Monday, June 24, 2013

A still, small voice and ...clothed and in our right mind


I hear Stephen playing the piano as I enter the sanctuary. It feels good to hear him in the semi-darkness. 
A woman from Brazil comes in looking for a service, but seeing things not quite ready to happen soon leaves. (I wish Junia were here....).

As always, it’s good to see son Dan here. His support means a lot. 

It’s a Sunday to gather in a circle of chairs. I feel what I want to say today is important and I’m anxious to get to it.

We’ve got two great passages today. ..First, Elijah and what we call the still, small voice passage.  (Still best in the King James Version..1 Kings 19: 1-4(5-7)8-15a)And the other, Jesus and the Gerasene demoniac. (Luke 8: 26-30)

First, Elijah. We’ve been following him around awhile. You may remember remember him from the throw more water on it contest with the priests of Baal.  His confrontation with Ahab the dogs will lick your blood...Now he's tired. He’s had enough. He’s ready to just lie there in state of depression, not even interested in eating.

First angels get him up again. Encourage him to eat...for the journey... so he 
Goes to wait for God. Another one of those 40 day situations. (Whenever you read that, it’s another way of saying feels like eternity..) He hides in the cleft of the rock, waiting for God to pass. 

He looks for God in all the mighty expected places....the  storm, the wind, the earthquake, the fire...but God is not in any of those. In the end it's a still, small voice---- encouraging him to get up and get going again....

We need to look, listen  for God’s presence in surprising, unexpected places. God is not always in the big and overwhelming. While we wait, we can be like Elijah. Waiting for the still, small voice...And even as we build new plans, let us not miss what God can say and do with us now,  just as we are.

Now, Jesus and the Gerasene demoniac. I just love the way that sounds. There is of course, the socio-political interpretation. The demon says its name is legion... like the Romans. Occupation,domination can make you crazy. Lose your identity.

Dostoevsky saw this story as a parable for what was happening to Russia in his day, the people plunging over the cliff like possessed swine following the rising tide of anarchic revolution. Camus in his dramatization saw it as a parable about the rising tide of nihilism.

But from a therapeutic perspective, this man was so possessed, he'd lost his own identity . My friend Nancy Lee Head of the PHEWA Presbyterian Serious Mental Illness Network..helped me to understand a lot about being bipolar...There were these moments when she would feel completely connected to all people, to everything, all creation. Felt so good she would go off her meds and then completely lose any sense of herself, lost in chaos..

Jesus drives demons into the swine, they hurtle over a cliff. And here's the best part... The next day they  find the demoniac clothed and in his right mind. And that's what scares people.

I’m reminded by what we have learned from family systems studies of the formerly incarcerated and their families. How families create a narrative with assigned roles. And changes in those roles are disrupting and painful, even if someone has regained their life. Unless a reentry process has been gone through helping the famjly to adjust, recidivism is soon to follow. 

Despite what people say, people getting healed is unsettling, disturbing and families, communities will actively or passively resist it.

What does it feel like to wake up clothed and in our right mind? If we are the person whose life has been reclaimed? The former demoniac wants to follow Jesus, but Jesus wants him to remain in his community as witness, as testimony

One of our former members told me that it was the custom in his tradition every Sunday for the preacher to say Thank you Jesus for waking me up clothed and in my right mind....Not a bad place to begin. 

We can help each other with that, like angels bringing food for the journey. Beginning with doxology, with thanksgiving...not a bad place to begin.....

We make our circle. Sing our amens. The Session meets briefly to reflect on the week ahead.

Later, I will notice Jane and Sanctuary NYC engrossed in deep conversation.

I will return still later trying to track down my missing cell phone. 

Only the lost boy asleep on the steps. 

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