Choose life.

That’s God’s way of telling us
God’s purpose,
God’s desire,
God’s promise
for us and for the whole creation.

Life.

A whole life.
A meaningful life.
A reconciling life.
A just life.
A loving life.

There is nothing God wants
more for us
and for the whole creation.
Than for everything
and for everyone
to have life,
life that is
whole,
and well
and strong in God’s praise.
Choose life, God says.
Because life in all its beauty
is God’s gift.
A gift without charge.
A gift with no strings attached.
God’s perfect gift to all of us.

It is all too easy
to miss God’s promise of life,
life as a gift
in today’s readings.

We hear in these readings
harsh judgments on us
and on our lives.
We even wrap
those judgments up
in the idea of choice.
We realize we have not,
could not,
cannot possibly
measure up.
And so we give up.
Give up on ourselves.
Give up on God.
When it comes to—
why we miss God’s promise;
why we hear these readings as harsh judgement;
why we get caught up
in what sort of choice and miss the gift;
why we give up—
when it comes to these questions,
your guess is as good as mine.

My guess is it probably
has something to do with living in a time
when so many speak of God’s as being
wrathful;
harsh;
unrelenting;
punitive.

We’ve turned God-talk into moral talk.
Life-controlling talk.
Life-limiting talk.
I don’t know why we hear these readings
as we do,
but I do know that giving up
on ourselves
or giving up on God,
or both,
is the exact opposite
of what God intends,
is the exact opposite
of what scripture intends.


For all you might hear
in today’s readings,
hear this:
Moses (in the case of the first reading)
and Jesus (riffing on Moses, in the case of the second)
want you and me to know
we can never measure up.
In fact, Jesus makes that
about as clear as it can be:
angry at your sister or brother
— even just a hair;
just looking at someone the wrong way.
Moses and Jesus want us to know
that we can never measure up.
But they do not want us to give up.

Instead Moses and Jesus want us
to cast ourselves on a God
who this day,
who every day,
day after day
places life before us as a gift.


Cast ourselves on God,
who, when we do wrong.
Forgives us.

Cast ourselves on God,
who, when we cannot figure out how to love.
Loves us.

Cast ourselves on God,
who, when we think we are useless.
Uses us as instruments of God’s will.
Forgives us.
Loves us.
Makes us useful in God’s promise for
everything and for everyone
to be whole,
and well
and strong in God’s praise.

For as God does unto us,
so we do unto others.
How does Jesus put it in the prayer
he teaches just a few verses later:
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Love us as we love others.
Use us as instruments of peace
as we see others as instruments of peace.

In short:
Restore humanity.
Restore the dignity of human nature.
Restore our relationships.
Restore our city.
Restore our environment.
Restore our world.

Restore it as a gift.
A perfect, free, and uplifting gift of life.
Choose life.

It’s hard to imagine how we could,
why we would
settle on anything else.

What a beautiful gift.
A gift to receive.
A gift to open.
A gift to live.
A gift so beautiful,
there is but one thing for us to do, one response,
as with every gift:
thanks.