In the Pit, a Call to Worship

Dee Ledger sends this poetic call to worship that she paired with the story of Joseph left in the pit by his brothers to die or to be enslaved.

I realized how many other texts would call for such gathering words … Jeremiah cast in the pit and rescued by Ebed-melech (Jer. 38)… The books Proverbs and Ecclesiastes agreeing on only one line “the one who digs a pit will fall into it” (Pro 26:27 and Ecc 10:08), … The Psalmist bemoaning that the godless have dug pits (119:85) and affirming that God  “drew me up from the pit” (40:2) or “redeemed our life from the pit” (103:4) and insisting in so many places that — if God is silent he or she will be like those who go down to the Pit. (28:1).

For Job, the pit is a central image in his despair and Revelation’s imagery offers a bottomless pit. Best though for me is Jesus reminding human beings of their ultimate instinctive compassion, which we so often forget.   “He said to them, ‘Suppose one of you has only one sheep and it falls into a pit on the sabbath; will you not lay hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a human being than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the sabbath.’ (Matthew 12:11-12)

CALL TO WORSHIP (responsive)

–inspired by Emily Dickinson, and Genesis 37:1-28

Leader: “A Pit—but Heaven over it—
And Heaven beside, and Heaven abroad,

People: And yet a Pit—With Heaven over it.”

Leader: From all our pitted places we come to church
A place where even the deepest confines, the most harrowing pits
are turned to promise,

People: Heaven stretching over them, a warm embrace of a friend.

Leader: Hands reaching down into pits of apathy and distress,
Pits of sorrow, pain, and remorse,
Pits of bloatedness, cruelty,
mistrust and betrayal.

People: Pits of all our forgotten dreams.
Heaven stretching over them and over us, the warm embrace of a friend.

Leader: To stir would be to dig,

People: To look would be to lift,

Leader: To dream would be to build a ladder whose rungs lean against walls
constructed for reasons fearful and unjust.

People: We have our pits but we have the Church
And Heaven stretching over us, the warm embrace of a friend.

Leader: A God who loves the hollowed out places of our souls and our world

People: A Seeker of Pits who drives a skidloader to reach us
and who knows how to fill what our sisters and brothers
have ascribed to Hell.

Here is Emily Dickinson’s poem to which Dee refers.

A Pit—but Heaven over it— 1712 Emily Dickinson

A Pit—but Heaven over it—
And Heaven beside, and Heaven abroad,
And yet a Pit—
With Heaven over it.

To stir would be to slip—
To look would be to drop—
To dream—to sap the Prop
That holds my chances up.
Ah! Pit! With Heaven over it!

The depth is all my thought—
I dare not ask my feet—
’Twould start us where we sit
So straight you’d scarce suspect
It was a Pit—with fathoms under it—
Its Circuit just the same.
Seed—summer—tomb—
Whose Doom to whom?

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