In the first lesson for today's Daily Office readings, the Israelites are camped in Moab, just outside Canaan. This is making the current residents very nervous. So the king of Moab sends all the way to Babylon for a famous priest there (Balaam) to come help him out by cursing the Israelites. Eventually, Balaam comes. But he is a big disappointment. Even though he is not even a remote cousin to any Hebrew, he listens to the one true God, who tells him to bless the Israelites instead! I bet his expense vouchers for the trip over from Babylon went unpaid.

What is interesting about this vignette is that God speaks through a completely unexpected voice: a Babylonian priest. This must have happened, because it is hard to imagine Hebrew scripture writers making it up.

God loves to speak through unexpected voices. It must have something to do with God's propensity to insist that we are all equally beloved. The trouble is, however, that we have difficulty seeing or hearing things that come from unexpected sources. We can't be troubled to look or listen when we devalue the source.

Dear people of St. Margaret's: How useful we are to God will be a direct result of our capacity to defeat this human impulse. If we can adopt a sincere position of childlike curiosity toward views we want to discount, we will collectively encounter the voice of God, drawing our hearts together in mutual love and respect. Pray for our collective curiosity.

Pastor Kathleen Kelly,  
Interim Rector  

Hands Across the Divide , 1992, sculpture by Maurice Harton in Derry, Northern Ireland
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