Sing aloud, O daughter Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem!
The LORD has taken away the judgments against you, he has turned
away your enemies. The king of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you
shall fear disaster no more.
(Zephaniah 3:14-15, NRSV)
It's December. Had you noticed? And if you are a church-going person, and if your church is anything like mine, a lot is happening. I found this true in smaller churches, and it's even more the case in a large church. Add to this the home efforts and anything you need to keep hold of for *after* the holidays (January newsletter, anyone?) and there are plenty of ways to end up receiving judgments, whether from others or — perhaps even more likely — from ourselves.
One of my Facebook friends is someone I knew only briefly as a child. Her grandmother and my father were old friends, and we were thrown together with the expectation that we would become the best of friends. I can't speak for her, but I know I felt pressure to like her and to be hospitable to her and to please her. I was five or six years old. The attempt ended when I came home one day and told my father, "She's my worst EMENY!"
But I'm pretty sure, with the hindsight of more than forty years, that I simply felt threatened by her charm and personality. We never saw each other again, but a few years ago while Googling a topic of mutual interest (an ancestor of hers) I came across her blog. And I discovered something that continues to delight me as I connect with people I used to know, long ago. Most of us only remember the pleasant things about each other. I remember my dad's affection for her grandmother, and although I can recall the story about Robert Ballou (spelling of last name uncertain, after all, I was in 1st grade), I don't hold it against her. Instead I look back and see how odd I was, standing on the other side of the picture in my smocked dress with the puffy white sleeves. I remember how easily outraged I was, and I see the little gleam in my eye, and I suspect I was quite possibly many people's worst ememies in my own way.
And my own, really, that's perhaps the worst part. Where is the borderline between taking responsibility and making life worse for yourself as a sort of solo sporting event?
I need the reminder that no matter how out of relationship Israel became with God, there came reconciliation. Eventually. Adventually.