Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mary Magdalene

Thursday, July 22, 2010 -- Week of Proper 11, Year Two
Saint Mary Magdalen

Today's Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer)
EITHER the readings for Thursday of Proper 11, p. 977
Psalms 50 (morning)       [59, 60] or 66, 67 (evening)
Joshua 9:3-21
Romans 15:1-13
Matthew 26:69-75

the readings for Mary Magdalene, p 998
Morning Prayer:  Psalm 116; Zephaniah 3:14-20; Mark 15:47 - 16:7
Evening Prayer:  Psalms 30, 149; Exodus 15:19-21; 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

I chose the readings for Mary Magdalene

I've been feeling a sense of some foreboding recently.  I think it has something to do with the reports of a swelling anger in our nation.  When our nation gets angry, we often make bad decisions. 

Mary Magdalen was the first to recognize resurrection.  The Eastern church calls her the "first apostle." 

Maybe it was because she had been through so much suffering that she could see new possibility.  Luke's gospel says that she had been freed from seven demons by Jesus.  She was among his disciples, and must have shared their despair when the one in whom they had put their hope was so publicly destroyed.  Yet she got up very early on that Sunday morning simply to do her duty -- to do what had to be done.  She went with the other women taking spices to the tomb to anoint the dead body of their friend.  How hard it is to get up and do your duty when things seem so dark and hopeless.  Yet there she is.

In the course of her fulfilling these sad obligations, she witnesses resurrection.

The words of Zephaniah are given to us for today:  "Sing aloud, daughter Zion; shout, O Israel!  Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem!  The Lord has taken away the judgments against you, he has turned away your enemies."

The prophet goes on to say that we shall fear no more.  (It is so often fear that provokes anger.) 

God will "deal with all your oppressors..."

"And I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise..." 

"At that time I will bring you home, at that time when I gather you; ...when I restore your fortunes before your eyes, says the Lord."

That's what I want to see.  I want to see that for our nation.  I want to see the lame saved and the outcast gathered.  I want to see the homeless housed and the unemployed's fortunes restored.  I'm tired of the oppressors.  I'm tired of the wealthy and powerful, the polluters and abusers always making the rules and getting things their way.  I don't want angry people making more bad decisions.  I want hopeful people -- doing their duty, willing to anoint dead bodies and to keep on keeping on in charity and hope -- I want hopeful people to see and announce resurrection. 

Instead of fear, I want people motivated by love.  After all, perfect love casts out fear.  Mary Magdalene knows all about that.



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


At 11:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wouldn't that all be so nice. But then there is the "theory" of total depravity that you so lightly tossed aside in one of our earlier conversations.
Our president is just another example in an almost endless list of failures. Jumping to conclusions as illustrated by the recent firing of a USDA employee.

"God will deal with all your oppressors" Lowell, not Obama or the government.

God "will save the lame and gather the outcast" Lowell, Not fallen man.

God "will bring you home" Lowell, not Budda, Not L.Ron Hubbord, Not the Dalai Lama, Not Muhammed.

You say you want to see it happen. I want to see it happen too, but our Big Brother is making that more and more impossible to help our fellow man (by design?). HMMMMMMM, kinda sounds familiar, maybe we need to revisit that total depravity "theory" again.


At 1:02 PM, Anonymous janet said...

Hi Lowell,

Amen and Amen, my friend.

When we lose compassion, we lose our freedom.


At 3:43 PM, Blogger HumbleHumanity said...

Well Janet, freedom (aka liberty) is endowed by our creator. We can't lose it, but we can give it away. For example, entrusting our government to be the end all providor and nanny. As Obama "spreads it around", I no longer have the freedom to help my fellow man. America has corporately given much of our freedom away.
We give away our freedom, then compassion becomes prohibitively costly.

At 8:25 AM, Blogger Lowell said...


Haven't you seen the consequences of two decades of pretending there is no such thing as total depravity among corporations? Two decades of "freedom" -- deregulation -- produced enough financial depravity that money speculators created the biggest depression since the 1920's and sweet arrangements with the oil industry lowered blowout safeguards enough so we could enjoy the greatest man-made environmental catastrophe in history. Meanwhile the insurance industry took over medicine, leaving 500,000 in Arkansas free to be unable to afford health care coverage. And George Bush started a war on false pretenses, killing people and spending money like it was water. (He inherited a balanced budget and a surplus from Clinton, you know.) The wealthy and powerful have been calling the shots -- and look what it got us.

We need reasonable regulations on the freedom to abuse others and the earth. You just want to sit around and wait for God to fix things. I think God expects us to help.


At 1:59 PM, Blogger HumbleHumanity said...

Help? Define help. Seriously. I would love to hear your definition of HELP when it comes to this topic. To be even more specific, what do you "think" God expects that help to look like.

At 8:15 AM, Blogger Lowell said...

What does "help" look like? Easy. Just look at what Jesus and the prophets say. When Amos, Isaiah, Micah, and Hosea speak of what the society and its rulers should be doing, they point to the needs of the poor. Jesus and the prophets call us, in the name of God, to feed the hungry, heal the sick, welcome the stranger, provide for the vulnerable, execute justice, promote righteousness and equity. On the negative side, they eschew greed and radical economic inequality, the abuse of power, and disrespect of the land that God has given us.

Whenever the society failed at these things, God raised up prophets to call the leaders and people back to these values of God. That's a public and civic Biblical agenda that God expects us to carry out.


At 9:13 AM, Blogger HumbleHumanity said...

Two points.

I would agree with the picture you just painted. Will you agree that even all that being said, it is still a personal decision to follow it, be it the leader or the lowly citizen?. God didn't regulary force anyone to "carry out" the civic or public agenda. Agreed?

Second. Lets talk straight. I believe there is a finite amount of resources. God certainly has infinite power and can do as he pleases, however, there is hunger and need mentioned in the Bible. Is there not? There is hunger and need today, is there not?
Since there are needy today, you have to acknowledge that God is allowing it, for some reason. Agreed?

At 9:42 AM, Blogger HumbleHumanity said...

One other question,

Where in the Bible does is say anything about "radical economic inequality"?

At 8:16 AM, Blogger Lowell said...

Well, Greg,
I'd have to say "No," I can't agree with your two points.

1. The judgment that the prophets continually proclaimed was a corporate judgment. It was often aimed especially at the king, the authorities and the elites. They were expected to use their powers and the resources of government to carry out the agenda on behalf of the poor, alien, vulnerable, etc. That means taxing the wealthy and providing help to the poor. Those were political and economic statements by the prophets -- not just pious recommendations to encourage the religiously observant.

(2) No. I do not believe that it is God's will that some be hungry. It is our greed and failure to distribute wealth and food that causes hunger. Jerffrey Sachs has argued convincingly that we have the means to wipe out extreme hunger, if we only had the will. ("The End of Poverty.") God allows murder and child sexual abuse, but God does not will it. We dare not shrug such evils off with a notion that God must be allowing these things for some reason. It is human sin. Not God's will.


At 8:18 AM, Blogger Lowell said...

I sent a response via email to your question about radical economic inequality. Not sure it got there. I may have been replying to the blog, in which case I think it goes into the webosphere.

Read the story of the first organization of the 12 tribes. Sometimes called the Confederacy. The tribes were given very equal portions. Families were given relatively equal allotments. The expectation was that after a period of time (49 years), if there were inequalities, and some people gained property or great wealth through their business dealings, those inequalities would be cancelled during the Jubilee Year. At that time, debts would be cancelled, property returned to the former families in an equal distribution. (The notion of selling property fee simple is not a Biblical notion. Ahab and Jezebel killed Naboth because he believed it was a violation of God’s command to sell his family’s land. That was part of the tradition of equality of land distribution to every family.)

Do a word search on equity, especially in the Psalms. The words “justice” and “equity” regularly appear together. The concepts are theologically paired in many verses in the Hebrew Bible. Justice and equity usually have reference to the poor and weak vis a vis the wealthy and powerful. Regularly, in the Old Testament, God expresses a preferential option for the poor and weak. In the prophetic literature there is great suspicion of the wealthy and downright condemnation of the greedy.

Read Amos. He has very strong words about the “cows of Bashan” and the wealthy elite who recline on ivory beds and live in luxury while failing to pay attention to the plight of the poor in the land. Amos is a study in the critique of radical economic inequality.

At 9:51 AM, Blogger HumbleHumanity said...

It is real hard to discuss anything with you. You rarely if every quote scripture directly and you use words like OFTEN, which needless to say is a bit of a copout.

I don't know how you can't agree that complying with the Bible (regarding the poor and needy) is a personal decision. Certainly there are consequences for failing to Obey, but I would submit that there is NO example of God forcing anyone to help the poor and needy. There certainly is corporate judgement , but there is no "forced service", no example of it that I know of. So you are not disagreeing with me, but with a premise you put forth.

Second, I didn’t say it is God’s will that people are needy and hungry. I don’t presume to KNOW God’s will unless he tells it to me. I did say that God allows it. Of that, you can’t disagree either. I don’t know why you feel it is necessary to put words in my mouth. You acknowledge that God allows murder and yet try to say that I believe it is Gods will when I clearly said he allows it. Very disingenuous.

Neither of your “disagreements” are actually disagreeing with any idea I put forth. So if you want to restate whether you agree or disagree with what I actually said then we can proceed. I would like to continue this discussion but I refuse to continue if you insist on putting words in my mouth to fit your agenda.

At 10:07 AM, Blogger HumbleHumanity said...

On the other topic, let me ask you a question.

Can or will you distinguish that there is a difference between "radical economic inequality" and "failing to pay attention to the plight of the poor in the land"?

You have to admit that you and I are "radically" more affluent economically than many, even most worldwide.

At 10:07 AM, Blogger HumbleHumanity said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 11:54 AM, Blogger HumbleHumanity said...

cows of Bashan?

At 8:02 AM, Blogger Lowell said...

I wrote a long reply to you last night, and must have failed to hit the publish button before I closed out. Ugh.

I did want to thank you for hanging in there with me in conversation. I don't mean to be difficult to discuss with, and I certainly don't want to misrepresent you or put words in your mouth.

We could communicate so much better in person. How about lunch? I'm free Friday?


At 8:49 AM, Blogger HumbleHumanity said...

I have had that happen and it just annoys when you lose it. And I don't knwo about you but I never seem to be able to replicate my thoughts as good that second time.

let me check my schedule.



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