Sermons

Sermon: Sunday, September 11, 2016: Season of Creation, Ocean Sunday

Texts: Job 38:1-18  +  Psalm 104:1-9,24-26  +  Luke 5:1-11

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To begin, consider closing your eyes and picturing the ocean. Have you been to the ocean? Have you walked barefoot along its shores, shoes dangling from your hand? Have you heard that sound, the ceaseless tide, washing the land with its salty waves? Have you sensed its infinite depths?

Standing at the edge of the ocean is like standing at the border to a country most people never truly enter. Our bodies ride the waves at its very edges like the tiniest pieces of flotsam and jetsam, not even driftwood, as its wet gravity takes us wherever it wants. Our boats skim the surface of its unseen interior the way dandelion seeds ride the currents of our breath without ever seeing the insides of our lungs.

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Next to the oceans, our continents seem petite. The oceans cover 71% of the earth’s surface, and the ocean floor extends miles below its waves. The land covers only 29% of the earth’s surface, and we live our lives on the thinnest crust of earth and sky. Imagine the largest animal that roams the Earth’s lands, the African bush elephant (weighing in at 3 tons), next to the largest sea creature known to humanity, the blue whale (weighing in at over 150 tons). But the oceans do not dwarf the continents only in terms of size, but in their diversity as well. For every massive blue whale there are an infinity of delicate coral reefs, surreal squids and octopi, strains of life that predate humanity by millennia, yet look like they must have come from another planet. Beyond the sandy beaches, beyond the metronomic waves, there is another world filled with neighbors we have yet to meet, though they have already been introduced to us.

Just yesterday afternoon, as Erin and I were preparing for this morning’s worship service, a man walked through the front door carrying a cardboard box and wearing an irritable frown. As I greeted him I could see that his box was filled with our trash: last week’s bulletins, copies of old newsletters, discarded mail. It was all clearly recyclable. In fact, we had tried to recycle it, but the trash bins in the alley are so full that neighbors have resorted to dumping their waste wherever they can find space. Failing that, they are setting it on ground, where the winds carry it away, blowing it down the alley. This is how our new neighbor met us for the first time, through our trash.

The same is true for our oceanic neighbors but with far worse consequences. By now it’s no longer news when we hear once again that “ships on the high seas routinely dump trash and sewage into the ocean,” or “that plastic pollution has permeated the entire ocean forming massive gyres, with plastic pollution being found even in the once pristine Arctic Sea.” But, beyond our trash, the massive levels of carbon dioxide generated by our automobiles and other fossil fuel consumption — coal, natural gas, and oil — are “dissolving into the ocean, making it more acidic.” Meanwhile, rising global temperatures have bleached vast swaths of the world’s coral reef in a matter of just a few years, endangering shoreline protections from ever-more-severe tropical storms and eliminating natural habitats for endangered species.

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The hubris we have displayed as a species threatens our very existence, but it is not new. In fact, it is the topic of perhaps the oldest piece of biblical literature in our holy scriptures, the Book of Job. If you’re at all familiar with Job, you know it concerns his quarrel with God over the justice of human suffering. Rather than answer Job’s complaints directly, God addresses Job’s mistaken notion that he is even capable of comprehending the wisdom by which God has ordered creation:

“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?

Tell me if you have understanding.

Who determined its measurements — surely you know!

Or who shut in the sea with doors

when it burst out from the womb?

and said, ‘thus far shall you come, and no farther,

and here shall your proud waves be stopped’?” (Job 38:2,4-5a,8,11)

When we hung these rainbow banners back in June it was partially in recognition of Pride month, as a sign of our embrace of the sacred value of every human life at a moment when our nation was grieving the loss of those 50 lives that ended in a shower of bullets at the Pulse nightclub. This morning they speak to us of a different kind of biodiversity and remind us of God’s promise to Noah not to end the world by means of a flood. If only we had made the same promise in return. Instead, our lack of wisdom, our failure of resolve, our climate-change-denying “words without knowledge” (Job 38:2) have brought us to the precipice of a global disaster from which there may be no turning back.

60ed9c8ef85b5bbd6ea848b2411557261d6f4960In an essay published by The New Republic titled “A World at War,” Bill McKibben — environmental activist, educator, and prophet of the climate crisis — cries out for the world to wake up to the hour that is upon us, and to band together to address the devastation we have begun before it brings an end to us all. I’ll post his essay this afternoon, and encourage you all to read it closely as we begin this Season of Creation, as it offers more than a diatribe, but also a roadmap to guide us out of the wilderness. Or, perhaps more apropos to the day, a constellation of bright ideas by which to navigate our way safely to the shore.

The true north star of his piece is the observation that for us to have any hope of survival, we must agree that we are fighting for our lives and that we intend to win the fight. We need to move beyond optional, feel-good, individual responses to environmental degradation and demand that the world’s nations and leaders take swift, decisive action to reverse global warming and all its deadly effects. Which means “a fracking ban, a carbon tax, a prohibition against drilling or mining fossil fuels on public lands, a climate litmus test for new developments, an end to World Bank financing of fossil fuel plants.” Which means we need to get organized.

organize-fish-400x250One of my early images of the idea of organizing came in the form of a poster that hung in classrooms and on campuses when I was a high school and college student. It showed a school of tiny fish swimming in the shape of a giant fish chasing down a single fish that, while larger than any of them individually was clearly no match for them together. Under the illustration was the single word: Organize.

That image comes to mind as I hear the miracle story told in the gospel of Luke. Here again, we learn that the more things change, the more they stay the same, as Simon Peter tells Jesus that the people have been fishing all night with no luck. Just as factory fishing in our day has stripped the oceans of fish at an unsustainable rate, so in Jesus’ day the Roman Empire had transformed Galilee from a place of subsistence farming and fishing into an export economy to feed its legions in a manner that had impoverished the people and drained the sea of fish.

Then Jesus tells those who would follow him to “put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” (Luke 5:4) When they did as he said their nets were filled with so great a haul that their boats nearly sank. At that moment Jesus drew a parallel between the power of these tiny fish, which alone were barely a meal but together could sink a boat, and the people of Galilee, who alone were dying of poverty, but together could change the world. “Do not be afraid,” he said, “from now on you will be catching people.” (v. 10)

The hour has come for us to lose our illusions and to shed our fear. The moment is upon us to set out into the deep waters, the ways of being and becoming that we have sensed are possible but have seemed too difficult. Now it is time to get organized, to fight not only for life on this planet but for the life of the planet itself, its lands and its waters. To fight like the people of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has fought to prevent the Dakota Access Pipeline from defiling sacred lands. To fight together. Organized into a body greater than any special interest, organized for the self-interest of the Earth itself.

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Amen.

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Sermons

Sermon: Sunday, September 15, 2013: Second Sunday in Creation — Fauna Sunday

Texts:  Job 39:1-12,26-30  +  Psalm 104:14-23  +  1 Corinthians 1:10-23  +  Luke 12:22-31

A plot of the Lorenz attractor for values, a visual representation of chaos theory that looks remarkable like ... a butterfly.

A plot of the Lorenz attractor for values, a visual representation of chaos theory that looks remarkably like … a butterfly.

You’ve heard of the butterfly effect, right?  Aside from being the title of a mediocre Ashton Kutcher movie from a decade ago, the butterfly effect is the popular name for a phenomenon described by the field of mathematics known as “chaos theory.”  The butterfly effect refers to “sensitive dependence on initial conditions,” or the observation that even minute variations or fluctuations in a system can produce vastly and powerfully different outcomes at a later state. The effect gets its name from the now well-known example of a butterfly flapping its wings somewhere on the coast of South America resulting in a hurricane across the Atlantic.

The point, of course, isn’t whether or not the flapping of a butterfly’s wings, or even a preacher’s lips, can produce significant changes in weather (or behavior), but the idea that systems are deeply interconnected on levels that we can barely begin to understand.  That even small changes produce significant outcomes, but most importantly that we can’t know or forecast what those outcomes will be.

This is a challenge to our hubris as human beings.  Despite the fact that our knowledge of the world’s workings is constantly changing, that we are constantly replacing old ideas about how the universe works with new ones on the basis of new information, humanity generally tends to act as though it already knows all it needs to know to go traipsing off into God’s creation, crashing through the rain forests or drilling into the ocean floor, making not just small changes but massive ones at every step of the way that have created massive disruptions in the world’s climate and ecology and threatened the ecosystems for virtually every species of life on this planet, including our own.

So, the butterfly becomes a symbol of the power of something small, something frail and fragile, to effect great change in a system.

But as our preacher last week, Pastor Hector Garfias-Toledo, pointed out to us, there is a difference between knowing facts about something and having a relationship with it.  In his beautiful sermon about the ocean, he reminded us that 70% of the world’s population lives just miles from the sea, and that people who live close to the sea develop a relationship with it, not just ideas about it.

The same is true for the world’s fauna, its creatures.  Certainly people with pets understand the kind of bond that can emerge between human beings and domesticated animals.  Farmers and hunters can have a profound respect for their inter-dependence on the breeds of animals they raise and hunt. Biologists and preservationists help us all to understand the marvel and mystery of species that exist beyond our experience, that we relate to in the most abstract manner — like the massive, 11 ton whale sharks that live in the warm equatorial seas and live off of plankton, but have become an endangered species because of the unintentional damage done to them by boat propellers.

But the truth is, we don’t even know what we don’t know about the incredibly diverse array of creatures, of fauna, of species that fill the earth.

When God speaks to Job, in response to Job’s preoccupation with his own plight, God asks,

“Who has let the wild ass go free? Who has loosed the bonds of the swift ass, to which I have given the steppe as its home, the salt land for its dwelling place? It scorns the tumult of the city; it does not hear the shouts of the driver. It ranges the mountains as its pasture, and it searches after every green thing. Is the wild ox willing to serve you? Will it spend the night at your crib? Can you tie it in the furrow with ropes, or will it harrow the valleys after you? Will you depend on it because its strength is great, and will you hand over your labor to it? Do you have faith in it that it will return and bring your grain to your threshing floor?” (Job 39:1-12, 26-30)

The Book of Job reminds us that human arrogance has imagined ourselves as the center of God’s creation since the beginning.  In the invitation issued in the Garden of Eden to join God as stewards of God’s creation, we misunderstood the mandate that came with our vocation, and have treated the earth and all its creatures as if they exist solely for our benefit.  Even as Job laments his own deep losses, God reminds him that creation does not exist for his benefit.  The wild ass becomes emblematic of all God’s creatures who did not come into being simply to serve humanity, to be farmed, or yolked for labor.

This season of creation, which we are now celebrating for the third year in a three-year cycle, is very new.  It grew out of the Lutheran Church of Australia, but has become a global, ecumenical movement that intentionally interrupts the Revised Common Lectionary we share throughout much of the Church in order to draw our attention to the urgent, unprecedented ecological crisis in which we now find ourselves.  A crisis which threatens our climate, and therefore every species on earth in one form or another.

Season of Creation commentaryOne of the features of the theological work being done by these eco-theologians has been the development of a “hermeneutic of creation,” or a way of reading scripture that attempts to dislocate humanity from the center and to recognize the subjectivity, or perspective, of all of creation. In their introduction to the preaching resource that accompanies this season, theologians Norman Habel, H. Paul Santmire, and David Rhoads, the emeritus professor of New Testament at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, write,

“We are seeking to read the relevant Bible texts also from the perspective of Earth and of members of the Earth community. We have become aware that in the past most interpretations of texts about creation — Earth or our kin on this planet — have been read from an anthropocentric perspective, focusing on the interests of humans. The task before us is to begin reading also from the perspective of creation.” (“The Season of Creation: A Preaching Commentary,” p. 11)

With that hermeneutic of creation in place, we are encouraged to hear even texts like Paul’s letter to the Corinthians with new ears.

 “Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters. What I mean is that each of you says, ‘I belong to Paul,’ or ‘I belong to Apollos,’ or ‘I belong to Cephas,’ or ‘I belong to Christ.’  Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Cor. 1:10-13)

Paul is addressing himself to the problem of privilege and prejudice in the Corinthian community.  Some members of the congregation have come to imagine themselves as more important, more central, perhaps even more blessed, than others because they were baptized by Paul himself.  It is the basic human sin, to distance ourselves from God by distancing ourselves from one another, to harm our relationship with God by harming one another.

The hermeneutic of creation isn’t only applied to texts about wildlife, or the environment, but all of scripture. So when we re-read this passage from First Corinthians, we are encouraged to ask not only how we may be creating false distinctions between ourselves and the people sitting next to us in the pews, but also between ourselves and the species that surround us, between ourselves and the rest of creation.  Do we imagine that our commissioning at the dawn of creation, the dominion God gave to the first people over Creation’s fauna, has not only set us apart from, but above, the needs of all that God has created and that God loves?

That may, indeed, be the wisdom of this world, where corporate entities consolidate our individual appetites for consumption into engines of expanding markets that treat everything like a commodity to be purchased, packaged, and sold for our pleasure.  It may well be the wisdom of this world that says that environmental degradation is the necessary evil, the price that must be paid for human progress. Nevertheless, Paul speaks to us as Christians, as people saved from the powers of this world by the foolishness of the cross, the saving power of God, which makes itself known in the frail and fragile things of this world.

The cross teaches us about the folly of empire, the foolishness of placing our trust in systems of power, production and consumption that, in the end, will only enslave us, consume us, and destroy us.  In fact, aren’t they already?  Don’t you already sense that so much of our modern life has diminished our ability to enjoy what it means to be truly human?

Do you really think we were created for fifteen-hour work days, or weeks without sabbath?  Do you really think we were created for canned vegetables and powdered potatoes when the earth is erupting with fresh fruit in its season? Do you really think that reality television and the never-ending parade of digital distractions on your smart phones and tablets are any substitute for what is actually happening in God’s reality, for the waves of Lake Michigan crashing against the lakeshore and the wild play of children and animals and sunshine and trees?

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Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

Jesus said to his disciples,

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body about more than clothing … And do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying. For it is the nations of the world that strive after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, strive for his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.” (Luke 12:22-23,29-31)

Sounds like foolishness, doesn’t it?  How are we to stop worrying about our lives, our next meal, our shelter and our clothing? Still, there is wisdom in this foolishness. Imagine the sabbath the earth and all its creatures would experience if we could curb our unceasing appetites and live lighter upon the earth.

Monarch ButterflyConsider the beautiful monarch butterfly, another of Creation’s endangered species.  It neither buys nor sells, but through the innate wisdom implanted in it by God its creator, it migrates unimaginable distances from the United States to Mexico each year, traversing national boundaries to make its home among people divided by wealth, ethnicity, language and power. Consider the monarch butterfly, in its frail, fragile beauty, which enters the tomb of its cocoon as a caterpillar and emerges ready to flutter, to fly, to become more than it had ever been. If God so equips the monarch butterfly for its future, how can we imagine God in her infinite compassion, would do anything less for us?

Amen.

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Sermons

Sermon: Sunday, October 21, 2012: The Book of Job, Pt. 3

Texts: Job 38:1-7, (34-41) and Psalm 104:1-9, 24, 35c  •  Hebrews 5:1-10  •   Mark 10:35-45

If you’ve been watching the political debates like I have, you’ve seen some heated exchanges between the candidates recently as each attempts to describe the state of our nation, and to persuade voters that he has a plan to improve upon it.  As they respond to questions from the moderator and attacks from their opponent, each tries to gain the advantage by framing the terms of the argument. Such has been the case with Job as well.

This morning we come to the final Sunday in our three week study of the book of Job and the themes it raises — particularly the themes of justice and suffering, and how each relates to the other.  In the first week we learned the set up, and heard that Job was “blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.” (1:1)  In heaven, God has been in a debate with a member of the heavenly court whose role was to find fault with humanity, who has accused humankind of devotion to God based only on gratitude for God’s blessing and fear of losing it.  To test the merit of the accusation, God has allowed the accuser to afflict Job with every kind of misery.  In a day, all that he had — his livestock, his servants, his children, his health — was taken from him in order to see if he would curse God.

In the second week we listened as Job refuted the wisdom offered by his friends, who attempted to console him by providing rationales for his suffering.  They told him that God, who is good and just, punishes the wicked and rewards the righteous, and suggested that Job look to his own life to understand what he had done to merit this punishment.  Job tears apart their arguments, challenging them to find fault with his conduct, to explain to him what he could possibly have done to deserve such suffering and loss.

Not content merely to justify himself to his friends, Job takes his debate directly to God, imagining a trial in which God would answer Job’s accusations of injustice and malicious neglect.  Job imagines a debate more dramatic than any we’ve seen so far in this season of campaigning.  He imagines a debate on a cosmic scale, in which God would be forced to answer Job’s questions about why bad things happen to good people, and where justice is to be found.

Finally, today, God speaks.

Before we consider the content of what God says when God finally enters the debate, let’s consider what is at stake.  Though the original test was designed by the accuser to prove the transience of human devotion, Job — through his profound wrestling with God in faith — has set up a test of his own, and it is we, the listeners, like the audiences that fill the halls or tune in on their televisions, who will decide who has won this debate.  Carol Newsom, my professor of Hebrew Bible at Emory University, describes the situation like this,

No longer is the question simply whether unconditional piety exists; one needs to know how such a stance could be meaningful.  From the perspective of Job, who makes justice the central value, the notion of radically unconditional piety is at best meaningless and at worst monstrous, for it would appear to sanction divine arbitrariness and cruelty.  The task God faces is to articulate a theological vision that will make such a stance not only meaningful, but also profound.”

What Dr. Newsom points out is that, while the book of Job begins with a story about a test for humanity, over the course of our engagement as readers and listeners a different test has also been established.  It is a test for God.  Having heard, along with Job, the feeble rationalizations offered by his friends, the limits of their proverbs, we want to know if God can offer a defense for the reality of so much unmerited suffering.  We, like Job, want to know if we can continue to offer our praise and worship to the God who allows things to be as they are, painful and unjust, without in essence endorsing this state of affairs, the state of creation.  As we, with Job, wait for God to speak we realize that God is now being tested every bit as much as Job.

I think this is a tremendous victory for Job.

God speaks, but when God speaks it is not to answer Job’s questions, but to pose an entirely different set of questions.  God begins,

“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?  Gird up your loins like a man, I will question you, and you shall declare to me. Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.” (38:2-4)

Though it sounds callous, God’s opening statement signals that God will not be delivering the same speech as Job’s friends.  God does not defend God’s honor by questioning Job’s.  Instead, God signals that the very terms of the debate are about to change, and that Job will need to pay attention and keep up.

It’s also just funny, and I think we have to acknowledge this, when God says “gird up your loins like a man.”  It sounds like the biblical equivalent of “pull up your diapers” or “put on your big boy pants.”  We might be tempted to hear this as a bit of divine mockery or condescendence.  Instead, Dr. Newsom suggests that to “gird up your loins” was to tuck the ends of your robes up into your belt so that you could move quickly without tripping over yourself.  In essence, God isn’t saying “grow up” as much as God is saying “keep up.”  God is about to cover a lot of ground, rhetorically, and Job will be challenged to follow where God is going with this.

Throughout the book so far, Job has been charging God with a failure of justice.  Here, God replies that Job suffers from a failure of knowledge, that Job’s arguments are based on his assumptions about how the world is ordered, how it has been created.  Job, in his anger and grief at the chaos and loss that go hand in hand with being alive, has questioned the very nature of being.  In response, God asks, “where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?”  And then, with a heavy dose of sarcasm, God continues, “who determined its measurements — surely you know!” (38:5)

We get only a few verses of what follows in the passage read in worship this morning.  We hear God ask, “Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, so that a flood of waters may cover you?” (38:34) and “Who has the wisdom to number the clouds?  Or who can tilt the waterskin of the heavens, when the dust turns into a mass and the clods cling together?” (38:37-38)  Of all the verses in God’s reply to Job, we couldn’t have picked better on a day when two of our sisters and brothers are being baptized into the body of Christ.  We are reminded that God is the creator, that God provides the rains we need for life, waters that transform the dust of the earth into clods of clay molded into the shape of humanity; and that, in baptism, God recreates us, providing new birth into a new life, taking the dust of our fragile natures and molding us into vessels for God’s holy spirit to be poured into and through for the sake of the world.

But it’s a shame that we don’t get to hear the fullness of God’s response to Job, which reads like poetry, because it is the way that God speaks just as much as the content of what God says, that finally moves Job.  God’s response to Job’s questions about the justice of creation washes over Job, wave after wave, as God asks:

Have you commanded the morning since your days began? (38:12)  Have you entered into the springs of the sea, or walked in the recesses of the deep? (38:16) Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, or have you seen the storehouses of the hail? (38:22) Do you know when the mountain goats give birth? (39:1) Is the wild ox willing to serve you? (39:9)  Do you give the horse its might? (39:19)  Is it by your wisdom that the hawk soars, and spreads it wings… (39:26)

For us, who live in cities and visit animals in their cages at the zoo, this might sound like a romantic call to consider the wild beauty of creation and to find our place in it.  But to people who lived in smaller settlements, close to the land and surrounded by the dangers of the wilderness, these images are less romantic and more menacing.  We might hear God as saying, “look around you at the world I have created, it is filled with powerful creatures that do not submit to your will.”

In our day and age, we might be less frightened and amazed by creation as it exists outside our bodies, and more frightened and amazed by creation as it exists inside our bodies.  I wonder if we might hear an extension of God’s reply to Job suited to our day and age that sounds something like,

Do you know when a cell becomes a life?

Can you tell when the division of cells will proceed along its course

to renew your inward parts as they slowly slough off their deadened layers day by day;

or, can you control when their multiplication will surge past their normal process, blossoming into masses that will burden your limbs, cloud your minds and stop your breath?

Job makes his case against God on the basis of justice.  God’s defense is given on the basis of creation.  The world as God has created it is filled with wonders.  The powers of creation are awesome.  The earth quakes.  The skies storm.  The seas rage.  The rivers overflow their beds.  The animals devour and are devoured in turn.

Perhaps it is even harder for us than it was for Job because we, with all our knowledge and technology, have shielded ourselves from so much of the chaos of creation.  We have come to imagine that someday we will engineer a way to shield ourselves from death.  To live forever.  We suppose that God’s creation will, finally, be supplanted by our own.  That someday we will write the rules, the terms that come with the precious gift of life.  That, in our hands, creation’s wilds would bend to our order.  That, under our management, there would finally be justice.

We need only hear ourselves speak these dreams out loud to know how false they are.  In our hands the creation groans.  In our hands death comes too quickly and too soon for too many people and places upon the earth.  Justice, in our hands, is life for those we know and love, and the devil take the rest.

As harsh as they may sound to our ears, and perhaps to Job as well, God’s response is not intended to put Job in his place in any kind of humiliating way, but to remind him of the lessons we were learning throughout the season of creation that preceded this series on Job — that we are a part of creation, not apart from it.  That we live and we die by the same laws that govern all of life.  That death is a part of living, and suffering too.

At its core, God’s speech refuses to answer Job’s question about the causes of unmerited suffering, because to do so would suggest that there is still some method or device that lies within our grasp, that we still might hope to evade the fate that comes for each of us.  God never says, “this is the ways things are so that some greater plan of mine can be fulfilled.”  We are never asked to accept that the sufferings of life play some part in a mystery that will someday be revealed.  God’s answer, such as it is, is simply “This is life.  Not centered around you, always responding to your actions, rewarding or punishing you.  Not responding to your wishes.  Not bowing to your will.  Creation is always being recreated, and you are a part of that, along with the rest of creation.  The process is chaotic and it is painful, of that you can be sure.”

Job, finally, accepts this.  Having pleaded that God would hear his case, Job finally acknowledges, “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” (42:5-6)  In the end, Job’s words become as enigmatic as God’s answer, suggesting as the book draws to a close, that any work left to be done will have to be done by each of us.  Does Job, in the end despise himself?  Is he signaling that he has withdrawn his case against God?  Has his mind been changed concerning his place in God’s creation?  It’s all, purposefully I think, left unclear.  Throughout, Job has not been comforted by the easy answers of his friends, and so — consistent with that theme — Job refuses to provide easy answers for its readers and listeners.  Whatever peace Job has found in the end has come through passionate engagement with his own life and adamant engagement with the God who created him, suggesting that the same may be required of each of us as well.

In praise of the God who created the world, who set the boundaries for the waters of earth and sky, whose floods have drowned us and whose hand has saved us and made us one with each other and with the whole creation.

Amen.

 

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