How do you feel about prayer beads?I'm not much of a prayer beads person myself, but I browsed and we had this conversation:
I am drooling at them.
I already have two sets and am not buying more.
But this woman does lovely prayer beads for … pretty much anyone.
me: I keep looking at the Jewish ones and going "ooh!" and then remembering that oh, that's a Jewish symbol, not a generic star. Why's my religion gotta have its core symbol be one I'm so not into?Later, I read Sarcastic Lutheran's "Sermon about Mary Magdalen, the masacre in our town, and defiant alleluias," and was surprised to find that in reading it I found a way to approach/embrace the Cross that makes it more palatable for me.
her: Well, I don't think there's anything WRONG with having something with a Jewish star on it just because you like it?
I mean, it's not like you're gonna nail Jesus to it.
That would be weird.
me: Fair -- it still feels somewhat appropriative to me, though.
her: <— is an eclectic pagan
her: <— politely appropriates all kinds of stuff
My Bishop Allan Bjornberg once said that the Greatest spiritual practice isn’t yoga or praying the hours or living in intentional poverty although these are all beautiful in their own way. The greatest spiritual practice is just showing up.The idea of thinking about the Cross as (Deity) facing the horrors of the world, showing up, knowing that this is not the end of the story, persisting in and through the darkness.
And in some ways Mary Magdalen is like, the patron saint of just showing up.
Because showing up means being present to what is real, what is actually happening. She didn’t necessarily know what to say or what to do or even what to think….but none of that is nearly as important as the fact that she just showed up. She showed up at the cross where her teacher Jesus became a victim of our violence and terror. She looked on as the man who had set her free from her own darkness bore the evil and violence of the whole world upon himself and yet still she showed up.
And then after Beer & Hymns we sat in a noisy Denver bar and sang Vespers together, we sang our prayer to God, and in our singing I heard a defiant tone. The sound of a people who simply will not believe that violence wins, a people who know that the sound of the risen Christ speaking each of our names drowns out all other voices.
It drowns out the sound of the political posturing, the sound of cries for vengeance, the sound of our own fears and anxieties and the deafening uncertainty – because all of it is no match for the shimmering sound of the resurrected Christ calling our name. Because in baptism we are a people marked by the cross of Christ. Upon our foreheads is the mark of violence and death but this violence and death has been overcome by the love of a God who in the 3 days between Good Friday and Easter reached into the very bowels of hell and said even here I will not be without you. //This is the God to whom we sing. A God who didn’t say we would never be afraid but that we would never be alone. A God who shows up. In the violence of the cross, in the darkness of a garden before dawn, in the gardener, in a movie theater, in the basement of a bar.
Singing in the midst of evil is what it means to be disciples like Mary Magdalen.
Because to be disciples like Mary Magdalen is to show up. It is to be a people who stand – who stand at the cross and stand in the midst of evil and violence and even if we are uncertain we are still unafraid to be present to all of it. We are unafraid to name the dark demons of evil and to call a thing what it is. And to be disciples like Mary Magdalen is also to be a people who weep. A people who show up to the tombs and weep. Weep for ourselves and weep for each other and weep for our city and weep for dead 6 year old girls. And to be disciples like Mary Magdalen is to be a people who listen and turn at the sound of our names. Amongst the sounds of sirens and fear and isolation and uncertainty and loss we hear a sound that muffles all the rest: that still, small voice of Christ speaking our names. And finally, the very reason we can do these things is not because we happen to be the people with the best set of skills for this work. Trust me, we are not. But the reason we can be disciples like Mary Magdalen – the reason we can stand and we can weep and we can listen is because finally we, like Mary are bearers of resurrection. We know that on the 3rd day he rose again. We do not need to be afraid. Because to sing to God amidst all of this is to defiantly proclaim like Mary Magdalen did to the apostles, that death is simply not the final word. To defiantly say that a light shines in the darkness and the darkness can not will not shall not overcome it. And so, evil be damned, because even as we go to the grave, still we make our song Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.
In some ways I worry that this is retrojecting the Resurrection onto the Cross (I don't think my theology is that the Resurrection was already contained in the Cross), but Nadia's sermon reminds me about showing up in the darkness. At interfaith discussion last night, Jane(?) talked about having faith ... not necessarily that things would turn out "well" but being at a point where "good" and "bad" don't matter in a way (I didn't think of this language at the time, but I think relaxing into that it Just Is).
And as as I mentioned, at Rest and re/New this week, we heard an excerpt from Living Buddha, Living Christ in which Thich Nhat Hanh talks about the Eucharist using language of "the body of God" (instead of the "Body of Christ" language I'm more familiar with) and talking about the cosmos.
(The fancy crosses still creep me out, though. The Cross is not a fancy decoration.)