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Be Silent

November 14, 2020

“Be silent before the Lord God! For the day of the Lord is at hand!” Zephaniah 1:7a

I can’t tell if it’s all in my imagination, but things seem quieter on this frosty Saturday morning. Stay-at-home orders are settling in, though less stringent than in the spring. It seems a last ditch effort, a hope to avoid a mandatory lockdown, as COVID-19 cases spiral out of control. There were over 180,000 new cases in the country yesterday, 15,000 of which were in Illinois. The numbers are staggering. We need to silence our protests, repent of our failure to take this seriously enough, and change our ways.

Our Old Testament reading tomorrow is from Zephaniah, a prophet from whom we don’t hear very often. The great-great-grandson of King Hezekiah, Zephaniah’s career began at the end of the idolatrous reign of King Manasseh. Manasseh introduced idol worship and child sacrifice; he built altars for star worshippers and encouraged temple prostitution. While the competition forworst king of Israel or Judah has a lot of competitors, Manasseh may well take the cake. He had led his nation to the brink of disaster. As Zephaniah’s words make clear, God was not pleased.

Zephaniah preaches wrath and destruction if the people do not change their ways. He also speaks promise, assuring them that God will not finally forsake the people. The good news is that King Josiah ascended to the throne, a reforming king who helped the people get their act together for a time.

I don’t want to draw too strong a comparison between those days and these. This virus is not a sign of God’s wrath. It simply is. Nevertheless, both we are those we have elected to lead us need to change our ways. Stay home if you can. Wear a mask if you go out. We need to quiet ourselves for a time. In the silence, remember that God is with us. God will not forsake us.

Be well, friends. You are loved.

God, you alone are Lord. Forgive our idolatrous ways. Grant us faith to fix our eyes on you alone, to sit in silence, and to made decisions that would lead to the health and well-being of many. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Image: Zephaniah, Russian Orthodox icon, early eighteenth century (public domain).

From → COVID-19

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