Monday, July 29, 2013

Give us this day: ...for the rain it raineth everyday

A sit. A talk with Anna on the steps before church. Go around to go in on 86th. A tall woman with a cane wants to be reassured that she’s headed to Columbus. I assure her. She asks will  I walk with her to Columbus? She can walk faster that way. At  first I want to say, Actually, I was just about to go in....when I remember the Samaritan story and feel like a jerk for even thinking that. Of course, I say.
And along the way we talk about the smell of rain the air and how to know when to cross a street when the light doesn’t have the sound warning system, which dpesn’t work that well anyways. She says if I walk her to the Greek diner, she can take it from there. It was maybe less than fifteen minutes of my time.
We begin with Hosea 1: 2-10. Why would God want Hosea to take a prostitute for a wife? John’s answer takes me by surprise. So Hosea can feel what God feels. It’s like the reverse of God knowing us through Jesus. We talk about how whoredom in Hebrew can be either prostitution or adultery. Two different but related ideas. Adultery, unfaithfulness, making other things God. Prostitution, selling ourselves out. You can make the case for both in our culture. 
Those children with weird names God gives Hosea. All that anger of God. And at the end, the restating of God’s love for us. God’s faithfulness to us. Again, these ae not punishments by God but what we have done to ourselves by rending the social fabric, like Obama spoke of yesterday. (It’s true, but what’s his plan?) Like a loving parent, no matter how angry God gets, God loves us still.
Which leads us to the Lord’s Prayer.(Luke 11: 3-13) We talk about the difference between the Catholic versions many of us  grew up with and the Protestant version. Arcadia does what she grew up with in Spanish. The rest in English. What do we hear?
Our father...not about gender. Not about theology. About intimacy. As much as I resonate with a lot of new thought spirituality conceptually, I need something more.The Zwinglian idea that it is  not the Eucharistic elements but we that become transformed.   I can’t, for example, substitute Spirit for Jesus. I can’t relate emotionally to disembodied spirit. I need an incarnational spirituality. Not theology. For certain sure not doctrine. But humanity. God in human flesh. With passion. with suffering. With triumph, sorrow, struggle, joy. That is Holy, or as the Spanish say, santificado.
Thy kingdom come....In Spanish, reyno, reign. It’s not about monarchy. Or structures of domination and power. It is about sovereignty. Authority. A commitment to what King called the beloved community. That frames everything.
Gives us this day our daily bread...we ask for the basic sustenance, without that, nothing else can happen. And our asking must be that clear, that concrete.
And forgive us our sins (debts, trespasses) as we forgive those...mutuality in an imperfect world. Expressing our humanness. And acceptance of each other. God’s forgiveness only as we forgive one  another.
And lead us not into temptation. Put us not to the test.....Few of us are truly evil. Most of us are struggling to do the best we can. Not enough intelligence, time or energy to work out and execute complicated plots. I think of Woody Allen’s devastating new movie Blue Jasmine with thinly veiled references to Madoff. There are some who are evil. For most of us, temptation is not robbing banks. It’s more taking the easy way out. An athlete on PEDS. All of us and our own real or metaphoric PEDS. Especially when we are very worn or tired.
And Jesus’ examples. The neighbor  who has to be persistently pestered until he gives in, gets up and shares the bread. (Is that God? Or maybe flip it and God is pestering us...) Or all that knocking and opening, seeking and finding, asking and receiving. Really?
If I don’t get the $5000 I prayed for is it because I didn’t use the right words? The difference between prayer and magic. We want magic because we want control. Just say the right words...Follow the right steps. Use the right formula, do the right thing. But it doesn’t work that way. 
But we do get what we need. The spirit...OK, there it is again. I talk about how hard it is for me to give it up and let whatever happens happen. Not fatalistic, but accepting.And living in hope that the arc of history does after ll as King said, bend towards justice  
So mach to talk about. We’ve scratched the surface.  
The session meets. Review yesterday’s victory, moving forward with the sale of our manse. Leaving aside politics and surrogate issues, it’s what we needed. The first positive piece to fall into place. the first in a long time.  
On the steps, a young  man covered with a rash is sprawled out. I tell him he can’t  do that. He asks for a little time to collect himself...Jane’s group is  coming. I say OK. Later he’s still on the steps. An Afrian-America man has his milk crate and bags out. Sorry guys, you can’t be setting  up shop.                          I say.
Thyiunger man feels indignant. Settin up shop? Setting up shop?!! I point to all aound us. The yiiungmman starts to get up. All rigyt, allright...I ger it. But with all do respet sor, tjsi os a frickin chirch. Wha woiuld Jesus do?
I say nothing. But that, that is the question. Pretty sure he’d ask the persons name. Where he was from. An dwht he needed. From there he would engage in arealtuonship. Not sure he’d accept tje sststu squo. He’d look fro wah coidl be hea;ed. 
Back inside, I lsiten as Jane’s Sanctuary group discusses its future. It is profoundly moving. I admire so much what they have tried to do even when I don’t fully understand it. And even more I admire the willingness to give in and ask the difficult questions. And troubled and disturbed by how this relates to our journey. Our  questions. our capacity to go deep. To be willing to surrendur to let something new be born. 
I go upstairs to visit with The Representatives as they are rehearsing. 
When I come back down, Jane’s people are dispersing. Jeffrey helps to shut the door. 
I’ll walk up a few blocks and across the street from where Leila and Berik live. A community theatre group is doing Twelfth Night in the garden. The rain slowly builds until it's a steady downpour. The cast gamely plays on unit the end when Feste sings: With a hey, ho, the wind and the rain...For the rain it raineth every day....                                                              

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