Time Out: A Bible Study for Asbury's Worship
(September 26 & 27)
by Rev. Lee Johnson
september 26, 2020
Each morning, a news feed pops up on my iPad. Each morning it says the same thing: “Start your day here.” For months, especially in the continuing saga of COVID-19, that’s how I’ve begun my day, reading about treatments and vaccines, ventilators and hospitals, and numbers, lots of numbers. Toss in the politics of an election, and a growing racial divide, I no longer need the caffeine of coffee to jolt my day’s beginning. The news is sufficient. But, last week, shortly after the death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and the subsequent debate, I decided this is no way to start my day. I had had enough. In Exodus 2.22, reflecting upon his at best confusing self-identity – born a Hebrew, saved by an Egyptian, now exiled in Midian - Moses proclaims: “I have been an alien residing in a foreign land.” Be honest now, looking around our land, is this what you expected less than seven months ago? Moses may be on to something, there is much in this land of ours, I simply do not recognize today, or at the very least anticipated. It feels foreign and confusing. How have you managed the change of the past seven months? What does feel like to you?
In her book, Strengthening the Soul, Ruth Haley Barton calls Moses’ admission “profound.” To admit his confusion, struggle, anger, and brokenness, in a world that seemed foreign – even though he was only miles from “home” – was the beginning of a beginning for Moses. There in Midian, in the wilderness and solitude of his exile, something new was born. Barton says there is Good News in the something new. “Solitude,” she says, “does its work,” whether or not we understand it. “Just as the physical law of gravity ensures that sediment swirling in a jar of muddy river water will eventually settle and the water becomes clear, so the spiritual law of gravity ensures the chaos of the human soul will settle if it sits still long enough.” In the stillness, God can lead us to discover new ways to live well amid a foreign land. First, though, like Moses, we must admit our “status.” After doing so, it was then that the chaos in Moses’ soul settled a bit and he began to make sense of his own history and surroundings. It’s quite a story! At best, we are living in a time of chaotic history. How have you allowed the chaos of your soul to do some daily settling?
I enjoy walking through the section of garden just east of Kansas City’s Loose Park Rose Garden. It is not until this time of year that the plantings bear the beauty of their design. It took months of nurture and care. That’s how I started my day this morning. It wasn't exactly solitude; it wasn’t a wilderness. But it was a time out that allowed me to see with added clarity some of the fear and sadness, even anger, that has crept into my life these past few months. I started my day in a new way. Moses took a much longer time out and discovered he was wearing himself out trying to change and fix things. Once he admitted it – you know the part about being a foreigner in a foreign land - he was able to let go of old patterns of living that no longer served him. You might say the Moses we know, became Moses. But it took a long time out before he was able to bear the image of his design. And it takes time for us, too. How often do you take a time out to let the chaotic part of yourself settle? What about letting go of old patterns of living?
Asbury's Weekend Worship: https://www.visitasbury.org/worship/
Beginning Saturday, September 26 at 5:00 pm
"O God, settle the chaotic part of my soul."