So, my rector preached the best sermon I’ve heard from him yet. You can find a text copy of it on his blog, here: Cam’s Good Friday Sermon .
The following entry will make much more sense if you take five minutes and go read the sermon. I promise you that it will be worth your while.
So, we had a conversation afterwards and after I told him that, in fact, this was the best I’d heard from him, etc, and I talked to him about what I see as my calling, or dharma, if you will. He knows this already, and you probably have put two and two together, but surprise: I write. I need to write. I’m called to write. It’s my dharma to write. And I don’t do near enough of it. Okay, whinging aside, I mentioned to him that part of what I see that writing is to be is to use my storytelling and my own imagination to write what the world could be like, should we, the human race, make an effort. And while I didn’t say it outright, I was thinking: fiction. Novels. SciFi. Romance. Magial Realism. Even fanfic, really. Really, all those things I do when I’m not at work.
And he was thinking: Sermon.
He said as much, and he pointed out that I don’t do any storytelling in my sermons. And I realized that I looked at sermons as a genre apart, and one I was none too good at, considering my ability in other genres. He pointed out that I could make the genre into whatever I wanted, and that I really needed to not be him. (Sure, easy to say and easy to agree with, but the truth of the matter is that, of course, some part of me says, “Wow, he does it really well, I want to be like him. He’s really inspiring, and I think he’s got it right; I want to be like him.”)
So, I’m thrown for a loop:
a) the sermon was good and challenging, and hopeful (in that way that hearing it gives me hope for the church as an institution – if we can bust out with stuff like this, there is hope for us yet), and really set me to thinking about what traditions are unhelpful in our church and in our culture, and how deeply ingrained some of the unhelpful stuff is. And what, exactly do I want to do about that? Yes, I’m only one person, and no I feel absolutely NO CALL to be a politician and change the church or the world in that way, but I do feel called to be a storyteller, and so how do I propose to change the world in that way?
b) I think I might need to integrate my storytelling with my preaching. It’s the bud of an idea, but beyond it, I’m utterly and completely at a loss. For some reason I find repugnant the idea (a possibly good suggestion of Cam’s) to read some Barbara Brown Taylor and see how she does it. Maybe it’s just the flush confusion of the moment. …But I know that I have a tendancy to absorb the voice of another author and then, if I wish, parrot it back with something like precision. That can come in handy if you write fic (not that I’ve done it in a while with fic, mind you). And I don’t want to do that with the Rev. Taylor. (If I’m going to copy someone, dammit, it’s going to be Rev. Miller!) But I am, after all, trying to find my own voice. (Erm, I suppose that would be, Rev. Gordy’s voice.) I feel like I’ve done that, to a certain extent, in my fic. Granted, it only took me 15 years to do get to that point. But I wouldn’t mind being able to do it over night – to find my voice more or less instantly – with my sermons. Really, I wouldn’t.
So, it’s Good Friday. And there’s pain, there’s angst, there’s an eyes-wide-open look at ourselves and the world. There is confusion, a broad path, a cross-roads, and provisions for the way forward, though which particular way forward has yet to be discerned.
It’s Good Friday. And somehow, it feels like our world has been living in Good Friday since the first Human bashed the second Human with a big rock to steal his fire. And it feels, somehow, like it will remain Good Friday until we can all, somehow, decide to use rocks only for building and not for bashing, whether or not we agree with one another. Only then will Easter be true in the here and now sense, which of course is how we generally celebrate it, either here and now or proleptic and escatalogical (a tiny taste in the here and now that tells something of the after-life experience), neither of which seem true. Only then will Easter not be a false prophet in the truest sense: if the prophesy doesn’t come to pass, it wasn’t true. Until then, to celebrate Easter like we’ve done it, we managed it, we’ve fought the good fight and won, won, won – that seems like vacationing along the banks of Denial and taking a dip when it gets too hot out.
And until then, there is much to think about, and much to be written.
…And I’m still in my cassock. It’s a ‘paint it black’ sort of day. I’m still gonna eat, tho. A food-less Sarey is an unconscious Sarey.