Like A Mighty River

By Pastor Rob Bloss

Last week Darci and I had a chance to get away for a much-needed break from the weight of our normal routines. We enjoyed a week in the High Country of North Carolina soaking in the beauty of God’s creation and enjoying each other’s uninterrupted and undivided presence.

It was a week to unplug from meetings, texts, emails, and phone calls, and to be recharged and refreshed. The rest was good for our souls, our marriage, and our mental and emotional health.

After a lengthy hike, I sat on a rock and watched a beautiful cascade of water dance in the sunlight. I wanted to stay. More accurately, I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to return.

I had caught a glimpse of some of the headlines in the news, and while posting pictures of my bride and the Biltmore Estate, I caught the interactions of family, friends, and congregants sharing their fears, frustrations, and “facts”, so the waterfall was a reprieve from the dry and weary land of this challenging season.

Water is refreshing, it gives life, but it can also move in power, gradually carving grand canyons or quickly washing away massive structures.

In Amos 5:24 the prophet Amos chastised Israel and called them to repentance when he wrote, “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”

Striving to be a person who values justice, and to be a community where justice flows like a river, is important. Doing what is right and ensuring that wrongs are addressed is part of God’s design for people while they live in this sin-filled world. Like God did for us, tempering this justice with mercy, and knowing that flawed humans will never truly achieve it is also important. 

One of the other commands to Israel in the Book of Amos (5:15) is equally applicable today: “Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.”

I’m thankful that one of the first emails I opened upon my return to the office was a prayer. It was offered by a former colleague in ministry. I’ve taken the liberty of rewriting and sharing it with you now.

Gracious and Powerful God - 
We are tired, weary, angry, and brokenhearted.
In the midst of maddening injustice and the relentless work of recovery, we remind ourselves that You are a God who sees, who knows, and is well acquainted with suffering. You are a God who fights for the liberation of the left out, for life to emerge from the tombs, and whose anger even turns over tables and rebukes Satan speaking in our midst!

We know that we can bring all of who we are to You God, for where else would we turn? We bring our honesty, questions, pain, and rage to You - in You we are offered rest, safe space to grieve, a reminder that our embodied humanity matters, and an invitation to be fully seen and known by You. We need you God, and we need your Good News to renew us, to tether us, to transform us - each moment and each day in this season. 
Come Lord Jesus, and interrupt the injustice and violence rampant in our world! 
Come Lord Jesus, and set up righteousness and justice in the center of our lives, and in our churches, communities, and world! 
Come Lord Jesus, to the streets of Minneapolis, the alleys of Chicago, the mourning and recovery ongoing in Atlanta, those silently suffering from COVID, children on the border, the again and again and again spaces where Black and Brown life continue to be cut short!

Come Lord Jesus, and rebuke all the lies that pit communities of color and other realities of injustice against each other! 
Come Lord Jesus, and disrupt and interrupt fear, anger, and the abuse of authority, and all the ways that the church is complicit.
Come Lord Jesus, and bring healing in Indianapolis, and in Boulder, and in too many cities reeling from gun violence.
Come Lord Jesus, interrupt and invade, to bring life, truth, and your Spirit.    
Holy Spirit, we need You:

to bring strength and peace; to bring about confession, repentance, wisdom, and courage; to speak life, promise, and possibility into spaces that we may be afraid are too weary, or too weighted down by discouragement, division, and death itself, because we know and declare that You are a God who does some of Your best work in the dark! 
Thank you, God, for holding all of us. 

Thank you, Jesus, that Your kingdom has interrupted the powers of this world. 
Thank you for your tender Spirit that meets us right where we are at. 

Establish and bring forth a harvest in our church of goodness, abundance, and grace - help us turn to one another with both our grief and our joy, to become more and more One Body, many members, united in the head that is Christ. Make us worthy of that identity for one another - cover us in truth and grace, in courage and Your power; give us that freedom that comes from knowing we are deeply valued and loved, so that we may love others as You have first loved us.

So very Amen.