Eastertide is full of celebration of the Exodus and entry into the Promised Land. Here’s Deuteronomy this morning:
The Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with flowing streams, with springs and underground waters welling up in valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land where you may eat bread without scarcity, where you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron and from whose hills you may mine copper. You shall eat your fill and bless the Lord your God for the good land that he has given you.
Now that’s worth not a few alleluias. The trouble is that lurking in there is the difficult truth that other nations are being destroyed to make way for the incomers. And in some of the tellings of the story their destruction was merciless and total. I take some comfort that the archaeologists point to elements of parallel communities continuing and that the emphasis on total destruction may have been rhetorical, but it’s still gruesome.
It’s another of those difficult facts that are also difficult to speak about. But unless we do, we may miss why the mission of Jesus was so different to the gruesome ways of the world and such good news.
He offers the hope of a win-win, of life without the success of one person of group entailing the failure of another. Of barriers broken down and a new sort of human community forged that is the fore bearer of heaven.
A forlorn hope? Well, it could be. But it is my hope in Christ, and I choose to try to live in that hope, not give in to the darkness of despair – or the even more unlikely hope that humanity on its own is going to transcend its bloody nature.
So extra cheers for this morning’s New Testament reading that offers a vision of the love that wins.
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fulmess of God.