Church Stuff-More or less

Does the church make sense or do we make it too hard for people to come in? I think yes and yes and the task then is to make it easier. Maybe for someone out there, this will be the case. I write as a Lutheran (or, perhaps a Lutherpalian) although I might seem out of the mainstream from time to time. That's okay, isn't it? Let's blog on.

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Location: Northport, Long Island, United States

Contrary to what Google will tell you, I have been blogging for several year, right here. Look for Churchstuff-moreorless. life was a hell of a lot easier when you could talk to someone to get help. Now, you can't do it on the telephone, you can't do it on the internet. Life was easier and made more sense because people actually cared. Now they will screw you as quickly as they will help you. Unfuck the world.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Leonard Cohen on the state of Christianity

"I don't really have a 'take on the state of Christianity.' But when I read your question, this answer came to mind: As I understand it, into the heart of every Christian, Christ comes, and Christ goes. When, by his Grace, the landscape of the heart becomes vast and deep and limitless, then Christ makes His abode in that graceful heart, and His Will prevails. The experience is recognized as Peace. In the absence of this experience much activity arises, divisions of every sort. Outside of the organizational enterprise, which some applaud and some mistrust, stands the figure of Jesus, nailed to a human predicament, summoning the heart to comprehend its own suffering by dissolving itself in a radical confession of hospitality."

Monday, February 01, 2010

"To care for the poor; To lighten everyone's burden; To comfort the suffering..."

The Feast of St Brigid (Lá Fhéile Bhríde), February 1

Brigid, Brigit, Bride, even known as Ffraid, was born in 452 CE, the daughter of a nobleman and a slave. From an early age, Brigid demonstrated unparalleled compassion for the poor and those in need. It is said that the fire of the Holy Spirit followed her wherever she went and that a fire burned unquenched at the monastery in Kildare that she established. On the day that she was consecrated to the religious life, the bishop inexplicably offered the prayer of ordination and he would not retract it.

Brigid practiced a ministry of Christian hospitality because "it is in the name of Christ I feed the poor, for Christ is in the body of every poor person." Raised in a foster family, she knew firsthand of compassion for others as well as the practice of anam cara, the Celtic term for soul friendship. When the anam cara of one of her own foster sons suddenly died, she comforted him in his grief and adjured him to find a new anam cara immediately. Brigid was a mentor and spiritual guide to many but she was, most importantly, a companion along the way, an anam cara. With a soul friend, one feels at home not only in the world, but also in the greater world of the spirit. The soul friend honors the secrets of the heart and gently nudges one's dreams into being.

St. Brigid and her cross are linked together by the story that she wove this form of cross at the death bed of either her father or a pagan lord, who upon hearing what the cross meant, asked to be baptized. One version goes as follows:

A pagan chieftain from the neighborhood of Kildare was dying. Christians in his household sent for Brigid to talk to him about Christ. When she arrived the chieftain was raving. As it was impossible to instruct this delirious man, hopes for his conversion seemed doubtful. Brigid sat down at his bedside and began consoling him. As was customary, the dirt floor was strewn with rushes both for warmth and cleanliness. Brigid stooped down and started to weave them into a cross, fastening the points together. The sick man asked what she was doing. She began to explain the cross, and as she talked his delirium quieted and he questioned her with growing interest. Through her weaving, he converted and was baptized at the point of death. Since then the cross of rushes has been venerated in Ireland.

Of the three patron saints of Ireland, Brigid is the only one native born. Many wonderful tales are associated with her generosity. In one story, she gives away her father’s sword to a leper. She is able to provide a constant supply of milk and ale to her guests. Her prayer for a feast in heaven is to have a "great lake of ale...and every drop a prayer"

I should like a great lake of finest ale
for the King of kings.
I should like a table of the choicest food
for the family of heaven.
Let the ale be made from the fruits of faith
and the food be forgiving love.

I should welcome the poor to my feast,
for they are God's children.
I should welcome the sick to my feast,
for they are God's joy.
Let the poor sit with Jesus at the highest place,
and the sick dance with the angels.

God bless the poor,
God bless the sick,
and bless our human race.
God bless our food,
God bless our drink,
all homes, O God, embrace.

Brigid died this day, as well, in 525 CE.