Today we are moving back in time. Yesterday I wrote that we are moving into a new chapter - not. I'm back in the chapter "Israel as YHWH's Partner" and I will be here through next week. It is amazing how confused I can become sometimes. So back to covenant with people.
Different accents are made in different texts out of different traditions and in response to different circumstances. On the whole, however, in my judgment it is futile and misleading to sort our unconditional and conditional aspects of YHWH's covenant with Israel. The futility and misleading quality of such an enterprise can be stated on two quite different grounds. First, even the covenant with the ancestors of Genesis includes an imperative dimension (Genesis 12:1; 17:1). Israel, as YHWH's covenant partner, is expected to order its life in ways that are appropriate to this relationship. It is unthinkable that the God who is holy, glorious, and jealous, who is the Creator of heaven and earth, will extend self in commitment without such an expectation. Second, if this relationship is indeed one of passionate commitment, as it surely is, it is undoubtedly the case that every serious, intense, primary relationship has within it dimensions of conditionality and unconditionality that play in different ways in different circumstances. The attempt to factor our conditional and unconditional aspects of the covenant is an attempt to dissect and analyze the inscrutable mystery of an intimate, intense relation that, by definition, defies all such disclosure. YHWH is all for Israel, and that includes both YHWH's self-giving and YHWH's intense self-regard.
In the next week we will enter into this more fully. When we are tempted to think of conditional as a less than desired aspect of a relationship, we lose a bit of the power intended in the covenant. As Brueggemann will spell out, this loving relationship in which God gives so thoroughly of God's self and is so passionate about the unfolding relationship, it will be one in which the relationship must have a way of having the God who initiates the relationship - show through the life of the beloved. So we come upon the simple formula: I am loved - therefore I am.... The love shapes the one loved. The one loved needs to know what it is to be the beloved and to thus embody that love that creates the relationship in the first place. Something as simply as a commandment is not merely a condition, it is a part of the passionate love of God that would take us in and shape within us a love that reflects God's initiative.
Connection: Conditional is not a bad word. It is also one that is not to be like a ruler ready to strike. Fine wines need to be conditioned in the barrels - it is this conditioning that enables the best wines - scotch - bourbon.
O God, who makes our humanity shine with life, continue to open up our hearts to the adventure that is before us - continue to show us the way of your love and teach that way to us. Amen.
Today we are moving into a chapter called, "The Human Person as YHWH's Partner. Give it time to settle in.
The Old Testament yields a peculiar and important notion of humanness. ....in contrast to several ideologies of modernity, much that the Old Testament has to say about human personhood is strikingly odd..... The oddity, I suggest, stems from the fact that the Old Testament has no interest in articulating an autonomous or universal notion of humanness....
The Old Testament has no interest in such a notion, because its articulation of what it means to be human is characteristically situated in its own Yahwistic, covenantal, interactionist mode of reality, so that humanness is always Yahwistic humanness or, we may say, Jewish humanness. The Old Testament, for the most part, is unable and unwilling - as well as uninterested - to think outside the categories and boundaries of its own sense of YHWH and YHWH's partner. As a consequence, the primary categories of Israel's faith - sovereignty, fidelity, covenant, and obedience - pertain for topic as well. Israel makes this claim for all human persons, including those well beyond its own community.
This is humanity. This is humanity as God intends it to be. God the creator is Lord of the creatures that bear the image of God. So, as someone outside this people, I look to them to gain some insight into what it is to be the partner of God. Yes, Israel is the chosen people and yes, it is by their shining light that I am able to grasp what the people of God are to be. That is the same place Jesus is at as a young person growing up in within the covenant people with whom he lived in Nazareth. There in that storytelling the shape of humanity was utterly available and accessible. If you wanted to see what the truly human one was to be - read on. God creates a people by entering into a covenant and pulling them into their part of the relationship. This is where I personally love the unfolding of this story. God is all about the creation of a people whose life will reshape the life of the world. There will be a call to obedience that is offered after the people know that they have been grasped by the God who picks them out of all the rest of humankind in order to make 'something of nothing.' That is a thrilling adventure and one that carries great responsibility that will always be supported by the God who will not ever - ever - let them go.
Connection: From this people we begin to see what the shalom of God's creation will look like. We also see how we are a people grafted onto this vision so that our own humanity will brightly shine.
O God, who makes our humanity shine with life, we long for you to engage us and continue to show us the way in which our humanity will let your grace and love be known throughout the world. Amen.
So now that Brueggemann has offered us a look at this love, we now will venture into 'Israel's Covenantal Obligation."
The theme of obedience in these same texts moves us to a second aspect of YHWH's inexplicable originary commitment to Israel. The initiatory act of love, rescue, and designation is made by a sovereign who in this act of love does not cease to be sovereign. Therefore this relationship, marked by awe and gratitude for inexplicable generosity, brings with it the expectations and requirements of the sovereign who initiates it. The common rubric for this sovereign expectation is "covenant." YHWH designates Israel as YHWH's covenant partner, so that Israel is, from the outset, obligated to respond to and meet YHWH's expectations. As covenant partner of YHWH, Israel is a people defined by obedience.
Some people do not like the fact that Redeemer does 'covenant' ceremonies for same gender couples. That dislike is from several sides. Those who just downright think same-gender relationships are wrong. Those who think we need to just call it a marriage ceremony. Though I come closest to this last group, I treasure this word - covenant. We have lost some of the power that is contained in it. God pulls Israel into a covenant relationship. God is already there - ready - loving - passionate. Now it is the people who are being asked to 'sign on the dotted line' and become the other party in what will be the shape of the life to come. Israel and their God will be - indistinguishable from one another. The covenant will call Israel into a life that is already one that God will never abandon. Therefore, Israel is to become the life that is called forth from YHWH. That is the covenant. The relationship - the love - the eternal commitment is there....now the life. It will be this covenant that will come to voice through the prophets who had a way of calling Israel a whore - for not living within the vision of the covenant. That passionate God of yesterday's devotion is the one that will never let Israel get away with becoming nothing more than any other people who sell themselves to other powers.
Connection: Covenant is vital to our deepest and most committed relationship. It is not a word to throw around without knowing of its depth and power for life.
O God, who makes us a partner in the making of new life, hold us to the covenant that you offer to us. Remind us of what it is to trust in you and what it is to live as though that trust and love is the firm foundation of our mutual love Amen.
Today we will look at the third verb associated with God's love.
The third term, set one's heart (hashaq), is used only twice, again in Deuteronomy, in texts I have Just cited: "It is not because you were more numerous than any other people that the Lord set his heart on you and chose you - for you were the fewest of all peoples" (Deuteronomy 7:7); "yet the Lord set his heart in love on your ancestors alone and chose you" (Deut. 10:15). the first of these texts concerns the community of Moses; the second, the ancestral community. But what is most important is that the verb hashaq has strong, passionate emotional overtones (cf. Genesis 34:8; Deut. 21:11). the term bespeaks a lover who is powerfully in pursuit of the partner, perhaps in lustful ways. Thus YHWH's commitment to Israel is not simply a formal, political designation, but it is a personal commitment that has a dimension of affection and in which YHWH is emotionally extended for the sake of Israel.
The love keeps getting stronger and stronger. Now it is love as all of us know and love that drives us more deeply into the relationship than once may have been thought. This is a God who desires us -and you might say- cannot stop from being in pursuit. That quite an image. And yet, in its note of lustfulness, we are able to see how deep and maybe even how irrational this love is. God will go to any lengths to be with us. It may not always make sense - but God will be alongside in and through all things. I find that quite amazing and inspiring.
Connection: In hot pursuit of us - wow.
O God, whose love become the power to shape us, you remind us of how deep your love is for all of your children. It is a risky love that is not push back by boundaries that would keep you away. You, O God, keep coming for us and we pray that we will be utterly available. Amen.
the We will look at three verbs of great worth and interest to God's people in "YHWH's Originary Love for Israel" - Walter Brueggemann. We will do this by looking take a look at love and today we will look at the 3rd cluster of uses for this love. The second verb dealing with God's love for Israel is choose - from "An Unsettling God" by Walter Brueggemann.
A second verb, choose (bahar), is regularly cited to speak more frontally of election, whereby Israel is given a special role and relation as having received a nomination or appointment by decree of the sovereign. This term chosenness has been treated in scholarship as peculiarly problematic in a perspective that yearns for universal religion. In such a context, peculiar chosenness is an embarrassment or need for explanation in Israel's own self-understanding. Israel accepts and relishes its specialness. Again, it is Deuteronomy that most fully attends to this verb and to its importance for Israel's presentation:
For you are a people holy to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on earth to be his people, his treasured possession. (Deuteronomy 7:6-7; repeated in 14:3)
This is quite a love story. A word like this cannot help but shape those who hear it. Out of all the people of the world it is you - you have been chosen. I always like to say "for what." Chosen has a quality of life around it. A treasure is safeguarded but it is also they way a person becomes known. We tend to show off our best - our treasures. Israel is a treasure before Israel acts. Therefore, all life is a response to what has been said prior to any action. You are chosen - You are a light to the nations - You become the glory of God in a way that makes that glory accessible to all. The people are not commanded to act in order to be these chosen people. Rather they are told that they are chosen and that reality is then the power that moves them into a life that makes holy the name of God.
Connection: What becomes of that which is chosen?!? We soon learn why something is chosen - maybe it is like a fresh fruit chosen to be an example of what the fruit is to be like - to be nothing more than the fruit - nothing more than the people God calls by names and loves and chooses as God's own.
O God, whose love become the power to shape us, let your light shine among us that all may know what it is to be your own - your beloved. Amen.
We will look at three verbs of great worth and interest to God's people in "YHWH's Originary Love for Israel" - Walter Brueggemann. We will do this by looking take a look at love and today we will look at the 3rd cluster of uses for this love.
Third, in the midst of the crisis of the exile, when Israel has ample ground to imagine that YHWH's love for Israel is spent, the verb reemerges among the poets of the Exile:
I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. (Jeremiah 31:3)
I give Egypt as your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you, I give people in return for you, nations in exchange for your life. (Isaiah 43:3-4; cf. 48:14; Hosea 14:4).
These latter statements attest to the durability and resilience of YHWH's love for Israel, and therefore Israel's capacity to continue in life and in faith, in extreme circumstance.
From the side of the one who has been unfaithful, it is natural to expect that Israel would feel abandoned and forgotten and yet all of that is deserved because of the way they have lived contrary to the love that never lets them go. And yet, the power of the words of these prophets is that God is the foundation upon which life can begin again. Never will the name 'chosen' be take away for it is the power that is able to transform the people into the beloved - Israel. Nothing else is able to do that. God's faithful love makes the people into the light so that the world and they themselves will see the power and meaning of being chosen - for the sake of the whole world.
Connection: As Christians, we do not have a great history of prophetic voices like the great prophets of the Hebrew scriptures. And yet, there are voices that continue to press upon us this love that is given freely, lasts through time, and is not controlled by our actions. From that love - that reminder - hearts are stirred up to become the love that loves us.
O God, whose love become the power to shape us, though we see how we live and how far we can move from you, you, O God, never fade away and leave us alone. Blessed are you. Amen.
We will look at three verbs of great worth and interest to God's people in "YHWH's Originary Love for Israel" - Walter Brueggemann. We will do this by looking take a look at love and today we will look at the 2nd cluster of uses for this love.
Second, the prophet Hosea, ostensibly out of personal experience, articulates YHWH's love for Israel like no other love: "The Lord said to me again, "Go, love a woman who has a lover and is an adulteress, just as the Lord loves the people of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes," (Hosea 3:1); "When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son" (Hosea 11:1). The first of these texts voices the undeserving status of Israel in relation to YHWH's love. The second used the verb with reference to the initiatory event of the exodus rescue.
This is a love that goes beyond anything that would be considered good advice. This is how this God loves. Even when the people have abandoned the way of the one who loves them, God continues to love her knowing that such a people may only know how to be adulterous and not faithful. The actions of the people do not have an impact on the love that God has for God's people. It is so easy to think that these stories of Israel are all about Israel - not so. The stories are about the God of Israel - the God who initiates a relationship and will not abandon that relationship. This is a love story of God who will forever attempt to woo this people into a relationship in which their life will reflect the love of this eternal lover. When Israel trust in other gods - the power of the world - the weapons of the world - the wealth of the world - their standing in the world - all the worship and words of pious people cannot remove the fact of their unfaithfulness that they seem to slip into so very easily (like all of us, I must say). And yet, God's love is always an "initiatory event" of rescue - never to be doubted and never to be abused.
Connection: As readers of the prophets and people standing on the sidelines in another time, we must learn to cheer on those words of this loving God who used ordinary people to bring to life the light that is comes when a people are beloved of God. Prophets are unnecessary if the people are faithful.
O God, whose love become the power to shape us, continue to woo us with your love and remind us of how you persist and will remain our God in and through all times. Amen.
We will look at three verbs of great worth and interest to God's people in "YHWH's Originary Love for Israel" - Walter Brueggemann. We will do this by looking take a look at love.
Israel characteristically uses three verbs, love, choose, and set one's heart to express its awareness that its existence as a people in the world is rooted in YHWH's commitment.
The first is love ('ahab). YHWH is the one who loves Israel, who loves what was not-yet-Israel, and who by the full commitment of YHWH's self causes Israel to be. We may identify three clusters of uses of the term in this context of YHWH's generative inclination toward Israel. Deuteronomy is the theological tradition that ponders in most sustained fashion Israel's election by YHWH: "It was because the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt" (Deut. 7:8); "the Lord your God turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the Lord you god loved you" (Deut. 23:5). This testimony is impressed not only with the sheer grace of YHWH's love for Israel, but by the recognition that this love of YHWH has singled out Israel, who is treated by YAHWEH as no other is treated.
A love that is direct and to the point. This is the way it is and will be. This is what I am doing - that is the way I do what I do as "I am who I am." Whoever says that the Old Testament is Law and the New Testament is grace forgets that God actions toward Israel are as full of grace as we can find anywhere. No consideration is given to who Israel once was or what they did or did not do. God acts and the story begins in the midst of grace upon grace. We have here a foundational statement. This is important because no matter where you are in time or place, Israel is reminded of this God whose love rescues and redeems - no matter what. When you are a people who question where you are and where you are going and you strongly doubt that there is any future for you - remember whose you are. Nothing - no power, no situation, no feeling - can separate you from the love of this God. Almost sounds like Paul in the letter to the Romans - doesn't it!?!
Connection: How do you hear this word of assuring love? In touch - in a voice - in a memory that jumps out at you - in the company of others - in time alone? This love is always waiting for us to rest in its presence.
O God, whose love become the power to shape us, keep our memory clear so our hearts can once again be ignited by joy. Amen.
Today we continue with "YHWH's Originary Love for Israel."
This action of YHWH - this inexplicable, irreversible commitment of YHWH - is rendered in two distinct narratives: the stories of the ancestors (Genesis 12-36) and the Exodus-Sinai narrative revolving around Moses (Exodus 1 - 24). In these two very different narratives, YHWH is sovereign power speaks, and by promissory decree evokes Israel into existence. In Genesis 12:1-3 YHWH addresses barren Sarah and failed Abraham, and issues a summons, command, and promise. In Exodus 3:7-10 YHWH addresses bondaged Israel and issues a promise that is subsequently matched by command (cf. Exodus 20:1-17).
These two dissimilar versions of initiation no doubt reflect very different circles of tradition. They are, nonetheless, agreed on the main purpose. The people that became Israel are themselves without hope, possibility, or future. The sorry situation of these people, barren and bondaged, is dramatically transformed by the sovereign utterance of YHWH. No ground or rationale is given for the utterance of YHWH, but because the utterance is on the lips of the Holy One, the utterance must be accepted, embraced, and obeyed by Israel.
There are several stories that attempt to help the people Israel see what it is that God would have with them. Chosen is a powerful word to me. Chosen - in the cases sited here - has to do with creating something out of nothing. A beaten down, barren people will be where God begins to make a witness to the world as to how God's beloved are to be a people to whom the nations and the tribes of the world will look at with amazement. The Chosen are chose for life. The story of God's relationship with Israel is one in which both sides must wrestle (take the Jacob story from this Sunday) with who the people are being called to be and how the people are doing at being those people. This is never to be a Chosen who get a free pass - it is a Chosen that marks them with responsibility for the well-being of the whole world. If it is anything less, then it is merely a tribal story of no consequence to those outside Israel. Even when the great prophets yelled and hollered, they did so to call the people back to being who they were chose to be. In their growth of power, Israel was losing its touch with the stories of being chosen.
Connection: I find these references back to these stories vital for looking at the present day situation in Israel and Palestine. If a great prophet would come today, what would be the witness of that prophet?
O God, whose love become the power to shape us, lead your holy people so that their light will shine and they will draw all people to you Reign. Amen.
Today we enter into a section call "YHWH's Originary Love for Israel."
Israel's existence is rooted in YHWH's inescapable, originary commitment to Israel. According to biblical testimony, there was a time when Israel did not exist. Israel came to exist because of the decisive, initiatory action of YHWH. It is certain that there were ethnic and sociological antecedents to Israel, but as a community, as a sociological entity, Israel came to exist in the world of the Near East because of the sovereign, free actin of YHWH.
Just this past week, I heard someone argue that just because one people - one ethnic group - claims to have had an experience with their God, what does that have to do with anything that we consider operative for our day. In other words, the person was wondering also about whose story is to be the one that runs the day - or should any religious story be able to do that? If we claim to be God's people, isn't that something that need be separate from the ways of the world? Can we take part in whatever ritual and ethical aspects of the relationship with God without it having to have an impact on the society in which we live? Is there and should there ever be a 'state' that is rule by or under the thumb of a group that claims a religious story? Or, are we aliens in this world of countries and states and empires? What if multiple 'god stories' exist side by side and one is taken by the majority to be 'the' story? Can one people's story trump other stories? Does it depend on age - how far the story has been spread? Do we take into consideration the way the story is spread over the years.
Connection: I enjoy and find meaning so many of the stories of Israel's God and how it flows into our story of the one we call the Christ of this God, Jesus. That's me. That's my upbringing and what I find nurturing to me. Yet, does it stop me from engaging others with respect and honor - or help me to honor some more than others!?!
O God, whose love become the power to shape us, when we are taken up into your love, bless us with minds and hearts that are open to those around us who do not live by your name and honor you as God. Amen.
Today we will add on to what Brueggemann wrote about the partnership between Israel and YHWH.
In the testimony of the Old Testament, Israel becomes the key partner to YHWH and the subject of the testimony. In these ancient texts and in its ongoing life in the world. Israel is indeed an oddity and a mystery, because Israel is a theological phenomenon that has concrete sociopolitical embodiment and is expected to live differently in a world of power. this odd combination of the theological and political realms is definitional for Israel, and therefore Israel is an inassimilable public entity in the world. Whatever else may be said of Israel, in the end Israel in these texts must regard itself Yahwistically. that is, in some impenetrable way, Israel's existence is referred to and derived from YHWH. Israel will not be discerned in these texts without reference to YHWH. But it is equally odd and noteworthy that YHWH will not be discerned in these texts without reference to Israel.
We are talking about incarnation. The people are the living witness to the one who is the foundation of their life together. We cannot see God - but there are God's people. What shall we thus say about this God based on what is observable with these people. Having said that, it is quite important to remember that as followers of Jesus, the same thing needs to be said about us. How will God be seen and be known through us?! In our bible study on Revelation, we have been talking about how the church of John's day was becoming accommodating to the religious notions of the day that were so tied to empire. And yet, the revelation of Jesus shows that no matter how powerful the empire may be - we do not live like that. We have another life that follows the way of the slaughtered Lamb and become truly identified with this Lamb action.
Connection: We are always invited into the life that looks like the one who created all of life. We are invited to be fully human - in God' image. That doesn't always look like the way we would want to go - because it is not always the way of the world around us.
O God, who is the partner of life and hope and promise, walk with us so that we pick up on what that walk looks like and feels like when we step into that stride. Amen.
It's late today but here it is. From a new section of "An Unsettled God" called 'Israel as YHWH's Partner.'
YHWH has acted toward Israel in ways that are defining for both YHWH and Israel. YHWH saved Israel, YHWH promise to Israel, YHWH led Israel, YHWH commanded Israel. YHWH is committed to Israel in freedom and passion.
A short introduction that offers - in the way the print looks - a connectedness. YHWH and Israel are linked. It is as though they are one - inseparable within history. That is the story we pick up when we look at the scriptures. I am drawn toward the word 'defining'. When we look at what God has done, we are to see Israel. When we look at Israel we are to see God. This is not speaking of a chosen status that exists without definition. The people of Israel will look and act and be like the God who leads and saves. That makes chosen not a privilege but a responsibility. God will never give up on the people Israel and the people of Israel are not to give up on the God whose promises have established them. Therefore, it seems we are talking about a living identity. When Israel acts contrary to the way of the one who has created them and rescued them and saved them, what are they. In name - still Israel, and yet, in action they would be witnesses to something else. Thus, the great prophets rose up to shake up the people and remind them of this simple and eternal relationship that defines life in a way that will be a witness to all.
Connection: I suppose we all need to remember how we are blessed by our God to be the blessed ones we are to those around us. When we live outside the gift of that blessing, who are we and what is it we bring to the world?
O God, who is the partner of life and hope and promise, inspire us to remember you love that is forever with us in and through all things. Amen.
The reason I stress that the biblical testimony is revelation-as-human-imagination is that the text tradition fully delivers on adequate partners for YHWH, partners who are capable of sustained dialogic transactions of fidelity. Israel, in its formation and transmission of the text, found itself drawn out beyond itself into this always lively, redefining transaction. And while the framers and transmitters of the textual tradition lived in quite concrete human life - of family and sexuality, of money and property - they also understood that life in faithful intentionality was a performance of an ongoing transaction that caused it to be different in the world. Beyond its own performance, moreover, it also imagined (was led by the spirit to imagine) that all other creatures are also partners of the same God and so recruited into the same dialogic transaction. Thus Israel could construe the life of sea monsters and birds and creeping things as YHWH's creaturely partners (cf. Ps 148:7-10). and it could in like manner discern Nebuchadnezzar as "servant of YHWH" (Jeremiah 25:9; 27:6) and the unwitting Cyrus as "YHWH's messiah" (Isaiah 45:1). It could imagine in the sweep of its performance that all of life is drawn into this dialogic transaction.
It appears as though the faithful storytelling of Israel was one that helped them see that their God was beyond them and yet involved in and throughout all that was taking place. This was not like a puppeteer who could control and move things however the master would want them to go. Rather, the way things were going or had gone were all within the realm of the God of Israel. In many ways that is how a people is able to keep hope alive. Even in times of utter despair and defeat, the God who will rescue and restore is here with us - faithfulness will come out of this mess because our God is the God of all time and every place. I don't take this to mean that this view or this grand imagination takes away from other stories. Rather it is the story of this people - just as the story of Jesus is the story of those who claim to follow Jesus. All are stories in dialogue with our God as we move through the day.
Connection: Could it be that hope springs among us when we are able to see and hear God beside us in some of the stranges ways we could ever imagine?
O God, who gifts us with the ability to imagine the life that is more full than the present seems to allow, help us to see your living presence in all things so that we can be encourage to live bolding through all things. Amen.
More from "Regulation via Imagination" - again from Walter Brueggemann in "An Unsettling God."
The reason I stress that the biblical testimony is revelation-as-human-imagination is that the text tradition fully delivers on adequate partners for YHWH, partners who are capable of sustained dialogic transactions of fidelity. Israel, in its formation and transmission of the text, found itself drawn out beyond itself into this always lively, redefining transaction. And while the framers and transmitters of the textual tradition lived in quite concrete human life - of family and sexuality, of money and property - they also understood that life in faithful intentionality was a performance of an ongoing transaction that caused it to be different in the world.
They understood that "in faithful intentionality was a performance of an ongoing transaction that caused it to be different in the world." In other words, 'this is what makes us who we are.' Or maybe we could say it like this: we do the things we do and don't do other things because we are part of a dialogical relationship that is always walking with us as we become more and more human. This will mean that as we walk with this God who engages us in dialogue, we do look and act and speak as though we are different - some might say alien. And yet we tell ourselves - through our faithful imagination - that we are to be a light to the nations. We are thus people who remain in conversation with our God and one another so that we understand what make a light shine in our day that may be different from days gone by - and yet still vitally a part of the tradition of our God with God's people
Connection: The dialogue builds character and we are always facing ways that our character might change or be transformed.
O God, who gifts us with the ability to imagine the life that is more full than the present seems to allow, use us to be a part of the building of your people in this time - even when we would rather stay just as we are. Amen.