Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I don't miss the kingdoms, but ahhhh....the kings...


Muddy Waters
Weekend after Thanksgiving. Teddy waiting, everything ready, as usual. Arrange chairs in a circle, but we grow beyond and into the pews. Son Daniel is here. He always comes when he’s home. Andre recognizes. How do you reconcile that? He says with a smile. And I say, What? And Andre says that boy is mannish....and laughs which leads James into a whole discussion on Muddy Waters. ( )

I tell Deacon James that Andre tells me he’s been sweeping the steps again. Yes, I feel up to to take my old job back....

Today is Christ the King, or Reign of Christ Sunday.  So I ask what people think of when they hear the word king.
 Royalty. Riches. Unjust power. (That was Anna.)
Tut. Cole. Nat King Cole. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Ruth Gordon and Bud Cort
I ask how many remember the movies Harold and Maude? In it, Ruth Gordon plays an octogenarian holocaust survivor eccentric loved by a young man, Bud Cort. She says, I don’t miss the kingdoms, but ahhhh.....the kings....

So it’s Christ the King Sunday. It’s a gateway Sunday. One of those Sundays that open a door from one season to the next. From the long green season of Pentecost, ordinary time, into Advent.The culmination, the crowning of the church year before we begin all over again. The year ends with Christ enthroned as King. But what does that mean to us now?  

Wondering what to do with this Sunday led to my questions of Katherine which led to her years of working with us as our ecumenical associate and now with the Center. When I heard what she had to say about this from a feminist perspective, I said Rather than me say your words, you come say them yourself...and then week after week after year after year the dialogue continued. 

We start with Revelation. The Alpha and the Omega. A few weeks ago on All Saints night, we came together and read the book the whole way through. Can’t say I understood it any better. Anguished plea, hallucination, revenge fantasy, final word of affirmation and comfort all in a time of intense persecution. If Christ is King, Caesar cannot be. If Christ rules, Caesar cannot. We choose his realm over empire.

The Tower of Babel, by Breugel

In the gospel...kingdom....king...confrontation with Pilate. In Leila and Berik’s new show, upstairs, there is that painting by the Russian Nick Marci. There’s Bruegel the painter with his Tower of Babel painting on his easel, sketching a child. In the near foreground, an anachronistic biplane.  Off in the far distance is the Tower itself. As if it were there, in Renaissance Belgium. 

That painting of the Tower serves as the cover art for the book Come Out my People, by Wes Howard-Brook. You keep hearing me refer to it because it’s central to a lot of my thinking right now. Two theologies in the Bible from Genesis through Revelation. One of Creation (and Covenant) and one of Empire. In his confrontation with Pilate, Jesus is making it clear...his is not an empire, will not be won or defended by military might and violence, his followers (a word meaning armed defenders) will not use weapons.

That is what he means by his kingdom is not of this world. It’s not about a far off realm of heaven but a different way of being here. Not over there, not up there in heaven somewhere, but right here but with a different understanding of how reality works.

What does that mean for us to live in Jesus’ realm?
You can come here and be assured of acceptance. Unconditional acceptance. 
You can come here and not be talked about behind your back, in fact we’ve got your back
Where we are sustained by being together. What would it take t create that kind of community?To not just say it, but be it?

Last Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, I was privileged to be invited to a meeting to discuss Presbytery’s action turning back the subdivision into four parts. It wasn’t just a no. It was a yes, to affirming one church in one city. We think of ourselves as without resources. But we have been gifted by God with a amazing diversity of people from literally all over the globe. Our children grow up truly living in the world...therefore we are rich...

We have the opportunity to give to our broader church the gift of a church that is willing to engage the powers, the empire, the issues of race and class while seeking to discern what it means to follow the path of Jesus, the way of the cross...It’s not about what we don’t have, but about what we do have...

We have so much to be thankful for. As I’ve said before, doxology is the beginning of resistance. (Brueggeman) 

It begins with thanks....

And Andre sings He is Lord of Lord, he is King of Kings, Jesus Christ the first and last, no man works like him....and we sing Eres digno....(you are worthy)....and we gather in a circle and sing Amen.

At the  end of the service, Marc has us stay and sing together Any day now, any way now...I shall be add as a chorus behind his recording of Shannon Beck at her house concert. 

Our Session stays after. To get the details of a tough week. To hear how we’re still alive and with hope. Thankfully, Jamie is there to fill in the details, explain the strategy. And we talk about making our Sandy relief deliveries. And planning to celebrate Purisima, the Immaculate Conception, at church with Hugo and Arcadia.

I go down to Marc’s workshop to hear what he’s been working on. He;s added our just recorded chorus. And some guitar color and bass. It’s coming together. I enjoy and appreciate his work on this.

I think about the week. All that happened. This community. And I give thanks. 

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