Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Week of Compansion from Amy Gop

Isaiah 64:1-9
64:1 O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence--
64:2 as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil-- to make your name known to your adversaries, so that the nations might tremble at your presence!
64:3 When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.
64:4 From ages past no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who works for those who wait for him.
64:5 You meet those who gladly do right, those who remember you in your ways. But you were angry, and we sinned; because you hid yourself we transgressed.
64:6 We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
64:7 There is no one who calls on your name, or attempts to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity.
64:8 Yet, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.
64:9 Do not be exceedingly angry, O LORD, and do not remember iniquity forever. Now consider, we are all your people.

An Advent observance from Amy Gopp, WOC: Week of CompassionDecember 08,

2008Greetings! Advent ReflectionThe prophet Isaiah writes extensively about the city and the desert, both places where, traditionally, dark forces were known to dwell. Cities were crowded, noisy, anonymous, dangerous. Armies were more likely to attack city centers where power and wealth were centralized, diseases could travel quickly with so many people living so close together. Deserts were, well, deserted; barren, distant, and potentially deadly. There was a different anonymity and danger. If something happened in the desert, there might be no one to hear your cry, no one willing or able to help. Deserts were sometimes seen as an escape, where prophets and, later in the early Christian tradition, monastics, lived. The desert provided them a vantage point-a place from which they could see the pitfalls and pleasures of life spent together in community, whether companied by religious followers in the desert or of observing life as it happened in the city. From the desert, Isaiah and John the Baptist spoke the same powerful, prophetic, perplexing words to their religious followers who were standing nearby, and to the people living in the distant city, and to all of us who would hear them: "In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God!" (Is. 40:3 and Mk. 1:3) From his vantage point in that vast, empty desert, and bewildered by the deep rift between his vision of God's will for the world and the world as it was, Isaiah is told, "Cry out!" (v.6). Advent is a desert season. Isaiah calls to us to use this time as a vantage point to see our lives as the prophets of old saw the world. We also can see that the world we live in is not the world as God created it to be. There is an ironic resonance that reaches to us even as we grasp and clutch for suburban ease, or urban jobs, or a deserted getaway of our own. We hear Isaiah that--although some parallels have been turned up side down, God's will for the world has not emerged right-side-up. For one, some deserts have been transformed into fertile oases, with endless highways connecting people of privilege to other centers of power and wealth. Meanwhile people living in nearby cities are completely without water, the most basic resource of human life. Who hears their cry? Also, Isaiah's own desert, the Holy Land and the Middle East, are enmeshed in wars and ethnic conflict over the land and all that is in it. There is not enough anonymity for neighbor to live near neighbor without high walls. There is too much anonymity for the accountable distribution of resources that would provide enough for all. Who will make straight through the desert a highway? Who will travel through that desert? How will they go? Isaiah cries out still. And standing here in the desert of Advent, we can hear it calling to us. In verse six Isaiah asks back: "What shall I cry?" What shall we cry? How shall we respond to the brokenness of God's world, and the relationships between all God's people? Compassion is different from sympathy and charity. Compassion means "to suffer with," and that is what we do through our work with and giving to Week of Compassion. Week of Compassion aims to hear the one crying in the wilderness and to respond with mercy and justice. Through our partners Week of Compassion is positioned in cities and villages and rural outposts all over the world, to be poised to respond in the event of a natural or human disaster. Week of Compassion hears the call during Advent and every day, around the world and around the year. We understand that disasters don't affect just one person, and that hurt isn't healed in a day.

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In this my personal Christian blog, I hope to be discursive and now and then critical. What I write here is tentative and tensive. I post thoughts, feelings, and observations somewhat randomly and often in immediate response to current events and posts on other blogs.

"Serendipitous Creativity" from Gordon Kaufman

"I suggested that what we today should regard as God is the ongoing creativity in the universe - the bringing (or coming) into being of what is genuinely new, something transformative; …

"In some respects and some degrees this creativity is apparently happening continuously, in and through the processes or activities or events around us and within us(…) is a profound mystery to us humans(…) But on the whole, as we look back on the long and often painful developments that slowly brought human life and our complex human worlds into being, we cannot but regard this creativity as serendipitous …

"I want to stress that this serendipitous creativity - God! - to which we should be responsive is not the private possession of any of the many particular religious faiths or systems …

"This profound mystery of creativity is manifest in and through the overall human bio-historical evolution and development everywhere on the planet; and it continues to show itself throughout the entire human project, no matter what may be the particular religious and or cultural beliefs."

Gordon Kaufman, Mennonite Life, December 2005 vol. 60 no. 4

Melville is a rational man who

"Melville is a rational man who wants God to exist. He wants Him to exist for the same reasons we all do: to be our rescuer and appreciator, to act as a confidant in our moments of crisis and to give us reassurance that, over the horizon of our deaths, we will survive." (John Updike)

And that is a problem for me.

Fragmented Notions

Fragmented Notions
Copyright © 2007 Jean and Alexander Heard Library, Vanderbilt University

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