Friends, Mothers, and Pastors

18 Jun

Kathryn Hauser’s Reflection for 6 Easter 13 May 2012

Friends, Mothers, and Pastors

Laying down one’s life for one’s friends is actually harder to do than an act of heroism done out of an adrenaline rush.  Once the adrenaline rush has subsided, then life must even out to find equilibrium again.  But when love lays down its life for a friend, the cosmos itself has to readjust the vortices.  The bonds of friendship are thick, forged in the messiness of life’s blood, sweat, tears, baptisms, truth (and lies). (ref Acts 10:47)  Offering support during times of trials is not for sissies.  Friends support out of an internal bond of hutzpah and not just out of obligation. (Luke 11:5-10) The saying is true, “Blood is thicker than water,” and Christ came through both.  And He calls us friends.  He doesn’t (and can’t) command friendship, but He does appoint us to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, fruit borne out of friendship. (Jn 15:16)  “You are my friends if you do what I command.” (v 14)  He is not a drill sergeant.  We’re in partnership on this journey with Him. 

Friends pray for each other.  As individuals we let each other down like the disciples did to Jesus in Gethsemane. (Mt 26:40)  But as a body, the Church prays for her members, doing as a group what individuals cannot complete on their own, just as the disciples could not pray on their own in the Garden before Jesus went to the cross, but as a group we can celebrate the Eucharist which is the fruit. Through prayer the members become more than the sum of their parts.  We have seen this dynamic at work and know it is true.  And as a body, the Church did come together on Thursday, 03 May 2012 in a soft balance of cosmic restoration as we gathered on the National Day of Prayer.  It was like the Church’s own Gethsemane to do as a body what we could not do alone as individuals when Jesus lived on the planet two thousand years ago.  On that Thursday, May 3rd [the Church’s very own Maundy Thursday] a couple hundred people in our town gathered for the National Day of Prayer.  The last set of prayers was for the unity of the Churches.  I gave a cheer!  I didn’t know if I wanted to giggle or cry, as this has been my own prayer for so long.  Then one of the pastors quoted someone who said, “Change a pastor, change a community.  Change a community, change a church.  Change a church, change the world.”  Truly, we must pray for our pastors!  At the closing of our gathering all the pastors present came up on stage and were introduced.  They made an impressive line-up across the stage.  It was nice seeing them hold court.  In the prophetic court, the absence of religious leaders representing the Catholics, Episcopalians, Orthodox, and rabbis was absolutely glaring to me. The absence was on display like Revelation 2 and 3 said would happen.  It was like looking at a living piece of bass-relief art.  The government may change the name of the gathering to the National Day of Reason,[1] but we were gathered to pray reasonably together, however not all the members of the tribes were present at this powwow.  There was nothing that said it was supposed to be a National Day of Evangelical Christian Prayer. God hears His children.  All of them.  In the courts of praise, the last corporate prayer was for the unity of the Churches.  And there are “Seven.” (Rev 1:4-6)

The next day on Friday, 04 May 2012, [the Church’s very own “Good Friday”], I delivered a log of our collective journey between all the Churches and myself to my homies at the archetypal Church of “Laodicea.” (Rev 3:14)  God had answered a prayer voiced in 2007: “I wish God would just kick us in the butt.”  And God did.

On Sunday, 06 May 2012 “Thyatira” (Rev 2:18) took a serious look at the hazards of hypocrisy.

On Monday, 07 May 2012 I felt an expansion of grace by the Holy Spirit.  And God said (really, no joke),

“Jack be nimble, Jack be quick.  Jack jump over the candlestick.”

The Seven Churches ARE the lampstands.

Rev 1:20 The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.”

Laodicea is one star of the Seven Churches and all Seven jumped over the Flame and got burned.  All Seven can still do “Jack,” or not care “Jack” what others think, or they can be the “Jack of all trades” as the Institution has been known to be in the past; they can remain lean in spirit like ‘Jack Sprat’ who was lean in body while his wife could eat no lean and lived only on the fat; or they can tumble down the hill like ‘Jack and Jill’ as they fall into the baptismal font (oh, right, that was to fetch a pail of water); or they could be the ‘Jack-o-lantern’ to the world shining God’s Light through their gourds, or they can be the healing balm to each other like Bacitracin on a fire burn after the wound has been cleansed and cauterized.  God could have planted me at any church’s parking lot, or church school, or anywhere.  But He planted me in a church garden in a real place in a real town with a real priest.  And the other pastors?  How would any one of the other pastors feel if they were in this priest’s shoes?  Are they saying in their hearts, “Thank God it was him and not me?”  People who have the gift of mercy (as this priest has) are often the most tormented by their own gift.  Each one of the pastors has also been tormented by his own gifts.  Our own gifts crucify each one of us.  Each has that solace in common.  God calls us friends; to be friends and with friendship as the suture glue, He commands us to be obedient as friends.  (Jn 15:14)  “Friends don’t let friends drink and drive,” and the Harlot has been drunk on the blood of the saints, (Rev 17:6) but it does not have to remain this way.  True friends would be obedient to Christ for the sake of unity and to glorify God.  We just prayed for unity of the Church at the National Day of Prayer.  My prayer is that the pastors would rally together and bring each other the mercy each pastor of the Seven Churches is longing for.  Each has been as much a prisoner of protocol and Establishment with their own hands (and tongues) being tied as everyone else’s was tied.  The least they could do for each other is ‘do lunch’ or shoot some hoops together.  How else can the pastors “change a pastor to change a community to change a Church to change the world”?  Go play as friends!

Now I want to make it absolutely clear to the readership that there are two specific messages in this Reflection regarding “laying down one’s life for one’s friends.”  One message is to the “stars of the angels of the seven churches:” Go play!  Make friends.  Be honest.  Forgive.  Make peace.  Practice what you preach.  The other message is to the flocks of the Seven Churches: Leave the boys alone to “find their hooves,” as my best friend would say.  Christ, my Husband, really IS on His way, riding in on His white horse Faithful and True, (Rev 19:11) and the armies of heaven are following Him. (Rev 19:14)  We all need to “get back in our hooves,” to be anchored in our relationships with Christ, to be prepared within ourselves for every good work He asks us to do, so that when called upon, we can join Him in His Kingdom projects.  (2 Tim 2:21)  Flock, please connect to your own bliss with your own gifts flowing from your own heart and “do your own who.”  That way, when the pastors come back to you and voice a need, the community will be there and ready to meet it.  If the flocks’ attentions (and intentions) are on the pastors and not on Christ, then the flock will not be ready.  Jesus told us to preach the Good News of the Kingdom (Mt 24:14) not man’s news of his own micro-kingdoms.  We must stand taller and taller in Christ through the Holy Spirit. (Acts 11:17)  What the flock can do for the pastors as they go make friends is to pray for them; pray for all pastors. 

On this Mother’s Day, the collective Church can learn a thing or two from our mothers to help us be good friends to our pastors and to each other and thereby change the world.  To borrow from a recent devotional from the pastor of the Church of “Sardis” who wrote an ode to mothers, I offer this ode to all pastors.  As a whole body everyone can:

  • Gently help our pastors to remember things they might forget.
  • Nurture them to help them believe in themselves when others might doubt.
  • Help them to schedule, take, and keep their Sabbath days holy. (Dt 5:12)
  • Help them with their relationships, giving special respect among youth and elders.
  • Love them with tenderness as they often put the church’s needs before their own.
  • Root for them, be there for them, support them, and love them.
  • Be merciful and kind to them.
  • If necessary, take them by the hand to lead them out of trouble.
  • Pray for them trusting God to protect them.
  • Breathe their names in prayer as our mothers would breathe ours.
  • Encourage them to rest.
  • Keep them believing, keep encouraging, keep loving them through good times and bad.
  • Keep them focused on the Kingdom of God, so that nothing can deter them (not even themselves.)
  • Forgive them and show them how to see the best in people as you see the best in them.
  • Give them a special place of honor in your heart.
  • Listen to their counsel.
  • Appreciate all they have done for us.  Jesus did call them “stars.” (Rev 1:20)  Love on them.  I know I do.

Prayer: Father, please help us to remember all of our mamas, pastors, and friends, and to remember that humans are not the enemy; the Rebel is.  Lord, may we love one another as You have loved us.  Lord, I also include myself.  An anchoress is like a Church Mama.  Help us to love our mamas of all varieties.  Help us to remember our bliss in You, Lord, and to go play in Your Name.  Amen.

 

6 Easter                     13 May 2012                                                 Gospel: John 15:9-17

Acts 10:44-48
10:44 While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word.

10:45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles,

10:46 for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter said,

10:47 “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”

10:48 So he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they invited him to stay for several days.

Psalm 98
98:1 O sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things. His right hand and his holy arm have gotten him victory.

98:2 The LORD has made known his victory; he has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations.

98:3 He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.

98:4 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises.

98:5 Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody.

98:6 With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD.

98:7 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who live in it.

98:8 Let the floods clap their hands; let the hills sing together for joy

98:9 at the presence of the LORD, for he is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.

1 John 5:1-6
5:1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child.

5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.

5:3 For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome,

5:4 for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith.

5:5 Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

5:6 This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one that testifies, for the Spirit is the truth.

John 15:9-17
15:9 As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.

15:10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.

15:11 I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

15:12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

15:13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

15:14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.

15:15 I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.

15:16 You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name.

15:17 I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.

 

 

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