
Nadab and Abihu did not distinguish between the common and the holy (10:10); possibly they were too inebriated to do so (10:9). At any rate, their alien fire drew celestial fire and they died ignominiously on the spot. They may have demonstrated God’s holiness in the process, but they did not live to benefit. Aaron and their brothers were not even allowed to mourn publicly, that is, by disheveling their hair and tearing their clothes, for they were on duty as priests, anointed with the Lord’s annointing and wearing the vestments of the Lord’s celebration.

Aaron was so shaken, and if Leviticus 10 is taken as an integral whole, perhaps so angry, that when Moses lectured him (10:3) he was stonily silent and later angrily resentful (10:19). Nadab and Abihu had made both sin offering and burnt offering and were struck down, might not he be as well if he were to consume those self-same offerings? Moses was forced to acknowledge his reasoning.

The Attendants of the Innermost Chamber
Hekhalot Hymns

You who are crowned in grandeur,
who are wreathed in crowns,
who celebrate the Most High with hymns of jubilation—
now glorify the Master of flame,
for you are stationed within the very heart of the Shekinah,
in the innermost glory of the chamber of chambers.
He has exalted your names above those of His other servants;
He has singled you out from among the servants of the chariot.
Whoever mentions any of you by name—
fire consumes him, flames surround him,
torches whirl about him and glaring coals,
coals of wind, coals of splendour shower upon him!
443:201

Collect for the Day
As with visible oil your body outwardly is anointed, so our heavenly Father, Almighty God, grant of his infinite goodness that your soul inwardly may be anointed with the Holy Ghost, who is the Spirit of all strength, relief and gladness. May he, according to his blessed will, restore to you full strength and health of body, mind and spirit that you may withstand all temptations and in Christ’s victory triumph over evil, sin and death: Through Jesus Christ our Lord, who by his death hath overcome the prince of death; and with the Father and the Holy Spirit evermore liveth and reigneth God, world without end.
[286:756 The sacrament of anointing, Western Rite]

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