April 2018

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Stable as a Cave

My friend Kathy came to church on Sunday. It was great to see her and to hear her. (She has an amazing soprano voice, and she sat between us, so we got to hear her.)
Kathy belongs to our church, but she’s been going through breast cancer treatment since this fall, so she's only been able to attend once or twice.
I know she feels crummy a lot, but she looks beautiful as her now whitish hair is beginning to grow back in. It was such a gift to see her!
When the infant twins were up front for the Children’s sermon, Kathy said, “I can’t believe how big the twins are! They’re like little people now! I feel like I’ve been living in a cave.”
Sunday was supposed to be a joyful day: it was the third Sunday of advent, so we were to light the candle of joy, and our gifted choir was singing its Christmas music.
Friday’s deaths in Newtown, Connecticut, however, sobered our joy. How can a person kill so many small ones and teachers, his mother and himself? How can our country not care for people with mental illness? How can our country continue to allow automatic weapons in our homes?
As my 92 year-old neighbor Annabella mourned: “the darlings…”
The NC Baptist church where I grew up postponed the candle of joy and lit instead the candle of love. I thought we might do something similar at our Seattle church, but we didn’t.
Our minister, Karla, delivered just the right sermon. She began the sermon with words of mourning for the deaths, giving language to our sadness. Our friend Lori, who has cerebral palsy and cannot talk, wailed a painful cry that reverberated with our sadness.
Then Karla reminded us that Jesus was born into a violent world, and that he was born in a messy stable. “God is in this mess,” she said to us, “in this chaos, in this stable that is a cave.”
Karla’s description of the stable as a cave echoed Kathy’s earlier comment and surprised me. There’s no way that Karla heard Kathy, but the echo made the message that much more powerful for me.
God is with us. We are not alone. God is in the darkness.
Earlier this month,  before this massacre, Ann and I celebrated the light in the darkness with our annual solstice party, and we will celebrate the light again with other friends on the actual solstice, the darkest day of the year.
Saturday night, we celebrated the miracle of Chanukah with other friends, and delighted in their telling of the story, lighting the many Menorah , and singing.
Soon, there will be a time for action and for change, but now, as I seek solace in the darkness, this is a time for lighting a candle and saying a prayer: God be with us.

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