Wednesday, October 17, 2007

True Patriots

Wednesday, October 17, 2007 -- Week of Proper 23
(Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, and Martyr, c. 115)

"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 (Prayer Book, p. 988)
Psalms 119:1-24 (morning) 12, 13, 14 (evening)
Jeremiah 37:3-21
1 Corinthians 14:13-25
Matthew 10:24-33

What does it mean to be loyal to your people and nation? You can almost hear Zedekiah the king trying to intimidate Jeremiah. "You are not a patriot. Do not say the things you are saying. Your words only give aid and comfort to our enemies. Be quiet, and tell the people to support their leaders." Leaders never like to hear the bad news.

But Jeremiah perseveres in speaking truth to power. He tells Zedekiah that the Chaldeans (Babylonians) will take Jerusalem and burn it with fire. When Zedekiah sees a hopeful sign as the Babylonians lift the Jerusalem siege in order to go to meet the challenge of the army of Egypt, Jeremiah spoils his hope. If "there remained of them only wounded men in their tents, they would rise up and burn this city with fire."

So Zedekiah puts a bit of pressure on the prophet, to get him to change his tune. Officials trump a charge against Jeremiah, beat him and imprison him in a cistern house. Maybe if they soften him up he'll give them the "intelligence" they want.

But Jeremiah is like a rock. To the king he says, "You shall be handed over to the king of Babylon." Then Zedekiah backs off a bit and puts Jeremiah in more comfortable, but guarded quarters, with daily bread. At least until the bread runs out during the siege that fulfills Jeremiah's prophecy.

As we move into our reading of Matthew's gospel, it is like hearing Jesus send encouragement to Jeremiah from the future and send encouragement from the past to those who speak truth to power in our day. "So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known."

Jesus tell his followers to speak from the housetops the dark truths, and do not be afraid of those who threaten. They can do nothing to the soul. God sees and knows all. His eye is on the sparrow. God knows every hair on your head. God loves and values all people. So do not be afraid of those who use threat and lies to intimidate and frighten.

We live in a time when fear seems to be the weapon of choice. Terrorists are pitiful sorts, who have no power but the fear they hope to create. Fear seems to be the strategy of choice for our leadership as well. They seek to create enough anxiety and fear among our people that we will readily accede to their insistence upon violence, secrecy, intimidation of opponents, torture and the compromise of our historical freedoms. When contemporary Jeremiahs speak out against such futile strategies, their loyalty is demeaned and they are marginalized.

The Biblical witness challenges our day. Do not be afraid. Fear only plays into the purpose of terror. Fear and intimidation won't work. It didn't work for Zedekiah and it won't work today. "Have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret will not become known." God's eye is still on the sparrow. Let the sparrows sing.




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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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worship weekly
pray daily
learn constantly
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