It was Sunday just two days ago. The day we come to the place we worship, to the table we are familiar gathering around, when we open in prayer & start talking about Scripture, about life, about God. We did that. With a challenging week, and devastating news of violence on-going in our world we gathered, prayed, and discerned together. It was Oct. 28th, 28 days into the month of October during which we have been trying to read 1 chapter of Proverbs each day. Some days I think are easier than others for all of us as we try to intently read & listen to the wisdom of this book.
Again it was mentioned just how full this book is, how often it seems to repeat what has been said, and also how it seems to contains a bunch of pointers and points which really are just common sense! And yet, we also asked the question that if we (or anyone) is not oriented to belief in God, or if someone was not raised reading Proverbs or being taught Proverbs from a loved one, their family, and (or) the Church family, would these things, these expectations of living, be common sense for us? If we have not been taught that stealing is wrong, would we actually think that stealing is wrong? While there was conversation on this (some fun conversation that included a bit of confession over youthful stealing!), it did seem that the general consensus was that without teaching, without reading, without an orientation toward God what Proverbs gives us is not common sense. Furthermore, even with teaching and reading we also named that it seems, we sure seem to need a lot of reminders to do what we (on our best days!) think is the common sense right thing to do!
As we continue with Proverbs what struck me the most in the conversation & the reading was how taking time to go back to Proverbs and hear what God is saying to us through them this week is how in this practice, of all of us reading through the same book — and a FULL book of life thoughts, and pointers, and how-tos — has actually invited us to talk about much; has gifted us with a bit of a frame from which to engage a fullness of life and what is going on around us. It’s not easy conversations, and we don’t all agree. And yet, there are many things that we do agree with. And this of course is challenging to name, however, we agree that God calls us to more, and that God too mourns with us (more deeply!) the death that we know when Christ has offered all of us (new) life.
Each week we have an opportunity to do something rare; we have the opportunity to gather with people who have deeply held convictions and thoughts which might not be the same as our own, and to listen. To create a space not necessarily where we attempt to change someone’s mind (through debate) but to foster the capacity to hear where our sibling in Christ is coming from, to listen to each other’s’ hearts in order to see & hear more of God’s heart — even, or perhaps especially when we do not agree. It’s a privilege to gather with others who are (also) the hands & feet of God today and listen deeply to what they have to say, to hear the revelations that God has given them throughout their life to this point. Each week it again surprises me, and when weekly there are opportunities to become overwhelmed with life and with the brokenness that we have lived in and with for so long, it delights me to gather round this table where we can engage that which is rare, where we can be encouraged by what someone else says, where we can be honest even when hard, where we can by the grace of God be transformed through the renewing of our mind, and where we can humbly pray together knowing it is Christ alone who keeps us together and it is Christ alone who enables us with confidence to trust, “All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.” (Julian of Norwich).
Y’all — tomorrow is the 31st. This is the day we will finish our 1 chapter of Proverbs/day homework. Perhaps in the time after tomorrow and before Sunday we might re-read some of the Proverbs (maybe even the whole book!); or perhaps we will meditate on one that was troubling to us for some reason; or maybe we will read through a verse or a chapter with someone else and hear how they hear God speaking through it. Regardless, I look forward to the conversation that is sure to come this coming Sunday & I am grateful for the opportunity yet again to gather and lean into a reality that is rare — thank you.
In Christ ~
Rev. Sabrina Slater