Friday, December 14, 2007

Along the way

(Read Haggai 1:1-15)

Admit it. You had to look at the table of
contents in the front of your Bible to find
where Haggai was located, didn't you?
(So did I!). Since we normally don't read
anything from him in church (a passage
from Haggai appears only once in the
entire 3-year cycle of the lectionary), it
is easy to overlook him.

And it seems like he doesn't have much
relevance for us, doesn't it? After all,
historically he only 'preached' for about
a three-and-a-half month period of time,
and only seemed to be concerned about
getting God's people up off their duffs
and started on rebuilding the temple in
Jerusalem after the return from exile.
So, his words have nothing to do with us.

But since Haggai has the word 'prophet'
in front of his name, we are called to take
him seriously. And because prophets are
really conduits for God's words, God's
concerns, God's hopes, God's dreams
for God's people, we really do need to
pay attention. And because, in the
wisdom of the church, Haggai is a part
of Scripture, we should read and listen
to what he has to say.

In a nutshell, Haggai is all about the
practical tasks we are given as God's
people. Yes, we are called to pray,
but we are also called to provide and
maintain those places where people
can go to pray. Be they monasteries,
sanctuaries, pousitinias, prayer rooms,
little roadside chapels, benches out
in a field - we can see that folks have
places where they can withdraw from
the world, where they can enter into
silence, where they can reconnect with

Yes, we are called to provide a home for
God. Not so much for God, but for us -
to have that special place, set apart simply
for the purpose of letting us connect with
the extraordinary God who continues to
surprise us, in the midst of our rather
ordinary days and lives. From tabernacles
in the wilderness to the tabernacle in
Salt Lake City, from cathedrals that
echo with the chants of the saints to
storefront churches that shake with
gospel songs, from the catacombs to
the church on the corner where we were
baptized and confirmed, we have these
special places that ground us in the faith
and in the presence of God, even when
the earth seems to be shifting under our
feet from day to day.

As we continue on our journey to Bethlehem,
let's be sure to take a break and pray at all
those places Haggai and Hannah, Phoebe
and Paul provide for us along the way, and
make sure they are places where others can
find rest and reconnection with God on
their journey.

Prayer: We think all we need is a good pair
of boots and a stout walking stick to make
it all the way to the manger, Rebuilder of
our hearts, but you offer us a place to stop,
to reflect, to become grounded once again
with your holy presence. Help us to be
willing to take a break, so we can be
refreshed by your love. Amen.

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

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