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Friday, July 28, 2017

Houses Made by Human Hands

How about a Ministry Friday?  No alliteration—I know, I know.  But, the past two weeks have been a nightmare for routine.  Not that I love routines, anyway.  Seriously, though, I have slept in so many different places and driven so many miles on various routes that I have often forgotten which house I am in… and sometimes even which state, although I might be able to reasonably claim it is always a state of confusion.

On Monday, I walked into a new office, in a new town, and officially began my new job as Director of Family Ministries, at a new church, in a new denomination.  That’s a lot of ‘new.’  Less than a month ago, I was blogging about marking time.  Today, I am deep in the throes of transition, and things have been so busy I have struggled to read the daily office, let alone write about it.  If you want me to be real; I actually forgot to eat one day.  True story.

And then I found myself, this afternoon, with just enough time and space to crack open my Sacred Ordinary Days planner to consider that God might be trying to tell me something through these daily office readings that keep coming back.

Let’s begin with this one, used not long ago on another day, for another post:       
Genesis 29:9, “…for she was a shepherd…”

Although the original intent of this piece of information seems to have been to relay a literal fact, we often use this kind of language metaphorically in Christian circles.  I have come to love these five little words so deeply in recent days that I think I would have difficulty communicating the intensity of emotion attached to them.  This is incredibly frustrating for someone who loves to vomit feelings in print. 

What I can say is that one facet of my affection for this phrase comes simply from the word, “she.” 

I brought my family to work with me on Tuesday, and we had this moment when I was giving them a tour of the building and Miah (age 7) marched right up to the center of the platform in the sanctuary, turned around to face the (non-existent except for the other six of us) congregation, and shouted, “Teach me how to preach, Mommy!” 

The simplicity of this struck me with awe.  I have no idea if she will ever be called to vocational ministry, but I know for sure, if she is, she will never doubt the validity of that call because of her gender.  Thank you, God, for denominations that recognize your call to men and women, alike.  The moment was short, as Miah continued on her exploration adventure.  She thinks this building is a castle.  She is rather upset that she couldn’t find any unicorns.  I might have told her they are of the invisible variety…  So, thank you, also, for granting the necessary grace to raise imaginative, strong, non-conformist, passionate, compassionate, social action minded, inclusive kids (my girls and my boys) who love you and love people (and mythological creatures).

Then, there was Psalm 105 today.  I actually had a pretty good laugh over the selected verses.  This Psalm begins with praise, wonder, and covenant.  After that, we skip over the history of Israel, exile, and plagues.  We come back with:   

Psalm 105:45b, “Praise the Lord.”

I’m mostly thinking out loud on this, but I do question whether or not there is something to be said for occasionally leaving the pain out of the stories we spin.  Not always.  Not even often.  But maybe today.

The last Scripture that came into play for the purposes of the title of this post can be found in Acts 7, where Stephen speaks, introducing the recitation of Old Testament prophecy, by saying, “the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands.

And this part is probably intensely personal in nature, but I’ve been more than a little stressed out about where we might live here, and it was something of a wake-up call to remember both that the things we sometimes think we need might only be wants and that God has never failed us yet, even though God’s provision has often not looked the way we expected it to.

As if I needed this particular line of thought underscored (in bold, italicized print), there’s also this quote from Common Prayer: “Give me neither poverty nor riches, Lord: but bread for today, hope for tomorrow.”  Well, OK then.

Since we’re avoiding the suffering, let’s not stop to consider the continuing narratives of Jacob, Rachel, and Leah… of Israel… of Stephen.  These will come soon enough.  Six weeks ago, if anyone had told me what today would be like, I never would have believed it.  I’m fairly confident that’s consistent with my entire life and the history of the world, even for strategic planners.  I wonder what might happen next… 


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