SEASON AFTER PENTECOST 2018
SERIES 5 (OCTOBER): MYSTERY
Diving into the book of Job is an opportunity that comes around only one month every three
years in the Revised Common Lectionary, so we wanted to take advantage of this thread of
readings this year. Job is a difficult book to read and interpret, even for the most advanced
biblical scholars; but it can be an opportunity to embrace vivid imagery, human emotion, and the
mysterious nature of a God who created the entire universe all together in worship.
The themes we have chosen for each week mirror some of the emotions we experienced each
week in discernment. In the first week, it seems a bit disorienting that someone as “blameless
and upright” as Job would be tested so vehemently. For many people, this probably doesn’t
seem to fit the image of God we experience as a loving Creator. Our disoriented feelings likely
mirror Job’s as he was probably a bit disoriented himself. It will be imperative to provide enough
background about the book–its nature and its composition–in the preaching and preparation for
this service, but we would also discourage approaching this passage in a way that deconstructs
the mystery contained in the narrative. Be confident in asking questions, but allow the answers
to also invite more questions. Yes, the passage can be disorienting, but it can also be the
beginning of a dialogue that leads to life.
The second week, Job feels deserted. He begins to express his dismay at not being able to
sense God’s presence. What times are we in Job’s shoes? Are there experiences that have left
us wounded, broken, and dejected? These questions often leave us with a bitter taste, but it is
also a wonderful opportunity to offer a word of hope in the presence of struggle.
Finally, God speaks. Week three presents God asking Job a series of very heated questions
that must shake Job to his core. Not only does God question him; God also demands answers.
The questions appear to be rhetorical, and still God insists on Job’s response. Have you
endured an encounter with someone that has left you speechless and silent? This is what we
witness between God and Job. Yes, it is awkward, but it is a reckoning of sorts that is key to
Week four contains Job’s answer. He responds in humility and admits his fault. He “sees” God
and knows just how much he must confess. Job’s fortunes are eventually “restored,” and he
dies after a long life.
There is plenty of mystery to be found in this story, and many people suggest reading this book
as a work of fiction to interpret its meaning. Another sense of mystery in this narrative can be
expressed with the word “wonder.” This word presents great possibilities for imagery in worship
and can serve as a connection point from the previous worship series on Season of Creation.
Notice God’s questions and how much they are connected to God’s creative power. The God
who created the universe and all things in it is the same God who understands our pain, our
brokenness, and our humanity. There is mystery in that.
Week 1: October 7 Disoriented Job 1:1, 2:1-10
Week 2: October 14 Deserted Job 23:1-9, 16-17
Week 3: October 21 Silenced Job 38:1-7 (34-41)
Week 4: October 28 Restored Job 42:1-6, 10-17