Disoreintation comes alive on good friday...

I am so grateful to everyone who joined us tonight for Good Friday:  Disorientation.  It was beautiful and edgy, spirit-filled and outside the box all at the same time.  After a lot of prayer and editing, here's how I explained it for the 100+ people who were present:

The poet, Mary Oliver, recently wrote:

The man who has many answers
is often found
in the theaters of information
where he offers, graciously,

his deep findings.

While the man who has only questions,
to comfort himself, makes music.
That’s why we’ll mostly be making music tonight – music that is comforting and disorienting, music that wrestles with the questions of God’s presence in the midst of our pain and music that comes from almost everywhere except the church – but  before the music I’ve been asked by my comrades in arms to say a few words about why we do what we do  So, with the risk of saying something too puffed up, let me try this on for size:  tonight’s meditation in song, silence, scripture and solidarity is our artistic expression of what it feels like for God to come to us as light in the middle of our darkest time.

We share a belief that the holy aches to be with us in our suffering AND brings healing to whatever is wounded – that is a core belief – something that almost every spiritual tradition holds as true.  In the Christian world we say that in all things God works for good – NOT that all things ARE good nor that all things are as God wants them – but rather that God can take the worst the world throws at us and redeem it.  That’s what the Cross tells us:  even shame, suffering and pain can be transformed by God’s loving into something greater and even something holy.  And when we discover the sacred presence in the midst of all our muck, it is disorienting…

You see, most of the time when we operate according to conventional wisdom, we don’t trust this truth.  We live like God isn’t really God because we believe that we have to fix everything, heal every hurt and take control of our destiny because that’s what healthy, constructive and successful people do.  And when we wake up to find out that playing by these rules still leaves us powerless over some things – or that being a “good boy or girl” has become destructive, addictive or even ugly – ooh Lord THAT is really disorienting.  Cut to the music we’ve chosen for tonight.
·       We began by trying to give shape and form to the feeling of disorientation by using an ancient prayer – o blessed fault - o necessary sin – felix culpa – with the weird industrial groove of “Purple Haze.”  If it made you uncomfortable, it was supposed to because our hope is that this creates something of the tension that exists in how God brings healing and hope into the ugliest human realities:  surrender and serenity, you see, are married to acceptance – and this always feels disorienting.

·       As the music continues it tells us that we live in a “Mad World.”  We may start to know that something is going wrong and want to “get outta Dodge,” but we don’t know where to go – and don’t know what to do – so we keep on keeping on and  Keep the Car Running” even when bad becomes worse.  If nothing changes we wake up to discover that all our “Roads” lead to despair – and we find ourselves “At the Bottom of the River.  More often than not, it is only when we run out of options – when we have no more “High Hopes” – that we let God greet us with grace and begin to sense that even in our worst moments, God doesn't give up on us
This is a truth found in all spiritual tradition:  In Judaism this truth is honored
in the observation of Passover, in Islam in the stories of Allah’s guidance thatleads the Prophet through his darkest hour, in Buddhism it comes when Siddhartha endures the fears of illusion before enlightenment awakens and in Christianity it takes place between Good Friday and Easter.  We’re talking about an emptying – a hitting bottom – that is never just about us but always pregnant with grace bringing light into the darkness.
Tonight’s meditation is a musical pilgrimage that begins in madness but concludes by saying:  love wins – grace trumps karma!  And knowing this – trusting it – and practicing it can make all the difference between life and death.  The playwright, poet and one-time Czech President Vaclav Havel put it like this:

Hope is an orientation of the spirit, an orientation of the heart; it transcends the world that is immediately experienced and is anchored somewhere beyond its horizons. . . It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense regardless of how it does turns out.
Our conviction – as musicians, theologians, poets and artists – is that God can work good in all things.  I am grateful to work with such creative souls – and to have the artistic freedom of the pulpit that is part of this congregation’s long history.  So let me offer these closing practical words:

·      Tonight’s program will be like going to MassMoCA – you will probably love parts and hate parts and not grasp what the devil is going on in other parts – that happens to me every time I go there.  And that’s ok, it is part of the creative process.  Give yourself time to wrestle with it all.

·       If you’ve brought a donation – or money or toilet paper – there are places you may leave your gift, ok?  Towards the end of the evening, when we are playing “Don’t Give Up,” if you feel inspired to light a candle as a prayer – or a sign of protest against the darkness – please feel free to come forward and do so.

·      And when everything is done, and the band has left the Chancel, you are welcome to sit here for a time in the quiet – or share a conversation about what touch you in all of this.  Give yourself time to let it simmer.
And now let me invite you to go deeper with us into a musical Serenity Prayer of sorts as we share with you:  disorientation.


Popular Posts