Monday, July 26, 2010

The King's Game & Lists

Monday, July 26, 2010 -- Week of Proper 12, Year Two
Joachim and Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Click here to read more about today's observation at the Holy Women, Holy Men blog

Today's Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p. 977)
Psalms 56, 57, [58] (morning)       64, 65 (evening)
Joshua 24:16-33
Romans 16:1-16
Matthew 27:24-31 

Since our pilgrimage to the Holy Land I read this passage about the mocking of Jesus differently.  On the Via Dolorosa there is a site within a convent where stones from an ancient Roman roadway were re-used in a later building's foundation.  On the stones are markings of what many scholars believe are pieces of a life-size gameboard for a cruel pastime of Roman soldiers.  Called "The King's Game," the soldiers cast dice and moved the subject of the game around to various markings on the pavestones.  At each marking something would happen to the subject -- spitting, beating, mocking, etc.  The game was so violent that it was eventually banned by the Roman Army. 

There are visible markings in the stones under the convent in Jerusalem.  It is a moving thing to touch a stone that may have been one of the stations where the roll of the dice took Jesus in his suffering.  The physical and personal cruelty of it is horrifying.  And humbling.

One of the interesting things of this ending of Paul's letter to the Romans is the long list of greetings.  Paul knows a number of people in the Roman Church where he has never visited.  It is also notable the prominent number of women who are mentioned in his greetings.  Prisca (Priscilla) and Aquila show up again.  They are mentioned in several places as co-workers of Paul.  Here he remembers that they "risked their necks for my life."  In Rome there is a church in their house.

He also mentions "Andronicus and Junia" whom he recalls shared a prison stay with Paul and who are "prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was."  Some have seen this as a recognition that women were included among the apostles in the early church and had apostolic authority in the very early years of the church.

Paul's list is a reminder of the lists that we often make for remembering others in our prayers.  Like many, I keep a prayer list.  On one side I list those who are ill or who need our prayers for healing, wholeness and peace.  On the other side I keep lists of those who are close to me or in particular relationships with me -- family, friends, staff, the Order of the Ascension.  I also include on that list people and places that I either have a relationship with or that I want to particularly pray for -- places of violence, war or oppression, leaders of church and state, and special causes that are important to me.  As I read the list of Paul's friends to whom he sends greetings, I am reminded of my own list which is a way of offering the greeting of prayer to those for whom I care.  Lists are good things.



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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