The Readings: Lamentations 3:37-58; Hebrews 4:1-16; Romans 8:1-11
The Lectionary readings bridge from the pain of Good Friday to the joy of the Jesus’ resurrection. On both sides of the bridge, the perhaps unexpected call to repentance and self-awareness:
Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the LORD. (Lam. 3:40)
Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one may
fall through such disobedience as theirs. (Heb. 4:11)
Even here, it appears to remain true that
- Nothing is foolproof.
- The line between wisdom and folly is often razor-thin. (See particularly Proverbs 26:1-12, particularly vv.4-5.)
Repentance itself is tricky. On the corporate level, C. S. Lewis’ “Dangers of National Repentance” warns “The first and fatal charm of national repentance is, therefore, the encouragement it gives to turn from the bitter task of repenting our own sins to the congenial one of bewailing—but, first, of denouncing—the conduct of others” (reprinted in God in the Dock; for a longer excerpt, Ken Symes’ blog).
In this election year the sins of our opponents are important; the challenge is to not let awareness and amendment of our own sins get lost in the shuffle.
“Indeed, the word of God is living and active.” In the tradition in which I received my early formation this was the go-to text regarding the Bible. Reading it today: it’s not about the power of God’s word as we choose to deploy it, but as God is already deploying it for/against us. To be wise is to recognize the deployment, to be a fool, to ignore it—like the wilderness generation of whom the epistle’s author is speaking.
Still speaking of our salvation, hard to say whether it’s Jesus or the Spirit doing the really heavy lifting. Jesus’ victory brings the Spirit onstage in a new way (Romans 8); it’s the Spirit that deploys the word for/against us (Heb 3:7—hat tip to Koester’s commentary). So, already in Holy Week: “Come, Holy Spirit.”