July 26, 2020 | Message by Dr. Blake
Updated: Aug 30
THREW THEM OUT OF WHACK Sometimes when visitors come and words have done what they can, I say, There is a lute in the room where I rest. Go there, please, and fetch that, for I am having trouble walking these days. I will play you a tune that came to me last night when I was bowed in prayer, for I noticed this morning when I hummed it some angels with hangovers gathered near and they felt better. It is not that they were drinking things we do; it is that they stepped into the minds of some humans for a while, and that really threw them out of whack. – Hafiz
It is true that dealing with what it means to be human often throws us out of whack. We are indeed human; but, is that all? Is there more to our identity than just being human? Or, does being human mean more that we often admit? How we deal with this question is the narrative of our lives. And, how is it that angels are so present, so near? Are they like the angels moving up and down Jacob’s ladder? Could they be commissioners, wellness agents, singers of life? Dr. Thurman describes them as essential to our journeys. “Despite all the crassness of life, despite all the hardness of life, despite all of the harsh discords of life, life is saved by the singing of angels.” It must be of concern, then, when angels are out of whack. Yet, there is the balm of music in Gilead and throughout the universe available to produce eternal wellness out of human illness. “What is the human?” queries Brian Swimme. He answers: “The human is a space, an opening where the universe celebrates its existence…. It was out of the dynamic of cosmic celebration that we were created in the first place.”
In some ways today’s message is part 2 of the message of July 12. Beyond these two messages, however, more needs to be said about the human journey and our moral obligations to life, all of life. We are called to aid the evolving universe’s celebration of itself, which includes all that exists. In the previous message, I quoted Rabbi Heschel as saying “Martin Luther King is a sign that God has not forsaken the United States of America. God has sent him to us. His presence is the hope of America. His mission is sacred, his leadership of supreme importance to every one of us. The situation of the poor in America is our plight, our sickness. To be deaf to their cry is to condemn ourselves…” Heschel evoked this assurance because of King’s giving of his life to the ushering into being of the Beloved Community, Kin-dom of God. Certainly, I had no idea that within a week of that message (and on the same day) the world would lose two valiant lutes (instruments) of social reformation: Congressman John Lewis and Rev. C.T. Vivian. They along with King were, as all of us are, fresh expressions of the Eternal loosed upon the earth to do the More Than’s bidding for the continuing fulfillment of creation, its beauty, unity, and common ground. "I think no human being can give more than this. Making life possible for the other, if only for a moment." (Martin Buber) Dr. Thurman wrote: “The willingness to be to another human being what is needed at the time the need is most urgent and most acutely felt – this is to participate in a precise act of redemption. This is to stand for one intimate moment in loco dei in the life of another – that is, to make available to another what has already been given us. . .. To the degree to which our imagination become the angels of God, we ourselves may become His instruments.” I assert that we are all God being born again in us and in life, everyone of us, each person regardless of the circumstances of birth. Each is a fresh, renewed expression of God. We are incarnations of the All Pervading Presence, that which is More Than We Are. Yes, we are re-incarnated sparks of the divine seeking fuller, more expansive understanding of what is possible personally and for the universe. That is why a survivor of one of the most horrendous chapters of our cosmic journey, Viktor Frankl, can say: “It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life—daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.”
When Jesus refused to condemn the woman who had engaged in an adulterous affair and instead elevated her, he was saying in effect that life (God) wants you to grow into your responsibility to become your authentic self. When the prodigal son headed home, he was returning to his source of life, symbolized in his earthly father, so that he could return to himself. Both the woman and the son were challenged with the moral obligation to become their authentic selves which means refusing to allow external authorities or circumstances to determine the self. This is the call of authenticity, the vocation of freedom.
Today is my birthday. It is a day of meditation upon my presence in the universe in general, this special community of Fellowship Church, and the larger local, national, and global communities. I believe that each person is a fleshing out of the spirit of God – God born again. And, there are responsibilities, obligations – moral and social. We are all incarnations of the genius of creation. Yet, there are always external forces that say otherwise. When we are able to empty ourselves of such forces, God is obligated to fill the life. Today is a day when I must seriously wrestle with how I have upheld the Life in me as a most precious gift to the world. "Every person born in this world represents something new, something that never existed before, something original and unique. . .. Despite all similarities, every living situation has, like a newborn child, a new face, that has never been before and will never come again. It demands of you a reaction that cannot be prepared beforehand. It demands nothing of what is past. It demands presence, responsibility; it demands you.” (Buber) Dr. Thurman says that we are responsible for opposing those things, forces, structures that block the free flow of God in us and thwart the common ground of relations of the peoples of the land. This same principle is underscored in Dr. King's last address to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He referred to the Biblical story of Nicodemus who came to Jesus with the question of how he could see, experience God’s Realm, Eternal life. King stated that Jesus’ response that you must be born again meant that Nicodemus’ whole structure had to be changed. An uncompromised paradigmatic shift was essential.
On this special day in my life I realize that I have quite an assignment that is prelude to a final examination. It is beyond a project or dissertation. It is an assignment to be representative of God, the All Pervading Presence. That is, I must re-present God in thoughts, form, actions, in being that increase the measure of freedom, responsibility, creativity, presence in a land that often seems committed to the very antithesis of the kin-dom of God. And, I must pass this exam before the final bell has rung.
“Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.” (John Lewis) John 5:4
From time to time an angel of the Lord would come down and trouble the waters. The first one into the pool after such troubling would be made whole….