Archive - Mar 10, 2018

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Divine Urban Renewal: Rebuilding the Community of Priests of the Torn Curtain and Broken Chalice

I woke up this morning from a disturbing dream. I was at some large conference and I was supposed to be recognized for something I had done; it was related to investigative reporting, or something like that. Yet I had a ground-hog day like foreshadowing of what was going to occur. It was a setup. The people who were scheduled to acknowledge me were actually agents of some evil regime I had exposed. Instead, they were going to assassinate me. I managed to slip out the back and drive out of town, ending up hiding in a hotel a hundred miles away.

I’m not sure what underlies that dream. As I tried to shake off the sleep and fear I checked in on Facebook. A friend had posted a link to an article in the New York Times, A Quiet Exodus: Why Black Worshipers Are Leaving White Evangelical Churches. I read the article and thought of a couple other articles I’ve recently read: White Christians are now a minority of the U.S. population, survey says and Gay United Methodist pastor in Clifton on trial – again.

Yesterday, a friend of mine livestreamed The Rev. David Meredith celebrating communion with his supporters after the trial yesterday. During the communion, Rev. Meredith spoke about the broken communion chalice of the United Methodist Church as it struggles how to be in communion with the LGBTQIA community.

As I thought about the broken communion chalice, I thought of Holy Week and Jesus’ confrontations with the religious leaders of the day which led to the crucifixion. The verse from Matthew 27:51 came to mind, “At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom”.

Recently, in spiritual direction, I identified as a priest of the torn curtain. Perhaps it can better be said as a priest of the torn curtain and broken chalice.

On the surface, this may sound pretty bleak, but underneath all of this is hope. Some of this hope was reflected in a bible study with my friends from Andover Newton last Thursday. We were discussing Isaiah 58, those wonderful verses that start,

Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?

and continue on to

Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

We were reminded that this was a text written after the Jewish people returned from the Babylonian captivity to the destroyed city of Jerusalem, to start repairing those broken walls and damaged streets. One person asked if it were possible that we could be those doing urban renewal in the city of God today. I hope so. I think of the articles I’ve shared, and how desperately we need this divine urban renewal. Hopefully, more soon...

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