It took a year to read the Bible, then almost 9 months to read the Apocrypha. Now, I'm going to try to offer reflections on the Narrative Lectionary. But, I won't be posting daily--at least, for a while.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Daily Prayer, Wednesday, July 4, 2012

To you I lift up my eyes.
O you who are enthroned in the heavens!

Invitatory Psalm 100
Shout triumphantly to the LORD , all the earth!
2 Serve the LORD with celebration!
Come before him with shouts of joy!
3 Know that the LORD is God—
he made us; we belong to him.
We are his people,
the sheep of his own pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanks;
enter his courtyards with praise!
Thank him! Bless his name!
5 Because the LORD is good,
his loyal love lasts forever;
his faithfulness lasts generation after generation.
[Common English Bible]

Psalms 71
In you, O Lord, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame.
In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;
incline your ear to me and save me.
Be to me a rock of refuge, a strong fortress, to save me,
   for you are my rock and my fortress.
Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked,
   from the grasp of the unjust and cruel.
For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth.
My mouth is filled with your praise,
   and with your glory all day long.
Do not cast me off in the time of old age;
do not forsake me when my strength is spent.
For my enemies speak concerning me,
   and those who watch for my life consult together.
They say, “Pursue and seize that person whom God has forsaken,
   for there is no one to deliver.”

O God, do not be far from me;
O my God, make haste to help me!
Let my accusers be put to shame and consumed;
let those who seek to hurt me be covered with scorn and disgrace.
But I will hope continually, and will praise you yet more and more.
My mouth will tell of your righteous acts,
   of your deeds of salvation all day long,
   though their number is past my knowledge.
I will come praising the mighty deeds of the Lord God,
I will praise your righteousness, yours alone.
O God, from my youth you have taught me,
   and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.

So even to old age and gray hairs,
O God, do not forsake me,
until I proclaim your might to all the generations to come.

Your power and your righteousness,
   O God, reach the high heavens.
You who have done great things, O God, who is like you?
You who have made me see many troubles and calamities
   will revive me again;
   from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again.
You will increase my honor, and comfort me once again.

I will also praise you with the harp
   for your faithfulness, O my God;
I will sing praises to you with the lyre, O Holy One of Israel.
My lips will shout for joy when I sing praises to you;
   my soul also, which you have rescued.
All day long my tongue will talk of your righteous help,

Psalm 72
Give the king your justice, O God,
   and your righteousness to a king’s son.
May he judge your people with righteousness,
   and your poor with justice.
May the mountains yield prosperity for the people,
   and the hills, in righteousness.
May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,
  give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor.
May he live while the sun endures,
  and as long as the moon, throughout all generations.
May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass,
  like showers that water the earth.

In his days may righteousness flourish and peace abound,
   until the moon is no more.
May he have dominion from sea to sea,
  and from the River to the ends of the earth.

For he delivers the needy when they call,
  the poor and those who have no helper.
He has pity on the weak and the needy,
  and saves the lives of the needy.
From oppression and violence he redeems their life;
  and precious is their blood in his sight.
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
   who alone does wondrous things.
Blessed be your glorious name forever;
may your glory fill the whole earth.
Amen and Amen.

Daily Lectionary Reading, Ezekiel 2:1-5
The voice said to me: Human one, stand on your feet, and I’ll speak to you. 2 As he spoke to me, a wind (g) came to me and stood me on my feet, and I heard someone addressing me. 3 He said to me: Human one, I’m sending you to the Israelites, a traitorous and rebellious people. They and their ancestors have been rebelling against me to this very day. 4 I’m sending you to their hardheaded and hard-hearted descendants, and you will say to them: The LORD God proclaims. 5 Whether they listen or whether they refuse, since they are a household of rebels, they will know that a prophet has been among them.
g  Or spirit [Common English Bible] 

Prayer for Today: O God, open us to hear your word. Strengthen us to respond. Help us to find the words to speak to the faithful and to the unfaithful. Amen.
Midday Psalm 119:105-112
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
I have sworn an oath and confirmed it,
   to observe your righteous ordinances.
I am severely afflicted;
   give me life, O Lord, according to your word.
Accept my offerings of praise, O Lord,
   and teach me your ordinances.
I hold my life in my hand continually,
   but I do not forget your law.
The wicked have laid a snare for me,
  but I do not stray from your precepts.
Your decrees are my heritage forever;
   they are the joy of my heart.
I incline my heart to perform your statutes forever, to the end.

Psalm 104
Bless the Lord, O my soul.
O Lord my God, you are very great.
You are clothed with honor and majesty,
    wrapped in light as with a garment.
You stretch out the heavens like a tent,
  you set the beams of your chambers on the waters,
  you make the clouds your chariot,
  you ride on the wings of the wind,
   you make the winds your messengers,
       fire and flame your ministers.

You set the earth on its foundations,
   so that it shall never be shaken.
You cover it with the deep as with a garment;
    the waters stood above the mountains.
At your rebuke they flee;
at the sound of your thunder they take to flight.
They rose up to the mountains,
   ran down to the valleys to the place
   that you appointed for them.
You set a boundary that they may not pass,
   so that they might not again cover the earth.

You make springs gush forth in the valleys;
they flow between the hills,
   giving drink to every wild animal;
the wild asses quench their thirst.
By the streams the birds of the air have their habitation;
they sing among the branches.
From your lofty abode you water the mountains;
the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.

You cause the grass to grow for the cattle,
  and plants for people to use,
  to bring forth food from the earth,
  and wine to gladden the human heart,
  oil to make the face shine,
  and bread to strengthen the human heart.

The trees of the Lord are watered abundantly,
the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
In them the birds build their nests;
the stork has its home in the fir trees.
The high mountains are for the wild goats;
the rocks are a refuge for the coneys.

You have made the moon to mark the seasons;
the sun knows its time for setting.
You make darkness, and it is night,
   when all the animals of the forest come creeping out.

The young lions roar for their prey,
   seeking their food from God.
When the sun rises,
   they withdraw and lie down in their dens.
People go out to their work
   and to their labor until the evening.
O Lord, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom you have made them all;
  the earth is full of your creatures.

Yonder is the sea, great and wide,
  creeping things innumerable are there,
  living things both small and great.
There go the ships,
   and Leviathan that you formed to sport in it.

These all look to you
  to give them their food in due season;
  when you give to them, they gather it up;
  when you open your hand,
  they are filled with good things.

When you hide your face, they are dismayed;
  when you take away their breath,
  they die and return to their dust.
When you send forth your spirit, they are created;
  and you renew the face of the ground.

May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
may the Lord rejoice in his works—
   who looks on the earth and it trembles,
   who touches the mountains and they smoke.

I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
May my meditation be pleasing to him,
   for I rejoice in the Lord.
Let sinners be consumed from the earth,
   and let the wicked be no more.
Bless the Lord, O my soul.
Praise the Lord!

Waiting and Hoping for Compassion, a Reflection on Lamentations 3:23-33

Lamentation is a collection of five laments that originally were reflections on the suffering and dislocation that resulted from the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple and the exile that followed (The Jewish Study Bible).

As we face suffering and dislocation, we still turn to this book to find words to express our pains and our fears--and the source of our help.

The lectionary this weeks pairs this reading from Lamentation with the gospel reading from Mark concerning the healing of the woman's very long-term ailment and the raising of Jairus' daughter.

"It's good to wait," says our lesson today. "There may yet be hope." Then we read:
For the Lord will not reject forever.
Although he causes grief, he will have compassion
according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
for he does not willingly afflict or grieve anyone.
Much of this is comforting to me, but some is disconcerting. Do I have to believe that all my suffering is caused by my own wrong-doing? A further problem for me is that many other passages affirm the need for us humans to complain loudly to God about our problems. This passage says to wait patiently.

Daily Prayer, Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
   and in his word I hope; (Psalm 130:5)

Invitatory Psalm 100
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come into his presence with singing.

Know that the Lord is God.
It is he that made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
   and his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him, bless his name.
For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
   and his faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 37
Do not fret because of the wicked;
do not be envious of wrongdoers,
for they will soon fade like the grass,
   and wither like the green herb.

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
so you will live in the land, and enjoy security.
Take delight in the Lord,
   and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.
He will make your vindication shine like the light,
   and the justice of your cause like the noonday.

Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him;
do not fret over those who prosper in their way,
   over those who carry out evil devices.
Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath.
Do not fret—it leads only to evil.
For the wicked shall be cut off,
   but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.
Yet a little while, and the wicked will be no more;
though you look diligently for their place,
they will not be there.

But the meek shall inherit the land,
   and delight themselves in abundant prosperity.
The wicked plot against the righteous,
   and gnash their teeth at them;
but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
   for he sees that their day is coming.
The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows
   to bring down the poor and needy,
   to kill those who walk uprightly;
their sword shall enter their own heart,
   and their bows shall be broken.

Better is a little that the righteous person has
   than the abundance of many wicked.
For the arms of the wicked shall be broken,
but the Lord upholds the righteous.
The Lord knows the days of the blameless,
   and their heritage will abide forever;
they are not put to shame in evil times,
   in the days of famine they have abundance.

But the wicked perish, and the enemies of the Lord
   are like the glory of the pastures;
they vanish—like smoke they vanish away.
The wicked borrow, and do not pay back,
   but the righteous are generous and keep giving;
for those blessed by the Lord shall inherit the land,
   but those cursed by him shall be cut off.

Our steps are made firm by the Lord,
   when he delights in our way;
though we stumble, we shall not fall headlong, f
   or the Lord holds us by the hand.
I have been young, and now am old,
yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
   or their children begging bread.
They are ever giving liberally and lending,
  and their children become a blessing.
Depart from evil, and do good;
  so you shall abide forever.
For the Lord loves justice;
he will not forsake his faithful ones.
The righteous shall be kept safe forever,
   but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.
The righteous shall inherit the land, and live in it forever.
The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom,
   and their tongues speak justice.
The law of their God is in their hearts;
their steps do not slip.
The wicked watch for the righteous,
   and seek to kill them.
The Lord will not abandon them to their power,
 or let them be condemned when they are brought to trial.
Wait for the Lord, and keep to his way,
   and he will exalt you to inherit the land;
you will look on the destruction of the wicked.
I have seen the wicked oppressing,
   and towering like a cedar of Lebanon.
Again I passed by, and they were no more;
though I sought them, they could not be found.
Mark the blameless, and behold the upright,
for there is posterity for the peaceable.
But transgressors shall be altogether destroyed;
the posterity of the wicked shall be cut off.
The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord;
he is their refuge in the time of trouble.
The Lord helps them and rescues them;
he rescues them from the wicked, and saves them,
   because they take refuge in him.

Daily Lectionary Reading, Lamentations 3:23-33

23 They are renewed every morning. Great is your faithfulness.
24 I think: (s) The LORD is my portion! Therefore, I’ll wait for him.
25 The LORD is good to those who hope in him, to the person (t) who seeks him.
26 It’s good to wait in silence for the LORD’s deliverance.
27 It’s good for a man to carry a yoke in his youth.
28 He should sit alone and be silent when God lays it on him.
29 He should put his mouth in the dirt—perhaps there is hope.
30 He should offer his cheek for a blow; he should be filled with shame.
31 My Lord definitely (u) won’t reject forever.
32 Although he has caused grief, he will show compassion in measure with his covenant loyalty.
33 He definitely doesn’t enjoy affliction, (v) making humans suffer.
s Or My spirit thinks t Or spirit u Or Because my Lord won’t reject forever v Heb He does not afflict from his heart. [Common English Bible]

Prayer for Today: O Lord, you have shown your faithfulness to us over and over. You have shown your goodness to us. Keep us patient while we wait. And while we wait, we will remember all that you have given us already. Amen.

Midday Psalm 119:57-67
The Lord is my portion;
I promise to keep your words.
I implore your favor with all my heart;
be gracious to me according to your promise.
When I think of your ways,
   I turn my feet to your decrees;
I hurry and do not delay to keep your commandments.
Though the cords of the wicked ensnare me,
I do not forget your law.
At midnight I rise to praise you,
   because of your righteous ordinances.
I am a companion of all who fear you,
   of those who keep your precepts.
The earth, O Lord, is full of your steadfast love;
teach me your statutes.
You have dealt well with your servant,
   O Lord, according to your word.
Teach me good judgment and knowledge,
   for I believe in your commandments.
Before I was humbled I went astray,
   but now I keep your word.


Psalm 63
O God, you are my God, I seek you,
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land
   where there is no water.

So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
   beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
   my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands and call on your name.

My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast,
and my mouth praises you with joyful lips
   when I think of you on my bed,
   and meditate on you in the watches of the night;

for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.

Psalm 68
Let God rise up,
let his enemies be scattered;
let those who hate him flee before him.
As smoke is driven away,
   so drive them away;
as wax melts before the fire,
let the wicked perish before God.
But let the righteous be joyful;
let them exult before God;
let them be jubilant with joy.

Sing to God, sing praises to his name;
lift up a song to him who rides upon the clouds
   —his name is the Lord— be exultant before him.

Father of orphans and protector of widows
   is God in his holy habitation.
God gives the desolate a home to live in;
he leads out the prisoners to prosperity,
   but the rebellious live in a parched land.

O God, when you went out before your people,
when you marched through the wilderness, Selah

the earth quaked, the heavens poured down rain
   at the presence of God, the God of Sinai,
   at the presence of God, the God of Israel.

Rain in abundance, O God, you showered abroad;
you restored your heritage when it languished;
your flock found a dwelling in it;
in your goodness, O God, you provided for the needy.

The Lord gives the command;
great is the company of those who bore the tidings:
“The kings of the armies, they flee, they flee!”
The women at home divide the spoil,
though they stay among the sheepfolds
   — the wings of a dove covered with silver,
   its pinions with green gold.
When the Almighty scattered kings there,
   snow fell on Zalmon.
O mighty mountain, mountain of Bashan;
O many-peaked mountain, mountain of Bashan!
Why do you look with envy, O many-peaked mountain,
   at the mount that God desired for his abode,
   where the Lord will reside forever?
Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up;
God is our salvation. Selah
Our God is a God of salvation,
   and to God, the Lord, belongs escape from death.

Your solemn processions are seen, O God,
   the processions of my God, my King, into the sanctuary—
   the singers in front, the musicians last,
   between them girls playing tambourines:

“Bless God in the great congregation, the Lord,
   O you who are of Israel’s fountain!”
There is Benjamin, the least of them, in the lead,
the princes of Judah in a body,
the princes of Zebulun, the princes of Naphtali.

Summon your might, O God;
show your strength, O God,
   as you have done for us before.

Because of your temple at Jerusalem kings bear gifts to you.
Rebuke the wild animals that live among the reeds,
   the herd of bulls with the calves of the peoples.
Trample under foot those who lust after tribute;
scatter the peoples who delight in war.
Let bronze be brought from Egypt;
let Ethiopia hasten to stretch out its hands to God.

Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth; sing praises to the Lord, Selah
O rider in the heavens, the ancient heavens;
listen, he sends out his voice, his mighty voice.
Ascribe power to God, whose majesty is over Israel;
   and whose power is in the skies.
Awesome is God in his sanctuary, the God of Israel;
he gives power and strength to his people. Blessed be God!

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