Thursday, September 06, 2012

Turning to God

Thursday, September 6, 2012 -- Week of Proper 17

[Go to for an online version of the Daily Office including today's scripture readings.]

Today's Readings for the Daily Office

     (Book of Common Prayer, p. 983)
Psalms 37:1-18 (morning)    //    37:19-42 (evening)
Job 16:16-22; 17:1, 13-16      
Acts 13:1-12     
John 9:1-17

Since yesterday's Old Testament reading, we have skipped Eliphaz's second answer to Job.  Eliphaz has argued with his friend Job, again presenting his consistent, conventional worldview -- God punishes the evil and rewards the good.  It is impossible for Eliphaz to see Job's true situation, an innocent man who is suffering radically.  The conversation between Job and Eliphaz is going nowhere. 

Job has presented his plight to his friends, and they cannot see its wholeness.  They can see his suffering, but not his innocence.  Job begins in this chapter to speak less and less to his friends and to turn more and more to God.  Job senses that his situation is so extreme that its satisfaction can only be found in God's presence or in his own annihilation.

There is a passage from St. Augustine's commentary on Psalm 121 that speaks to Job's quest for an audience with God, for only God is Being itself.  Augustine invites us to orient ourselves toward the fullness of life found only in God's ultimate Being.

My brothers and sisters, where does time go?  The years slip and slide past us, day by day.  Those things which were, no longer are; those things yet to come, are not here.  The past is dead; the future is yet to come, but only to pass away in turn.  Today exists only for the moment in which we speak.  Its first hours are already over and behind us, the remainder do not as yet exist; they are still to come, but only to fall into nothingness.

Nothing in this world has constancy in itself.  The body does not possess being; it has no permanence.  It changes with age; it changes with time and place; it changes as a result of sickness or accident.  The stars have as little consistancy; they are always changing in hidden ways, they go whirling into outer space.  They are not stable, they do not possess being.

Nor is the human heart any more constant.  How often it is disturbed by various conflicting thoughts and ambitions!  How many pleasures draw it, one minute this way, and the next minute, that way, tearing it apart!  The human spirit, although endowed by God with reason, changes; it does not possess being.  It wills and does not will; it knows and does not know; it remembers this but forgets that.  No one has unity of being in himself.

After so much suffering, disease, difficulties and pain, let us return humbly to God, to that one Being.  Let us enter into that heavenly Jerusalem, that city whose citizens share in Being itself.

Augustine, Commentary on Psalm 121 (Hebrew Ps. 122); CCSL 40, pp. 1801-3; quoted by Robert Atwell, Celebrating the Seasons, Canterbury, 1999, p.416



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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
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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

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 10:45 AM, Anonymous mike wertz said...

He had me right up to entry into heavenly Jerusalem. That has no … kenning for me. All of the things that were said before I have experienced.

I truly have experienced the impermanent that he notes so completely, it seems. It is in the nature of life and in the nature of me. I do not ken heavenly Jerusalem. I want to live in this life – or any impermanent place I find myself – with complete surrender to God – to Being. It seems to me to be in this passing and floating, living and dying life form in which I find myself, temporarily -- that is where I am supposed to do and to learn and to do that thing: to worship God. I hate to be … out of place, but wtf is heavenly Jerusalem? Yet another carrot one is supposed to chase? I once had a dog that would catch his own tail, and lie there in a circle of himself, growling and biting it. He was so happy. How do I make the Now my heavenly Jerusalem? That is my every passing day carrot.

best, mike

At 7:11 PM, Anonymous mike wertz said...

Okay, I get it. I am just a little reactive to the word heaven. It is planted in my mind as some pie in the sky thing that I do not nor ever did think was a very good conclusion. I can do with the state of mind that he talks about. Heaven is not some far off place, it is here and now, so is hell. The choice between the two is not as apparent at it seems sometimes. to be in heaven for moments that you can create by surrender then does open you to -- a deeper communication with others - but... I think the wording at the end could have been done better, really. It is too easy to see what he is talking about as somewhere different -- some far away place. Most people I have encountered have that conception of heaven -- something that happens somewhere else, after you die. That does not compute all that well with a living God concept.

Okay, I will leave it alone.

still best, mike

At 7:24 AM, Blogger Lowell said...

Thanks Mike.

Yep. Our citizenship in the heavenly Jerusalem is here and now.



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