Monday, December 31, 2012

The sixth day of Christmas:Holy Family Sunday

Anna and puppy are there to greet me when I arrive.Turns out she had dropped the candles into Teddy’s vela de memoria, hoping to extend its time awhile. I explain the tradition, that it's not so much keeping him around as it is impeding his journey. And it's important to let him go. Letting go is important. And once we have let go, then we can experience the good part of his spirit that stays with us. 
I go out and sweep the steps myself. Stray papers and butts, an empty Coors can...
Teddy’s candle burns out just before the service begins. 
More new visitors from the neighborhood have come today. I do a little architectural/social history introduction, explain a little about where we now are. 
I talk a little bit about how especially when the commercial world begins its Christmas season right after Halloween, it’s important for us in the church to live out all twelve days of Christmas.  Today is the sixth day of Christmas,  Holy Family Sunday. A day that in the lectionary only rolls around every three years. 
The lectionary is playing time games with us again. We go from Jesus the infant last Tuesday to Jesus the child, then next Sunday, we’ll be  back to the infant again, and then Jesus the adult one week later.  This is the only childhood story we have of Jesus in the Bible as we know it.
This happens when Jesus is twelve years old. We could explore the number 12....

The Bible is full of this number: Ishmael’s 12 sons who become princes; Jacob’s 12 sons who become the namesakes of tribes; 12-year-old Jesus; the 12 apostles; the hemorrhaging woman who suffered for 12 years; 12 baskets of leftover fish; and the 12 symbols of Revelation, including the woman robed with the sun and adorned with a crown of 12 stars. We live 12-hour days and 12-hour nights over the course of 12 months each year. And, of course, we sing these days of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”
In the Jewish tradition, the twelfth year is the last year before the  bar mitzvah, when a boy is old enough to take responsibility for his own relationship to the Torah, its commandments. is natural that he would be studying at age 12. 

The story centers around the wordplay between Jesus and Mary when his parents discover him in the temple. Mary says, How could you do this to your father (pater) and me? Jesus responds, Don't you know I must be in my father's (pater) house? Jesus is making clear that his heavenly bonds transcend even the most intimate earthly relations. 
There are a lot of questions. Why did it take three days for his parents to notice Jesus was missing?  I can’t imagine that. Mary speaks of she and Joseph as your parents. After that amazing birth, had she forgotten the visitation of the angel? Had a sense of normalcy set in? 

The Jesus’ answer. It must  have been very  painful for Joseph....(and after this story, he is never heard from again...)

That phrase, in my father’s house...I spent some time meditating  on that... where does it take you? It takes me to the house I grew up in... who my father was...the values he had ..while I’m sure this can be ambivalent for some, downright  painful for others...where does it take you?

Hope recalls that she grew up in a manse. Always clear that it was the church’s house. not hers. But the church,why that was her house. The manse  had no carpets. The church did. She could run in her braces and be safe, even if she fell. Don, too thinks of safety. And John R, a sense of mission. 

In my father’s house can also be translated about my father’s my father’s presence...

For all of us, there may have been times when we have done what our parents did not want us to do out of honor and respect for who they are, what they had taught,  when I registered as a conscientious objector  during the Vietnam war...or like people I met who had  left home to come to occupy....what else do you think of?

Ultimately, it’s about family.  We have our birth families and our families of choice. So many I met in Occupy said they had found a family. That’s what we want our church, our community to be, family. You can be spiritual all by yourself, but we need community to truly be faithful. We seek it. We desire it. We seek to create it here. 

And in this Christmas season, that is where we find the incarnation, not just in ourselves as individuals, but as community, family. And that is our Holy Family today. 

We finish our service. Sing our amens. Then halle, halle, hallelujah. And as Jamie enters, late, we turn and sing hallelujah to let her know we’re happy she’s here.

We clean up. Jeremy has arrived and Sanctuary NYC not far behind him. And Daniel and I are off to be with our family. 

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