Monday, November 06, 2006

Hope has come home

Something new took up residence in the Episcopal Church on Saturday, Nov. 4.
It is Hope, and it’s come home.
It moved in with the wind of the Holy Spirit, filling the National Cathedral with a palpable presence.
You could not only feel it, you could see it. It was in the streamers flying above our heads. It was in the dancing feet. It was in the flames on the candles and in the smoke of the smudgers.
We breathed it in and felt it homesteading our hearts.
I suspect it made its presence felt at different times for different people. For me, it was when Katharine called us all home.
I’ve felt like a homeless child in the church for a long time. Where I live, a lot of people feel that way for very different reasons. But Katharine reminded us that our natural home is our home in God. And there’s a table there we all can share. All we have to do is come to the table.
We don’t have to agree. We don’t have to judge. We don’t have to change each other’s minds. We got our seat at the table when we were baptized. When we go there, they have to take us in.
Katharine also reminded us that at our baptisms we were given a job – to not only come home, but to make a home for everyone else on earth. Everyone, not just those who agree with me or who think like I think or love like I love. Everyone.
“None of us can be fully at home, at rest, enjoying shalom, unless all the world is as well,” Katharine said.
And I thought, it’s no wonder so many in our church feel homeless, uneasy, unhappy. We’ve spent too much energy drawing lines in the sand, arguing over who’s in and who’s out, instead of working to find ways to bring us all in, warts and all.
We seem to be unable to trust God to sort it out.
It’s no wonder we are in pain. We’re wounding each other daily.
What if we stopped?
What if we stopped all the politics, dropped all the resolutions, and silenced the war-like rhetoric? What if we trusted in God to sort it out?
What if we cared more for the “other’s’ health and well being than for our own?
“The ability of any of us to enjoy shalom depends on the health of our neighbors. If some do not have the opportunity for health or wholeness, then none of us can enjoy true and perfect holiness,” Katharine said.
What keeps us from shalom? Apathy and fear. But apathy and fear cannot withstand hope -- hope in God in Jesus.
Katharine said, “If God in Jesus has made captivity captive, has taken fear hostage, it is for the liberation and flourishing of hope.”
She ended her sermon by saying, “God had spoken that dream in us, let us rejoice! Let us join the raucous throngs in creation, the sea creatures and the geological features who leap for joy at the vision of all creation restored, restored to proper relationship, to all creation come home at last. May that scripture be fulfilled in our hearing and in our doing. Shalom, my friends, shalom.” And we all responded, “Shalom.”
After the service was over, my husband and I turned to leave the balcony where we were seated, and he said, “Look!”
There on the stone floor of the north balcony was a ladybug, heading toward the stairs with the rest of us.
He picked her up and handed her to me. We smiled at one another, for we’ve known since childhood that finding a ladybug in your house is good luck. It was a silly little thing, but somehow the presence of that small creature lifted my heart even more. It was as if this small beetle represented “the raucous throngs” of all of God’s creatures present in the Cathedral.
I carried her down the stairs and across to the south door to carefully deposit her on a bush outside.
Then I walked back in to stand in line in hopes of greeting Katherine, who was standing at the font greeting everyone. And the inevitable happened -- after the euphoria of participating in such a wonderful worship service, there came the cold bite of reality. We have to return home to Fort Worth, to a very different church experience.
My heart began its familiar ache.
So I asked her for a blessing to take home.
I carry it with me now, resident in my peaceful heart, alongside hope.


Elizabeth Kaeton said...

A lovely compliment to the previous essay: "Hope is a thing with feathers."

Feather your nest with hope, my dear, and you will dwell in the household of the Lord forever.

Anonymous said...

What a difference she will make in the gives me hope to see those words written here. I hope others will listen. But it really doesn't matter if they do - if all of us heed this message they of ill will, of greed, of lust after wordly power will be overwhelmed and, now or at some time in the future, they most surely will be defeated.

Dale said...


So beautifully written (as usual) and so important for people to hear.

Peace and joy,


Anonymous said...

So well put, both by our wonderful new PB and by Katie. There is so much good stuff going on in the Episcopal Church now, as there has always been. We must always affirm the positive.

Anonymous said...

For me, glued to the webcast of my home computer, the Holy Spirit was there in a moment none inside the cathedral could see. So ordinary it was: Katharine, waiting to be admitted to the cathedral, thoughtlessly lifted her hand and flipped a wayward lappet of her mitre back where it belonged. As if it were a braid or a strand of hair. It was a consumately feminine gesture, utterly unconscious, caught forever on camera. And then she lifted her crozier and banged the hell out of the cathedral door. And the doors opened, and they opened for her, and for you, and for me, and for us all.

Katie - what a GREAT picture of you and ++ Katharine!

Anonymous said...

Very nice, Katie, thanks for sharing. I loved the ladybug anecdote.

And the picture is beautiful.


Ann said...

Martha - thanks for sharing your "moment"

Barbi Click said...

Katie, What a picture!!!! I am all grins just looking at it!
My special moment was watching ++Katharine as she dipped the green stuff (parsley stalks??celery stalks???) into the holy water of the baptismal font. Her eyes twinkled, her nose crinkled up and there was a moment of joyful glee that possibly no one but those near to her or watching via webcast could see. A laugh seemed to be hiding behind the purposely suppressed smile but the eyes gave it away. It was a precious, joy-filled moment.