"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
Today's Readings for the Daily Office (p. 946)
Psalms 72 (morning) // 119:73-96 (evening)
Isaiah 54:1-10 (11-17)
Today we have a remarkable convergence. We begin with a beautiful oracle from Isaiah consoling Jerusalem. Using the imagery of a childless mother, Isaiah tells the city that God will be her husband and will grant her many offspring. God's steadfast love will stay with her, "and my covenant of peace shall not be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you." Finally Isaiah imagines a new Jerusalem built of jewels and precious stones.
We move ahead five centuries and hear Paul's interpretation of these same verses. Paul takes this imagery from Isaiah and combines it with the story of Hagar and Sarah to tell the Christian community that there are two Jerusalems and two family lines of Abraham.
Paul argues that there is one inheritance from Abraham that is the inheritance of the flesh, through Hagar, from Mount Sinai for Moses was given the law. The children of this household are children of slavery, children of the law. Paul says that there is another inheritance from Abraham that is the inheritance of the Spirit, children of the promise through Sarah, which "corresponds to the Jerusalem above; she is free, and she is our mother."
Paul then quotes the same passage we have just read in Isaiah:"rejoice, you childless one, you who bear no children, burst into song and shout, you who endured no birth pangs; for the children of the desolate woman are more numerous than the children of the one who is married." We read Isaiah speaking those lines to a demoralized people in Babylonian exile and to a Jerusalem oppressors by foreign occupiers. And we read Paul's interpretation of that same passage for his generation five centuries later.
Paul asks the church to embrace the new inheritance of freedom and to reject the old prison of legalisms. It is our inheritance to be beloved children not slaves to rules.
>From time to time I hear people speak of their coming into the Episcopal Church in similar terms. They formerly lived in a religious community that was guilt based and moralistic. Here they found freedom and encouragement to claim their place as God's children and to live freely in the Spirit. May the promised blessing of many offspring, steadfast love, the covenant of peace and the compassion of God be fulfilled for us all.
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