Saturday, January 28, 2017

dost govern

This morning, 44° one square of chocolate Lindt 70% and a mug of Community special roast whole bean bought in Louisiana because their odd coffees are regional, not available here, also a Keurig cup Community with chicory. With coffee Bubba likes to experiment.

Lectionary for Epiphany4A is splendid, yuuge, I don’t know how whoever is preaching can choose from among 

Micah 6:1-8
Psalm 15
1 Corinthians 1:18-31
Matthew 5:1-12

so I’ll copy and paste the whole shootin’ match below except that the English translations from Hebrew and NTGreek matter to me, I prefer what KJV my mother taught and had me commit to memory as a boy. 

I’ll always appreciate having drawn the long straw to be oldest &c ho anaginowskown noeito, in part because with the oldest the parents have, certainly in my case had, more time and patience for rearing effort that doesn’t necessarily happen later on and down the line. That is to say, unless there are gaps and more onlies. I have one first, one second; and two besottedly doted upon one and onlies, exempli gratia, which made for much love and fun plus agonizing worry as child-raising carried on into my seventies, and where two will be in their sixties while one is still in her forties and one her twenties and I beyond Stoppage Time.

That’s not the stream of conscious I meant for this morning though: I was looking at tomorrow’s Lectionary, “The Propers” as our term goes, propers include the four Bible readings, the “Proper Preface” (a variable theological line inserted in the Eucharistic Prayer where it leads into the Sanctus), and the Collect for the Day. The Collect I meant to have a go at: 

Almighty and everlasting God, you govern all things both in heaven and on earth: Mercifully hear the supplications of your people, and in our time grant us your peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Our collects typically have three parts: an opening address to God, a petition (this collect has sort of a joint petition — “hear” and “grant”), and a generally Trinitarian closing. The address to God generally is a theological assertion. Above for Epiphany4, passing by the “Almighty and everlasting” that is indeed theological, I’m caught by “you govern all things both in heaven and on earth.” Marion says* this collect is found in the Gregorian sacramentary (10th century) and Sarum missal (11c.), was modified in translation from Latin by Cranmer, but that this is original wording. So what we have is pious medieval theology, and if it’s truly from Gregory (ca 540-604) it’s from the Dark Ages of western civilization, culture and Christian church. That is to say, “who dost govern all things in heaven and earth” hums well in ancient liturgical chant, but hardly reflects theology that developed in the Holocaust and perhaps even less so in what we observe about divine interaction here in what is being called post-modernity. I don’t know.

Because I lived through it, unconsciously until Allied forces began liberating German concentration camps in 1944 and 1945 and newsreels stunned me, a nine-year-old child, here in the Ritz Theatre downtown PC, the horror and immensity of the German national atrocity has always held a singular fascination for me. Books early on. Eli Wiesel, Night and others. Orientation Week at Lutheran Theological Seminary, Gettysburg, where our Dean Gerhard Krodel (1926-2005) was said to have served in the German Wehrmacht and came away with memories he refused ever to discuss, we focused on readings and class discussions of the Holocaust. There was Anne Frank’s Diary, and Schindler’s List with John Williams’ almost unbearably haunting musical score. And for me lately and still reading as a sabbatical exercise, The Sunflower with Simon Wiesenthal’s case study and its grinding moral and theological apologia and dilemma that explores the outside rim of civilized thought, human suffering, compassion, Jewish agony and even Christian trivia of forgiveness. Wiesel with the little boy still alive as he swings twitching, jerking at the end of the gallows rope, the crowd’s question, “Where is G_d now?” and discordant answers, “There He is” in and as the murdered boy, the slaughtered lamb, and “He is not” as faith dissolves into atheistic horror amid the German paganism. Where is now/was G_d in that nightmare, that Night? Was God governing all things? μη γενοιτο. Or from Simon Wiesenthal in the camp, God on leave and with no Deputy to leave in charge? IDK. So then how, how, How dost Almighty and everlasting God govern all things on earth?

In the face of most any calamity or level of perceived threat, a pious faith statement is “God is in control” and/but the comeback might be “How?” “Where?” “Show me.” I’ve known, know, faithful Christians who have saved themselves by walking down the aisle, saved and as sure for heaven as if they were already there, in certitude (choose one or more) antisemitic, racist, homophobic, male chauvinist, radical feminist, greedy, selfish, blind, oblivious, … . Who, where, what is the God of them? Is the God of them in charge, in control, governing all things in earth? God help us. I’m caught, trapped. 

I once knew a Christian, this one was Methodist actually, who, in response to my homily at the funeral of a young male suicide, corrected me as I stood by the hearse before leaving for the cemetery, corrected my homiletic assertion that this young man’s suicide death was not God’s will for the boy or for the parents and siblings who loved him, corrected me with the firm and solid certitude, “Father Weller, everything that happens is God’s will.” I do not believe that. I believe her statement is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. It goes against my own anti-theology that almost nothing that happens in human life is the governance of a merciful and loving, even just, God. Or if she is right, if it is true, I’ll have no part of such a monster deity, who was surely the god of pagan Germany in that Night. Who, what, how dost thou govern all things? Dark theology, pious, naive, oblivious, unthinking, unobservant, medieval, Dark, I see fear but no hope, I’m not feeling the love, and as from 12 Noon EST Friday, 20170120 fearing and praying dost not govern, Lord have mercy, God help us, great, holy God in heaven deliver us. What then to pray tomorrow that rings true? 

DThos+ in Stoppage Time

Pic 1: PB407
Pic 2: 20170128 Sunrise from 7H

* Marion Hatchett, Commentary on the American Prayer Book, 3rd Printing, Seabury, 1981, p.171 
The Collect
Almighty and everlasting God, you govern all things both in heaven and on earth: Mercifully hear the supplications of your people, and in our time grant us your peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Micah 6:1-8
Hear what the Lord says:
Rise, plead your case before the mountains,
and let the hills hear your voice.
Hear, you mountains, the controversy of the Lord,
and you enduring foundations of the earth;
for the Lord has a controversy with his people,
and he will contend with Israel.

“O my people, what have I done to you?
In what have I wearied you? Answer me!
For I brought you up from the land of Egypt,
and redeemed you from the house of slavery;
and I sent before you Moses,
Aaron, and Miriam.
O my people, remember now what King Balak of Moab devised,
what Balaam son of Beor answered him,
and what happened from Shittim to Gilgal,
that you may know the saving acts of the Lord.”

“With what shall I come before the Lord,
and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before him with burnt-offerings,
with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with tens of thousands of rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?

Psalm 15
Domine, quis habitabit?

1 Lord, who may dwell in your tabernacle? *
who may abide upon your holy hill?
2 Whoever leads a blameless life and does what is right, *
who speaks the truth from his heart.
3 There is no guile upon his tongue;
he does no evil to his friend; *
he does not heap contempt upon his neighbor.
4 In his sight the wicked is rejected, *
but he honors those who fear the Lord.
5 He has sworn to do no wrong *
and does not take back his word.
6 He does not give his money in hope of gain, *
nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.
7 Whoever does these things *
shall never be overthrown.
The New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 1:18-31
The message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God's foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God's weakness is stronger than human strength.

Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, in order that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Matthew 5:1-12
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. 
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 
“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

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