Friday, January 05, 2018

Watchword for 2018

In our Moravian tradition we choose a "watchword" for the year as the new year begins. There are a variety of ways that different congregations do it. In general they are pulled at random from a collection of scripture passages like those used in the daily devotional guide, The Daily Texts (Losungen in the German tradition). The Losungen tradition goes back to May 1728 (yes, 290 years!) as a daily "watchword" was chosen from an Old Testament passage. The Moravian Daily Texts book is still published and is translated into over 50 languages. LINK to more information on The Daily Texts.

Sometimes people can look at these chosen watchwords in some superstitious or "prophetic" way. The main idea is for it to be word that guide you through the day and year. Not being in a Moravian Church at this point, I still find it a great way to start the year. I first look at the watchword (OT) text for my birthday, and this year, as is often the case, it was right on target.

In [God's] hand is the life of every living thing.
-Job 12:10
I double-checked the full passage and, as usual, found more that adds to the power of the word. It is Job himself who's speaking. He is reacting to the attempted words of "comfort" from his three friends. They have been chastising Job for his challenging God and asking the creator for answers to why this was happening to him, a righteous man. (We know he is a righteous man. The story sets it up that way. Also, Job has to be one of my favorite books of the Bible raising very contemporary concerns and questions. But that's another post.)

They come up with all the standard answers but focused mainly on the punishing aspect of God. In other words, they tell him that he is in denial, he is not such a good person, he must have done something really awful for God to punish him this badly. "Repent, Job, and all will be okay," is their heartless message.

Job argues very simply that they are wrong. Period. Yes, everyone, in fact all of creation knows that God takes care of everything and that God is aware of everything. The difficulty is that we want to know what God is, or isn't, doing.

In short, this passage is a statement of trust. Way back in chapter 1, Job had proclaimed that the LORD has given and the LORD has taken away- blessed be the Name of the LORD! He is reiterating that here in response to the "comfort" of his friends.

In the end, at this point in Job's life, that may be all that can be said.

Trust in God. Radical trust in God.

No matter what.

Work therefore to feel the presence and the hand of God on me...

No matter what.

Talk about continuing the resistance to the ways of the world. A good watchword for 2018!

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