May 21, 2018 “Is there anything else that wants to be said?” Why yes, there is, and what fun to to be able to share with you! I haven’t worked out yet exactly how often to post, or exactly what. But on this day when we in Southeast Texas have been afflicted once again with days of torrential rain and rising water, when our world is afflicted as ever with ‘storms within and storms without,’ it seems good to press forward with the aim of this website: to re-enchant the world. Re-enchant not in the sense of magical thinking or dreamy other-worldly passivity, but in the robust sense of restoring to our anxious minds “a voice, a chime, a chant sublime of peace on earth, good will to men.” And so I’m going to go ahead and give you my Refresh homily from last month. With pictures!
Refresh Worship Service
Trinity United Methodist Church / Beaumont, Texas
Wednesday, May 16, 2018
Phoebe Hambright Dishman, Lay Speaker
Songs: #111 “How Can We Name a Love”/ #113 “Source and Sovereign “/#688 “God, Who Madest Earth and Heaven”
Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!
How beautiful it is when we sing our praises to the beautiful God,
for praise makes you lovely before him
and brings him great delight!
2 The Lord builds up Jerusalem;
he gathers up the outcasts and brings them home.
3 He heals the wounds of every shattered heart.
4 He sets his stars in place, calling them all by their names.
5 How great is our God!
There’s absolutely nothing his power cannot accomplish,
and he has infinite understanding of everything.
We humans are all theologians. Did you know that?
We all say words—logos—about God—theos.
Theologians. You and me.
Made in God’s image, how can we help but wrestle with that image,
work to find words for the song we all sing?
As someone asked an atheist:
“Describe for me please this God in whom you do not believe?”
Even an atheist is a theologian! Of the God-wrestling persuasion…
Obviously, the person who wrote Psalm 147 was a theologian.
He gifted the ancient people Israel with words about God,
words to sing as they made their pilgrim way to their holy city.
And still we sing their ancient song.
As we make our pilgrim way.
As we evolve. As we learn, as we part the curtains
with our science, and our dreaming,
And God smiling to see just when we will find the wonders God has prepared. Just as a baby finds her hands, and her feet.
Barbara Brown Taylor is a contemporary theologian of some renown. She says this about God:
In Sunday school, I learned to think of God as a very old white-bearded man on a throne, who stood above creation and occasionally stirred it with a stick. When I am dreaming quantum dreams, what I see is an infinite web of relationship, flung across the vastness of space like a luminous net. It is made of energy, not thread. As I look, I can see light moving through it as a pulse moves through veins. What I see “out there” is no different from what I feel inside. There is a living hum that might be coming from my neurons but might just as well be coming from the furnace of the stars. When I look up at them there is a small commotion in my bones, as the ashes of dead stars that house my marrow rise up like metal filings toward the magnet of their living kin.
A living hum. A small commotion in my bones. Yessss!
Do you feel the joy? Hallelujah!
As for me, I have written a different response to Psalm 147.
With thanks to the Troggs, circa 1966,
and my own impressions so far of life on planet Earth,
it goes like this:
Wild thing, you make my heart sing
Wild thing, beyond which there is nothing and no greater
Surge of joy
Burst of creativity
Flash of inspiration
You are blessing
You are breaking
You are Divine Dance
You are love outpoured and ever refreshed
You are wine you are bread you are living water
You are community
You are engine for peace and fuel for justice
You are fire
You are dunamis, dynamite
You are purpose and passion and praise
You are Will
To be done on earth as in heaven
And we, made in your image
Oh my we are
You make my heart sing
For we are cherished
In all our imperfect particularity
The little things of every day
The little things
You are a wild darling of a baby rabbit, flushed from the liriope
By the intrusion of my water hose
A wee furry rabbit, wild and yet so young and trusting
That it allows me to touch
Its shining fur
You are the wild flower my sister saw on Beech Creek
You are the camera she captured it with, the love she shared with me
You are the wild science of shape, and color, and name
You are the religion, that is, the meaning
we brazenly assign to a humble flower:
Purple of Advent, trinity of petals, fleeting life,
nestled in the arms of eternal glory
[photo by Kate Hambright, May 2018]
You are, when I need a new car
And I’m pretty sure I want the same sedate silver
I’ve driven for years
But what I drive home
Is ruby red
A prodigal Pentecost
A wild thing
In a red car
You are my friend who was stricken
Who said to me, I don’t know how to be this sick
And then the dread of a deeper problem
And the relief when it was not so
You are the joy of my friend, who says, I’m better
You are my friend and friend to many who asked us to ‘say more’
You are his smile
You are his body now ashes—or is it stardust?—and you are his voice now gone. Or is it?
You are the wild red cardinal in my back yard
the day my friend died
And you are my shattered heart as I watch the cardinal
The eternity in its ‘cheer cheer cheer’
You are my reverie
And you are my shriek as I see a movement at my feet
And I look down to see an enormous king snake
Who shrieks right back at sight of me
and speeds away across my feet
into the azaleas
You are Jesus the teacher his voice now gone—or is it?—who said
Be ye shrewd as snakes
And harmless as doves
[medallion designed by John Wesley for his chapel in London]
You are the ones who love that man
The play of his mind, the stories he told
You are the ones who follow other ways of kindness and compassion
Of repairing the world
You are my new granddaughter
Growing every day
Her smiles her inexplicable storms
Her small body nestled in our arms
You are life new life
In new and wondrous forms
And we circle up and say to a newborn:
We love you and support you on your journey
And when the darkness falls on one of ours
We circle that one and say
We love you and support you on your journey
And you, you are the circle of the words we speak to each other
At the beginning, through the journey, at the end
You are us, made for each other
You are sprightly treasure
And noble delight
You are pilgrim way
You are now
Forever you are
And the possibility of things going wrong
You are the courage to love what will surely die
You are resurrection
The kiss we crave
The loss we dread
You are birthing and bearing what we must bear
You are fullness and emptiness
You are gutted animal keening
and you are logic and sober reflection
You are the remnant
The rallying of the reasonable
That which may—or may not—
emerge from disruption and chaos
You are stardust flung out
The strange attraction
The song in our bones
You are the river moving in us
Our reason to get up in the morning
Our comfort as we close our eyes
You are our mystification
And our joy
And you know what?
I think the love is mutual
You are I AM
far beyond our knowing
You are closer than our breath
You are the everlasting arms
You are the Eternal One
All praise to our beautiful God.
Every sermon should ask you to do something.
So here it is:
Go thou forth from here, my wild things, my darlings.
Find some words of your own for God.
And be ye constrained
By nothing less than Love.
To live any smaller than Love may be sufficient.
But it’s not complete. We need to be holy. We need to be whole.