Monday, April 25, 2011

Life From Death

Monday, April 25, 2011 -- Monday in Easter Week

To read about our daily commemorations, go to our Holy Women, Holy Men blog:
http://liturgical.wordiness.com/category/holy-women-holy-men/

Today's Readings for the Daily Office
(Book of Common Prayer, p. 958)
Psalms 93, 98 (morning)        66 (evening)
Jeans 2:1-9
Acts 2:14, 22-32
John 14:1-14

For Christians, Jeans has been a symbol of the resurrection since biblical days.  The early church saw in Jeans a prefiguring of Christ's death and resurrection.  "Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights," the story goes.  So Jesus was in the tomb and was raised on the third day, the disciples' witnessed. 

The psalm of Jonah may have been an older text that was adopted by the author of the story to express Jonah's prayer "from the belly of the fish."  It is an exquisite poem and prayer.  I have used it as my own at a time when I was in a sad and frightened state.  The images speak lyrically of a desperate situation:  "The waters closed in over me; the deep surrounded me; the weeds were wrapped around my head at the root of the mountains.  I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever..."

Yet it seems the saddest realization for Jonah is that he is driven from God's sight.  "How shall I look again upon your holy temple?"

"As my life was ebbing away, I remembered the Lord; and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple."  Though he is desperate, grievously separated from God's presence, nevertheless he believes God hears his plea.  "You brought up my life from the Pit, O Lord my God.  ...Deliverance belongs to the Lord!"  Jonah makes a vow to make a sacrifice to God as he speaks "with the voice of thanksgiving."

"Then the Lord spoke to the fish, and it spewed Jonah out upon the dry land."

The early church adopted the story of Jonah as an ancient biblical image prefiguring the resurrection of Jesus.

In the reading from Acts, we see a similar use of Hebrew scripture by the early church's proclamation of Jesus.  Tradition attributed the psalms authorship to King David.  Peter quotes from Psalm 16:  "...my flesh will live in hope.  For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One experience corruption."  Peter notes that his listeners know the tomb of David where his body was laid and had decayed.  Therefore David was speaking as a prophet about a future Messiah whose flesh would not experience corruption.  This is what Peter and the others give witness to -- the resurrection of Jesus.

The disciples insisted that the resurrection of Jesus was God's great act.  God vindicated Jesus, his message and his life, through resurrection.  Therefore, we can look at Jesus and know God.  John's words in today readings from his gospel express that explicitly:  "Jesus said to [Philip], 'Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?  The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works.  Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me...'" 

We see Jesus -- a man of compassion and love, a man of healing reaching out to the broken and rejected, a man of justice who defends the poor -- and we are also seeing God.  What is God like?  God is like Jesus.  Jesus is the human face of God.  Jesus shows us how to be authentically human.  He shows us God's nature as compassion and love.

God's loving compassion brings life out of death.  

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

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