Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Ascension Sunday: I'm here because I read your blog

Andre is waiting for me when I arrive. A quick look around is disheartening, it's going to take awhile to clean up. Someone has created a bed out of cardboard including a styrofoam pillow. As I’m sweeping, someone in line at Barney Greengrass says, Spring cleaning? No, I say, more like everyday cleaning. Then I lift up my head and bang into  the cross bar of the scaffolding. Painful in more  than one way. 
I leave Andre minding the store and head down the street to pick up the bulletins and get bread and juice for communion. Back in the church, I remember that the communion table was moved up a set of stairs for the  Friday night concert. Looking around at all that needs to be done, I realize, I can’t do this alone.  I do my best to make things presentable for 11 AM. Anxiety rising.
There are two visitors, a man and a woman in different pews. Anxiety rising more. What will they think? Will they be disappointed? Why can’t more people be here?  Slowly our people are arriving. 
I have Andre play some piano while I scurry around and finish preparation. Take a breath. Begin.
Just before I read the Ascension story, we pass the peace. The man who is visiting shakes my hand.He’s Doug from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I’m here because I read your blog, he says. And all of a sudden, I’m not worried anymore. He knows exactly who we are. And that’s why he’s here. I can relax, be myself.  Made my day.
It’s Ascension Sunday. I ask if anyone was ever a Brownie. (The visitor holds up her hand.)What was it called when you went from being a Brownie to a Girl Scout? Fly up day. Sort of what Ascension Day is  about. 
One of those portal Sundays through which we pass from one season to the next. Like Christ the King at the end of ordinary time. Transfiguration at the end of Epiphany. This is our portal to Pentecost.
So as Jesus is preparing them for his leaving, the question of the disciples is yet again, Lord will you now restore the Kingdom to Israel? They still so don’t get it. They’re still looking for Superman. Someone says, are we still looking for Superman?  And without hesitation I say, no, not this group. 

And I recall our history from the  real estate  deal that would have solved everything to its going away in the face of landmarking and the economy to the proposed sale and merger to deciding to come back to reclaiming the church, inch by inch, step by step. Every new bathroom cleaned and ready a victory won by the work of our own hands. Not waiting for Superman. Not this group.

So why did Jesus have to ascend? Fly up? Why couldn’t he stay around awhile, you  know, help us get organized? I recall the movie Harold and Maude. Harold gives Maude a ring and she holds it gently and  then throws it into the water. Shocked, Harold asks how she could do that. That’s so I’ll always know where it is, she says. 
As long as Jesus is here in earthly form, despite his capacity to pass through walls and all, he is still bound by time and space. Once he’s ascended, he can be every place at the same time. In me, in you...
The disciples keep looking up. Why are you looking up? The angels ask. It’s not up there, it’s down here. Here is where the action is. Here is where we live out, become together the living body of the risen Christ.  Which we will celebrate later as we share communion. It’s not the bread and wine  that is transformed, It is us, we who are transformed. 
We share the bread and cup. We sing In Christ there is no East or West, in English and Spanish. Make our circle. Say Alleluia, Amen! Sing Amen. The service is over. 
Danielle is taking a fire safety expert through the building. She takes a break to meet with the session. Talk about possible rentals. Our need for a dehumidifier. Outside signs. The Session also prepares for the dramatic Presbytery meeting coming up tomorrow night. And decides to invite Presbytery to meet here in November. We’ve got a meeting space. A room to eat dinner. Three bathrooms. And we have wi-fi. 
I take a break. Go visit Philip at his work at the Michalski Residence . Talk with him and Guillermo on the steps. Haven’t seen Guillermo since we left SPSA. I miss him. And we talk about Ruby. I tell him how her old friend Irene was lifted up among the saints by the More Light movement  following the victory. 
Fred from Jane’s church comes to check out our sound situation and see what can be done.  Get us ready for our concerts. It's been along day. Amazing how I can go from anxiety and be lifted into a space where it’s good, where worship really happens. And then, inevitably, the anxiety back again. 

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