Scripture: Romans 11:1-12 (NIV)

I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel: “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me” ? And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace. What then? What the people of Israel sought so earnestly they did not obtain. The elect among them did, but the others were hardened, as it is written: “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that could not see and ears that could not hear, to this very day.” And David says: “May their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them. May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever.”

Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their full inclusion bring!

In the closing days of the Clone Wars, Emperor Palpatine activated Order 66, the genetic programming of the clone troopers to turn on their Jedi masters and kill them. In this way, Palpatine believed that he could eliminate the Jedi Order and keep himself in power forever, as he would have no opposition from the Light Side. Many Jedi died that day, betrayed by those they had served with over the last few years.

Yet some survived. Obi-Wan Kenobi hid in an underground lake on Utapau after being attacked to avoid his clone troopers. Yoda sensed his clones turning and took care of them first before departing Kashyyyk. We know that Jedi Padawan Caleb Dume, later to be known as Kanan Jarrus, escaped as did others here and there. The Order was grievously wounded but there were still Jedi out there, not to mention the newborns Luke and Leia, who had the Force in them as well.

Elijah once thought that he was the only one left, that all of the forces of good, all the believers in God had either been destroyed or renounced their belief. Yet, as Paul recalls in today’s reading, that wasn’t true. There was a remnant of believers that still were pure, that still had faith. Evil couldn’t wipe them all out. God wouldn’t let it.

That isolation, that solitude, that belief that we are the only ones is so strong today when we read the newspapers or get online and see the beliefs and the attitudes of people far and near. With church membership declining, it is easy to think that we will be alone or our circle of faithful friends will continue to shrink each passing day.

God won’t let that happen. He will always have a tribe of believers, a band of followers, a ribbon of good in an evil world. We can cling to that faith, knowing that we can speak up and keep living the godly life because we are not alone. There will always be a remnant. Keep the faith!

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