Monday, March 21, 2011

Prophets

Monday, March 21, 2011 -- Week of 2 Lent, Year One
Thomas Ken, Bishop of Bath and Wells, 1711
To read about our daily commemorations, go to our Holy Women, Holy Men blog:
http://liturgyandmusic.wordpress.com/category/holy-women-holy-men/

Today's Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p. 952)
Psalms 56, 57, [58]  (morning)        64, 65 (evening)
Jeremiah 1:11-19
Romans 1:1-15
John 4:27-42

"Do you indeed decree righteousness, you rulers; do you judge the peoples with equity?

"No; you devise evil in your hearts, and your hands deal out violence in the land."  (Psalm 58:1-2)

Jeremiah begins his work of prophesy in today's reading.  In a play on words he declares that God is watching, and that through Jeremiah, God will speak of what God sees.  The next vision is an ominous one.  Jeremiah sees a boiling pot, tilting its overflowing contents of fiery destruction to pour down from the north.  Jeremiah speaks what some would call treason.  He says that God is calling foreign enemies from another religion to invade and attack.  They will surround the walls of the people of Judah.

Then God tells Jeremiah to be like an immovable wall -- "a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze wall" -- against his own people -- "against the whole land -- against the kings of Judah, its princes, its priests, and the people of the land.  They will fight against you; but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, says the Lord, to deliver you."

Jeremiah lived the lonely life of one who consistently spoke truth to power in the name of God.  He suffered alienation and was accused of treason.  In a time of profound nationalism, Jeremiah challenged his people's self image.  He made them face their own dark side -- their injustice and violence. 

We shift to John's gospel, and we see Jesus acting in a way that challenged centuries of cultural prejudice and animosity.  From the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, Jews and Samaritans had been bitter enemies.  Jewish travelers through neighboring Samaria could expect only hostility and threat.  In another story from Luke's gospel (ch. 9), Jesus' advance team tried to make ready a place for the disciples to stay as they traveled through Samaria, and they were refused.  James and John wanted to give the Samaritans the Elijah treatment, "Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?"  Consuming fire from heaven would have seemed like the best thing for Samaritans according to popular thought.  But Jesus rebuked James and John and went to another village.

Today's story from John's gospel is the conclusion of the story of Jesus' conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well.  There is so much that is culturally challenging in this story.  In the Mediterranian, men do not talk to women in public, especially if they are not members of their own family.  Most women do not go to the well at noon, the hottest part of the day.  What was it about this woman that she was not coming with the rest of the women, but was at the well at noon?  And, most profoundly, Jews do not talk with Samaritans.  They are bitter enemies.  If the shadow of a Samaritan were to cross the person or path of a Jew, it would render the Jew ritually unclean.

But in today's story we see that Jesus has made a friend of the Samaritan woman.  At her urging, the Samaritans ask Jesus to stay with them, "and he stayed there two days."  Remarkable!

Jesus breaks down the cultural and nationalistic barriers, with all of their bigotry and prejudice, and he makes friends with the enemy.

Who serves as a prophet to our nation?  Who speaks to our leaders when we fail to "judge the people with equity"?  Who tells of the boiling pot that is tilted toward us because of our wrongdoing?  Who exposes our arrogance and prejudice?  Who makes friends with our enemies?

Jeremiah was tried for treason.  Jesus was executed as a blasphemer and enemy of the state.  We don't like prophets.  

Lowell

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Audio podcast:  Listen to an audio podcast of the most recent Morning Reflections from today and the past week.  Click the following link:
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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 missionstclare.com -- Click for online Daily Office
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 --  Click for Divine Hours

Discussion Blog:  To comment on today's reflection or readings, go to http://lowellsblog.blogspot.com, or click here for Lowell's blog find today's reading, click "comment" at the bottom of the reading, and post your thoughts.

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

See 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

1 Comments:

At 5:46 PM, Anonymous janet l graige said...

Lent Eleven

Fields ripe for reaping
Look with soft eyes at seeds sown
Pierced heart ripe for grace

Peace,
Janet

 

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