Monday, July 27th. Psalm 14

“Fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is no one who does good. The LORD looks down from heaven on humankind to see if there are any who are wise, who seek after God. They have all gone astray, they are all alike perverse; there is no one who does good, no, not one. Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers who eat up my people as they eat bread, and do not call upon the LORD? There they shall be in great terror, for God is with the company of the righteous. You would confound the plans of the poor, but the LORD is their refuge. O that deliverance for Israel would come from Zion! When the LORD restores the fortunes of his people, Jacob will rejoice; Israel will be glad.” Psalm 14

What does it mean to be a missionary? Through the years the answer to that question has changed and it continues to change. HOW you answer that question gives insight into how you might go about the work. If you believe you are “bringing Jesus to the heathens” then you will operate in a certain manner. If you believe you are “spreading God’s love and message through actions as well as words” you might operate differently.

My experience has taught me there is another way to look at the work of a missionary. I remember back when I was a kid and I attended a worship service led by a missionary home from Africa on a break. I don’t remember the details but I remember the wonder I felt at his guts to go there, and how different life was for me there in my little town.

More and more, I wonder if the ministry of a missionary isn’t ultimately directed more toward the “sending” community than to the “sent to” community. I want to think about that this week in our devotions.

How is it that we “bring” God, or “discover” God or “experience” God when we find ourselves in the company of those different than us? When we find ourselves talking about “God” in the midst of people who have a far different conception, or no conception at all, of the God we trust – what happens to our faith and our presentation of the faith?

Next Sunday, I’ll be speaking at Woyatan Lutheran Mission in Rapid City, South Dakota. This will be my 4th year to share worship with them and experience a traditional Lutheran service of Holy Communion with aspects of Native American spirituality. If you’re in the neighborhood, I would love to meet you and they would love to have you join us at worship!

As I look forward to again being with the people of Woyatan I find myself looking back at the story of the intersection of our stories. I grew up with a great deal of fear toward Native Americans, fear which was grounded strictly in misinformation and ignorance. Although we had a Native American boarding school in my hometown which we visited every year while I was in grade school, and while I played basketball against their teams, we didn’t mix or blend. I knew next to nothing about their history, their spirituality, or the lives the kids there had lived on the various reservations from which they came.

And so it was that my racism just came naturally. It was just assumed. It was subtle in that it was assumed. And it was acidic as it led to name-calling, stereotyping and more irrational fears. Meanwhile, God was looking “down from heaven on humankind to see if there are any who are wise, who seek after God.”

Let us pray: Dear Lord, every day finds us coming up against boundaries that have mysteriously been drawn between people – sometimes officially but far more often through the hidden messages of fear and ignorance. Help us to see the lines of your love which connect us to all whom you have created. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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