Friday, December 18, 2009

Thoughts from Quiet Day

Yesterday, I went up to Bishop's Ranch for a Quiet Day, which was absolutely lovely. I realized, as I read Morning Prayer and studied the lections for the day, that since I haven't had any pulpit supply gigs for a while, I haven't had a reason to dig into any Scriptures, and that I missed it. I need to keep that in mind.

The gospel of the day was the story of the 10 maidens waiting with lamps for the bridegroom to arrive. One thing the fabulous Interpreter's Bible (1951) pointed out is that the wise maidens were prepared, not for the worst, but for the best. "They lived, not merely for the moment, but against tomorrow's emergency of joy." I love that phrase: emergency of joy.

I also noted (and am not the first to do so) that despite Matthew reporting that Jesus said, "13Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour," everyone in the parable fell asleep. Sleep is not the problem.

I noted in the psalm one of the offertory sentences that we use in church: Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and make good your vows to the Most High. Which is a bit ironic since the context of the psalm is that God doesn't need your stuff.

I spent much of the rest of the day reading the remaining essays in Jesus Girls, which were by and large very good and truly moving. I especially liked Inventing a Testimony by Melanie Springer Mock, which was very funny while also pointing out how the Evangelical culture "privileges weaknesses of the flesh over those of the spirit;" Feminist-in-Waiting by Kimberly George which begins, "When a personal Lord and Savior was offered me, I thought he sounded appealing for surviving junior high;" and The Slope by Shari MacDonald Strong which ends,

For years, I was warned by church leaders not to question doctrine, not to challenge the patriarchal order. I was told that doing these things would land me on a slippery slope. It turns out they were right. In my thirties, I did lose the faith I had in an angry, patriarchal, puppet-string-maneuvering God--just as they warned I would.

But I've discovered a new faith. A faith in a loving Other that is, inexplicably, simultaneously Out There Somewhere and also within. A faith that has room enough not only for me to believe in God, but for me also to believe in myself. The proverbial slope is, indeed, slippery. But the grass is soft, and it smells green and sweet. The roll down the hill is freeing. And as I lie here at the bottom, looking up at the clouds, for the first time in my life, I feel as if I have a clear view of heaven.

Much for me still to ponder.

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