Inquiring rather than praying

There is a story, well-known to some, about Isaac and Rebekah, and their two sons Jacob and Esau. You can read about it in Genesis chapter 25.

Soon after Isaac and Rebekah are married, the ancient inspired story-teller said that Isaac prayed for Rebekah. He prayed for his wife because she was barren. Rebekah becomes pregnant with her first child, only she finds out that she’s going to have twins! Now, how did she know that she was going to have twins? I imagine that many mothers in the ancient world who had twins perhaps found out when the babies were born. I suspect though, if you are attentive and know your body during a pregnancy, you can probably feel what you come to realize are two heads. From the story, it seems pretty clear that Rebekah knew she was going to have twins because the text in Genesis says that in the womb Jacob and Esau were struggling and wrestling and fighting. She could feel their fighting inside of her, their instinctive jockeying to be first-born, with all the rights and privileges that go along with that in the ancient world. So much so that Rebekah in exasperation says, “If it is to be this way, why do I live?” (I imagine that she said that not as a question, but as a demand for an answer, with a few four letters words thrown in that an uptight redactor politely scrolled out of the story.)

And so Rebekah goes and inquires of the Lord. Now, don’t miss that little detail. It’s important. It doesn’t say that Rebekah went and prayed to the Lord. Isaac prayed to the Lord, but Rebekah went to inquire of the Lord. Anyone ever inquired of the Lord? I have. Anyone ever go to the Lord and say, I need you to answer some %$#^& questions. What the H-E Double hockey sticks is going on inside of me? What does this mean? I’m tired of this. I need something to hang some hope on to, or I’m going to tear these alien beings out of me!

Anyone here ever went to “inquire” of the Lord. That may mean that something amazing’s about to happen. That may be one way that begins to clue you in that God’s newness is being born. That’s one way of practicing being open, open to the newness of God in us and the newness of God happening also in others.

Still thinking resurrection

I’ve been conducting interviews for our new position, the Director of Operations and Administration. We have conducted 9 interviews and our prayer to begin each one has been:

Dear Lord, open us to your Holy Spirit, which is always here, wherever we are. Amen.

For the second interviews taking place with 4 people, which begins today, we’ll be praying this prayer for each one:

Dear Risen Lord, we continue acknowledging that you are present with us, always, wherever we are. We seek your guidance, and invite you to show us the Way. Amen.

The shape of church

I think every church building should be constructed in the shape of a cross. The old Medieval  cathedrals got it correct. When the Church – which is its people – gather we are reminded that we are one body on a cross, the first century’s most fearful instrument of torture and execution, served up in this case by the Empire that was in Rome. (Make no mistake: Every age has its empire.) 

I’m careful here not to use the word punishment. We are one body on a cross, not because of anything belonging to guilt or shame or because we’ve done so much wrong that we deserve to be punished. We are one body on the cross because we bear the sufferings of loving the world in precisely the way Jesus did. That’s what they mean, I now realize, when they call the crucifixion the Great Humility. We serve the world as one body and like Jesus we serve ultimately in ways for which we will be executed, in most cases for us here in the US not literally, but certainly in just about every other way. 

Time in Easter

‪Get more people longer to look into a clear night sky, gaze upon the stars, the world would be a better place, and we who live in it too.‬ Christ is risen. Christ is risen indeed.

Everyone belongs

To be a servant of God, your spirit must be noble and unfettered. You will need to have a very large vision of God’s kingdom, one in which everyone and every living thing belongs. Division, disunity, and judgment have harmed God’s cause again and again. If you want to serve Jesus, who is King of kings and Lord of lords, you must understand that the world belongs to God, and that God does not want to relinquish any part of it. You must see that Christ lays claim on everyone – whether high or low, good or bad. Everything that lives belongs to God. And this truth should be not only in our heads but in our blood and in every breath. As a servant of Jesus Christ, do not give up on anyone – even the worst among us. We have to believe, for ourselves and for others, that we all belong to God. I may be stupid and clumsy – I may even commit grave sin – but my true self, which is created in God’s image, belongs to God. Neither sin nor death can change this fact.

Thinking toward the end of Lent

I’m having this thought right now:
I’m starting to tell people that I pastor a church that allows me to be Open and to go and to grow to any of the places God wants to take me. I’m very careful with that; because it’s actually very rare and very fragile. That’s an important way I think about these people I pastor.
And new people join us every day, and new ones leave every day. We think of ourselves (and I’m trying this on for myself) as just kind of touching people with the Spirit for however long they’re with us. Or maybe it’s that we are touching them in the Spirit that is everywhere present and to be experienced. That wherever they go and land in their lives, they remember this place as a safe place to be, where they experienced the gospel. And then in that memory, rejoice and celebrate that it was a place where the kingdom of God showed up, where the will of God happened on earth as it is in heaven.
I think that’s the beginning of a vision of the Church that we with many others can bring to the Table, the One Big Table, The Table of our Lord Jesus, who is the Christ.