Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Gather Us In...A New Favorite Hymn

Several weeks ago at St. Paul's, we sang "Gather Us In." Now, as with many things, it takes several hearings before it stands out so I have probably heard this hymn before. It grabbed my attention right off the bat with the place reference. It describes so much of what I have been trying to articulate about Philip Sheldrake's work Spaces for the Sacred that welcomes the periphery into the whole...the marginalized and broken, the ambiguous and forgotten people and memories are brought out into the Eucharist. Here...not just in the church, but at the altar we bring our fears and our dreams...offering the human pathos. So much more should be said about this wonderful hymn. If you've not heard it you can hear it above and read it below.

Here in this place, new light is streaming
now is the darkness vanished away,
see, in this space, our fears and our dreamings,
brought here to you in the light of this day.
Gather us in the lost and forsaken
gather us in the blind and the lame;
call to us now, and we shall awaken
we shall arise at the sound of our name.

We are the young - our lives are a mystery
we are the old - who yearns for you face.
we have been sung throughout all of history
called to be light to the whole human race.
Gather us in the rich and the haughty
gather us in the proud and the strong
give us a heart so meek and so lowly
give us the courage to enter the song.

Here we will take the wine and the water
here we will take the bread of new birth
here you shall call your sons and your daughters
call us anew to be salt of the earth.
Give us to drink the wine of compassion
give us to eat the bread that is you
nourish us well and teach us to fashion
lives that are holy and hearts that are true.

Not in the dark of buildings confining
not in some heaven, light years away
but here in this place, the new light is shining
now is the kingdom, now is the day.
Gather usin the and hold us forever
gather usin and make us your own
gather us in all peoples together
fire of love in our flesh and our bone.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Laundry, Liturgy and Women's Work

In Laundry Liturgy and Women's work, Kathleen Norris reflects on the nature of the mundane tasks and the potential for sacramental inbreaking. Tonight as I did the dishes alone in our hot kitchen, something sparked my memories of working at Inspiration Hills. For three summers (1995, 1996, 2000) I worked as grounds crew, lifeguard, and sometimes reluctant counselor. I would spend glorious hours in the sun, evenings worshipping with new friends, late night games, and lots of laughing. In my recent years of growing interest in sacred spaces, I often ask people if they have places they consider sacred. Its fairly frequently that church camps become what so many people recognize as sacred space. Inspiration Hills is that for me as well. Both as a camper and staff, my story is not complete without this place. So tonight, as I did dishes in our hot kitchen, I remembered the hard and thankless work done by my friends at just one camp to make a summer, week, even meal a sacred possibility for thousands of campers. This work doesn't pay well. We would told that we would be exhausted but yet somehow feel refreshed at the end of the summer. And we were. My thought tonight is that in the midst of the summer heat...tensions can run high, frustrations mount, irritability sets in, songs are sung over and over and over. And inspite of our weaknesses, God moves, both staff and campers respond. Tonight I am reminded to pray for both campers and staff alike...for receptivity and endurance.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sacred Spaces

I apologize for this blog's dormancy for the past few months. I can assure you that it has not been abandoned yet.

Today I simply want to post a link to a friends blog post on Sacred Space. In the link the article describes a group that works to create sacred spaces amidst violent and drug ridden urban centers. Their hope is create alternative spaces for reflection and the sacred. They seem to take a wide or pluralistic view of the sacred. What is striking to me about these spaces is that they are created for others without a sense of exchange or a grace offered freely. My cynical side wonders if the church can create and maintain spaces for human flourishing (which i would argue necessarily involves the pursuit of religious practices) if they are followers of another religion or denomination? Can a evangelicals create sacred spaces for Catholics? Can Christians create spaces for Muslims, Buddhists, Pagan's? And vice-a-versa? What is at stake for religious groups to do so? Can we get past issues of religious truth to recognize the dignity of all humanity in order to create open spaces where community and identity may flourish?