OWAAT April 15: Risk and God’s Realm

I may be a little scattered this week as I continue preparing for my service of ordination and must admit that even as I continue my daily Bible readings on our schedule, my mind is really on Isaiah 6:8: “Then I heard the Lord’s voice saying, ‘Whom should I send, and who will go for us?’ I said, ‘I’m here; send me.'” Of course, this is one verse out of an entire chapter, and yet sometimes it is not the whole story and its broader context but instead the smaller pieces that capture our spirits and imaginations. This verse brings to my mind the risk and possible costs of saying yes to God – and also the joy – and that it is virtually impossible to get to joy, or a great many other worthwhile things, without taking risks.

What pieces of the Bible stick in your mind and why?

Daily Bible readings:

April 15 – Isaiah 32
April 16 – Isaiah 33
April 17 – Isaiah 34
April 18 – Isaiah 35
April 19 – Isaiah 36
April 20 – Isaiah 37
April 21 – Isaiah 38

Think:

As Walter Brueggemann says in An Introduction to the Old Testament: The Canon and Christian Imagination, “It is clear in all three units of text (1-12; 28-31 plus 32-33; and 36-39) that the tradition of Isaiah insists upon the powerful rule of YHWH in the midst of deeply problematic public affairs. As much as any of the prophets of ancient Israel, Isaiah is the voice of an insistent ‘public theology,’ and assertion that YHWH’s rule matters consistently to policy and practice.” (p. 178) While some may bemoan the influence of faith on public policy, that train left the station a long time ago. Since it is clear that people’s faith continues to exert a strong influence on public policy, and since all of us, religious or not, hold values that affect our views on governmental affairs, people of faith have a responsibility to be principled and intentional in our understanding of how our values affect our politics.

What does your public theology look like?

Pray: 

How’s your prayer life this week? How is Joseph Driskill’s Prayer for a New Earth (in Driskill’s book Protestant Spiritual Exercises, pages 120-125) working for you? I continue to be grateful for having begun and continued a daily prayer practice. Mine isn’t very elaborate, but most days it happens, and that helps me through all kinds of little rough patches in life.

If you pray regularly and intentionally, how has that changed your life?

Act:

Jim Martin’s in The Just Church has more to say about the role of risk in faith. “Why, I thought, did the church have nothing quite comparable [to the military] to offer young people ready to risk everything? Should not the church have a discernible mission that is at least as challenging, at least as compelling as the one with which this young man [entering the military] aligned himself? And what of the danger? When did engaging in the work of the church become so safe? When did it happen that living a life worthy of the gospel came to exclude the very real possibility of losing one’s life? … what is abundantly clear to me from my life in the community of believers is that over time, most of us develop aversion to risk of any kind.” (p. 113)

What are you truly willing to risk to build and reveal God’s realm?

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 together 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.

Resources:
Word and World: Isaiah. Vol. 19. 2. Saint Paul, MN: Luther Seminary, 1999. https://wordandworld.luthersem.edu/issues.aspx?issue_id=74.

Brueggemann, Walter. An Introduction to the Old Testament: The Canon and Christian Imagination. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003.

Driskill, Joseph. Protestant Spiritual Exercises: Theology, History, and Practice. New York: Morehouse Publishing, 1999.

Martin, Jim. The Just Church: Becoming a Risk-Taking, Justice-Seeking, Disciple-Making Congregation. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2012.

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