Gen. 2:18-24; Heb. 1:1-4; 2:5-12; Mark 10: 2-16
May I speak in the name of the Son, to the glory of the Father, in the power of the Holy Spirit. AMEN
“And they become one flesh.”
If this is not a place where tears are understood,
Where do I go to cry?
If this is not a place where my spirits can take wing,
Where do I go to fly?
If this is not a place where my questions can be asked,
Where do I go to seek?
If this is not a place where my feelings can be heard,
Where do I go to speak?
If this is not a place where you’ll accept me as I am,
Where can I go to be?
If this is not a place where I can try to learn and grow,
Where can I be just me?
I haven’t forgotten this poem, A People Place by William Crocker: it was printed out and stuck on the wall of LS 2 in the school where I worked for ten years before coming to test a vocation in CR. LS 2, (unless they’ve knocked it through by now), served as the staff area for the motley group of teaching assistants comprising myself and several others. We were women of a certain age with grown-up children; those with degrees in life from the University thereof and scant interest in living beyond the weekend or the next six weeks’ holidays. We were young men of ambition, befriending the young people and learning with mixed success how to manage their classroom and maximise their learning. We were happy together and sad together for 27 weeks of the year, celebrating achievement and learning to contend with failure, frustration and sometimes privation. We did coffee and we did life; the office and work of human being. And in many ways, that little LS 2 became a covenantal space; an ark for the students and staff who were crammed into it during those precious 190 days of learning.
Week two of teaching and week three of vicar factory. How is it going, I wonder? Have you cried or flown? Are you speaking, finding your voice – in prayer and secret at best – if not in refectory and tutor group perhaps as yet? Can you be here? Are you finding those of whom it might be said, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me; I was upset and they took care of me; I behaved like an eejit for the whole of induction week; I have said my sorrys (or not); I look for the resurrection of relationship and the life of the term to come?
A week of retreat for others of us in this congregation or year n of religious life. Whatever the reason we showed up, we can ask the same creational questions as Crocker today as we seek to amend our lives and be transformed by the comfort of this holy sacrament which unites us all in the body of the one spirit – which allows us all to put on Christ and to receive and develop his mind. We hold him in our hands and uplift his cup of love with our unready hearts, with that saintly hue of unfinished business that is the working out of salvation and the crux of faith seeking understanding.
And if this is not a place – if this is not a covenant of resurrection the place whereby we can be raised in the arms of the son to the heart of the Father – then we merely embellish the too prevalent narrative of a church that is unaware, impenitent and mal-equipped to serve the coming kingdom of Christ, our vocation and common home: that place I can become ‘just me’ because ‘you’re you’.
Jewish-Christian ethics as they’re presented in today’s lessons from Genesis and St. Mark tend to an ecclesial vision, it seems, that is more than simply an environment in which to practise Ubuntu. For if the church we want to see and serve is to be its best people place, we will need to be those who are more and more prepared to put in the work and create from the dust that enfleshed ekklesia foreshadowed in Eden, as Eve enters her complete humanity with Adam and the two know not separateness or divorce, but unity; not nakedness, but the re-creational endowment of the Father, either to other; real weddedness; true marriage. Oneness.
If it is proving a tough gig entering life at CoR or engaging with the spiritual impulses of retreat, then, as difficult as it may be; as painful, this is everything it means to approach the heart of discernment; it is right reception of a kingdom made for little kids: children who fall in and out, get into scrapes and difficulties, who properly expect to be stricken, bound up, recreated and sent off to do it all again: those who grow up in every way into their head; into Christ
Because we are heirs of the triune life of God we are of and through and by one another. A people constituted thus are not readily to look to divorce and schism, but conversely to build the assembly that evermore animating dust with the beautiful mind of Christ, that all relating might be transfigured, and many helped to rise on the wings of faith seeing love breathed into and opened up in and to them more and more.
The community of faith in this place, espoused by such a love as it feeds on the Eucharist day by day, week by week may still witness powerfully to a church grasping to be simpler, humbler and bolder. But it must start and end with the bridegroom’s rule in our minds and hearts and the prayerful self and other-awareness that this fosters. Only then will we be made free in the truth of our interdependence; upbuilt in our weddedness either to other and Christ’s militant Church rise to become the people place we want to see and to serve: the joy of heaven to earth come down.
God grant that I have spoken in his name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. AMEN