Corona Sabbath 11 Pentecost Reflection Text

Greetings and welcome to Corona Sabbath.  This is one of the ways the church is endeavoring to offer spiritual support during these challenging days of COVID-19.   We plan to continue to post these weekly until we are able to meet again in person for worship.  We appreciate your feedback and suggestions.

We start by listening to the story of Pentecost. Pentecost was a Jewish festival 50 days after Passover.  It was a celebration of the giving of the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai.  It was also a harvest festival associated with the first harvest of the planting season.  Many people from many different communities and countries came to Jerusalem for this festival.  In the Pentecost story in Acts, we are told of about 3,000 people becoming part of the Jesus community, joining the church, if you will, that day.  It was seen as a harvest of souls.

We listen to Acts 2:1-21:

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they all met in one room.  Suddenly they heard what sounded like a violent, rushing wind from heaven; the noise filled the entire house in which they were sitting.  Something appeared to them that seemed like tongues of fire; these separated and came to rest on the head of each one.  They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as she enabled them.

Now there were devout people living in Jerusalem from every nation under heaven, and at this sound they all assembled.  But they were bewildered to hear their native languages being spoken.  They were amazed and astonished:  “Surely all of these people speaking are Galileans!  How does it happen that each of us hears these words in our native tongue?  We are Parthians, Medes and Elamites, people from Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya around Cyrene, as well as visitors from Rome – all Jews, or converts to Judaism – Cretans and Arabs, too; we hear them preaching, each in our own language, about the marvels of God!”

All were amazed and disturbed.  They asked each other, “What does this mean?”  But others said mockingly, “They’ve drunk too much new wine.”

Then Peter stood up with the Eleven and addressed the crowd:  “Women and men of Judea, and all you who live in Jerusalem!  Listen to what I have to say!  These people are not drunk as you think – it’s only nine o’clock in the morning!  No, it ’s what Joel the prophet spoke of:

‘In the days to come –
it is our God who speaks –
I will pour out my Spirit
on all humankind.
Your daughters and sons will prophesy,
your young people will see visions,
and your elders will dream dreams.
Even on the most insignificant of my people,
both women and men,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.
And I will display wonders
in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below:
blood, fire, and billowing smoke.
The sun will be turned into darkness
and the moon will become blood
before the coming of the
great and sublime day of our God.
And all who call upon the name
of our God will be saved.’

[pause]

Today we celebrate the birthday of the church.  The festival of Pentecost is remembered as the starting point when the remnant of followers of Jesus found themselves drawn together and receiving the energizing presence of Divine Love which compelled them to boldly take up the ministry of Jesus where it was left off in the aftermath of the crucifixion.  We trace the existence of our church and every church back to this story.

I am a PK.  My father was a pastor and our family was immersed in the church, though we weren’t baptist!  My life growing up was shaped by the church – activities, values, world view, relationships, lifestyle – it was all oriented around  the church.  And I have wonderful memories of childhood, family life, and growing up.

In my second year of college, I felt the call to ministry.  This happened as I was walking back to my dorm after the Sunday morning service at the Wellesley Congregational United Church of Christ which I attended each week.  So, even in college, I was still very much in the church.  And I did go into the ministry.  So, more church.  I really can say that the church has shaped my entire life. And I am not sorry.  I don’t regret it.  I am grateful.

Because of the way the church has shaped my life, I find myself profoundly disturbed by the senseless killing of George Floyd who was suffocated by police while handcuffed earlier this week in Minneapolis.  My feelings are also probably  influenced by the fact that I grew up in Minneapolis in the 70’s when the schools were being desegregated.  Frankly, I cannot imagine that something like this would have happened then.  Those salt of the earth, supremely decent Minnesotans simply would not have carried out such a heinous killing.  Things have changed.  And it is disturbing.

So, I am thinking of breath.  The word for wind in Hebrew is the same word for breath and spirit.  When the wind broods over the face of the waters in Genesis, it is wind/breath/spirit.  When God breathes into the human creature, it is wind/breath/spirit.  When Jesus breathes peace on the disciples, it is wind/breath/spirit.

Wind/breath/spirit is the sacred life force.  The presence of God.  And in the killing of George Floyd, this wind/breath/spirit was stopped, ended.  It is a horrifying desecration.  A defilement of the holy.  It is a deplorable act against God, against Love, and against Life.

So, we must pray that we will allow the wind/breath/spirit to rise up in us, to enliven us, to enspirit us, to boldly call forth and create a society that honors the sacredness, the holiness, of EVERY SINGLE LIFE.  We must bring about an anti racist community, and country, and world.  The wind/breath/spirit in us has the power to do this.  We can do it.  And we must.  Do it.

That is why the church exists.  To be a powerful, life-changing expression of the presence of Divine Love in the world.  That’s what the Pentecost story is all about.  If the church isn’t doing this, then does it matter if the church declines and dies?  There will be a remnant.  It will be where the wind/breath/spirit is pure and strong.  And life giving.  May we be that church!

You are invited to say with me the name of the person killed by the police in Minneapolis this week – George Floyd.   Amen.

[pause]

As you listen to the music from Hilton which follows, you are invited to notice the thoughts and feelings and that arise for you.

(Click HERE if you wish to see the post containing the video of this text.)

Corona Sabbath 10 Reflection Text

Greetings and welcome to Corona Sabbath. This is one of the ways the church is endeavoring to offer spiritual support during these challenging days of COVID-19. We plan to continue to post these weekly until we are able to meet again in person for worship. We appreciate your feedback and suggestions.

[pause]

We start by listening to a scripture lesson from the book of Acts17:22-30.

Then Paul stood up before the council of the Areopagus and delivered this address: “Citizens of Athens, I note that in every respect you are scrupulously religious. As I walked about looking at your shrines, I even discovered an altar inscribed, ‘To an Unknown God.’ Now, what you are worshiping in ignorance I intend to make known to you.
“For the God who made the world and all that is in it, the Sovereign of heaven and earth, doesn’t live in sanctuaries made by human hands, and isn’t served by humans, as if in need of anything. No! God is the One who gives everyone life, breath – everything. From one person God created all of humankind to inhabit the entire earth, and set the time for each nation to exist and the exact place where each nation should dwell. God did this so that human beings would seek, reach out for, and perhaps find the One who is not really far from any of us – the One in whom we live and move and have our being. As one of your poets has put it, ‘We too are God’s children.’

If we are in fact children of God, then it’s inexcusable to think that the Divine Nature is like an image of gold, silver or stone – an image formed by the art and thought of mortals. God, who overlooked such ignorance in the past, now commands all people everywhere to reform their lives.

[pause]

To an unknown God. As we are told in this story, people have a natural pull toward the holy, the transcendent, to a reality beyond yet within ourselves, and some call this God. In our tradition, this God is not unknown. Yes, this God is characterized by mystery, but this God is not unknown to us.

In the Christian tradition, we believe that we come to know something of this greater reality through Jesus. A reality of love, acceptance, forgiveness, awe, wonder, and mystery. In story after story, Jesus demonstrates what life is like when you revere the holiness in each and every person. In all of life. Jesus specializes in showing us a God that is concerned about all people, especially those made poor, those who are sick, those who are abused, and those who are ignored. In Jesus we see not just “do no harm” but do the good. Make the effort, take the initiative. To help. To love. To care. With words, with deeds, and with prayers. So that our joy and the joy of the world may be complete.

In a social Zoom gathering that I was part of a couple of weeks ago, we were commenting about this corona time. Yes, time. It’s gotten out of kilter, have you noticed? What day of the week is it? Is your sleep disrupted? What time of day is it? Do you want to go back to bed at 11:00 am not pm? And do you get up to finish a project at 3 am? Yup. Time is askew these days. Thankfully my week is anchored by the labyrinth walk on Wednesdays and being at church on Sunday mornings. If I didn’t have that, I know I would be even more disoriented as far as time is concerned.

One of my friends on the Zoom call commented that it feels like Groundhog Day. That’s the 1993 movie with Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. The main character is a cynical weather reporter who is covering Ground Hog Day, in Punxsutawney, PA. He gets stuck in a time warp. The same day repeats and repeats and repeats until he gets it right.

The term ‘Groundhog Day’ has come to be part of common conversation. We know what we are saying when we say Groundhog Day. The same thing – over and over, and over. Wikipedia describes the Groundhog Day concept as a “monotonous, unpleasant, and repetitive situation.” Let me say that again. A “monotonous, unpleasant, and repetitive situation.” [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groundhog_Day_(film)]

Time issues aside, this Corona pandemic is actually exactly like Groundhog Day. A ‘monotonous, unpleasant, and repetitive situation.’ The death rate is greater among people of color. Exactly. Just like it has been. Largely due to economic and health care issues. Which are the consequences of racism. People of Asian ethnicity in this country are afraid not only of the virus but of being targeted by violence during this pandemic. Racism. Racism. Racism. We are seeing the ugly, ‘monotonous, unpleasant, repetitive situation’ of racism play out over and over and over again.

The Corona situation has led to increasingly inhumane treatment of immigrants and those
seeking refuge in this country. Yes, this ties into racism. But we in the US like to think of ourselves as a welcoming country, a melting pot, since most people of the dominant group are descendants of immigrants. But this country also has a history of treating immigrants, outsiders, people who come from other places, as ‘less than.’ Immigrants have been tolerated when labor is needed. And taken advantage of. And treated in an inhumane manner. I know this from my own family. My mother’s parents came as immigrants from Germany, the evil empire of much of the 20th century. And my father’s parents came from the lazy, crime ridden reaches of Italy. In fact, my Italian grandfather, ran a mission in New York City helping immigrants from all countries as they faced abuse and discrimination. So today we see the anti immigrant bigotry of the past repeating again. The same “monotonous, unpleasant, and repetitive situation” is playing out again during these corona days.

And, we see what we have seen before, the inadequacy of the health care system in this country. People with low incomes get less healthcare or no healthcare. Period. It might be somewhat better than it has been but the same syndrome is playing itself out again. As one cartoon portrayed it, You want to get tested for COVID-19? Spit in the face of a rich person. With healthcare tied to employment and unemployment reaching record highs, how are people supposed to access healthcare? Instead of trying to buy votes by providing people with a check for $1200, I would have preferred that the government give every person in this country universal access to world class healthcare. Period. No exceptions. Instead, we see the same “monotonous, unpleasant, and repetitive situation” playing out, yet again around healthcare.

And then, who is at risk in this crisis? The essential workers. Yes, the low paid clerks and care takers who are necessary for the functioning of society. Miners who are crammed together and cannot maintain social distancing. Healthcare workers. People in food production. And transportation. Workers who are largely unseen and ignored and undervalued. Forced to work by financial necessity and societal need. Put at risk. Putting others at risk. The expendables. Dying. Again. “The same monotonous, unpleasant, and repetitive situation.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has also revealed to us the realities of global climate change and the effect of human activity on the planet. We see the clear skies and the sparkling water in this pandemic and are confronted with the truth that we already knew. Scientists have been talking about this at least since Alexander Von Humboldt in the early 19th century. Other scientists in the 1950’s sounded the alarm. Scientists for petroleum companies knew what was coming decades ago. We have been in the same loop, continuing to ignore or minimize the destructive environmental impact of human activity. Even during this pandemic, the government has been easing environmental restrictions and protections. We continue to abuse Mother Earth. The same “monotonous, unpleasant, and repetitive situation.”

So, to me, we do seem to be caught in a Groundhog Day loop – replaying the same situations again and again and again – not because we have no events to punctuate our calendars but because we are continuing the harmful patterns of injustice and abuse that have marked and marred our nation’s history.

In the movie, “Groundhog Day,” Bill Murray lives the same day over and over and over until he gets is ‘right.’ And gets the girl. It is Hollywood, after all. In this pandemic, we are playing the same situation over, and we knew it was coming, and it came. Now, what are we going to do to get it right?

In the sermon we heard from Acts, Paul tells the people, “While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, nowGod commands all people everywhere to repent.” [Acts 17:30] The word repent means ‘turn around.’ So, what we may not have known in the past, what we may have overlooked, what we may have been blind to, what was too ugly to see, or what could be kept on the down low before social media, is now exposed. We cannot claim ignorance. That we did not know. But we can repent. We can change direction. We can turn around. We can choose to create a different future, one that does not repeat the “monotonous, unpleasant, and repetitive” situations that we have seen over and over and over again. We can get out of that loop. We can change those dynamics.

That’s what our faith is all about. Transformation. Change. Hope. New beginnings. Creating a new future. The commonwealth of God. Paul tells us we are God’s offspring. Capable. Of so much more. It will take time to end the pandemic. To come out of this. And it will take time, energy, creativity, and grace to get out of this bad loop, this time warp, where we see the same injustices play out over and over and over. We need to develop new strategies and methods to produce social change.

Wherever we are, whoever we are, whatever our circumstances, we are having an impact on the present and the future. We can choose to perpetuate the status quo. We can be part of repeating the Groundhog Day scenario. Or we can be part of getting out of the loop. Creating a different future.

Look at how fast we have adapted to the new conditions created by this virus. Everything changed. Virtually over night. This shows us that we are capable of making drastic social changes in a hurry. From the perspective of the Gospel, there can be no going back. We cannot claim ignorance.

I don’t know about you, but I am longing to see restaurants, movies, parks, concerts, museums, airlines, non profits, businesses, government, healthcare, and, of course, faith communities re-open safely.

But I want to see racism, bigotry, healthcare inequity, income inequality, and global warming shut down. For good. Amen.

[pause]

As you listen to the music from Hilton which follows, you are invited to notice the thoughts and feelings and that arise for you.

(Click HERE if you wish to see the post containing the video of this text.)

Corona Sabbath 9 Reflection Text

Greetings and welcome to Corona Sabbath. This is one of the ways the church is endeavoring to offer spiritual support during these challenging days of COVID-19. We plan to continue to post these weekly until we are able to meet again in person for worship. We appreciate your feedback and suggestions.

[pause]

We start by listening to a scripture lesson from the Gospel of John, chapter 14:

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled.
You have faith in God;
have faith in me as well.
In God’s house there are many dwelling places;
otherwise, how could I have told you
that I was going to prepare a place for you?
I am indeed going to prepare a place for you,
and then I will come back to take you with me,
that where I am
there you may be as well.
You know the way that leads to where I am going.”

[pause]

You may have heard the version, In my Father’s house are many rooms. Many rooms. I don’t know about you, but I’m about ready to see another room. One with my grandson in it, if you don’t mind!

Yes, I live in a wonderful home. With many rooms. Filled with many interesting things to do. And two beautiful family members. And three entertaining dogs. And our home has a spacious yard where I can work in the garden and watch the hummingbirds on the firebush plants. And the hawk that likes the panama cherries. And the squirrels chasing each other along the neighbor’s fence. And my house is in a lovely residential neighborhood near two parks where I can bike and walk. And I can still go to my comfortable office at the church with the wonderful windows that look out on the trees and birds and the neighborhood. Oh yes, many rooms!

But there is a mask in my purse that I put on when I go anywhere besides my home or office. There is hand sanitizer in my bag that I use several times a day when I can’t wash my hands. There are Zoom meetings on my calendar each day. And then there is that little twinge when I see an image of people eating close together in a restaurant, or sitting shoulder to shoulder in a pew, or standing pressed together in a crowd – that they are doing something wrong. They shouldn’t be doing that. Oh yeah. That was before Corona. Already I feel rewired to keep my distance. In only a few weeks. How did that happen – so fast?

In God’s house there are many rooms. And here we are in this Corona room. Who expected that? Not the President. And it doesn’t look like there is an escape route. No trick hinge or optical illusion or incantation that will let us out.

So, here we are. In this room. Essentially on lock down. And we will be here for months to come. The CDC is saying no group singing in the schools for up to 2 years. Gulp. Other sources are saying no communion, no hugging, no shaking hands, no passing the peace, no passing the offering plate, no holding hands for the closing circle. World without end. Amen? There is a sense of grief and loss, but there is also opportunity. To minister in new ways. To learn. To grow in faith. To find joy in new ways. To experiment. To connect and build community.

The advisors of our church met this week to talk about ministry opportunities going forward. The advisors will be inviting conversation with the congregation. Since we won’t be going back to the way we were doing things, for a long time, if ever, we are embracing the opportunity to try new things. New ways to be a supportive faith community. New ways to serve the community around us. Why? Here’s my answer: Because life is better with church. For many reasons, life is just better with church (or a faith community).

While I may not like being in the “Corona” room, and I certainly don’t believe in a God that put us in here, I do know that Divine Love is here with us in this Corona time. Suffering. Serving. Sobbing. With us. And there are things we can discover, things that can emerge, things that we can learn, things to be thankful for, and things that spark joy and wonder in this Corona room. While I want to leave this room and see other rooms in God’s house, I know that I can flourish and thrive in this room. And that we as a church, as people of faith, and as a species, can benefit from this time in this space.

I think of the children’s book, The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown. The little bunny wants to run away from home. It comes up with all these ideas about where to go. But everywhere the bunny suggests hiding, the mother figures out a way to join the bunny. The bunny considers becoming a fish and swimming away. The mother says she will become a fisherman and catch the little bunny. The bunny thinks about becoming a flower. But the mother says she will become a gardener and find the little bunny. The little bunny imagines going off to join the circus and become a trapeze artist. The mother bunny says then she will become a tightrope walker and find the little bunny. The mother simply won’t let the bunny escape from her love. This is how it is with God. With Divine Love. We may try, but we can’t get away from it. We are always in God. No matter what. In those many rooms. Even during these trying days of this worldwide pandemic.

So, maybe I don’t like this Corona room. I want to see that grandchild. More importantly, I want people to stop dying of this virus, and I want healthcare workers and essential workers to feel safe again. I want to see the end of the racism fueled by this virus. Yes, I want to be done with this, but I know God is here, even in this room, especially in this room, and we will make it through.

I am hopeful that this room will lead to another room, a room where we can live and not be afraid. Where people are healthy and have healthcare. Where every life is sacred and valued. And where we can hug, especially our grandchildren! Amen!

[pause]

As you listen to the music from Hilton which follows, you are invited to notice the thoughts and feelings and that arise for you.

(Click HERE if you wish to see the post containing the video of this text.)

Corona Sabbath 8 (Mother’s Day) Reflection Text

Greetings and welcome to Corona Sabbath. This is one of the ways the church is endeavoring to offer spiritual support during these challenging days of COVID-19. We will continue to post these weekly until we are able to meet again in person for worship. We appreciate your feedback and suggestions.

[pause]

We start by listening to two scripture verses that refer to mothers. The first is from the 10 commandments in Exodus:

“Honor your mother and your father, so that you may have a long life in the land that Your God has given to you!” [Exodus 20:12]

The second is from 2 Timothy 1:5:
“I’m reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois, then in your mother Eunice, and now, I’m certain, in you as well.”

[pause]

Performance artist Marina Abramovic may be best known for her 2010 retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. As part of that exhibition she performed “The Artist is Present.” From March 14- May 31, (something like the time frame of our corona lockdown) she sat, all day, every day, in a hard chair in the atrium of the museum with an empty chair across from her. The public lined up, for hours, out the door and down the sidewalk, to sit in the chair opposite Abramovic and to look at her, for as long as they wanted to. There was no speaking involved. She sat down in the morning and got up when the museum closed.

Abramovic physically trained for this exhibition. She ate and drank certain things in specific amounts leading up to and during the exhibit. She did exercises so that her body would hold up to the stillness. She trained her body to a certain schedule that involved not using the bathroom during the entire time she was seated in the atrium each day. This exhibit was very taxing to her body as well as to her psyche.

But Abramovic is no stranger to physical discomfort and pain. In one performance, she placed a collection of 72 objects on a table and invited the public to do what they wanted to her with the items which included a knife and a gun and a bullet. [Rhythm 0, 1974] She did another piece involving laying down in the middle of a burning star-shaped fire. The fire ate the oxygen within the space and Abramovic passed out and was saved from death by a doctor who happened to be in the audience. [Rhythm 5, 1974]

There are many such episodes in the life of Abramovic. According to an article in the Guardian, she is known as a Yugoslavian-born provocateur, and as one of the most significant artists of the second half of the 20th century. [See https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/may/12/marina-abramovic-ready-to-die-serpentine-gallery-512-hours%5D

Whatever you think of her, Abramovic is certainly a person of note. Last month she was featured in a Microsoft ad for HoloLens 2. But given a recent accusation of alleged satanism surrounding Abramovic, Microsoft pulled the ad. She is also known for mentoring Lady Gaga and other celebrities. Abramovic has certainly gained world wide notoriety.

For a variety of reasons, I got interested in Marina Abramovic. I find her a fascinating person. Where does she get these ideas? In her own way, she is marvelously creative.

But this is about Mother’s Day, so I want to say something about Abramovic and her relationship with her mother. This is another interesting part of her story. Abramovic was born in Belgrade, now Serbia. Her parents were partisans in World War 2. Her mother saved her father’s life during the war. Both were celebrated national heroes after the war. But Abramovic grew up in a physically and emotionally abusive household. She was beaten. She suffered from mental torment. She was made to wear sturdy unattractive clothing. When she went to bed at night, she was to sleep straight, in the middle of the bed, with the covers pulled neatly over her. When her mother came in to check on her in the night, if she was splayed across the bed, and the sheets were awry, her mother would wake her up and beat her and make her get back into the bed properly. The mother ran the household like it was the army.

As Abramovic grew into adulthood and became an artist, her mother continued to dominate and criticize her daughter. Her mother considered the performances involving her daughter’s naked body to be exhibitionist. She did not express any approval or support for her daughter despite her burgeoning career and fame. As her mother reached the end of her life, Abramovic was a mature adult, an artist of worldwide acclaim. She visited her mother regularly and saw that her mother was properly taken care of. Abramovic continued to show filial devotion to her mother despite their difficult relationship.

After her mother died, Abramovic was going through her mother’s things and she found a box under the bed. And the box was filled with articles from newspapers and magazines about Abramovic and her art. Abramovic realized that her mother did love and respect her. In her own way. This was such a gift. Such a relief. And Abramovic came to see that from her mother she had learned the discipline and focus and strength that had enabled her to carry out her performance art which was so incredibly demanding physically and emotionally. Her mother had actually contributed to her success as an artist. So Marina Abramovic came to be filled with gratitude for what her mother had given to her. What I think is beautiful about Abramovic is that she evolved to the point where she could see a fuller truth about her mother.

Sometimes difficult experiences can help us to learn and grow and to become our best selves. And sometimes this process involves our mothers.

We don’t know what life will bring. Certainly these corona days are filled with uncertainty and suffering. But maybe there are things we can see, and learn, and come to understand from this experience that will benefit us. What are we finding in the box under the bed? Maybe we are learning things that will help us to face future challenges. Maybe we are becoming more aware of all we have to be thankful for. Maybe we are being given gifts through this experience that are difficult to receive but that we will benefit from in some way.

This Mother’s Day, I encourage us to think not only about how we may have been blessed by our mothers or those who have been mothering figures in our lives, but also about how we have been blessed by difficult times in our lives and how we may be being blessed by this corona time.

Divine Love is a mystery. Life is strange. If our hands and hearts are open, we may recognize the gifts we are being given even when they are not candy and flowers. Amen.
________________

As you listen to the music video prepared by Hilton using the pictures of mothers contributed by the church family, you are invited to notice the thoughts and feelings and that arise for you around Mother’s Day.


(Click HERE if you wish to see the post containing the video of this text.)

Corona Sabbath 7 Reflection Text

Greetings and welcome to Corona Sabbath. This is one of the ways the church is endeavoring to offer spiritual support during these challenging days of COVID-19. We will continue to post these weekly until we are able to meet again in person for worship. We appreciate your feedback and suggestions.

This time we listen to Acts 2:42-47. It tells of life among the followers of Jesus after the crucifixion.

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ instructions and the communal life, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. A reverent fear overtook them all, for many wonders and signs were being performed by the apostles. Those who believed lived together, shared all things in common; they would sell their property and goods, sharing the proceeds with one another as each had need. They met in the Temple and they broke bread together in their homes every day. With joyful and sincere hearts they took their meals in common, praising God and winning the approval of all the people. Day by day, God added to their number those who were being saved.”

We listen to this story about the followers of Jesus after the crucifixion in the weeks after Easter. And maybe what we see is the idealization of socialism, or even communism, and think, that may have been fine then, but that’s not for us now. What they did is not practical or realistic in our time.

But there’s more here. Why were people attracted to the Jesus’ community? I mean, their leader had just suffered a humiliating death. Why would people be attracted to this community? Why were they were drawn to it?

Yes, there were gatherings, and teachings, and rituals, and prayers, and meals. Much like other religions. . . Nothing exceptional there. So why were people attracted to the community of followers of Jesus in the aftermath of his crucifixion?

I think part of it is that in their communal life, people saw an alternative reality. We might say they saw the commonwealth of God, or the realm of heaven. Not in the next life, but amidst the Jesus community in this life. I think people saw an alternative world view, a different set of values, an embodiment of unconditional love and expansive community. Everyone welcomed at the table. No exceptions. And it was compelling.

In the Jesus community, people embodied an alternative to greed, and self interest, and domination. Just as prevalent then as now. In the Jesus group there wasn’t the division between those who serve and those who are served. Everybody served. Everybody was served. There was an erasing of the major lines of division and distinction that separate people and determine the value of a life.

In the gatherings, rituals, meals, and prayers, it was not just about how to get bread, but how to be bread for one another and the world. It was about what we have to give, to share, our gifts. Needed by others, needed by the world. Every life of value.

Bread sustains. It is symbolic of food, necessary for life. It is something needed on a routine basis not just a one time dazzle. Bread is about health and well-being. Bread is about time, attention, and taking delight in life and in others. Bread is about the Earth. Bread is a lifeline. Bread is a unifier – everyone needs food.

In the Jesus community, people not only ate bread, they became bread for each other. Rooted in stories and images and visions of unconditional eternal love manifest in Jesus and in one another.

Today, around us, there are people who are hungry, undernourished, malnourished – yes, for literal bread – but also for a sense of solidarity and community and values which move beyond the me-centered acquisitiveness and greed for money and property and power and influence which foul the social order and media we ingest. There are people who are looking to feed their souls with an alternate reality of giving and sharing and consuming less in this “gimme” world.

These Corona times are exposing our divisions and our needs. How can we be bread to one another in these days of distancing? How do we creatively and with imagination become bread for one another and feed the hungers of the world around us?

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, 20th century writer of the classic, The Little Prince, says, “If you want to build a ship, don’t herd people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”

We have a vision to share of a world of peace, and plenty, and well-being. A world of mutuality and dignity and respect. We have bread to pass around at tables and temples. We have stories to share of radical transformation and hope. We have tales to tell of liberation and love. May those visions feed us and be the bread that we offer the world. Amen.