S (Scripture): 2 Chronicles 30:15 They slaughtered the Passover lamb on the fourteenth day of the second month. The priests and Levites were ashamed, so they consecrated themselves and brought burnt sacrifices to the Lord’s temple. 16 They stood at their posts according to the regulations outlined in the law of Moses, the man of God. The priests were splashing the blood as the Levites handed it to them. 17 Because many in the assembly had not consecrated themselves, the Levites slaughtered the Passover lambs of all who were ceremonially unclean and could not consecrate their sacrifice to the Lord. 18 The majority of the many people from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun were ceremonially unclean, yet they ate the Passover in violation of what is prescribed in the law. For Hezekiah prayed for them, saying: “May the Lord, who is good, forgive 19 everyone who has determined to follow God, the Lord God of his ancestors, even if he is not ceremonially clean according to the standards of the temple.” 20 The Lord responded favorably to Hezekiah and forgave the people.
O (Observation): King Hezekiah was ordering that the Passover meal take place as a way to celebrate and re-dedicate the use of the Temple to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel. The people of Judah came…by the hundreds!
With the people came animals to be sacrificed. So many, in fact, and in such a short period of time, the people did not all consecrate themselves appropriately (as prescribed in the law). If you wanted to participate in slaughtering a Passover lamb or to be sprayed with its blood (as a form of receiving atonement for your sins), or eat of the meat of the sacrificed animal, you had to be consecrated.
Well, as described, a whole of bunch of people showed up with a whole bunch of sacrifial animals, and they were so ready to be re-dedicating themselves to God, that they basically failed to observe the proper cleanliness laws.
But King Hezekiah, knowing the passion of the people who repented before God and knowing that God was merciful, the king prays for the people that God might not fault them for eating the sacrificed animal meat without the people being properly consecrated.
And sure enough God agrees to look faborably on the people and forgives them.
A (Application): How many times do we (as Church people) get upset when someone doesn’t light the “correct” candle first? Or pronounces a name or place wrong when reading the Scriptures in worship? Or kneels at the “wrong” side of the Communion railing? Or (and this is the worst) someone is sitting in YOUR PEW?!?!?!
Okay, that’s all tongue-in-cheek…but the sensation is visceral when these things happen. And they are a signs that we are too Church-focused, and not enough God-focused.
Can “church” become our god? Absolutely it can! So let’s get rid of Church!?!? No! Certainly Not!
The hard thing is to change. The easy thing is to scrap and re-start. Granted, both have their place. Most importantly, God sees the intention in our hearts. God is not disappointed with us, but encourages us to be focused on grace and mercy in the world, in the church, in our schools, workplaces and homes.
Coming to God with a heart that seeks grace and mercy will most certainly receive it. Thanks be to God!
P (Prayer): God, our ways are fallible, but when we come with pure hearts, you forgive us for our faults. We thank you for this gift of forgiveness this day. Amen.