Monday, June 26, 2006

Be Still!

Since I'm still on vacation, Demi and I had a "free Sunday" yesterday. We decided to visit the parish where Rodney serves. Rodney and I have been corresponding by e-mail for over a year now, but General Convention was the first time we'd met in RL.

To be honest, I was hesitant to go to Church at all on Sunday, as my state of mind of late has not been such that I feel at peace with some of my brothers and sisters in Christ. But this week I return to serve my congregation, and I knew that I needed to get past this dark place in order to be present to those whom I am called to serve. Confession and communion seemed like the right perscription.

The Gospel was about Jesus calming the storm. Here's part of Rodney's sermon:

...The British Navy has a strange custom. If there's a sudden disaster aboard ship, the "still" is blown. It's a whistle that calls the crew to a moment of silence in a time of crisis. When the still is blown, people aboard know that it means. "Prepare to do the wise thing." They tell us that this moment of calm has helped avert many a catastrophe.

The General Convention ended just four days ago but we're already hearing warnings about deadly storms brewing all around us. We've heard most of it before, but now some of the actions we're seeing feel like those waves crashing over the boat threatening the demise of life as we have known it. I am pleased with probably 95% of the work of our General Convention. But there is that nagging 5% that breaks my heart, deeply wounds me.

Maybe what our church has done is "blown the 'still'" in a time of crisis. Called for the calm on the ship. Prepared to do the wise thing. The wise thing is not a particular outcome. The wise thing is creating a calmer place so we can better hear God speak from the storm.

You can only claim this power when you know the value of stillness and practice it, when you do not give in to the panic and fear but hear the words of Jesus spoken with authority:

Be still!

Do not be afraid!

I am with you always!
"The wise thing is not a particular outcome...the wise thing is creating a calmer place so we can better hear God..." Yes, there it is. Seeking the voice of God in the midst of all this chaos.

After the Eucharist, some of us gathered in the parish hall to discuss General Convention. I was amazed by Rodney's ability to calmly discuss GC even though some of the actions taken he finds quite painful. His example was very helpful in preparing for future discussions that I will have to facilitate in the place where I serve.

Afterwards Rodney and Alan took Demi and me to lunch. The relaxed conversation and easy laughter helped bring home the wisdom of the words I heard earlier in the day; "Be still! Do not be afraid!"

I cannot surrender my belief in redemption. "All things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." God will create good out of even the most twisted human actions. My life is a testimony to this truth. It may be difficult to trust some human authorities right now, but I cannot stop trusting in the redemptive power of God's love.

When I came home, I found an email awaiting me from db, who reminded me of something I had written some months ago:

...As I administered communion this morning and we shared that special moment, I felt that "something" happening. My heart began to literally ache because of my love for each of those precious souls. Soon, the ache was transformed into joy, as I received their love for me.

This relationship, of love flowing between us at that special moment, was the way the theological reality, of receiving the outward and visible sign of God's grace, became manifest. Some of those folks were young. Some were old. Some were conservative, and others were liberal. Some were Democrats, but others were Republican. It didn't seem to matter to God. The grace flowed, and it was a glorious thing.

Some of the wounds caused by life may never heal. And I may always be shadowed by a deep sadness. But, thank God, there is more to life than that.

In the end, it is a matter of recalling what the point of living is all about; of honestly answering one of the most primal questions; what do you want?

I want to give love, and be loved. And that is what I experience when I gather with my brothers and sisters to celebrate the Holy Eucharist. Thanks be to God!
And thanks be to God for Rodney and Alan, and db, who have been for me "God with skin on" this weekend. I now feel better prepared to return to service tomorrow.

Be still!

Do not be afraid!

I am with you always!


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