Our passage this evening is from 2 Peter 3:1-10. We are using the Common English Bible translation.
Delay of Christ’s coming in judgment
3 My dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both letters to stir up your sincere understanding with a reminder. 2 I want you to recall what the holy prophets foretold as well as what the Lord and savior commanded through your apostles. 3 Most important, know this: in the last days scoffers will come, jeering, living by their own cravings, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of his coming? After all, nothing has changed—not since the beginning of creation, nor even since the ancestors died.”5 But they fail to notice that, by God’s word, heaven and earth were formed long ago out of water and by means of water. 6 And it was through these that the world of that time was flooded and destroyed. 7 But by the same word, heaven and earth are now held in reserve for fire, kept for the Judgment Day and destruction of ungodly people.
8 Don’t let it escape your notice, dear friends, that with the Lord a single day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a single day. 9 The Lord isn’t slow to keep his promise, as some think of slowness, but he is patient toward you, not wanting anyone to perish but all to change their hearts and lives. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. On that day the heavens will pass away with a dreadful noise, the elements will be consumed by fire, and the earth and all the works done on it will be exposed.
The Four Movements of Lectio Divina ("Sacred Reading")
I know Lectio Divina can seem overwhelming if you've never tried it before. And really, the gist of it is in those descriptive titles for each movement: Read, Meditate, Pray, Contemplate. Begin with some deep breaths, quieting yourself, perhaps lighting a candle. Know that you are bathed in the love of God, who delights to meet you in all places, and especially in your opening scripture. Know, too, that you don't have to make a lengthy investment in this process for it to "work." If you have just 15 minutes this evening, that's fine. If you have longer, that's fine, too. Now, let's begin.
1. Lectio: Reading. Read a short passage of scripture. Feel free to:
- Read until a particular word of phrase strikes you. ("If God comes in the first verse, why go on to the next?")
- Read the entire passage.
- What did it mean to the people for whom it was first written?
- What does it mean to or for me today?
- What does it mean to or for us, the community of God's people, today?
4. Contemplatio: Contemplation. This is the moment when you let go of words, images, wrestling, and wondering, and simply give yourself up to love. This is the celebration. Rest in God's love.
I was waxing philosophical last week while driving on Route 17. The following Pretty Good Idea popped into my head: Faith is the conviction that, when we are filled with joy beyond measure and reason, there is Someone to thank; and that when we are filled with sadness beyond hope of consolation, there is someone to cry out to.
This passage would suggest that I might want to add "... and when we are obnoxious, ungodly scoffers who live by our own cravings, there is Someone who is pissed."
Except, I don't want to add that last part. I am highly skeptical of the whole Angry God thing, mostly because I think it allows us to dodge the fact that most of our human woes, like war, pestilence, and now, even monsoons and killer snowstorms, can be traced back to us more directly. We would rather blame an Angry God than take responsibility for our own bad behavior.
Same as it ever was.
I think it more likely-- far more likely-- that we have a Sad God, not an Angry God. A Sad God who, 2 Peter tells us, doesn't want a single one of us to perish, but who is praying to us all the time to change our hearts.
Yeah, I said that. God is praying to us, doing everything possible to get our attention.
Perhaps this: "... and, when we are hellbent on our own destruction, there is Someone who cannot stop weeping."
"When Jesus Wept," by William Billings (1746-1800), performed by the Hasting College Choir
Sorrowful God, in this holy season, stir up our hearts with this reminder: you are patient, so very patient with us, longing for us to change our hearts and lives, so that all the world may know itself to be bathed in your love. We pray it in the holy name of Jesus, Emmanuel, God With Us. Amen.