Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 22; 148, Jeremiah 23:1-8, Romans 8:28-39, John 6:52-59
The Bible story reveals a consistent cycle: God sets something good in motion … people take it for granted and screw it up. Adam and Eve start in a perfect garden, but can’t resist the one thing forbidden to them. God frees the Israelites from Egyptian slavery, but they succumb to fear and doubt so wander for forty years before reaching the promised land. They reach the promised land and establish a great kingdom, then fall into corruption and exile. (Sometimes it’s a cycle within a cycle, with individuals rather than whole peoples experiencing glory and courting catastrophe). Restored to their homeland, they once again fall into corruption. Jesus sacrifices himself to save the world, and Christians repeat the cycle, in large ways and small, throughout the history of the church. Rinse and repeat.
Fortunately, God has more revival to offer than we have faults to deplete it.
One of the greatest dangers to a faith community is complacency. We can stray from the path God intends for us by sticking too closely to the path we’ve always trodden. Every tradition starts out as something new; it only becomes old when we grow satisfied with simply observing it, rather than asking why we do it. For example tithing, in addition to being a sacrifice to the Lord, was a means for the temple to take care of widows, orphans, and disabled people. Jewish people faithfully kept tithing long after temple officials started keeping most of the offerings. According to Jeremiah and other prophets, the Lord wasn’t pleased.
What traditions and habits that may need revisiting do we and our communities observe? During these cycles, God generally seems to be concerned with the welfare of the lost and neglected, and harsh to the comfortable and complacent. Do we have a beautiful building with a hollow soul? Does our congregation grow more homogeneous or more diverse? Is it in the business of condemnation or service?
The winds of revival are always on the horizon. When they arrive, may our necks not be so stiff that they snap like reeds in a gust.
Comfort: God is constant…
Challenge: …but our understanding of God does change and grow.
Prayer: Gracious Lord, teach me to appreciate the creation constantly unfolding from your love. Amen.
Discussion: What current attitudes and beliefs do you think are going to end up on the “wrong side of history?”
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