March 5, 2008
Dear Centenary Friends,
March 12, 2008
Dear Friends of Centenary,
A traditional Yiddish tale: Rabbi Levi saw a man running in the street, and asked him, "Why do you run?" He replied, "I am running after my good fortune!" Rabbi Levi tells him, "Silly man, your good fortune has been trying to chase you, but you are running too fast."
I have been reading a book titled "Sabbath" by Wayne Muller. I am convicted and challenged by it. He tells the story of his friend, Marilyn, a devoted massage therapist. "...She is very kind and works very hard. She serves in the poorest sections of San Francisco, offering her services for free to those most in need. In seedy residential hotels, where there are people dying of AIDS or suffering with tuberculosis, she goes from the room of one sick person to another, massaging, rubbing the salve of good care into their isolated dying bodies. When Marilyn and I talk on the phone, she often sounds exhausted. I invite her to spend a day on the beach. She says she can't. She has too much work, too many people to meet, too many things to do. She is almost weeping, such is her need to rest, but she has no inner permission to stop working, even for an afternoon."
"...no inner permission to stop working..." That phrase describes and defines many people. Sabbath time... time apart... recreation... rhythm... are all a part of the world created by God. When we get caught up in our business, our busy-ness, even our service to others, to the point where we cannot give ourselves permission for Sabbath, fun, and play, then we are at a dangerous place.
Pause as you read this... Breathe in.... Breathe out... Sabbath... Why can't you do something really fun this afternoon? Can you play hooky? Do it! If it can't happen today, why not tomorrow?
This Sunday is Palm/Passion Sunday. We are moving into Holy Week. I hope that you will plan to be present for worship this Sunday at 11 a.m.
Two special services of worship during Holy Week:
Wednesday, 6:45 p.m. - A Service of Shadows with Holy Communion
Friday, noon ? Good Friday Service
Grace and peace to you all.
Love God. Love Others. Love Yourself. Serve.www.centenarymacon.org
March 18, 2008
Dear Centenary friends,
Easter skews our understanding of reality. We handle the challenge to our reality by focusing on Easter as history, thus robbing the resurrection of its power. Focusing on the reality map of Easter as history is easier to follow and accept than for Easter and resurrection to be a present reality.
During the time of Homer, Greek sailors never sailed out of sight of land. They hugged the coast, because their reality maps told them that any seagoing ship would be lost. According to their belief systems, the sea was filled with deadly monsters. Our reality maps cause us fear and limited vision.
European sailors navigated by reality maps which stated that the world was flat. If you sailed too far, their belief systems said, you would fall off. Christopher Columbus (and others) changed all that. But even Columbus' reality map was way off because when he landed in the New World, he thought he was in India - which is why Native Americans are mistakenly called "Indians". Reality maps sometimes reveal what we do not know.
In 1597 another young sailor returned to his home port of Madrid, Spain. Juan Combe had been to the New World, and upon his return he became quite a celebrity. People flocked to hear his stories about adventures in the New World. He was wined, dined, and was the toast of the town. BUT one day in Madrid it rained and Juan Combe walked the streets wearing a cape that kept him and his clothes dry. Superstitious folks thought this cape must be magic. Juan explained that rubber-coated capes were widely used by the Indians in the New World. His explanations did not satisfy the authorities who arrested him. A judge examined the curious garment, questioned Juan at length, and gave his verdict. Juan was obviously interfering with the Will of God, who sent the rain to "fall on the just and the unjust." According to the judge, the cape was a result of witchcraft and Juan was executed. The wrong reality map, even if it is someone else's, can kill you.
Galileo (one of my heroes) was shunned and placed under house arrest BY THE CHURCH because he dared to suggest that the earth orbited the sun. The church's reality map was that the sun orbited the earth. The church was threatened by this challenge to their reality map. In the church's limited understanding, Galileo was a heretic for promoting a new map of reality. Challenging the reality maps of others can be dangerous business!
Easter upsets our reality map. Our tendency is to deal with the challenge by focusing on history rather than allowing our reality maps to shift.
Easter as history is limited. Easter as present reality is unlimited. Peter Gomes, Chaplain and professor at Harvard University, preached an Easter sermon in which he proposed that resurrection was a continuing event which involves everyone who dares to be involved with it. He said, "Easter is not just about Jesus, it's about you. Jesus has already claimed his new life. What about you? Easter is not just about the past, it's about the future. Your best days are ahead of you. The proof of the resurrection is in your hands and in your life."
That, my friends, is a completely different reality map. To quote Kirk Byron Jones, "Handling the resurrection is challenging; being handled by the resurrection is even more challenging." Being handled by the resurrection means not only that we are challenged by the unknown, it also constantly challenges our fear of the loss of the known. (Think about that for a moment.)
Easter as history holds little to no interest for me. In fact, I refuse to engage in that conversation. It is a waste of breath. Easter as a new map of reality holds my interest entirely.
That is why I want to invite you to go out of your way to be in worship this next Sunday. We will sing the great hymns of resurrection, we will hear from Mary of Magdala, Apostle Peter, and a couple of other disciples walking to Emmaus about how their reality maps shifted. We also will hear from Van Morrison and Cat Stevens.
As far as I am concerned, it is exciting stuff! What an opportunity you have to invite friends and family to join you in a great service of celebration! We are moving to a new map of reality.
Two other services of worship this week will prepare us for Easter Sunday morning:
First, on Wednesday, 6:45 pm, there will be a Service of Shadows with Holy Communion in the sanctuary.
Second, on Friday, noon, there will be a 30 minute Good Friday service in the sanctuary as we focus on the cross.
Grace and peace,
Love God. Love others. Love yourself. Serve.