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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Thursday, November 19, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Zephaniah 1:7, 12–18

Be silent before the Lord God! For the day of the Lord is at hand; the Lord has prepared a sacrifice, he has consecrated his guests. At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and I will punish the people who rest complacently on their dregs, those who say in their hearts, “The Lord will not do good, nor will he do harm.” Their wealth shall be plundered, and their houses laid waste. Though they build houses, they shall not inhabit them; though they plant vineyards, they shall not drink wine from them.

The great day of the Lord is near, near and hastening fast; the sound of the day of the Lord is bitter, the warrior cries aloud there. That day will be a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of trumpet blast and battle cry against the fortified cities and against the lofty battlements. I will bring such distress upon people that they shall walk like the blind; because they have sinned against the Lord, their blood shall be poured out like dust, and their flesh like dung. Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them on the day of the Lord’s wrath; in the fire of his passion the whole earth shall be consumed; for a full, a terrible end he will make of all the inhabitants of the earth. (NRSV)

I have gone on a lot of walks since COVID-19 disrupted the normal flow of my life. As I walk through my neighborhood, I see a lot of yard signs stating, “Black Lives Matter.” There is even a sign that states it in Spanish. But there is one sign that I found a little shocking and discomforting the first time I saw it. In the same black and white of the other signs it states “White Silence Is Violence.” The sign is hoping to shock people out of complacency. I don’t disagree with the message; seeing it on a sign makes me think about where I am too complacent.

In this passage, the prophet Zephaniah throws down the gauntlet. He hopes to shock his readers as well, saying the time is now, no time to lose. Consequences do not come only for those who do evil in this world. There are severe consequences for our inaction. Our God is a God of justice.

I must admit, both my neighbor’s sign and this passage make me a little uncomfortable. They challenge me to think about where my inaction might actually be causing harm to others. Where do I need to step out of my comfort zone and stand up for what is right?

Dear God, I know I often fall back into comfort and complacency. Help me to be a warrior for your justice. Give me the strength to step out of my comfort zone to make a difference in this world. Amen.

Written by Katie Patterson, Youth Ministry Program Manager

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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