Lent | 3.28.12
Haggai 2:1-9, 20-23
“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Ash Wednesday was a reminder that we all are mortal, that no matter what we do here on earth, eventually we physically die. So we’d better make our time here count—not in the world’s eyes, but in God’s eyes.
The reading from the prophet Haggai sounds a similar note of remembering our history and identity, and then living our lives in light of that reflection. Haggai prophesied during a difficult period in Israel’s history. A small remnant of the nation had been allowed back to Jerusalem after the exile, and they were trying to rebuild the destroyed Temple with few people, fewer resources, and barely a shadow of its former glory. A daunting and discouraging task, but Haggai urges the people to remember their communal story:
Who is left among you that saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Is it not in your sight as nothing? Yet now take courage . . . all you people of the land, says the LORD. Work, for I am with you, says the LORD of hosts, according to the promise that I made you when you came out of Egypt. My spirit abides among you, do not fear (Haggai 2:3-5).
The main point of this remembering, for Haggai, is not how great or glorious the earthly kingdom of Israel was in “the good old days,” but that God was with the people back then, and is still with them—with us—now and forever. Therefore, God says, work hard at my work, with the hope that I am faithful to my promise to be with you always and with your help to bring about a world of equality, justice and salvation for all people.
What stories do you need to remember this Lent, and how should you live in light of them? Maybe it’s the story of how your grandparents came to the United States from another country, or the story of the first time you saw how someone less fortunate than you lived. Have you forgotten that their story is your story—that we’re all made out of the same gritty dust? Maybe you need a reminder that God made you unique and beloved, or a reminder that God made other people unique and beloved. What stories come to your mind?
Remember, reflect and work for a better world; for God is working alongside us.
Amanda C. Miller
Assistant Professor, School of Religion
You can download the full Lent and Holy Week Devotional Guide at:http://www.belmont.edu/religion/files/lent-devotional-2012-final.pdf