By Ken Asel
A Reading from Zechariah 7:8-8:8
8 The word of the Lord came to Zechariah, saying: 9 Thus says the Lord of hosts: Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another; 10 do not oppress the widow, the orphan, the alien, or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another. 11 But they refused to listen, and turned a stubborn shoulder, and stopped their ears in order not to hear. 12 They made their hearts adamant in order not to hear the law and the words that the Lord of hosts had sent by his spirit through the former prophets. Therefore great wrath came from the Lord of hosts. 13 Just as, when I called, they would not hear, so, when they called, I would not hear, says the Lord of hosts, 14 and I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations that they had not known. Thus the land they left was desolate, so that no one went to and fro, and a pleasant land was made desolate.
1 The word of the Lord of hosts came to me, saying: 2 Thus says the Lord of hosts: I am jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I am jealous for her with great wrath. 3 Thus says the Lord: I will return to Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem; Jerusalem shall be called the faithful city, and the mountain of the Lord of hosts shall be called the holy mountain. 4 Thus says the Lord of hosts: Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of their great age. 5 And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets. 6 Thus says the Lord of hosts: Even though it seems impossible to the remnant of this people in these days, should it also seem impossible to me, says the Lord of hosts? 7 Thus says the Lord of hosts: I will save my people from the east country and from the west country; 8 and I will bring them to live in Jerusalem. They shall be my people and I will be their God, in faithfulness and in righteousness.
The Lord tells Zechariah to judge righteously and that God will stand by him and bring justice and mercy to Jerusalem… but the people would not listen. Zechariah was a prophet with the task of rebuilding the second temple in Jerusalem and repairing the city devastated by the Babylonian Empire. God’s charge is met with scorn: “But they refused to listen and turned a stubborn shoulder, and stopped their ears in order not to hear the Lord of Hosts.”
And the Lord steps in himself, spurning those who rejected him. “I will save my people… and I will bring them to live in Jerusalem. They shall be my people and I will be their God, in faithfulness and righteousness.”
Over and over again, God seeks people who will listen, and longs for people to obey what he sets before them. Yet how frequently do we give up on God! But the Creator never turns his back on us. From Adam and Eve in the Garden, to Mary in Bethlehem, the one consistent narrative in Scripture is that God never gives up on us. There is always a second chance, and then another and another for us to listen and respond faithfully, even if God is ultimately led to the cross. Even then, God makes a way to redeem his people.
Learning to be a Christian is learning to center on God and this vision, and away from what’s disobedient, false, and self-willed. Mystic Evelyn Underhill speaks of this life in these terms:
I believe in One God. We begin there; not with our own needs, desires, feelings or obligations. Were all these abolished, His independent splendor would remain, as the Truth which gives its meaning to the world. So we begin by stating with humble delight our belief and trust in the most concrete, most rich of all realities — God…. Christianity is not a pious reverie, a moral system or a fantasy life; it is a revelation, adapted to our capacity, of the Realities which control life. (Advent, p. 39)
(The Reverend) J. Kenneth Asel, D.Min. is a retired priest of the Diocese of Wyoming. Devvie and he have been married for thirty years and reside on the Front Range with their granddaughter.
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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:
St. Francis Episcopal Church, Potomac, Md.
The Diocese of Ikwerre (Church of Nigeria – Anglican Communion)