View print-optimized version
Monday, June 2, 2014
Scripture Reading: Ezekiel 36; Psalm 126
And you, mortal, prophesy to the mountains of Israel, and say: O mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God: Because the enemy said of you, “Aha!” and, “The ancient heights have become our possession,” therefore prophesy, and say: Thus says the Lord God: Because they made you desolate indeed, and crushed you from all sides, so that you became the possession of the rest of the nations, and you became an object of gossip and slander among the people; therefore, O mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord God: Thus says the Lord God to the mountains and the hills, the watercourses and the valleys, the desolate wastes and the deserted towns, which have become a source of plunder and an object of derision to the rest of the nations all around; therefore thus says the Lord God: I am speaking in my hot jealousy against the rest of the nations, and against all Edom, who, with wholehearted joy and utter contempt, took my land as their possession, because of its pasture, to plunder it. Therefore prophesy concerning the land of Israel, and say to the mountains and hills, to the watercourses and valleys, Thus says the Lord God: I am speaking in my jealous wrath, because you have suffered the insults of the nations; therefore thus says the Lord God: I swear that the nations that are all around you shall themselves suffer insults.
But you, O mountains of Israel, shall shoot out your branches, and yield your fruit to my people Israel; for they shall soon come home. See now, I am for you; I will turn to you, and you shall be tilled and sown; and I will multiply your population, the whole house of Israel, all of it; the towns shall be inhabited and the waste places rebuilt; and I will multiply human beings and animals upon you. They shall increase and be fruitful; and I will cause you to be inhabited as in your former times, and will do more good to you than ever before. Then you shall know that I am the Lord. I will lead people upon you—my people Israel—and they shall possess you, and you shall be their inheritance. No longer shall you bereave them of children.
Thus says the Lord God: Because they say to you, “You devour people, and you bereave your nation of children,” therefore you shall no longer devour people and no longer bereave your nation of children, says the Lord God; and no longer will I let you hear the insults of the nations, no longer shall you bear the disgrace of the peoples; and no longer shall you cause your nation to stumble, says the Lord God.
The word of the Lord came to me: Mortal, when the house of Israel lived on their own soil, they defiled it with their ways and their deeds; their conduct in my sight was like the uncleanness of a woman in her menstrual period. So I poured out my wrath upon them for the blood that they had shed upon the land, and for the idols with which they had defiled it. I scattered them among the nations, and they were dispersed through the countries; in accordance with their conduct and their deeds I judged them. But when they came to the nations, wherever they came, they profaned my holy name, in that it was said of them, “These are the people of the Lord, and yet they had to go out of his land.” But I had concern for my holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations to which they came.
Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. I will sanctify my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them; and the nations shall know that I am the Lord, says the Lord God, when through you I display my holiness before their eyes. I will take you from the nations, and gather you from all the countries, and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you, and make you follow my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances. Then you shall live in the land that I gave to your ancestors; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. I will save you from all your uncleannesses, and I will summon the grain and make it abundant and lay no famine upon you. I will make the fruit of the tree and the produce of the field abundant, so that you may never again suffer the disgrace of famine among the nations. Then you shall remember your evil ways, and your dealings that were not good; and you shall loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominable deeds. It is not for your sake that I will act, says the Lord God; let that be known to you. Be ashamed and dismayed for your ways, O house of Israel.
Thus says the Lord God: On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will cause the towns to be inhabited, and the waste places shall be rebuilt. The land that was desolate shall be tilled, instead of being the desolation that it was in the sight of all who passed by. And they will say, “This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined towns are now inhabited and fortified.” Then the nations that are left all around you shall know that I, the Lord, have rebuilt the ruined places, and replanted that which was desolate; I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will do it.
Thus says the Lord God: I will also let the house of Israel ask me to do this for them: to increase their population like a flock. Like the flock for sacrifices, like the flock at Jerusalem during her appointed festivals, so shall the ruined towns be filled with flocks of people. Then they shall know that I am the Lord.
When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then it was said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us,
and we rejoiced.
Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
like the watercourses in the Negeb.
May those who sow in tears
reap with shouts of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
carrying their sheaves. (NRSV)
When selecting songs for the Cherub and Children’s Choirs, I look for repetition. The more something is repeated, the easier it is to memorize (e.g., “Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me”). I believe this to be the comfort in many Taizé songs—both in lyrics and musical line. I think too of the phrase “You shall be my people, and I will be your God,” which is repeated six times in the book of Jeremiah.
The psalm reading for today is one of the fourteen Psalms of Ascent, also referred to as Songs of Steps or Pilgrim Songs. These songs were sung as people ascended toward Jersulem on the road for Passover and other pilgrim festivals. These psalms were characterized by brevity and repetition. (Sounds perfect for children!) Psalm 126 is uplifting and reassuring, stating how joyful the Israelites were after God delivered them from captivity. “Our mouths were suddenly filled with laughter; our tongues were filled with joyful shots.”
This psalm is paired today with the words of the prophet Ezekiel, who tells of God’s promise to soon deliver God’s people out of exile and to reclaim them as his own. Today’s reading pairs a “Yay, God is going to deliver us” with a “Yay, God has done great things for us!”
I began this reflection stating what works for young minds and see that God’s Word has been coming to us in the same fashion all along.
Dear God, give us this day our daily bread . . . in many, many small bites. Help me to remember the very simple fact that I am your child, and your delight is that I seek you. Amen.
Written by Katy Sinclair, Associate Director of Music for Children and Youth
Devotion index by date | I’d like to receive daily devotions by email