He Is Faithful When We Are Not

Scripture Focus: Leviticus 26.44-45
44 Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them or abhor them so as to destroy them completely, breaking my covenant with them. I am the Lord their God. 45 But for their sake I will remember the covenant with their ancestors whom I brought out of Egypt in the sight of the nations to be their God. I am the Lord.’ ” 

Reflection: He Is Faithful When We Are Not
By John Tillman

God will be faithful to his purposes even when his people are not.

Like many places in scripture, in Leviticus 26 God lays out stark choices and consequences. He says, in effect, “Will you have promises and blessings or curses and punishments?” 

One of the benefits of rereading the Bible over and over is more easily recognizing patterns and recurring descriptions. The descriptions of consequences for the unfaithful are so accurate to the actual events that occur later in Israel’s history they might as well be read as prophecy. Sadly, every one of the events described will occur as Israel continues to turn away from God in the future.

Warnings, promises, consequences, and blessings all seem like they would be effective motivators. “Do this and die or do this and live,” seems easy enough. But it isn’t.

Despite clarity of the consequences, Israel persevered in sin, rather than faith.
Despite miraculous evidence of God’s faithfulness and power, Israel chose to trust false promises of political powers.
Despite being granted the visitation of the invisible God in a visible form (Leviticus 9.23), Israel chose to trust idols of human creation rather than the God who made the wood and stone from which false idols were carved. (Isaiah 44.16-19)

Haven’t we made similar errors in judgment? Haven’t we suffered through anguish persisting in sin yet abandoned righteousness when it got uncomfortable? Haven’t we shown incredible loyalty to political powers who proved themselves to be the opposite of credible? Haven’t we trusted in idols of technology that shape our psyches rather than the God who desires to shape our souls? Our faithlessness was never in doubt. However, our salvation does not rest upon our faithfulness—it rests upon his. 

Whatever his people choose, God is making a choice, too. God knows Israel will be unfaithful. He’s going to be faithful anyway. God knows Israel’s love for him will run cold. He’s going to love her anyway.

It is not only true that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5.8) It is also true that before we had even sinned, God determined he would provide salvation for us. While we did not yet know what depths of sin we would commit, God decided that there was no depth so deep that he would not rescue us.

However deep in sin you sink, lift eyes and hands to him. He is prepared to pull you out.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Morning Psalm
Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy, for we have had more than enough of contempt,
Too much of the scorn of the indolent rich, and of the derision of the proud. — Psalm 123.3-4

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

Today’s Readings
Leviticus 26 (Listen – 6:22)
Psalms 33 (Listen – 2:08)

Read more about Too Much To Hold
Like Jonah sunk, beneath the earth
A dark and hopeless pit
Into that pit our savior slides
His mission: open it

Read more about The Undeserved Banquet of the Gospel
God sets his table for scoundrels, shaking hands with undeserved trust.

Easter—The Happy Beginning

Psalm 33.1-3
Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous;
   it is fitting for the upright to praise him.
Praise the Lord with the harp;
   make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.
Sing to him a new song;
   play skillfully, and shout for joy.

Reflection: Easter—The Happy Beginning
By John Tillman

We return again this Easter Monday as last, to consider the challenge of N.T. Wright, in Surprised by Hope, to celebrate Easter fully. After all, Easter is not a happy ending. It is a happy beginning.

I regard it as absurd and unjustifiable that we should spend forty days keeping Lent, pondering what it means, preaching about self-denial, being at least a little gloomy, and then bringing it all to a peak with Holy Week, which in turn climaxes in Maundy Thursday and Good Friday…and then, after a rather odd Holy Saturday, we have a single day of celebration.

… Is it any wonder people find it hard to believe in the resurrection of Jesus if we don’t throw our hats in the air? Is it any wonder we find it hard to live the resurrection if we don’t do it exuberantly in our liturgies? Is it any wonder the world doesn’t take much notice if Easter is celebrated as simply the one-day happy ending tacked on to forty days of fasting and gloom? It’s long overdue that we took a hard look at how we keep Easter in church, at home, in our personal lives, right through the system. And if it means rethinking some cherished habits, well, maybe it’s time to wake up.

Easter is not the “end” but the beginning of our new, joyous life in Christ. We don’t get to go back to “normal” even if we go back to what we gave up for Lent. Normal is dead. Going back to normal means crawling back into the tomb. If we are to live in Christ, it must be a new kind of living.

If, like Cleopas, we try to find happiness and joy by going back to Emmaus, Jesus will intercept us. If, like Peter and the other disciples, we try to find fulfillment going back to fishing for fish instead of fishing for men, Jesus will call to us from the shore with breakfast cooking on a fire.

Easter is a season in the church calendar, not a day. But in our lives, it can be an evergreen season that blooms throughout the year. Let us abandon our destinations for his, and let us leap out of our boats, swimming to shore when he calls.

Let us see what the risen Christ will say to us today.

Prayer: A Reading
“Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?” There they found the Eleven assembled together with their companions, who said to them, “The Lord has indeed risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then they told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognized hi at the breaking of bread.  — Luke 24.32-35

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

Today’s Readings
Leviticus 26 (Listen – 6:22) 
Psalm 33 (Listen – 2:08)

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Read more about Waking up to Easter
“Waking up” to Easter may be a disruptor to our ordinary lives. If we are honest, we’d rather get on with the world now. We want to go back to winning at life and move past all of this gloomy suffering and servanthood.

Read more about Tomb of the Unknown Savior
Mary of Bethany may have been the only disciple who realized Jesus was about to die a sacrificial death. But it seems only his enemies remembered that Christ also promised to come back to life.

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