Daily Archives: May 22, 2015

Dry bones and yearning for wisdom

Readings here

How on earth do I (the mortal) prophesy in such a way that dry bones live? Is there really such a power in God’s words, even filtered through me, to change reality? We do know that discourses do actually change reality – it’s how people like Rupert Murdoch gain so much influence. But how to circulate a counter discourse in these (neoliberal) times?

The living, and life-inbreathing Word of God- the discourse that is justice. How to access its power and heed its mission? A vast multitude of the people of God is (once again) cut off from grace and hope. Completely cut off, it would seem. Ironically I am among them, I the prophet, the mortal also nothing more than a dry and despairing pile of bones. God’s call is also to me, against the odds to live and to “know” that God will speak and act. God calls me to be the prophet also, to give the call to others for life and hope and knowing also.

God what are you asking? This is worse than an alarm going off at 4am. This is JUST NOT POSSIBLE. This is #justnotpossible. !!! Unlike the prophet in the first reading, who quietly and simply obeys God (quiet, simple obedience does not seem to be in my nature) I rant and rave. Why? How? What exactly are you expecting me to say and do God? Why me? Oh this is just too hard! I conclude that I am mistaken, God doesn’t mean me, I am overhearing someone else’s call and because of my “crush” on god am thinking it pertains to little old me.

In my life, in my person it is not possible for these dry bones to live.

Sorry God.

Sorry.

Onto the psalm. Oh here we are praising an all-powerful God who can offer food and renewal to all her beloved creatures. Well go on God, feed your creatures. Starting with the refugees, the Rohingga, who no country is prepared to take in. Bugger watching Leviathan, these are your people!

I cannot hear a reply from my God. My dry bones remain still.

What hope is there? What knowing toward a powerful and life-giving divine? I have no such knowledge, I fail to even brush at the hem of the robe of eternally desirable Wisdom. I gather with “them”, in one place. I like that “they” are anonymous, not necessarily the patriarchal leaders, or not only. I am there too.

I wait for the rushing wind, for the sound of something happening, something changing, being transformed.  I wait for the Holy Spirit to inspire us to be understandable and understood to the “other”. We are only Galileans (well actually I am a Taperoo bogan which is even worse). And I sit here, this pile of dry bones and wait and reread the story to see what will happen next.

And as I read, I stop identifying with “them” because “they” are really not the othered “them” but are at the cultural centre of the story as the authoritative “us”. They are after all the “Apostles” they speak, export their truth from the centre and the marginalised “all nations” simply receive it passively and with the naïve wonder any colonised nations get depicted as possessing. We export our white, privileged, wealthy capitalist truths and standardised tests too as well as our bullshit about “border protection”. But we do not let “them” speak back to “us”!

“Us” of the hardened hearts, the stopped ears…the dried bones. Was it stubbornness and privilege that dried the bones then?

“They” call on the name of the Lord, because don’t kid yourselves Muslims (in boats or otherwise) follow (as imperfectly as we do) the same God as “we” Christians do! And how can God save them when “we” deny them salvation? The dryness of our bones is the raw material our society is based upon, we cannot afford to hear God’s word and live. We cannot afford to change the discourse.

I turn finally to that “gospel” reading. Gospel means “good news” and by now I am desperate for hope.

The ruler of this world has been condemned. The ruling class and our own investment in privilege cannot stand in the face of the Advocate for God’s righteousness (justice) and remembering that other gospel where Christ clearly identifies with the hungry we refused to feed and the thirsty we refused to give water to the stranger we refused to embrace. And the other one about the Samaritan. Our Spiritual heritage abounds in precedents for the Advocate to cite against us when advocating for the hungry, dispossessed Christ.

Can we really not bear to hear these things yet? Can we really not yet bear the command to live and to give life? The Spirit speaks to us. May she also speak through us, to create life where there is none, to be radically creation affirming, truth finding and accessible (and open) to every othered soul in creation.

Spirit I acknowledge I am lost, I tried to follow you into Good Friday but it was so dark there I missed the glint of Easter I was looking for. Spirit find me and hold my hand because what can one lone voice do against the hordes of life-denying, rational, border-protecting hell? I want them to be fed. I want to believe in you again; if I knew how, I would follow you anywhere.

Can these dry bones live?

Please God, can they?

God plays a trick on me (ie it’s Pentecost). Here are the readings my reflection will follow

Funny God. Funny, funny God. With my lack of awareness of the church calendar passing these days, you turn to me and whisper suggestions of preaching just in time for me to come back for my favourite feast of Pentecost and with the reading about dry bones which I have been meditating on recently and which I see myself in (as the cynical prophet, as the bones)

So given that it has turned out that way, I will preach from my heart and my gut. I believe sound scholarship is a good thing (and please if you find me too non-intellectual for your tastes go and read a real theologian by all means and check into all the historical-critical stuff). But I feel called by this crazy enflaming God to write my own truth (with due acknowledgement that it is not the whole truth). So first off, I will post the readings themselves. I want to just give the reference but I will make it easy for you and post the whole readings. Then in a separate post I will nut out some sort of “preaching”.

Even though I am choosing this way of doing the readings I am sad to miss out on the alternative second reading and almost want to skip over Acts which we have all done to death…but I understand that is not the done thing at Pentecost. Or skip the gospel because at the moment John leaves me cold (I used to feel differently)

Ezekiel 37:1-14 37:1 The hand of the LORD came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 37:2 He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. 37:3 He said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O Lord GOD, you know.” 37:4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. 37:5 Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 37:6 I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the LORD.” 37:7 So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. 37:8 I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. 37:9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.” 37:10 I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude. 37:11 Then he said to me, “Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.’ 37:12 Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 37:13 And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. 37:14 I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken and will act,” says the LORD.

Psalm 104:24-34, 35b 104:24 O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. 104:25 Yonder is the sea, great and wide, creeping things innumerable are there, living things both small and great. 104:26 There go the ships, and Leviathan that you formed to sport in it. 104:27 These all look to you to give them their food in due season; 104:28 when you give to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things. 104:29 When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust. 104:30 When you send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the ground. 104:31 May the glory of the LORD endure forever; may the LORD rejoice in his works– 104:32 who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke. 104:33 I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being. 104:34 May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the LORD. 104:35b Bless the LORD, O my soul. Praise the LORD!

Acts 2:1-21 2:1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2:2 And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 2:3 Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 2:4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. 2:5 Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 2:6 And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. 2:7 Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 2:8 And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? 2:9 Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 2:10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 2:11 Cretans and Arabs–in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” 2:12 All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 2:13 But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.” 2:14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. 2:15 Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 2:16 No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: 2:17 ‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. 2:18 Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. 2:19 And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. 2:20 The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day. 2:21 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15 15:26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. 15:27 You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning. 16:4b “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. 16:5 But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 16:6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. 16:7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 16:8 And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 16:9 about sin, because they do not believe in me; 16:10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; 16:11 about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned. 16:12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 16:13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 16:14 He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 16:15 All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

Please note the alternative reading

Romans 8:22-27 8:22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; 8:23 and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. 8:24 For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? 8:25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. 8:26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. 8:27 And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Creation groaning with labour pains as we do. The Spirit as an advocate/teacher. God needing to search for the Spirit to know what it in her heart. Oh yes I do like this reading too