I am blogging this Advent from #decolonizelutheranism’s Advent devotional, Shut Up. (That would be the sanitized version)
And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. (Acts 3:17 ESV)
A least we aren’t alone in not knowing what we were doing.
This is Peter speaking, of the killing of Jesus, and demanding the release of Barabbas instead. but honestly, it could describe damn near everything.
It describes the elders of Israel in 1 Samuel 8 when they come to the old judge and demand a king. Samuel’s sons, like Eli’s before him, have proven corrupt and worthless. Israel doesn’t want the spoke of Samuel to judge them. “Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations,” they demand. “A king to protect us from our enemies, maintain order among us, so that we may be like the other nations.”
And Samuel does. God, through Samuel, warns Israel what a king means — he will take their money and conscript their sons and daughters and all of that he will use for his own benefit. “You shall be his slaves,” God says through Samuel. “And in that day you will cry out out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you on that day.”
“Give us a king anyway!” Israel demands.
We acted in ignorance. We want what we want.
But so did our rulers, turning away from what God required of us, worshiping idols, trusting in supposed gods that have not saved us, believing in wealth and power to save rather than the Lord our God.
God came to us, proclaimed peace and kingdom and redemption, and here we are, blood on our hands. We cannot help ourselves. It is who we are. If we think we can escape for our sinfulness and the earthly consequences, we are sorely mistaken.
But Peter calls upon the people to repent. It is not too late, he says, and we who are lost in sin and ignorance can still be redeemed. We can turn — again and again — to the mercy that comes to us unasked for, the mercy that chose us and called us to follow.