|Feast of the Exaltation of the
Psalm 78:1-2, 34-35, 36-37, 38
During these past few weeks I’ve been sorting through family photos for a project for my folk’s 60th wedding anniversary. It’s been a reflective journey through our history, with times of joy as well as difficult times of sorrow and struggle in the midst of many ordinary times of being family.
In today’s reading from Numbers as well as in Psalm 78, we get a glimpse of Israel’s history of struggle between being called to faithfulness in their covenant with God and their human lapses of faith in their God.
I can certainly identify with the people’s waning patience as they traverse the desert. They complain against Moses and God, “Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert, where there is no food or water? We are disgusted with this wretched food.”
In times of struggle, such as we are experiencing in our 9/11 anniversary services, there is a temptation to glance back a year ago with the ever-ready lament, “Where were you, God?!” How could God allow such a travesty? And yet, we know that it was the work of humans choosing in their righteous ideology, to bring destruction on US policies/institutions. And the evil of destruction continues as wars wage on internationally – the war on terrorism, the conflicts in Palestine, and the potential threats of war against Iraq… Where IS our God?
How do we go to God in prayer in times like these? Do we ONLY go to God in times like these? Today’s readings are full of the memory of Israel struggling, time and again, in their ‘down times’, pleading to God, and promising to live in covenant with God. And yet, they return to drifting into unfaithful living when danger recedes.
In the Philippians reading, we are reminded that Jesus came into our world, humbling himself in his obedience (compliance and fulfillment) of God’s covenant. It was because of Jesus’ commitment to being faithful to God that he was eventually crucified. He chose to not waiver in his relationship with his God. And, “because of this, God exalted Jesus” by raising him up through the resurrection.
John reminds us that “God so loved the world that he gave us Jesus, so that whoever believes in Jesus may not die, but have eternal life.” Jesus did not come to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.
So, how does this apply to our suffering world today? Are the tragedies of war, destruction and attacks on others a sign that God is condemning us because of our sins, or are these tragedies evidence of our unfaithfulness to God’s invitation to covenant/relationship with God and God’s creation? Do we run to God, demanding that these tragedies be removed from us…that we’ve had enough? Or do we humbly pray to our God that we might discern what God’s covenant might look like in our time…and then work toward that justice and peace that is consistent with God’s presence among us?
I believe that God is listening, waiting patiently for our prayers – our connection with God. God does not withhold peace and justice from the world, but hopes that our hearts will eventually open to God’s invitation to live/pray as if we were in relationship/covenant with God rather than trying to ‘use’ God by our prayers of pleading to take evilness away from us.
In prayer, do we try to ‘use’ God to take care the evilness in our
world, or do we try to ‘get use’ to God’s way – God’s invitation to make
real covenant/relationship with God in our lives and in all of creation?
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