Time to Come Home
March 22, 2015
When we come to this place –
we come to worship God
But we also come to question ourselves;
Our beliefs / Our purpose/Our Future
I can only hope that what I have to share
Helps in that endeavor . . .
May we be soothed and challenged.
First Reading: An Excerpt from Rumi: The Big Red Book translated by Coleman Barks
THE NEW RULE
It is the old rule that drunks have to argue
And get into fights.
The lover is just as bad. He falls into a hole.
But down in that hole he finds something shining,
Worth more than any amount of money or power.
Last night the moon came dropping its clothes in the street.
I took it as a sign to start singing,
Falling up into the bowl of the sky.
The bowl breaks. Everywhere is falling everywhere.
Nothing else to do.
Here is the new rule. Break the wine glass,
And fall toward the glassblower’s breath.
Second Reading: Jeremiah 31:31-34 from The Message by Eugene Peterson)
“That’s right. The time is coming when I will make a brand-new covenant with Israel and Judah. It won’t be a repeat of the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took their hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant even though I did my part as their Master. God’s Decree. This is the brand-new covenant that I will make with Israel when the time comes. I will put my law within them – write it on their hearts! – and be their God. And they will be my people. They will no longer go around setting up schools to teach each other about God. They’ll know me firsthand, the dull and the bright, the smart and the slow. I’ll wipe the slate clean for each of them. I’ll forget they ever sinned!”
When I originally had some thoughts and ideas about a sermon topic and title for this week, the thoughts I had that were very strong on my mind were surrounding the idea of returning home, or returning to the creator. NOT in the sense as many use it today, as in “the dearly departed who have returned home to their creator.” That whole notion bothers me at many levels. That is, unless one uses it to suggest a return to the dust from which we came. . . . but that’s not how most people think of it.
No, the way I was thinking of this begins to suggest, in my mind, that we are returning to the love in which we were first imagined, and from there we can begin to take a fresh look at life, gaining the strength we need for the journey.
I have told you about how I left college and spent a couple of seasons skiing in Aspen. Not with any focus in mind, of course, but just to have fun and ski. I have, on a few occasions, glamorized that whole story. It ended badly. I was not a rich kid living well on the slopes. That whole experience ended when the fella that I had moved out to Colorado with was suddenly removed from the area by law enforcement officials! He consequently ended up being forced to live in federally provided housing for several years. As for me, I ran out of money, left the condo we had foolishly purchased and let it go into foreclosure, and decided it was time to return home and get a real job for a while. It was time for me to gather my thoughts, take a fresh look at life, and regain my level of strength for the journey that lay ahead. This is not a prodigal son story. I did not return to any kind of a party, though I am certain my mother was glad I was out of Colorado!
I returned to Michigan on borrowed money, leaving behind what few possessions I had. Once back in Michigan though, I found a place to live with some friends and reconnected myself with some essential grounding. I went back to a familiar place, connected with people I knew, and began to look at the future in a new way. It’s what all of us have to do when we become stranded or lost, whether in a practical sense or in a spiritual sense.
Jeremiah was one of those guys whose life was really miserable. He lived in one of the most troublesome times in the history of the Hebrew people. He lived in the decades leading up to the fall of Jerusalem and the Babylonian exile. It was a period when anything and everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. And Jeremiah was a preacher; a prophet, leading the people and trying to share a message of hope in the midst of tragedy. This is more than just a hard luck story though. Jeremiah’s situation was one where everything the Hebrew people knew and believed was crushed and taken from them. This was a situation where they felt like everything was gone.
Jeremiah stands before them and says, in effect, “Look, there will be a new way of living, there will be a new path to the sacred, and there will be a better way to live! God will provide a better way to be with one another. The new way will be written on the hearts of the people and the people will return to God; they will know God in their hearts! Everyone, the dull, the bright, the smart, the slow; everyone will have the power to know their God and they’ll never realize they’d been separated to begin with.”
Now, I don’t preach a lot of Old Testament stuff. One of the reasons is that the stories are so long and repetitive. Different books of the Hebrew Scripture essentially repeat the same. The people have a good leader and they do well; and then they have a bad leader and they don’t do so well, and then life really gets bad. They find a better way to live, life starts going well and then they are struck with another tragedy. But at the core is this theme, if you live right, even though you face difficulty you can still find, at your very core, the sacred essence that can deliver peace.
This passage from Jeremiah, where he is speaking to the people, delivers that promise. It’s not a promise that you will receive riches, like a tele-evangelist might deliver. It’s a promise that you will know the awareness of peace in your heart when you allow yourself to come to an awareness of the sacred that is within you!
Remember that connection and know peace.
Return to your inner self and know your god.
Be aware of the sacred at your core, and know that you have never been separated.
Here’s the new rule: Break the wine glass, and fall toward the glass blower’s breath.
Know from whence you’ve come and rediscover where you will go.
One of the remarkable things I learned about Tim Shaw (Lois’ son who passed away this week), is how he always found a way to bounce back from adversity with a positive attitude. Tim had spent forty years in and out of one illness or another, and still managed to have a successful career and be at peace with who he was. Decades may have passed in between, but with each setback he was able to come back with an attitude that served as a model for those that knew him. From Hodgkin’s disease to heart valve replacement to a kidney transplant to a stroke that finally prevented him from being able to swallow; he would, each time, find his way home to a peaceful attitude that never gave up on life.
It’s time to come home. It’s time to know the sacred essence that is present in your heart. It’s time to return to the glass blowers lips.
Life is not about gains and losses, property and promises. It’s about knowing your own heart, and appreciating the presence we can bring to one another.
Jeremiah’s message, Jesus’s message, Rumi’s message; they are all about the “maker in whom we live” that we sang of earlier. It’s also the same as the message contained in the great Charles Wesley hymn we’ll sing in a few minutes. In the storms of life, in the tempest times, we can find a haven within teachings that assure us that we are at home when we know the sacred within. Know that peace, and be at home.