Words from Warren–Orientation, Disorientation, Reorientation

Words from Warren—August 25, 2020
In our Old Testament readings for the past few weeks we have been working our way through Genesis, the first book of the Bible.
Beginning with the story Adam and Eve, moving to Noah and the Ark, a pattern of Exile and Return begins to emerge as one of the central themes of scripture. Take a look from Jacob and Esau, Isaac and Ishmael, Joseph’s journey into Egypt and the Exodus led by Moses. The theme of exile and return crops up over and over again in the history of YHWH and YHWH’s people.
In his work on the Psalms, Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann contends that the Psalms serve to orient, disorient and re-orient the people of God to what it means to be faithful in their commitment to keeping the covenant. That covenant is simply stated by God in saying,  “ Then you shall live in the land that I gave to your ancestors; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.[1]” and “ I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.[2]
Wandering in strange circumstances and uncharted territory, as we have been in the past six months as a parish, has surely been disorienting. It seems like we are smackdab in the middle of Brueggemann’s cycle of walking with God through the Psalms.
Our sense of disorientation can have several manifestations.
  • We can become irritable and impatient with the unmanageability of the circumstances we find ourselves in.
  • We can look to affix blame for the state we find ourselves in.
  • We can give into the trap of desperation when our abilities are no match for the problems we face.
  • And so many more…..
However we are grieving what we have lost in these six months, I invite us as a community to heed well the words of the Apostle Paul in First Thessalonians when he says, “ But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.[3]
The call to hope in the face of loss is not confined to the death of persons, but can also happen when any comfortable situation that supports our sense of security is challenged or is taken away from us.
My words in the midst of our ongoing uncertainty takes its cue from Paul’s words. Whatever we might lose in the aftermath of our discontinuing of in person activities can be replaced with a new and deeper faith in the long, slow work of God or we can give into despair.
Regardless of the duration of the exile we are enduring right now, I hope you, like me, will find solace, encouragement, hope and strength in this passage from the prophet Jeremiah, “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.[4]
Keep the faith,
Care for one another,
Seek to love all of creation with the heart of God,
Choose hope,
When faced with FEAR, do not give into the temptation to Forget Everything And Run, but rather to Face Everything And Rise.
Bless you all during these uncertain times.
Fr. Warren

[1] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Eze 36:28). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
[2] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Ge 17:7). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
[3] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (1 Th 4:13). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
[4] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Je 29:11). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.