by Steve Schuette
Zephaniah has quite a list of transformations to take place: judgments are turned, fear of disaster will be past, oppressors will be dealt with, lame saved, outcasts gathered, shame turned to praise and then, I will bring you home. Poetically the passage seems to build. Dislocation, people who have lost their moorings, some who have forgotten altogether what the experience of home truly is will be addressed, and it almost seems as if all the rest is prelude to this culminating fulfillment: I will bring you home.
From what are we alienated/exiled? From place? From each other? From ourselves? From God? From purpose and calling and meaning? From peace or hope or grace? From creation itself? From all of the above at once? What does home even look like from where we stand? Can we even get our imaginations around it, wandering as we are?
So maybe theres the honesty in John calling the people back out into the wilderness. Youre lost, admit it! Yet denial is strong. We have things to occupy us and divert us. John must cut through it.
But then, in the middle of it the explanation of what we need to do seems so simple. Maybe the way isnt as obscure as we thought. Its as simple (and radical) as sharing what we have to share. Its about not using your position or authority to take advantage of others. Its about not using power abusively and finding contentment when needs are met and not giving in to the craving for more. John, for all his storm and bluster, is not a prophet who reaches too far or overdoes the solution. Finding ones home or self may not involve a journey as far away as we thought. Maybe its right here after all.