Footprints daily reflection: 13 April
Promises of God.
Author: Rev Dr John Parkin
They shall be my people, and I will be their God.
My servant David shall be king over them; and they shall all have one shepherd.
Ezekiel 37:21-28 and Jeremiah 31:1-34 promised exiles banished to Babylon that they would return to Jerusalem and rebuild their shattered communities. Such promises still have a powerful resonance for refugees today who are supported by Christian Aid partners: Syrians, South Sudanese, Burmese Rohingya and people in the Great Lakes region of East Africa. Ezekiel and Jeremiah also dared to dream of a new order of society and of new human attitudes. For Ezekiel this meant a just reign by an ideal king like David. This is the beginning of the messianic hope. Jeremiah proposed that the old covenant written on tablets of stone would be replaced by a new covenant written on each heart.
For Christians these prophetic dreams find their fulfilment in Jesus of Nazareth and his good news of reconciliation and new beginnings. The vision continues with a commitment to confront poverty and the causes of poverty. As a Church of Scotland report puts it in addressing the meaning of what constitutes the ‘Promised Land’, (such promises) ‘are a way of speaking about how to live under God so that justice and peace reign, the weak and poor are protected, the stranger is included, and all have a share in the community and a contribution to make to it’.
The Gospel reading (John 11:45-57) points to growing tension between Jesus and religious leaders in Jerusalem culminating in the declaration by the High Priest Caiaphas, ‘it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people and that the whole nation should not perish’. John’s gospel understands that this statement ironically finds its fulfilment in the events of Calvary when salvation is offered for all people. But equally we are offended when vulnerable people are sacrificed for the benefit of the powerful, thus Christian Aid supports legal efforts to protect victims of discrimination such a Dalits in India, or Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. With the challenge of climate change in mind, we are challenged to ensure that subsistence farmers and people affected by rising sea levels are not sacrificed because of the reluctance of richer communities to moderate their lifestyles.
God of all the nations,
so many of your children are crying out to you, worn down by injustice and suffering.
Help us to fulfill our goal of helping to make real the vision that Christ spoke of as ‘the kingdom of God’ where justice reigns.
Help us to foster compassion one for another, tolerating damage to no one and oppression by no system.
Trusting in your steadfast love,
Rev Dr John Parkin is a Methodist Minister who served in Birr, Waterford and Dublin. He also worked for Christian Aid in both Ireland and Africa and in 2016 volunteered as an Ecumenical Accompanier with Christian Aid’s partner EAPPI in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.