Monday, January 28, 2013

From Haydn to Marley


The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. (Psalm 19:1)
The heavens are telling....

This morning I begin the service with a little Haydn, The Heavens are Telling, from the Creation.  
I look back and see a man asleep in the back of the church...
As we get into the scriptures, I explain that Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10 is about a community regathering itself around the Law of God. Weeping, moved by the power of it’s centrality to its identity. Mention how Christianity created this bogus stereotype of Jews and Judaism bound and burdened by the Law. Anyone who’s ever experienced Simchat Torah (Joy of the Law) at the end of the Jewish High Holy Days, when the last word of the Torah is read and you go back to the beginning again, an endless cycle, with music an dancing in  the streets cab only realize that the law is experienced as a freeing gift, not a binding burden. Never justify your own tradition by a false comparison with someone else’s. 
Jimmy Cliff sings Marley

Of course Haydn chose Psalm19 for his creation, it is a veritable celebration of creation. But it also inspired the ending of Bob Marley’s Rivers of Babylon  Anyway you get from Haydn to Bob Marley, got to be good material.
Our last two scriptures, Luke 4:14-21 and 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a give us a mission statement and an action plan.
Let’s start with the mission statement. It’s Oscar season. And I have to get one more song here, 

Do you hear the people sing?

When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes
Will you give all you can give
So that our banner may advance
Some will fall and some will live
Will you stand up and take your chance
The blood of the martyrs
Will water the meadows of France
Do you hear the people sing
Singing the song of angry men
It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes

Les Miz also has these words:

Red - the blood of angry men! 
Black - the dark of ages past! 
Red - a world about to dawn! 
Black - the night that ends at last! 

Red and black, the traditional colors of revolution. Like the colors o the Sandinista flag. Or the Spanish Civil War.And of course, French Revolution.And in this case, the ill fated June Rebellion of 1832....

It is to the ever present in any age reality of oppression of the poor and marginalized that Jesus is speaking. He picks up the scroll of Isaiah and reads:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
So that’s it, his job description: in short, he is calling for the jubilee. Announcing freedom from the 4 d’s:  disease, debt, demons and death. The jubilee comes from te heart of the Torah. every 7 time 7 years plus one was to be a reboot. A restart. Forgiveness of debts. Return of property. So that no family, no part of tje community would be perpetually marginalized and no one perpetually privileged. Did it ever really happen? We don’t know. But it was at the center of Jesus’ self-understanding, right there in the sermon on the Mount...not a romantic vision...but a commitment to make the jubilee real...
Today, he said, this is fulfilled in your hearing? How? Nothing had changed.But everything had changed. Announcing it made it Tutu’s we have already won... the liberation joy of African American worship, the existential living out of the Magnificat by Latin American base communities...
we have to see it before we can  live it...As they say in Spanish, ver/hacer...

OK, so how to live? That’s where 1 Corinthians 12 come in. An action plan. The analogy of the body. So of you asked yourself, which part are you? All are important. All essential. For Paul, 
apostles, prophets, deeds of power, healing, forms of assistance, leadership, tongues
What is your gift? What are we missing? The bottom line is if one suffers, all suffer...if one honored, all honored...

Having said that, strive for the greater gifts? What could that mean? 

If we took Jesus at his word and interpreted everything else in the scripture in that light, how would things be different?

I notice that the Prophet has come in and joined our service. That's never happened before. First inside, now a service.

We end our service. Make our circle, sing our Amens.  Back into the world again.

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