4/7 of NEWTs are done and gone! Yay! Today was Church History (which didn’t kill me outright, so according to niet. i’m now stronger) and Contemporary Society. ::huge grin:: Contemporary Society, where they asked us, in great detail, to comment biblically, theologically, and globally on the uberconsumerism of our society. Yay! This, I can do! ::does incredibly happy happy!dance::
I actually ::shock:: got energy from doing my NEWTs. Two days in a row. I think I might be Hermione. Or maybe, this is just normal for me. Hm. What an odd thought.
And, and I finished my sermon. It’s the first sermon I’ve prepared that actually sounds like my voice when I write fic. Granted, it’s not my best sermon, but it’s not bad. ::huge grin:: Integration of Self! Yay!
CAN ANYTHING GOOD COME OUT OF NAZARETH?
Can anything good come out of Nazareth? He’s here, the one, the One, he’s here! Moses, the law, the prophets, he’s here, from Nazareth, he’s here! Can anything good come out of Nazareth?
Isn’t it amazing how we have these ideas of places, and just what they’re capable of producing. How only certain types of people are supposed to come from certain types of places, almost as if we came off a factory floor, with no variation allowed. Someone who’s stamp says “Made in Boston” will be predictably different from someone who wears the stamp, “Made in rural Texas.” But it’s more than just that, sometimes. It’s more than just a set of predictable differences that may or may not be actually true. At its most insidious, our assumptions take a nasty turn, and that nasty turn is the difference between saying, “I know what kind of people come out of Nazareth, for better and for worse,” and saying, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
And here is Jesus. Son of an unwed teen. Poor. Itinerant. A traveling Rabbi who is only just gathering disciples. And he is… the Son of God. The Messiah. The Promised One. His complexity challenges Nathaniel’s assumptions. And Jesus is here, as he is in so many instances, our model. Our complexities challenge each others assumptions.
Can anything good come out of …Buffalo? Virginia? America? Constantly and consistently we are being called out from the places we’re from – not so we can leave them, though many of us have had to leave them for a time, but we are called out from under the uber-identification with a place that can box us in and box us away from the real identity, our identity in Christ that transcends our place.
HERE IS AN ISRAELITE IN WHOM THERE IS NO DECEIT!
Here is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit? What an odd greeting. What an odd greeting for someone who just insulted your hometown. Not that Jesus knew Nathaniel was insulting his hometown, unless of course he was standing under the fig tree at the time, which would explain other confusing bits of the conversation that they had, but what an odd greeting for someone you’d never met before.
Imagine it, if you will. You’re standing in the receiving line and a parishioner introduces a friend they brought to hear you preach. “Good morning,” they say, “I’ve brought my friend Nathaniel.” And your first response is not going to be, “You’re a really good person! I bet you pay your taxes!” It’s an odd greeting, but maybe not as strange as I’m making out. Maybe its as simple as stating something good when you see it.
It’s easy, sometimes. Pointing out the good, or the lovely. “That’s a nice tie,” you can say. “That was a good lecture,” you can say. “That’s a nice person,” you can say.
But sometimes making those statements about goodness is slightly more difficult an endeavor. When the good in a situation is surrounded by everything else… When was the last time we allowed the good in a situation to filter through with the same amount of strength as the bad does? Or even to overcome it as the bad usually does?
Which was the GOE set, O Seniors, that was your good one, or did you have a good one? Was there one part of one question, one example, one thought that could, in fact, by sheer dint that it was good, redeem the rest of the question, change it from “So glad it’s over,” to, “That was a good set. I’m glad I wrote on that.” It might be an odd greeting for the Juniors and Middlers who are being so helpful to us Seniors. “How ya doin’,” they tenderly ask, “You doin’ okay?” “Yea,” you say with a smile, actually meaning it. “This was a good set.” It would be an odd greeting, but we’d be in good company.
I SAW YOU UNDER THE FIG TREE
I saw you under the fig tree. Creepy! What, one wonders, was Nathaniel doing under the fig tree? But in that case, what do any of us do under the fig tree? The best of all we have to offer, and the absolute worst, it’s under that fig tree. And God sees us there in all our nakedness, except it’s not that there’s nothing there but us – it’s everything there, with us. Us, with all our bais and all our baggage, our hang-ups and our obsessions, our pet-peeves and personality quirks, the things about us that make other people grind their teeth and roll their eyes – it’s there, under the fig tree. And too, all the gifts, all the talents, all the creativity, all the concentration, the organization and persuasiveness, the charisma and determination, all the loyalty, all the love. All the love. It’s there, under the fig tree.
I saw you there, under the fig tree.
How do you respond to that? …but to say, “Oh my god; O, my God. He saw me under the fig tree…”
DO YOU BELIEVE BECAUSE I SAID I SAW YOU?
::snort:: Do you believe because I said I saw you? I think God has a sense of humor and I think it comes out, here. “Let’s perform a miracle,” God says to Godself, “And then, when they’re awestruck, let’s giggle at them.”
Do you believe because I said, I saw you? Well, the short answer is yes.
YOU WILL SEE GREATER THINGS THAN THIS.
You will see greater things than this. And that’s why we’re here. Because someone called and we answered, whether or not we thought it was a good idea at the time. And now we are here, teaching, learning, living, waiting…
But for those of us who are still at the fig tree, there is a message waiting. It’s waiting to pull us out of our own assumptions, out of our willingness to see the negative before the positive, out of our awestruck inactivity, and it is the promise… that we ain’t seen nothing yet.
And now I’m just sitting here listening to this song on repeat, because it’s just so amazing, and I’m being in my tiredness but not wanting to end this beautiful day just yet, knowing that I need to get up tomorrow and run, and be at chapel early, and not trip over my alb when I read the Gospel, and not knock over the flagon of wine when I set the table, and not stumble over my words when I preach from the pulpit, and not stammer when I dismiss the congregation, when I act, liturgically, like a deacon for what feels like the first time, and what will certianly be the first time in front of my peers. And I’ll attend the session where we recieve our exam before we return to our rooms in my collar, and I don’t really know how I’ll do with all of that, or if wearing the collar will still feel like playing dress-up, but I just can’t bring myself to be worried. I think that’s a good sign.
Have I mentioned my motto for NEWTs? “Accio egg, dumbass.”
I think that’s a good sign.