ZEP 3:1-2, 9-13
PS 34: 2-3, 6-7, 17-18, 19 AND 23
Christianity has a very different reality for us today in the United States than it did generations before us. Those of us from Anglo-European descent may have hungered for religious freedom in a different era, but today we live as the cultural majority. Consciously or not, this profoundly shapes how we read today’s passages. Both texts (Zephaniah and Matthew) uncomfortably challenge us to ask:
- Are we more like the ‘tyrannical city’ or the ‘faithful remnant’?
- Are we more like the parable’s first son (who says yes but doesn’t work) or the second son (who says no but willingly serves)?
These pointed, almost aggressive questions do not allow us to hide behind someone else or the nearest bush, do they?! We are boldly asked how we embody God in our daily words, actions and belief.
Few would choose ‘tyrannical city’ over ‘faithful remnant’---yet if we have not advocated for the poor, oppressed, refugee, or mentally ill, how have we chosen God over personal gain?
If we were born into a different part of the world, we likely would approach these texts from a very different perspective. Our community is preparing for our fourth trip to Guatemala for Spring Break, and I’m eager to share the powerful instrument of liberation theology with another group of students. Guatemalan people’s reality is defined by instability: the government, economy, health care, education, housing and even the climate. Liberation theology teaches us how God has a preferential option for the poor and is found more in the brokenness of the world than great victories.
Sometimes texts leave us more uncomfortable than reassured. Let us remember Emmanuel, God is with us, even in our grappling, questioning, fear and mistakes. While most of us live in a privileged reality, this is not the universal reality for our world. Our God chose to take on human form in the humblest of ways, born in a lowly manger. May this humility inspire us to serve others with equal compassion and claim a voice for solidarity.
Rev. Rebecca Boardman
Lutheran Campus Ministry-St Louis