A Sermon on Hosea 11.1-11
It's a common conclusion to come to,
that the God of the Old Testament is punishing, and wrathful, and sometimes scary,
While the God of the New Testament is much more loving and compassionate and kind.
But when we read this poem in Hosea,
I find it difficult to see an ever-vengeful God in this imagery.
When I read this text, I cannot get away from the image of a parent and child.
In response to today's reading, I'll be reading a poem called
The Earth Rejoiced. It's a poem that takes a collection of stories from a variety of parents,
and aligns it with this poem in Hosea.
Because I believe that one of the best ways to interpret the messages in the Bible is through the stories of the people who surround us.
The Earth Rejoiced
Dear child of creation,
when you were born the earth rejoiced.
Not because of who you would become,
not because of where you came from,
but because your spirit was something brand new;
something the world had never seen before.
As you became more aware of the reality that surrounded you
people who love you watched in wonder.
They watched you develop likes and dislikes.
They watched and learned as you discovered your unique voice.
As you ventured into the world
away from the nest of your loved ones
you instinctively reached for friendships.
These would serve you well.
As children grow and discover their place in the world
they can be unforgiving when differences arise.
All of a sudden there were new rules to learn.
Rules I didn't give you.
There were rules about earthly things.
Rules about what to look like,
how to dress,
who to be.
These rules became your world.
Little one, when you came home today
in tears because other children at school
wouldn't let you in their club I cried with you
because I had hoped that this problem had expired
along with the hairstyles in your parents' senior pictures.
I cried for what little childhood
you would be afforded after that moment.
Then child, you changed.
You morphed before our eyes into
a different version of you.
The approval your reached for
was now that of your peers.
Gone were the PB&J sandwiches and
the nursery rhymes.
Evenings no longer ended with prayers before bed.
I felt like I was no longer important to you,
like, you didn't need me anymore.
Testing your independence,
wanting to create your own way,
you placed space between us that
felt a lot like hostility.
That space broke my heart
and the pain was unbearable
every time you fell and you wouldn't allow me
to help you back up.
I never wanted to fool you.
The world would not simply hand things to you.
There would be good days,
but there would also be bad days.
There would be days when the world didn't seem on your side.
Dear child, look behind you.
Look back in time and see
that I have always been here.
But whenever I reached for your hand
you pulled away,
and ran in the opposite direction.
One can only reach for so long...
After so many heartbreaks
it feels as though there aren't any pieces left that are big enough.
So I swept up the pieces and threw them away.
I gave up on us.
On the love that exists between parent and child.
I fell nostalgic on your childhood,
those days when I was all you knew.
I turned my back for a second.
But in that second you needed me.
How can I give you up, my child?
My heart melts to know you,
because you are mine.
My anger towards you fades like twilight
because like the sun rises
my love for you burns warm and bright
and it present day after day after day.
Child, the world will give you countless places to hide
and fairly tales to believe in.
And you can live there if you want to.
You can sleep through your entire life,
but you won't find your dreams there.
When you find your dreams, my love,
I pray they're strong enough to knock
you off of your feet.
Grasp the hand that helps you back up
and know that I am with you.
Courageous child, look up to the sky
beyond the stars and the cratered moon,
and there you will find your limitations.
But only if you believe it to be true.
Brave and beautiful child,
I hope you believe me when
I tell you that
no matter which way you turn,
I will always,