We shall see...

Tonight our study/discussion group with Knesset Israel re: the historic origins of
Palestine and Israel continues. And while I am bone tired from this past week's experiences of laying my father to rest, I am eager to stay connected. After last week's introductory session it was abundantly clear to me that every day Christians and Jews need time to talk and listen to one another together. In a gentle but counter-cultural way, this conversation invites us into one another's lives. It opens both congregations to ways of thinking that right now feel outside of our respective comfort zones. It also encourages us to listen carefully to one another's stories and experiences and even try to talk together about some hard differences.

We shall see, yes? There are no guarantees that this experiment will bear fruit. Two passages from the Scriptures, however, suggest that it is worth trying. The first is from the Jewish prophet Isaiah:


Seek the Lord while he may be found,
   call upon him while he is near; 
let the wicked forsake their way,
   and the unrighteous their thoughts;
let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them,
   and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
   nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
   so are my ways higher than your ways
   and my thoughts than your thoughts. 
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
   and do not return there until they have watered the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
   giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
   it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
   and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
 

Most of the time I try not to pretend that I know the way of the Lord. Most of the time it is best for me to be mute and watch and listen and see if a way that is compassionate and just opens up. I trust that God's way will be made clear to us in our discussion/study group without knowing that we will recognize it or be able to claim it.  As my Muslim sisters and brothers would say: Inshallah. The second text that encourages me to give this a shot comes from the writing of St. Paul about the "folly of the Cross" in I Corinthians.

The message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
   and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.’ 
Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. Some demand signs and others desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.

Paul, as all people should know, was not denigrating or even rejecting the spiritual traditions of either Judaism or Rome, but rather pitting the two dominant cultures of his time - Jewish and Greek - against a paradoxical third - the way of Christ - whose foundational symbol is the Cross. Richard Rohr writes: The cross is Paul’s philosopher’s stone or “code breaker” for any lasting spiritual liberation. God can save sincere people of faith inside any system or religion, if only they can be patient, God-trusting, and compassionate in the presence of misery, failure, or imperfection—especially their own. This is life’s essential journey. These trustful ones have surrendered to the Eternal Christ Mystery, very often without needing to use the exact word “Christ” at all (Matthew 7:21). It is the doing not the saying that matters (Matthew 21:28-32).

The silent but open way of the Cross first asks me to sit and listen carefully to what those who are different from me want me to hear. Second it invites me to sit with these challenges for a time without rushing to judgment or action.  Third it urges me to embrace the hardness of being compassionate and silent in the midst of suffering. Fourth it points to the suffering as a clue about where the way of the Lord is being revealed. And fifth it speaks to both head and heart about the risk and opportunity of entering that suffering as a person of peace.  In his Praying with the Earth prayer book, J. Philip Newell restates the blessings of the way of Christ's cross like this:

blessed are those who know their need for theirs is the grace of
heaven.

bless are those who weep for their tears will be wiped away.

blessed are the humble for they are close to the sacred earth.

blessed are those who hunger for earth's oneness for they will be satisfied.

blessed are the forgiving for they are free.

blessed are the clear in heart for they see the Living Presence.

blessed are the peacemakers for they are born of God.

So, we shall see.  In'shallah.  If we can rest and trust in the way of the Lord.

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