The stories in the week to come move like a clock, several hands telling the time together. They may point in different directions, but they amount to the same time. The book of Judges begins, depicting an unsettled Israel. The people have received God’s promise and settled in a new land, but they pick up the bad habits of their neighbors and everyone does what is right in their own eyes. The promise of God has fallen apart already—and how can they put it back together? Acts shows the birth of the early church. Here is one of God’s plans come to fruition—or does it simply show the next challenge of faith? The Gospel of Matthew ends as Jesus walks the way of the cross, rises from the grave, and commissions his disciples. Is it the beginning of a new creation? Or is the end of one? It’s hard to tell where we are sometime in the cycle of salvation.
It’s hard to tell time without the church seasons. We’re in that long stretch of ordinary time that seems to go on forever (not a bad metaphor for where we are in life, actually). We know that at some point the paraments in the sanctuary will change; but in the meantime, we don’t know where we are, exactly. Are we nearing the end of COVID? Or is that just an illusion? Do we still have farther to go? Will it really have to get worse before it gets better? The challenges of telling time overlap with a new school year; what would be rally day and exciting new activities in our church (in any normal time); and the suspicion that, no matter the outward appearances, nothing is really changing.
But the movements of scripture can be helpful, here Despite the continuous falling away from faith, there is always a movement to return. Despite Israel’s sin, judges rise up to restore order. Despite the absence of God, a church is born, bearing God’s grace to the world. The dead Messiah becomes a risen Savior. The clock keeps moving but it always ends up in the same place—that in the fullness of time, God sent Jesus to redeem us. We live in the meeting of time and eternity: Jesus Christ.
(Devotionals will be taking some time off in the coming weeks, but will appear back in your mailbox later in August. Stay tuned, and keep reading!)
Tuesday, July 28
Wednesday, July 29
Thursday, July 30
Friday, July 31
Saturday, August 1
Sunday, August 2
Monday, August 3
Art Work: Swanson, John August. Ecclesiastes, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=56542