“I will make with them a covenant of peace…My dwelling shall
be with them; I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Ez.
“Fighting erupts along Israel-Lebanon border”; “Thousands mourn, vow retaliation”’
“…administration strikes back at former counter-terrorism aide”; “Bombs,
attacks on civilians continue across Iraq”… These are just some of
the headlines in early spring, 2004 as I prepare today’s reflection.
Is the ongoing strife in the mid-east related to Ezekiel’s reminder of God’s
promise to Israel: “Thus says God: I will take the
children of Israel…and bring them back to their land…in the mountains of
Israel.”? (Ez. 37:21-22)
I’ve been reading Queen Noor’s memoirs, “Leap of Faith” (Queen Noor is the
US-born wife of the late King Hussein of Jordan who continually tried to
work for peace in the Arab world.) As I read this book, I am learning
that the strife in the Middle East is more complicated than I ever imagined.
And sadly, I realize that the great loss of life worldwide so often is not
about moral ‘right and wrong’ as much as it is about the struggle for power,
possessions, money and status.
As I sit with today’s scripture readings from Ezekiel, Jeremiah and John,
I resist the tendency to stay in the political realm with my reflections.
Ezekiel’s vision stems from faith in a God who is always present to the Israelites:
“I will make with them a covenant of peace…My dwelling shall be with them;
I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” Despair was prevalent
in the midst of the Babylonian exile. Ezekiel, however, is reminding
the Israelites that God is in their midst.
How do we allow God’s spirit to dwell among us today? Are we able to
truly decipher God’s call to be in covenant/special relationship with God?
These questions are important, not so that we can lord it over others in
our ‘superior’ moral status, but that we can live our beliefs and practices
which are rooted in Jesus' life.
John’s passage leads us into our Holy Week. Some of the Jewish leaders
are fearful that the people will believe in Jesus and that “the Romans will
come and take away both our land and our nation.”(John 11:48)
They begin to plot how they will have Jesus arrested. They are so caught
up in their fear and power that they miss the signs that God is in their
Instead of living into the promise that God is with them…that they are called
to be God’s people, they take matters into their own hands. In effect, they
decide to make themselves ‘gods’, choosing their needs of power over opening
to God’s presence in their midst.
It is a delicate balance in the midst of fear…how to act in a way that recognizes
God’s presence within and around us and yet, not assume that we know what
God’s wants. So we, as humans, make decisions that often times reflect
our needs, fears and limited vision. We thus fall into struggles within
our selves and with others…and forget to call upon God to guide us in our
lives, our actions, our decisions.
As we enter this holy time together, my prayer is that we can truly tune
into God…let God be our God and become God’s people with God’s vision, God’s
insights and God’s presence evidenced in our daily lives, personally and
nationally. Whether we are involved in personal pettiness, office politics
or international warring, we need to step back in prayer, asking for God’s
guiding presence so that we can live our lives as Jesus did. Perhaps
the “WWJD: What Would Jesus Do?” is a good place to begin.