Please, click on the midi player to hear the music.
is Do You Hear What I Hear?
It's Not My Fault!
If we’re honest, we’ve all been guilty of it.
We’ve all been in those situations where we just assume that a
problem that causes us frustration, anger, or even pain, has been
created by someone else. The driver who nearly causes a wreck
because they turned right in front of me. The utility company
representative who insists that I have not paid last month’s
electric bill, when it shows plainly in my checkbook that I wrote
the check. My son who left one of my best tools out in the rain to
rust. And of course, my wife who misplaced the keys to the family
car and has no idea where they are.
Then after I calm down a little, I realize
that the reason the driver turned in front of me was because I had
not noticed the stop sign that I just drove through! A couple of
days later I found last month’s utility payment buried in a pile of
papers on my desk, all stamped and ready to mail. After a little
venting at my son, it slowly dawns on me that I had worked on the
lawnmower the day before and left the tool on the lawn myself. And
now I have to apologize to my wife because I just found the car keys
in the pocket of my work pants at the bottom of the laundry hamper.
We human beings have a tendency to assume that
we are not to blame for problems. It must have been someone else’s
fault. An increasing problem in our modern culture is the failure
to take responsibility for decisions, actions, and attitudes. It is
just too easy to shift the blame to someone else.
Hope and possibility are at the heart of
Christmas, and rightly so. Yet, in the midst of all the positive
emphasis at this time of year, perhaps we need to hear one final
reflection on our responsibility, on how we might have failed and so
brought about the need for hope. In that recognition, it might give
us a clue how to respond when that hope is realized.
After Israel returned from captivity and exile
in Babylon they waited for God to return everything like it was
before they left. They anticipated a new golden age like that of
David or Solomon where they would be secure, prosperous, and the
envy of all the nations.
But it didn’t happen. They were faced with
hardship, poverty, famine, hostile neighbors, and new threats from
new emerging empires. Of course, they assumed that the fault lay
with the sinful people that threatened them, with the priests and
religious leaders who were not doing their job well. They even
accused God of not living up to what he had promised them.
And yet, the Scripture reading from Isaiah 59
places the blame squarely on the people themselves.
59:1 See, the Lord's
hand is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. 59:2
Rather, your iniquities have been barriers between you and your God,
and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not
They have not experienced the presence of God,
the prophet says, because their own failure to be the people of God
had created barriers between them and God. Yet, the prophet goes on
to say that even the failure of the people would not prevent God
from exercising grace and coming to them (59:16ff).
While we celebrate the hope and possibility
that God bring into the world in Jesus, there is always the overtone
of responsibility and accountability that accompany the Coming.
Much of the hopelessness that made the Coming needed was the fault
of human failure and sin. Yet God came anyway. Still,
the implication is that God had not come just to provide Hope, but
that He has come so that we might respond to him in faithfulness and
In just two days we will celebrate the unmitigated grace of
God in the Coming of Jesus, the embodiment of hope and possibility.
But in the back of our minds as we celebrate such love is the
knowledge that we human beings can take hope and kill it, that we
can take love and squander it, that we can take possibility into
~ Dennis Bratcher
Salt Lake City, UT
Today's Scripture Readings*
[Psalm 93, 96] [Isaiah 59:1-15a] [Galatians 3:15-22] [Luke 1:67-80]