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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Today’s Reading | Ezekiel 1:1–3; 33:11–16

In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the exiles by the river Chebar, the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God. On the fifth day of the month (it was the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin), the word of the Lord came to the priest Ezekiel son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the Lord was on him there.

Say to them, As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from their ways and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel? And you, mortal, say to your people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not save them when they transgress; and as for the wickedness of the wicked, it shall not make them stumble when they turn from their wickedness; and the righteous shall not be able to live by their righteousness when they sin. Though I say to the righteous that they shall surely live, yet if they trust in their righteousness and commit iniquity, none of their righteous deeds shall be remembered; but in the iniquity that they have committed they shall die. Again, though I say to the wicked, “You shall surely die,” yet if they turn from their sin and do what is lawful and right—if the wicked restore the pledge, give back what they have taken by robbery, and walk in the statutes of life, committing no iniquity—they shall surely live, they shall not die. None of the sins that they have committed shall be remembered against them; they have done what is lawful and right, they shall surely live. (NRSV)


Reflection

The word of the Lord came to Ezekiel and the hand of the Lord was on him. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to start each day hearing God’s voice, feeling God’s touch? What do we need to do to experience that? Some start the day in meditation or prayer, others do yoga or take a walk by the lake. We may want to consider starting by recognizing our sins—what we have done and what we have failed to do, our actions, thoughts, and feelings that have come between ourselves and God. And then ask God for forgiveness and really mean it. We might be surprised at what happens when we leave room for a response.

We do this early in each Sunday worship service with the Prayer of Confession and use phrases such as “we confess our sin and the sin of this world” and go on to list specific examples. In our daily prayers, those lists are highly individualized. This is our opportunity to be candid and thorough. It needs to happen to enable us to move “from guilt to grace” as Barbara Brown Taylor describes the process.

What greets us is God’s loving mercy and forgiveness. Ezekiel assures us that God takes no pleasure in the “death of the wicked” but in the transformation to life lived in the light and love of God. Don’t get stuck in “sin saturation” as another author describes it: God wants us to get on with our lives, to live them fully and joyfully.


Prayer

Just as I am, O Lamb of God, I come. Receive my confessions today, forgive me, let me hear your reassuring voice and feel your loving touch. Amen.


Written by Barbara Cleveland, Executive Assistant


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