Thursday, September 06, 2007


Thursday, September 6, 2007 -- Week of Proper 17

"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. 982)
Psalms 37:1-18 (morning) 37:19-42 (evening)
1 Kings 11:1-13
James 3:13 - 4:12
Mark 15:12-21

We are at poignant turning points in our Old Testament and Gospel narratives. The epic story of 1 Kings began with ten chapters telling of Solomon's successes, especially the building of the Temple. We only pick up hints of underlying discord -- forced labor, wealthy excess, international entanglements, military dominion, rivalry within the royal family. In the praise of Solomon's wisdom and grandeur, you have to look close to see these wrinkles, but they are there. The historian is making the theological point that God established and blessed the throne of Solomon.

But now we see the consequences of these flaws as the theology turns. The historian will account for the tragic division of the kingdom which follows closely after Solomon's reign. In the style of a great Oriental autocrat, Solomon has a large harem of wives and concubines (female slaves). Many of his wives were part of treaty agreements with foreign kings. To accommodate these guests of state, Solomon built temples for them to practice their religious traditions. For the historian, this violation of the warnings of the Deuteronomic law are the fatal flaw that will doom his dynasty.

In Mark's Gospel we are now deep within the story of Jesus' Passion. The crowd's cry "Crucify him!" echoes in the streets. The obedient Son now goes to his painful death. Released is the guilty Barabbas, whose name means literally "Son of the Father." The guilty son freed; the innocent son tortured. On behalf of the Emperor, Pilate orders Jesus' execution. The soldiers mock Jesus' pretensions to royalty -- the crown of thorns, the reed for a scepter, the purple cloak. The royal authority in domination; the King of Kings in submission.

There is also a juxtaposition in James' epistle today. James contrasts good and wicked wisdom. True wisdom is grounded in God, and characteristically pure. It offers peace, gentleness, mercy, good fruits, impartial honesty, and a willingness to yield. The false wisdom is grounded in envy and selfish ambition. It creates a disorder that comes out of possessive ambition. The wisdom of gentle humility will overcome the falseness of control and envy.



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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 11:06 AM, Blogger The Underground Pewster said...

Sometimes the daily readings come at just the right time. As I am asked to make a decision that will make some unhappy and some relieved, the reading from James provides much needed added insight into peoples' motives, and the results of following our own path. "16 For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind." I see the disorder in the current situation, and also see the envy and ambition stirring things.
Help me to pray that the "wisdom from above" will decide "without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy."

At 3:46 PM, Blogger The Underground Pewster said...

Thanks, I am now looking forward to the next hurdle.


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