Reflection: September 24

Published on Sep 25th, 2017 by Rev. David Boyd | 0

         One of the church sign bloopers that remains stuck in my head, and this has been around for probably 20 years, is, “Don’t let worry kill you; let the church help!” Every few years, a collection of these bloopers, including bulletin bloopers, gets passed around on the internet.

         I would say that there is more than the usual amount of worry around these days. I’ve had a more than a few conversations with people who generally I would identify as worriers, and who have expressed real concern about various things happening in the world, both locally and internationally. It’s hard to gauge how much stock to put into Donald Trump’s latest references to obliterating North Korea; should we be worried about that? Are there enough checks and balances in the US system or the world security system so that the rhetoric of war gets ratcheted down?

         People have expressed worries about the many natural disasters occurring: Mexico, another storm through the Caribbean, record monsoons in Asia, heat in Africa. People are still cleaning up from storms that hit the southern US.

         Locally, people are concerned about the after-effects of fires and what the next years will hold; that article in the Nelson Star a few weeks ago was telling—someone who thought her yard was ok with respect to an interface fire and it wasn’t after the fire department visited. I’ve visited a few people who are nearing the end of their time to move to the Great Life beyond this life. People are anxious about health concerns and about family. There were a series of audio articles on CBC morning show last week about burn-out and people leaving their jobs and starting again.

         And then there’s our own future as a congregation. We continue to try to be faithful in the midst of anxious times and an uncertain future, but there are some key decisions we will need to make in the next few months. I know that there is some anxiety about what we have valued for so long continuing!

         What does our faith teach us about anxiety and times of fear? Well, a great deal in my estimation!

         Firstly, we stand up and declare our faith in something greater than ourselves. That’s partly what we did this morning in welcoming Linda Mae and Mary Ann! It is a corporate act of declaring to the world that we are here and we have something hopeful to say. It is a celebration of our community of hope, and love, and compassion, and peace. Like Martin Luther is reputed to have said at the Reformation (500 years ago this very year), “Here I stand; I can do no other so help me God. Amen!” We choose to be part of a community of hope.

         I remember the story of Vedran Smailovic, who played Albinoni’s Adagio in G Minor for 22 days in a destroyed square of downtown Sarajevo as a memorial for 22 people killed in 1993 by a mortar blast while standing in line for bread. It was a wonderful act of courage, indiscourageable goodwill, and hope.

Like Smailovic, Polish composer Henryk Gorecki also used music to declare hope; he wrote a choral piece called “Miserere,” which means, “Have mercy.” He wrote this piece in 1981 to protest the government’s crackdown of the Solidarity movement that eventually contributed to the end of the Iron Curtain. The piece was not performed until 1987, however, because of government persecution, and it was performed at a site where an assassination of a Catholic priest by state security forces had occurred. This is a powerful piece that begins with the basso profundos beginning, and then gradually adding other choral parts reaching a crescendo in “have mercy” as the piece ends. A powerful piece of music that is full of hope.

Or we could be storytellers to offer hope. Do you know? The KinDom of God is like a landowner who needed workers. He hired workers at various times of the day, and do you know what? At the end of the day, he paid all his workers the same wage! How do you like them apples?

Fred Craddock has suggested that the key to interpreting this parable is that we are called to celebrate the fortunes of others as well as our own fortunes; we are called to be grateful that others, too, have abundance. We need not be defined by our own selfish wants and desires, but that we can transcend those with love and compassion and a celebration of the gift of life. How do you like them apples?

Here we are at the last Sunday of the Season of Creation, River Sunday, and I want to say that water gifts us with hope. We can immerse ourselves in water; we can clean ourselves with water. We can quench our thirst with water. We can play in water. We can use water in a ritualistic way to affirm that there is abundance and that, while we worry, we can turn our worry into orchestral or choral pieces that instill hope even in the midst of tragedy, fear and sadness.

Fear and worry win if that fear and worry is not transformed into acts of love and compassion and declarations of hope! I find rivers and flowing water, and certainly the big lakes and the huge oceans, to be places of renewal and affirmation of grace and companionship; something greater than ourselves is part of our journey of hope and life.

Joining the church today is an affirmation that we choose to be part of that bigger journey of hope with others. We want to be part of a chorus that rises in a crescendo of “Have mercy!” That is an affirmation that worry will not kill us, but that we will live so that others can live—so that we all in creation can live well!

Amen.

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