Saturday, July 16, 2016

Reflections on the nation....


We gather for worship on the day before July 4th.

So there’s our American flag.
It’s always been involved in controversy. It was removed from the sanctuary in ‘70’s. The question was raised as to whether there should ever be any presence of the American flag at all in a church? We brought the flag back on the Sunday after 9/11, which was September 16th. Andre came in wearing an American flag shirt. He brought along a friend who was a Muslim to play the flute. To show we would not give in to the hysteria. (That still is with us…) This was one of the times I was most proud of what we were doing. We wanted to express love for our country and people and at the same time make clear that our grief was not a call for vengeance. The flag remained  for several years. I can’t say why or when it came down again. 

I think of Abraham Joshua Heschel. Who said the inspiration of a prophet must be Love. A prophet musty come from a people and speak to that  people. Always owning identity with that people.

Today our bulletin cover features Katherine Lee Bates. 
She was a professor at Wellesley. For 25 years she lived with Katherine Coman. Though Katherine has been claimed as an lgbtq hero, there has been an ongoing academic  debate. Over that issue with much discussion of the topic of  “Boston Marriage”… One friend recently cleared this up by saying well, she may or may not be lesbian, but she sure was QUEER.

I remember Seeing our flag raised in Managua, Nicaragua, celebrating our revolution. And having Bill Coffin lift up these words: 

Oh, beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine ev'ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law.

They seem to have special meanings we stood on the brink of an invasion.  That was the first time I felt the critical power in that song...

Our texts today have much top say about “De-privileging” and hospitality. There is the story of Naaman. He was a serious Syrian with all  the accouterments of power.  And a case of leprosy that won’t go away. It’s a captured slave girl who tells him about Elisha. He goes to the king. And by doing so scares him to death. Then he is directed to  Elijah. He expects big dramatic demands and actions from this famous prophet. Waving hands and all. Dramatic magic. But Elijah only makes a simple request for washing. And Naaman comes out Clean “as a child”..(did he have a new child like point of view as well?) It was like Baptism. The metaphor here is that Naaman  has to give up all the trappings of power and privilege to be healed.

Likewise, in Luke, Jesus sends his workers out “stripped down” and vulnerable. (They are not even to wear sandals…so that their hosts will have to wash their feet…hospitality…) It’s about Inviting us into a new space of openness and vulnerability.

Paul in Galatians talks about  giving up privileges of “circumcision…..”

We should notice a couple of points…if we are not offered the peace of the house, we are to shake off the dust from our feet and move on…there is no command to keep beating your head against the wall….

The disciples come back boasting of their accomplishments. Jesus, says, yeah well I saw Satan fall from heaven….all that is important is that your names are written in heaven…

We spend some time talking about these passages together and then we celebrate communion.  This is Russ’ first time to be serving  communion as an ordained elder.
And we finish the service by singing I’m gonna live so God can use me…

Our conversation on these issues has only just begun…

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