Thursday, October 25, 2007

Rebuilding

Thursday, October 25, 2007 -- Week of Proper 24

"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 (Book of Common Prayer p. 988)
Psalms 37:1-18 (morning) 37:19-42 (evening)
Ezra 1:1-11
1 Corinthians 16:1-9
Matthew 12:15-21

The quiet, costly work of rebuilding is a theme that seems to run through our readings today.

Psalm 37 encourages people to live faithfully with hope during difficult times. The wealthy and powerful who oppress will not do so forever. God will stand up for the just and the poor, "The little that the righteous has is better than great riches for the wicked. For the power of the wicked shall be broken, but God upholds the righteous."

We read from the beginning of Ezra, when King Cyrus issues a decree to allow the return of exiles from Babylon to Jerusalem. Jerusalem was destroyed and its Temple looted and burned in 587 BCE. The leaders and many people were deported to live elsewhere. The Persian leader Cyrus captured Babylon in 539 BCE. One of the Persian strategies for stability and defense was to strictly control access to the land of their subject populations. The empire maintained control by sharply separating the regions and having each native people keep strict oversight for its area. Cyrus sent leaders of Judah and Benjamin to create such controls in Judah, with authority to rebuild the Temple. The dark side of their mission was the expectation that they would ethnically cleanse the region of non-Jews so that the Persian appointed local regents could control access to the land apportioned to Judah. The first part of the rebuilding will be to restore a Temple as the community is to be reformed around the house of God.

Paul gives some stewardship instruction to the congregation at Corinth. He is writing from Ephesus where he will stay until Pentecost (late spring). He gives the Corinthians the same "directions I gave to the churches of Galatia. On the first day of every week, each of you is to put aside and save whatever extra you earn, so that collections need not be taken when I come." The collection he speaks of is relief money to be sent to the struggling church in and around Jerusalem. He wants them to raise that outreach collection weekly so he won't have to conduct a campaign. Presumably this collection is above and beyond the regular offerings to maintain and support the local congregation. He wants Corinth to have a stake in the rebuilding of the beleaguered community in Israel.

Finally we read of Jesus' mission to rebuild God's people Israel. Matthew sees Jesus fulfilling the role of the suffering servant of the prophet Isaiah. The servant brings justice, not just to Israel, but to the Gentiles as well. But he does so gently, quietly, humbly. "He will not wrangle or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets. He will not break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick..."

What quiet works of rebuilding or mission are you involved in? There are so many individuals and groups who are reaching out with compassion and generosity, holding on to hope for restoration and justice. Some seek to bring freedom and empowerment to oppressed people; some bring relief and aid for building and rebuilding. Those of us in the wealthy, comfortable "Corinthian" world can help finance and support these works of charity. God's work has always been to liberate, heal, and reconcile. All of us have our part to take in God's work.

Lowell
______________________

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The Rev. Lowell Grisham
St
.
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.

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