Empowering God, by your grace alone we are accepted and called to your service; strengthen us by your Holy Spirit and empower our calling. Grant us opportunity, give us willingness to serve you day by day; that what we do and how we bear each other's burdens, may be our sacrifice to you. Make us eager to honor the ministry of others and after your example to exercise our own. (A New Zealand Prayer Book)
Hymn: "My Hope is Built on Nothing Less"
I tend to sing this hymn because it's a familiar melody and also one I like, even though I feel really dishonest singing it. However, this time it felt over-fast to me.
Unison Prayer of Confession:
Merciful God, we have sinned against you, in thought, word and deed. We have not loved you with all our heart. We have not loved others as our Savior Christ loves us.
We are truly sorry. In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us amend what we are, and direct what we shall be; that we may delight in your will and walk in your ways, through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen. (NZPB)
In theory I endorse broad accessible ones like this. But in practice I prefer the ones that speak to me more directly.
I hadn't looked at the Scripture I would be reading until 5 minutes before service.
Amos 8:1-12 and Luke 10:38-42
Kinda weird reading the Amos passage 'cause it's all depressing condemnation.
Amos has that line about the sweepings of the wheat. In one of the recent small group sessions on social justice, the idea of the leftover bits of crops being left for the poor people to forage from was mentioned, so I totally thought of that. (And also thought of how many allusions etc. there are in Scripture, especially in the Old Testament, which we so often miss because it's not our socio-historical context.)
Having more than one reading still throws me sometimes. I like putting the Bible into conversation with itself, though.
I was actually weirded to hear God referred to as He (in Words of Assurance and here). I mentioned this to her over brunch. I don't have a problem with male pronouns for God, but I spend so much time in progressive circles that I've become v. aware of it. She said she had apologized to Mary for using "Lord" and Mary had said she hadn't even noticed.
Sarah began her sermon talking about how the critique sounds so familiar -- the corporate greed and the turning a blind eye to the plight of the poor and so on.
In her sermon, she commented that summer fruit [the vision which opens this section of Amos] that is not used is quickly thrown out, or rots and draws flies to itself.
She pointed out that God asked Amos what he saw, and the omniscient God we believe in would already know, would have known since before the earth was formed, what Amos would see, but by asking Amos, God gave Amos a voice. She then talked about how we are all (called to be) prophets.
She segued to the Luke passage as a picture of what that's supposed to look like -- the focus on God. I was impressed with her ability to connect the two passages, though the Mary-and-Martha story always makes me uncomfortable because you do have to make sure that your physical needs get met, cannot spend all your time literally at the rabbi's feet (yes, God provides for the birds in the trees and the lilies of the valley, but I think God expects us to do some work providing for ourselves as well).
Hymn: "Lord, Make Me Holy"
This is listed as an African-American spiritual. The congregation failed at the chorus. The title is basically the extent of the lyrics, and in the different verses, the word "holy" is replaced by other words. This hymnal just listed an abbreviated version of the verse repeated lower on the page, but the capitalization indicated to me that yes, in the chorus you replace "holy" with the word of the current verse as well.
Focus on Mission
Impromptu, Liz got up and read a Mary Oliver poem "Morning Poem" she had read that morning.
Hymn: "I Will Trust in the Lord"
Another African-American spiritual. And this time one I was familiar with. The congregation so did not have enough energy. Also, the "gonna treat everybody right" line was really awkward 'cause there was one more syllable than it felt like there were notes.
Afterward, Tim and Liz both said I should read more often.
Liz said it was a welcome dose of cynicism, which kinda threw me since she tends to be very positive energy hippy-dippy (kinda like Marian?).
Lots of Sarah's friends from HDS came, and we chatted over Coffee Hour, and Matt (whose wife is in France) impromptu invited those of us who remained (Kelsey and David, Sarah and Tim, me) over to his place for brunch -- he lives in Davis Square near the parking office.
Edit: Oh, and during Coffee Hour while there was discussion of what to do afterward, there were jokes about huddles, and one person started doing baseball signs, and my brain tried to translate them even though I knew they weren't doing ASL. Ow, my brain. /edit
People talked about Michael Vick and the dogfighting thing. I'd gotten (from the Metro, natch) that there were allegations, but that was about all I knew.
Someone said that once there's a federal indictment, there's a 99% conviction rate (and apparently he has been indicted). I also learned that the allegations include not only the dogfighting itself but dogs who lose getting killed. Ew!
Some of the people had visited the Mapparium at the Christian Science Center downtown and talked about that.
Sarah mentioned the Stardust movie. My entire engagement with that has been skimming Neil Gaiman's blog, so I was weirded out to be talking to someone for whom that was not their background at all (though obviously it was totally understandable). She said Michelle Pfeiffer [which I spelled correctly on the first try!] is in it. I said I thought she was in The Golden Compass movie, but IMDb-ing it now I see that's Nicole Kidman.
I hadn't realized Tim used to work on campaigns. We were talking about the various Presidential candidates, and he concurred with what I'd heard from MaryAlice about Obama -- that he doesn't seem to really have substance. He said that Audacity of Hope is a campaign book, fluff, but Dreams from My Father has good stuff in it. The way he talked about it actually made me interested to read it.
Someone asked Kelsey about this book she'd read, Honoring the Body, which she said in part she felt like was just Christian justification for healthy living but also has some depth.
We talked about Sarah's sermon some, and we talked a bit about the awkward construction of that opening passage of Amos and how it's hard to do it any other way since you're verbalizing a largely visual experience. She said it's likely that God produced the vision at the same moment that God asked Amos what he saw, but that's harder to convey verbally.
There was also discussion about historical rhetorical styles (repetition, for example; also Paul's flaunting of his resume).
In talking about the "basket of summer fruit," Sarah said the word "kyet" may have been intended to pun on "ket" ("end").
She said that summer fruit was a common Temple offering, so the listeners might have expected that indeed there would be celebration, and then of course God subverts that expectation, saying no, that's not at all what's in store.
The Pope's recent statement about ecumenicism was mentioned.
Sarah didn't like the emphasis on our divisions.
Tim and I feel like of course you think your denomination is Right, and if not, why have different denominations? She phrased it as more like: we do things this way, if you like that, hang out with us. This makes me somewhat uncomfortable since for all that I'm a cafeteria Christian I think Truth should challenge you -- "a God in your own image is a god lesser than yourself" . . . I wish I could remember whom that quote is attributed to; I don't think I have the wording quite right (borne out by my inability to find it online).
I didn't get to quote lissehoya (from a locked sk8eeyore post): "The commentary I read on the Pope's recent statement said that it underlies the different views on what ecumenism means to Catholics vs. Protestants. The Protestant view tends to be about getting along in spite of differences while the Catholic view is more about bringing everyone back together again."
I remembered seeing a post about how the church's track record with apostolic succession is kinda dicey, but it wasn't until I looked it up again afterward that I was reminded that it also talks about how Jesus acted in such opposition to so much of what the church is now -- "the hegemony and exclusivist practices of the religious establishment."
Sarah said that most of the stuff we argue about separating the different denominations isn't anything Jesus talked about. I pointed out that Jesus said so little that we kind of have to extrapolate. And I almost got to mention the Methodist/Wesleyan Quadrilateral: Scripture, tradition, experience, and reason.
She said she feels like Ratzinger's statement goes deeper than it appears.
There was also talked about his recent re-allowing of the Latin Mass.
The idea that it was disallowed by Vatican II makes me uncomfortable. ('Cause disallowing anything makes me uncomfortable.)
I think it was Sarah actually who commented that the two different versions give different emphases, and she didn't present either judgmentally, which pleasantly surprised me -- the Latin one emphasizes the mystery, is almost gnostic: you have no idea what's going on, but you know there's that divine spark.
Kelsey I think mentioned Sister Joan Chittister, and the next day I stumbled across what I think was the article in question.
Oh, and Sarah mentioned the theory that the phrase "hocus pocus" originated in making fund of the incomprehensible Latin Mass. I knew it was "hoc est [something]" but couldn't remember the second half. Later I was fairly certain it was from the Words of Institution but wasn't sure how that would work. So of course I wikipedia-ed.
We dispersed around 2:30. (Really glad I hadn't put off laundry until Sunday.) It felt much warmer than mid-70's F has a right to. (I blame the direct sun. Nary a cloud in the sky.) I did a grocery run (I was almost out of milk, and I'll have barely any time this week, as per usual.)