Come in! Come in!

"If you are a dreamer, come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a Hope-er, a Pray-er, a Magic Bean buyer; if you're a pretender, come sit by my fire. For we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!" -- Shel Silverstein

Sunday, March 01, 2009

This is the day the Lord has made

I begin each day with this verse from Psalm 118:24. Rain or shine, overcast or bright, warm or cold, snow or sleet, it's the first thing I say to myself before my feet hit the floor. I can't remember it not being my first spoken thought.

It's also the first thing I say every Sunday in church, after the processional hymn and before the opening sentences, in between saying the things that are important to the service: introducing a guest preacher, a change in service music settings, whatever.

I say it during Lent and Easter, Advent and Christmas, The Season of Creation and the long, green Season after Pentecost.

I was especially glad to say it this morning at both the 8 and 10 o'clock service, when my dear friend, the Rev'd Dr. Paul Smith, came to preach.

Dr. Paul is the retired pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn Heights. He and his wife, Fran (a really terrific woman - smart, articulate, sassy), recently moved to a nearby town and have become very, very dear to me.

He was one of a handful of students taken under the wing of Howard Thurman as his protegee. He is a veteran of the Civil Rights Movement, an author, an educator, and someone who is deeply, personally, committed to The Beloved Community in particular and Interfaith Dialogue in general.

Every congregation he has ever served and led has become a model of diversity and inclusion. Indeed, he considers himself a 'diversity role model'. That's as accurate a description of Paul Smith as any one I've every heard.

He talked about Lent as a time of discernment in terms of getting ready to set out in a small boat in the midst of a Big Water. He asked us if we were safe in the harbor or had we ventured out to the sand bar? Were we stuck in the sand, or were we already in the deep water and longing to come back in to shore?

I wish I had a manuscript of his sermon, but it was all extemporaneous. We don't yet have reliable audio equipment, so we weren't able to tape it. Our loss, but I have a sense that there were those in the congregation who will not soon forget his words.

He really pushed us to think about this image of being in a Very Small Boat about to launch on a Very Big Water - and with good result. Several people came up to him and to me - eyes brimming with emotion and, in several cases, tears - to say how that image had really hit a place deep in their soul.

Some seemed shaken and disturbed. Others looked like they were feeling something stirring in their souls.

It was snowing softly this morning. It has stopped now. We are expecting a Very Big Storm this evening and into tomorrow.

No matter. It's all good: The early morning flurry of snow. The bright sun immediately after. The mild, overcast afternoon. The anticipated storm after all of the old stuff had finally disappeared.

It's all good: The smiles. The tears. The anxious chatter. The being shaken and disturbed. The something stirring in the soul.

This is the day the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.


Kirkepiscatoid said...

I can certainly identify with that "Oh, Lord, the sea is so big and my boat is so small" feeling!

Three words: Portable digital recorder.

They have really gone down in price and do well from a pulpit or a lectern; you can upload it as a podcast afterwerds!

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Portable Digital Recorder, eh? Well alrighty then. Let me check that out. Thanks, Kirke.

Bill said...

I equate the little bay, big ocean concept to getting out of your comfort zone. Sometimes we get out to see what is on the other side with the potential for growth or advancement and sometimes we get out because the comfort zone is no longer comfortable.

I had a long talk with Dr. Smith between the end of the service and before we had our little sit down chat. He was extremely interested in just why I had joined the Episcopal Church and equally interested in why I had left the RC Church. It came down to being able to disagree with the church and still be welcomed. In my former life, my RC life, if you didn’t follow their instruction, you were effectively shunned. You could be asked not to participate in the sacraments, not to participate in Communion. That was the point when my comfort zone was no longer comfortable and I set sail for deep waters.

There is something to be said for deep water. There is a standing joke in the Navy. Those in the Navy are referred to as blue water sailors. The joke goes like this. “Do you know why you have to be over six foot tall to be in the Coast Guard?” “No.” “Because if your ship sinks, you can walk home”. Blue water sailors love that joke. The point being, blue water, deep water, is where the action is. It’s also where you will find the most freedom. For some people and I guess I’m one of them, the harbor, although fairly safe and comfortable, is just to restrictive. The harbor doesn’t allow me to be who and what I am. I can fish in the harbor as long as I’m not homosexual. I can be safe in the harbor as long as I don’t profess a woman’s right to choice. Yes, I can fish and I can be safe, but at what cost.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

I am amazed- and thrilled - at how powerfully Dr. Paul used this metaphor. It really strikes home, doesn't it?

I've been looking into digital recorders. Whiteycat was kind enough to send me a link to the one she owns. I've already sent it on to the Wardens and Parish Administrator. We may yet have one before Lent is over. I'd love to have it for the Palm Sunday "Sabat Mater" concert.