Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Awakening 4: The third Sunday in Advent, let it be


Did anyone notice yesterday was 12/13/14?  None of us will see that again.

The third Sunday of Advent. In the midst of anger and rage. Where are we today? This is our Let it be Sunday. Mary .And McCartney.

Our special guest this week is out own Jeremy.

We start the service with the full text of Bartbara Lundblad’s O Come, O Come Immanuel…

O come, o come Immanuel                                                                                                                                
And bless each place your people dwell
Melt ev’ry weapon crafted for war
Bring peace upon the earth for evermore
Rejoice, rejoice! Take heart and do not fear,
God’s chosen one, Immanuel, draws near.

O come green shoot of Jesse, free
Your people from despair and apathy
Forge justice for the poor and meek
Grant safety for the young ones and the weak.
Rejoice, rejoice! Take heart and do not fear,
God’s chosen one, Immanuel, draws near.

3 O come now, living water, pour your grace
And bring new life to ev’ry withered place;
Speak comfort to each trembling heart:
“Be strong, fear not, for I will ne’er depart”
Rejoice, rejoice! Take heart and do not fear,
God’s chosen one, Immanuel, draws near.

4 O come dear child of Mary come
God’s word made flesh within our earthly home.
Love stir within the womb of night
Revenge and hatred put to flight

And once again, a new litany for lighting our candles….

One: Our brothers and sisters are not yet free. Like captives and exiles in their own land, they mourn the loss of children with inconsolable grief.
All: We light this candle in solidarity. We light this candle to light the path from lament to hope. To the day of true emancipation when all will live in freedom.
One: Words like ‘Ferguson”, names like Michael Brown, Hands Up, Don’t Shoot, I can’t breathe make our days, resound in our nights. Bridges, highways, subways close. There is pain that goes beyond words, and the unbelievable that is only all too believable.
All: In such a world, the prophet cries Comfort, comfort my peopleprepare the way a new day is cominga new day will come.
One: There is hope in the voices raised yesterday in our city from Washington Square to Police Plaza crying out for justice and an end to violence.
All: There is hope in the song of a woman about to give birth to a child, a sign that God is with us, a sign of a new reality being born, a sign of a victory already one, a song that with full heart says, “Let it Be”..

Our prophetic lesson is that passage from Isaiah that practically preaches itself..

1   The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, 
          because the LORD has anointed me; 
     he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, 
          to bind up the brokenhearted, 
     to proclaim liberty to the captives, 
          and release to the prisoners; 
2   to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, 
          and the day of vengeance of our God; 
          to comfort all who mourn; 
3   to provide for those who mourn in Zion — 
          to give them a garland instead of ashes, 
     the oil of gladness instead of mourning, 
          the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. 
     They will be called oaks of righteousness, 
          the planting of the LORD, to display his glory. 
4   They shall build up the ancient ruins, 
          they shall raise up the former devastations; 
     they shall repair the ruined cities, 
          the devastations of many generations.
8   For I the LORD love justice, 
          I hate robbery and wrongdoing; 
     I will faithfully give them their recompense, 
          and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. 
9   Their descendants shall be known among the nations, 
          and their offspring among the peoples; 
     all who see them shall acknowledge 
          that they are a people whom the LORD has blessed. 
10  I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, 
          my whole being shall exult in my God; 
     for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, 
          he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, 
     as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, 
          and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. 
11  For as the earth brings forth its shoots, 
          and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, 
     so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise 
          to spring up before all the nations.

We follow that by singing Oh Mary don't you weep don't you mourn..including Arlo Guthrie’s original verse, Moses was the first to get the notion  that the world is safer with the army in the ocean…Why is this appropriate for Advent? It’s  Moses’ sister Mary, but Jesus’ mother too. And it’s Moses’ pharoah and the Roman Empire. And the pharaohs of our own day. And it’s filled with Advent apocalyptic language:
One of these days about 12 o’clock this old world gonna reel and rock….

We do our Psalm somewhere between people’s mic style and pastor K from SPSA style, repeating key phrases for emphasis….

1When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, 
          we were like those who dream. 
2   Then our mouth was filled with laughter, 
          and our tongue with shouts of joy; 
     then it was said among the nations, 
          “The Lord has done great things for them.” 
3   The Lord has done great things for us, 
          and we rejoiced.
4   Restore our fortunes, O Lord, 
          like the watercourses in the Negeb. 
5   May those who sow in tears 
          reap with shouts of joy. 
6   Those who go out weeping, 
          bearing the seed for sowing, 
     shall come home with shouts of joy, 
          carrying their sheaves.

Jeremy follows the prophetic words with  I Can See Clearly Now by Jimmy Cliff.

 For our gospel lesson. We’ve got Mary’s song, the Magnificat
6b My soul magnifies the Lord, 
47       and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 
48  for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. 
          Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 
49  for the Mighty One has done great things for me, 
          and holy is his name. 
50  His mercy is for those who fear him 
          from generation to generation. 
51  He has shown strength with his arm; 
          he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. 
52  He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, 
          and lifted up the lowly; 
53  he has filled the hungry with good things, 
          and sent the rich away empty. 
54  He has helped his servant Israel, 
          in remembrance of his mercy, 
55  according to the promise he made to our ancestors, 
          to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
 As a commentary on the Magnificat, Jeremy plays Let it Be, Paul McCartney’s riff on Mary’s song.

And these are my reflections:
It’s been yet another week…it’s the third  Sunday in Advent, Gaudete Sunday, Mary’s Sunday. It’s the Sunday for the pink candle. A Sunday for Joy…so who’s feeling joy? We are celebrating the beginning of our began this week. There must be joy in that…Certainly the santacon revelers yesterday were wearing something that at least looked like joy.  And yet….our streets are filled with anger..

Last Monday…a circle of clergy went to  city hall…but we began at St.Paul’s Chapel…itself a symbol of rebirth…(do you remember our hours of volunteer work at Ground Zero on the St. Paul’s steps?) We celebrated a liturgy of breath…a way of breathing together (for which the literal translation is conspiracy). Then  we marched silently to city hall. Joined the black and latino city council caucus in a die-in closing Broadway. Then into the council chambers, where we sang freedom songs and spirituals.

On reflection, we realized something.  Chants are essentially confrontational, singing  is invitational,oiur singing  blessed the council…..after we ended our die-in, we left with the echo of we shall overcome ringing in the rotunda…

Yesterday, the streets filled with people….marching against police violence.

There is a thirst right now that cannot be quenched…

In this context, we hear Mary’s song, an old song,in this case, the song of  Hannah. (1 Samuel 2) Like we sing the Seeger songs, she sings her song…

The thing is, she sings as if it has already happened….and it has specific content…it is a reversal….
My soul magnifies the lord….she sings..

We as a people have HOPE, but what about JOY?
Yesterday, there was this chant, I believe that we will win…
For Mary, she saw the victory as already won..

There is a question however, How do we make this personal? We are a part of something larger… bigger than us…a something rooted in love…where and how do we feel it? (From Lincoln to other Theresa to William Styron it's a sense of being connected to something beyond ourselves that enables us to move beyond depression. 

Mary, an unmarried pregnant woman in day when that was dangerous
Living at the lower end of working class in occupied land with an oppressive power in control…feels in her womb a sense of HOPE a sense of JOY

Mc Cartney’s Let it be….is based on magnificatLet it be…is beyond political issues ti the personal issues of loneliness or broken heartedness, it’ s all directed to these people as individuals….let it be…, let it be

That’s our challenge…to let it be…

And we finish, one last time with Ella’s song. After Saturday, we had too…
We who believe in freedom cannot rest
We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes
Until the killing of black men, black mothers' sons
Is as important as the killing of white men, white mothers' sons
That which touches me most is that I had a chance to work with people
Passing on to others that which was passed on to me
To me young people come first, they have the courage where we fail
And if I can but shed some light as they carry us through the gale
The older I get the better I know that the secret of my going on
Is when the reins are in the hands of the young, who dare to run against the storm
Not needing to clutch for power, not needing the light just to shine on me
I need to be one in the number as we stand against tyranny
Struggling myself don't mean a whole lot, I've come to realize
That teaching others to stand up and fight is the only way my struggle survives
I'm a woman who speaks in a voice and I must be heard
At times I can be quite difficult, I'll bow to no man's word
We who believe in freedom cannot rest
We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes

Then it’s time for Jeremy’s own performance. He begins with his own song, written as a tribute to a family friend, Kathy Boudin. ( Who is actually here to hear him sing it… I wanted to hear him sing  it because of the chorus:

What do you do with a world on fire?
How do we change how we live?
You have just one life to give.

Somehow fits what’s going on around us.


Our band arrives for another rehearsal. This will be our first run through with Rabbi Steve. He’s got that high voice we’ve been missing. Tomorrow night draws close.

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