Sunday, June 24, 2012

John 6 beginning at the 16th verse...

The text this week takes us again into and on top of the image of water.  This time, Jesus walks on it.  A preacher this morning alluded to God's timeliness based on Isaiah 30:16:
Therefore the Lord waits to be 
gracious to you;
therfore he will rise up to show 
mercy to you.
For the LORD is a God of justice;
blessed are all those who wait
for him.

In the johannine story, Jesus' disciples are rowing in what quickly becomes the dark.  Have you ever canoed or swam or rowed in the dark?  What was that like?

Very strange, the next phrase, "and Jesus had not yet come to them." (v.17) or "Jesus had not joined them."
Did they know that he would walk on the water?  Were they waiting for him?  Was Jesus waiting for the disciples?

What does it mean that the Lord waits for us and we wait upon the LORD?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

a poem

For Marriage
in Light of the Tree
Instead, think of yourselves as the land, and in particular this tree down below us, to the South.  

The tree is committed; where else would the roots and branches go?

Grounded, rooted, dependent on one another and the community that shapes you. 

The hospitality, the generosity that will be required of you toward the other is like the tree before you. 

See, with the mountain vista and the immaculate vineyard, one might miss the tree. 

She branches out and she’s thickly interwoven as limbs and branches, claiming the land, casting shadows.

He is subtle and understated, yet in a harsh storm, resilient and not easily uprooted. 

He doesn’t shy away from the tumult of the storm, knows the rains that come with the wind is her lifeblood. 

Without the rain he cannot survive, but she will make do with a drought.

He will search among the scarcity when the land has little to provide for months and months on end.

She stretches limbs to the heavens, while he dances a cadence giving thanks for the sun.

They will be bonded below the ground through intricate roots, as the tips of leaves extend eternally.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Music and the American Tobacco Trail

The woman at the well in John Four, a Samaritan, finds Jesus at Jacob's old well.  I'm listening to

and thinking about Ken Burn's, Civil War.  I was shaped for history and the land by watching this long (maybe 12 hour) documentary many times over as a boy.  I would listen to the songs, like Jacob's Ladder, and let them seep into my bones.  I cried out for the men who lost lives, shed blood, on beautiful land like Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Manassas.  The songs and stories of The Civil War shaped me for the careful study of history in high school and college.

Being shaped for history can be quite similar to being shaped for theology and ministry.  We are a tradition-ed people, those of us who follow Jesus.  We at the Tobacco Trail Church/Community, we remember that the land where we worship was once a railroad.  A railroad of Tobacco.  A railroad for progress.  A railroad for lung cancer.  A railroad for bringing crops to the big barn and the manufacturing plant.  A railroad that divided black from white.  A railroad that provided jobs.  A railroad that transported musicians.

Blind Boy Fuller used to play his guitar in the ragtime era, that of the 1930s along this trail and in the tobacco barn like the one some of us might run near, up by the Lucky Strike Tower (on Sunday, 6/13/12 630pm).  When you run to American Tobacco it is not too much to imagine Blind Boy Fuller scratchin out a tune, sliding across the top of a six string, and settin' on a wall wailin' out a song like "You Never Can Tell" or "Step It Up and Go."

Music by all accounts is a tradition handed down over time.  Innovated from one hand and voice to another.  Thelonius Monk, another gem born in NC, played the piano in an unorthodox and genius way.  He bent the keys.  Sometimes he would break from playing and just dance a bit before reclaiming his seat.  He was unpredictable, but many wanted to play with him if only they could keep up.  Even more wanted to listen, to dance with Brother Theolonius.

That's how it is with Jesus.

What about this land in Galilee?  What are we to say about the land that Jesus traveled back to, his home, his place of encounter with the woman at the well?  What are we to say of this land in Durham called the American Tobacco Trail...

The land here is mostly flat because trains do better on flat lands.  Now they shouldn't be in a flood plain and they shouldn't be up on a hill unless there is no other way to go.  No, railroads should find the even ground.

The ground of the American Tobacco Trail has not felt so even, predictable, calm and gently rolling as of late.  Young men have attacked pedestrians and cyclists at near the 1.75 mile mark and about the 2.75 mile marker in the last month.  It brings me great sadness that anyone would attack others on the American Tobacco Trail.

I feel protective of the trail, perhaps overly protective.  You see, I am the shepherd of a flock, and that flock includes not only the people, but the land and in this case the trail.  Why are you hurting people on the land?  I cry out, why are you hurting people on the land?

What can you and I do to make our community safer, cleaner, more accessible?  How do we free the users of the trail from fear?  We should pray about these things.