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Monday, July 25, 2022
Today’s Scripture Reading | Hosea 11:1–11
When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son.
The more I called them,
the more they went from me;
they kept sacrificing to the Baals
and offering incense to idols.
Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk;
I took them up in my arms,
but they did not know that I healed them.
I led them with cords of human kindness,
with bands of love.
I was to them like those
who lift infants to their cheeks.
I bent down to them and fed them.
They shall return to the land of Egypt,
and Assyria shall be their king,
because they have refused to return to me.
The sword rages in their cities;
it consumes their oracle priests
and devours because of their schemes.
My people are bent on turning away from me.
To the Most High they call,
but he does not raise them up at all.
How can I give you up, Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, O Israel?
How can I make you like Admah?
How can I treat you like Zeboiim?
My heart recoils within me;
my compassion grows warm and tender.
I will not execute my fierce anger;
I will not again destroy Ephraim,
for I am God and no mortal,
the Holy One in your midst,
and I will not come in wrath.
They shall go after the Lord,
who roars like a lion;
when he roars,
his children shall come trembling from the west.
They shall come trembling like birds from Egypt
and like doves from the land of Assyria,
and I will return them to their homes, says the Lord. (NRSV)
Every parent worries about their children; what they are wearing or not wearing, what they are eating or not eating, what they are smoking—well, just what are they smoking? The moment you become a parent you never stop thinking about your children, no matter how old they become.
In today’s reading, Hosea uses the metaphor of a parent to describe God’s loving relationship with his people, Israel. We often refer to God in parental terms, Father or Mother, and Jesus even used the word Abba which is like our word Daddy. Hosea used this parental metaphor to describe God’s relationship with her people and even speaks of the heart of God in anguish over us, “My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender.”
It is astonishing to think of the Creator—creator of all that is in the vast universe—as having a heart that recoils in hurt over a single person on earth. Yet such is the love of God for each of us and for all of God's creation.
So, when inflation makes it harder to purchase food and gasoline, God says, “My compassion grows warm and tender.” When a pandemic engulfs humanity in a health crisis, God says, “My compassion grows warm and tender.” When a 25-year-old bystander is killed by stray bullet, God says, “My compassion grows warm and tender.” Even in the face of laws that do not allow women to choose what to do with their bodies, God says, “My compassion grows warm and tender.”
Some days it may not feel like it, but God is always with us, no matter what happens. Some days we may even turn away from God, but God never turns away from us. God is always surrounding us with “compassion that grows warm and tender.”
Loving God, thank you for your compassion that surrounds me with warmth and tenderness at all times and in every place. I am grateful that no matter how far I stray you are always with me. Amen.
Written by John W. W. Sherer, Organist and Director of Music
Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church
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