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, May 17, 2019

Share the Feast

“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted
sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’
                                                                        Luke 16:19 (NRSV)

What happens when we die?
There are a lot of ideas
I doubt very much if it has anything to do with heavenly mansions and streets of gold
I will be very much surprised if there is, as some on the right claim
a wall
or a gate
or any sort of test

What I do believe is that our being then will bear little resemblance to our being now
What I do believe is that the communion with the Sacred
Which we experienced here on earth
Will become union

“Our true nature is the nature of no birth and no death” Thich Nhat Hanh
  To put it another way, we come from God, and we return to God

All of us!
So what do we do with pesky parables such as this?
How do we think about the ramblings of Paul and his “third heaven”

I believe we all come from the Sacred
And I believe we all return

But I also think that while we are living
We can distance ourselves from the Sacred

We can ignore
We can lose touch

Worst of all
We can actively deny the Sacred by the way we think
And the way we live

We can create such a distance
By our greed
Our lust for power
Our lies
Our cruelty
Our lack of compassion
Our failure to champion justice and equity

That we create an abyss
That blocks our reunion with the Sacred

As Jesus put it
A great chasm is fixed
A distance, a hardness
A blindness can be developed

That keeps people from returning
Keeps people from the eternal table
Keeps people form once again
Living the house of love

What it looks like to be in that place I do not know

But I do know this
I do not want to deny my heritage
I do not want to be apathetic about the Sacred Presence that is in me
I do not want to slowly fall away into a dark place
Where I am so far from God it is almost
Impossible to get back

I cannot bring myself to believe that it is impossible
There are those parables about lost coins
And lost sheep
And prodigal children

And I suspect there is always a way back

And I suspect if we do not find ourselves back in communion
It is not for lack of trying
On God’s part

I wonder what it will be like when
Those in power in America, finally die, and move on
Will they move on?
Or will they be stuck,
Not in eternal torment imposed by God
But a cold darkness they have chosen

It is interesting that in this parable Jesus suggests
That Lazarus might well have tried to find a way
To get to the Rich Man and bring him back

I love that

Part of me wants those I believe are so much like the rich man (often called Dives)
To pay the price
But a bigger part wants to believe that god never gives up
Never stops looking
Never stops trying….

But I suppose that is the point
We can choose the things of the earth
We can choose to distance

This is truly a parable for our time
It is one of those stories
That reminds us that this is all a mystery
And we do not understand
And will probably
Will never understand

This is one of those stories that reminds us of our limited
Capacity to understand God, and God’s way

And there really is only one response we can make

We can share the feast
We can live lives of generosity
And kindness and love

We can notice those in need around us
And offer more than crumbs

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