If the wicked turn away from all their sins that they have committed and keep all my statutes and do what is lawful and right, they shall surely live; they shall not die. None of the transgressions that they have committed shall be remembered against them; for the righteousness that they have done they shall live. Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, says the Lord God, and not rather that they should turn from their ways and live? But when the righteous turn away from their righteousness and commit iniquity and do the same abominable things that the wicked do, shall they live? None of the righteous deeds that they have done shall be remembered; for the treachery of which they are guilty and the sin they have committed, they shall die.
Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is unfair.’ Hear now, O house of Israel: Is my way unfair? Is it not your ways that are unfair? When the righteous turn away from their righteousness and commit iniquity, they shall die for it; for the iniquity that they have committed they shall die. Again, when the wicked turn away from the wickedness they have committed and do what is lawful and right, they shall save their life. Because they considered and turned away from all the transgressions that they had committed, they shall surely live; they shall not die.
Today is Friday the 15 February, in the First Week of Lent.
The Choir of Winchester Cathedral sing the Kyrie from William Byrd’s Mass for 5 Voices. Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison: Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. As you sit or stand here now, is there someone opposite you?Someone whose face you can see?Look into their eyes and ask yourself what mercy, and compassion, and forgiveness they might need in their life, how much they may be longing to hear and feel and know forgiveness.And, as you begin this prayer today, look at yourself too.What longing is there in you for the merciful, ever-forgiving compassion of God?
Today’s reading is from the Book of Ezekiel.
Consider the human race today: gross inequality between people, narrow selfishness at personal and national levels, misusing the resources of the Earth.All these sins harm those sinned against as well as perpetrators. How would God address his people – the human race – today?
We do not have to believe in a wrathful God.When a person or group sins, there are always negative consequences.And virtue also brings its own rewards, at least in the end.Where have you experienced this in your life?
Listen again to Ezekiel’s attempt to help the people of his day understand something of God’s reality check. What message do you hear in it for you as it is read again?
There is always hope for a better world.What is God inviting you to take up or continue as a contribution to a more just world? Speak with God about this in the last few moments of the prayer time.