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“Is not my word like a fire, says the LORD, like a hammer that breaks rock in pieces?”
I believe that the message of this week’s Lectionary, of the fire and hammer of God, which are mercy and restorative justice, is THE message our society needs in this moment. We are protecting the gun lobby over vulnerable school children. We are protecting agribusiness over the well-being of the planet and over and above human thriving.* We are protecting corporate profits and political interests to the detriment of the poor and powerless. We are protecting white supremacy and status over our God-given duty to regard every human life, every human black and brown body, as beloved and sacred. This is the story of our country right now. This is the legacy we are living.
And the cure, the antidote, is the mercy and restorative justice of God. The Fire and the Hammer. The holy fire that Christ says he “came to bring ... to the earth,” and he says, “how I wish it were already kindled!” (Luke 12:49).
This is a prayer of confession and contrition. This is where we begin. Opening our eyes to our communal complicity, and changing our minds (repenting) about how we will continue on. This is heart-centered work. This in inconvenient work. This is uncomfortable work. Standing in the midst of holy fire is bound to be difficult.
God, as a society we have turned blind eyes
And deaf ears to the poor.
We can hear the cries of the needy,
See the struggle of the lowly and destitute.
How the weak and the orphan long for justice!
How the defenseless are in need of rescue (1)!
We confess that we have centered our policies
On the success of profit-margins.
We confess that we have protected the interests of corporations and the wealthy
Over the well-being of Earth’s most vulnerable inhabitants.**
We confess that we have judged unjustly
And show partiality to the wicked (2).
We confess that much of our economy and material wealth
Is due to exploitation of human and natural resources.
We have not done our God-given duty of creation stewardship.
We have not loved our neighbor as ourselves.
We have not upheld righteous standards.
We have not pursued justice and mercy for all.
Forgive us, oh God, and lead us on the path of peace.
Restore us to your justice.
Bring us into the community of heaven.
Be merciful to us, oh God.
For your word is like a fire,
Like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces (3).
Break our hardened hearts;
Burn down our wicked ways.
Let the fire that Christ brings kindle in our hearts (4),
Igniting flames of justice and peace-making,
Of shifting old, unhelpful paradigms,
Of right-action and reform.
Let the ethics and policies of heaven come to earth.
Be merciful to us, oh God. Amen
*watch the documentary “Cowspiracy” for more info on this topic
**inhabitants, both human, animal, and plant-life