“Between Rocking the Boat and Sitting Down”
A Sermon Offered to All Souls Church, March 10, 2019, by Rev. Shayna Appel
River Callby Manish K. Mishra-Marzetti
Between rocking the boat
and sitting down;
between stirring things up,
and peaceably going along,
We find ourselves
from many different
onto this river road.
Some are here
because the rocking of
has been too much:
too much tumult,
too much uncertainty,
too much pain.
Some are here with questions
about where the boat is going;
how best to steer it;
where this journey ends.
Others are here
as lovers of the journey,
lovers of life itself.
here in front
each a passenger;
each a captain;
doing the best we can.
“Rest here, in your boat,
with me,” the river calls;
“Listen to how I flow,
the sound of life coursing all around you.”
Let the current
let the current
the river that gently flows
through your soul,
“Come, let us worship.”
They Are With Us Still by Rev. Kathleen McTigue
In the struggles we choose for ourselves,
in the ways we move forward in our lives
and bring our world forward with us,
It is right to remember the names of those
who gave us strength in this choice of living.
It is right to name the power of hard lives well-lived.
We share a history with those lives.
We belong to the same motion.
They too were strengthened by what had gone before.
They too were drawn on by the vision of what might come to be.
Those who lived before us,
who struggled for justice and suffered injustice before us,
have not melted into the dust,
and have not disappeared.
They are with us still.
The lives they lived hold us steady.
Their words remind us and call us back to ourselves.
Their courage and love evoke our own.
We, the living, carry them with us:
we are their voices, their hands and their hearts.
We take them with us,
and with them choose the deeper path of living.
A Blessing for Traveling in the Dark by Jan Richardson
if you can.
More slowly still.
this is no place
to break your neck
by crashing into
what you cannot see.
it is true:
have different tasks,
and if you
have arrived here unawares,
if you have come
or in pain,
this might be no place
you should dawdle.
I do not know
what these shadows
ask of you,
what they might hold
that means you good
It is not for me
whether you should linger
or you should leave.
But this is what
I can ask for you:
That in the darkness
there be a blessing.
That in the shadows
there be a welcome.
That in the night
you be encompassed
by the Love that knows
FromWhistling in the Dark; A Doubter’s Dictionary
by Frederick Buechner
[Writing about the Christian season of Lent, Buechner notes;]
In many cultures there is an ancient custom of giving a tenth of each year’s income to some holy use. For Christians, to observe the forty days of Lent is to do the same thing with roughly a tenth of each year’s days. After being baptized by John in the river Jordan, Jesus went off alone into the wilderness, where he spent forty days asking himself the question what it meant to be Jesus. During Lent, Christians are supposed to ask one way or another what it means to be themselves…
[We UU’s might ponder the same thing during this month’s theme of Journey.]
When you look at your face in the mirror, what do you see in it that you most like and what do you see in it that you most deplore? If you had only one last message to leave to the handful of people who are most important to you, what would it be in twenty-five words or less? Of all the things you have done in your life, which is the one you would most like to undo? Which is the one that makes you happiest to remember? Is there any person in the world or any cause that, if circumstances called for it, you would be willing to die for? If this were the last day of your life, what would you do with it?
To hear yourself try to answer questions like these is to begin to hear something not only of who you are, but of both what you are becoming and what you are failing to become. It can be a pretty depressing business all in all, but if sackcloth and ashes are at the start of it, something like Easter may be at the end.
“Between Rocking the Boat and Sitting Down” Rev. Shayna Appel
Between rocking the boat and sitting down; between stirring things up, and peaceably going along,
We find ourselves here, in community.
Thus begins the reading River Call by Manish K. Mishra-Marzetti with which we opened todays service. And, maybe each of us can find ourselves somewhere along the continuum Manish invokes. Someplace along the continuum of rocking the boat and sitting down, stirring things up and peaceably going along.
It seems to me to be a beautiful metaphor for life-span activism! (And by this I mean simply being active in life.) In the beginning we are activated and animated by youth. Rocking the boat feels natural. It IS natural. But there also comes a time in each of our lives when we feel, or will feel, compelled to take a seat and let others rock the boat. This does not infer that our work as ‘activists’ is over. It just means it has changed. Perhaps we move from the work of advocacy, or doing, to the work of witness, which is watchful being-ness. Our years of experience and the wisdom gleaned therein being too valuable to simply retire, those who are sitting, who are being, are often in a better position to glean the view from the balcony, so to speak…the long view.
Regardless of where we are on this sacred continuum, each of us IS called, notes Manish; from many different journeys, many different life paths, onto this river road. This river road, for our purposes today, we call All Souls Church. (And given the current state of our church driveway, we note with no small amount of consternation that we are, in fact, precariously close to becoming an ACTUAL river road…)
It is true… Somearehere because the rocking of the boat has been too much: too much tumult,too much uncertainty, too much pain (too much Trump!). Too much violence, too much loss, too much that flies in the face of who it is we say that we are. It is also true that Some are here with questions about where the boat is going;how best to steer it;[and] where this journey ends. These are the folks who generally wind up in positions of church leadership! And we give thanks for their inquisitiveness! And, yesOthers are here as lovers of the journey, lovers of life itself. Consider the church crafters, musicians, choir members, cooks, children, teachers, caretakers, worship creators. I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these (Matthew 6:29).
Together we take turns; sometimes in front, sometimes behind, each a passenger;each a captain; doing the best we can. Grateful to have such a worthy boatload of companions with which to travel this river road. Grateful for the gifts and ministries of the one as well as the many.
Just beyond us, just beyond all of this, there is a Mystery, which binds us each to each and each to all. “Rest here, in your boat, with me,” the Mystery calls; “Listen to how I flow, the sound of life coursing all around you.” The Mystery calls us to these sacred pauses because the Mystery knows that our souls also need nourishment. And, left to our own devices, we are a people more inclined to nourish the world than ourselves! So she beckons us one and all, Let the current hold you,let the current guide you; the river that gently flows througheach and every one of our soul, whispers:“Come, let us worship.”
And so we have. And so we will. And so it is so. Blessed be and Amen!