Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost
Malachi 4: 1 – 2
On December 31, 1999, many tourists flocked to Fiji to see the first sun rise of the new millennium. My island, Kioa, is situated to the far North-Eastern part of Fiji. The nearby resorts on the island of Taveuni and Vanua Levu were fully booked. In the morning of January 1, 2000, it rained cats and dogs. The sky was darkened with clouds and the first millennium sun most people flocked to Fiji to see was nowhere to be seen.
The Malachi reading of today posits a similar guise, one where a rising sun is promised ensuing the great judgement. My questions are, do we really need to go to the extent of receiving judgement before we see the rising of the sun? Does punishment precede reconciliation or evil righteousness? How far should we go down life’s road before we realise it is the wrong direction.
The promise of the rising of the sun in Malachi has to do with the corruption of sacrifices in the temple. The message is not a generalized one but one directed at those at the helm of Israel’s worship life. Certainly, there is an element of disconnection between the temple altar and the reality of Israel’s daily living. Why? Because worship should revolve around what people do every day. Worship cannot be spiritual if it negates the tangibleness of life. Nor can worship be holy if it engages only the realm of its own order, trembling on the multitudes who are only there as numbers in the act of worship. No wonder Malachi has a secondary vision of the rising of the sun of righteousness. Primary in his vision is the destruction of order – the order in the temple, society, nation, and world order.
The sun only rises if it falls. The temple language would have suggested a preservation of the sun, so it would not fall. Newness should have been maintained. A new day should be the last. There should not be any other day but today. The order of the temple must be maintained in order that society is kept within the peripheries of newness, warmth by the ever-shining sun.
What I am saying is that we, users and keepers of the temple, we who go forth from the temple, must keep the sun shining. We should not become deciders of where the sunrays should shine and where it shouldn’t. we must not corrupt the elements of our sacrifices. That is how the sun sets and the language of judgement enters order. A good example is the ecological catastrophe of never knowing when to say enough until creation pronounce judgement on us. Yet, we still centre worship around the safeguarding of our theological and spiritual egos. To speak of creation is just a pass, like the worshippers who are just numbers in what we do.
May the sun rise this time and remain in the sky forever. We, who witness this rising then become keepers of the sun.
-Rev. Nikotemo Sopepa
Prayer: Every new day is a blessing from you. We know Lord how precious it is to see the rising of the sun every morning. We want to feel its warmth and life-giving heat every time. may the sun of righteousness sun and never set. May that keep the world warm and living. May your righteousness O Lord, keep this world alive. You, O Sun of Righteousness, hear our prayer. Amen.