Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so that a runner may read it.(Habbakuk 1:2)
Not a bad passage for Marathon Sunday. And it’s also the Sunday closest to All Saints so we begin with singing For All the Saints. And I remind everyone that in our tradition, we are all saints. (And of course, all sinners as well..)
John R says that the references to violence and strife and perverted justice, justice delayed feels familiar to him. Feels like the society we live in.
And the prophet is called upon to write the vision so large even a runner can see it. And it is our job to write it. And to keep watch. As Dylan sang in All along the watchtower:
Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl
Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl.
We have to keep watch. The righteous live by faith. Still a vision…for the appointed time…
We finish with the story of Zaccheus in Luke 19:1-10. How he was a tax collector. One who worked for the Roman occupiers. Who made whatever he was able to pry loose over and above the appointed tax.
How he was short. Easily lost in the crowd. Not seen. How what most of us need the most is just to be seen. And how he runs to get ahead, to see Jesus. Not just see him, but see who he was…
And instead Jesus looks up and sees him, and calls him by name. Like he calls us by name.
(Do we know what it’s like to be up a tree?)
And how the people grumble when they see Jesus go off with Zaccheus, this sinner. And how we love to grumble, to judge, to point the finger…To find someone to look down on. Knowingly. Sneeringly. We’ve lived on both sides of that equation.
Zaccheus’ words are usually rendered in the future: Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much. But the actual Greek is in the present. This takes away our expectation that one must repent or atone first. The grace, the gift, the acceptance is already there. Free. It is an action Zaccheus has already begun..
And Jesus makes it clear that this man, too, is a child of Abraham. And that he came for the lost. The lost in a crowd. The unseen.
And I tell my people about my grandfather. He was short, maybe 5 feet 4. (His mom was well under 5). He had to care for his mom and three sisters after his father got run over by the B&O train on the tracks near his shack. And then married a divorced woman with three children of her own already. How he had become the owner of his own grocery store then lost it in the depression. Had to go back to work as a clerk for his old boss. How he sang in the choir. And solos. And taught Sunday school.
I found a lesson he taught one time, neatly typed with handwritten notes. A lesson he called The Runt. The story of Zaccheus. Maybe my grandfather felt up a tree. Lost in the crowd. Unseen. Anyways, he saw himself in Zaccheus. I don’t remember anymore. But I remember that, The Runt.
It’s a communion Sunday. We join our voices with all the saints. Share the bread and cup. Close with 2 Thessalonians 4:1-4, 11-12.
The Session meets. Nothing more we can do. Today. Tomorrow night, the decision will be made.
Everyone has left. I wait for the Sanctuary NYC folk to arrive then remember they’re not here anymore. And I feel something missing. I tell Jane they were part of the rhythm, part of the flow. Like blood. Like air. They were there. A part of the body. Missed when gone.
Tonight I will join Hope and Kate and John R. We’ll serve a meal at the homeless shelter. Then I will go home. Search for sleep.