Thursday, December 4, 2014

We are a gentle, angry people...

"Wholeness" writes C.G. Jung, "consists of bringing together what has been torn apart, whether that be the conscious and the unconscious, the night and the day, the feminine and the masculine, the head and the heart, spirit and matter, the East and the West, the wisdom of one people and that of another or the life of the human species and the life of every other species on earth... we live in a painful fragmentariness... we have separated what God has joined together, the unity of the universe." (J. Philip Newell, The Rebirthing of God)

Yet another Black man's murder at the hands of white police officers escapes legal indictment. I don't pretend to know the complexities of what took place in the grand jury's deliberations. I won't try to comprehend how they drew their troubling conclusion. And I certainly can't fully know what drove Staten Island police officer, Daniel Pantaleo, to act in a way that wound up choking Eric Garner to death. But something is horribly torn apart in our world when selling loose cigarettes on the street can get you killed by those sworn to serve and protect.

There is a cry being raised-up in America that is breaking through our denial and apathy. This cry is troubling to us all, but for very different reasons. In the lessons for the second Sunday of Advent we are told that now we are beginning to hear the cry of one expressing anguish: "the voice of one crying in the wilderness (calls us) to prepare a way for the Lord by making a straight path." (Mark 1) 

To "prepare a way for the Lord" has nothing to do with Advent candles. It means that we clear away the garbage and the distractions in our lives. It is "to choose the good and difficult path as opposed to the immoral or easy one - for the Way... also suggests a new exodus - a release from oppression... and a time of repentance and forgiveness." (Mark 1 notes in The Jewish Annotated New Testament, ed. Ami-Jill Levine and Mark Zvi Brettler.) In order for this to take place, however, our brokenness must be named and owned and grieved. Like last week's reading from Mark 13 said:

In those days there will be suffering, such as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now and never will be. And if the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would be saved; but for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he has cut short those days. And if anyone says to you at that time, “Look! Here is the Messiah!” or “Look! There he is!”—do not believe it. False messiahs and false prophets will appear and produce signs and omens, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. But be alert; I have already told you everything.
‘But in those days, after that suffering,
the sun will be darkened,
   and the moon will not give its light, 
   and the stars will be falling from heaven,
   and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 

Both Christians and Jews have images for reconciliation and healing - real wholeness - in our respective tradtions that this culture needs to consider. The prophet Isaiah speaks of the marriage of opposites: The wolf shall live with the lamb and the leopard shall lie down with the kid. St. Matthew envisions a time when God's people will gather from the East and the West, the North and the South, to sit down at the banquet table and feast together.

But before such wholeness, there is the wailing and the tears - and we who hear the sound of one crying in the wilderness must choose to join the lament in solidarity. These are not the other, these are not some one else's tears, these are not another race's problems: we are one in the Spirit and one in the Lord.

This Sunday @ 3 pm the Pittsfield NAACP has invited us to meet in Pitt Park (44 S. John Street) and walk together in solidarity to The Common. I hope you will join me and others. 


Peter said...

May it be so, good brother.

RJ said...

And so it continues and deepens, yes? Love you.

playing for our lives: a concert to combat local homelessness June 15 @ 7 pm

In an interview with Krista Tippett a few years ago, the late Jean Vanier gave contemporary people of compassion his antidote for despair:...