Justice, Not Charity by Pastor Leah Rosso

Justice, Not Charity by Pastor Leah Rosso

Last week we read the first chapter of Ruth, which set up the story of these two women— Naomi, the Israelite and Ruth, the Moabite— traveling together to Bethlehem to start a new life. Their husbands have died, they are not allowed in their time and culture to own land or to hold a job, so they are in crisis. And as if that wasn’t enough, Naomi, in her grief, dives into a deep depression, telling everyone that she is changing her name from Naomi, which means sweet, to Mara, which means bitter. She is done. She is in a mental health crisis as well as a crisis of every other kind.

But the first chapter ends with one line of hope, and that is that Naomi and Ruth arrive in Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest. There is food growing— and not just growing, but ready to be harvested— and so we were left with just a bit of hope as Ruth chooses to stick with her mother-in-law and go to a new land in order to care for her.

Crossing the Threshold by Pastor Leah Rosso

If you’ve never read Ruth, I highly commend it to you. It’s a small book that comes in the Old Testament, the time before Jesus, right after the time when Israel was ruled by wise Judges, and before the time when Israel begins to be ruled by Kings. This is important because the book of Judges ends by telling us that everyone in the Israelite nation is doing whatever they choose— very few are following God’s law. And then we focus in on this small story that seems so insignificant to everyone— everyone, that is, except Ruth and Naomi. Because it is their story— it is their life— and everything in it is falling apart.

The Sacredness of Life by Pastor Leah Rosso

The Sacredness of Life by Pastor Leah Rosso

“Now here’s what I want you to do, God helping you. Take your everyday ordinary life, your sleeping, eating, going to work, and walking around life, and place it before God as an offering.” (Romans 12:1)

These words, translated into modern language from the Greek, are Paul’s words to the church in Rome two thousand years ago. Paul wants the church in Rome to recognize that their everyday, ordinary lives, are sacred when we offer our lives to God. Our very lives are sacred— you might even say sacramental.

Being Open to the Spirit by Pastor Leah Rosso

Being Open to the Spirit by Pastor Leah Rosso

Our scriptures this morning are the story of two call stories. Isaiah’s call story is a classic one. Even if you have never heard it read or read it yourself, it may be somewhat familiar because it’s actually where we get our order of worship from— this ancient story from thousands of years ago. It starts with praise— there’s an acknowledgment of God’s presence and the angels sing Holy, Holy, Holy; it moves into repentance and confession; then Isaiah is forgiven and reconciled to God; and it concludes with him responding to God’s glory saying, “Here am I; send me!” If ever there was a formula both for worship and for a call story, this is it. And yet what do we see here? Not great leadership qualities; not overwhelming confidence; not independence. What we see in Isaiah’s experience of God is that he feels completely humbled; he recognizes the ways he needs to repent or turn around from what he has been doing; he is curious, even as he is perhaps terrified, by God’s glory, and he is ready to respond. Even as he is grossed out by the seraphim and cherubim— these weird winged snakes and lions— he is in awe of this mysterious and wild God. There is no tame God in this picture, but rather a wild God who inspires awe and humility and praise.