Are you stressed out? Do you run, run, run each and every day and most of the time feel mentally and physically exhausted? Do you ever have time just to relax and play? One activity after another eventually drains the mind, the body and the spirit of all energy. Well, STOP! Take a moment just to stop and let go. Sit down in a straight chair; both feet on the ground with your hands on your knees; breathe in deeply through your mouth and hold the air for just a minute and the slowly let it out through the nostrils – very slowly. Do this three times – not rushing, but slowly and deliberately. Let your shoulders relax – let your back and your leg muscles just relax. When you finish, sit still for a few moments and capture a fond memory of someone or something that brought you a gift of life – they energized you. Remember and be still.
Sunday is a traditional day to slow down, gather as a family and friends and reflect on life; to pay attention to our life journey. We gather, recognizing our common humanity; that we are not Gods and that we did not create the universe or ourselves. We gather in all of our imperfections, recognizing that along the way, we have hurt others through neglect, direct action, or indifference. We are part of the human journey, with our roots stretching backwards for billions of years. On this journey, we have succumbed to wars, slavery, racism, sexism, classism, etc., etc. We have created little boxes to place groups in – tribalism to nationalism. We have branded people, judging others and determining who is worthy to share a meal with us. It is in gathering together, recognizing that we are one creation and in fact, brothers and sisters; children of the one God, that we are invited to tear down the walls that separate and to recognize that we need one another and that each person, reflects the beauty and wonder of creation in which each and every person, is a reflection of the Creator. We are part of the Universe, with it’s untold Galaxies, Stars, Planets, and life itself.
It is in this moment of reflection on our own failings, our blindness and deafness to the world around us to recognize God’s love and incarnation into humanity, and that we are indeed connected to all that is throughout the universe, that we can sing Glory to God in the Highest – recognizing that we as persons, conscious of life, give thanks for this gift. We are gift to one another; the gift of life that we receive, we become. At this time, we thank God for all of the wonder, the beauty of creation that we are part of. God loving this world and becoming one with us; sharing the struggle of life becoming.
The next step is the sharing of stories. We start with the series of creation itself – to the creation of all the universe, to our planet and to all of plant and animal life and finally to the story of the creation of men and women, created in God’s image, male and female – in God’s image and given responsibility for our world. We hear the stories of the move away from God and the centering on self. We hear the words of the Prophets, calling the people to metanoia, to radical change, and the consequences of our failure to do so. We hear the lamentations, the stories of defeat, of slavery and oppression; of choosing to close the eyes and ears to the call to unity. We hear the parallel stories of God’s faithfulness and the lack of faithfulness of humanity.
We then hear the stories of Jesus, the prophet, calling the people to listen and observe carefully his journey into the heart of humanity. We remember that as we listen to the stories of Jesus making his way to Jerusalem, he was a teacher – a Rabbi calling his disciples (students) to walk with him and learn – not from dry lectures, but from the experience of human beings – of life in all of it’s diversity. He also taught that the life-journey is not easy or painless; it is demanding and a struggle. He also taught them that life cannot be achieved alone – we need each other and we need that Spirit of God that walks with us. It is an amazing thing to realize that we depend on life – on plants and animals for food, for sharing oxygen and nitrogen, for clothing and shelter – and that this caldron of life includes us. We also need each human person – we depend on others for food, clothing and shelter – as they depend on us. We are connected; every single atom in the universe is connected, one to the other. We are infused with the energy of the Universe.
Jesus knew the stories of his time, tracing the human journey and aware of God’s loving presence all along the way. He was deeply aware of the journey filled with wars, slavery, oppression, greed, jealousy and fear of both life and death. He was constantly calling his disciples to look and understand; to not be afraid and to enter into life and all that it brings. The stories told about Jesus portray him as another Moses, leading them through the Desert, wrestling with God like Jacob, and healing and feeding the spirits of the marginalized and unclean along the way. He ate with sinners which was seen as a major problem by the authorities – those in positions that held the power of life or death. He taught a simple message: we are called to serve one another – to help each other along the way and to let go of our fears and needs for control and power with others serving us. This was and is a dangerous message.
One other dangerous message that Jesus taught was that of freedom. The freedom to be ourselves – reflecting the presence of God in our own unique way. It is not so much that others control us and enslave us – it is that we do it to ourselves. We shackle ourselves with chains of our own making and then blame our problems on others – “The Devil made me do it!” as Flip Wilson was famous for quoting. Treat others the way that you would like to be treated; as another great philosopher once said, “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth – pretty soon we are all blind and toothless.” Jesus also taught that when a soldier makes you carry his backpack one mile, which was legal in those days, choose to carry it another. When one strikes you on the cheek, turn the other and make that person stop and think. When we react to others in the way that they act towards ourselves, we allow them to be in control – and become like them. I wonder how we might consider the penalty of Capital Punishment when we might consider that we are acting in the same way that the other person did: (an eye for an eye, etc.).
In all of this human process, we concentrate on the negative. We make laws stating that you shall not do such and such – or you will be imprisoned and or fined or be put to death. Fear is one of our chains and another is the failure to understand our call to become life-givers – not death-givers. We have the Ten Commandments placed in prominent positions but I have yet to see the Beatitudes displayed equally. In human history, we allow our fears to control us rather than taking the positive road and working to help one another. Human Culture, including the Church, has worked to impose a culture of fear and guilt. We portray God as an angry God, just waiting to impose a permanent judgement of Hell on anyone who disobeys the dictates of those in positions of power claiming to speak for God.
We then come to the meal. The meal binds us together as one person; the person of the living Christ in the world. We share a common humanity, the results of millions of years of Creation coming to be. None of us are perfect or all knowing – we are all limited. And yet, we are consciousness constantly moving and growing and evolving. We are attached to the Cosmos itself and a product of the Cosmos – of star dust. And we are held together by the Cosmic Christ at the center. Be believe that God became one with us so that we might be one with God sharing the journey of Creation. As we take and eat and drink the very life of Christ, we become that same Christ for each other. A meal of unity – of oneness with each other. We are called to believe that – to grow in our understanding of the Sacred residing with all of creation and that it is loves that holds it together.
Coming together as a community, we recognize our common roots and our common humanity. We share the stories of our ancestors and we trace the human journey. We recognize our common blindness and human limitations, but at the same time recognize that God has been walking with us during this space and time, leading us forward on a common journey. We have difficulty understanding, because we let our fears get in the way and think that we, like teen-agers, believe that we are ready to be independent and stand on our own two feet, while at the same time realizing the fallacy of that idea. We come slowly to recognize that we need one another; we depend on others for every thing and we live in a world of co-dependency, not independence. We share a meal that binds us together and gives us strength to continue the journey. We recognize that our journey is not meant to be easy or smooth; it is filled with struggles and failures along the way, but always calling us to recognize the core of our existence that provides the strength to continue to strive to understand – to listen and to look carefully, allowing ourselves to become disciples of the Teacher and following Him on His way to the Cross and Resurrection to the fullness of life. We are called to trust; not in people or ideas, but in the diverse manifestation of Creation – with love holding everything together.