Tuesday, May 10, 2016

St. Zelda The Fortune Teller

Last Sunday we read from The Acts of the Apostles that Paul, "very much annoyed", cured a slave girl of possession by a "spirit of divination", thus depriving her of her livelihood and causing a riot. "Acts" goes on to tell all about Paul's deliverance from a jail cell, but shows no interest in what happened to the fortune-teller.
Jesus' ministry was one that exalted the humble and meek, but, even in apostolic times, the church has often been prone to forget about those whose lives are disrupted by our well intentioned efforts. The Book of Acts may not show interest in the fortune-reller's fate, but Jesus never forgets about anybody, and neither should we.
  I proposed in my sermon last Sunday that the Fortune-teller girl be regarded as a saint, and that churches be named after her and serve as havens for those who have been hurt, ignored, or forgotten by church or clergy. Trouble is, The Bible doesn't tell us her name, but, in my experience, fortune-tellers have names like "Zelda", so I guess my hypothetical churches could be called "St. Zelda's".
   Except every congregation I have served was already "St. Zelda's" in practice, including St. Andrew's, where I now serve. All these have been communities that had undergone their share of disappointments at the hands of the clergy. Sometimes this was the result of betrayal or outright abuse, but more often a matter of well intentioned efforts having unintended consequences that
we fail to even notice.
    But God isn't finished with any of us yet. By God's grace, St. Zelda's sometimes strident voice will continue to recall the church to see the world through the eyes of Christ, who never forgets anyone.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Air travel, the 12 steps, and Thomas Aquinas

Air travel, the 12 steps, and Thomas Aquinas. 

Air travel over long distances is an exercise in powerlessness. We place ourselves entirely in the hands of strangers, as if we were all passengers in a giant metal womb. While we doze and watch silly in-flight movies our mother the airplane takes a running start and leaps over the Atlantic Ocean. We surrender to her cramped but competant control until she slams down onto the tarmac in this ancient city, the impact of her descent having removed any illusions of her being anything but a hunk of unwieldy machinery.
Believe it or not, I woke up thinking about Thomas Aquinas, except from a "12 Step" perspective. instead of an "Uncaused causer" or an "Uncontingent =-Being-Without-Whom-Contingent-Beings-Could-Not-Exist-But-They-Do-So-Ya-Da-Ya-Da-Ya-Da" I am contemplating "The-One-Who-To-An-Ultimate-Extent-Is-Uncontrolable-By-Us-Or-Anything- Else."
I am not advocating for "God as the uncontroled controler." I don't know how or if God controls anything. I am sticking with the airplane landing and the Step 2 feeling of "Sanity Restored" as we emerge from the Heathrowian birth-canal into bright sunshine and an opportunity to stretch out in our hotel room and take a nap. Is this what we mean by grace? 
Or maybe its just jet lag. If the plane had crashed, maybe I could be putting these questions directly to the Source. But then again, that is something over which I have little or no control.
     From 2013 holy island pilgrimage.