Notes on the margins of life
Observations of an Episcopal priest living in Memphis, Tennessee
I. The Episcopal Spiritual Life Renewal Survey began this week.
How many have taken it?
Did you find that the answers you wanted on some questions were the not the answers you chose?
Did anyone think that perhaps you are not where you want to be…
Do I have a bargain for you.
* Take the survey
* Most important request I have ever made at Saint John’s
* When you take this – we will have a spiritual self-portrait of ourselves as a community
* A team of 25 of your fellow Spiritual family
o Will work with this picture
o 3 seminars – without staff
* They will advise me & the vestry
* The best way forward –
o Given our self portrait
o What do we need or more importantly
o What do we seek
o Renewal of our lives in Christ.
o Evaluate our common life
§ How we do “Church”
II. In many ways, we have been like the man who loved Robert E Lee
He had a little boy who he wanted to have the same respect for General Lee that he did. It so happened that there was a statue in park of the Southern city where they lived of General Lee mounted on his faithful horse, Traveler. So at least once a week, the man took his little son with him to the park and they had this little ritual. The man would take his little son up to the statue of General Lee on his horse and he would say, “Son, say hello to General Lee.” And the little boy would say, “hello General Lee.” This went on for an long time. One day as they were walking out of the park the little boy said, “Daddy, I really like coming to see General Lee.” “I’m glad son”, said his father. “Oh, daddy, tell me something.” “What do you want to know, Son?” “Daddy, who is that man riding on General Lee?”
Jews – Exile – Some came home – many more stayed – did well & they stayed - Why?
In the words of the popular song of 1918 that lamented the habits picked up by the local boys in France during WWI. How ‘Ya Gonna Keep ‘Em Down on the Farm
(After They’ve Seen Paree) – How are you gonna get ‘Em to go home after they have seen Babylon.
But some, had a sense of longing, what did they want, no, seek: renewal of their life in God, the God Abraham, Isaac & Jacob, the Lord of Hosts.
And then they took their version of the ELSR Survey and they heard what was important – they figured out that General Lee was the man not the horse and they despaired of their spirituality, the whole company of the faithful broke down and cried.
Ezra said to them (and to us) not to worry, in fact go home and have a party – do include those who have not – this day is holy – and do not grieve because, “The joy of the Lord is your strength!”
That same joy is ours as well. Don’t worry about what you might not know. Don’t worry about what you might not do. Remember, anything worth doing at all is doing poorly. If you wait… forget it. Go on to the party & take up your cross and follow Jesus.
III. Gospel – Jesus goes home.
I remember the day that Captain Kangaroo died. For those of us old enough to remember the ruthless bunny and his never ending pursue of carrots, Mr. Moose and Mr. Green Jeans. Every morning Bob Keshan would go along the path to the treasure house, open the door and invite generations of children to enter. I don’t know about you but it was just never the same when you couldn’t watch Captain Kangaroo in your pajamas! I’m just saying.
You can’t go home again! We have heard that all our lives and it is essentially true. You can go through home again and often home goes through us again and again..
Everyone was talking… Jesus full of power of the Spirit…
Jesus – Isaiah 61 – the spirit of the Lord is upon me.
It took the air out of the room.
Today this is fulfilled in your hearing
Today this is filled full - - -
bedroom upstairs, where the little seven-year-old was supposed to be asleep.
Dad nearly killed himself running up the stairs, the little fellow in his pajamas sitting beside his bed on the carpet,
He picked him up, popped him back in bed and asked the inevitable question: ‘John, what happened?’
‘Don’t know, Daddy,’ came the reply.
So he turned out the light and retreated out of the bedroom and a little voice that every parent will recognize called him back. ‘Daddy!’
‘Daddy, I think I must have fallen out of bed!’
‘Yes, John, we realized that downstairs, but what they’re going to ask is why did you fall out of bed?’
‘Daddy, I think I fell out of bed because I stayed too near where I got in!’
That it is when we stay too near the edge of our experience of the love and guidance of God that—we don’t fall out of bed—but we fall out of the depth of our faith. We lose the vision. We lose the impetus. And suddenly we get into all sorts of confused difficulty.”
Are we too close to the place we got in? If we are motivated, willing & scoot over many things will happen. How do we begin —————- TAKE THE SURVEY
To let go doesn’t mean to stop caring;
It means I can’t do it for someone else.
To let go is not to cut myself off…
It’s the realization that I can’t control another…
To let go is not to enable,
but to allow learning from natural consequences.
To let go is to admit powerlessness,
which means the outcome is not in my hands.
To let go is not to try and change or blame another,
I can only change myself.
To let go is not to care for, but to care about.
To let go is not to fix, but to be supportive.
To let go is not to judge,
but to allow another to be a human being.
To let go is not to be in the middle arranging all the outcomes,
but to allow others to affect their own outcomes.
To let go is not to be protective,
It is to permit another to face reality.
To let go is not to deny, but to accept.
To let go is not to nag, scold, or argue,
but to search out my own shortcomings and correct them.
To let go is not to adjust everything to my desires,
but to take each day as it comes and cherish the moment.
To let go is not to criticize and regulate anyone,
but to try to become what I dream I can be.
To let go is not to regret the past,
but to grow and live for the future.
To let go is to fear less and to love more.
Jay Biedenharn, the curate at Saint John’s, will be ordained to the Sacred Order of Priest this Saturday at 10:30 in the morning. I always think of the day, December 15, 1981, I was ordained a priest. Never, since that day, have I been the same as before. Often, often I am aware of an additional energy, a small voice of encouragement or a prompting of inner wisdom that surprises, yet delights, my soul.