Moments of Decision
Thursday, February 21, 2013 -- Week of Lent 1 (Year One)
John Henry Newman, Priest and Theologian, 1890
[Go to http://www.missionstclare.com/english/index.html for an online version of the Daily Office including today's scripture readings.]
Today's Readings for the Daily Office
(Book of Common Prayer, p. 952)
Psalms 50 (morning) // [59, 60] or 19, 46 (evening)
Deuteronomy 9:23 - 10:5
"But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God." (John 3:21)
All of today's readings speak of critical moments of decision. Significant gain and significant loss can happen depending upon our decisions at critical moments.
Moses reminds the Israelites in the wilderness that they disobeyed God because of their fear they did not enter the land they were given. He reminds them also of their fearful disobedience when Moses first went up on the mountain for 40 days, and the first stone commandments were destroyed and the people nearly destroyed. They got a second chance, however, and a new set of commandments. After 40 years in the wilderness, they will have a new opportunity to enter the land. It would have been better had they made the right decision the first time.
Hebrews is also commenting on Israel's failure and rebellion. The author quotes Psalm 95 to describe the consequences: "They shall not enter my rest." Hebrews reminds readers that Israel's failure to be faithful on the day of obedience meant that they did not enter God's rest. "Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest is still open, let us take care that none of you should seem to have failed to reach it," he exhorts.
And John sees the person of Jesus as the presentation of God's choice between light and darkness. To believe in Jesus, John says, is light and salvation. Not to believe in Jesus is darkness and condemnation, he exhorts.
There are crucial moments of decision which seem like historic fulcrums. A window of decision opens. Choosing rightly brings happy consequences. Choosing wrongly can set negative consequences in motion for generations.
It seems to me that the most crucial decision facing our generation is our decision about the protection and conservation of the earth. Scientists have done the best they can to show us the data and trends. There is scientific consensus that human beings are contributing to global warming and climate change. The consequences are enormous. Some data indicate that there is a tipping point beyond which we will have no control to reverse cataclysmic climate change. They tell us the time to act is now. As Hebrews argues, "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts." It is hard for me to see a more crucial or compelling decision for our lifetime.