Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Hosea 6:6

Publicans, prostitutes, and lepers--swindlers, tempters, and the disease ridden.  These were the riffraff with whom Jesus spent time.

The refined, educated people were indignant, even outraged.  They demanded that the rabbi explain himself. 

But Jesus never answers to others. He made them answer to him.  He told them to go back to school and learn their scripture again. He quoted Hosea 6:6

For I desire mercy, not sacrifice. (Hosea 6:6).
Mercy is more important than any religious trappings we might display.  

How well we understand God depends on how kind we are to those who don’t deserve it. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

On Hosea 6

God instructs Hosea to marry a prostitute who continues to be unfaithful when they’re married. It’s kind of a live action sermon illustration to describe Israel’s unfaithfulness to God, and which God is justified in punishing.  

Yet the prophet holds out hope that all can be restored if they go back to a God who waits for them. 

The words of verse 1 trouble me:

He has torn us to pieces
   but he will heal us;
he has injured us
   but he will bind up our wounds.

It bothers me that God is on record as being vengeful. 

There have been times when I thought God was hurting me deliberately. It wasn’t that he was standing back to let me reap from what I had sown, but as Hosea wrote, he was actively punishing me.

In order to find my spiritual equilibrium I had to forgive God for hurting me just as God chooses to forgive me for hurting Him. 

That sounds presumptuous in the context of my Christian theology, and no doubt people will want to straighten out my thinking.  But I doubt they’ll say anything that I hadn’t already considered. 

It’s what I had to do to be friends again with the God I serve.

Monday, April 23, 2012

On Psalm 150

 1 Praise the LORD.

  Praise God in his sanctuary;
   praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
   praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
   praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with timbrel and dancing,
   praise him with the strings and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
   praise him with resounding cymbals.
 6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.

   Praise the LORD.(NIV)

The urge to praise is especially strong when I am very happy or very sad. 

Perhaps praise during time of celebration makes sense, but it’s when I’m grieving that the need to praise becomes acute.  Loss makes us feel helpless and defeated. Praise reminds me that I’m neither. 

I remember when a death in the family hit me hard that I cranked up the stereo to play “The Hallelujah Chorus,” along which I sang with my voice cranked up at full volume, too.

It was my way of defying darkness and declaring my loyalty. 

It felt right.