Monday, January 23, 2012

The present form of this world is passing away

New bus stop on 86th street. Inscription anonymous.

An ambulance is at the 86th Street door. I ask Teddy what’s up. Mary, the older woman from Staten Island, is being taken to the hospital. Her legs have gone stiff and immobile on her. And I am concerned. Two or three others remain in what might be termed sick bay. Our occupiers are busy getting us ready for Sunday morning. Again it looks like no one has been here.
Amy is here and our service begins with the Brazilian Song,Cantad al Senor. I look out and see that our congregation is joined by numerous occupies and I’m very happy to see that Tracy has come and brought her sister. I have John read the brief selection from Jonah then I read Corinthians in English and Hugo the gospel in Spanish and me in English. 
We start by talking about Jonah. Who remembers the story? And many remember Jonah and the whale from their childhood. I say that the story is uniique, that ususally a prophet comes from a people and speaks to that people but here Jonah is called to speak to another people. And we talk about how he tried to run away and the sea got crazy around the boat and the others threw him overbord. And thus, bad luck on a ship, the Jonah. He gets upset when the Ninevites, his enemies, actually listen.  
The center of our discussion is the proposition from 1 Corinthians:  the appointed time has grown short....the present form of this world is passing away.. How many believe that? And most in the congregation do. Whether we’re talking about the economy, the governent or the church, it seems true across the board. 
Mark reads like an alarm clock. The reign of God is not to be  a product of but pre-condtion  for  discipleship. We wonder what  John’s arrest meant for Jesus..And we’re not sure but that the first stage of the struggle had come to an end. 
Jesus calls out to the fishers on the water and tells them he will make them fishers of people..(just doesn’t have the juice of the King James’ Version fishers of men...) What is he calling them to be? Evangelists? Community organiziers?
In thinking about the decisiveness of the moment in front of us, I recall (thanks to my colleague Alistair) these words from Shakespeae’s Julius Caesar:
There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.
Sometimes there are no second chances. It’s now or never.
Everything about Mark is Immediately, immediately, immediately...It’s about the call of us...they leave everything..... nets, boats, hired hands, business father, even their father..And I think of Jason and Stan and Jeff who left everything behind to come here and occupy.
And they take on new identities. Do they take on new names, like the street names in Occupy? or Muhammad Ali? ( happy birthday, champ) or popes? New identitites. 
One reality is that ministry, or world changing,  can’t be solitary. The call here is not to add more, but to  add new...and to start living the kingdom, the kindom the beloved community now...not later, now...
I talk about how Jane’s community is celebrating a season of non-violence. From King’s birthday to Gandhi’s birthday. Live it now. 
This is our defining moment...and so, without a doubt, this is a great time to be alive...
We sing Lord you have come to the lakeshore in English and Spanish, Tu has venido la orilla. Make our circle, invoke our blessings, say Alleluia and sing Amen. 

Tracy is off to join the picket in front of Saigon Grill. I hope we didn’t scare away or turn off her hospital resident sister. Berik is interviewing, auditioning,prosepctive models upstairs. Marsha and Leila and I are reviewing church business. And Shayna tells us that she and her mom are soon heading to Capetown, South Africa for a wedding. P_____ kneels in prayer in front of the Christ candle  trying to hold off her impending (and irrational) eviction. 
I’ve seen the New York Post coverage of the baptismal font incident. They took most of their information from #OWS streaming video and meeting minutes. What I said in the context of community sounds very different diced and sliced and Murdochized in the Post. I’m wondering if I am breaking solidarity by simply speaking the truth.
I go back late at night. happy to see Carolyn, my volunteer chaplain.Happy to see Mary released from the hospital. But a controversy breaks out close to midnight. Jeff has told Teddy that he must leave due to a violent incident the night before. Teddy wants the group to hear about it. It’s almost midnight. Accrodingto Rafael, Teddy resisted for 45 minutes unti he was struck twice in the face. And then pushed his opponent to the wall as Rafael intervened to keep everyone safe. Teddy leaves, but is upset. There’s a growing outcry against Jeff who looks sick and exhausted. As Carolyn points out, this is  no time to have this discussion, especially with no facilitator. I go outside, try to calm folks down. Keep thier voices down.
Like I said earlier to Stan, it’s just not going to work. Just not going to work. It breaks my heart.

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