In the Apocrypha, there
are two books of Esdras, neither particularly well-known. Second Esdras
is an apocalyptic book, which scholars believe was written after the
fall of Jerusalem (A.D. 70) and not later than the end of the reign of
the Roman Emperor Hadrian (A.D. 138). It invites comparisons to Job in
its attempts to deal with the difficulties of human suffering. The
verses agonize over the pain and torment this world can inflict.
Yet, ultimately, Ezra finds comfort in the promise of reward in the world to come. Consolation is offered by showing that what happens in the world is always under God's control, and all injustice will be addressed in the end times.
The Apocrypha is composed of biblical books used by the early Christian church. They were part of the Greek Old Testament but were not included in the Hebrew Bible. They were widely accepted up to the time of the Reformation when some Protestant leaders purged all books that had not been part of the Hebrew Bible. Martin Luther, however,
included the Apocrypha in his 1534 translation of the Bible as an appendix, stating he found them "useful and good to be read."
On Nov. 1, the Feast of All Saints, this verse from the apocryphal second book of Esdras is often used at morning prayer: The angel says to go and spread the word of the greatness of the Lord. To do so requires us to look with wonder at the grace that pervades our lives and that of others. This includes the saints — those we know from history as well as those who come into our lives, even for a moment, to remind of us of God's presence.
Some of us are blessed to have saints come to visit in the guise of friends or relatives. For me, it was my grandmother, Edna Tilghman Larson.
Although she died when I was 9, my grandmother left a legacy that has formed my entire life. Fortunately for me, she also left a large wooden chest full of diaries and notes. What a gift! Imagine feeling confused or blue and being able to open an old notebook and find these words:
"Every day there are little miracles. Find them, see them. That way, you'll never be tempted to look back. If you keep going forward, you will ultimately get what you desire."
These are words that brim with joy and hope, from a woman who lived an ordinary life in an extraordinary way, one that allowed her to appreciate life to the fullest and find peace in unexpected places.
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