Friday, April 12th
Throughout the year, the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ produces the Daily Lectionary for use by churches. These are the suggested readings for April 12th: Psalm 31:9-16; Isaiah 54:9-10; and Hebrews 2:10-18. I would encourage you to read these short selections as part of your Lenten practice.
After the flood in the Noah story, God promises to never again destroy His creation in such fashion. Adhering to that imagery, God speaks to the remnant of survivors living in exile after the fall of Jerusalem. They are like the saved-ones on the ark. As God sealed His promise to Noah with the rainbow, so again, the Lord promises to withhold His anger and this time Isaiah’s poetry stands as the marker of this renewed relationship: “For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you …”
The message is beautiful, but the reality remains difficult. Israel does return, but the expected resurrection of the kingdom never occurs. That hope is laid upon the expectation of the Messiah, the “son of David” who will usher in God’s everlasting kingdom. These are still the hopes of the people of Jerusalem some 500 years later as Jesus makes His triumphal entry as we will recall in this coming weekend’s Palm Sunday worship. Again, however, reality tells a different story.
I wonder if it’s time for us to re-examine our expectations of how God will act. After Noah, after the Exile, after Palm Sunday maybe we need to think in different terms of God’s “my steadfast love shall not depart from you.” These events are acts of re-creation not of the world, but within the world. They offer opportunities that we must embrace to make the world better.
There is no reason why humans must constantly choose the more destructive path. There is no reason why we can’t choose to follow our better selves, our made in the image of God selves. God is always here to help and guide and even pick us up to start over, but we need to choose what kind of world we will build.
God knows this is not going to be easy, and that we will stagger down broad paths again, and that we will suffer because of it. When that happens, don’t imagine God is just watching safely at a distance, waiting to pass judgment for our own selfishness and greed. Think instead of His constant steadfast love in terms of Jesus’ own suffering: “It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings. … Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.”
Let us find the strength to choose to build a better world knowing that Jesus walks beside us fearful of nothing and in the assurance that His “steadfast love shall not depart from you.”
Faith, love and chitchat.
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