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, June 23, 2006

The Weight of Judgment: Bible Comment on Ezekiel 24 with poem by Barbara Miller Macandrew, Ezekiel

Daily Readings
Ecclesiastes 8 Judges 19:1-20:7 Ezekiel 24 John 3

Daily Text: Ezekiel 24

The Weight of Judgment
Ezekiel 24 divides into two major sections: the parable of the cooking pot and the death of Ezekiel’s wife. The cooking parable has two themes; the first has to do with boiling meat that represents bloodshed committed by the citizens of the city themselves, and the second with God attempting to cleanse this rusty pot of a city by heating it red hot. In the first theme, those who shed blood don’t even try to hide it in the acceptable way by covering it with earth, they simply dump it out on bare rock for all to see. The rusty pot theme suggests such advanced deterioration that not even the hottest fire will scour the pot of its rust.

In the second part of the chapter, God’s announcement to Ezekiel that the delight of his life, his wife, will die suddenly reminds us of Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac. God asks the complete sacrifice for the sake of his name and the sake of his people. And Ezekiel’s response is commanded. He may mourn inwardly, but not publically. Rather he shall go on with his life without comment! And he does, that is he does until one who escapes the siege of Jerusalem arrives and he is given permission to speak to him of his grief and then share it with the other exiles. The exiles are to follow Ezekiel’s example. Whew! The weight of judgment. Judgement is tough; when the hammer falls its weight is felt.

from Ezekiel

“Also the word of the Lord came unto me saying, Son of man, behold, I take away from thee the desire of thine eyes with a stroke; yet neither shalt thou mourn nor weep, neither shall thy tears run down. Forbear to cry, make no mourning for the dead….So I spake unto the people in the morning: and at even my wife died.”

Barbara Miller Macandrew

He knew my soul, He knew she was in truth,
My heart’s desire; and I had none on earth
But only her. Upon my troubled life
She gently shone, as shineth some fair star
Upon tempestuous wasters, as this night
Upon the swellings dark of Jordan shines
The Summer-Moon.
****
It was a time
Of tumult and reproach, when God, who clothed
My soul with thunders, bade me utter them
To all the people, whether they would hear
Or would forbear. When I who stood between
An angry God and angry nations, felt
The shock of their dread warfare, till my soul
Reeled with the clangour—then she came to me,
Walking in white, and bearing in her hand
A cup of blessing. As the waters cool
Which flow from Lebanon, to meet the hot
And thirsty valleys, so she came to me;
And from that day she was my heart’s delight
And comfort for a while, a little while,--
Until God took her.
****
And she had sung to me
Her last sweet song,--for she was strangely calm
And lifted me up. She did not weep, nor lean
On me, as she had done at other times,
For strength to bear His will; she seemed to lean
Immediately upon the arm of God,
And need no other aid. But in that hour
My strength gave way: the gentle voice that sang
Its last, last song so sweetly, seemed to steal
My manhood from me; and the wistful smile
That strove to comfort me,--the smile so soon
To be eclipsed in death,--did pierce my soul
As with a sword.

“It is not hard to die,”
She said, with that fair smile, “for God’s sweet will
Makes bitter things most sweet. In my bright youth
He calls me to His side. It is not hard
To go to Him.” But in my haste I said,
With aching heart,--“It is not hard for thee—
I know it well. The captive-exile hastes
To leave the exile-land. But it is hard
To stay behind alone, when our one star
Is quenched for ever. Morn or eve shall bring
No word of thee to me, and days and nights
Shall make one empty night.”
****
I must fulfill
My stormy day; once more the clouds of God
Do compass all my path, with visions dread
Of gloom and glory. By my ruined home
I stand to speak for God, and stretch my hand,
Emptied of their sweet treasure, in God’s name
To all the people. And the Lord alone
Himself doth comfort me.
411:418

Collect for the Day
God give us the grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
courage to change the things that should be changed,
and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.
489:210 Reinhold Niebuhr, 1892-1971]

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