30 December 2011
28 December 2011
12 December 2011
-Sometimes you don’t know how good something is until it is gone: a relationship that no longer is, the voice of the deceased, the playfulness of a puppy, or an old broken in chair.
-Sometimes you take things for granted and it takes someone from the outside to remind you of how great or interesting you have it: when they remark how big your kitchen is or when a friend comes over and says over and over again how much fun your slicky-slide is or when a dinner guests wont stop complimenting your biscuits.
-And sometimes life becomes so difficult, even painful, that you think there is no other way, that the way life is now will always be the way it is. In situations like these we need a beacon (either a poet, an author, a songwriter, an artist, a playwright, a filmmaker, a choreographer, a choir, a field of lilies) to take us to another place and show us that life is not fixed, that the pain we feel is finite, that the difficulties we face are not forever.
So it was in the first century of Palestine an expectant and pregnant time – life without pleasure, splendor or beauty.
Edward Gibbon labeled the period of the first century as the Pax Romana, the Peace of Rome. Perhaps it was “peaceful” if you were a ruling elite with a villa on the banks of the Tiber, but if you were a peasant in first century Palestine life was anything but peaceful. Pax Romana it was not; Infernos Romae, the Hell of Rome, it was.
And so it was that one day a poet, John, the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth, finally said enough is enough. The madness has to stop. We are more than cogs in the Roman wheel, we are children of the Living God. And so it went, he left home and went to the wilderness, that unguarded place by the Roman military-economic machine, that largely forgotten place of legend and lore, of promise and new life. Under cold star lit skies and blazing hot days, by the muddy Jordan, and just on the other side, just out of the reach of madness a man and his poetry went to find life anew.
And it came to pass that this man and his strange ways re-awakened the slumbering souls of Zion. I am sure the oligarchs and plutocrats in Jerusalem, more or less, the mass of humanity even knew about this lone wild bird in the desert. Who had time to listen to poetry? Records show life under Roman occupation changed and altered traditional patterns of life so much that people barely had a moment to lift their head to acknowledge the day more or less hear words of entertainment. Hear the allusions to the parables: Roman economic policies caused younger sons to leave home and go off to foreign lands to find work, caused youth to assemble in the city and hope someone would hire them at the nine o’clock, at noon, at three o’clock and for one hour of work at five o’clock, caused farmers to lose sleep over the price of seed so fearful that one wayward mustard seed would fall in their field and ruin their crop, and turned hospitality inside out so that villagers, rather than open their doors with bread and wine, they were scared to answer the door at night when a stranger entered lest they be killed. Into this time John offered his art as a generative and transforming possibility.
It sounded preposterous, almost comical, but the Gospel record reveals that the people of Israel were not laughing, they were praising God – finally someone had a word of the Lord. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to the wilderness to be baptized, to be cleansed, to be made whole by a poet. He was a prophet of yore with aggravating attire, bug breath and honey hands. The poet/prophet who through his poetry took his people where they could not go by themselves, he reminded them of their heritage with his poetry, he reawakened their slumbering souls with ancient songs of Zion, and shocked them out of their Roman induced numbness with his dramatic ways.
Then one day the minders thought they ought to find out what was going on, so they sent some representatives, some Levites and some priests. The encounter is quite amusing:
Who are you?
I am not the Messiah.
What then? Are you Elijah?
I am not.
Are you the prophet?
Who are you? What do you say for yourself?
a collective calm,
a meditative moment,
a pregnant pause.
I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord.
Depending on your familiarity with the gospel of John you may or may not have recognized what just happened. The gospel writer framed John the Baptizer as more than a poet, as more than a prophet, the author framed John as a creative and generative force. I am the voice in the wilderness… Later on the author of the will put that phrase, I am, on the lips of Jesus seven times to define our Lord, I am the way the true and the life, I am the vine, I am the good shepherd, I am the bread of life, I am the light of the world, I am the gate, and I am the resurrection and the life. And when the authorities go to arrest Jesus, our Lord says I am and they all fall down. I am the voice crying out in the wilderness…
Those who went to question the Baptizer had no idea what he was talking about. Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet? But enough people got what John was up to. How many, well enough. How much is enough, enough to frighten the kings and rulers of Jerusalem.
John did what John was supposed to do. He wasn’t supposed to teach people how to pray, to show people how to forgive, heal, love, bless, or reveal the meaning of disinterested love, non-violent revolution, justice, peace, or life everlasting – that was Jesus’ job. John was the poet/prophet/generative force who took a plough and sliced the earth of calloused souls, he was the one who grabbed folk by the scruff of the collar and said this is not all there is, enough is enough, change, turn, and live life anew.
You and I need third parties to enter our lives and remind us of our calling and lives as followers of the Christ. We need a John the Baptist to lift us up to heaven’s gates to reawaken our slumbering souls in the bleak midwinter.
On September 17 a Canadian activist group Adbusters and other U.S. groups called for a mass protest in New York City. They envisioned and hoped for 20,000 to attend, barely 2,000 showed up. Their actions did not illicit much attention from any of the news outlets. But over the next week the country watched the execution of Troy Davis which served as a wake up call for people of conscience. Then came the first mass march on Union Square in NYC, 87 people were arrested and suddenly what we now know as Occupy Wall Street became a news item. Since then we have watched this odd voluntary gathering of people in large and small towns in this nation and around the world. We have watched them evicted peacefully and with force. We have watched while others have belittled their effort. We may have even chuckle while those seeking the presidency said I’ll talk to them when they take a bath and get a job.
I confess I wrote them off at first. Sure we all are against corporate greed. Sure we are all fed up with the unjust and in many ways evil economic system we all participate in. But what is living in a park in New York City and in other public places around the world going to do to end it. Wouldn’t it be better if you took your frustration and drafted alternative economic policies? And so I largely ignored their stories. But over the course of days I kept hearing statistics over and over and over again about income inequality. I kept hearing the language expressed in interviews until one day one word struck a nerve. I realized that the Occupy Wall Street folk were singing my song. They were singing our song, the old time gospel hour song of a liberating word, a time of jubilee, of a new world, the world we are working for and waiting to come. They are functioning as our John the Baptist as that outside third party recalling our mission to heal, mend, and love creation.
I’m not asking you to go downtown and join the occupiers. But I am asking for us to see the Occupy Wall Street movement as a witness, as a call for us to remember who we are children of the Living God, as disciples of the Christ, as ambassadors of reconciliation. We have something to say about this unjust situation, economic inequality, ecological deprivation, and presence of war. We have a good word to offer this world and a redemptive song to sing. The way the world is, is not the only way, there are other alternatives. We can have profits and justice, we can have good jobs and a clean and life-giving environment, we can protect our citizenry without spending billions on foreign and domestic wars. For God is not finished with you and me and this world.
This Advent may we hear the call of the Baptizer in the witness of the protesters in our land. May we join with them in metaphorical and in physical fashions to say Enough is Enough. This Advent let us join the Baptizer by saying enough is enough:
To the powers of death,
enough is enough
To the powers of war,
enough is enough
To the powers of economic exploitation,
enough is enough
To the powers of injustice,
enough is enough
To the powers of ecological degradation,
enough is enough
To the powers of racial discrimination,
enough is enough
To the powers of homophobia,
enough is enough
To the powers of xenophobia,
enough is enough
You have had our ears and been at the microphone too long, it is time for us to hear and to sing a different song, an ancient song of Zion.
This morning may we hear the different song as a blessing, may we make ourselves vulnerable enough to hear the poem John alluded to as our song, as our blessing, as our charge:
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon you; because the LORD hath anointed you to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent you to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
To appoint unto them that mourn in this world, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.
And you shall build the old wastes, you shall raise up the former desolations, and you shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations. For the LORD you serve loves justice, hates robbery for burnt offering; and will direct their work in truth, and will make an everlasting covenant with them.
And your seed shall be known among the nations, and your offspring among the people: all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the LORD hath blessed.
You will greatly rejoice in the LORD, your soul shall be joyful in your God; for he hath clothed you with the garments of salvation, he hath covered you with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.
For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.
Amen and Amen.
02 December 2011
First let us purge bad holiday gifts.
1. A book of sermons by a famous preacher. Although many pastors do read sermons of famous dead and living preachers it is not the kind of book preachers like parishioners purchasing for them, it can send the wrong message.
2. Something that they must hang in their house (especially if they live in a parsonage). I realize that someone may have put a lot of time and effort into the gift, but what if it is not the kind of thing the pastor or his/her family wants to display? Although it is a heartfelt gift it may put unnecessary pressure on the pastor and his/her family to display the gift or feel guilty if he/she does not and then one day the gifter enters the house and does not see the gift on display. You can see where this is going...
Now let us move onto the gift buying guide. Reader, know that this list was composed with financially struggling congregations and houses of worship in mind.
10. A Title. That's is right a title: like pound for pound the best preacher they have heard in a while, or dean of the sanctuary, or bishop of the boulevard. Trust me I have yet to meet a pastor who does not want or one who does not secretly covet a formal, especially some obscure English, title.
9. An Alternative Title. Something like writer-in-residence. Why? Well imagine you are a person of the cloth on an airplane and you do not want to talk "shop" with the person next to you. If you are feeling disposed to share your vocation then by all means share it, but if you are not and the passenger next to you asks, "and what do you do?" You can faithfully (and truthfully) answer I am a writer-in-residence. 2012 updated alt. title: Life Coach.
8. A Stack of I've Had it Cards. I would say at least five of these. Most congregations grant generous vacation and continuing education time off for their pastors but there are times when pastors give and give and give till they are spent. So rather than have your pastor just check out one day, reward him/her with an "I've Had it Day" card. An unquestioned, last minute, taking the day off to sleep in, go shopping, eat an ice cream sundae for breakfast, play golf, card for that kind of day.
7. A Night Out. Although cash is a great gift for pastors there is a great temptation to spend it on necessary and workaday stuff. Therefore, volunteer to be the person to coordinate a church wide gift for the pastor. After sufficient cash is obtained purchase gift cards to the nicest restaurant in town, then tickets to a show, and arrange for a trusted member(s) to watch the pastor's kids (if they have them) or pets, or the house while they are away.
6. Promise to say thank you over the course of the year. Even over the most minute or mundane acts promise to say thanks to your pastor. Write a note to say how much you enjoyed the sermon. Write a note to say how much his/her prayer meant to you. Do not let the work go unnoticed or unacknowledged.
5. Promise never to criticize a sermon on a Sunday morning while you exit a service. The act of preaching is a dangerous and courageous act; one of the most vulnerable acts a person can do. Pastors reveal their most cherished and deepest thoughts; their hopes, dreams, and relationship with the Holy. After a service they are famished and extremely vulnerable, it is not the time for criticism. If you do not like the sermon then simply say I love you or I hope you have a good afternoon. Criticism can wait till Monday morning.
4. An understanding that pastoral work is artistry. Sure managerial, fundraising, interpersonal, supervisory, strategic planning, and visionary skills are needed for effective and meaningful ministry but transcending all of that is an art form of taking ideas and incarnating them, of healing and mending, of crying with and for, of tearing down and building up. Perhaps you could change the designation pastor's office to pastoral studio.
3. A good stiff drink. No, I am not condoning an unhealthy addiction to alcohol. Nor, am I encouraging that the pastor drink his/her problems away with alcohol. I am advocating for a nice expensive bottle of wine or scotch to be purchased for a celebratory meal or moment in the course of a year. If you suspect a drinking problem then I would suggest a weekly subscription to the NY Times. Make this one a both/and if you do not suspect an unhealthy approach to distilled spirits.
2. A sidekick. Yes, a sidekick. This is not a paid position or a volunteer staff position this is more of a Sunday morning worship sidekick. You will be the (insert day and time of your worshipping community here) version of Andy Richter. You will be the first person to stand to sing, and you will sing the loudest, you will have the most sincere face while the pastor prays, if the pastor pulls at your heart strings during the sermon you will have a handkerchief ready to wipe away your tears, during the sermon you will have the most concentrated face, and if the pastor tells a joke or tells a funny story you will guffaw and hold your sides like it is nobody's business.
1. Finally, you will love your pastor with as much love as you can. Through bad times and good times you will love her/him.
All of these gifts are mutually beneficial gifts. You will deepen your relationship with your pastor and he/she will deepen his/her relation with you. You will be enlightened by deeper sermons while your pastor will push himself/herself through a wider reading program and discover a new artistic expression.
If you must purchase something not listed here let me offer these then:
Subscription to The New Yorker - if for nothing more than the cartoons and to have it in the office (I mean studio) to impress future members.
Gift card to a local bookstore - no pastor or religious leader can have enough books.
Tickets to JazzFest (even if your pastor lives nowhere near New Orleans, he/she will never be the same...)
I hope this helps. Happy Holidays.
01 December 2011
30 November 2011
27 November 2011
01 November 2011
23 September 2011
21 September 2011
16 September 2011
30 August 2011
03 August 2011
01 August 2011
Pulled Pork BBQ slider (yes, I burned the bun) with sweet potato fries, baked beans and cold drink in a cold mason jar.
29 July 2011
20 July 2011
08 July 2011
05 July 2011
The First Family has several day trips, museum trips, and many days of play on the calendar. I, meanwhile, am planning an ambitious menu - trying to cook lots of dished I have been wanting to. Today for example I am cooking up a big pot of chicken and sausage jambalaya. More than anything the First Family plans to enjoy the company of each other.
For the continuing education part of the break I plan to read, read, read, and plan sermons for the following year (Aug '11-June '12) I have a skeleton now I just need to but some sinews and muscles on it. I first planned to read according to sermon subjects but instead I found a reading list that is more imaginative, playful, and well...re-creative.
02 July 2011
01 July 2011
29 June 2011
24 June 2011
12 June 2011
08 June 2011
11 May 2011
Seven Ways to Practice Resurrection
Third Sunday after Easter
Rev’d G. Travis Norvell
The sermon series on the seven deadly sins was great fun to prepare, write, and deliver for you. I especially liked to hear the college students who walked by and add their two cents on the sins as they were advertised on the marquee. I even saw some tourists stand in front of the banner to get their picture taken on one occasion. It was easy to access and pull sources on the sins, there are musical scores written on each sin, books devoted to each sin, and movies galore on each sin. There is a story as to how the sins moved from Constantinople, to Egypt to the west. But now it is time to move on from sin to virtue. But there is a problem. There is not a corresponding list to the Seven Deadly Sins. There is a list of the seven heavenly or cardinal virtues but they are not nearly as concrete or historical. The list at best is a combination of Greek and New Testament ideals. The four virtues of ancient Greece: prudence, justice, temperance, and courage and the three that remain from Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth: faith, hope, and love.
The list just doesn’t reach out and grab you like the seven deadly sin, the seven cardinal virtues aren’t the least bit sexy. Yet, they are necessary if we are going to change the world.
I know the name E. Glen Hinson is a familiar name to some of you. If he is not, add him to your list of authors and people you need to get to know more about. Hinson is the reason I am a pastor, still Baptist, and not a monk. In every class I took of his he always ended the semester with an appeal of what the world and church needs most. He would say what the world and the church needs most are saints. Not brilliant professors, not princes in the pulpits, or large financial backers in the pews but saints. He had a broad, obviously Anabaptist view of sainthood, which he defined as people with six qualities (qualities he adapted from Douglas Steere, another name for your list)
1. Saints are persons whose lives have been irradiated by Divine Grace and have put themselves at God’s disposal.
2. Saints are persons who seek not to be safe but to be faithful.
3. Saints are persons who have learned to get along in adversity
4. Saints are joyful people.
5. Saints are kindlers and purifiers of the dream.
6. Saints are prayerful.[i]
Simple but difficult.
Christianity does not ask us to be the best at anything it only asks us to be good, to be virtuous or from another angle, to practice resurrection. Being good or being virtuous may not resonate without but I hope in the shadow of the Easter you will take up the challenge and call to practice resurrection. I think that is what saints, the virtuous ones, do they practice resurrection.
In the gospel lesson this morning Cleopas and his unnamed companion were on the road to Emmaus, they were on their way back home. When I read this story I can only imagine they had given up. They had walked with Jesus for an undisclosed amount of time and it was fantastic, life changing but then…Jesus was executed. Rome wasn’t playing around anymore and maybe they shouldn’t be playing around anymore either, it was time to head back home.
The time was the evening of the Resurrection. Cleopas and his travel mate had heard the astonishing tale but maybe just maybe it was too much, they were going home. But Jesus met them on the way, concealed his identity, and playfully watched what unfolded.
What follows is, in my mind, the greatest dialogue in scripture and the greatest rhetorical question in scripture, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know these things that have taken place in there in these days?” Jesus asked them, “What things?” They replied, the things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people…” What follows next is one of the sneakiest tricks in all of scripture, Luke, decided not to include how Jesus interpreted all of the things about himself beginning with Moses and all of the prophets. Can you imagine that conversation? Can you imagine what those words must have been? Is there somewhere buried in the desert of Egypt the gospel of Cleopas, a written account of Jesus’ self interpretation?
It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter.
Why because Luke said so! Luke brushes off the interpretation for an even bigger event. “As they came near the village to which they were going, Jesus walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, ‘Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight.”
The verbs say it all, took, blessed, broke, and gave. It was communion for sure. But it was something even deeper than communion, they, Cleopas and his unidentified companion, were practicing resurrection. Even though they thought the Jesus movement was over, even though they were heading back home, they welcomed a stranger, offered him a place to stay and broke bread with him. The text hints that Jesus was testing the disciples, he went ahead as if he were going on, even Jesus did not know what the two would do. Would they say happy travels? Or would they welcome him? They welcomed him, their action warmed Jesus’ heart to such a temperature that he took the normal elements of a meal, transformed the moment into communion, and revealed himself to them. They were willing to practice resurrection with or without Jesus.
This evening, right before the time our eyes begin to water because we know Jazz Fest is about to conclude, I hope to take my progeny and nudge our way forward in the WWOZ Jazz tent so they, and I, can see Sonny Rollins. I love Sonny Rollins and I want to my kids years from now to say they saw Sonny Rollins at Jazz Fest. In just a few years I will explain to them why I love the way Sonny Rollins approaches music and how Sonny Rollins provided me with the ultimate way of practicing resurrection. In an interview one time a reporter asked Rollins to describe the way he practices and approaches music. First he responded in such a way that every jazz musician has to respond, to dispel the usual jazz myth that a jazz musician does not practice since it is all improvisation. Rollins said as a jazz musician I practice and practice and practice, I constantly practice, I practice scales, I practice chord progressions, and will frequently practice classical music for feel. He went on. I practice for hours on end, then when I perform…I forget it all. For Rollins the music, the intimations of sound, the silence between notes, the movements of the rhythm all become part of who he is. He is no longer practicing or performing a piece that he has forgotten, he is now sharing a piece of himself with the world. I want my kids to see and feel that tonight. I want them to see resurrection in practice.[ii]
For Cleopas and his unnamed partner they had forgotten the way Jesus had taught them for it was now a part of who they were. They talked to the stranger, invited him to bed with them, and shared their provisions. They were practicing resurrection as part of their lives.
Over the summer and into the Fall I will be asking each of you to share your personal hopes and dreams for this congregation. I will be launching a church wide initiative for how to obtain critical mass. And I will be asking every committee, every member, every chronic visitor, anyone who crosses the threshold to commit to one vision for this congregation. I will ask you to sacrifice a Saturday morning or two, to be patient, to compromise, and coalesce around central vision for this church. I think and feel that we have an honest shot at new life. This vision will be a combination of goals for finding and nurturing new members and creative usage of our space. Imagine if the crowd we had on Easter was every Sunday, think of how numbers would change the way we offer church. Imagine if we could locate a long-term tenant that could pay for maintenance, deferred maintenance, insurance and utility costs of the building. Imagine if we could shift our energy into great ministry opportunities rather than worrying ourselves silly how much we are in the red for the month?
This vision is not about institutional or building preservation. Instead it is about the assured continuation of a virtuous community. Instead it is about the assuring another generation practices resurrection. That will be our legacy.
After this Sunday we will sadly watch as many of our college students return home, or travel for further studies, or begin new chapters in their lives somewhere other than here. I hope, wherever they go, they take some part of this congregation with them, I hope we have gotten under their skin and into their hearts. As we look forward to future growth realize that one component of our growth will be college students and transient worshippers. Part of our mission is to nurture them while they are here. To offer hospitality, to practice resurrection. About once a month I either receive an email, a letter, or a phone call from a former member. Each inquiry is different but each share two commonalities, one they want to know who I am and second they want to tell me how much they loved their time at this church. This congregation does not illicit casual feelings or sentimentalities but visceral reactions to the love they found here. But we cannot rest on our past sharing of love, our past commitment to justice, or our past practice of resurrection. We must continue and expand our current practices.
Being church or practicing resurrection is akin to gardening. It is never done. It is constant, there are bugs to remove, weeds to pull, manure to spread, watering, and harvesting. Practicing resurrection is never done, it is constant. We have to learn and relearn how to pray, we have to teach others how to pray, we have to learn and relearn how to read the Bible and to teach others the old old stories of Jesus and his love. We have to learn an relearn how to advocate for justice and to teach others what biblical justice is. We have to learn and relearn how to practice resurrection and to teach others how to practice resurrection.
In the broadest terms what I am saying is that we have to be and become a mothering community one who gives birth, nurtures and sustains life. My home church, FBC St. Albans I often wonder how some would react if they could see me now, I am not confident they would be satisfied with me. I am sure the deacons would not approve of my conduct or words from the pulpit. If the church were to ask me where did I get these ideas and practices I would simply respond I learned them all from you. For some odd reason the people at the FBC of St. Albans took a liking to me and loved me into a new creation. (name removed for privacy), not knowing that many in the church questioned her sexual orientation and therefore kept her at arms length, I simply knew as the older woman who always gave me a hug, always encouraged me, and always told me God loved me. (name removed for privacy), the oldest man in the congregation, he was also the funniest. He loved baseball and traveling. Why a 16 year old and a 97 year old got along so well I’ll never know. He shared the story of taking a flat bottom wooden boat from St. Albans to New Orleans, about his personal love and devotion of the Cincinnati Reds, one afternoon shortly after his wife of 75+ years died he broke down in tears and asked me to come again at a later date, he also shared that if you cant laugh in church or if the good news does not make you smile, then it aint worth having. I was not a project they took on, I was simply the one that received their love, their practice of resurrection. They were my midwifes as I was born again.
I want the kids and youth of this congregation to have the same experiences of love. I hope they are loved the same way. I want the practice of resurrection to be such a part of their lives that they forget it, that their practice is simply who they are.
Over the hot months I will offer seven ways we can practice resurrection. I hope they are the bedrock of our common vision for new growth and life. I hope they are the living well that nourishes and sustains our life. I hope they are the challenging words that illuminates our pursuit of the virtuous life, the saintly life the practice of resurrection.
I would like to close in two fashions. A poem and a piece of prose. First a poem by Wendell Berry who has provided the series title. The poem is Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front from 1973.
Love the quick profit, the annual raise, vacation with pay.
Want more of everything made.
Be afraid to know you neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery any more.
Your mind will be punched in a card and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something they will call you.
When they want you to die for profit they will let you know.
So, friends, every day do something that won't compute.
Love the Lord. Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace the flag.
Hope to live in that free republic for which it stands.
Give you approval to all you cannot understand.
for what man has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium.
Say that your main crop is the forest that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion--put your ear close,
and hear the faint chattering of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world.
Laugh. Laughter is immeasurable.
Be joyful though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap for power,
please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep of a woman near to giving birth?
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head in her lap.
Swear allegiance to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and politicos can predict the motions
of your mind, lose it.
Leave it as a sign to mark the false trail, the way you didn't go.
Be like the fox who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
The prose is the close of one of Glen Hinson’s lectures that he included in a chapter of one of his books,
“The church and the world needs saints. They need saints more than they need more canny politicians, more brilliant scientists, more grossly overpaid executives and entrepreneurs, more clever entertainers and talk-show hosts. Are there any on the horizon now that Mother Teresa is no longer with us, either of the extraordinary or of the ordinary kind? I think there are. Maybe I should say that there are saints ‘aborning’ by God’s grace. There are those whose lives have been irradiated by God’s grace, who seek to be safe but faithful, who have learned to get along in adversity, who are joyful, who are dream filled, and, above all, who are prayerful. That is what the church and the world need most. It begins with you.”[iv]
Brother and sisters let us strive for the virtuous life, the life of power used for the mending of creation and the new birth of our community. Brothers and sisters let us strive for the saintly life as we seek to change the world and this church. Brothers and sisters with Easter at our back let us simply practice resurrection.
Amen & Amen.