Sunday, April 5, 2020
Dear St. Luke Community,
This Sunday we meet again by Zoom. If you would like to join us but aren’t sure how to use Zoom, you can contact Beth or myself to help walk you through it. Last Sunday we had 58 screens with multiple people watching in different households. Even my mother and her husband in New York were able to join.
The worship team would love for you to go into your yard and pick any kind of branch, or even piece of a bush. Then just as we do every year during the processional, we’ll wave our branches together. I’m grateful there will be all kinds of branches and not just palms. What a beautiful reflection of how diverse we are as a world. Big and small, complex and simple, fragrant and neutral, we are all majestic and loved in the eyes of God who seeds us, grows us and brings us to life.
The PCUSA recently established new guidelines on what constitutes as Communion during these special circumstances. Please bring with you any kind of something to eat and drink and we will, in unison, share in the bread and cup of Christ.
This Sunday we hear from Mark 14:32-36 as Jesus prays to God in the garden. In that prayer we hear Jesus refer to God as “Abba.” When I was in Seminary (not that long ago) we learned that this was a more intimate form of the word “father,” similar to the meaning of daddy. But in my reading just a few days after Bible Study where I shared that understanding, I’ve learned that scholars are insisting it does not mean “daddy.” They maintain it means Father. Why should this matter? It seems some scholars criticize the use of a term like “daddy” because it over sentimentalizes God, and makes him more of a buddy and friend used for us personally. To that, your Pastor says,“hogwash.” Intimacy doesn’t negate transcendence, nor does sentimentalizing our understanding of God water down the power of God. When did sentimental become something we should fear? I suppose your Pastor is just a sentimental old fool, as the expression goes. But I wear the title proudly. The world is in need of intimacy, which is born out of things of beauty, like nature, art, poetry, dance, music and in turn gives birth to more intimacy. The world is in need of the fools who fall for love and can speak to God as though God were in the room, intimately there for them, and yes, also there for the world transcendently, beyond our understanding. Okay, I’m done.
The scripture this week is powerful, as Jesus prays to God during what is one of Jesus’s most vulnerable moments, to remove the cup, essentially asking for a way out. And then, ends his prayer with, “Yet, not what I will, but what you will.” (NIV)
Beth sent me a prayer this week that I believe most intimately and sentimentally (in the best sense of the word) speaks to both the scripture and what we’re experiencing today. It’s a dialogue between a person and God. Enjoy and I hope to see you Sunday. Invite your friends, near and far.
Yours in Christ,
Okay, God, Here's the Thing
Me: Okay, God, here's the thing. I'm scared. I'm trying not to be, but I am.
God: I know. Want to talk about it?
Me: Do we need to? I mean, you already know.
God: Let's talk about it anyway... We've done this before.
Me: I know, I just feel like I should be bigger or stronger of something by now.
God: *waiting patiently, unhurried, undistracted, never annoyed*
Me: Okay. So, I'm afraid I'll do everything I can to protect my family and it won't be enough. I'm afraid of someone I love dying. I'm afraid the world won't go back to what it was before. I'm afraid my life is always going to feel a little bit unsettled.
God: Anything else?
Me: EVERYTHING ELSE.
God: Remember how your son woke up the other night and came running down the hall to your bedroom?
God: You were still awake, so when you heard him running, you started calling out to him before he even got to you... remember? Do you remember what you called out to him?
Me: I said, "You're okay! You're okay! You're okay! I'm here."
God: Why did you call to him? Why didn't you just wait for him to get to your room?
Me: Because I wanted him to know that I was awake, and I heard him, and he didn't have to be afraid until he reached the end of the dark hallway.
God: Exactly. I hear you, my child. I hear your thoughts racing like feet down the dark hallway. There's an other side to all of this. I'm there already. I've seen the end of it. And I want you to know right here as you walk through it all, you're okay. I haven't gone to sleep, and I won't.
Me: *crying* Can we sit together awhile? Can we just sit here a minute before I go back to facing it all?
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