Sunday, October 18, 2009

Where is God? Part 2

Job 38:1-7, 34-41
1From out of a storm,
the LORD said to Job:
2Why do you talk so much
when you know so little?
3Now get ready to face me!
Can you answer
the questions I ask?
4How did I lay the foundation
for the earth?
Were you there?
5Doubtless you know who decided
its length and width.
6What supports the foundation?
Who placed the cornerstone,
7while morning stars sang,
and angels rejoiced?

34Can you order the clouds
to send a downpour,
35or will lightning flash
at your command?
36Did you teach birds to know
that rain or floods
are on their way?
37Can you count the clouds
or pour out their water
38on the dry, lumpy soil?
39When lions are hungry,
do you help them hunt?
40Do you send an animal
into their den?
41And when starving young ravens
cry out to me for food,
do you satisfy their hunger?

I always find this part of the story disturbing. I mean, Job is suffering, through no fault of his own, and he just wants to ask God face to face, why? I’m faithful. I’ve done everything you’ve asked. I have not lost my faith, indeed, I am even more certain that you will judge me fairly when you see the truth of the situation. I’m being punished unjustly and you are a just God. Job stands there secure in his knowledge of God’s power and grace and mercy and waits for God.

And God turned on him! God says “Where were you when I created all this? And where are you even now when the creatures of the world need food, or when rain has to be sent over a drought area? Are you helping me do my work? Or are you just caring for yourself?”

What have you done to help?

We look around and see so few people here. What are we doing wrong?
I mean, we’re doing this whole Job thing lately
so we just have to ask
What have we done to deserve this?
Are we totally innocent and faithful like Job and just being tested by the devil?

what have we done to help God?

I can go on here talking about the things we have done in the past
It is what I usually do at this time of the year, after all
the time of year when we talk about our heritage as Disciples
the things we are proud of as Delhaven.

I can point to the back wall and talk about awards we have won
about all the things we have participated in
I can talk about the past glories and honors
about the community center
and all the ways we have reached out to help our neighborhood
all the social action that we have done

And I can talk about the programs that we support today
Girl scouting and the preschool and the new preschool
ways that we are helping the future of children
ways we are helping lift our neighbors out of poverty
out of illiteracy and out of hopelessness
how we feed the hungry with our food ministry and with the Treasure Box program

I can say all those things that make us feel better about ourselves
even as we look around at these empty seats
I can point out how Uy and I were part of yesterday’s Regional worship service
How Hank serves our Region with the golf committee,
Doug with Global ministries and me with communications
and how Linda serves with general church boards and committees
and Kate teaches classes to ministers seeking to be licensed.
I can talk about all the work that we do for the Church

But I don’t think those things really help us feel better about ourselves,
especially when we look at all the empty pews. And still,
maybe even more so, we want to ask God – why? Why are we not growing?
June asked me that yesterday. She said she was so worried about the church,
about how we keep getting smaller and so many of those who are here are older
and not as able to do things as we once were. And these are legitimate concerns.

If the point of church was to be an organization that raised money to help the poor,
if it was supposed to be just like any other charity organization,
then we would be in pretty sad shape.
But the point of the church is to carry the Good News of Jesus Christ into the world.
The point of coming together for worship is to share God’s love with each other,
to learn from and be challenged by the Word of God,
to be changed by that Word, and then
to go out into the world and change it.
The business of Church is to be the center from which change comes about.

Delhaven is at the center of a lot of change. We may not be seeing growth,
but I am seeing so many wonderful things happening around us these days, with us as the center. Things that are happening because we are here.

Maurice can tell you that he has to fill the baptistery fairly often because one of the Spanish speaking congregations we share the building with have someone to baptize.

My friend Pastor Mary Hollifield of the West Covina UMC will be baptizing an adult member of her congregation, who wants to be immersed, here on November 1st.

There is a new Disciples Church in town, Iglesia Ven a Jesus. The congregation is almost all people who have never been part of any church, and have never been baptized. They meet in Alvara Regalado’s living room. He is also a new Disciple and learning to be a Disciples minister. They are being guided toward baptism by Martin Garcia, a Disciples pastor. And when they are ready, they will come here to be baptized.

And we have Abigail Conway, coming forward today to be baptized. A young girl who loves Jesus and wants to give her life to God. She has spent quite a bit of thought lately on how she can serve the church, what she can do for Delhaven. Right now it’s mostly about lighting candles.

When we think about it, isn’t bringing light exactly what Christians are supposed to do? Isn’t that the way we are able to help God, today, here and now? Isn’t our job to bring light into the darkness, to bring knowledge of God’s love, manifest in Jesus Christ, to all the world? Abigail’s lighting the candles symbolizes perfectly what it is we are to do as Church. A few years ago we said we wanted to be the light on the corner that shines into the neighborhood. A couple of years later we drew circles of community with Delhaven at the center. My sisters and brothers, I suggest to you that this is exactly what we are today. We are the light at the center of many intersecting circles of community. All come together here, and though we may not see the difference, I know that we are making a difference. We are, in fact, helping in God’s work, reaching out in love in so many different ways, showing the light of Christ to many who may not have seen it without us.

Let’s prepare for the baptism of this little light among us by singing the Disciples Affirmation of Faith, ‘We Your People, God, Confessing.”

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Where is God? Part 2

Job 23:1-9, 16-17
Then Job answered: 
‘Today also my complaint is bitter;
   his hand is heavy despite my groaning. 
O that I knew where I might find him,
   that I might come even to his dwelling! 
I would lay my case before him,
   and fill my mouth with arguments. 
I would learn what he would answer me,
   and understand what he would say to me. 
Would he contend with me in the greatness of his power?
 No; but he would give heed to me. 
There an upright person could reason with him, and I should be acquitted for ever by my judge.

‘If I go forward, he is not there;
 or backward, I cannot perceive him; 
on the left he hides, and I cannot behold him;
  I turn to the right, but I cannot see him. 
God has made my heart faint;
   the Almighty has terrified me; 
If only I could vanish in darkness,
   and thick darkness would cover my face!

Job is not a happy man. He has been afflicted with the loss of everything – wealth, property, health and even the loss of all of his children. His friends have been somewhat less than helpful in their advice and suggestions to him.

In case you haven’t read the entire story from where we left off last Sunday, the Reader’s Digest version is this. Job’s three best friends, hearing of his suffering, have come to comfort him and give him counsel. They tell him that all of these bad things prove that he has sinned against God. They don’t know what he has done, but it must have been terrible for such dreadful evils to fall upon him. They tell him he must confess his sin, repent of it and then, he must endure his punishment without complaint.

Job continues to proclaim his innocence. He points out that very often the wicked seem to prosper, so why can’t it be possible that the innocent sometimes suffer? His friends don’t buy that. He proclaims God’s power and goodness. He cries out to heaven that he would happily accept any punishment God felt he deserved for wrongdoing, but he just does not understand what he has done to deserve this.

His friends tell him – if you refuse to accept God’s punishment, if you refuse to confess that it is entirely your fault that all this bad stuff is happening to you, then you are speaking against the teachings of your religion. Everyone knows that good is rewarded and evil is punished. For you to say innocents can be punished for no reason you are speaking against God! Clearly, you are guilty and must be punished!

We’ve heard all that before, haven’t we? We’ve heard it from TV preachers and from live pulpits. We’ve heard it in folk wisdom. We hear people say “everything happens for a reason” and “this is what was meant to be,” and “whatever happens is God’s will and we just have to accept it.” We hear people say “If you do what we tell you to do, your life will get better.” We hear TV preachers telling us if we are faithful we are sure to prosper, our illnesses will be cured, and all our financial affairs will be successful but that if we are unfaithful, well . . we’ll lose it all. They would be right there with Job’s friends, refusing to believe that these bad things could possibly happen to anyone who hadn’t done something really terrible.

And Job is saying “Hey, what is going on? I AM faithful, even now. And everything is going wrong. Why, God, Why? Why was I even born if you are going to do this to me?” Job hasn’t lost his faith. He still believes God to be all powerful, fair and just. He goes on for verse after verse, proclaiming God’s greatness. He tells his friends “I know that my redeemer lives!” He knows that in the end times he will see his God and be judged with compassion and mercy. He just wants to see him now! He says, “I know if I could just present my case to you that you would relent and end this torment. Where are you??”

You all can surely tell by now why this passage doesn’t get preached often. We do not preach about a God we can’t find. Pastors do not tell their flocks about a God who seems to disappear in the hardest times. We tell you, “open your hearts. God is there, you just aren’t connecting.” We might even imply that if you would just try harder you would be able to hear God. That God’s apparent lack of response is somehow your fault for not listening hard enough. We’ll say things like “We can hear the voice of God in other people.” Well, Job was hearing a lot from other people and none of them were speaking with the voice of God. All of them were just repeating conventional wisdom – if he was faithful and blameless these things wouldn’t be happening to him. And that just plain wasn’t true!

And really, who would tune in to a TV preacher who preached on this, on the despair that Job is going through in this passage? There is no light at the end of the tunnel here. There is no good reason for what is happening to him. There isn’t even the example we usually get to use of other people being touched and changed by Job’s suffering, like the upsurge in volunteerism that follows a disaster. There’s nothing but pain and despair and a request for God to come and judge his righteousness.

We might be asking the same question when we look around here and see that only 10% of the seats are taken. Or when we see needed repairs that we’ve had to put off year after year because there simply aren’t enough funds coming in to pay for a new roof or whatever. And we wonder why. We are faithful. Even when we can barely make the bills we still give to mission and we work hard to care for our neighbors. We reach out to feed the hungry, teach the children, help the hopeless and give hope to the helpless. We’ve even started new programs to help our neighbors, stepping out boldly in faith that God will provide what’s needed for us to go forward. We take stands on issues that may make us unpopular but that we believe are faithful to Jesus’ commandment to love one another. We are faithful and we are generous and we are loving and welcoming and we just don’t understand. Where is God? Why is God letting us fade away like this? If we could just talk to God, face to face, and justify our presence here, explain what we are doing, we know that God would see we deserve better than this.

Pop wisdom tells us that if we want to be revived we have to change the way we worship. We have to use new music and technology. Going door to door doesn’t work. We have to enter people’s homes through their computers. We have to market ourselves, like Starbucks. We have to create a brand name presence, so that when we say “Delhaven Christian Church” people know exactly what church we are talking about. The experts and pundits tell us that we have to change and conform to society’s desires for an entertainment factor in everything, that we have to cater to the short attention span that MTV and UTube have created. Conventional wisdom tells us we are doing something wrong and until we confess what we are doing wrong and go forward atoning for our past sins we are doomed to failure.

Maybe. I had lunch with a group of ministers this week. Most of us come from small churches. Most of us were engaged in the Church Extension transformation process. One was pleased to report his church is growing. We talked about what the church might look like in 10 years and what evangelism tools work best. We talked about how studying certain books as a congregation is guaranteed to bring new life and energy into the church. Some lifted up computerized social networking and coffee shop worship as the wave of the present and possibly the future, others maintained that when those fads have ended the traditional church will be waiting for those folks to return. During the week I read probably a dozen articles on the future of the church, some proclaiming we have been worshipping in roughly the same way for close to 2,000 years and that tradition of worship will continue on until the end of time and others saying the days of the church meeting in an actual building are numbered.

And underlying all the conversations and the articles is this sense that we are all crying out with Job, “God, where are you? Come talk with us, face to face, so we can justify our existence and our actions to you.” Through it all is this undercurrent of “God, where are you? Please come and tell us what to do. Let us know what we are doing wrong and we’ll change it. But please, come, and talk to us.”

So, what’s the Good News in this passage? I want you to know that in every preaching class I took, and probably every preaching class ever given, the instructor is sure to say that there always has to be good news, there always has to be hope, there always has to be a word that the people can take and hold on to in the coming week.

We could jump ahead to the end of the book and see that Job gets everything back and more. But I think that would be unfaithful to the lesson in this passage. I think doing that would be unfaithful to the whole point of Job’s tribulations – that sometimes bad stuff happens even to the faithful, through no fault of their own. It’s Good News, but it may not be the right Good News for this day.

I believe the Good News here is that it’s ok to sometimes feel like God isn’t listening. That it’s ok to lift up our heartfelt pain and complain about the way the world is treating us. It’s ok to say “God, why are you forsaking me? Where are you?” It doesn’t make you a bad person or an unfaithful person. After all, the psalmist and Job and even Jesus asked those questions.

And it doesn’t mean that God isn’t there. It doesn’t mean that God isn’t listening. It may just be that it’s not time for an answer yet. It may be that God is waiting for us to get past the anger and the fear and the rushing around trying to make things work and just settle down so that we can listen.

One thing I know for sure. In the end things will work out. They may not always work out the way I want them to. They may not work out the way I expected them to. They will almost certainly not work out when I want them to work out – which for me is usually right now. But they will work out if we are willing to slow down and listen, and wait for the answer. God will not leave us out in the cold and dark of pain and despair forever. Eventually God will answer and the darkness will lift. Eventually the barriers will be gone, the path ahead will be clear. Eventually, and in God’s own time, God will make a way, somehow.

Monday, October 05, 2009

World Communion Blessings

World Communion Sunday! We were all set, our plans were made and everyone was ready to do their part. The five elders were each bringing a different kind of bread and the choir had been practicing a medley of communion songs. We were doing the Words of Institution responsively, using a format I was given by Pastor Tom Smith at Garden City Christian Church in Indianapolis and all those words would be part of the PowerPoint presentation. Everything was coming together.

I suppose I should have realized that a plan never survives the beginning of worship. My first clue that there might be a glitch or two was when one elder forgot to bring his bread. Then the choir director was caught in bad freeway traffic. I forgot to bring out the projector so the person doing the PowerPoint had to rush putting the equipment together and then we realized I had changed a hymn and forgotten to tell her. Another elder was late and brought her bread to the table during our first hymn.

We spent Children's time looking at the communion table and talking about what this meal means. We looked at the different kinds of bread on the table and I talked about a friend's church where they were sharing 9 kinds of bread from around the world. Our almost 8-year-old candidate for baptism asked if she could help give out the bread today so I asked the congregation what they thought. They all said yes. So when it came time for communion I brought Abigail forward to help.

Standing at the table during the Elder's prayer over the elements I suddenly realized no one had remembered to put out the bread plates. The bread was in a basket, but there were no plates for distribution. Time for a quick announcement: "Today Abigail will come to each one of you carrying the basket full of different breads and our deacons will follow her with the cups."

I don't remember the last time everyone paid such close attention to the service of the elements. The entire congregation watched as Abigail walked from person to person. She stood erect, face glowing as she proudly offered the basket so each one could select the kind of bread they wanted.

Every time there is Sunday like that, when things going "wrong" seem to multiply out of control, at the end of the service there is always blessing. This is one World Communion Sunday we will remember for years to come because of blessing we received from Abigail as she served the feast of love.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Taking the bad with the Good

Job 1:1, 2:1-10
1:1 There was once a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job. That man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.

2:1 One day the heavenly beings came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the LORD. 2 The LORD said to Satan, "Where have you come from?" Satan answered the LORD, "From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it."

3 The LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil. He still persists in his integrity, although you incited me against him, to destroy him for no reason." 4 Then Satan answered the LORD, "Skin for skin! All that people have they will give to save their lives.
5 But stretch out your hand now and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face." 6 The LORD said to Satan, "Very well, he is in your power; only spare his life."

7 So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD, and inflicted loathsome sores on Job from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.

8 Job took a potsherd with which to scrape himself, and sat among the ashes. 9 Then his wife said to him, "Do you still persist in your integrity? Curse God, and die." 10 But he said to her, "You speak as any foolish woman would speak. Shall we receive the good at the hand of God, and not receive the bad?" In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

Some years back when I was going through a difficult time my Pastor, Betsy Steier-Goehrig, suggested that I read Job. She said that when I looked at everything that happened to Job I couldn’t help but feel better. I did, and realized that my life was blessed compared to what he went through, and he stayed faithful to God throughout all of it. No matter what happens to me, it’s never as bad as what Job endured in the pages of this book. It is the classic story of bad things happening to a good person. These days I recommend it to anyone I meet going through stuff. It really helps.

When I planned to preach on Job today I had no idea that I would have so many tragic examples of bad things happening to blameless people to choose from this week. Early in the week I got an email from Cisa Payuyo at Chapman University asking for prayers and assistance for the people affected by the typhoon in the Philippines. The next day a huge earthquake and tsunami hit the Samoan Islands. The day after that an earthquake hit Indonesia. Thousands of people have lost their homes, many hundreds injured, hundreds more are lost or confirmed dead. I heard horrendous stories – children playing on the beach one moment, washed out to sea the next, as their mother watches helplessly. A mother desperately searching for her son under the remains of his shop. A father sifting through the rubble of his home looking for anything to keep his family comfortable without a roof to shelter them. The images coming from the devastated areas are truly terrible.

I am sure there are people out there saying as Job’s neighbors did, “They must have done something terrible to deserve this punishment” while others sound like Job’s wife saying, “Curses on God! What kind of terrible God would make this happen to innocent people?” We certainly heard both those responses after the tsunami a few years ago and after Katrina. Some few surely also said, “This is a test of my faithfulness.”

The story of Job is the story of bad things happening to a good person. Job didn’t do anything wrong. He was faithful in everything, a good father and husband, a man whose every enterprise was blessed and who gave thanks to God for everything he received. And then Satan set out to test Job’s faith. Everything God had given him was taken away. Half of the first chapter, which we didn’t read this morning, tells us how all his property and crops and cattle were overrun and destroyed or stolen by enemies and how his children were all killed. But Job said only, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” God was pretty proud of Job’s faithfulness, but Satan said “yeah, but let me take away his health and see what he says then.” We know what Job said then. He said “Shall we receive the good at the hand of God and not receive the bad?”

It seems that Job stood out from the crowd, fidelity-wise. God bragged about his faithfulness! Job was the most faithful person in the world. Even after his property was destroyed by fire, even after enemies took away his servants and cattle, even after a house fell upon his children and killed them all, the Bible tells us “he did not sin or charge God with wrongdoing.” Even after he was afflicted with a horrible skin disease, he did not sin with his lips.

I can understand Satan wanting to test Job, really. I must confess that there are times when I see someone whose life seems to perfect and I think to myself that if anything really bad ever happened they’d probably just fall apart. Not that I wish for anything bad to happen, understand. But that’s where I am less faithful than Job, because Job was blameless and upright and turned away from evil and I’m busy judging that other person. We get the sense that Job would never do such a thing, that he was compassionate and caring. He even prayed and made sacrifices on behalf of his children every morning just in case any of them strayed somehow! Satan couldn’t believe that he would remain faithful if things started to go wrong for him. And so, Job was tested.

A side note about Satan: Notice that Satan is doing the testing here. God is watching what’s going on, but Satan is the one doing the testing. That’s Satan’s job throughout both Old and New Testaments; to test people’s faith. He tested Job, and Job won. He tested Jesus, and Jesus won. He doesn’t try to take people away from God, he simply tests their faithfulness. He isn’t God’s enemy – we are told Satan presented himself to God along with all the other heavenly beings. In the way of royal courts of the time presenting oneself is what subjects and allies did to proclaim themselves loyal to the king. In fact, no where in the Bible does he appear as God’s enemy or even humanity’s enemy. His job is simply to test people, not to cause anyone to do evil. It is wrong to say “the devil made me do it” and blame Satan or any other outside influence for our own choices.

And may I just point out that God had faith in Job? “Go ahead, test away.” He did have a fairly strong talk with Job later on – we’ll hear more about that in future weeks. But God was confident that Job would remain faithful. We all know people like that, who no matter what happens to them, they continue to praise God. Through pain and all kinds of suffering, they keep on praising God. “Shall we receive the good at the hands of God and not receive the bad?”

In Job’s story, at the end, he received everything back that he had lost and more. In real life that may not happen. We know that folks in Louisiana and other areas affected by Katrina are still living in FEMA trailers. We know that it will take years for the villages in American Samoa, the Philippines and Indonesia to be restored. We know that the pain of losing family members in these tragic events will always be with those families. I won’t say these terrible events happened in order that good things could come into other lives, that would be to trivialize the very real suffering of the people involved. But it is true that there can be good rising out of these events – transformation of people lives, as we have seen in the wake of Katrina and other disasters around the world.. Look at all the people who went and helped to rebuild in Texas and Louisiana and Missouri, people who had never done anything like that before. Look at all the people who stretched their budgets to send a little bit for food and health kits where they were needed, people who had never been motivated to give before. Many of those same people were so transformed by the act of helping that they have continued to find ways to help others and they have convinced even more people to do the same.

When I made my plans to preach on Job I did know that today would be World Communion Sunday. In celebrating communion we are remembering the crucifixion and celebrating the resurrection. It’s Easter every Sunday. We speak the words of institution, recalling the Last Supper on Holy Thursday. We speak of the broken body and spilled blood of Good Friday and the crucifixion.

I have to tell you that every year as Holy Week approaches someone says to me “What’s so good about Good Friday? Jesus was killed.” And truly, there was nothing good about the way Jesus died. It was a horrible, torturous, cruel death. The only good thing about the way he died is that the soldiers helped him die more quickly than most victims of crucifixion by thrusting that spear into his side. We really don’t like to think about it much. We are resurrection people! We celebrate the Risen Christ! We try really hard to slide over the whole whipping, cross carrying, crucifixion part of that final week. But without the death there can be no resurrection. “Shall we accept the good at the hands of God and not receive the bad?”

We want to take the good – the ministry, the teachings, and resurrection of Jesus – and not accept the bad. We want to ignore the difficult parts, the suffering he went through, and the suffering of those who were left – the disciples and the women. Imagine what they felt at this tragic event. Their faith was rocked! How could he die? How could this happen to one so faithful, so true, to the very son of God? And we know that many ran away. The thousands that greeted him on Palm Sunday were reduced to just a few, a bit over a hundred of the faithful.

The good part of Good Friday is the resurrection. But it is also the faith of those disciples who didn’t run off for parts unknown no matter how afraid they were. Who stayed together, praying and grieving. Who walked through this most horrific kind of testing and were still there when Jesus returned. Who after the resurrection shared meals with the Christ, and learned from him everything that they would need to teach the world of God’s steadfast love and unconditional forgiveness.

As Disciples we come together every Sunday to share the bread and cup. To remember the most horrible day and the most wonderful day in the history of the world, taking the bad with the good. To share our love with one another that we might go out and share it with everyone we encounter. On this day, World Communion Sunday, we share this meal in the knowledge that Christians everywhere celebrate with us. My sisters and brothers, come, share the Lord.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

An encounter along the way

The Regional Gathering of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the Pacific Southwest is happening in a couple of weeks. I've been invited to write a litany for the opening worship. I was also asked to select two readers who will read their parts in their native languages and email their names and the litany to the planners by October 3rd so it could be translated and put into a PowerPoint presentation. Finally, I was told that someone is going to use my words in an original song that will be theme music for the Gathering. You know that news was fairly intimidating. "Someone's going to WHAT!?" As of right now, the Litany is not only not written, the writing has not begun.

Earlier today I was speaking with Mildred Butler, a member of the planning committee, about whether the Litany is to be responsive or just read by the three at the podium, and about the selection of readers. She reminded me that the theme is of covenant and journey, about our 200th anniversary and our future.

Immediately after we hung up a knock came on my office door. The young man standing there introduced himself as Alvaro Regalado, minister of a congregation of seekers in La Puente. He said he has recently become a Disciple and is studying with Pastor Alfredo Lopez in East Whittier so he can be a Disciples minister. He also said Pastor Alfredo told him there was another Disciples congregation in La Puente and that he should come meet me.

As he spoke to me about his literal journeys to San Bernardino and San Diego to understand who the Disciples are, and the meetings he has had about becoming a minister with Pastor Alfredo and our regional co-ministers I could feel the tears running down my face. I raised my hands in the air and said "God sent you here. I have been trying to decide who
should help me offer the call to worship at our Regional Gathering and who better than someone who is at the beginning of this journey, who is just entering into this covenant with us?" And so we prayed in the Spanish style, all of us speaking the gratitude and amazement in our hearts at the same time.

The writing will be easier now. The joy and amazement we shared at God bringing us together will glue all those other words together. God willing, they will be strung together in exactly the way we need them to be so that we can open our Gathering knowing that God is leading us. We may not know where we are going, but we know with certainty that God is with us as we set out/continue our journey in covenant with each other and with God.