Day 22 - March 10
Bruce C. Birch
WTS Dean Emeritus and Professor Emeritus of Biblical Theology; Wesley Council Donor; Retired Elder, Baltimore-Washington Conference of The United Methodist Church
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We Are Standing on Holy Ground
Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 5-9; Psalm 78:1-6; Matthew 5:17-19
The Book of Deuteronomy is a final speech of Moses to the children of Israel. One would think that he might have advice for the days ahead of them; however, before looking ahead, he asks them to remember. He tells them not to forget and to pass on the story of God’s deliverance. It is remembering that gives us our identity.
Remembering is also the theme of our Psalm because it focuses on worship. In all generations, worship is the gathering of God’s people to remember, celebrate, and reflect upon who we are as God’s people before being challenged and sent out again to live as God’s people in the world.
Jesus surprised some of his listeners when he declared that he came “not to abolish the law but to fulfill it.” Jesus was a devout Jew. He was not discarding this identity but building upon it and carrying out its promise in his own person and teachings. He also asks us to remember.
We live in an era that often discounts our ties to history, identity, values, and purpose shaped by the generations that came before us. The result can be that we forget past mistakes and repeat them in ongoing racism, divisive politics, self-centered lifestyles, and destructive patterns of living. In such times those who understand themselves as God’s people, must remember anew who we are and invite others into that memory and identity as an alternative to repeating past patterns that do not lead to community, love, and justice as God’s people. It is not an easy path because our culture pushes against those values. But, if we remember, then scripture, history, and present witness are filled with examples of the inspiring difference that can be made by those who remember who they are as children of God.