This morning we heard a bit from Fr. Richard Rohr concerning “original goodness” from his book The Universal Christ. Original goodness, aka “original blessing,” “original innocence,” original “unwoundedness” has to do with the entirety of creation bearing the thumbprint of the Maker. Everything is created in the Divine Image. We just forget about it, and pretty soon, we stop believing it. I think this is why there is so much self-medication in the world: We’ve forgotten that WE are bearers of that imago Dei, and we self-medicate in order to hide the pain of the thing we’ve lost. Maybe we use drugs or alcohol or food or that great, American form of Mammon — “busyness” or “productivity” — to do our hiding. But we do it, and it takes an un-blocking to reclaim that.
Today we learned the Falun Gong exercise #4. This one is called “Cosmic Orbit” and what it relates to in some ways, is the recognition that we are in the cosmos and the cosmos is in us. We are inseparable from the creation. But that’s another thing we forget. We isolate ourselves from the creation, and we isolate ourselves from the Creator. It’s sad and painful. But the good news is that this separation is illusory, and we can reclaim it. That’s part of the reason we do the exercises. We need to get back into our bodies, to know (as I borrowed it from Cynthia Bourgeault in some other post somewhere) “where our feet are.” Because we are embodied, created beings, made to belong in the context in which the Creator placed us. We belong! We are children of God! We need to feel our bodies, as well as our emotions, as well as our thoughts. To be human is to exist in that trinitarian mode: body, mind, spirit.
So we practice. If you don’t practice Falun Gong or Qigong or T’ai chi, it doesn’t matter. This is just something that I like and am happy to share with you. Find your own way, if this doesn’t float your boat. But remember, we all belong, and all of us — each part — belongs. It’s wholeness, integration, Shalom.
Anyway, I hope you have enjoyed this as much as I have. Feel free to share your experiences with what we’ve done here as well as the things YOU do that remind you of original blessing and the presence and image of God in all things. Looking forward to your thoughts!
Couple of sermon notes:
A smattering of anti-sacrificial texts
1 Sam 15:22
Hos 6:6 (also referenced in Matt 9:13 and 12:7)
There are LOTS more, as this is a whole field of study in and of itself. If you ever want resources, I’ll point you in the direction of some great ones.
“charcoal fire” mentioned in John 18:18 (belongs to the scene involving Peters three-fold denial of Jesus) and again in John 21:9 (belongs to the scene of Jesus’ three-fold forgiveness of Peter and his commissioning).
Jesus does not demand Peter to splatter blood on an altar. He demands no sacrifice to God for forgiveness of sins. Instead, he sacrificed himself to human betrayal and brutality, and in doing so, exposed it for its futility. God never demanded that, but humans did and attributed it to God. What God desires is not sacrifice, but mercy. Here Jesus enacts that mercy for Peter. Peter’s “sacrifice” will be to feed Jesus’ sheep and to tend his flock — not to kill them and offer them to God.
Greetings, friends! Lots of people have been calling and getting hold of us asking: “When will we have church again?!” I get it. “Where two or three are gathered…” and “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity” seem to almost smack us across the face when we can’t meet in person.
Now, let me step back a minute first and say that we are church when we are gathered physically, and we are church when we are scattered. We are church when we meet in person, and we are church when we meet online or watch videos after the fact. “Church” is nothing more than recognizing our unity, not in ideology, not in preferred worship style or denominational affiliation, or any external thing like that, but rather “church” is the assembly of God, called by the Holy Spirit, being of the same mind as Christ.
Nevertheless, apart from the COVID-19 thing and the dangers that lie therein, there will SOME DAY be nothing precluding us from meeting face-to-face. So, the original question is valid. When ARE we gonna be able to “have church” again?!
Tough question, but here’s a stab at answering it as best I can for now. There are plans taking shape. I know the Governor has given us the official “okie doke,” but leadership here still feels that it would be better to take our cues from scientists than from politicians, no particular offense intended to Gov. Stitt. And in any case, things will certainly look different once the immediate crisis is over.
Some of the things we have to consider include, but are by no means limited to:
* Will we have to wear masks, at least initially?
* How close will we be able to sit next to one another?
* How will we keep common surfaces sufficiently cleaned/sanitized?
* What about the restrooms?
* What about the baptismal font?
* What about Communion?
* What about choir, Bible study, rehearsals, etc., etc., ad infinitum?
* What about altar flowers?
* What about Assisting Ministers?
The list keeps growing. But the good news? We’re thinking about these things.
I was speaking to Catherine after worship last Sunday, and we had considered a “soft opening,” which would be “by invitation only” – just to intentionally limit the number of people here and thereby limit the risk of exposure. This may happen, and it may happen as soon as Pentecost. We are considering having me to preside and lead over worship, Catherine to lead the liturgy, a couple of willing voices from the choir (properly distanced from one another), and some sort of alternative version of Holy Communion, though what that will look like, we can’t yet say. All of this would be filmed and streamed live via Facebook then posted here on this page, as we’ve been doing. In fact, even when we open more broadly, chances are we’ll be seriously considering continuing to broadcast live – though that raises the question of who will run the camera and work sound, and whether we even have the proper equipment for making sure the sound and picture are properly clear and synched and all that jazz. It’s complicated.
So, the short answer to the original question is: We don’t know. But we’re thinking about it, and trying to plan it. I wish I could give you a better answer right now, but I can’t. In the meantime, thank you for continuing to meet with us. Thank you for continuing to support us financially. Thank you for your comments and likes and loves and laughter emojis, and for all the many ways that you continue to make this a worthwhile thing to do. The best way to love our neighbors right now is still to be separate physically, but we ARE all of the same mind as Christ, and we persevere in our love of God and one another.
Keep watching for updates, and remain open to the presence of God, even now, even here on the interwebs.
Here’s the worship service. Couple of bibliographical notes on the sermon:
Brian D. Robinette’s Grammars of Resurrection can be found at this link.
I erroneously referred to James Alison’s essay as “Dead Man Talking.” The actual title is simply “Emmaus and Eucharist” and can be found in his book and video course series, Jesus the Forgiving Victim. Here is a link to the video portion of that particular essay.
The “Prayer for the Healing of Creation,” like the “Prayer for the Healing of the Nations” comes out of Singing our Prayer: A Companion to Holden Prayer around the Cross.
The assembly’s continuing response in “Creation” is “God, renew.” That comes between each petition and becomes, effectively, a chanted prayer for renewal. This and “Nations” are some of my favorite litanies of all time.
The Psalm today was a selection from Psalm 98.
Look for this upload soon. I’m struggling a bit with the Facebook video downloader program, but as soon as I get that under control, I’ll post it here. In the meantime, some basic content from this a.m.:
* Reading from chapter 4 of Richard Rohr’s The Universal Christ on “Original Goodness” of creation.
* Prayer of thanksgiving for the gifts of creation and even for challenges, which God will transform for good. Prayer of protection.
* Falun gong exercise #1 (recap from last Tuesday) and intro to exercise #2 (holding the barrels). I’ve also been calling this “qigong” (CHEE-gung), which has to do with the practice of manipulating vital energy.
Hope you will have enjoyed it (once I have it uploaded)! 🙂