Entering Holy Week

I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars. Og Mandino

Journeys can be so confusing. Even when we are following a trusted guide, it is not always clear as to where we are going and why. Our expectations need to be re-examined and adjusted.

Entering this Holy Week, I am once again reminded of how life’s journey so often takes unforeseen turns. Throughout all of his ministry, Jesus spoke of the difficult times ahead. As he and his disciples approached Jerusalem for the celebration of Passover, all expectations for true triumph were at their highest point.

How could they know what was to happen? Even though Jesus had told them to prepare for grieving and hardship – how could they have ever imagined the events that were so near? They were filled with memories of miracles and inclusion, inspired by direct teaching and entrusted to be the ambassadors of God’s Good News. Everything pointed toward a new way, supported and encouraged by God’s presence among them.

And… they were right to anticipate a radical shift in living and believing. Through the passage of time, Jesus’ example would continue to inspire and direct the faithful to share, by word and example, another way of living in this world. A way that would raise our attentions to justice and draw our actions to mercy.

But first… Jesus would lead them through a time – dark and tragic. The path on this journey was set. It would be a while before ‘hope’ would lift the darkness and shed the light of faith’s resurrection.20120402-044651.jpg

The week has begun. Jerusalem’s gates have welcomed Jesus, his beloved friends and followers. We, too, find ourselves in the mix, with our own expectations. May we be open to unforeseen turns and welcome new revelations.

 

“…your place in the family of things.”

It had not been my intention to pick up a theme on this blog as I move toward the end of 2011, but it appears that the breezes of fall have drawn me to a place called “belonging”. The week has been complicated with politics and passion. There is a surge in this country–a surge of energy calling for action from a new type of community. The question is once again being asked, “who is my neighbor? and what I give up in order to make life better for someone else?”

It’s been a long time since such a large group of people discussed the concerns of the greater good. Our society has forged itself into the 21st century with one banner– “It’s all about ME.” People have stood defiantly alone with their “rights” – the ‘right’ to make profit, the right to claim privilege, the right to leave families unsupported as homes are repossessed and jobs drastically cut. This focus on self has thrown us dangerously off-balance. The OCCUPY Movement has highlighted the selfish stance which has so deeply affected this country – the whole world. The people gathering all over the country are meeting one another, again, for the first time. Stories are being shared and heard. Community has been created in this forum, a community energized to reclaim balance and move forward with a renewed sense of truth.

There is no one-way. Finding balance will not be neat and clean. At the core, this is about ‘being known’ – belonging to something larger than self. This is a time for people to find their place in the greater family and, with all sincere imperfection, contribute to the balance we so passionately seek.

WILD GEESE
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clear blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Mary Oliver

the chaos of Palm Sunday

I have reflected on this day, its chaos and its strange, awkward flow – always challenging liturgists who strive to ‘connect the dots’ between triumphal entry and brutal death. Too much for one service we try to create a flow of worship, where it appears none was intended. Frustrated – we force this story and its impact to fit our form and time.

It is chaos — and yet, when I step back from the function, I sense a possible reason. Was it not chaos for all involved during that week? Who knew – disciples and all the hopeful – that this glorious entry into the city of all that was sacred, an entry that sung of victory and God’s blessing – who knew all would turn so horrible and tragic. The chaos must have been overwhelming. Packed into a week – they went from certainty to despair. Packed into an hour and a half we share that sense of wrenching confusion – we enter with palms waving and exit in silent awe. Exhausted we leave – wondering how all of these moments can happen so quickly.

Our time of wonder is as long as a life. We walk the road this next week, feeling the connection, the compassion and the violent shift. May there be insights in these days, hours and moments. May we realize all creation’s role as God enters our own sacred places.

For Palm Sunday, a poem by Mary Oliver

by Diana Butler Bass on Sunday, April 17, 2011 at 3:16pm

The Poet Thinks about the Donkey

On the outskirts of Jerusalem

the donkey waited.

Not especially brave, or filled with understanding,

he stood and waited.

*

How horses, turned out into the meadow,
leap with delight!

How doves, released from their cages,

clatter away, splashed with sunlight!

*

But the donkey, tied to a tree as usual, waited.

Then he let himself be led away.

Then he let the stranger mount.

*

Never had he seen such crowds!

And I wonder if he at all imagined what was to happen.

Still, he was what he had always been: small, dark, obedient.

*

I hope, finally he felt brave.

I hope, finally, he loved the man who rode so lightly upon him,

as he lifted one dusty hoof and stepped, as he had to, forward.

Organ, guitar or iPhone…

these musicians have helped move the conversation to new places — take a minute to listen with eyes closed and then watch them play their instruments.

who in our communities would feel welcome to join us in worship and faith’s journey by this music and technology? i dare say – more people than we can imagine!

i smile when i consider the possibilities…

REND COLLECTIVE —

thank you, Sharon Ely Pearson

The Presiding Bishop reflects on Lent 2011

How  light do we travel?  How far do we go?

Reflections from the Presiding Bishop