December 23, Year B

Inspired by Zephaniah 3:14-20

“I will deal with all your oppressors at that time. And I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth.” Zephaniah 3:19 (NRSV)

We live in a success-oriented culture. Our worth is judged by our productivity and measurable signs of accomplishment such as wealth and popularity. Even though most of us acknowledge that we are not perfect, we put an extraordinary amount of effort into portraying a picture of perfection to those around us.

And many of us refrain from really entering into a relationship with God because we’re afraid that he’ll see right through us, he’ll know we’re nowhere near perfect enough to be acceptable to him, and he’ll reject us.

But God doesn’t require us to be perfect as a starting point for relationship; through a relationship with God we are brought closer to perfection. The very parameters for measuring perfection are changed to include those things that cause us shame now; God seeks out the lame and the outcast for relationship, and the shame that people feel for their shortcomings is transformed into praise and renown.

A society which can never achieve perfection on its own pretends to be perfect and harshly judges and ostracizes anyone deemed to be less than perfect. The One who truly is perfect accepts our imperfections as part of us and loves us completely. Why not let the transforming love of God determine your worth, rather than the jealous imaginings of imperfect creatures?

Let us pray. God of perfection, you alone are able to judge our worth. Free us from unreasonable human expectations and values, that we may trust in you and be transformed by your loving acceptance. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.