Monday, January 12, 2009

Behold the Lamb of God who...

yeah, takes away the Sin (no S!) of the world.
But there's more, and I think there should be (and is!) from the Church, as well. During my holiday break at home NOT at a farm in the cold, cold north I got in a fight with my mom (the day after my post about Advent, as time would have it). When talking to/debriefing with my campus minister about said fight, I had a reflection on some things that I've always been taught, and how I'm coming to understand them differently now.
I told my campus minister that I just don't understand what my mom's faith is based around. Maybe, I said, it's about going to heaven because she's saved, and that works for her. But it doesn't work for me. Maybe I'm too analytical, but that kind of thinking rings hollow for me, as does the only point of being a Christian is to go to heaven, and the only thing we have to look forward to are heaven and the rapture. If my mother ever reads this I hope she doesn't see my being critical of her just expressing a difference of opinion about faith. Hers (and the church I worked at's) doesn't work for me.
My experience, particularly as I have come to grow in Christ (I think) during my time at the Troy Wesley, is that faith is supposed to be doing something for us. Here. Now. Incarnation-ally, if you will. And that's not to say that this different understanding of the Christian faith doesn't do something: it gives hope to those who may have nothing more to cling to, and there is beauty in that. I may not enjoy hearing my grandma's pastor preach a Good Friday sermon on Easter after we've sung a bunch of Good Friday hymns, but I'd be a liar if I thought that the Holy Spirit wasn't there.
As I have grown, though I have come to experience a Christ who does more than die on a cross to take away Sin. He preaches good news to the poor, proclaims release to the captives, and grants recovery of sigh to the blind. His mother calls for the humbling of the mighty, and he says to the hungry "you are full."And I think that as his followers we are supposed to continue with those practices, particularly with my belief that having been baptized into Christ we have a mandate to bring life to the dead (read that however you want, but I don't really mean in morgues, necessarily).
But when debriefing with my campus minister the previous paragraph merely said, "and I don't just mean in a social justice way [that faith is supposed to help things now, too]." Basically, I think that the Church has a whole LOT of wisdom that the hyper-protestantism in which I was raised has rejected. I hear people talk about how they like to be involved in worship, or that they need to move in worship, or they associate certain smells with things. Part of incarnation-ality is involving us.
Water and food: necessities for human life: given special meaning to help us start and continue on the journey. Touch and taste. Stand, sit, kneel, (dance to the altar at Greg Nyssa!) be involved. Let the people play a role in praying, or even reading the scripture. Seeing not clerics and hearing lay voices participating in the worship of God - aside from singing. Make a smoke that will only be smelled in certain spaces for certain occasions. Use your nose. Assign colors to various seasons. Sight.
And it's these various seasons that I talked about with my campus minister. During my fight with my mom she said that i'd gotten angry at people saying "Merry Christmas" during Advent. Not the case. Her argument was that it was a joyful thing, so it should be okay. Certainly it is a joyful thing, but I think that skipping to the joy too early isn't healthy. And it isn't realistic.
I think that a Church wisdom I've come to understand within perhaps the last few weeks is how the Calendar, if we let it, can help us to cope with our lives. It, like our emotions and many life experiences is cyclical. There is waiting (and repentance). There is some celebration celebration. I got my first pay check. I got a car. The Commission on Ministry passed me. Merry Christmas. The savior is made flesh. And then there is plain-ness. Growth. Epiphany Evangelism growing the Church. Then there's penitence and waiting, longing, and it's even longer this time. And then...S/He said yes! We're having a child! Child is graduating from high school! I'm graduating from college! Alleluia! Christ is risen!/The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia! Lots of celebration, the ecstasy of which lasts fifty days, not twelve. There is some kind of mountain top experience. And then into what can feel like the bleakness of ordinary time. Going to work every day. Day to day life that is neither particularly high nor low, during which there is no particular longing or expectation or hoping. Just going about life.
I think that there's a reason that the ratio of white days to green days isn't anywhere near even. If you throw in blue/purple weeks, it's still a drop compared to every day life, every day living. Ordinary Time - named for numbered (ordinal) Sundays, rather than because they are plain - is ordinary, despite the reason for its naming. And so is most of our life. While we live in the joy and hope of the Resurrection, most days out of the year, and our lives we aren't having a party or celebrating.
There's wisdom to the way the Church orders herself. And maybe if we'd acknowledge and be okay with having a lot of ordinary time ourselves, we'd be freer to be human, without need to have a happy facade. Not necessarily down, but just even-keeled, neither high nor low.

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