Clumsy Doves

Scripture Focus: Hosea 11:10-11
10 “They will follow the Lord;
     he will roar like a lion.
 When he roars,
     his children will come trembling from the west.
11 They will come from Egypt,
     trembling like sparrows,
     from Assyria, fluttering like doves.
 I will settle them in their homes,”
     declares the Lord.

Reflection: Clumsy Doves
By Erin Newton

During the pandemic, we all became amateur birders, right? Confined to our homes when businesses and schools shuttered for a varied amount of time, I think many of us started to look out the window. I was one of those people who moved all the bird feeders to the window with the best sunshine and comfiest chair.

We have a dozen different species of birds nearby. Hawks, crows, and vultures rule the skies. We also have daily visits from cardinals, chickadees, finches, and roaming the ground—doves.

The hawks soar and swoop effortlessly. The cardinals are adept at flying down to the feeder and back up to the limbs ever so quickly. The doves—well they fly down, flapping their wings rather clumsily. When I read about the return of the Israelites fluttering back home, it paints a vivid picture in my mind.

Fluttering sounds nice and soft, like a butterfly landing on a rose. The NIV translation, however, is a bit poetic when describing the “fluttering” of the doves and the “trembling” of the sparrows. The Hebrew text uses only one verb for both birds: “trembling.” It seems that the NIV misses some of the depth of the Hebrew here.

Theological dictionaries point out this word describes someone (or something) that is frightened. In fact, the essence of the word is not fully understood unless the element of panic is also embedded in the image. They are not fluttering like butterflies in a meadow. They are trembling, terrified—wobbling down to the ground in the clumsy flight of a dove.

Why are they so afraid? They are following a roaring lion. Like Aslan in Chronicles of Narnia, he is not “safe,” but he is good. They follow the Almighty God, not the weak gods of their idols.

But I imagine they are also a little traumatized from living in exile and experiencing the previous invasion by the Assyrians or rule by the Egyptians. 

It is no ordinary thing to experience God. We might treat it as common but usually only when life has been “safe.” Pain tends to heighten our spiritual sensitivities. Some of us stumble into the presence of God after the long dark night of the soul. Some emerge from the consequences of sin, only to see God roaring as a lion—not to devour—but to lead us home.

Even in our clumsy, stumbling spiritual journey, we can trust in his promise of compassion.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Greeting
Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, and your faithfulness to the clouds. — Psalm 36.5

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

​Today’s Readings
Hosea 11 (Listen 1:53)
Matthew 14 (Listen 4:14)

Read more about Hearts God Moves
May God move in our hearts, as in the hearts of the returning exiles, making his dwelling place with us and shining brightly through us.

Read more about Beyond Second Chances
Haggai spoke to people returning from exile. They are at home, yet homeless, returning to a flattened, burned, destroyed city.

God Changes—Guided Prayer

Scripture Focus: Hosea 11.7-9
7 My people are determined to turn from me. 
Even though they call me God Most High, 
I will by no means exalt them. 
8 “How can I give you up, Ephraim? 
How can I hand you over, Israel? 
How can I treat you like Admah? 
How can I make you like Zeboyim? 
My heart is changed within me; 
all my compassion is aroused. 
9 I will not carry out my fierce anger, 
nor will I devastate Ephraim again. 
For I am God, and not a man— 
the Holy One among you. 

Reflection: God Changes—Guided Prayer
By John Tillman

During this contentious election week in the United States, we are seeking repentance, patience, peace, and faith. We will pray for these things this week, using the scriptures from our reading plan. We will pray through the closing chapters of Hosea, today’s chapter being the eleventh.

God Changes
As ones who deserve your judgment, Lord, we cry to you
Change your heart toward us
Remember your tender love for us…

It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, 
taking them by the arms; 
but they did not realize 
it was I who healed them. 
I led them with cords of human kindness, 
with ties of love. 
To them I was like one who lifts 
a little child to the cheek, 
and I bent down to feed them. — Hosea 11.3-4

As you loved Israel, love us, Lord.
Do not give up on us or turn us over to destruction.

“How can I give you up, Ephraim? 
How can I hand you over, Israel? 
How can I treat you like Admah? 
How can I make you like Zeboyim? 
My heart is changed within me; 
all my compassion is aroused. 
I will not carry out my fierce anger, 
nor will I devastate Ephraim again. 
For I am God, and not a man— 
the Holy One among you. — Hosea 11.8-9

As you changed your heart, change ours, Lord.
Make God changes, once-and-for-all changes, in our lives
Give us eyes that see our sin.
Give us ears that hear your voice.

They will follow the LORD; 
he will roar like a lion. 
When he roars, 
his children will come trembling from the west. 
They will come from Egypt, 
trembling like sparrows, 
from Assyria, fluttering like doves. 
I will settle them in their homes,” 
declares the LORD. — Hosea 11.10-11

Call us from the west and the idols we have followed
Free us from our addictions and false worship
Call us from Egypt, the places we have been enslaved
Free us from our oppressors
Call us from Assyria, the place of exile and judgment
Free us from our punishment as we repent.

Call us back, Lord, and we will come!
Trembling with fear
Trembling with excitement
Trembling with songs of joy
Trembling and longing for your loving comfort.

May you again roar over us in celebration
And may we respond with love and worship.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
You are the Lord; do not withhold your compassion from me; let your love and your faithfulness keep me safe forever. — Psalm 40.12

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Hosea 10  (Listen – 1:53)
Psalm 132-134 (Listen – 2:42)

Read more about Repurposed Weapons
Our world, and Satan who rules it, wants us, like Gog and Magog, to be their weapons…but in Christ, the weaponized, can be remade…

Read more about Of Pride and The Sword
Despite how Egypt, or any nation, postures itself, those who live by the sword will fall by it. Those who profit by violence will face justice.