By The Rt. Rev. Michael Curry
What kind of God orders people to conquer and kill? The first twelve chapters of Joshua are narratives of the conquest of the Promised Land under the leadership of Joshua. The stories are brutal. They seem contrary to our Christian understanding of the God who is love (1 John 4:8). And when I think of the conflicts in Israel/Palestine today, I wonder, “Do these sacred stories help? Hurt?” Psalm 68 seems to continue the same troubling thread. “Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered.” But later in the psalm there is a hint that may helpus to understand. “Father of the fatherless and protector of widows. God gives the desolate a home to dwell in” (vss 5-6). Here, the brutal war language has a moral purpose: to defend those who have no defenders, to provide for those who have not and to set the prisoners free, as the rest of the psalm says. The God who emerges here is one who cares passionately for a homeless band of newly freed slaves (Joshua) and all those oppressed or disposed (Psalm 68). And while the methods seem or may be troubling, the motives are not. That is where the story of Jesus’ miracle, changing water into wine (John 2) may help. The miracle does not happen out of thin air. Jesus takes water that is and transforms it into something new, the wine that shall be. That may be a pattern of God’s way of being in the world. God takes what is and works to transform what is in the direction of what is meant to be. Another way to say it is that God, working with fallible human agents, takes what is a nightmare and transforms it into something closer to what God’s dreams and intends for creation and the human family.
Eternal God, open our eyes to see your hand at work in the world about us. Amen. (The Book of Common Prayer)
The Rt. Rev. Michael Curry’s is the XI Bishop of North Carolina.