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Some Thoughts for April 28, 2024

Hearing the call, and seeing the need, can and will we respond?

 

As most of you know, I am now in Seminary, studying ministry, hopefully for ordination. I chose to attend a program that in addition to training us in the skills needed, from theological thinking, spiritual formation, rhetorical use of text, church history, pastoral care—well, you get the idea—asks us to look at the world, its social context and needs and see beyond traditional labels and conformities. We refer to it as a “radically inclusive Gospel.” We are being asked to see with the eyes of Jesus; to see all of God’s creation as important, all of God’s people as people to love and care for. More importantly, we are asked to see individuals as valued members of God’s community, and therefore ours; to act upon this and “live out the courage of our compassion.”

This week’s sermon began as a homework assignment in our “Communication” class—teaching us to use scripture and our observations of the world to challenge our listeners to think about God’s call.

 

My assigned passage was Genesis 21:8-21, the Story of Haggar and Ishmael. Not a story I would ordinarily select—certainly not in the Lectionary. But as I pondered, read, and reread the scripture, God spoke to me and said, “Look around you—what do you see? What questions should you and others ask? What challenges will you accept?” And I looked with new eyes.

 

Our faith tells us that God cares for us, and will care for us through our dying days and into eternity. Our faith also tells us that God has plans for us, that we can put our trust in God, and that life will turn out well, despite the trials we are going through at any given time.  And I think, in general, we believe this and trust our lives to God. We count on God’s plan and promise to take care of us. When God makes a promise, there is follow through. Unfortunately, we are not always so generous, whether intentionally or unintentionally. It is easy to assume that the status quo is the way life is supposed to be, the way God wants it. But what if it isn’t?  All around us, If we look, we will see people who have been used and abused—maybe you are one of them. It is something that humans unfortunately have the capacity and inclination to do, make use of someone or something and then discard it. Whether that is a person whose acquaintance can help us advance at work, someone whose kindness we take for granted, or even an item we bought and then throw away after one or two uses because it isn’t really what we want.  God’s love for us, and care for us isn’t like that. God doesn’t use us, or abuse us. God doesn’t throw us away. Instead, we are asked to help care for and celebrate God’s diverse creation. God reminds us that we are all important in God’s sight, and all have a place at the table.

 

I offer you a challenge this week: Listen to the call of God, the calls of those around you who are in pain, or who are treated unjustly. Listen to the cries of those who are hurt because they have been left out, been used and discarded, and no longer have the resources they need to thrive. How can you help them? How can we as a church community, the Body of Christ, make a difference? Is there something you are willing to jump in and try? Are you up for the challenge?


-Barbara Murray

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