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, September 02, 2006

Solomon's Prayer: Bible Comment on II Chronicles 6 with poem by Edward Bliss Reed, Prayer

Daily Readings
Psalm 119:129-144, I Kings 8, II Chronicles 6, Jeremiah 7:1-8:3

Daily Text: II Chronicles 6

Solomon’s Prayer
There are far more references to prayer in Scripture than there are actual prayers. The one in II Chronicles 6 is one of the more remarkable of those preserved. Solomon appears as one who fills a grand niche in the history and understanding of prayer, primarily from this text. Unlike David, his father, who is credited with many of the psalms, Solomon is usually credited with proverbs and pithy sayings. But here his stature as a wise, wealthy, and worthy son of a legendary lover of God, expands to make this prayer one of eternal value. He sees this newly dedicated temple, not as a residence for the God whom the universe itself cannot contain, but as a place where this God’s Name is to be honored for all time. This is to be a place where anyone, sinner, saint, or alien may sacrifice and pray for the blessing of YHWH. Not the temple, but the praise will be the dwelling place of this God. And it is God’s eternal faithfulness that will provide the context for faithful and heard prayer. In a number of ways, Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John 17 models and reflects Solomon’s prayer and the theology of prayer found here.

from Prayer
Edward Bliss Reed


O God, thy ways are dark.
Man cannot mark
Thy path upon the mountain or the sea.
We cannot read thy will or know thy mind,
Baffled by one small world thou hast designed.
Awed by the grandeur of infinity.
He who can trace
The marching stars through space,
Measure the oceans, lift the mountains up,
Scatter the perfume in the lily’s cup,
Planning for aeons, measuring each year,
Will this God hear?
Yes; if we call to Him in joy, dismay,
(For that is prayer) He cannot turn away,
A Father dwelling with us, not apart.
When my child’s call I hear, I catch her to my heart.

Collect for the Day
Lord, you are just and your commandments are eternal. Teach us to love you with all our heart and to love our neighbour as ourselves, for the sake of Jesus our Lord.

[476:881:119 Psalm prayer]

Friday, September 01, 2006

Text of the Praise: Bible Comment on II Chronicles 5 with poem by John Milton, Let Us With A Gladsome Mind

Daily Readings
Psalm 119:113-128, I Kings 7, II Chronicles 5, Jeremiah 6

Daily Text: II Chronicles 5

Text of the Praise
Introduced in the Chronicler’s writings, perhaps taken from the Psalms, e.g. Psalm 136, the II Chronicles 5 refrain
Praise the LORD
For He is good
For His steadfast love endures forever.
rings out as the text of the praise and thanksgiving made by the singers, the trumpeters, priests and Levites who sang together following the placement of the Ark of the Covenant within the Most Holy Place of Solomon’s temple. The placement of the Ark there reinforced the teaching given to Moses by the LORD on Mount Sinai, and followed as the core of faith and practice by those faithful to God’s leading. The text used in worship of God focuses on the steadfast faithfulness of this God who led them out of Egypt and brought them into full possession of the land of promise under Joshua, and finally David and Solomon. In the Chronicler’s time, he had brought them out of exile in Babylon and returned them to that Promised Land, under less propitious circumstances, to be sure, but they were ready to build a second temple, and they too were ready to praise this good Lord whose steadfast love endures forever. They were praising because symbolically the Lord’s presence in the outline of the Ark is back at the center of kingdom, in the Holy of Holies. No sooner is it there than the cloud of the glory of the Lord is itself expressed in those same spaces and so thick is this ‘cloud’ that the priests can not remain within. The people are there to bring about completion of the work of the temple, and God himself makes himself visible and felt in those spaces, in actuality completing the house built for his Name. Such an active, even visual presence must have been thrilling and frightening. Not since Moses day had such an epiphany occurred.
Praise the LORD
For He is good
For His steadfast love endures forever.

Let Us With A Gladsome Mind
John Milton


Let us with gladsome mine
Praise the Lord, for he is kind
For his mercies aye endure,
Ever faithful, ever sure.

Let us blaze his Name abroad,
For of gods he is the God;…
Who by all-commanding might,
Filled the new-made world with light.

He the golden tressèd sun
Caused all day his course to run;
Th’ horned moon to shine by night,
‘Mid her spangled sisters bright.

He his chosen race did bless,
In the wasteful wilderness;
He hath, with a piteous eye,
Looked upon our misery.

All things living he doth feed.
His full hand supplies their need;
For his mercies aye endure,
Ever faithful, ever sure.

Collect for the Day
I am serene because I know thou lovest me.
Because thou lovest me, naught can move me from my peace.
Because thou lovest me, I am as one to wom all good has come.

[286:468 Gaelic, tr. Alistair MacLean]

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Mt. Moriah: Bible Comment on II Chronicles 3 with Hekalot Hymn, The Face of God

Daily Readings
Psalm 119:97-112, I Kings 6, II Chronicles 3, Jeremiah 5

Daily Text: II Chronicles 3

Mt. Moriah
What an interesting focus! Beyond the notation that the building began on such and such a date in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign there are two points made in II Chronicles 3. The first is that the location of the temple is the threshing floor of Orana the Jebusite. We remember how David met the LORD there when He stopped his avenging angel from killing the inhabitants of Jerusalem and then told David to sacrifice there, and David knew that this was the site for the temple [II Samuel 24; I Chronicles 22:1]. The Chronicler calls it Mt. Moriah! Another surprise for Mt. Moriah was where Abraham took Isaac to make sacrifice of him, and God met him there, as well. The implication can be drawn that on this holy site God would continue to meet his people in the Temple.

The further focus is that of the Most Holy Place, the Sanctuary, the dwelling place of God. The implication of this is that the Most Holy Place was on the threshing floor, over the stone that Abraham had planned to use even before the LORD himself provided sacrifice. The descriptions of the cherubim, the gold, the precious woods and the fabrics and fine linen dyed blue and (Tyrian) purple shot through with worked cherubim all tend to bring to bear the glorious holiness of the Divine One for whose Name nothing is too precious.

The Face of God
Hekhalot Hymn

transl. from the Hebrew by T. Carmi

Lovely face, majestic face, face of beauty, face of
flame, the face of the Lord God of Israel when He sits
upon His throne of glory, robed in praise upon His seat
of splendour. His beauty surpasses the beauty of the
aged, His splendour outshines the splendour of newly-weds
in their bridal chamber.

Whoever looks at Him is instantly torn; whoever glimpses
His beauty immediately melts away. Those who serve Him
today no longer serve Him tomorrow; those who serve Him
tomorrow no longer serve Him afterwards; for their
strength fails and their faces are charred, their hearts
reel and their eyes grow dim at the splendour and
radiance of their king’s beauty.

Beloved servants, lovely servants, swift servants, light-
footed servants, who stand before the stone of the throne
of glory, who wait upon the wheel of the chariot. When
the sapphire of the throne of glory whirls at them, when
the wheel of the chariot hurls past them, those on the
right now stand again to the left, those on the left now
stand again to the right, those in front now stand again
in back, those in back now stand again in front.

He who sees the one says, ‘That is the other.’ And he who
sees the other says, ‘That is the one.’ For the visage of
the one is like the visage of the other; and the visage
of the other is like the visage of the one.

Happy the King who has such servants, and happy the servants
Who have such a King. Happy the eye that sees and feeds
Upon this wondrous light - a wondrous vision and most strange!

Collect for the Day
Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that thou art,
Thou my best thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.
[286: 477 traditional Irish]

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

With Alacrity and Joy: Bible Comment on II Chronicles 2 with Latin poem, Te Deum Laudamus

Daily Readings
Psalm 119:81-96, I Kings 5, II Chronicles 2, Jeremiah 2

Daily Text: II Chronicles 2

With Alacrity and Joy
The details of II Chronicles 2 are of construction projects, materials, artisans, labor, but they swirl around a remarkable testimony to the greatness of the God of Israel. The temple is to be built for his Name and King Solomon is clear that he is to built a wonderful house for his God, however, how does one build a house for a God whom even the heavens cannot contain? Still, he will need the finest artisans and materials available in the world, and for some of these he ask Huram (Hiram) of Tyre. Huram knows enough about Solomon’s God, perhaps from doing business with David, that he uses the Tetragrammaton, the unpronounceable name of Israel’s God. While accepting payment, he is only too willing to cooperate and provide his best. One is reminded of the joy experienced by Israel’s leadership when they were asked to give generously to this great and wonderful God and they did so with alacrity and joy.

Te Deum Laudamus
from the Latin, 4th century

We praise thee, O God; we acknowledge thee to be the Lord.
All the earth doth worship thee, the Father everlasting.
To tee all Angels cry aloud; the Heavens, and all the Powers therein.
To thee Cherubim and Seraphim continually do cry,
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Sabaoth;
Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty of thy Glory.
The glorious company of the Apostles praise thee.
The goodly fellowship of the Prophets praise thee.
The noble army of Martyrs praise thee.
The holy Church throughout all the world doth acknowledge thee;
The Father of an infinite Majesty;
Thine honorable, true, and only Son;
Also the Holy Ghost, the Comforter.
Thou art the King of Glory, O Christ.
Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.
When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man, thou didst not abhor the Virgin’s womb.
When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death,
Thou didst open the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.
Thou sittest at the right hand of God, in the Glory of the Father.
We believe that thou shalt come to be our Judge.
We therefore pray thee, help thy servants, whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious
Make them to be numbered with thy Saints in glory everlasting.
O Lord, save thy people, and bless thine heritage.
Govern them, and lift them up forever.
Day by day we magnify thee;
And we worship thy Name ever, world without end.
Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us this day without sin.
O Lord, have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us.
O Lord, let thy mercy lighten upon us, as our trust is in thee.
O Lord, in thee have I trusted; let me never be confounded.

Collect for the Day
Worthy of praise from every mouth,
of confession from every tongue,
of worship from every creature,
is thy glorious name, O Father, Son, and Holy Ghost:
who didst create the world in thy grace
and by thy compassion didst save the world.
To thy majesty, O God, ten thousand times ten thousand
bow down and adore, singing and praising without ceasing and saying,
Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts;
Heaven and earth are full of thy praises;
Hosanna in the highest.

[489:67:March 26 Nestorian Liturgy, 5th century]

Monday, August 28, 2006

Newly Made Man: Bible Comment on II Chronicles 1 with poem by George Santayana, O World

Daily Readings
Psalm 119:49-64, I Kings 3, II Chronicles 1, Jeremiah 2

Daily Text: II Chronicles 1

Newly Made Man
Solomon is portrayed as capable and one who makes good choices from the very beginning. No young and inexperienced man this suggests the Chronicler in II Chronicles 1. He has his priorities straight. First, worship at Gibeon where the Tent of Meeting is. It won’t be there long, for he is to build the temple. Second, he is visited by God at night. The Chronicler mentions no dream; this seems to be a direct visitation. The dream report comes from Kings. During this visitation, Solomon asks for wisdom, something he appears to have already. God is pleased. Third, the transition of power from David to Solomon is seamless, no dissension everyone, including his brothers swear fealty. The leadership is pleased. Finally, to round out this portrait of the newly made man, the Chronicler sizes up not just his wealth, but his ingenuity in creating it. Everyone seems pleased.

O World
George Santayana

O world, thou choosest not the better part!
It is not wisdom to be only wise,
And on the inward vision close the eyes;
But it is wisdom to believe the heart.
Columbus found a world, and had no chart
Save one that faith deciphered in the skies;
To trust the soul’s invincible surmise
Was all his science and his only art.
Our knowledge is a torch of smoky pine
That lights the pathway but one step ahead
Across a void of mystery and dread.
Bid, then, the tender light of faith to shine
By which alone the mortal heart is led
Unto the thinking of the thought divine.

Collect for the Day
I pray that the God our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give me a spirit of wisdom and revelation as I come to know him, so that, with the eyes of my heart enlightened, I may know what is the hope to which he has called me, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for those who believe.

[489:47:February 17 based on Ephesians 1:17-19]