Thursday, February 02, 2006

Watching things happen

Just a few short days ago, there was nothing in the space behind the sanctuary. Just a tie rod and some motes of dust. In just three days, the new organ is beginning its birth story.
Wood and steel, levers and pipes, electrical conduit and ductwork are coming together to form what will make music in this place for generations to come. So often, in this life, we come in at the middle...Or end...Of most stories. It is an odd and exhilarating thing to be in at the outset. I give thanks to God for the privilege.
Even as I get ready for Annual Meeting, and Lent, and a special diocesan convention called in March, and a clergy day next week and a deanery meeting the week after.

Even as the life of the parish continues and we celebrate feasts and fasts.

The organ work continues.

We had Martin and his crew over for dinner last night. It was a treat to spend time with them in an informal setting. They are truly gracious people. Laura cooked a fabulous meal. The conversation was light and cheerful. One interesting experience: be prepared when you invite woodscraftsmen to your home for dinner...They will measure, check, touch and inspect everything you own that is hand made. From the table in the dining room to a magazine rack my father made when he was in high school shop, I caught them checking out the furniture. Upside is, you learn wonderful things about items you take for granted. How the latest tool can make that job easier. What workmanship went into something you own that you had never seen, through their eyes. A great gift, indeed.

This morning, when I went in after the early morning Eucharist in the Chapel to look at the progress, I was amazed that not much had changed. Well, not really amazed. Most of the work happening now is happening inside the case. The wind is being put in. Shutters to brighten or dampen the sound of the pipes are being hung. Little bits of piping and wooden conduit are being placed. Precision work done on a small scale. So, progress seems slow right now. Still, see it from their perspective: with over 200,000 parts, most of them the size of your finger if not smaller, the assembly of this instrument is wonderfully complex and time is the abstract in the equation. There are dramatic moments, such as the hanging of the pipe screens; as well as hidden ones that happen "backstage," as in the setting of the wind channels.

Still, with the first pipes installed, with wind in the mix and with the intricacies of the trackers set to begin...I will do my best to stick my head and my camera into spots that will allow you all to see that progress is still being made.

I am working now on my sermon for Sunday. The Gospel is a passage from Mark that we don't often get a chance to see/hear. Jesus has just called his first disciples from their nets: Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John. They travel to Simon Peter's house for dinner, presumably. Simon Peter is seeking to extend hospitality to Jesus and his new associates. When they get there, though, the woman of the house, Simon Peter's mother-in-law, is in bed with a fever. Jesus takes her by the hand, she is healed and gets up to cook. Simple enough. Thing is, it sets off a rush on Jesus. Word gets out that this woman was lifted up from her sick bed. She is cooking. She is healed. People beat a path to the door of the house. Instead of a restful time with friends, Jesus winds up in the midst of something that must have looked like a combination of an ER waiting room on Saturday night and the little circle that forms around doctor's at cocktail parties (Is my toenail supposed to look like this?). One person after another comes to Jesus for healing. One person after another is healed, until late at night. Everyone, exhausted, goes to fitful rest. Jesus then wakes them up to be on their way. Thing is, folks are still expecting him to "do his thing" at the house. Go ahead, folks say, hang out a shingle. Doctor Jesus. Healer.

Jesus rebukes them gently. The idea is to be on the way. The word, the news of the kingdom, is something that needs to be spread. Firsthand. Don't sit around and wait for the world to beat a path to your door...Take that better mousetrap of grace out into the world.

We don't always think of being that proactive. And yet, that is exactly our business as Christians. To be about the proclamation of the kingdom. Tie that in with Paul's musings on being all things to all people. He is aware of the fact that if the Gospel is going to be proclaimed, we have to be willing to speak in words and actions that the people around us can hear and understand. What we have to say actually subverts the accepted conventional wisdom of society, that we should love our neighbors as ourselves and place true allegiance to the kingdom of God above all others. To say that outright will win us no friends. But, to speak that truth in whatever language is the lingua franca of the day...Well, then we just might buy a few moments of airtime. With anyone.

Peace, on the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple...Or, as the rest of the world calls it: Groundhog Day.

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