Be like the wise man who built his house on the rock.
In Papago Park, a preserve near the center of Phoenix, two small rock mountains rise up from the desert. One of them, Garden Butte, is 1.6 billion years old. The other, about half a mile away, is a youngster at only 17 million years old.
When they saw him, they worshiped him, but some doubted. Passages like this assure me there’s a place for me and the people I serve. Unlike John’s story of Thomas, Matthew didn’t single out one disciple as the doubter. He says that “some doubted.”
As a child, I studied many different images of the Good Shepherd. I saw the official version every Sunday in the stained glass window above the altar at First Congregational Church in Tempe, Arizona. That shepherd was a tall, friendly-looking, 30-something man dressed in a full-length white robe. The image is probably the most familiar representation of the Good Shepherd. Yet the beautiful and peaceful image didn’t jibe with my own experience.
He had real grit, that Joshua. When his fellow spies felt like grasshoppers and the Canaanites looked like giants, Joshua and his friend Caleb urged the Hebrews to take them on even though their compatriots threatened to stone them for their advice.
Deborah: Judge. Prophetess. Wife or “spirited woman,” depending on how you translate the Hebrew. Powerful woman who advised generals and led troops into battle. Creative woman who composed songs of victory. Wise woman who “sat.”
When I moved back to the Southwest, the first thing I noticed was color. Green is not a dominant color in New Mexico. The landscape is brown and red and sometimes golden at sunset, but not green. There is very little that reflects the Christian hymnody of “field and forest, flowery meadow, flashing sea.” This is a land of little rain, and of life that adapts to that scarcity.