Daily Reflection
of Creighton University's Online Ministries
January 23rd, 2009

Barbara Dilly

Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

The New Year is a good time to reflect on our ministries and how we relate them to the covenant we have with God. The lessons for today remind us that our ministries should be based on the new covenant of love and forgiveness and not the old covenant based on law and judgment. It doesn’t mean that the law is done away with. What it does mean is that the law and our sinfulness does not separate us from God. In Hebrews Chapter 8 it also says that ALL shall know the Lord in this covenant of forgiveness, not just those people who are our neighbors and kin that we reach and teach, but everybody.

As a cultural anthropologist, I can easily see this message as a call to an inclusive ministry that extends beyond the house of Israel and beyond any group of people who think of themselves as recipients of a special relationship with God. Jesus is the mediator of the new covenant, of “better promises,” we read. And in chapter three of Mark, we read that Jesus summoned up disciples to be teachers of these promises. In all of his messages, Jesus talked consistently about love and forgiveness, and always using inclusive language. Jesus was God’s ambassador who came to change the relationship between God and God’s people in a new covenant. But not everybody got it; not everyone accepted it. And still today, many people continue to operate out of the old covenant. As I reflect on this reality, I think it is because they don’t like the inclusive relationship Jesus was all about.

In my ministry as a teacher, specifically as a cultural anthropologist here at Creighton, I work to open the minds and hearts of students to all the peoples of the earth, regardless of their religions or lifestyles. That is how I live out my calling to ministry. Even in a Christian setting, that is not easy to do, but as I reflect on the courses I taught last semester and on the student evaluations of my work, I am encouraged. Students affirm my work with their comments about my passion for teaching them to seek more objective truths and my kindness to them in the midst of delivering a challenging course. So as I reflect on the Psalm for today, I pray that my classroom can be an ever more welcoming place where truth and kindness meet. Encouraged by the success of the last semester and the energy of a new one, I am even so bold as to pray that truth will spring out of the course work and into student’s minds and justice will look down from heaven and fill their hearts. That might seem to be too much to ask, especially if you are short on faith, but it certainly can happen. The Psalmist reminds us that “The Lord himself will give his benefits; our land shall yield its increase.” In this time of recession, it is important that we don’t underestimate the work that we do and how much the Lord can make of it. It is a time to commit ourselves more confidently to our ministry of inclusiveness and thank God for his mercy.

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