Tag Archives: Worship

Kingfisher_4.preview

Still Point ~ Where to Go When the World Collapses

Last Sunday, I preached a brief sermon on Psalm 23.  Brief, because to say too much was to risk detracting from the self-evident beauty of that favored psalm.  This Sunday we will return to the psalms, focused this time on the lectionary reading for the day, Psalm 130.  It too is a favored psalm in and throughout Christian history.  It is one of seven “penitential psalms” that include psalms  6, 32, 38, 51, 102,  and 143. As lent rapidly moves toward Holy Week and Easter, one would be well-served to read these psalms as a way of entrance into the Light of Easter.

T. S. Eliot turns a phrase about light and contemplation in his poem, Four Quarters.  In Burnt Norton: IV he wrote:

…After the kingfisher’s wing                                                                                       Has answered light to light, and is silent, the light is still                              At the still point of the turning world…

When all around us the world seems unmoored, rising and falling and crashing upon wave after wave and our little boat of a life seems in peril, where do we go? how do we find respite and shelter? Where to go when the world collapses?  The 130th psalm is entitled, De Profundis, after its initial phrase, “Out of the depths.”  Out of the depths, I cry to Thee, O Lord…  Here is an entrance to the still point, where light has answered to light and the light is still. We arrive or at least, we can arrive at the still point of the turning world.

Each Sunday in a middle school auditorium at 10 a.m., we make our way to that still point.  I urge you to step into that hour of light answering light.  Walk, swim, paddle your way to that hour. Cling to a scrap of the shattered vessel if you must; navigate the perils of a twittered and maniacal rhetoric; but position yourself,  body and soul, into this light and stay a while.  ~See you Sunday

ministers_pray

Sabbath-Keeping As Resistance

The third commandment given to Moses and the Hebrews was, Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy 

We are instructed to hallow that day and to remember that God created the worlds and that God liberated the Hebrew slaves out of Egypt.  It is a day of truth-seeking and a time to cultivate covenantal bonds of human dignity and worth. By remembering the Sabbath and hallowing that day, we signal to the world that our commandments come to us via the fountain of life and we are made in the image of God, thus it behooves each of us to live justly, uprightly, and mercifully.

So many of us are stunned by the first three weeks of a new President that has thrown the country into chaos, diminishing our institutional checks and balances, promoting his family’s business from the sanctity of the White House, promoting inaccuracies of all kinds and threatening to destroy politicians who oppose his policies.  What to do in such a time?

Keep the Sabbath.  Hallow the day of rest.  Join in with your brothers and sisters in worship. This is resistance of the subtlest and most profound kind.  Your allegiance is to the King of the Universe, not an earthly prince.  Your strength is renewed and your heart recharged for living a just life.  Your mind is rekindled, the kindling of lies and suspicions and hatreds burned by the fire of truth and of the Divine.  ”We” comes into being.  We  march in the light of God, as we sing on most Sundays. We gather around the table of Christ and give our hearts to the Good Shepherd and to one another.  This is resistance. Here is a source for courage and strength.  I hope to see you Sunday. We need you.  And you need us.  Sunday then.  We hallow the world.  We resist.

shelter_rain

Beyond the tweeted trifling nonsense: Now is the time to worship

It is storming and you’re outside in it.  Rain in sheets and at times metal pellets of water.  Lightening, thunder, flash flood threatening you. There is a small, warm shelter nearby. What do you do?
You enter that warm shelter.
The office, the train car, the world around you is toxic.  It’s hard to breathe.  It is hard to see.  Nearby is a transparent tent.  You can see the air inside is clear and clean.  The toxic vapors are repelled and flow past it, a vapor trail.  What do you do?
You enter the clean air of that tent.
 Weariness grips you in a bone-deep ache.  Despair like shadows descend.  You see people exiting a building who seem invigorated, empowered, full of courage and hope.  They point you to the building, saying that each week they enter it and are filled, their humanity and dignity repaired.  What do you do?
Every Sunday a group of us, approximately 70, sometimes ten more sometime ten less, enter a middle school auditorium in SW Washington DC. For an hour we make that space a sanctuary of peace and a refuge, a safe place free of toxicity and hatred, a place of empowerment to all who would work for justice and peace. We sing. We pray. We listen to scripture and the Word of God is proclaimed—a Word that endures beyond the tweeted trifling nonsense of our culture.  You can taste some of this by clicking on a sermon and listening to it. Try, for example, this past Sunday’s sermon, “The Joy Formidable.”
You know when and how to get out of a storm.  You know you prefer peace to toxic rhetoric.  So what’s keeping you?  Get out of the rain.  Come, now is the time to worship. ~See you Sunday
old television with static

It’s Sunday, Forget The Polls

You could stay home Sunday and watch another round of talking heads.  But at this point, why would you?

You could go online and check polls at various news outlets and ideological outposts and forget coming to church for an hour to sing, pray and hear scripture read and expounded upon.  But at this point, why would you do that?

Our souls need respite from the turmoil of the world and especially we need access to light, unfettered grace and love, the truth of God-in-Christ, reconciling the world.

Saturday night, turn your clock back one hour and then Sunday morning, bring your soul to worship.  You got a soul–don’t give it to the politicos this Sunday.  Bring it to Christ for restoration, redemption, renewal and empowerment.  In the Name of God, peace to you and all whom you love. ~ See you Sunday!

apsen sky

Tweetless, Restorative Silence and God’s Word

Do we really need another sham debate in this gruesome election cycle?  This is not unlike one more nuclear weapon—for what? To bounce the rubble?  What a shameful spectacle the United States has put on for the rest of the world and I’m not talking solely about the politicians who befoul the public square but I am talking about the citizens of this country that put up with this, promote it and behave like craven lunatics.

How many hours in a day do you devote your eyes and ears to the rhetoric of political discourse and news in this country? Take a break.  Seriously. For your own well-being, turn off the taps at the t.v., the computer, your smart phone and whatever other device you rely on to fill your mind with the bleak words of a dying culture.

The world has always been somewhat noisy.  John the Baptizer was out in the wilderness tweetless for a reason.  Silence may be the most underrated power available to us for healing and restoration.  Aren’t you sick and tired of all those words chewed on, the cow curd of a debased society tossed up for us every day over and over and over?

There is a Word from the Lord, however, that is restorative and in one hour in a week, in a middle school auditorium (Jefferson Middle School Academy where we worship for the near future and interim) you can access both silence and that Word; contemplation and proclamation aimed at your soul.  Isn’t it time for some soul care?

The Word of God severs and dissembles/the Word of God repairs and restores. The Word of God shatters and shakes/the Word of God rattles bone to bone and remakes. The Word of God pierces hearts and minds, unveiling all it finds/the Word of God clothes hopelessness with the raiment of grace.  The Word of God confounds the unrighteous and the wicked/the Word enlightens the wise and provides for the weak.  The Word of God divides the sea, straightens crooked paths, makes low every mountain, lifts valleys so that the uneven ground is made level and all flesh will behold the glory of God because, as Isaiah said, “the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” [Isaiah 40:1-5]

We need to hear the Word of the Lord.  May the Word of God in Christ remove the stigma of your wounding, restore you heart, soul, mind and body.  Let nothing terrify you; but in all you face and within all you do, may the Word of Christ so fill you with courage that you withstand and stand.  The triune God engrave the eternal name upon your hearts.  Stand on your feet and live.  Enter the silence. Hear the Word.

~See you Sunday

compass

A Compass and a Triptik: Navigating The Spiritual Life

I have never used a compass to navigate any journey I have undertaken but I am sure I have depended on persons –like pilots–who did use a compass.  Even without having used one, I’ve seen one and of course, I know it is important to know where East and West are, North and South, in relation to me and wherever it is I am located.

triptik1Some of you are old enough to remember Triptiks, those maps that AA A would print you with details on not only which roads to take in your route to your destination but also warnings on construction and advice on speed traps.  Those were useful but of course were overtaken by Mapquest in the dawning internet age and now, of course, GPS systems we carry in our pockets on our phones.

Getting located is something most of us find very important.  Indeed, when a loved one or friend seems overwhelmed by circumstances in their lives we will sometimes say, “they seem lost” or “they don’t know where they’re going.” And it is why sometimes we’ll say to our loved ones, be they children or spouses, “come home” since home is that one place where they not only have to let you in (I believe that was Robert Frost’s definition) but it is the one place to be counted on for knowing where you are in the world.

Which all may explain why the Church has hymns like Softly and Tenderly that has the line “come home.”  It yanks at our heartstrings. And the Bible has remarkable stories like the one Jesus taught about a young son who took off with his inheritance, squandered it to the point of living and eating with pigs and finally returned home.  His father, standing on a porch and seeing him from the distance, ran to meet him in the road, hugged and kissed him and welcomed him home.

Navigating the spiritual life involves all of these things:  finding a compass or GPS or map, sensing that one is lost (it is impossible to be found if one has not awakened to the truth that s/he is lost), and making the trip.  I hope you’ll join us this Sunday for worship.  It is basically the place and time when we who have been and are lost find our way home. We’ll sing “Amazing Grace” and declare that we’ve been found. We’ll rejoice in the sheer joy of being human beings made in the image of God. We’ll embrace like a family reunion and we’ll humbly make our way to God whose light, like a sun rising in the East, confirms the road we’re on leads to a place called faith, hope and love.  ~ See you Sunday