The God of Love and Restoration

April 13, 2007

I’ve been writing in this week and last on God, who did not cause the crucifixion but responded to it with new life– doing what God always does in the face of death, destruction and sin.  The God of abundance, the God who cannot be defeated, the God who loves us even when we cannot love each other or ourselves, the source of light even in the darkest hour, is what the whole narrative of our faith is about.

The Tradition has focused too often on judgment.  There are some texts about judgment, it is true.  But the predominant stories are of hope, of restoration, of hope of restoration, of creation, and of life from death, of light from shadow, and of triumph in the face of darkness.  Biblical scholarship many times can explain the judgmental texts– some of which I have even heard characterized as “texts of terror”– by authorship, locality, cultural situation, and other factors “behind the text” that inform the text to help us enlighten the text, usually putting us back in the place where God is right back where I started– with God as an abundant giver of life.

Think of the parables.  They are all about restoring the lost, righting the wrong, and putting things in order.

This weeks Daily Office Lectionary gives us wonderful examples from our common Jewish heritage, which has all too often been distorted by Christian Tradition as destructive or “overly legalistic” or harsh.  They are wonderful stories of restoration and life which show that Jesus’ appearance on the scene and particularly the resurrection was a wonderful capstone on a long sequence of God doing just what it is that God does:  loving us and pouring forth abundance on us in the way that only God can.

Daily Office Old Testatment Readings for Easter Week

Whether it was the Exodus from Egypt, answering Jonah’s prayer from the dark belly of a whale, saving Israel from exile in Babylon and raising them to new life, a valley from dry bones to new life; a festal banquet; the God we worship continually acts out of love and abundant restoration.  The resurrection was not out of character.  What would be out of character was if God required Jesus to die– there is no precedent for that in our heritage; that is a fabrication of some strains of our tradition which is not particularly helpful.  God’s love is bigger than his judgment; it is through our sin that Christ died, and through God’s love and grace that Christ was raised and we are saved.

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