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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Ezekiel 33:7–11

So you, mortal, I have made a sentinel for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, “O wicked ones, you shall surely die,” and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but their blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked to turn from their ways, and they do not turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but you will have saved your life.

Now you, mortal, say to the house of Israel, Thus you have said: “Our transgressions and our sins weigh upon us, and we waste away because of them; how then can we live?” 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? (NRSV)

This is a hard passage. If one knows that the “wicked” are doing wrong, then the people should tell them so. If one does not, then it’s that person’s fault. If one shares this information, then it’s up to the “wicked” to respond. If only life were that simple. My takeaway is this: If you know what is right, then act. However, life’s moral clarity, or how to act, is not that simple. Our lives are complicated, interconnected, and systemically bound. Plus, in God’s eyes, we’re all broken and good.

This reminds me of climate change. If we don’t drastically change our lifestyles—at a systemic level—and reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent by the year 2030 or 2040, the future of civilization and creation is in catastrophic risk. I know. This is terrifying. We know this danger, yet it is so challenging to respond or to even know how to respond. Have you ever felt crippled by the call to act? I have. When this happens though, I turn to my faith community for courage, for imagination, for a reminder of God’s grace, and a reminder that it’s not just about me, but about us.

God calls us to respond in bold and imaginative ways—even when God’s vision for the world seems impossible. In this day, what opportunities do you have before you to move closer to God’s way? How can your faith community support you in this?

May we have the courage to take risks, doing the best we can. May we have the imagination to try something new. May we have the humility to listen and learn. The fear, the uncertainty, the grief—it is all so real. God, thank you for your grace that helps us know we’re enough, which also empowers us toward action. Amen.

Written by Abbi Heimach-Snipes, Pastoral Resident

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