Scripture: (see hyperlinks in text below)
Reflection: In a week of violence and fear in our city, we turn to Scripture and find more evidence of the same. The readings for the daily lectionary today reveal how very deep divisions can be among human beings. From Esther 8:1-8, 15-17 comes the unraveling of a plot against the Jews, and revenge by hanging Haman the plotter. Subsequent rejoicing by the Jews leads to fear among people of other faiths. In Acts 19:21-41, we read of a riot in the middle of the city. Followers of Artemis protest against Paul’s travel companions and followers of Jesus. We read of rage and shouting and confusion. In Luke 4:31-37 Jesus heals a man of an unclean spirit. This comes immediately after he has read Scripture in his home synagogue in Nazareth and so upsets the crowd that they, in a rage, try to throw him off a cliff. Even the Psalms for this day speak in large part of victory over enemies.
The words from the daily readings I most need to hear today are these key verses from Psalm 148:
11 Kings of the earth and all peoples,
princes and all rulers of the earth!
12 Young men and women alike,
old and young together!
13 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for his name alone is exalted;
his glory is above earth and heaven.
God is able to heal divisions among people — divisions between kings and princes and rulers and all other people, between young and old, men and women, black and white, Muslim and Christian, Republican and Democrat, police and citizens. I can’t tell you how exactly. It’s clearly not an easy road. The people of God have struggled with it since the very beginning, and we struggle with it still. Any solution will come through painful, honest, difficult work, and reliance upon the Creator of us all. Today, may we praise the name of the Lord, and continue to pray for reconciliation, truth-telling, justice, and peace.
Prayer: (from leadership of the Presbytery of Charlotte for this week)
Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart, that the barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease, and that, with our divisions healed, we might live in justice and peace; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Author: Julie Hester
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].