Midweek Musings: January 19, 2023

Dear Friend,

Our scripture reading this coming Sunday is from Matthew 4:12-28. In it, Jesus calls the first disciples, fishermen, and tells them to come and follow him and he will make them fish for people. Earlier this week, I watched the video of Diana Butler Bass below and both have me thinking about call, about how it is we hear God’s call for us in our lives, and how it is we experience God.

In the video, Diana Butler Bass says that unlike many people, her first experiences of what she would name ‘God’ weren’t in nature, but in churches. She describes them as these liminal moments when there seems to be something more. In his book, Beyond Words, Frederick Buechner defines angels this way:

“Sleight-of-hand magic is based on the demonstrable fact that as a rule people see only what they expect to see. Angels are powerful spirits whom God sends into the world to wish us well. Since we don’t expect to see them, we don’t. An angel spreads its glittering wings over us, and we say things like, “It was one of those days that made you feel good just to be alive,” or “I had a hunch everything was going to turn out all right,” or “I don’t know where I ever found the courage.”

What does an experience of God feel like? How do we know when God is calling us to something?

As I’ve been thinking about it, I’ve realized that for me, there are those moments when I “just have that feeling”, when there just seems to be something more, when the space between us and what is holy seems particularly thin. But when it comes to feeling called, it has looked far more like opportunities being dropped in front of me—Pastor Jenny calling and telling me she had a dream and would I ever consider moving to Racine to a church called Covenant. It isn’t that I haven’t had to work for what I want or even for those things to which I believe I’m called (often those require even more work), but for me, I’ve learned to be on the lookout for those unexpected opportunities.

What about you? What do your God moments feel like? How do you know when God is calling you to do something?
Pastor Sarah

something Worth reading

Babel: An Arcane History

by R. F. Kuang

I read a number of good books while I was on vacation these past three weeks. But the one I can’t stop thinking about is the novel, Babel: An Arcane History by R.F. Kuang. Is the fictional story of an alternative history set in Oxford in the 1800s. In this alternative world, magic exists, but it exists but capturing the meaning that is lost in translation. To do this, a college at Oxford exists called Babel, where scholars inscribe pairs of words from different languages that mean roughly the same thing, but differ enough that something gets lost in translation. That something is then an energy that becomes magic. (It’s possible the book is as long as it is because it is hard to explain in just a few words.) As much as it is a book about words and translation, it is also a book about colonialism, empire, racism, and power. And despite the fact that it takes place in another century, in another country, and indeed in another world, it speaks profoundly to our world today without ever hitting you over the head with what it’s doing.

It’s a long book, but it is fascinating and engaging and I highly recommend it.

something worth hearing

Better Days

Dermot Kennedy

This song is a bit of an earworm for me—I can’t get it out of my head. But in these Epiphany days when we look for the way forward, when we wait for spring to come, when the sun can go for days without showing itself, it feels like an apt song.

something worth watching

Experiencing God
Diana Butler Bass

In this video, Diana Butler Bass shares about some of her experiences of God. She does some introductory remarks and then really begins around 2:30. It’s worth watching and considering how you have experienced God. How would you describe your God experiences? Is it possible that some of your life experiences were God experiences that you might not have noticed at the time?


something worth praying

For Those Who Have Far to Travel

Jan Richardson

If you could see
the journey whole,
you might never
undertake it,
might never dare
the first step
that propels you
from the place
you have known
toward the place
you know not.

Call it
one of the mercies
of the road:
that we see it
only by stages
as it opens
before us,
as it comes into
our keeping,
step by
single step.

There is nothing
for it
but to go,
and by our going
take the vows
the pilgrim takes:

to be faithful to
the next step;
to rely on more
than the map;
to heed the signposts
of intuition and dream;
to follow the star
that only you
will recognize;

to keep an open eye
for the wonders that
attend the path;
to press on
beyond distractions,
beyond fatigue,
beyond what would
tempt you
from the way.

There are vows
that only you
will know:
the secret promises
for your particular path
and the new ones
you will need to make
when the road
is revealed
by turns
you could not
have foreseen.

Keep them, break them,
make them again;
each promise becomes
part of the path,
each choice creates
the road
that will take you
to the place
where at last
you will kneel

to offer the gift
most needed—
the gift that only you
can give—
before turning to go
home by
another way.

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