We Are All Asylum Seekers

Scripture Focus: Joshua 20.2-3
2 “Tell the Israelites to designate the cities of refuge, as I instructed you through Moses, 3 so that anyone who kills a person accidentally and unintentionally may flee there and find protection from the avenger of blood.

Student Writers Month:
This month, The Park Forum welcomes college and seminary student writers pursuing ministry careers. For more info about our yearly Student Writer program, see our website.

Reflection: We Are All Asylum Seekers

By Erin Newton

No one is immune to mistakes. Split-second reactions, emotional outbursts, or lapses in judgment are issues that plague all our lives. Harm inflicted on another person results in social, relational, or legal consequences.

In Israel, accidental murder still carried guilt, “a life for a life” (Leviticus 24.17-21). Yet, temporary asylum might be found by grasping the altar in the sanctuary or permanently relocating to a city of refuge. The offender was exiled but not completely outside of God’s presence. The contamination from murder was removed to allow restoration of the land from bloodshed. 

If the murderer could safely arrive at one of these six cities, that person would be given shelter and provisions. Protection was ensured although the bloodguilt would still exist. These cities were also the designated lands for the Levites and under their priestly care the murderer would start anew.

The only way the murderer’s guilt could be ransomed was through the death of the high priest. As representative of the nation, it was the only death considered commensurate of such great guilt. Animal sacrifices covered unintentional sins but not the death of a person. God values human life exceedingly. No ordinary lamb could be the equivalent worth of humanity.

We may think this is irrelevant to us, “non-murderers”, yet in our anger, Jesus tells us that we are as guilty as a murderer. We commiserate with Paul; although we want to do good, evil is right there with us (Romans 7.21). We cannot escape the unintentional, harmful actions we commit against one another nor can we avoid the consequences of our impulses. We are in desperate need of amnesty.

Where shall we go to grasp the altar or what place will ensure our protection? How soothing it is to know that our Great High Priest has already died and paid our ransom. How comforting it is to lay down in rest knowing God is our ever-present refuge. We no longer need to spend our lives waiting for someone else to grant us redemption. Christ has already paid the price of our bloodguilt and the ground no longer cries out to condemn us. Today we live in different political systems which means legal consequences will continue to affect us. But our refuge in Christ is eternal.

No one is immune to mistakes, but we can find ransom in the death of Jesus and safety in His care. 

Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
I will call upon God, and the Lord will deliver me.
In the evening, in the morning, and at the noonday, I will complain and lament, and he will hear my voice.
He will bring me safely back… God, who is enthroned of old, will hear me. — Psalm 55.17

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings

Joshua 20-21 (Listen – 6:38)
Acts 1 (Listen – 3:58)

Read More about Readers’ Choice 2021
It is time to hear from you about the posts from the past eleven months (September 2020 – July 2021) that have challenged, comforted, and helped you find new meaning in the scriptures.

https://forms.gle/ozM13qvW9ouSWhJS7

Read more about Jesus, our Restorer
Even in the intensity of his own suffering, Christ healed those Peter attacked and forgave those Peter cursed at.

Creator of Worlds :: Worldwide Prayer

Psalm 148.1-4
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
    praise him in the heights above.
Praise him, all his angels;
    praise him, all his heavenly hosts.
Praise him, sun and moon;
    praise him, all you shining stars.
Praise him, you highest heavens
    and you waters above the skies.

Reflection: Creator of Worlds :: Worldwide Prayer
By John Tillman

Scripture tells us that creation groans to be released from sin. If the beauty and wonder of creation is what shines through despite its being shackled with sin, how much more beautiful may it be when all has been restored?

And…if creation is still capable of beauty and wonder through its groaning and pain, so much the more are we. We are not mere rocks that cry out, but God’s children whose mouths are filled with ordained praise. 

We are not trees that clap our hands with the breeze but God’s own family who celebrate the grace of God our Father even with our faces set firmly against a blowing gale.

With joy, we join this prayer from Christian brothers and sisters in Jamaica, praising and calling on the Almighty God, creator of all worlds!

Creator of Worlds
Prayer for the preservation of creation from Jamaica

Almighty God: Creator of all worlds!

We honor you for the marvels of your creation, and thank you for that part of it which is our home— the mountains, the green fields, and the sea— the abundance and energy of life in us and around us.

We confess that we have often forgotten that the world is yours and so we have misused and abused your gifts, causing distress and pain to others and to ourselves.

Out of your forgiving grace—hear us now as we pray for healing in our world.

Remember those who behold but cannot appreciate your wonderful world and those who abuse and deface its beauty—that they may discover the joy of tending the garden of the Lord.

Remember those who squander and waste resources you have entrusted to them, but are not concerned that others are starving.

Remember those who respect not life, your precious gift, in themselves and in others, and who from greed, or anger, or malice destroy human life without pity or fear.

Remember those who bear rule in communities and nations, acting with arrogance and without wisdom—that they may know that power is a trust for which they must give an account to you the only Absolute Ruler. May they in humility exercise the stewardship you have allotted them. May their labors promote peace and prosperity among the peoples of our troubled lands.

Oh Lord, help us all to be good stewards of this beautiful universe your mighty hand has brought into being.

In Jesus’ great name.

*Prayer from Hallowed be Your Name: A collection of prayers from around the world, Dr. Tony Cupit, Editor.


Prayer: The Greeting
For your Name’s sake, O Lord, forgive my sin, for it is great. — Psalm 25.10

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

Today’s Readings
Joshua 16-17 (Listen – 5:13)
Psalm 148 (Listen – 1:28)

This Weekend’s Readings
Joshua 18-19 (Listen – 9:59), Psalm 149-150 (Listen – 1:36)
Joshua 20-21 (Listen – 6:58), Acts 1 (Listen – 3:58)

Thank You!
Thank you to our donors who support our readers by making it possible to continue The Park Forum devotionals. This year, The Park Forum audiences opened 200,000 free, and ad-free, devotional content. Follow this link to join our donors with a one-time or a monthly gift. 

Readers’ Choice Submissions

It is once again time for us to seek out the voices of our readers and hear from you about posts from the past eleven months that have challenged and comforted you and helped you find new meaning in the scriptures.

Readers’ Choice posts will be republished during the month of August and periodically throughout the Fall.

Follow the link to fill out the form. Feel free to fill out the form multiple times for multiple submissions. Please limit your submissions to posts published this calendar year, between September of 2018 and today.

For any questions about The Park Forum, or to make suggestions of posts via email, contact John Tillman at john@theparkforum.org

Read more about Overgrown by the Gospel
May the gospel make ruins of our pride and selfishness. May we be overgrown by the gospel.

Read more about Cultivation Means Tending
The gospel is a seed from the first garden, the garden of Eden. The seed of the woman, Jesus himself, is our salvation and we plant this seed in our own hearts.

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