Saturday, December 10, 2016

Advent 3: What songs bring you peace?


Today we sing the second verse of Barbara Lundblad’s rewriting of  O Come Immanuel…as we light our candles…

O come, O come, Immanuel
And bless each place your people dwell.
Melt ev’ry weapon crafted for war,
Bring peace upon the earth forever more.
Rejoice, rejoice! Take heart and do not fear,
God’s chosen one, Immanuel, draws near.
2. O come, green shoot of Jesse, free
Your people from despair and apathy;
Forge justice for the poor and the meek,
Grant safety for the young ones and the weak

Today’s theme is “peace”. And I am not feeling much peace. In fact, as I was preparing for leading my lectionary study group last Wednesday, I found myself getting annoyed. The passages seemed too familiar and predictable…the sense of apocalyptic, the very straight forward and obvious calls for justice and righteousness, the prophetic zeal of John the Baptist. The beautiful vision of Isaiah.  It’s so easy to take any one of these  and fly off in a righteous sounding way. But so what? or how to have a new insight? As I said, I am not feeling peace…

I still can’t come to terms with the election….The President-elect seems to confirm the theory that he really  didn’t believe he’d be elected.  And/or is not really interested in governing. 
#  He wants to “sleep in his own bed,” he wants to create west wing on 5th ave…(I did hear he wants to attend 5th Avenue Presbyterian Church…
# He is still holding rallies like he’s still campaigning….it’s what he enjoys best…and seems he wants to do so even after his inauguration
#  He is  appointing people who have the worst traits associated to the Republican party. 

There are daily reports of acts of xenophobia perpetrated in the name of “Trump”….the flood gates have been opened…and the mainstream media keeps trying to “normalize” things…

Beyond Trump, there’s the ongoing struggle at Standing Rock….this weekend some 2000 military veterans are going there to provide security and solidarity  (this one’s on Obama to do the right thing…while he’s still President…)

Voices are still crying out for justice for Eric Garner…while Officer Pantaleo believes that once our new president is inaugurated, he’ll have a better chance…

I could be going to protests/actions every day..there’s a march today to Gracie Mansion to demand action on officer Pantaleo…there’s a rally taking place to show solidarity for Standing Rock…there’s a black community tribute to Fidel Castro..
a community remembers...
I want to go out and protest but something holds me back….

We’re going to talk about songs today..and I’ll start with John the Baptists’s song…and yes, it is apocalyptic...

But as President OBAMA told us…IT’s NOT the APOCALYPSE.. We have to ask ourselves however, who are we in his prophesy? Are we among the brood of vipers? … John is completely  unuanced…he doesn’t care what people think…doesn’t soften his message so that people “can hear it” (thank you Jill Duffiield…who says, as a preacher, ..”he is everything I am not…”  BUT in this congregation, people keep coming to me not in repentance but in need of comfort…..we participated last week in the weekend of witness with MICAH and the Justice League….including the demand to fire Pantaleo…why does that make me anxious?  Maybe because of the two young men from this congregation who serve on the police force……Latino immigrants who truly signed to protect, defend and serve…..

Like in our understanding of why Hillary failed…my mentor, Philip Newell always said,  the  Liberals are the  true problem…they enjoy the benefits of privilege with no guilt because after all, they’re liberals…. and they don’t count the notes….During Occupy, in my talk at Yale I related that thought  and was taken to task by liberal funders…I am constantly reminded by the critique of my  kids, and grass root organizers like my friend  Jason,  my friends the Communists… I want a new radical community…one that is countercultural…we have to hear John’s words directed to us…individually and personally ….I wonder, OK, it's a story, but what if his father Zechariah, like it says in the Bible, truly was a temple priest, a tall steeple preacher…that makes John a child of privilege….that makes Jesus the po’boy cousin…and I have to wonder and what’s at work in his psychology?

What I learn from my migrant work….Stony point’s efforts at interfaith organizing …and Standing Rock…I DON’T FEEL LIKE PEACE….

The Truth be told….we are all BOTH wheat and chaff…..

It takes songs of HOPE to keep us going….
ISAIAH’s song…takes us back to the Peaceable Kingdom again…let’s start with the “root” that springs forth from the stump….you think life has been snuffed out, and a green shoot “springs forth”…(we’re now learning from the Hidden Life of Trees, about the social nature  of trees…about their  sending life to the stump..
The stump...

Author  Peter Wohlleben has delighted readers and talk-show audiences alike with the news — long known to biologists — that trees in the forest are social beings. They can count, learn and remember; nurse sick neighbors; warn each other of danger by sending electrical signals across a fungal network known as the “Wood Wide Web”; and, for reasons unknown, keep the ancient stumps of long-felled companions alive for centuries by feeding them a sugar solution through their roots.

Isaiah wants us to imagine that shoot…(.identical words in Isaiah and Micah…Micah saw “Jerusalem of blood..” he was grassroots prophet…Isaiah’s mood was that of a profound sadness…he prophesied from the inside…)both spoke of a true day of peace.such a full day of peace that the natural violence of creation is set aside…natural enemies lie down together(perhaps warily) and lions eat hay…we’ll be vegans…
The Peaceable Kingdom

Note that Isaiah celebrates something that is already under way…after a time of national devastation comes  HOPE…let us pay attention..                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
So the question is what songs bring us peace?
There is  an ongoing conversation in world of artists…about getting across messages of spirit or justice: didactic vs. intuitive
Nevertheless, we always need the sustaining power and value of a PETE SEEGER 
As for MY SONGS…after the conventions I began ending my performances with Dylan’s                                                                                               It's A Hard Rain…
Then Mary Gauthier’s Mercy Now…
….and new  “Anthem”

So……What songs bring you peace? Inspire?  For some at this time of year it is Christmas music with it’s  themes of Joy and Hope….for Jeremy it’s Toshi Reagon..we need to sing our song together to bring us peace…and inspire us to work of peace…

After our prayers, we break bread together and go out into the world…

Thank you Leila

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