Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏩ ⏹️
The Gathering, by Ursula Goadhouse, 2020
Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the Lord, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy. For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent.
— Zephaniah 3:8-9
Like Isaiah, Zephaniah has a focus on the kingdom of God, a time when all nations would come together as one.1 God would first pour out His indignation and anger, making it clear that war between nations, and the worship of false idols is unacceptable, and then providing a language of faith for all, a way for each nation to serve God, equally. Jesus of course had the same message, 650 years later.
Gathering together is an act of healing, and something we are greatly in need of today. We are a world divided, constantly at war, nation against nation, and tribe against tribe. Internal division is tearing nations apart. Lack of common ground within a single country, let alone across countries means that our day-to-day lives are filled with strife and opposition. Read any social media platform and you will find hate emanating in all directions. Our tribes today include different religious groups and beliefs as it has always done, but now we see separation and fear based on race, ethnicity, skin colour, age, financial status, location, accent, sexual preference, and the myriad and subtle shades of gender difference which seem to get more and more complicated every day. So many, it appears, seem to be seeking a group (or more often groups) to hate, to vilify—and putting a great deal of effort into the process: the smaller you can define your own group, the more people excluded and the more people to hold in contempt. We live in a fractured world, almost as far as we could be from the world Isaiah, Zephaniah, Jesus and others imagined for us two to three thousand years ago.
If we care at all each of us must start to take small steps to heal this fracture. The best guidance I've come across for this is in the work of Jon Yates, whose very recent book Fractured 2 offers great hope of change—but requires that we do the footwork. God works through people, by hard graft, not by magic spells. Simply waiting for the kingdom of God is not sufficient. We must prepare the way.
1 See Together, Isaiah 66:22-23
2 Fractured: Why Our Societies Are Coming Apart — And How They Can Be Put Together Again, by Jon Yates, HarperNorth, June 2021