Look around you: Everything you see is God's—the heavens above and beyond, the Earth, and everything on it. But it was your ancestors who God fell in love with; God picked their children—that's you!—out of all the other peoples. That's where we are right now. So cut away the thick calluses from your heart and stop being so willfully hardheaded. God, your God, is the God of all gods, the Master of all masters, a God immense and powerful and awesome. This One doesn't play favorites, takes no bribes, makes sure orphans and widows are treated fairly, takes loving care of foreigners by seeing that they get food and clothing.
How do we know who we are? I come from a family that loves stories. I grew up hearing Bible stories, stories about what life was like for my parents and stories about their parents who were immigrants to this country. We often had missionaries as guests in our home. . . . and yes, we heard their stories as well. As I read these verses from Deuteronomy, ancient words written for the Jews but no less true for us, the connection with the stories of my childhood are unmistakable. Certainly the love God had for my parents, grandparents, and me . . . echoed in those stories, but God’s love for the “ancestors” of others in countries far away was just as evident. It enlarged my experience and gave me a perspective of my identity in God far beyond what I was capable of imagining on my own.
These past few weeks we have been hearing incredible stories of faith told by and about members of our community, young and old. We are hearing in these stories who we are as individuals and as a community. Calluses on my heart have certainly been cut thin by the generosity of spirit, the sincere show of love for God who is in the whole of the universe as well as the details. They have touched me deeply. I pray that as we open wide the doors of hospitality to the strangers around us, they too will rejoice and find their identity in God and hear the story of God’s love and passion for justice in this world.
Eugene Peterson uses the idea of God falling in love with our ancestors in this translation. What thoughts and feelings come up for you when you think of God falling in love with YOUR ancestors? What are the thick calluses around your heart right now?