Thursday, July 30, 2015

Living in the Spirit: How much is enough, or can you see beyond?


We’re waiting for Martha, who’s playing for us this Sunday to arrive on the much delayed train. The subway’s been crazy for weeks now, always overcrowded, always late, never sure which train is running on which route. I’m happy to see Noche’s ballet instructor Eric with us this week. This Sunday in our series,
Life in the Spirit: our theme is So that nothing may be lost and our question starts out to be
How much is enough?

Once again, we begin with Every time I feel the Spirit. And our opening hymn is  There’s a Sweet, Sweet Spirit, which I can’t hear without thinking of Andrea Bradford who opened every service with this back in the Larry Woodard days. Our Psalm is number 14 with the sung response, God is our refuge, God is our strength. And the Gospel, John 6: 21, which because it ends with Jesus walking on the water, I follow with my own

Rest Awhile, which I also sang last week. And now time for reflection.

I’m sorry. But I  can’t help but keep thinking about Sandra Bland. I’ve seen all the videos. Her Facebook postings. She was so full of life and passion. There’s no reason this vital young  woman should be dead. Why does this keep happening?

OK, so our question this morning is… much is enough? How many of us feel like we have enough? Honestly?

This week, our story is the  feeding of the 5000…It’s what’s left out of last week’s story. This story appears 6 times in 4 Gospels. It seems important to the Gospel writers. And since it appears so much, it suggests that maybe something like this actually happened.

It’s late in the day. There’s an issue about feeding all these hungry people. Jesus asks Philip. Why Philip? They were near his home town. He would know all the shops . Maybe he could get a deal. But he responds there’s not way not enough money available.

So we get Andrew’s answer..well, there’s a boy with 5 barley loaves and two fish

So  that answer raises another question…can you see beyond? Beyond what’s right in front of you? What seems to be all there is?

And then what happens? Jesus gives thanks. It always begins with giving thanks. It’s an almost Eucharistic moment. Giving thanks for what you have opens up new possibilities…

And all are satisfied…And Jesus instructs them to gather up the fragments so that nothing may be lost….and there is enough for 12 baskets…When I was at Yale Divinity School, our urban core group would meet every Monday for reflection and study and Eucharist. After sharing, Our episcopal co-leader would always smile and say gather up the fragments so that nothing may be lost encouraging us to share the leftovers.

They wanted to make him KING….(they couldn’t think of anything other than a standard empire response……but he withdrew by himself

There’s something here about imagination…..I was struck by the PLUTO space expedition….all the years of planning, all the millions of light years travelled…and the space ship makes its pass around, cameras taking that far away (used to be) planet all in, …and it’s all over already….

And we can go from imagination to John Lennon’s IMAGINE

I think of Rubem Alves saying that if we want people to work for a better world,  we can’t just create images of human suffering. That only deadens the spirit. We need to create images of beauty to inspire imagination. And not jump too quickly to the North American Christian’s happy ending but to explore human life in all of it’s Perplexity, paradox and profound beauty

Harry Emerson Fosdick, for whom Rockefeller built Riverside Church after he got forced out by the Presbyterians, had this to say about  great minds and unexpected possibilities.. The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can't be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it.” 

 Last week in our clergy study group, one of my colleagues brought a song I would  like  to learn, God is God..written by Steve Earle, also covered by Joan Baez.

I believe in prophecy.
Some folks see things not everybody can see.
And, once in a while, they pass the secret along to you and me.
And I believe in miracles.
Something sacred burning in every bush and tree.
We can all learn to sing the songs the angels sing.
Yeah, I believe in God, and God ain't me.
I've traveled around the world,
Stood on mighty mountains and gazed across the wilderness.
Never seen a line in the sand or a diamond in the dust.
And as our fate unfurls,
Every day that passes I'm sure about a little bit less.
Even my money keeps telling me it's God I need to trust.
And I believe in God, but God ain't us.
God, in my little understanding, don't care what name I call.
Whether or not I believe doesn't matter at all.

In every telling of the story (except in Luke), the feeding of the 5000 is  followed by  Jesus walking on the water..troubled waters following success, fear…our successes can make us feel that way…but it all begins by giving thanks for what we have and allowing ourselves to see beyond…to imagine…

Before our prayers we sing Be Glorified:

In my life Lord
Be glorified be glorified
In my life Lord
Be glorified today
In my song Lord…..
In Your church Lord….
In our home Lord….

And then after, Dona nobis, pacem, in Latin, Hebrew and Arabic:
Dona nobis pacem, pacem, dona nobis pacem
Sim shalom, sim shalom, sim shalom, sim shalom, aleinu.
Rabu habna slamann tamman, rabu habna salamann.

We close, as last week, with the Tallis Canon and Go With Us Lord….and of course, Amen,

Late in the afternoon, I come back to work on some music with my friend (and Rabbi) Steve Blane. The francophone African service is in full swing. I’m working in a song about North Carolina. And summer in New York City. When we finish, I may have just enough time to get to Lincoln Center to hear Judy Collins.

  PSALM 14
1Fools say in their hearts, "There is no God."
They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds;
there is no one who does good.
2The LORD looks down from heaven on humankind
to see if there are any who are wise,
who seek after God.
3They have all gone astray, they are all alike perverse;
there is no one who does good,
no, not one.
4Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers
who eat up my people as they eat bread,
and do not call upon the LORD?
5There they shall be in great terror,
for God is with the company of the righteous.
6You would confound the plans of the poor,
but the LORD is their refuge.
7O that deliverance for Israel would come from Zion!
When the LORD restores the fortunes of his people,
Jacob will rejoice; Israel will be glad.
1After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. 2A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. 3Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. 4Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. 5When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming towards him, Jesus said to Philip, "Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?"6He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. 7Philip answered him, "Six months' wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little." 8One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to him, 9"There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?" 10Jesus said, "Make the people sit down." Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. 11Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. 12When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, "Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost." 13So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. 14When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, "This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world."
15When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.
16When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, 17got into a boat, and started across the lake to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. 18The lake became rough because a strong wind was blowing. 19When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the lake and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. 20But he said to them, "It is I; do not be afraid." 21Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land towards which they were going.

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