“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55: 10-11
This is one of my favorite verses. I was imprinted in my mind by a Jesuit priest, Father John Galen, who taught a class on pastoral liturgy long ago in Tucson, Arizona. He was brilliant and demanding, reminding us again and again that this was a graduate level class. I couldn’t read the text he used without constant reference to the dictionary. He talked about liturgy as though it was life, telling us that pastoral meant life of the people and that good liturgy needed to reflect and enhance the lived experience of those present. He lamented poor liturgy found in so many churches, saying, “Go to church, lose your faith!” He opened my eyes to the promise and possibilities of worship which was faithful to both the tradition of the Church and the living experience of those gathered.
He was the first person to make clear to me that God acts; God does not react. God does not do things in response to our actions. God acts. We respond. Prayer, he was clear, is always a response to God. He helped me to understand that our prayers primarily prepare us to move into a new space God has already prepared, rather than persuade God to act in response to our petitions.
These were powerful, new ways of knowing and thinking for most of us and I know, looking back, that he must have seen before him, time and again, a sea of dumbfounded faces, because again and again he would pause and say, “Like the rain and the snow that comes down from the heaven and waters the earth,. . .my word shall not return to me empty!” I see now, from the perspective of decades, that at least in part he was encouraging himself to continue despite the dim results he saw before him. But he was also teaching us about God; the God who creates, the God who acts, the God who loves, the God in whom we live and move and have our being.
I think we who are created in the image of this very God often forget that we are not in charge. We are charged with certain things; powerful things to be sure, but we are not in charge. We are asked to love and to forgive and we are expected to put that love and forgiveness into action. We are asked not to judge others. The fruit of judgment, God is clear, is division and distortion. We are called to reconciliation and truth. So, as easy as it is to judge and condemn, God asks us to resist, to put down this petty, destructive power and trust that the One who made us, the One who loves us, the One who now and always, goes before us, is promising us that together we will “go out with joy and be led back with peace”.
Let us pray that God will make a space in each of us; in our country, in our world, for God’s word, God’s intention, God’s new creation. Let us ask God’s grace to put down judgment and open our eyes and hearts to the way forward already set before us. And maybe most important of all, let us join the mountains and the hills in songs of praise and clap along with trees everywhere, rejoicing in the power and wonder of our God!
For you shall go out in joy and be led back in peace: the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Isaiah 55:12
We will live stream services from the church for the next few weeks until the infection numbers come down in Canyon County. Please wear masks, eat healthy and get a lot of fresh air and sunshine so we can get back to worshiping together in person as soon as possible!
Due to the increase in coronavirus cases in Canyon County, we will be shutting the office except for Wednesday and Friday. If you need to contact Karen+, please call her cell phone, 208-993-0048. Do keep all those who are ill in your prayers and let us encourage one another to be cautious in this difficult time.
Since we are back to online worship, please don't forget your pledge support of Grace. We have an online giving account you can access on the website if that is helpful for you. Your faithfulness in this difficult time has been a blessing!
Angela's ordination: Angela Lerena's ordination is July 18. Her diocese is not allowing any gatherings so there will be minimal people in attendance. I have contacted the worship committee for Angela's ordination, asking how we at Grace might take part in that. You are invited to celebrate the ordination to the priesthood if Angela Lerena in July 18, 2020. Please join Here.
Mia’s ordination will be August 10th at 7pm. You can participate via Zoom. Link to be shared soon.
Book club reading “Inspired” by Rachel Held Evans, this Wednesday 7pm via Zoom,. This week we’re discussing “The Beast” and chapter 5. Same Zoom link as last time (if you don’t have it, please email RevMia20@gmail.com) We have room for you if you’d like to join us.
Evangelism is a word that means different things to different people. It originally meant “sharing the good news,” which is the task of all of us who have good news to share. I love this description of evangelism: one beggar showing another beggar where to find food. This week, think about what is the “food” at Grace? How have you been fed?
Spiritual Gifts Workshop. Mark your calendar: Sept. 13th. This will be an all-day parish-wide event. We’ll make sure that everyone can participate (on-site/at-home). This is a chance to examine the ways God works through you for the good of the world with unique gifts and talents. After exploring your own, we’ll also discuss how to spot spiritual gifts in others. When we all come out of our charisms, amazing things happen by the grace of God.