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

Friday, May 12, 2006

Crossing Over: Bible Comment on Deuteronomy 31 with poem by Alice Lucas, Faith

Daily Readings
Proverbs 13, Joshua 2, Deuteronomy 31, II Corinthians 8

Daily Text: Deuteronomy 31

Crossing Over
Transition is one way of introducing the theme of ‘Crossing Over’ for surely it was that, but not in a literal way. That is, Deuteronomy 31 does begin with the final change in leadership between Moses and Joshua, but more to the point ‘crossing over’ had to do with simply another step in God’s great promise to Israel. The LORD was crossing over before them. It was He that would give them confidence, the victory, the hope for the future. Joshua was ‘crossing over’ as their nominal head. The people were crossing over to their inheritance. Moses was not crossing over in the literal sense. He was crossing over to his ancestors, his life lived, his leadership drawing to a close.

God and Moses knew that the people were going to betray their Leader, their covenant, their own first love. Was God’s foreknowledge responsible for determining the people’s failure? This theological conundrum has often been resolved by admitting that He gave the people the freedom to obey or disobey, and his foreknowledge did not limit or predestine the choice. The Jews always accepted this, that is, they did until the holocaust, when many could not bring themselves to forgive a God who could foreknow and not intervene.

In the final verses, Moses is instructed to write a song as witness. The people are called into assembly and told that the words of this book, Deuteronomy, will be placed in the Ark alongside the Law, and these written missives along with Moses’s song, heaven and earth are alike witnesses to the faithfulness of YHWH. Here in this placement of Deuteronomy alongside the tablets is the beginning of a process that has led to the canon of Scripture for the Jews, and also for the Christians. It has become for us a powerful witness to the steadfast love of God.

Faith
Alice Lucas


And the Lord, He it is that doth go before thee; He will be with thee, He will not fail thee, neither forsake thee; fear not, neither be dismayed. Deuteronomy, xxxi, 8.
My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.—Exodus, xxxiii,14

Of all Thy gifts the best.
On us Thy needy people, sore distress’d,
Sore travel worn, and stained with sin and woe,
Of all Thy gifts the best.

Then shall we find, amid life’s toilsome quest,
The peace of God, from which all blessings flow.
Then shall no evil fears our souls molest.

Faith, faith in Thee, faith that, where’er we go,
Thy presence goes with us, and gives us rest
That is in heaven above, on earth below,
Of all Thy gifts the best!
403:415

Collect for the Day
O God, early in the morning I cry to you.
Help me to pray
And to concentrate my thoughts on you:
I cannot do this alone.
In me there is darkness,
But with you there is light;
I am lonely, but you do not leave me;
I am feeble in heart, but with you there is help;
I am restless, but with you there is peace.
In me there is bitterness, but with you there is patience;
I do not understand your ways,
But you know the way for me…

Restore me to liberty,
And enable me so to live now
That I may answer before you and before me.
Lord, whatever this day may bring,
You name be praised.
[286:162:538 Dietrich Bonhoeffer, written while awaiting execution in a Nazi prison]

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