Saturday, November 20, 2010
In this moment, the house is quiet ... everyone has gone off to volunteer for an hour or so at a local animal shelter, then they are heading on to Owen Sound for a brief shopping trip ...
Coltrane's Side Steps disc 2 is playing in the kitchen, the dishes are done, the laundry is underway, the dogs are napping and the cats are sleeping ...
I am struck with a sense of peace and contentment on a cold crisp fall afternoon. Life has it's challenges, I would be lying if I said it was "perfect" ... but life is better than okay, it is good.
Today for some reason in my mind's eye, I find myself looking back and remembering some seemingly disconnected and unrelated moments ... Coltrane pulls me back to the raining fall afternoon in 1990, when I discovered his music thanks to a floor mate at Queen's Harkness Hall ... watching the jays and the squirrels battling over the peanuts in the feeders out the living room window hearkens me back to the many walks taken when Noahkila and Ms H were younger and we feed chickadees and ducks at Riefel's bird sanctuary in BC ... the fair trade coffee at my elbow reminds me of the many cups of coffee shared with many people around many tables over the last twenty years of ministry ...
Today's retrospection is far from sad and morose. Instead, it is affirming of a life and ministry that has, despite its set backs and struggles, been full and rewarding, and has led me to a good place ... today the realization that came the other morning, that the voices of poets and prophets are not only allowed, but welcomed here in this community and in this Presbytery has drawn me to a place that feels strange yet comfortable.
I have spent most of my ministry being the outsider. My voice has been unwelcomed and largely met with hostility. I'll own that a portion of this is entirely my own fault, and the harsh tone has not been helped by some of the other factors at play within me ... but feeling abandoned and rejected by The Church, while it purports to be a place of inclusion and welcome made the sting of rejection that much harsher ... Having colleague dismiss my pain and fail to listen to what I was experiencing only deepened the isolation.
This past week, in a safe place I was part of a conversation about sanctuary and Sabbath and Shalom ... I reflected on my experience where those holy gifts were not only lacking, but were actively worked against by the Bureacracy of the greater Church, and as I heard the experiences of my colleagues cum friends, I realized that the failure to find such safe places the sin of the greater church towards itself. And it is a failure that rests firmly on the anger and fear that roils through too many corners of the Church - an anger and fear we are completely unwilling to name much less own.
Today I can look back and see the toxicity that I was trying to proclaim the Gospel within ... it was a futile task in the face of a bureacracy that doesn't want to let the Spirit's wings to unfurl ... In such a setting the poets and the prophets are not welcomed , and they are actively opposed. Instead it is the status quo of the priests and preachers who hold the power and actively maintain the role of gatekeeper and prevent the admittance of those who fail to 'keep the peace'.
In such a setting, the Spirit weeps and the Church falters then fails despite the glowing commentary to the contrary ... When gate keeping by the priests and preachers takes precedence and the poets and prophets are prevented from speaking, then the Church becomes no different than Little Jack Horner sitting in the corner and gleefully applauding himself for such good and faithful action.
Today, I see clearly that ministry is about speaking up and speaking out and that for the Church to be healthy and whole, we can not place constraints on the voices of poets and prophets, even when they make us uncomfortable and make us squirm in self-recognition.
Feeling affirmed as one of those prophetic voices, I feel content in ministry for the first time in a very, very, very long time ...
Poets and prophets understand what it means to say: "Speak Lord, your servant is listening ..." and we aren't afraid to face the consequences of accepting that call !!
We are called to be The Church - The Incarnate Body of Christ.
We are NOT called to be a social or a political club ... one day maybe we'll finally grasp the difference ... and when it happens it will be as a result of the poets and prophets NOT the priests and preachers !!!
May it be so ... thanks be to God !!