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Primitive religion is not believed, it is danced!

Arthur Darby Nock

Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
And only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.

Elizabeth Browning



Friday, April 12, 2024

The table is the point

If you are writing a play about [Holy Week}, the scenes would be table, trial (with its various locations), cross, tomb (burial), tomb (resurrection), and table. The table is the first setting, and it is the final setting of the story. Indeed, when the disciples want to meet Jesus again the next week, they return again to the upper room to meet him at the table.

 

They never return to the cross. Jesus never takes them back to the site of the execution. He never gathers his followers at Calvary, never points to the blood-stained hill, and never instructs them to meet him there. He never valorizes the events of Friday. He never mentions them. Yes, wounds remain, but how he got them isn’t mentioned. Instead, almost all the post-resurrection appearances — which are joyful and celebratory and conversational — take place at the upper room table or at other tables and meals.

 

Table - trial - cross - tomb - tomb - table.

 

What if the table is the point?

                     Diana Butler Bass

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What if the table is the point?

What if community is the point?

 

What if Easter is, when all is said and done, about

People gathering

Laughing

Eating

 

People listening to each other

Supporting one other

Being together when it is easy, and when it is not

Being together in the rejoicing and in the lamenting

 

What if Easter is about Jesus stepping in

And saving us

Not from God’s wrath

But from the enmity of the Rulers of the World

 

From hate and violence

From those forces that would divide and destroy

 

On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples,

a banquet of aged wine, the best of meats, and the finest of wines.

On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples,

the sheet that covers all nations;

   he will swallow up death forever.

 

In the great story of love

We move from a table, where feet were washed

Bread was broken

And wine was drunk

 

Out into a dark and painful world

To a garden of anguish

To betrayal

And abuse

To injustice and death

 

To a tomb filled and a tomb emptied

And ends up back in an upper room, that same room, perhaps

And at a  table

Where once again bread is broken

And by the Sea of Galilee

 

Where once again bread is broken

And fish are served

 

Food for the stomach

Food for the heart

Food for the soul

 

Perhaps the point is that because of Jesus

We can be together

We can be stuffed with all good things

We can be love

 

The table reminds us we are family

That we are stuck with each other

And we might as well love each other

 

It reminds us that faith is about being fed

And feeding one another

 

Perhaps the table is the point.  As Rachel Held Evans once wrote:

“This is what God's kingdom is like a bunch of outcasts and oddballs gathered at a table, not because they are rich or worthy or good, but because they are hungry, because they said yes. And there's always room for more.”


Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Into this Temple come

Come to your Temple here with liberation

And overturn these tables of exchange

Restore in me my lost imagination

Begin in me for good, the pure change.

Come as you came, an infant with your mother,

That innocence may cleanse and claim this ground

Come as you came, a boy who sought his father

With questions asked and certain answers found,

Come as you came this day, a man in anger

Unleash the lash that drives a pathway through

Face down for me the fear the shame the danger

Teach me again to whom my love is due.

Break down in me the barricades of death

And tear the veil in two with your last breath.

          Malcolm Guite

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Into this fleshy temple come

O Lord

 

Prepare to toss a few tables

Into the air

Scatter those things that stolidly

Clutter my soul

Hunkering in dark corners

 

Taking up space

Fouling the air

 

It is easy to see

The clutter in other people’s souls

To point the finger and shout

“Hey, look over there!”

 

It is hard to peer into the dark recesses

Of myself

And see the things that lurk

In the darkness

Fouling the air

 

Cleanse me Lord

And I shall be clean

scatter greed, and hate, resentment and fear

with your mighty love

drive out all that impedes my path

 

to the Holy Place

the Holy of Holies

where your reside

there

deep behind the veil

 

Clear the path, rend the curtain

Shine in all your glory

Restore in me, the joy of my salvation

 

Make me a temple in which you reside

And rule

Make me love


Sunday, March 24, 2024

God! Are you there?

When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it!” —Genesis 28:16

 

The Bible I set out to learn and love rewarded me with another way of approaching God, a way that trusts the union of spirit and flesh as much as it trusts the world to be a place of encounter with God…. People encounter God under shady oak trees, on riverbanks, at the tops of mountains, and in long stretches of barren wilderness. God shows up in whirlwinds, starry skies, burning bushes, and perfect strangers. When people want to know more about God, the son of God tells them to pay attention to the lilies of the field and the birds of the air, to women kneading bread and workers lining up for their pay….

 

According to the Talmud, every blade of grass has its own angel bending over it, whispering, “Grow, grow.”  How does one learn to see and hear such angels?

          Barbara Brown Taylor (quoted by the Center for Action and Contemplation)

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God!

Are you there?

I wonder sometimes

When my body hurts

And my eyes fail

 

I wonder sometimes

When I hear the disabled ridiculed

And people laugh

When I hear hate spewed

And people cheer

When I watch as masses, driven by resentment

Are fueled by a desire dominance

 

I wonder sometimes as I watch us

Destroy the planet for profit

And see dying and starving children

The flotsam of war

 

O God!

My heart fails within me

My feet stumble

As I see the prosperity of the wicked.

 

I know there is nothing new under the sun

We have seen this before

The words of an ancient Psalmist echo in my soul

As he laments human arrogance

 

“Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence.

  From their callous hearts comes iniquity; their evil imaginations have no limits.

  They scoff, and speak with malice; with arrogance, they threaten oppression.

  Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth.”

          (Psalm 73)

 

Where are you, God?

Why do you not set things right!?

Why do you not bring down the mighty and lift up the poor?

Are you in this place?

 

Surely, you are in this place.

Help me to know it.

 

Help me to see you, God of love

In the brilliant reds of the sunrise

In the majesty of the mountains

In the laughing voices of the streams

 

Help me to see you, Lord,

In the eagle that flies

And the deer that wanders

In creatures large and small

 

Help me to see you in the little things

In that act of kindness

That kind word

That smile, that laugh

That comes

 

I need glimmers of your presence Lord,

Help me to see you

Even where it is hardest to see you

In those human creatures who strive and toil

Love and hate

Destroy and heal

 

We are so confusing, O Sacred

So confused

 

Help me to see you, lord, in myself

And in all those others

In whom your image is badly blurred

May I see and hear the angels

 

Softly whispering

You are loved

You are loved

Grow

Grow