"The spirit of God came upon Azariah who went out to meet Asa and said to him, 'Hear me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: The Lord is with you, while you are with him. If you seek God, God will be found by you, but if you abandon God, God will abandon you.' When Asa heard these words, the prophecy, he took courage, and put away the abominable idols from all the land of Judah and Benjamin and from the towns that he had taken in the hill country of Ephraim. He repaired the altar of the Lord that was in front of the vestibule of the house of the Lord... And there was no more war until the thirty-fifth year of the reign of Asa." - 2 Chronicles 15:1-15
When a worship service has no prayer of confession, I wonder, "Am I the lone sinner in the house looking for more power than I brought in here?"
I know I've got stuff . . . . And to be honest, I think you may have some, too.
Hear the Good News! Our stuff is no barrier for God! God's available to take it off our hands and hearts.
Asa repaired the altars as a symbol of his new journey toward God, one that would bring peace to his kingdom for many years. We might do well to do the same.
How? Remove everything that hinders spending quality time with God and loving your neighbors as yourself. Read the Bible. Pray. Seek justice in God's name. Doing what you can, trust God to do what you cannot. Consider the possibility that everything we need to know may not be rational and that many of the rational things we think we know, need re-imagining.
Repair your altars. Meet the still-speaking, still-creating God, as if for the first time. Reject dead, powerless, distracting, life -draining "idols," like fear, guilt, shame, vengeance, hatred, and old images of God, church, and you.
Haven't these idols failed you long enough?
Instead, seek and re-imagine God in ways that help you love everyone, the way God loves you. Without God, it's impossible, so—repair the altars in your life.
Call a meeting with God. You'll find God already there and waiting for you.
Gracious God, please help me remove any old images and misconceptions and barriers to reflecting your miraculous ever-renewing Presence, Power, and Love for me and all the world. Thank you, Amen.
Ron Buford is the former coordinator of the UCC's God is still speaking campaign and appears in the DVD-based progressive theology series, Living the Questions 2.0.