At Not So Churchy on Monday night we will explore, what the NRSV Study Bible I use calls the Blessings and Woes. Others call them the Beatitudes: "Blessed are the poor in spirit... Blessed are those who mourn... Blessed are the meek... Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness" It is a text I have had mixed relations with for many years. I heard a translation of this text by Fr. Greg Boyle that has had me thinking in a new way ever since. He said that a more accurate translation of that text would be: "You're in the right place if...."
So, fill in the blank, "You're in the right place if you hunger and thirst for righteousness," and so on. For him it is about social location, it is about from where you come but maybe more importantly, where you place yourself. "It tells you where to stand." He also says that "where you stand" is not the end, it is a means to an end. The end that we are seeking is kinship, where the difference between the service provider and the recipient is unclear.
It is much easier said than done. To discern the places to stand, where we hunger and thirst, how we are present with those (even ourselves) who mourn, it takes a lot of space. It takes slowing down enough to hear God speak in that space.
|Marina and Ulay|
This week John wrote an essay for the Huffington Post inspired by Serbian performance artist Marina Abramović. In 2010 Abramović spent three months performing in the atrium of New York's Museum of Modern Art. The premise of her performance was deceptively simple: as she sat frozen in the center of the atrium, an astonishingly diverse group of people was invited to sit one-by-one in the chair across from her.
John says: "Abramović offers people of faith a glance of what it means to relate soul to soul. In her space of radical hospitality, each person, including Abromović, is radically honored. No one is more or less welcome for what they can or cannot offer the other. Each is valued and respected for the very fact that they are created."
She was deeply present with those poor in spirit, those who mourn, those who are meek, those who hunger and thirst. She became them in that moment and they became her. They shared the sacredness of life with each other for a few precious and healing moments. She modeled church for us.
It is what I hope happens at the LGBTQ Inquirers and Candidates Retreat each year. I hope there we can see each other deeply and know that God sees us even deeper. (Registration is now open!) It is what I hope we do at Not So Churchy, this beautiful community that is growing deeper and deeper in our knowledge of God's deep sight and care for us.
When we are in the right place, we can no longer make distinctions between the economic, marriage, and immigration justice necessary so that we all have the privilege of being calm and known in our heart. I hope the seeing, the deeply seeing, the being in the right place is what can happen as DOMA is debated, and as we meet together to hear the insights gained by attorney David Boies as he defends our right to love before the Supreme Court.
It is what I hope can happen.
Rev. Mieke Vandersall Executive Director