Thursday, January 22, 2009
Readings are here.
Thoughts toward a sermon:
The story of Jonah is about someone who is so sure he knows what is right he even disobeys God. Sort of an odd story to have in the Bible. Jonah is supposed to go tell the Nineveh-ites that they are going to be destroyed because they have been so bad and worship idols. Jonah chooses to go somewhere else and not until he is tossed into the sea and swallowed by the fish does he end up where is supposed to be. Oh well he seems to say to himself I will tell them that they will be destroyed. They are so stupid they won't listen - they can't even tell their right hands from their left. (a very dumb think in the desert where the right hand is for eating and the left for dirtier jobs)
Then even worse they repent and God forgives them. Jonah says I knew it, I knew it, you are way to soft on these sinners. And goes off to pout. Jonah is so caught up in his idea of what is right he stays with his way of being and his own knowledge - that he worships righteousness - even when God shows compassion.
Now Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, is sure the end of the world is coming soon - very soon - so soon that people don't need to bother with possessions -including wives.
In our Gospel today, Peter and Andrew are doing what generations of their families have done - fishing. Unlike Jonah or Paul - they are not so set in continuing to keep the traditions of their families. Jesus calls to them - offering a new career with the skills they already have -- fishing for people.
For all the readings people have a revelation about a new future but the reaction of each differs. I think it is like being in a long running play. We have learned our lines perfectly - and we go out on stage each night to perform our role. One day we go out on stage and discover we are in a totally different play with a totally different plot. Our response might be to resist - like Jonah - this is not the role I have worked for all my life. Or it might be to try to force the play into something familiar - like Paul. Or taking our cue from Andrew and Peter - say - all right - let's do it.
This is the story of the call from God in our lives. How will we repond?
Darest thou now O soul,
Walk out with me toward the unknown region,
Where neither ground is for the feet nor any path to follow?
No map there, nor guide,
Nor voice sounding, nor touch of human hand,
Nor face with blooming flesh, nor lips, nor eyes, are in that land.
I know it not O soul,
Nor dost thou, all is a blank before us,
All waits undream’d of in that region, that inaccessible land.
Till when the ties loosen,
All but the ties eternal, Time and Space,
Nor darkness, gravitation, sense, nor any bounds bounding us.
Then we burst forth, we float,
In Time and Space O soul, prepared for them,
Equal, equipt at last, (O joy! O fruit of all!) them to fulfil O soul.
– Walt Whitman
H/T to Edge of Enclosure.
Image from He Qi.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Congressional Quarterly has a transcript of the inaugural poem written and read by Elizabeth Alexander.
Each day we go about our business, walking past each other, catching each others’ eyes or not, about to speak or speaking. All about us is noise. All about us is noise and bramble, thorn and din, each one of our ancestors on our tongues. Someone is stitching up a hem, darning a hole in a uniform, patching a tire, repairing the things in need of repair.
Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.
A woman and her son wait for the bus.
A farmer consider the changing sky; A teacher says, “Take out your pencils. Begin.”
We encounter each other in words, Words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed; Words to consider, reconsider.
We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone and then others who said, “I need to see what’s on the other side; I know there’s something better down the road.”
We need to find a place where we are safe; We walk into that which we cannot yet see.
Say it plain, that many have died for this day. Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.
Praise song for struggle; praise song for the day. Praise song for every hand-lettered sign; The figuring it out at kitchen tables.
Some live by “Love thy neighbor as thy self.”
Others by first do no harm, or take no more than you need.
What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance.
In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp -- praise song for walking forward in that light.