Bewitched, bothered, and bewildered!

From the Daily Office Lectionary for Friday in the week of Proper 20, Year 1 (Pentecost 17, 2015)

Matthew 6:9-13 ~ Jesus said, “Pray then in this way:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us to the time of trial,
but rescue us from the evil one.”

Today the Lord’s Prayer instruction from Matthew’s Gospel is paired in the Daily Office readings with the story of the death of Jezebel (with dogs eating her corpse) in the Second Book of Kings, and with Paul’s advice to the Corinthians about sex and marriage. It’s been three hours since I said the Office and read those lessons; I’ve had several cups of coffee and a high-fiber-high-protein breakfast. Despite that nourishment and caffeine, which should have kickstarted my brain, I confess to befuddlement. I don’t get the connection, any connection!

So that’s the take away today, not from the lessons themselves but from the Lectionary and its lack of connection between the readings that come up on the rota. In the Sunday Lectionary, one can generally find a linkage between at least two of the four readings (For non-Lectionary folk: the Eucharistic Lectionary for Sunday celebrations nearly always has four selections from Scripture – a lesson from the Old Testament, a Psalm, a lesson from the Epistles, and a lesson from one of the Gospels. Frequently, there is a thematic connection between the Old Testament readings and the Gospels), but not always. In the Daily Office Lectionary, thematic connections are even less common.

As a preacher I strive to find those connections when drafting my homilies for Sundays, and that influences my meditations on the Daily Office readings. Out of habit I try to find the linkages, the thematic relationships, the common message . . . and when it’s not there, I get bewitched, bothered, and bewildered. I become a simpering, whimpering child again . . . I want the lessons to make sense, together, not individually, and I’m angry with the Lectionary and whatever group of editors put it together!

Especially when I feel like I should be getting a good jolt of religion and spirituality with the Our Father but, instead, get Jezebel’s bloody death and Paul’s going on about people “aflame with passion.” I’m vexed again, perplexed again, and (frankly) oversexed again! Lead us not into temptation . . . .

Bewitched, bothered, and bewildered!