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Windows into the Light by Michael Sullivan

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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Wednesday, March 25

For as the Father has likened himself, so he has granted the Son to also have likened himself, and has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of man. Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in tombs will hear his voice.
—John 5: 26-28

When I was in grammar school, my best friend and I went home every day, played baseball, and then retired to the den to watch television. Usually, we watched cartoons or reruns, but on one particular day, we tuned into a religious station and there encountered a caricature of a man, a television evangelist. I remember thinking he was crazy, that his screaming was comical.

In fact, I recall rolling on the floor laughing with my friend as we mocked his gestures and his strange intonations. But the more we played and repeated his words, the less funny it seemed. Instead, it became scary. That night, I had a nightmare, dreaming of his words. I remember waking up before dawn wondering if those that were in their tombs had heard the voice of God calling them home, and I had been left behind.

Many of us have been wounded by images of judgment. For those of us who focus upon God’s grace and mercy, it’s easy to make fun of those who preach retribution and punishment. But the words of doom strike deep, and we wonder if there may be some truth in their message.

We need to re-tool our faith. The focus must return to the gift of God’s grace and the freedom that it engenders. When we fall into traps of judgment, it usually means we are defining ourselves against others instead of with them. If you’ve been hurt by religion, by questions of judgment and punishment, you can return to a God of mercy.

Maybe you can let go of the caricature of the television evangelist I experienced, and recapture an image of God and God’s love this Lent. If you can begin to recover grace bit by bit, eventually the nightmares induced by someone else’s self righteousness will fade away and the dream of God will become your reality.

God, you love me more than I can imagine. Help me to let go of images that separate me from you and, trusting in your path, may I find life. Amen.