Tuesday, October 24, 2017

What is the most important question today?

Our minds might race to answer, “What is the most important question today in the church?” But, I am wondering what is the most important question in the world today. Does it have to do with the economy? Politics? Divisiveness? Healthcare? The environment?  Or, is the most important question one of meaning? Where do people find meaning in their lives? How do they see God?
This question is about relevance. What means the most to the most people? What question challenges everyone? What question has universal implications? We know that we will all die, so maybe the most important question is about death. Life had to come from somewhere. Most religions, including our Christian faith, offer some suggestions about the origin of all that exists.
The beauty of this question is dialogue. We have different answers. Our answers come from our various perspectives. And, as we share our answers we learn from one another. The answers can relate to the end of time or the beginning of life. This query is a point of departure. It is a place to begin exploration. The church is a place where we can pursue these questions. The church is a safe place—a place where we can be both validated and challenged at the same time.
Isaiah 64:4 says, “From ages past no one has heard, no ear perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who works for those who wait for him.” Paul quotes this verse in 1 Corinthians 2:9. The following verses suggest the Holy Spirit’s continuing involvement in the world. We can pursue these difficult questions in the church and have faith that God will engage with us on the journey. There are mysteries and we can explore them, but we explore them together. Perhaps, as we continue to build a safe place to pursue these important questions, other people will join us in our pursuit. This is my prayer.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Be Still When the Wicked Prosper

Psalm 37:7, "Be still before the Lord and wait patiently; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes."

Recently, I encountered someone who has a "wicked scheme." This person works toward her own selfish desires. And, she seems to be indifferent to the pain she causes others. Mercifully, I rarely encounter such nefarious plans, but sometimes I do. On such occasions, maintaining perspective can be a challenge.

Many people struggle. No two journeys are identical. And, even the ones who appear to hatch a "wicked scheme" have a life. That life is unique and many variables join together to create the context that births "wicked schemes." Evil does not exist in isolation.

For many years, I have collected rocks. My collection resides on my desk and reminds me to maintain perspective. One rock is worn almost into a smooth ball. For many years, the sea and sand rolled and washed it. How many years did it take for it to become smooth? Several others are flat and stack into a mini-cairn.

John Muir, who founded Yosemite National Park, reads rocks with great sensitivity. After returning to the wild, he wrote, "All the rocks seemed talkative, and more lovable than ever. They are dear friends, and have warm blood gushing through their granite flesh; and I love them with a love intensified by long and close companionship" (Yosemite and Beyond, p. 145-46).

What do my rocks say to me? They remind me to keep my perspective. They point me back to the psalmist who said, "Be still before the Lord." When someone embarks on a "wicked scheme," God remains God. I do not have to answer for others or their plans. I answer for myself. What can I do? "Wait patiently... do not fret," says the psalmist.