Monday, December 10, 2012

The Gourd People in Flight

Advent 2B Dec 9, 2012
The Rev Cynthia Hizer
The Episcopal Church of the Epiphany

On the Wednesday nights during Advent, I hold a class here at Epiphany using one of our Nativities  scenes from our large collection -  along with Lectio Divina – a meditation in four movements - and we look at the scene from four different directions.

In each movement, we heard the birth narratives from Scripture, formed some prayers out of it, did a little meditating. After the first reading, we were so curious about the nativity scene we sat down on the floor right in front of it – to figure out what materials the artist was using, if there was any social or political message embedded in the materials and even more - who was in the scene, and who wasn’t – who was included in this narrative, who was not included.

This particular nativity scene didn’t have a star hanging above the stable – it didn’t even  have a stable; it had no shelter at all, no sanctuary. It didn’t have an angel, or any animals, no kings.
It didn’t seem to come with much of a story.

Yet it came with a big story, an ancestry, a lineage.
It told us the story of a little family trudging through the sand, eyes down, focused on the child, the mother made of a nice plump gourd, her body rising out of it as if out of the lush earth. if you lift it up you can hear the seeds shake - it still has the seeds in it! It is a "real" gourd.

The father, a taller, slimmer gourd – these gourd people and their little baby who was being carried in a tiny gourd, cut in half to make a basket. The couple was leaning forward slightly, road warriors, intent on their journey, maybe fleeing from Harod. We heard about Harod today.

In our Scripture readings today, all the pieces and players are being set in place for the story of an upcoming birth. Prophets and heros throughout history have always had interesting births – sometimes checkered but always somehow important. Jacob and Joseph and Samuel and David – we know their parents, we know their birth stories, we know their lineage.The birth narrative of Moses takes up the first chapter of Exodus and half of the second. And it starts with a very full description of his lineage.

Jesus’ birth is being set up for us now. His lineage.

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, Pontius Pilate of Judea arrives, along with Herod, and his brother Philip, the priests Anna and Caiaphas. And John makes his entrance again, through the lineage of his father, Zechariah, this time. This is the story that Mary and Joseph – the gourd people -- enter – people of a conquered nation, an oppressive emperor, a people disinherited, a people without a stable or a shelter or a sanctuary. This is their lineage.

Mary, in this little scene, is making space in the world for her son, who will speak out for those without a stable, a shelter, without sanctuary – the hungry and homeless, the disinterited. Mary in our little nativity scene is trudging through the sand, the baby at her side – she a subversive and now this baby too –  he will become a subversive, he who will love people with “indiscriminate inclusivitity. " He who will become for them a stable, a shelter, a sanctuary.

Yet, some weeks ago, a few Episcopal churches left the Episcopal fold, almost an entire diocese left. They said their reason for their departure was that they disagreed with the Episcopal church’s “new stance” on what they called the “false gospel of indiscrimate inclusivity.”

Meaning, that we will let anyone in.
Of course, its too late.

We have already been indiscriminately inclusive. We have been for a long time.

It’s the gourd-people fault!
We have already let in the gourd people.
And they – fleeing mother, subversive son - created a church out of it – a stable, a shelter, a sanctuary to be indiscriminately inclusive.

To be indiscrimately inclusive -- is our lineage.

It is why we feed people and uphold the dignity of all people, why we build houses for people – shelters and sanctuary. It is why we make church, why we come here, why we show up here. Because church is a sheltering presence for our journey. 
We are gourd people too.

We have some folks going to the Cathedral this afternoon to be confirmed in the Episcopal church. They are choosing to be sheltered in a church that has been called “indiscrimately inclusive,” and maybe they are choosing to join for that very reason, for this lineage. 

I think of Mary and Joseph running with the baby – with no shelter – no covering, no sanctuary, no container to hold them in their journey. Because of them we have a shelter, thankfully, here, this room, this church  –  a shelter for our journey, no matter who we are or where we are headed, 
for all of us are gourd people
 in flight.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments or Advise?