Sunday, February 17, 2008

What are you made of?

There are three people on my staff at church (I'm the music director): one is organist, the other two nurture our youth and children's worship program. I'm grateful for them all today, as well as our lovely preacher; worship was full of grace. The kids' choir sang all the verses of "Children of the Heavenly Father" as their anthem and there was not a dry eye in the house. It's not the sentimental aspect that's most important here (though it's impossible to ignore the way music functions as connective tissue with our dearly departed), but that those kids will have this idea in their heads for the rest of their lives:

Children of the heavenly Father
safely in his bosom gather
nestling bird nor star in heaven
such a refuge ne'er was given.

It's been a difficult week; many of my loved ones have been in dark moods--a lot of hurt feelings and anger in the aftermath of one person's unkindness and rather bad behavior. Weirdly, that's the story of both my workplaces this week. People are upset and sort of shocked, I think, at a surprisingly deep level. There is a way in which each situation suggests that something is acutely wrong in our shared orbits. Unnerving. It's easy, at that point, to want God to intervene and just, well, fix it, which leads to a very short slide into theodicy--"Why doesn't God DO something about this? People are getting hurt here, and it's so unjust--how can a loving, just God STAND it?"

Actually, I don't believe God can stand injustice. And I think that God feels the pain along with us whenever we hurt one another. But that doesn't mean that God just jumps in and rearranges the furniture of our lives; that's for us to do. And so we're given the chance to participate in God's grace.

Though he giveth or he taketh
God his children ne'er forsaketh;
his the loving purpose solely
to preserve them, pure and holy.

My thanks to the furniture movers in both of these places, who have acted with grace and good sense in the face of the attempted unmaking of grace. Blessed are you who create peace in your midst (thank you, Velveteen Rabbi, for that translation from the Hebrew!). It's a mark of God's grace that the peacemakers are present with us even as we have to work through our own very human cycles of grief, anger, and hurt...into the place from which it's possible to move back into the light.

In the children's sermon today, the kids were asked what they'd like to ask Jesus if he were standing in front of them. My favorite question became the title for this post--it's delicious! A little girl wanted to ask Jesus, "What are you made of?" What indeed...if this weekend's experiences (deep conversation with a wise friend on Friday, a hilarious dinner with new friends last night, and this morning's worship service) are representative of Christ, I know the answer, or at least part of it.

Neither life nor death shall ever
from the Lord his children sever;
unto them his grace he showeth,
and their sorrows all he knoweth.

What is Jesus made of?
Grace made human...again and again and again.

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