The Journey Home

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Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 57; 145, Ezra 7:27-28, 8:21-36, Revelation 20:7-15, Matthew 17:1-13


Do we recognize the distinction between technical freedom and equality and practical freedom and equality?

After King Artaxerxes decreed any Jewish people who wished to return to Jerusalem were free to do so – and to take with them an abundance of gold, silver, holy vessels and urns, livestock for offerings, and other supplies – the prophet Ezra led them home. Ezra did not ask for military protection because he’d boldly proclaimed the Lord would protect them from harm.

Over the next four months and nine hundred miles, the Jews did indeed manage to avoid enemies and ambushes and return to the city, where they began to rebuild.

How would we describe that time between the decree and the arrival in Jerusalem? The people were technically free, but they certainly weren’t yet an autonomous nation. They were surrounded by enemies and far from home. Almost certainly a few of them died before reaching the city. The joy of no longer being prisoners must at times have been muted or eclipsed by the dangers of freedom without security.

There’s a significant lag between the time people are legally decreed to be free or equal and the time it becomes a practical reality they can take for granted. The history of the United States is full of slow, jerky progress for many kinds of people. Slavery was outlawed over 150 years ago, but racial inequity persists to this day. Women are legally equal to men, but a long history (and present) of federal court cases are evidence the culture hasn’t caught up with the law. People with disabilities have legal protections, but struggle daily to be seen, heard, and accepted. One of our oldest guaranteed freedoms is freedom of religion, but people of all religions face discrimination to greater or lesser degrees. Undoubtedly you can think of numerous additional examples. That four-month, nine-hundred-mile journey seems short in comparison.

Just because someone has been declared free … doesn’t mean they are home free.

When someone who belongs to a group that has been oppressed or marginalized tells us they aren’t home free yet, instead of dismissing them with “you have equal rights” let’s be willing to listen to what is still wrong. Let’s listen to what enemies lie in wait to ambush them.

Artaxerxes was wise enough to understand he needed to make restitution to restore the possibility of opportunity to the Jews. Just as Ezra did not ask Artaxerxes to rebuild or even protect the Jews in their new freedom, communities still seeking full freedom and equality today only want what has been taken or withheld from them and the opportunity to build themselves up. The least we can do is figure out how to get out of their way.

Comfort: God desires justice for everyone.

Challenge: Make a point of listening to the experiences of people who differ from you, particularly people who have been historically oppressed in ways you have not.

Prayer: The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made. (Psalm 145:8-9)

Discussion: How diverse is your church? Your employer? Your dinner table?

Join the discussion! If you enjoyed this post, feel free to join an extended discussion as part of the C+C Facebook group. You’ll be notified of new posts through FB, and have the opportunity to share your thoughts with some lovely people. Or feel free to comment here on WordPress, or even re-blog – the more the merrier!

Two Weeks

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There’s a scene in the Schwarzenegger version of Total Recall where the hero is wearing a mechanical disguise to sneak through customs to go to Mars. He (dressed as she) is only programmed to answer a limited number of potential questions from the custom agents. When one of the agents goes off the prepared script, the mechanical head malfunctions and our hero can only reply with an increasingly desperate and garbled “Two weeks” – the answer to the question “How long will you be staying?” It’s actually a running bit in our house (“How long are you going to be in the bathroom?” … “Twooo weeeksh.”) but today it’s a little more significant.

In exactly two weeks we will have reached the completion of the original purpose of this blog, which was to offer a daily devotional reflection on the scripture selections from the Daily Lectionary from the Book of Common Worship. The Lectionary takes us through most of the Bible in a two-year cycle. The first day of Advent (Sunday, December 3 this year) starts the cycle over.

A while back when the blog hit 500 days, I speculated about what comes next. As Advent rapidly approaches and my brain keeps shouting “two weeks” because it hasn’t had answers about what will happen once I finally make it to Mars, I think I have a plan.

  • Branching Out. There are things on my mind other than devotional themes, and I’d like to share and discuss them. Not sure how often these would come up, but I’m thinking at least once a week. Definitely more personal and hopefully creative in scope, but I’m not interested in doing a glimpse-into-my-life / confessional sort of blog. More an exploration of topics. Still inclusive in nature – I’m also not interested in posting or hosting rants.
  • A Commitment to Invitation. The Sunday Invitations have been more infrequent than I would have liked. Without the pressure of writing something new every day, I feel I can commit to doing one each Sunday for at least the next year.
  • Rinse and Repeat. I like posting the daily readings. I’m not sure I could come up with another 700+ new ones and be satisfied with them. So I’m going to do daily reposts. They’ll be new to many readers, and if you’ve read them before it was a couple years ago so I’ll say what I say about re-reading scripture: you’re in a different place every time you read it, so it may have something different to say to you. Maybe these pieces will too. And I’ll get another chance to edit and polish them. And replace stock photos with my own work. It’s also possible experience will lead me to disagree with myself, and won’t that be interesting to handle?

Thanks for taking the time to read and visit. I look forward to sharing the next phase of Comfort and Challenge with anyone who’d like to come along for the ride!

Peace!

Joe

The Balance

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Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 67; 150, Ezra 7:(1-10) 11-26, Acts 28:14b-23, Luke 16:1-13


The Parable of the Unjust Steward (or Dishonest Manager) isn’t one that gets trotted out for sermons as frequently as some of Jesus’s better known parables. Maybe this is because it differs structurally from the others, and is less obvious in its intent, though Jesus does follow it with some application.

In short, a wealthy man discovers his steward/manager has been mishandling his estate. The steward gets wind of this, so he goes to several of his master’s clients and gives them discounts on the debts they owe while he still has the power to do so. Effectively, this obligates them to him so he might call on their generosity and support after he’s fired. His master commends the steward’s clever response. Jesus then tells his disciples to also be clever with how they handle their wealth, for while unbelievers are more shrew in worldly financial matters, believers should handle wealth (which ultimately belongs to God) as a tool for serving more eternal purposes. If they can be trusted with little, flawed resources, they can be trusted not to ruin the larger, better ones.

Jesus isn’t recommending or condoning shady business practices, but he is telling us we need to deal with the world as it is, not as we’d like it to be. We don’t influence the world for the better by withdrawing from everyone and everything who don’t meet our litmus test for worthiness. If we can close the gap between where we are and where we’d like them to be by eight, fifty, or even twenty percent, we have accomplished something. In such transactions and relationships we definitely do need to cultivate some shrewdness so we don’t end up being manipulated to move beyond what it acceptable.

This balancing act is on full display in elections, where we have to balance what public policies and values we believe a candidate supports against her or his personal peccadilloes and misdeeds. If a person is on “our” team we’re inclined to excuse many flaws we might use to disparage a person on the “other” team. Each of us must decide where that tipping point is, and we should apply it without hypocrisy.

Of course the factors leading to that decision began long before we got to the voting booth. What have we tolerated or promoted that results in so many choices between less-than-great options? Are we focused on the little things of the short-term – like the steward was before he got caught – or on the larger things of the longer term – like he was when trying to secure his future? Real shrewdness lies in not selling out long term principles for short-term gains.

Whether we are making decisions about politics, health, personal relationships, finances, or most importantly our eternal souls we are doing so in a broken world. Even Christian communities with the best intentions must deal with brokenness – inside and out. Perfect choices are extremely rare, if they exist at all. God has trusted us with stewardship – not possession and not perfection – of the imperfect. Just because we can’t get one hundred percent of what we want doesn’t mean the remainder isn’t worth loving and tending. Let us live as though those accounts are coming due any minute.

Comfort: Everyone falls short of the glory of God, but we are still to love each other.

Challenge: Unless you withdraw entirely from the world, you’re going to have to compromise. Do it with mercy, love, and integrity.

Prayer: Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. (Psalm 67:4)

Discussion: When do find it difficult to compromise?

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Someone Needs The Wood

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Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 56; 149, Nehemiah 13:4-22, Revelation 20:1-6, Matthew 16:21-28


You may have heard the expression, “Get off the cross; someone else needs the wood.” It’s generally used in response to someone who engages in showy, unnecessary, and/or self-inflicted martyrdom – probably over something trivial. It also implies the person is casting themselves in the role of a victim.

When Christ told his disciples “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” was he asking them to become victims? Perhaps if the only way we can define victory is through someone else’s defeat, we might think so. But the sacrifice Christ calls us to make is not just martyrdom to prove our loyalty to him. As his sacrifice was not for himself, but for others – for the world – so our own cross is not just about us.

In places around the world, simply declaring one’s faith may lead to a figurative or literal cross. In most of the western world, however, we are free to slap crosses on buildings, merchandise, jewelry, and even our own bodies without experiencing any real persecution. Since sacrifice is central to the Christian tradition, in the absence of actual crosses we manufacture persecution when we are forced to share public space and accommodation with people who do not believe or behave as we do.

Every year Christian culture warriors want us to believe a cheery utterance of “Happy Holidays” in the local big box store serving people of all faiths (and no faith) is an offense we need to confront with an aggressive “Merry Christmas” that represents Christ in an extremely poor light. It’s not enough to live our values, we want to force others to observe them as well. Did Jesus ever force anyone to do anything? We do it to accomplish the mental contortion necessary to bully our way to victimhood.

Focusing our attention on a cross no one asked us to build and draping ourselves in a shroud of victimhood may prove our loyalty to Christianity™ but not to Christ. The victory and sacrifice of the cross we are meant to carry is found in humility and service. In the absence of persecution, we are still fully capable of making loving sacrifices: patience, kindness, charity, not insisting on our own way, giving from our excess (and sometimes our basics) so others may have enough … all that Bible stuff.

Deep faith and witness don’t need to be branded with the cross like some product logo; when it’s real, people will want it without having to be sold on it. Tearing it down to give the wood to someone in need may be the biggest sacrifice of ego we can make.

Comfort: With Christ as our savior, we are never victims.

Challenge: Don’t look for reasons to be offended. Look for reasons to be merciful.

Prayer: O Lord, I put my trust in you. Thank you for the love that frees me from all other needs. Amen.

Discussion: Have you ever played the victim, maybe without realizing it until later?

Join the discussion! If you enjoyed this post, feel free to join an extended discussion as part of the C+C Facebook group. You’ll be notified of new posts through FB, and have the opportunity to share your thoughts with some lovely people. Or feel free to comment here on WordPress, or even re-blog – the more the merrier!

Chairity

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Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 130; 148, Nehemiah 12:27-31a, 42b-47, Revelation 19:11-16, Matthew 16:13-20


When Jesus asked his disciples who the people thought he was, they answered Elijah, John the Baptist, Jeremiah, and other prophets. He then more pointedly asked them “But who do you say that I am?” Peter quickly answered “the Messiah” and Jesus told him this knowledge came not from flesh and blood, but from God. Then Jesus instructed his disciples to tell no one else.

Who do you think Jesus is?

Like Peter we can answer “the Messiah” because it’s definitely not a secret any more … but what does that mean to us? After the crucifixion and the resurrection, the role of “the Messiah” meant something very different to Peter and the disciples. Christians unite around the idea of Christ as Messiah, yet given the variety in our expression of faith and belief, mostly derived from the same Biblical sources, we don’t all mean the same thing when we say it.

Is there a perfectable understanding of Christ we all strive toward? Plato had a theory of ideal forms. Summarized in a simple example, there exists a metaphysical ideal form of any object, such as a chair, which is the standard by which we recognize other less-than-ideal objects in the physical world as chairs. Is there an ideal form of Christ (which would be, one supposes … Christ himself) which helps us recognize expressions of Christ in this world we presently inhabit?

Chairs can be plush, wooden, yielding, rigid, wheeled, or rocking. They can have various numbers of legs or – in the case of bean bags – no legs at all. Yet in all their variety they hold in common factors which define them as chairs.

If Peter and the disciples who knew Jesus personally underwent a transformation in their understanding of Jesus, let’s not be too quick centuries later to declare one earthly expression the only real thing. This isn’t some wishy-washy excuse to turn Jesus into whatever we’d like him to be. To the contrary, encountering Jesus changes us, never the other way around.

The same Christ can inspire one person to a conservative worldview and another to a progressive worldview. Both probably believe the other to be misguided, but there will be central issues – such as feeding the hungry and caring for the ill – upon which they agree. Why do we find it so much easier to focus on the areas where we disagree, when areas of agreement are where we find Christ?

When it comes to discipleship, we all get some right and some wrong. Moving toward that ideal form of discipleship – that understanding of who Christ is and what he asks of us – is a lifelong endeavor. Let us undertake that journey with humility, love, and mercy. Isn’t that who we say we are?

Comfort: Christ’s love is greater than we imagine.

Challenge: So let’s not limit him to what we can imagine.

Prayer: I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope (Psalm 130:5)

Discussion: What words describe Jesus for you?

Join the discussion! If you enjoyed this post, feel free to join an extended discussion as part of the C+C Facebook group. You’ll be notified of new posts through FB, and have the opportunity to share your thoughts with some lovely people. Or feel free to comment here on WordPress, or even re-blog – the more the merrier!

Red Skies

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Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 36; 147:12-20, Nehemiah 6:1-19, Revelation 19:1-10, Matthew 16:1-12


“Red sky at night, sailor’s delight.
Red sky at morning, sailors take warning.”

There’s some truth behind this ancient maritime folklore. The red appearance of the sky – really the underside of clouds – has to do with several factors including the wavelengths of light, the amount of condensation and particles in the air, and weather patterns generally moving from west to east. However, long before we knew the scientific reasons, people spent centuries observing this pattern and using those observations to fairly reliably make predictions about their world.

This observation goes back thousands of years, predating Christ. He mentions it to the Pharisees and Sadducees when they ask him for a sign: “You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.”

The only sign he is willing to offer them is the sign of Jonah (another famous seafaring reference), who after three days in the darkness of the belly of a great fish emerged to call the people of Nineveh to repentance. This is a bit of role reversal however. Jonah vigorously resisted God’s call to be a prophet while Jesus was obedient unto death, and the Ninevites were quick to repent while the Pharisees and Sadducees looked for ways to betray Jesus.

Do we ever ask for signs because we don’t want to face what’s obviously before us? As a species we are less swayed by truth than we are by emotion, and we can become very emotionally invested in a sign (or lack thereof). As a matter of fact, when faced with facts we don’t like we are more likely to dig in our heels than change our minds, and grasp at any straw supporting our position. Is it ever more obvious than when debate about political and social issues rapidly abandons facts for emotional and tribal attacks? And what gets really tricky is we’re all convinced we’re the ones being reasonable. The Pharisees and Sadducees thought they were protecting their fellow Jews by squashing what appeared to them a seditious movement.

When presented with new information, let’s try to be more repentant Ninevite and less inflexible Pharisee. If we spend too much effort searching the sky for those rare signs, we may just miss all the evidence right in front of us.

Comfort: The world is full of the wonder of God’s glory.

Challenge: Let’s look for it where it is, instead of trying to force it to be where we are looking.

Prayer: I believe that I shall see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13)

Discussion: Are there any subjects that make you defensive?

Join the discussion! If you enjoyed this post, feel free to join an extended discussion as part of the C+C Facebook group. You’ll be notified of new posts through FB, and have the opportunity to share your thoughts with some lovely people. Or feel free to comment here on WordPress, or even re-blog – the more the merrier!

Following The Recipe

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Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 15; 147:1-11, Nehemiah 7:73b-8:3, 5-18, Revelation 18:21-24, Matthew 15:29-39


There’s an old joke about a new bride who wants to make her husband happy by learning to prepare a roast – his favorite meal – just the way his mother did. She spends time with her mother-in-law and memorizes every step of the recipe. One night she surprises her husband with a beautifully prepared roast. He enjoys it immensely but asks why she cut the ends of the roast. “That’s what your mother does,” she replies. “That,” he says, “is because she can’t find the bigger pan.”

We’ve gotten mileage out of this joke before, but this time let’s consider it in the context of today’s passage from Nehemiah.

After the people of Israel returned to Jerusalem after decades in Babylonian exile, they rededicated themselves to their Lord and their Law. The priests wanted to help the people understand the law, so while all the people were gathered “they read from the book, from the law of God, with interpretation. They gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.”

They didn’t just read verbatim, they provided context. Part of God’s previous displeasure with the people, which had culminated in the exile they had just concluded, was their tendency to follow the letter of the law without valuing or considering the principles of mercy and justice behind it. Nobody wanted to that to happen again.

Yet a little less than five hundred years later when Jesus arrived in Jerusalem many people had forgotten the lesson and repeated the mistakes of the past. It seems we are much better at following and enforcing rules, even misunderstood or twisted versions of them, than looking at what’s behind them.

Christians seem to be caught in the tension between following a savior who fulfilled and freed us from the law and defining Christianity through a whole new set of rules grown from tradition and interpretation. We should not abandon our principles and values simply because they fall out of fashion, but we also benefit from regular examination of what principles determine why we do what we do – in everything from the arrangement of the sanctuary, to decisions about which sins to condemn most loudly, to daily personal practices – and from asking whether what we do and proclaim actually conforms to the Spirit rather than the letter. Biblical literacy is about more than knowing what the Bible says; we should always strive to deepen our understanding of why it says what it does. A faith that doesn’t stand up to examination and challenges isn’t a faith; it’s a tissue of superstitions.

Before you cut the ends off the roast, think about who that means you won’t be feeding.

Comfort: Our faith has rich history and tradition.

Challenge: Some of them have outlived their usefulness.

Prayer: I will both lie down and sleep in peace; for you alone, O LORD, make me lie down in safety. (Psalm 4:9)

Discussion: Have you ever realized something you did regularly was pointless or counterproductive?

Join the discussion! If you enjoyed this post, feel free to join an extended discussion as part of the C+C Facebook group. You’ll be notified of new posts through FB, and have the opportunity to share your thoughts with some lovely people. Or feel free to comment here on WordPress, or even re-blog – the more the merrier!

Feeling Crumby?

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Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 123; 146, Nehemiah 9:26-38, Revelation 18:9-20, Matthew 15:21-28


Have you ever felt like God just wasn’t paying any attention to you? Not a malicious or deliberate snub; more a disinterested neglect. A whole lot of people around you seem to be having mountaintop moments, a clear line of sight to their calling, or an unwavering awareness of the divine presence … while your heart harbors unanswered questions, serious doubts, and perhaps a little resentment. Maybe you’ve previously experienced the joy everyone else seems to be finding in the Lord, but over time that joy of that relationship has faded into a bit of a “meh.” If God is saying anything, it seems to be “maybe we should see other people.”

A Canaanite woman from the region of Tyre and Sidon might have felt that way when Jesus ignored her and her request to heal her daughter, who was tormented by a demon. He told his disciples he “was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” When she knelt before him and asked “Lord, help me” he told her “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” When she reminded him even the dogs get the crumbs that fall from the table, he rewarded her great faith by healing her daughter.

Our story can be similar. We shout. We beg. We fall on our knees before the Lord. And we are rewarded with silence. Except our silence is drawn out over days, months, or years instead of the time it takes to walk down the road. Or maybe the road we’re on is longer.

It doesn’t seem like Jesus was simply holding out as a test of the Canaanite woman’s faith, but that her stubborn faith in the face of what seemed like rejection brought her to the place where she needed to be. That distinction may make little difference to how we feel in the moment, but it is an important one which may help us endure that “long dark night.”

When it seems like other people have more blessings thrown at them than they can catch, it’s not that their faith is greater than ours. We each have our own path to travel, and sometimes it’s through territory that other people may not even recognize as faith. And let’s remember that dogs and crumbs analogy is blessedly flawed: there’s only so much food to go on (and fall off) the table, but there’s enough grace for everyone to fill up on it.

Comfort: God hears you…

Challenge: … but you may still be figuring out what to say.

Prayer: To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens! (Psalm 123:1)

Discussion: What’s the longest you’ve waited for something?

Join the discussion! If you enjoyed this post, feel free to join an extended discussion as part of the C+C Facebook group. You’ll be notified of new posts through FB, and have the opportunity to share your thoughts with some lovely people. Or feel free to comment here on WordPress, or even re-blog – the more the merrier!

Propagandist or Prophet?

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Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 135; 145, Nehemiah 9:1-15 (16-25), Revelation 18:1-8, Matthew 15:1-20


After the Israelites returned to Jerusalem from exile and purged themselves of foreign influences, the Levites (priestly class) offered a long prayer to the Lord. This prayer recounted the history of the Jewish people from creation to their current situation, and ended with a plea for help. This history included both the triumphs and failings of the Jewish people. It didn’t attempt to explain or excuse past transgressions; to do so would have been an affront to the Lord. The people’s current condition – better than exile yet not so good as complete freedom – was the culmination of all they had done, and asking for it to be better required a humbling honesty with themselves and the Lord about how they got there.

Nobody claimed, “I was born in exile, so I can’t be held responsible for exploiting those widows and orphans back then.” Nobody pointed a finger at the Ammonites and said, “It’s their women’s fault for agreeing to marry us.” No one interrupted the prayer with an unrelated diatribe about Hittite-on-Hittite crime.

Whether it’s today or 2600 years ago, a nation which truly wishes to embrace justice must come to terms with its past as a nation. The currently downtrodden and marginalized didn’t spring up overnight; they suffer and others prosper because of the violence, oppression, greed, and inhumanity of the past. It doesn’t matter how long ago something happened if people are still suffering the consequences today because it’s more comfortable to forget about how terrible we were and focus on how great we are.

If your palace is built on sand, it’s inevitably doomed until you dig deep to pour a solid foundation.

None of us is excused from corporate accountability for the past simply because we don’t feel individually guilty in the present. No one is asking us to feel guilty anyway; guilt is useless, maybe even detrimental, to national healing because it nudges us away from empathy and toward defensiveness. When we can’t admit (or worse yet try to excuse) what we as a people have done wrong, who was hurt by it, and why we did it, we’re all but destined to repeat it, much like Israel’s cycle of faithfulness, blasphemy, and devastation. To break the cycle, we must abandon the spin.

A nation is rarely short of propaganda, but prophets are in short supply. The former may make us feel good about being on the team, but the latter will tell us how to be a team worth belonging to.

Further reading: for thoughts on today’s passage from Matthew, see Lip Service.

Comfort: The truth sets you free … from a lot of things.

Challenge: Support the communities you belong to by holding them accountable.

Prayer: O Lord, I will be true to you above all others. Amen.

Discussion: Have you ever been surprised to learn something new or different about history? Did you research to find out if it was true?

Join the discussion! If you enjoyed this post, feel free to join an extended discussion as part of the C+C Facebook group. You’ll be notified of new posts through FB, and have the opportunity to share your thoughts with some lovely people. Or feel free to comment here on WordPress, or even re-blog – the more the merrier!

No YOLO Is Solo

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Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 19; 150, Ezra 10:1-17, Acts 24:10-21, Luke 14:12-24


Do you find today’s passage from Ezra at all unsettling?

After the Israelites had returned to Jerusalem from exile in Babylon, they confessed to Ezra that they had not observed the Mosaic law’s prohibition against marrying outside their faith. Many of the men of Israel, including the priestly class, had taken wives – and by association their foreign gods – from the various cultures surrounding them. Ezra organized a meeting of these men, and they decided all the foreign wives and their children would have to return to their own lands.

Much commentary on this passage assumes the men of Israel would have continued to support these women and children or that God somehow provided for them, but there is no scriptural evidence for this wishful thinking. We don’t really know what happened to them. Maybe they were watched over, or maybe they grew destitute. God is not answerable to us, but framing this event in divine justice doesn’t erase the potential toll of human suffering.

So what are we to do with this story, besides dispassionately shrugging it off as something which had to be done?

Perhaps this cautionary tale drives home the message that we can’t expect God to clean up our messes for us, and that cleaning them up ourselves can have devastating repercussions for real people. Will they be repercussions we can live with? Surely the men of Israel, even the ones who never saw those wives and children again, never forgot about them.

Coming clean with a spouse after an affair, confessing to a family member we’ve been stealing from them, and turning ourselves in after a hit-and-run are examples of doing the right thing after we’ve already done the irreversible wrong thing. The bitter consequences for us and the people we’ve involved or betrayed may be severe and lifelong, no matter how sorry we are. That’s on us, not God.

It’s sometimes tempting to dodge responsibility with a YOLO attitude. There’s even a Christian version, where we pursue a pharisaical, self-satisfied righteousness that is blind to the harm it causes others.

Doing the right thing may seem difficult at the time, but atonement will be worse, and not necessarily just for you.  Let’s think beyond “right now” to “Right. Now.”

Comfort: You are capable of making good decisions.

Challenge: God forgives us, but when other people don’t it’s our job to respond with grace and love.

Prayer: Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14).

Discussion: When are you prone to make bad decisions? What can you do to change that?

Join the discussion! If you enjoyed this post, feel free to join an extended discussion as part of the C+C Facebook group. You’ll be notified of new posts through FB, and have the opportunity to share your thoughts with some lovely people. Or feel free to comment here on WordPress, or even re-blog – the more the merrier!