Inspired by Daniel 9:1-14
“Then I turned to the Lord God, to seek an answer by prayer and supplication with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the LORD my God and made confession, saying, ‘Ah, Lord, great and awesome God, keeping covenant and steadfast love with those who love you and keep your commandments, we have sinned and done wrong, acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and ordinances. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land.’” Daniel 9:4-6 (NRSV)
Daniel was a good and righteous man, who always remained faithful to the Lord his God. There is no account in the bible of him sinning, acting wickedly, turning aside from God’s commandments, or ignoring God’s word.
Yet when he prayed, he identified himself with all the people of Judah and their sins. He didn’t put himself in a position of judgment over his fellow citizens and try to intercede on the grounds of his own righteousness; he confessed “We have sinned and done wrong…We have not listened to your servants the prophets.” Daniel was of Judah, and their sins were his sins. Their fate was his fate. Rather than condemn them for their sins or try to distance himself from them, he simply prayed for mercy.
Are we as charitable to our communities as Daniel was to his? When we point out the ways in which our society has failed to live up to God’s expectations, do we do so as participants in that society, or as observers?
God created each of us individually, but we are all part of the whole body of Christ. What happens to one of us affects us all. Not one of us is truly righteous by our own merit, but we are all saved by grace through faith in Christ. Even when our neighbors don’t recognize Christ as their savior, we simply do not have the option of writing them off and distancing ourselves from them; they are God’s beloved children, and we’re all in this world together.
Let us pray. Merciful God, you sent your Son to identify with us and to die for us, even as we were sinning against you. Enable us to recognize this community that you have created, that we may not push others further from an experience of your grace, but rather help to bring in those who have gone astray. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.