Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Celebrate the temporary but vivid community


It is Sunday morning. And we are gathered. Joey has brought Rachel. And I’m happy to see Katherine from Bread and Puppet here. It is, to say the least strange to be worshipping in the midst of twenty foot puppets. I’m sure some of my colleagues who already don’t understand me and us would find this proof that we had finally completely wandered off the reservation.

We start with HAGGAI 1:15B-2:9. The lines 3Who is left among you that saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Is it not in your sight as nothing? 4 could so easily apply to this home of ours, this building. We know that these are the feelings of the people when they returned from exile and found their temple in ruins. Like when we came back from St. Paul and St. Andrews. For us, as for them, not  metaphor but an existential experience.   When  we read 8The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, says the LORD of hosts. 9The latter splendor of this house shall be greater than the former, says the LORD of hosts; and in this place I will give prosperity, says the LORD of hosts, it tells us not to worry about the money. All that belongs to God. That if we are seeking  to be with God, the resources will follow. And that the best is yet to come. So hard to believe sometimes.  But we have to keep that vision ahead of us.

When we read 2 THESSALONIANS 2:1-5, 13-17, we think about those who try to make apocalyptic predictions. And how Martin Luther once said, if I knew that Jesus was coming tomorrow, I would plant a tree today.

Finally, we read LUKE 20:27-38. We talk about the Sadducees. The doctors of the law. Who are trying to trap Jesus with a reductio a absurdum argument.  Using an extreme case of levirate marriage. Where a brother is responsible for his widowed sister in law and to keeping  the family name alive. This goes on through seven brothers. That poor woman...As one of my colleagues said at our study last Wednesday.

We talked about how Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection. But Pharisees ,and  obviously Christians, did believe in the resurrection.

Jesus’ answer, as always, is a little hard to follow. But it’s clear that he recognizes that the one who frames the question controls the discussion so Jesus reframes and regains control. The Sadducees are asking the wrong question. What happens on the other side takes care of itself. Our God is the God of the living. And in his name-checking Moses and the burning bush, he’s saying those who have gone before are still alive.

I recall a Native American tradition that you are not really dead until the last person no longer remembers you.

Somehow this leads to a discussion where serious questions are raised and someone says that they are leaving the congregation because we don’t do enough programming, don’t work to build the congregation, don’t….

I remain calm. And many around the circle answer, sharing their own affirmations. Of what they stay. What this place means to them. One says straight out, this place saved my life….

So we end up OK. We share a conversation about Advent and Christmas, fully believing we will still be here. And then Session deals with strategy related to our upcoming do or die presbytery meeting. And it truly is.

Late afternoon, I’ll go to Ansche Hesed. Hope and I will participate in the faith community wide reflection and action meeting on our experience with the SNAP (food stamps) challenge.

Then Beppe and I together will take in the Bread and Puppet production. It continues to evolve. I’m anxious to hear what Beppe will say. He loves it. Feels it creates an alternative reality that we can all enter into and explore. And he’s happy to meet Peter, feel his energy, spirit. On the steps, Beppe again remarks on the amazing spirit of the thing that happen here that he has experienced. It is a very special place. And still always on the edge of going under.

I go upstairs to celebrate a birthday of one of the B&P people. And everyone says goodbye to Mary who is leaving. And I celebrate this temporary but vivid  community alive in our house….

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