Monday, February 2, 2009

Sunday, February 22, 2009, Last Sunday after the Epiphany

© 2009 by Louie Crew

Today’s Lections

The Collect

O God, who before the passion of your only-begotten Son revealed his glory upon the holy mountain: Grant to us that we, beholding by faith the light of his countenance, may be strengthened to bear our cross, and be changed into his likeness from glory to glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen..

The collect stresses that we Christians, like Christ, are better able to bear a cross if we know in advance the glory in which God regards us.

This is true for lgbt folk as well as for other. In these days in many, perhaps most, places the Church is a cross that lgbts have to bear. It is dangerous for lgbts to come to the church asking to be let in and welcomed as heir of Jesus: Lgbt should come to the church only if they already know in advance their welcome and their invitation from the Lord of the Feast. It is in that prior knowledge that we can bear witness to God's manifold and great mercies.

2 Kings 2:1-12

I love the lack of economy manifested in many biblical narratives. It is easy to reduce this passage from Kings and save all of the essentials merely by cutting out the several long repetitions. For example, one might write, “Three times Elijah said……’Stay here…. Also, three times Elisha replied, ‘As the Lord lives.” But the narrative power, especially when read allowed, is augmented by hearing the full statements read out loud each time.

Spiritual economy is expansive and generous, much as is the economy of love. You do not want your beloved only once to say to you, ‘I love you.’ You want to hear it again and again, some times many times in the course of an hour -- not because either of you doubts the authenticity of the statement, but because the saying of it each times enlarges the speaker and enlarges the one thus affirmed.

Reflect on someone who has dramatically influenced your life for good, someone who serves the world as you would like to serve the world, and imagine that person’s death. How might you ask for a double portion of that person’s spirit? Know, as Elijah cautions, that the request is a hard one and may or may not be granted.

Psalm 50:1-6

Those who fear pantheism must find themselves occasionally uncomfortable in reading the psalms. The psalmists frequently use the elements to dramatize God’s appearances among us. Given that Israel did not believe in graven images and believed that we cannot see God and live, the wind, thunder and the sky seem sometimes, in the psalmists' eyes to serve as God’s surrogates.

Before modern times, people could be presumed to spend much more time out in the elements than they have done in the last 200 years. Psalmists seem acutely aware of the fragility of human beings up against the power and majesty of physical creation.

The LORD, the God of gods, has spoken; *
he has called the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting.

Out of Zion, perfect in its beauty, *
God reveals himself in glory.

Our God will come and will not keep silence; *
before him there is a consuming flame,
and round about him a raging storm.

He calls the heavens and the earth from above *
to witness the judgment of his people.

2 Corinthians 4:3-6

Occasionally I encounter those who say, “You do not serve Jesus. You serve your own distortion of who Jesus is. You serve only yourself to make your wrong seem right."

I may be wrong, even as they claim, regarding questions of lgbt sexuality. I am not wrong about God nor about God’s love of absolutely everyone. I do not trust in my own righteousness, but in God’s great mercy. I proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and myself as his friend and servant.

Mark 9:2-9

Several times I have felt close to God in the presence of a small group of other Christians, and a few times I have turned to say, “Let’s build a tent.” Such was the transfiguration for Peter. Let’s make it permanent. Let’s just stay here forever.

In crossing the wilderness in Hebrew Scriptures, the Jews depended on daily manna, loaves God offered as freely as the dew for them to eat in the desert, but if they tried to hoard the manna, it rotted. Spiritual highs are like that. Manna cannot be freeze-dried.

Nor can we expect those watching our spiritual experience from outside it to understand it as we understand it:

Sound Effect

Hollywood rarely gets it right.

Off-screen, at the fancy wedding,
the organ's tremolo rarely muffles
the carpentry down the street.

Neither rolling drums nor a funeral's
21-gun salute ever fully mutes
the interstate a block away.

Nuptial tin cans inevitably clatter
through another's pain-filled drowse.
One's cortege irreverently squeaks
past some solemn wedding party.

Fiction-mongers shut their ears
to contradiction.
Any cacophony, they must control.

Motorists rarely stop for funerals anymore,
even in small towns.
Sunday School pregnant virgins
ride to Jerusalem on
"Look, another dirty camel!"

-- Louie Crew

Earlier appeared:

New Letters 54.1 (1987): 103. Published using my Chinese pseudonym Li Min Hua

Pierian Springs 2.4 (July 2003). Published using my Chinese pseudonym Li Min Hua

Little Magazine 22.2 (2005)

See also

1 comment:

The Rev. Dr. Debra K. Bullock said...

"Spiritual economy is expansive and generous, much as is the economy of love."

Louie, thanks so much for this insight. . . readers so often want to hurry through the repetition or begin to read as if they are embarrassed by the author's apparent clumsiness, but indeed, as you point out, spiritual economy is expansive and generous and what better way to show it than in the language used to express it!