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What have you ever lost by dying?

by davesandel on March 2nd, 2021

Tuesday, March 2, 2021                     (today’s lectionary)

What have you ever lost by dying?

Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord. Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow, though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

In a cautionary moment this weekend, Margaret pointed out the polar paradox of, on the negative hand, entitlement, and on the positive hand, discrimination. We all have a responsibility to say what we think, feel and want. And alongside that we have another responsibility, to honor those who give us gifts, sustenance and time. So if I don’t want what they have to give, I’m in a bit of a fix.

God is the Prime Giver of gifts, sustenance and time. He wants to hear my desires. He will give me what I want, to a point.

If you are willing and obey, you shall eat the good things of the land. But if you refuse and resist, you shall die like dogs! The mouth of the Lord has spoken.

I believe that God sees down through my soul to the bottom of my heart. He knows my ins and outs, he knows immediately when I am lying to him. His patience with my lousy behavior offers forgiveness, freedom and new life over and over. They shall be as white as snow. They shall be as wool. But he does not tolerate it when I say He is precious to me in my prayers and then ignore him the rest of the time.

What are you up to, quoting my laws, talking like we are good friends? You never answer the door when I call, and you treat my words like garbage. So when you do bad things, shall I be deaf to it? Or perhaps you think that I am like yourself …

And in this moment I quake in my boots. Like Adam, I hide among the forests and vineyards of Eden. I cover my nakedness as best I can, with fig leaves for heaven’s sake! And God walks among the trees and calls, “David, where are you?” My sin is scarlet, there is bright blood red on my hands, and God at last speaks up.

I’m calling you on the carpet NOW, and laying out your wickedness in plain sight.

God does tell us how to avoid this catastrophe. Stop. Look. Listen. Follow the path I set out for you. As our pastor said Sunday about the love of money: check your debt ratio, and be sure you are generous. And stop following others just because they sound like experts.

Follow the teaching of the religion scholars, but be careful about following THEM. They do not practice what they preach. And don’t let anyone do that to YOU, put you on a pedestal like that. You are all classmates with a single Teacher. Don’t set people up as experts over your life, and don’t let people maneuver you into taking charge of them.

It truly is a simple thing to let your yes be yes and your no be no. Practice the law of “falling upward,” and seek downward mobility. Know the joy of being a silent, even anonymous servant, listening only for the compliment of God. What have you ever lost by dying?

Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.

(Isaiah 1, Psalm 50, Ezekiel 18, Matthew 23)

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