Thursday, April 28, 2011

The new covenant of reconciliation

Now and then, the Collect of the Day strikes a chord with me at least as deeply as the biblical readings assigned in the Daily Office lectionary. Today is a double header.

From Ezekiel 37:1-14 comes this amazing declaration of new life emerging from death:
"Thus says the Lord God: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act, says the Lord."
And the Collect for Thursday in Holy Week declared this,
"Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation..."
The new covenant of reconciliation... That is what this religion of ours is supposed to be about. Jesus has died and gone to Hell to open the graves and let everyone out. The gates of Hell are open and wounds are ultimately healed, and we are reconciled with all of humanity, all of creation. That is the meaning of Easter and Resurrection, the work of God through Christ.

Yet it is an outrageous declaration by our religion, given how much of Christian history is filled with crusades, schisms, doctrinal inquisitions, anti-Jewish pogroms, racial segregation, homophobia, and our current penchant for conflict in our own small corner of the Christian faith called the Episcopal Church.

And that's just the Church. What of the world we live in, with warfare, global warming, environmental degradation, famine and disease, and bitter partisan politics in our own country? What about our personal lives? Where is the reconciliation?

Maybe we should begin by asking: with whom do we need reconciliation for large or small conflicts, or just common misunderstandings? God knows how much I can be a bull in the China shop, crashing into people, standing in need of their forgiveness.

All of us, I believe, stand in need -- great need -- of living into this new covenant of reconciliation. There is a connection with Ezekiel. New life and healing does come from the grave of old malice, strife and bitterness. New life will be with each of us. The Spirit of the Lord does fill us. May this season of Easter bring each of us a time of gentleness, a time of growth, and may we live into the promise of the new covenant of reconciliation.

Flower photo above from today's Odyssey Networks daybook.

1 comment:

Emily Guffey said...

Beautiful post, Jim. Thank you for it.