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Divisions die on the cross


God’s love redeems

July 17,  2022

Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over the wild animals of the earth, and every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth. So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” — Genesis 1:26–27

Several hands of people of different ethnicities hold a small wooden crossIn the beginning was an idyllic garden — till Eve listened to the beguiling serpent and invited Adam to join her in eating the fruit that God had forbidden. Because they disobeyed God, the couple was expelled from the Garden of Eden and made to face the harsh, uncertain world. Surely, they thought, they could cope, especially with the help of their sons, Cain and Abel.

Unfortunately, the brothers’ story is about the first fratricide — the killing of one’s sibling. Angered over the presumed preference of his parents and of God for his younger brother, Cain murdered Abel. He would not be the last to murder over jealousy and hate. Today, we can discern the marks of that fratricide all around us in the divisions that can kill.

We know, at a visceral level, that this reality is not just something going on “out there.” It is happening here at home. We are a divided nation in a divided world. Those divisions present themselves in so much of our own political rhetoric, where reality has become a hostage to lies promulgated by people hungry to wield power. As if that were not enough, we have created a nation addicted to guns. Efforts to regulate these weapons, that outnumber people, is essentially a joke, since they are readily available in many places and have no identifying marks, by which their misuse can be traced.

And yet, in an uncertain world, we are reminded that God’s love for us is still powerful enough to reclaim us from our divisions, to cancel our fear of others, to erase our idolatry of material things, to enable us to discern truth from the falsehoods around us, and to remind us that we are all God’s children.

It is not easy to believe these things are possible. The cross looms largely, yet it is only through the pain and death of the cross that we get to the joy of the empty tomb. As we put on our pretty clothes to go to church (or not), may we remember and be sobered by the conviction that the evil that sent Jesus to the cross can, by God’s grace, become the victorious shout, “He is risen! He is risen indeed!”

Vernon S. Broyles III, Volunteer for Public Witness in the PC(USA)’s Office of General Assembly

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, July 17, 2022, the Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

First Reading Amos 8:1-12
Psalm 52
Second Reading Colossians 1:15-28
Gospel Luke 10:38-42

Today’s Focus: God’s love redeems

Let us join in prayer for:

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Jeffrey Arnold, Executive Director, Association of Presbyterian Colleges & Universities (APCU)
Molly Atkinson, Administrative Assistant, 1001 New Worshiping Communities, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Let us pray

Most gracious God, we give you thanks for all that we have. Teach us to see the needs of our neighbors and guide us to ways to be helpful. We seek your help to multiply the resources of those who struggle daily to meet the needs of their families. It is your power that can overcome the challenges. Amen.

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