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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The fourth Sunday in Advent: Magnificat


12/23

Pastors Bob, Jane and Elise


For the first time in over twenty years, I seriously consider not going in to church. Woke up at 3 am with severe stomach cramps and worse. Every time I try to get up and head to church, I wind up back down again. I know it’s been going around and now I’ve  got it. But somehow I make it out the door and barely to church on time.

George still there. Stephen there waiting, doors open. Hope quickly realizes how I’m feeling, says I look green. Junia is there with her flute. I ask her to play. People gathering. Kara is here. I know she’ll learn of Teddy’s death. Not sure how she’ll handle it. I know I have to be here.

I'm dehydrated.  Stephen brings me a cold ginger ale. Never tasted better. 

I ask Junia to play one more. Say that the flute is a wind instrument. Wind, ruach in Hebrew. The wind that blew over the waters at creation. The wind of the Holy Spirit. Sons Dan and Nate have come too. No Teddy to light the candles this week. All four are lit. And his vela de memoria continues to burn as well. 

Magnificat Sunday. Mary’s song...my soul magnifies....and we sing Magnificat, magnificat, magnificat omnia me dominum...and as we enter into prayers, Kara understands...gasps....keeps it together...

We read the first scripture, Micah 5: 2-5a. Then sing O Little Town of Bethlehem. Then Luke 1: 26-38. And then, the sound of Paul Mc Cartney singing Let it Be fills the church. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajCYQL8ouqw) And Kara begins to sob. We read the Magnificat, Luke 1: 46-55. 

I bring up Teddy again, teasing me for cultural references 40 years old.... and then point out how Let it Be flows right out of Luke... all the images, the yearning, the acceptance. What a harsh season this is. Hurricane Sandy. Newtown. Losing Teddy. You just never know what any day will bring. You think you know, but you don’t. To be crude, you send your children to school and a madman comes and blows them away. You wake up and  a  friend is dead. That is the context in which we sing the magnificat, let it be...

It all happens because Mary says yes. Says Let it be... And the amazing thing is that her song sings of these things as if they have already been accomplished. When clearly you look around and they haven’t been. I look at Arcadia and remember being in Managua in 1982. At a street mass. A woman who had learned to read in the campana de alfabetizacion, which Hugo had participated in. As she read Mary’s song, recalled the overthrow of Somoza, the triumph of the revolution,  the world that opened with words, as she finished the passage, she said this has happened in her life. And the words were alive for me. Thirty years later, what would she say?

I recall the power of worship in communities of struggle, African-American, LGBTQ, Latino...the radical quality of joy. Someone says that word, hope, it’s hope, it’s knowing that you’re part of a bigger struggle, one that goes on before, during and after us.... and we seek to open our hearts to know it, to believe it, to feel it....let it be...

As we pass the offering plates, the sound of Bette Midler singing the Rose (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oR6okRuOLc8) . And I recall how my pastor lounge singer friend Tracy in Pittsburgh  used to do a medley of Lo how a rose e’er blooming and the Rose...

And to declare our hope we sing, Joy to the World...

I had to be here. My people were here. Who I needed to see. Who needed to see each other. Lifted by Tracy K, by Don, by..... all. 

But now I’m feeling it. I go get cash so that we can make more relief kits for Sandy. On the way I see Marty. He holds out his hand, then sees its me and brings it back. 
So reverend, you message done?
Yes. 
What did you preach about?
The first minister I ever worked for always said about God and about 20 minutes...
Ah my father, I told you about his white handkerchief right, how he’d sweat? He’d preach 18 minutes and use the other two to ask for money. Couldn’t touch it on shabbes.   So he’d send me out to Jerome Avenue to collect after shabbes. Not many Jews left in the Bronx. All gone. I studied it in school. Wasn’t economy, it was....was....ecology? People and cultures and the Bronx? Ya always work stories in right? People love stories...
I tell him, bless you Marty, and that I have to go. 
He says, may the good lord bless and keep you.
And as I’m walking up the street, hey, my mother told me there was a poor man changed his clothes once a month. The middle aged, uh, middle man changed his every two weeks. And the rich man, every five minutes. That’s how it is. That’s a Biblical story....
I smile and say every five minutes....and head back to church.

....he has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich empty away....

Lilly and Samantha will head  up the relief work. I need to head home. 

Where I sleep until its time to go back at 5....

                                                 * * * *


We’re gathering with Jane’s Sanctuary folk and the In Performance Jazz band and my friend Pastor Elise from Advent Lutheran for an inter/intrafaith celebration if the light. Candles lit from many faith traditions, our words of light. Shared. A walking meditation of receiving and sharing the light. I am exhausted but Jane’s energy is carrying me along. I speak of the context of Sandy, Newtown, Teddy’s loss again. And how the light has been there from the beginning of time and has never gone out, even when dim....

When I hear Jeremy’s choir launch into High Praise (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YH8v-DBc7gM) , I feel a pang. I recall when my choir introduced that song into this space.  My thenintern Eleanor brought it and our then  music director, cabaret artist Larry Woodard brought his own touch to it and had our Sunday Morning Circle of Singers rock the house with it. I will not be satisfied until I have my own music again.

The service rocks to a conclusion with praise and applause. I stay to collect embraces. Say goodnight to my people. Say good night to George. Go home and collapse. 

One more day....

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