Wind Chimes: 21 Oct 2012

Lightning in the night sky over mountains

Can you send forth lightnings,
so that they may go and say to you, ‘Here we are’?

Job 38:35 NRSV

In Sunday’s appointed reading (Job 38:1-7, 34-41) God answers Job. It is not what Job expected to hear.  ~dan

it is a new sound in the chimes. What do you hear?

Today’s reading from The Message

I often find wonderful new ways to hear the Word by reading different translations. Eugene Peterson’s translation of the Bible, The Message, is one of my favorite sources. ~dan

And now, finally, God answered Job from the eye of a violent storm.

He said: “Why do you confuse the issue? Why do you talk without knowing what you’re talking about? Pull yourself together, Job! Up on your feet! Stand tall! I have some questions for you, and I want some straight answers.

Where were you when I created the earth? Tell me, since you know so much! Who decided on its size? Certainly you’ll know that! Who came up with the blueprints and measurements? How was its foundation poured, and who set the cornerstone, While the morning stars sang in chorus and all the angels shouted praise? And who took charge of the ocean when it gushed forth like a baby from the womb? That was me! I wrapped it in soft clouds, and tucked it in safely at night. Then I made a playpen for it, a strong playpen so it couldn’t run loose, And said, ‘Stay here, this is your place. Your wild tantrums are confined to this place.’

“Can you get the attention of the clouds, and commission a shower of rain? Can you take charge of the lightning bolts and have them report to you for orders?

“Who do you think gave weather-wisdom to the ibis, and storm-savvy to the rooster? Does anyone know enough to number all the clouds or tip over the rain barrels of heaven When the earth is cracked and dry, the ground baked hard as a brick?

“Can you teach the lioness to stalk her prey and satisfy the appetite of her cubs As they crouch in their den, waiting hungrily in their cave? And who sets out food for the ravens when their young cry to God, fluttering about because they have no food?”

Job 38 The Message on Bible Gateway

When God speaks in praise of this ‘wild’ creation …

Either you look at the universe as a very poor creation out of which no one can make anything or you look at your own life and your own part in the universe as infinitely rich, full of inexhaustible interest, opening out into infinite further possibilities for study and contemplation and interest and praise. Beyond all and in all is God.

Merton, Thomas (2003-02-01). When the Trees Say Nothing: Writings on Nature (p. 6). Ave Maria Press – A. Kindle Edition.

A prayer to step into creation with the Creator

O merciful Creator, your hand is open wide to satisfy the needs of every living creature: Make us always thankful for your loving providence; and grant that we, remembering the account that we must one day give, may be faithful stewards of your good gifts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. The Book of Common Prayer, p. 259

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

Wind Chimes: 18 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

Through the rest of this week we’ll 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

Listen to the wind in the chimes for a while. What do you hear?

Prayer words from the Psalms …

The psalmists know how to plead, lament, complain, express anger AND how to move from those places to places of trust. We used this Psalm in our midweek worship at St. Margaret’s on 10/17/12:

1 I love the Lord, because he has heard the voice of my supplication, * because he has inclined his ear to me whenever I called upon him.
2 The cords of death entangled me; the grip of the grave took hold of me; * I came to grief and sorrow.
3 Then I called upon the Name of the Lord: * “O Lord, I pray you, save my life.”
4 Gracious is the Lord and righteous; * our God is full of compassion.
5 The Lord watches over the innocent; * I was brought very low, and he helped me.
6 Turn again to your rest, O my soul, * for the Lord has treated you well.
7 For you have rescued my life from death, * my eyes from tears, and my feet from stumbling.
8 I will walk in the presence of the Lord * in the land of the living.

Psalm 116:1-8 on p. 759 of The Book of Common Prayer

Prayer words from the Prayer Book

Every Wednesday, after the Eucharist at St. Margaret’s, a group of us meet for a “Spiritual Day Hike.” We (figuratively) hike along trails up to peaks and vistas, through passes wending our way down the hillside into the valleys below, and sometimes we walk along streams in the meadows. The trails are left by our ancestors in the faith: in the Bible, in prayers, in writings, in hymns and songs, and so on. Currently we are exploring the expansive ‘Meadow of the Collects’ (Book of Common Prayer, pp. 211-261). Jean, one of our hikers, shared a prayer she uses daily as she seeks God in the midst of chronic pain and discomfort:

This is another day, O Lord. I know not what it will bring forth, but make me ready, Lord, for whatever it may be. If I am to stand up, help me to stand bravely. If I am to sit still, help me to sit quietly. If I am to lie low, help me to do it patiently. And if I am to do nothing, let me do it gallantly. Make these words more than words, and give me the Spirit of Jesus. Amen.

A prayer “In the Morning” on p. 461 of The Book of Common Prayer

An “Arrow Prayer” (when darkness overwhelms) from the Psalms

Send out your light and your truth, that they may lead me, and bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling. –Psalm 43:3

“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: 16 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

Through the rest of this week we’ll 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

Sometimes the sound in the chimes is filled with pauses and faint, sometimes incessant and loud. What do you hear?

Was Job inside the ‘dark night of the soul’?

Quote . . .If you have never heard of the dark night of the soul, I hope this book will give you an appreciation of what it means historically and, more important, what it might mean in your own life. The dark night is a profoundly good thing. It is an ongoing spiritual process in which we are liberated from attachments and compulsions and empowered to live and love more freely. Sometimes this letting go of old ways is painful, occasionally even devastating. But this is not why the night is called “dark.” The darkness of the night implies nothing sinister, only that the liberation takes place in hidden ways, beneath our knowledge and understanding. It happens mysteriously, in secret, and beyond our conscious control. For that reason it can be disturbing or even scary, but in the end it always works to our benefit.

May, Gerald G. (2009-03-25). The Dark Night of the Soul (pp. 4-5). HarperCollins e-books. Kindle Edition.

Questions from the Sunday Morning Forum

In a Comment to Wind Chimes: 14 Oct 2012 Diane writes,

I enjoyed the lively Forum discussion this morning. What an incredible group with wonderfully varied points of view! I have some questions and thoughts — sort of a offshoot from our discussion of Job — and would love to know what others are thinking about suffering, darkness, and walking with God.

I encourage you to read her Comment. She ends by asking some questions. I encourage you to share your responses with her and the community.

  • Have you ever experienced difficulty finding God when you’re going through times of suffering or “darkness of the soul”?
  • Do you think it’s okay to be honest with God when we’re upset by what we’re going through? Is it okay to be, gasp, angry with God?
  • Have you ever looked back after passing through difficult times and noticed these were times of great spiritual growth?

You may read Diane’s complete Comment, and leave your response, HERE

An Evening Prayer

Walk in the light, the beautiful light.
Come where the dewdrops of mercy shine bright.
Shine all around us by day and by night.
Jesus, the light of the world.

Claiborne, Shane; Wilson-Hartgrove, Jonathan; Okoro, Enuma (2010-11-09). Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals (p. 41). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.