Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical (hermionesviolin) wrote,
Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical
hermionesviolin

[Rest and Bread] Esther [2009-06-03]

Before service, I told Keith that I felt like everything was off-center but I couldn't figure out why.
He said, "Clearly someone moved the pole." (As in, the support pole that's sort of in the middle of the room.)

Later, I asked why we only had one tall white candle on the altar (usually there are two). He said, "Two men will be in a field, and one will be taken and one left." I said, "Yes, clearly the other candle was Raptured."

***

Psalm 19 [I looked it up in the NIV to see if we really had read the whole thing -- sometimes we don't but it's not so marked -- and it's rather different than the version we read.]
The heavens are telling the glory of God;
     God's handiwork proclaimed across the horizon

Day pours forth speech,
     and night declares knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words;
     their silence fills the earth,

yet their voice goes out through all the earth,
     the unspoken truth is spoken everywhere.

In the heavens God has set a tent for the sun:
     it leaps like a new husband from the honeymoon bed,
and like a strong athlete, she runs her course with joy.
The gender switch made me really confused as to whether we were still talking about the sunor about God in the last line. The NIV makes it much clearer. [Sidebar: Apparently Hebrew has both a masculine and a feminine word for "sun" -- and ditto for "moon."]

I'm also not sure about how I feel about all this "the unspoken truth is spoken everywhere" and suchlike.
The revelation of God is whole
     and refreshes the soul.
The signposts of God are clear.
     and give wisdom to the simple.
The journey-maps of God are right,.
     and show the way to joy.
The directions of God are plain,
     and easy on the eyes.
Reverence of God is pure,
     and forever lasting.
God's Word is more to be desired than gold,
     ven the finest of it.
it is sweeter than honey,
     pure and fresh from the comb.


These are the meditations of my heart
     The words I chew on and pray
Accept them when I place them
     on the altar stone
God, my rock and my redeemer.
I like this last bit a lot, about our meditations and prayers being offerings to God. This is a resonance which isn't as explicit in the NIV -- though in college I was introduced to and have retained a great affection for a preacher opening their sermon with a moment of praying a slight variation on the NIV: "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of all of our hearts be pleasing in your sight, O God, our Rock and our Redeemer."

The Sacred Text reading was Esther 4.

"For if you keep silence at such a time as this, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another quarter, but you and your father’s family will perish. Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this." (NRSV)

Hee. I had totally invoked that (though I'd forgotten about the "you will perish" bit, which was irrelevant to the argument at hand anyway) at SCBC Adult Ed on Sunday. Owen had opened with talking about North Korea and how children are dying of malnutrition and asking the open question. David insisted that we should not trust our own wisdom (like we did with the choice to go into Iraq) but pray and etc., and I pushed back and said that yeah we should prayerfully discern, but that as Christians we are called to be a prophetic witness, to do God's work in the world.

Keith did the Reflection, and a number of things didn't quite resonate for me, but one thing he said was that closeting can lead to our private faith not having a claim on our public life.

We're back to reciting "God hear our prayer" after a prayer is vocalized, which I like far less than the sung "God have mercy"/"Thanks be to God."

I was noticing (not for the first time recently) how people open up and make themselves so vulnerable and I DON'T. I have litanies of prayer concerns for other people, which I will say aloud, and I will often lift up my prayers of celebration, but I don't ask for prayers for myself. I am so impressed by the bravery of people to open themselves up and make themselves vulnerable by vocalizing the places of pain and struggle in themselves. ("My challenge this week/what I'm working on this week" at CAUMC small group doesn't have quite the same resonance.) I do not do well with admitting weakness. (There's also the difficulty of articulating something succinctly but still in a way such that those listening will understand the appropriate backstory and resonances and emphases. But I think the bigger problem is that I don't do well with admitting weakness.)

During the Words of Institution & Prayer of Consecration, when Laura Ruth said the part about the Holy Spirit blessing us gathered here, my instinct was to (A) recite it along with her (B) say the Cambridge Welcoming Blessing -- "Pour out your Holy Spirit on us gathered here and on these gifts of bread and the fruit of the vine. Make them be for us the Bread of Life and the quenching Cup of Blessing, so that we may be the Body of Christ for the world, co-creating God's vision of peace and justice until all are reconciled and feast together at your table. Amen." [At Cambridge Welcoming, as the priesthood of all believers we the congregation are all invited to join in the blessing of the elements.]

I had read something that afternoon about Communion, the author taking Communion and really feeling and needing the tangiblity and food-ness of it, but in looking back through my GoogleReader later I couldn't find it. (I sort of had the visual memory that it was on EveTushnet.com, but that seems not to be true.)

Anyway, I tend to not really feel the resonance of being fed physically at Communion because even though my current churches do actual bread which you tear a piece off of, it's still only a mouthful and it feels more symbolic (representative) than anything. But I stayed a bit after service and had more of the bread (which I usually do, 'cause at 7pm I'm wanting dinner) and drank deeply of the chalice of grape juice a few times, resting one palm outspread on the Pentecost altar cloth (dark red and possibly silk? when Laura Ruth put it on I expressed pleasure at no having the makeshift one we'd had the past few weeks, and joked that apparently I do have some sense of aesthetics after all).
Tags: church: scbc: adult ed, church: somerville: ucc: rest and bread, communion, people: church: keith, prayer
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