Wind Chimes: 20 Oct 2012

Then the Lord answered Job from the whirlwind:
Who is this darkening counsel with words lacking knowledge?
Prepare yourself like a man; I will interrogate you,
and you will respond to me.

Job 38:1-3 CEB

Anticipating Sunday’s appointed reading (Job 38:1-7, 34-41) we’ll give voice to 2 commentators. Consider their words as you approach Sunday and as you go into the week with God’s words settling into your heart. ~dan

The wind in the chimes is strong today. The sounds are with you no matter where you go. What do you hear?

The God who speaks is not a ‘domesticated’ God

Finally, after a wait through eons of suffering, God speaks (38:1). But the God who speaks does not engage Job’s pain or Job’s challenge. God exhibits no empathy toward Job or any need to respond to Job’s frontal challenge against God’s unconvincing ways of working. God refuses to participate in Job’s challenge and effectively changes the subject, displaying complete indifference to Job’s bodily anguish and to Job’s moral perplexity. The God who speaks is a God of wondrous grandeur, magnificent power, sublime beauty, and remoteness from human travail. This is not a God to whom to turn in need, even though Job has indeed turned precisely to this God in need. The God whom Job expected, to whom he prayed and offered challenge, is not the God who addresses him in the whirlwind. This God comes as a completely disorienting surprise to him.

God speaks a lyrical doxology of self-congratulation, celebrating the splendor of creation, the awesomeness of specific creatures, and the wondrous reality that the mysteries of creation are well beyond human comprehension or explanation. That is, God moves quickly past Job’s litigious confrontation as if Job had not spoken, as if Job’s moral quibbles are of no interest at all to the Almighty.

Brueggemann, Walter (2010-11-05). Great Prayers of the Old Testament (p. 124). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.

“Where the wild things are.” But why?

At the end of the book, the One who appears to Job is none other than the Creator of the cosmos, the LORD God Almighty! And God doesn’t come to comfort Job. Instead, God lays into Job, lecturing him from the center of a cyclone:

Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up your loins like a man, I will question you, and you shall declare to me. Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements– surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone when the morning stars sang together and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy? (38:2-7 NRSV)

God does not address Job’s situation or Job’s questions about justice. God does not even acknowledge Job’s suffering. Instead, God takes Job on a whirlwind tour of the cosmos, beginning with the foundation of the earth, and the birth of the Sea. God spends a lot of time “where the wild things are,” describing all kinds of fierce and untamed creatures—lions, mountain goats, deer, wild donkeys and oxen, ostriches, eagles—and two primordial chaos monsters, Behemoth and Leviathan. […]

But what does all this have to do with Job’s situation or with Job’s suffering?

Good question. I encourage you to read the entire commentary (on Job 38:1-7, 34-41) by Professor Kathryn Schifferdecker on WorkingPreacher.org ~dan

One more “Arrow Prayer”

Be still, and know that I am God! –Psalm 46:10 NRSV

“Arrow Prayer” is a term used to describe a prayer which is offered quickly in the moment. Prayers of thanksgiving often come in the form of arrow prayers. Arrow prayers are also helpful in times of distress. “Help me, God!” “Holy one, watch over me.” “Walk with me Jesus, for I am afraid.” These arrow prayers are also prayers of praise and thanksgiving for they recognize God’s on-going presence in daily life.

From a paper written by Jane E. Vennard: Exploring a Life of Prayer

Wind Chimes: 19 Oct 2012

But if I go East—He is not there;
West—I still do not perceive Him;
North—since He is concealed, I do not behold Him;
South—He is hidden, and I cannot see Him.

Job 23:8-9

Today we continue to wonder, with Job, where is God? Where is God in the midst of enormous challenges facing his creation and his ‘children’ throughout creation—even those we consider our ‘enemies’? And where is God in the challenges we face? ~dan

Still yourself long enough to hear the chimes. What do you hear?

One thing Job discovered in his desolation

I try to remind myself that we are never promised anything, and that what control we can exert is not over the events that befall us but how we address ourselves to them.

—Jeanne DuPrau in The Earth House and quoted by Word for the Day on Nov. 16, 2011.

What we can learn from Job in his desolation

Quote . . .Job, as an artfully crafted figure, is a representative of Israel’s faith as it is exhibited in daring, irreverent, subversive prayer. No doubt it can be debated whether Job’s utterances can count as prayer, for some of his speech is simply angered rumination not noticeably addressed to God. It is not for nothing that his name means “adversary,” for Job is in an urgent contestation with all parties—with God, with his friends, with his own moral code that he has trusted for so long, and with the abusive, violent way in which the world is ordered. Thus we may give Job our attention precisely because he refuses all the pious conventionalities and will speak from the core of his hurt and from his deep, unrestrained sense of not being taken seriously. His was indeed a cry from the heart. It happens, eventually, that his cry was heard by God. More than that, he receives an answer from God that by any conventional measure is no answer at all, for the God of the whirlwind refuses to be drawn into Job’s demanding calculations.

Brueggemann, Walter (2010-11-05). Great Prayers of the Old Testament (p. 122). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.

Another “Arrow Prayer”

Turn to me [Lord] and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted. –Psalm 25:16 NIV

“Arrow Prayer” is a term used to describe a prayer which is offered quickly in the moment. Prayers of thanksgiving often come in the form of arrow prayers. Arrow prayers are also helpful in times of distress. “Help me, God!” “Holy one, watch over me.” “Walk with me Jesus, for I am afraid.” These arrow prayers are also prayers of praise and thanksgiving for they recognize God’s on-going presence in daily life.

From a paper written by Jane E. Vennard: Exploring a Life of Prayer