Isaiah 43: 16-21
Thus says YHWH,
who makes a way in the sea,
a path in the mighty waters,
who brings out chariot and horse, army and warrior;
they lie down, they cannot rise, they are extinguished, quenched like a wick:
Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old.
I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
The wild animals will honor me,
the jackals and the ostriches;
for I give water in the wilderness,
rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
the people whom I formed for myself
so that they might declare my praise.
Lent 2010: A Theology of Enough
Our church is filled with jackals and ostriches: the wild animals drawn to a stream in the desert. I woke up with this Isaiah passage in my mind and heart this morning. And before I was even awake I thought– this church is a river of life in a parched land.
Laura Fregin, the previous pastor at Church in the Cliff, used to say that our church was like a well. And people come to dip their toe in the water one last time before they decide to give up on organized religion. It is a lot of responsibility to be a healing station for people searching for a place to bring their whole selves: intellect, artistic sensibility, sexuality, and even their doubts and disbelief.
It reminds me that it is so important how we speak to and receive visitors. How we follow up on people that drop away. And that we hold people tenderly who are in the very healthy process of deconstructing and reconstructing the Big Truths. Honestly, deconstruction can make people hard to love. They (we) can be prickly and cranky.
There is a reason for this. The soul is a wild animal.
Today’s Isaiah passage reminds me that God provides the nourishment for us all, even the wild ones. God gives water in the wilderness, makes rivers to flow through the desert. And out of this water comes life.
So our job is not to spoon feed each other so much as to honor the wildness in our peers and to trust that the Spirit is somehow providing for them, providing for us all. How to honor each other’s wild bits?
Move slowly, speak softly. Sit and wait, and be patient with each other.
These are all really good Lenten practices too. And just one more: be patient with your own untamed needs and desires. Isaiah reminds us that the rivers of water are intended for even the most dangerous and outlandish of God’s creations.
God is always about doing the new thing. Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I see it in so many of the lives of this community: individuals showing up to their work, their relationships, their journey with integrity and grace. I felt it also this past week when we announced that we are welcoming a new baby into the Amory-Pinkerton clan.
You know, in a lot of churches the pastor is sort of seen as public property. Even in the church I was part of in Boston which was progressive and artsy, I remember hearing people grumble when the pastor got pregnant saying “it is not really a good time in the life of the church…” or “this will distract her from our work…”
But here, with this group of people, I trust that I am being tutored in how to live an authentic life. I sense that this community wants fullness and goodness for me just as I want it for all of you. And God can blend all that we are called to be: in my case mother, pastor, writer, organizer, dreamer even when the world would suggest these roles are incompatible.
Somehow, we are managing to be Church, in a church, and that is no small accomplishment. In a culture which often defines church as a building or a group with a shared set of assumptions or beliefs, I give thanks to YHWH for this place where our souls can show up, with all their wild desires, and be tended to by community and given some cool water to drink.
Our church is filled with jackals and ostriches and you are Enough.
Peace of Christ this day,
Join us tonight for baked potatoes, salas and ice cream at the new ‘horsey house’ aka Wes, Teri, and Kristin’s home here in Oak Cliff. 830 N. Bishop, 75208. In honor of St. Patrick’s day there will be baked potato’s, some wacky Irish tunes courtesy of Trinity River Folk and a festive atmosphere. Kids and Adults all welcome!