Editor’s note – These are articles that Gay wrote for the St. Georgian, 2008-2012 and are collected here.
Joan Chittister a member of the Benedictine sisters tells a beautiful story about Vedran Smailovic who by age 37 had become the principal cellist of the prestigious Sarajevo opera theater. But in 1992 the theater was destroyed, the economy was shattered and national unity had disintegrated. On May 27th, 1992, a long line of starving people waiting in front of the only bakery in Sarajevo that still had enough flour to make bread were shelled. Twenty-two people died as Vedran Smailovic stood at his window a hundred yards away and watched.
The next day hungry people lined up again to beg for bread and then it happened. Vedran Smailovic arrived. He was dressed in the black suit and white tie in which he had played every night until the opera theater was destroyed. He was carrying his cello and a chair. He sat down surrounded by debris and the remainders of death and the despair of living and began to play the mournful “Adagio”, the one music manuscript that had been found whole in the city after the carpet bombing of Dresden. And he came back every day for 21 days to do the same thing, a living reminder that there is a strength in the human spirit that simply cannot be destroyed. Today, where he sat, there is a monument of a man in a chair playing a cello. But the monument is not to his music, as good as it is. It is to his refusal to surrender the hope that beauty could be reborn in the midst of a living hell. Even more important, is the fact that that small sound of hope rings on still around the world.
I know out of my own experience that there is no such thing as life without struggle. I, like you, have experienced the death of loved ones, debilitating illness, job loss, and life shaping disappointment. When tragedy strikes, when trouble comes, when life disappoints us – as it surely will- we stand at the crossroads between hope and despair. To go the way of despair colors the way we look at things, it can lead us to ignore the very possibilities that could save us or cause us to want to hurt as we have been hurt ourselves.
To go the way of hope takes life on its own terms, knows that whatever happens God lives in it and that it will ultimately yield its good. But it is not a matter of waiting for things outside of us to get better. It is about getting better inside about what is going on outside. It is about being open to the God of newness and to believe in the future and to quote Jim Dannals “to trust that with God nothing is wasted.” Hope is what sits by a window and waits for one more dawn, despite the fact that there isn’t an ounce of proof in tonight’s black sky that it can possibly come. And finally, hope is not something to be found outside of us. It lies in the spiritual life we cultivate within, it is about allowing our creating God to go on creating in us.
Bless to us, O God
The moon that is above us,
The earth that is beneath us,
The friends who are around us,
Your image deep within us.
Friendship colors the very air we breathe. We can see it in the eyes of old women in the kitchens of the women they love. We can hear it in the voices of young children giggling as they play or a group of teenagers laughing and playing ball.
It is our nature as human beings to need relationship. Created in love and for love, we yearn for relationship, we yearn to belong. We need one another, the joy and laughter that we experience in the company of friends, the energy that comes from feeling that our hearts are connected to the hearts of others. When we are deeply known and accepted by friends, we are better able to know and accept ourselves honestly, humbly, simply, and lovingly.
In friendship, we share the stories of our lives. Reflecting upon our stories reveals the common threads that tie us together. The love of true friendship is also the context in which we heal. It is in the midst of friends that we become who God calls us to be. Making new friends, deepening old friendships are some of the gifts of our parish weekend at Shrine Mont.
Nestled among the trees at the foot of Great North Mountain in the Shenandoah Valley rests the serene community of Orkney Springs. In the beginning, Orkney Springs Hotel was host to hundreds of guests meeting old friends and making new friends. Since the 1920s, it has also been home to Shrine Mont, our church’s conference center. It is a place where people are more important than things, where prayer and reflection, rest and relaxation are more important than appointments and tasks. It is a place of friendship.
Our fall parish weekend is a beautiful time of year, leaves are beginning to change and the mountain air is crisp and clean. Our weekend offers everyone at St. George’s the opportunity to spend time where generations overlap and friendships are made and renewed. Activities will be offered for all ages, with plenty of time to do, yet no pressure to do anything. Meals and house keeping are taken care of, leaving you to rest, worship, sit on the porch or play. Consider putting our weekend on your calendar, October 10-12, 2008.
We all are truly pilgrim peoples; always on the move, interiorly if not literally, seeking that which will draw us closer to God – seekers of that which is holy. We may not always name it as such or even always be aware, but if we truly believe we are made in God’s image that within each of us yearns for the Holy One. We are hungry for ways to make more room for God.
The tradition of pilgrimage is very old indeed. Abraham set out on pilgrimage to the Promised Land; many of the prophets were wanderers; Paul’s missionary journeys are certainly endless pilgrimages; all trusted in the leadership of God. In the early centuries of Christianity, men and women sought to follow God in a literal sense, wherever that might lead. Responding to Jesus’ command of “come, follow me”, some pilgrims went to the known holy places of Jerusalem and Rome, while others set out in tiny frail boats and let the wind, waves and tide direct their course, knowing their journey was as likely to lead to drowning as to a landfall – or they set out along land pathways that went they knew not where and which were fraught with unimaginable risk; they sought holy hermits who had withdrawn from the society of other humans; they visited local holy places such as shrines and wells; but in every case, always the intent was to seek the holy and thus draw closer to God.
Pilgrimage means leaving home and leaving home means encounters of the new; new people, new places, new experiences, and new perspectives. You are given a broader vision to see the Holy in familiar places at home and unfamiliar places in the rest of the world. St. George’s Senior High Class under the direction and leadership of Nick Cadwallender and Casey Hu will be going on pilgrimage July 27 – 30 in the mountains of western Virginia. Their pilgrimage theme is “Embracing Change – Living the Questions”. Please keep them in your prayers.
All of us are invited by God to “go on pilgrimage”; to seek the Holy One and summer is a season ripe for such journeys. Your pilgrimage may cross the oceans or be in your backyard, or the Bible study that Carey is offering on Tuesday mornings in July. I invite you to “go on pilgrimage”, to walk a sacred path and discover your sacred space, that core of feeling that is waiting to have life breathed back into it. If you would like help “planning” your pilgrimage, St. George’s clergy can help point you in the direction, just call or email us.
Hildegard of Bingen was a twelfth-century mystic, composer, and author. She described the Holy One as the greening Power of God. Just as plants are greened, so we are as well. As we grow up, our spark of life continually shines forth. If we ignore this spark this greening power, we become thirsty and shriveled. And, if we respond to the spark, we flower. Our work is to flower, to come into full blossom before our time comes to an end. So come, walk with the Holy One this summer on pilgrimage
Our beginnings as Christians lie in the history, worship and traditions of our Jewish brothers and sisters, which is rich and full of home rituals. One of their great rituals is embodied in the mezuzah (“doorpost”). A mezuzah is a piece of parchment usually contained in a decorative case and nailed on the right side of every Jewish doorpost. It is inscribed with verses from the Torah (Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:13-21) and begins with the phrase “Hear, O Israel, the Lord your God, the Lord is one.” The Hebrew word Shaddai is inscribed on the back of the parchment in such a way that it can be seen from the outside. Shaddai, one of the biblical names of God, also serves here as an acronym for “guardian of the doorways of Israel.
The mezuzah was a ritual code that said to everyone entering and leaving that home, “As for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord.” A mezuzah connects us to our Creator. As Spiritual beings, the space in which we live can become ritual space for the soul. Ritual is not the way, truth, and life, but ritual is a reminder that there is a way, a truth, and a life. Rituals fix you in space and time. Change your rituals and you change your “fixing.” Change your “fixings” and you change your realities. Below are some suggested “rituals” that may “Mezuzah” you to our creator and to others:
- When you move into a new house, have a house blessing and invite neighbors. The same if you open a new business or move into “new” business space.
- When you polish that heirloom from your great grandmother or use your grandfather’s tool offer a prayer of gratitude to God for their influence in your life.
- Consider beginning the day with chimes. “Good morning, God!” or “Good God, it’s morning!”
- “You say grace before meals. All right,” wrote G. K. Chesterton, “but I say grace before the play and the opera, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, walking, playing, dancing: and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.”
- Try going through one day only accepting people, not judging them.
- Pay for someone’s meal without them ever figuring out who the benefactor was.
- Light a candle every time a friend or a client meets with you and then snuff it out when they leave.
- Send a parent or grandparent a note on your birthday.
At St. George’s Shrine Mont retreat a couple of weekends ago some of us were talking about the collapse of the financial markets and the effect it was having on so many people all around us. “I really needed this time with all of you this weekend” one said, “this is a time when I am so grateful to have this community and not only at Shrine Mont but back home at St. George’s” another said.
They are right….how good it is to have this place, this community when we find our selves in crisis or are met with challenges and changes of any kind. Whether it is the birth of a child, the need for guidance and direction, or lonely and longing for community, or a loved one dies, a teenager is in trouble or you are just looking for a way to make a difference in the world St. George’s, this community is here for us.
In the midst of this wonderful, sometimes confusing, hurting and challenging life to let God’s grace fully work in our lives we need a community of people who can affirm, deepen and strengthen us. We cannot live this new life alone. As the poet and writer Henri Nouwen wrote in The Road to Daybreak “God does not want to isolate us by his grace. On the contrary, God invites us into Christian community – holy places where we can find refuge and sanctuary, a place of grace and love to those who are hurting. A place where that wonderful grace of God can grow to fullness and bear fruit.”
Are We Different — A question St. George’s clergy are asked frequently and it is a good question. One answer is that our history, our particular challenges, our location and our dreams have led us in some distinctive directions.
The other simple honest answer is that we aren’t very different from any local Christian congregation. We seek faithfully to offer the worship of God and service to others in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. I have been asking St. George’s members to describe “our” church and I have been asking, “are we different?”; below are some of the answers:
- We are Anglicans, members of a worldwide communion of Christians whose customs and understandings of the Christian way developed from the Church of England.
- We try to provide a church “roomy” enough for Christians with conscientious differences in practice and belief to live together in love.
- We practice radical welcome; trying to welcome and live our lives, the way Jesus lived his life and ministry.
- We aren’t perfect at this, but we try to welcome people by struggling to live beyond the categories of race, ethnicity, citizenship, religious identity, sexual orientation, age, or class.
- We gather at an open table. At the heart of things, our life centers on our worship of God.
- At the Eucharist (Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion, Mass), we welcome all who come to us no matter their age and no matter where they are on their spiritual journey. They all may receive the bread and wine with us. The gifts of bread and wine on the altar are God’s gifts to us, not our possessions.
- We are not a club of like-minded, self-focused members. We care for one another yet our work and mission is toward those who might want to hear the Good News of God in Christ.
- Our four Sunday services run from traditional to innovative, sometimes blending ancient and contemporary forms in the same service. Not everyone responds spiritually to the same stimuli; we respect that and work creatively with the possibilities.
- Every Sunday is a little Resurrection, so we put out our best offerings—worship, education, hospitality—every Sunday of the year.
- We are not afraid to grow. Sometimes we become anxious about change, but that is always a part of growing.
- We challenge one another and we welcome others into leadership.
- We are willing to talk about money.
- We are always looking for the next thing God is calling us to do.
Can you add to the list?
Have a Happy Retreat and May You Fully Exhale”
I wrote an email to our Congregational Care Commission back in June to tell them I would be on vacation and would not make their next meeting. The above was the reply from one of our beloved members. What a wonderful send off, it was my motto the entire vacation.
Have a happy retreat and may you fully exhale is not one of the everyday expressions that I usually hear. More often than not I hear:
I am going as fast as I can
the sooner, the better
I don’t have much time
wait a minute
just a second
grab a bite
it’ll only take a minute
In addition to the above think of the fast phrases you say and hear that start with “instant,” “fast,” “express.” Speed is a main ingredient not just of what we say but what we do. Have you ever stood in the checkout lane with two or three people ahead of you and maybe you’re not even in a hurry and then you see that other sales associate go to open another lane….there it is, an opening, your chance! Speed is just not all around us, speed is inside of us.
But hurry is not an innocent and inevitable consequence of modern life and believe it or not we do have God’s permission to take our time and to exhale. God invites us to live at a sacred savoring pace, to see more clearly, listen more carefully, and think more deeply. But living at a savoring pace is not simply about slowing down, we are wired for more. A savoring pace is slowing down for enrichment’s sake. You cannot rush and relish at the same time. Savoring or relishing life is a sacred practice. Traveling day by day at a savoring pace means that we are given a gift by God to taste and see God’s extravagant gift of life. It is not just a timely speed corrective, it is a sacred calling.
“Have a happy retreat and may you fully exhale,” Mr. Rogers says it this way:
When I see a baby quietly staring at his or her own hands…..or a toddler off in a corner putting something into a cup and then taking it out, over and over again……or a preschooler lying in the grass daydreaming, I like to think that they, in their own ways, are ‘alone in the best room’ of their houses, using the solitude they need to find the courage to grow.”
Fred Rogers, You Are Special:
Words of Wisdom from America’s Most Beloved Neighbor
At a certain point you say
To the woods, to the sea, to the mountains, the world,
Now I am ready.
Now I will stop and be wholly attentive.
You empty yourself and wait, listening….
When I deliberately pause to look and listen to life around me, I discover an amazing harmony within myself and all of creation. It is not always easy to stop, of course. I may be able to slow down my body, to sit relatively still in a lawn chair or at my desk. But truth be told I am too used to gobbling down my food, driving numbly through traffic, working feverishly while waiting for an appointment, thinking about tomorrow as I stand in line at the store. In our frantic, fragmented and often violent world, we can easily become separated from our own souls.
- What is it that drives “true self” into hiding?
- When we have lost track of ourselves, how can we find our way home?
- What does the journey require?
- Where can we find fellow travelers?
- Why is this work important?
I would like to invite you to two very different journeys of reconnecting with your soul.
- On October 1st join us for the first of our 1st Thursdays, potluck and conversation with old and new friends. At 7:00 pm in the Nave (upstairs in the church), join others as we use stories from our own journeys and insights from poets, as a way in which the noise within us and around us can subside and we can begin to hear our own inner voice.
- Sunday, November 1, All Saints Day the Labyrinth Committee will host a walk to pray for peace and for those who have died. Come walk the labyrinth Sunday afternoon between the hours of 2:30 – 4:30 p.m. in the Family Room. You can read more about the labyrinth on the brochure in this newsletter.
I think of Thomas Merton who said, ‘Yes, we are called to give our hearts to the world, but first we have to have our hearts in our own possession.’ We are so often robbed of our hearts and these two offerings may be a way to reclaim your heart.
An article in Episcopal Life, our church’s national newspaper, Jan Johnson recounts a Sunday morning experience to which most of us can relate – the choice between greeting our friends and greeting a “stranger”. It was just after the service ended and she wanted to catch up with some friends she had not seen in a while. But instead, she followed a “three-minute guideline” that she had learned at a leadership conference. The guideline challenged her to spend the first three minutes after the service seeking out and engaging someone she did not know. It did not have to be a visitor or a newcomer, but just someone that she had not met.
A simple and radical idea, but imagine the consequences! Ms. Johnson admits that the guideline is challenging. Her first few efforts were awkward but her persistence and practice paid off. “After abiding by the three-minute guideline, I saw how it eased me out of my shell and gave me eyes for folks I’d otherwise overlook. In fact, it gave me a new understanding of what it means to have the welcoming heart of Christ with persons the Scripture calls ‘strangers’ or ‘aliens.’”
To have the heart of Christ means to be truly present to each person we meet, especially strangers God brings across our path. To ignore strangers renders us dead to the possibility that God may use us in that person’s life or that God may speak to us through this person. This Advent I invite you to accept the challenge in our Baptismal covenant to “seek and serve Christ in all persons.” As we prepare to welcome the infant Christ into our hearts at Christmas let us practice welcoming Christ in the person we do not know.
Not everyone in the parish is called to serve as a Greeter, but we all are called to offer hospitality. Try the three-minute guideline this Advent!
Pentecost – The Holy Spirit and Friends
The gospels are filled with stories of Jesus curing people of blindness, enabling them to see. Physical blindness is central to the healing ministry of Jesus but the stories also suggest the need to cure other kinds of blindness. Jesus opened people’s eyes and helped them to see on many levels, in many ways.
We are all blind to something. Often, what opens our eyes to things we have not seen before is an encounter with Christ in the person of a trusted friend. True friends can often help us to see more clearly through their vision, honesty, and love.
It is so easy to say that people have lost any sense of their own sinfulness, but perhaps it is the opposite. Perhaps we have lost our sense of goodness. One of the most important things that we can do for one another is stand in the image of the God who affirms our goodness. Friends can name the grace and affirm the goodness in one another.
Friends affirm one another as well as name those places where they see God at work in one another’s lives. A friend who affirms, who names the goodness, grace and beauty in another is not only a mirror reflecting but also a messenger from God who calls another to live. This friendship is the work of the Holy Spirit that moves and enables, which empowers persons to be who they are and to become who they are meant to be.
One of our speakers in Lent 2009, Kathleen Brown, director of formation for Ministry at Washington Theological Union says that “it is the very Spirit of God, and our love and actions that flow from it, that connect us to each other and bind our hearts together. The Spirit is love, to be communicated by human words, shared by human touch, letting us feel here and now the very presence of God. When, in the love of friendship, we affirm the goodness, grace and beauty in another, when we listen to the stories of others and break open the stories of our own lives, when we enable others to be who God calls them to be, the power of the Spirit is enfleshed in the world, and we love one another into life.”
Messages in a Bottle
Two wonderful teachers in my life are Parker Palmer and Rick Jackson from the Center for Courage & Renewal. They believe that poems are messages in a bottle, passionate, private communication from a soul to another soul. They have taught me that a poem can be an instrument that helps us take readings of our own hearts, that can challenge us to the core, but in a way that gets our hearts attention, even when our intellect and ego want to resist.
Poetry also offers the comfort our souls deserve, offering authentic solace by reassuring us that we are surrounded by abundance, a hopeful affirmation that “what we need is here.”
I love the fact that a poem does not ask us to take these truths on faith but invites us to discover them for ourselves by being “quiet in heart, and in eye, clear”, both doorways into and destinations of an inner journey. Poetry offers that path, a path that can take us toward the inner in our own way, our own time, our own lives.
In these last weeks of summer I offer you a poem and some questions for perhaps fruitful interaction between you the reader and the text:
The other day as I was ricocheting slowly
off the pale blue walls of this room,
bouncing from typewriter to piano,
from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,
I found myself in the L section of the dictionary
where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.
No cookie nibbled by a French novelist
could send one more suddenly into the past–
a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp
by a deep Adirondack lake
learning how to braid thin plastic strips
into a lanyard, a gift for my mother.
I had never seen anyone use a lanyard
or wear one, if that’s what you did with them,
but that did not keep me from crossing
strand over strand again and again
until I had made a boxy
red and white lanyard for my mother.
She gave me life and milk from her breasts,
and I gave her a lanyard.
She nursed me in many a sickroom,
lifted teaspoons of medicine to my lips,
set cold face-cloths on my forehead,
and then led me out into the airy light
and taught me to walk and swim,
and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard.
Here are thousands of meals, she said,
and here is clothing and a good education.
And here is your lanyard, I replied,
which I made with a little help from a counselor.
Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,
strong legs, bones and teeth,
and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered,
and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp.
And here, I wish to say to her now,
is a smaller gift–not the archaic truth
that you can never repay your mother,
but the rueful admission that when she took
the two-tone lanyard from my hands,
I was as sure as a boy could be
that this useless, worthless thing I wove
out of boredom would be enough to make us even.
from The Trouble with Poetry and Other Poems by Billy Collins
What do you notice in this poem?
Where does this poem intersect with your life?
What images, words, or phrases seem to linger in your mind?
Who would you give this poem to and why?
On Sunday mornings, I love seeing the children with the nametags they have made. When they enter the classroom, they settle into very serious work of attaching a star beside their name on the attendance chart, finding their nametag that hangs on the bulletin board, or making a new one if they left theirs at home. This is an important ritual for most of these 3rd and 4th graders. Each child has painstakingly written his or her name proudly on a tag. Often, there are endless decorations of hearts, flowers and smiley faces. Often when children are running late to class we will suggest they skip making or getting their tag, but the children will not have it. They also ask if they may wear their name tag to church. Name tags are serious business.
While making name tags might be a stalling technique, I mostly believe that the children value being part of the community at St. George’s. Wearing a name tag visibly and concretely lets everyone around them know who they are, and it marks them as important members of this community. When priests anoint our foreheads with oil in the sign of the cross at our Baptism, they say “You are sealed by the Holy Spirit in baptism and marked as Christ’s own forever.” In a sense, our baptism serves as our name tag as followers of Jesus; it identifies who we are and our place in the community of the Church. Since our baptism is not usually a visible and concrete symbol like a name tag on our shirt, how do we show our identity as baptized Christians? When other people see me and the way in which I live my life, are they able to easily see that I am sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked as Christ’s own forever? Perhaps claiming our own identity begins with recognizing Christ in each other. When we see others as precious children of God, let’s hope it changes how we treat each other, how we view each other, and, in turn, how other people view us as individuals and as a community of faith.
This fall, we are back in full force, with three Sunday morning and one afternoon service, plus education for all ages at 9:55 am. What wonderful opportunities to get to know one another! I challenge you to put on your name tag and proudly mark yourself as not only Christ’s own but also as a member of this loving and uplifting St. George’s community. If you do not have a St. George’s nametag and would like one, please let Jan Meredith know. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Look to your left and right, who do you see? Greet each other as precious children of God who have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and take some time to get to know one another enough to see how Christ shines through us all.
Behold This Newborn Child
Each time a child is born, particularly after a grandparent dies, we sense that life goes on. All is not lost. There is a deep resilience, stronger than the grasp of death.
The babe is lifted high toward the welcoming stars, a young life with just a kernel of ripening, a new resident in the heart of existence. All those gathered proclaim:
“Behold, behold, this newborn one! Let us nurture and keep alive the sacred mystery of hope hallowed in this young one’s heart. We sow our dreams of a future in this freshly birthed being. We give our loving promise to guide and guard this child. Always we will remember our oneness in the dancing cosmos.
The stars say not a word. They bow in reverence to this creature, whose adult hands will hold power enough to blow up a planet, or seed a waiting garden.
The stars smile, for they too have hope, and night turns toward the dawn.
May you have a hope filled Advent and Christmas.
Editor’s note – Gay was on sabbatical in 2011 and we have no writings in the newsletter attributed to her
Not knowing when the dawn will come, I open every door. Emily Dickinson
Sometimes I dread the season of Lent, sometimes I love it. I haven’t been able to make up my mind about what I am feeling this year! That is until I read the quote from E. Dickinson today. (I’m writing this article on Monday, January 21) You see, I subscribe to a wonderful site, www.gratefulness.org in which they send a word or thought each day and not knowing how I was feeling about Lent this ‘word for the day’ was exactly what I needed.
What a wonderful way to approach Lent…to open every door. Opening every door may sound a bit over whelming or just one more thing when some of us are already feeling over extended; but I wonder if being willing to open every door means to pause throughout the day and to listen? To “try on something new”? To open a door to the possibility of saying no? or yes? To listen and be open to look for God in all of life, the busy times and the quiet times? Perhaps by living this season of Lent, by opening every door, Lent will be a season of grace, of recovering a balance in my spirituality, of believing and hoping in my God-given goodness on the one hand and being wise and alert to sinful leanings on the other. Of gradually being transformed into my true self.
I invite you to join me and open every door and perhaps together we will more fully discover that the world is God’s dwelling place, and that God’s heartbeat can be heard in the whole of life and at the heart of our own lives, if we will only open every door and listen.
Nothing Goes Without Saying”
How often do we think things like, “She knows I love her – it goes without saying” or “He knows how much I appreciate all his hard work – it goes without saying”? The truth is, words can be a powerful affirmation, and the absence of the right words can leave a void that really hurts. The truth is, very little goes without saying, and the important things should never go without saying. There are things we know, but sometimes we still need to hear them loud and clear.
During the 9:00 am service on Sunday, May 6, we will celebrate an important rite of passage with some of our 7th and 8th graders. This class is named Rite-13 after the special liturgy we will celebrate with them on this day. In some respects, this is a new way of saying to our young people things we have meant to convey all along – things like: “We stand with you as you make your way on the journey; we’re here if you need us; we think you are terrific; we love you.” We often assume that our teens feel appreciated and accepted as a vital part of our parish, but adolescence can be such a time of uncertainty that some things just can’t be said often enough.
Ono of the unique aspects of the Journey to Adulthood program is that it seeks to provide rites of passage that are often lacking in our culture. We help define points along the path to adulthood that tell our young people they are making progress; they are growing; they are becoming adults. Rite-13 is the liturgical cornerstone that lays the foundation for the entire congregation of St. George’s to rise up and in one voice tell our young people, “You matter to us. Your lives are of inestimable value. The journey you are now embarking on is significant.” It is a way that we fulfill our baptismal covenant of “seeking and serving Christ in all persons.”
Here is a priceless opportunity for us to affirm all that is good in the young people who live and grow around us and to recognize them as young men and women in our midst. Don’t miss this incredible chance to say out loud in a very powerful way what we have meant to say to them all along. Remember, NOTHING GOES WITHOUT SAYING!!
Our Rite-13 Celebrities are: Lillian Susmitha Babbie, Alison Cashner, Cameron Eric Stroud, Tyler Philip Glascock, Mikayla Cheyenne Bonner, and Matthew Leo Roberson.
What is Your Metaphor of God?
Metaphor is figurative language that helps us to see something in a new way by comparing it to something else. It is seeing as; it is imagining and describing one thing as if it were another. Some things, like God, can only be described by metaphor, since we can’t see, hear, or touch God, at least not in a physical sense and the metaphors we use for God affects how we relate to God.
God is the Eternal King, strong to save. Jesus is the rock that rolls my blues away. He’s the rock beneath my feet. God is like the mother hen who longs to gather her chicks under her wing. One of my favorites by the poet Maya Angelou: Dear Creator, You, the borderless sea of substance……
John Dominic Crossan, an authority on the historical Jesus and First Century Christianity through his latest book The Greatest Prayer has introduced me to an intriguing metaphor for od and prayer. In that metaphor we are all laptops, and prayer is about empowerment by participation in and collaboration with God. He says:
”Think about electricity as a metaphor or symbol for God. This God-as-Electricity is always there, whether discovered or not. Even when found, my human freedom allows me to connect or not connect. It never forces itself upon me. I need it without its needing me.
Furthermore, God –as-Electricity is equally available to all comers. You do not have to merit it by your action or deserve it by your character. You can be rich or poor, young or old, gay or straight, female or male, or anything else you can imagine.
Finally, God –as-Electricity works just as well for game and movie players, cell phones, and digital assistants; it even works equally well for Apples and PC’s. All we laptops have to do is find an outlet and plug ourselves in; empowerment is the free gift of God-as-Electricity.”
I imagine God-as-Electricity and think of prayer as empowerment by participation in and collaboration with God. Jesus did not settle down in Nazareth or Capernaum and have his companions bring others to him. Instead, he sent them out to do exactly what he himself was doing: heal the sick, eat with the healed, and demonstrate the kingdom’s presence. It is not, he said, about intervention by God, but about participation with God. God’s great work in the world cannot continue and will not conclude without our divinely empowered participation and collaboration.
Consider completing this sentence with family or friends: “God is like…..? You may be on your way to discover personal, poetic, metaphorical ways in which you and others understand God. But tread carefully here, because metaphors create dreams and symbols create visions.