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

Monday, November 20, 2006

Abandon Us? Never: II Esdras 9:26-10:59 with poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins, My Own Heart

Daily Readings
Psalm 141, Esther Addition D, 5, II Esdras 9:26-10:59, Revelation 8

Daily Text: II Esdras 9:26-10:59

Abandon Us? Never
Somehow, in II Esdras 9:26-10:59, Ezra relaxes incrementally with the tension he has felt between his own grief about the children of men proceeding hell-bent to torment, and God’s ability to give humankind true freedom to choose Him or to spurn Him. By this passage Ezra has come back to focus upon Israel alone and through his experience with the woman who has lost her son, he comes to accept God’s will as best in every experience. How often we change after we more objectively see another’s grief and foolishness. That seems to be Ezra’s experience, for he gets downright angry at the woman who grieves her son’s untimely death to the point of threatening a pious suicide.

Intriguing how God brings Ezra around as his dream vision of the woman-cum-Jerusalem enables him to see that the destruction of Jerusalem is already accounted for in God’s prescient provision of a New Jerusalem. The implication for Israel is that Jerusalem may be destroyed, either in 587 B.C. or 70 A.D., but God has no intention of giving up on his people. He has already provided a new city, a new locus for the presence of God among humankind. Abandon us? Never. Ezra felt abandoned and cried out in panic for Uriel in this text, and then realized that he had not been alone for a moment. All the while God had been there, in his experience, in his present, in his future. That was eminently true in the coming of Jesus, and is eminently true in the apocalyptic Christian text of Revelation. Note in chapter two verse one that Jesus is the one who walks among the churches. We, along with Ezra, may be heartened.

My Own Heart
Gerard Manley Hopkins

My own heart let me more have pity on; let
Me live to my sad self hereafter kind,
Charitable; not live this tormented mind
With this tormented mind tormenting yet.
I cast for comfort I can no more get
By groping round my comfortless, than blind
Eyes in their dark can day or thirst can find
Thirst’s all-in-all in a world of wet.

Soul, self; come, poor Jackself, I do advise
You, jaded, let be; call off thoughts awhile
Elsewhere; leave comfort root-room; let joy size
At God knows when to God knows what; whose smile
’s not wrung, see you; unforeseen times rather – as skies
Betweenpie mountains – lights a lovely mile.
513:50:55

Collect for the Day
Gracious God, in times of sorrow and depression, when hope itself seems lost, help us to remember the transforming power of your steadfast love and to give thanks for that new life we cannot now imagine. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Saviour.

[476:812:79 Psalm prayer]

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