Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Cloud and the Poor

Tuesday, March 30, 2010 -- Tuesday in Holy Week

Today's Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p. 957)
Psalms 6, 12 (morning)       94 (evening)
Lamentations 1:17-22
2 Corinthians 1:8-12
Mark 11:27-33

All of our readings today are under great cloud, as is appropriate for Holy Tuesday. 

The anguish of Lamentations is almost beyond our imagination, living in a nation that has never been destroyed and deported by a foreign invader.  At one point the author looks around at the other nations and wishes the rest of them would get what they deserve also.  (We'll see a very different response from Jesus in suffering later this week.) 

Paul remembers a time when he was "so utterly, unbearably crushed" that he "despaired of life itself," feeling that he had received the sentence of death.  Some of us can also remember such times, and possibly we have healed to the place that like Paul we can use that memory for strength under other trials. 

And Jesus confronts challenges to his right to speak and to his authority, as the pressure from his enemies begins to grow.  He slips this noose, but we know that he will not escape their threats for long.

There are times when we live under great threat, anguish, and suffering.  We do not need to look far for companions along that way in our scriptures.  And it is important to note, that many of the expressions of agony and grief come from within a context where the sufferer acknowledges that it was his own failures, choices and sins that brought on the horrible consequences.  Even when one is guilty, we may cry out to God for relief, and know we are heard. 

Psalm 12 caught my eye today.  The psalmist lives in a context where smooth tongues of oppressive people hold sway, and "that which is worthless is prized by everyone."  The writer feels overwhelmed by the powers of those "talking heads" who are threatening the society. 

"Because the needy are oppressed, and the poor cry out in misery, I will rise up," says God, "and give them the help they long for."

Since the days of the Exodus, God has given a special ear to the poor and needy who cry to God.  So many of our stories speak of God's compassionate care for the poor.  Many others speak of God's hand being outstretched to overturn those who oppress the needy.  There is a remarkably deep and wide Biblical tradition of advocacy for the poor. 

One hint for us in times of conflict and challenge.  If we are to be on the side of God, we should look to the interests and needs of the poor.  If we do not want to be among those who are called unrighteous, if we do not want to find ourselves as enemies of God, we had better not ignore the needs of the poor or contribute to their oppression.  If we find that we gravitate toward the world view and interests of the wealthy or powerful, we can know that we are probably walking away from rather than toward God's interests.  That is a good lesson for us in our own time of conflict and challenge.

Lowell

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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 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

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 www.stpaulsfay.org

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

4 Comments:

At 11:08 AM, Anonymous janetlgraige said...

The little, the lost and the least are those who cry out for mercy, for justice, for compassion. We can equate the poor and needy from the psalm with these. And we can see where Jesus, and where the tradition that Jesus was a part of stood. But who is more lost, who is more poor than the oppressor, who uses worldly power to justify the distinction between mine and their's. And who did Jesus find it necessary to forgive, who was in the state of needing the most forgiveness, from the cross..
Peace, Janet

 
At 1:34 AM, Blogger HumbleHumanity said...

I definitely agree with Janet today. I don't think Obama heard this from Rev. Wright. How could anyone deny the relevance? He's using his worldly power to take and distribute according to his debts (like giving tax breaks to the rich union workers who he said he owes). I fear for him, I really do. Thank you for putting my fear into words Janet

 
At 1:36 PM, Anonymous janetlgraige said...

Hmmm... Well, not exactly my words. I did not in any way reference the oppressor to Obama. Those are your tangled and twisted analogies, Humble. I greatly admire Pres. Obama for his intent and actions. Janet

 
At 9:08 AM, Blogger HumbleHumanity said...

You admire Obama? How pragmatic of you. You must be one of the recipients of his hand outs.

It is sad when the truth (Obama giving the unions and their Cadillac a break from the opressive to tax) is a twisted analogy. Lady, I just gave you proof that Obama is using his power to repay to unions for supporting him. Obama even said, in his own words, "I OWE YOU GUYS". But let me guess, you can't handle the truth.

and by the way, The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

 

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