Saturday, May 14, 2016

Seventh Sunday in Easter: One


Singing with Daniel from Lebanon

John 17: 20-26 from the Message by Eugene Peterson

I’m praying not only for them
But also for those who will believe in me
Because of them and their witness about me.
The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind—
Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
So they might be one heart and mind with us.
Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me.
The same glory you gave me, I gave them,
So they’ll be as unified and together as we are—
I in them and you in me.
Then they’ll be mature in this oneness,
And give the godless world evidence
That you’ve sent me and loved them
In the same way you’ve loved me.
24-26 Father, I want those you gave me
To be with me, right where I am,
So they can see my glory, the splendor you gave me,
Having loved me
Long before there ever was a world.
Righteous Father, the world has never known you,
But I have known you, and these disciples know
That you sent me on this mission.
I have made your very being known to them—
Who you are and what you do—
And continue to make it known,
So that your love for me
Might be in them
Exactly as I am in them.

Today is Mothers’ Day.  Friday was the day of Daniel Berrigan’s funeral. Donald Trump seems to have the GOP nomination all wrapped up. Thursday was also Ascension Day…the day we celebrate Jesus leaving earth..fro the time being…after his 50 days of earthly, bodily resurrection. I remember being in Germany ‘Himmelfahrt” day, or “heaven journey”. “Fly up day”, like the Girl Scouts. And today we’re talking about ‘One” about being ‘One”…I can almost hear John Lennon:
I am he as you are he as you are me
And we are all together…..
I am the eggman
They are the eggmen
I am the walrus
Goo goo g' job

SO what is this “one” all about?
In the list of many possible meanings of the Greek word "one," it is this particular definition that applies here: "in contrast to parts, of which a whole is made up." There is a healing of past divisions explicit in such unity; the wholeness is created through Christ, which is non-existent otherwise. The famous verse from Galatians is a fitting example of the fervent prayer of Jesus for his followers both present and yet to come: "There is no longer Jew nor Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are in one in Christ Jesus." Ephesians 4 comes to mind, too. "There is one body and one Spirit ... one hope ... one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all." (Presbyterian Outlook)

All well and good. But so what?  Our society feels far from one. The greatest income disparity since Teddy Roosevelt and JP Morgan.  The super rich don’t even want to see people not like them.  (That’s the worst)  I believe what we see in the current election is vast numbers of people saying it just doesn't work for them anymore and that they’ve lost all hope in things as they are.
While I don’t believe that Trump supporters and Sanders supporters are two sides of the same  coin, both are expressing frustration. 

I really enjoyed Andrew Sullivan’s article in New York, where he wrote with empathy about the abandoned white collar voters who back Trump. I was especially touched when he wrote about how it feels when you’re barely able to hold onto the bottom rung of the economic ladder and up and coming young Ivy League men tell you to “check your privilege” and look down on you. Somewhere along the identity politics line the Democrats abandoned the working class.

We are NOT one, we are divided.
Since we’ve settled sexual identity issues in our church, new divisions are appearing:  big vs. small, rich v poor, the churches that are doing well and have pastors and the vast majority that do not.
We are not ONE. we see signs? Donald Trump wants to build a “beautiful wall”…in Acts, the wall comes
We’ve had as special friends the Seed group and Open Choir. Friday night, I attended their One Day; a Festival… in the Samuel Freedman Home.  (Itself an interesting story…built by Samuel Freedman during the depression days for broke millionaires, today housing neighborhood programs and housing for artists….) There was :
A Cuban bamba group
An African-American drum circle of young people from the South Bronx
An African-American gospel choir from a South Bronx Catholic Church
A Garifuna choir from the same church…
Oh…and me!

What moved me was the connections that had been made…these young people actors and musicians from all over the world accepted as full brothers and sisters by deeply Christian folk…and followers of Yoruba rooted religions…not judging, just feeling the inner connections…sharing each others music and dance…remaining themselves with their own unique backgrounds but also ONE at the same time…
At the Samuel Freedman home

When I do weddings, two candles  remain lit. The families  of origin always remain…even as the new family begins…the couple becomes one even as they remain themselves..

Oneness implies reconciliation. More than letting bygones be bygones. This summer, at our PC(USA) General Assembly, there will be an overture (taken to New York City Presbytery by West-Park and Jan Hus…) calling for an apology to the LGBTQ community for years of exclusion.  The Covenant Network, tall steeple liberals, have declined to support it because it is “divisive.” More Light, on the other hand has called for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, like South Africa. To begin by telling stories. And listening. Sometimes all people ask is to be heard..

This church. Are we divided? Hmmm. Not sure. We certainly have lost people over  the years. What would reconciliation look like? Would it even be possible? Is there a first step? What would being one look like? Feel like?  If you have  any thoughts, let me know…

In the meantime, let us seek to find that place of being one…


As it is Mother's Day, here is the original Mother's Day proclamation from Julia Ward Howe, before it be came sentimentalized...

Arise, then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts,
whether our baptism be that of water or of fears!

Say firmly: "We will not have great questions decided by
irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking
with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be
taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach
them of charity, mercy and patience.

We women of one country will be too tender of those of another
country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From
the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own.
It says "Disarm, Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance
of justice."

Blood does not wipe our dishonor nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons
of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a
great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first, as women,
to bewail and commemorate the dead.

Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the
means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each
bearing after their own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
but of God.

In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a
general congress of women without limit of nationality may be
appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at
the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the
alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement
of international questions, the great and general interests of

Julia Ward Howe

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