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September 12 | Zephaniah 3:14-17


 

DAILY READING

 

REFLECTION


Happy and Hope-full

by Dan Kidd


Some parts of parenthood are easier than others. The times of play, adventure, and relaxing around the house are fun and sweet and so very life-giving. Generally speaking, the morning routines of waking up, getting dressed and out the door, and the nightly rhythms of bath time, book-reading, prayer, and bedtime are simple enough. We have occasional struggles here, but, more often than not, these things happen without any major conflict. But every once in a while we have rough days where naps are missed, meals are rejected, and meltdowns ensue. Those moments are decidedly more difficult.


In the times of tears, pouts, crankiness, and outright defiance, parenthood is not as fun and certainly not so simple. If you're a parent, or if you've ever had to discipline someone, perhaps you've found yourself wondering how to best correct the course of misbehavior. I suspect that many of us take no pleasure in disciplining those we love. Of course we know it's necessary. I bet you've met at least one of those unpleasant individuals who has carried on too long without anyone loving them enough to call them out on their bad behavior. In fact, we can all be that type of person from time-to-time--especially when we don't have family and friends who will love us enough to gently correct us.


Still, for many of us, disciplining doesn't make the list of our favorite things. Some of this is because we fear we will get it wrong, that we will be unjust. Over stern or too lenient. We also fear the rift in relationship that can come from discipline. When we have to be stern with our son, or when he is put in his room for some time of solitude, he is not often very pleased with us. It's not simple or fun to discipline, nor is it pleasant to be disciplined.


And yet, in today's passage from Zephaniah, we hear of God's prophet imploring Jerusalem to shout in joyfully praise knowing that God's discipline is eminent. This portion of Zephaniah stands in considerable contrast from the rest of the book. Prior to this, the Lord has issued a warning to Jerusalem through the prophet Zephaniah that, because of their wickedness and corruption, they would be given over into the hands of "a great army." Given the prior chapters, you wouldn't anticipate the book would conclude with a passage like today's:


Sing, Daughter Zion; shout aloud, Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, Daughter Jerusalem!

But the Lord's judgement does not intend to destroy his people; he intends to purify them. And the prophetic word of God doesn't end with catastrophe, but with the restoration and redemption of all things. Which is why we can be so certain that we can trust in the Lord. The very same Jesus who will end evil and sin, who will come to judge the living and the dead, bringing every hidden thing into light, is the very same God who will fight for us, purify us, and -- no longer rebuking us -- will rejoice in singing over us. Our psalms and songs of joy don't deny the troubles of the world, nor the Shepherd's crook of judgement and discipline. But they embrace, with faith, the hope of the things of God's Kingdom and we delight in the Lord who will rejoice over us in singing.


PRAYER

Lord, we begin by confessing that we need your correction and discipline. We need your good and faithful hand to turn us from our waywardness and lead us back in your Way of your Spirit. And at the same time let us joyfully worship you, who is so worthy of our honor and praise, and find our happiness and hope in the Kingdom where you reign; the Kingdom for which we were created to join you. Praise to you, Lord, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.



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