Sunday, June 14, 2009

Resonating with other

Preaching this morning using the text on the anointing of David by Samuel from 1 Samuel 15:34-16:13, I said, in part:
We are all David.

How many of you have ever said or done anything you've regretted?
How many of you have ever done anything you weren't very proud that you'd done?
How many of you have ever had someone do something amazing for you completely unexpectedly?
How many of you are loved by God?

We are all David. …

Up until the point where the oil gets poured on your head, where you are chosen, singled out, marked as other, you really don't have to do much. Once you are chosen, once you are singled out as different, then, then you start having to figure out what this means for you. Now people are paying attention, now you have to do something with what God has given you. …

So the second lesson is that, like David, we are all being called out to be other. …

What is your reason or excuse to come out and share with someone outside of these walls what this faith community means to you, or what our prayer time means to you, or what God is doing in your life or how you hear a story from the Bible reflected in your own everyday life? When you do the work of social justice that so many of you are called to do, do you tell people about the faith that motivates you to do so, and if not, why not? It's one thing to be called to be different, to be other; it's quite another to figure out how you really need to live that out and speak out about our difference. When we are called out, how do we live faithfully as other, as different? …

God is calling us out. We are all called to be ourselves as people of faith, both in and not in the world, to be contemplative and activists, to be do-ers and be-ings. We need to come out to live on the thresholds, in the boundaries.

But how?

For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, "Move from here to there," and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. The One who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always confident—even if one of us is not in the moment, like last week when I asked for your prayers, we as a community are a container for faith—we are always confident, even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord—for we walk by faith, not by sight.

Have faith to be other. Like God called David, God is yet calling us. Come running in from the fields, and see what God has in store for you. It is through that faith in showing up and coming out that we will find God, and be about doing God's work, here, on the boundaries, on the thresholds. The love of God will meet us there.

What struck me then in the time of community prayers is how much people variously resonated with otherness. One person asked for prayers for faith to be other while she begins to do ground breaking research—no one has done preliminary research in what she is trying to do. One person asked for prayers as he travels with a group of formerly homeless veterans who've formed a rock band—talk about knowing about otherness, he said. I am reminded that we all have fears and feelings of being other and thus outcast, and I was trying to reframe otherness as a gift that we each bring to the world in/as our faith journey.

The chorus of a song I've just been listening to by the Talley Trio, Orphans of God, has this key phrase: "There are no strangers, there are no outcasts, there are no orphans of God." What does it take for us to know that? And to know that being other, not being the same, is why God created us in our glorious diversity, and that being different is not to be feared?

In my meeting with the committee on ministerial preparation, which, give thanks and praise, has affirmed me in my call to ministry and so I move onto the next step, I said in response to the question, "What is my learning edge?" that I was reminded by my recent CPE experience of the blessing it is when we learn ways to get people to see us outside of the boxes that they put us in and when we remember to see other people outside of the boxes that we have put them in, and that is what we most need to do. If it were a bumper sticker, would it be "Question assumptions," rather than the 1970's "question authority?"

Rejoice today in your otherness, for it brings you close to the holy mystery and Otherness that is God. That perhaps is what loving the neighbor as ourselves really does. Then, I was reminded of this poem about neighbors and prayer and finding ourselves going places we don't expect to go.

(from Claiming the Spirit Within, edited by Marilyn Sewell):
Answered Prayers by Kathleen Norris
I came to your door
with soup and bread.
I didn't know you
but you were a neighbor
in pain: and a little soup and bread,
I reasoned, never hurt anyone.

I shouldn't reason.
I appeared the day
your divorce was final:
a woman, flushed with cooking
and talk, and you watched,
coiled like a spring.

You seemed so brave and lonely
I wanted to comfort you like a child
I couldn't, of course.
You wanted to ask me too far in.

It was then I knew
it had to be like prayer.
We can't ask
for what we know we want:
we have to ask to be led
someplace we never dreamed of going,
a place we don't want to be.

We'll find ourselves there
one morning,
opened like leaves,
and it will be all right.

1 comment:

  1. I liked the poem, probably use some Sunday soon. Thanks.