As I sat in my first Greek class, nervous about learning an ancient language, I watched a small young lady bebop into class. Strapped over her shoulder were a rather large trumpet case and a handbag. In her arms she carried a computer, books and finally in her hand an iced-coffee. Each and every day she came into class in the same manner and seemed to not have a care in the world. Her name was Mary and much to my surprise, she was a triplet and part of a very musical family. She had an engaging personality with a ready smile and she irritated the heck out of me.
Mary and I are still the very best of friends and we laugh frequently about the Greek episode. She is one of the most optimistic people I have ever met. She is always joyful and certainly has a zest for life. She has a deep abiding faith and a heart of love for most everyone. One of the first times we worshipped together, I heard Mary pray “The Lord’s Prayer” speaking French. When I asked her about it she told me that this was something she did because she wanted the words of Jesus to be fresh and new when she said them. She also said that praying these sacred words in a foreign language made her attention to what she was saying. Her wise words have stuck with me and in the years since that conversation I have intentionally spent more time paying attention to what I say or sing in worship. Too often, I have been guilty of saying the proper liturgy or singing the songs or even praying the words that I think God might want to hear. By paying attention to her words, Mary showed me a different way to rediscover the joy and wonder of a meaningful worship.
This may seem random but this week I have listened to several discussions about the story of Job, which reminded me of my friend Mary. The story of Job is familiar to most people because he is recognized as God’s faithful servant. At the beginning of the story, God and the devil are discussing Job and God describes him as “blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil (Job 1:1b). It is not hard to imagine that Job followed all of the Laws and regulations of his belief. No one could find fault in his actions or in the way he lived. Even when Job was tested beyond belief with the loss of his family, home, livestock and even his health, he refused to speak ill of God. Through all of his suffering he stayed faithful to God. After listening to the limited knowledge of Job and his friends, God answered them in an unexpected way. In Chapters 38-41, God laid out for Job the creation story with all of its beauty and might. The Creator reminded the righteous Job of the joy and wonder of creation. Just read this beautiful description of boundaries between the earth and sky: