From Zechariah to Malachi: In the Midst of Struggle

Well, we’ve made it through the mid-term election. Given its tone and everything that is at stake, I applaud us for that. Biblically speaking, we have moved into II Zechariah (Zechariah 9-11), will read III Zechariah (12-14) and begin the book of Malachi. Rice Achtemeier asks a question it is important to ask each time we encounter a text to which more was added: “Why were these materials added to I Zechariah and When were they added and by whom? … What function do these additions now serve in the Book of Zechariah?” (p. 141) She continues, II-III Zechariah “remind the people of God in every age that the coming victory of the Lord will be achieved only through the suffering of the faithful and the war of the Lord against evil. … The initial vision of Zechariah is tempered in down-to-earth fashion by the struggles pictured in its later chapters, just as in the New Testament the announcement of the arrival of the Kingdom in the person of Jesus of Nazareth is tempered by the cross.” (p. 141-142)

This is not news to most of us in some way or another, in the sense that experiencing failure is simply a condition of being human. I tend to get better at dealing with failure the more of it I encounter – I come to a point in which I say, “failure is normal; success is a blessing” or some other similarly-cheery thought. Something else that comes to mind is that what seemed like the ultimate failure – Jesus’ crucifixion – didn’t end there, but continued with resurrection. Failure only seems like the end. In your own failures may you see the seed of some new beginning, and may we continue to be faithful to building and revealing God’s realm whether or not we are satisfied with election results!

Think

This week we’re in Part I, Chapter 14, “The Worst Choice: Not Having a Well-Paid Career” of The Lifelong Activist. This chapter engages the question of how to support yourself as an activist. This is something I’ve struggled with in different ways over the years. The first time one reads Buechner’s quotation: “The place where God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger coincide,” (p. 95) one may just drift off into some kind of progressive Protestant ecstasy of vocational awe. Oh, it sounds good, doesn’t it? Good, simple, and dare I say, easy? Between that and Marsha Sinetar’s book Do What You Love, the Money Will Follow, it may seem like those two pieces of advice are all one needs to live a fruitful and happy life. Now I’m not saying that’s not true for everyone or is a bad moral principle for which to strive – but I am saying it’s not always as easy as that.

Rettig advises activists to build “a career that will satisfy your long-term need for cash in the easiest and most enjoyable way congruent with your values.” Doing that may not exactly be the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet, but it will keep your material hunger at bay – and will give you at least some time to devote to activism.

Where does your deep gladness meet with the world’s deep hunger? How much success have you had in getting paid to live out God’s call in your life? Join the discussion here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/peopleofthebooks/

Pray

How has your prayer life been? This month our prayer practice will be visio divina: holy seeing, a way of praying with our eyes. Ahlberg Calhoun notes, “Creation speaks. It speaks elegantly. It ‘pours forth speech’ of God. God ambushes people on riverbanks, mountaintops, in wilderness wasteland, whirlwinds, burning bushes and rushing winds. The house of God stretches from the view out my window to the edge of the universe and beyond.” (p. 47) The Upper Room website offers a simple visio divina practice:

  1. Pick out an image from a website, a photograph, painting, or icon.
  2. Look at the image and let your eyes stay with the very first thing that you see. Keep your attention on that one part of the image that first catches your eye. Try to keep your eyes from wandering to other parts of the picture. Breathe deeply and let yourself gaze at that part of the image for a minute or so.
  3. Now, let your eyes gaze at the whole image. Take your time and look at every part of the photograph. See it all. Reflect on the image for a minute or so.
  4. Consider the following questions:
    • What emotions does this image evoke in you?What does the image stir up in you, bring forth in you?Does this image lead you into an attitude of prayer? If so, let these prayers take form in you. Write them down if you desire.
  5. Now, offer your prayers to God in a final time of silence.

What came to you out of your visio divina practice this week?

Act

Have you completed MCU’s calls to action yet? Here they are again if you need them:

  1. Attend the Break the Pipeline Orientation on Tuesday, November 27, 6:30pm at the MCU Office. More info here: https://www.facebook.com/events/180245889534904/
  2. Attend the MCU Annual Membership Assembly on Thursday, January 31, 2019 at 5:30pm. More info here: https://www.facebook.com/events/169844147259502/
  3. Join MCU’s e-mail list by e-mailing [email protected] (or your local FBCO organization; find yours on the map below)
  4. Follow MCU (or your local FBCO)  here: https://www.facebook.com/MCUStLouis/ and Twitter here: https://twitter.com/MCUStLouis

Thanks for being a part of living democracy! We don’t have to do this alone – and when we organize, we can create long-lasting people-powered community change!

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.

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