[Advent 4] this was not the snowpocalypse
Lindsay's facebook status
So Ian, Keith, and Laura Ruth are most likely right. This morning when I checked the weather, it said Sunday would be sunny. Tonight, they said the past few years on the Sunday of Cantata, it snows. The weather forecast tonight? All sun except Sunday when we should expect "several inches"
me: "I'm going to buy milk before the blizzard."
housemate: "It's not a blizzard! It's gonna be 4 inches!"
me: "Really I'm just going because I'm low on milk."
Sunday morning I forgot that my porch doesn't magically clear itself, so I just sloshed through the snow (it wasn't wet heavy snow at all). I mostly walked along the side of the road (there was almost no traffic).
I got to SCBC at about five minutes of nine. As I passed FCS, I mentally thanked the Snow Angels [the First Churchers who arrive early to clear the sidewalks and walkways]. As I walked to SCBC's front door, I noticed I was walking through snow drifts -- and then saw the handwritten sign saying service was canceled. *eyeroll* So I walked back to FCS, chatted with Gary as he finished shoveling, and hung out in the chapel (why yes I had brought my laptop in case of just such an eventuality -- though I probably should have also brought a comb to fix my hair ... or put my hood up as I walked ... I hadn't expected to have so much snow on my hair).
FCS-Ian said it was nice to see me -- that he'd missed me yesterday [he sees me every weekday morning at morning prayer].
I went to CHPC -- again noticed a lack of shoveling (though clearly some had been done). Karl was walking around the sanctuary (sans vestments) and said hi to me. Katherine was playing the piano. Yeah, church was canceled.
Karl said I could have called the church. I said that assumes I have the phone number. (Though honestly I had considered calling -- I don't have the church number in my cell phone, but I do have Karl's cell. But in years past there has been an email notice.) Later, Richard showed up. He said the voicemail says church isn't canceled (though the next line says not to come).
When I was little, Ron and Patty canceled church one Sunday due to snow, but people showed up anyway. So they decided that so long as they could get to the church, there would be church. So that is my (eminently reasonable, I feel) standard for church. One couple showed up later (in large part because they were sponsoring a child and so had to bring their gift in). The husband chatted with Karl while the wife and I hung out with Katherine at the piano, picking out hymns for Christmas Eve service.
with Subject line "Oh the weather outside is... not as bad as advertised, actually"
While it was definitely snowing (and rather horizontally at that) in the morning, when I came home around noon it had seriously lightened. I know in further suburbs there was much more accumulation (which is why Karl said he had canceled church -- because most everyone who lives close except me had already left for the holidays, and it wouldn't be safe driving for people who live further out plus the Somerville snow emergency would make parking a challenge).
Tiffany's weekly email last night included:
This week at CWM we will hold a quiet meditative service focusing on the Magnificat, Mary's song of joy.
Please stay safe during the impending storm. While we will have services at CWM, we encourage you to stay warm and safe.
When I showed up at CWM, it was Tiffany and Marla and Sean. Tiffany said, "We've been waiting for you." I flipped them off in my head :) I said it was five minutes of, which is on time for me. Tiffany said, "I know," and, "I knew that you [implied: of all people] would show up on snowstorm Sunday." Later on, Sharon and Carolyn and Merle trickled in.
We did a group conversation Reflection like we've been doing in Advent Bible Study. The Scripture was Luke 1:26-56.
We talked about the issue of whether Mary consents. We talked about how even if it was a rape (either the Divine acting without Mary's consent or Mary being raped and inventing this story as a cover), something so redemptive comes out of that (which doesn't deny the horror of that, but also speaks to the transformative power of love). I said that I am so invested in my idea of a benevolent God that I have to see her as having consented -- that if she had said no, Gabriel would have chosen someone else, and that I see in Mary a modeling of radical openness to God, an affirmation that even when things seem so strange and frightening we can trust God.
We talked about how Mary is really prophetic in the Magnificat and how that subverts the traditional ideas of her as meek and submissive. We talked about how in opposition to the Fall narrative which blames Eve, all of this redemption starts with women (Elizabeth, Mary). Carolyn cited the "he abhors not the Virgin's womb" line (from "O Come, All Ye Faithful") and talked about how that really resonated for her about pushing back against the idea that women's bodies are bad and cause people to sin and etc.; Marla countered that it feels to her like setting apart virgin!Mary as special and different from all other women (thus reifying the trope that female bodies are bad/sinful). We talked about the question of whether people believed Mary's story (Carolyn said, "I bet her best friend believed her," and Marla said, "I'm not sure I would believe my best friend if she told me that story" -- bff, I would totes believe you if you told me that story). We talked about how Mary stays three months at Elizabeth's and so she comes home great with child and doesn't that make her story look even more discreditable and why does Joseph believe her -- I said, "Matthew sends him an angel," but of course we were in the Luke story.
We talked about how the Magnificat comes after Mary has gone to see Elizabeth and after Elizabeth has rejoiced and affirmed her. (At the end, Tiffany asked us what we would take with us from this for the coming week, and I said for me I would take that with me, that reminder that within the beloved community we can find love and joy even in the midst of events that are so scary and confusing.) We talked about the possibility that Mary hadn't really accepted it until she talked to Elizabeth, and my tellings-and-retellings self suggested that maybe she went to this hill country town to abort the baby (maybe she had just been placating the angel ... how does one know if an angel is truly from God anyway?) and changed her mind after seeing Elizabeth.
Friday's lectionary readings were Isaiah 42:10-18 and Hebrews 10:32-39. I was struck by verse 16 from Isaiah:
I will lead the blind
by a road they do not know,
by paths they have not known
I will guide them.
I will turn the darkness before them into light,
the rough places into level ground.
These are the things I will do,
and I will not forsake them.
Behold, our God is doing a new thing (Isaiah 43:19).
Friday night, I went to Revels
with my mom. I had basically zero expectation, but I actually enjoyed it a lot.
It opens with an excerpt from "Black Elk Speaks" -- "Black Elk's Vision," about Black Elk's vision of the Tree of Life (I thought of Revelation
, of course). At one point he's tending the [invisible] tree and a little white boy asks him what he's doing and he tells him and asks the boy, "Do you see the tree?" and the little white boy says no, and Black Elk says something like, "Well I guess I'll have to try harder," which I found so powerful (hi, I am a child of CWM, where we are so about embodying God's Kindom here on Earth).
At one point, a little girls asks him what his people do in the winter, and he tells her that they gather together inside and tell stories. She says something like, "We do that, too. I like stories," and I almost cried. Though I almost-cry like all the freaking time these days.
I was a little disturbed by the representation of Native people/culture. In part because when they were in groups they were usually (a) in full-body costumes that hide their faces, which felt a little dehumanizing/Othering to me (though it also meant I didn't have the visual squick of White people playing Native Americans) and (b) felt like an interlude passing through, without real connection either to the other characters on the stage or to the narrative as a whole.
And after a point at which Black Elk is lamenting that the Tree is withering, he sees white kids finishing a Tree of Life quilt and asks them the story of it, and they tell a weird folk tale about pregnant!Mary and a cherry tree, and most of the rest of the Second Act is Christmas music. I mean, I know it's called "The Christmas Revels" (the "In Celebration of the Winter Solstice" subtitle notwithstanding) but I felt a little bit like the subtext was, "The Tree of Life is Jesus Christ -- Native Americans couldn't keep that Tree alive; it takes Christ[ianity] to make that happen." I mean, I do think in some ways that the story of Jesus Christ *is* The Greatest Story Ever Told -- that God incarnated, enfleshed God's self, dwelt among us amidst the marginalized people, proclaimed an open and abundant table to all, endured death and triumphed over IT, resurrecting in body and spirit, promising the same (present and future) hope for us -- Christ stands between us and the powers of darkness
, assures us that nothing can separate us from the love of God
. But at the same time, it feels problematic to me to imply "*our* story is the culmination of *your* story."
There were a bunch of parts where we sang along (the last song before Intermission was "Lord of the Dance," and we sang the chorus, and as they exited into the atrium, they brought the people sitting in the front rows with them, dancing). The guy leading us in that, as he had us practice, said: "I love harmony. There are no wrong notes, just poor choices in the moment. And then we move on to the next moment, with new choices."
I helped my grandma wrap Christmas presents on Saturday, and she talked about how she had grown up Congregational. This got me thinking about how my life would be different if when she moved to Norwood with my teenage mother and uncle she had gone to the Congregational Church instead of United. My first thought was that probably when I moved to Somerville I would have just gone to First Church Somerville and so wouldn't have known CWM. My next thought was that "my church" wouldn't have stopped being "my" church and so I probably wouldn't have done rounds of ecumenical church-hopping.