Monday, October 6, 2014 – Proper 22, Year Two
[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]
Today’s Readings for the Daily Office
Psalms 106:1-18 (morning) // 106:19-48 (evening)
Today’s first reading includes two of the most delectable images of God’s presence: the gentle clinging of dew, and the subtle shelter of a shadow. This presence isn’t easy to detect. Dew vanishes so quickly once the day is well underway, and we often pass through shadows without really noticing them. But perhaps we can begin our day on high alert for these gifts of refreshment and relief. They remind us that God is with us.
The prophet Hosea encourages his people to experience God in this way first by returning to him, repenting of what has kept them away: Their trust in military might, and their worship of material things. They should say to God, “Assyria shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses; we will say no more, ‘Our God,’ to the work of our hands.” The people’s pursuit of powerful military allies and manufactured goods has kept them from knowing God’s presence.
But then, through the prophet, God offers his presence to his people: “I will be like the dew to Israel; he shall blossom like the lily, he shall strike root like the forests of Lebanon.” Also, “They shall again live beneath my shadow, they shall flourish as a garden.” God wants to be with his people like the dew that refreshes them and like the shadow that soothes them.
The prophet uses all manner of arboreal images to describe how God’s people will thrive, with beauty like the olive tree, and fragrance like the cedars of Lebanon. And God is happy enough to compare himself to a tree as well: “I am like an evergreen cypress; your faithfulness comes from me.” (I hope that we remember this verse when we put up Christmas trees in a few months!)
These images beckon us to spend more time waking up at dew point, or finding shadows in the heat of the day, or walking among the trees that have the deep roots, the beauty, and the fragrance that God desires from us. All we have to do is turn away from the things that don’t deserve humanity’s trust, and awaken to the unobtrusive but oh-so-certain ways that God is with us.
Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.