An Ancient Saga Brought Home

Scripture: Hosea 11:1-11

Bulletin-TL 8-4-2019 YC P13

Let us pray: Help us to be still, and receive your Spirit through our meditations. May these words and images, and the ponderings of all our hearts and minds be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.

Commentator Anna Case-Winters sums up today’s passage from Hosea when she writes,

“The prophet Hosea speaks compellingly to the situation of the northern kingdom in the final days before it falls to Assyria, interpreting God’s relation with God’s people through the lens of his own life experience. He sees poignant parallels between Israel’s faithlessness and that of his unfaithful wife, Gomer. In the present text, Israel’s waywardness is likened to that of a wayward son. Hosea’s prophetic critique of social, political, and religious disintegration in the face of Assyria’s imperialistic aggression is insistent. In his view, the turning to political alliances with Syria and Egypt and the turning to idols (“the Baals”) demonstrate that God’s reliability and God’s claims have been forgotten, and the covenant relationship has been broken. There are consequences looming on the horizon in the form of the collapse of the northern kingdom and Assyria’s triumph. Although the text is very context specific, it speaks powerfully beyond its time and place to people of God in every time and place.”

 

What does it speak, you may ask? I am reminded of my own many roles; as parent, husband, care-giver, pastor, student, role model, Cub Scout leader, brother, uncle, son, and friend. Sometimes I am good at balancing all of it, sometimes I fall down on one part or another, for I, too, am only human. I am also reminded of the founding principles of this country – principles designed for those seeking new beginnings, a new lease on life, asylum from enemies, opportunity and security for their families; and the reality of this country’s current national policies of exclusion. I am reminded that Christianity itself is facing challenges of its own – spiritual relativity from seekers who want just the warm fuzzy parts from our faith as well as all the others to make a warm fuzzy faith of their own. Moreover I am reminded of the multiple chances Israel received to rededicate themselves to being God’s people, serving God alone.

Where do we fit in this picture? This congregation has amazing people, ministries, and ideas. Our presbytery is listening to the movement of the Spirit in our little congregation. We have a number of opportunities brewing right at our doorstep for exciting new chapters of ministry. We are finding ourselves on the brink of newness, as frightening and exciting as it may be. A re-dedication of ourselves to God, one another, and God’s mission in this place is a worthy challenge. Will we turn to our own ideas or will we listen carefully in communal discernment for God’s voice about the way forward? I pray we will listen, hear, and do; for no matter what, God is seeking us; God still loves us, no matter what!

Behold: Like children, we too want to stretch our legs of freedom, yet know our loving parent is close. Like children, we, too, run away from that loving embrace and sometimes fall down, only to get back up in tears and return for comfort. I can easily relate to that part. It is only now, as I am a parent myself, that I have begun to understand the part of God in Hosea’s metaphor. The loving One, the parent, the one who loves and loves and lets us go to stumble, fall, or fail, yet also to stretch our wings and fly.

Behold! God leans down in utter selflessness to pick us up and touch us cheek to cheek in love, yet also lets us go even when we move in a direction that may harm us. We learn sometimes the hard way, through many trials and tribulations, yet God permits us this gift of freedom to choose. In the end, God loves us through it all.

But what about those times in our lives when parenthood has to re-direct children? When children misbehave intentionally? When the buttons get pushed and the tempers flair? When we think we cannot bear it any longer yet still those challenges come?

God understands this. God has experienced this through mists of time so vast, and through many broken covenants with God’s people who have gone astray. The bible is one whole long story from Creation to redemption to the New Jerusalem of God’s indwelling eternity…we, like children, turn away, and turn back, turn away and turn back, turn away and turn back. Yet still God loves us and welcomes the prodigal home! Still God speaks tenderly to us and calls us God’s own. Still we are given another chance. We are blessed to be the focus of such grace.

But what if, just what if, we could spare God some wounded parental sensibilities? What if we had it in us to bless God? Can we do that? What would that be like for our Divine Parent if we could and did? O Lord, grant that we might bless Your heart, and so participate in Your Love, giving and receiving, even more. Amen? May it be so.

Question for Reflection: Sometimes divine love includes judgment. But the judgment of God is love. What do you think might be the only way that we can be rejected or separated from that divine love? Would God be rejecting us, or would we be rejecting God’s love?

Morning Prayer: I wake this day mindful of the Love behind all love, Soul behind all souls. Strengthen me this day to love as you do, O God. Amen.

Evening Prayer: O Lord, in the darkness of night, in the stillness that surrounds us in the unknown depths of our being, we pause to listen and take our rest. Amen.

Prayer song of the week: “Take, O Take Me As I Am” Hymnbook #698 Repeat several times

About Scottrick

Parent ~ Pastor ~ Poet ~ Author
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