Wisdom is bright and does not grow dim . . . and is found by those who look for her. — Wisdom 6:13 Fr. Richard Rohr reminds us : "Wisdom is not the gathering of more facts and information, as if that would eventually coalesce into truth. Wisdom is a new, different way of seeing and knowing the 'ten thousand things'. I suggest that wisdom is precisely the freedom to be truly present to what is right in front of you. Presence is wisdom! People who are fully present know how to see fully, rightly, and truthfully. Presence is the one thing necessary for wisdom, and in many ways, it is the hardest thing of all. Just try to keep (1) your heart space open, (2) your mind without division or resistance, and (3) your body not somewhere else—and all at the same time! Most religions just decided it was easier to believe doctrines and obey often arbitrary laws than the truly converting work of being present. Those who can be present will know what they need to know, and in a wisdom way."1
A prayer for openness by Joyce Rupp
"Remember the holy one is with you…Bring to mind this loving presence within you and around you."2 Now breath deep…Feel yourself grounded….sense the texture of the seat beneath you…. Breathe deep…pay attention to the sounds around….become aware of your space…the sacred space which envelopes you at this moment….Breathe Deep… "Touch your finger tips to your forehead saying : Open my mind to remember your presence. Touch your fingertips to your mouth saying: Open my mouth to speak your wisdom. Hold both hands out, open, palms up, saying: Open my hands to serve you generously. Holding both arms wide open, saying: Open my whole being to you.
Make a deep bow to the loving presence in you"3
Anthem Sometimes alleluia by Chuck Girard
Today is …well it is today… we are here and now. What does that mean?? Life is a journey and we are taken many places. We tend to be very busy running from this meeting to that meeting to this event and that event. So today’s reading from Ecclesiastes 3-8 reflects this in many ways. It says there is a time for everything and it also says everything is time…Born, die, plant, harvest, hurt, heal, tear down, build up, cry , laugh, mourn and dance, all these things are movements from one place and time to another. It sometimes seems as if there is little left for anything else.
I want you now to listen to a gospel reading ok singing... “Gospel” Is coming from a little know singer yet something tells me you might recognize her voice I just ask that you listen to the words center yourself..Still yourself and listen...
“But in the meantime Doin' nothin' sure is a-worryin' me”
Why does doing nothing worry us so? What is so wrong with being in a meantime...in an in-between time? Why do we always seem to rush on to the next thing? Why do we always worry what’s next? A long time ago I became curios where I came from…you see I was adopted. So I set out on this exhaustive and thorough search of my heritage. I signed up on websites, I studied how searches were done, I acquired my birth certificate..well attempted to I don’t have one to legally obtain I have a certificate of adoption. From that I found out I was baptized at a certain church. By calling them I learned my birth name and received my baptism certificate which had been redacted and my “adoptive” parents names, I am sorry but they are my parents adoptive or not. But it had the real witnesses to my baptism listed...One was my birth mothers brother..I called him which led me to her which led me to my father’s family…which led to a day of phone calls from relatives half brothers and sisters aunts and uncles which then led to….nothing.
,P.There was nothing left to do…I had spent a year of research and scheming and planning to get all the documentation I could, to find out who these people were. It was all playing cloak and dagger investigative reporter and then…it was done. There was no next thing…there was no more to be done…I had to take some time…some meantime and rest…and ponder…and decide what it all meant to me and then…and only then…could I move on to the next thing.
So here we are on this Sunday and it marks the end of the liturgical year and yet we already are looking to what’s next….we have thanksgiving and then we need to decorate the church and then…what? Then we are in the midst of advent.
Let me give you a little background on what has led me to this inquisitive moment if you will. As a congregation we have voted to dual affiliate with the UCC. You have been aware that Bob and I and Megan took their polity and history class which covered material from before the pilgrims up to modern day. We as a congregation have explored their ministries and their relationships their concept of congregational church and all that goes with being in a covenantal relationship.
I have decided not to renew my credentials with the MCC but move to be completely affiliated with the UCC, something that has been on my heart for quite a while. Well this week I informed MCC of my Intention and well they basically said blessing and we accept your resignation. So now I am in a meantime. I will go before an ecclesiastical council, which is a fancy word for a group of very friendly and caring representatives of the southern CA. Nevada conference and ask to be approved for “privilege of call”. Privilege of call is when an ordained minister of another denomination wishes to enter the ordained ministry of the UCC, he or she applies for Privilege of Call to the Association with whose bounds he/she resides. This will be in March.
So you see I am in one kind of in between time. Advent is another in between time…we have Just finished ordinary time. The new liturgical year lies before us and we are standing in anticipation, waiting for the Christ child to arrive. We have four weeks. Four weeks to decorate the church, get the shopping done, decorate our homes, send cards, wrap presents, feed the dog and whatever else may be on a list that the world has told us we must do!
We must hurry. We must move from point A to Point B. As the coffee mug or t-shirt says Jesus is coming look busy!
You know what I am going to tell you…Right? You know what is on my heart? Take the time to slow down. Be present!
Again I will remind you of what Fr. Richard Rohr said for our centering Meditation.
Fr. Richard Rohr reminds us : “Wisdom is not the gathering of more facts and information, as if that would eventually coalesce into truth. Wisdom is a new, different way of seeing and knowing the ‘ten thousand things’. I suggest that wisdom is precisely the freedom to be truly present to what is right in front of you. Presence is wisdom! People who are fully present know how to see fully, rightly, and truthfully."4
To be truly present takes, Patience and Understanding and prayer. It doesn’t happen overnight. It doesn’t happen when you want it too even after years of practice. It is a constant and steady practice that allows for Grace to enter into our lives and reveal moments….flashes…of being truly present when the world is brighter than it has ever been. When the awe and wonder of being alive just vibrates and catches you so off guard you have to stop and Hold your breath.
You know there is a Christmas story that does that for me. It is about a church in Austria.
A group of Actors were traveling about performing a play based on the Christmas story of Luke and John but because the organ of the Church was out of commission the actors; “presented their Christmas drama in a private home. That Christmas presentation of the events in the first chapters of Matthew and Luke put assistant pastor Josef Mohr in a meditative mood. Instead of walking straight to his house that night, Mohr took a longer way home. The longer path took him up over a hill overlooking the village.
From that hilltop, Mohr looked down on the peaceful snow-covered village. Reveling in majestic silence of the wintry night, Mohr gazed down at the glowing Christmas-card like scene. His thoughts about the Christmas play he had just seen made him remember a poem he had written a couple of years before. That poem was about the night when angels announced the birth of the long-awaited Messiah to shepherds on a hillside. Mohr decided those words might make a good carol for his congregation the following evening at their Christmas eve service.”5
That Pastor had literally stopped in his normal routing to take some meantime. Walk a little further, take a different path with a story he knew but for some reason hit him different that day. He became totally present to an event that happened some 1800 years before. As a result we have the most beloved Christmas carol in the world…Silent Night. Today we stand with an invitation to slow down. Enter into a sacred stillness…a sacred and grace filled meantime, a sacred in-between time to be present to the Holy that is in everyday.
Take some time for prayer. Take some time for meditation. Take some time to read the ancient story of the Christmas season. Take some time for God outside of Sunday. For those interested we have a beautiful companion for the season that daily incorporates prayer, meditation and, if you have access to the internet, music.
If that does excite you find your own way. Seek out Richard Rohr’s daily meditations. Find some of his books or Joyce Rupp’s book that was today’s meditation from doorways. Sit down in a quiet corner light a candle and just invite the stillness. Amen!
1 Richard Rohr, e-mail message to Joseph Shore-Goss, 11/17/2013. ↩
2 Joyce Rupp, Open the Door: A Journey to the True Self (Notre Dame, Ind.: Ave Maria Press, 2008), 13.↩
4 Rohr, e-mail message to Joseph Shore-Goss, 11/17/2013.↩
5 Howard Culbertson, The Story behind Silent Night, http://home.snu.edu/~hculbert/silent.htm (accessed November 20, 2013). ↩