Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Madness and sweet music


Being without a cell phone leaves one feeling cut off from the world.

Approaching the church, I see squad cars with their flashing lights parked in front of the church. I see Martin’s assistant Mitchell standing by the door. I ask him what’s going on. He seems quite distraught. Seems he’s had a run in with one of our people who came into his office, questioned his use of candles then began going through his work papers. After repeated requests for the person to leave, he had no recourse but to call the police. 

Now the Captain has arrived.  We go inside to have a discussion. Lots of issues here, including a pet that needs care. I talk with the captain. We negotiate an agreement. There will be two summons given. A court appearance. But if there is cooperation, release from custody. Mitchell agrees too. After some further conversation with our detainee, we’re settled. Cuffs off. Release. 

It’s all over except for Mitchell’s feelings of sadness and my complete frustration as to how to deal with someone who deeply cares about the church, has grown increasingly proprietary and continually crosses boundaries. I don’t know what to do. ( ....and the man was clothed and in his right mind.... how I wish I could do that....)

As the situation is calming down, Soli and Eric arrive also wondering  what’s going on. We see an
unknown person heading into the church and Mitchell and I jump to see what’s going on. Then we see another bunch of people arriving. They point to the poster on the door. That’s us, they say. The Australian Voices. A vocal group from  Australia here to rehearse for their Wednesday night performance. They point to themselves on the poster, switching roles with a sense of humor.

So I walk them into the sanctuary and give them the story of West-Park, the archo-socio-historical one and they feel excited to be here.  All day long their voices lift me. Ethereal and earthy. From pristine English style harmony to throat singing and indigenous sounds. Ralph from Ethel joins them with his cello for another piece. Everything that makes up Australia. Madness and sweet music.  That makes the day. 

Jerry is on the steps all afternoon. Sullen. Noncommunicative. When I ask if he’s OK, what’s up with Anthony, he shakes his head and says, If he wants to die, that’s his business...

Late in the afternoon, our Session arrives to make plans for our strategic planning session coming up Thursday night and also review our current real estate situation. We’re holding fast on that, despite the risk. As long as there’s a chance....

The context for strategic planning involves many things. The long struggle with the building has distracted us from the core or our being, the congregation itself. That’s where we need to begin. For Hugo, it’s about our testimony, our witness. When Stephen describes how the church’s response to #OWS moved him to want to come closer, how Marsha’s public thanks moved him, Hugo says, That’s it, that’s testimony. And Marsha wants us to begin by asking what keeps us here. This group that has endured so much...That is where we will begin....( )

I’m walking home late with the left over ice tea. As I approach the Baptist church, the lost boy appears. 
Pastor Bob, Pastor Bob...I'm thirsty...can you...I hold out the iced tea. Thank you, thank you..I'm going to the church, going to  clean up the steps right now...I say, It's OK, it really is...enjoy the iced tea. 

The night is very warm, It's summer,

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