Monday, April 7, 2008

Daily Office Reflection: Lectionary Dovetailing

Psalms: 25 * 9, 15; Exodus 18:13-27; 1 Peter 5:1-14; Matthew (1:1-17),3:1-6

A long time homiletics professor told me once that she knew the folks who were involved in the putting together of the Daily Office lectionary. She remembers them commenting that there was no effort on their part in putting the readings together, in matching them up to give a cohesive message or picture or theme for any given day. She told me this in response to a line I used in a sermon once that marveled at how well the lectionary selections seem to dovetail together to provide just such a cohesive message: although there are many days when the opposite is also true. On days, like today, when there seems to be just such a cohesive message, bearing in mind her recollection of conversations had with the assemblers of our D.O. lectionary, I have to credit the work of the Holy Spirit.

Today in Exodus we have Moses' father-in-law telling him to chill out and delegate or he is going to kill himself from over-work, a suggestion to which Moses acquiesces. In 1 Peter, he delegates responsibility for the care of the growing flock of Christians to whom he is writing. And then we have the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew, the great genealogy of Jesus, a skipped chapter and then the beginning story of John the Baptist. I am struck by this genealogy (which is optional in the lectionary, but I would suggest reading it!). Here is this long line of Old Testament names, from stories plucked from throughout time, many of them great but all of them with very human and sordid deeds in their past: David, Solomon, Jacob, Judah, Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and so many others. All of these folks had a limited part in the grand story of this canon that has been passed down through thousands of years for us to decipher, some larger parts then others. And I am reminded that we are called to remember that we cannot do it all, just as Moses is reminded by his father-in-law and Peter reminds the people to whom he was writing. This grand list of human beings setting forth the genealogy of our Savior, Jesus Christ, is a clear reminder that although we all have a part to play, it is not all up to us or all about us. We are called to do the best that we can with the short time that we have, and trust God to know that we have tried out best to assist in the establishing of the Kingdom. That is a Spirit filled cohesive message taken from today's lectionary pages and one I am particularly grateful for today.

Copyright 2008, John F. Dwyer

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