Tuesday, September 25, 2012

God says: “Here am I”

Scripture fascinates me! I love grappling with it. Too many of my friends are superficial about scripture. I’m aware that it is more mysterious and magnificent than some literal, historical document; for it may be the voice of God speaking to us in mysterious ways!
by Charlie Leck”

I like the Lutheran pastor here in my town. I’m not crazy about the Lutheran Church, however, so I don’t go there; yet, I like sitting down with her (oh, yes, the pastor is a woman) once in awhile to chat (mostly about theology and the role of the church in a political society). I tried going to church there for a time, but I’m an old-school Congregationalist, you know. We don’t go for the stand-up, sit-down, stand-up kind of stuff with recited creeds and repetitive prayers. So, I drifted away from the Lutheran Church and ended up back in a Congregational church downtown. We sit for longer stretches of time and dare our minister to interest us without getting, you know, too religious about it.

Yet, I must admit, this little church here in my town has found a wonderful pastor in this dear, faithful and dedicated woman. Her name is Gail. People call her “Pastor Gail” but that’s not Congregational enough for me. I refer to her as “Pastor Reitan.” It sounds a little more respectful and congregational, you know.”

We go to lunch occasionally and sometimes we have a set agenda for our conversations. We’ll chat tomorrow and I’m going to ask her about this reading that Sojourners sent along to me…

Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you,
the glory of the LORD shall be your rearguard.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer;
you shall cry for help, and [God] will say, Here I am.
     - Isaiah 58:6-9

Note that, in the above reading, I have highlighted the word then twice. I think it’s key to understand the reading.

I want to ask her about those concluding words – where God says “Here I am!”

“Where?” I will ask. “What does he mean – Here I am!”

This, of course, is the universal question, isn’t it? If there is a God, where the heaven is He anyway? Why is He not evident? Why, in a world so in need, is He not more apparent? Why doesn’t He reveal himself more personally to us? If you go back and try to understand the then of the moment described by the writer you might then comprehend how God might reveal himself to us.

Now, these are tough questions, but she’ll have sensible and well-reasoned answers and, I really want to assure you, she knows her Old Testament. I find that unusual for Lutheran pastors. Most of them don’t venture beyond the gospels and Paul’s epistles.

I’m calling out to you, Almighty God: “Wherefore art Thou, anyway?” Whatever, thanks for putting your servant, Pastor Reitan, among us here in our little town.

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