Lent is sure still here, isn’t it? 😀 How is your Lent going? As much as I would like for Lent to be a mysterious and deeply introspective exploration into my mortality and other limitations, it tends toward a tired exploration of them in those few moments I have scheduled for it in the midst of ordination preparation and all the other usual delightful life activities. But that’s educational too! I recall the comparatively halcyon days of seminary in which I attended school full-time for three years and worked part-time at Eden’s library. I remember (now, with bliss) the luxury of being able to stay up ’til the “wee smas” reading amazingly insightful theological works, and having quite a bit of flexibility and free time in my schedule compared to now. The difference makes me far more empathetic toward all who work toward fulfilling their life dreams on limited schedules and budgets. Wherever you are in life’s journey, I pray that you have enough time and energy to discern and work toward God’s dream for your life.
Daily Bible readings and readings from The Cup of Our Life:
March 18 – Isaiah 4; Week 5, Day 5
March 19 – Isaiah 5; Week 5, Day 6
March 20 – Isaiah 6; Week 5, Day 7
March 21 – Isaiah 7; Week 6, Day 1
March 22 – Isaiah 8; Week 6, Day 2
March 23 – Isaiah 9; Week 6, Day 3
March 24 – Isaiah 10; Week 6, Day 4
We’ve finished up Song of Songs and are now reading the Book of Isaiah, one of the prophetic books of the Bible. As David Petersen mentions in the New Interpreter’s Bible, the biblical prophet didn’t always speak to the future, but also considered what was going on in light of previous events and viewed those from God’s perspective. “…it is possible to identify one element common to all prophets. They functioned as intermediaries between the human and the divine worlds. They could represent humans to God (e.g., Amos 7:2) or God to humans (Amos 5:4). They could act with the power of God within the mundane world (so Elisha). The could envision the cosmic world (Amos 7:4; Zech 1:7-17); they could participate in the divine council (1 Kings 22; Isaiah 6); and they could analyze the machinations of humans (Micah 3). Prophets were truly boundary figures.”
The journal Word & World dedicated an entire issue to Isaiah, which you can read here: https://wordandworld.luthersem.edu/issues.aspx?issue_id=74 As always, I also recommend reading what the New Interpreter’s Bible has to say about prophetic literature and Isaiah in particular. While many decry the use of commentaries when reading scripture devotionally, there are some of us who hear God’s voice more clearly when we read the Bible not only in conversation with its authors and editors, but also those who have studied it very thoroughly. For me, some parts of the Bible come ever-so-much-more alive when I read it with a commentary to help me to understand its social location – what in the world was going on when it was written.
What is your experience of reading the Bible? Would you rather read it with or without a commentary?
How is Lent going for you? If you’re like me, sometimes it’s challenging to make Lent much different from the rest of the year, except for maybe a strong desire for sun, green, and other signs of spring. In regard to all this, I find Joyce Rupp’s words from Week 5, Day 7 helpful and comforting: “Are you doubting the value and worth of your daily practice? If you are, remember that prayer is not about progress and results or about feeling good. Prayer is about relating with God and having this relationship make a difference in the way we live our lives. Prayer is the intention of our hearts to commune with God. Renew that intention every day and let go of any anxiousness that you might have.” (p. 114) While I can find deadlines motivational, the anxiety that comes with those deadlines sometimes ends up being the opposite. This is not about babying oneself to the point of ineffectiveness, but instead about treating oneself kindly as a fellow or sister human being.
As we consider how we, as part of the church, can participate in the building, revealing, and redeeming of God’s realm, Robert Linthicum offers some sage wisdom. “The question, ‘How can the church empower the poor?’ is the wrong question simply because no one can empower another person. The only person who can empower a community is the community itself. Only you can take charge of your own situation. No one can take charge of it for you. The task of the church is not to empower its community. The task of the church is to join the empowerment of its community – to participate in it, to be an integral part of it, and perhaps even to participate in making it happen.” (p. 280)
How does this wisdom speak to your understanding of your and God’s mission as you have experienced it in church or other faith community? And how are you partnering with God and joining the empowerment of your community? Have you found and partnered with your local FBCO yet?
Check the Think! Pray! Act! calendar for ideas and things to do.
Check out the Find Your FBCO Map to find your local faith-based community organizing affiliate and connect with the people who are working to live out their dreams of a more just world!
What’s going on in your living of the Gospel? Let us know in the comments, in our e-mail discussion group, or on social media.
Word and World: Isaiah. Vol. 19. 2. Saint Paul, MN: Luther Seminary, 1999. https://wordandworld.luthersem.edu/issues.aspx?issue_id=74.
Linthicum, Robert C. Building a People of Power: Equipping Churches to Transform Their Communities. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2015.
Petersen, David L. “Introduction to Prophetic Literature.” Pages 143-206 in The New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary. Vol. IV of X.
Rupp, Joyce. The Cup of Our Life: A Guide to Spiritual Growth. Revised edition. Notre Dame, Ind: Ave Maria Press, 2012.