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, August 03, 2006

Lineage of Benjamin: Bible Comment on I Chronicles 8 with poem by Hugh Robert Orr, They Softly Walk

Daily Readings
Psalm 107:33-43, II Samuel 2, I Chronicles 8, Galatians 5

Daily Text: I Chronicles 8

Lineage of Benjamin
This longer genealogy of Benjamin in I Chronicles 8 does not agree with others, even the one in the seventh chapter. It holds in tension with other such lists the knowledge and perspective of the Chronicler. Knoppers suggests that these lineages may focus on towns more than on an exhaustive genealogy of the entire tribe [515:485].

Certainly towns attain some prominence for in vs. 29 Jeiel is named as the founder of Gibeon, and only then does the Chronicler proceed to name his descendants. Two conclusions may be drawn. Benjamin bookends the genealogies with Judah. Levi has also been important, as with Judah and Benjamin, the three are more exhaustively treated than the Northern tribes. The second conclusion is that Saul is highlighted by this Benjamin genealogy and we learn that his line has persisted. It may have lost power in the succession of David, but Saul’s line did not suddenly disappear. Seventeen generations are named and many of them in conjunction with Jerusalem.

They Softly Walk
Hugh Robert Orr

They are not gone who pass
Beyond the clasp of hand,
Out form the strong embrace.
They are but come so close
We need not grope with hands,
Nor look to see, nor try
To catch the sound of feet.
They have put off their shoes
Softly to walk by day
Within our thoughts, to tread
At night our dream-led paths
Of sleep.

They are not lost who find
The sunset gate, the goal
Of all their faithful years.
Not lost are they who reach
The summit of their climb,
The peak above the clouds
And storms. They are not lost
Who find the light of sun
And stars and God.
They are not dead who live
In hearts they leave behind.
In those whom they have blessed
They live a life again,
And shall live through the years
Eternal life, and grow
Each day more beautiful
As time declares their good,
Forgets the rest, and proves
Their immortality.


Collect for the Day
O God, the divine seeker, you are light to the lost, bread to the hungry, deliverance to the captive, healing to the sick, eternal vision to the dying, and harbour to every soul in peril. Gather the wanderers from every corner of the world into the community of your mercy and grace, that we may eternally praise you for our salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord.


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Water Treated as Blood: Bible Comment on I Chronicles 11 with poem by Bernard of Cluny, Jerusalem, the Golden

Daily Readings
Psalm 107:1-32, II Samuel 1, I Chronicles 11, Galatians 4

Daily Text: I Chronicles 11

Water Treated as Blood
David had been ruling Judah from Hebron for seven years according to I Samuel, and it is to be assumed that it is the Northern tribes that came to him at this time In I Chronicles 11 requesting that he be king. Note that in I Chronicles 11:3 that an appeal is made to the word of the LORD by Samuel to authenticate David’s kingship. Post-exilic pressures evidently drove the need for clear title for David’s line as the ideal of the Israel being built.

It is David that conquered Jerusalem and displaced its inhabitants; it is David that named it the city of Peace. It is David that fulfilled the promises of YHWH to Moses and Joshua that they would inherit the land. It is David who made this city his capital for a united Israel. This continued to be very important in the post-exilic years.

In I Chronicles 8 there is this story of the ‘three’ warriors who acting literally on David’s wish for a drink from the well of Bethlehem, go draw it at the risk of their lives. When they bring the water back to him, David appropriately realizes that the water, drawn at such risk, literally is worthy of the lives of the three men, lives it might have cost them. And he treats the water as if it were their blood and offers it to the LORD. In this way he honors them. But note that it was not the actual water that David wanted or that the Chronicler was suggesting, but David wanted Bethlehem, a part of the land promised by his God. His vision for uniting the kingdom and the land was wide-ranging, far-reaching [516:24].

Jerusalem, The Golden
Bernard of Clunyc.1145
tr. by John M. Neale

Jerusalem the Golden,
With milk and honey blest,
Beneath thy contemplation,
Sink heart and voice opprest;
I know not, O I know not,
What joys await us there,
What radiancy of glory,
What bliss beyond compare.

They stand, those walls of Zion,
All jubilant with song,
And bright with many an angel,
And all the martyr throng:
The Prince is ever in them
The daylight is serene;
The pastures of the blessed
Are decked in glorious sheen.

There is the throne of David;
And there, from care released,
The shout of them that triumph,
The song of them that feast;
And they, who with their Leader
Have conquered in the fight,
Forever and forever
Are clad in robes of white.

O sweet and blessed country,
The home of God’s elect!
O sweet and blessed country
That eager hearts expect!
Jesus, in mercy bring us
To that dear land of rest;
Who art, with God the Father,
And Spirit, ever blest.

Collect for the Day
Almighty God, fountain of all goodness, bless our Sovereign…,
…, and all who are in authority under her (him);
that they may order all things in wisdom and equity,
righteousness and peace, to the honour of your name, and the
good of your Church and people; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

[476:677:8 modified]

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Bedfellows: Bible Comment on I Chronicles 10 with poem by Alfred Tennyson, Remorse

Daily Readings
Wisdom of Solomon 19, I Samuel 31, I Chronicles 10, Galatians 3

Daily Text: I Chronicles 10

Saul becomes the central figure of I Chronicles for chapter 10 alone, whereas in I Samuel his story took 23 chapters [516:14]. In this recital he and his sons die, his sons at the hand of Philistines, he himself by his own hand, well almost. The theology of the Chronicler is clear; Saul has sinned and the LORD has required his life. How did he sin? By consulting a medium. Actually, the Chronicler states that he did not consult the LORD; however, I Samuel 28:6 says that he did try and the LORD was so unhappy with him that he refused to respond. Presumably, the Chronicler has divined the intent of his heart, for his death was the consequence of his sin. Sin and death are bedfellows. They cannot in fact be separated. Sin always leads to death.

That is indeed why Jesus had to die as he did; however, his death only proves the rule. Sin led to his death that our sin might lead through him to life. Saul's particular death was rudely treated. To have one’s body left open to the elements without burial was a mark of deep disrespect, even hate, on the part of the Philistines. The men of Jabesh-gilead corrected that part of the slur against Saul’s memory by retrieving his body and that of his sons, and burying them respectfully in their own town. They could do little about his head, his armor or the reality that the army had made a “mass exodus from the richest part of the land [516:15]. Dealing with the religious, psychological and political implications of all of that for Israel was left for David to sort out. Make no mistake Saul’s death was the result of sin, defeat, failure and yes, even betrayal, on his part.

from “Guinevere”
Alfred Tennyson

Shall I kill myself?
What help in that? I cannot kill my sin,
If soul be soul, nor can I kill my shame;
No, nor by living can I live it down.
The days will grow to weeks, the weeks to months,
The months will add themselves, and make the years,
The years will roll into the centuries,
And mine shall ever be a name of scorn.

Collect for the Day
O God, whose days are without end, and whose mercies cannot be numbered: Make us, we pray, deeply aware of the shortness and uncertainty of human life; and let your Holy Spirit lead us in holiness and righteousness all our days; that, when we shall have served you in our generation, we may be gathered to our ancestors, having the testimony of a good conscience, in the communion of the Catholic Church, in the confidence of a certain faith, in the comfort of a religious and holy hope, in favor with you, our God, and in perfect charity with the world. All this we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Monday, July 31, 2006

A Future: Bible Comment on I Chronicles 7 with poem by John Henry Newman, The Pillar of the Cloud

Daily Readings
Wisdom of Solomon 18, I Samuel 30, I Chronicles 7, Galatians 2

Daily Text: I Chronicles 7

A Future
Benjamin is dealt with at some length in I Chronicles 7, and more extensively in chapter 8. He along with Judah and Levi are the three most emphasized tribes. But unlike the Deuteronomist, the Chronicler speaks of the other nine tribes as well. Even though Judah, Benjamin and Levi are the predominant tribes in his time, during the Persian period, from the 6th into the 4th century, the Chronicler keeps alive the notion and the tradition of twelve tribes. It is as if he takes from the ancient traditions a vision of the future that is far greater than his present. Genealogies bring alive the past in the present. Their names, their military strength, their relationship to the time of David, and incidents that cover enormous stretches of time from the daughters of Zelophehad in Moses time down into and after the exile. There is the poignant story of Ephraim’s sons raiding the cattle of the people of Gath and being repulsed, all of them being killed. Ephraim’s grief is referenced as well as his efforts to begin a second family.

The genealogy respects the fact that the Northern kingdom of Samaria is also surviving, perhaps not alive and well, but with citizens and some tribal structure. Israel includes both, not simply the Southern remnant. This is a correction to much that we see in the Deuteronomist records of the Kings, Joshua, Samuel and Judges [cf. Knoppers 515:470 ff.]. There is a future.

The Pillar of the Cloud
John Henry Newman

Lead, Kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home—
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet: I do not ask to see
The distant scene, --one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor pray’d that Thou
Shouldst lead me on.
I loved to choose and see my path; but now
Lead Thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will; remember not past years.

So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on,
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone;
And with the morn those angel faces smile
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile.

At Sea, 16 June 1833

Collect for the Day
Almighty God,
you have made us for yourself,
and our hearts are restless
until they find their rest in you.
May we find peace in your service,
and in the world to come, see you face to face;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.


Sunday, July 30, 2006

Reversal of Fortune: Bible Comment on Obadiah with poem from the Arabian, Three Things Come Not Back

Daily Readings
Wisdom of Solomon 17, I Samuel 29, Obadiah, Galatians 1

Daily Text: Obadiah

Reversal of Fortune
The theme of Obadiah is unrelievedly the audacity of Judah’s brother nation, Edom, to not only gloat over Jerusalem’s fall in 585, but to participate fully in it. Edom who was Judah’s ally! Over and over again, almost in disbelief, Obadiah says, ‘You should not have….’ Edom is a nation whose forebearer was Esau, while Judah was Jacob. Jacob and Esau were twins. Jacob, of course, supplanted Esau by tricking him out of his birthright and his father’s blessing. Jacob always suspected that Esau would take his revenge, but in Jacob’s time Esau is only accepting. But now, Edom is doing what Jacob had always expected, betraying him in return. But Jacob has God’s favor and Edom’s actions are unacceptable, if nigh unbelievable. And it will be tit for tat. While Edom tried to kill even Jerusalem’s survivors, it will be the few survivors of Judah who will possess the lands of the completely decimated Edom. The tables will turn, the LORD will out.

Three Things Come Not Back
From the Arabian

Remember three things come not back:
The arrow sent upon its track—
It will not swerve, it will not stay
Its speed; it flies to wound, or slay
The spoken word so soon forgot
By thee; but it has perished not;
In other hearts ‘tis living still
And doing work for good or ill.
And the lost opportunity
That cometh back no more to thee,
In vain thou weepest, in vain dost yearn,
Those three will nevermore return.

Collect for the Day
When your friends betrayed you, Lord,
you took their sin upon yourself
and forgave them.
Please forgive us when we betray those we love
and when we betray you,
for without your forgiveness
our lives will become bitter and sad.
We are sorry, O God.
O God, please forgive…