Proper 7B: Unharbored

"Storm Before the Calm", Lucy Dickens at www.lucydickensfineart.com
“Storm Before the Calm”, Lucy Dickens at http://www.lucydickensfineart.com

OLD TESTAMENT: 1 Samuel 17: (1a, 4-11, 19-23), 32-49

To read the Old Testament Lectionary passage, click here

Those of us who grew up going to Sunday School remember stories about David and Goliath. David was the youngest “little brother” of Jesse’s eight sons, relegated to errand boy status, while his older brothers battled the Philistines as manly soldiers. Twice the writer describes David as “only a boy.” The narrator pictures David as “ruddy and handsome,” hardly the traits of a warrior. When his brothers berated him when he delivered reinforcements to the front lines, he responded plaintively, “Can’t I even speak?” Saul’s armor was so big on him that he couldn’t move. Then, of course, there was his famous slingshot that he wielded to slay the nine-foot Goliath who had “defied the armies of the living God”.

The punch line about David and Goliath was something to the effect that God uses insignificant people and unlikely means to accomplish improbable feats. It has been used for generations to open up tiny minds to the majesty and greatness of the Lord’s power. That is certainly true. But there’s one horrifying detail in the story that my Sunday School teacher skipped. David “took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the scabbard. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword”. (a little over the top, don’t you think?) David then displayed Goliath’s head in Jerusalem, brandished it before King Saul, and kept his sword in his tent as a souvenir. By decapitating Goliath, David wanted to “show the whole world that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by the sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands”.  It was his way of claiming his God as God.  It was a testament of insurmountable faith in the face of the insurmountable.

This is essentially one of those so-called “texts of terror”. We struggle between its claim of impressive and authentic faith and out and out violence. You might dismiss the decapitation of Goliath as patriotic fiction or legend, but that takes the easy way out; for some reason, we have included this story (and other disturbing ones) in our sacred canon. That does not mean that God necessarily approved of it, of course.  It was, though, part of the human culture of the time.

The truth is, most of us identify with David.  Regardless of our place or status in this society, we think we’re the “little guy” on the righteous side of justice.  But violence in God’s name often knows no boundaries.  All religions have engaged in terror in the name of God, in the name of their religion.  Why is this?  And how can we tell when we cross that line?  Martin Niemoller, who protested Hitler’s anti-Semitic measures once said, “It took me a long time to learn that God is not the enemy of my enemies. He is not even the enemy of his enemies.” Ann Lamott says that “when God hates all the same people that you hate, you can be absolutely certain that you have created him in your own image.”

But this story of David leaves us with one claim: Perhaps we should judge religions by their most authentic examples of faith than by their worst corruptions. There is also a difference in evil acts committed by religious people and evil acts committed in the name of religion. Charles Kimball, in his book When Religion Becomes Evil, cited what he saw as eight warning signs that depict that evil has become religious and that religion has become evil. They are:

  • Fanatical claims of knowing and understanding absolute truth.
  • Blind obedience to totalitarian, charismatic, and authoritarian leaders or their views that undermines moral integrity, personal freedom, individual responsibility, and intellectual inquiry.
  • Identifying and rationalizing “end times” scenarios in the name of your religion.
  • Justifying religious ends by dubious means.
  • Any and all forms of dehumanization, from openly declaring war on your enemy, demonizing those who differ from you, construing your neighbor as an Other, to claiming that God is on your side alone.
  • Pressure tactics of coercion, deception, and false advertisement.
  • Alienation, isolation and withdrawal from family, friends and society, whether psychologically or literally.
  • Exploitation and all forms of unreasonable demands upon one’s time, money, resources, family, friendships, sexuality, etc.

Perhaps the question that we need to ask ourselves, hard as it is to ask, is whether or not the way we live out our faith and our belief system is really a faith-filled and grace-filled way of being God’s love in the world.  In other words, what does the way we live say about our understanding of God and the message that God has for all?   The truth is, David wasn’t completely at fault.  We can’t blame him totally.  He was scared, scared that his very life and the way he lives it would be taken away.  And he was, after all, defending God.  (Hmmm…is that what we’re called to do?  Does God really need defending?)  But those five smooth stones were his way of doing that.  He probably really believed, right or wrong, that he was doing what God called him to do and defending his faith against a huge obstacle, against a seemingly insurmountable challenge.  Maybe the question that we should ask is what defending our faith actually does to our faith.  Where is the line between what God calls us to do and what we think God calls us to do?  Where is the line between who God calls us to be and who we envision ourselves to be?

 

  • What is your response to this passage?
  • Where do you see yourself in this story?
  • What can we bring to our own culture and society and world from it?
  • What does the way we live say of God’s message in the world?
  • In what ways does our way of “being” Christian not depict God’s message in the world?
  • Are we called to defend God or defend our faith? What does that look like?

 

NEW TESTAMENT: 2 Corinthians 6: 1-13

To read the Lectionary Epistle passage, click here

This passage actually puts us in the middle of some complex communication. In other words, we’re sort of coming into the middle of it. This is toward the end of Paul’s argument describing and defending his and his coworkers’ ministry to the congregation at Corinth. Paul does not argue but instead comes at the issue from a number of different perspectives. He exhorts the Corinthians to view their ministry as embodying the work, if not the very being, of Christ and to act appropriately in response to the grace that they have received through Christ. Paul contends that accepting the grace of God for oneself corresponds to opening wide your hearts to those doing ministry.

He asserts his and his coworkers’ legitimacy as ministers of Christ and at the same time shows their care for the community as beloved children of God. This also implies that good and legitimate ministry does not always mean success. That was not Christ’s story for ministry. This means that we cannot always measure authentic ministry in terms of numbers, enthusiasm, or dollars. These are possible outcomes but do not necessarily define authenticity or “success”.

The Gospel is often explained in terms of blessings, a Gospel of Success. “Believe in Jesus and all your worries will fade away.” (Or believe in God and God will stand up for the little guy, in the case of the take on David and Goliath) And yet, many times, ones troubles multiply BECAUSE they are Christian. Jesus never promised that if we believe in him our life will by “joy, joy, joy”. No, the Christian walk is both glory and dishonor. There is a sense where our life is lived possessing everything, but having nothing. We will have to carry this tension with us always while in this “mortal frame.” Doing the splits is not easy, but it is how we must live life – one foot in heaven and one on earth.

Paul tells his readers to “open wide” their hearts and to see that salvation is right in front of them. It cannot be measured. It just is. That is the Gospel and that is how we should live and model our behavior.

 

  • How does this passage speak to you?
  • What, then, is “fruitfulness” in ministry?
  • What do you think most people think of when they hear the word “ministry”?
  • How does the “Gospel of Success” get in our way as ministers of the Gospel?
  • What would that mean to “open wide” our hearts to the salvation that is right in front of us?

GOSPEL: Mark 4: 35-41

To read the Lectionary Gospel passage, click here

This passage comes immediately after Jesus’ telling of the Parable of the Sower. So after a long day of teaching the crowds, Jesus needs a break. He initiates a trip across the Sea of Galilee with the disciples and other boats, making a small entourage. A great windstorm arises, so great that the waves crash against the boat and water begins to fill up the boat. Even the experienced fishermen in their midst could do nothing.

So they turn to Jesus. Jesus will save them. “Jesus, save us!” And there is Jesus, sound asleep on the boat cushion at the rear of the boat. You can imagine what the disciples thought. “Are you kidding me? Here we are, dying, and you are asleep! What are you thinking? Get up and save us! Get up now!” Now, odd as this may be to us, you can’t really blame Jesus. He had to be tired. He had been teaching in the hot sun and the crowds just wouldn’t leave him alone. So, he lay down and he rested. Everything would be alright. And then he is jolted awake by these whining disciples who can’t seem to take care of themselves or each other. “Good grief,” he thought, “have you learned nothing from me?”

So he got up and with a simple word, the storm subsided. And they floated for a few moments, not saying a word to each other, as the boat floated as if on glass. Then Jesus turned to them. “Have you no faith?” Well this was truly a little much. Who was this man that even the sea and the winds obey his voice? You’ll remember that in many ancient myths, the god of the sea is the god of chaos. We cannot control the water. So, as you can imagine, the disciples came to the sudden realization that no one other than God has the power to tame and order chaos.

What is interesting is that Jesus suggests they go just as the sun was setting (darkness) and set off to the other side (the unknown) and while on the trip, a storm came about (peril). And through it all, Jesus rested, confident not only in God but in the disciples themselves. Now, our experience has been that Jesus does not usually do things that are not intentional. What does all this mean? God had entrusted the disciples with a faith. Jesus knew this. But, instead, the disciples let fear get in the way of trusting not only in God but in their own faith.

I think we miss something if we reduce this story to pure wonder and miracles.  We miss the journey of faith.  It also can lead to what I think is just sort of bad theology.  If God is only here to make storms and destruction disappear, then why Katrina?  Why the recent earthquakes and tornadoes and devastating floods?  Why are there difficulties at all in our lives?  Because faith in God does not change the scenery.  It shows us the way through it.  We were never meant to stay safely and predictably in the harbor.  Have faith in the faith that God puts in you to walk with God through all of life.

In this passage, Jesus is not leading the disciples into danger. Frederick Buechner says that Christ is instead saying to them, “Go…Go for God’s sake, and for your own sake, too, and for the sake of the world. Climb into your little tub of a boat and keep going… [because] Christ sleeps in the deepest selves of all of us, and…in whatever way we can call on him…to give us courage, to give us hope, to show us our way. (Frederick Buechner, from Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons)

The winds will still rage.  The waves will fill our boat with water until we are sure that we will die.  And the boat will rock until we can stand it no more.  Emmet Fox said this: “Suppose your whole world seems to rock on its foundation. Hold on steadily and let it rock, and when the rocking is over, the picture will have reassembled itself into something much nearer to your heart’s desire.” For you see, my friends, this is life.  And all that is life has God in its very being.  We are not on the journey alone.  God has given us unharbored faith and has faith in us that we will use it and come through the storm.  As Jesus showed us, it is our faith in God and in the faith that God has in us that in the midst of the darkness, at the height of the storm, we will be able to breathe the words, “Peace!  Be still!”   Have faith in the faith that God has in you!

  • What meaning does this passage hold for you?
  • How does this speak to you about your own faith?
  • What does this say about our own life?

 

Some Quotes for Further Reflection:

It’s when we learn faith that happiness comes—real happiness, that underlying descant of the soul that tells us over and over again that what is, in some strange, unexplainable way, is good.  Most of all, faith tells us that what is, is more than good.  It is becoming always better.  In ways we never thought possible.  And how can that be?  Because God’s ways are not our ways.  It is in the depths of darkness that we learn faith; it is in retrospect that we come to recognize love in darkness.  (Joan Chittister, Called to Question, 213) 

Nothing worth doing is complete in our lifetime; Therefore we are saved by hope.  Nothing true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history;  Therefore, we are saved by faith.  Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone.  Therefore, we are saved by love.  No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as from our own; Therefore, we are saved by the final form of love which is forgiveness. (Reinhold Niebuhr)

God’s love goes before us in a way we can never fully name. (Anne Carr)

 

Closing

 

As we sit in the palm of your hand, loving God, may we continue to see your strength revealed in the vulnerability…The dying, the crying, the rising of your people. May our seeing thus inspire our acting. Amen. (Katherine Hawker, 1997)

Proper 14A: See, You Have to Get Out of the Boat

 

Peter Walking on the Water, Allessandro Allori, ca. 1590
Peter Walking on the Water, Allessandro Allori, ca. 1590

OLD TESTAMENT: Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28

To read the Old Testament Lectionary passage, go to http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=274192551

Jacob settles in the land of promise. This sets up the themes for the story: the movement from Canaan to Egypt and the development from individual to “the chosen people”. As it became obvious that Joseph was his father’s pet, the brothers grew to hate him and could not speak to him peaceably. The coat given to Joseph by his father is a sign of that favoritism. Remember that Joseph was the son of Jacob’s “favorite” wife, Rachel. He was also the child of Jacob’s old age, probably born long after Jacob had given up on the possibility of Rachel conceiving.

Communication breaks down and the stage is set for yet another family conflict. The brothers then journey some fifty miles from Hebron to pasture the flock where there is good grassland. Joseph stays home. Jacob sends him to look into the well-being of the brothers and of their flocks and report back. But because the brothers have moved to Dothan (fifteen miles north of Shechem), Joseph has difficulty finding them.

Considering Jacob’s past, we can’t help but wonder about his motivation. Didn’t he know of the brother’s feelings toward Joseph? Or was he possibly trying to force some family reconciliation? You really can’t help but wonder whether this is a naïve, loving father who hopes the brothers can work things out. So, the brothers plot against Joseph and when they see him approaching, they conspire to kill him. Their motivation centers on Joseph’s dream (they sarcastically call him a “master of dreams”).

Our passage doesn’t have us actually reading about the dreams, but it’s an important part of the story and the motivation for what happens. Joseph’s dreams, which are so famous, depict the entire family bowing down to him in reverence, a sign that he is the head of the family. This, of course, infuriates all of his older brothers and sets the stage for what comes next. Keep in mind that it was understood that dreams were looked upon as some sort of divine intervention. But the brothers looked upon Joseph’s dreams as a type of arrogance. By getting rid of him, they will make certain that the dream does not become a reality. But, ironically, by selling him to Egypt they enable it to become so. This place Egypt is now part of the story that will lead us into the Exodus saga. The brothers agree to sell him to passing Ishmaelites or, in some texts, Midianite traders. But, Joseph is ultimately sold on the open slave market and is taken to Egypt (which will ultimately provide a link between the Genesis story and the Exodus story, so the “family” theme becomes a “national” one.).

The brothers return to their father with Joseph’s coat dipped in goat’s blood and tell him that Joseph is dead. (The trickster has been tricked!) And yet still, God continues to exist even with this somewhat less than ideal, chaotic, conniving family. God remains with them. But the family of Jacob will become the family that enters Canaan.

This is an odd story, to say the least. I mean, really, what kind of parent is Jacob? And on some level, Joseph is really nothing more than a spoiled obnoxious brat. But all of that is overshadowed by this band of brothers who conspire murder. I think that may take the cake! But once again, God takes even this and uses it. This story sets in motion the rest of the Genesis story. Once again, the cycle is repeated—the eldest, the one who should be “in charge”, who should inherit the legacy and the birthright, is not in line to do that (or lets it slip away). Next week’s Old Testament lection will see the reuniting of Joseph and his brothers and the continuation of the Genesis story and this family’s story as it weaves through it. But along the way, God does not interfere with humanity’s mistakes. That is not the way God conducts business as Master of Creation. There are many ways that Creation and Re-creation happen. God is pretty good at using whatever instruments are available. I think God has to be; otherwise, this whole free will thing would have been possibly the biggest regret that God has. And I don’t think it is. God doesn’t demand perfection—just openness to the possibility that change is always in our midst.

The 15th century Spanish commentator Rabbi Isaac Arama interprets it like this:

 

In the Joseph story, we find all the protagonists playing their own parts, carrying out their personal objectives, without affecting God’s overall design. Quite the contrary, the freedom of choice of none of the participants is interfered with in any way… The chain of events in which the jealousy of Joseph’s brothers played a prominent part, ultimately proved to have become the instrument for carrying out God’s design. However God could have found many other means to achieve the same end. Therefore the brothers cannot claim exoneration by saying that what they had done helped God to achieve his aim. The Bible is full of similar lessons. (From “Joseph, Don’t Go!”, by Eliezer Segal, University of Calvary, available at http://people.ucalgary.ca/~elsegal/Shokel/Preaching/S971221_Vayyeshev.html, accessed 3 August, 2011.)

 

And, using the words of the prophet Jeremiah, Rabbi Samuel bar Nahmani writes this Midrash (Genesis Rabbah 85:1):

 

“For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil” (Jeremiah 29:11): The tribes were busy with the selling of Joseph. Jacob was busy with his sackcloth and mourning. Judah was busy looking for a woman. While the Holy One was creating the light of the Messiah! (From “Joseph, Don’t Go!, Ibid.)

 

  1. What is your response to this passage?
  2. What do you think of Jacob’s part in this story?
  3. What about Joseph’s part of the story?
  4. What part does fear play in this story?
  5. This story is told without a single reference to God. Where do you see God in this story?

  

NEW TESTAMENT: Romans 10: 5-15

To read the Lectionary Epistle Passage, click here

In this passage, Paul is in the middle of explaining why the gospel does not amount to a betrayal of his own people or a denial of scripture. He uses a text from the eighteenth chapter of Leviticus. Here “live” implies life with God. He claims that this new way of looking at things, this gospel, creates something that produces right relationship and, subsequently, right behavior. It takes further this idea of the commandments, “God’s law”, no longer being external “rules” but rather something that is indeed written on one’s heart. The basis for righteousness, for Paul, is being at one with God.

Paul professes that acceptance of Christ as Lord leads to liberation. Essentially, Paul has made the same claim before but, here, he is speaking of a more internalized relationship with God. It is beyond just doing right and living right; it is being one with God. At the end of the passage, Paul affirms the equality of all humanity before God, either Jew or Gentile. Right-standing before God is a gift available to all humanity for the asking. To stand approved before God (to stand justified) is simply a matter of faith.

The problem that Paul is countering is that most saw goodness as achieved by obeying the law. They saw their standing as progressed by merit. They could not grasp “perfection” in the sense of Christ. You can actually sense Paul’s frustration. His passionate belief in the Gospel and in Jesus Christ as Savior comes through. But you also get a sense of a certain frustration. He truly believes that the Gospel is open and inclusive of everyone and, yet, he is frustrated that he doesn’t seem to be getting the response that he desires. And yet, he never gives up on the notion that Israel is special, chosen. He cannot imagine that God would ultimately abandon God’s covenant people. God will not just quit loving God’s children. It is apparent that Paul’s image of God is of a Creator who is loving and caring toward all of Creation.

Maybe, given the three questions toward the end of the passage, this discourse is more about proclamation than trying to figure out who was going to be saved. (Personally, I think that’s more up to God than anyone else! If God wants to save everyone, I actually think that’s God’s prerogative. I mean, are there really rules in place here?) But Paul is clear that if one professes to be a Christian, than one must openly confess the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are sent into the world to proclaim the Good News, rather than to weed out (Oh my…can’t get rid of the weed imagery, can we?) who is saved by the words. I mean, last I checked, we were saved by grace! Isn’t that worth talking about?

The last verse of this reading is familiar, thanks to Handel. Think about it—how comfortable are we with “feet”. (Not shoes, feet!) There is an African proverb that says, “When you pray, move your feet.” In other words, we are sent to proclaim the good news. I THINK that’s why our own United Methodist Church recently added “witness” to our liturgy of commitment and confirmation. We now commit our prayers, our presence, our gifts, our service, and our witness. Go! Now! Start moving! Start talking!

Pope John Paul II once said that “modern [humanity] often anxiously wonders about the solution to the terrible tensions which have built up in the world and which entangle humanity. And if at times [we] lack the courage to utter the word “mercy,” or if in [our] conscience empty of religious content [we] do not find the equivalent, so much greater is the need for the Church to utter this word, not only in her own name, but also in the name of all the men and women of our time.” So, then, what is it we are being called to utter? How do we profess the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

 

  1. What meaning does this passage hold for you?
  2. What does “being one with God” mean for you?
  3. How well do you think WE grasp perfection in the sense of Christ?
  4. How, then, should we look at the “written law”?
  5. What does it mean to you to profess your “witness”?

 

 

GOSPEL: Matthew 14: 22-33

To read the Lectionary Gospel passage, click here

This story is probably one of the most loved. We like the calming effect of it. We like the image of a Christ who brings peace and calm to our lives, who will at a moment’s notice reach out a hand to save us. It makes us feel good. It alleviates our fears.

And yet, is that really all this Scripture is meant to portray? Look at the beginning. Jesus sends the disciples forth without him. He knew that they had the wherewithal to do it, to make it across to the other side. And then he went up to the mountain by himself to pray. And then the clouds rolled in. The winds came up and the waves began to batter the boat that held the disciples. And all of a sudden, Jesus was there, holding out his hand, inviting Peter to get out of the boat. Peter was assured by Jesus’ strong hand and his encouraging eyes. So he followed. And then, fears crept in. What in the world was he doing? This was nuts, not even rational. And he began to sink, began to drown.

In an article on this passage in The Christian Century, Amy Hunter says that “Peter’s growing awareness of the wind and the waves reminds [her] of the cartoon of the coyote chasing the roadrunner off the cliff. The roadrunner always makes it across the gap, but every time the coyote, halfway across, becomes aware that there is nothing beneath his feet, he stops cold, then plummets down.” (Amy Hunter, “Stepping Out”, in The Christian Century, July 26, 2005, 19., available at http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=3234, accessed 1 August, 2011.)

So think about this: Did Peter begin to sink because he was afraid or because he let his fears control the person he was and affect what he was being called to do?  Over and over again in Scripture, we read the words “do not be afraid”. That is not the same as being told not to fear. Of course we are going to have fears. They are normal human emotions. In fact, 19th century British Prime Minister and literary figure Benjamin Disraeli once said that “fear makes us feel our humanity.”   I really do think that that is a good thing. I think God wants us to feel our humanity at its deepest and most profound level; otherwise, why would God have made us human in the first place? God wants us to know who we are—fears and doubts and all—so well that we will finally realize that we cannot do this alone. It is a way of trusting our fear to bring us back home.

And the truth is, most of us are a little uneasy with Jesus’ question of Peter: “Why did you doubt?” I have to say that I squirm in my seat a little and want desperately to jump to Peter’s defense as well as my own. I mean, really, waves and wind, little bitty boat, and the fact that it is just not physically possible to walk on water! I’m sorry, you want me to get out of the boat in the middle of a storm and do what? Isn’t that enough to at least warrant a minimum requirement of fear and doubt?

Again, if God’s expectation of us is not to fear and not to doubt, then we are asked to do the impossible. We are asked to do that which we are not really capable of doing. God can do it; I’m clear I cannot. We are essentially asked to do something as ludicrous as walking on water.   This passage can pretty easily generate uncomfortable questions and just downright bad theologies. Jesus is not asking Peter to prove his faith. And the message is not that having faith will shield us from all harm and woe. In her article, Hunter said that “[she] had a classmate at an evangelical Christian college who repeatedly defined faith as ‘stepping out of airplanes, knowing that God will catch you.’ [Hunter’s] response was that surely God had better things to do than catch folks stupid enough to step out of airplanes.” (Ibid.)

You see, faith is not a shield that we create that protects us from harm. It is not something that we accomplish or wear like a badge of honor. I don’t even think it’s something that is measurable. It’s not something that we check off of our “to do” list. Rather, faith makes us realize that we’re not in this alone. Maybe God will pull us out of the storm in the nick of time. I think it’s much more profound to believe in a God who will get in the storm with me, who will hold me, allow me to wrestle, allow me to fight against the waves. I believe in a God who doesn’t demean me or dismiss me for being afraid. Sure, I’m afraid! After all, there’s a big wave coming my way right now! What kind of semi-emotionally-adjusted human WOULDN’T have fears?

You know, Peter had fears. He admitted he had fears—ghosts, storms, death. Jesus never said to him that those were unfounded or baseless or stupid. Jesus just held out his hand and cheered him on. “Peter, you almost have it, hold on, hold on.” It is no different for us. In his 1833 Journals, Ralph Waldo Emerson said that “the wise man in the storm prays to God, not for safety from danger, but for deliverance from fear.” We need to trust our fears. They are part of our very being. They are part of the way God made us to be. But they don’t need to control what we do or who we are. There is a way to recast (i.e. reconstruct or remodel) those fears into something that is life-giving.

Of what are you afraid? Most of it comes down to one thing: chaos—loss of control, loss of knowing what will happen in one’s life, loss of being prepared for what is to come. Really? Did you forget what God can do? God has done this over and over and over again—creating order out of chaos, light out of darkness, wisdom out of stupidity, and life out of death. It’s about faith. It’s about trust. And it’s also about opening yourself to recasting your fears into something that allows you to look to Christ when you feel like your feet are sinking into the abyss. And part of recasting those fears means, I’m afraid, that once in awhile you have to get out of the boat!

 

  1. What meaning does this passage hold for you?
  2. What image of God does this story bring about for you?
  3. How does fear affect our faith? How does it affect our image of God?
  4. What scares you the most? How could that be recast into something life-giving?

 

 

Some Quotes for Further Reflection:

 The way of faith is necessarily obscure. We drive by night. (Thomas Merton)

 Trust is letting go of needing to know all the details before you open your heart. (Unknown)

Faith does not need to push the river precisely because it is able to trust that there is a river. (Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer, p. 122)

 

Closing

Worry and stress are not hard for us, God. We do them without thinking. There is always the potential of threat to our security, our comfort, our health, our relationships, our lives, and we foolishly think that we could silence the fear if we just had enough money, enough insurance, enough toys, enough stored away for a rainy day. It’s never enough, though; The voice of our fear will not be dismissed so easily. But in the small silent places within us is another voice: one that beckons us into the foolishness of faith, that points our gaze to the birds and flowers, that, in unguarded moments, lets our muscles relax and our hearts lean into loved ones; In unexpected whispers we hear it, calling us to remember your promises, your grace, your faithfulness; And suddenly, we discover that it is enough. Amen. (John Van De Laar, in Weavings, Vol. XXV, Number 4, p. 41.)