Saturday, March 7, 2009

Saturday in Lent 1

Deuteronomy 11:18-28
v. 26 See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse...

It seems so easy. Blessing if you follow the law, curse if you don't. But it doesn't always seem to work that way. Even the psalmists will complain when they are following the law but not receiving their blessing, or when the unrighteous seem to be blessed rather than cursed.

So if it doesn't always work that way, what's the point? What does the promise of blessing mean? What does the threat of curse mean?

I think they mean mostly the consequences of a way of life, consequences that accumlate over the long run, not always manifesting themselves completely in the short term. To strive to follow the law (however one wants to summarize it) is the way of blessing--blessing not just on the follower, but those around her or him. The blessing is a life lived in shalom, peace. To work against the law is the way of curse, again not only to the individual but also to the community of which the individual is a part. The curse is living a fragmented life. Both of these ways accumlate over time. This means we have to be careful about the short term occurrences of our life. A bad day does not mean we are cursed, for instance.

Blessing is a gift of God, but it is also a consequence of how we use that gift, and, like all gifts, it is quite possible to squander it. We have to be able to do so or we are not free and if we are not free then we are not made in the image of God, and, therefore, something other than human.

The way of blessing or the way of curse comes down to a question of how we use our God-given freedom, what choices we make over the long haul. Blessedly we can always choose again and turn away from the way of curse. That kind of course assessment and correction is what Lent is all about.

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