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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The morning we shared together


11/18

Teddy tells me  Sean as gone through another round of amputations. He’s making him a care package....

Come into the church to find Anna on the floor with puppy...Now  that’s disconcerting. She tells me it’s her back. And has brought me some kind of digital device I don’t understand as she launches into anther very wordy explanation. 

Two very neat looking men enter into the church. Their shirts say FEMA. As Anna hears who they are, she says loudly, make sure they show you id. And hearing her, they do. Tell me they’re canvassing the neighborhood. Checking to see if we suffered any damage. If any of our people suffered any damage. I tell them we’re OK, except for some roof tiles. And that we’ve been making survival packages. They leave me with a poster about how to get aid. As they’re leaving, Anna says, if anything’s missing, remember what they looked like....write it down...

I remember during the rebuild in New Orleans when people joked that FEMA stood for Find Every Mexican Available...or Federal Experts My Ass....I’m not hearing criticism post Sandy.

So I know Teddy is working a clean up job. Seven and Jay are on Schatzie the Butcher’s pre-Thanksgiving crunch time crew. Hope has called in and said that after the canvassing, her knee is in pain and she’s gone back home. I decide not to worry. To ask John to help me create a circle of chairs so we can be close and intimate with one another. 

We begin with some Taize chants.Our prayers.Hugo lifts up the people of Palestine and Israel. And we read our scriptures:  I Samuel 1: 4-20, 1 Samuel 2: 1-10, Hebrews 10: 11-25 and Mark 13: 1-8. Each brings some reflection...
  • 1Samuel 1: 4-20...In a day when we hear so much about Biblical marriage, does anyone even understand  what that is? In Biblical times, marriage had to do with chattel with property, and contracts. But here something different is going on. Elkanah is married to Penninah, who has given him sons. But his heart belongs to Hannah, who is barren. This is a relationship of love.....
  • When Hannah is praying, Eli the priest assume she’s drunk....like the crowd assumes the apostles are drunk at Pentecost
  • Hannah’s song in 2:1-10 is like the Magnificat, Mary’s song...Just like the stores put up their Christmas decorations right after Halloween, here we have an Advent preview....
  • Hannah’s line for... not by might does one prevail.....is like the West-Park motto verse from Zechariah 4:6, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit says the Lord of hosts....
  • From Hebrews... And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds....I wonder what it would be like to provoke one another to love and good deeds.. and yes, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some......OK, what does that say to us? 

So I’m wondering...what’s my lead this morning? There’s an important day coming up on Tuesday 11/20...It marks the 50th anniversary of the official end of the US military blockade of  Cuba in 1962...The final end of the Cuban missile crisis I ask how many remember..Jamie remembers having to practice hiding under her desk in school. Nirka was actually living in Cuba, expecting an American invasion at anytime. Arcadia had just arrived in the US from Nicaragua. I remember what it was like to live in the sense of inevitability that  the unimaginable was about to happen. Unreal and hyper real at the same time. Our 8th grade mountain trip was cancelled. The I remember us breathing a collective sigh of relief in church that Sunday when the announcement was made from U Thant at the UN that an agreement had been reached. President Kennedy had chosen to believe the one of two contradictory messages that indicated a chance for avoiding nuclear war. And Premier Kruschev as well had to want to avoid unleashing Armageddon. So we agreed not to invade, They agreed t remove the missiles. Privately we agreed to remove missiles from Turkey. And then on November 20th, the blockade ended.
Then there was what happened in Presbytery yesterday. Our issue here is not liberal vs. conservative, like in other Presbyteries,eg, Pittsburgh. It is about large (white) and rich vs. smaller and people of color....Manhattan vs. boroughs ... And in the attitude about who should dominate and control it does mirror our current national politics....There is this ever disappearing sense of the  common good...

So we need to go deeper. In Mark we find what’s called the Little Apocalypse. A key question is when was it written? While scholarship has tended to say post-70, after the fall.  But Ched Meyer, in Binding the Strongman,  says it was written between 68-70, in the midst of struggle, before the fall....Israel had lived through some mini victories...but now the Romans were  taking it all  back. And guerrilla resistance groups were being organized and mobilized.

So the disciples are dazzled by beauty of temple...it was their national icon. And Jesus wants them to look beyond nationalism, to recognize that it had been built by Herod, a ruler chosen by the Romans to rule on their behalf, with slave labor...He wants to make clear that the issue is not if we could only get rid of Rome..His reference to those who bring false Messiahs include the guerrilla groups...and maybe even  the Essenes....and the Temple itself represents a power that must, will be, brought down. 

Wes Howard-Brook is a teacher at Seattle University. His new book, Come Out my People. argues that there are two theologies in the Bible, Empire and Creation and that the tension between them flows through the whole bible.

Do we need a king? Hannah’s song shows clearly the  signs of that tension. Both king and messiah, liberator, are subjects. 

We need to remember who we are. Just because Obama has been  reelected, that is not our answer. It never was, even the first time around. 

What we’re being called to is an entirely new way of life...
*Right or left not the point
* The cross is the point...not as martyrdom, not as self-sacrifice....but as radical commitment to stay faithful, resolute, regardless the cause
* As giving, as love...
* As centered in community
  • As truly caring about one another.... a community where there is nothing hidden..where we are willing to work our issues out in community...

What would we be willing to give, to do, to be, to build such a community? Be such a community?  To have that be our legacy? 

We finished our service. Shared cake together that Marsha had brought. Thanked each other for the morning we shared together. 


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