Showers of blessing
"I will make them and the places surrounding my hill a blessing. I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing." Ezekiel 34.26
So the G7 Summit begins today and amid the glad-handing and photo opportunities, discussions will be held, commitments made and decisions taken - with far-reaching consequences. How shall we navigate together out of the pandemic? What support will there be for poorer countries? Can we secure ourselves against future outbreaks?
Britain will want to seize the opportunity for trade deals with non-EU countries and everyone will want to know how to counter the galloping influence of China and the capricious behaviour of Putin's Russia. And what about human rights, issues of equality and justice, not to mention climate change? Outcomes must be in line with the UN's sustainable development goals, which are: 1. No poverty, 2. Zero hunger, 3. Health and well-being, 4. Education, 5. Gender equality, 6. Clean water, 7. Clean energy, 8. Work, 9. Economic growth, 10. Reduced inequality, 11. Responsible consumption, 12. Responsible production, 13. Climate action, 14. Life below water, 15. Life on land, 16. Peace and justice, 17. International cooperation. All this by 2030!
A distinguishing feature of the Old Testament prophets, perhaps THE distinguishing feature, is their linking of real life and faithfulness to God. Alongside their searing critique of the failure of Israel's leaders, especially, is their equally consistent refrain promising "showers of blessing" if those same leaders would only lead the people back to righteous living - which was not so much about superficial piety as about living humbly before God, graciously towards others and treading lightly through creation.
Jesus embraced and developed the prophetic ideal, offering a personal demonstration of what it looks like for a human being to live righteously and faithfully. Are world leaders paying attention? Will we take Jesus seriously? Judgment is coming - one way or another - and will the outcome be condemnation, brought on by our reckless and irresponsible behaviour, or those showers of blessing promised to those who repent and follow the man who is God, the Good Shepherd who promises to lead us through the valley of death, along paths of righteousness, towards green pastures and into God's own dwelling place, where we shall enjoy the fruits of creation forever?