Trinity B: Come, This Way

Trinity (Celtic)OLD TESTAMENT: Isaiah 6: 1-8

To read the Old Testament Lectionary Passage, click here

The year that this was probably written was around 742 BCE (dated by the death of King Uzziah). King Uzziah, also known as Azariah, had ruled for about 45 years and then when he contracted leprosy, it was necessary to appoint a regent to rule in his place. Essentially, the kingdom was in chaos. The air is full of uncertainty. Assyria is expanding its borders and so the northern kingdom, Israel, is trying to coerce Judah into a military alliance against the Assyrian threat. In the midst of this, the prophet Isaiah has a vision of God enthroned in a heavenly court. The vocation of the heavenly court is to continuously sing praises to God. The prophet sees only the hem of God’s robe. (Because remember, it was believed that if one actually saw God, it would mean death.)

God is surrounded by seraphs, part of the heavenly court, hovering over God, guarding. One pair of wings cover their faces in the awesome presence of God (so they won’t see God) and a second pair cover their genitals (feet is a euphemism, since it was wrong to speak of genitalia). This is a sign of commitment to purity. Isaiah feels inadequate in God’s presence. He feels unclean, unfit to stand before God, yet he sees God. But he is made clean by one of the seraphs. This is the technical language of the rite of forgiveness of the temple, symbolized by refinement through fire. Isaiah accepts his calling as prophet to Judah. He has been forgiven and has seen God.

The vision is one of grandeur that lies outside the scope of what we see and know, outside the boundaries of normal human experience. It is believing in the unbelievable. Isaiah is brought to the ultimate realization that he is lacking in the face of this magnificence. He has “unclean lips” and his life is lacking. And yet, he offers himself, presents himself for the cleansing by God that he now sees that he needs. He knows that he cannot do it himself.

And so the nation enters a transition from a time of power and prosperity to one of desolation. But Isaiah knows that God is carrying the people through this time. Once again, one must empty oneself to see and truly experience God. It is his call to ministry. But it was a call that Isaiah could not hear without some preparation. And yet, he goes willingly, almost as if he could not do anything but. But this is not a call to preach comfort and joy. Remember, it is a time of desolation and destruction. Isaiah, then, is called to preach words that will finally convince the people to listen, to turn from the destructive path that they are on. These are people that think they are living out the will of God but who are actually far from that. It is time to hear a different tune.

What the prophet is called to speak will not make their lives easier, their road smoother, or their pathway plainer. In fact, it will actually be more confusing and less certain. It will, instead, be a journey of faith, rather than certainty. (In fact, just a few verses after the ones we read, Isaiah’s “here am I’ turns into “How long, O Lord?”) But maybe God’s wisdom is to choose those who continually question themselves and their mission so that they will look to God for direction. In a commentary on this passage, Dr. John Holbert says:

By all means, call your people to follow the Lord, bid them give their lives for God’s service. It is what we do! But to follow God rightly does not always lead to great congregations, vast religious campuses, and budgets that rival those of small nations. What we are called to say to our world is that the last are first, the least are greatest, and the greatest among us is a servant. Such two thousand year old words have regularly been met by dull ears, sightless eyes, and clouded minds; all of which have led again and again to wasted cities and empty lands, ravaged by wars and famines and hopelessness.

Another hymn rises to mind: “The Voice of God is Calling,” John Haynes Holmes’ 1913 poem. “From ease and plenty save us,” begins the fourth verse, and it ends, “Speak, and behold! we answer; command and we obey!”1  By all means, respond to the call of God. But be careful to know that the call is never easy, never simple to grasp, never designed for ready comfort and success.  Just ask Isaiah(From “Preaching This Week”, by Dr. John Holbert, 06/07/2009, available at,  accessed 30 May, 2012.)


  1. What is your response to this passage?
  2. What parallels do you see with today?
  3. What do you think Isaiah really saw in this God-experience?
  4. What images of God does this bring about for you?
  5. What calling do you think God has for us in this time?



NEW TESTAMENT: Romans 8: 12-17

To read the Lectionary Epistle passage, click here

Put very simply, Paul is contrasting two ways of living—the way that we are tempted to live in this world and the way that God calls us to live. He plays with notions of slavery and freedom—slavery to the perils of this world or freedom in God through Christ. Slavery meant fear. Slavery meant having no rights of inheritance. Slavery means no hope. In this first century Roman world, unwanted children were frequently sold into slavery. (And, sadly, that practice still exists today in our world.) Freedom, then, means to belong to a family and to have the rights to an inheritance. We have been adopted by Christ and will share in the inheritance that God provides. When we realize we need God, then we also realize that we are children of God.

But this also means that we share in suffering with Christ as well. Faith is not always a perfectly-paved road, as we know. But this, too, is part of God’s promise of the renewal of all of Creation. It is a hope that we cannot see on our own but are rather empowered to see through the Spirit of God. Here, there’s more to being a Christian than just knowing the right stuff and doing the right things. To be Christian, you must open yourself up and invite God’s Spirit to enter your life. That is the way that you will be glorified through Christ in God. That is the way that you truly become a child of God.

Life is not about things going well or about figuring it all out; life is about hope. That’s what moves us beyond where we are. Slavery and fear move us backwards or leaves us standing here glued to our own inventions. But freedom and hope propels us forward. We all hope for a happy ending. It is the stuff that makes great fairy tales. We all look for that vision that God holds. But hope is not just some futuristic condition. Our hope for today manifests in our belief that God is here, pulling us or prodding us or dragging us out of the mire in which we sometimes find ourselves. It’s happened before. It’s called resurrection. Maybe that’s Paul’s whole point. Hope is illumined by both hope itself and a perception of hopelessness. And a life of faith is one that is lived both actively working for change and patiently waiting for the change to emerge. Hope is about balancing both persistence and patience.


  1. How does this passage speak to you?
  2. What does the “adoption” language mean to you?
  3. What images of God does this bring about for you?
  4. How do you depict hope?
  5. What do hope and patience have to do with each other?

GOSPEL: John 3: 1-17

To read the Lectionary Gospel passage, click here

Nicodemus was having trouble getting it, even though he was a leader of the Jews. The passage says that he came to Jesus by night, as if he was trying to hide the fact that he was having trouble understanding it all from the rest of the community. So Nicodemus came looking for answers. He wanted Jesus to get rid of all the doubts that Nicodemus had. He wanted Jesus to make it all perfectly clear for him so that he could go on imparting that knowledge to the rest of the community. Part of the problem may have been semantics. After all, he did believe what Jesus had done, what Jesus had told him. He knew that Jesus had done numerous miracles. He had seen it with his own eyes. So he knew that Jesus was good, he knew that Jesus was worthy as a teacher. And yet, Jesus seemed to talk in circles. He preached that one had to be born from above. But how can one be born unless he or she re-enters the mother’s womb? He preached that one must be born in the Spirit, and yet admitted that the place from which the Spirit blew was unknown and unknowable. How can this be? And he preached that one must believe. Nicodemus believed what Jesus said. What was Jesus talking about, then?

When you read this, you do sense that Nicodemus must have been a good teacher. He was astute and knew what questions to ask. He was diligent as he studied and explored to get to the truth. But how could he believe this circular reasoning that Jesus was espousing?   Part of the problem, it seemed, was that Nicodemus and Jesus had completely different understandings of what “believe” was. Nicodemus had, after all, accepted Jesus’ propositions. He had probably even taught it. But Jesus was not asking for people to believe what he did or believe what he said. There is a difference between believing Christ and believing IN Christ. Believing IN means that you enter into relationship, that you trust with everything that you are, with everything that is your life. It is much more visceral than Nicodemus was really read to accept. Nicodemus wanted to understand it within the intellectual understanding of God that he had. But Jesus was telling him that there was a different way. Jesus was inviting, indeed almost daring, Nicodemus to believe in this new way, to turn his life, his doubts, his heart, and even his very learned mind over to God.

“How can this be?” Those are Nicodemus’ last words in this passage, which sort of makes him a patron saint for all of us who from time to time get stuck at the foot of the mountain, weighed down by our own understandings of who God is, without the faintest idea of how to begin to ascend. But there’s Jesus. “Watch me. Put your hand here. Now your foot. Don’t think about it so hard. Just do as I do. Believe in me. And follow me….this way!


My Take on the Trinity:


In the beginning was God.  God created everything that was and everything that is and laid out a vision for what it would become.  But we didn’t really get it.  So God tried and tried again to explain it.  God sent us Abraham and Moses and Judges and Kings and Prophets.  But we still didn’t get it.  God wove a vision of what Creation was meant to be and what we were meant to be as God’s children through poetry and songs and beautiful writings of wisdom.  But we still didn’t get it.

“So,” God thought, “there is only one thing left to do.  I’ll show you.  I’ll show you the way to who I am and who I desire you to be.  I will walk with you.”  So God came, Emmanuel, God-with-us, and was born just like we were with controversy and labor pains and all those very human conceptions of what life is.  Jesus Christ, Emmanuel, was the Incarnation of a universal truth, a universal path, the embodiment of the way to God and the vision that God holds for all of Creation.  But we still didn’t get it.  We fought and we argued and we held on to our own human-contrived understandings of who God is.  And it didn’t make sense to us.  This image of God did not fit into our carefully-constructed boxes.  And so, as we humans have done so many times before and so many times since, we destroyed that which got in the way of our understanding.  There…it was finished…we could go back to the way it was before.

But God loves us too much to allow us to lose our way.  And so God promised to be with us forever.  Because now you have seen me; now you know what it is I intended; now you know the way.  And so I will always be with you, always inside of you, always surrounding you, always ahead of you, and always behind you.  There will always be a part of me in you.  Come, follow me, this way.

Once upon a time, there was a woman who set out to discover the meaning of life.  She read and studied but she just didn’t get it.  So she set off to search for it.  She went to South America.  She went to India.  And everywhere she went, she heard the same thing.  They didn’t know but they had heard of a man who did, a man deep in the Himalayas in a tiny little hut perched on the side of a mountain.   So she traveled and traveled and then climbed and climbed to reach his door.  She knocked.  When the door opened, she hastily said, “I have come halfway around the world to ask you one question:  What IS the meaning of life?”  “Come in,” the man responded, “and have some tea.”  “No,” she replied, “I didn’t come for tea.  I came for an answer.  What IS the meaning of life?”

“We shall have tea,” the old man said, so she gave up and came inside. While he was brewing the tea she caught her breath and began telling him about all the books she had read, all the people she had met, all the places she had been. The old man listened (which was just as well, since his visitor did not leave any room for him to reply), and as she talked he placed a fragile tea cup in her hand. Then he began to pour the tea. She was so busy talking that she did not notice when the tea cup was full, so the old man just kept pouring until the tea ran over the sides of the cup and spilled to the floor in a steaming waterfall. “What are you doing?!” she yelled when the tea burned her hand. “It’s full, can’t you see that? Stop! There’s no more room!” “Just so,” the old man said to her. “You come here wanting something from me, but what am I to do? There is no more room in your cup. Come back when it is empty and then we will talk.”

You see, God cannot be defined in our terms. We have to somehow let those go. God is God—still immeasurable, unprovable, unsearchable, and unknowable. But for those of us who believe…God is also Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer, our Source, our Savior, and our Sustenance of life. And as we come closer to knowing God, closer to approaching the center that is God, we are more and more aware of the vastness and limitlessness that is God. God cannot be defined in human terms; it is we who must redefine ourselves in “God” terms, to place ourselves within that Trinity. The Trinity calls us to a new spirituality, a new humanity, and a new community. The Trinity calls us to become a part of this unlimited God. But we are not alone; God is always present leading us on the journey and when we get a little lost, God will be there to show us, “Come, this way….”


  1. What meaning does this passage hold for you?
  2. What does “believing” mean to you?
  3. What does the Trinity mean for you and how does it depict God for you?


Some Quotes for Further Reflection:


I have a lot of faith. But I am also afraid a lot, and have no real certainty about anything. I remembered something Father Tom had told me–that the opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty. Certainty is missing the point entirely. Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returns.” (Ann Lamott, Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith)


Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves. Do not seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions. (Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926))


To know God is to know one cannot speak adequately about God; it is to know the impossibility of describing God in any compete way; it is to know that every theological statement falls short…We must speak, but not to capture God, not to master God…we speak in response to our having been spoken to. (Thomas Langford)





If you want to understand the body of Christ,

listen to the apostle telling the faithful,

“You though, are the body of Christ and its members.”

So if it’s you that are the body of Christ and its members,

            it’s the mystery meaning you that has been placed

on the Lord’s table;

                                    What you receive is the mystery that means you.

                                    It is to what you are that you reply “Amen”

And by so replying you express your assent.

                                    What you hear is “the Body of Christ”

And you answer, “Amen.”

                                    So be a member of the body of Christ in order to make that

“Amen” true.   (St. Augustine)

Proper 19A: Beginning Again


Parting of the Red Sea, Chagall
Parting of the Red Sea, Chagall

OLD TESTAMENT: Exodus 14: 19-31

(OK, first of all, clear all images of Charlton Heston out of your mind.) Keep in mind that main themes of the Book of Exodus—liberation, law, covenant, and presence. Chapter 14 comes near to the end of the narrative of liberation. Once again we have an angel in the story, which has not happened since the burning bush. The cloud is both before and behind Israel as a sort of “protective screen.” The cloud takes the place of the fire of the bush, providing light as well as covering. Then, just as the Lord had commanded, Moses drives back the waters and creates a dry path for the escaping Israelites. Just as the waters were parted in the midst of Creation, they are parted here in this newness of recreation. In this moment, the Israelites are being liberated. And on top of that, the Egyptians are also forced to know that which even the Israelites had in some way doubted before. As Egypt comes to this confession, God is indeed acknowledged as the sovereign one. Then, also as God commanded, Moses unleashes the waters and chaos returns. They Egyptians are helpless against it.

According to this narrative, Yahweh has broken the power of Egypt and the power of slavery. The story is told in order to summon Israel to faith, even in the face of one’s enemies.   And faith points to liberation and transformation. Jewish interpreters understand that Moses had asked for a three-day pilgrimage for the people and Pharaoh obliged. It wasn’t until they didn’t return at the end of the three days that the Egyptians began pursuing them. Perhaps even these people , enslaved for centuries, had a hard time imagining total freedom. Perhaps they needed to imagine it in what could be characterized as a tiny sound byte.

The truth is that this is a hard Scripture to stomach on many. We struggle with the image of one’s own liberation and freedom coming at the expense of others. Maybe that’s part of the point. Darkness is everywhere in this world. And so is beauty. There is an almost poetic juxtaposition of the two at every turn of our lives. And because of that, sometimes our salvation comes in the midst of another’s exile; and often our own exile comes in the midst of another’s salvation. I mean, how many times have you heard someone proclaim praise that our area was “spared” a hurricane? And yet, the hurricane grounded itself somewhere. The fire burned down some path. The waters closed over someone. There was someone that was not spared. God is not only present with those on the side of salvation. God is also present in the darkness. Don’t you think God was there in that water with the Egyptians just as God was there in those crumbling towers? We do not have to be “good” or “right” or even “spiritual”. God is always there. But true freedom, true liberation only comes with that realization.

So, as we remember a devastation much closer to home this coming week, it is good for all of us to remember what happened after the well-known parting of the sea: the waters returned to normal, crashing into each other as the Israelites realized that the chaos of life is always there. But just as the waters come together, we find ourselves standing on the other shore—transformed, liberated, free to move to a new place, to open up a world to the miracle of infinite possibility.


A few days ago I came across a note from a friend, an Episcopalian priest who had been run out of his parish by its leaders, the punishment voted upon him as a result of having faithfully done his job. “Your sermons are too political. We don’t want to hear what’s wrong with the world. And we don’t want to hear what’s wrong with us. Just tell us God loves us and leave it at that,” they told him. When he couldn’t leave it at that – anymore than Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. or Jesus could have before him, they insisted he resign. And his bishop supported their decision.


Being faithful to the gospel, having faith in himself meant heading for the Red Sea, not knowing what would happen next. Standing firm for the man he was and for the God who had called him – between the devil and the deep blue sea.


There comes a time for all of us when we must find out whether we have what it takes. That moment when we break free of the oppressive circumstances that have held us captive for so long and stand before an uncertain future. When matching the enemy blow for blow is not an option. When no one can see a way for us to the other side. When we must simply reach down within ourselves and find that source of fearlessness, dignity and integrity. The place that literally in-spires us to be more than we know.


It is then that a path opens before us in recognition of that which we were prepared to believe, a way out of what seemed an impossible dilemma into that new day that God alone can provide.  (Excerpt from “Keeping the Faith in Babylon”, by Barry J. Robinson, available at, accessed 8 September, 2011.)

  1. What is your response to this passage?
  2. How difficult is it for us to imagine “total transformation”? What, for us, does that entail?
  3. From what “exile” is it hard for us to leave? 


NEW TESTAMENT: Romans 14: 1-12

To read the Lectionary Epistle passage, click here

This passage continues with the theme of God’s call to worship, holiness, and unity. The opening implies that Paul has become aware of disputes and dissensions within the community. He begins with the issue that probably lay at the heart of it all—the argument over whether or not the rules of Torah, the dietary laws, should be set aside. For Paul, these laws were probably no longer necessary. But he still warned against judging those who adhered to the laws. Rather, the Lord embraces all.

The next section has to do with the observance of special days, time-honored holy days. There seems to be an underlying warning against observing special days for the wrong reasons, something Paul would have attributed to paganism. He resolves that if anything is done to glorify God, it is rightly done. That is what living as a Christian means—to do everything that you do to honor and glorify God. The world will not know us by our perfect harmony; the world will know us by our love.

Paul is writing to people who despised each other, who judged each other based on their religious beliefs. They argued about holy days; they argued about proper food; they argued about whose belief was the “right” one. Can you imagine? But also keep in mind that, compared to us today, they were in the minority. Christians could lose jobs, become estranged from their families, and be vilified by the community. So fear was rampant. You know, fear does things to people. It’s hard to be the unified Body of Christ when you don’t trust each other. It’s hard to be the unified Body of Christ when rules and right beliefs become more important than our neighbors. It’s hard to be the unified Body of Christ when we can’t talk to each other or be with each other. In a sermon entitled “From Commandments to Commitments”, Rev. Ignacio Castuera tells this story:


A Rabbi and a Roman Catholic Priest were sitting next to each other at an Inter-faith event. When dinner was served someone thoughtlessly had placed a slab of ham in the Rabbi’s plate. The Rabbi did not protest but simply proceeded to eat other things his faith and physician permitted. The Roman Catholic padre leaned over in the direction of the Rabbi and said. “Rabbi Cohen, you and I know that the dietary laws from the Old Testament were developed at a time when pork meat was indeed dangerous due to lack of refrigeration and low heat in cooking. Of course trychinosis was rampant and your ancestors in the faith were right in prohibiting eating pork in order to save the lives of many Israelites. Those days are gone, pork is safe and there is no reason to cling to outmoded ancient practices. When will you eat your first mouthful of ham, Rabbi Cohen?” The Rabbi paused briefly and then responded, “at your wedding, Father Maguire, at your wedding” (From “From Commandments to Commitments”, by Rev. Ignacio Castuera, available at, accessed 7 September, 2011.)


Essentially, Paul is saying, “Fine, do what you want to do; Live out your faith in whatever way is best for you; Live by whatever rules you want to live by. Just remember that those are not your faith; they are window dressing, ways that we order our own understanding of who God is. They are fine for you and we applaud your commitment. But faith is about relationships. Faith is about being the Body of Christ.” No where in this passage does Paul proclaim a “right” or orthodox theology by which we should live. He just tells us to get out of ourselves and back to God. He just tells us to get back to being the Body of Christ.


  1. What meaning does this passage hold for you?
  2. What does it mean for you to “be the Body of Christ”?
  3. To what issues in today’s religious world could this speak?
  4. How do you hear this in light of our 09/11 remembrance of this week? 


GOSPEL: Matthew 18: 21-35

To read the Lectionary Gospel passage, click here

This passage continues the broad section of the writer Matthew’s version of the Gospel that has to do with life together as a new community. First the writer reflected on the consideration of those who are “young in the faith”, then church discipline, and, now, the idea of forgiveness and grace. At the beginning, Peter’s proposal to forgive seven times sounds pretty generous, especially since there is not even a mention of repentance by the other party. But Jesus goes far beyond that. The Greek number hepta can be understood as “seventy times seven” or four hundred ninety times. The difference between the two proposals is not merely mathematical; it goes beyond that. It is a matter of grace, of mercy, of forgiveness. Whoever counts has not really forgiven at all. The forgiveness called for here goes beyond all calculation. Jesus then continues with a parable.

Here, the “servant” is not a household slave, but a subordinate official, perhaps a sort of supervisor or foreman. The debt, here, was incurred through mismanagement of the king’s resources, not by personal expenditures. The figure used is not a realistic one. A talent is the largest monetary unit, approximately equal to the wages of a laborer for fifteen years. The term for “ten thousand” is the largest possible number. We could translate it as “myriad”, something that can’t even be counted or calculated. The combination of the two (ten thousand talents) is the largest figure that can be given. The amount is beyond all calculation. The debt, then, is essentially unpayable. The servant’s situation is hopeless. He asks for mercy and beyond all expectation, the king shows him compassion.

The debt of the fellow servant, though, is microscopic. If you want to take it literally, a hundred denarii is about 1/600,000th of the first servant’s debt. The point, though, is that there is an infinite contrast. It’s still about 100 days labor and the servant cannot pay it. But the servant who had received such infinite compassion chose not to show even a tiny fraction of the same.

So the king takes back the forgiveness and condemns him to torment. The point is that in order to receive full forgiveness, one must be willing to forgive; otherwise it is invalidated. You could say that if one does not forgive, they have never really received forgiveness in the first place.

So what is the deal with all this math? It is because math depicts wholeness. In a book that he wrote about mathematical archetypes found throughout nature, art, and science, Michael Schneider contends that mathematics can be divided into three levels or approaches.

The first he calls “secular” mathematics. It is the math that is taught in school, that even within our limited scope, can be proved as true. It includes 2+2, calculating the amount of your change from a purchase, or telling time. This is the math approach that Peter was proposing: just count them—seven times.

The second approach is what Schneider calls “symbolic” mathematics. It is the understanding that numbers and shapes relate to each other in harmonious patterns. It is those patterns that make up all that is life.

The final level, as Schneider lays it out, he calls “sacred mathematics”. It is those things that move us beyond our own consciousness, beyond what is expected, beyond what we have been able to prove, or plan, or lay out as an accepted expectation. This is what Jesus was using. You see, seven is one of the most venerated numbers. In sacred understandings, seven is used to comprise completeness, a whole, a reconciliation. Think of the seventh day of Sabbath or the seventh year of Jubilee. And then on top of that, the multiplier of ten represents a new beginning, a new being beyond all limits. Seventy-seven times? It is a way of completing and beginning again. But you have to let it go to do that.

…What is forgiveness without reunion, or at least the possibility of reunion? And yet there are consequences to our actions. I was fascinated to speak with a Hindu colleague of mine about the concept of karma in her faith. “Every human choice has moral fallout,” she explained. “If you harm me, then there will be consequences for you as well as for me. You may have a change of heart later and ask me to forgive you, but even if I forgive you from the bottom of my heart, I cannot change your karma. You made a choice, which has had its effect. Eventually, you, too, will experience its full effect.” 

This is a scary idea for some Christians who like to think of forgiveness as a giant eraser on the blackboard of life. But there is biblical precedent for the lasting effect of sins that have been forgiven. God forgave David for his murderous affair with Bathsheba, but their firstborn child still died. Jesus came to forgive the sins of the whole world, but according to this parable in Matthew 25, he will come again to separate the sheep from the goats.

 Forgiveness is a starting place, not a stopping place. It is God’s gift to those who wish to begin again, but where we go with it is up to us. (Barbara Brown Taylor, Speaking of Sin, p. 89-90)

  1. What meaning does this passage hold for you?
  2. What impact on your understanding of forgiveness does this make?
  3. How do you reflect on this passage in light of our 09/11 remembrance? 


Some Quotes for Further Reflection:


Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a permanent attitude. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies. (Martin Luther King, Jr.)


In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don’t. (Blaise Pascal)


There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning. (Louis L’Amour)




We prattle about your sovereignty; all about all things working together for good, all about your watchful care and your severe mercies.


And then we are drawn up short; by terror that strikes us, in our privilege, as insane; by violence that shatters our illusions of well-being; by death that reminds us of our at-risk mortality; by smoke and fire that have the recurring smell of ovens.


We are bewildered, undone, frightened, and then intrude the cadences of these old poets: the cadences of fidelity and righteousness; the sounds of justice and judgment; the images of Sodom and Gomorrah; the imperatives of widows and orphans.


Even on such a day we are not minded to yield on your sovereignty. We are, we confess, sobered, put off, placed in dread, that you are lord as well as friend, that you are hidden as well as visible, that you are silence as well as reassuring.


You are our God. That is enough for us…but just barely.


We pray in the name of the wounded flesh of Jesus. Amen.


(“Even On Such A Day”, by Walter Brueggemann, written September 11, 2001, in Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth, p. 37)