23 May 2004 - 9:50 p.m.
[second entry today]
As some of you know, I've started working on a sermon on -- well, it keeps evolving, but it'll still be something to do with how we (ought to) gauge and engage with Others. Since the service in question is more than a month away, there's plenty of time left for a-ponderin' -- which means lots of little notes to jot down when I happen to tune into people talking about dialogue (or lack thereof) with folks with utterly different views. At yesterday's wedding reception some of us ended up musing about the frustration of "always having to be the one to do the work" with certain friends/relatives - i.e. feeling willing (or obligated) to hear the other side out, but then not being given equal time to delineate one's position. (I recently chatted with a clergyperson who mentioned encountering a similar impasse when participating in an attempt at interfaith conversation - the fundamentalist and orthodox members apparently weren't interested in anything the moderate/liberal representatives wished to share.)
(Not sure yet how I'm going to address the frustration/weariness/sense-of-feeling-besieged factor, but I'm thinking I'll need to if I want the sermon to be more than just philosophical fluffing-around. Not that I expect to have any good answers, and God knows I never met a confrontation I wasn't eager to flee given even half an escape route, but that's probably all the more reason for me to share my insistence on choosing one's
Sometimes I wonder if I shouldn't just present myself as a walking anthology and simply read aloud other journallers' holdings-forth. For instance, both Philocrites and M'ris posted today on the need to recognize that "them" is not a synonym for "100% wrong":
It is easier to see enemies than to hear what the Spirit is saying in their lives. . . . [I] think liberals do themselves and the church a disservice when they fail to notice that their opponents sometimes tell the truth. Is it a problem when denominational structures don't represent their members? Yes. So should the denominations simply adopt whatever is the more popular position? No. But they must find ways to offer the theological, scriptural, and pastoral resources that will help bridge the gap. Since it is more likely that liberals will learn to take theology seriously than that conservatives will learn to take dialogue seriously, we have our work cut out for us .
. . .people live in the world. Obvious, yes, I know, but often forgotten. So if you tell people -- on your side or some other side -- that anyone who holds Position X in common with you is pure as the driven snow, you don't get to immediately lock them in your closet afterwards. They get to go out into the world. They get to observe people. They get to notice that some Christians ignore most of Jesus' best material. They get to notice that some Democrats really don't give a flying fornication about the poor. They get to notice that doctors, physicists, politicians, people all make mistakes. They get to notice that whatever group you're trying to portray as perfect is composed of human beings, and is as imperfect as any other group of human beings, which is to say: highly so.
Anyway. Jason's ordination was, as anticipated, joyful and lively and hilarious and rollicking and all the rest of it. So many highlights - Mary Shelton lighting the chalice, her face and voice full of emotion; Jason later singing "How Sweet It Is" to her; Eunice Benson singing the greeting from the Mid-South District to the now-traditional "Ain't-a That Good News;" Vivian Burr bringing down the house with "We Are One" and Sharen Camille's soaring soprano on "This Little Light of Mine"; Richard Ruach reading Miles Davis on playing "above what you know" and Sinkford preaching on it; the actual act of ordination --
-- which, as with Susan's, I found intensely moving. "May you be unwearied in watchfulness, and fervent in strength. May you be a debtor to the wise and unwise both, and may you never be so overcome by fear that you abandon your heart's calling. .. " --
-- and then there was also Mary Katherine's wry and affectionate charge to "listen. . .and be yourself"; Greg Ward's characteristically funny offering of the Hands of Fellowship (something to the effect of, "And when you fall. . . we will let you. . . because we believe that you can fly. Just be mindful of the minister underneath . . .to catch you. . ."); the jazz ensemble's crackling rendition of "Ode to Joy" (Mark Freundt on piano, Brian Foti on drums, the Hiller boys on guitars); and rehearsing/performing more with Clif Hardin. Oh, I was trying not to go all fangirl on Clif, but that meant when I introduced myself to him afterwards I got all blithery and tongue-tied instead of making actual conversation. (Sigh. Maybe I'll pull myself together some other year.) In the meantime, I think we did a decent job with the new anthem-hymn, "Instruments of Peace." First verse:
Spirit of creation's glory
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