Tuesday, September 2, 2014
As children we might see the Old Testament as a land of dichotomy where God speaks lovingly to the faithful and spews anger at those who fall away. As children we thrive in an atmosphere of absolute rules and clear boundaries. As adults, reality tells us another story in which we humans are rarely entirely honest and open as we struggle to balance our individual needs and hope with those of our broader society and even the world. As adults we know that sometimes good people do bad things; too frequently the innocent suffer.
The fire and brimstone God we see today is far from the forgiving father in Jesus’ story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) . . . or perhaps we are seeing with our human eyes and feeling with our human heart rather than allowing our divinity to govern us. What if we were to allow the Spirit within to sing the song we read today?
God calls to each of us, urging us home to live a life of generosity and kindness.
God urges all of us to work in solidarity for those on the margins, asking us to include all rather than to exclude many.
To all who inhabit the earth to its very ends the uproar spreads; for the Lord has an indictment against the nations.
God warns us of the surety of our actions; we sow our own reaping, we gather as we sow.
God passes judgment upon all mankind: the godless shall be given to the sword, says the Lord.
God reminds us that as we forgive so are we forgiven and that the storm that appears to hover on the horizon is surely coming our way; our own actions cannot be denied in God’s reality.
False shepherds find themselves in the barren desert of their own hearts that they have fed with the souls of the innocent.
Howl, you shepherds, and wail! Roll in the dust, leaders of the flock!
The goodness of God welcomes home those who fall away . . . if only they will turn to God. Those who determine to remain in their fallen way will understand that they bring about their own destruction.
The lion leaves his lair, and their land is made desolate by the sweeping sword . . . as a great storm is unleashed from the ends of the earth.
As children we are frightened by these images and we determine to be among the faithful who escape the storm. As adults we see that no one escapes and yet all escape. As adults we see that the great storm is already upon us . . . and yet quietly and persistently and lovingly . . . the forgiving father works among us, sheltering us from the lion, the sword and the storm.