Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Reclamation Projects

Wednesday, February 10, 2010 -- Week of 5 Epiphany, Year Two

Today's Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p. 947)
Psalms 119:97-120 (morning) 81, 82 (evening)
Genesis 27:1-29
Romans 12:1-8
John 8:12-20

Life is unfair. Sometimes the schemers and dishonest win. Jacob deceived his father Issac. He stole his brother Esau's blessing and inheritance. His mother Rebekah planned the whole thing. Greed, ambition, favoritism. Intentional lying, deception, and disloyalty. It's not supposed to happen this way. This is a break in the natural order of things. A slick urbanite sticks the country rube again. The threat of violence, and later of war, hangs over the whole scene.

You could play these features out in hundreds of scenarios. The cunning financiers figure out ways to stifle the regulatory system and rig a complicated scheme of sub-prime mortgages that they hawk to naive people who think they have been given entrance to the American dream -- to own my own home. It's a lie. It's not supposed to happen that way. But a sales commission happens quickly, and greed blinds common sense. The whole deck of cards tumbles, bankrupting people out of their homes, plunging a worldwide economic system into chaos and recession. But some of these players are too big to fail. They get bailed out, despite their wrongdoing. And when they turn a fast buck again, the same scoundrels reward themselves again.

At stake is trust. Jacob broke trust with his father and brother. It will cause a break in their family that will last for decades. Financial systems are systems of trust. A trust is a legal financial document. A failure of trust sank our financial system. When you can't trust that a loan will be repaid, everything unravels.

God works in this mess. According to the stories that we have, God does the best divine work in the midst of bad things.

Jacob will become God's reclamation project. It will take decades. Jacob will always have that sneaky streak in him. But God can use even our faults. Eventually there will be a reconciliation between Jacob and Esau. But that is out of Jacob's power. It is Esau who will have to do the forgiving.

So we pray to God. Help us in our mess. Start the project to reclaim our nation and its financial system. Give us the discipline to restore trust. Teach us to exercise our greedy nature in a way that can bring prosperity to all rather than deceit and injustice. If God can make a man out of Jacob, God can make our nation into something respectable. No doubt, it will take decades.

Like Jacob, we will have to learn to discipline our greed, pride and selfishness. We will have to learn to see the ones that God sees first -- the poor, the weak, the marginalized -- and to see them for good, not for cunning. We will have to earn trust. We will have to pay the price. Earning trust is costly. You have to do right by people. You have to be willing to work for good, not just for your own self-interests. You have to use power righteously. You have to learn to live in the wider world.

Jacob will have to travel. He will have to learn to live with other families. He will wrestle with God. He will be wounded. But God will be with him, to bless and guide him.

God is with us too. God invites us to travel the world, to learn to live with other families. God challenges us to wrestle with the divine demands. God is with us, to bless and guide us too.

If God can reclaim and rehabilitate Jacob, God can reclaim and rehabilitate this nation.


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
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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


At 8:36 AM, Anonymous Caroline Stevenson said...

People who benefit from financial tampering find it in their best interests to keep one group fighting against another. That way we are all distracted from the real problems facing us.

Manufacturers of weapons continue to promote fear of the other to sell their tools of death and destruction. Where is our will to follow Christ?

At 8:47 AM, Blogger Lowell said...

Amen, Caroline.


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