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Sunday, August 14, 2022

I'll miss us when we're gone


Good Sunday morning, good citizens of the cosmos! It is overcast and cloudy this morning, here on the Delmarva Peninsula. The temperature when I woke up at 8 AM was 70. The air quality was good at 24, the UV index was low at 2, and the wind is coming out of the WSW at the lightning speed of 1 mph.

I went to bed shortly after 10 PM last night and, except for a time of restlessness between 1-2 AM, I went back to sleep, missed my usual wake-up time of 6 AM, and slept through till 8.

That rarely happens. As my sainted Grandmother would say, "You must have needed the sleep."

Apparently, I did. Exhaustion does not necessarily mean rest and rest is not necessarily the equivalent of sleep.

I fixed the coffee, did my morning ablutions and praises, made the bed, poured my coffee, said my prayers, and then settled in to open my email.

That's when everything got a little squirrely.

There was an email from our Deacon who was to lead a service of Morning Prayer and Communion from Reserved Sacrament. Except, he woke up at 2 AM with a fever. He immediately took a home test for COVID and discovered he was positive. Thankfully, his spouse, who has health problems, was negative.

At 4:30 AM, he sent an email, attached his homily along with his profuse apologies, and, by the looks of it, went to bed in his basement where he will stay in isolation.

As Stan used to say to Ollie, "Well, this is a fine kettle of fish we're in." And, we will scoop it all up and offer it to Jesus - in our hearts, by faith, with thanksgiving.

So, I've been on the phone with the Sr. Warden and our Office Manager, and one of our parishioners who will be an Officiant at the Morning Prayer/Service of the Word portion of the service. I've reviewed the service with her and she will read Deacon Pete's homily.

As Dame Julian of Norwich once said, “And all shall be well. And all shall be well. And all manner of things shall be exceeding well.”

Apparently, it's how this particular variant of the virus works, especially with people who have been properly vaccinated and have received boosters (there is a 3.77% breakthrough rate in Delaware).

I'm convinced that eventually, we'll all get COVID and that, eventually, we'll all get vaccinated in the same way we get our annual flu shot. Until, eventually, a new virus appears and becomes the new reality.

That's just the way viruses work.

So, a late start but not one minute wasted.

Over at the lectionary page, Jesus seems to have woken up on the wrong side of the bed; he appears to be in an exceedingly bad mood.

I just have this to say about the fire-and-brimstone Jesus we meet in scripture (Luke 12:49-56).

We should not be surprised.

No, this is not the 'sweet-baby-Jesus-meek-and-mild' that some of us prefer so it's the only thing we see.

And, we project that image onto ourselves and others - especially our religious leaders - as the "perfect" model for Christian behavior.

This is the Jesus who was brought to the Temple as an infant by his parents, whose life Simeon warned would be a contradiction.

Simeon 'sang' that the role of Jesus' was not to build bridges; he was to be more of a trouble maker who would draw lines in the sand that would be painful for some to cross. Everywhere he went, people would either love him or hate him.

This is the Jesus who overturned tables in the Temple and not just raised his voice but yelled and hollered and drove out the moneychangers - who were just doing their job, for goodness sake - with whips.

This is the (very human part of ) Jesus who became annoyed and frustrated and short-tempered and hurled insults and racial slurs at the Canaanite woman who was desperately seeking healing for her daughter, and rebuked Peter and sharply chastised James and John, the Sons of Thunder and other disciples, especially in The Garden the night before he died.

This is the Jesus of whom Dorothy Parker wrote in her “Prayer for a New Mother.” The poem implores God to allow Mary to forget, while her child is young, what she has foreknowledge of: “the rumble of a crowd,” “the smell of rough-cut wood,” and “the trail of red.”

We don't like to consider this Jesus, and yet, Luke's gospel compels us not to avert our eyes. His message is crystal clear. Jesus didn't come to sugar-coat the problems of this world. He didn't suffer and die a humiliating death of a common criminal on the cross, as Marx would say, to "be an opiate to the people".

Jesus came to tell us that before we can have peace, we must admit the divisions and unrest and unhappiness that exist between us at the most intimate levels of our relationships.

Jesus came to battle sin and brokenness and evil at every level of the human enterprise, for that is the pathway to the "peace that passes all human understanding."

Or, as those who struggle for the liberation of the human spirit often chant, "Know justice. Know peace."

"Just" relationships are "right" relationships and right relationships pave the pathway to peace.

Glad I'm not preaching this morning. I haven't yet read the Deacon's homily but I'm looking forward to his take. I'll be tuning into the broadcast service of the church where I'll be just a 'bum in the pew' after I finish this gig on April 9, 2023.

That's one gift of COVID. Whoda thunk, three years ago, that broadcasting live services would become so deeply ingrained in the fabric of our lives in Christian community?

Ms. Conroy and I will be tested later this morning for COVID. I've been hearing a version of that song from Black-Eyed Peas, "I've got a feeling (Woo hoo), that today's going to be a good test, that today's going to be a good, good test."

Fingers crossed.

So, make it a great day, everybody, no matter where you are or what the weather is doing in your neck of the woods. Please, do be careful. You know what I mean about a mask and washing your hands and keeping a safe distance.

This virus does not play.

And, as Stan used to say to Ollie "I'll miss us when we're gone."

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