Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Collateral Good

Back again. The table is filled with people waiting for Bible Study as I walk into the Session room. The plane coming into La Guardia was late so I’ve come almost directly
 here. Little time to decompress, to transition from my week away in Pittsburgh. 
There seems to be an intense conversation going on around the table regarding our ongoing negotiations with a prospective partner. The clock is running short. Jamie i sat the center of the discussion. 
Steve asks for five minutes of my time. He and Jamie take me down to the  basement to see the work that’s been done while I’ve been gone. A crew  has worked very hard over the holiday days of the Fourth of July up to tonight to get the house ready for tomorrow night’s tour. The pale seems clear and clean. Almost back to where it was last summer during Woodshed’s residency. 
A lot of people have pitched in. Steven, Jay, Marc, Glen, Jamie and her daughter Bella. We’re almost ready.
Jamie and Steve are about done in and need to leave. It’s time to dig into the Bible again. Mark 4. The crowd has pushed Jesus out int the water again, using a boat as a pulpit for his sermon of parables. We all know the traditional interpretations of the story about the sower. 
The easy enthusiasts who run when the going gets tough. How Jesus wants depth. When we get to the part about thorns choking, Teddy says, watch out who you hang out with. And I recall my Princeton summer intern back in Tulsa who went to the Inferno strip club theoretically to save the strippers and wound up falling in love. Night after night he’d go, staying until closing time. Wanting to go out for breakfast with the dancers. Until Carl the owner called me to express his concern. 
We puzzle over Jesus’ language of insiders vs. outsiders.  Doesn’t sound like him. Ched Meyer says it’s about a call to listen. A call to see. A call that needs to go deeper than rational didactic discourse. That Jesus is inviting his listeners to come over, cross the bridge and see reality through his eyes.  
Bobby sees the Satan reference as building a wall. We talk about wanting and the worries of this world. How worrying is like praying for what you don’t want. (Thank you Twitter. Thank you facebook, thank you...)
How like Sharon Belch says, Cynicism is the prerogative of the privileged. The truly oppressed have no time for  cynicism. Or despair. 
Jesus is trying to let is disciple  know exactly what they will be facing. Indeed those who have little are having it taken away even now. And taken by those who have (nearly) all. He’s saying no easy road to freedom.
I’ve brought Eugene Peterson’s The Message//Remix, his telling of the gospel. In his words, generosity begets generosity. Stinginess impoverishes. And recall how those who survived the Nazi death camps were those who shared what little they had, not those who believed everyman for himself. How once you go there, you’re done.
If we vote for marriage equality, 100’s of more churches will leave....
Get the behind me Satan..we cannot be distracted, consumed, devoured by fear.  
We finish with  with the storm story we had in worship a few Sundays ago. How its not the storm that frightens but  the calm after. And Teddy comments that the other boats received collateral good by being on the sea at the same time as Jesus. Probably didn’t even know what was going in in that other boat. Kind of like when the mustard seed becomes a shelter,  a living  nestling home for the birds .. a home in its branches. Collateral good again.
Hope has questions about the just finished General Assembly. Teddy just wants to welcome me back. 
I’m home. 

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