Monday, October 01, 2007

A History of Hostility

Monday, October 1, 2007 -- Week of Proper 21
(Remigius, Bishop of Rheims, c. 530)

"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. 986)
Psalms 89:1-18 (morning) 89:19-52 (evening)
2 Kings 17:24-41
1 Corinthians 7:25-31
Matthew 6:25-34

In 2 Kings 17 we see the beginning of centuries of division and animosity. In the early 700's BCE Sargon II of Assyria sent over 27,000 inhabitants of Israel into exile. People from other nations and cultures were resettled in the capital Samaria and other cities. So much of the land was abandoned that lions began to prowl and attack, so the Assyrians sent priests from exile back into Israel/Samaria to appease the God of that land so the lions would retreat.

The remnant of those left in Israel continued to worship according to their ancient Jewish traditions. Residents from other places brought with them their gods and traditions. Jewish Samaritan worship continued alongside other traditions.

In 588 the southern kingdom of Judah was defeated and by the Babylonians and many of its residents from Jerusalem and elsewhere were sent into exile. In 459 Ezra led about 5,000 Jews from Babylon to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple. When their relatives from Samaria offered to help with the rebuilding efforts, Ezra rebuffed them curtly, regarding them as heretics. The groups became hostile toward one another.

Around 330 the Samaritan Jews rebuilt their Temple on Mount Gerizim. When threatened by the Syrian despot Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175-164 BCE), they avoided bloodshed by allowing the Temple on Mount Gerizim to be renamed for the Greek deities. In Jerusalem, Antiochus defiled the Jerusalem Temple by sacrificing swine and installing his own priests, prompting the Maccabbean revolt which expelled the Syrians and installed a short-lived Jewish dynasty. In 128, one of the Jewish Maccabean generals destroyed the Jewish Samaritan Temple on Mount Gerizim. Later Samaritans suffered both Christian and Moslem hostilities. Today there are a few hundred Jewish Samaritans left, though they have been severely threatened by the Intifadas and Jewish-Palestinian clashes, trying to remain neutral, for the most part.

We pick up the history of Jewish-Samaritan hostilities several places in our Gospel. Jesus tells a story with the shocking subject of a good and compassionate Samaritan. He has a remarkable visit with a Samaritan woman in John's gospel. One of the singular characteristics of Jesus is his refusal to accept his culture's centuries of animosity toward Samaritans and his open and charitable relations with them.

How different might our world be if all Christians were as generous as Jesus toward those of different faiths and those whom our cultures tell us are enemies, evil or threatening.

I can't let the sermon "do not worry about your life" pass without offering one of my favorite quotes from Robert Wicks. It is called "Paradigm of Openness."

Have low expectations and high hopes. Have low expectations of people so you don't force them directly or indirectly to meet certain anticipations you might have as to how they should or should not respond to you and your actions. But have high hopes for them based on a ruthless faith in God that something good, something dear and beautiful will come of it if you are looking and listening with an open heart.

Forgive yourself and other people for their defensiveness. Being cautious is natural for faithless and hopeless persons -- and we all fall into this category more or less.

Be as open as possible to being surprised by the encounter. In other words, we must not look for our god and reactions that we feel would be important and right. We must position ourselves instead to see whatever we will see amidst the joy, pain, apathy, anxiety, peace, depression, or tension we experience. When we are truly open, we will be surprised by something in the encounter. And that surprise -- that unique presence of God -- can be called by another name: holiness. (from Robert J. Wicks, "Living Simply in an Anxious World")

Maybe there is a connection between Jesus' free attitude toward the Samaritans and Wicks' "Paradigm of Openness."



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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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At 2:31 PM, Blogger The Underground Pewster said...

The "Paradigm of Openness" should pop up on the screen whenever you click on someone else's blog. In particular the low expectations but high hopes part.


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