14 March: Hosea 5.15-6.6

I will return again to my place

until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face.

In their distress they will beg my favour:

‘Come, let us return to the Lord;

for it is he who has torn, and he will heal us;

he has struck down, and he will bind us up.

After two days he will revive us;

on the third day he will raise us up,

that we may live before him.

Let us know, let us press on to know the Lord;

his appearing is as sure as the dawn;

he will come to us like the showers,

like the spring rains that water the earth.’

 What shall I do with you, O Ephraim?

What shall I do with you, O Judah?

Your love is like a morning cloud,

like the dew that goes away early.

Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets,

I have killed them by the words of my mouth,

and my judgement goes forth as the light.

For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice,

the knowledge of God rather than burnt-offerings.

This passage is full of contrasts. Hosea imagines the people finding that God is responsible for the good as well as the bad times ‘for it is he who has torn, and he will heal us.’

But he also suggests that we can have an underlying assurance of stability ‘his appearing is as sure as the dawn’.

Despite the contrasting experiences of joy and anxiety in daily life, which can be unsettling, we can resolve to ‘press on to know the Lord’ through it all. Light and morning do return despite the darkness.

Desert dawn

Night under the desert stars’ infinitude,
seemed like a solemn three part symphony.

The first, torchlit,
fumbling with zips and sleeping bags,
was finally, fantastically, starlit,
a vast darkness
intricate in its patterning,
the Milky Way allegretto
like a giant gauzy scarf.

Then, well after midnight,
the moon rose pianissimo
inquisitive, making pallid
the surrounding sky, bleaching out
rocks as if a satellite
had sent back these grainy images to earth
in monochrome, unsettling.

The finale, crescendo to fortissimo,
was the dawn, light rising behind us
bringing colour back
sandstone rocks now glowing pink and ochre
the sky a dome of blue
our protecting cliff still casting cool shadow.
But the moving edge

crossed the wide stretch of sand,
coming, coming closer, bringing
the morning, incontrovertibly,
as sure as the closing bars of night
become the next bright day.