"What do you mean by repeating this proverb … ‘The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge'?" - Ezekiel 18:2
The other day I stopped at a point on a trail in my beloved Wallowa Mountains where we had scattered the ashes of both my parents.
I said, "Thank you, thank you for all you did for me."
But I wasn't always grateful. Sometimes I blamed my parents for their failures, for not being what I wanted them to be.
They weren't perfect parents, nor have I been a perfect parent.
But there comes a time when blaming our own problems on our parents (or anyone else) is really a form of self-deception.
So Ezekiel told the people of Israel to quit blaming their forbearers. Stop, he said, stop it right now, repeating that old canard, "The parents have eaten sour grapes and children's teeth are set on edge."
In at least two places in the Bible, that same canard is offered as reliable wisdom. It means, what you do has an effect on people who come after you. Which is true.
But that wisdom can be, and apparently was being, distorted to mean. "We can't do anything about our situation." It was our parents, or grandparents, or someone else back there. It's my boss, the former minister, my wife, my in-laws.
Ezekiel called BS. Each of us responsible for ourselves. Each of us has choices to make, freedom to live into.
There's good news there. The good news of responsibility. We aren't determined by the actions or inactions of others. And we can't use them as an excuse. We aren't even determined by, or in bondage to, our own past failures. In Christ, today is a new day.
Help me, Holy One, to live in the freedom of this new day, your gift. Grant me grace to live it well and serenely. Amen.
Tony Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher, and writer. He is the author of many books, including What’s Theology Got to Do With It: Convictions, Vitality and the Church. You can read Tony's "Weekly Meditation" and "What's Tony Thinking?" at his website, www.anthonybrobinson.com.