Occasionally, the most powerful impact the words of Scripture can have is in the embodied, public reading of the text. Case in point: This past Sabbath, the pastoral staff at the La Sierra University Church in California--a staff that includes four women--read aloud the words of 1 Corinthians in which Paul admonishes the church in Corinth that women must be silent in the churches.
I find myself reflecting on the story of David and Goliath this week. It is a story that captivated me as a young child, as I think it does most children. In this story, we find David, a young shepherd, thrust into a situation much bigger than himself, both literally and figuratively. It is not a situation he thought he’d be in, and yet, here he is, taking a stand for his beliefs and his people against a giant.
There is something that seems almost idyllic about growing up in a small home town where you know everyone and everyone knows you. Rootedness, shared traditions, familiar faces, safety – or if not that, at least predictability. Even if times are hard, or circumstances challenging, there is a certain rhythm of life that develops that resists change and challenge. We know who everyone is, where they live, where everything goes.
February is drawing to a close, but for most of the country the days are still too short and the nights far too long. Each morning, the sun makes a feeble attempt to peek through the clouds only to quickly scurry back again, leaving cold and frost to overtake the evenings once more. A heavy blanket of snow covers the ground, and though I know spring is right around the corner, the never-ending chill in my hands and feet tell a different story.
I caught glimpses of my reflection in the intermittent light as it cycled between illumination and shadow in the large windows of the train car. My reflection stared back listlessly, with a face displaying a mix of anxiety and excitement. Beyond those emotions, I was staring at a face I knew well, but one with which I hadn't really ever connected—or even accepted as my own.
what shall I compare you to?
A mountain stream, running through snows of ivory?
A water lily, waving in a pond of tinted green?
A wild doe, dancing in a meadow of spring?
A proud mare, racing through African deserts of gold?
shadows of reality,
Tibetan snows tell of your purity.
Ocean depths reveal your richness.
“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” 1 John 4:16
Webster’s online dictionary lists a plethora of definitions for love but all revolve around the central concept of feeling a great affection for someone or something and to take great pleasure in that thing.
I don’t remember last week – at least not in any significant detail. It is not because I was abducted, nor is it because I suffer from any kind of medical condition that affects my memory. I have come to the conclusion that life simply gets full, and to allow myself to be able to function, often times I go on autopilot. Autopilot is scary. I remember one night when I was in my late teens.
They had been married for 47 years, raised two boys and two girls, and seven grandchildren. High school sweethearts, married at age 20, and now, all those years of love, family and life had come down to this: she was in a Critical Care Unit with cancer. Nearly unconscious except for the slow, painful moans that forced their escape from her parted lips, she sought relief from her body’s agony. Cancer, like an evil spirit, was speedily consuming her from the inside out. Her name was Josephine. Only days before, though sick, they believed she had more time.