Psalm 66, 67 (Morning)
Psalm 19, 46 (Evening)
Hmmm. It seems the theme for today’s readings is “change” and “division.” In our reading in Acts, the early Christians are arguing whether circumcision is necessary for the Gentile converts to Christianity. In Numbers, we see the final division between the old generation whose lack of trust denies them the Promised Land, and the new generation who will inherit it. Jesus doesn’t soften the theme any in Luke, either, unfortunately. He reminds us that following him doesn’t necessarily mend any divisions; in fact, it very likely will create more division.
Swell. Simply swell. Not exactly a pick-me-up kind of day in the Daily Office today, is it?
Human nature being what it is, truth is, we human organisms don’t care much for change. Although we occasionally complain about being bored with the sameness, deep down inside, we go back to it again and again. My friends razz me incessantly about how they can predict what I’m going to eat based on which restaurant we’ve entered. My answer is always the same: “I know (food of choice) is good here. I like it. I’m here to have an enjoyable meal. Why wouldn’t I pick it? I know I will enjoy it. Helloooo!”
Okay, I admit I’m pretty stuck in my ways about restaurant foods, but we all have those things that we wouldn’t (and don’t) change unless the circumstances change. That said, we can create tremendous denial and claim the circumstances haven’t changed–denial just as powerful as that of the ancient Hebrews in our reading in Numbers. They’ve been claiming Egypt wasn’t that bad since clear back in Exodus. Funny how they keep forgetting about the slavery and the forced labor, and the not-enough-straw-to-make-bricks part of that existence.
In Acts, we see the circumstances have changed (converts are now coming from the ranks of the Gentiles) yet a segment of the population (those who originally came from the ranks of the Pharisees) is acting like it hasn’t. The status quo for them has always been, “If you want to be like us, you have to go through what we went through to get there.” Sometimes, hazing masquerades as “tradition.”
The good news is that we are constantly reminded in the Christian experience that in the economy of Christ, all things are being made new all the time–many of them in ways we have not yet seen. Granted, it doesn’t mean we should change things just on a whim, or just for the sake of change, but it does mean that when the evidence for change is there, we should not fear it. Perhaps the antidote for weathering uncomfortable change or the division caused by it is in Psalm 66–“Come and see what God has done.” It’s those glimpses of the new Heaven and new Earth that keep us coming back for more. We see it all the time in the student who finally “gets it,” in the breakthroughs in our personal and intimate relationships that have been “tooth-grinders” for years, and in those times that governing bodies actually do make a decision that empowers the formerly disempowered.
What is an uncomfortable change you’ve been pondering lately? What do you fear about it? Where might God be in that change in a way you can catch enough glimpse to weather it?
Maria Evans, a surgical pathologist from Kirksville, MO, writes about the obscurities of life, medicine, faith, and the Episcopal Church on her blog, Kirkepiscatoid