Issues Yesterday and Today
Friday, September 28, 2007 -- Week of Proper 20
"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 (p. 984)
Psalms 88 (morning) 91, 92 (evening)
2 Kings 9:17-37
1 Corinthians 7:1-9
There is so much in today's readings. Psalm 88 is unique among the Psalter. It is a psalm of bleak lament that offers no word of consolation or hope, no expression of confidence in God's rescue or justice. It ends, "My friend and my neighbor you have put away from me, and darkness is my only companion." For those who experience no sense of relief from human or God, this Psalm may be a contact point, connecting one's deep suffering with the great tradition.
Jehu executes his bloody coup d etat. In a dramatic narrative, the prophet Elisha initiated the political overthrow by arranging for the military commander Jehu to be anointed king. Today we read how he assassinated both Joram, king of Israel and Ahaziah, king of Judah, as they rested after battle. Then follows the gruesome killing of the Queen-mother Jezebel. The story follows the prophecy of Elijah (1 Kings 21). Ahab's son (not Ahab) dies in the field he stole from Naboth; the dogs get Jezebel. More bloodshed tomorrow. (And who says politics and religion don't mix?)
Paul offers advice about marriage and intimacy. In a passage that is remarkable for the time, he tells husbands and wives that they have mutual ownership over each other's body. Most contemporary accounts are not so egalitarian. Paul blesses sexual love between married couples, and he advises single persons to remain single, unless they are unable to remain chaste.
Finally we have the centerpiece of Matthew's composition of the great Sermon on the Mount. At the center of the sermon is the Lord's Prayer. It is a simple prayer, but worth great study. One of my mentors made it his practice to read a different commentary or reflection on the Lord's Supper every year. Eventually, he wrote his own. The prayer is interesting in its combination of spiritual and material concerns. If God's will is to be done on earth as in heaven, all will have their daily bread, and debts will be forgiven. The norm that Jesus offers is of giving without expectation of return. For many centuries, lending with interest was prohibited in places under Christian influence.
When reading this I am struck how the ancient issues are forever contemporary. So many people live with dark depression or with unsolvable problems. Religious inspired political violence and military coup is regularly in our news. We're still trying to figure out our healthy sexual boundaries. And God's will, daily bread, debt, and times of trial are topics of vital concern.
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
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