Last night I read the d'var Torah that Velveteen Rabbi offered that morning at her shul on this week's parsha, "Vayishlach."
She talks about Jacob wrestling with the angel and says:
Having received a new name, Jacob bestows a new name: he names that place, that bend in the river, Peni'el, literally "the face of God," saying, "For I have seen God face-to-face, yet my life has been spared."(which is really interesting in and of itself, given the multi-vocality of Scripture on seeing the face of God -- e.g., God to Moses in Exodus 33:20 "you cannot see my face; for no one shall see me and live.") and then talks about Jacob's encounter with Esau, where he says:
No, please, if I have truly found favor in your sight, take the offering from my hand; for to see your face is like seeing the face of God.She closes with the bit from the Talmud about each individual human being being created in the image of God but each of us are unique -- unlike identical imperial coins each stamped with the mark of the secular leader.
This all seemed quite a lovely connection to Molly's "Light Gets In" Advent theme. But then she closes the post with her 70 Faces Torah poem on this parsha, which ends with such a downer:
For one impossible moment Jacob reached out.***
To see your face, he said, is like seeing
the face of God: brother, it is so good!
But when Esau replied, let us journey together
from this day forward as we have never done
and I will proceed at your pace, Jacob demurred.
The children are frail, and the flocks:
you go on ahead, he said, and I will follow
but he did not follow.
Once Esau headed out toward Seir
Jacob went the other way, to Shechem, where
his sons would slaughter an entire village.
And again the possibility
of inhabiting a different kind of story
vanished into the unforgiving air.
The theme for this year’s Advent is Light Gets In. No matter what walls we throw up, what boxes we climb in or that circumstances put us in—Light gets in. Light will have its way.To my mind, Advent is about the light slowly breaking in (we light first one candle and then a second, and so on), so I don't love this theme.
This Sunday in worship, I’ll be preaching on the walls humans throw up that block out Christ’s light. We’ll begin building an actual wall in the sanctuary, that will grow each week up until Christmas Eve, when the Light will get in. Will you bring cardboard boxes to church anytime you show up, and leave them on the chancel, and help us duct-tape them together to build our Babel-wall up toward heaven and obscure the cross?
-Molly in This Week at First Church
(The Meditation in the bulletin was Robert Frost's "Mending Wall," so of course I was trying to remember what mt said about that poem. Allie?)
Pre-service lectio divina happened in the Parlor, and as a result we could hear the pre-service choir rehearsal. I heard "Emmanuel, Expected Jesus," and fell into Advent.
To my surprise, 9am lectio divina was not just me and the facilitator (Bobby); Tom arrived before I did, and Leigh came a little late.
We did Luke 1:5-25.
I was struck by Gabriel's statement, "I stand in the presence of God."
(The second round, when I read, I was struck by the piece about Zechariah being overcome by fear -- because of Reasons. And the third round, nothing struck me.)
Before service, I picked up a hardcopy of Molly's Advent calendar.
First Sunday in Advent: Put on your sparkle cream. Glow.
Unison Prayer of Confession...
We offer you our repentance.
We replace holy days with holidays.
We hurry past opportunities to give the gifts of kindness and honesty.
We do not listen to angels in our dreams, forgive those dearest to us,
Or welcome into hearts and homes, the poor and the stranger.
If all sin is separation, forgive us for all the walls we throw up, and let your Light in.
-Maren Tirabassi, adapted
Molly preached on Jeremiah 33:14-16 -- and her Advent theme of walls and also touched on the theme of Recovery (it being a first Sunday of the month -- no, I had not realized we were continuing this theme after we'd been through the 12 Steps).
She opened with talking about Israel and Palestine, but also talked about other walls -- the Mexico/USA border, gated communities (Trayvon Martin), and other walls we erect. She talked about healthy boundaries -- "calm contact works better than walls."
She said that contrary to popular belief, prophets don't tell the future -- they tell the present.
She said, "our God is not a safe God," which of course reminded me of "Aslan is not a tame lion."
She said God "doesn't call us to safety but to radical love."
During Prayers of the People, Missy lifted up prayers "for all those who feel restricted by the gender binary." ♥
At Coffee Hour, Jonathan told me about Tufts' Hamlet the Hip Hopera, which Cate and I tragically missed out on in our attend ALL the Shakespeare.
FCS does a thing where you can pick a kid's name out of a hat and buy them a gift. Harold said that one of his friends at another church got a 10-year-old boy and she only daughters, so she asked what 10-year-old boys like. Harold's response: "When I was a ten-year-old boy, I liked Wonder Woman. Hope this helps." ♥ (And it's trufax. I mean, he also liked e.g. dinosaurs, but this makes it no less trufax.)
Jamie facilitated an Advent Devotional Workshop, which I attended.
I was starting to investigate the art supplies when the horde of kids who had been playing war or something all came in and decided to do art (well, Simon was like, "Guys, can't we go back to what we were doing before?" and got ignored by all the kids wrapped up in doing art, so he compromised by making pictures of e.g. ninjas) so I stepped back from the chaos and worked on poetry.
Sue D., to her husband, later: "I was looking for the kids, and I found a craft fair, so I sat down."
Having ~skipped class last week and the next two sessions being review for the final and me being so checked out, I had been undecided about whether I wanted to bother going to the remaining class sessions, and in the Parlor this afternoon I definitely felt like I wanted to go to Art Night.
Brandon asked if I'd seen Tongues United, apropos of World AIDS Day. I had not, but given that we barely acknowledged World AIDS Day at church (though in her sermon, Molly told a story she had recently learned of 25 years ago, when there was still so much fear and unknowing, this church volunteering to be the church to host a healing service) I loved that he brought it up.
He also talked about Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (Christmas movie, what? see also: Batman Returns), The Avengers, and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (which fandom has been expecting for 5 years).
I really liked the Call to Worship we used at CWM tonight:
[One] How shall we prepare God's house for the coming of the Promised One?...
[Many] With fragrant branches of cedar, the tree of excellence and strength.
[One] How shall we prepare God's house for the Christ child?
[Many] With a stable and a manger where in the weeks to come, the mystery of the Advent story will be revealed and where the entire creation will welcome the Promised One.
[One] How shall we prepare God's house for Emmanuel, God with us?
[Many] With garlands of pine and fir, whose leaves are ever living, ever green -- symbols of our faith in the living God.
[One] How shall we prepare God's house for the prophet of Galilee?
[Many] With sprigs of holly and ivy, telling of Jesus' faithfulness, even unto death and resurrection.
[One] How shall we prepare our hearts for this revelation of God?
[Many] By hearing again the words of the prophets, the stories of the ancestors of Jesus, and the promises of God.
[One] For in the story of Jesus we see revealed the transforming power of God, and we are reminded anew of God's vision of wholeness, justice, and peace for all creation.
[Many] Thanks be to God!
Marla preached on Isaiah 11:1-9 and 1 Samuel 16:1-13. I was mostly meh, but she closed with talking about the fact that we ignore the parts of the Biblical stories that don't seem "proper" or "dignified" and inviting us to think about, if Jesus were to come as a baby a second time, what unexpected places that baby might show up in -- and her shocker suggestion was: born to a Wall Street executive (I thought of the Buddha).
At 8-something this morning, it was 32F and a predicted high of 59F. I wore my sparkly purple short-sleeve shirt, because when am I gonna get to wear short sleeves during Advent? Except I basically never took my hoodie off. (Though Jeff B. did ask me whether an email had gone out about wearing purple or if we just knew 'cause Advent. I said I'd worn purple for Advent because I do and it's not like one is required to match the paraments or anything.)
After I left morning church after 1pm, I went to Trader Joe's and it was hazy and still hoodie+gloves weather.
When I left evening church at 6:30 or whatever, it seemed to have rained recently (20% chance of precipitation, this morning's forecast said) and now, hours after sunset, it felt warmer than it had all day.
Weather, what is it?
-mylittleredgirl [more info]
Hail full of grace, the Lord is with youGood things about today:
Worlds without end depend on you
Bless'd is the one whom you bring forth
Whom no one else can bring
-"Say Yes," Bob Franke
- lots of above-mentioned church stuff
- I got food at Coffee Hour! Okay, so I sort of cut the line because there was an amorphous blob of kids -- but there was enough butternut squash soup and spinach quiche and desserts that I still would have had food even if I'd waited behind them. (I sit near the front of the church, so most of the congregation gets through the receiving line before me, and we've been worshiping 100+ people, so recently I literally had the experience of there not being any food left by the time I got to Coffee Hour.)
- showed up to all church stuff, participated, socialized
- caught up on most of my parts of the Internet
- did two sets of grocery restocking, got copies of keys made, bought a copy of the second Hereville book at Porter Square Books (and: asked at the info desk if they had it after I'd failed to find it in two different sections of the store -- spoiler alert: it's in the graphic novels section)
- emptied the HEUMC dishwasher (we use it once a month, and other people put stuff in it, but no one ever seems to empty it, so often I'm unsure how clean anything in there actually is -- and okay I still have a lot of dubiousness, but I decided nothing decidedly needed handwashing -- I did put 3 items back in and run it again)
- edit: and washed dishes at my own house /edit
["anything that you're looking forward to, that means you're facing tomorrow with joy, not trepidation," as Ari says]
- um, getting certain work stuff taken care of? -- I don't have any dread about tomorrow, there's just nothing I'm feeling especially excited about
- finding out if Fran's had her baby (if she does, I could maybe visit TWO people at Brigham and Women's -- though I have no plans tomorrow evening, so I could go visit eponis regardless, probs)