Archive for March, 2010
I wrote this for a joint-between-area-churches midweek service. My boss was scheduled to preach, but was then called away to a funeral. This probably isn’t what he would have written, though it is based on his chosen text, and his title.
1 Peter 2:21-25
For to this you have been called, because Christ aslo suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps.
‘he comitted no sin,
and no deceit was found in his mouth.’
When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the corss, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned tot he shepherd and guardian of your souls.
This week- this Holy Week. The word itself evokes a strong sense of things Spiritual, Numinous, Other-worldly.
And yet, this week of all weeks, this Holy Week, it is exactly the this-worldly, incarnate, tangible body that we recall and honour. The body of Jesus of Nazareth, bathed in Mary of Bethany’s expensive perfume. The body of Jesus of Nazareth, perched atop a borrowed donkey The body of Jesus of Nazareth, honoured with palm branches and cloaks thrown down before him. The body of Jesus of Nazareth, feasting in Passover celebration. The body of Jesus of Nazareth, bent low over the feet of his disciples. The body of Jesus of Nazareth, wracked in prayer, “let his cup pass from me”. The body of Jesus of Nazareth, abused, judged, beaten, spat-upon, humiliated, destroyed.
The body of Jesus of Nazareth, revealing and making manifest the presence of God among God’s people.
Now, this is nothing new, in the ancient world. Zeus was recognizable by his middle-aged head on a youthful, athletic body. Apollo spend time as a shepherd. Isis and Osiris knew life and death on the banks of the Nile. A God in human form is nothing new.
And so it is known what a God looks like, when in human form. The human body of a God is a strong body; a powerful body (and so almost always a male body); a beautiful body. These are the sorts of bodies that are closest to Dvinity. God-like bodies.
It is this sort of God-like body that is honoured as it enters Jerusalem. Hosanna! Hosanna! Blessed be the one who comes with strength and power to save us.
But neither Zeus nor Apollo nor Osiris are the God revealed and made manifest in the body of Jesus of Nazareth.
This body reveals its Divinity, not in strength and power, but in weakness and vulnerability. This body reveals its Divinity first as an infant, helpless- honoured only by outcasts and foreigners. This body reveals its Divinity as it is abused, judged, beaten, spat-upon, humiliated, destroyed.
This body reveals and makes manifest a God to whom we do not grow closest in our strength, but in our vulnerability; a God who is most present among us not in power, but in frailty; a God who is acutely and intimitely concerned with humanity- all of humanity- and the realities that we encounter in these bodies.
Weak bodies. Powerless bodies. Hungry bodies. Cold and exposed bodies. Vulnerable bodies. Sick, and dying, and grieving bodies. Abused, judged, beaten, spat-upon, humiliated bodies. There is Divinity there. If we would honour the God revealed to us in the body of Jesus of Nazareth, let us honour him there.
The God revealed and made manifest in the body of Jesus of Nazareth is aGod who knows birth, and death, and all the life that happens in between. He himself bre our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness. And by his wounds, we have been healed.
So, Saturday was a pretty great night.
We did this church social event/fundraiser. I arranged private rental of the whole aquatic centre at the city-owned gym. We invited people to come and swim. There were opportunities to make a donation to the National Church Relief and Development Fund.* Somewhere in the neighbourhood of 55 people (we tried to count, but they kept moving!) came out to
Remember our baptism
Have fun in the Water
Help our neighbours.
That was the whole agenda for the night. I’m a big fan of the simple idea.
People brought friends.
My boss, who normally has all the gravitas that one would expect of a senior cleric, went down the waterslide… more than once.
Kids came, and parents, and people without kids.
And because it was not-Sunday and not-in-our-building, it was a self-selected group of people who came willing to have fun together.
And we did. In bathing suits. In public. Without stressing about being in bathing suits in public.
And it was awesome.
Afterward, my family went out for dinner. The pool was only available for rental from 5-6pm, which is normally when we would be eating. So all of us were too hungry to cope with the 15min wait at the chain restaurant we tried first. We ended up at a locally-owned place just around the corner from home. Every time I eat at this restaurant, I come away thinking “we should really eat here more”. I love the idea of my kids being known in a neighbourhood diner- being regulars. Ordering ‘the usual’. Trying new menu items. Honing our table manners. (Tipping really well when we leave spaghetti all over the table).
In other, totally unrelated news (welcome to my life!) my other church is planning a fundraiser of their own. Every year they do a fashion show, and the organizer nearly fell over from the surprise when I responded to her announcement that she needed models. Because I’m too fat to model? Not at all! Because none of their (um, male!) clergy ever have before.
And, in checking out the store that is partnering with us for the show, I realized something important. I’ve been getting annoyed at mall stores for not carrying the clothes I want to wear. But I am not the mall stores’ target demographic. I have neither disposable time, nor disposable money, and I’m not looking for disposable clothes.
But… as I crib text liberally from their website… doesn’t this just sound like an awesome place to shop?
“Our fashions are chosen to suit all women, ages 30 and up. We can help you update your wardrobe for work or for play; Help you find the perfect look for a night out or for that very special occasion.”
“Work during our business hours? Have a fashion emergency?
Forget to buy a gift?
We are more than happy to arrange to meet with you outside of our regular business hours! Just give us a call or send us an e-mail today to make arrangements.”
“We carry ladies clothing sizes 4-20, regular and petites. You will find everything from casual co-ordinates to pantsuits and dresses. We also have unique accessories including jewelry, purses and scarves.”
“…a family business with many years of experience in fashion and customer service. Our goal is to make your shopping experience a pleasant one, and we guarantee that you will leave looking and feeling great!”
The best part? Their winter clearance sale is on Thursday ’til Saturday. And I’m working a half-day Friday.
Judging by every other event I have ever been involved with at this Church, the fashion show will be an evening of camaraderie and laughter and fun and making money so they can give it away. I’m really looking forward to it- and my modeling debut.
*This takes some, but certainly not all, of my discomfort out of declaring “SPLASH! What a great day that was!” about a day that so many people in so many places passed in fear on Tsunami watch. I wish our small “drop in the bucket” was more.