Pages

Donate to our boiler restoration fund!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Second Sunday in Lent: If we can accept, if we can receive it....


3/4
In the sanctuary, Teddy is talking to a young man he found sleeping on the steps. He offered him breakfast, kept him downstairs. Now it’s time for him to leave. He’s giving Teddy a hard time. Look bro, accept the kindness that’s been offered. It’s time to go...
Got nothin’ to do with Occupy Wall Street...it’s nothin,’ you’re just a bunch of homeless...
That’s ok bro...you still have to go...
I tell Teddy I’m heading down to pick up the bulletins. I come back, we finish setting up for the service. Happy to see Andre has arrived. And Rachel. And my occupiers. Soon the rest of the congregation will arrive as well. And I see that a young couple has joined us. And my friend Rev. Sekou as well. 
We start with Create in me a clean heart, O God...continue through Sanctuary, Nada te turbe, our prayers...I have John read Genesis 17: 1-7, about Abram and Sarai getting new names, becoming Abraham and Sarah. God’s promise with them, God’s covenant with them....many nations, yes, many nations... and we sing The God of Abraham Praise in English and Spanish. We do Psalm 22 people’s mic style.  And then the Gospel, Mark 8:31-38 in English and Spanish. Time to talk.
The weather has been teasing us this week. Remember what I said about Lent....how it speaks to lenghtening? The lenghtening of days?
So what do we deal with today? Abraham and Sarah? A follow up to last week’s rainbow story? That was about God making  a covenant, this is too...it keeps talking about Abraham being the father of many nations....we know them to be Christian, Muslim, Jew....
Or our gospel passage....how does that passage make you feel? We talk about Jesus saying get behind me Satan when Peter tells him not to go to Jerusalem. About how he knows he’s got to go there, but really doesn’t want to go. How for me that’s the only way the story works, if he doesn’t want to go. Maybe even a little afraid. 
Then I say that my friend Barbara Lundblad, from Union Seminary, says you coud do a whole series on the theme of Jesus the Disrupter....every week disrupting something different... Like this week he’s  disrupting expectations of what a messiah is all about..They expect him to come marching in with his troops,ready to take on the Roman Empire. Which he will, but not the way they expect.  ..Or , she says, you could do a whole series of Jesus as stranger...and this week he ‘s describing a strange messsiah...
(Follow me so far...Jesus as disrupter, Jesus as stranger... anyone here ever feel like a disrupter? A stranger?) But finally we’re just left with  pictures of God...and this week it’s pictures of a God who suffers with us...
What does it mean to us to think of a God who suffers? Who suffers with us....?  Is that ok? Is it disturbing? Upsetting?  Most of the congregation sees to be comforted by a God who suffers with us Like this week,that weird phrase an act of God.  God did not create the tornado that wreaked havoc in the midwest. But God suffers with those who suffer in its wake.  
The word is, those who follow Jesus must deny themselves...must take up their cross  and follow him...There seems to be this division between those who focus on taking up the cross as the center of the gospel and those who focus on I came so that you might have life and have it abundantly...abundant life...Like they are opposites. But I’m thinking,  maybe that is the way to abundant life...
 What does it mean to gain the world, lose your soul...that temptation is there before us all the time...we lived through that when we had a vision of a whole residential building of affordable hosuing and then saw the percentage of affordable shrink away to nothing...

This  adulterous and sinful generation...if, as Guttierez says,  sin is breaking friendship with God, with others, failure to love brothers and sisters....then that is what we are facing....
Suffering with....it is just another form of feeling with...of compassion....and the reality is you cannot do that, feel with others  without suffering, without hurting...because that’s what human life is....
But it is more. I think of the Brazilian theologian Rubem Alves...who says his problem with North American Christians is that thet want to jump too quickly to the happy ending ...that you cannot get there without embracing, experiencing human life in all its paradox, perplexity but most of all profound beauty...what I see on the subway every day and feel blessed to be alive...there is profound beauty in this....and that is where we are today....
As we take up the offering, Amanda does her riff off of This little light of mine...her song of struggling to be who you are supposed to be...conquering fear to move beyond mediocrity...
Before we gather for communion, I say that get behind me Satan was about conquering fear...and we are called to give up ours...I have brought a wooden cross, one that was used in the Tenant. I pass out cards, ask each person to write down a fear to tape to the cross, that we will thrw away after the service. (Thanks, Barbara, for that idea...) Release our fears. 

and grace our fears relieved

As we come froward to share in communion, Andre sings Morning has broken, a capella.
As we form our circle of blessing, I ask everyone to look around the circle. it is a new circle. A growing circle. A good circle. I ask Rev. Sekou to join me in the benediction.  And we sing Amen.... 
Afterward, Sekou asks Andre and Amanda to join him at the piano. He’s working on something. Kind of Gospel, kind of blue. 
We go to the chapel to join in  a meal. Gallo pinto, platanos, pizza....
Then the session meets with Jane and Ingrid and Karen to discuss where will go in our future. Much is still unclear. West-Park needs to gain more clarity on its own path before we can come to an agreement. 
Later, in our own discussions, we talk of our need to come closer together in our own fellowship. Stengthen our own body. More meals together. More study. There has been struggle today.
Following the service, I has said to Hope and Marsha, individually, If we are able to accept it, if we are able t receive it, there is something happening here....just look around us....it’s here...

No comments:

Post a Comment