“…. The rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth. The time of singing has come.”

Those lines are from the Song of Solomon, from the first of our four readings today. The readings are listed in Track 1, here. I start with those lines only because of all the Katrina 10th Anniversary retrospectives. Those of us who lived through that storm know that not everything has returned since then to the state we might hope things would be in, but we also know just how remarkably far the Gulf Coast has come. And for that reason, a time of singing, at least for this one weekend, has come.

But that’s shoehorning a meaning into the reading that of course isn’t intended. And the other readings seem to lead to other reflections.

I like the emphasis in the letter of James — an emphasis on which I wrote last week as well — on not just listening and speaking, but doing, the will of God, or at least to do that will as well as we sincerely understand it:

[B]e doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. …┬áBut those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act-they will be blessed in their doing.

In the Gospel, we see the corollary to this: Just as we can choose, in liberty, to do that which is god, so too when we do that which is conducive to evil, we are indeed the ones who do it; we are the ones who choose, in liberty, to do what is not right. (“It is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come.”)

The choice is ours — and the response must involve more than mere words, but action.

Now, pray tell, what must we do if we want to do good? Well, we must act with charity (“care for orphans and widows in their distress”), and with integrity (“keep oneself unstained by the world”).

We on the Gulf Coast saw plenty of charity in the wake of Katrina. Indeed, we surely would not have recovered without acts of charity and kindness from throughout the country.

What remains, if we are the recipients of charity (rather than the purveyors of it), it to redouble our efforts to keep ourselves unstained by the world — to act with integrity, to try to do God’s will in all that we undertake.

The very first line of the Psalm is this: “My heart is stirring with a noble song.” Let us not stop the singing, but let us also remember that the song must be noble — and that the song cannot truly be noble unless the singer is, too.

 

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