Week of Proper 6: Saturday, Year 2   3 comments

Above:  Jehoiada

When People Are Hurting

JUNE 23, 2018

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Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.

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2 Chronicles 24:17-25 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

But after the death of Jehoiada, the officers of Judah came, bowing low to the king; and the king listened to them.  They forsook the House of the LORD God of their fathers to serve the sacred posts and idols; and there was wrath upon Judah and Jerusalem because of this guilt of theirs.  The LORD sent prophets among them to bring them back to Him; they admonished them but they would not pay heed.  Then the spirit of God enveloped Zechariah son of Jehoiada the priest; he stood above the people and said to them,

Thus God said:  Why do you transgress the commandments of the LORD when you cannot succeed?  Since you have forsaken the LORD, He has forsaken you.

They conspired against him and pelted him with stones in the court of the House of the LORD, by order of the king.  King Joash disregarded the loyalty that his father Jehoiada had shown to him, and killed his son.  As he was dying, he said,

May the LORD see and requite it.

At the turn of the year, the army of Aram marched against him; they invaded Judah and Jerusalem, and wiped out all the officers of the people from among the people, and sent all the booty they took to the king of Damascus.  The invading army of Aram had come with but a few men, but the LORD delivered a very large army into their hands, because they had forsaken the LORD God of their fathers.  They inflicted punishments on Joash.  When they withdrew, having left him with many wounds, his courtiers plotted against him because of the murder of the sons of Jehoiada the priest, and they killed him in bed.  He died and was not buried in the tombs of the kings.

Psalm 89:19-33 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

19  You spoke once in a vision and said to your faithful people:

“I have set the crown upon a warrior

and have exalted one chosen out of the people.

20  I have found David my servant;

with my holy oil have I anointed him.

21  My hand will hold him fast

and my arm will make him strong.

22  No enemy shall deceive him,

nor any wicked man bring him down.

23  I will crush his foes before him

and strike down those who hate him.

24  My faithfulness and love shall be with him,

and he shall be victorious through my Name.

25  I shall make his dominion extend

from the Great Sea to the River.

26  He will say to you, ‘You are my Father,

my God, and the rock of my salvation.’

27  I will make him my firstborn

and higher than the kings of the earth.

28  I will keep my love for him for ever,

and my covenant will stand firm for him.

29  I will establish his line for ever

and his throne as the days of heaven.

30  “If his children forsake my law

and do not walk according to my judgments;

31  If they break my statutes

and do not keep my commandments;

32  I will punish their transgressions with a rod

and their iniquities with the lash;

33  But I will not take my love from him,

nor let my faithfulness prove false.”

Matthew 6:24-34 (An American Translation):

[Jesus continued,]

No slave can serve two masters, for he will either hate the one and love the other, or stand by the one and make light of the other.  You cannot serve God and money.  Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, wondering what you will have to eat or drink, or about your body, wondering what you will have to wear.  Is not life more important than food, and the body than clothes.  Look at the wild birds.  They do not sow or reap, or store their food in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more account than they?  But which of you with all his worry can add a single hour to his life?  Why should you worry about clothing?  See how the wild flowers grow.  They do not toil or spin, and yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his splendor was never dressed like one of them.  But if God so beautifully dresses the wild grass, which is alive today and is thrown into the furnace tomorrow, will he not much more surely clothe you, you who have so little faith?  So do not worry and say, ‘What shall we have to eat?’ or ‘What shall we have to drink?’ or ‘What shall we have to wear?’ For these are all things the heathen are in pursuit of, and your heavenly Father knows well that you need all this.  But you must make his kingdom, and uprightness before him, you greatest care, and you will have all these other things besides.  So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries of its own.  Let each be day be content with its own ills.

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The Collect:

Keep, O Lord, your household the Church in your steadfast faith and love, that through your grace we may proclaim your truth with boldness, and minister your justice with compassion; for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

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A Related Post:

Week of Proper 6:  Saturday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/05/week-of-proper-6-saturday-year-1/

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Jehoash/Joash, the accounts tell us, was one-year-old when his father died and Athaliah usurped the throne.  So he was seven years old when Jehoiada placed him on the throne formally.  Counting the six years in the Temple, Jehoash/Joash reigned for about forty years.  And he was faithful so long as Jehoiada was alive.  But after Jehoiada died of old age, Jehoash/Joash turned to familiar bad habits of idolatry, which ran deeply in the culture.  He also ordered the killing of those who criticized him for this.  The author of 2 Chronicles 24:17-24 interpreted a successful foreign invasion and the murder of Jehoash/Joash as divine punishment and just desserts.

This theology of punishment can become a slippery slope toward insensitivity.  Since 2005 some prominent religious figures (whom I choose to leave unnamed) have described the ravages of Hurricane Katrina and the 2009 Haiti earthquake as divine punishment for sins.  And members of a congregation in Topeka, Kansas, picket various funerals, such as those of U.S. soldiers, Amish school children killed by a lone gunman, and a former First Lady of the United States.  They carry signs such as “THANK GOD FOR DEAD SOLDIERS” and utter homophobic words, claiming that God is punishing the U.S. for tolerating homosexuality.  Once I visited the church website, where I found a jaw-dropping description for these protests:  “love crusades.”

I do not pretend to understand how divine judgment works.  However, I propose that one ought to focus primarily on demonstrating love, sympathy, and compassion, not on pronouncing the wrath of God when people are hurting.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/when-people-are-hurting/

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