The violent death of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis followed closely on the heels of the deaths, under similar circumstances, of Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. That’s just three of the legion of names that could be added to the lynchings of our past and present. The outrage, anger, frustration, and just plain exhaustion felt by people of color and those who stand with them have resulted in protests.
This weekend in worship, we will celebrate the Day of Pentecost, a major festival Sunday in the church year. Frequently celebrated as the birthday of the church, Pentecost recalls the gift of the Holy Spirit given to the first disciples, who, empowered by tongues of fire and guided by the rush of violent wind, began to speak in foreign tongues allowing the gospel message beyond Judaea.
A story; perhaps a parable.
Mike had been thinking about a thick, juicy steak at his favorite steak house ever since he heard that the governor was allowing restaurants to open again after all this coronavirus nonsense. Rib-eye. Medium rare. Onions, no mushrooms. Who made the governor God anyway? It was his right – his God-given right - to eat wherever and whenever he desired. He was unafraid of getting a bug, even if it really existed. If others were worried, that was their problem.
Right now, there is a lot of discussion about “reopening” the economy. The nation, states, counties, and cities are wondering what should and what should not be safe, vital, necessary. The discussion is important. There is also lots of talk about “reopening” the church. If I may parrot Bishop Michael Burk a bit, the church has never closed in this time.
Over and over, during Jesus’ public ministry, ministry happens and community is built around the breaking of bread. From the Wedding at Cana to the Feeding of the 5000 and, of course, the Last Supper, one thing seems abundantly clear: when Jesus wanted to convey a particularly important or meaningful lesson, it was often done surrounded by food and in the context of sharing a meal. In fact, after the resurrection, one of the most notable “aha!” moments, in which the disciples recognized the Risen Lord, occurs when Jesus breaks bread at the table.
I miss church. I miss seeing you at to worship. I miss the gathering of the church school children. I miss hearing the choirs sing and the congregation blend their voices in song as we belt out some of those favorites. I miss the Lord's Supper and sharing the meal with you as we are assured that the Lord is with us. I miss baptizing babies and sharing the joy of this special moment of God proclamation of love. I miss shaking your hand after worship. I miss the rhythm of worship, that predictable flow of the Lutheran liturgy that has cradled me through the good times and the hard times in my life. It is not the building that I crave. It is the experience of the Divine. So where is God, the Divine One, when we can't gather for worship?
The earth is the LORD’s and all that is in it,
the world, and those who live in it… Psalms 24:1
I had originally thought that writing about Earth Day on Earth Day would be an opportunity to NOT talk about public health emergencies and pandemic. Then I discovered that, from the Earth’s perspective, this virus has not been all bad news.
I don’t know about you, but I find that I seem to be more urgently missing what I don’t have or can’t do. While I completely understand and support social distancing, staying home, and keeping our distance, it brings me face to face with a longing for what I don’t have and the things I miss. For instance, I need a haircut! I like going out to eat. I also like to run to the store to pick up what’s missing for the recipe I found – even if the pantry is well stocked to make something else. I want something and I want it now.
U.S. Surgeon General warns that the coming week “…is going to be the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans’ lives.”
This grim headline greeted me as I logged into Facebook on Palm Sunday in order to join the HTLC “Watch Party” for virtual worship. How strange, I thought, that the terror, which has been building in our nation for weeks, would reach its supposed pinnacle during the holiest week of the church year.
Today, I want you to know that I give thanks for you. I find myself thinking about you during the day, wondering what you are doing, and how you are managing during this time of adjustments to a new style of living that includes an unsettling outlook about the foreseeable future.