Wednesday, March 20th
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 March 20th: 2 Chronicles 20:1-22; Psalm 105:1-15 [16-41] 42; and Luke 13:22-31. I would encourage you to read these short selections as part of your Lenten practice.
Talk about a long shift at work today! I go in to work in the Winter and I don’t get out until Spring.
Spring arrives today at 5:58pm. And it comes unassisted. We can play with what we call the hours of the day. 5PM can just as easily become 6PM when we spring ahead in Day Light Savings Time, but the Vernal Equinox arrives on schedule and on its own. One of God’s greatest blessings is the regularity and order of creation. It is something we take for granted, that is until that regularity and order is disturbed.
For example, people are finally awakening to the dangers posed by climate change. Storm intensity and frequency, higher temperatures, rising sea levels, changing habitats and even changing seasons are now observable as predicted. This is going to force change upon where people live, how we farm, and what we will lose to extinction. Young people protested around the world last Friday because they fear what is in store for their future. If it becomes as bad as predicted if we do nothing, if we don’t Go Green as they say, then we will long for the good old days of regularity and order.
This is sort of what is going on in today’s reading from 2 Chronicles. The Jerusalem Temple had long stood in place as God’s house on earth. The offerings and sacrifices, the feasts and the priests, were all chugging along as scheduled. The Temple took on a life cycle of its own. There was regularity and order. It was almost as if the Temple was so obvious that it disappeared from attentive view. It’s like driving to work year after year. The driving is automatic. You only take notice when something changes.
In today’s story, the land of Judah is threatened by invasion. Regularity and order can disappear. Suddenly, the people see again the Temple. The people turn to God and pray for a return to regularity and order. The unspoken prayers immediately are voiced with passion.
In the story, God does protect and regularity and order are restored, but there’s a warning. Don’t take the normal for granted. Blessings abound in the ordinary. Don’t look past them as if they don’t exist. Sometimes God’s greatest blessings are the very ones we can take for granted.
Lent is that time when we can pause and look for Christ more intently. Jesus warns in Luke today that at some point the owner of the house will shut the door, at some point it will be too late. And then we will long for the good old days of regularity and order. Today is one of those good old days. Don’t let it pass unnoticed. Thank God for the ordinary blessings.
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