In worship this month, I’d like to think with you about becoming agents of God’s restoration in the world. We will do this by taking a deep dive together into the book of Ruth, a book of just four chapters, yet filled with finely cast sentences and vivid characters. If you haven’t read it, you should.
Ruth is squeezed between Judges and 1 Samuel in the Old Testament and is the sort of story you can read with interest and pleasure in a single sitting, along with a cup of coffee or tea and something to snack on.
With what should I approach the Lord
and bow down before God on high?
Should I come before him with entirely burned offerings,
with year-old calves?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with many torrents of oil?
Should I give my oldest child for my crime;
the fruit of my body for the sin of my spirit?
He has told you, human one, what is good and
what the Lord requires from you:
to do justice, embrace faithful love, and walk humbly with your God. (more…)
The Hebrew and Christian scriptures tell us a story. Sometimes that story is about our origins. At other times, the story is about our successes and failures. Many times, the story is about our penchant for forgetting who and whose we are until we encounter God who reminds us of both. If you read much of the story for yourself, you’ll notice that God encounters us in places which are remarkable for their very ordinariness. In short, God doesn’t call us out of the world into encounter; rather, God encounters us in the ordinary world God made for us to flourish in.
I’ve been cleaning out my desk at home this week. Found an old notebook in a drawer. I know just when I last wrote in it. I figure its been waiting for me; or I’ve been waiting for it. It was 2009. I was taking a poetry writing class on poetic forms. Curiously, the teacher wasn’t interested in lecturing us on sonnets or sestinas or ghazals or haikus or what have you. He, himself, thought our job as poets wasn’t to sit down and write a sonnet because we thought it would be fun to write a sonnet that day. No. He said out job was to decide what we wanted to say and then to find the best form in which to say it. He said poetic forms, received or invented, were merely ways to advocate for what we wanted to say. Form is necessary; yet, it is not sufficient. You have to have something you want to say. No sense having a lovely vessel with nothing inside. (more…)
Sometimes, I just don’t know what to say, and, at those times, anything I do say just sounds stupid. Perhaps there’s something somewhere inside my mind, something heavy, large, and pressing, which wants to be spoken about, and I’m afraid of it. It would be embarrassing to be direct, mortifying to be simple. Blocked and tongue-tied, I yearn for the freedom to speak, but lack the courage.
Courage is the thing, though, what it takes to be free, what it takes to speak or to write or to act in freedom. Yet, where do we find it? Where do we go to find the heart-strength to speak of whatever it is which presses in on us? (more…)