Tag Archives: Restoration

Restoring All Souls

Living in the Spirit
August 17, 2017

Scripture Reading: Romans 11:1-2a, 29-39

I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. Just as you were once disobedient to God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience, so they have now been disobedient in order that, by the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy. For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all. –Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32

God’s restorative justice is a model for all to follow. God confronting Cain for his murder of his brother Abel, and restored him to being a productive member of society. Sent by God, Nathan castigated David for his involvement with Bathsheba which resulted in the murder of her husband and God restored David to being the leader he was meant to be. Isaiah and other prophets saw hope even in the midst of the destruction of Israel encouraging changed behavior while sharing God’s promise of a Savior yet to come. Jesus forgave and restored over and over again in his earthly ministry and ultimately offering his life as testimony to God’s restoring character. Paul recognized God’s great desire to make all things whole as he considers his fellow Jews and their future in God’s Kingdom.

We, humans, get caught up in the need to punish rather than restore. Yes, I can quote many scriptures that indicate God as a god of wrath. Perhaps it is from these scriptures we find the path to passing judgment and enforcing punishment on God’s other children. I do think we must all face the consequences of our own behavior. I can envision a time standing before God accounting for my own behavior. Jesus’ message is clear, we humans are not given the job of judging each other.

Humans must, however, create order to live together with all others. Such order requires protecting ones harmed from those doing the harm. Thus, civil judicial systems render judgments on crimes and other miscarriages of justice as defined by societies. Our people are our most valuable assets. Any person removed from society by imprisonment or execution is a net loss to society. Restoring people to productive contributing members is a net gain. People who are a danger to society may indeed need to be removed from society until restored, and some may never meet that test but not providing the resources for restoration is far more expensive in dollars but more importantly in the lost contributions each of the people involved might have made had they been restored.

Prayer: Lord, you have called us to initiate your Kingdom where all are whole, all are one and justice prevails. Grant us the knowledge and skills needed to restore those in our society who negatively impact such wholeness, oneness, and justice. Give us the wisdom and strength of character needed to bring restoration to our fragmented world. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.

Observing Lent

Lent
March 1, 2017

Scripture Reading: Psalm 32

Then I acknowledged my sin to you,
   and I did not hide my iniquity;
I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’,
   and you forgave the guilt of my sin.

Therefore let all who are faithful
   offer prayer to you;
at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters
   shall not reach them.
You are a hiding-place for me;
   you preserve me from trouble;
   you surround me with glad cries of deliverance. –Psalm 32

Today marks the first day of Lent in 2017. Lent is one of the oldest holy days in the Christian faith. Early church father Irenaus of Lyons (c.130-c.200) wrote of such a season in the earliest days of the church, but back then it lasted only two or three days, not the 40 observed today*. It was formalized and extended to 40 days over the next few hundred years. My guess is some sort of preparation for observing the death and resurrection started the year after it occurred.  In the Jewish tradition 40 days was used to describe a substantial amount of time. While the term Lent may not be used, a large majority of Christians take time to prepare for the observation of the death and resurrection of Christ. Self-examination, penance, repentance of sins, almsgiving, atonement, and self-denial are often part of the process of Lent.

Our scripture today deals with acknowledging sins and seeking forgiveness for them.  It is important that we routinely examine ourselves and not only seek God’s forgiveness but also seek God’s help in correcting whatever has caused us to become separated from God. That said, I found it interesting that the writer of Psalm 32 jumps from such self-examination to praying in times of distress. Isn’t that just like life today. One minute we have some time to reflect and pray, the next we are struggling to keep from drowning whether actually or figuratively. This week I have seen several news reports of people dealing with disasters. People who have climbed to the roofs of their vehicles after been swept away in flooding waters were rescued by fire fighters. Horses were quickly moved from their barns that were in the path of a fast-moving fire. In neither instance did the people involve wake up that morning knowing what they would soon be facing.

I believe God is present with us always. Our spending time with God routinely makes us better prepared to connect with God in times of distress.

Prayer: Lord as we enter this 40 days of closer communion with you, enable our quest for knowing your more nearly. Make us whole. Amen.

*http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/2008/august/beginning-of-lent.html

All scriptures are quoted from the new Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.