Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Preaching on failure and a liturgy lit only by fire

On Sunday, we had one of those typical 0ver-the-weekend storms that hit Saturday night and lingered into the early morning. Went to bed seeing the grass, woke up to drifts and ice and wind. Not a recipe for people being in church. On top of that, it is the national ski-weekend holiday of MLK, Jr's birthday. I know that sounds cynical, but in this over-worked and over-programmed world, those precious three-day weekends are too important to families that hardly see each other all together any other week of the year. MLK wanted humanity to live a more humane life. A little time away is a minimum, I think, response to that dream...But it is a response all the same. Next year, I hope with Kyle, the Church School/Youth Group and Outreach to set up a service day. Mayhap it will shift the tenor for some, including myself. I, too spent the day "away." The rest did me good...But I do miss the observance of the holiday that is there for reasons of justice-making, not rest-taking or feasting.

So, church was light in attendance. Also, I am sure, due to the fact that we had Bishop's Visitation the week before. AND winter grips us. That in-between time, in deed.

I preached early and late, and then presided over the Youth Eucharist. 8 AM and 11:30 were wonderfully solemn. I preached on the calling of Samuel, focusing on Eli for a change.

The old priest knew his day had passed, and that Samuel was experiencing a call. How did it feel for him to know his age had passed? What did it feel like to see the charisms of God's Word manifest in another? What did it take for him to get out of the way and send Samuel back into the sanctuary to hear and see the words of the fall of his house? What is God giving to us, willing to be with us in our failures as well as in our successes?

Youth Eucharist was lighter, by half. Sheppie Thompson was the presenter of the "paper bag sermon" object. Each YE, a child is asked to bring a paper bag with something in it to surprise the priest presiding. We are expected to improvise a short "homilette" from the object and the readings for the day. His gift to me was one of those magnetic yo-yo wheels. Mix that with Eli? What would you say? ;)

Today is the feast of the Confession of Peter. Just as the liturgy was getting ready to start, we lost power in the Chapel. No light, no heat. Just four of us, the candles and for a short time the emergency lights' faint overhead glow. Quite powerful, really. Sitting together in the quiet of a silent building in the half-light shed by a stormy sky inside an old building buffeted by wind while meditating on God is powerful stuff.

Good old Peter, "the Rock," the holder of the keys. He always gets it almost right. Confessing Jesus as the Messiah is premature. Reminds us all that conversion, calling, health and healing for individuals, communities and the world is a process and not a goal to surmount. Just saying it don't make it so. It is an experience to have, a lesson to learn, a memory to install, a time that has to come to fullness. The old Greek word is pleroma. It means, literally, "all in good time" and it makes us wait for the other shoe to drop!

Do that on a power outage day! All you can do, really, is wait for the power to come back on. All you can do. Wait, watch, listen, think. Pray.

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