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Monday, February 27, 2012

First Sunday in Lent: Lonesome Valley 1


2/26
Teddy stops by to tell me that a lot of the occupiers will be down at Tompkins Square park for another Occupy Town Square.  I’ll miss them. He tells me that this church has been a big part of the good changes that have come about in his life. He helps me set the chairs in a circle this morning. We will be smaller in number this morning. 
Virginia has come early to wait for Uli. She’s a long time board member of the internaional board of the Fellowship of Reconciliation. She was one of our group to travel to Germany the first time I went. Staying together at the Niemoller House. 


Bob, Uli, Virginia

Teddy stops by to tell me that a lot of the occupiers will be down at Tompkins Square park for another Occupy Town Square.  I’ll miss them. He tells me that this church has been a big part of the good changes that have come about in his life. SHe helps me set the chairs in a circle this morning. It’s going to be smaller.
Virginia has come early to wait for Uli. She’s a long time board member of the international board of the Fellowship of Recomciliation. She was one of our group to travel to Germany the first time I went. Staying together at the Niemoller House. 
Happy that Amy has come. But I’m still going to play guitar and sing this morning. We start our first Sunday in Lent by chanting Create in me  clean heart O God. Katherine always thought it was Taize. But I wrote it. From an old Jewish niggun. (When Bill Schimme played it on his accordion, it almost sounded like Sunrise,sunset...)
After John reads the story of Noah and the ark from Genesis 9, I pull out the guitar and sing The Great Storm is Over...
The thunder and lightning gave voice to the night; 
the little lost child cried aloud in her fright. . 
"Hush, little baby, a story I'll tell, 
of a love that has vanquished the powers of hell. 
Alleluia, the great storm is over, lift up your wings and fly! 
Alleluia, the great storm is over, lift up your wings and fly! 
"Sweetness in the air, and justice on the wind, 
laughter in the house where the mourners had been. 
We all shall have music, and see with  new eyes, 
the standards of death taken down by surprise. 
Alleluia, the great storm is over, lift up your wings and fly! 
Alleluia, the great storm is over, lift up your wings and fly! 
"Release for the captives, an end to the wars, 
new streams in the desert, new hope for the poor. 
All of the  children will dance as they sing, 
and play with the bears and the lions in spring. 
Alleluia, the great storm is over, lift up your wings and fly! 
Alleluia, the great storm is over, lift up your wings and fly! 
"Hush little baby, let go of your fear: 
the Lord loves his own, and your mother is here." 
The child fell asleep as the lantern did burn. 
The mother sang on 'till her Bridegroom's return.
We do parts of Psalm 25 people’s mike style. We can’t find the Spanish Bible today so Steve finds the gospel passage on the ipad for Hugo to read and I read it, baptism and temptation in the wilderness, in English. 
I start by asking Who remembers the story of Noah’s ark?  and Uli is the first to respond with a pretty good tellling of the story. Others add their own details. 
I say that its a classic reboot. Back to the beginning...if you remember,the first  creation story began with the earth covered in water. It’s a do over. 
And then God makes a promise to never again..at least with water..destroy the world.There will be no more do overs,this one has to work...he’ll have to make do with us. I point up to the rainbow flag hanging from the balcony. Kanaska, with her piercings, tatoos and strong voice, artist and occupier, says that it’s beauty, calm after the storm, the sun shining through the last of the rain...The rainbow reminds God of God’s promise. (Either God is growing or people growing in their understanding...) And if you think about it, the bow pointed away from us....
I have to say though, if you’re in New Orleans,with Katrina  or Japan and the tsunami, it may as well be the whole world..it is your whole world...and as apocalyptic as it gets....
I also point out that the covenant is with people and every living creature...not just humans...
And now. This season a chance for us to do over...reboot....I love this time of year...the time of spring training...stretching muscles, getting back in shape again...it’s not only spring training, but also spring cleaning....Lent coming  from a an old word that means ...lenghtening...the days are getting longer. I remember how Chris Shelton, when he was our intern back in 2002, brought in a big ball of lint.  I thought he was just being funny, but then he brought it all home with the cleaning reference, what we find in the dryer,under the bed, need to throw out...One of the best children's sermons  I ever heard. 
And I point out that it was the same spirit that comes down at baptism, the same spirit that says you are my child, my beloved...that immediately drives Jesus into the wilderenss...Where he is tempted by Satan....Which of course raises some questions about God and Satan. Like are they working together? Is Satan like the drill sergeant and this is Jesus’ spiritual bootcamp? Is he like Jesus’ personal trainer who after 40 days will look up and say ok, he’s good to go? For Jesus, it was training...time to get ready for what’s ahead...
For us, too, that’s what this time is for....to get ready for what is ahead...the struggle we are in  is for the long haul...We are learning to live together, learning nonviolence as a way of life, a way of struggle....
And we are getting ready...
For our offertory, I was going to sing Jesus walked that lonesome valley, but since Amy is here we sing  it together:
Jesus walked this lonesome valley.
He had to walk it by Himself;
O, nobody else could walk it for Him,
He had to walk it by Himself.

We must walk this lonesome valley,
We have to walk it by ourselves;
O, nobody else can walk it for us,
We have to walk it by ourselves.

You must go and stand your trial,
You have to stand it by yourself,
O, nobody else can stand it for you,
You have to stand it by yourself.
And when we’re done, I say, true and not true. Yes, we each have our own unique path to travel, journey to take. But I don’t believe we’re supposed to go it alone.  And as John points out, God goes with us.
We sing a hymn, make our circle, say a benediction and then, Alleluia, amen. 
I sit and talk with Kanaska. She lost her personal guitar in the eviction. The one she has now is taped togetether, but she’s still out busking the subways every day. She’s got a very creative idea for a concert/festival/fundraiser for #ows to hold at the church. I’m thinking session will go with this. She’s with another music guy named Rio.
Uli has enjoyed the service, the intimacy, the conversation, the eclectic mix of people. He and Virginia are off for coffee. I’ve got a session meeting.
My biggest reminder from the meeting...how absolutely essential it is, in any kind of organizing work you’re doing, to never lose touch with your base.  You have to have people feeling involved, engaged and informed at all times.  Or they begin to lose a sense of ownership. Whatever extra it takes to do that, must be done. 
Rev. Sekou and Rev. Karlene visit with us to share the vision of the Freedom Church, the Lawson Training Center, the other ideas we might bring to fruition. When he saw my guitar, he asked me if I played, I said yes. More like Jimi Hendrix or Bob Dylan? And I just smiled. 
Drop back by after 4 to join in with the Sanctuary folks wishing Jane a Happy Birthday. I stand on the steps awhile with Jeremy talking about Japanese TV and movies. Tell him to see the Iranian film, A Separation.
Uli and I come back for the night meeting. Virginia has come, too. Uli has flowers for her and the occupiers have two shirts for Uli, one that says the whole world is watching and an Occupy West-Park coop shirt. Ben and Jerry have called together other progressive business people to talk about their Resource Management Group. Wanting to fund an organized, structured and principled approach to building a movement to last.  I welcome the group to West-Park. Share our history. 
I’m stopped by an Armenian journalist who wants to talk. And a young woman who was with my son Micah in Palestine.  Uli and Virginia are impessed with what they see, thinking about connecting the FOR with this work.
Out on the steps there are two black shoes and a bag with two bananas. 

Marsha, Uli, Virginia


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