Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Elisha & Nonviolence

Wednesday, September 26, 2007 -- Week of Proper 20
(Lancelot Andrewes, Bishop of Winchester, 1626)

"Morning Reflections" is a brief thought about the scripture readings from the Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer according to the practice found in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.

Morning Prayer begins on p. 80 of the Book of Common Prayer.
Evening Prayer begins on p. 117
An online resource for praying the Daily Office is found at
Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site at this location --

Audio Podcasts of today's "Morning Reflection" and those from the past week are available from (go to St. Paul's Home Page and click "Morning Reflection podcast")

Today's Readings for the Daily Office (p. 984)
Psalms 119:97:120 (morning) 81, 82 (evening)
2 Kings 6:1-23
1 Corinthians 5:9 - 6:8
Matthew 5:38-48

The collections of Elisha legends is thoroughly delightful. Like so many folk tales, they carry wisdom through entertaining stories.

Was George Washington a truthful man of character? Yes, we answer. How do you know? Once upon a time, when he was but a boy, young George cut down a cherry tree...

Tell me about the pioneers who settled this land. Once upon a time there was a man named Paul Bunyan... And have you heard the story of Johnny Appleseed...; ...and John Henry...

Elisha is truly the prophet of the people. Many of the stories tell of his acts of common kindness and empathy toward the peasants of the land. An ax head recovered; oil for a widow; a child for the childless; protection from a pot of poisonous stew; relief from drought; barley for the hungry. He wonderfully unites power and kindness.

In today's readings we hear imaginative stories about Elisha who uses his cunning and power to avoid war and violence. He provides keen intelligence to the king of Israel so his troops may avoid the army of Aram. And in a wonderful tale he frightens the Aramean army with a vision of the hosts of heaven that drives them blindly until they are trapped within the citadel of Samaria. Seeing their vulnerability, the king of Israel asks Elisha, "Father shall I kill them? Shall I kill them?" "No! ...Set food and water before them so that they may eat and drink; and let them go to their master." The king of Israel prepares a great feast for the army of Aram. "After they ate and drank, he sent them on their way, and ...the Arameans no longer came raiding into the land of Israel."

We could benefit from Elisha's counsel today if we would but listen to him. There are more creative ways to deal with violence and threat than merely to react with more violence and threat.

In our gospel reading today Jesus commands: "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; ...Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that is was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you..."

How far from this spirit we have come as a people. G.K. Chesterton is said to have observed, "It is not that Christianity has been tried and failed. It is that it has never been tried."



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The Rev. Lowell Grisham
Paul's Episcopal Church
Fayetteville, AR

The Mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church is to explore and celebrate
God's infinite grace, acceptance, and love.

See our Web site at

Our Rule of Life:
We aspire to...
worship weekly
pray daily
learn constantly
serve joyfully
live generously.


At 1:02 PM, Blogger The Underground Pewster said...

We live in an eye for an eye world. The problem with this approach is that eventually everyone will be blind.


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