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Things can change - Midweek Musing 2/8/2024

“He (Jesus) entered Jericho and was passing through it.

A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So, he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way.

When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.”

So, he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.”

Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.”

Luke 19:1-10 NRSV


One of the things that I find interesting about the human experience is our inability at times to accept change. I'm not talking about the change in season or the change in décor or even the change in the recommended diet from the USDA. What I am talking about is how we struggle to believe that people can change.

We are especially critical of folks who go through some type of radical change. We are often quite suspect of these occurrences. Often, we don't believe these changes are possible, and sometimes, we choose not to believe they have “really occurred.”

It's interesting to me that that is even the case for those of us who call ourselves Christians. At the same time, we see and believe changes in Zacchaeus from the scripture above. Or Paul’s transformation experience on the Damascus Road. Or so many others from the Bible or history and how they changed through the power of the Holy Spirit but then believe that that is not possible in our modern-day world.

Iconically, we act just like those critics of Jesus who thought his attempts to change people were a waste of time. They looked at Zacchaeus and said to Jesus, “How can you be foolish enough to believe that a man such as this can change? Face it, Jesus, you are eating with nothing more than a sinner. You are eating with someone for whom there is no hope.”

And yet, the story of our faith is that God is the God of hope and redemption.

My friend David Lamotte has recently written a song about the story of someone who went through such a redemption. It's the story of Sam. In the story, you discover someone who, by the grace of God, was able to change and do so in an amazing way. While the song doesn't specifically talk about faith, I do not believe such change was possible without the grace of God. This story, like the story of Zacchaeus, is a reminder for us that there is always hope. That redemption is always possible. That our prayers for others are powerful. And that it is not up to us to judge but only to believe that God's grace is sufficient for all. This song challenged me to rethink some of my own thoughts about change. And it also encouraged me to remember that things can change for the better and that the promised day of God is indeed real. I hope you take the time to listen to the words and that they will move you as much as they have me.

Grace and peace.


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