Reflection The Jewish people see themselves, through the witness of Scripture, as God’s chosen people. Chosen before the ages to tell of God’s loving kindness, unity and justice. The tales in Scripture balance, like this version of Psalm 78, this lofty calling and the reality of a fallen fallible people. The people are to tell their children of both their calling and their falling. It’s something we should do more of in the Church.
Seeing ourselves as sharing God’s favour, we believe we too have a calling to tell of God’s loving kindness, justice and salvation shown to us in Jesus – God made flesh. We’re good at telling that story (whether we do so in effective ways is another matter.) We’re less good at telling of our fallible failings; how the Church has been both a force for good and evil, freedom and oppression, light and darkness. Instead we develop a collective amnesia – whether that’s about our collusion with colonialism, our support of slavery, our persecution of the Jews or our treatment of those who believe differently.
The Psalmist, and today’s hymn writer, manage to convey the desire to tell of God’s deeds alongside our human failings. We can rejoice in the power of God, and repent of our own cruelty. Telling both sides of the story will, hopefully, stop us perpetuating our mistakes.
Prayer Before the ages, Eternal One, you chose your people to tell of your love, yet you knew, even then, of our weakness, frailty, and failure. Grant us the wisdom to both proclaim your deeds and admit to our sin, that, at the end, you may unite us with all your people of old, saints and sinners, vindicated victims and repentant oppressors. Amen
The Rev’d Andy Braunston is the URC’s Minister for Digital Worship and a member of Barrhead URC.