Jan Richardson

New Years Blessing

THE YEAR AS A HOUSE
A Blessing
— Jan Richardson

Think of the year as a house:
door flung wide in welcome,
threshold swept and waiting,
a graced spaciousness
opening and offering itself to you.
Let it be blessed in every room.
Let it be hallowed in every corner.
Let every nook be a refuge
and every object set to holy use.
Let it be here that safety will rest.
Let it be here that health will make its home.
Let it be here that peace will show its face.
Let it be here that love will find its way.
Here let the weary come,
let the aching come,
let the lost come,
let the sorrowing come.
Here let them find their rest
and let them find their soothing
and let them find their place
and let them find their delight.
And may it be in this house of a year
that the seasons will spin in beauty,
and may it be in these turning days
that time will spiral with joy.
And may it be that its rooms will fill
with ordinary grace and
light spill from every window

Thoughts about staying, waiting, ascending and heaven: themes from Luke 24 and Acts 1

May your heart be an altar, from which the bright flame of unending thanksgiving ascends to heaven. — Mary Euphrasia Pelletier

Jesus raised our eyes above and beyond the narrow limits of our … lives, showed us other horizons, gives us a world beyond our ourselves. — Joan Chittister

Blue Horses (excerpt) — Mary Oliver
This is what I have.
The dull hangover of waiting,
the blush of my heart on the damp grass,
the flower-faced moon.
A gull broods on the shore
where a moment ago there were two.
Softly my right hand fondles my left hand
as though it were you.

We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned so as to have the life that’s waiting for us. — Joseph Campbell


I’ll be honest, Jesus, Ascension Day brings up some abandonment issues for me. I know you promised we wouldn’t be alone, that you would send a Helper and Advocate, full of power and truth and ready to guide, but let’s face it: the fire of the Spirit is the wild kind. One moment I sense that it’s blazing like the burning bush, the next it’s like it’s out with a poof. I still haven’t figured it out. I still haven’t been able to pin it down. — Rachel Held Evans

THE SWAN — Mary Oliver
Across the wide waters
   something comes
      floating–a slim
         and delicate

ship, filled
   with white flowers–
      and it moves
         on its miraculous muscles

as though time didn’t exist
   as though bringing such gifts
      to the dry shore
         was a happiness

almost beyond bearing.
   And now it turns its dark eyes,
      it rearranges
         the clouds of its wings,

it trails
   an elaborate webbed foot,
      the color of charcoal.
         Soon it will be here.

Oh, what shall I do
   when that poppy-colored beak
      rests in my hand?
         Said Mrs. Blake of the poet:

I miss my husband’s company–
   he is so often
      in paradise.
         Of course! the path to heaven

doesn’t lie down in flat miles.
   It’s in the imagination
      with which you perceive
         this world,

and the gestures
   with which you honor it.
      Oh, what will I do, what will I say, when those white wings
         touch the shore?

SONGS about ascension:

SONGS about heaven:

STAY Jan Richardson
A Blessing for Ascension Day

I know how your mind rushes ahead
trying to fathom what could follow this.
What will you do, where will you go, how will you live?

You will want to outrun the grief.
You will want to keep turning toward the horizon,
watching for what was lost to come back,
to return to you and never leave again.

For now hear me when I say
all you need to do is to still yourself
is to turn toward one another is to stay.

Wait and see what comes
to fill the gaping hole in your chest.
Wait with your hands open to receive what could never come
except to what is empty and hollow.

You cannot know it now, cannot even imagine
what lies ahead, but I tell you the day is coming
when breath will fill your lungs
as it never has before and with your own ears
you will hear words coming to you new and startling.
You will dream dreams and you will see the world ablaze with blessing.

Wait for it. Still yourself. Stay.

POEM— Rumi

Sweetly parading you go my soul of soul, go not without me;
life of your friends, enter not the garden without me.
Sky, revolve not without me; moon, shine not without me;
earth travel not without me, and time, go not without me.
With you this world is joyous, and with you that world is joyous;
in this world dwell not without me, and to that world depart not without me.
Vision, know not without me, and tongue, recite not without
me; glance behold not without me, and soul, go not without me.
The night through the moon’s light sees its face white; I am
light, you are my moon, go not to heaven without me.
The thorn is secure from the fire in the shelter of the roses
face: you are the rose, I your thorn; go not into the rose garden without me.
I run in the curve of your mallet when your eye is with me;
even so gaze upon me, drive not without me, go not without me.
When, joy, you are companion of the king, drink not without
me; when, watchman, you go to the kings roof, go not without me.
Alas for him who goes on this road without your sign; since
you, O signless one, are my sign, go not without me.
Alas for him who goes on the road without my knowledge;
you are the knowledge of the road for me; O road-knower, go not without me.
Others call you love, I call you the king of love; O you who are
higher than the imagination of this and that, go not without me.

THE GIFT —Mary Oliver

Be still, my soul, and steadfast.
Earth and heaven both are still watching
though time is draining from the clock
and your walk, that was confident and quick,
has become slow.

So, be slow if you must, but let
the heart still play its true part.
Love still as once you loved, deeply
and without patience. Let God and the world
know you are grateful. That the gift has been given.

ABOUT STAYING

If you have to convince someone to stay with you then they have already left. ― Shannon L. Alder

To want to run away is an essence of being human, it transforms any staying through the transfigurations of choice. To think about fleeing from circumstances, from a marriage, a relationship or from a work is part of the conversation itself and helps us understand the true distilled nature of our own reluctance. Strangely, we are perhaps most fully incarnated as humans, when part of us does not want to be here, or doesn’t know how to be here. Presence is only fully understood and realized through fully understanding our reluctance to show up. To understand the part of us that wants nothing to do with the full necessities of work, of relationship, of loss, of doing what is necessary, is to learn humility, to cultivate self-compassion and to sharpen that sense of humor essential to a merciful perspective of both a self and another. ― David Whyte

You forgot that sometimes, fair value comes from change, and death, and sacrifice. You can’t have everything and give fair value. You can’t stop your clock and expect to stay a part of the world. ― Seanan McGuire

It turns out that you don’t end up with the people you love; by definition, you end up with the ones who stay. ― Andrew Sean Greer

She rose slowly. She didn’t want to go. She also rather resented staying. ― D.H. Lawrence

Our faith is often embodied in the relationships and neighborhoods where we live. In our world of globalization, technology, and mobility, we’ve misplaced the sacredness of place. The act of staying and living in our place has an impact on us practically, of course, but also on us theologically. It’s not always sexy to stay put, is it? In most of my church tradition, no one ever mentioned the holy work of staying. ― Sarah Bessey

CHRISTIAN COMMENTARY on ASCENSION

At His Ascension our Lord entered Heaven, and He keeps the door open for humanity to enter. — Oswald Chambers

The story of Jesus living, dying, and rising from death gets a lot of well-deserved attention, but we sometimes overlook another crucial, mysterious scene in the narrative. As the book of Acts begins, we’re told that after resurrection, Jesus is “taken up” or “lifted up” (Greek, epērthē) into the sky, where he disappears behind the clouds …
Commonly called the ascension, the belief that Jesus “ascended” into Heaven, has been essential to followers of Jesus for almost 2,000 years (e.g. The Nicene Creed, 325 C.E.).
     But what does it mean that Jesus “ascended into Heaven”? Did Jesus take off into outer space? Is the point of the ascension that Jesus floated away into the clouds, or is it something else? More importantly, why does any of this matter? To answer these questions, and to better understand Jesus’ powerful ascension, we need to step back and start with the big biblical concepts of Heaven and Earth—God’s space and human’s space. — BibleProject, full article: https://bibleproject.com/articles/the-ascension-of-jesus/

The present account of Jesus’ ascension (Lk. 24:50-51) is not of a different event from the ascension recorded in Acts 1:2, 4-11. It is simply a shorter version of it. Luke makes the departure of Jesus both the climax of the Gospel and the commencement of the Acts of the Apostles. The stress is on Jesus’ priestly action in blessing the disciples and on their praise to God in the temple. (Marshall, 907)
      [The author of the Gospel of] Luke intends for us to see in this departure parallels to the great prophets Moses and Elijah whom Jesus both follows and surpasses. (See Luke’s account of the Transfiguration, especially 9:31.) Jesus completes the “departure” or “exodus” of his suffering, death and resurrection by being carried up into heaven (2 Kgs. 2:1-18). Like Elijah he blessed those who stay behind and arranges for them to receive a measure of his Spirit (2 Kgs. 2:9). (Byrne, 192-3) — Alyce McKenzie, Patheos: full article: https://www.patheos.com/resources/additional-resources/2011/05/we-will-never-be-without-him-alyce-mckenzie-05-30-2011?p=2

This is the grace of Ascension Day: to be taken up into the heaven of our own souls, the point of immediate contact with God.  To rest on this quiet peak, in the darkness that surrounds God.  To live there through all trials and all business with the “tranquil God who makes all things tranquil.” — Thomas Merton

The departing Jesus does not make his way to some distant star. He enters into communion of power and life with the living God, into God’s dominion over space. Hence he has not “gone away”, but now and forever by God’s power he is present with us and for us. In the farewell discourses of Saint John’s Gospel, this is exactly what Jesus says to his disciples: “I go away, and I will come to you” (14:28). These words sum up beautifully what is so special about Jesus’ “going away”, which is also his “coming”, and at the same time explain the mystery of the Cross, the Resurrection, and the Ascension. — Pope Benedict XVI

Most of Christianity has been doing just that, straining to find the historical Jesus “up there.” Where did he go? We’ve been obsessed with the question because we think the universe is divided into separate levels—heaven and earth. But it is one universe and all within it is transmuted and transformed by the glory of God. The whole point of the Incarnation and Risen Body is that the Christ is here—and always was! But now we have a story that allows us to imagine it just might be true. Jesus didn’t go anywhere. He became the universal omnipresent Body of Christ. That’s why the final book of the Bible promises us a new heaven and a new earth. (Revelation 21:1), not an escape from earth. We focused on “going” to heaven instead of living on earth as Jesus did—which makes heaven and earth one. It is heaven all the way to heaven. What you choose now is exactly what you choose to be forever. God will not disappoint you. — Richard Rohr

Luke begins his second volume of his two-volume “history” of the origins and spread of early Christianity with a salutation to an apparent benefactor, Theophilus by name, “God lover” in Greek. He reminds this unknown man that his “first book was about everything Jesus began to do and teach up to the day he was lifted up” (Acts 1:1-2a). For Luke this “lifting up” is the hinge that holds his two books together. At Luke 9:51, following the event of Transfiguration, Luke warns that “the days drew near for him to be taken up” (analempsis in Greek). This “taking up” is in fact Jesus’ “exodus,” the object of the discussion that Moses and Elijah were having on the mountain at Luke 9:31. In short, Jesus’ ascension, accomplished in Acts 1, is nothing less than his exodus from the earth, mirroring Elijah’s own mysterious ascension in a fiery chariot in 2 Kings 2:9-11. Luke thus connects the events of Jesus’ ascent to God with a similar experience in the Hebrew Bible and joins Jesus with the quintessential prophet of justice, Elijah. By so doing, Luke in his unique literary way uses the ascension motif as a way of preaching to us a sermon about the true identity of Jesus Messiah, recalling his many roots in the sacred past of Israel’s story. — John Holbert, Patheos, full article: https://www.patheos.com/progressive-christian/speculators-or-witnesses-john-holbert-05-14-2012

On Ascension Day, we are called to “go up”—to find higher ground—not to escape Earth’s crises, but to gain a vision and mission that is larger than ourselves or our communities. We don’t need to look to the heavens to find inspiration. The ever-present God is right here, giving us all the guidance and inspiration we need, if we but look beyond ourselves. Our mission is here—to heal, to embrace, to welcome, and to love. We don’t need to wait for a far off day of perfection and rapture. If God is always with us, then right here and now can be the day of transformation and fulfillment.  — Bruce Epperly

This makes us an odd people, you know. I mean Christians, people who believe in God the Father, Christ the son and the Holy Spirit – we are a people for whom the story isn’t ever finished. A people for whom there is always more. Within our suffering, there is always more, when we think our lives are hopeless there is always more, when the plot points of our lives don’t end up the way we planned, there is always more, when we feel powerless there is always more Why? Because after the humiliation and suffering of the cross – there was more – after he was laid in a tomb there was more – and after there was Pentecost flames on people’s heads and speaking in other languages there was more. We as Christians base our hope not on our own power, not on the Dow Jones, not on how awesome our lives look, not on our own righteousness, but on the God of an empty tomb. That story of birth and death and resurrection and ascension and the spirit is still being told. — Nadia Bolx-Weber

Christ, while in heaven, is also with us; and we, while on earth, are also with him.  He is with us in his godhead and his power and his love; and we, though we cannot be with him in godhead as he is with us, can be with him in our love, our love for him.
       He did not leave heaven when he came down to us from heaven; and he did not leave us when he ascended to heaven again.  His own words show that he was in heaven while he was here: ‘No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven.’ 
        He said this because of the unity between us and himself, for he is our head and we are his body.  The words ‘no one but he’ are true, since we are Christ, in the sense that he is the Son of man because of us, and we are the children of God because of him. 
        For this reason Saint Paul says: ‘Just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is also with Christ. — St Augustine

The way to heaven is ascending; we must be content to travel uphill, though it be hard and tiresome, and contrary to the natural bias of our flesh … Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will. … Grace is but glory begun, and glory is but grace perfected. … The happiness of the creature consists in rejoicing in God, by which also God is magnified and exalted. — Jonathan Edwards

As God’s royal priests, Adam and Eve were, metaphorically, going up or ascending this cosmic mountain temple in order to be in God’s presence. They were not floating up into the sky or necessarily even mountain climbing, but this is how the author literarily emphasized God’s transcendence.
       At the top of the mountain, united fully with God and integrated with his will, Adam and Eve receive God’s creative word and his good life. And as God’s representatives, they were tasked to go down from Eden and extend God’s word and life to the whole creation.
       Notice that their ascension does not remove them from physical creation, nor does their “going down” to the rest of the world remove them from God’s divine realm. ….
       In the Exodus narrative, we see God commanding Moses and his fellow leaders to “come up” to a mountain, have a meal in God’s presence, and receive the instructions God has for the Israelites … Moses ascends with the elders of Israel into the cloud of divine glory to meet with God. In this place⏤where the author describes God as sitting on a shimmering, “blue as the sky,” clear, stone floor⏤we see human and divine in a mysterious togetherness with God’s space and humanity’s space integrated as one. Remember: these human beings entered God’s space without transporting out of the physical world, which most basically describes the priestly role. The priest becomes present with God in order to guide others in the same direction, up to God…. Moses’ priestly ascension is a recreation of the Eden ideal: humanity resting within God’s presence on a cosmic mountain temple.
       And also like Moses, the high priest exclusively ascends into the presence of God so that he might talk and pray to God on behalf of the people. The high priest symbolically ascends into the cosmos by going past the veil in the tabernacle that divides human’s space from God’s space—up into the transcendent presence of God.
      Not long after becoming king David. goes up into the high hills at the center of Israel’s tribes and establishes a capital city, Jerusalem, otherwise known as Zion or the City of David … So the temple is a symbolic model, pointing to the new Heaven and Earth, a place permeated with God’s presence where humanity would once again live in communion with his way of life and his will for all creation…. Regardless of whether or not the people were actually climbing in elevation or heading north, the biblical authors use the geographic description of going up.
As the people go up toward Jerusalem, they sing the psalms of ascent…
      Having ascended up as he did, and as we will, Jesus now exists permanently in both God’s space and humanity’s space at once. Adam and Eve experienced this kind of overlapping togetherness with God only in part. But Jesus experiences it fully because he chose to follow God’s will from beginning to end.
      But as we have seen, this almost certainly does not mean floating off into space one day when we die. Instead it means joining our human lives into God’s divine work of spreading his word and life here on Earth. It is about declaring that “your will, not my will” be done on Earth (humanity’s space) as it is in Heaven (God’s space) — BibleProject, full article: https://bibleproject.com/articles/the-ascension-of-jesus/


FILMS SHOWING ASCENSION:

ABOUT WAITING

God isn’t waiting for you to become thinner or heterosexual or married or celibate or more ladylike or less crazy or more spiritual or less of an alcoholic in order to love you. Also, I would argue that since your ideal self doesn’t actually exist, it would follow that the “you” everyone in your life loves is your actual self, too. — Nadia Bolz-Weber

The best things in life are often waiting for you at the exit ramp of your comfort zone. — Karen Salmansohn

If you spend your whole life waiting for the storm, you’ll never enjoy the sunshine. — Morris West

Whatever we are waiting for – peace of mind, contentment, grace, the inner awareness of simple abundance – it will surely come to us, but only when we are ready to receive it with an open and grateful heart. — Sarah Ban Breathnach

Hope 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. — Joan Chittister

When you’re getting ready to launch into space, you’re sitting on a big explosion waiting to happen.— Sally Ride

When you’ve seen beyond yourself, then you may find, peace of mind is waiting there. — George Harrison

Perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave. — Rainer Maria Rilke

You can’t stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes. — A. A. Milne

Those who stand at the threshold of life always waiting for the right time to change are like the man who stands at the bank of a river waiting for the water to pass so he can cross on dry land. — Joseph B. Wirthlin

Patience is not simply the ability to wait – it’s how we behave while we’re waiting. — Joyce Meyer

Infuse your life with action. Don’t wait for it to happen. Make it happen. Make your own future. Make your own hope. Make your own love. And whatever your beliefs, honor your creator, not by passively waiting for grace to come down from upon high, but by doing what you can to make grace happen… yourself, right now, right down here on Earth.— Bradley Whitford

WHAT WE NEED IS HERE
— Wendell Berry
Horseback on Sunday morning,
harvest over, we taste persimmon
and wild grape, sharp sweet
of summer’s end. In time’s maze
over fall fields, we name names
that rest on graves. We open
a persimmon seed to find the tree
that stands in promise,
pale, in the seed’s marrow.
Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.

WHAT IS THERE BEYOND KNOWING? Mary Oliver

What is there beyond knowing that keeps
calling to me? I can’t

turn in any direction
but it’s there. I don’t mean

the leaves’ grip and shine or even the thrush’s
silk song, but the far-off

fires, for example,
of the stars, heaven’s slowly turning

theater of light, or the wind
playful with its breath;

or time that’s always rushing forward,
or standing still

in the same — what shall I say —
moment.

What I know
I could put into a pack

as if it were bread and cheese, and carry it
on one shoulder,

important and honorable, but so small!
While everything else continues, unexplained

and unexplainable. How wonderful it is
to follow a thought quietly

to its logical end.
I have done this a few times.

But mostly I just stand in the dark field,
in the middle of the world, breathing

in and out. Life so far doesn’t have any other name
but breath and light, wind and rain.

If there’s a temple, I haven’t found it yet.
I simply go on drifting, in the heaven of the grass
and the weeds.

ON HEAVEN

Heaven is not an eternally dull existence but rather the completion of a journey toward a promised encounter with the Lord. — Pope Francis

Basically heaven and earth in biblical cosmology are not two different locations within the same continuum of space or matter.  They are two different dimensions of God’s good creation.  And the point about heaven is twofold.   First, heaven relates to earth tangentially so that the one who is in heaven can be present simultaneously anywhere and everywhere on earth:  the ascension therefore means that Jesus is available, accessible, without people having to travel to a particular spot on earth to find him.  Second, heaven is, as it were, the control room for earth; it is the CEO’s office, the place from which instructions are given.  “All authority is given to me,” said Jesus at the end of Matthew’s gospel, “in heaven and on earth. — NT Wright

Throughout the Bible, the biblical authors use “the skies” or “the heavens” to refer to the place where God lives—God’s space. And they use “land” or “the earth” to refer to the place where people live—humanity’s space. The key here is that both spaces were included in the natural, created world. So why do we say that God is “up there” when he is also right here?
      When ancient Hebrew writers talk about geographic locations and spatial relationships in the physical world, they often use these physical descriptions to represent a higher, transcendent reality. For example, death and emptiness are down or under in Sheol. And because God is transcendent, or above all, his space is described metaphorically as being above, or up, or in the heavens.
        The most important thing to see here is that God is not ultimately creating a supernatural place where he lives separated from humans. God’s vision for Heaven and Earth—God’s space and humanity’s space—is that both would be fully integrated as one. God’s space and our space are to overlap, “on Earth as it is in Heaven” — BibleProject

….the final book of the Bible promises us a new heaven and a new earth. (Revelation 21:1), not an escape from earth. We focused on “going” to heaven instead of living on earth as Jesus did—which makes heaven and earth one. It is heaven all the way to heaven. — Richard Rohr

OTHER THOUGHTS on ASCENSION

Ascensions into heaven are like falling leaves … sad and happy all at the same time … Going away isn’t really sad … especially when your going enables a new kind of presence to be born. — Ernest Hemingway

Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads. — Henry David Thoreau

Earth’s crammed with heaven… But only he who sees, takes off his shoes. — Elizabeth Barrett Browning

The connections we make in the course of a life–maybe that’s what heaven is. — Fred Rogers

There’s always another level up. There’s always another ascension. More grace, more light, more generosity, more compassion, more to shed, more to grow. — Elizabeth GilbertAh, paths of the soul, mysterious ways of the heart! One must walk their full lengths before facing the supreme equation of Eternal Life. It is essential for you to live all their conflicts and to know them fully in the long process of spiritual ascension. — Andre Luiz Moreira

To write the true natural history of the world, we should need to be able to follow it from within. It would thus appear no longer as an interlocking succession of structural types replacing one another, but as an ascension of inner sap spreading out in a forest of consolidated instincts. Right at its base, the living world is constituted by conscious clothes in flesh and bone. — Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

The Ascension is actually the birth of the Inner You expressed as the spiritual individualism of the inner particle state. — Stuart Wilde

Aging is a staircase – the upward ascension of the human spirit, bringing us into wisdom, wholeness and authenticity. As you may know, the entire world operates on a universal law: entropy, the second law of thermodynamics. Entropy means that everything in the world, everything, is in a state of decline and decay, the arch. There’s only one exception to this universal law, and that is the human spirit, which can continue to evolve upwards. — Jane Fonda

Through the Holy Spirit comes our restoration to paradise, our ascension into the kingdom of heaven, our return to the adoption of sons, our liberty to call God our Father, our being made partakers of the grace of Christ, our being called children of light, our sharing in eternal glory, and, in a word, our being brought into a state of all “fulness of blessing,” both in this world and in the world to come, of all the good gifts that are in store for us, by promise hereof, through faith, beholding the reflection of their grace as though they were already present, we await the full enjoyment. — Saint Basil

LEAVINGS  – VI
— Wendell Berry

O saints, if I am even eligible for this prayer,
though less than worthy of this dear desire,
and if your prayers have influence in Heaven,
let my place there be lower than your own.
I know how you longed, here where you lived
as exiles, for the presence of the essential
Being and Maker and Knower of all things.
But because of my unruliness, or some erring
virtue in me never rightly schooled,
some error clear and dear, my life
has not taught me your desire for flight:
dismattered, pure, and free. I long
instead for the Heaven of creatures, of seasons,
of day and night. Heaven enough for me
would be this world as I know it, but redeemed
of our abuse of it and one another. It would be
the Heaven of knowing again. There is no marrying
in Heaven, and I submit; even so, I would like
to know my wife again, both of us young again,
and I remembering always how I loved her
when she was old. I would like to know
my children again, all my family, all my dear ones,
to see, to hear, to hold, more carefully
than before, to study them lingeringly as one
studies old verses, committing them to heart
forever. I would like again to know my friends,
my old companions, men and women, horses
and dogs, in all the ages of our lives, here
in this place that I have watched over all my life
in all its moods and seasons, never enough.
I will be leaving how many beauties overlooked?
A painful Heaven this would be, for I would know
by it how far I have fallen short. I have not
paid enough attention, I have not been grateful
enough. And yet this pain would be the measure
of my love. In eternity’s once and now, pain would
place me surely in the Heaven of my earthly love.

Emmaus Reflections

SONGS anout WALKING TOGETHER and EMMAUS:

POEMS recited:

Servant Girl at Emmaus
— Denise Levertov (inspired by the painting above by Diego Valázquez  c.1620)

She listens, listens, holding her breath.
Surely that voice
is his—the one
who had looked at her, once,
across the crowd, as no one ever had looked?
Had seen her?
Had spoken as if to her?
Surely those hands were his,
taking the platter of bread from hers just now?
Hands he’d laid on the dying and made them well?
Surely that face—?
The man they’d crucified for sedition and blasphemy.
The man whose body disappeared from its tomb.
The man it was rumored now some women had seen this morning,
alive?
Those who had brought this stranger home to their table
don’t recognize yet with whom they sit.
But she in the kitchen,
absently touching the wine jug she’s to take in,
a young Black servant intently listening,
swings round and sees
the light around him
and is sure.

What is Hope?
Rubem Alves – Brazilian Theologian
What is hope?
It is a presentiment that imagination is more real
and reality less real than it looks.
It is a hunch
that the overwhelming brutality of facts
that oppress and repress is not the last word.
It is a suspicion
that reality is more complex
than realism wants us to believe
and that the frontiers of the possible
are not determined by the limits of the actual
and that in a miraculous and unexpected way
life is preparing the creative events
which will open the way to freedom and resurrection….
The two, suffering and hope, live from each other.
Suffering without hope
produces resentment and despair,
hope without suffering
creates illusions, naiveté, and drunkenness….
Let us plant dates
even though those who plant them will never eat them.
We must live by the love of what we will never see.
This is the secret discipline.
It is a refusal to let the creative act
be dissolved in immediate sense experience
and a stubborn commitment to the future of our grandchildren.
Such disciplined love
is what has given prophets, revolutionaries and saints
the courage to die for the future they envisaged.
They make their own bodies
the seed of their highest hope.

Looking Back from Emmaus — Christine, Faith in Grey Places: https://faith.workthegreymatter.com/emmaus-poem-looking-back/

He told us 
everything happened for a reason.

And you know, ordinarily, 
I wouldn’t have believed him.
A stranger on the road
No one we know 
Not even aware 
of why we were grieving.

It seemed.

It’s such an easy thing
To dismiss the pain,
To claim there was a reason why,
Make it make sense,
Who are you comforting really?

But this time was different.

It wasn’t that he didn’t know
Or wouldn’t reckon with
What we’d witnessed.
He saw it all.
Much like he’d seen it all
As it was happening.

And that wasn’t the strangest part.

Because he didn’t tell us that
Some day we’ll look back
And it’ll all make sense.
Rather, we could look back now.
Like everything pointed to now.
The picture was complete
If we could but see it.

Our hearts were burning inside us.

And I wonder, 
If we’d met him a day sooner, 
What we’d have said.
Whether we’d have welcomed him
Or asked to share bread.

But I guess,
In this at least,
Everything happened for a reason.

Conversation — William Cowper

It happen’d on a solemn eventide,
Soon after He that was our surety died,
Two bosom friends, each pensively inclined,
The scene of all those sorrows left behind,
Sought their own village, busied as they went
In musings worthy of the great event:
They spake of him they loved, of him whose life,
Though blameless, had incurr’d perpetual strife,
Whose deeds had left, in spite of hostile arts,
A deep memorial graven on their hearts.
The recollection, like a vein of ore,
The farther traced enrich’d them still the more;

They thought him, and they justly thought him, one
Sent to do more than he appear’d to have done,
To exalt a people, and to place them high
Above all else, and wonder’d he should die.
Ere yet they brought their journey to an end,
A stranger join’d them, courteous as a friend,
And ask’d them with a kind engaging air
What their affliction was, and begg’d a share.
Inform’d, he gathered up the broken thread,
And truth and wisdom gracing all he said,
Explain’d, illustrated, and search’d so well
The tender theme on which they chose to dwell,
That reaching home, the night, they said is near,
We must not now be parted, sojourn here.
The new acquaintance soon became a guest,
And made so welcome at their simple feast,
He bless’d the bread, but vanish’d at the word,
And left them both exclaiming, ’Twas the Lord!
Did not our hearts feel all he deign’d to say,
Did they not burn within us by the way?

The Road to Emmaus — Sandra R. Duguid

There have been crucifixions, too,
in our town–innocents
gunned down in their doorways
or in school halls; or radiations
black outlines, three crosses
marked a sisters chest: no wonder
we walk in quiet rage, musing

And who, on this road, will join us,
seeming unaware
of the worst news in the neighborhood,
but spelling out the history of the prophets
and a future:
       Ought not Christ to have suffered these things
       and to enter into his glory?
Could our hearts still burn within us?

Will we ask the stranger to stay?
Break bread? And how
will our well-hammered and nailed
kitchens and bedrooms appear to us
when we understand who he is
just as he steals away?

Emmaus 1 — Malcolm GuiteLuke 24:17 ‘He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast’.

And do you ask what I am speaking of
Although you know the whole tale of my heart;
Its longing and its loss, its hopeless love?
You walk beside me now and take my part

As though a stranger, one who doesn’t know
The pit of disappointment, the despair
The jolts and shudders of my letting go,
My aching for the one who isn’t there.

And yet you know my darkness from within,
My cry of dereliction is your own,
You bore the isolation of my sin
Alone, that I need never be alone.

Now you reveal the meaning of my story
That I, who burn with shame, might blaze with glory.

Emmaus 2 — Malcolm Guite— Luke 24:25-26 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?

We thought that everything was lost and gone,
Disaster on disaster overtook us
The night we left our Jesus all alone
And we were scattered, and our faith forsook us.

But oh that foul Friday proved far worse,
For we had hoped that he had been the one,
Till crucifixion proved he was a curse,
And on the cross our hopes were all undone.

Oh foolish foolish heart why do you grieve?
Here is good news and comfort to your soul:
Open your mind to scripture and believe
He bore the curse for you to make you whole

The living God was numbered with the dead
That He might bring you Life in broken bread.

Words of Remembering 
— Maren Tirabassi

We come from heart-felt “Hosannas,”
and a long season
of feeling like withered fig trees.

We come from an alabaster jar
abundance of love and hard questions.

We recognize experiences
of betrayal, denial,
and the feeling that everyone we love
has fallen asleep and left us alone,
so we recognize this holy story.

We remember Jesus washed feet
and offered a covenant
of himself broken and poured out
for a small group of followers long ago
and for us in our time,

and was risen on Easter
though, even in the joy of resurrection,
he kept blessing and teaching,
accepting hospitality
and giving us hope to eat.

THE ROAD TO EMMAUS
— J. Michael Sparough, S.J.

Our eyes falling down to the ground,
Our hearts dry as the dust we trample.
A stranger joins our journey to despair.
Teasing out the details of what our hope had been,
He listens on and on until our grief can say no more,
Only then can his words water our withered spirits.
Gently chiding, strongly guiding, weaving a story
Of glory hidden within fabled prophecies of faith.
Later will we recall how fiercely our hearts did burn.
But now it is our turn, the time to beg him to linger,
A request he can never refuse, for his very presence
Is sacred space, every home he visits his sanctuary.
For those who have eyes to see, his bread blessed,
Broken and shared – so much more than merely a meal.
His visitation no longer con@ined to history.
This road we walked with him still beckons —
To journey back from where we once despaired,
Our eyes now open in hopeful recognition.

The Road to Emmaus

Anna Louise Strong

How many tread, in the twilight,
With hearts that are crushed and still,
The road that leads to the valley,
Away from the templed hill.

They are leaving their beautiful city,
The place where their hopes turned fears;
And naught remains of their longings
Save bitter, hopeless tears.

The Comforter draws near them
As they their steps retrace,
But their eyes are dimmed with weeping,
They see not the Master’s face.

He walks in the twilight beside them,
Tenderly bidding: “Rejoice.”
But they see Him not for sorrow,
They know not the Master’s voice.

And he follows, patient, loving,
On to the journey’s end,
Till a light breaks in upon them,
And they see in the stranger their Friend.

And they know what seemed destruction
Was life in God’s great plan.
And they glimpse His wondrous workings
In the destiny of man.

Back to the beautiful city,
Back to the templed hill,
They turn with joy, proclaiming
“The Lord is with us still.”

Emmaus Blessing
— Jan Richardson

Already a blessing
in the walking

already a blessing
on the road

already a blessing
drawing near

already a blessing
in the listening

already a blessing
in the burning hearts

already a blessing
in the almost evening

already a blessing
in the staying

already a blessing
at the table

already a blessing
in the bread

already a blessing
in the breaking

already a blessing
finally known

already a blessing
give us eyes

already a blessing
let us see.

Ash Wednesday with JCC: Reflections and schedule

JOEL 2:12-13
Yet even now, says the Lord,  return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;  rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord your God, for God is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love…

WED, Feb 22

  • ASHES to GO
    • 8-10am: JTown Deli
    • 10:15-11:30am: Autumn Nomad
    • Noon-1:30pm: Glen Ledge Deli / McSheffreys North
    • 2-3:45pm: JCC Sanctuary
    • 4-4:30pm: Red Parka
  • ASH WEDNESDAY SERVICE
    • 7pm • Nativity Lutheran, North Conway
      JCC attends Lutheran service to enjoy local clergy John Heropoulos , MDiv lead the liturgy

MUSINGS on ASH

If you have become ash,
Then wait, you become a rose again.
And do not remember how often you have become ash,
But how often you were reborn in ashes to a new rose. ~ Rumi 

I can hear the sizzle of newborn stars, and know anything of meaning, of the fierce magic emerging here. I am witness to flexible eternity, the evolving past, and I know we will live forever, as dust or breath in the face of stars, in the shifting pattern of winds. — Joy Harjo

SONGS about DUST & ASHES: 

WILL YOU MEET US? — Jan Richardson
Will you meet us in the ashes,
will you meet us in the ache
and show your face within our sorrow
and offer us your word of grace:
That you are life within the dying,
that you abide within the dust,
that you are what survives the burning,
that you arise to make us new.
And in our aching, you are breathing;
and in our weeping, you are here
within the hands that bear your blessing,
enfolding us within your love.

REND Your HEART
—Jan Richardson
To receive this blessing, all you have to do
is let your heart break.
Let it crack open.
Let it fall apart / so that you can see
its secret chambers, the hidden spaces
where you have hesitated / to go.
Your entire life
is here, inscribed whole
upon your heart’s walls:
every path taken
or left behind,
every face you turned toward
or turned away,
every word spoken in love
or in rage,
every line of your life
you would prefer to leave
in shadow,
every story that shimmers
with treasures known
and those you have yet
to find.
It could take you days
to wander these rooms.
Forty, at least.
And so let this be
a season for wandering,
for trusting the breaking,
for tracing the rupture
that will return you
to the One who waits,
who watches,
who works within
the rending
to make your heart
whole.

MARKED by ASHES (excerpt) Walter Brueggeman  
Ruler of the Night, Guarantor of the day . . .

This day — a gift from you.
This day — like none other you have ever given,  
or we have ever received.
This Wednesday dazzles us
with gift and newness and possibility.
This Wednesday burdens us
with the tasks of the day,
for we are already halfway home
halfway back to committees and memos,
halfway back to calls and appointments, 
halfway on to next Sunday,
halfway back, half frazzled, half expectant,
half turned toward you, half rather not.
This Wednesday is a long way from Ash Wednesday,
but all our Wednesdays are marked by ashes —
we begin this day with that taste of ash in our mouth:
of failed hope and broken promises,
of forgotten children and frightened women,
we ourselves are ashes to ashes,
dust to dust; we can taste our mortality
as we roll the ash around on our tongues.
We are able to ponder our ashness with some confidence,
only because our every Wednesday of ashes anticipates
your Easter victory over that dry, flaky taste of death.
On this Wednesday, we submit our ashen way to you — 
you Easter parade of newness.
Before the sun sets, take our Wednesday and Easter us,
Easter us to joy and energy and courage and freedom;
Easter us that we may be fearless for your truth.
Come here and Easter our Wednesday
with mercy and justice and peace and generosity.
We pray as we wait for the
Risen One who comes soon.

PRAYER — Mary Oliver

May I never not be frisky,
May I never not be risque.

May my ashes, when you have them, friend,
and give them to the ocean,

leap in the froth of the waves,
still loving movement,

still ready, beyond all else,
to dance for the world.

MEDITATIONS on MUD & SOIL
― Thích Nhất Hạnh

It is possible of course to get stuck in the “mud” of life. It’s easy enough to notice mud all over you at times. The hardest thing to practice is not allowing yourself to be overwhelmed by despair. When you’re overwhelmed by despair, all you can see is suffering everywhere you look. You feel as if the worst thing is happening to you. But we must remember that suffering is a kind of mud that we need in order to generate joy and happiness. Without suffering, there’s no happiness. So we shouldn’t discriminate against the mud. We have to learn how to embrace and cradle our own suffering and the suffering of the world, with a lot of tenderness.

— and —

The soil of our mind contains many seeds, positive and negative. We are the gardeners who identify, water, and cultivate the best seeds.

Living Psalm 51—Ash Wednesday
CONFESSION for CREATION JUSTICE
Written by Maren Tirabassi

To any leader. A Psalm of David, when he took what he wanted, uncaring of the death and damage it caused, which was great.

Have mercy on us, O God, 
with the love that shaped all creation,
for we confess that we have been the ones
who blotted out — made endangered and extinct —
creatures of air and land
by destroying their habitats.

If there is any clean water left, wash us,
but only after the creatures 
of the oceans and lakes and rivers
return and are healed.

For we know our transgression —
we have torn off the tops of mountains
and our sin has fracked deep
into the very fissures of the earth.

Against you, melting your glaciers, we sin,
and we have done what is evil,
so that wildfires rage across
Australia, California, 
and the Amazon rainforest
and the fox and koala and ocelot
judge us by their death.

Indeed, we are guilty against the newly born
who will be eleven years-old,
when our greed changes their earth
beyond hope of repair.

You desire truth, 
but we clutch lies about the climate.
Help us repent so we can hear wisdom,
and make us wise enough to repent.

Let us not be clean,
but dirty in a community garden,
and wet with sweat 
because we have walked and biked,
taken buses instead of cars,
cleaned ourselves with quick showers.

Let us taste the joy of locavores,
celebrate grizzly, wolf, gray whale, 
sea lion, panda,
who have come back to thriving.

Most of all — let our hearts be stirred
not by what makes us wealthy in money
but what makes us wealthy in future.

Create in us a pure heart, O God,
and renew in us
the Spirit that hovers over your creation.

Then we will let our children teach us,
honor sacred lands of indigenous peoples,
open our lips for national parks
and our mouths for wildlife refuges.

Deliver us from being destroyers, O God,
and give us tongues that call for change.

For you have no delight 
when we pile abundance on abundance.
The gift that pleases you 
is one pollinator saved —
butterfly and bee, O God, is our acceptable prayer.


 

Advent 3: Meditations on joy & struggling to find joy in challenging times

As our dialogue progressed, we converged on eight pillars of joy. Four were qualities of the mind: perspective, humility, humor, and acceptance. Four were qualities of the heart: forgiveness, gratitude, compassion, and generosity. — Douglas Carlton Abrams, The Book of Joy

SONGS about JOY:

Joy Unspeakable — Barbara Holmes

Joy unspeakable
erupts when you least expect it,
when the burden is greatest,
when the hope is gone
after bullets fly.
It rises
on the crest of impossibility,
it sways to the rhythm
of steadfast hearts,
and celebrates
what we cannot see.

For Joy – Jan Richardson

You can prepare
but still it will come to you
by surprise

crossing through your doorway
calling your name in greeting
turning like a child
who quickens suddenly within you

it will astonish you
how wide your heart
will open in welcome

for the joy that finds you
so ready and still
so unprepared.

ARTICLES & VIDEOS about CULTIVATING JOY:

JOY — Maurine Smith
Joy, joy, run over me,
Like water running over a shining stone;
And I beneath your sweet shall be
No longer hungry and alone.
The light at my heart’s gate is lit—
My love, my love, is tending it!

Joy Unspeakable Barbara Holmes
Joy Unspeakable
is not silent,
it moans, hums, and bends
to the rhythm of a dancing universe.
It is a fractal of transcendent hope,
a hologram of God’s heart,
a black hole of unknowing.

For our free African ancestors,
joy unspeakable is drum talk
that invites the spirits
to dance with us,
and tell tall tales by the fire.

For the desert Mothers and Fathers,
joy unspeakable is respite
from the maddening crowds,
And freedom from
“church” as usual.

For enslaved Africans during the
Middle Passage,
joy unspeakable is the surprise
of living one more day,
and the freeing embrace of death
chosen and imposed.

For Africans in bondage
in the Americas,
joy unspeakable is that moment of
mystical encounter
when God tiptoes into the hush arbor,
testifies about Divine suffering,
and whispers in our ears,
“Don’t forget,
I taught you how to fly
on a wing and a prayer,
when you’re ready
let’s go!”

Joy Unspeakable is humming
“how I got over”
after swimming safely
to the other shore of a swollen Ohio river
when you know that you can’t swim.
It is the blessed assurance
that Canada is far,
but not that far.

For Africana members of the
“invisible institution,” the
emerging black church,
joy unspeakable is
practicing freedom
while chains still chafe,
singing deliverance
while Jim Crow stalks,
trusting God’s healing
and home remedies,
prayers, kerosene,
and cow patty tea.

For the tap dancing, boogie woogie,
rap/rock/blues griots
who also hear God,
joy unspeakable is
that space/time/joy continuum thing
that dares us to play and pray
in the interstices of life,
it is the belief that the phrase
“the art of living”
means exactly what it says.

Joy Unspeakable
is
both FIRE AND CLOUD,
the unlikely merger of
trance and high tech lives
ecstatic songs and a jazz repertoire
Joy unspeakable is
a symphony of incongruities
of faces aglow and hearts
on fire
and the wonder of surviving together.

8 PILLARS of JOY
(summarized from the Book of Joy)

Full article: https://www.beliefnet.com/inspiration/the-eight-pillars-of-joy.aspx

… 4 are qualities of the spirit, and 4 are qualities of the heart.

1) Perspective

“For every event in life,” says the Dali Lama, “there are many different angles.” There is, perhaps, no greater route to joy than this. Taking a “God’s-eye perspective,” as Archbishop Tutu says, allows for the birth of empathy—the trait that creates joy not only in the one, but in the many. Empathy opens the door to togetherness, and keeps us from building walls around our individual selves—walls that keep out so many potential friends and allies. Realizing and accepting the validity of different perspectives turns “I” in to “we”...

2) Humility

… to be able to truly appreciate the people around them as equals. When we foster humility within ourselves, we find it easier to be open to the opinions of others, and to realize our own limitations. Without being open in this way, learning and growth stop—both of which are components of a happy life …

3) Humour

… the special ability to laugh, not only at life’s troubles, but at themselves and their very human foibles. … Humor that does not mock or belittle brings us closer together, and can diffuse tense situations. Humor shows us our shared ridiculousness … our common humanity … studies on humor are beginning to show that laughter boosts the immune system, relaxes the body, and protects the heart by lowering stress hormones which cause destructive inflammation.

4) Acceptance

… the ability to accept our life in all its pain, imperfection, and beauty … It is not resignation. It is not defeat. It is accepting that we must necessarily pass through the storm. It is facing suffering and asking the question, “How can we use this as something positive?” Acceptance allows us to engage life on its own terms rather than wishing, in vain, that things were different. It enables us to change and adapt, rather than becoming mired in denial, despair, and anxiety.

5) Forgiveness

Holding on to grievances is our way of wishing the past could be different. When we hang on to those negative emotions, that anger and grief and the desire for vengeance, we only hurt ourselves. And if we use those emotions to strike back and cause harm, we only invite a cycle of retribution… Forgiveness does not mean that we forget… Justice should still be sought, and the perpetrator, punished. Justice can be served without anger, without hatred, and once it is served, we must let go. Until we forgive a person that has wronged us, we allow that person to hold power over us—they effectively control our emotions.

6) Gratitude

Gratitude … is the recognition of all that holds us in the web of life and all that has made it possible to have the life that we have and the moment that we are experiencing. It allows us to shift our focus from what we lack to what we have. If acceptance is not fighting reality, gratitude means embracing it, counting blessings rather than burdens… Gratitude also connects us to others. When we are truly grateful, we remember all of those who help make our happiness possible, who bring goodness into our lives. We, then, are able to recognize those people, and enjoy them and their differences.

7) Compassion

Compassion is a sense of concern that arises when we see others suffer, and wish to see that suffering relieved. It is the bridge between empathy and kindness. A large part of being compassionate is realizing our shared humanity.  … when we think of alleviating other people’s suffering, our own suffering is reduced. … Compassion should be extended to the self, as well.

8) Generosity

Giving to others does not truly subtract from ourselves, but adds to us. … money can buy happiness, if we spend it on other people. People who give experience greater long-term life satisfaction, whether that giving is large or small… Strive to attain a generous spirit, made possible by acknowledging that you are merely a steward of your wealth, possessions, and power …

Candle of Joy —Maren Tirabassi
This old woman who cannot see well
has smeared pink lipstick
around her lips
to dress up for church.
A child, sixteen months or so,
too young to be greedy yet,
hugs a large pink balloon.
It doesn’t matter he’s a boy;
it doesn’t matter where
on the spectrum that is gender
he will grow up
to find himself, his joy.
A teenager with magenta hair,
pierced eyebrows, jean jacket over
the tilt of shoulder
which means something like –
love me, don’t love me,
stands nervous, defiant,
in the chancel
puts flame to the pink candle.
There are many more cosmic
dimensions
to this season of Advent.
Through the centuries
volumes of theology
have been written
on the doctrine of Incarnation …
but always the joy is particular.
Light something.

ON JOY

I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy. – Tagore

We are fragile creatures, and it is from this weakness, not despite it,
that we discover the possibility of true joy.― Desmond Tutu, The Book of Joy

The beating heart of the universe is holy joy. — Martin Buber

We have God’s joy in our blood. — Frederick Buechner

To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with. – Mark Twain

The three factors that seem to have the greatest influence on increasing our happiness are our ability to reframe our situation more positively, our ability to experience gratitude, and our choice to be kind and generous. — Dalai Lama

When you are grateful, you are not fearful, and when you are not fearful, you are not violent. When you are grateful, you act out of a sense of enough and not out of a sense of scarcity, and you are willing to share. If you are grateful, you are enjoying the differences between people and respectful to all people. The grateful world is a world of joyful people. Grateful people are joyful people. A grateful world is a happy world. — Brother Steindl-Rast

What is Joy?… While happiness is temporary and is based upon happenings, joy is from the Lord and you can still experience joy during trials, suffering, and testing. Joy is permanent but happiness is fleeting. —Jack Wellman, Patheos.org

From joy I came,
For joy I live,
and in Thy sacred joy
I shall melt again.
— Paramahamsa Yogananda

STRUGGLES, SUFFERING & JOY: Sometimes It’s Hard to Access Joy

Discovering more joy does not, I’m sorry to say, save us from the inevitability of hardship and heartbreak. In fact, we may cry more easily, but we will laugh more easily, too. Perhaps we are just more alive. Yet as we discover more joy, we can face suffering in a way that ennobles rather than embitters. We have hardship without becoming hard. We have heartbreak without being broken. — Archbishop Desmond Tutu

People often confuse joy with happiness, but they are not interchangeable. Joy is from within, regardless of what is going on around you. Happiness can be a blurred emotion, dependent on a situation. Joyful people make a commitment to gratitude regardless of the circumstances. In Greek, the word for joy is ‘chara.’ This describes a feeling of inner gladness, delight or rejoicing. This inner gladness leads to a cheerful heart and a cheerful heart leads to cheerful behavior. The most important attribute of joy is that you can find joy in adversity. — Kelly Wise Valdes

Part of the problem with the word ‘disabilities’ is that it immediately suggests an inability to see or hear or walk or do other things that many of us take for granted. But what of people who can’t feel? Or talk about their feelings? Or manage their feelings in constructive ways? What of people who aren’t able to form close and strong relationships? And people who cannot find fulfillment in their lives, or those who have lost hope, who live in disappointment and bitterness and find in life no joy, no love? These, it seems to me, are the real disabilities. — Fred Rogers

We create most of our suffering, so it should be logical that we also have the ability to create more joy. It simply depends on the attitudes, the perspectives, and the reactions we bring to situations and to our relationships with other people. When it comes to personal happiness there is a lot that we as individuals can do. — Dalai Lama

The Third Sunday of Advent is … the day to light the pink candle. It is not without reason that this Sunday is called Gaudete Sunday, a Sunday when the readings, the music, the church decorations, and even the pink candle are supposed to be gaudy. It’s supposed to be a party, a day of joy … If only we could.Are we even allowed to light the pink candle and be gaudy … when we have endured…accounts of violence worldwide… horrors … immediately … politicized…  We are not joyful. We are not even pretending to be. We have had enough … But what do we say—indeed, what can we say? …
      …. Does John give the … sermon … that God weeps with the wretched of the earth but really has nothing better to do than to cry with you as you are terrorized? In the midst of such colonization, terror, and violence, John’s answer is a call to radical hospitality … John says, we open our doors wider.
These acts of joy run counter to our feelings of horror, despair, anger, and rage … He is coming, John says, but as we look forward to his return, he isn’t back yet. So yes, we should grieve at this present darkness. … Yes, we should have no words to say to explain the horror.  Yes, do be angry, rage at the senselessness. But as the people of God, in our sorrow and in our anger, in our disbelief at the level of injustice … we also defy … we declare with our actions that this is indeed a time to act, but with the radical acts of hospitality, to let our rejoicing not be empty words, but shocking deeds of expansive welcome to the stranger, solidarity with the hungry and the naked … we rejoice defiantly by flinging open our hearts and our doors to welcome the stranger and love our neighbour. — Chinglican at Table

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