Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Interpreting History

Tuesday, September 11, 2007 -- Week of Proper 18

"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 www.missionstclare.com
Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site www.ExploreFaith.org at this location -- http://explorefaith.org/prayer/fixed/index.html

Audio Podcasts of today's "Morning Reflection" and those from the past week are available from http://www.stpaulsfay.org/id244.html (go to St. Paul's Home Page www.stpaulsfay.org and click "Morning Reflection podcast")

Today's Readings for the Daily Office (p. 982)
Psalms 45 (morning) 47, 48 (evening)
1 Kings 16:23-34
Philippians 1:12-30
Mark 16:1-8(9-20)

Some monumental moments in scripture happen on this historic anniversary in our land.

Our narrative in 1 Kings jumps past the pitiful succession of royal intrigue and failures following the division of the kingdom. It jumps to Omri, arguably the most powerful and successful monarch in Israel's history. Like David, Omri founded a city, Samaria. Unlike David his dynasty lasted through five kings, including the long reign of Ahab. A historian might mark the reign of the "house of Omri" as the most successful period of Israel's political history. The theologian(s) writing Israel's history in the biblical books of Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel and 1 & 2 Kings are merely dismissive of Omri and simply scornful of Ahab and his successors. In their interpretation, the most significant ruler in Israel's history gets eight non-descript verses.

We finish Mark's gospel with his narrative of the resurrection. The women come to the tomb. It is empty. Inside a young man tells them not to be alarmed. "He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you." The women flee in "terror and amazement." They say nothing, for they are afaid. End of Gospel.

[Some later faithful souls weren't pleased with Mark's ending and added some material they thought would be more appropriate and uplifting. So we now have the optional "shorter" and "longer" endings of Mark.]

How do you interpret significant, historic events? The Deuteronomist recast history within his theology -- that blessing comes when Israel follows God's commandments and keeps its worship pure, with Jerusalem as the only shrine, temple or holy place. Mark emphasizes the suffering of Jesus and the failure of the disciples to understand his ministry. His book probably helped comfort his Christian community under pressure or persecution.

Each of us holds an interpretation of September 11 in our hearts as Americans. There is too much in my heart to try to put it down in a Morning Reflection. But I'll borrow a poem written by J. Chester Johnson. Chester did much of the work for our Psalter of the 1978 Book of Common Prayer. (He's coming to my Sunday School class on September 30.) This poem "St. Paul's Chapel" is the title poem of his most recently published collection.

St. Paul's Chapel.

It stood. Not a window broken. Not a stone dislodged.
It stood when nothing else did.
It stood when terrorists brought September down.
It stood among the myths. It stood among ruins.

To stand was its purpose, long lines prove that.
It stands, and around it now, a shrine of letters,
poems, acrostics, litter of the heart.
It is the standing people want:
To grieve, serve and tend
celebrate the lasting stone of St. Paul's Chapel.

And deep into its thick breath, the largest banner
fittingly from Oklahoma climbs heavenward
with hands as stars, hands as stripes, hands as a flag:
and a rescuer reaches for a stuffed toy
to collect a touch;
and George Washington's pew doesn't go unused.

Charity fills a hole or two.

It stood in place of other sorts.
It stood when nothing else could.
The great had fallen, as the brute hardware came down.
It stood.



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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 www.stpaulsfay.org

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


At 6:31 AM, Anonymous James Snapp, Jr. said...

Greetings Lovell,

I question the accuracy of your statement, "Some later faithful souls weren't pleased with Mark's ending and added some material they thought would be more appropriate and uplifting." Since Justin, Tatian, and Irenaeus (in the 100's) all provide examples of usage of Mark 16:9-20 as part of the Gospel of Mark, a case can be made that the "Long Ending" was not a /later/ addition, but was attached from the very earliest instance of dissemination of the Gospel of Mark, and was later excised by a copyist who perceived that it was an attachment.

For more info on the disputed passage, you're welcome to read the summarized presentation that begins at www.curtisvillechristian.org/MarkOne.html .

Yours in Christ,

James Snapp, Jr.


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