Tuesday, October 22, 2013

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.


The holy man with the pork pie hat is mumbling. I ask him to speak more directly and he says,  He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

I ask him where that’s from. And he says, the 91st Psalm of King  David. I tell him I’ll look it up and memorize it. He looks at me, eyes wide. Look it up? memorize it? You must know it.....

Sean wheels up. Needs a charge again. For some reason, I almost feel happy to see him. I drag the extension cord out and get him hooked up again. I consider this the first liturgical act of the day.

Dion (the comedian) is first to arrive and helps helps me sweep up an get everything else set up. Stephen gets the candles set up and lit. John distributes the bulletins and hymnbooks. We’re ready.

The first lesson to explore is Jeremiah 31: 27-24. There’s a generational issue to look at here with all the sour grapes. Parents eat the grapes, children’s teeth set on edge. We talk about responsibility. I’m not guilty for slavery. I am responsible for dealing with its aftermath.

We see that the prophet is calling for a day when each generation will answer only for its own acts. And the first prophecy of the new covenant. Not a law written on stone, but one written on the heart. When God's will will be so well known, it won’t be, as someone says, imposed from outside but will flow from the deepest inside.

It’s about teaching your children so that you know they will do the right thing.

We see in 2 Timothy 3:13-4:15 a clear job description. 
 All scripture is inspired by God and is[a] useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.
What we are called to do is to equip people. My mentor Ray Swartzbach (of blessed memory) always used to say that far more important than any church sponsored program is to equip people to live out the faith in a day to day basis.
And we know all too well the day we live in.
For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths. As for you, always be sober, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, carry out your ministry fully.
People seeking to get the advice,the teaching they want to hear, not the teaching they need to hear. We seek out those who confirm what we already believe. 
Finally, the Gospel, Luke 18: 1-8. The story of the unjust judge. Or the one who finally relents and grants justice, not on principle but because the widow is persistent. Just keeps coming back.
I tell the story of  back in Tulsa, I had assigned to my board Judge Ray Graham, the classic Oklahoma hanging judge. I objected to his coming onto my board. His pastor told me I might be surprised.
When I met Judge Graham, he told me he had just had a near fatal heart attack. Had decided he was spending his life putting the wrong people behind bars. And would spend whatever time he had left trying to correct that. And how he created, with our help, the first alternative to incarceration program in the state of Oklahoma. 
We talk about persistence. How presbytery people get tired of us but we need to keep coming back. And then how Jesus flips it at the end and asks will the son of man find faith when he comes? And Marsha, as always questions, if he is already  here,  what does he ask that? Who, after all, is the son of man? Or as we now translate it, the human one?
I explain t apocalyptic references in Daniel and Ezekiel. and Marsha says we each face our own apocalypse, we all die. And Hugo says that our soul lives on.
I talk about the hospice nurses I worked with back in Pittsburgh. Their sacred work of helping people pass over, pass through to the other side. It’s been a good sharing. The service comes to an end.
Session meets to review whole strategy related to upcoming  Presbytery votes. we can win. Can we do whats necessary? Again, the answer lies in old school community organizing. You do it, or you don’t. No magic. Just hard work.
Outside, as I’m leaving, I see Elle. She says, quite an article that, referring to the Westside Spirit article about landmarking. I tell her about  my disappointment with the presentation. The writer, Megan, did well, but the photo and the headline  implied we were still at odds with the  community. I explain to her how much we want to collaborate, work together. She drags her oxygen tank behind her. I tell her how much I admire her. How much I always love how she looks, former fashion designer that she is.And how she inspires me. You look good, That always makes me feel good. She smiles, drags her oxygen behind her. 
Sean unplugs. Wants to be gone before Sanctuary NYC arrives. 

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