I woke up this morning...

Tonight, for some reason that I don't pretend to comprehend, I found myself watching a very powerful musical documentary about the music of the Civil Rights movement: Soundtrack for a Revolution (check it out: http://www.soundtrackforarevolutionfilm.com/Home.html As one of the great Civil Rights songs puts it:  I woke up this morning with my mind stayed on freedom. And I wept and wept and wept watching this film.  And the more I think about it, my tears came not only because I cherish these songs, but also because I have been discovering a few more clues about what is really important in ministry. 

+ Earlier today the writer, Cathleen Falsani Possley, posted this clip from the PBS program, Religion and Ethics, in which Eugene Peterson is profiled. One of the things he says in his quiet but clear way is that America is so addicted to consumption that we in the church must challenge the notion that the United States is a Christian nation. To be sure, there are blessings here that I cherish; but we are a very sick and wounded nation and our values are the polar opposite of Christ's. What's more, we don't know the difference.
  
Peterson goes on to take issue with the rise of the mega-church - a place where there is no spiritual or ethical accountability - and the rise of the cult of the so-called gospel of prosperity asking: "I want to ask these preachers, "Do you have anybody in your church that DIES? Where is the prosperity in that?!?'"  He concludes to predict that the old mainstream church - the now disestablished and side-lined congregations - are really holding it all together given the addictions and fads of the past 30 years. As some know, I resonate on a deep level with many of Peterson's insights and think it is worth the 6+ minutes to watch. Check it out @ http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/episodes/may-13-2011/eugene-peterson/8806/

+ I've also been reflecting on the curious mixture of cruelty and kindness that often lives so close to one another in the church. Over the past few weeks, for example, I have experienced some real mean-spirited bullshit from some wounded souls (not from my congregation, thanks be to God) as well as some truly sanctified kindness. Once again, I find myself saying, "No good deed goes unpunished" as something that is both true and humbling. I have also reclaimed the wisdom that there are times when I simply have to shake the dust off my sandals and keep moving no matter how sad or painful that feels.  Some folk are just too toxic or stubborn for me - and I need to leave them to the Lord. (Truth be told, I think some of my tears were about that, too.)

Well, tomorrow is my last day at church for two weeks! On Thursday, before we head out of town, I get to play with my jazz mates again at Patrick's Pub - and that feels like a soul medicine I have been missing for too long. Serendipitously, it will be a concert for peace-making and we'll have some of our Sister City friends from Nicaragua present as well as a few young musicians from the wider community. That will be healing for me - and I will make certain to throw in some of the gospel freedom songs that I cherish during this gig.

And then, as Chuck Berry - and later Bruce Springsteen - said, "It is bye, bye New Jersey I've become airborne... cuz you can't catch me!"  Canada, here we come!

Comments

Black Pete said…
Traveling mercies, you two.
RJ said…
I miss you so much and really wish this trip was going to take us to your place... but alas, another time, dear man.

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