Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Daily Office Reflection: Symbols

Psalms: 101, 109:1-4(5019)20-30 * 119:121-144; 1 Samuel 7:2-17; Acts 6:1-15; Luke 22:14-23

Our readings today are replete with signs and symbols. Signs and symbols of how we worship, how we represent God to ourselves and the world, how God's actions can be remembered in those signs and symbols.

In the Hebrew Testament reading from First Samuel the ark of the covenant has been restored to Israel (yesterday) and today the Philistines are defeated by the Israelis through God's intervention as seen through Samuel's sacrifice of a suckling lamb. In Acts, the church is growing, and people and duties are being overlooked, so a new Order is established (one we think of now as Deacons). Seven, including Stephen, are chosen to come before the apostles, who lay hands on them and pray that they be given the Holy Spirit to do God's work in the world. In Luke today, Jesus institutes the Bread and the Wine as symbols of his Body and Blood.

Symbols carry with them power and authority. The stole, the symbol of the priest's office, can carry such weight. The seal of the President of the United States is a symbol of that office's mighty power and authority and responsibility. A bishop's crozier is a symbol of that office. The Cross, the Altar, the laying on of hands are all symbols of something far greater than themselves.

Signs and symbols surround us in our lives, many carrying weight without our even knowing that we are giving that power over to them. I am wondering today about symbols and how our lives and beliefs can be structured around them. How often do we ask ourselves what those symbols really mean and whether or not we are giving the appropriate weight to what their purpose is really intended.

Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Giving a Ring to Brett, 2009.

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