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Jake Hall

Joining a Rebel Choir

Joining a Rebel Choir

by Jake Hall

published in Family Matters enewsletter, July 19, 2019

Carol Younger asked me to reflect on Psalm 40 with an eye on the text and an ear for a different kind of musical embodiment. You can join in by reading along in the "Reflections" devotional guide.

Psalm 40 reads:

I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly;

I do not seal my lips, Lord,
as you know.
I do not hide your righteousness in my heart;
I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help.

I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness
from the great assembly.

Go and tell. That is what this Psalm compels us to do.

What God does something in your life it matters to the people around you. It matters because the God to whom you pray, the God who acts in your life, isn’t just your God.

Bearing witness to God’s work is, itself a part of God’s redemption of you and God’s redemption of the world. In other words, you aren’t on your own, Pilgrim. Even your prayers to God, while seemingly private are marked by God’s concern for the world. Your story, your journey with God matters, and finding your voice is more about speaking truthfully about your life from your perspective than it is parroting an orthodoxy perceived to be perfection.

So what should inspire your telling of the good news? Well, it isn’t found in the plot of someone else’s life. Bearing witness in the way this Psalm describes called us to unpurse our lips and speak from our truth. There is no seminary degree required to bear witness to your life, just a willingness to share with authenticity and grace.

Even rascals and rebels can learn to tell the truth about God. Kris Kristofferson is a musician and actor. His songwriting bears an introspection uncommon for a man known for being an outlaw. He came to Nashville in the 1960s with a journal full of compositions that plumb the depths of his inner life. Consider this secular Psalm that bears the divine imprint:

CLICK TO LISTEN

Am I young enough to believe in revolution
Am I strong enough to get down on my knees and pray
Am I high enough on the chain of evolution
To respect myself, and my brother and my sister
And perfect myself in my own peculiar way

I get lazy, and forget my obligations
I’d go crazy, if I paid attention all the time
And I want justice, but I’ll settle for some mercy
On this Holy Road through the Universal Mind

Now, how do you give voice to your own unique witness of what God has done in your life? Come on, pilgrim, join the rebel choir.

Catching Up With CBF

Catching Up With CBF

by Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter June 11, 2019

This year the CBF General Assembly gathered in Birmingham, Alabama. Every year a number of our members attend the assembly. In this space, congregations from across the nation with whom we partner for missions, education, and advocacy gather for a time of inspiration and information. We rarely take time to look at the work this partnership creates. Amazing things happen when our churches cooperate across the state, regional, and international boundaries that too often divide families of faith. Take a moment the check out some of the videos from this years assembly.

A New Layer of Grief

A New Layer of Grief

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by Jake Hall

published in Family Matters enewsletter June 27, 2019

Yesterday we gathered to mark the passing of Tina Wootan. We have lost too many friends in recent days. It seems right to share the words of the poet/liturgist Jan Richarson, as she writes about the multiple layers of grief.

May her work comfort you this day.

~ Pastor Jake

Blessing for Falling into a New Layer of Grief
You thought
you had hit
every layer possible,
that you had found
the far limit
of your sorrow,
of your grief.

Now the world falls
from beneath your feet
all over again,
as if the wound
were opening
for the first time,
only now with
an ache you recognize
as ancient.

Here is the time
for kindness—
your own, to yourself—
as you fall
and fall,
as you land hard
in this layer
that lies deeper than
you ever imagined
you could go.

Think of it as
a secret room—
this space
that has opened
before you,
that has opened
inside you,
though it may look
sharp in every corner
and sinister
no matter where
you turn.

Think of it as
a hidden chamber
in your heart
where you can stay
as long as you need,
where you will
find provision
you never wanted
but on which
your life will now
depend.

I want to tell you
there is treasure
even here—
that the sharp lines
that so match your scars
will lead
to solace;
that this space
that feels so foreign
will become for you
a shelter.

So let yourself fall.
It will not be
the last time,
but do not let this be
cause for fear.

These are the rooms
around which your
new home will grow—
the home of your heart,
the home of your life
that welcomes you
with such completeness,
opening and
opening and
opening itself to you,
no part of you
turned away.

—Jan Richardson

Wrath, Love, and the language of the inner life of God

Wrath, Love, and the language of the inner life of God

by Jake Hall

published in Family Matters enewsletter June 14, 2019

On Sunday, we celebrate, "Trinity Sunday," a day set aside to contemplate the mysteries of the inner life of God. You know, a light, breezy, summer topic.

Learning God's new language

Learning God's new language

by Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter June 6, 2019

I have always wanted to be fluent in more than one language. Sadly, the only other languages with which I have proficiency are dead languages and not many people want to talk about parsing the Greek or plucking an obscure Hebrew verbal form.

Seven Ways to Avoid the Summer Slump

Seven Ways to Avoid the Summer Slump

by Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter May 16, 2019

We have a few more days to go on the school calendar until families begin their seasons of vacation and teachers take a break from the classroom, but you don’t need a calendar or a thermometer to tell that summer has already arrived. I can see that dazed summer glaze on so many faces. Students are ready for a break. Families are ready for a vacation. Just at most folks are gearing up for a summer break the church is readying for a season that is heavy with activity and light on attendance.

Almost Summer

Almost Summer

by Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter May 9, 2019

Graduations mark our calendars in the coming weeks. School is about to be out. The bell is about to ring. Caps and gowns will fly in the air. We will need a different syllabus to chart summer's course. For a lot of folks, time in summer takes in a new quality.

Vocational Evolution

Vocational Evolution

by Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter May 3, 2019

Frederich Buechner has always informed the way I look at calling and vocation. He once wrote that vocation is that 'place where the world’s deep hunger and your deep gladness meet.' Over the past few months, we have worked to find that intersection for Ruth, and for Highland Hills, a place where the present needs of the church align with the present gifts of the minister.