January 28, 2012
Dear members of the Chapel Class,
Greetings from Kosova! If you’re interested in my journey here and developments since, then you’re welcome to read the blog journal; perhaps some of you already have!
I’m wondering how far Peggy has taken you through Ezra. I just finished the first three chapters and found them right on target, relative to Peggy’s comment about this book providing us guidance as we seek a new pastor and wrestle with denominational questions about ordination and the nature of sin.
Specifically, the first three chapters provide four clear messages, all having to do with paradoxes surrounding the idea of God’s intervention in human affairs and the doctrine of free will.
- God takes charge to fulfill his Plan. We see this idea in King Cyrus’ written proclamation that all those displaced by Nebuchadnezzar return to Jerusalem and build a house of the Lord, an inspired command that fulfills Jeremiah’s prophecy about the return to the homeland. I didn’t see the Raymonds listed among the families that get to go home; otherwise, chapter 2 reads like a church directory.
- That Plan includes the return of the peoples’ stuff—vessels of gold and silver not just their persons—suggesting that God provides for the faithful, repays their suffering.
- The people weep and “shout” with joy over their return to the Center. They know how to be grateful, how to say thank you to their father.
- God allows suffering as the consequence of sin—hence the exile—a clear endorsement of the idea that we must choose and that we must accept the consequences of our actions—an existential idea, really.
What still puzzles me is the suffering endured by relative innocents. You see that my trip has made me no wiser.
But I am indeed grateful for the $500 given me by our Missions Committee and the $250 provided me by our class. Of course, I will account for every penny as I find Kosovaran sisters and brothers who can benefit from your generosity.
Hope you’re all well.