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Speaking to the Soul: Turning to Him

Speaking to the Soul: Turning to Him

Wednesday, December 17, 2013 — Week of Advent 3, Year One

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:

Psalms 119:49-72 (morning) // 49, [53] (evening)

Isaiah 9:8-17

2 Peter 2:1-10a

Mark 1:1-8

Can love coexist with violence? Too often, our upbringings, our intimate relationships, and our theologies assume that love and violence can coexist. And, having snatched my son’s hand away from the knobs of our gas stovetop, I know that some degree of coercion can be necessary to protect and nurture those we love the most. But one of the most profound arcs in the story of God’s love for us is God’s dawning recognition that he cannot both violently punish and deeply love his people.

In today’s first reading, we see that violence destroys relationships. God attempts to restore his relationship with his people by rousing up their enemies to attack them. However, the prophet tells us,  “The people did not turn to him who struck them, or seek the Lord of hosts.” God’s efforts only pushed his people further away.

If you’ve ever known someone, or been someone, who returned to an abusive situation, you may realize how courageous God’s people were. They did not turn to or seek their abuser when they wanted love or protection. They would rather fend for themselves than turn to a “Lord” whose “anger has not turned away,” and whose “hand is stretched out still.”

As we continue our journey through Advent, we are preparing our hearts not to turn back to a religious system that perpetuates the myth that violence and love can coexist. Instead, we are preparing our hearts to meet the Lord revealed in an infant. We aren’t turning to or seeking any notion of God that unleashes anger or destruction, but moving forward with a God who longs to restore a relationship with us. And, slowly and steadily, we’re getting there.

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal.  She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps  program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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