Scripture Reflection

January 14, 2021

Lectio Divina (Divine reading)

Lectio Divina is a contemplative way to read short passages of sacred text and discover meaning deeper than the literal layer.

Prepare: Find a comfortable and quiet spot. Light a candle or place some other symbol before you to focus your attention. Have a journal and writing tool.
Take off your sandals because the place you are on is holy ground.
Remove from your mind and heart whatever hinders you from hearing God reflected through scripture.
Vocalize the words of the text so that you not only read with your eyes but hear with your ears.

When you are ready, proceed with your reading while doing the following:

  1. Read (Lectio). From your heart: With the first reading, listen with your heart’s ear for a phrase or word that stands out for you.
  2. Reflect (Meditatio). With your mind: During the second reading, reflect on how the phrase or word touches you, perhaps speaking that response aloud or writing in a journal.
  1. Respond (Oratio). Create from your spirit:  After reading the passage a third time, respond with a prayer or expression of what you have experienced and what it calls you to. (Be creative in your response and consider various art forms to express yourself through).
  2. Rest (Contemplatio). Rest in your body: Finally, rest in silence after a fourth reading.

This week’s scripture

Matthew 9.18-26

While Jesus was talking with the people gathered, suddenly a leader of the synagogue came in and knelt before him, saying, ‘My daughter has just died; but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.’ And Jesus got up and followed him, with his disciples. Then suddenly a woman who had been suffering from haemorrhages for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his cloak, for she said to herself, ‘If I only touch his cloak, I will be made well.’ Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, ‘Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.’ And instantly the woman was made well. When Jesus came to the leader’s house and saw the flute-players and the crowd making a commotion, he said, ‘Go away; for the girl is not dead but sleeping.’ And they laughed at him. But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl got up. And the report of this spread throughout that district.

 

January 7, 2021

Lectio Divina (Divine reading)

Lectio Divina is a contemplative way to read short passages of sacred text and discover meaning deeper than the literal layer.

When I lived in New Brunswick and my sister was here in Ontario, we went through parts of John’s gospel together through Lectio Divina. It kept us connected through our shared passion for the Gospel stories and grew us both into deeper beings.

Prepare: Find a comfortable and quiet spot. Light a candle or place some other symbol before you to focus your attention. Have a journal and writing tool.

Take off your sandals because the place you are on is holy ground.

Remove from your mind and heart whatever hinders you from hearing God reflected through scripture.

Vocalize the words of the text so that you not only read with your eyes but hear with your ears.

When you are ready, proceed with your reading while doing the following:

  1. Read(Lectio). From your heart: With the first reading, listen with your heart’s ear for a phrase or word that stands out for you.
  2. Reflect(Meditatio). With your mind: During the second reading, reflect on how the phrase or word touches you, perhaps speaking that response aloud or writing in a journal.
  3. Respond(Oratio). Create from your spirit:  After reading the passage a third time, respond with a prayer or expression of what you have experienced and what it calls you to. (Be creative in your response and consider various art forms to express yourself through).
  4. Rest(Contemplatio). Rest in your body: Finally, rest in silence after a fourth reading.

This week’ scripture

Mark 1.4-11

John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

 

December 24 – Christmas Eve Meditation

All Things New

Yearning for a new way will not produce it.                                                                      
Only ending the old way can do that.

You cannot hold onto the old, all the while declaring                                                 
that you want something new.

The old will defy the new;
The old will deny the new;
The old will decry the new.
There is only one way to bring in the new. You must make room for it.             
Neale Donald Walsch [1]

My spiritual father, Francis of Assisi (1181-1226), was a master of making room for the new and letting go of that which was tired or empty. He was ready for absolute newness from God and therefore could also trust fresh and new attitudes in himself. His God was not tired, and so he was never tired. His God was not old, so Francis remained forever young.

Francis was the first to create a living nativity scene, bringing to life the revolutionary new way God revealed God’s self in the vulnerability of a baby in a manger. The Incarnation of God in Jesus was foundational to Francis, and he wanted others to experience its life-changing power.

Francis was at once very traditional and entirely new in the ways of holiness. Franciscanism is not an iconoclastic dismissal of traditional Christian images, history, or culture, but a positive choosing of the deep, shining, and enduring divine images that are hidden beneath the too-easy formulas. It is no fast-food religion, but slow and healthy nutrition.

Both Jesus and Francis did not let the old get in the way of the new, but like all religious geniuses, revealed what the old was saying all along. Francis both named and exemplified that “first, churchless incarnation in the human heart.” [2] But somehow he also knew that it was the half-knowing, organized Church that passed this shared mystery on to him and preserved it for future generations. He had the humility and patience to know that whatever is true is always a shared truth; and only institutions, for all their weaknesses, make this widely shareable, historical, and communal.

Both Jesus and Francis were “conservatives” in the true sense of the term: they conserved what was worth conserving—the core, the transformative life of the Gospel—and did not let accidentals get in the way. They then ended up looking quite “progressive,” radical, and even dangerous to the status quo. This is the biblical pattern, from Abraham to Moses, to Jeremiah, Job, John the Baptist, Mary, and Joseph.

Gateway to Silence:
You make all things new.
Thank-you Father Richard.

References:
[1] Neale Donald Walsch, Facebook post, July 22, 2014.
[2] Christian Wiman, My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux: 2013), 92.                                          Adapted from Richard Rohr, Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi (Franciscan Media: 2014), xiii-xiv, xvii, xix-xxi.

 

December 17 – Advent Meditation

Therefore God will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. Isaiah 7.14

The Blind Faith of Mary and Joseph

Kingdom people are history makers. They break through the small kingdoms of this world to an alternative and much larger world, God’s full creation. People who are still living in the false self are history stoppers. They use God and religion to protect their own status and the status quo of the world that sustains them. They are often fearful people, the nice proper folks of every age who think like everybody else thinks and who have no power to break through, or as Jesus’s opening words put it, “to change” (Mark 1.15; Matthew 4.17).

How can we really think that Mary, if she thought like any good Jewish girl was trained to think, could possibly be ready for this message? She had let God lead her outside of her box of expectations, her comfort zone, her dutiful religion of follow-the-leader. She was very young and largely uneducated. Perhaps theology itself is not the necessary path but simply integrity and courage. Nothing said at the synagogue would have prepared Mary or Joseph for this situation. They both had to rely on their angels! What proper bishop would trust such a situation? I wouldn’t myself. All we know of Joseph is that he was “a just man” (Matthew 1.19), also young and probably uneducated. This is all an affront to our criteria and way of evaluating authenticity.

So why do we love and admire people like Mary and Joseph, and then not imitate their faith journeys, their courage, their non-reassurance by the religious system? These were two laypeople who totally trusted their inner experience of God and who followed it to Bethlehem and beyond. There is no mention in the Gospels of the two checking out their inner experiences with the high priests, the synagogue or even their Jewish Scriptures. Mary and Joseph walked in courage and blind faith that their experience was true, with no one to reassure them they were right. Their only safety net was God’s love and mercy, a safety net they must have tried out many times, or else they would never have been able to fall into it so gracefully.

Reflect
In what ways do you trust your own inner authority? Do you fear you are being rebellious if you do so? Were Mary and Joseph rebellious?

Richard Rohr. Preparing for Christmas. Daily meditations for Advent.

 

December 10 – Advent Meditation

The spirit of God is upon me…God has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners.
Isaiah 61.1

Related in the Spirit
The Spirit always connects, reconciles, forgives, heals and makes two into one. It moves beyond human-made boundaries to utterly realign and renew that which is separated and alienated. The “diabolical” (from two Greek words, dia balein, that mean “to throw apart”), by contrast, always divides and separates that which could be united and at peace. Just as the Spirit always makes one out of two, so the evil one invariably makes two out of one! The evil one tears the fabric of life apart, while the Spirit comes to mend, soften and heal.

In today’s reading from Isaiah, the prophet describes the coming Servant of Yahweh. It is precisely this quote that Jesus first uses to announce the exact nature of his own ministry (Luke 4.18-19). In each case Jesus describes his work as moving outside of polite and proper limits and boundaries to reunite things that have been marginalized or excluded by society: the poor, the imprisoned, the blind, the downtrodden. His ministry is not to gather the so-called good into a private country club but to reach out to those on the edge and on the bottom, those who are “last” to tell them they are, in fact, first! That is almost the very job description of the Holy Spirit, and therefore of Jesus.

The more that we can put together, the more that we can “forgive” and allow, the more we can include and enjoy, the more we tend to be living in the Spirit. The more we need to reject, oppose, deny, exclude and eliminate, the more open we are to negative and destructive voices and to our own worst instincts. As always, Jesus is our model of healing, outreach and reconciliation, the ultimate man of the Spirit.

Reflect
What divisions exist in your life? How can you let the Spirit mend those divisions?

Richard Rohr. Preparing for Christmas. Daily meditations for Advent. Franciscan Media, 2008

December 3 – Scripture Reflections

He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Mark 1.7-8

John, the Master of Descent

John the Baptist’s qualities are most rare and yet crucial for any reform or authentic transformation of persons or groups. That is why we focus on John the Baptist every Advent and why Jesus trusts him and accepts his non-temple, offbeat nature ritual, while also going far beyond him. Water is only the container; fire and Spirit are the contents, John says. Yet if we are not like the great John, we will invariably substitute our own little container for the real contents. We will substitute rituals for reality instead of letting the rituals point us beyond themselves.

John the Baptist is the strangest combination of conviction and humility, morality and mysticism, radical prophecy and living in the present. This son of the priestly temple class does his own thing down by the riverside; he is a man born into privilege who dresses like a hippie; he is a superstar who is willing to let go of everything, creating his own water baptism and then saying that what really matters is the baptism of Spirit and fire”! He is a living paradox, as even Jesus says of him: “There is no man greater than John…but he is also the least” in the new reality that I am bringing about (Matthew 11.11). John both gets it and does not get it at all, which is why he has to exit stage right early in the drama. He has played his single important part, and he knows it. His is brilliantly a spirituality of descent, not ascent. “He must grow bigger, I must grow smaller” (John 3.30).

The only way such freedom can happen is if John learned to be very empty of himself already as a young man, before he even built his tower of success. His ego was out of the way so much that he could let go his own ego, his own message and even his own life. This is surely the real meaning of his head on a platter! Some have cleverly said that ego is an acronym for “Edging God Out.” There’s got to be such emptiness, or we cannot point beyond ourselves to Jesus, as John did. Such emptiness doesn’t fall in our laps; such humility does not just happen. It is surely the end product of a thousand letting-goes and a thousand acts of devotion, which for John the Baptist gradually edged God in.

Reflect:
How is your spirituality one of ascent or descent?

Richard Rohr. Preparing for Christmas. Daily meditations for Advent. Franciscan Media, 2008

 

November 26 – Scripture Reflections

Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your God is coming. Matthew 24.42

Come, Come, Emmanuel. Come Emmanuel!
The Advent mantra, means that all Christian history has to live out of a kind deliberate emptiness, a kind of chosen non-fulfillment. Perfect fullness is always to come, and we do not need to demand it now. This keeps the field of life wide open and especially open to the grace and future created by God rather than ourselves. This is exactly what it means to be “awake”, as the Gospel urges us! We can also use other a words for Advent:
aware, alive, attentive, alert, awake, are all appropriate!
Advent is, above all else, a call to full consciousness and a forewarning about the high price of consciousness.

When we demand satisfaction of one another, when we demand any completion to history on our terms, when we demand that our anxiety or any dissatisfaction be taken away, saying as it were,” Why weren’t you this for me? Why didn’t life do that for me?” we are refusing to say, “Come, Come Emmanuel.” We are refusing to hold out for the full picture that is always given by God.

“Come, Come Emmanuel” is a leap into the kind of freedom and surrender that is rightly called the virtue of hope. The theological virtue of hope is the patient and trustful willingness to live without closure, without resolution, and still be content and even happy because our Satisfaction is now at another level, and our Source is beyond ourselves. We are able to trust that he will come again, just as Jesus has come into our past, into our private dilemmas and into our suffering world. Our Christian past then becomes our Christian prologue, and “Come, Come Emmanuel” is not a cry of desperation but an assured shout of cosmic hope.

Reflect
What expectations and demands of life can you let go of so that you can be more prepared for the coming of Jesus?

Richard Rohr. Preparing for Christmas. Daily meditations for Advent. Franciscan Media, 2008

 

November 19, 2020 – Read, Reflect and Respond

Job Chapter 20

Job 20

Then Zophar the Naamathite answered:
‘Pay attention! My thoughts urge me to answer,
because of the agitation within me.
I hear censure that insults me,
and a spirit beyond my understanding answers me.
Do you not know this from of old,
ever since mortals were placed on earth,
that the exulting of the wicked is short,
and the joy of the godless is but for a moment?
Even though they mount up high as the heavens,
and their head reaches to the clouds,
they will perish for ever like their own dung;
those who have seen them will say, “Where are they?”
They will fly away like a dream, and not be found;
they will be chased away like a vision of the night.
The eye that saw them will see them no more,
nor will their place behold them any longer.
Their children will seek the favour of the poor,
and their hands will give back their wealth.
Their bodies, once full of youth,
will lie down in the dust with them.

‘Though wickedness is sweet in their mouth,
though they hide it under their tongues,
though they are loath to let it go,
and hold it in their mouths,
yet their food is turned in their stomachs;
it is the venom of asps within them.
They swallow down riches and vomit them up again;
God casts them out of their bellies.
They will suck the poison of asps;
the tongue of a viper will kill them.
They will not look on the rivers,
the streams flowing with honey and curds.
They will give back the fruit of their toil,
and will not swallow it down;
from the profit of their trading
they will get no enjoyment.
For they have crushed and abandoned the poor,
they have seized a house that they did not build.

‘They knew no quiet in their bellies;
in their greed they let nothing escape.
There was nothing left after they had eaten;
therefore their prosperity will not endure.
In full sufficiency they will be in distress;
all the force of misery will come upon them.
To fill their belly to the full
God* will send his fierce anger into them,
and rain it upon them as their food.*
They will flee from an iron weapon;
a bronze arrow will strike them through.
It is drawn forth and comes out of their body,
and the glittering point comes out of their gall;
terrors come upon them.
Utter darkness is laid up for their treasures;
a fire fanned by no one will devour them;
what is left in their tent will be consumed.
The heavens will reveal their iniquity,
and the earth will rise up against them.
The possessions of their house will be carried away,
dragged off on the day of God’s* wrath.
This is the portion of the wicked from God,
the heritage decreed for them by God.’

Read the following questions with thought-filledness. 
Listen to your response carefully and gently. Write it down if you feel so inclined.
Sit with what you have learned and accept your experience with loving-kindness and wisdom.

Three questions…..

  1. Zophar’s anger is palpable and his judgement severe. Do you believe that there are situations where this behaviour is necessary?
  2. Have you ever reflected on the concept of, ‘righteous anger’?
  3. Can you discern a time in your life where you experienced anger that felt justified?

Here is one definition of righteous anger. (https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/dictionary/index.cfm?id=36101)
Justifiable indignation. It is permissible and even laudable when accompanied by a reasonable desire to inflict justifiable punishment. Christ himself was filled with righteous anger against the vendors who had desecrated the house of God. Such anger is allowable only if it tends to punish those who deserve punishment, according to the measure of their guilt, and with the sincere intention to redress what harm may have been done or to correct the wrongdoer. Otherwise the anger is sinfully excessive. The necessary provision is always that there is no tinge of hatred and no desire for revenge.

 

November 12, 2020 – Read, Reflect and Respond

Job 17

My spirit is broken, my days are extinct,
the grave is ready for me.
Surely there are mockers around me,
and my eye dwells on their provocation.

‘Lay down a pledge for me with yourself;
who is there that will give surety for me?
Since you have closed their minds to understanding,
therefore you will not let them triumph.
Those who denounce friends for reward—
the eyes of their children will fail.

‘He has made me a byword of the peoples,
and I am one before whom people spit.
My eye has grown dim from grief,
and all my members are like a shadow.
The upright are appalled at this,
and the innocent stir themselves up against the godless.
Yet the righteous hold to their way,
and they that have clean hands grow stronger and stronger.
But you, come back now, all of you,
and I shall not find a sensible person among you.
My days are past, my plans are broken off,
the desires of my heart.
They make night into day;
“The light”, they say, “is near to the darkness.”*
If I look for Sheol as my house,
if I spread my couch in darkness,
if I say to the Pit, “You are my father”,
and to the worm, “My mother”, or “My sister”,
where then is my hope?
Who will see my hope?
Will it go down to the bars of Sheol?
Shall we descend together into the dust?’

Job 18

Then Bildad the Shuhite answered:
‘How long will you hunt for words?
Consider, and then we shall speak.
Why are we counted as cattle?
Why are we stupid in your sight?
You who tear yourself in your anger—
shall the earth be forsaken because of you,
or the rock be removed out of its place?

‘Surely the light of the wicked is put out,
and the flame of their fire does not shine.
The light is dark in their tent,
and the lamp above them is put out.
Their strong steps are shortened,
and their own schemes throw them down.
For they are thrust into a net by their own feet,
and they walk into a pitfall.
A trap seizes them by the heel;
a snare lays hold of them.
A rope is hid for them in the ground,
a trap for them in the path.
Terrors frighten them on every side,
and chase them at their heels.
Their strength is consumed by hunger,*
and calamity is ready for their stumbling.
By disease their skin is consumed,*
the firstborn of Death consumes their limbs.
They are torn from the tent in which they trusted,
and are brought to the king of terrors.
In their tents nothing remains;
sulphur is scattered upon their habitations.
Their roots dry up beneath,
and their branches wither above.
Their memory perishes from the earth,
and they have no name in the street.
They are thrust from light into darkness,
and driven out of the world.
They have no offspring or descendant among their people,
and no survivor where they used to live.
They of the west are appalled at their fate,
and horror seizes those of the east.
Surely such are the dwellings of the ungodly,
such is the place of those who do not know God.’

Job 19

Then Job answered:
‘How long will you torment me,
and break me in pieces with words?
These ten times you have cast reproach upon me;
are you not ashamed to wrong me?
And even if it is true that I have erred,
my error remains with me.
If indeed you magnify yourselves against me,
and make my humiliation an argument against me,
know then that God has put me in the wrong,
and closed his net around me.
Even when I cry out, “Violence!” I am not answered;
I call aloud, but there is no justice.
He has walled up my way so that I cannot pass,
and he has set darkness upon my paths.
He has stripped my glory from me,
and taken the crown from my head.
He breaks me down on every side, and I am gone,
he has uprooted my hope like a tree.
He has kindled his wrath against me,
and counts me as his adversary.
His troops come on together;
they have thrown up siege-works* against me,
and encamp around my tent.

‘He has put my family far from me,
and my acquaintances are wholly estranged from me.
My relatives and my close friends have failed me;
the guests in my house have forgotten me;
my serving-girls count me as a stranger;
I have become an alien in their eyes.
I call to my servant, but he gives me no answer;
I must myself plead with him.
My breath is repulsive to my wife;
I am loathsome to my own family.
Even young children despise me;
when I rise, they talk against me.
All my intimate friends abhor me,
and those whom I loved have turned against me.
My bones cling to my skin and to my flesh,
and I have escaped by the skin of my teeth.
Have pity on me, have pity on me, O you my friends,
for the hand of God has touched me!
Why do you, like God, pursue me,
never satisfied with my flesh?

‘O that my words were written down!
O that they were inscribed in a book!
O that with an iron pen and with lead
they were engraved on a rock for ever!
For I know that my Redeemer* lives,
and that at the last he* will stand upon the earth;*
and after my skin has been thus destroyed,
then in* my flesh I shall see God,*
whom I shall see on my side,*
and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
My heart faints within me!
If you say, “How we will persecute him!”
and, “The root of the matter is found in him”;
be afraid of the sword,
for wrath brings the punishment of the sword,
so that you may know there is a judgement.’

Read the following questions with thought-filledness.

Listen to your response carefully and gently. Write it down if you feel so inclined.

Sit with what you have learned and accept your experience with loving-kindness and wisdom.

  1.  Have you ever walked with someone through palliative care and into death?
  2. Job’s lament can be likened to someone suffering from trauma and mental illness, does this change how you perceive his situation?
  3. Job’s physical description is one who is malnourished and whose health is on the brink of collapse. What does he require? What could you offer him?

 

November 5, 2020 – Read, Reflect, Respond

Job 14

‘A mortal, born of woman, few of days and full of trouble,
comes up like a flower and withers,
flees like a shadow and does not last.
Do you fix your eyes on such a one?
Do you bring me into judgement with you?
Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?
No one can.
Since their days are determined,
and the number of their months is known to you,
and you have appointed the bounds that they cannot pass,
look away from them, and desist,*
that they may enjoy, like labourers, their days.

‘For there is hope for a tree,
if it is cut down, that it will sprout again,
and that its shoots will not cease.
Though its root grows old in the earth,
and its stump dies in the ground,
yet at the scent of water it will bud
and put forth branches like a young plant.
But mortals die, and are laid low;
humans expire, and where are they?
As waters fail from a lake,
and a river wastes away and dries up,
so mortals lie down and do not rise again;
until the heavens are no more, they will not awake
or be roused out of their sleep.
O that you would hide me in Sheol,
that you would conceal me until your wrath is past,
that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me!
If mortals die, will they live again?
All the days of my service I would wait
until my release should come.
You would call, and I would answer you;
you would long for the work of your hands.
For then you would not* number my steps,
you would not keep watch over my sin;
my transgression would be sealed up in a bag,
and you would cover over my iniquity.

‘But the mountain falls and crumbles away,
and the rock is removed from its place;
the waters wear away the stones;
the torrents wash away the soil of the earth;
so you destroy the hope of mortals.
You prevail for ever against them, and they pass away;
you change their countenance, and send them away.
Their children come to honour, and they do not know it;
they are brought low, and it goes unnoticed.
They feel only the pain of their own bodies,
and mourn only for themselves.’

Job 15

Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered:
‘Should the wise answer with windy knowledge,
and fill themselves with the east wind?
Should they argue in unprofitable talk,
or in words with which they can do no good?
But you are doing away with the fear of God,
and hindering meditation before God.
For your iniquity teaches your mouth,
and you choose the tongue of the crafty.
Your own mouth condemns you, and not I;
your own lips testify against you.

‘Are you the firstborn of the human race?
Were you brought forth before the hills?
Have you listened in the council of God?
And do you limit wisdom to yourself?
What do you know that we do not know?
What do you understand that is not clear to us?
The grey-haired and the aged are on our side,
those older than your father.
Are the consolations of God too small for you,
or the word that deals gently with you?
Why does your heart carry you away,
and why do your eyes flash,*
so that you turn your spirit against God,
and let such words go out of your mouth?
What are mortals, that they can be clean?
Or those born of woman, that they can be righteous?
God puts no trust even in his holy ones,
and the heavens are not clean in his sight;
how much less one who is abominable and corrupt,
one who drinks iniquity like water!

‘I will show you; listen to me;
what I have seen I will declare—
what sages have told,
and their ancestors have not hidden,
to whom alone the land was given,
and no stranger passed among them.
The wicked writhe in pain all their days,
through all the years that are laid up for the ruthless.
Terrifying sounds are in their ears;
in prosperity the destroyer will come upon them.
They despair of returning from darkness,
and they are destined for the sword.
They wander abroad for bread, saying, “Where is it?”
They know that a day of darkness is ready at hand;
distress and anguish terrify them;
they prevail against them, like a king prepared for battle.
Because they stretched out their hands against God,
and bid defiance to the Almighty,*
running stubbornly against him
with a thick-bossed shield;
because they have covered their faces with their fat,
and gathered fat upon their loins,
they will live in desolate cities,
in houses that no one should inhabit,
houses destined to become heaps of ruins;
they will not be rich, and their wealth will not endure,
nor will they strike root in the earth;*
they will not escape from darkness;
the flame will dry up their shoots,
and their blossom* will be swept away* by the wind.
Let them not trust in emptiness, deceiving themselves;
for emptiness will be their recompense.
It will be paid in full before their time,
and their branch will not be green.
They will shake off their unripe grape, like the vine,
and cast off their blossoms, like the olive tree.
For the company of the godless is barren,
and fire consumes the tents of bribery.
They conceive mischief and bring forth evil
and their heart prepares deceit.’

Job 16

Then Job answered:
‘I have heard many such things;
miserable comforters are you all.
Have windy words no limit?
Or what provokes you that you keep on talking?
I also could talk as you do,
if you were in my place;
I could join words together against you,
and shake my head at you.
I could encourage you with my mouth,
and the solace of my lips would assuage your pain.

‘If I speak, my pain is not assuaged,
and if I forbear, how much of it leaves me?
Surely now God has worn me out;
he has* made desolate all my company.
And he has* shrivelled me up,
which is a witness against me;
my leanness has risen up against me,
and it testifies to my face.
He has torn me in his wrath, and hated me;
he has gnashed his teeth at me;
my adversary sharpens his eyes against me.
They have gaped at me with their mouths;
they have struck me insolently on the cheek;
they mass themselves together against me.
God gives me up to the ungodly,
and casts me into the hands of the wicked.
I was at ease, and he broke me in two;
he seized me by the neck and dashed me to pieces;
he set me up as his target;
his archers surround me.
He slashes open my kidneys, and shows no mercy;
he pours out my gall on the ground.
He bursts upon me again and again;
he rushes at me like a warrior.
I have sewed sackcloth upon my skin,
and have laid my strength in the dust.
My face is red with weeping,
and deep darkness is on my eyelids,
though there is no violence in my hands,
and my prayer is pure.

‘O earth, do not cover my blood;
let my outcry find no resting-place.
Even now, in fact, my witness is in heaven,
and he that vouches for me is on high.
My friends scorn me;
my eye pours out tears to God,
that he would maintain the right of a mortal with God,
as* one does for a neighbour.
For when a few years have come,
I shall go the way from which I shall not return.

Read the following questions with thought-filledness.

Listen to your response carefully and gently. Write it down if you feel so inclined.

Sit with what you have learned and accept your experience with loving-kindness and wisdom.

  1. The metaphorical lament that Job uses of the natural world paints a visceral and sympathetic picture of his suffering. Have you experienced empathy with the natural world and it’s suffering?
  2. Do you feel that Eliphaz is providing sensitive and respectful pastoral care to Job? If no, ask yourself why and what would that care look like. If yes, ask yourself why and where in Eliphaz’ responses to Job does this occur?
  3. As a younger man who has lost everything, do you find Job’s lament tiresome, perhaps self-indulgent-or do you empathize? Or do you feel something entirely different?

 

October 29, – Read, Reflect, Respond

Job Chapter 11, 12 & 13

Job 11

Then Zophar the Naamathite answered: “Should a multitude of words go unanswered, and should one full of talk be vindicated? Should your babble put others to silence, and when you mock, shall no one shame you? For you say, ‘My conduct is pure, and I am clean in God’s sight.’ But oh, that God would speak, and open his lips to you, and that he would tell you the secrets of wisdom! For wisdom is many-sided. Know then that God exacts of you less than your guilt deserves.
“Can you find out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limit of the Almighty? It is higher than heaven—what can you do? Deeper than Sheol—what can you know? Its measure is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea. If he passes through, and imprisons, and assembles for judgment, who can hinder him? For he knows those who are worthless; when he sees iniquity, will he not consider it? But a stupid person will get understanding, when a wild ass is born human.
“If you direct your heart rightly, you will stretch out your hands toward him. If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away, and do not let wickedness reside in your tents. Surely then you will lift up your face without blemish; you will be secure, and will not fear. You will forget your misery; you will remember it as waters that have passed away. And your life will be brighter than the noonday; its darkness will be like the morning. And you will have confidence, because there is hope; you will be protected and take your rest in safety. You will lie down, and no one will make you afraid; many will entreat your favor. But the eyes of the wicked will fail; all way of escape will be lost to them, and their hope is to breathe their last.”

Job 12

Then Job answered: “No doubt you are the people, and wisdom will die with you. But I have understanding as well as you; I am not inferior to you. Who does not know such things as these? I am a laughingstock to my friends; I, who called upon God and he answered me, a just and blameless man, I am a laughingstock. Those at ease have contempt for misfortune, but it is ready for those whose feet are unstable.
The tents of robbers are at peace, and those who provoke God are secure, who bring their god in their hands. “But ask the animals, and they will teach you; the birds of the air, and they will tell you; ask the plants of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of every human being. Does not the ear test words as the palate tastes food?
Is wisdom with the aged, and understanding in length of days? “With God are wisdom and strength; he has counsel and understanding. If he tears down, no one can rebuild; if he shuts someone in, no one can open up. If he withholds the waters, they dry up; if he sends them out, they overwhelm the land. With him are strength and wisdom; the deceived and the deceiver are his. He leads counselors away stripped, and makes fools of judges. He looses the sash of kings, and binds a waistcloth on their loins. He leads priests away stripped, and overthrows the mighty. He deprives of speech those who are trusted, and takes away the discernment of the elders. He pours contempt on princes, and looses the belt of the strong. He uncovers the deeps out of darkness, and brings deep darkness to light. He makes nations great, then destroys them; he enlarges nations, then leads them away. He strips understanding from the leaders of the earth, and makes them wander in a pathless waste. They grope in the dark without light; he makes them stagger like a drunkard.

 

Job 13

“Look, my eye has seen all this, my ear has heard and understood it. What you know, I also know; I am not inferior to you. But I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to argue my case with God. As for you, you whitewash with lies; all of you are worthless physicians. If you would only keep silent, that would be your wisdom! Hear now my reasoning, and listen to the pleadings of my lips. Will you speak falsely for God, and speak deceitfully for him? Will you show partiality toward him, will you plead the case for God? Will it be well with you when he searches you out? Or can you deceive him, as one person deceives another? He will surely rebuke you if in secret you show partiality. Will not his majesty terrify you, and the dread of him fall upon you? Your maxims are proverbs of ashes, your defenses are defenses of clay.
“Let me have silence, and I will speak, and let come on me what may. I will take my flesh in my teeth, and put my life in my hand. See, he will kill me; I have no hope; but I will defend my ways to his face. This will be my salvation, that the godless shall not come before him. Listen carefully to my words, and let my declaration be in your ears. I have indeed prepared my case; I know that I shall be vindicated. Who is there that will contend with me? For then I would be silent and die. Only grant two things to me, then I will not hide myself from your face: withdraw your hand far from me, and do not let dread of you terrify me. Then call, and I will answer; or let me speak, and you reply to me.
How many are my iniquities and my sins? Make me know my transgression and my sin. Why do you hide your face, and count me as your enemy? Will you frighten a windblown leaf and pursue dry chaff? For you write bitter things against me, and make me reap the iniquities of my youth. You put my feet in the stocks, and watch all my paths; you set a bound to the soles of my feet. One wastes away like a rotten thing, like a garment that is moth-eaten.

Read the following questions with thought-filledness. 
Listen to your response carefully and gently. Write it down if you feel so inclined.
Sit with what you have learned and accept your experience with loving-kindness and wisdom.

Three questions…..

  1. Futility is an over arching theme as the story of Job progresses. Is there potential for significant growth and a deepening of faith that can accompany such futility?
  2. Have you had a relationship-a friendship which endured the ongoing trauma, suffering and despair that Job experiences? If so, how did you support your friend and yourself during this challenge?
  3. Have you experienced futility to such a degree that it turned you further toward God and not away?

 

October 15 – Read, Reflect, Respond

Job Chapter 10

Job: I Loathe My Life

‘I loathe my life;
I will give free utterance to my complaint;
I will speak in the bitterness of my soul.
I will say to God, Do not condemn me;
let me know why you contend against me.
Does it seem good to you to oppress,
to despise the work of your hands
and favour the schemes of the wicked?
Do you have eyes of flesh?
Do you see as humans see?
Are your days like the days of mortals,
or your years like human years,
that you seek out my iniquity
and search for my sin,
although you know that I am not guilty,
and there is no one to deliver out of your hand?
Your hands fashioned and made me;
and now you turn and destroy me.
Remember that you fashioned me like clay;
and will you turn me to dust again?
Did you not pour me out like milk
and curdle me like cheese?
You clothed me with skin and flesh,
and knit me together with bones and sinews.
You have granted me life and steadfast love,
and your care has preserved my spirit.
Yet these things you hid in your heart;
I know that this was your purpose.
If I sin, you watch me,
and do not acquit me of my iniquity.
If I am wicked, woe to me!
If I am righteous, I cannot lift up my head,
for I am filled with disgrace
and look upon my affliction.
Bold as a lion you hunt me;
you repeat your exploits against me.
You renew your witnesses against me,
and increase your vexation towards me;
you bring fresh troops against me.

‘Why did you bring me forth from the womb?
Would that I had died before any eye had seen me,
and were as though I had not been,
carried from the womb to the grave.
Are not the days of my life few?
Let me alone, that I may find a little comfort
before I go, never to return,
to the land of gloom and deep darkness,
the land of gloom and chaos,
where light is like darkness.’

Read the following questions with thought-filledness. Listen to your response carefully and gently. Write it down if you feel so inclined. Sit with what you have learned and accept your experience with loving-kindness and wisdom.

  1. Job’s intimacy with God is increasing through each chapter-Are you able to be this honest and intimate with God?
  2. Job’s lament is long, arduous and deeply personal. He perceives God as both merciful and punishing. From what part of his being does this perspective generate?
  3. Is it possible that this process of suffering and binary thinking is necessary to generate a more inclusive and higher consciousness view of who/what God is?

 

October 8 – Read, Reflect, Respond

Job Chapter 9

Then Job answered:
‘Indeed I know that this is so;
but how can a mortal be just before God?
If one wished to contend with him,
one could not answer him once in a thousand.
He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength
—who has resisted him, and succeeded?—
he who removes mountains, and they do not know it,
when he overturns them in his anger;
who shakes the earth out of its place,
and its pillars tremble;
who commands the sun, and it does not rise;
who seals up the stars;
who alone stretched out the heavens
and trampled the waves of the Sea;*
who made the Bear and Orion,
the Pleiades and the chambers of the south;
who does great things beyond understanding,
and marvellous things without number.
Look, he passes by me, and I do not see him;
he moves on, but I do not perceive him.
He snatches away; who can stop him?
Who will say to him, “What are you doing?”

‘God will not turn back his anger;
the helpers of Rahab bowed beneath him.
How then can I answer him,
choosing my words with him?
Though I am innocent, I cannot answer him;
I must appeal for mercy to my accuser.*
If I summoned him and he answered me,
I do not believe that he would listen to my voice.
For he crushes me with a tempest,
and multiplies my wounds without cause;
he will not let me get my breath,
but fills me with bitterness.
If it is a contest of strength, he is the strong one!
If it is a matter of justice, who can summon him?*
Though I am innocent, my own mouth would condemn me;
though I am blameless, he would prove me perverse.
I am blameless; I do not know myself;
I loathe my life.
It is all one; therefore I say,
he destroys both the blameless and the wicked.
When disaster brings sudden death,
he mocks at the calamity* of the innocent.
The earth is given into the hand of the wicked;
he covers the eyes of its judges—
if it is not he, who then is it?

‘My days are swifter than a runner;
they flee away, they see no good.
They go by like skiffs of reed,
like an eagle swooping on the prey.
If I say, “I will forget my complaint;
I will put off my sad countenance and be of good cheer”,
I become afraid of all my suffering,
for I know you will not hold me innocent.
I shall be condemned;
why then do I labour in vain?
If I wash myself with soap
and cleanse my hands with lye,
yet you will plunge me into filth,
and my own clothes will abhor me.
For he is not a mortal, as I am, that I might answer him,
that we should come to trial together.
There is no umpire* between us,
who might lay his hand on us both.
If he would take his rod away from me,
and not let dread of him terrify me,
then I would speak without fear of him,
for I know I am not what I am thought to be.*

Read the following questions with thought-filledness.

Listen to your response carefully and gently. Write it down if you feel so inclined.

Sit with what you have learned and accept your experience with loving-kindness and wisdom.

  1. When have you felt without God and what was the circumstance?
  2. Where in the passage has the scribe shown God as non-dualistic?
  3. In the depth of suffering, is it our personal pain and self-loathing that give voice to our inability to know we are one with God?

 

Job Chapter 8

Bildad Speaks: Job Should Repent
Then Bildad the Shuhite answered:
‘How long will you say these things,
and the words of your mouth be a great wind?
Does God pervert justice?
Or does the Almighty* pervert the right?
If your children sinned against him,
he delivered them into the power of their transgression.
If you will seek God
and make supplication to the Almighty,*
if you are pure and upright,
surely then he will rouse himself for you
and restore to you your rightful place.
Though your beginning was small,
your latter days will be very great.

‘For inquire now of bygone generations,
and consider what their ancestors have found;
for we are but of yesterday, and we know nothing,
for our days on earth are but a shadow.
Will they not teach you and tell you
and utter words out of their understanding?

‘Can papyrus grow where there is no marsh?
Can reeds flourish where there is no water?
While yet in flower and not cut down,
they wither before any other plant.
Such are the paths of all who forget God;
the hope of the godless shall perish.
Their confidence is gossamer,
a spider’s house their trust.
If one leans against its house, it will not stand;
if one lays hold of it, it will not endure.
The wicked thrive* before the sun,
and their shoots spread over the garden.
Their roots twine around the stoneheap;
they live among the rocks.*
If they are destroyed from their place,
then it will deny them, saying, “I have never seen you.”
See, these are their happy ways,*
and out of the earth still others will spring.

‘See, God will not reject a blameless person,
nor take the hand of evildoers.
He will yet fill your mouth with laughter,
and your lips with shouts of joy.
Those who hate you will be clothed with shame,
and the tent of the wicked will be no more.’

Read the following questions with thought-filledness. 
Listen to your response carefully and gently. Write it down if you feel so inclined.
Sit with what you have learned and accept your experience with loving-kindness and wisdom.

Three questions…..

  1. The wisdom of Bildad speaks to us about surrender. Can you recall a time when you gave yourself completely and without reserve over to God’s will?
  2. Do you believe that in a place of surrender there is peace with self, the world and all that is holy?
  3. What exists in your life today that you would like to surrender?

Job Chapter 7 – NRSV

Job: My Suffering Is without End
‘Do not human beings have a hard service on earth,
and are not their days like the days of a labourer?
Like a slave who longs for the shadow,
and like labourers who look for their wages,
so I am allotted months of emptiness,
and nights of misery are apportioned to me.
When I lie down I say, “When shall I rise?”
But the night is long,
and I am full of tossing until dawn.
My flesh is clothed with worms and dirt;
my skin hardens, then breaks out again.
My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle,
and come to their end without hope.

‘Remember that my life is a breath;
my eye will never again see good.
The eye that beholds me will see me no more;
while your eyes are upon me, I shall be gone.
As the cloud fades and vanishes,
so those who go down to Sheol do not come up;
they return no more to their houses,
nor do their places know them any more.

‘Therefore I will not restrain my mouth;
I will speak in the anguish of my spirit;
I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.
Am I the Sea, or the Dragon,
that you set a guard over me?
When I say, “My bed will comfort me,
my couch will ease my complaint”,
then you scare me with dreams
and terrify me with visions,
so that I would choose strangling
and death rather than this body.
I loathe my life; I would not live for ever.
Let me alone, for my days are a breath.
What are human beings, that you make so much of them,
that you set your mind on them,
visit them every morning,
test them every moment?
Will you not look away from me for a while,
let me alone until I swallow my spittle?
If I sin, what do I do to you, you watcher of humanity?
Why have you made me your target?
Why have I become a burden to you?
Why do you not pardon my transgression
and take away my iniquity?
For now I shall lie in the earth;
you will seek me, but I shall not be.

Read the following questions with thought-filledness. 
Listen to your response carefully and gently. Write it down if you feel so inclined.
Sit with what you have learned and accept your experience with loving-kindness and wisdom.

Three questions…..

  1. There is a distinct and overwhelming aloneness to Job’s experience. He feels deserted by everything. When have you experienced and or felt abandoned in your life?
  2. Do you have a current person or persons in your life that accept and love you exactly as you are and have no expectations of you being any different?
  3. Are there people in your life that you accept completely, without expectation or condition?

Job Chapter 6

Job Replies: My Complaint Is Just
Then Job answered:
‘O that my vexation were weighed,
and all my calamity laid in the balances!
For then it would be heavier than the sand of the sea;
therefore my words have been rash.
For the arrows of the Almighty are in me;
my spirit drinks their poison;
the terrors of God are arrayed against me.
Does the wild ass bray over its grass,
or the ox low over its fodder?
Can that which is tasteless be eaten without salt,
or is there any flavour in the juice of mallows?
My appetite refuses to touch them;
they are like food that is loathsome to me.

‘O that I might have my request,
and that God would grant my desire;
that it would please God to crush me,
that he would let loose his hand and cut me off!
This would be my consolation;
I would even exult in unrelenting pain;
for I have not denied the words of the Holy One.
What is my strength, that I should wait?
And what is my end, that I should be patient?
Is my strength the strength of stones,
or is my flesh bronze?
In truth I have no help in me,
and any resource is driven from me.

‘Those who withhold kindness from a friend
forsake the fear of the Almighty.
My companions are treacherous like a torrent-bed,
like freshets that pass away,
that run dark with ice,
turbid with melting snow.
In time of heat they disappear;
when it is hot, they vanish from their place.
The caravans turn aside from their course;
they go up into the waste, and perish.
The caravans of Tema look,
the travellers of Sheba hope.
They are disappointed because they were confident;
they come there and are confounded.
Such you have now become to me;
you see my calamity, and are afraid.
Have I said, “Make me a gift”?
Or, “From your wealth offer a bribe for me”?
Or, “Save me from an opponent’s hand”?
Or, “Ransom me from the hand of oppressors”?

‘Teach me, and I will be silent;
make me understand how I have gone wrong.
How forceful are honest words!
But your reproof, what does it reprove?
Do you think that you can reprove words,
as if the speech of the desperate were wind?
You would even cast lots over the orphan,
and bargain over your friend.

‘But now, be pleased to look at me;
for I will not lie to your face.
Turn, I pray, let no wrong be done.
Turn now, my vindication is at stake.
Is there any wrong on my tongue?
Cannot my taste discern calamity?

Read the following questions with thought-filledness. 
Listen to your response carefully and gently. Write it down if you feel so inclined.
Sit with what you have learned and accept your experience with loving-kindness and wisdom.

Three questions…..

  1. Job is beside himself in grief. His lament is poetic and filled with pain. Have you created something that you have expressed your suffering through?
  2. If you were one of Job’s companions, how would you attend to him?
  3. Can you imagine this depth of agony?

Job Chapter 5 

Job Is Corrected by God
‘Call now; is there anyone who will answer you?
To which of the holy ones will you turn?
Surely vexation kills the fool,
and jealousy slays the simple.
I have seen fools taking root,
but suddenly I cursed their dwelling.
Their children are far from safety,
they are crushed in the gate,
and there is no one to deliver them.
The hungry eat their harvest,
and they take it even out of the thorns;
and the thirsty pant after their wealth.
For misery does not come from the earth,
nor does trouble sprout from the ground;
but human beings are born to trouble
just as sparks fly upward.

‘As for me, I would seek God,
and to God I would commit my cause.
He does great things and unsearchable,
marvellous things without number.
He gives rain on the earth
and sends waters on the fields;
he sets on high those who are lowly,
and those who mourn are lifted to safety.
He frustrates the devices of the crafty,
so that their hands achieve no success.
He takes the wise in their own craftiness;
and the schemes of the wily are brought to a quick end.
They meet with darkness in the daytime,
and grope at noonday as in the night.
But he saves the needy from the sword of their mouth,
from the hand of the mighty.
So the poor have hope,
and injustice shuts its mouth.

‘How happy is the one whom God reproves;
therefore do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.
For he wounds, but he binds up;
he strikes, but his hands heal.
He will deliver you from six troubles;
in seven no harm shall touch you.
In famine he will redeem you from death,
and in war from the power of the sword.
You shall be hidden from the scourge of the tongue,
and shall not fear destruction when it comes.
At destruction and famine you shall laugh,
and shall not fear the wild animals of the earth.
For you shall be in league with the stones of the field,
and the wild animals shall be at peace with you.
You shall know that your tent is safe,
you shall inspect your fold and miss nothing.
You shall know that your descendants will be many,
and your offspring like the grass of the earth.
You shall come to your grave in ripe old age,
as a shock of grain comes up to the threshing-floor in its season.
See, we have searched this out; it is true.
Hear, and know it for yourself.’

Read the following questions with thought-filledness. 
Listen to your response carefully and gently. Write it down if you feel so inclined.
Sit with what you have learned and accept your experience with loving-kindness and wisdom.

Three questions…..

  1. The Hebrew testament God can be very black and white and relatively clear in circumstantial intention-is your perception of God black and white?
  2. Given the circumstances Job is experiencing, is God offering support, chastisement or simply being directive?
  3. If you were Job, would you feel God with you through this dialogue?

 

Job Chapter 4

 Eliphaz Speaks: Job Has Sinned
Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered:
‘If one ventures a word with you, will you be offended?
But who can keep from speaking?
See, you have instructed many;
you have strengthened the weak hands.
Your words have supported those who were stumbling,
and you have made firm the feeble knees.
But now it has come to you, and you are impatient;
it touches you, and you are dismayed.
Is not your fear of God your confidence,
and the integrity of your ways your hope?

‘Think now, who that was innocent ever perished?
Or where were the upright cut off?
As I have seen, those who plough iniquity
and sow trouble reap the same.
By the breath of God they perish,
and by the blast of his anger they are consumed.
The roar of the lion, the voice of the fierce lion,
and the teeth of the young lions are broken.
The strong lion perishes for lack of prey,
and the whelps of the lioness are scattered.

‘Now a word came stealing to me,
my ear received the whisper of it.
Amid thoughts from visions of the night,
when deep sleep falls on mortals,
dread came upon me, and trembling,
which made all my bones shake.
A spirit glided past my face;
the hair of my flesh bristled.
It stood still,
but I could not discern its appearance.
A form was before my eyes;
there was silence, then I heard a voice:
“Can mortals be righteous before God?
Can human beings be pure before their Maker?
Even in his servants he puts no trust,
and his angels he charges with error;
how much more those who live in houses of clay,
whose foundation is in the dust,
who are crushed like a moth.
Between morning and evening they are destroyed;
they perish for ever without any regarding it.
Their tent-cord is plucked up within them,
and they die devoid of wisdom.”

Read the following questions with thought-filledness.
Listen to your response carefully and gently. Write it down if you feel so inclined.
Sit with what you have learned and accept your experience with loving-kindness and wisdom.

  1. Eliphaz accuses Job of not living into his faith-of sinning; how do you understand or perceive Job at this point in his journey?
  2. Do we need to prove ourselves to God?
  3. How do you understand sin?

Job – Chapter 3

Job Curses the Day He Was Born

After this Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. Job said:
‘Let the day perish on which I was born,
and the night that said,
“A man-child is conceived.”
Let that day be darkness!
May God above not seek it,
or light shine on it.
Let gloom and deep darkness claim it.
Let clouds settle upon it;
let the blackness of the day terrify it.
That night—let thick darkness seize it!
let it not rejoice among the days of the year;
let it not come into the number of the months.
Yes, let that night be barren;
let no joyful cry be heard in it.
Let those curse it who curse the Sea,
those who are skilled to rouse up Leviathan.
Let the stars of its dawn be dark;
let it hope for light, but have none;
may it not see the eyelids of the morning—
because it did not shut the doors of my mother’s womb,
and hide trouble from my eyes.

‘Why did I not die at birth,
come forth from the womb and expire?
Why were there knees to receive me,
or breasts for me to suck?
Now I would be lying down and quiet;
I would be asleep; then I would be at rest
with kings and counsellors of the earth
who rebuild ruins for themselves,
or with princes who have gold,
who fill their houses with silver.
Or why was I not buried like a stillborn child,
like an infant that never sees the light?
There the wicked cease from troubling,
and there the weary are at rest.
There the prisoners are at ease together;
they do not hear the voice of the taskmaster.
The small and the great are there,
and the slaves are free from their masters.

‘Why is light given to one in misery,
and life to the bitter in soul,
who long for death, but it does not come,
and dig for it more than for hidden treasures;
who rejoice exceedingly,
and are glad when they find the grave?
Why is light given to one who cannot see the way,
whom God has fenced in?
For my sighing comes like my bread,
and my groanings are poured out like water.
Truly the thing that I fear comes upon me,
and what I dread befalls me.
I am not at ease, nor am I quiet;
I have no rest; but trouble comes.’

Read the following questions with thought-filledness. Try reading out loud.

Listen to your response carefully and gently. Write it down if you feel so inclined.

Sit with what you have learned and accept your experience with loving-kindness and wisdom.

  1. What feelings and/or images come to you while reading Job’s lament?
  2. Can you imagine feeling this broken?
  3. Have you ever wished you were not born or have you ever wanted to die?

August 20, 2020

Job-The Jewish bible. Chapters 1 & 2

Chapter 1 – Job and His Family

There was once a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job. That man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. There were born to him seven sons and three daughters. He had seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred donkeys, and very many servants; so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east. His sons used to go and hold feasts in one another’s houses in turn; and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. And when the feast days had run their course, Job would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt-offerings according to the number of them all; for Job said, ‘It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.’ This is what Job always did.

Attack on Job’s Character

One day the heavenly beings came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. The Lord said to Satan, ‘Where have you come from?’ Satan answered the Lord, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.’ The Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil.’ Then Satan answered the Lord, ‘Does Job fear God for nothing?Have you not put a fence around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.’ The Lord said to Satan, ‘Very well, all that he has is in your power; only do not stretch out your hand against him!’ So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.

Job Loses Property and Children

One day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in the eldest brother’s house, a messenger came to Job and said, ‘The oxen were ploughing and the donkeys were feeding beside them, and the Sabeans fell on them and carried them off, and killed the servants with the edge of the sword; I alone have escaped to tell you.’ While he was still speaking, another came and said, ‘The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants, and consumed them; I alone have escaped to tell you.’ While he was still speaking, another came and said, ‘The Chaldeans formed three columns, made a raid on the camels and carried them off, and killed the servants with the edge of the sword; I alone have escaped to tell you.’ While he was still speaking, another came and said, ‘Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house, and suddenly a great wind came across the desert, struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people, and they are dead; I alone have escaped to tell you.’

Then Job arose, tore his robe, shaved his head, and fell on the ground and worshipped. He said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there; the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’

In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrongdoing.

Chapter 2

One day the heavenly beings came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord. The Lord said to Satan, ‘Where have you come from?’ Satan answered the Lord, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.’ The Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil. He still persists in his integrity, although you incited me against him, to destroy him for no reason.’ Then Satan answered the Lord, ‘Skin for skin! All that people have they will give to save their lives. But stretch out your hand now and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.’ The Lord said to Satan, ‘Very well, he is in your power; only spare his life.’

So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord, and inflicted loathsome sores on Job from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. Job took a potsherd with which to scrape himself, and sat among the ashes.

Then his wife said to him, ‘Do you still persist in your integrity? Curse God, and die.’ But he said to her, ‘You speak as any foolish woman would speak. Shall we receive the good at the hand of God, and not receive the bad?’ In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

Now when Job’s three friends heard of all these troubles that had come upon him, each of them set out from his home—Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They met together to go and console and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him, and they raised their voices and wept aloud; they tore their robes and threw dust in the air upon their heads. They sat with him on the ground for seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.

Read the following questions with thought-filledness.

Listen to your response carefully and gently. Write it down if you feel so inclined.

Sit with what you have learned and accept your experience with loving-kindness and wisdom.

  1. Are there ways that you can relate to Job?
  2. Who is Satan/Adversary? (Adversary is the original translation from the Jewish Bible).
  3. Does God test us?