Mercy Not Sacrifice

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“For it is love that I desire, not sacrifice, and knowledge of God rather that holocausts”

Hosea 6: 6

“Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘It is mercy I desire and not sacrifice.'”

Matthew 9: 13

When I listen to some preachers talk about God I marvel at how small God seems in their mouths. In order to get a mere hint of the glory of God I suggest that we all need to spend time looking up at the night sky when (and if) the stars are visible. Since human-made lights have progressed across the globe, it isn’t easy to see the abundance of stars. You need to get away from populated areas to see the stars as they are meant to be seen. Second best — pull up pictures taken by the Hubble Telescope. Contemplate the cosmos and tell yourself — God is in and beyond all of this. If there are multi-universes as some have speculated, God is beyond and in all of it. Who are we that God is mindful of us?

In the beginning it is said that God walked and talked with humanity, and humanity kept its eyes on God as a child keeps its eyes on a loving parent. But then humanity decided to strike off on its own, taking its eyes off God and making its own laws and deciding what was right and wrong for itself. Somewhere along the way humanity realized it still needed something more than just itself. Humanity imagined many other gods to take the place of the God it had left behind — gods of fertility, of war, of love and sex, of the harvest, of prosperity, of good luck, of wisdom, of the hunt, of oracles, even of madness and intoxication. People imagined gods for every need and gave these gods human traits so that the gods were seen as powerful, but also cruel, fickle, jealous, wrathful, and easy to offend.

Evidently the gods needed worship, praise, and sacrifices. Sacrifices could be considered as bribes to win the favor and benefits needed from a god, or to appease the anger of a god. Worship and sacrifice also united people when they came together with the same recognized needs, especially in times of war, disease, famine, or disaster. People all over the earth tried to connect again with the God they had left behind, but failed because they thought too small.

Until, finally, a portion of humanity reunited with the God of Creation. They imagined that this God they met in a burning bush, and who brought them out of slavery, and made of them a new nation, was one god among many, but was their God. This God wandered with them in the wilderness, and helped them along the way. It was a very long time before this people came to believe that there is only one God. Because this was a marvelous and new realization, they professed their faith in this One God every day: “Hear, O Israel! Adonai is Our God, Adonai is One.” (Deuteronomy 6: 4) The implications of this declaration of faith would be revealed slowly down through the ages. Since God alone is God, we must love God with all our being.

There it is. God is One, God is Love, and what God desires is love. Through Christ Jesus, who came to earth to reveal what God is like to us, we have learned that God cares deeply about how we treat one another. This is how we show we love God, by loving one another. It is simple. If we are not acting justly, treating everyone with kindness, and recognizing that God is way beyond our understanding, we are missing the mark. We cannot make up for this with any amount of sacrifice, worship, praises, gifts of money to churches or other holy places. We must care for one another.

How marvelous that God the Creator, creating and expanding the cosmos, is yet Emmanuel, God with us, caring and loving and yearning after us. God is not demanding sacrifices of us other than the sacrifice of love. God is waiting for humanity to get with the program and be the co-creators for our earth that God created us to be. If we wake up and take our place in the work God has for us, we can be creating something awesome and beautiful with God. God has other planets, other galaxies, other universes, and beyond to be creating, but we have the earth for our tiny part of creation. Let us tend the earth with mercy and kindness, and love one another. This is our purpose.

My beloved ones, God is love and those who live in love, live in God.

Bishop Kedda

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