God has place this wonderful creation in our hands. As U2 sings, "It's a beautiful day, don't let it slip away." We have this one life to live on this beautiful planet so enjoy these reflections on God, faith, life, and music. "After the flood all of the colors came out. It's a beautiful day."

Friday, October 30, 2015

Wherever You Go



When I was young, my dad used to tell us stories. I had two favorites that I would always ask for. One was the story of Daniel and the other was the story of Ruth. We learned of a family who were forced to immigrate to another country because of the famine in Bethlehem, but were chased by devastation. I loved to hear about Ruth. He would tell of the drama and pain of losing her husband, his brothers and father. How she loved this new family and her new mother, and didn’t not want to leave her when things got hard for these immigrants. How she chose to follow Naomi into a new land and live with a new people and a new religion. We heard of her struggles to feed herself and Naomi and how she had to work and struggle to get by. And we learned about how life moved on, how a new love could be found and a new family created. Dad taught us about how God would change the life of this immigrant and make her the great grandmother of King David.
The story of Ruth still tugs at my heart strings. This is the story of three people, Naomi, Ruth and Boaz, who through tough circumstance find each other and figure out how to walk together on a path that leads to healing and wholeness. While Naomi wants to give up, through the hard work and persistence of Ruth, she is brought back to life and faith. Will we be like Naomi and dare to name the broken places in our lives and the world?
Boaz sees the hard work Ruth has put into feeding and taking care of Naomi who has given up. Boaz sees this love and help to ease Ruth’s burden by making finding food easier and his generosity leads to the creation of a new family and home.  We we like Boaz, say let me help  even if the cost is great and may change our lives.
Ruth is a woman who takes the law and challenges people to live beyond common practice, to live as God intended not as it is written. Ruth is a woman who pushes us to believe that the world can be different and then sets out to see that it happens. Ruth is a woman who comes to believe in God and then challenges others to be better in their faith. Will we like Ruth hear the brokenness in the world and commit to be there with others through the pain?
Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God. 17 Where you die, I will die—there will I be buried.” Ruth 1:16-17

Saturday, October 3, 2015

God's Relationship with Animals



Why Do We Bless the Animals? Part 2

One of my favorite passage of scripture is from the book of Job. Job has spent a long time arguing with his friends that he did nothing to deserve losing his family, his money, his health. He keeps pleading for God to come and tell him why. Well God doesn’t send him a dream, doesn’t send him a prophet, doesn’t send him a friend to comfort him. God doesn’t come in the quiet stillness. God come in a whirlwind. When stops. God tells Job to gird his loins, to man up and listen. God doesn’t appear sweetly, kindly, lovingly. God comes to share that what we think and believe about who God is and how God acts is limited by our understanding. We have put God in a box and there with Job, God has literally blown that box apart. God doesn’t answer Job’s question about why, instead God shares glimpses of what the Holy One does.
 39 ‘Can you hunt the prey for the lion,
   or satisfy the appetite of the young lions,
40 when they crouch in their dens,
   or lie in wait in their covert?
41 Who provides for the raven its prey,
   when its young ones cry to God,
   and wander about for lack of food? Job 38

The Holy One provides the means for animals to be fed. The lions know how to hunt prey and satisfy their hunger with their hunt. God is there to provide for the hungry little ones. Even ones we consider dangerous, fierce. God recognizes their need for sustenance and gives them the means to satisfy their need.

‘Do you know when the mountain goats give birth?
   Do you observe the calving of the deer? 
2 Can you number the months that they fulfil,
   and do you know the time when they give birth, 
3 when they crouch to give birth to their offspring,
   and are delivered of their young? 
4 Their young ones become strong, they grow up in the open;
   they go forth, and do not return to them. 

The Holy One is there for the birth of animals. Even animals in high, far away locations. God is with those babies and those mothers. God is there as they grow and fulfill their purpose, their beloved identity.

5 ‘Who has let the wild ass go free?
   Who has loosed the bonds of the swift ass, 
6 to which I have given the steppe for its home,
   the salt land for its dwelling-place? 
7 It scorns the tumult of the city;
   it does not hear the shouts of the driver. 
8 It ranges the mountains as its pasture,
   and it searches after every green thing. 

These fierce animals are actively doing God's work by living to their fullest. Even where there are no people God experiences the promise inherent in these creatures. We as humans get in the way of these creatures when we help contribute to the destruction of their habitat. Taking the mountains out for the minerals found below. When our actions take the green of the earth and are creating deserts with the changes we have made in the weather patterns through global warming. We see the ass as a creature we can use to ehlp in our labor, while God loves the creature and places it in the place where it can be its true self.

9 ‘Is the wild ox willing to serve you?
   Will it spend the night at your crib? 
10 Can you tie it in the furrow with ropes,
   or will it harrow the valleys after you? 
11 Will you depend on it because its strength is great,
   and will you hand over your labor to it? 
12 Do you have faith in it that it will return,
   and bring your grain to your threshing-floor? 

The Holy One asks Job, us, if we know about the animals of our world. God wants us to think about , become acquainted with, learn about these fellow inhabitant of earth. This section of Job helps us to learn about some of the creatures we use. The ox which has been a source of labor for us, allowing us to farm in a way we couldn't without their strength. But our use of their strength may miss truly knowing, understanding this creature. To know who we truly are, and our place within creation, we have to see our place as one part of a greater whole. We are but a small part of creation that cannot live without the rest of the earth. Learning to recognize our place in a larger order. A chaotic order that God has created with each part of creation having a role and place that brings order to the chaos. 

13 ‘The ostrich’s wings flap wildly,
   though its pinions lack plumage. 
14 For it leaves its eggs to the earth,
   and lets them be warmed on the ground, 
15 forgetting that a foot may crush them,
   and that a wild animal may trample them. 
16 It deals cruelly with its young, as if they were not its own;
   though its labor should be in vain, yet it has no fear; 
17 because God has made it forget wisdom,
   and given it no share in understanding. 
18 When it spreads its plumes aloft,
   it laughs at the horse and its rider. 

The Holy One even created the ostrich, not a model of caring motherhood. A bird that can't fly, and leaves its eggs to fend for themselves. God didn't create this ostrich to live up to our ideals of what creation should be. God enjoys this watching over this unwise bird. God created the ostrich not for our benefit. God values this creature and enjoys them, values them as they are.

19 ‘Do you give the horse its might?
   Do you clothe its neck with mane? 
20 Do you make it leap like the locust?
   Its majestic snorting is terrible. 
21 It paws violently, exults mightily;
   it goes out to meet the weapons. 
22 It laughs at fear, and is not dismayed;
   it does not turn back from the sword. 
23 Upon it rattle the quiver,
   the flashing spear, and the javelin. 
24 With fierceness and rage it swallows the ground;
   it cannot stand still at the sound of the trumpet. 
25 When the trumpet sounds, it says “Aha!”
   From a distance it smells the battle,
   the thunder of the captains, and the shouting. 

The Holy One shows Job the kingdom of the wild, chaotic creation. Job, us humans, has no control, but where God nurtures and sustains all wild creatures. God celebrates and invites us to celebrate, the wisdom inherit in each part of creation. God gave each of these animals a life that teaches it to be itself. This crazy war horse is fearless and strong, fierce and thunderous. Each creature is created and pronounced good.

26 ‘Is it by your wisdom that the hawk soars,
   and spreads its wings towards the south? 
27 Is it at your command that the eagle mounts up
   and makes its nest on high? 
28 It lives on the rock and makes its home
   in the fastness of the rocky crag. 
29 From there it spies the prey;
   its eyes see it from far away. 
30 Its young ones suck up blood;
   and where the slain are, there it is.’ 

Job reminds us that most events in nature, on earth take place beyond human awareness. God observes and enjoys all that happens in the lives of animals. God observes these acts of creation, the birth of animals, the wild places they roam, the hunting they do, the strength of their activity. God is there with the birds that soar, the cats that hunt, the horse that runs. God know all about thier nature and desires for them to live fully and completely in their own perfect way. 

So when we bless these companion animals; these animals that we share our lives with, who bring into our lives love, laughter, companionship; these animals that depend on us; these amazing wild creatures who don't always act the way we want. These wonderful, amazing creatures are part of God's design for a world that is interdependent on each other. These companion animals help us to get a glimpse of the love and joy God has for creation and all the creatures, the Holy One made and pronounced good.