Monday, August 18, 2014
for Sunday, August 24th, 11th Sunday after Pentecost
READ: Exodus 1.8-2.10 “vigorous”
REFLECT: My first read through this passage and I am stuck by the number of very strong words, such as “powerful,” “war,” “enemies,” “fight,” “forced labor,” “oppressed,” “bitter,” “hard service,” and more. “Ruthless” appears twice. Amidst all of this, “vigorous” was the word used to describe one of the most vulnerable groups of people – the pregnant Hebrew women. It was the Hebrew midwives who, in a seemingly impossible situation, stood up to Pharaoh. Caught in the crosshairs, it is actually they themselves who are the vigorous ones.
As I continue reading, the word “vinegar” comes to mind. This seems odd and disconnected. Perhaps it is just because “vinegar” and “vigorous” sound vaguely alike. But I go with it. In cooking, vinegar is an acid used to balance the heaviness of fat and other flavors. Vinegar brightens up a dish. Does vigor brighten up a situation? Taking ownership, exercising personal agency, being proactive – even if the situation is not changed, I am changed. I am not broken or defeated, but made stronger for exercising my human freedom. I’m not talking about the old adage “whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Too often that is used in a way that suggests just standing by, enduring and “taking it.” Just “taking it” does not lead to the strength that comes from transformation. It leads to bitterness and resentment that can only masquerade as strength.
RESPOND: God, it is inspiring to hear stories like this where people caught between a rock and a hard place respond in faith, speaking truth to power. But I worry about whether I would be strong enough to do the same. In moments of trial, help me to remember that it is not in my own strength that I trust, but in your power and love.
Which situations in your life could use a little vinegar? Ask God for wisdom and compassion as you choose your words and actions, and for the strength to be faithful no matter what the consequences. Feel free to respond or ask questions in the comments below.
LECTIONARY TEXTS FOR THE UPCOMING SUNDAY (and for you to try on your own):
Isaiah 51:1-6 Romans 12:1-8 Matthew 16:13-20
Lectio Divina Paci is a weekly devotional guide for peacemakers in the lectio divina form. Lectio Divina (Latin for divine reading) is a traditional Benedictine practice of scripture reading, prayer, meditation, and reflection that treats scripture as the Living Word. Lectio Divina Paci is an opportunity for peacemakers to become more in tune with the voice of the Prince of Peace.