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Daily reading: 13 April

A covenant of peace.

Something to read

‘I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; and I will bless them and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary among them for evermore. My dwelling-place shall be with them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.’

Ezekiel 37: 26-27, from full reading Ezekiel 37: 21-28

Something to think about 

Ezekiel 37:21-28 promised exiles banished to Babylon that they would return to Jerusalem and rebuild their shattered communities. Such promises still have a powerful resonance for refugees today who are supported by Christian Aid partners: Syrians, South Sudanese, Burmese Rohingya and people in the Great Lakes region of East Africa.

Ezekiel also dared to dream of a new order of society and of new human attitudes. For Ezekiel, this meant a just reign by an ideal king like David. This is the beginning of the messianic hope. Jeremiah proposed that the old covenant written on tablets of stone would be replaced by a new covenant written on each heart.

For Christians, these prophetic dreams find their fulfilment in Jesus of Nazareth and his good news of reconciliation and new beginnings. The vision continues with a commitment to confront poverty and the causes of poverty.

As a Church of Scotland report puts it, in addressing the meaning of what constitutes the ‘Promised Land’, ‘[such promises] are a way of speaking about how to live under God so that justice and peace reign, the weak and poor are protected, the stranger is included, and all have a share in the community and a contribution to make to it’.  

The Gospel reading for today (John 11:45-57) points to growing tension between Jesus and religious leaders in Jerusalem, culminating in the declaration by the High Priest Caiaphas: ‘it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people and that the whole nation should not perish’.

John’s gospel understands that this statement ironically finds its fulfilment in the events of Calvary when salvation is offered for all people. But equally, we’re offended when vulnerable people are sacrificed for the benefit of the powerful – which is why Christian Aid supports legal efforts to protect victims of discrimination such a Dalits in India, or Palestinians living under Israeli occupation.

With the challenge of climate change in mind, we’re challenged to ensure that subsistence farmers, and people affected by rising sea levels, aren’t sacrificed because of the reluctance of richer communities to moderate their lifestyles.     

Something to do 

Continue the Count Your Blessings journey.

Today’s contribution is by John Parkin, and is taken from the Christian Aid Ireland Lent journey.