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Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Monday, May 12, 2008
Soundtrack for Ordinary Time
I just read an interesting post by Kimberly Roth over at Jesus Manifesto about creating a soundtrack for ordinary time. Among other things, she writes:
Today, we start counting Ordinary Time.She follows this with her list of soundtrack suggestions.
The time of growth…
The time of day to day clinging to the vine and working out our faith with fear and trembling…
The time of going beyond the hopefulness, the waiting, the celebrating, the preparing…
The time of fleshing out what it means to be the Church and bring the Kingdom here on earth as it is in Heaven.
Ordinary time is when the Body of Christ stops staring up into the sky and starts living as the type of community that becomes the hands and feet of God toward a watching, waiting world.
Ordinary time deserves a soundtrack of its own
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
wednesdays at northern light
During lent, the season leading up to Easter, Peacemeal will be offering a time for spiritual conversation at Northern Light Espresso Bar (536 Spruce St. in Scranton.) This gathering is on Wednesday evenings (Feb. 13, 20, 27, Mar. 5, 12, 19) from 7:30 - 9:00 - and will happen in addition to our regular weekly gathering for worship and food. Feel free to come every week, or as many or as few times as you are able!
The theme is "Discovering Abundance" and our conversation time, though relaxed and informal, will be gently guided by a member of the leadership team. We will also spend a bit of time each week talking about Peacemeal - answering questions, listening for ideas, asking questions and sharing ideas that the leadership team is considering these days.
Everyone is welcome.
Tomorrow evening we'll be considering some thoughts and ideas from an article called "Getting to No" by Barbara Brown Taylor, a talented Episcopal preacher. The article, from the Christian Century, considers the spiritual discipline of saying no - how by cultivating the practices of resistance, discernment, ego-evacuation and compassion, we can make room in our lives "for a few carefully planted 'yeses' to grow." If you'd like to get a peek at it before tomorrow, you can find it online:
I'll bring printed copies for everyone tomorrow.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
The Rev. Demery Bader-Saye
Homily for the Occasion
of Jude Isaac’s Baptism
in the 23rd week of Pentecost
Friday, October 19, 2007
Peacemeal Community, Scranton
Canticle 9, from the first Song of Isaiah
“Sing praises of the Lord, for he has done great things, and this is known in all the world. Cry aloud, inhabitants of Zion, ring out your joy.” And what joy we have on this special day, the day we welcome Jude Isaac officially into God’s family – the day that we pray for the Holy Spirit to pour out God’s blessing on Jude, sealing him as Christ’s own forever.
Today Josh and Jill and Helen and Jer, Jude’s Godparents, and we, Jude’s family and his Christian community, make vows, proclaim faithfulness and love for God on Jude’s behalf – we say words he doesn’t yet understand, we do gestures he can only wonder at. And yet, because of God’s faithfulness to us, and our faithfulness to God, week by week, year by year, as we continue to speak these words, do these gestures, they will become his own. And his life will be shaped by a community of faith, a family who loves and cares for him, and by the God who knit him together in his mother’s womb.
Jude one day I hope you’ll read this sermon (there’s a copy of it in your card) – and that you’ll know more about your baptism day because of it. If there is one sentence that speaks the words I would want you to know, it is this sentence from tonight’s gospel lesson “Let the little children come to me...” It is this spirit of generosity, of longing, of joy and love, which is the reason for your birth. Your mommy and daddy wanted you so much! With undisguised longing and (sometimes impatient :) expectancy, they wanted you and how they and we here rejoiced on the day that you were born! “Let the little children come to me” – these words express the hopes of your parents, but they are also the words of Jesus, the son of God, the King of all Creation, who came to us not on a golden throne from the clouds, not by apparating to us from his castle in the sky, but as a child, as a baby, a tiny, defenseless baby, born to a young and willing mother and a devoted father of exceptional character. These words were spoken by that same baby, all grown up – a carpenter, a healer, a teacher, a friend, a miracle worker, a Savior of boundless love and the unimaginable ability to live at peace with those around him, even those who wanted to do him harm. And when parents, who wanted the best for their children, who wanted to protect them, for goodness all around them, when those most attentive of parents drew near to Jesus, seeking his blessing upon their children, the disciples tried to shoo those children and their parents away. They thought they were doing Jesus a favor – they assumed that he was much too busy and important to take the time to be with children. But on this point, Jesus made himself ever so clear. “Let the little children come to me, do not stop them: for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. And – moreover – whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.”
So Jude – you’ve got it all right here... attentive and loving parents and a big extended family who love you, Godparents who today promise to stand with you as long as they live, and a community of believers ready to welcome you in the way Christ commanded us. For not only are we excited to see you grow, to teach you all we know and model for you a life of joy and service in Christ, we have much to learn from you. For it is your trust, your wonder, your vulnerability, your joy, your contagious laughter, your uninhibited tears that teach us how to approach the throne of God, who will always and forever, from this day forward, know you and love you as his own child, no matter how old and self-sufficient you come to be.
For surely it is God who saves us; We will trust in God and not be afraid. For the Lord is our stronghold and our sure defense, and the Lord will be our Savior. Therefore tonight we draw water with rejoicing from the springs of salvation. And tonight we say, give thanks to the Lord and call upon God’s name; Make God’s deeds known among the people; see that they remember that God’s Name is exalted. Sing praises of the Lord, for he has done great things, and this is known to Peacemeal, and the city of Scranton, and the state of Pennsylvania and in North America and, indeed in all the world. Welcome to the family of God, Jude Isaac!
And let the people say, AMEN!
And now I invite Jude and his parents and Godparents to come forward for the Sacrament of baptism.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Website Updated; New Meeting Space!
I was able to find some time yesterday morning to update the main peacemeal site.
The most significant change is that we now have a public meeting space for our weekly gathering! Read on...
peacemeal has a public space! we've made arrangements with covenant presbyterian church to rent their manse (the large home next to the church where the pastors previously lived). this makes our weekly gathering much more accessible to university of scranton students and, hopefully, to our friends that come to FreeSpace. we're closer to the heart of scranton, where we feel a strong call and desire to serve. the address is 816 Olive Street, Scranton, PA, 18510. click there for google maps; it's near the corner of madison ave. and olive st., and there is plenty of parking in the church lot. you should definitely come join us! we're currently meeting:
5:30-6:30 p.m. - community dinner
6:30-7 p.m. - clean-up and set-up for worship
7-8 p.m. - eucharist
8-8:30 p.m. - tidy up
the manse allows us to keep the intimate, relational feel of meeting in people's homes (this one being a rather large, rather beautiful one at that!) while alleviating some of the pressure for one family to prep their house each and every week. it has a large kitchen and a large dining room, which are important to us, too (i mean, come on, we are peaceMEAL, right? would you expect less?).
finally, there are 2 rooms we hope will be cleaned and renovated in the near future to accommodate the growing number of young children in our midst. people are stepping up to provide care and faith-growing activities for the kids during the first parts of our worship time, and we look forward to seeing that part of our community life blossom.
We hope you'll accept our open invitation to come and eat and worship with us soon!
Monday, August 20, 2007
when life gives you wild grapes...
On friday night we had our first gathering at the manse! It was wonderful. During worship we had an incredible discussion of the scripture passages for the night, scriptures that I was to preach on this Sunday. The conversation of the group helped immensely as I wrote my sermon on Saturday. Thank you, PeaceMeal, for your insights and faithfulness. Many in our group have the opportunity to preach in other settings - we talked about sharing our sermons on the blog. So here it is... Peace!
The Rev. Demery Bader-Saye
Homily for Grace Church, Allentown
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Isaiah 5:1-7; Luke 12:49-56
God knows something about dashed expectations, about dreams unrealized. Our first lesson, from the prophet Isaiah unfolds in the form of a song – a song of hope, sadness, longing, questions. Isaiah’s song takes us to a vineyard – it is a parable of our God, a rugged, determined grape farmer. He has found a choice piece of land on a hill – fertile. He has cleared away every stone with his own two hands and planted choice vines with those same hands. And again, on his own he has put up a watchtower and dug out a wine vat. Everything is ready. Everything is in place for an excellent harvest – for the best ‘crop’ of grapes. He anticipates it. He expects it to yield big, heavy, juicy, sweet grapes. But it yields only wild grapes.
Wild grapes – tough but not so sweet.
Wild grapes – more resistant to pests and disease and to weather. But wild grapes – not so profitable, not so pure, not so fine wine-worthy. Only good for foxes, deer, bears and for the grubby hands of little children climbing trees (see the poem Wild Grapes by Robert Frost, 1920).
What more – said the farmer – what more I have done for the vineyard? And why – why, when I expected it to yield grapes, when I did everything right, when I planned and worked and gave to it days and days of my life - why did it yield wild grapes? I give up. I will tear down the hedge that protect it, break down the wall – let it be overgrown with briers and thorns – command the rain not to fall. My pleasant planting has brought me nothing but pain. And, if – as the scripture says – the pleasant planting was the people of Israel – then God did have reason to feel upset, to be disappointed. For God had been working for generations to cultivate a relationship with this beloved, this chosen people, the ancestors of Abraham and Sarah – the people of Israel – a relationship meant to bless the world, to show the world what it looks like to be faithful and live rightly alongside our creator. But most of the time they did not live up to the covenant; they – much like the rest of us – seemed continually to run wild – worshipping false gods, choosing again and again a path that took them away from God’s love – away from the law God had given them.
Fast forward thousands of years to our gospel lesson where we hear in the telling of Luke the evangelist – the same sentiment – still in the mouth of God, this time God incarnate, God in flesh, Jesus the Christ. He is talking to his disciples and to a crowd of thousands. “I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I am under a tremendous stress – until what is going to happen will finally happen. Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division... generation to generation it will happen – households will be divided one against another. You can predict the weather, so why can’t you people read the signs of the times?” He knew what horror was in store for him in the unfolding days of his young life – and he was preaching and teaching in the very presence of those who would hassle him for healing people on the Sabbath day, who would grill him on questions of scripture and theology, who would ultimately betray, abandon, torture and kill him. Yes, he is under a bit of stress – as even he will admit. Is he ready to torch it all? To conquer and divide households – tearing families apart - even mothers and daughters? fathers and sons?
Perhaps. Or perhaps the fire he speaks of is not a fire of destruction – but the fire of passion, of Pentecost. And perhaps the peace he wants to upend is the peace that keeps so many of them – so many thousands of people in that crowd – so many of us - nodding and smiling as they listen to his message – only to return to their cozy homes, to their impervious family units, unchanged. No matter how we read it, the disappointment is clear. Somehow – even though Jesus knew that this was exactly how it would go – his frustration is evident – because still surely he hoped, he prayed that he could change the world without having to be crucified first.
But that’s the incredible thing about our God. Our God knows what it is to feel disappointment – to give everything for your dream, toward your goal – only to have it go in exactly the opposite way from how what you planned... to try and grow a vineyard – to plant a lovely planting and have it go wild, to send your son as a gift to the world, only to have him destroyed by it.
The power of the story, the gift of the story of scripture, is that God knows that disappointment over and again and never gives up. The story of our faith shows us how to name that disappointment, that hurt, that sorrow, to grieve the loss of what we hoped it would be – and to move forward anyway – to make another way, to forge a new path, to take the reality that is and work it into the plan. And God’s plan – from Genesis to Revelation, from Isaiah to Luke, from the grape farmer to the carpenter from Nazareth – is simple. It is to love us. To bring us - wild grapes, thorns, briers, Pharisees, cynics, people-pleasers and cowards alike - into his vineyard. To feed us with good food – wheat grown from the best soil – with the body of his son – and quench our thirst with good drink – with sweet, pure grapes from the vineyard of his kingdom, the rich, dark blood of his only son, who gave himself as a sacrifice, who hung on the hard wood of the cross which kindled the fire of Pentecost (see Acts 2).
Pentecost – the day when the story of God’s most radical plan, most stunning effort at getting our attention, spread around the world – a story about a savior who never gives up, of a God who has even battled and conquered death, of a God who will try and try again to win our love.
In very simple terms, our scriptures today are about holding on and letting go. But as anyone who has lived for any amount of time knows – there is nothing simple when it comes to dashed expectations. There is nothing easy about holding on to the broad strokes of a dream but letting go of our detailed vision of what how, exactly, that dream, and the path to that dream, has to look... especially when the world around us is chaos – when the wars our country is fighting spin more and more out of control, when the lives of astronauts are once again on the line, when the murder rate in New Orleans is at an all-time high since Hurricane Katrina - not to mention the struggles we face in our own lives. There is nothing uncomplicated about holding on to hope no matter how disappointed, how tired, how lonely, how frustrated and stressed out we may be.
Some of us may simply have to be in that place where today’s scriptures leave us – a place of exhaustion and on the brink of giving up, but next to our mournful farmer God, wiped out on that beautiful, fertile soil with weeds and thorns in our clenched hands. But some of us may be in a place where we are ready to get up, get our bearings and take a few steps forward, ready to hear what comes next, to turn the pages of scripture and history to see what it looks like when God tries again, how the story goes for the grape-farming Lord of Israel and for the carpenter, God’s Son, our savior, Jesus Christ. Wherever we are in the process of holding on and letting go, we are not alone. Thanks be to God.
Monday, June 18, 2007
church as improvisation
As we are working on our mission statement(s), I've been on the looking for thoughts, ideas, and images that could inspire our own self-descriptions. I just came across this wonderful poem by Stephen Dobyns called "Thelonious Monk" (click here for the whole poem). Here's an excerpt from it that makes me imagine what it could be like to embody church as improvisation:
A record store on Wabash was where
I bought my first album. I was a freshman
in college and played the record in my room
over and over. I was caught by how he took
the musical phrase and seemed to find a new
way out, the next note was never the note
you thought would turn up and yet seemed
correct. . . .
What Monk banged out was the conviction
of innumerable directions. Years later
I felt he's been blueprint, map and education:
no streets, we bushwhacked through the underbrush;
not timid, why open your mouth if not to shout?
not scared, the only road lay straight in front;
not polite, the notes themselves were sneak attacks;
not quiet—look, can't you see the sky will soon
collapse and we must keep dancing till it cracks?