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.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter, a reflection on John 20:1-18

She has a short conversation with him but is able to recognize him only when he speaks her name.

Jesus tells her to go tell. She obeys. She is the first witness to the resurrection.

Yet, as we read in the next verse, the disciples are so afraid that they lock themselves in. What do we believe? What does belief do for us?

Mary finally did recognize Jesus and did do what he told her. Yet, she was not immediately able to convince the disciples.

I remember a story that someone told me years ago. Although I can't remember the source, I want to repeat it anyway:
When the National Zoo in Washington D.C. moved to a spacious new area, the rhinoceros was confused. It now had a wide-open living space, but it had lived in a cage too long. Even though it now had more room, it quickly made a boundary the exact dimensions of its old cage. it wore an oval path in the grass that corresponded to the old iron bars.

The resurrected Christ can appear in our ordinary lives. We may be able to recognize his presence. Or, like the rhinoceros, we may restrict ourselves to our old path. I ask again, what does belief do for us?

Daily Prayer, Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013

This is the day that the Lord has made;

let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Invitatory Psalm 24
The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it,
the world, and those who live in it;
for he has founded it on the seas,
  and established it on the rivers.

Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
Those who have clean hands and pure hearts,
  who do not lift up their souls to what is false,
  and do not swear deceitfully.
They will receive blessing from the Lord,
  and vindication from the God of their salvation.
Such is the company of those who seek him,
  who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah

Lift up your heads, O gates!
  and be lifted up, O ancient doors!
  that the King of glory may come in.
Who is the King of glory?
The Lord, strong and mighty,
  the Lord, mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, O gates!
  and be lifted up, O ancient doors!
  that the King of glory may come in.

Who is this King of glory?
The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah

Psalm 32
Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven,
   whose sin is covered.
Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity,
   and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
While I kept silence, my body wasted away
   through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah
Then I acknowledged my sin to you,
  and I did not hide my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
  and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah

Therefore let all who are faithful offer prayer to you;
at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters shall not reach them.
You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble;
you surround me with glad cries of deliverance. Selah

I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
   whose temper must be curbed with bit and bridle,
   else it will not stay near you.
Many are the torments of the wicked,
   but steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the Lord.
Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, O righteous,
   and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.

Daily Lectionary Reading,
Acts 10:34-43
Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
Colossians 3:1-4
John 20:1-18

Prayer for Today: Choose a prayer from the Vanderbilt Divinity Library lectionary site.

Psalm 44
We have heard with our ears, O God,
our ancestors have told us,
   what deeds you performed in their days,
   in the days of old:

For not in my bow do I trust,
   nor can my sword save me.
But you have saved us from our foes,
   and have put to confusion those who hate us.

In God we have boasted continually,
   and we will give thanks to your name forever. Selah

Yet you have rejected us and abased us,
   and have not gone out with our armies.
You have made us the taunt of our neighbors,
   the derision and scorn of those around us.
You have made us a byword among the nations,
   a laughingstock among the peoples.
All day long my disgrace is before me,
   and shame has covered my face
at the words of the taunters and revilers,
   at the sight of the enemy and the avenger.
All this has come upon us,
   yet we have not forgotten you,
   or been false to your covenant.
Our heart has not turned back,
   nor have our steps departed from your way,
yet you have broken us in the haunt of jackals,
   and covered us with deep darkness.
If we had forgotten the name of our God,
   or spread out our hands to a strange god,
   would not God discover this?
       For he knows the secrets of the heart.
Because of you we are being killed all day long,
   and accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

Rouse yourself!
Why do you sleep, O Lord?
Awake, do not cast us off forever!
Why do you hide your face?
Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?
   For we sink down to the dust;
   our bodies cling to the ground.
Rise up, come to our help.
Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Easter Vigil

The lectionary readings for the Easter Vigil are:

Old Testament Readings and Psalms

Genesis 1:1-2:4a and Psalm 136:1-9, 23-26
Genesis 7:1-5, 11-18; 8:6-18; 9:8-13 and Psalm 46
Genesis 22:1-18 and Psalm 16
Exodus 14:10-31; 15:20-21 and Exodus 15:1b-13, 17-18
Isaiah 55:1-11 and Isaiah 12:2-6
Baruch 3:9-15, 3:32-4:4 or Proverbs 8:1-8, 19-21; 9:4b-6 and Psalm 19
Ezekiel 36:24-28 and Psalm 42, 43
Ezekiel 37:1-14 and Psalm 143
Zephaniah 3:14-20 and Psalm 98

New Testament Reading and Psalm

Romans 6:3-11 and Psalm 114


Matthew 28:1-10

In her poem, Holy Saturday, the Space Between, Christine Valters Paintner expresses how much of our lives rest in the space between loss and hope, how our lives are full of Holy Saturday experiences.

Selected verses and prayers based on those verses from the readings of the vigil:
You are indeed my rock and my fortress; for your name's sake, lead me and guide me, take me out of the net that is hidden for me, for you are my refuge (Psalm 31:3-4).

We give thanks to you, O Lord, for you are good, for your steadfast love endures forever (Psalm 136:1).

A king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The war horse is a vain hope for victory, and by its great might, it cannot save (Psalm 33:16-17).

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1).

And by your offspring shall all the nations of the earth gain blessing for themselves, because you have obeyed my voice (Genesis 22:18).

You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures for evermore (Psalm 16:11).

In your steadfast love you led the people whom you have redeemed; you guided them by your strength to your holy abode (Exodus 15:13).

O God, I will trust you, and will not be afraid; for you are my strength and my might; you are my salvation (Isaiah 12:2).

I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land (Psalm 143:6)

Holy Saturday, a reflection on Matthew 27:57-66

Jesus died, yes, really died. That's our focus on the Saturday that lies between the crucifixion on Friday and resurrection on Sunday morning. Jesus died.

Matthew gives us detail so that we can understand and believe. Fred Craddock in Preaching through the Christian Year C lists the questions that Matthew's account is answering: What happened to the body? Who prepared it? Where was it entombed? He reminds us of more evidence that Matthew gives: the body was put in a tomb, the tomb was sealed with a large stone, two women witnessed this, Roman guards kept watch.

We can't accept resurrection unless we accept death.

Daily Prayer, Holy Saturday, March 30, 2013

Incline your ear to me;
rescue me speedily.
Be a rock of refuge for me,
a strong fortress to save me.

Invitatory Psalm 67
May God be gracious to us and bless us
  and make his face to shine upon us, Selah
that your way may be known upon earth,
your saving power among all nations.

Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.
Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
  for you judge the peoples with equity
  and guide the nations upon earth. Selah

Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.
The earth has yielded its increase;
God, our God, has blessed us.
May God continue to bless us;
let all the ends of the earth revere him.

Psalm 26
Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity,
   and I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.
Prove me, O Lord, and try me;
test my heart and mind.
For your steadfast love is before my eyes,
   and I walk in faithfulness to you.
I do not sit with the worthless,
   nor do I consort with hypocrites;
I hate the company of evildoers,
   and will not sit with the wicked.
I wash my hands in innocence,
   and go around your altar, O Lord,
   singing aloud a song of thanksgiving,
   and telling all your wondrous deeds.
O Lord, I love the house in which you dwell,
   and the place where your glory abides.
Do not sweep me away with sinners,
   nor my life with the bloodthirsty,
those in whose hands are evil devices,
   and whose right hands are full of bribes.

But as for me, I walk in my integrity;
redeem me, and be gracious to me.
My foot stands on level ground;
in the great congregation I will bless the Lord.

Psalm 27
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
When evildoers assail me to devour my flesh
  — my adversaries and foes— they shall stumble and fall.
Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear;
though war rise up against me, yet I will be confident.

One thing I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after:
   to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
   to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.
For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will set me high on a rock.

Now my head is lifted up above my enemies all around me,
  and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.

Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud,
be gracious to me and answer me!
“Come,” my heart says, “seek his face!”
Your face, Lord, do I seek.
Do not hide your face from me.
Do not turn your servant away in anger,
   you who have been my help.
Do not cast me off, do not forsake me,
   O God of my salvation!
If my father and mother forsake me,
  the Lord will take me up.

Teach me your way, O Lord,
  and lead me on a level path because of my enemies.
Do not give me up to the will of my adversaries,
  for false witnesses have risen against me,
  and they are breathing out violence.

I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord
   in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong,
and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!

Psalm 29
Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory of his name;
worship the Lord in holy splendor.

The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders, the Lord, over mighty waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.
The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.

He makes Lebanon skip like a calf,
   and Sirion like a young wild ox.
The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire.
The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;
the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
The voice of the Lord causes the oaks to whirl,
   and strips the forest bare;
   and in his temple all say, “Glory!”

The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.
May the Lord give strength to his people!
May the Lord bless his people with peace!

Daily Lectionary Reading,
Job 14:1-14
Psalm 31:1-4, 15-16
1 Peter 4:1-8
Matthew 27:57-66

Prayer for Today: Merciful and everliving God, Creator of heaven and earth, the crucified body of your Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy day. Grant that we may await with him the dawning of the third day and rise in newness of life, through Jesus Christ our Redeemer. [UMBOW 367, The Book of Common Prayer, U.S.A., 20th Cent., Alt]

Psalm 35:1-3, 9-28
Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me;
fight against those who fight against me!
Take hold of shield and buckler, and rise up to help me!
Draw the spear and javelin against my pursuers;
say to my soul, “I am your salvation.”

Then my soul shall rejoice in the Lord,
   exulting in his deliverance.
All my bones shall say, “O Lord, who is like you?
You deliver the weak from those too strong for them,
   the weak and needy from those who despoil them.”

Malicious witnesses rise up;
they ask me about things I do not know.
They repay me evil for good; my soul is forlorn.

But as for me, when they were sick, I wore sackcloth;
I afflicted myself with fasting.
I prayed with head bowed on my bosom,
   as though I grieved for a friend or a brother;
I went about as one who laments for a mother,
   bowed down and in mourning.

But at my stumbling they gathered in glee,
they gathered together against me;
ruffians whom I did not know tore at me without ceasing;
they impiously mocked more and more,
   gnashing at me with their teeth.

How long, O Lord, will you look on?
Rescue me from their ravages, my life from the lions!

Then I will thank you in the great congregation;
in the mighty throng I will praise you.

Do not let my treacherous enemies rejoice over me,
   or those who hate me without cause wink the eye.
For they do not speak peace,
   but they conceive deceitful words
   against those who are quiet in the land.

They open wide their mouths against me;
they say, “Aha, Aha, our eyes have seen it.”

You have seen, O Lord; do not be silent!
O Lord, do not be far from me!
Wake up!
Bestir yourself for my defense,
   for my cause, my God and my Lord!
Vindicate me, O Lord, my God,
   according to your righteousness,
   and do not let them rejoice over me.
Do not let them say to themselves,
   “Aha, we have our heart’s desire.”
Do not let them say, “We have swallowed you up.”
Let those who desire my vindication shout for joy
and be glad, and say evermore,
    “Great is the Lord,
    who delights in the welfare of his servant.”
Then my tongue shall tell of your righteousness
   and of your praise all day long.

Easter Vigil

Psalm 38
O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger,
   or discipline me in your wrath.
For your arrows have sunk into me,
   and your hand has come down on me.
There is no soundness in my flesh
   because of your indignation;
there is no health in my bones because of my sin.
For my iniquities have gone over my head;
they weigh like a burden too heavy for me.
My wounds grow foul and fester
   because of my foolishness;
I am utterly bowed down and prostrate;
all day long I go around mourning.
For my loins are filled with burning,
   and there is no soundness in my flesh.

I am utterly spent and crushed;
I groan because of the tumult of my heart.
O Lord, all my longing is known to you;
my sighing is not hidden from you.
My heart throbs, my strength fails me;
as for the light of my eyes—it also has gone from me.

My friends and companions stand aloof from my affliction,
   and my neighbors stand far off.
Those who seek my life lay their snares;
those who seek to hurt me speak of ruin,
   and meditate treachery all day long.

But I am like the deaf, I do not hear;
like the mute, who cannot speak.
Truly, I am like one who does not hear,
and in whose mouth is no retort.

But it is for you, O Lord, that I wait;
it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer.

For I pray, “Only do not let them rejoice over me,
    those who boast against me when my foot slips.”
For I am ready to fall, and my pain is ever with me.

I confess my iniquity;
I am sorry for my sin.

Do not forsake me, O Lord;
O my God, do not be far from me;
make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation.