End of the World?

16 Dec

Kathryn Hauser’s Reflection for 3 Advent 16 Dec 2012

End of the World?

I have often made reference in my writings to how I park and pray and write.  I have a favorite parking spot at an abandoned library near a public park.  The old, abandoned library building is currently being leased to a non-profit public education organization, and they use the building seasonally rather than daily.  On one side of the building there is a little alcove where I have been parking and praying every day since 01 August 2007, the summer before God called me on Epiphany (06 January 2008).  You rang, God?  (By way of clarification, Epiphany is when He called; I accepted the marriage proposal on 14 May 2008.)  All this is really nothing new.  I’ve written about this.  What gets rather old is that every new cop (paid or volunteer) on the police force has to check me out, give me the grill of questions and a safety lecture, run a background check on my license, and interrogate me with blinding light in my eyes regardless of the hour.  It is inconceivable to the world that someone would not pray and write at home when they obviously have a place, as it so states on my ID.  I cannot explain or defend my need for quiet solitude to anyone.  I just know that for me it is a basic need, as basic as food and water for survival.  All this is still really nothing new.  What is new is that in this last week the latest newbie cop to the area stopped by.  He did his grill, ran the background check, and droned his pedantic lecture.  He interrogated me by glare of power flashlight on my purpose despite hearing me tell him that I pray and write, and he could see evidence of writing notes, binders, books, and Bibles strewn all over my passenger seat.  Even in all this drama there was really nothing terribly new.  The cincher power play of Twist and Grind was that Newbie said I was not allowed to park in THAT spot ever again because it was not “Designated Parking.”  I had to park between the painted lines [!] in the actual parking lot, as this is still city-owned public property. He gave me the pedantic grill of the reasons not to be there: homeless drifters, druggies, winos, teenagers, potheads, graffiti taggers, … “And ARE YOU SLEEPING IN YOUR CAR??????  Why do you have a sleeping bag back in your backseat?”  [Shine that flashlight in the eyes for full interrogation effect.  Guantanamo Bay in the parking lot!  Who needs waterboarding to torture the little mystic!?]  I tried to explain that I pray, write, rest, share the journey, and then rest some more.  He was impervious with his right to be Right.  I suddenly felt like it was a Crime to PRAY.  My head knew the Truth, but my heart struggled with gripping doubt.  Later I pulled out the words from today’s Old Testament readings from Zephaniah for comfort.  Newbie doesn’t know I’ve been parking and praying there for FIVE YEARS!!!  Anyway, the long and short of it is that I truly, very truly, now have no physical place to dock for safe harbor and put down anchor for my soul.

Obviously Newbie didn’t value my need for solitude to hang out with God.  He was only concerned with my following his legalistic rules.  Needless to say I have complied with his rules and not parked in my beloved solitude spot, even when there has been no one around.  I will not give energy to that spirit of Control.  And truly I would be feeding that spirit if I demanded my own way and willfully went back to what makes me feel secure.  I do not have a new spot to park and pray.  God did offer me a different location, but the same issue will inevitably arise there as it did at my old solitude spot, and the harassment will continue.  So for me, this feels like the “End of the World.”  And where is the Church?

I asked God the same question that various groups asked John the Baptist in today’s Gospel lesson: “What should we do?”  We are to bear fruits worthy of repentance. (Lk 3:8)  These fruits are revealed by sharing (v 11), by being fair (v 13), and by being honest, which connects with satisfaction (v 14).  When we share, are fair, and know our honesty has brought satisfaction within our being and the space between us both is honored and where all sides get a chance to be heard, then there is room in our hearts to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit and of “fire” (v 16).  It is a holy fire.  It is a holy passion.  This passionate “fire” evokes a passionately focused response in this divine relationship.  Sharing is the first in the sequence.  Sharing is also necessary in the rhythm of a respectable discussion.  First we share, then we look at what is fair and not fair, then we contribute honest feelings about the issue, and we can feel a sense of inner satisfaction once the feelings are out there on the table without fear of being judged.  (The feelings themselves must be honored and not judged; the issues are then judged once the feelings have been given voice.) 

As we approach the Mayan Calendar’s version of the “End of the World” coming up this Friday (21 December 2012), I toyed with the word “world.”  Right now there seems to be no distinction between the world and the Church-as-Institution.  The Church herself has been talking about the “End of the Church Age.”  So it would make sense that God would shower a Divine Down Pour upon the world on Friday, ending this Institution of iron mixed with clay (Dan 2:41-43) in all her religiosity.  It would be the beginning of the Age of Accountability.

Jeremiah 5:14 Therefore this is what the Lord God Almighty says:

“Because the people have spoken these words,
    I will make My words in your mouth a fire
    and these people the wood it consumes.

Please come Holy Spirit!  Reveal Your own power (Lk 3:16), so that Your own message of good news can be proclaimed to the people! (v 18)  Lord, I join John the Baptist in saying I am not worthy to untie the thongs of Your sandals. (v 16)  I lay Your beloved Church at Your feet, knowing that You are most kind and generous.  Let Your gentleness be known to everyone, for You are near.  (Ph 4:5)  May we all draw upon Your waters from the wells of salvation with joy as You save us from ourselves. (Isa 12:3)  May we say today how we give thanks to You as we call upon Your name, making known Your deeds among the nations, and proclaiming that Your name is exalted. (v 4)  Help us to let go of the old “world” and to take hold of You, Lord.  You are the Royal Zion, our Dignified Heart, and we are in Your midst, O Holy One of Israel. (v 6)

3 Advent          16 Dec 2012                                       Gospel: Luke 3:7-18

Zephaniah 3:14-20
3:14 Sing aloud, O daughter Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem!

3:15 The LORD has taken away the judgments against you, he has turned away your enemies. The king of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall fear disaster no more.

3:16 On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands grow weak.

3:17 The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing

3:18 as on a day of festival. I will remove disaster from you, so that you will not bear reproach for it.

3:19 I will deal with all your oppressors at that time. And I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth.

3:20 At that time I will bring you home, at the time when I gather you; for I will make you renowned and praised among all the peoples of the earth, when I restore your fortunes before your eyes, says the LORD.

Isaiah 12:2-6
12:2 Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the LORD GOD is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation.

12:3 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

12:4 And you will say in that day: Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known his deeds among the nations; proclaim that his name is exalted.

12:5 Sing praises to the LORD, for he has done gloriously; let this be known in all the earth.

12:6 Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

Philippians 4:4-7
4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.

4:5 Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.

4:6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

4:7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Luke 3:7-18
3:7 John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

3:8 Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.

3:9 Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

3:10 And the crowds asked him, “What then should we do?”

3:11 In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.”

3:12 Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, “Teacher, what should we do?”

3:13 He said to them, “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.”

3:14 Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what should we do?” He said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.”

3:15 As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah,

3:16 John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

3:17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

3:18 So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.

 

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