Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Rearranging the furniture

John 2: 13-22
New Ark United Church of Christ, Newark, DE
March 4, 2018



       


         “Rearranging the furniture”. I did that a lot in college and in seminary. Not so much now, unless our family is moving from one state to another. I found that phrase in a prayer by Methodist minister John van de Laar that I read online:



Truth be told, Jesus,
There are lots of tables that need overturning
    in our lives;

Beneath the veneer of respectability
  the tidy rows and neat regulations
    hide dark addictions and angry judgements
      hungry greeds and heartless rejections

We know the pain—and so do those around us—
   of keeping up the façade;
What a relief it would be to have it all
   upset, smashed, scattered, destroyed

So, perhaps, Jesus, today you could pay us a visit
  and help us to radically rearrange
    the furniture of our lives

         




         
          Jesus drove the moneychangers and the dove and animal vendors out of the temple because they were in the Court of the Gentiles, a space reserved for non-Jews, for all nations to gather, to pray and worship. Space isn’t sacred in and of itself but sacred because of what we do there, how we behave in that space, how we care for one another, how we care for that space. Jesus was the original Occupy Wall Street; he was a protest movement of one citizen of the Beloved Community, the kin-dom of God; Gentile Lives Matter.



         
         Whenever, wherever there is power, there are those who will put up barriers and walls to protect it; laws to codify it; fears to enshrine it; politics to control it; money to bankroll it; tradition to maintain it. And it is privilege that allows us to take it all for granted and tells us this is the way things have been and should be, world without end, amen. And when we do this, the seeds of revolution and liberation get planted.



        Gandhi, along with 80 or so trusted volunteers, marched 240 miles to the sea to make salt, which was against British law; over 60,000 people were arrested as result of this protest. He called for days of prayer and fasting and brought Britain’s colonial infrastructure to a halt. In 1947, India and Pakistan gained independence.

         Martin Luther King Jr, along with 200,000 other people, marched on Washington, as well as Selma and Birmingham. President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act in 1965 and in 1968 the Civil Rights Act into law.

        In 1989, 320,000 protesters from East and West Germany brought down the Berlin Wall and united a nation.

         From the mid-19th to the early 20th centuries, generations of women fought for the vote. They obstructed traffic, picketed the White House, and even burned Woodrow Wilson in effigy. They were verbally harassed, beaten, and force fed in psychiatric facilities when they went on a hunger strike. Women got the vote in 1920 with the passage of the 19th amendment.

        The Stonewall riots in 1969 were the catalyst for LGBT rights and the marriage equality movement, which became law in 2015.

        On March 14, students, teachers, administrators, and allies around our nation will walk out of their schools for 17 minutes for gun law reform. On March 24 millions will March for Our Lives in Washington DC and around the country.


         
         Power and public space are to be shared and accessible to all. The real power, the most sacred space is within each of us, no matter who we are. “The kin-dom of God is within you.” Jesus declared his own body to be a temple, like our own bodies—the space in which the holy can always be encountered. The challenge has always been, how can we the people move out of each other’s way and yet still be interdependent, connected, in community—that unshakable, unbreakable covenant of being human together—and all of it is holy, sacred: the intersection of human/divine work, mystery, creativity, imagination in harmony and unity with the earth and all living things.

       
Rearranging the furniture on a sinking ship


         The season of Lent is a time when we consider our own barriers and walls between us and God, the mystery, the sacred; how we’ve become disconnected from ourselves and each other and this world. How does Jesus need to rearrange the furniture in our lives? What needs to be smashed and scattered to make a space within us? How does this piece of furniture, the Table, enable us to reconnect, to clear a path, to turn toward what is good and holy and true? And yet this Table also reminds us of the ableist barriers and cisgender bathroom walls, of all the stumbling blocks we continue to put in the way of others, that we’ve neglected to remove, the power we’ve enshrined; the ways we have betrayed and deserted Jesus and his ways of justice and peace, that all people would have an abundant, joyful life. Where will you be when the revolution comes? Because it’s already here.



We know the pain—and so do those around us—
   of keeping up the façade;
What a relief it would be to have it all
   upset, smashed, scattered, destroyed

So, perhaps, Jesus, today you could pay us a visit
  and help us to radically rearrange
    the furniture of our lives

Amen.

No comments:

Post a Comment