May Your New Year be but a Moment.

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The idea of a smile and kind words often strikes me. Too frequently I find myself hurrying through life with not much time fore even the smallest pause.

But when I do → the present moment has time to fill up. The fullness of any given moment moves it from the secular into the sacred.

As we string these sacred moments together → one moment placed carefully on the continuum of life after another — our lives become enriched, our neighbors benefit, and our communities thrive!

These moments are a blessing…and like Abraham we should view these blessings as our opportunity to bless others.

This thinking reminds me, also, of Moses when he notices the burning bush…he allowed room for that moment to be filled up → pausing within it to notice that, though on fire, the bush was not being consumed. It is in the midst of that single moment that the ordinary shifted to the extraordinary…where the secular became the sacred! Shoes are removed, sand presses upon the soles → G_d is present! Blessed be He!

We must begin to move towards pausing.

We live in a culture that calls for us to ‘milk’ every moment trading time as a commodity. Never fully present rather leaving a wake of dismembered and abused time — swept too quickly into the past while we already begin to hunt and feast on the moments that have yet to come.

So, how do we move from a consumer of time to a curator of it, a partner with it?

A phrase I’ve become fond of is ‘breathing in the moment’ – we need to be more within time – when we slow down we allow ourselves the opportunity to take in more information. There is an important piece of breathing and moments that I feel is also vital – Exhaling! 

Exhaling is our opportunity to put back into the moment what we’ve taken out of it. What if we were to put back into every moment an equal amount to that which we removed…or better yet…more.

A deliberate intention of leaving each moment better off than when we arrived. How do we do such things?

Instead of a ‘wake’ of moments we begin to awaken moments.

I pray that this year is a year where we each awaken more moments with one another.

Happy New Year!

The Complexity of Faith and Poverty

**This article of mine was originally published in the Toledo Streets Newspaper**

As our country continues to try to climb out of this difficult recession we are left with a lot of questions about poverty. In the past several decades it was much simpler to put a face on poverty because the lines were clear…there was an ‘us’ and ‘them’ that was definable (or we at least allowed ourselves to believe this to be true). The longer our current economic downturn trudges on the more fragile we realize those once hard barriers are. The folks standing in line for food, clothing, and unemployment are our neighbors – those with an attached garage and privacy fence surrounding their previously well manicured yard. Those folks are us.

One of the most difficult things for us in our current socio-economic climate is dealing with some of the false beliefs we once held so tightly. There are many that at one time or another had rung true to us. Things such as: Poverty is a result of laziness, Pull yourself up by your bootstraps, You made your bed now lie in it – these previously proud statements were once paraded around by those of us in privilege who never had to deal with facing foreclosure, food stamps, or joblessness.

The examples I gave above were more a reflection on cultural statements, but there are many from within the church that have touted the same or similar beliefs. Some of them carried an identical message but were dressed in the lily whites of Jesus-esque language: “G_d helps those who help themselves” comes to mind (please note – this is not in the bible). Maybe you’ve even heard folks dismiss the issue all together by quoting Jesus, “The poor will always be with you.” Then some blame the impoverished person’s faith or righteousness for their plight…reminding them that if they just ‘trust’ in G_d then He will provide.

Is it really that simple? Is this really how the LORD desires us to deal with poverty in our midst?

When wrestling with what our faith has to say about poverty we must recognize that it is complex. Most of us have been taught that if the answer is too easy then it probably isn’t the right answer. I believe that in our need/desire to communicate the faith as simply as possible we’ve oftentimes have made the answers too easy – and therefore not the right answer.

So how do we address poverty from a place of faith? Well, let’s first turn to the Text that should inform our beliefs.

I want to begin with the verse mentioned above – Jesus declaring that the poor will always be amongst us. Many Christians miss that Jesus is actually quoting a passage from the book of Deuteronomy (15). This passage actually begins by G_d promising Israel that if she does all that He commands that poverty will not exist amongst them. The next piece of the Text is where it starts to become more complex – G_d expects Israel to respond to those who become poor with ‘open hands’ and generously taking care of their needs. “Why?” we might ask, well because in His breath just prior He said that an obedient nation would not have poor. We are left to wrestle with, “How then did this fellow become impoverished?” – Did G_d fail to uphold His end of the deal? Let me just say (in the spirit of St. Paul) “Heavens NO!” – the failure was not YHWH’s but rather it is ours. Therefore, we must not close our hearts to those in need because their situation stems from our own (corporate) failures to uphold the commands of G_d. The end of this section in the Text is a sad moment when the LORD declares of Israel, “The poor will always be with you.” Ugh – this is gut wrenching. Our LORD has established a system amongst His faithful that was designed in part to eradicate poverty but because we prefer to live according to our own will and not His – well, poverty is still with us.

This passage is a real confrontation to our good Western society that is hyper focused on independence, individualism, and self-reliance. We, in many ways, have fallen for a trap of importing cultural norms onto biblical precepts. The faith of Messiah and his fellow Jews was one steeped in communal worship, communal forgiveness, and communal living. It is impossible to fulfill the Torah without living deeply invested in community – caring for the person next to you, the hungry, sick, and poor. This is in stark contrast to the way we have learned to express our faith today. We declare it to be a ‘personal’ faith, ‘personal’ Messiah and ‘personal’ relationship – these aren’t, in and of themselves, bad but they are far from the heart of the gospel and from the faith of our Messiah.

Let’s look at another passage: Matthew 25 speaks of the ‘time to come’ when the king will sit on his throne and separate the sheep from the goats. This scene is ominous as the goats are sent to destruction and the sheep are ushered into ‘green pastures’ – most Christians, if asked (and often when we aren’t) would respond to this question (How does one avoid destruction and instead enter ‘green pastures’?) with a much different example than Jesus uses.

Jesus tells a story where someone is hungry and has either been fed or ignored, someone is naked and has either been clothed or ignored, etc. His story does not include faith statements, creeds, dogma, or doctrine – instead His word picture centers on assisting the poor.

We can also pick up on this thinking when Jesus is asked, “What is the greatest commandment?” His response is a combination of Deuteronomy 6 (“Love the LORD your G_d with all your heart, soul, and strength…”) and Leviticus 19 (“Love your neighbor as yourself…”). In that Leviticus passage we have a list of things that lead up to this statement in verse 18 – this list is the ‘how’ of loving your neighbor. It talks about leaving the corners of your field. That section is one of my favorite sections of the bible. I always try to point out to people that G_d doesn’t say how much to leave, He just says to leave the corner…the extent of our generosity is solely up to us. In addition to the ‘how much’ is the ‘for who’ – the Text says it is for the poor and sojourner to come and take what they need.

I find this striking because nowhere in this section or in the Matthew 25 passage is there anything that actually ‘qualifies’ the person – do we think someone stood at the edge of their field and checked w2’s before allowing entrance? Did Jesus say, “I was hungry and after a thorough vetting process you deemed me worthy of receiving food”?

I think these things might hold part of the key to why faith and poverty is such a complex topic. We want to know or determine who is worthy to receive. Let that sink in…when we see a person on the corner with a sign, and we attempt to assess their worthiness for our spare change. Trying to predict how they’ll use the money, why they are there in the first place, what being a good steward means in this situation…these are the things we tend to process in those moments. We must remember our own worthiness – ‘for yet while you were still sinners’ comes to mind – before the LORD. We must remember His generosity. We are not the moral agents of others, it is not our place to determine another’s worthiness but it is our responsibility to ‘do all that I [the LORD] has commanded.’

May we be a people of faith who leaves the corners of our field, feeds the hungry, visits the sick – and more importantly be generous with ‘open hands’ when we meet another who is poor.

Toldot (Genesis 25.19-28.9)

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The children struggled together…

A new chapter in the history of our faith begins with this introduction of yet another set of brothers – Jacob and Esau. They are introduced to us in the midst of a wrestling match – yet in the womb of their mother, Rebekah.

Why has the author chosen for us to be introduced to these two brothers, in this way? Not by name or by promise but by their struggle with each other. Even their names are about the current moment, not their future hope.

The battle in the womb is the precursor of two lives enmeshed in fighting and discord. Even beyond that of two lives to two peoples – Edom and Israel. These brothers (as it seems with most brothers in the Text) find themselves at odds from day one (or in this case – earlier).

What do we find in this portion? What we do find is the beginnings of the echoes we will encounter in the Text in the coming weeks. Mistaken identity, eye problems and wrestling matches are but a few of the reverberations we will hear.

We also hear some echoes from previous portions: Wives as sisters, famines and Egypt, barrenness, siblings fighting, and hunters. Why were these important to the author? What story is God telling behind the story? What do these connections have to do with what God is doing within His creation?

In addition there are some strange happenings with Rebekah: God reveals His plans to Rebekah not Isaac, Rebekah, like Sarah,tries to make God’s promise come to fruition through her own doing, and Rebekah is ultimately the one who finds a bride(s) for Jacob. Why? 

Chayei Sarah (Genesis 23.1 – 25.18)

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…to Abraham as a possession…

Sarah has passed. Isaac is unmarried. Abraham is still a “sojourner and foreigner among” the inhabitants of Canaan.

Where is the promise?

God had made a promise to Abraham that he would be the father of all nations, that his descendants would be more numerous than the stars in the sky. God also promised Abraham that He would give him the land of Canaan.

Would God “remember Abraham” now?

This moment is heightened because of the death of Sarah; after all she is whom the promise was to come through…with her passing there is now only Isaac. Still there is no land. Abraham is wealthy but still living in a tent – but Sarah provides for her love one more time. A field to be buried in! In her death, Sarah, becomes the first Hebrew resident of Canaan. A plot of land is purchased and Sarah is laid to rest deep within the comfort of the LORD’s promise of land and descendant(s).

With time closing its eyes on Abraham a bride is needed for Isaac. Though, this time, it is the prayer of his servant and not Abraham’s that the LORD hears. A woman of great hospitality and generosity is found. She will now be the hope of the promise for Abraham.

God remembered His promise to Abraham, and as Abraham’s life comes to an end, the LORD allows him to glimpse the fulfillment – a piece of land, and a wife for Isaac.

Vayera (Gen. 18-22.24)

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And the LORD appeared to him…

Abraham is sitting in the entrance to his tent when the LORD appears to him. We often read this into the LORD being a part of the three strangers – but they wouldn’t be strangers if Abraham knew one of them was the LORD. Instead it has been suggested that Abraham was in the midst of a meeting with God – a personal worship service if you will – when the three strangers caught his attention.

It is almost shocking that Abraham would ask God to wait while he tended to the strangers…but that is just what Abraham did! Abraham – freshly circumcised – runs out to greet the wanderers. He is insistent, persistent, maybe even somewhat demanding that they allow him to fix them a morsel to eat…then running to Sarah he creates a feast – fatted calf and three seahs of flour – enough for a small invasion.

An invasion. That is what the strangers are about to do: invade the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, dispatch of the residents for a lack of hospitality, a lack of care for the sojourner, the poor and the widow (Ez. 16.49). This lack of hospitality is something that would be unimaginable for Abraham – the one that put The One on hold while he demonstrated extraordinary hospitality and generosity to the sojourner in the land!

A punishment that would surely meet the approval of the hospitable Abraham – not quite! God with great trepidation approaches the man through whom all nations would be blessed to confide in him what is about to transpire. Heavens No! Abraham will not allow it – was it not enough that one man’s unrighteousness brought down all of creation – should the LORD not consider allowing the righteous to triumph instead? If fifty? If forty-five? Forty? Thirty? Twenty? Ten?

After all ten is the number determined for a synagogue – if one house of worship exists, will you not preserve all of the people? Two of the strangers move on to Sodom to find Lot sitting in the entrance to his city. There were not ten – but the LORD remembered Abraham and so He rescued Lot and his family – and the righteousness of one (Abraham) triumphed – bringing salvation to another. 

Lech Lecha (Genesis 12.1-17.27)

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Now Sarai was barren…

The above statement is actually from the end of the previous portion (Genesis 11.30) – but it might be the very statement that we need to understand where God is taking us in His story – in this portion.

As Walter Brueggeman points out, God has chosen to put the hope of the future of His creation squarely on the shoulders and obedience of a man with no hope for a future, for “Sarai was barren.”

 In fact, we find ourselves at a pivotal moment in God’s relationship with humankind. This creation of His has lost sense of being the created; it has attempted not once – but now three times to undermine the true relationship of creator and created.  A seeming progression of offense.

Now, God meets a man – a man of justice – a man that unknowingly has caught the eye of YHWH. This man, Abram, hears The Voice and trusts – he is obedient – he is willing to serve – he is good. Abram leaves behind his idolatrous ways and follows God into the wilderness – unknowing of the destination – following the call into a land that God will show him.

His reward for such faithfulness? Famine, his wife (Sarai) is taken, territorial disputes between his nephew Lot’s men and his own, and barrenness to name but a few things. Yet he remains faithful. This may indeed be a man that will not abandon the call – this may be a man that can uphold the ways of the LORD. Blameless.

The God who sets all things right – renames Abram and Sarai – and retells their story in only a way that the creator could reimagine. Meet Abraham, the father of all nations, and Sarah through whom this promise will come – because as we will learn in the next portion Sarah was barren.

 

Noach (Gen 6.8 – 11.32)

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The flood waters came…

We are not very far into the story when this sobering statement is made. The creation has confused itself with the Creator and now a great cleansing is needed. Man, whom God had formed with His own hands, went from being the caretaker of the altar to the enemy of the Holy One. The earth was searched and there was only one, only one righteous – though God is sure to express, “righteous in his own generation.” This man, Noah, was commanded to create a vessel of salvation – an ark (which we will hear echoed in the Moses story).

Rain begins to fall – for the very first time. The separation between earth and water is seemingly being undone. The breath of life is being taken back. Man’s dominion over nature is beginning to turn and nature wants, and will get revenge. It appears that the very breath of God that calmed the chaos, in Genesis 1, is being swept away in the flood.

Death surrounds this life-preserver, but once again we see something “hovering over the water” – over the void and formless creation flooded with the regrets of God. The creation narrative is happening yet again – the breath (wind) of God, land and water [re]separating, a command to be fruitful and multiply – God, indeed, has not given up on us. The baptism completed – creation has been cleansed, redeemed, and reconciled. 

A Sojourner with Dominion?

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There is an interesting phenomenon that exists in our world. It is that we begin with the presupposition that it is “our world.” I grew up in the church and in many ways this view was reinforced, afterall Adam was given dominion over all the Creation.

There are so many ways we express this belief of ‘dominion’ whether it be in our insatiable appetite for resources or our feelings of entitlement to space or time. Maybe this is why Sabbath has become nearly impossible amonst us. To participate in Sabbath is to give up control and therefore dominion (we must concede to participate).

It is an intriguing thing when we look at ancient Israel. Their posture towards creation was much different than our own. We never read of them building a bridge, rather they cross through the water. Other than when G_d calls them ‘up’ they found themselves walking around the mountains. The landscape was not theirs to conquer but to partner withh. They had a posture of sojourner, wandering in a land not their own.

Then enters Rome with their famous roads that forced the landscape to submit to their whims – bridges over water and stairways up the sides of mountains. The first highways…progress…dominion! They did not view themselves as sojourners in a land not theirs, rather they were the lords of these lands. The land was theirs to do with as they pleased. Rome did not only enslave peoples they also enslaved nature.

Today we have carried on the tradition(s) and mindset(s) of the Romans. Constantly striving to find ways to make the world a slave to our desires and wants. We forget that the LORD made a covenant with all creatures and all of nature (Gen. 8) – not just man. We live as though the earth ‘owes’ us whatever we desire. We hollow out the earth so we can drive over it. We cut off the top of mountains so we can enjoy our four-wheel drive SUVs. We treat animals barbarically (though barbarians were probably more civil to their animals) in order that we can have meat on the cheap and with every single meal.

Though I understand that this stream of thought is slanted heavily towards an environmental bent…that is not really my point (at least not my main point). My main point is what does the way you live your life say about what you believe? What is our part in the covenants of Genesis 8? Do you live as though you are a guest in the home of the LORD or do you treat the earth and all that inhabits it as endentured servants?

What questions are we not asking when it comes to living a life that reflects what we believe?

My Feet, My Prayer

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For much of my life, growing up in the church, prayer had a very specific context. Prayer was: head bowed, hands folded, eyes closed and if I were feeling especially introspective I would drop to my knees…maybe even lay on my face. I found myself to be quite the scatter brained person of prayer. I struggle to stay focused…remain on task…and often I struggled to even just remain awake.

I was/am a failure at being a prayer warrior (as my church was fond of calling it). War, apparently, was quite boring and I found myself becoming numb (physically and emotionally) as I pled with G_d to end my plight of needing to continue this incessant vigil. Yet, here I was in a place that deeply valued prayer so much so that those who were the most capable amongst us were held in high regard as our warriors! I am still unclear who their war was with. Were they fighting G_d on my behalf? In Jacob-esque fashion? Why did G_d even need to be subdued?

I began to view prayer like holding one’s breath. The more I practice the longer I should be able to go before needing to break the surface for some air. Though there is value in this way of thinking, is this REALLY all that G_d had in mind for a prayer life? Was there hope for me and my tiny spiritual lungs? I would often feel inadequate in settings where the prayers of others outlasted my attention span. I was made to feel as though my spiritual journey was being hindered by my lack of capacity.

In 1965 Abraham Joshua Heschel arrived in Selma, Alabama in order to march alongside Martin Luther King Jr. during a key point in the civil rights movement. Heschel, a prominent Jewish rabbi and scholar, was asked why he would come to Selma to be a part of the event. His reply has forever changed my views on prayer. He replied, “When I march in Selma, my feet are praying!” This ‘simple’ reply has captured my imagination ever since. Freeing me from only praying within the confines of my prayer closet. So, what does this idea of ‘praying with our feet’ look like?

As time has passed, I have become greatly aware of the many paths my feet have marched…whether it be be ‘where I go’, ‘who I go with’, ‘the route I take’or ‘when I choose to stand still.’ My prayer life quickly began to come to life. It actually took my prayer life from the occasional utterance to a recognition that unbeknownst to me I had always been praying without ceasing (1 Thes. 5.17). I began to even be confronted with the idea that some of those prayers were unhealthy, ungodly, and possibly even an offense to G_d.

Things began to change in my prayer life, I could no longer avoid praying, no longer make excuses about time and or energy, for every single step I took was a prayer to G_d. What were my steps praying for, pleading on behalf of, and ultimately repenting of? How does changing one’s steps change one’s prayers?

I realized that praying for the poor meant walking with them, serving them, and actively loving them. I could no longer pray that G_d handle it when He has called me to pray with my feet. It was no longer enough to toss in a line or two in regards to human trafficking and slavery but allow my feet to belie my prayers. I must walk the walk — or in this case — walk the prayer.

What does it look like when, as a people in pursuit of G_d, we begin to use our feet to proclaim our prayers? How would the world be impacted if our prayer informed our path?

I deeply believe that as we grow in discipleship that our believe and our behave will begin to align. The further along our discipleship path the more those two things begin to overlap or merge. So as we wrestle with what it means to disciple and/or be discipled we must constantly ask, “What do my feet pray?”

When we look at the gospels or the book of Acts we can clearly see that Jesus, the Apostles, and Paul believed in this concept. What can we learn about what they believed by where they walked?
I began to wrestle with what it meant to have ‘intercessory’ feet. What does it look like to stand on behalf of another with my feet? This gets at the heart of the scene of Selma. Abraham Joshua Heschel was interceding on behalf of the black community in their march for civil rights. Advocacy is a powerful way to do this, but I believe there are so many other moments in life to this other than on a grand scale.

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My Journey…so far

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Just Some Food for Thought:

About ten or eleven years ago (has it really been that long?) G_d began to open my eyes to the atrocity which is the status quo evangelical mindset about G_d, Justice, Mercy, Compassion, Generosity, Love (the list goes on) – my world was turned upside down and all that I thought I knew and believed to be true about my faith was shaken (not lost – but seriously disturbed). I became engaged with the Text like I’d never experienced before…the words lept off of the pages; my very bones began to burst with this “new” (I don’t believe it to be new to the world – but it was definitely new to me) way of being – a new way of being in the presence of G_d!

Many of the people around me worried that what I was talking about and learning was ‘dangerous’ or ‘heretical’ but like a moth to a flame I could not turn away from it…G_d was drawling me into a place that I never knew was available to me – a place of intimacy – where brokenness is not something to be feared but something to be redeemed – where failure was propped up by a G_d who loves perseverance – where love was given without any thought of repayment – where generosity flowed from the mouth that spoke of Justice and Mercy. A place eerily comforting but all too often lonely because nobody believes that a place like that could truly exist…and even if it did – it was otherworldly and had no place here and now! My soul shudders at the thought that most people still feel this way. Living in suspicion of anything that may even resemble such a place – it is too good to be true (or too good to be ‘good’ – there must be something that we aren’t seeing).

G_d began to speak to me through His Word about a way to live that was fulfilling and closer to the image in which we were created. He drew me to places that my good ‘Christian’ upbringing taught me to reject – the Hebrew Text! The Torah – the Law which was given to G_d’s people whom He had rescued from oppression and was trying to teach how to become a free people…no longer shackled and bound but instead expressing the fullness of life that the Creator of all things had intended. This is where I was drawn – I found myself unable to sit still while exploring the vastness of those G_d breathed Laws – I was pulled into the freedom that these gave (even generously). They were not the legalistic/constricting things that I was taught to understand them to be. Instead they were about treating others justly regardless of their place in society – being generous with those things that G_d entrusted to us – and to not judge others worthiness to receive what was G_d’s to give.

This G_d (that I had professed for most of my life) was so different than what I was taught – He didn’t just talk in platitudes – but with expectation that His people – His children – His bride – His beloved would sprint to this way of being and participating (actively) in the Kingdom in which He was giving us residence. I looked around and quickly realized that although most of the people that considered themselves to be my neighbors in this Kingdom agreed with the expectations put forth – there was little in the way of movement to be seen. Why is this? What is the disconnect? Why aren’t we moving? – Why did I never see this before? How was I so blind to what I (we) should be about – we should be about our Father’s work – so what was stopping me (us)?

I began to understand The Fall very differently. It was not about disobedience as much as it was about our desire to be Judge (to know the difference between Good and Evil) we coveted this power that G_d possessed but was wise enough not to give us inherently. G_d knew that our ideas of Justice and Mercy (which are ultimately the job of a judge) were distorted and fell short of His. G_d in His mercy threw us out of the Garden in order that we would not eat from the tree of life and live forever as (lousy) judges…in order that someday He would retake that place, He would return as Judge and set all things right! All of the Text is G_d breathed with that as the backdrop – the return of the rightful Judge. I noticed that throughout my experience in the church that we still very much liked being the judge – we would often withhold mercy from people because we judged them to be undeserving of mercy (and oftentimes deserving of punishment/isolation/condemnation/rejection) and we did this while proclaiming that this is what G_d wants. We ignored the poor – after all they made their bed now they have to lay in it! We dismissed the addicted – you reap what you sow! We pretended to not see the suffering – if they had more faith they wouldn’t suffer!

G_d broke my heart! This is not what He had in mind for His creation – we had stolen from Him the beauty that He had intended! Worse – we perpetuated much of it and declared it was being done on His behalf! I repent – I was a part of this parade of ignorance and pride! The Word declared a different way of being than this…I could not escape the gravity with which it pulled me. Leave the corners of your field – give open handed to the poor – honor your father and mother – take care of the widows – don’t bring an harvest offering to the LORD without giving first to the poor. Texts that wouldn’t allow leaders to ‘count’ the people and therefore reduce them to a number…census’s that collected half a penny so that no one could think higher of himself than his neighbor. G_d was about equality – G_d was about compassion to the poor – G_d was in love with His creation!

G_d was so in love with His creation that He stepped into our suffering. He showed us a way of being that was life-giving and beautiful – He showed us how He had intended for us to live – 2,000 years later we still celebrate that life. Yet we seemingly have little interest in intentionally emulating it. That way of life taught us many important things that we’ve chosen to ignore – generosity, justice, mercy, and love for those that we’ve believed were undeserving! We were taught through that life that we are to be about the giving and risking not about the hording and protecting. That we are to give without expectation of return, that we are to give without qualifying, that we are to give without regret! If we were to live that way – the Kingdom of G_d could be realized now, even right now! But how? Who would listen to such non-sense – we’ve been taught for so long about stewardship and protecting G_d’s precious resources – and I just want to give them all away?

But – it gets worse…not only do I want to give away G_d’s resources – I believe the church needs to live beyond it’s current resources…live out into the unknown (think about the parable of the Talents – risking everything was rewarded…burying what was had was condemned)! How do you start changing the world with no money, no platform, no credibility? You just start – at least that is what I believe G_d is saying to us! I wasn’t going to change the world until I just started! But I fear unless we remember where we came from we will not know where we are going – or worse we will wrestle away from G_d what we should be giving back to Him – His place as Judge (of resources, of people, of what is good and evil). G_d is amazing in that He was willing to give everything away – His creation – His son (His own life if you will) – and even His way of being…He desires to use us to be a part of the redemptive process of His world – for His purposes – and I desire nothing more than to be a part of that.

Today we the church stands at a cross-road: One of sound choices and reasoned action that will secure us for a time to come and the other of dangerous and audacious faith that G_d may be calling us to change the world! The second choice is the theology on which the Text is based and how it has played out until now – shall we continue on or have we lost nerve that we could continue in this audacity? G_d told Abraham that He would bless him in order that he could be a blessing to others – not so that he could protect the blessing out of fear that he might lose it if he was not careful. G_d has blessed what we’ve done so far – what will we do with that blessing? Protect it or give it away? Let us go now and seize the land which G_d has promised to our Fathers -or- the land is filled with giants and fortified cities we will die if we go in. I tell you friends – today we stand at the edge of that promise and G_d is waiting to hear our decision.

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