Sunday, December 11, 2016

Grace Where You Are

Today's reflection on the Daily Texts:

I will gather the exiles. I will give them praise and honor in every land where they have suffered shame. - Zephaniah 3:19 (NIV)

Jesus saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. - Mark 6:34

Lectionary texts: Isaiah 35:1-10; Psalm 146:5-10; James 5:7-10; Matthew 11:2-11

I find it interesting that in today's section from Zephaniah, God promises two things that seem to work differently. One is to gather together people who are in exile. The other is to honor them in the land where they find themselves now. So there is both a journey home, and a blessing before they get there. It shows that God has authority over all the earth - not just within certain borders.

I was reading a book recently (A Field Guide for the Missional Congregation: Embarking on a Journey of Transformation, by Richard Rouse and Craig Van Gelder) that noted the difference between a "journey" and a "quest." With a journey, you have a destination and it just takes you a while to get there. With a quest, there is something you're seeking, but you don't know where you'll have to go to find it. The difference has been rattling around in my mind. And when I read today's scriptures, I wonder if I tend to focus too much on the "destination" I've set for myself. I do really like the journey metaphor for life. But maybe it would be good for me to think more in terms of the quest, worrying less about where I'm going, and paying more attention along the way.

This is how I see God working in today's scriptures. It doesn't matter where we are, how far away from home we are, or in what direction we're moving. God finds us, and cares about us. God extends grace to us wherever we are. May we receive it! And may we extend grace to others. May life be a journey toward God, and a quest for God's grace and love in all places and forms.

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