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

Friday, January 12, 2007

The Kerygma: Acts 9:32-10:48 with poem by Reobert Herrick, The Widows' Tears

Daily Readings
Psalm 10, Genesis 11, Isaiah 12, Acts 9:32-10:48

Daily Text: Acts 9:32-10:48

The Kerygma
Acts 9:32-10:48 tell a remarkable story. The passage begins with Peter announcing the healing of a man paralyzed for eight years, being brought to a woman, Tabitha, who had died and raising her as simply as Jesus did the young girl in Mark 5. In fact, there are a number of parallels in this chapter with Mark’s gospel. The healing and the raising from the dead are only the first two. But we go on to the matter of Peter’s conclusion about the ending of Jewish ceremonial food laws as in Mark 7:19b. According to Bruce, these food prohibitions were a large part of the hesitancy of Jews in associating with Gentiles. With these prohibitions removed, much of the stigma was also removed. The preaching itself, this kerygma or basic message, is an outline of the book of Mark according to Bruce quoting C.H. Dodd [549:226]. And finally, the Gentiles received the Holy Spirit ‘just as we have’ [10:47]. It is clear in this passage that the Holy Spirit is not a substitute for faith or for baptism. It is a separate blessing from the Lord Jesus. One could say this was only on the inauguration of the ministry to the Gentiles, but it has occurred in similar fashion with other groups and will continue to happen in this fashion. Philip’s ministry with the Samaritans was not complete until Peter and John came into Samaria and proclaimed this same blessing. Remember Simon and his bribe?

The Widows’ Tears: or, Dirge of Dorcas
Robert Herrick

Come pity us, all ye, who see
Our harps hung on the willow-tree:
Come pity us, ye passers by,
Who see, or hear poor widows cry:
Come pity us; and bring your ears,
And eyes, to pity widows’ tears.
Chor. And when you are come hither;
Then we will keep
A fast, and weep
Our eyes out all together.

For Tabitha, who dead lies here,
Clean washed, and laid out for the bier;
O modest matrons, weep and wail!
For now the corn and wine must fail:
The basket and the bin of bread,
Wherewith so many souls were fed
Chor. Stand empty here for ever:
And ah! the poor,
At thy worn door,
Shall be relieved never.

Woe worth the time, woe worth the day,
That reaved us of thee Tabitha!
For we have lost, with thee, the meal,
The bits, the morsels, and the deal
Of gentle paste, and yielding dough,
That thou on widows didst bestow.
Chor. All’s gone, and death hath taken
Away from us
Our maundy; thus,
Thy widows stand forsaken.

Ah Dorcas, Dorcas! now adieu
We bid the cruse and pannier too:
I and the flesh, for and the fish,
Doled to us in that lordly dish.
We take our leaves now of the loom,
From whence the house-wives cloth did come.
Chor. The web affords now nothing;
Thou being dead,
The worsted thread
Is cut, that made us clothing.

Farewell the flax and reaming wool,
With which thy house was plentiful.
Farewell the cots, the garments and
The sheets, the rugs, made by thy hand.
Farewell thy fire and thy light,
That ne’er went out by day or night:
Chor. No, or thy zeal so speedy,
That found a way
By peep of day,
To feed and cloth the needy.

But, ah, alas! the almond bough,
And olive branch is withered now.
The wine press now is ta’en from us,
The saffron and the calamus.
The spice and spikenard hence is gone,
The storax and the cinnamon,
Chor. The carol of our gladness
Has taken wing,
And our late spring
Of mirth is turned to sadness.

How wise wast thou in all thy ways!
How worthy of respect and praise!
How matron-like didst thou go dressed!
How soberly above the rest
Of those that prank it with their plumes;
And jet it with their choice perfumes.
Chor. Thy vestures were not flowing:
Nor did the street
Accuse thy feet
Of mincing in their going.

And though thou here li’st dead, we see
A deal of beauty yet in thee.
How sweetly shows thy smiling face,
Thy lips with all diffused grace!
Thy hands (though cold) yet spotless, white,
And comely as the chrysolite.
Chor. Thy belly like a hill is,
Or as a neat
Clean heap of wheat,
All set about wit lilies.

Sleep with thy beauties here, while we
Will show these garments made by thee;
These were the coats, in these are read
They monuments of Dorcas dead.
These were thy acts, and thou shalt have
These hung, as honors o’er thy grave,
Chor. And after us (distressed)
Should fame be dumb;
Thy very tomb
Would cry out, Thou art blessed.


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