Monday, February 25, 2008

Do-overs & Futures

Monday, February 25, 2008 -- Week of 3 Lent

Today's Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p. 955)
Psalms 80 (morning) 777, [79](evening)
Genesis 44:18-34
1 Corinthians 7:25-31
Mark 5:21-43

Do-overs & Futures

One of the defining things about the past is that it cannot be changed. And when you have done something that you regret, there is nothing you can do to undo it. The consequences follow and you are helpless to reverse the harm.

But how nice it is that occasionally we have an opportunity to offer some redemption. Sometimes we find ourselves in a position similar to the one when we failed, and if at this subsequent opportunity we choose well and do not repeat the mistake of the past, there is some significant satisfaction. We've learned something. We've broken a pattern.

In our first reading Joseph sets up his brothers in a situation similar to the one when they sent him into slavery. They are free to go if they will only give up Benjamin into slavery. Judah rises to the occasion. Unlike the earlier time when he did not act decisively to save his brother Joseph, this time Judah offers to sacrifice himself on behalf of his brother Benjamin. His charity will turn the story into joy. The past will be healed and a new future begun with Jacob's family reunited.

How different is Paul's perspective. There is no future, he says. He speaks from within the early Church's conviction that Jesus was to return immanently to usher in a new age. Everything will change. Therefore there is no point in planning for the future. No point in marrying; there is no time to raise a family. Possessions or future anticipations are meaningless. "For the present form of this world is passing away." No future; no cares.

But in the story from Mark's gospel, Jesus restores the future to two women. He gives them the gift of fecundity. Once they were cut off from future and from family. But the presence of Jesus heals them and gives them hope for a future and for children.

As Jesus is on the way to the home of Jairus, a woman with some form of vaginal or uterine bleeding secretly touches his cloak and is healed. It was a dangerous move on her part. Her bleeding makes her ritually unclean. She was not supposed to touch anyone, nor was she allowed to join the congregation in worship. For twelve years she has been marginalized from social and religious contact and unclean. She has been unable to participate normally in family or community life. She risked punishment when she touched Jesus. The normal reaction would have been hostile, for her touch would make another unclean.

Jesus sees only her suffering and her faith. He is not trapped by the cultural traditions of purity. He gives her peace. She now has a future. She can be restored to community, family, and the possibility of children.

But by the time Jesus arrives at Jairus' house, the little girl is dead. Her future is taken away. The text notes that she was twelve years old, just at the cusp of puberty. For her there will be no life, no family, no children. Jesus takes her by the hand and raises her. A new future; new hope. She gets a "do-over."

Every new day is a "do-over." This morning Jesus has taken each of us by the hand and raised us from the death of sleep. The past is done; the future is open. We have time to redeem the old mistakes and failures. We have an opportunity to create something new. Restored to hope, community and fecundity. Let there be life!


Audio podcast: Listen to an audio podcast of the most recent Morning Reflections from today and the past week. Click the following link: Morning Reflection Podcasts

About Morning Reflections
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 --

The Mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church
is to explore and celebrate
God's infinite grace, acceptance, and love.

Visit our web site at

Our Rule of Life
We aspire to...
worship weekly
pray daily
learn constantly
serve joyfully
live generously.

Lowell Grisham, Rector
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Fayetteville, Arkansas


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