Last night was a rip-roaring game of Monopoly with Michael's friend Tony. It was fun until I went bankrupt, but I've been led to believe that's really how the game is supposed to work. Michael kept throwing the dice a little too hard, knocking houses and hotels willy-nilly. Apparently natural disasters follow us wherever we go.
No word on Ophelia yet. If she does come this way, I'm going to have to scatter some rosemary to the wind. You know...for remembrance.
My mom mentioned there was some same-sex marriage type bill up in the legislature so she thought this Sunday would be a good Sunday to not go to UCN. Of course I kinda like making trouble, so that made me want to go. Plus, I had thank you notes to drop off.
I had been reminded a couple times that today was September 11th (passing it on the calendar at work a few days ago when I went to schedule something for next week, and glancing at my phone after midnight last night before I charged it).
So there was no way I was going to the liberal Congregational Church this Sunday.
Quickly checking my flist before church I saw Alice Sebold’s (author of The Lovely Bones) NYT piece.
Do the dead wish you to suffer? Do they want you to watch CNN and Fox News for days on end? Do they want your guilt or pity? All of these things are like jewels to them. In other words - valueless where they have gone.I had forgotten that today is the Sunday after Labor Day and thus “Homecoming Sunday” at UCN (which also means Communion, which I continue to not take there). Assorted people I had hoped to see were not in attendance, sadly. (Though John P.’s father just died, so it was understandable that that family was absent.)
Whatever it is that comes to you in three months, six months, a year or more, don't turn the page of your book and forget, don't stab the elevator button trying to hurry up the trip. Stop.
These tragedies, it's worth remembering, grant us an opportunity to understand what is perhaps our finest raw material: our humanity. The way we at our best treat one another. The way we listen to one another. The way we grieve.
So grieve for the particular lives that come to you. [...] Let them guide you to understand that it is our absolute vulnerability that provides our greatest chance to be human.
I don’t know what it was specifically that my mom had been thinking of, but there was no mention of anything in church. I was disappointed.
UCN always opens now with “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” That no mention was made of what happened on this gorgeous day four years ago made me uncomfortable.
PB did talk a bit about Katrina and the special offering they were taking -- to be funneled through the Salvation Army. I’d seen the letter that got sent to our house and it said something about “to minister to the people . . .” and I was discomfited ‘cause I was like, “Are you just gonna go preach to them or are you gonna minister to their physical needs?”
One of the opening Worship Sequence hymns was “Victory in Jesus.” I was discomfited by the incessant “victory” theme in the song, especially because the song never makes clear what the victory is (over). The “He plunged me to victory beneath the cleansing flood” line implies to me victory over sin, which would have been my guess anyway, but I would have liked some sort of clarity.
I had recently read The Signs that We Missed, which quotes Holland telling Angel, “We have no intention of doing anything so prosaic as 'winning.' [...] See, for us, there is no fight. Which is why winning doesn't enter into it. We - go on - no matter what. Our firm has always been here . . .” Yes he’s talking about Evil, but I rather like the idea of just living one’s life the best one can, of not viewing it as a contest with winners and losers. (See also my interest in being a witness with one’s life.)
[Of course, now I have the blasted song stuck in my head.]
The Unison Reading was the UCN Church Covenant which as per usual I recite maybe ten percent of. For the first time I actually read the line, “Empowered by the Holy Spirit, we commit to a common life which is characterized by the love of Christ,” though. I had always connected the “love of Christ” phrase with the worship-of capacity that UCN so often places Christ in (and which doesn’t resonate with me and in fact makes me uncomfortable) but reading it today it occurred to me that it could be interpreted as something more like “abiding in Christlikeness,” which I am all over.
Jeff gave the Children’s Message because Tim&Carla were absent. He said Tim was “crying in New York” and I was confused, thinking, “Is John P.’s family in NY?” (‘cause I know the families are good friends) but then he explained that Tim had gone to NY to see the Yankees game (and of course the Red Sox clobbered them last night). He then cracked that God likes us/the Red Sox better. Wow, way to make me wanna weep while bludgeoning you. (Unfortunately, as soon as the service was over, Jeff was talking to people, and then I was talking to people, and then he left, so I have to write him a note calling him on that.)
Then he talked about the name of the church (which immediately made me think of when Joe F. gave the sermon last time I was at UCN and mentioned that unity != unison) and he referenced Ephesians 2 about how we are not strangers (looking it up later, I imagine he meant the whole “One in Christ” section) and asked the kids to look at the people next to them and talked about how they’re not strangers and how we’re all part of the family of God (the title of the offertory selection to follow, I noted), we’re all brothers and sisters with God our Father. And then he closed with a prayer and dismissed them. Shortest Children’s Message evar.
The Scripture reading was Mark 2:12 and the sermon as “Christlikeness: Forgiving.” I was confused as I always read that story as one of the proofs of Jesus’ divinity. I don’t think of “forgiveness” per se as one of Jesus’ biggest messages, but I’m not about to get all opposition-y on the matter. He talked about how Christlife “desires and requires” forgiveness, and I thought about one of the few UCN Covenant lines I will willingly recite -- “Together we will pursue the ways of forgiveness and reconciliation, and as Jesus taught, do it as quickly as possible.” On the whole I was unengaged by the sermon and totally dozed.
And dude, we got out at 5 minutes of 11. Have we ever gotten out early?
Oh, and I got sidetracked by the whole “I am newly unemployed” thing so it didn’t get posted, but I am a huge sap and the NYT Op-Ed I read last Thursday morning on the 1906 SF earthquake made me all teary.
The mayor, a former violinist who had previously been little more than a puppet of the city's political machine, ordered the troops to shoot any looters, demanded military dynamite and sappers to clear firebreaks, and requisitioned boats to the Oakland telegraph office to put the word out over the wires: "San Francisco is in ruins," the cables read. "Our city needs help."
To the great institutions go the kudos of history, and rightly so. But I delight in the lesser gestures, like that of the largely forgotten San Francisco postal official, Arthur Fisk, who issued an order on his personal recognizance: no letter posted without a stamp, and that clearly comes from the hand of a victim, will go undelivered for want of fee. And thus did hundreds of the homeless of San Francisco let their loved ones know of their condition - a courtesy of a time in which efficiency, resourcefulness and simple human kindness were prized in a manner we'd do well to emulate today.
-from "Before the Flood" by SIMON WINCHESTER (NYT - September 8, 2005)