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Thanks in Action

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The reflection today will include a bit of wandering, so get comfortable as I guide you on this journey. For today we receive a charge: Thanks in action. Love… in action. To be a Church… in action. And in the 21st century, Reformation in action. On this Reformation Sunday we are living, active, participants in the Second Reformation, 500 years after the first. Re-Form. Re-new. Re-store… heaven on earth.

This reflection comes about, in part, because this week Job and I have had our differences. Over the past 4 weeks our bible readings have immersed us in Job’s slow, painful, downward spiral into the ashes and soot. This is personal, and communal, agony that never seems to end. Now, after lengthy discourses amongst his friends, God, and Job—Job completely devalues himself. Despises… self. Repents into the mire of dust and defeat.

And then God shows up. Job’s God. This God that would bring about Job’s suffering and grief (Job 42:11). A God that would destroy a person… because God can. This God of wonder and whirlwind, that gives, and takes, and gives again. Who is this God? Come on God. Can anything really restore the losses that Job has experienced? Won’t Job always have this deep, grief filled hole in his heart for the children he has lost in this complicated saga? This may not be the main point of the book of Job, but this God we read about in Job today is not the God I encounter in my own life. Whomever wrote the book of Job, whatever gathering of wisdom people has preserved Job as a part of our sacred text, challenges me as a Jesus follower today.

For over two thousand years, a vertical hierarchy has commonly been envisioned between God and the human creature, with God in a status of “greater than” the relational human beings God created. I believe that this concept of a hierarchical relationship with God has in turn resulted in us understanding ourselves as having dominion over other living things and the earth… other people on earth… as a state of constant, ultimate power and control. I believe that our relationships with one another, other creatures and living things, with the earth, and with God, have been negatively impacted by this vertical understanding of “power over”—versus God’s original intention of an interwoven universal well-being for all creation.[1] Versus Jesus’ invitation to the Table.

And… I believe that this is OK to call out Job, to call out this God of Job—and to lean into our own personal theologies, our understanding of the Holy Conversation in the midst of 2018. In my own understanding of God I believe that our understanding of the Divine is shifting from that of a stagnant, distant God, “Lord Over” God, to that of a God who is continuously active and present. For I experience God as relational. A verb. A God on the move. A God that doesn’t sit still. An action that is birthed out of God’s transformational love and grace. Belden Lane writes that “This is the ‘scandal’ of the gospel that Paul describes (for us) in 1 Corinthians. God is not what we expect.”[2] It is here that I believe we, both as individuals and as a church community, discover that the relationship between God and creation is horizontal,[3] not vertical. Welcome to the Table.

Which is the living, caring, healing God Bartimaeus encounters on the road. Bartimaeus, another dusty, broken person reaching out to God on the streets. “O God, see me. Know me. Acknowledge… me.”

The people around him laugh him “off.” They brush Bartimaeus aside: “Be Quiet! Know your place. Do not seek asylum here. Do not expect healthcare… here.”

Who might we be passing by, out on the streets? In our schools? Our prisons? Our hospitals? Our nursing homes? Who are we inadvertently telling to be quiet?

Here, in the horizontal, relational, invitation from Christ, we receive our charge. Here, Jesus, for just a moment, stands still. Here, Jesus says “come… don’t pass me by.” So spring up! Look around. THIS is in the Second Reformation, 500 years after the first. Re-Form. Re-new. This is our opportunity to re-store… heaven on earth.

This is the God that I know, the Jesus that I follow. And the one that calls me to join this church. For you are a Church in action. Love in action. Thanks in action. The re-forming of Church that is overflowing with hospitality.

And it is that hospitality that draws me to become a member of this faith community…

{Pastor Kris shared her personal faith story that included:

  • Her installation as pastor and teacher at Memorial UCC in November of 2017
  • The question posed to her months later by a longtime member – “Pastor, when are you going to join the church?”
  • And Pastor Kris’ subsequent exploration into how that question enriched her immersion and understanding of the hospitality interwoven into the DNA of Memorial UCC, and why she decided to join the church with seven other people this morning}


So… which God will it be? As I was reflecting on the ministries and verbs in this place, I ran across these words from Rev. Traci Blackmon, the Executive Minister for Justice & Witness Ministries of the United Church of Christ. I think that the God that Job encounters, might be a bit like the god (little “g”) that she writes about (and the god that I am challenged to embrace… or rather refuse to embrace) as she says:


“I want to meet your god.

To see if your god really exists.

This god you preach about.

This god you quote and say you read about.

This god who cannot hear the children cry.

This god who does not heal the sick.

This god who does not provide shelter.

This god who is nourished but does not feed.

This god of guns but not of grace.

This god of kings but not of kindoms.

This god who fears black skin.

This god of America but not all of America.

Not all of the world.

I do not know your god.

What is your god’s name?”


What is your God’s name? Is it the God of Job, or the God With Us revealed in Jesus, that we respond to today? As we welcome Anna, Ben, Laura, Dave, Marty, Maureen, Nicole… and I… as covenanted partners (or members) of Memorial United Church of Christ today, can we see Jesus pause momentarily and say “come,” before immediately saying “Go”?

For we are called to GO! To be an Active Church. A verb. Thanks in action. Love… in action.

For our world desperately needs a reformation… RE.. formation… to be formed again in the image of God (capital “G”). This God that isn’t stagnant, isn’t “over”, but this God that is a verb, moving and calling, sending and healing, providing and forgiving, sheltering and teaching, inviting and feeding, preaching and prophesying. Memorial UCC, as we re-form this is your charge… yours and mine… ours…

To GO! this day, be thanks in action. Love in action.



~ Pastor Kris


Reflection on Job 42:1-6, 10-17 and Mark 10:46-52 offered on October 28, 2018


[1] Marjorie Suchocki, The End of evil: Process Eschatology in Historical Context (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988), 130.

[2] Belden C. Lane, The Solace of Fierce Landscapes: Exploring Desert and Mountain Spirituality (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), 34.

[3] Suchocki, God, Christ, Church, 88.