Pray with me please… As we focus our compassion on France, Beirut, Bagdad and beyond remind us this day that our every action allows us the opportunity to expand love or contract love, to hear & see the divinity within another or disregard their humanity. Remind us today that in the midst of the grieving you are present, saddened by the failure of your people — all of us — to live as we were created to live.
All over the world people of faith are gathering. Gathering to worship and gathering to make sense of what is happening in the world. People of God gathered here today– you are in the place just right.
The things that have happened in Paris, in Beirut, in Bagdad and in Syria have prompted many to conclude that we have entered a new kind of world war, a piecemeal war.
The world doesn’t feel safe today.
This— is a molten moment for the people of God. How will we arrive in a place just right when we are frightened out of our wits sitting in Lazy Boys in Minnesota?
Is our faith relevant and is it enough when the world feels off its chain?
And there is something else. No doubt there are those who rail at God asking “Why did God let this happen?” Answer: God didn’t. God is never the author of such atrocity. It is one of many miscarriages of theology that lead people leaving the church. Believing God to be author of violence is not an accurate depiction of God’s pathos! Believing God is an absentee God is wrong.
It is not God’s job to stop evil in the world. Defying evil is humanity’s job. However, God promises to be in it, with us.
Which brings us to this beautiful and challenging passage from the book of Hosea. The metaphor of parent and child can be powerful and intimate when it shows us how God feels, when it shows us God in relationship during times of great joy and great pain.
Hosea was a prophet from the northern kingdom of Judah. And he was a prophet to the northern kingdom. He lived about 850 years before Jesus. He was no stranger to unstable governments and dynasties which puts him in the place just right to teach us things about God we forget when we’re frightened. Having spoken judgement, his predictions have come true and now Hosea issues this incredible and beautiful promise of God.
Hosea offers us an accurate pathos of God’s tender and very real love and pain—the love and pain of a parent. How do I exercise my relationship with this rebellious child of mine? Hosea’s metaphor shocks us into facing a God who weeps, loving Israel despite Israel’s continued infidelity. God’s anger is not the opposite of God’s love, its part of the love. Parents, am I right?
At one time or another every parent has to deal with an errant, strong willed child! When we disappoint God, God never gives up. I wonder to what extent children are oblivious to all that their parents do to make them happy and whole, courageous and competent? Does any parent have any less of a wish for their children? Of course not.
In a few minutes we will participate in another depiction of God’s relational hope for us as we witness the baptism of Genevieve and Henry. Little Vivi and Henry will be sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever. We will reprise our oaths to renounce the forces of evil that defy God. That is how we “come round right” for this world God loves and how we consciously allow God to work in, with and through our lives.
Baptism is its own defining and molten moment. It’s when we acknowledge what God has already done. Remembering our baptism is the daily spiritual practice of paying attention to what God has, is, and will do in our lives and in the world.
Michael Chan is assistant Old Testament professor at Luther Seminary. He writes, “When Christians think about God’s willingness to suffer on behalf of sinful humans, we often think about Christ hanging from the cross. And we should. But Hosea 11:1-9 helps us realize that the cross is not a new development in the life of God, it represents who God is fundamentally.”
It is that truth that should captivate our hearts. The terrorists will continue to wreak havoc but think of this.
According to reports it only took a handful of people to cause the level of havoc we’ve seen this week.
In a moment we will sing the Shaker Hymn Simple Gifts. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fYi9Vr8bHJY What is our role in turning the world and bringing it around right?
What if the body of Christ said, “No more!” What if we expanded and radicalized love? What if we never again disregarded the humanity of another person? What if we did all we could do to help others live as they were created to live?
What we know for sure is that despite pain, God will redeem. God will heal. And God will bring to new life. “Liberté, égalité et fraternité” These are God’s values. Amen.