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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Open Space


6/28
Jason makes a point

So Jason has his meeting. He has drawn a diverse group. And as I asked him, everyone who has come has a constituency, people who will follow them. There’s a black pastor from Harlem, Alinski trained and familiar with what organizing means. A Latino organizer from the Bronx who organizes sports clubs and youth peace marches. A young Muslim couple who are fed up with living in a police state. A young Jewish human rights activist from the Bronx. Steve from Occupy.  A man from New Haven who rode the train almost 2 hours to get here. A young Occupy activist who’s upset that other purists criticize his interest in electoral politics. 
Micah from Berlin. And Kelly, long time AIDS activist and Open Space facilitator. 
Everyone is here because Jason asked them to be. And because they all sense a deeper connection between what they are doing and what others are doing. And no sense of how to make that connection. These are the serious seeds sown by OWS, seeking their way to blossom into full scale...full scale...well, full scale.
Stop and frisk seems to be a magnet that draws energy. The city policy that presents itself has having lowered the crime rate when in fact the rate had dropped drastically before stop and...went into effect. 
And this too, begins to spin. Jason has been meeting with threatened health care workers. He sees how it all fits together. Too much so. The more it expands, the harder it is to get hold of. 
And the issue itself...how does this work link up with what the black grassroots clergy have been doing? And Metro IAF who highlighted this issue  this in their assembly. There’s this whole ego/ownership thing. 
Somehow the discussion morphs into how the last time around  the shootings at Kent State pretty much tore the heart out of the progressive student movement in the US. When the other side gets the guns out, all of a sudden the equation changes. To look up at a rooftop, see the guns pointed at you, well, thats different. Peace and love will not necessarily change the world. 
The black pastor shakes his head. For us, we take our lives in our hands just going to the bodega to get some skittles. You hear me? 
And of course I do. 
Long term. Patience. Step by step. Relationships. There is something real here. Jason is doing it. I will come to the next meeting.
Micah feels it too. Something happening. Sometimes he feels like coming back to the states. To be part of it. I think of the road from the day Occupy moved in to today. The road from Kent State and Ohio to New York City. To today.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

How will we get through the next two months?


6/26
Back from court. Strange how exhausting it is to sit through a whole day of court even when nothing happens. Case adjourned until late September. This all began almost five years ago....Sometimes the game is well why not pay a few thousand dollars just to make it go away? Not going to do that.
Eddie Anderson
Marty is sitting in front of Dunkin Donuts, writing himself notes. I ask how he is, he asks how I am. Asks if I’m out for a stroll. I think, sure, I say. Somehow we wind up talking about the Jack Benny Show. His valet, Rochester..But his real name was Eddie Anderson, not a lot of people know that, says Marty. First black man in afeatured role on TV. He mentions Dennis Day and Phi Harris, the band leader known for his drinking. He used to hiccough, says Marty, right on TV. I realize we’re talking about Jack Benny and I should go. I look at his papers, the numbers, the diagrams, the arrows, tiny print...
What’re you working on, Marty?
Just figurin things out, figurin things out....got to keep busy...
The idle brain is the devil’s playground, I say..
Never heard that before, says Marty.
The pool of dried blood is still there. 
6/27
Teddy setting up a table for this afternoon’s Center meeting. 
A young Asian woman asks about our history of edgy productions. She was aware of the Unsound Festival. I tell her about the Tenant, a Winged Victory for the Sullen, the Movement Research Festival...She has a company called the Opal Nest...
RL and David come in bringing the tools to complete the grate project. And help prepare a rehearsal space for RL. While we’re talking Ludovica comes in. Thankful the air conditioner issue has been resolved. Back at work rehearsing. Introduce her to RL who was in the middle of a discussion of various pranks that could be done with a magnifying glass and heat and sunlight and the Dalai Lama and flies.
I see them out, walk down the street with RL hearing the cheers from the Portugal-Spain game at the blue pub. 
Time for the Center meeting. Our partner deal hasn’t closed yet. We are still holding out for what we truly want, the vision. But how will we get through the next two months? It’s not clear. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Later that same day


6/25
Later that same day....
There's a drying pool of blood in front of the steps.
Teddy is outside talking with his friend from the 24, Trevor and his partner, James. Trevor is caring and direct. Everything’s going to be ok.
Hope has arrived for our cross town trip to see the attorney. I introduce her to Trevor and James. And in the cab, tell her the story. 
When I get back, a photographer from across the street who once gave us a good picture of the church has brought Danielle a mystery. (Although at the moment he is giving an impassioned critque of the Bloomberg Administration.) He’s got photos of a religious procession. What could it be? OK, the vestments could be Greek. Or Catholic. No. There’s a woman priest. Has to be Anglican. There’s a censer. High liturgical. At least a 50/50 chance it  has to be St. Ignatius. The photographer admires my deductive process. 
I’m not showing  that I’m back in legal panic, once again trying to locate an attorney at the last minute. Jane’s nearly ready for a meeting. How can I focus?
Try all my contacts. Some interest. Some willing to go the extra mile. Heartfelt.   But the time is so short....the work day’s over. Hearing scheduled for 2:15 tomorrow. Forty pounds of files to sort through. If this were the Euro Cup, we’re already into stoppage time.  Finally my friend and neighbor Ric agrees to help. I can sleep.
Marsha, Hope and I meet with Jane and Karen. Trying to get clarity on the future. So many resources still unexplored. We are trying to pave the way for a real partnership. And we want them part of the Center. Can we find a win-win? 
Sekou can’t come to Bible Study toight. Or for a few. At least on Monday’s. He’s got a birthing class to attend in Boston for a few Mondays. BUT, sons Dan and Micah are here. And I'm glad to see Junia back tonight, too.
Back into Mark 3. Jesus calling of the 12. With the names he gives. Noms de guerre. Noms d'occupy...Twelve. Just like the twelve tribes.  He’s forming a confederacy. A provisonal government in exile. And he’s included a tax collector and at least one assassin. 
Then there’s one on Mark’s literary sandwiches where he introduces a subject, brings in another story then returns to his original idea. Here, he starts with a conflict with his family, who want to seize him and have him put away because his behavior is endangering not only him but them as well. He is beside himself...
Then confrontation with the scribes who say he is possessed. That old witchcraft argument to discredit. Or as Ched Meyer said, calling him a  Communist during the cold war. Jesus’ convoluted rhetorical defense says that is the ones who claim to be holy who do the work of satan. 
The scribes’ calling Jesus Beelzebub caused us to look up the lyrics of Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen:
Oh mama mia, mama mia, mama mia, let me go
Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me, for me, 

Eventually the story comes back to Jesus and his assault on the kinship system. Who are my brothers,sisters, mother....Theologically, we get what’s being said. Emotionally, it's hard, and potentially dangerous, that kind of commitment. 
And yet I remember the Occupiers I met who’d been kicked out of their home, or ran away to save their lives, who came together here, found safety, security, home...who are my mother, my sisters, my brothers?  
Are we ready for that kind of commitment? Whee would it leave? 
I need to go get ready for tomorrow’s court case. 

Emergency call


6/25
Nate wakes me up at 1 AM. Call from Teddy. Emergency. I pick up the phone. Teddy tells me the white guy in the box attacked him. Teddy punched back, there must be 20 cops there. OK, I’m coming down. Throw on some clothes. Walk down the street.  See lots of flashing lights from in front of the church. A Lennox Hill ambulance speeding away. Cruisers with lights flashing speeding away.
When I get to the church, the police have just left. Teddy  seems agitated. Blood from his lip down his face and chin. His knuckles and hand bloody. David on the street. Donna on the steps. Rachelle there as well. 
Try to piece together the story. Teddy came back from work. Found the guy asleep. Woke him up, told him he’d have to go. Guy says Where the fuck am I supposed to go? Teddy says, I don’t know, bro. But not here. You had a good safe space to stay and you blew it. We got rules here....
Guy starts coming at him. Teddy says, Please, please don’t do that. The guy punches him in the jaw. The same place he had a tooth pulled two days ago. Teddy swings. Decks him. 
He gets back up. Two black guys coming from across the street to see what’s going on.. Teddy tells them, I’m good...The Spanish guy in the north doorway starts getting up. Teddy tells him to stay out of it, leave, and he does. Guy keeps coming. Teddy tells Dave to call the police.
Most of the night shift seems to show up. Take a look at the box guy and surround Teddy. David clears it up. Rachelle complicates things by telling the police that Teddy woke the guy up and started beating him up. Later tells me she’s a doctor and the blood was bothering her. I explain that indeed the guy guy was not supposed to be there. (Teddy keeps telling her she's got to get ger things back here before midnight.) I don’t condone violence. Neither do I blame Teddy for striking back. 
We will go up to the 24 and make our statements. The officer is very helpful. Totally supportive. Helps Teddy with his statement. Tells us the box guy has been taken t the hospital and when he gets out, he’ll be put in jail. Apparently had needles and stuff in his backpack. Word is if they stop you, all you have to do is be honest. It’s the unannounced surprise needles that freak police out. Cause you more problems. 
With all the blood, Teddy thinks he should get the test. Better safe...the ADA should help with that.  
I walk him all the way back to West-Park. Hang with David and Donna and Teddy awhile. It’s that middle of the night quiet. An easy rain is falling.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

We are going to the other side


6/24


We welcome new members:
Elder Marsha, Steven, John, Don, Bob. Teddy, Willa (welome back!) and Elder Leila
 (who made the rainbow stole)

Big day. Starts out like one of those that feel like you’ve momentarily slipped out of sync with the universe. People I expected would  be coming texting or e-mailing saying they wouldn’t. Someone else I’m counting on texting that they’re late coming back from upstate. After talking to Andre earlier, I’m getting that strange message on his phone. Will he make it? The Bengladeshi copy shop is closed. The Internet is wacky at the Israeli shop. Desperate to get the service bulletins and action resolutions finished and its approaching 11. From somewhere I’m learning to stay calm in these moments. Moments when there is nothing you can do. 
As I approach the steps, I see my sons Micah and Dan there. It makes me happy to see them, Micah back from Berlin for a week, Dan home from Drexel . Has Andre arrived? Yes, he’s inside waiting, says Micah. First sigh of relief. There’s a nice congregation already gathered and in the pews. 
I step to the front. Say a word or two about out of syncness and ask everyone to take a breath. As it is LGBTQ Pride Sunday, we open the service with 
God welcomes all, strangers and friends
God’s love is strong and it never ends...
I point to the rainbow flag. Remind the congregation of the More Light Statement of welcome and inclusion from 1978. The knitted rainbow stole, for so many Presbyterian General Assemblies (national legislative meetings) worn as silent symbol of witness of those excluded from serving until the victory last July. And how the Evelyn Davidson Memorial Water Table at the First Presbyterian Church at the Pride March is named for the wife of former West-Park Pastor Bob Davidson who felt that given traditional church hostility to the  lgbtq community, offering a cup of cold water in Jesus’ name to hot marchers would be  a healing witness. 


Friends from the Sweatshop Upper West Side Campaign have come to worship with us, to say thanks and to inivte us to their Friday night celebration at Holy Name. 
Given the challenges of the day, our opening hymn is Harry Emerson Fosdick’s God of Grace and God of Glory....
God of grace and God of glory
On Thy people pour Thy power
Crown Thine ancient church's story
Bring her bud to glorious flower
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage
For the facing of this hour
For the facing of this hour
Lo! The hosts of evil 'round us
Scorn Thy Christ, assail His ways
From the fears that long have bound us
Free our hearts to faith and praise
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage
For the living of these days
For the living of these days
Cure Thy children's warring madness
Bend our pride to Thy control
Shame our wanton selfish gladness
Rich in things and poor in soul
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage
Lest we miss Thy kingdom's goal
Lest we miss Thy kingdom's goal
Save us from weak resignation
To the evils we deplore
Let the gift of Thy salvation
Be our glory evermore
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage
Serving Thee Whom we adore
Serving Thee Whom we adore
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage
For the living of these days
For the living of these days
And I explain that Fosdick was one of the leaders of the Social Gospel Movement, evangelical and committed to justice. 
To prepare for our prayers, we sing Desmond Tutu’s words:
Goodness is stronger than evil
Kindness is stronger than hate
Victory is ours, victory is ours
Through him who loves us. 
I divide the long reading of the story of David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17: 1a, 4-11, 19-23, 32-49 ) into characters: Teddy (who else?) as Goliath, John as David, Don as King Saul.  And I read the Gospel story of Jesus and the boat in the storm. (Mark 4:35-41)
OK. Once again, the crowd is following Jesus. Demanding. He directs his disciples to take him across to the other side.... What is that? By tradition that meant Gentile country,although we know the reality was more complex. But it’s also the  other side of what s normal, a whole other consciousness....
It says that they took him just as he was....What does that  mean? It’s like another   scriptural hyperlink that can take you in to unexplored worlds...
It says that there were other boats...what happened to them? What happens to those around us when we get caught up in our storms? Who suffers collateral damage? Receives collateral benefits? 
Jesus was asleep....was he exhausted, worn out?  They are angry. They wake him up, just to help bail, for Christ sake..They were fishers, right? They knew what to do in a storm. They want him to help.
And so rebuking the wind and sea (same word as when he confronts demons) he says ...Peace! Be still! And everything gets mad scary quiet. And it’s then they get afraid. 
Why are they afraid? It’s the calming, not the storm....In Mark, it’s the same response to the resurrection...awe, and they were afraid....
So I have a number of thoughts...not necessarily answers...The key to story is not how people react to storms, but  how people react to what God does...The metaphors around life’s storms obviously clear...My challenge to you  from Easter  remains...are you ready for resurrection? Are you ready to accept winning? Succeeding? Actually having a vision come true? 
Notice Jesus says Why are you afraid, not why were you afraid....it was the calming that frightened them.. Peace frightens them....
Friends were talking about how so many of our church (not his one) meetings devolve into conflict. Conflict stirs us, engages us, energizes us, juices us. It’s not just a church, a Presbytery thing. I remember talking to my  Occupy friends about this. And I remember these words from the Rolling Stones 
I went down to the demonstration, to get my fair share of abuse...
Peace frightens us. 
So here’s the message. Make no mistake about it. We are going to the other side....
We will have a new consciousness, a new awareness  about who’s in charge.  We have already discerned  in our Bible study of Mark that this is an anti-imperial consciousness
of vulnerability, even woundedness...BUT also a consciousness  where we commit to 
possibility, not despair
openness, not fear and
joy beyond sorrow...
Let me say that again...we are going to the other side...it is a consciousness of metanoia not paranoia, metanoia being a transformative change of heart
I remember that amazing night crossing the Brooklyn Bridge with Occupy. The projections on the side the Verizon building  ending with Do Not  Be Afraid ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhYXjZ-j974&feature=related )

Yes, we are going to the other side
I have to bring up Nik Wallenda and his walk across Niagara Falls one last time. His training, his preparation. How once you commit, you’ve got no choice but to go all the way...
We have trained. We are prepared. We are exactly where we are supposed to be doing what we are supposed to be doing. We are going to the other side....
For our offertory, Andre, accompanied by Micah, sings Eternal Father Strong to Save, otherwise known as the navy hymn, and Steve, a navy man, tears up. 
And then we gladly and happily welcome new members Steve and Teddy and John and Don and welcome back Willa after a long absence. This for us is joyous. 
Then we gather upstairs for a congregational meeting. Our resolution to put the pieces in place to crate our interfaith center for arts and culture and social justice through preferably a lease, if not a sale of the church house to a partner committed to collaboration. And failing that, lease or sale and reestablishing our work in a repurposed sanctuary building. We will create our center one way or another. 
The resolution passes unanimously.


                                                                * * * * 
Come back after a great afternoon at the Evelyn Davidson Water Table at the Pride march. Saw our friends from Sanctuary marching. And Dennis from the Interfaith Assembly with his Middle Collegiate church friends. Now meeting with Ludovica to discuss the intolerable heat, Actors' Equity rules...a new airconditioner for the gym. Before this is over, this will take multiple phine calls, Marc and Teddy. Time to go home. 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

So last night Teddy heard gunshots...


6/22
The plan was I was going to meet Teddy on the steps at 7:30 am. His friend from the 24th precinct was going to meet us. We were going to confront the two white guys in the box. Tell them they had to move on. And confront Edward and Jesus if they were there too. 
But Teddy texted me. I could take my time. Something had happened. He’d tell me when I got there. I was up so I went. The steps were empty when I got there.  I open up the doors. Teddy comes round to see me. 
So last night Teddy heard gunshots. He came out to see what was going on.  Everything was quiet. And then Bobby showed up. The undercover cops had shown up. The two white guys were busted. Taken away. I always find it interesting that the homeless people and the Capital Hall people, the people on the streets, always know who and where the undercover cops are. The condo people don’t really get this. 
Teddy told me that given the uncertain state of affairs, he had invited Dave and Donna to come in for the night. 
A squad car shoes up. Two police for the 24. Trevor and Jimmy. Trevor and Teddy hug. He run s down the same story he just told me. Trevor explains that the Drug Enforcement Task Force operates separately from the precincts. When people are busted they can wind up jailed anywhere in the city. He doesn’t really know what happened last night but would keep his ears open. He agrees to come by and check things out tonight. Talk to Edward and Jesus should they happen to show back up. 
David and Donna have come outside and are seated on the steps. Teddy introduces them to Trevor, tells him they’re OK. Trevor gives David his phone number. Just in case.  We shake hands all around and they’re off. 
David is looking down. This is never what I wanted, he says,  maybe a different decision, maybe....
I tell him that the Project Reachout people called yesterday, We’ll stay on this...something is going to happen...
I can’t tell you how much I, we....appreciate...
It’s OK, don’t worry about it...we’ll figure it out..
It’s still early. By the time Danielle shows up at noon, a lot of work already done...now for some preparation for Sunday’s congregational meeting....

Rush hour concert


6/21



Still sweltering. Back from a miserable morning in court. ( Attorney Trieff: Thank you! Sorry for the frustration, but thank you!)
Teddy calls Christopher down so that we can try and figure out the source of the noise the neighbors complained about last night. Christopher, by the way, is looking quite summery in a pastel blue shirt over mint green pants. He calls it his Young Republican look.  The noise remains a mystery but  he will keep his ears open. 
Glen is showing me what he wants to do in the balcony. Design plans. A whole concept for a church run Little Theatre. It will start with fresh paint. 
Andre
Andre  has arrived for our afternoon rush hour concert on the steps for our part in Make Music New York. Jeremy hasn’t arrived yet.  My sons Micah and Dan arrive and are quickly enlisted by Glen to join in the painting project. 
It’s 5:15. The Sanctuary NYC singers have arrived. We head to the steps. Jeremy has his guitar. And a wooden percussion box. We start with what else, Sanctuary. Some of their favorites. Some of ours. I’m joining in.There’s an ever shifting audience as buses stop unload, move on. Some people stay, listen to a few songs. Smile. Someone suggests that as buskers, we need a tip bucket. So we get one. (We make $3.10)
Our real estate attorney Harris stops by. Happy to see we’re still alive and well. Micah and Dan take off. Are they leaving? They soon reappear with ice cold water for our sweltering singers. An African-American woman stops and joins in on a gospel song. And then, I don’t feel no ways tired.... Another woman with a stroller stops. Makes some requests. Stays til the end. Jeremy’s wife and uncle from across the street are in the audience. Glen and his lighting assistant join us. 
We close with a reprise of This little light of mine. This has been good. We’ll have to do this again some time.  Maybe with brochures. Cards.
Back inside, Jeremy is at the piano. Singers gathered around. Singing. Glen’s cast is arriving.
Jeremy and the singers
I decide to take Dan and Micah down the street to see if RL’s in his office. More music in the garden beside the school. It’s mad hot out. But a beautiful day. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Maybe we should close the steps


6/20
Late in the day. It’s a sweltering 90 plus out. Draining. Danielle is just back from an arduous journey to White Plains picking up all the files for one of our legal case. Forty pounds worth. The Metro North Train. A cab to midtown East. She’s done in. Will have to forgo the Center Board meeting at Mim’s. 
I sign the papers for the new insurance policy. Jason and Kelly have gathered a diverse group for an open soace meeting in the sanctuary. Maybe this is the beginning of his vision taking shape. I greet them. Wish i could  stay. But I have to head to Mim’s for the Center Board.  
Later. Meet Jamie and her daughter and niece at the B. Need to review the meeting. But something bad happened on the steps as she passed. Someone threw a bottle over her head at a bus. When she spoke to him, he got up in her face. She wants me to close the steps. Bad karma. Bad energy. Scary to people. Are we really helping? Are we enabling? I struggle with this. She may be right. We have managed to find housing for about 80% of those who have slept here. Our Goddard Outreach friends have done well. But maybe it’s time. 
On the way home, we stop by the steps. To see what’s going on. Edward is asleep in the north doorway. He was the bottle tosser. Jesus Diablo is sprawled over the steps upside down, head down. We talk to David and Donna. David says these other guys are intimidating. He’s worried. Thinks maybe we should close the steps.  
Jamie talks to David and Donna. Tells David thet’re going to make it. Just need to keep seeing it. He looks at her. She hugs David. And Donna. 
I’m headed home. Micah arriving from Berlin.

They have to go


6/19
Teddy and I meet on the steps. Checking out where the two white guys in the box hang.  Strips of rubber. Tie offs. A fresh needle. Works. So OK. Now we know. They’re shooting up. They have to go. Teddy will call his friend on the job. At the 24 Precinct. To make an unofficial call. Friday morning. 
Katherine comes with her friend Bonnie, the architect. Ted here too. And Jamie. We tour the building and then focus on the sanctuary. What we could do to recreate the space if need be. Possibilities we hadn’t seen before appearing. More space than we realized we had. Bonnie helps us think through temporary to if anything were possible. Maybe we need to schedule a charette to really think this through. But first, need clarity as to what we really want to do. 
Marc has succeeded in selling the amp. To a guy from Thailand. And has finished installing one set of switches. 
Chris, one of the playwrights, is upstairs painting in the  balcony theatre. 
I meet Marsha on the steps. We’re off to the Lower East Side to go to St. Mary’s for a Metro IAF Assembly. City Council President Chris Quinn will be there. Teddy walks with us but won’t be able to go tonight. 
Into the subway. On our way.

Still keeping watch


6/18
The Sentinel appears for his appointed time, still keeping watch.
Martin and his brother Leslie come for another visit. Look at the space again. Try to estimate the renovation cost. 
Katherine comes to plan our meeting tomorrow to explore possibilities for the sanctuary.
Teddy and i talk about projects. Needed repair work on the grate. Some welds didn’t hold. What it would take to fix up a room for RL to rehearse. 
Ayse and Yannick in to talk about getting married. She, from Turkish-American Muslim background. He, German born soccer player. How much easier it is here than in Berlin where Turks and Germans have become so intertwined. Yet still so separate. Lots to talk about. My son in Berlin. My friends there. My own soccer experience. Euro 2012. 
The Sentinel has left and the Prophet has taken his place wearing his African straw hat.
Time for Bible Study. Glen has come for the first time. Tonight a turning point for Jesus as he confronts the powers in a synagogue. Looks them straight in the eye. Announces what he’s going to do. And does it. Call it civil disobedience. Asks the man with the  withered hand to stretch out his hand. Like the traditional blessing.Jesus filled with rage at systems that deny people their humanity. Point is the healing took place before the physical change. The healing took place when Jesus acknowledged his humanity. Saw him. No longer invisible.  
The line has been crossed. An unlikely coalition is formed between neoliberals and collaborators. What Jesus is doing completely denies their power. And so he retreats. To catch his breath. And the crowd follows. Not just a crowd like to hear a concert or a great preacher. Every one with a need. The demonic spirits call him son of God. A title usually reserved for Caesar. And so he silences them. It’s getting to be too much. The crowd is crushing. 
What is the answer? He goes to the hills. Where movements always start. Las montanas, as they said in Nicaragua. Selects twelve. A confederacy. Like the twelve tribes. Their names are give aways...some guerrillas, at least one assassin. They will be trained in a new form of resistance. To preach. To drive  out demons. The powers that seduce. Oppress. Deny humanity. It has begun.
 Bobby comes in towards the end. Teddy takes him to share some food. We marvel again at the density of scripture. The living word. Metaphorical hyperlinks taking us deeper into unexplored worlds. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

We are the mustard (seed)


6/17
I get to the church and everything is nearly ready. Teddy helps me make the last final set ups necessary to start worship. There’s an issue with the lights under the balcony and I tell him about the time i was ready to call an electrician until Amanda showed me it was a simple matter of flipping a switch.
Our people are gathering.  It’s time to start.  It’s a capella Our God Our Help in Ages Past. Our announcements. Our prayers. Then our scriptures are read. First 1 Samuel 15:34-16:13, the call of David, read by Teddy. 
We have chanted the Taize O Lord hear our prayer, so our response to Psalm 20 is O Lord, answer us when we call...
Then 2 Corinthians 5: 6-17, ...we walk by faith and nor by sight....  and then i read the Gospel, Mark 4: 26-34 with its parables of sowing seeds and of the mustard seed. 
I start by acknowledging that this is Fathers’  Day. And recall how when we talked about shepherds, how many people spoke of mothers, how few spoke about fathers so it’s time to talk about fathers. Teddy had his now unique story. Don learned about father form his world War II Bible and all the notes he had written in the margins. He wanted his shoes to have long air hen he returned. Glen’s story is most moving, as he came out his father had to MTV from rejection to acceptance. This was more than mordant than love. Not sure what my Dan would have  said. He’s relieved That I don’t call on him. As for me, my Father encouraged us to follow our dreams. Follow your heart, he said, the money will follow. Yes later, my mim says I’m still not so sure about that. 
I’m looking around. After days of absence, Rachelle is back again, Her SUV cart in the corner. She has come into worship for the first time. She’s reticent and shy and off by herself. But she’s here. With us.  
faith is the topic of the day. An dhow God doesn’t see things as we see things. God passes by all Jesse’s sons. And picks the youngest, little David, the one out tending the sheep. ...we walk by faith and not by sight... God does not see as we see.
Two parables. Seed is sown. The story puzzles me until I realize that what is described, the surface sowing, the scattering of seeds, is exactly what you do in arid places.  You sow the seeds, and then you chill, you sleep. The earth itself....there’s nothing you can do to force the e, to push the You sow. And tell you wait. What will come wilt behind. 
And of course, the mustard seed. Small. Seemingly insignificant. But ready to grow in ti a large shrub that can provide home for nesting birds and shade for heat worn travelers. A place of welcome. A place of home. 
That's the coffee  speaking to us. We may be small, seemingly insignificant. But we can be that place of shelter, of welcome, of home. I am convinced that God has chosen us for just such a call. 
I have to confess that last night I watched with my neighbors as Nik Wallenda crossed Niagara Falls. My dad was a fan of the Flying Wallendas. Carl, the father. They flew with Barnum and Bailey back in those days. With the ever popular seven person human pyramid.......on the wire...
I watch as Nik descends into the wet zone...that space in the middle where the mist is swirling n the midst if 50 mph winds. ...We walk by faith.... where there is no visibility...and then back up the other side into Canada. All the way his prayer thank you , jesus, thank  you my father....never a cry of save me me, just tahnksgiving. At the last minute, ABC required that he wear a tether. He may winging uo dangkijg iver he falls uoside diw wautuhg f ra heicoter. But he will jt diappra, be swallow u inti  into the vortex of  whrling eater. He didn’t stumble onc.
I kniw, we know, what its limr\\outi that tightrope. With no net. we’ve been out ther tha ylong. So long nthat maybe we firget there’s a tether thay keeps us sane and secure...as we sing in Pues Si Vivimis:  we belong to God, we belong to God....we comwforward into the sanctuary. 
The session meets. There are seven new candidates for membership: Teddy, Steven, Glen, Dob. John R, each with their own story. Teddy thinks the aalready was a member.  For Steven it was hearing me address the OWS spokescouncil. For Glenn,  acceptance and sonething failiarar away othe south, John and Don like the intimacy. Don’t eet anyine else in, says Fo, 
This is our largerts gro of new mebers in many years. My heart is encouraged by this.  Next week they will  members.