Wednesday, September 12, 2012

One loaf is enough


Some kleenex and an empty Bacardi mini bottle.

A couple is checking out the church.  From out of town.Visiting the city. Turns out he's a stained glass restorer. I tell hij the history of our sanctuary. Our windows. We talk about how the tight plexiglass has not only gotten stained and cut out the light but also how the vacuum overtime damages the windows. Do they still need covered? Sigh. Another issue for another day.

The number of another days begins it feel overwhelming. Like standing on the shore, the waves coming in, your hands open, seeing how much ocean you can catch.

Steve and Chris B and I meet in the garden to review the ups and downs of Dem Dahk Days Down South. What worked. What didn't. What it might take to do another production. As always, it's the production and promotion end that needs to be covered to make it work. Only at the end do I discover that Chris' girlfriend in Trinidad has just lost her daughter in a tragic illness and he is trying to get there by Thursday. What can we do to help?

The director of a new program funded the city's department of cultural affairs has come to the church to check it out a a possible venue.  It's an effort to try and keep young artists in the city by finding affordable studio and rehearsal spaces. To keep New York City from becoming like Paris with museums but no living arts scene. Ted and Mim and Jamie are all here for the meeting. It's perfect, but can it happen fast enough? We all agree we're in Hail Mary mode here. Ted agrees and says And I'm Jewish! Last effort to avoid putting the church house on the market.  I always get anxious when jamie goes into full real estate mode but that's what we need if we've got any chance at all. 

Nan comes by to help us strategize about our financial situation. It's grim. We're hanging in, but grim.

In Bible Study, we wrap up Mark 7 and dive into Mark 8. 

So what follows is another feeding story. This time, 4000 gentiles. Again, the disciples are worried. And again, Jesus turns it back. What do you have? he wants to know. He never wants to know about what we don't have, only what are we going to do with what we do have? And again, there is more than enough once they start from what they already have.  Couldn't be plainer. He doesn't want anyone to be hungry on the way, another expression used for his movement. 

And then  the confrontation does come.   The Pharisees want signs. And  he is exasperated. If you can't see what it means by looking at what's going on, you're not going  to get it.  I'm not going to do anything to prove what I'm not supposed to be anyways.

Beware the leaven of the Pharisees and of Herod....what's that about? An unlikely coalition of traditional enemies has come together to go after Jesus. He is threatening both  of their positions of power, different though they may be. They have come together in mutual self-interest against this threat. What they don't get is the new community he is trying to create. Later as he speaks to his disciples,  there's all kinds of symbolic numbers floating around in these stories. But when you add the five from the first feeding and the seven form the second, you get 12. A new community. A new house of 12 tribes, not based on ethnicity or doctrine but on shared oppression, poverty, need...Salvation is never about identity politics. And that's what's threatening. 

Teddy also sees the added piece that when things get tough, don't go running to Herod to get fed.  Don't take that bread while better is on its way. Hope doesn't remember ever reading these lines before. 

To make it clear, the disciples are concerned about there being only one loaf. But Jesus tells them they don't get it. One loaf is enough. No more separate but equal communities. One community. One loaf. One new community. That's all.

Then, to complete the circle, one more  healing story. This time a gentile. One who can't hear or speak. Jesus gain breaks the ritual cleanliness code by  using spit, only slightly ahead of other bodily excretions and unclean. To heal. And again, says, Tell no one. Don't even go into town. The time isn't right for the true confrontation to take place.  Thje disciples may not get it, but even

And so the first half of Mark is coming to an end. All the pieces in place.  For a new inclusive community. Where workers, the poor and the excluded are welcomed. 

Again we marvel at the careful and deliberate writing throughout  these passages. How it all connects. As we conclude Bible Study, I remember what Sekou once said. How this study reminds him of who he's supposed to be.  I too am reminded. And remember. 

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