As we move deeper in to this strange and uncertain time, I suspect that you, like me, are a jumble of emotions. I miss my old life. The one where I knew what day it was, and what I was supposed to do that day!
I miss you! I loved seeing our community in person. Whether it was a week night or a Sunday morning. I loved the hugs, laughter, news, and worship time. I miss my pastoral calls to see Maureen and those in hospital or home bound. I suspect you miss seeing your St. Paul's family too.
When God's chosen people, the Israelites, were exiled in Babylon, they mourned for what they had lost. Psalm 137 begins, "By the waters of Babylon we sat down and wept." The whole question of the psalm is essentially, how do we do this? How do we sing the Lord's song upon an alien soil? (v 4).
Truth be told, online meeting is alien soil for most of us. Listening to the numbers of COVID-19 infections, being told to stay home, and stay distant, is all alien. The unknown is fearful.
Allow yourself to sit down and weep for what you've lost. There is tremendous anxiety and fear all around us, but we are God's people; grafted into the deep roots of our Jewish ancestors. And know, that while we grieve, and while we ask "how do we do this?" God is already guiding and accompanying us into this new land.
I'm trying to be intentional about feeling the sadness, because it grounds me in reality in a way that fear cannot. Please join me in looking inward at your own heart.. God meets us there, always. Even as God is guiding us toward tomorrow.
In her book, Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?, Beverly Daniel Tatum, psychologist and educator (President of Spellman University) offers a great metaphor for how we participate in the -isms that hold some people back and empower others to get ahead. She likens these “systems of advantage” to a moving walkway.
Think about the moving walkway at an airport. The walkway is an electronic, moving sidewalk that moves the people standing or walking on it, regardless of their participation. Those who are not on the walkway move at the speed of their own effort. This is how it is with systems of advantage. Like the moving walkway, they carry those who have the advantage toward the goal (for example, personal wealth and achievement) more easily. Those without access to the walkway may well get to the goal as well, but it will be slower and more arduous.
Here’s an example, people with disabilities are disadvantaged in our culture. They are next to the walkway trying to keep up as best they can. Those who are able-bodied are on the walkway. The system is designed for those who can use stairs, read public notices, hear announcements, use their arms, etc. Some people may be advocating for keeping the disabled from the “mainstream”. But most of us blithely unaware of our advantage, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t benefiting. We’re still on the walkway. Insert agism, sexism, racism, hetero-normativism and you can see the same thing. The systems we’ve created advantage some and disadvantage others.
The only way we can stop moving ahead of our disabled siblings is to get off the walkway - change the systems that advantage us. We can't just turn around and pretend we're just kind hearted people who don't support the advantage becuase, like it or not, we are still moving along and getting the advantage!
Jesus modeled for us what it looks like to actively dismantle systems of privilege. He intentionally hung out with the "wrong people". He actively flipped the tables of those who kept others from entering the temple. How about us?
Here are some questions to reflect on:
This Sunday we will celebrate Christ the King. When I think about King’s I think about old white guys with crown of gold on their head (as shown). But with Jesus, we have a king of a very different ilk. Our messiah came in humility, and poverty. Our messiah showed the power of love.
Mr. Rogers once said “Peace is so much more than the opposite of war.” The same is true with the kingship of Christ. It’s so much more than just a crown on Jesus. It’s the celebration of the very nature of God - revealed through every aspect, word, and action of Jesus.
Fred Rogers once wrote, “[Our understanding of] God’s nature has grown and grown and grown all through the ages, yet at the heart of the original creation is that Word (call it Love, call it Grace, call it Peace …) that essence which is lodged somewhere within each of us that longs for ultimate expression. If we choose to allow it to grow we’ll be given help. If we choose otherwise we won’t be forced. If there is such a thing as a “dark corner” of God’s nature then I think it’s God’s refusal to go back on the promise of “the creation’s freedom to love or not.” Perhaps it’s our turn now to take on our own Christ-ness. To be us with the same fullness and wholesomeness that God-in-Jesus modeled. The impact of people like Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, and Mr Rogers was rooted in their capacity to live their role as a daughter or son of the King of Glory. It’s you Jesus likes. It’s me. Will we move even deeper into that love and own our place at the throne of God’s love? Watch Mr. Rogers sing the song: It’s you I like - Mr. Rogers
Almighty God, with whom still live those who die in the Lord, and with whom the souls of the faithful are in joy and felicity: We give you heartfelt thanks for the good examples of all your servants, who, having finished their course in faith, now find rest and refreshment.
For those who departed this life in faith and in the fear of God especially,
Nancy Bell Underwood
Agnes & Charles Burlis
Michael and Joyce Barbagallo
Judy Stanis Mowry
Kathryn and Robert Mowry
James and Wanda Renshaw
Virginia W. StanfordBrian and Larry Bogart
That they may join the innumerable throng of holy ones gathered before the throne and the lamb, let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your apostles, “Peace I give to you, my own peace I leave with you:” Regard not our sins, but the faith of your church, and give to use the peace and unity of that heavenly city, where with the Father and the Holy Spirit, you reign, now and forever. AMEN.
Rector's Corner posts written by Pastor Rebecca.