At the Church of the Brethren staff retreat last week, former Bethany Seminary president Gene Roop led an awesome biblical study of texts on “Radical, Compassionate Discipleship.” I forgot how fun it is to have texts broken open like that, and to read them in community!

We studied a couple of narratives, and then turned to the poetry of Isaiah 55. It was, for many in the room, a rough transition. Poetry is harder to get into, harder to understand, and besides, we were attempting it right after lunch, during prime nap time.

But something Gene said made everyone in the room perk up: “Discipleship that dissolves into duty,” he said, “will never last. But discipleship grounded in poetry can not end.”

I love that. It says to me (much like the content of Isaiah 55 – check it out) that God’s plan for the world and for the church is not always linear, does not always make immediate sense, and takes a little extra effort to get into. It reminds me that God works in ways that are not always what I would prefer, but in ways that – once broken open a little – make such a beautiful and unending pattern that its grace is almost incomprehensible.

It reminded me, again, that I participate in the life of the church not because I am duty-bound to do it, but because I continue to believe and expect that God is doing beautiful and transformative things through Her poetic presence in the world, and that I get to be a part of that.

What reminders of poetic discipleship have you encountered recently?