This week’s challenge for leaving it at the table, may be one of the more difficult for many of us—VENGEANCE. How many of us have something for which we want to get even? How many of us would like to see the people that have wronged us receive their just deserts? How many of us, no matter how many times Jesus says, “Turn the other Cheek,” still want to see that enemy of ours bite the dust?
Well the answer is…all of us.
This is yet another example of how hard it is to let go of our brokenness. In fact, one of the things that Debi and I used in our Bible Studies this week was a Google NGram search of the word “vengeance.” Google NGram is a project that is trying to add every word written in the English language to a searchable site on Google so that we can see how those words were used over time. “Vengeance,” was used quite a lot in the 19th century, but fell out of more common usage in the 20th century—except of course when there were major global conflicts when usage ticked up again. Perhaps most strikingly, the usage of the word “vengeance” is today at its highest since before WWI. Take a look:
Yet, the scriptural message about this is fairly consistent—if there is any vengeance to be had, it is God’s business and not ours. This Sunday we will be doing things a bit differently. We are going to hear a LOT of scripture that speaks about vengeance, followed by a bit of a surprise for the sermon. The point really is to take some time really reflecting on how each of us has been ruled by this brokenness and how we can begin to let it go.
One last thought, at this point you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed by all of the confessional elements we have been using this lent. How many of us are beginning to wonder, “Can I really let any of this go?” Certainly, the challenge that we have taken on as a church is a steep one. But remember, we have taken this approach knowing full well that we do this in the company of the Grace of God. None of us will get all of this perfect, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t start somewhere.
Many of you have told me your feelings on ISIS, and that the crimes against humanity that they have perpetrated are unforgivable. Given that we are talking about vengeance this week, I thought it might be interesting for us to see how some of the family members of the 21 Christians that were beheaded by ISIS on the coast of Libya are reacting. I believe that it will come as quite a challenge to most of us.