Amid the cries to God, the land rises up. The elements come alive as signs of the intimate connection between Creator and creation. The waters tremble, and the skies echo God’s voice.
The land matters to our faith.
As we read scripture, we can’t help but learn the contours of the land. We feel the dry path under our toes as we cross the Jordan. We carry the dampness in our bones during the endless rain on a wooden ark. We stand in awe of the height of the cedars of Lebanon. We smell the fish in the Sea of Galilee. We know the dusty road on the way to Jerusalem. The geography of the land is crucial to the stories of our faith.
God dwells in the beauty and the pain that are visible in our earthly siblings. God is reflected in the chickadee out my window and the opossum who lingers in the alley. God is present in the soil next door that is poisoned with lead because of years of industrial abuse. God weeps in the increasingly powerful hurricanes and the fires of the west.
We tread in dangerous theological territory if we ignore our sacred and small place in the grand ecosystem of life.
The psalms call us to be attentive to the landscape. It is a calling to pledge allegiance not to the arbitrary borders of countries but instead to all life that depends on the same rainfall.
God who breathes life into this world, empower us to become disciples of this land. The earth is crying, and we are listening. Amen.
This week’s readings open with the dramatic scene of Elijah’s departure. As the prophet is taken into heaven by fiery chariots, his cloak falls to his successor, Elisha—symbolic of the continuation of God’s prophetic work. The psalmist praises the Lord’s mighty works of the past and finds encouragement in them. Paul reminds us that freedom in Christ comes with responsibility. We cannot live to satisfy our fleshly desires. If we live in the power of the Spirit, then our manner of life should stand out and bear godly fruit. In the Gospel reading, Jesus challenges his followers with the cost of discipleship. His statements here may seem extreme, but he is pointing out that we can be tempted to find excuses for not proclaiming the kingdom of God.
Read 2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14. When has fire—real or metaphorical—changed your life? How have you seen God working in this change?
Read Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20. Recall a time when you needed God’s help. Where did you look for God’s encouragement?
Read Galatians 5:1, 13-25. Along with our freedom, we are given a responsibility. How do you use your freedom to serve others?
Read Luke 9:51-62. When have you heard Jesus’ call to follow? What have you had to leave behind to follow the one who has “set his face to go to Jerusalem”?
Respond by posting a prayer.
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