Tuesday, December 04, 2012

The Prophets' Challenge

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 -- Week of 1 Advent, Year 1
John of Damascus, Priest, c. 760

[Go to http://www.missionstclare.com/english/index.html for an online version of the Daily Office including today's scripture readings.]

Note:  We are now in Year One in the Daily Office Lectionary.  We are using the readings on the left side (even numbered) pages starting in the Prayer Book on page 936.
Today's Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p. 936)
Psalms 5, 6 (morning)       //       10, 11 (evening)
Isaiah 1:21-31
1 Thessalonians 2:1-12
Luke 20:9-18

One of the central themes of the prophetic literature is that God will not spare us from our foolish and selfish choices.  Of particular concern to the prophets is the injustice of greed, empty false worship, love of luxury, and indifference to the plight of the poor. 

Generally the prophets address the powerful and comfortable with words of judgment.  If the leaders continue to use their power to gain power and wealth rather than caring for the poor and the weak, Isaiah says, "You will be like an oak with withering leaves, like a garden without water.  The strong will be like dry twigs, their deeds like sparks; the two will burn together, with no one to extinguish them. " (1:30-31, CEB)

With power comes responsibility.  Isaiah and the prophets declare that a central moral value for the nation is the obligation of the powerful to protect the weak and to care for the poor.  To do so is to establish justice.  Not to do so is to invite God's judgment.  Greed for power and wealth is a primary vice.  All of this is the universal message of the prophets.  This should be a primary moral value for all Biblical people.  When people speak of moral values in politics, this is what the prophets expect -- protect the weak; care for the poor; avoid luxury; use power honestly.  To do otherwise is foolish and will provoke divine judgment.

The prophets commend an attitude that we see echoed in the Epistle.  We are encouraged to be a nurturing people.  Paul speaks of his own relationship with the church in Thessaloniki.  He was like a nurse, gently caring for his congregation's growth.  Though he was in a position of authority, he didn't use his power for his own gain, but rather worked hard and responsibly on their behalf.  How different might our institutions be -- both commercial and governmental -- if our leaders adopted Paul's model of servant leadership?

How do we use power and authority in our lives and in our society?  It's a question the prophets demand that we answer.


Audio podcast:  Listen to an audio podcast of the most recent Morning Reflections from today and the past week.  Go to: http://www.stpaulsfay.org/id244.html

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 http://www.missionstclare.com/english/index.html

Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site www.ExploreFaith.org at this location

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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