January 17, 2020
The rain begins to spit on my windshield, as I drive. I hear a news report that Australia is finally getting rain that will help with the raging wildfires, but not extinguish all of them. Toxic smoke and the threat of mudslides on bare earth are new dangers there. I pause my thinking for a moment and pray silently for the people, animals, and land of Australia.
Then I begin to think back in time. We watch a variety of TV shows. One type we like is historical dramas set in the 1500-1600s, Henry the VIII and Elizabeth I and all that. I think about the struggles of life then and now and how major fires would simply claim lives and buildings with little way of fighting them other buckets of water and waiting for rain.
I think all the way back to early biblical times, to the time of Abraham and Sarah, around 4,000 years ago. I know I’m thinking about this because I’m working on a message for Sunday, Jan. 19, called The Old Testament in Fifteen Minutes, as part of Making Sense of the Bible. Sometimes people ask how I put sermons together and I say, “I think and pray and read a lot.” This is part of that thinking, to put myself back in that land and time and picture the struggles and hopes of the people. If a fire began in a home or town I suppose that buckets of water and prayers to God for deliverance and rain were the only hopes then, too.
I can barely conceive of life 4,000 years ago. Yet that is where the roots of our faith are, in the lives and hopes of the people of God back then. The Bible tells us of people who followed God, then fell away and followed other gods, and were brought back again to God. Many times God said, “I will be your God and you will be my people.” These words are sometimes followed in Scripture with something like “will you agree to this?”
These words echo in my thoughts today. “I will be your God. Will you….?” Will you turn to me, rely on me, thank me, put yourself in my hands and work for my love to be known in the world? Will you? God longs for a fire of love to be in our hearts, God’s love that is greater than any time or space or government or anything. That’s what I’m thinking about today and invite you to think about, too—the love of God that covers over all our sins and failings and brings us back to “I will be your God and you will be my people. Will you do this?”
P.S. The Input Project is an opportunity for people to speak and listen to one another on LGBTQ+ matters and the United Methodist Church. The listening sessions will be held at church the week of Jan. 26—Feb. 1. During that time, we are not taking votes or making policies or decisions. During the sessions people will be writing answers to questions and then have a chance to speak to those answers and listen to one another. If you don’t want to speak you can turn in your written answers at the end of the listening session. We hope that people will speak and listen carefully to one another. That’s the whole point. You can sign up in the courtyard at the Adult Spiritual Growth bulletin board on Sunday, Jan. 19, or use this link.