Friday

Never again shall they be two nations, and never again shall they be divided into two kingdoms. (v. 22b)

Ezekiel 37:15-23 Friday 28 February 2020

Psalm: Psalm 148

Background

Ezekiel delivers God’s promise that in returning to Jerusalem the people of Israel shall never again be divided and that the different tribes of Israel shall no longer live separately from one another, but together as one people. We know, from examples in Scripture and from our own hard experience, that unity is far from easy. In today’s world and in the Church, division characterises so many of our conversations. It is far easier to preach 'us and them, to identify who is 'in' and who is 'out', to condemn difference of opinion, and live cocooned in sameness, than to craft a model of living whereby difference can abide together in one community.

But Ezekiel’s vision is far from a simple one. It depends, first, on a journey, on deliverance from exile and return to God’s kingdom. And the future unity of the people of God is not automatic but dependent on the people reclaiming their responsibility to live according to God’s commandments. So there is both a journey to follow and an ethical responsibility to keep.

In our own divided times it can often seem impossible to imagine a time of future unity. As the Church in the West, we have, for centuries, grown accustomed to being in the majority, embodying a Church triumphant which has, in some ways, set and changed agenda on its own terms. But as a church in decline we are now far more akin to a people in exile. There is much humility, grace, and faith that can be learned from our neighbours who have been minorities for centuries.

The prophet Ezekiel suggests that the future can change. Tomorrow does not have to be the same as today, not because it must somehow be different or that it simply has to be, but because we as the people of God have both the opportunity to undertake a journey and the responsibility to act justly. Unity does not mean everyone acting the same, thinking alike, or looking identical. But it can reflect a community where those of us from different starting points can find common cause in pursuit of a just world for each and all. In so doing we can transform exile into return.

 

To Ponder:

  • How can we live with differences?
  • What can you take responsibility for this Lent?
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