Friday, September 28, 2007

Issues Yesterday and Today

Friday, September 28, 2007 -- Week of Proper 20

"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 88 (morning) 91, 92 (evening)

2 Kings 9:17-37

1 Corinthians 7:1-9
Matthew 6:7-15

There is so much in today's readings. Psalm 88 is unique among the Psalter. It is a psalm of bleak lament that offers no word of consolation or hope, no expression of confidence in God's rescue or justice. It ends, "My friend and my neighbor you have put away from me, and darkness is my only companion." For those who experience no sense of relief from human or God, this Psalm may be a contact point, connecting one's deep suffering with the great tradition.

Jehu executes his bloody coup d etat. In a dramatic narrative, the prophet Elisha initiated the political overthrow by arranging for the military commander Jehu to be anointed king. Today we read how he assassinated both Joram, king of Israel and Ahaziah, king of Judah, as they rested after battle. Then follows the gruesome killing of the Queen-mother Jezebel. The story follows the prophecy of Elijah (1 Kings 21). Ahab's son (not Ahab) dies in the field he stole from Naboth; the dogs get Jezebel. More bloodshed tomorrow. (And who says politics and religion don't mix?)

Paul offers advice about marriage and intimacy. In a passage that is remarkable for the time, he tells husbands and wives that they have mutual ownership over each other's body. Most contemporary accounts are not so egalitarian. Paul blesses sexual love between married couples, and he advises single persons to remain single, unless they are unable to remain chaste.

Finally we have the centerpiece of Matthew's composition of the great Sermon on the Mount. At the center of the sermon is the Lord's Prayer. It is a simple prayer, but worth great study. One of my mentors made it his practice to read a different commentary or reflection on the Lord's Supper every year. Eventually, he wrote his own. The prayer is interesting in its combination of spiritual and material concerns. If God's will is to be done on earth as in heaven, all will have their daily bread, and debts will be forgiven. The norm that Jesus offers is of giving without expectation of return. For many centuries, lending with interest was prohibited in places under Christian influence.

When reading this I am struck how the ancient issues are forever contemporary. So many people live with dark depression or with unsolvable problems. Religious inspired political violence and military coup is regularly in our news. We're still trying to figure out our healthy sexual boundaries. And God's will, daily bread, debt, and times of trial are topics of vital concern.

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.


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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.

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


At 12:25 AM, Blogger Telmeimrong said...

It is interesting how you say "we are trying to figure out our healthy sexual boundaries". Hmmm, God already set them up, one man, one woman, marriage. Not to hard to figure out.

We are so arogant when "we" try to "figure" out anything.

Isa 55:8-9 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

At 9:09 AM, Blogger scott said...

As usual with my little brain, I'm a bit confused. I don't really see how these same verses again prove the point that you're trying to make. To me, these verses talk about the deep mystery and unknowns of God. This idea of mystery and unknown is present in most mainstream religions. Whether it be Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, or Christianity... they ALL teach to guard against knowing God's "thoughts"... and for very good reasons.

Lowell certainly doesn't need my defense but I read his reflection as a call to follow the way that Christ teaches in dealing with things that come up in our lives.

Your views on homosexuality have become quite clear... I for one, respect and admire your passion on the issue. Not to marginalize that same passion, but I just don't think about it very much.

just my .02


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