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, July 06, 2006

Pure Grace: Bible Comment on Ezekiel 36 with poem by William Cowper, The Covenant

Daily Readings
Psalm 100, I Samuel 6:1-7:2, Ezekiel 36, John 15

Daily Text: Ezekiel 36

Pure Grace
There is a contrast between the destruction of Edom in chapter 35 and the restoration of the people of Israel in Ezekiel 36. That contrast is ‘contrary to all human calculation’ [503:489]. Israel failed her God absolutely, and God has judged her as falling short and exiled her from the land. However, rather than leave the land desolate, as he will do with Edom, in order to bring honor to God’s own name, YHWH will restore the mountains of Judah, will bring back his failed people and will indeed give them new hearts and a new spirit that they may serve the LORD in the land. Who could have predicted? This is an act of pure grace. Undeserving as the people of Israel were, their God was deserving of far more, and to make this point to Edom and the surrounding nations, Israel’s God shows the absolute nature of his power and promises through the prophet to bring them back to the land. And to repeat, it is not for the sake of the people of Israel, but for the sake of his own name; this is a sovereign choice. How easy it is to get this truth garbled! There is no health in us, except for the healing given freely by the LORD.

The Covenant
Ezekiel xxxvi:25-28
William Cowper
1731-1800

The Lord proclaims His grace abroad!
“Behold, I change your hearts of stone;
Each shall renounce his idol-god,
And serve, henceforth, the Lord alone.

“My grace, a flowing stream proceeds
To wash your filthiness away;
Ye shall abhor your former deeds,
And learn my statutes to obey.

“My truth the great design ensures,
I give myself away to you;
You shall be mine, I will be yours,
Your God unalterably true.

“Yet not unsought or unimplored,
The plenteous grace I shall confer;*
No—your whole hearts shall seek the Lord,
I’ll put a praying spirit there.

“From the first breath of life divine,
Down to the last expiring hour,
The gracious work shall all be mine,
Begun and ended in my power.”
411:417
*Ezekiel xxxvi:37

Collect for the Day
God our Father, you have created us as your people, and you sustain us withyour hand. Help us always to give you thanks, for you alone are worthy of thanksgiving and praise and honour, now and for ever. [476:838:100 Psalm prayer]

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