Thursday, August 11, 2016

Truly Amazing Grace

By Colleen O’Sullivan

As for your birth, the day you were born your navel cord was not cut; you were neither washed with water nor anointed, nor were you rubbed with salt, nor swathed in swaddling clothes.  No one looked on you with pity or compassion to do any of these things for you.  Rather, you were thrown out on the ground as something loathsome, the day you were born…  Then I passed by and saw you weltering in your blood.  I said to you:  Live in your blood and grow like a plant in the field…  (Years later) again I passed by you and saw that you were now old enough for love… I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you; you became mine, says the Lord God.  (Israel proved unfaithful time and again) Yet I will remember the covenant I made with you when you were a girl, and I will set up an everlasting covenant with you, that you may remember and be covered with confusion, and that you may be utterly silenced for shame when I pardon you for all you have done, says the Lord God.   (Ezekiel 16:4-6, 8ac, 60, 63)

Bless us, Father, for we have sinned.  In spite of your overwhelming love for us, we, like Israel, have proven ourselves fickle and unfaithful time and time again.  We have worshiped at the altars of false gods.  We have adored the reflections in our mirrors more than we ever cared for you.  Forgive us, we pray.

Used by permission of
Wendi Nagle Schmidt
To my cherished Israel,

From the moment I heard your feeble, newborn cry and saw you abandoned and left to die, I have had a special place in my heart for you.  I lifted you from the ground, looked into your eyes, and knew I had to save you.  I cleaned you off, cut and tied your umbilical cord, found a cloth to wrap you in and gave you a chance at life.  I found a woman to nurse you.  I watched as you learned to crawl, then to walk.

I supplied you with all a growing child needs.  I watched over you throughout your childhood, made sure you had friends and others to care for you and to teach you the things you needed to know.

The years went by until one day I realized you were grown.  You were old enough and mature enough to freely make adult decisions.  There was nothing I longed for more than to be your husband and to have you as my wife.  I wanted to be in a covenant relationship with you.  So, I wooed you, and you accepted my love.  You said you loved me in return.  We entered into a marriage covenant, agreeing to be faithful to each other forever.

How easily promises are broken.  You simply have no idea how much I loved you.  There was nothing I wouldn’t have done for you.  I showed my affection in gifts of fine robes, beautiful jewelry, and the choicest foods on earth.  You were beautiful to behold.

Appearances can be deceiving, however.  I gave you my very heart.  But you turned away and wantonly shared bits of yourself with others.  You gave your heart to those who had no right to your affections.  You broke that precious covenant we made to be faithful to each other forever.

My love for you is such that I will never break my part of the covenant.  I will always be here, waiting for you to come back to me.  Hopefully, one day you will remember the promise you made.  My arms are open wide, waiting to receive you and forgive you, to have you at my side again, to be your one, true Love.

From the One who saved your life and who loves you with an everlasting love

During the 30-Day Ignatian Spiritual Exercises, early on we were asked to sit before a crucifix and consider our sins.  On the one hand, there was God, who loved us into being, who, when we made a mess of things, became one of us, dying on that Cross so that we might have forgiveness for our sins and hope of everlasting life with him.  On the other, there were God’s children, filled with shame and remorse for all the ways in which they had been unfaithful and betrayed their Lord. 

What grace-filled that prayer time, as it does this story from the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel, because God’s love is from everlasting to everlasting.  Nothing you or I could ever do would cause God to stop loving us.  And the moment we turn from our unfaithfulness to the waiting arms of the Father, we are forgiven and restored to right relationship.

Spend some time today, sitting before a crucifix if you so choose, contemplating the working of God’s grace in your life and offering thanks.  Consider to whom, in your life, you could offer grace and forgiveness.

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