Melting Mountains

I am one of those mothers who raised her children to not use the word hate. I was hoping to avoid that moment in middle school when one of them would yell ”I hate you!” at me. We use ”I don’t care for,” ”I don’t like,” etc. but ”hate” was on the bad-word list.

I recently completed a writing assignment on Ecclesiastes 3 where I had to affirm that there is a time for everything, even hate. After doing some research and praying for illumination, I realized that there are many things we should hate. Injustice. Prejudice. Evil. Abuse. Violence. Everything that opposes God.

I read something this morning on Twitter that I absolutely hated, and I don’t mind saying that. The question was asked, ”Who are your favorite women pastors, preachers, theologians, teachers, authors, etc.” A male pastor responded that actually, he preferred these women “hanged or burnt.” He later added ”or drowned.”

I realize that Twitterverse is full of ignorance, where cowards hide behind a wall and hurl hateful words under a guise of anonymity. This guy is so full of himself that he used his real name and the denomination he represents. His church eventually took down his hateful rhetoric, but his tweet had been screenshot and shared. I hope he loses his job. Some responders tried to defend him by explaining that this denomination was ”traditional.” Really? If you think that burning, hanging, and drowning women fit in with your tradition, I can’t help you.

Today’s Psalm comes at a good time for my heart. It reminds me that God is the ruler of everything, and he sits on a throne of righteousness and justice. There will be the burning of people, but it won’t be the women preachers. It will be the enemies of God on every side … and surely people who use their positions and pulpits to spew hatred that is antithetical to the Gospel will feel its heat, in due time.

Psalm 97 ( Common English Bible)

The Lord rules! Let the earth rejoice!
    Let all the islands celebrate!
Clouds and thick darkness surround God.
    His throne is built on righteousness and justice.
Fire proceeds before him,
    burning up his enemies on every side.
His lightning lights up the world;
    the earth sees it and trembles!

The mountains melt like wax before the Lord,
    before the Lord of the whole world!

Famous commentator Charles Spurgeon reminds us that God is the great Way-Maker: “Men cannot move the hills, with difficulty do they climb them, with incredible toil do they pierce their way through their fastnesses, but it is not so with the Lord, his presence makes a clear pathway, obstacles disappear, a highway is made, and that not by his hand as though it cost him pains, but by his mere presence, for power goes forth from him with a word or a glance.” If you are facing an insurmountable mountain this morning, go to the One who can melt it like wax.

Heaven has proclaimed God’s righteousness,
    and all nations have seen his glory.
All those who worship images,
    those who are proud of idols,
    are put to shame.
    All gods bow down to the Lord!
Zion has heard and celebrates,
    the towns of Judah rejoice,
    because of your acts of justice, Lord,
    because you, Lord, are the Most High
        over all the earth,
    because you are so superior to all other gods.

It was interesting to read the responses to the pastor’s tweet. Many encouraged others to speak out against his evil. While addressing the violence he advocated in his ”joke,” many people took this as an opportunity to speak out against prejudice and to promote the true Christian ideal of love, inclusivity, and justice.

10 Those of you who love the Lord, hate evil!
    God guards the lives of his faithful ones,
    delivering them from the power of the wicked.

While I hope this man is sanctioned for his words, I know that God is using this conversation to bring forth a justice of its own kind. The fact that his church removed the tweet gives me hope. Somebody is paying attention. Somebody is sowing a seed of righteousness that proclaims that this is not acceptable. Somebody is shining a light on his misogyny, and God will be his judge.
11 Light is planted like seed for the righteous person;
    joy too for those whose heart is right.
12 Rejoice in the Lord, righteous ones!
    Give thanks to his holy name!

This is good for us to remember today. We can rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS. We can rest in knowing that God is bringing justice and healing in his wings. No matter what injury you have suffered, no matter what injustice you have received, God will make it right in the end. Give thanks to his holy name!

Let the Earth Rejoice by Rev. Alice Rogers

Here Am I

What do you think God wants from you? Loyalty? Obedience? Worship? Adoration? Action?

The early Israelites struggled with this question. That struggle continued into New Testament times as Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, Zealots, and others tried to form sects structured around their notion of what God wanted from them. They were hung up on things like fasting, class distinctions, sabbath regulations, piety, and a plethora of laws. Jesus brought absolute clarity to the question, but well before his arrival on the scene the prophet Isaiah beautifully articulated what God wants from his people.

The people had chosen to fast from inconsequential things. (You know, like when you give up donuts for Lent but you don’t really like donuts.) God had something entirely different in mind:

Isaiah 58 (New International Version)

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?

For example, the modern church puts a lot of effort, resources, energy, and activity toward worship. But notice that worship doesn’t make the top of the list. Worship is always a life-giving necessity, but breaking the chains of injustice and setting the oppressed free seem to rank higher, according to Isaiah.

Maybe worship comes next on the list…

Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

Nope, not yet. Sharing food with the hungry and providing shelter are listed. Clothing the naked is important, too. It seems that God is more interested in social justice issues than whether the altar candles should have wax, wicks, or oil…which is actually a dilemma that altar guilds have lost sleep over.

Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
    and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.

We would do well to listen to Isaiah. Serving the needs around us is akin to light breaking through upon the people of God when they engage in acts of righteousness. People who serve God in this manner find wholeness and healing, and God himself comes alongside to assist.

Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
    you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

When we are following God’s call, there is never a time that he is not with us. Not. Ever. So if your only interaction with God is once a week for an hour on Sundays, think that through again. God is more interested in your treatment of his people throughout the week than your attention for an hour.

In other words, you are not called to just hear the word. You are called to go out and BE the word.

So go be the word today.

Be the Word by Karen Warlitner