Sunday, January 25, 2009
Christian proclamation of hope in a world of separation
“that they may become one in your hand”
Ezek 37: 1-14 I will open your graves
The hand of the LORD came upon me, and he led me out in the spirit of the LORD and set me in the center of the plain, which was now filled with bones.
He made me walk among them in every direction so that I saw how many they were on the surface of the plain. How dry they were!
He asked me: Son of man, can these bones come to life? "Lord GOD," I answered, "you alone know that."
Then he said to me: Prophesy over these bones, and say to them: Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD!
Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: See! I will bring spirit into you, that you may come to life.
I will put sinews upon you, make flesh grow over you, cover you with skin, and put spirit in you so that you may come to life and know that I am the LORD.
I prophesied as I had been told, and even as I was prophesying I heard a noise; it was a rattling as the bones came together, bone joining bone.
I saw the sinews and the flesh come upon them, and the skin cover them, but there was no spirit in them.
Then he said to me: Prophesy to the spirit, prophesy, son of man, and say to the spirit: Thus says the Lord GOD: From the four winds come, O spirit, and breathe into these slain that they may come to life.
I prophesied as he told me, and the spirit came into them; they came alive and stood upright, a vast army.
Then he said to me: Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They have been saying, "Our bones are dried up, our hope is lost, and we are cut off."
Therefore, prophesy and say to them: Thus says the Lord GOD: O my people, I will open your graves and have you rise from them, and bring you back to the land of Israel.
Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and have you rise from them, O my people!
I will put my spirit in you that you may live, and I will settle you upon your land; thus you shall know that I am the LORD. I have promised, and I will do it, says the LORD.
Ps 104: 24-34 You renew the face of the earth
How varied are your works, LORD! In wisdom you have wrought them all; the earth is full of your creatures.
Look at the sea, great and wide! It teems with countless beings, living things both large and small.
Here ships ply their course; here Leviathan, your creature, plays.
All of these look to you to give them food in due time.
When you give to them, they gather; when you open your hand, they are well filled.
When you hide your face, they are lost. When you take away their breath, they perish and return to the dust from which they came.
When you send forth your breath, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth.
May the glory of the LORD endure forever; may the LORD be glad in these works!
If God glares at the earth, it trembles; if God touches the mountains, they smoke!
I will sing to the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God while I live.
May my theme be pleasing to God; I will rejoice in the LORD.
Rev 21: 1-5a I am making all things new
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.
I also saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, God's dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people 4 and God himself will always be with them (as their God).
He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, (for) the old order has passed away."
The one who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new."
Mt 5: 1-12 Blessed are you...
When he saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.
He began to teach them, saying:
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you (falsely) because of me.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live. Biblical faith is imbued with a radical hope that the last word in history belongs to God, and that God’s last word is not one of judgment but of new creation. As reflected upon in meditations of previous days, Christians live in the midst of a world which is marked by various kinds of division and alienation. Yet the stance of the church remains one of hope, grounded not in what human beings can do, but in the power and abiding desire of God to transform fracture and fragmentation into unity and wholeness, death-giving hatred into life-giving love. The people of Korea continue to endure the tragic consequences of national division, yet there too, Christian hope abounds.
Christian hope lives on even in the midst of profound suffering because it is born out of the steadfast love of God revealed on the cross of Christ. Hope rises with Jesus from the tomb, as death and the forces of death are overcome; it spreads with the sending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, which renews the face of the earth. The risen Christ is the beginning of a new and authentic life. His resurrection announces the end of the old order and sows the seeds of a new eternal creation, where all will be reconciled in him and God will be all in all.
See, I am making all things new. Christian hope begins with the renewal of creation, such that it fulfils God’s original intention in the act of creating. In Revelation 21, God does not say ‘I am making all new things’ but rather, ‘I am making all things new’. Christian hope does not imply a long passive wait for the end of the world but the desire for this renewal, already begun in the resurrection and at Pentecost. It is not the hope for an apocalyptic culmination of history collapsing our world, but rather, hope for the fundamental and radical change of the world already known to us. God’s new beginning ends the sin, divisions and finitude of the world, transfiguring creation so that it can take part in God’s glory and share in God’s eternity.
When Christians gather to pray for unity, they are motivated and sustained by this hope. The strength of prayer for unity is the strength which comes from God’s renewal of the created world; its wisdom, that of the Holy Spirit which breathes new life on dry bones and brings them to life; its integrity, that of opening ourselves completely to the will of God, to be transformed into instruments of the unity Christ wills for his disciples.
Gracious God, you are with us always, amidst suffering and turmoil, and will be to the end of time. Help us to be a people deeply imbued with hope, living out the beatitudes, serving the unity you desire. Amen.
Posted by contrarian 78 at 6:04 AM