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, June 01, 2006

The Aweful Presence: Bible Comment on Ezekiel 2 with poem by Francis Thompson, The Hound of Heaven

Daily Readings
Proverbs 31, Joshua 21, Ezekiel 2:1-3:3 James 1

Daily Text: Ezekiel 2:1-3:3

The Aweful Presence
The call of God to the future prophet comes with a mighty hand. The Spirit that moved the great wheels in the last chapter, moves the man from being flat on his face to setting him on his feet in Ezekiel 2. The hand of God that is willing and ready to call his rebellious people to account wants and needs a prophet, one who speaks what he is told to speak whether or not the people listen. In this chapter the vision of the four creatures holding up the throne of God is revealed to be part and parcel of Ezekiel’s call. Its overwhelming note of holiness and presence rivals that of Isaiah’s call in Isaiah 6. ‘Rivals’ may be an inadequate word, ‘surpasses’ may be more appropriate. But comparing God with God is not to be, should not be. How can one compare the divine One with himself? Here, as in Isaiah, it is the word of God spoken that is important, not the response of the people to it. Assessing that phenonomen in the 21st century is more difficult. We seem to stand or fall by our success. Even the man of God is evaluated by whether or not he is heard. “Son of Man” says the voice of God, 93 times in Ezekiel he is addressed thus. No where else in the Hebrew Scriptures is this title used except once in Daniel 8 and that is taken from Ezekiel [503:61]. His mortality is thus emphasized and it takes no stretch of the imagination to realize that he, Ezekiel, was in touch with his mortality as he was so addressed. This call, this consecration, was not like that of Aaron, a celebration. It was rather a lonely calling in the aweful presence of Almighty God. So powerful was it that it immobilized the prophet for seven days—he was stunned and speechless for an entire week.

from The Hound of Heaven
Francis Thompson


Naked I wait Thy love’s uplifted stroke!
My harness, piece by piece, Thou hast hewn from me,
And smitten me to my knee;
I am defenseless utterly.
I slept, methinks, and woke,
And, slowly gazing, find me stripped in sleep.
In the rash lustihead of my young powers,
I shook the pillaring hours
And pulled my life upon me; grimed with smears
I stand amid the dust o’ the mounded years—
My mangled youth lies dead beneath the heap.
My days have crackled and gone up in smoke,
Have puffed and burst as sun-starts on a stream.
Yea, faileth now even dream
The dreamer, and the lute the lutanist;
Even the linked fantasies in whose blossomy twist
I swung the earth a trinket at my wrist,
Are yielding; cords of all too weak account
For earth with heavy griefs so overplussed.
Ah! is Thy love indeed
A weed, albeit an amaranthine weed,
Suffering no flowers except its own to mount?
Ah! must—
Designer Infinite!—
Ah, must Thou char the wood ere Thou canst limn with it?
My freshness spent its wavering shower i’ the dust;
And now my heart is as a broken fount,
Wherein tear-drippings stagnate, spilt down ever
From the dank thoughts that shiver
Upon the sighful branches of my mind.
Such is; what is to be?
The pulp so bitter, how shall taste the rind?
I dimly guess what Time in mists confounds;
Yet ever and anon a trumpet sounds
From the hid battlements of eternity;
Those shaken mists a space unsettle, then
Round the half-glimpsèd turrets slowly wash again.
But not ere him who summoneth
I first have seen, enwound
With glooming robes purpureal, cypress-crowned;
His name I know, and what his trumpet saith.
Whether man’s heart or life it be which yields
Thee harvest, must Thy harvest fields
Be dunged with rotten death?

Collect for the Day
Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. [BCP:236:Proper 28]


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