Re the Daily Office Readings 4/1/2020

The Daily Office Readings of the Episcopal Church (USA) are available at a number of websites including Mission St Clare (https://www.missionstclare.com/english/) as part of Morning Prayer.

Reading strategies. In Exodus we encounter the first of the plagues (the water of the Nile into blood) that will culminate in Israel’s exodus from Egypt. The prophet Hosea addressing Israel gives us a way of reading these plague stories:

“Hear the word of the LORD, O people of Israel; for the LORD has an indictment against the inhabitants of the land. There is no faithfulness or loyalty, and no knowledge of God in the land. Swearing, lying, and murder, and stealing and adultery break out; bloodshed follows bloodshed. Therefore the land mourns, and all who live in it languish; together with the wild animals and the birds of the air, even the fish of the sea are perishing.” (Hos. 4:1-3)

Exploitation and oppression in the human community spill over into the rest of creation. Environmental degradation: too often the result of the powerful overriding the powerless. What happens if we read the plagues as God compressing the process to make it more visible, to give Pharaoh opportunity to repent?

In Mark, “Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” The theme of mission (recall Bp. Curry’s “Jesus Movement” video) might make us think—it made the disciples think—that in this Important Project marginal folk like children are, well, marginal. But in another of Jesus’ stunning reversals (recall the Pharisee and tax collector praying in the temple story (Lk 18:10ff)), even receiving the kingdom has something to do with owning one’s marginality. So here a possible reading strategy is to go contemplative: have/ how have I been willing to receive the kingdom as a little child? When was the last time I let Jesus take me up in his arms, lay his hands on me, bless me?

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