May 3, 2015- Rev. Jan Hryniewicz
Text: Psalm 85: 8 – 13 & Isaiah 65: 17- 25
If you have been watching the news, and I’m sure you have…. you will have heard that Snuggle Therapy has come to Maine! Have you heard that? Those who are in the need of a platonic touch to lift their spirits, drive away their feelings of aloneness and isolation, can sign up to snuggle with a stranger. I certainly will not get into the pros and cons of that…. but if you feel a need to snuggle in the pews this morning…go right ahead! I do hope that you will feel caressed by the Spirit and embraced by the warmth of our community as you enjoy therapeutic hugs! Remember, hugs lower your blood pressure too!
I think that we are all in need of some comforting snuggle therapy after watching the tragic news stories this past week….riots in Baltimore and thousands killed in the Earthquake in Nepal….as well as the regular news of scandals, domestic violence, burglary, fires and weather related tragedies. And of course the tedious NFL Draft!! Many dreadful images and our hearts go out to the victims and families whose lives are torn apart. A reporter for World Vision offered this personal glimpse of the tragedy in Nepal:
I want you to meet Priti, a little girl I met on Friday among the ruins in Nepal. The 10-year-old slipped her delicate hand in mine and gently guided me through the rubble-strewn streets of Bhaktapur, Nepal. Just one week ago, a powerful earthquake destroyed everything she loves — her home, her village, her books, and even her school uniform.
Now, she worries about my safety. “Be careful,” she said quietly in perfect English. I worry about her even more.
In Baltimore, it is disheartening to note that violent protests get more press than peaceful ones. Facebook was circulating a beautiful image of Baltimore residents lined up shoulder to shoulder in front of the police officers to protect them. …another of a young black child passing out bottled water to the officers. Positive, compassionate gestures of support. It is always uplifting to me, that in spite of the gloom of horrific happenings, there is most often an outpouring of compassion and generosity that provides a beautiful glimmer of light and hope that aids the healing of broken hearts.
It’s critical , isn’t it….how we choose… as an individual and as a society …. to work for justice…..promoting actions that restore and reconcile instead of those which alienate and incite more hatred. In every situation, seeds of peace must be gently sown to take root in the hearts of the wounded and to thrive in a family or in a world divided. We absolutely need to be pilgrims for peace, as Ken so beautifully articulated last Sunday in his sermon message. We need to “lift our raucous voices” for justice ….in ways that lead us all toward the Light.
The beautiful Psalm 85 which Joe read a portion of this morning is considered to be a psalm of justice. It’s an uplifting psalm that directs us toward the Light….to One who offers us a Way to peace and justice:
“ I will listen to what God says;
God promises peace to those who are faithful servants—
and will not let them turn to folly…so that God’s glory will dwell in the land. ( Our responsibility)
Hear another translation of a couple of verses of this justice psalm translated from the Hebrew by Rabbi Zalman Schacher-Shalomi: . “Oh God, Speak gently to us and when we feel in awe of you, that helps us to live in a land with dignity. Kindness and truth have met; righteousness and peace have kissed one another. Truth will grow forth from the ground; God will supply loving care and our land will offer its yield. Righteousness will proceed from now on. Set our feet on the right path.”
For me, this gorgeous passage suggest a lifestyle ….one that promotes interrelationship… that furthers the establishment of the kingdom of peace and harmony that we believe our Creator desires for Creation….one so beautifully depicted also in the articulate words of the prophet Isaiah, also read this morning. Images of peace and harmony….of reconciliation.
Christina Baldwin is an eloquent and witty speaker, author and educator who integrates the spiritual journey and the practical path in her retreats and workshops. I shared this wisdom quote from her on the back of your bulletin because for me it speaks volumes about lifestyle and relationship with Earth and all life on it.
We all have rituals in our lives; we have simply forgotten that in our original way of living on the earth, these rituals were sacred, not secular. These rituals were designed to remind us over and over and over again of our true relationship to life: that of a grateful, amazed supplicant at the feet of Mystery.
Isn’t it true that in order to be in a wondrous state of awe and amazement, we only have to bask in the wonder of young children….to walk the trails of beauty that mother nature provides….to sit in silence in a place of peace….to hear inspiring music….. to experience an incredible sunset…..to see a spring garden awaken…. to offer kindness to a wounded soul.
Fr. Richard Rohr writes:
“Many have said that a fundamental attitude of awe is the primal religious experience and the beginning of the search for God. Imagine a religion called “Aweism”! Instead of wasting time trying to disprove miracles, this religion would be inhabited by people who see that everything is a miracle.
We must know that creation is our first and final cathedral. Nature is the one song of praise that never stops singing, as many of the Psalms say. It takes no theology classes whatsoever, no proofs, or arguments. Aweism is the one true religion. All the other native and historical religions merely build upon this primal awe that bows before everything.”
This is a starting place….opening ourselves to the Divine Mystery… recognizing our innate connection with all life in the universe. We will not want to destroy what we love….and what we are related to….as family of God.
It is the Divine Spirit that provides the game plan, supplies the resources…inspires the spirit within us. Those who walk the Christian path, know that Jesus walked this path of peace and connection. His was a “raucous voice” that revealed the Light…that called for justice love and changed the course of history.
It is my prayer that more of us will come to understand that we are all co-creators with the God…. the Divine Energy that flows in and through the Universe. We are responsible for each other from the tiny ant to the enormous whale. When an elephant is wounded we weep…when an earthquake kills thousands, our hearts break….when people die of hunger, we feel the suffering. In times of desperate need, we reach out in love to help…our hearts overflowing with gratitude that we are able. That is the Creator’s design for creation. It all begins with an awareness that the Divine Spirit…which is totally beyond human understanding, is also deeply personal…. dwelling in each of us, calling us forth to love.
I want to close with a creative rendering that provoked my mind and inspired my spirit this week.
It is a story of loss and chaos…and healing, which perhaps could happen when we misunderstand the nature of the Divine….and then are reborn.
It’s entitled, When God Gave Up On Humans written by Jan Phillips who is an author, creator and workshop facilitator who ignites original thinking and inspires action. Hear her story:
It came to pass, in the 21st century, that God gave up on the human race. God scrawled a message across the sky in words that were understood by every tribe and nation:
“You are on your own. In 20 centuries, you have failed to love each other. You use me as a reason to hate and kill. You endanger your children. You poison your planet. I am done with you. You’ll have to find me in each other from now on.”
The people on earth wept and worried. “What will become of us?” they wondered. “Who will we run to? Who will provide for us? How will I find my car keys?” they asked, throwing up their arms in despair.
Over the years, even the adults had become like children in their notions of God. While every holy book encouraged them to find God in themselves and each other, they insisted on keeping God up in the heavens. They made God responsible for everything, saying ” God did this” and “God did that.” As long as God was the Heavenly Father, they could act as children, and they did.
Even when great teachers came to tell them they were one with God, they were the hands and arms and legs of God, they were the breath of God, they would not grow up, for growing up would mean they would have to change their ways-and they did not want to.
When the sky bulletin came, people flocked to the churches and temples to see what to do. But no one there had an answer, for they, too, had kept God high upon a cloud, referring to God as “up there” or “out there.” It was God who made miracles, they preached. God who made the rules, God who punished, God who had all the power. They, too, were like children and were lost without God.
Years passed, seasons changed, and life on earth changed dramatically when God left the people on earth. There was a great sadness, except for the few who claimed they had felt all along that God dwelt within them. Those people had no sadness, and in fact, quite the opposite occurred. They were secretly relieved that the people stopped calling out God’s name for their reasons to hate and hurt others. Once God disappeared, people stopped fighting over what God meant in the Bible or the Koran. There was no point in fighting over God if God wasn’t even around. If there was no God, there was nobody condemning anyone’s behavior, no more infidels, no reason to take “an eye for an eye.”
People stopped seeking out priests and caliphs, rabbis and ministers, for there was no God for them to mediate. They sought out, instead, the people who were joyful and calm in this time of abandonment, thinking they must know something special and secret to be so happy.
One such person was a woman who sat under a tree in a village.
“How can you be so happy when God has left us?” a villager asked her.
“Only that God who was far away has left,” she answered. “The divine spark inside still remains. It is our breath. That, to me, is God. It is the love within. If I am breathing, I am being breathed by God. For that, I am joyful, for I am not alone.”
The wise woman under the tree counseled people through the day, as did all the wise ones in towns and villages around the world.
They helped people grow up with a view of the Holy One deep within. They passed on secrets about finding the sacred in the sap of a maple, the flow of a river, the majesty of a mountain, and the people, in time, grew reverent toward the earth.
They stopped asking questions like “What is your religion?” or “Have you been saved?” for everyone knew the other was holy and a spark of that Flame they once called God.
People were learning to share their stories, to listen to their hearts, and help each other. They changed their ways, replenished the soil, cleaned the waters, and harnessed the powers of Wind and Sun.
Over time, the people grew up and saw the light. Wars stopped as Allah/God/Yahweh was welcomed home in the hearts of the people.
Once they found God in themselves and each other, the people rejoiced and were glad. They were free at last, bowing in joy to the earth and her creatures. Amen