Thursday, April 04, 2013

A Renewed Society

Thursday, April 4, 2013 -- Thursday in Easter Week

[Go to http://www.missionstclare.com/english/index.html 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. 958)
Psalms    146, 147 (morning)       //       148, 149 (evening)
Ezekiel 37:1-14      
Acts 3:11-26      
John 15:12-27

Psalms 146 and 147 seem to be filled with images that speak to my hope for a renewed society of justice and kindness.  They articulate the kind of world I want our people and politicians to strive for.  If life and breath is to be blown into the dry bones of our circumstances, to borrow from Ezekiel's compelling image, it is the energy that these psalms envision which will raise up and strengthen a wearied people.

These psalms open with words of praise to God and a commitment to trust God rather than the rulers or "any child of earth."  The children of earth always seem to rule for their own benefit rather than for the priorities that are God's.  The psalmist speaks to God's values and of a divine agenda.  God "gives justice to those who are oppressed and food to those who hunger.  God sets the prisoners free and opens the eyes of the blind; God lifts up those who are bowed down.  God loves the righteous and cares for the stranger; God sustains the orphan and widow, but frustrates the way of the wicked." (146:6-8, St. Helena Psalter)  This is the reign that the Psalmist yearns for, and the writer speaks specifically that this should be the work of Zion, the political capital as well as the spiritual heart of the people. 

Psalm 147 speaks to the rebuilding of a society that has been in shambles.  The Psalmist praises God for healing the brokenhearted and binding up their wounds, for lifting up the lowly and setting limits on the wicked.  The writer sings and makes music, giving thanks for the fruitfulness of a healthy ecology that provides adequate food for humans and animals alike.  God is not impressed by military might, says the Psalmist or demonstrations of "human strength," but is pleased with those who reverence God with humility and wait for God's "gracious favor."  We do that by embracing God's values.  Love, compassion and justice create a good society, not competition, exploitation, and power.  "You have established peace on our borders and satisfied us with finest wheat," says the Psalmist. 

In so many ways these images from the Psalms complement Jesus' teachings to his disciples in the reading from John's Gospel today.  Jesus has just finished urging his followers to "remain in my love" and thus fulfill the commandments.  This path will produce joy, a complete joy that Jesus wishes to give us.  It all comes down to love, he says.  "Love each other just as I have loved you."  Servants are elevated to friendship. 

Then Jesus tells them, if you try to live by these loving values, you'll get pushback.  People will hate and oppose you.  But Jesus promises to send the "Companion" or "Advocate" -- "the Spirit of Truth who proceeds from the Father," who will strengthen and sustain God's work through God's people. 

It seems to me that we have lived with the dry bones of years of political and social agendas that have favored the wealthy and powerful rather than the hungry and oppressed, the orphan and widow, the brokenhearted and lowly.  We have put our trust in competition, exploitation and power rather than love, compassion and justice.  I'm tired of the meanness and greed.  It has left us dry and stagnant, with wealth and power concentrated among an elite who seemed to have lost their sense of connection to the whole. 

Breathe Spirit on these dry bones, O God.  Breathe justice and healing and care upon those who are bowed down.  Help us embrace the kindness and love which Jesus taught us.  Help us create the kind of society that the Psalmist yearns for.  Sustain the orphan and widow and frustrate the way of the greedy and wicked, O God.


Lowell
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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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