Playing With Fire

This is the season when the scripture readings rustle and pop with the electricity of rumored apocalypse, the coming of a big finale. We may be squirming in our seats, tired of the hymns, preoccupied by the care label sticking up from the shirt collar of the person in front of us, worried about our mother who is sick, our children that are misbehaving, our world that is perpetually at war, our organizing that is running out of energy.

But the scriptures are talking about great expectations--strange, ancient, and, just maybe, alive.

In the essay "An Expedition to the Pole," from the book Teaching a Stone to Talk, Annie Dillard writes:

On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies' straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake someday and take offense, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return.


November 7: Ready and Waiting

Amos 5:18-24, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Matthew 25:1-13, Psalm 50:7-15

Amos had some nerve. A shepherd, he felt called by God to go to the royal sanctuary at Bethel and preach justice to Israel during an era of prosperity, peace, and military strength. Amaziah, the royal priest, expelled Amos from Bethel (Amos 7:12-13), telling him, in effect, to go back to Judah and prophesy to the sheep. Those in power didn't want to hear it.

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Sojourners Magazine November 1993
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