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

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Poignant Love: Biblical Commentary on Hosea 6:4-11a with Poem by William Wetmore Story, Io Victis

Daily Readings
Job 15 Exodus 2:23-3:12 Hosea 6:4-11a Song of Solomon 7

Daily Text: Hosea 6:4-11a

Poignant Love
This sermon in Hosea 6:4-11a is very sensitive and loving. Regret is a dominant theme in this poignantly loving piece. Hosea’s language aches for the LORD whose ‘hesed,’ steadfast love, continues for his chosen. In contrast Israel and Judah’s love for God is transient—it comes and goes. To correct this and to reform his chosen people the LORD sends the prophet’s words to cut away sin and shed light on the people’s lack. So often the people have gone through the motions of serving God without a parallel integrity of life.

Io Victis
William Wetmore Story

I sing the hymn of the conquered, who fell in the Battle of Life,--
The hymn of the wounded, the beaten, who died overwhelmed in the strife;
Not the jubilant song of the victors, for whom the resounding acclaim
Of nations was lifted in chorus, whose brows wear the chaplet of fame,
But the hymn of the low and the humble, the weary, the broken in heart,
Who strove and who failed, acting bravely a silent and desperate part;
Whose youth bore no flower in its branches, whose hopes burned in ashes away,
From whose hands slipped the prize they had grasped at, who stood at the dying of day
With the wreck of their life all around them, unpitied, unheeded, alone,
With Death swooping down o’er their failure, and all but their faith overthrown,
While the voice of the world shouts its chorus, --its pæan for those who have won;
While the trumpet is sounding triumphant, and high to the breeze and the sun
Glad banners are waving, hands clapping, and hurrying feet
Thronging after the laurel crowned victors, I stand on the field of defeat,
In the shadow, with those who are fallen, and wounded, and dying, and there
Chant a requiem low, place my hand on their pain-knotted brows, breathe a prayer,
Hold the hand that is helpless, and whisper, “They only the victory win,
Who have fought the good fight, and have vanquished the demon that tempts us within;
Who have held to their faith unseduced by the prize that the world holds on high;
Who have dared for a high cause to suffer, resist, fight—if need be, to die.”
Speak, History! Who are Life’s victors? Unroll thy long annals and say;
Are they those whom the world called the victors, who won the success of a day?
The martyrs, or Nero? The Spartans, who fell at Thermopylae’s tryst,
Or the Persians and Xerxes? His judges or Socrates, Pilate or Christ?

Collect for the Day
Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord: Give us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those ineffable joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
[BCP:245:All Saint’s Day]

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Maggot in the Wound: Commentary on Hosea 5:1-6:3 with Poem

Daily Readings
Job 14 Exodus 1 Hosea 5:1-6:3 Song of Solomon 5

Daily Text: Hosea 5:1-6:3

Maggot in the Wound
Leadership is critical in every community and it is the leadership that is required for justice to be upheld—not happening in Israel. They in their whoring spawned illegitimate children and did not raise them to fear the LORD. In addition, they made an alliance with Syria to fight Assyria—not smart.
Judah in its defense against the Syro-Ephramitic Alliance evidently used its military advantage to extend its own boundaries at Israel’s expense. They certainly could defend themselves, but evidently this military opportunism displeases the LORD.
Finally, the LORD gives Hosea a medical image to characterize his treatment of Israel. She has been wounded in this conflict and infection has set in. The LORD has become like maggots used by healers in Hosea’s day to cleanse the wound of putrefaction. Even this fails to bring about a cure in the diseased body of Israel. The LORD will then become like an aggressive lion rather than a caring healer. Verses 1-3 of Hosea 6 hold out hope in contrast to the exile without rescue of Hosea 5:14. Hosea 6:2 reads explicitly like resurrection. Even more important than that promise is the assurance given by Hosea that Israel may press on to ‘know’ the LORD whose appearing “is as sure as the dawn.”

Disorder and FrailtyHenry Vaughn

When first thou didst even from the grave
And womb of darkness beckon out
My brutish soul, and to thy slave
Becam’st thy self, both guide, and scout;
Even from that hour
Thou gotst my heart; And though here tossed
By winds, and bit with frost
I pine, and shrink
Breaking the link
‘Twixt thee, and me; And ofttimes creep
Into th’ old silence, and dead sleep,
Quitting thy way
All the long day,
Yet, sure, my God! I love thee most.
Alas, thy love.

I threaten heaven, and from my cell
Of clay, and frailty break, and bud
Touched by thy fire, and breath; Thy blood
Too, is my dew, and springing well.
But while I grow
And stretch to thee, aiming at all
Thy stars, and spangled hall,
Each fly doth taste,
Poison, and blast
My yielding leaves; sometimes a shower
Beats them quite off, and in an hour
Not one poor shoot
But the bare root
Hid under ground survives the fall.
Alas, frail weed!

Thus like some sleeping exhalation
(Which waked by heat, and beams, makes up
Unto that comforter, the sun,
And soars, and shines; but ere we sup
And walk two steps
Cooled by the damps of night, descends,
And, whence it sprung, there ends,)
Doth my weak fire
Pine and retire,
And (after all my height of flames,)
In sickly expirations tames
Leaving me dead
On my first bed
Until thy sun again ascends.
Poor, falling star!

O, is! but give wings to my fire,
And hatch my soul, until it fly
Up where thou art, amongst thy ‘tire
Of Stars, above infirmity;
Let not perverse,
And foolish thoughts add to my bill
Of forward sins, and kill
That seed, which thou
In me didst sow,
But dress, and water with thy grace
Together with the seed, the place;
And for his sake
Who died to stake
His life for mine, tune to thy will
My heart, my verse.

Collect for the Day
O God, Creator of heaven and earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. [BCP 221:Holy Saturday]