Reconciliation and redemption are constant themes of the biblical narrative because we so often need them. We see individuals, families, tribes, and nations turning away from the path of justice and love and toward their own destruction again and again. It’s easy from our distanced perspective to think these people are foolish or unwise. But this ignores the truth we know from our own experience: Turning away from justice and love is often done with the best of intentions. Understand this as we look at our own lives and the evil that confounds the world around us. We sacrifice justice and wholeness for negative peace—the absence of violence, tension, or discomfort. We silence the will to love because we want to live unbothered by the needs of others.
This is where our fault so often lies, not in a desire for evil but in a desire for incomplete, malfunctioning good. We avoid confrontation at the cost of justice, vulnerability, and uncomfortable truth.
Today’s reading reminds us that the difficult path does not end without hope. It ends on a reminder that even if one generation, one people, one tribe, or indeed one individual fails, those that are “not my people” can again be called “Children of the living God.” Reconciliation is there, waiting on a turn back to the difficult road of righteousness. It is that turn that reconciles us to the love and justice we have left by the wayside. Let us not wait until judgment. May we repent now of our desire to live lives of negative peace.
Spirit who knows the secret thoughts of my heart, who knows my weakness and my strength, show me the ways I seek negative peace rather than the fullness of righteousness. Deepen the desire of my heart for a world made in your image, God of justice, Spirit of love. Amen.
Hosea can be a difficult book with troublesome metaphors. This prophet is called to live with an unfaithful wife as an image of how Israel is unfaithful to God. Yet even in this initial statement of judgment, God includes a promise of restoration. Psalm 85 appeals to God’s steadfast love. God has become angry with the people for their unfaithfulness, and the people appeal for God’s mercy, which they are confident they will receive. The Colossians reading warns against replacing or even supplementing the simple truth of the gospel with human wisdom, religious rules, or anything else. We have fellowship with Christ through our faith. Jesus teaches us to ask God for what we need and for what we want just as we would ask a human parent.
Read Hosea 1:2-10. How is God reminding you of your covenant relationship?
Read Psalm 85. When have you needed to pray for restoration in your life, in your relationships with the wider community, or in your relationship with God?
Read Colossians 2:6-19. Paul teaches us the value of community. How can you help make the community more just?
Read Luke 11:1-13. How has praying regularly changed you? If you do not pray regularly, start a practice now. Look for the ways it changes you.
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