Pastor’s Pen for July/August 2017

Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm;

for love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave.

– Song of Solomon 8:6

Beloved of God,

Our family will be heading on an extended road trip this month; one that’ll take us from Seattle to Whitefish, MT, for the Kindem family reunion; then on to Havre, my boyhood home; across North Dakota to a Minnesota family camp where we’ll connect with Chris’ former music ministry colleagues; then on to the Twin Cities to see my parents and other family and friends. The territory we’ll traverse going and coming will evoke memories of years gone by, and we look forward to sharing those memories and places with Kai and Naomi—as well as adding new ones. I relish the chance to point out specific landmarks that stand behind the boyhood stories I’ve told, and to tell of other experiences I had “when I was your age.”

On the way back west, we’ll stop at places in South Dakota and Montana that have a place in Kindem and Hauger family lore. Along with the planned adventures, there will be, no doubt, some unplanned, spontaneous ones because that’s how it goes on road trips. Even when traversing familiar ground, we’ll keep our eyes peeled for new discoveries.

Throughout July and August our Sunday readings from the Hebrew Scriptures will trace the story of our Biblical patriarchs and matriarchs as they live out their destinies within the frame of God’s covenant with Abraham and Sarah.  In many ways, the drama that Genesis portrays unfolds like an extended road trip. Abraham and Sarah receive a call from God out of the blue, and they leave the settled life they’ve known for a life on the road. That decades-long road trip—chock full of highs and lows (more of the latter than the former)—finds them trekking all over the geography of the Middle East. But it’s the geography of faith that Genesis is most interested in telling about.

What makes these stories so compelling is the fact that the characters in these stories are delivered to us warts and all. Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, Ishmael, Isaac, Rebekah, Esau, Jacob, Rachel, Leah, Dinah, Joseph—not one among them is unblemished. No, they all have their faults, their weaknesses; shadow sides that remain hidden even from themselves. And because of this honesty, we’re encouraged to let down our guards a little, to see ourselves in their stories—and the whole human tribe, with its full spectrum of light and darkness—between the lines of these ancient tales.

Entertaining as they sometimes are, these stories haven’t been passed down from generation to generation for their entertainment value (though they can be that!), but rather because there is something in them that speaks of how God deals with the most enigmatic creature in creation.  As frustrated as the Lord becomes, God never throws in the towel with the human family.  If there’s any better news than this I don’t know what it could be. God is in this relationship “for better or for worse”; God’s passionate love “as fierce as the grave,” will not be denied; it abides. Wherever the summer takes us, let’s hold fast to that truth. For when we do, we’ll be poised to notice the many times and many ways which God companions us, all the way through the alley.

With you on the journey,

Pastor Erik

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