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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Friday, September 4, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Ezekiel 33:7–11

So you, mortal, I have made a sentinel for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, “O wicked ones, you shall surely die,” and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but their blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked to turn from their ways, and they do not turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but you will have saved your life.

Now you, mortal, say to the house of Israel, Thus you have said: “Our transgressions and our sins weigh upon us, and we waste away because of them; how then can we live?” Say to them, As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from their ways and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel? (NRSV)

I read this differently than I would have a year ago.

A year ago, I thought I was the sentinel—or the “watchman” in some translations. I thought it was my job to speak truth to power. I would have read these majestic verses and thought that I was being charged to warn the wicked to turn from their ways, to stop oppressing the poor and downtrodden. If they did not turn from their ways, so be it, but I would have saved my life.

I hope I know better now, because since the death of George Floyd, sentinels have been rising up all over this country, speaking truth to power, and it turns out that the “power” they are speaking truth to includes me.

I’m a white person whose life is built on a foundation of privilege that I’ve slowly come to understand over the years. I grew up on land in Oklahoma stolen twice over from Native people. My great grandfathers on both sides participated in land runs. My hardworking family has continued to benefit from America’s racist systems that tear wealth and security from other hardworking families.

Now the sentinels are speaking. And I am not sure how to respond. How do I turn back? How do we turn back from our ways and live?

Loving Father, my transgressions and my sins weigh upon me, and I see our society wasting away because of them. Help me hear your Son, Jesus, speaking through the upraised voices of the people. Help me know how to turn back and live; in Christ’s name. Amen.

Written by Gretchen Wahl, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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