Ruth, Tears, and Alien Corn

One of my favorite books in the Bible is the Book of Ruth.  Laura and I read it to each other last night through the inevitable tears that spring from me when I contemplate the story of family devotion and divine providence.   This book is also an inspiration for some of my favorite lines of poetry, found in the latter verse of John Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale (text of poem):

The voice I hear this passing night was heard
In ancient days by emperor and clown:
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
She stood in tears amid the alien corn;

I think often of Keats’ image of Ruth when I think of the journeys to foreign lands that my parents — and I — have made, when we too have been “sick for home, … [standing] in tears amid the alien corn.”

Lectionary readings in a new context

Over the last year, I’ve been attending services at The Church of the Redeemer in Pittsburgh and more recently, at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Berkeley.  I have found  much needed refreshment in the worship services, leavened as they are with the  solemn beauty of written and spoken word, from the Bible and from the Book of Common Prayer.  The scriptural readings are scheduled according to a lectionary (the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL), I believe though I’m still a tad confused on these matters.) As a practical matter, this means that I have a ready-made schedule of texts to study:  either to look ahead (so I can prepare this coming Sunday) or to review (so that I can reflect on what we meditated on last Sunday).

Happily, I have found online sources for the Sunday lectionary readings, including:

Ultimately, I’d like to find sources of daily readings too. In the past, I’ve overreached in my Bible reading ambitions.  Now I plan to start with the Sunday readings but then add daily readings as I get more regular and proficient in my Bible reflections.  So when I’m ready, I should take a look at Book of Common Prayer Daily Office Lectionary (ESV Bible Online).  I took a quick glance at Reading Plans – YouVersion.com, hoping to find lectionaries tied to this online Bible and community. I’ll want to figure out how the Episcopal order of reading relates to that of the PCUSA for which I can get daily readings provided by the PCUSA (e.g., today’s reading is  PC(USA) – Devotions – Daily readings for Friday, January 29, 2010)

P.S. A post on the lectionary won’t be complete for me if I don’t mention how I can ultimately geek out on it. The Lectionary points to a spreadsheet that “has the RCL, Roman Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran, and Methodist lectionaries keyed to Bible passages.”  With this key, I’ll be able to computationally generate multi-denominational Bible readings for different days in different forms.  Lectionary mashups, here we come!

Diving into the Lectionary

I’m starting to read the Bible by following a lectionary. I must admit that I’m still confused about how various lectionaries fit together and how much of the Bible any given lectionary cycle covers. A website I’ve looked at before is The Lectionary Page. (Something that seems new to me are the links to Revised Common Lectionary.

Another place for me to start is with daily readings provided by the PCUSA. Today’s reading is found at PC(USA) – Devotions.

Reacquainting myself with the Psalms

This morning I was happy to take down for my bookshelf something I had not read in a while: my copy of The Access Bible, New Revised Standard Version with Apocrypha. I found reading the introductory essay to the Psalms a real pleasure, inspiring me to read through the Psalms to look for the themes and structures identified by the essay. This morning I started my journey through the Psalms by reading Psalm 1, which happens to be not only at the beginning of the Psalms but also already very familiar to me. The passage that sticks with me this morning is also appropriate for me to ruminate on throughout the day: “but their delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night.” (Ps 1:2)