Thursday, April 11, 2013

Give thanks. Always


Kimberley comes in. We agree the Shakespeare project is too far behind and will have to wait until another year. She’ll be leading worship next Sunday. On Thursday, she’s got a production at Union telling the story of Genesis through Broadway songs. Started as a whimsical idea, now becoming a reality. I want her to do it at West-Park in May. 

A woman comes in, just to look around. Turns out she’s Carmen, who was the administrative assistant to our friend Cornell when he was Stated Clerk of New York City Presbytery. He always stood by us. She’s always wanted to see inside here. She gives her best to Lilly, who also used to work in the Presbytery office.

Cara is teaching a dance lesson to her friend Lynn who is blind. 

Dale is yet another person who always wanted to see inside. He’s quickly joined by others wanting to look around.

Rudolfo is asking for assistance again. He seems tired of the demands of everyday life, trying to keep it together on the upper west side and wants to go back to Cuba. He’s almost too old to find the kind of job he could possibly get. He’s hungry and its too late for the pantry at SPSA. 

On the steps, Jerry is not looking good. Problems with his legs, feet. Hard to walk. His partner Anthony has been taken to the hospital, maybe not to return. Even though they’ve been together for years, they never married or even got a domestic partnership so he’s got no legal claim to their apartment. I feel he should go to Blessed Sacrament where Anthony was a deacon, but he can hardly walk. I’m worried. 

Cowboy Hat is in the chapel, playing the piano. Danielle comes to get me. I tell him he can be in the sanctuary but the rest of the church is off limits. I give him one hour to play the piano, then its Cara’s turn. He must practice, he says,  because what he is playing is sending a cosmic message.

After he leaves, Martin and Stephen show me that he has virtually destroyed our sidewalk gate by jumping up and down on it like a, well, madman. I’m very upset. It’s dangerous. RL had gotten it welded safe and shut. We’re going to have to ban Cowboy Hat Man.

I’m very depressed as time for Bible Study comes by. I’m very happy to see Marsha walk through the door. We decide to look at the other resurrection stories in the Bible and tonight do Matthew (28: 1-20), looking for differences. I begin by explaining that the debate over the  order of the gospels is far from over at this point except that all are literary creations. With different agendas. Matthew wants to connect Jesus with the story of Israel. Perhaps even his gospel is in the form of the  Torah with its own five  divisions or books. 

What do we find different?
  • There are cosmic events, two earthquakes, when he dies 27:54, and when the two Marys go to the tomb, 28: 2. It’s only a sentence, but at his death, graves were opened and dead people walked into the city. You’d think that would have  attracted more attention, like the Walking Dead. A sign that the Messianic Age has begun.
  • The stone is not already rolled away, an angel rolls it away. Appearing like lightning and dressed in radiant white, like the strange young man in Mark. 
  • There are guards this time and they are scared to death. Who wouldn’t be? Why are they there? Clearly there’s a fear that followers will try to steal the body.
  • the angel has the same message, Go to Galilee, where he is going before you.
  • This time the women not only have fear, but also joy. And Jesus himself appears to them. His first appearance.  And this time they go and actually  speak. They were the first commissioned. The first witnesses. the first evangelists. All uncommon for women who were not even accepted as witnesses in legal cases.  
  • The guards go and make a report and are offered money to tell the authorities they fell asleep and that the disciples stole the body. They agree.  Not likely. Like they’re going to admit to their commanders they fell asleep? They hatch a story told until this day. Matthew, writing years later, has to account for why so many did not believe. 
  • They meet him in Galilee and worshipped him, though some doubted. Faith and doubt are not mutually exclusive.
  • Just like Moses on the mountain, Jesus final words come to them from a mountain. The end of Matthew’s Torah. Jesus’ mission no longer to the lost sheep of the House of Israel, now to all the nations (ethne), all the people everywhere. The pre-crucifixion Jesus was just for Israel, the resurrected Jesus universal. 
  • First gospel use of the Trinity formulation, father, son and Holy spirit. (Preceded Matthew by years, already a liturgical formulation.)
  • His promise to be with you always is a shift to begin to explain why years layer he still hasn’t come back. 

Matthew has clearly upped the dramatic quotient. I miss the  ambiguity, simplicity, tension of Mark. After our months long journey through Mark, much as I enjoy the compare and contrast, it’s just not as satisfying. It was a good study. But I’m feeling worn out. The madness has gotten tiring. To enter into   it, see the world through those eyes and hold on to your own grip on reality, it’s wearing.

I’ll go off with Stephen and Jay to watch the NCAA final between Louisville and Michigan. I’m very proud of Jay. He’s pulling down A’s at Bronx Community College and has been accepted to Colorado U for the fall. Hopefully Kim Jong-un keeps it together and Jay can go, despite a shift in his reserve status from red to green.  Another successful end to an Occupy story facilitated by Stephen. I have to stop and give thanks for that. Give thanks. Always. 

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