Monday, November 05, 2007

When Conflict Lurks

Monday, November 5, 2007 -- Week of Proper 26

"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 990)
Psalms 56, 57, [58] (morning) 64, 65 (evening)
Nehemiah 6:1-19
Revelation 10:1-11
Matthew 13:36-43

Today's readings are full of accounts of struggle and conflict. God's people find themselves perpetually challenged and frustrated by people and powers that oppose their purposes. There are many ways to respond.

Psalms 56-57 give expression to the anger and hurt that we have when we see and experience injustice and oppression. The enemies speak deception, intending to harm those who are committed to God's ways of compassion and community. The Psalmist pours out heartfelt complaint to God, asking God to defend the good and oppose the wrong.

Unlike our movie traditions, the hero of the psalms doesn't not react violently to restore justice, but maintains a heart fixed upon God. He sees that the seeds of the wrongdoers' destruction are present already within the pit they have dug to secure their own means -- they will fall into the pit themselves. The psalmist places faith in God's loving-kindness more than the means of aggression and force, verbal or physical. "You will send from heaven and save me; you will confound those who trample upon me; you will send forth your love and your faithfulness."

It is God's love and faithfulness is stronger than anything that can threaten us. "Whenever I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. In God I trust and will not be afraid, for what can flesh do to me?" Although the psalmist feels deeply threatened, he sets his heart in a courageously hopeful stance. "My heart is firmly fixed, O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and make melody." The psalmist finds the words and songs of praise lift him beyond his fear. (quotes are from the Saint Helena Psalter)

The reading from Nehemiah offers another, yet similar strategy for continuing in God's work in the face of challenge and conflict. Nehemiah remains steadfast and focused in his work on the Jerusalem wall. He takes proactive measures to protect the work and the people. He comes up with creative solutions to economic pressures, acting generously and sacrificially. He speaks truth to power. He ignores threats and intimidation. He faces down sabotage. Nehemiah uses his leadership abilities to maintain focus to accomplish a challenging goal, working and praying ceaselessly.

John's Revelation takes flight in creative imagination to reinforce his conviction that God's will and God's power is supreme and will overcome the lure of luxury and wealth represented by the Greco-Roman culture of materialism and self-indulgence. His visions see the destructive end of such selfish ways and the inevitable triumph for those who follow God's path.

Finally, Matthew allegorizes Jesus' parable of the wheat and the weeds. His allegory reminds us that we live in a world in which people must choose what they will follow, and those choices make a difference. God will ultimately reward the good and punish the evil.

Life is difficult. There is constant conflict. Sometimes the evil prosper and the good suffer. Trust God. Fix your heart upon God, trust and persevere. God will triumph.

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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